Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mounting Android and User Manual

I suspected it must be easy to mount the microSD card as a "hard drive" from Linux. I didn't find any devices with "usb" in the name the first time I connected it, so I didn't pursue it further. Today, I had /var/log/messages tailed and noticed an sr1 device message when I attached my phone. Sure enough,

$ sudo mkdir /media/android
$ sudo mount /dev/sr1 /media/android
gave me access.

After poking around a bit, I noticed

/media/android/document/user guide_en.pdf
Ah hah! The missing manual. I figured out most of the details already, but the manual did provide me one useful piece of information---how to upgrade. See sections 12.8 and 12.9. Note that I'm referring to the Huawei Ascend manual...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It Works

My suspicions were correct. I noticed that my phone was reporting the incorrect phone number. One digit was missing from "Settings"/"About phone"/"Status"/"My phone number". Standard MetroPCS customer service wasn't willing to help me until 72 hours had passed since my number port. Today, I finally got them to help me (but only after they tried to transfer to the porting department which was closed at the time and they didn't believe me when I told them this!). They helped me edit the settings on the phone and enter the correct phone number. And, voila! Google maps worked immediately and after I re-entered my gmail password and turned on synchonization, gmail worked too. I just downloaded the ITA OnTheFly application which I'm excited to try out since I know one of the developers.

I wish MetroPCS had separate "smart phone" agents (not to mention a less crappy automated voice menu navigation system). The agent that helped me gave me instructions which often were somewhat confusing or unclear because I have a smart phone. One example is when she asked me to dial a number to put the phone into setting-editing mode. She just told me what to dial without indicating that I needed to open up my phone's dialer. Of course, I quickly figured out what she meant, but dealing with customer service is hard enough as it is---having to translate from normal phone terminology to smart phone terminology just makes it more difficult.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Android User Guide

It sounds like there is no general purpose Android user guide. But, the Nexus One User Guide is a good approximation to an Android User Guide. Of course, all the hardware details are different, but once you're past that, there is a lot of useful information. In particular:

  • Page 36 provides the basics of how to use the touchscreen
  • Pages 50-51 list the meanings of all the notification icons
  • Page 62 gives you ideas for how to maximize battery life

P.S. I'm guessing that the Google Mobile Forum is a good place to get help for Android-based mobile phones.

Friday, January 21, 2011

How to lock the screen without waiting for the timeout

Android locks the screen after I hangup a call which is usually what I want. But, when I'm doing other things and wanted to put the phone away, I felt that I had to wait a minute for the screen to timeout to ensure it didn't interpret putting the phone in my pocket as (e.g.) dialing random people in my contacts. I didn't want to set the timeout to a shorter value since I found 30 seconds to be too short when using GMail on the phone. Shouldn't there be a way to force the screen to lock. A Google search didn't help---I mainly found articles on how to secure your phone in case of loss or theft. Next, I started browsing settings. Under "General info & options", I found "End button behavior" with options like "Go to home" and "Go to sleep". "Sleep" sounded like it might give me the screen lockout I wanted. I chose the "Home, then sleep" option and found that with two clicks of the end button, I'd have a locked screen. Woo hoo!

Update (3/16/11): I've learned that for Android phones without an "end call" button, you can usually make the phone go to sleep by quickly pressing-and-releasing the "off" button. You have to hold the "off" button for a few seconds to shut the phone down.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Huawei Ascend: Welcome to Android

Last Friday, I bought a Huawei Ascend and signed-up for MetroPCS. Over the past few days, I tested it out. There didn't seem to be any show-stopper drawbacks, so yesterday I ported my number from T-Mobile.


  • For an extra $15/month, I get unlimited text, talk, and web.
  • I can use GMail and Google Maps on the go.
  • Android auto-synchronizes my GMail contacts so I don't have to enter anyone into my phone or worry about losing my contacts. Also, I can manage my contacts from a desktop computer.
  • It's fun to be able to reply to Google Talk messages on-the-spot.


  • Voice quality ain't as good as T-Mobile. Voices sound metallic, volume is somewhat erratic, voices occasionally break-up even with decent reception (2/4 bars).
  • Android 2.1 is slow. Part of the problem might be crapware that MetroPCS included. I may try rootkit so that I can clean-out such stuff. I've heard it may be possible to upgrade to 2.2 which is supposed to be much faster...
  • I currently have no data access. MetroPCS CS thinks it's due to the number port which involved switching me to a new account number. We'll see. They said I could see problems up to 72 hours after the port (last night).

I'm also excited about making better use of Google Voice. I've heard that you can switch off VM on the phone and just let GV handle it (after you've moved everyone to your GV number). I've heard that is a good place to get tips on the Huawei Ascend.