Monday, April 30, 2012

MSFT -- Want Windows 8 to Succeed? Let it Run on ANY Device!

MSFT is launching Windows 8 with an oldschool pay to play for an OS mentality.  Unfortunately they have a huge uphill battle against iOS and Android.  For them to gain any traction quickly in this field they will need to expand the devices that Windows 8 can be installed on to any Android Device with an unlocked bootloader. 

This would instantly give Windows 8 a huge boost and also get many Developers involved which is really a key demographic to win if they are to have success with Windows 8 on ARM.

I would suggest to MSFT that Windows 8 on ARM be free, and free to run on any unlocked device.  MSFT may realize other revenue streams including charging OEMs for support.  Charge for a good x86 to ARM emulator, charge for Office etc.  AND take donations.  I know its not how company's ran in the past but this new world people support devs and technicians directly, MSFT may have some luck getting some donations.  Make money off an integrated (vertical please) App (only) store, but perhaps don't track your users, let them know they aren't being tracked, it will buy MSFT some great publicity and highlight an issue with your competitors. Or perhaps a paid version with no tracking and a free version with Android like tracking.

If they do this right they should capture the interests of developers who will make great apps and start off with a much larger user base then if they proceed with this ludicrous UEFI Mandate (MSFT you may not sell as many Win8 on ARM devices as you project, have you seen how dedicated iOS and Android users are?) 

Don't get me wrong, I am really excited by Win 8 but lets be honest I don't think Win 7 Mobile and Win 7.5 have put up "game changing" numbers.  If done right the integrated nature of Win 8 may make the world more productive.

How To Root Transformer Prime TF201 running latest firmware .21 or Downgrade to other Firmware with LOCKED BOOTLOADER

Please excuse the irratic nature of the posts on this blog.  Most often I post remotely from a pad or celly to try to break news quickly.  However, this is such a great tool for Transformer owners that I thought I would take Wolfs (Wolf849 on xda) excellent work and rewrite it in native and easy to understand english.  As I understand it Wolf is from Pakistan, his writing is pretty good but not perhaps great for an english speaking person who has never rooted before.  Also please note no one takes any responsibility here if you choose to undertake something with your device but yourself.   

Before we begin let me say that dev's work like this is the best thing about Android, and I would strongly suggest donating some money to Wolf if you're so inclined.  Personally, Thanks Wolf!

I just rooted my TF201 this morning it took about 90 minutes but I think you could execute this in about 30 minutes if you were good.

Original Source References

  • Go to support site and download your localities firmware. 
    • If you like honeycomb or any specific build download it
    • If you are trying to root pick an ICS based firmware of .15 or .17
  • Extract the file TWICE to the root of your internal memory (mnt  /sdcard not external SD Card) on the TF201
    • If done properly there will be a "blob" file of about 500MB
  • Download ViperMod Tools here 
    • extract to a convient location as we will use this for ADB Access
  • Put your Transformer Prime into "USB Debugging" under settings-> dev options
  • Connect your Transformer Prime into your computer and open up "Device Manager"
  • Click on ADB Android Device with red exclaimation mark,
    • update driver,
      • point to the folder "Something Drivers"
        • within ViperMod Download
  • Also update the other "Transformer Prime" Device drivers in the same manner
  • Start an administrator command prompt
    • type cmd in the windows search if you're not familiar and right click
  • navigate with cd.. and cd to the directory of ViperMod Tools Download or whatever its called
  • See if you can start to work by typing "ADB DEVICES"
    • If you can't its likely a driver issue, please google ADB help
  • Enter ADB Shell, by typing "ADB SHELL"
  • Enter following commands with return after each line
  • mv /data/local/tmp /data/local/tmp.bak
    ln -s /dev/block/mmcblk0p4 /data/local/tmp
  • adb reboot
  • As device restarts when on the second ASUS "aspiring alliteration" splash screen when the backlight dims you should be able to enter ADB with the device again
  • check by typing "ADB SHELL" until it enters
  • Type this command
  • dd if=/sdcard/blob of=/dev/block/mmcblk0p4
  • IF IT DOES NOTHING YOU ARE WINNING and DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING ANYTHING wait for a few minutes to prompt you with this:
    • 1066806+1 records in
    • 1066806+1 records out
    • 546204969 bytes transferred in 250.309 secs (2182122 bytes/sec)
      • or something in that form
  • then type "exit"
  • and "ADB Reboot"
  • you may get stuck in a bootloop if you downgrade too far (ICS to HC), if this happens WOLF reccomends:
    • In some cases flashing previous firmware leaves data partition intact.
      • I suggest to clean it by booting with [vol down] and [power] pressed (you will see the info about the rom). Than wait until the screen with android and wipe data appear. Select wipe by switching with [vol down] and accepting with [vol up] pressed two times. It mostly happen when downgrading to HC from ICS.
If you are trying to root .21 follow the following steps:
  • Enter ViperMOD tools by clicking the appropriate .exe file within ViperMod Download
  • Once you get Super User download VOODOO OTA ROOTKEEPER (sorry its only a google play link-- dislike)
  • it will tell you if Super User has been properly granted permissions with a check mark and a button that says "Backup Super User" or something
  • Do that
    • exit the re-enter to ensure that SU has been properly backedup
  • Go to settings->about tablet-> software update and update when it prompts you
  • Click on OTA Rootkeeper on the newly updated Pad
    • Click "Restore Root"
  • Do a hard reset- hold power button and volume down until the device turns off then begins to boot
  • Try to wipe cache settings if you can with Rom Toolbox or similar

I know there are typos but fuck it I'm going to the pool.


We are going to revert to .15 then Root, then utilize OTA Rootkeeper, then update back to .21 (utilizing OTA update not downloaded zip!).

Follow this android genius' directions here:
Execute Method #2.  Only you are responsible for damage to your device. 

Cliff Notes or click here for full instructions to root .21:
1) ADB Drivers can be tricky I found success with Vipers'  I needed to update the drivers for ADB and the TF201
2) Extract, extract and download proper old firmware from to root of device
3) Follow Method #2 above commands
4) You may want to do some cleaning when done. 

As a sidenote I'm really tempted to stay on Honeycomb.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I won't use Google Drive

Google Drive is a little too invasive for me.  Call me old fashioned but I don't like my data indexed and known by everyone.  It's not even that I want to hide anything, its just the principal.  I love privacy. 

TF201 GPS Dongle Works!

From inside a metal building
I got my dongle in earlier than expected 4/22/12. It worked GREAT.  It is seamless, once you enable GPS it automatically utilizes the Dongle's Radios.   No GPS Data Transferred via bluetooth, no need for clumsy software. 

I was also impressed with the ASUS packaging of the dongle.  Almost retail in nature.  I wonder if they will sell these in countries where GPS wasn't listed as a feature and who aren't eligible for the Dongle.

I highly recommend taking the stickers off both sides of the dongle.  Other than that it matches your TF201 Color and appears to be made out of plastic with a straight line polish and exposed mini torq screws (I believe).

Cliff Notes:
  • Reboot if you have issues after first use
  • Insanely good GPS Reception -- think 30' within a metal building
  • No software, use it just like onboard GPS
  • Lock is manually actuated vs keyboard
  • Some cases won't fit

Possible TF201 Performance Bottlenecks (aka Why is my Prime Slow?)

here are some consensus ideas and some of my own observations regarding what may cause the TF201 browser to "Wait to Respond" and the overall choppy performance of the Tegra 3 in the TF201, TF300, TF700.  To fix this I've been using the latest version of Opera 12 Labs, but honestly it's not perfect. (I think Adobe should try to make a mobile browser...)

  1. Nvidia Drivers that aren't fully optimized yet
    1. Especially evident when switching performance modes 
    2. Should be addressed in future firmware update
  2. Overly Aggressive Power Gating
    1. Run on performance mode unless you actually need to save the power for something
  3. Slow NAND Storage
    1. This could be an issue with cue length of accessing NAND based Cache
      1. Might be able to solve with Firmware update or by forcing to utilize Fast MicroSD
  4. Browser Parallel Processing Algorithm that is too "passive"
    1. Hopefully ASUS will issue an update that allows for a "performance" browsing mode
    2. The load presented to the Tegra 3 is distributed across multiple cores
    3. But it is a little too hesitant to "drop the hammer" on one to four cores as needed
    4. Snapdragons actually do the opposite running on one core up to full speed more of the time and kicking in the second core when absolutely necessary. 
  5. Android has a way to go
    1. Android is still a phone OS in many ways.  ICS brings the ability to run many apps stably but some lack of features make me miss Desktop based GUIs.
    2. I also think there is a lot of tracking of information and background processes compared to what should be running on a clean full OS. 
      1. We've gotten used to this because of phones
        1. but why do we need to give up such data on a Tablet?
      2. Still light compared to a full OS background load
      3. Perhaps a minor reason iOS is a bit faster is because apps don't load themselves and digest your data on their own
          1. yes I know you opt in but every program asks for way too much data, and google tracks too much. 
          2. Microsoft & Apple doesn't know every app you have on your computers
    3. Needs to be cleaner and sleeker in terms of file management and sophisticated code handling execution
Any other ideas? 

Asus eee pad Transformer Prime .21 Root Locked Bootloader

4.30.12 Update: ROOT IS BACK!

Basically we are going to revert to .15 Root, install Rootkeeper and then update:

Original Directions:
Execute Method #2.  Only you are responsible for damage to your device. 

How To Root .21 

Still no word on root yet for locked bootloader devices.  Personally I think google just did an about face with its open source policy by requiring ASUS to lock and encrypt the bootloader.  I had this device when the bootloader was still unlocked.  I do not want to unlock my bootloader as it voids the warranty. 

The only way to achieve root on .21 at this time is to use Rootkeeper before upgrading or to unlock and root with a rooted rom.  On my HTC phone this wasn't an issue, but my prime creaks when I tap it certain ways and it makes me want to hold on to that warranty.  Once I do unlock I will want to try out UNBUNTU and a ROM that supports dual windows.  (Why?  --- Privacy Concerns, Real OS).  Check out what's cooking for the TF201 at XDA.

I think there is a small possibility that ASUS allows unlock without losing warranty soon.  Why--
  1. Other Manufactures do it, including those with comparable tegra 3 devices
  2. Essentially they are selling the equivalent of windows without administrator privileges at some point the government may step in and regulate
  3. There are obviously a significant number of users with pure hardware issues, this can be surmised from the low delivery/yield numbers and high return rates. 
    1. ASUS has already faced one lawsuit over the tf201 functioning, they need to buy some "goodwill" if they don't want to get hit with more because they are in an actionable position
      1. best case scenario for ASUS they spend millions on a winning defense with no recourse for attorneys fees
      2. worst case could be a forced recall
This wait feels like forever just because the browser is so terrible.  I feel like I need to overclock this thing as the browser's borderline personality takes its mental toll on you.  After all this thing is a quad core isn't it.  My HTC Rezound equipped with S3 Snapdragon loads web pages faster and more stably.  By all accounts the Tegra 3 is a superior processor. 

Hopefully ASUS can embrace the developer community and start integrating some of their updated code which may actually help them fix the random reboots and terrible browsing which they have been unable to adequately address thus far.

Upcoming. Read about possible causes of Transformer Prime and tf300 slowdown

HTC Rezound: Sense 3.6 vs 4.0

I've been hearing a lot about Sense 4.0 for the Rezound.  I thought I'd try it out.  Here's a quick rundown of Sense 3.6 vs 4.0.  Please note I used |||bored|||'s Rez Rom s4 1.2 (4/25/2012) vs his ex 3.4 (4/16/2012) so that I could as best I could isolate sense version as the only different as both of these run on top of the latest ICS leak 4.03. 

Sense 3.6 Pros:
  1. Faster, much much faster
    1. Sense 3.6 was built to run on this hardware natively and it extracts a lot of performance out of Rez Rom
  2. More familiar
    1. Verizon hotspot was included for example, music app feels better
  3. This ROM feels way faster than stock and is more stable than 4.03 leak so far
  4. Little to no battery drain
Sense 4.0 Notes:
  1. Much closer to AOSP
  2. You could see how the interface would be cleaner
  3. I like the pagination launcher employed 
  4. Music app integrates all music providers
    1. e.g. pandora appears as an icon along side of "music"
  5. Overall this felt pretty stable but it just seemed like it was a port of something really designed to run on a different processor with expanded instruction sets
    1. thus its really cool that you get to try it out
    2. its also feels like your phone is running like an emulator
      1. transitions e.g. are choppy
  6. I like the wall papers better
  7. The setup is a little iffy but initial setup program is better looking than 3.6
  8. Very slow on rotation for such apps as camera

Enable Dual Core Mode HTC Rezound

There are multiple threads on notable developer forums indicating the Rezound under its latest stock kernel will run in a very conservative single core almost always mode. Rooting and just running "SetCpu" will enable independent scaling dual core mode, which engages both cores when expected. Although benchmarks may not reflect the performance gains they are significant in practice. Running complex live wallpapers and visually rich HTC Sense widgets pose no lag when scrolling. The overall effect is a phone without hiccups that's always responsive even while multitasking. Links to come.

First published on:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

ASUS to Provide Free GPS Dongle to Fix Transformer Prime GPS

Update: ASUS giving customers GPS Dongle is confirmed. I've ordered mine, see official ASUS transcript below.  However, the process hasn't been officially announced yet.  Try to sign up at ASUS' members area if your new there and maybe you can order it. Please don't ask ASUS for support yet but do consider it confirmed that ASUS will make your transformer prime tf201GPS work in the very near future.
Over at XDA there is credible evidence to suggest that ASUS will be releasing a GPS Dongle to Transformer Prime owners, thus taking the tablet to promised original specification.  If the rumors are right expect news to be announced around mid-april about a process for owners to receive their GPS dongles.  Interface is unknown but I'd expect Bluetooth with an NMEA-183 (iirc) stream.  UPDATE: See below for source, but apparently the ASUS GPS dongle plugs into the charging connector and is flush fit and matching color, think keyboard hinge but smaller in width and without the rest of the dock.

Gary Key had mentioned that he had a big announcement regarding the Transformer Prime.  Perhaps this is what he is referring to.  .21 has made my Transformer Prime tf201 more stable.  As an aside I have been really enjoying the dock.  The updates ASUS has rolled out and continues to with addressing some browser lag are commendable.  Although perhaps a nuisance to keep root, which is nice since the Tegra 3 in the TF201 can hit 1.6GHz on all cores.

This is really solid news by a company who's products I've used for years.  I loved their X58 solution mobos.  I think this reflects really well on ASUS' commitment to customer service and is revealing of their corporate qualities. In fact I've been more impressed with ASUS then Google recently, but that's another post.

Although my prime isn't perfect its definitely a premium device.  Once these tegra driver issues are worked out I believe this thing will fly.  The docking station makes this device a game changer, and the dock is absolutely beautiful with a fantastic keyboard.  Very highend kit.  Build quality exceeding my phones.  I'm looking forward to reviewing their PadPhone. 

Thanks (in advanced) for fixing GPS ASUS!
Update xda link see page 3 for a description. Not bt as I originally speculated, its been described by a testing group member (on page 3)  as  keyboard hinged styl3. 

Here's a transcript of the official ASUS message from their VIP Members Area-- once again THANKS ASUS

"Thank you for purchasing the ASUS Eee Transformer Prime TF201, and helping to make it the most popular Android based tablet since its launch in December 2011. We greatly appreciate feedback from our valued customers about our products, and take it very seriously. The response to the TF201 generally has been overwhelmingly positive, but we understand that, in certain regions, the GPS functionality has not met some user’s expectations. Free Dongle! At ASUS, we are committed to delivering innovative, high-quality products and services, and our customers’ experience is important to us. Although the TF201 is not a professional GPS device, as part of our unwavering commitment to our customers we are offering all customers who purchased a TF201 system a free external GPS extension kit, called a dongle, which may help improve signal reception and optimize the user experience. We are pleased to announce this offer as part of our commitment to customer service, but it does not replace, alter or amend any existing warranties you may have.We also encourage you to contact ASUS customer support in your local region directly if you are experiencing GPS related problems. ASUS prides itself on delivering an unrivalled user experience, and we offer our sincere apologies for any inconvenience that our customers may have encountered."