Google Can't Reach SmartThings

28 January 2022

My Google Assistant on my phone has been refusing to turn on and off the 2 devices I have on smart plugs: "Can’t reach SmartThings."

I found an article about the Google Home doing the same thing. Fortunately, the advice there worked: go into Assistant’s settings → Devices → Add Devices. Upon clicking on the SmartThings entry that was already there, it gave me the option to re-link. Once I authorized access, I could again ask Google to control those devices.


Escape with Spacemacs in Tmux

21 October 2020

I’ve occasionally been using a SSH session from my Pixel phones for years to login to my servers and write Clojure code in Emacs. I’d often run into an issue where I find myself having a weird time switching between NORMAL and INSERT modes when I’d hit ESCAPE quickly and try to move the cursor.

Googling my random problems is a favorite pastime, and I’ve finally stumbled upon an article about tmux and vim escape key. I learned that it’s probably been tmux sporadically eating my ESCAPE key, so I’ve tried disabling the built-in delay by adding to my .tmux.conf:

set -g -s escape-time 0


Past Phones

08 April 2020

Over the years, I’ve chosen my mobile devices pretty carefully. I’ve usually chosen them for connectivity options, Java capabilities, and eventually the quickest Android updates.

  • Ericsson S868 This was my first device in about 1999: futuristic GSM on a small start-up network in Lancaster.

  • Ericsson 289LX After my old phone carrier let all their cool features (email to SMS) fall into disrepair, I jumped to an older TDMA network on AT&T, but it worked.

  • Siemens S46 This was my second phone on AT&T. This one had a couple colors and a better WAP browser, so I started coding WAP mobile sites for it.

  • SonyEricsson T68i A friend gave me this tiny phone with an attachable camera accessory. This was my first phone with Bluetooth data tethering.

  • SonyEricsson T616 Now I had an integrated camera and Java, and I think I likely started coding for J2ME apps and games with the T616.

  • SonyEricsson T637 This was just an update to the T616.

  • SonyEricsson S710 This device had an odd form factor of a large screen and hidden keypad that made it more of a camera that had a phone feature.

  • SonyEricsson W810 I returned to the tiny, featureful candy-bar phone with this one. Java capabilities and connectivity remained my most important concerns. I was really stretching these little feature phones to do as much as possible, and I believed they continued to have a future. This device was a "Walkman"-branded device, so it had a bit of storage and decent audio capabilities. I think I also flashed a new firmware onto this device to get full email support.

  • Nokia E71 I jumped to a smartphone with Symbian OS with the full keyboard and internet capabiliites. I never coded any S60 apps for this, but it continued to run Java apps well.

  • Samsung Nexus S I finally jumped to Android and a touchscreen, and I had every intention of jumping right to coding Android apps. (Spoiler: With all these Android devices, I never started.) I really stretched this device to a point where I barely had enough memory to run GPS navigation (Waze) and podcasts (BeyondPod) or music at the same time. I loaded lots of 3rd party Android ROMs on here.

  • LG Nexus 4 I continued to chase clean Google Android devices. This devices brought NFC and wireless charging that didn’t work as well as it should.

  • Huawei Nexus 6P This phone was huge, and I never went back to smaller phones, but it lost wireless charging. It lasted long enough for me to need to replace the built-in battery. I started coding some mobile JavaScript for this device.

  • Google Pixel XL The 6P’s battery died again, and the latest phones (Pixel 3) were being released in 6 months, so I bought a refurbished Pixel XL to tide me over, but it proved to be an excellent phone, so I hung onto it until it no longer got updates.

  • Google Pixel 3 XL I wanted something newer that would get Android 11, so I bought this device refurbished. I had to buy some headphone adapters, but I’ve been enjoying having good wireless charging. I finally got started with some ClojureScript for mobile web apps on this device.


Pixel 3 XL

03 March 2020

In Summer of 2018, I had a Nexus 6P that was on its last legs, and I couldn’t quite wait for the Pixel 3 phones to be released in the Fall, so I picked up a refurbished Pixel XL to tide me over until I could see the new devices. That Pixel XL was fantastic, so I just kept it for nearly 2 years. Back in October, the Pixel XL got its last OS update, and I’ve now started seeing news of Android 11 previews, so I got the itch to replace the old Pixel XL even though it still runs pretty well.

I finally got that Pixel 3 XL just a year and a half later. Compared to the Pixel 3a XL, I figured I’d appreciate the higher screen resolution and the bit of water resistance. This device doesn’t seem too much different from my old Pixel XL, though now I’m buying a couple headphone adapters, and I might just end up using my cheap bluetooth headphones more. I’m excited to have wireless charging again, which I had given up with my Nexus 4. The front-firing stereo speakers are back and sounding good, but it’s an adjustment from the way I used to carry the Pixel XL with the single speaker blasting podcasts from a pocket as I wander the house. It seems that maybe driving the extra speaker may drain battery a little quicker. After a couple days, I had to pop into the Developer Options to hide the notch. It’s just a bad idea: I have too many notifications to allow room for a notch cut out between them.

The Pixel 3 XL seems pretty well-balanced with features I want at a reasonable price (about $300 USD for the refurbished one). I already have the March 2020 update before I’ve even owned the device for a week, and I should have updates through 2021. When updates run out, I’ll look at upgrading again. I’ll need to find a use for the original Pixel as a webcam or something, since it’s still in such good shape and had plenty of computing power.


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