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.


Impressions of SlimBean ROM for Nexus S

16 November 2012

I've had my Nexus S for about a year and a half now, and I was stuck on an old stock Android for a long time—the AT&T version of this phone just never got the updates, so Matt helped me out and got me started with CM9 on the device back in the Spring.

Since getting some experience rooting and romming, I've tracked CM9, tried CM10, loaded stock Android 4.0 and 4.1. I found my device with stock 4.1 with my usual loaded apps (like BeyondPod, Tasker, etc) to be a little light on RAM. BeyondPod kept getting pushed out of memory when, really, it's my #1 app for daily use.

I needed to free up some memory, so I figured SlimBean would be worth a look. It seems to be based on AOSP with some of the most useful features of other ROMs merged, like notification toggles, etc. It's also relatively easy to install, though the upgrades keep recommending a full wipe and reinstall, which can be inconvenient, even with a ROM Toolbox doing my backup and restore of applications.

One of the most notable features is that the default DPI is set low (182ppi), so everything ends up tiny. Couple that with a tighter grid-size in Hololauncher and you can cram lots of app icons and widgets on the screen. I at one point bumped it back up to 200 to get it just a little more readable, but in the latest install, I've just been leaving it set to the default.

Amazon Appstore offered me my first problem. ROM Toolbox half restored it, but not the whole way, so it had some data files laying around but not the rest of the app. When I went to install it again from APK, it kept telling me "App is not installed". I finally figured out in this last time I wiped and installed, that I needed to delete the Appstore's data directory in Root Browser, and then it happily installed.

In the end, I'm not sure I gained much free memory—it still seems tight, and applications are still quick to get pushed out. I think what's slim about the ROM, is that it merged in some select features from CM and others without taking up as much space for everything those other ROMs offer. I like this ROM, and I hope to see it make Android 4.2.x and later available on my little Nexus S.


Events for the Photo Site

26 February 2010

Way back in the day, when I used to shoot at clubs and raves, I'd always want a way to share the images with the people I'd meet, but exchanging email could be a bit cumbersome or just be a deterrent.

While I'm not out clubbing these days, I'm still often out at various events, so I still need a quick and easy way to point people to the images, so I just added the Event Code box to the photo site.

While I'm out shooting, I can create an event code (from imagination or using my phone), and then write that short code on my business card to hand out. Then it's really easy for someone to hit my site, punch in the code, and get right to the photos on Flickr or in the Gallery.

It's just one of those little things I've wanted for a while, and now I've finally added it.


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