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Monday, December 19, 2016

Mini: Miniature Electronics Stuff You Cannot Find Elsewhere

MiniInTheBox (aka: Mini) is a great resource for all kinds of things that you just can't find elsewhere. While yes, this is a Chinese supplier, I have had great luck with them so far.  Check out the following spring coiled USB cable:

Spring Coiled USB 2.0 Male to Micro USB Data/Sync/Charger Cable (1M, Black)
Spring Coiled USB 2.0 Male to Micro USB Data/Sync/Charger Cable (1M, Black)

You just can't find these things in the US, and believe me, I looked. I have used this cord to power a dash cam, to charge up my Note 3 and extra battery in a charging dock, and to transfer photos and video files over from the from the Note 3.

Here is the review I wrote on the site:

"Looks and works good. It is a little shorter than I expected, and that is because it is all coiled up. But it is perfect for what I need, though you should know that the coils are actually quite strong so extended it could put some pressure on one connector or the other, pulling an end out. But I only need it to go a short ways, so it is absolutely perfect. Plus I am sure that over time the coils would settle into which ever tension it was used at."

Once you order a couple different lengths of these, you will know which one to order according to individual application for the length you need.

Now, granted, that cable is a short one.  I happen to like that, because I am just using it with my Note 3 dock or my dash cam.  But, based on its performance, I am ordering a couple more of these short ones as well as a couple of the longer 3 meter version (they are very affordable, after all), shown below.

Spring Coiled USB 2.0 to Micro USB Data/Sync/Charger/Cable (3M, Black)
Spring Coiled USB 2.0 to Micro USB Data/Sync/Charger/Cable (3M, Black)

We all need the right tools, and let's face it, no matter how wireless we get, there will always be wires (especially USB cables) because they are so necessary.  Even if we have a wireless charger, we may well need a USB cable for the charger, after all.  And I like to have constant power to my continuously recording dash cams over relying on having to recharge their batteries all the time.

While I am an affiliate, but I doubt if I will get rich linking to these product pages.  ;)  Blogger prevents me from using their photos and affiliate system, so all of these photos are mine, taken by me with a Google Pixel XL.

I have already ordered the 10 foot spring coiled black USB to USB-C cable and some HDMI stuff, now.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Qi: Wirelessly Charge Your Wireless Device

Qi Wireless Charging

Samsung's Qi Fast Wireless Charging Transmitter Stand/Dock
I purchased Samsung's Qi Fast Wireless Charging Transmitter Dock (seen above) when I got my Note 7. When Samsung made me give it back, I kept the charger. I knew I would want it for my next phone. I'm glad I kept it, it's a wonderful charging dock that charges my Pixel XL real fast.

You have seen the wireless chargers that are out, now. Samsung makes a couple of good wireless chargers. But this technology has actually been around a while. WR has developed the Qi wireless charging standard, and this is the technology that allows wireless charging as a standard platform.

There are often options to buy Qi wireless charging kits as well as Qi receiver coils and Qi wireless charger pads/stands available at Amazon, Geek & MiniInTheBox.

Many older phones can easily accommodate a Qi wireless charging receiver coil.  Only very recent modern phones that were made in the past couple years should utilize the Fast Charge versions though, as they have batteries that are capable of withstanding a fast charge repeatedly.

Setting Up Qi Charging Capabilities

Even if you don't see your phone here, this is a good general quide on how to setup Qi wireless charging on many phones.

Below is a pictorial guide to adding Qi wireless charging capabilities to three phones, an old Samsung Galaxy Note 3, an even older Samsung Galaxy S3, and adding wireless fast charging to a brand new Pixel XL (the new "phone by Google").  Resource Links will point directly to where I purchased any of the additional Qi capable products and other stuff shown, so that you won't get the wrong thing (though it's perfectly fine if you want to shop around for a better product or price).

I also review some of the Qi wireless charger pads and stands that are available out there, show-off an external battery charger for the Note 3, as well as discuss how well a couple cases work with the USB-C plug Qi charging receiver coil module card on my Pixel XL (as they do double duty in hiding the Qi card).

Adding Qi Wireless Charging Capabilities to a Note 3:

Here, I add a Qi receiving coil that I purchased through Amazon, to an old S3 (Samsung Galaxy S3):

What you need to add Qi wireless charging capabilities to your phone.  This example shows a Note 3, receiving coil & some household tape.
This photo shows what you need to add wireless charging to your Galaxy Note 3: the phone (cover removed, simply snap it off slowly) equipped with a good battery, the Qi compliant receiver coil, and  I highly recommend a bit of household tape to secure the coil to the battery (not electrical tape, that may make things too warm inside).
If you decide to purchase a Qi compliant wireless charging receiver coil, I highly recommend one that supports NFC (Near Field Communications), like the one I grabbed from Amazon...
Qi compliant wireless charging receiving coil card with NFC support for the Galaxy Note 3
This wireless charging card contains a receiver coil and supports Near Field Communications (NFC). Photo credit: This is a promotional image lifted from
Resource Link:
Qi Wireless Receiver Card for Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Price: $9.95 -I have seen them for a little less, I paid $8.99 at Amazon.

The wireless receiver has 5 raised contact points on the underside of the card.
The Raised Contact Points on the Underside of the Wireless Charger Receiver Card for the Galaxy Note 3
These raised contact points correspond directly to contact points in the phone, at the top and left of the battery compartment. Photo credit: This is a promotional image lifted from 
These raised contact points on the card fit directly into contact points on the Note 3 device, itself.
The contact points on the Note 3 are next to the top left corner of the battery compartment, two above it and three to the left.
The contact points on the Note 3 are next to the top left corner of the battery compartment, 2 are above it and 3 are just to the left of it.
Press the raised titties of the card contact points into the holes provided, pictured above, at the top and to the left of the top left corner of the battery compartment, where they will settle in and rest on those phone contacts.

The Qi compatible wireless charging receiver coil card, positioned correctly.
The wireless receiver card, positioned correctly.
The receiver module has 5 raised contacts that settle in and touch the phone contacts. 
The edge of the Qi receiver coil card is outlined within the phone.  There is often (not always) a sticky tape that is protected by a strip of wax paper on the underside of the receiver card.  If it is there, you can peel the waxy paper protection away when you are ready to make a good fit to help stick it to the battery and keep it there.  You do not have to stick it there and you do not have to tape it down, the back cover will hold it in place if you don't plan on removing the back cover.

I tape the bottom of the card to the battery, while holding down the receiver card at the contact points.
It's sort of a funny photo, because I am using the camera in the other hand, but I tape the bottom of the card to the battery, while holding down the receiver card at the contact points, so it won't move and the card makes good contact there. 
However, I have and use an extra battery, so I prefer to tape a receiver coil card to each battery, because I will remove the back cover when swapping batteries, and that will likely upset the charging receiver module.  So I tape the receiving coil down to the battery.  Be sure to use household tape, though. Electrical tape can have insulating properties, and we want heat to dissipate.  Which is why some prefer not to use any tape at all.  The call is yours, I made mine in the sake of convenience and take no responsibility for yours.

I am holding the contacts down as I tape the right edge of the Qi coil receiver module card down.
Another funny photo because I am taking this picture with my left hand.  Here, I am holding the contacts down as I tape the right edge of the Qi coil receiver module card down to the battery with household tape.
Remember, I often change-out batteries, if you don't, taping the card down may be overkill as the battery cover will hold the receiver coil in place once it is on securely.

An Extra (External) Battery Charger 

But if you do tape the receiver to your battery because you demand a lot from your device (using it constantly, possibly while listening to device dependent playlists) and therefore you have an extra battery that you swap-out when you need to, the following handy dandy external battery wall charger for Note 3 batteries is a pretty darn good deal...

Underside of the Note 3 External Battery Charger with Retractable Plug.
The Note 3 External Battery Charger, Electrical Outlet Plug Prongs Extended
Note 3 spare battery wall travel charger from Amazon. USB 2 port side.
Note 3 spare battery charger from 
Resource Link:
External Battery Wall Travel Charger For Galaxy Note 3
Price: $2.90 & FREE Shipping (I paid a little more on Amazon).
I have seen this charger bundled with a spare battery for $6.90
(to see it, scroll down the resulting page to check out bundles).

The Note 3 wireless charging receiver coil card taped to the back of the Note 3 extra battery, which is being charged by the external battery charger, plugged into an electrical socket.
The Note 3 charging coil receiver module card taped to the extra battery that is charging in the external battery wall charger. 
The external battery charger does not interfere with the wireless receiver coil card taped to the spare battery.
The surface deck of the battery is above the external charger walls, so that the card is never interfered with, and if something accidentally hit the overhanging card, I have it taped on the other ends, so there will be enough give.  This allows the card to work every time I pop in the spare battery because the back cover of the Note 3 will actually hold it in place.  
I grabbed that extra battery wall charger and keep it around for the extra battery in case I don't use the spare battery for a while. The spare battery travel charger I have (shown in the 5 photos above) doesn't interfere with the receiver coil module that is taped to it. That way, if I go 3 weeks or a month without using it, I will pop it in to the spare battery charger so that it will continue to be active and hold a charge.  This way the spare battery won't go bad on me if I'm not using the Note 3 much now that I have the Pixel XL.

Other older Samsung phones often have similar spare battery chargers available.  I know there is one for my S3 for only a couple of bucks on  So if you can open your rear cover and exchange out the battery, there is a good chance that there is such a unit for your phone, as well.

Resource Link:
External Battery Wall Charger with USB for Samsung Galaxy S3
(Fits OEM, Standard Size Replacment Battery, Extended Battery and 7000mAH Battery)
Price: $2.03
If shows you a bundle, make sure you can't get the S3 battery cheaper by itself.  The bundle they showed me was around $12.00 and it's only a $6 battery elsewhere on the website.

Adding Qi Wireless Charging Capabilities to a Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung Galaxy S3 (front).Samsung Galaxy S3 (back).

The Galaxy S3 was actually a pretty good old phone and makes an exceptional second phone, or business line, for those that need such an affordable solution.

I purchased a Qi Wireless charging kit for an old Galaxy S3 which I plan to use for work as a delivery driver because my new Tracfone just isn't powerful enough to quickly retrieve GPS data when I am on the go and unfamiliar with a particular address.  So there is a case for good, older smartphones.

And of course, I want the convenience of wireless Qi charging.

What's included:

Qi Compatible Wireless Charger Pad & Galaxy S3 Receiver Coil Card Kit.

The kit includes the wireless charging pad, a charging coil receiver for the Galaxy S3, and an incredibly short microUSB male to USB male cable, so you will have to use your phone's original A/C power adapter if you decided to get this kit, but as I write this, it is out of stock.  I did buy another one (I accidentally forgot about the other one), but that one (Resource Link listed below) came without a box.

Resource Link:
Qi Wireless Charger Pad + Receiver Kit for Samsung Galaxy S3/S4/S5 Note 3/4
(Selected: Kit for Samsung Galaxy S3 in Black)
Price: $7.91

Samsung Galaxy S3 Qi compatible wireless charging acceptance (receiving) coil card module.
Galaxy S3 Wireless Charging Acceptance Card
The Qi wireless charging receiver coil module is a small card that makes contact with the phone's wireless charging connections in order to give it wireless charging capabilities when used with a Qi compatible wireless transmitter pad/stand/dock.

It houses some finely coiled wires that pick-up on the transmitted magnetic/electrical field from the base stand/dock/pad/puck.

Kit instructions are in Chinese and English
The instructions that came with the kit are in Chinese and English.
The kit has instructions which show an A/C adapter, but there is none included.  Neither of the S3 kits that I purchased came with an A/C adapter.

Let's get Started:

The notch at the center of the top of your S3 is where to start prying the back cover of your S3 off with, just slide your fingernail in and down the edge in each direction, eventually down the sides, too.The Samsung Galaxy S3 with the back cover starting to pry off.

Remove any case you might have guarding the S3 and open up the back cover by poking your thumbnail or fingernail in the gap at the top center of the S3, just next to the audio jack.  Run your nail in each direction and around the corners to loosen the cover from the S3.  Eventually the cover will loose enough so that you can pry it off completely.  It snaps right back on without any tools, so there are no worries.

The wireless charging receiver card module, positioned and taped in place onto the battery.
Here is a shot of the wireless charger receiver card taped into place on the battery.
Unless you take the back cover off of your S3 to exchange microSD cards or change out batteries in the middle of the day because you use it a lot, you don't have to tape the charging receiver coil card to the back of the battery.  I did simply because it is a small battery and I have never seen it get hot.  What you do is, of course, your call, and I have no responsibility for your decision.

The Qi wireless receiver card module, taped to the back of the Galaxy S3 battery.
Once the wireless charging card has been taped to the battery, it can easily be removed, if you decide to do that.
Amazon has a cheap wall charger for external Galaxy S3 batteries that won't affect the card, too (only $2).  
Then, just snap the case back on by pressing firmly down each edge...

Check your work and make sure the edge seam of the Galaxy S3 back cover looks good.
The back cover snaps right back on with a little pressure along each edge.  Double check your work at each seam. Look good?
Snap the back cover on and check it. If it looks good, put it back in its case (whichever one you use to protect the phone).  You will want to stick it on the charger and make sure it works...

The Qi compatible charging pad comes with a plastic film on the underside to protect it. Remove this film before use.
The Qi compatible charging pad comes with a plastic film on the underside to protect it in shipping from scuffing. Remove this film before use.
A look at the upside-down microUSB port on the charging pad included in the S3 Qi wireless charging kit. The pad is shown with a plastic protective film on the underside that needs to be removed.
A look at the upside-down MicroUSB port on the Charging Pad included in the S3 Qi Kit.
Peel off the plastic protective film from the underside of the charging pad.  You can use the included extremely short USB to microUSB cable to plug the pad into your USB equipped PC or Mac, but then your device won't actually charge unless your computer is left on.  I prefer to get out my original Samsung Galaxy S3 USB to microUSB charging cable and power adapter.  It's just more convenient for me.

The included wireless charging pad produces a slow charge, but is great for small battery phones.
The charging pad.  Remember that you will have to use your phone's original A/C adapter and USB cable.  It's not real powerful, and it is a bit slippery, but good for great battery phones that require a slow charge, and will still charge newer phones (slowly), such as it does my Pixel XL.   
The charging pad that was a part of this kit has a red LED power light.  When it is charging a device, that LED goees out and a blue LED lights up, unless the wireless charging connection is askew, then it will reciprocate between the red LED and the blue one.  If it does that, then reposition your device so the coil lies directly across the wireless charger icon, but a bit toward the LED lights. Experimenting a bit will help you decide what is the optimal placement.

The S3 or other device can lie along the pad lengthwise, or across the middle.
The device can lie lengthwise along the pad, or as above, across it as long as the receiving coil card covers the pad icon.  
Your Galaxy S3 can lie along the pad, or across it. As long as its on, you see this message pop up on your screen, and the blue LED light is on solid (not blinking), then you have done well and your S3 and the Qi receiver card should be working for you.

I have noticed that if I just get the blue light solid, I might move it a few hairs more over, because I had just entered the border/limit of optimal range, and I want to place it in the center of optimum charging.

You can wrap a rubber band around each end of the pad to keep it, and your phone, from slipping around.
The Red LED is on, indicating that the pad has power.  You can wrap a rubber band around each end of the pad to keep it, and your phone, from slipping around.  The rubber bands also help hold the upper & lower halves of the plastic pad body together.
If your pad is too slippery to stay in one place, or your phone vibrates right off of it, you can use a couple of rubber bands to prevent it from slipping around.

If the pad is too slippery for you, ad some rubber bands to each end to help grab the table/device.
You can even use silicon scrunchies around each end of the pad to keep it, and your phone, from slipping around, but scrunchies are thick, so then I would use them to mark my optimal charging are as I lay the phone across it, and then the scrunchies sort of grasp the phone on each edge, if I outlined the placement of the phone for optimal charging.  
Above, I am using silicone scrunchies, but they are too thick if you want to lay your phone along it lengthwise.  But I honestly think that you really do need to use something (rubber bands, scrunchies, or some vinyl tape) wrapped around each end not just to reduce slipperiness, but also to ensure that the pad upper and lower stay together as a unit.  But I'm not really complaining, I mean, I only paid $7.91 for the thing one time,  and $11.91 another time.

My son has a Galaxy S6 in a semi-heavy-duty case.  The S6 already has built-in Qi wireless charging support and so he has been using this charger, but it takes a long time because its more of a trickle charge with his case on, and he hasn't been positioning the device over the icon correctly.  So we are still testing it, but it does work well for my S3 in a speck* case, as well as for my Pixel XL naked or in my Spigen case.

It doesn't work on my Note 3 or my Pixel XL if they are wearing the Otter Box Defender case, when I use the power adapter that was original to the Samsung Galaxy S3.  But as just mentioned, it does work on them when they are naked or are wearing a thin case, and I will try it experimenting with this pad by using some newer Samsung phone AC to DC power adapters on this charging pad to see if there is any improvement in the near future.  Then, I'll report my findings back here.

One thing I have noticed about Chinese products is that they often turn the ports around, and in this case, the microUSB power port for this charging pad is no exception.

Motorola Droid X in a charging dock with microUSB port oriented correctly (broader edge down), according to practices in the USA.
Example Droid X charging cradle with correctly oriented microUSB.
Chinese wireless charging pad with microUSB port oriented upside-down according to familiar US practices.
The Galaxy S3 wireless charging kit uses a pad with a microUSB port that is oriented upside-down.
You may be asking yourself why this is an issue?  All it has to do with is familiarity.  We are familiar with plugging a microUSB male end cable into a female microUSB port in a certain way, and our microUSB male ends have a USB network icon that is intended to face-up when plugging into a female port.  If you follow common practice and try to plug your microUSB cable plug into this pad with the icon facing up, you will likely destroy the cable plug, the pad port, or more likely both, unless you take a good look and re-orient the plug.

You may also notice that the included USB to microUSB charging cable that is included with the kit does not sport that familiar USB icon that we are all familiar with, perhaps because of this type of thing.  The new USB-C ports and plugs will eliminate all these plug orientation issues as they start making their way to the new generation of phones, because you can't plug them in upside down.

But in its state as it is, it isn't as powerful of a charger as the Samsung Mini Wireless Charging Pad that I review below...

The Samsung Qi Wireless Charging Mini Pad

Another alternative to adding Qi capability to the Galaxy S3 is to purchase the Qi receiver card separately and grab a little mini charger... 

Samsung Mini Wireless Charger PadThe Samsung Mini Charger Pad wirelessly charging the Galaxy S3.
The Samsung Mini Charger Pad is good for older, smaller devices like the S3, and it doesn't cost too much.

Resource Link:
Price: $18.00 (I got a real deal on Black Friday that won't be matched).

If you don't have a large device and don't need fast charging, the Samsung mini charger pad works wonderfully if you make certain that your device lines up with it properly (the blue LED lights up and is solid, not blinking).  If the blue LED light is blinking, reposition the device.  If you have a larger phone (a Note, a phablet or other XL/Plus sized phone), it is likely that your device will hang over so much that you won't see the LED.  Also, even though the Galaxy S3 pictured above is wearing a case (as I believe that all phones should have some sort of case for protection), it isn't a heavy case.  This charger may not be able charge devices in heavy duty cases, like the Otter Box Defender.  At least, my devices won't charge on it if they are wearing a Defender, or other heavy duty case.   

But, this Samsung mini charging pad is not only great for small Qi compatible devices with smaller batteries, my Pixel XL reports that the Samsung mini wireless charging pad actually does a better job than the pad that was included with the Qi kit for the S3, mentioned above.

That should not be surprising, the mini pad came with a newer AC to DC power adapter, and I was using the original power adapter for the S3 on the Qi kit pad for the S3.

The Samsung mini pad is a bit more expensive, but does include a power supply that makes it work well, even on my Pixel XL.

Adding Qi Wireless Charging Capabilities to the Pixel XL, phone by Google

Finally, the Pixel XL 'phone by Google' arrived this past week, and I was happy to see it, finally.  One of the first things I did was add a fast Qi charging receiver coil via the bottom USB-C port.  Then I tucked that away under the case.

A USB-C plug-in Qi fast charger receiving coil card module. The Qi Receiver in Place on My Pixel XL
I love the fact that it says Qi right on it. And obviously, it's fast charging.

Resource Link:
USB Type C Plug-in Wireless Fast Charging Receiver Coil Film Card Module
Price: $12.99

I have the "silver" Pixel XL, but don't anyone kid you, it's ivory with silver trim.  You don't take the back off of these new phones, so you plug the fast Qi charging coil card into the USB-C port.  Of course, that means you will always want to have a case on the phone, to protect that card as well as the device, but you really should anyway, right?

The version I have won't fit on a regular 5" Pixel without interfering with the fingerprint scanner, unless you fold up the line that runs down to the USB-C port, and I wouldn't do that. But there are others, and they will probably pop-up as similar items on the same page.

Silver Pixel XL in an Otter Box Defender Case, Charging on a Samsung Fast Charger.
'Silver' Google Pixel XL in an Otter Box Defender Case, Charging on a Samsung Fast Charging Stand.
This one supports fast charging, so I can use that Samsung fast charging stand that I originally bought for my old Note 7.

I have 2 cases for it.  I grabbed a Spigen case when I purchased the USB-C plugin Qi receiving coil card from Amazon.  I also had a gift card, so I also bought the Otter Box Defender for the Pixel XL after it came.

The Otter Box Defender Case for the Pixel XL (Phone by Google)

Otter Box Defender Pixel XL case - the USB-C Flap Sticks out a Bit Otter Box Defender Pixel XL Case - Black - Front View Otter Box Defender Pixel XL Case - Black - Back Rightside View
The Otterbox Defender (it's actually black, these are bad pics).

Resource Link:
Otter Box Defender Case for the 5.5" Google Pixel XL
Price: $44.99

But the Otterbox Defender has a a flap over the USB-C port that sticks open a bit, because the Qi receiving coil is plugged into it.  You have to pay attention when you line it up on the fast charger stand, as you not only have to center it, you also have to make sure it is straight up and down, not half cocked in one direction or the other, because you are balancing it on that loose flap.  And its too nice of a case for me to cut the flap off, but I am thinking about it.

The Otterbox Defender is also a struggle when trying to get that case on and off the phone.  But it sure is a heavy-duty case.  I will use this when I am out and about bicycling, doing other activities, playing frisbee and sports.  It really is a heavy-duty case.

The Spigen Rugged Armor Case for the Google Pixel XL (Phone by Google)

Spigen Rugged Armor Case for the Google Pixel XL - Back View. Notice that the USB-C plug for the Qi Receiver Card is Barely Noticeable? Spigen Rugged Armor Case for the Google Pixel XL - Face & Left Edge Spigen Rugged Armor Case for the Google Pixel XL - Face & Right Edge
The spigen 'Rugged Armor' case is very thin, and again, black, not gray.  As you can see, the USB-C plug only protrudes a little bit and the spigen case actually conforms to it because it is so pliable and resilient. 

Resource Link:
Spigen Rugged Armor Case with Resilient Shock Absorption and Carbon Fiber Design for Google Pixel XL 2016 - Black
Price: $11.99

In the meantime, the Spigen I bought from Amazon works pretty damn good, too.  While not the heavy-duty case that the Defender is, it looks really good with the Qi charger plugged into the USB-C port, because it has enough give to conform around it, and no flap over the port hole.  My photos don't do it justice, it is a nice black, but I took those photos with my Note 3 and haven't photoshopped them to be more accurate.

All photos, unless otherwise credited, were taken by me (Doug Peters) with my new Google Pixel XL and are Copyright Doug Peters, 2016.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is Impossible to Return

This Note 7 crap is so stupid.

Neither of my Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (the original I received, nor the replacement) has caught fire, exploded or even gotten hot.  I mean, not in the slightest.  It's hard for me to understand the issue at all, it's barely warm once I remove it from the charger.  All my other phones have been much. much hotter almost all the time.

I feel that I am being punished for wanting the very best phone on earth.  There is nothing wrong with my phone, and almost everything is right about it.

Sure, there are some curiously idiotic flaws to address...
  1. The note platform is meant for note taking and individual creativity.  But the curved edge surfaces are completely unreliable writing surfaces acting as an obstacle, a problem doubled with no touch sensitivity.
    • The curves are more like speed bumps, disallowing freeform drawing, sketching, painting or note-taking.
    • It is absolutely impossible to write to the edge of the screen (so that artists cannot digitally use the whole canvas in drawing or photo editing apps).
  2. Because of the first obvious flaw, one would think that this second flaw would not exist by giving the user an option to have the traditional Note flat screen (for function), but no, Samsung decided that it was more important to be pretty, so for the first time ever, we don't get to decide which one we want, and we have form (over function).
  3. The curved glass makes it impossible to apply Gorilla glass, or any tempered glass protector that will work.  Which wouldn't be a big deal, if the screen glass was gorilla glass already, but it's not.
  4. The SIM card shares the same cradle as the microSDcard, so when removing or changing out the microSDcard to plug it into your PC and download the photos, your phone is incapable of receiving or making phone calls.
  5. In order to unlock the microSDcard tray to remove or replace it, you have to carry around a special key. I put it on my key chain (makes sense, right?). Except for the fact that when I reach into my pocket to grab my keys, I am often poking myself with that key (right under the fingernail too, OUCH).  Guess what?  My part-time job is as a delivery driver, and I am constantly going for the keys in my pocket.
Of course, I need a smartphone for all of my jobs, as well as my businesses and self employment.  But I have been in and out of the Verizon store (pictured just below) so many times that it is ridiculous.

I have decided I needed to turn the phone in, even though I don't want to, but only because if it ever did catch fire in a public place, I might get sued.  

But, I can't return it...  

I was at Verizon a week ago getting answers to my questions.  I still had a couple of Galaxy Note 7 cases that I had to return to Best Buy, as Verizon wasn't going to reimburse me for them.  And there is the matter of the fast Samsung wireless charger stand I am not sure whether I will return or not.

This weekend, I purchased a used Samsung Galaxy Note 3 through Swappa.  I hope to receive it, soon.  I also went to the Geek app, Amazon and other online shopping sites and bought a bunch of Note 3 accessories, like screen protectors and cases, even a Qi charger and pad, extra battery chargers and a new battery.  All because I will not be without a real Note platform phone (and the Note 3 was actually the last real Note, though the 4 was good, I won't be able to replace the battery easily in the older Note 4 phones, so I chose the Note 3).

But, I still need that camera that I upgraded my previous old Note for.  Yup, that 4K UHD recording, super sharp high resolution photography kind of camera.  So, I'll grab a Google Pixel.  

There, I've decided.  I went back to the store yesterday and told them so.  They won't take the phone.  

They won't take the phone back.  Now, last week, they would've taken it back, but I had some big decisions to make.  I am going to be tied to the next phone I get for at least two years.  And there just isn't anything like the Note.

I have had messages telling me to take the phone back to my carrier.  Verizon is my carrier.  I pre-ordered my Samsung Galaxy Note 7 at this store.  I gave-up my Note 7 at this store.  I received my replacement Note 7 at this store.  

I was told to go online to the Verizon website and sign-up for the recall.  I did.  But I can't make modifications to my account, because my wife, the account owner that is paying this bill, hasn't made me an account manager.  

So, we log into her account on her phone in the My Verizon app.  But that doesn't let us do anything, and we are constantly having to re-login even though we have "Remember Me" checked when we log in.  Its just strange.  Who thought of this inept UI?

Yet, according to the FAQ that we keep getting sent the link to, I have to go to my carrier retailer where I purchased the Galaxy Note7, the Verizon Wireless store where I not only pre-ordered the thing, but also replaced the Note7.

So, I will go to the store when they open later today, and maybe they can get me squared-away.  I realize that I'm supposed to be sent a fire-proof box with fire-proof gloves... how dramatic.  But this thing works fine.  It's even cool to the touch.  

Certainly, the problem isn't the battery.  It is more likely some screw-up in the assembly.  One has to wonder if some joker decided they would add a little scrap of metal shaving somewhere just to make the short-out happen.  

But this is a sickening migraine headache.  I have a life.  I have been back and forth to the Verizon store 7 times in pursuit of securing a Samsung Galaxy Note7, and I can't get the job done, as if I keep it I am setting myself up for liability issues, even higher insurance rates.  And if I could keep it without those worries, I would, only now I have returned the 2 Note7 cases that I bought and will never be able to replace them because no one will sell the Note 7, ever again.

This doesn't take into the account all the online research I have had to do to find an acceptable replacement for my primary phone (that I just bought and did all sorts of research on, yet settled for anyway).  Anything good hasn't been released to the market, yet.

I can't win.  And it is Samsung that has betrayed my loyalty by making me return the thing.  So, no thank you, Samsung, you traitor.  I was dealing with all your lack of vision, and trying to be happy anyway, but there is nothing out there that compares to the Note.  So I'll pre-order the Google Pixel XL 128 GB and just be happy with the best camera, and hope that my used Note 3 gets here soon in good condition, as described.

On top of that, I will steer the rest of my family away from ever buying Samsung products again.  By taking away my Note 7, I will guarantee you that when it comes time for my wife, son and mother to upgrade from their current Galaxy S6 phones, it won't be to a Samsung device.  I think they will like the iPhone more and more, or perhaps they will like my Google Pixel XL.  But never a Samsung, ever again.  Not even a new Samsung TV, tablet or camera will enter this house, now.

Samsung, you have spit all over my loyalty.  Goodbye!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Stupid 'Smart' Phones

I had been carrying around a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for nearly 4 years, now.  It was time to upgrade, and Samsung finally announced that it wouldn't even make a Note 6 model, but that I could pre-order the Galaxy Note 7 on August 2nd.

The jump in the model number wasn't so irritating, but these kind of antics always seem to prove that whoever it is in charge of branding has their head up their butt.  Take the advance release of Windows 7, which was called Vista.  It wasn't finished and it wasn't up-to-snuff, but Microsoft had to do something to get a new version out, because Windows 7 (not called that at the time,) was taking forever.  Since the release of Windows 7, Microsoft has dumped all sorts of crappy OSes on us, 8, 8.1, and then the version skip... Windows 10, just so that they can seem as advanced as Apple, with its Mac OS X and iOS 10.

I don't personally know anyone that is happy with 8, 8.1 or even 10.  It seems that we have all settled into Windows 10 despite the fact that we prefer and miss Windows 7, just because it's so important to keep up-to-date.  But it isn't a very good OS at all, with only minute updates and flaunts a boring wardrobe in comparison to Windows 7.

This kind of waffling on versioning is purposely intended to confuse.  I suppose 8.1 counts as 9, now?  It's all just a marketing gimmick.  But there is no device on earth more gimmicky than the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.  Samsung, in its infinite wisdom, totally disregarded what the platform was all about.  The Note was designed for artistic and creative people, and for those who enjoyed using a pen, including note-taking students and business people.  Yet, it wasn't just good at what it did, it was clever.  "Was" being the operative word.

I went in to my local corporate Verizon store to check-out the device on August 2nd, 2016.  But in hindsight, the device wasn't actually made available to me since the SPen was missing.  Had I had the opportunity to try the SPen, I would not have pre-ordered this unit and awaited something better.

But since Samsung, in its infinite wisdom to give us pretty instead of uiseful, decided to not even allow anyone to choose whether they bought a curved edge screen or a full sized flat screen model, for the very first time ever, they effectively turned the device into junk because the curved glass is a completely unreliable writing surface that becomes an obstacle to the user.

On top of that, since the edges of the glass are curved, the width of the glass is measured disproportionately, and this is further complicated by the fact that most of the curved edge of the touch screen is completely useless.  This type of idiocy reveals that the Note 7 is no longer an artist's platform, and was never meant to be such since you cannot .  The Note 7 was simply a bad gimmick that further blackened the Note platform (irreplaceable battery in the Note 4, no microSDcard slot in the Note 5).

Perhaps, if Samsung offered a flatscreen Note 7 model, with touch sensitivity from edge to edge, it could have saved a great deal of face.  I know I didn't want a curved edge display, nor have I ever.  I was simply forced into it, because I knew and respected the Note platform.

Surely, Samsung was trying to take the Note mainstream.  But that curved edge isn't even slightly useful and the sacrifice of functionality for a useless pretty form on a platform that relies on a stable writing surface (functionality).  Look at it this way, I bought the Note 2 because it was a large screen phablet.  As an aspiring artist and as a website and media designer, I could easily take notes, I could draw on photos, I could even pen a sketch or illustrate an idea to a client, easily.

But there is much more to it than that.  Unfortunately, the Koreans, Chinese, even the Japanese don't get us because their perspective is so small.  Perhaps it is hard for their small hands to hold a large phablet?  But I am 6'2", my son is 6'3" going on 6'4".  My wife is 5'8".  We are demonstrably taller, and larger, than our oriental world neighbors.  They don't understand our needs because of their smaller, compact perspective.

This has been proven again and again over time as you see department stores sell out of the limited larger sizes of clothes they send us, such as 40", 38" and 36" waist jeans, while we can't seem to get rid of the 28", 29", 30" & 31" smaller sizes that always wind-up on clearance because we have too many of them.  Girls and women's T-shirt clearance racks are full of XS & S sizes, because they send us more of them when we actually need more of the larger sizes.  And no matter who complains, these Asian companies are always sending out styles in lots with sizes that they deem are appropriate no matter the feedback they get.

Despite the  media and marketers poking fun at our big phones, the phablet platform is great for larger people with stout fingers.  When I moved from the tiny Droid X to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, I could actually type efficiently, effectively without near as many typos.  It was literally an answer to a prayer.  I couldn't've been happier, to tell you the truth.

But after almost 4 years with a Note 2, it was past time to upgrade.  I wanted to upgrade top the Note 4 as soon as my 2 year contract was done, but the battery wasn't removable anymore, so I waited until the Note 5, but that was a terrible phone because I will definitely take high resolution photos and 4K UltraHD video, and it didn't even have enough memory, or any storage card, to accommodate that.  Just FullHD alone is about 3 to 4 GB an hour.  I easily take 20 minutes to an hour of video shooting the local deer and wildlife, every day on the bike trail.  The Note 5 only came in a 32 GB model and there was no microSDcard support, or any removable storage, for that matter.  It just wasn't practical.

For some reason, the corporate giants that produce phones think that using the cloud is perfectly acceptable, but its not unless you live in New York, Chicago or LA and never leave the city.  Out here in the real rural U.S. that people call "God's country", or disparagingly refer to as "fly-over country", neither internet nor cell coverage is reliable.  Plus, our data limits are curbed by the carriers themselves so that using the cloud, even just for backup, is impractical.

Certainly, those of us who require a removable memory card expansion slot have been left in the cold.  But it isn't just that the wild (mid)west has spotty coverage, if you are a real serious player in the scope of technology, as a corporate entity you are looking to expand and promote your brand.  It's an absolute requirement of your stock holders.

But you cannot expand into rural and developing areas without addressing their needs, and where does Apple, Google, etc.. have to expand its elitist flagship market but into the business minds and leaders of rural, developing and third world areas?

Oh sure, you can record your friends and family in a lower resolution.  But technology marches on and 640x480 video is now a tiny window on a PC screen and we miss out even sooner if we record video at anything less than the optimum resolution.  Eventually, my grandkid will say "Why did grandpa record at such a tiny resolution?  I can barely see you!" That, if he can actually still play the video I recorded of my son.

Of course we need to photograph and record stuff at the highest resolution possible.  We see all those old time photos of our ancestors and wish they were better.  Now the very formats we recorded our kids only 10 or 20 years ago are marginalized.

What Samsung has been trying to do with the Note platform is ruining a good thing.  Every Samsung Galaxy Note since the Note 3 has been a march down hill.  The brand was originally an impressive platform, but now that it is obvious that the Note 7 is shorting out, it seems that Samsung itself has finally killed off what was once the best flagship platform ever produced.

There just isn't anything that compares.  This is clear when I look around for a replacement, now that my Note 7 recall replacement phone is being recalled.
  1. Nothing comes with a multi-pressure sensitive stylus that slides neatly into the phone.  NOTHING!
  2. Apple is the only real competition to Samsung, but they refuse to support any sort of removable storage solution and require everyone to use the cloud.  And now Apple is removing the stereo earphone jack so that we have to carry around a dongle to listen to our MP3s or even swipe credit cards for our businesses?  UNACCEPTABLE!  
  3. Apple offers a pen, but it's easily lost without a dock in the phone to keep it.
  4. Motorola put out the modular phone, the Moto Droid Z, which looked very interesting, until I learned that it no longer offers a stereo earjack, same as Apple's iPhone 7.  Why?  I have both PayPal Here and Square credit card processing I need to use, without a dongle.  Plus, I love to listen to my now rather large library of Google Play Music.  Again, UNACCEPTABLE!  
  5. Google's Nexus and Pixel phones are also absolute crap for anyone in a rural setting because they are also leaving out those of us that require a removable storage solution.  The Drive is nice, but we need access to it to use it in rural areas, and that is spotty, around here.
  6. Hey, I might be an amateur photo and video buff, but that's primarily because I don't want to carry around a lot of gear and I enjoy my mobility, on the bike trail, through the parks, having a camera phone should work for me.  But no one offers anything good, anymore.
There was a day when a company could see the demand of consumers and answer it, but without a Note, I am quite F'ed.  

I'll send my replacement Note 7 in when someone comes out with a phone to fill the void that ruining the Note platform has left behind.  I am not letting it go until there is a solution out there for me, somewhere.

My Note 2 died after pre-ordering the Note 7, and I have to wonder if Samsung zapped it on purpose.  

Has Samsung's reputation faltered?  You bet it has, miserably.  Most likely, it is unrecoverable from here on out.  As a family, we have purchased the following Samsung products based on our happiness with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and 3 different Samsung Galaxy S 3 phones;
  • 3 more Samsung Galaxy S 6 phones (and of these, 2 users are not happy without the microSDcard support).
  • The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (it's going to be recalled a second time without a phone to fill its niche?).  I wonder who's going to pay for the 2 cases I bought for it, this time?
  • The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Wireless Standing Fast Charger (as I don't want another Galaxy now, it's not going to help me out anymore, will I get my money back?).   
  • A Samsung hands-free Bluetooth earpeice (which works really well).
  • A 2014 Samsung 32" SHDTV (and it's been my experience that the 2014 SHDTVs are forgotten as far as apps and support go).
  • A Samsung Galaxy CORE Prime (that although is tiny & slow, it has come in quite handy as a second line after I upgraded from the old cellphone when my Note 2 was zapped, especially with having to keep exchanging phones every week or so, and NEEDING a smart phone as a simple requirement for both my job and my business).
  • A Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7" (that I intended to use specifically as a remote for the above 32" SHDTV, but Samsung killed support for it).
  • A Samsung stainless steel french door refrigerator (we actually bought a cooler, better model, but the delivery men switched it on us for this for this stupid model "because the 2 drawer model won't make it through the door").
I think its time that our family boycott all Samsung products, now.

UPDATE: And yet, after searching for well over 3 days now, it seems the only acceptable choice is an older Note (# 3 or 4).  

It's a shame, my father was in the Korean war.  I expected great things, and was happy to see them do well, but now it is clear that they can't deliver and are just taking advantage of us.

That's my take, and I do feel betrayed.  I am a brand expert.  I know this will destroy Samsung's reputation.  But the real reason it does, is because of our experience with them.  Our original buys were awesome devices.  After that, we kept up the loyalty, despite mediocre user experiences owning everything else we have purchased from them.  Despite my very vocal input and feedback, Samsung ceases to think about what I, or any consumer wants.  

It's just a shame.  

Yes, they could come back, but it is obvious that there is a lot for the company to deal with.  It would require that they produce quality technology that people want, and from my experience, they are no longer capable of that.  This debacle with the Note 7 is specifically for trying to mainstream the Note flagship and put it into more people's hands.  But they ruined the platform with 'pretty' over practical performance.  

I certainly have given-up on them, completely.

UPDATE (Oct 13): Although I am considering a Google Pixel phone, it is a stretch for me, without any removable storage solution.  But, at least it has an earjack, ahem... Apple & Motorola... AHEM!

I am also playing with the idea of getting an iPhone and an Aonit Pixel Stylus, but it doesn't seem to support the iPhone 6S Plus or iPhone 7 Plus, yet?  There's always something!  Isn't there?

In the end my only choice might to get an old Note until someone answers the call to provide the flagship phone we all need, complete with a great camera, a multi-pressure sensitive stylus, the microSDcard slot and the old handy earphone jack.

UPDATE (Oct 14): What happens if I turn in the phone and can't find a replacement right away, do I lose my ancient easy-to-remember phone number?  There are just too many unanswered questions and one news program says one thing while another says something different.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Samsung Just Sucks (No Loyalty) and Life with the Note 2

I grabbed a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 when the contract on my Droid X ran out.  My wife, son and mother all grabbed the Samsung Galaxy S3.

When it came time to renew our Verizon contract again, I was happy with the Note 2 and decided to wait for the Note 5 instead of upgrading to the 4 right away.  The rest of my family upgraded their S3 to an S6 as soon as that came out, despite my warnings against the S6 because of the advanced model's advanced limitations.

I never did upgrade to the Galaxy Note 5 for the same reason, apparently Samsung decided to get stupid and offer 4K UHD recording, but offered absolutely no SDCard or removable media of any kind in the hopes that we would purchase cloud space from them or others, and get reamed with data charges.  I honestly think it was a conspiracy between Google and Verizon that created this idiocy.

Nevertheless, my family upgraded to the Galaxy S6 and I waited around for the Note 5.  But the Note 5 didn't have an SDCard slot, either.  It was as much of a piece of crap as the S6.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the Note 2, and I still would if the technology wasn't getting old.  The screen is just barely big enough so that I am not constantly making typos with my big fingers on the tiny software keyboard, yet small enough to get it in my pocket.  I can spot stuff without having to put my reading glasses on, as long as I'm not reading an email, or web page.  I can actually get away with reading short bits of info.  As I often use my phone top read full email texts, I am better off with them, but I do hate fishing for and wearing glasses.

But now that the technology is 4 years old, the Galaxy Note 2 is definitely showing its age.  The biggest issue actually comes from Google, now.  The Google Play, Google Hangouts and Google+ apps are all crashing, constantly.  Everytime I pick-up the phone, even just to answer a phone call, I am getting notifications that at least one or more of these apps have stopped.  I have 2 options, report it or continue.  I am so tired of reporting these apps, so Google knows.  Yet, they just keep crashing and every dozenth time or so, I report it and complain.

Samsung lets my family down over and over, Google constantly lets me down and annoys me.  Yet, I have searched for a decent phone and can't really find anything.  The LG G10 was a possibility, and I am still considering it, but now the Note 7 (Samsung decided in its infinite wisdom to skip the Note 6 designation) is only a short way from release on August 2nd, I think.

Of course, now the issue is that my wife is upset that her S6 memory is filled-up and the battery doesn't last long at all.  She's upset that my son is deleting photos just to get the Gallery app to run because there's no memory available.  And he's going to be driving soon, so with the extra cost of insurance, guess who might not be able to upgrade his now problematic Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to a Note 7 to offset the extra cost of his insurance?

Thanks, Samsung.  You obviously are not a very intelligent corporation when you are sending me upgrades that make Google apps useless.  We bought a Samsung refrigerator from Best Buy and they said the model we bought wouldn't fit through the door, so they delivered the same model without the middle drawer, and we wound-up with the wrong thing altogether (we bought it for that feature and you couldn't make it skinny enough to go through the damn door)?

I bought a 2014 Samsung SmartTV and a 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 together so that I could control the HDTV with my tablet as a remote and 6 months later you dropped the app and I can no longer control that 2014 SmartTV because even third party remote controls won't work with 2014 SmartTVs (2013 and older, or 2015 and newer, but not 2014 Samsung SmartTVs).

Here, we have purchased 7 Samsung phones (although we are still paying off 3 of them), 1 referigerator, 1 tablet and 1 not-so-smartTV, all of them Samsung, demonstrating a very unique brand loyalty, but you don't stand behind your products, you feed us crap and pull switcheroos on us.

The question of loyalty, Samsung, is yours.  We have been purchasing your flagship products and gotten screwed.  I guess its time to get the LG and switch loyalties.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Where did the background go?

This is just one of my blogs that has lost its background.

I'm not sure what's going on, but I know of at least one other blog I have where this has happened.  I don't know if its my fault, or Google's or if I moved something in my Drive account, but I'll try to fix it.

UNRECTIFIED March 2nd, 2016 (Blogger's fault: Lost the default background image.  #SHEESH)
CRAP.  Maybe not.  The other blog was fixed when I reloaded the background for this template, as all the other template backgrounds suck.  But, I have to let this go now, as there is just plain too much on my plate to take care of.

What's up, Blogger?  Google?  You show the background in the Template Design Editor, but not in the actual blog?  http://www.FontMaster.US/ uses the very same damn template and background and it shows fine after a quick edit.  WTF?!

What a lousy blog experience this is, eh?  Thanks, Blogger!  Thanks Google.  CRAP.

3/15/2016 and no resolution in sight.  Switching to a different theme.  Geez.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Windows Portable Handheld Commercial Scanners

On 3/23/2015, 1:04 AM, Central Daylight Time, I published the following article on my Windows Laptop blog ( It has occurred to me that it is pretty much better off if it was here. So today, 3/29/2015, at nearly 5:00pm Central Daylight Time, I am copying the whole post (which I am allowed to do only because I hold the Copyright) and posting it here...

Retailers are often using a handheld PC they use to scan UPC bar codes.  The ones I use all seem to be Windows CE based.  We use the scanners to check prices, availability, product information, back stock stockroom location, and connected to a portable printer we may print out new price tickets or mark them down with clearance tickets.

Now, I know that this is old technology.  We have been using these slow-ass time wasting devices for at least the 4 years I have worked the store.  So why the hell even use them?  Once a ticket is scanned it will usually take a second or more to spit out a printed ticket.  Obviously, these are not multiple processor machines.

But why doesn't business recognize what a piece of crap this system is and replace it immediately?

Think about it.  In one night we might have anywhere from 6,000 to 17,000 pieces to mark down, but we literally have to scan many times more.  Even if no ticket is required, the devices are still pathetically slow as you wait on what to do next.

6,000 peices to mark down means that I am wasting at least 12,000 seconds scanning everything if I am scanning all the clearance products for further additional markdowns.  12,000 seconds is 200 minutes wasted, every single night that we do mark downs.  Now, times 1,000 stores and the corporate entity has just wasted over 200,000 minutes, at bare minimum,  3,333 hours where its employees could be getting more done, or doing other things.

3,333 x 8.50 (min wage) = $28,330.50 of wasted labor every night there are price changes.  And we usually have price changes every couple of weeks or so.  Sometimes, there are so many products to scan, it takes 2 nights.

And our corporate leadership fails to see how pathetic this system is, anyway?

But, that's not the half of it.  There is an official ignorance about product life.  Batteries go dead and no one replaces them.  I put a sign on a battery saying "Dead Battery" and someone takes the sticky note off and puts it in the charger, but it won't charge because the battery is completely dead and useless.  I change the sign to "Useless Battery" and they rip the sign off and put it in the charger, still.

Because of this ignorance, batteries don't get recycled and we wind-up with more dead batteries than we have good ones.  This means we spend up to an hour trying to find a battery that works with our handheld PC scanner.  Of course, it is more complicated than that.  Some batteries will work in certain PCs.  So nothing gets thrown out or recycled, and no one knows how to combat this.

Then, when you connect a printer, the PC has to be able to work with the printer.  Sometimes they don't work together and you have to trade out printers once you have a PC and printer comination that works.

We tell management about all these issues and more (scanning a QR code by accident freezes-up many of the PCs, and the QR codes are placed right next to the UPC codes), and yet no one does anything.  This is a pathetic set of circumstances, and I am quite honestly convinced that my corporate retailer loves frustrating its employees with poor pay, poor equipment, unreal expectations, no real benefits and complete ignorance.

Ignorance is not bliss.  It is stupid when it is preventable.  Especially in a corporate environment.