Saturday, September 1, 2018

Installing PowerAmp on an Older Android Device That Can't Access Google Play

I use my old HTC Droid Incredible for a media player.  I would TOTALLY still use it for my main phone if it weren't for the fact that it maxes out at 3G and Verizon has stopped allowing older devices to be activated.  I love, love, love it's small size, and I also love the optical joy stick.  PLEASE, oh world's makers of phones, bring small phones and the optical joy stick back!!!

Anyway... I have ripped my hundreds and hundreds of CD's to FLAC.  That means I need a player that will handle FLAC files.  The native Android player on Gingerbread does not support FLAC (or much of anything else).  After a bunch of research, I've landed on PowerAmp as my app of choice.

Now comes the problem.  Google Play no longer supports Android Gingerbread, and my Droid Incredible is running Android 2.3.4.  I just want to play FLAC files with my beloved Droid.

I e-mailed PowerAmp, and they weren't much help.  In fact, here is there reply:
"Google quit supporting Android 2.3 so you may have to find and download older Play version"
Yeah.  Thanks loads for all the help.

So I can't download PowerAmp via Google Play (what is called "Market" on my phone).  I also can't side load the PowerAmp APK to my Droid because Android 2.3.4 doesn't have a file browser, thus if  I drop the APK onto the phone via USB from my computer, there is no way to get to it from inside the phone.  Even if you put it in the "Downloads" folder (to which Android 2.3.4 does allow access), the APK file won't show up because it wasn't put there by Android's Downloads Manager!  Furthermore, I can't download the app from the PowerAmp website, because the only way to access the internet from the phone is via the baked-in "Internet" app on Android 2.3.4.  That app does not support secure web connections (and thus really shouldn't be used to access today's internet, except my hand is currently being forced).

After searching for a work around, a long and convoluted process that I won't bore you with, I figured out a way to get things done.

I used my back up app (MyBackup Pro) on my everyday phone (a Moto Droid Z Force) to create an APK for both PowerAmp and the PowerAmp Unlocker that were on that phone.

I then uploaded those APK's to a non-secure web site --any old website to which you have FTP access and can upload files.  I would advise renaming the APK's so they are easy to type in and then place them as close to the root as you can so you don't have to do a lot of typing. (i.e. YourDomain.com/poweramp.apk and YourDomain.com/unlock.apk)

Thus I was able to download the two APK's via the "Internet" app on my Android 2.3.4 device.  Since they were downloaded in a way Android approved of, I was able to access the APK files via the Downloads app.

When I clicked both APK's, I verified that I wanted to install the apps, and BANG!  I'm running PowerAmp on my Gingerbread device.

Rock and roll (literally).

...

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Using an Old Apple Express to Extend Wifi Range (a/b/n)


It should be noted that the first time I went through the steps below, AirPort Utility told me it wouldn't work with a non-Apple base station.  However, I repeated the steps, and somehow it magically worked [update: no it didn't].  I can [not] confirm that I am using an AirPort Express 802.11n (1st Gen) to extend the network from my Netgear Nighthawk R7000.

It should also be noted that the current firmware for my AirPort Express is 7.6.4 (older firmware) and the newest available version is 7.6.9.  However, I am not updating the firmware just yet in case part of the update included Apple shenanigans to prevent the Express from extending non-Apple networks.

Update: Even after updating the firmware, I can't get the AirPort Express to pass the IP.  The broadcast works and functions as if it is extending the range, but the IP (the internet) does not pass through to the device connecting to the AirPort. So instead, I am just running a long ethernet cable from the main router to the AirPort Express, creating a "new" network with the AirPort, and extending my signal that way.

The steps to set up your AirPort Express as an extender (this information is largely based on a Quora answer given by E.O. Stinson):



Make sure your wireless router is set to a static channel, and write down the router's MAC address.

Configure your AirPort Express using Airport Utility:
    • Under Airport -> Wireless, set the Wireless Mode to "Participate in a WDS Network", and set the network name, security, password, and channel to match your router's settings
    • Now you'll have a new tab: under WDS, set the WDS Mode to "WDS remote" and the "WDS Main" to the MAC address you wrote down for your router. Be sure to tick the box for "Allow wireless clients."
    • Under the Internet tab, set Connection Sharing to "Off (Bridge Mode)."
    • Click Update. Wait for the Airport Express to restart.
    ...


      Tuesday, June 12, 2018

      Adobe Premiere CS6 Will Not Recognize MP4 Files


      Like so many before me, I was having issues with Premiere CS6 suddenly not being able to utilize the MP4 files it had been having no issue with previously (files already imported and utilized in a current project).  I tried to relink media and reimport the files to no avail.

      MP4 is just a container.  Because of this, some would suggest just changing MP4 (the file extension) to M4V or MOV. (extensions sometimes more readily recognized by Premiere).  This can work, but it certainly is not a prefered or stable solution.

      At first I thought it was a Quicktime problem (Quicktime is often annoyingly and persistently attached to the MP4 extension), so I updated Quicktime, but this had no effect.

      Then I realized that all the problem files were shot with a Sony A7R3.  Even though they were MP4 files and not Sony’s proprietary RAW file format, I thought maybe there was something inside the MP4 container that might be Sony-driver-specific, so I updated the Sony drivers as well.  No change in Premiere.

      Finally my internet search turned up another solution entirely… a really lame one.  Simply empty the Premiere CS6 media cache, and *poof* the problem is gone.  Thanks Adobe Forum user Miguel Chavez.  Thanks also, Adobe, for this known and frustrating issue, and for not ever solving it, even before CS6 had been depricated (though the issue is well documented and affected so many users).
      ...

      Wednesday, November 29, 2017

      Bluetooth Problems with MacBook Pro Running Bootcamp (Windows)

      For as long as I've been using my MacBook Pro, my Bluetooth has been abysmal. I run Windows via Bootcamp, but my wife uses her MBP as a Mac and she has the same problems (maybe worse). She got a nice little Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker for Christmas and never even used it, because she couldn't ever get it to connect to her MBP (and for me to get it to work, it took some serious effort, and even then the performance was sub par).

      I have several audio solutions set up around the house and studio, and Bluetooth is a fairly substantial part of the system(s), so today I decided to finally figure out what is going on, once and for all.

      For those who come across this post with the same problem looking for a quick-fix answer, try this:

      1. Go to Device Manager > Network adapters > Broadcom 802.11n Network Adapter
      2. Right click and select Properties.
      3. Click the Advanced tab, go to Bluetooth Collaboration, and select "Enable" from the Value drop-down menu on the right.

      After a lot of research, this seems to be the solution that works for most people.  And while it did help my problem, there are still major problems with my Bluetooth connection.

      What it boils down to?  ANYTHING electronic (yes, I understand the computer is electronic, and that actually IS a factor!) will interfere with the Bluetooth Adapter's signal.  It really is just a matter of the Bluetooth hardware in earlier MacBook Pros being utter and total shite.

      After I completed the steps above to enable Bluetooth Collaboration, I still had issues. I tried rebooting.  I tried altering other settings with both the network adapter and the Bluetooth devices (drivers on the MacBook as well as the devices themselves).  Then I remembered reading previously that a lot of people had problems with actual signal interference.  The MBP power block was sitting on the table (not near enough for me to think it'd be an issue, but still... on the table).  I moved it, and like magic, the music streaming over Bluetooth stopped stuttering.  But as soon as I started using my mouse (connected via wireless), the stutter started again.  So I unplugged the mouse receiver, but that didn't seem to help... and then I actually turned the mouse off via its physical switch, and the signal was smooth again... until I tried looking something else up on the web (using the MBP track pad instead of my mouse), when the stuttering started again.

      So I am now better than where I started.  After enabling "Bluetooth Collaboration" for the network adapter, I can at least walk away from the laptop and stream a smooth music signal to my Bluetooth receiver and stereo.  However, if I touch the computer or put anything electronic anywhere near the MacBook, the signal will be interrupted and stutter like crazy.

       


      Sunday, June 18, 2017

      Hamilton Beach FlexBrew 49983 E03 Error

      I recently picked up a Hamilton Beach FlexBrew (49983) at the thrift store for $8.  Not bad for a coffee maker that still costs $90 at Kohl’s, Target, Amazon, etc.

      HamiltonBeach49983It worked when I plugged it in at the store, but after a thorough cleaning at home (without submerging!), when I plugged it back in, the display simply read E03.  Sometimes when you get these errors with various electronics, you can plug the machine in while holding down a button or combination of buttons, and the machine will reset itself.  I tried all kinds of combinations, and while I could get the error to change to E08, I couldn’t make it go away.

      I assumed the error was a result of water getting in somewhere it shouldn’t have while cleaning the coffee maker, so I waited several days for the unit to dry out.  After three days, the E03 error persisted.

      There is no information regarding this error (or any error) on the Hamilton Beach website, and from what I can glean from reports from customers who have contacted Hamilton Beach directly, they won’t tell you what any of the error codes mean.  It seems like Hamilton Beach should post a list of error codes so that people (or at least technicians) can diagnose what is wrong.

      Since I couldn’t find any information on the web, I tore the machine apart looking for loose wires or broken solder connections, but I found nothing.

      However, while working on the machine, some strange combination of actions “released” a bunch of water from the spout on the single cup side.  The water had not come out when I simply turned the machine upside down, but when I turned the machine over and over while looking for screws to open it up, I must have turned it in a way that allowed the water to come out.

      So… it would seem the E03 error has something to do with water being trapped in a reservoir or tube somewhere, and that water can’t be drained simply by turning the machine upside down.  Thus, the “fix” is to turn the machine over and over in all directions,  until water comes pouring out of the single serve side spout.

      Monday, February 13, 2017

      Set Default Font in Illustrator and Photoshop CS6

      Under “Window” in the top menu bar, select “Type > Character Styles.”

      A pop-up window will appear.

      CS6-Type-Character-dialog-box

      Double-click “[Normal Character Style]” and another dialog box will appear.

      Select “Basic Character Formats” from the list on the left, and you can define all of your default text properties.

      IllustratorCS6-Type-Character-Basic-Character-Formats

      Wednesday, February 1, 2017

      Five Months Later with The Droid Z Force

      Man, I gotta say, other than size (which I will bitch about vehemently until they bring phones back down to the size of my original Droid Inc.), I am loving this Droid Z Force.

      droid z force JBL tiltExcept for the most extreme high-use periods, I easily get two days on a charge, and when it drops down too low for my liking, it only takes about an hour to get it back to 100%.  The quick charge is amazing, even when using “slower” chargers like my Anker multi-port or my car charger (though these do have higher powered ports than average chargers).

      Not only that, but the speaker mod, though a little bulky, contains a huge battery (and the added bonus of actually pretty decent sounding music on the go!).  I often just leave it on the phone, even if I'm not planning on using the speaker.  It still fits in my pocket nearly the same (obviously quite a bit thicker), and it actually makes the phone a little bit easier to hold onto (though it's not great in the car holder –too thick).  The phone with the speaker attached is kind of like carrying around a comfortably-edged (rounded), small Bluetooth speaker... except with the added bonus of a powerful phone/computer/browser/media player attached! And the kickstand on the speaker, which I use more often than I ever thought I would, is just icing.

      Not only that, but for around $80 (or $30-40 if you want to brave the eBay gray market) there is a Qi (wireless charging) 2220mAh additional battery mod by Tumi/Incipio (which are now one in the same since Tumi licensed Incipio for a year).  You can go for days without charging!

      The Google Pixel seems to be ruling the current mobile roost, but the Droid Z Force is spec'd pretty much the same, and all the apps that will "only" run on the Pixel actually run on the Z Force as well (including all the VR stuff that I have no use for).  And though a lot of people think the Pixel camera is tops, I really think the Droid Z Force phone is great (and, for what’s worth, I make my living taking pictures).

      I feel like I bought at the right time.  Any time you purchase a phone and they start the hard push with advertising four months later (like with my GS5), and then the specs are still as good as all the brand new phones coming out (like with my GS5)... I feel satisfied.

      All this for a phone I got for absolutely free (w/ two year contract) because at the time everyone was going gaga for the Samsung S7.  Doggonit, I feel like a winner.

      Cons:

      • not water proof (at the time I bought my GS5 I thought “water resistant” was a gimmick, but I actulally miss this about my GS5 –which I used to shoot 4K video UNDERWATER for eight hours!!!)
      • no cases, especially with varying sized Moto Mods, so no protection for the phone or additional mods; I installed a matte screen protector (which I prefer to a glossy screen anyway) and the screen is advertised as unbreakable, so there’s that, but the phone and mods are definitely showing some physical wear
      • size, always the size (bring back the original Droid Incredible!)
      • though not a con with the phone, I was extremely disappointed with the “Hasselblad” (apparently in name only) Moto Mod; it’s junk, especially compared to the Droid Z Force’s stellar native camera