Bluetooth Dissed

One argument I hear often from laypeople, is that they don’t like Bluetooth, because at the user-level, Bluetooth Pairing is hard.

People who are knowledgeable in Computing understand, that every time we create a Bluetooth Pairing, our devices are establishing a communications channel, which is as secure as the authors of Bluetooth can make it, due to Advanced Encryption. So we see that there is a potential benefit to this.

For example, in the case of a keyboard which is connected to a tablet – which means that a BT session is underway – it can happen at any time, that we type in our password to unlock the tablet, or to unlock any of our accounts on the Internet. That could be made a generic wireless link which is extremely easy to set up. But then, since we’re always weary of an eavesdropper, the link would be of an ideal format, to steal all our passwords from us through direct exploitation.

But because we’re using Bluetooth, in fact it’s an encrypted link. So even if the ones and zeroes that make up a communication were intercepted, the hypothetical eavesdropper would still not be able to exploit them.

And so I can empathize with knowledgeable people, who feel that the added difficulty in establishing a Bluetooth Pairing, is well worth the effort.

Continue reading Bluetooth Dissed

Pixel C Keyboard Pairing Problem – Solved.

I own a Google Pixel C Tablet, which I did order with its recommended, accompanying Bluetooth Keyboard. I’ve been using it with a lot of fun for months now. But yesterday evening, the problem finally happened to me, which I had been contemplating, which was, that I had spent such a long series of hours using them, into the night, that the keyboard actually went dead. I mean, the batteries of the KB could not live as long as my session would have, and pressing keyboard keys eventually had no more effect on the tablet, as the pressed keystrokes were no longer being received. So what I did was to close the tablet over the keyboard in the recommended way, to plug the two in to have them charge, and to leave them that way overnight.

Next morning, I wanted to find that not only the tablet charge was back at 100%, but that I could just step in and start using the keyboard again. But what I found, was that the tablet – with its battery at 100% – was still unresponsive to the keyboard. So my first conclusion was, that the state of the Bluetooth Pairing, was somehow corrupted on the software-level, between the tablet and the keyboard. So I followed ‘The usual, basic steps, to re-pair the two':

  1. Separate the tablet from the keyboard. The on-screen keyboard will become available.
  2. On the tablet, go into Settings -> Bluetooth, tell it to Forget all Bluetooth Pairings, and turn Bluetooth Off.
  3. Re-Attach the tablet to the keyboard, and watch the tablet ask me to turn Bluetooth On. Do so.
  4. Wait for the Tablet to show me the PIN-number, which I am to type into the keyboard, to make them pair.

The next problem was, that Step (4) above wouldn’t happen. So my next thought was, that one of two things could finally be wrong with my keyboard:

  • The charging system / KB battery could genuinely be defective (Unlikely, as they are virtually still new, and were working before).
  • The logical corruption in the Bluetooth Pairing State, between the tablet and keyboard, could be more-deeply corrupted than I thought, from the broken-off session the previous night, maybe even at the Firmware Level.

So now I proceeded with ‘A more-robust procedure, which amounts to resetting the keyboard, as there does not exist a more-proper, explicit way to reset that keyboard':

  1. Separate the tablet from the keyboard.
  2. On the tablet, go into Settings -> Bluetooth, and tell it to Forget all Pairings / and turn Bluetooth Off.
  3. Soft Boot the tablet.
  4. After the orderly reboot has finished, Go To Step (3) in the more-basic procedure above.

And what I found next, was that after I had allowed the tablet to turn Bluetooth back On, it did in fact greet me with the 6-digit PIN-number, and after I typed that into the keyboard, and after I had hit Enter on the KB, the keyboard worked fine again.


Now, there exist people who claim, that they tried all the steps above, numerous times without success, but that “Suddenly, the keyboard started working again.” To the best of my understanding, what must really have been happening to those people, is that they did try all the above steps, but ‘Maybe not in the correct sequence?’


(Edit : )

Even when there is no malfunction taking place, I never try to reboot my tablet, with the BT Keyboard connected.

My best guess for what goes wrong with this KB, would be that it keeps its local store of information, with its encryption key, as a volatile (RAM) chip, with no backup power-supply. It lacks a non-volatile chip to store that. Hence, when the battery goes fully flat, its encryption key is corrupted, and depending on the extent to which encryption is hardware-based these days, it can also leave a trace in the firmware of the tablet itself, that the tablet was paired with it. Hence the reboot needed.


Pixel C Keyboard Works Now.

When I first received my Google Pixel C tablet, with its assigned custom Bluetooth Keyboard, my first priority was to make sure the tablet worked, not the keyboard. After that, I found that the keyboard did not seem to want to pair.

I have learned a lesson from this incident, which I feel I should share with the community. By now, the keyboard is also working fine. It is easy to jump to false conclusions, about why something is not working.

The keyboard comes with the type of instruction card, which I just love to hate, with no technical accuracy, and very loose language. The instruction card states, that in order to charge the keyboard, we should have it facing up in front of us normally, that we should flip the tablet over vertically, and that we should then align the light-bar, that is normally at the top of the back of the tablet, with the space-bar, while putting the tablet face-down on the keyboard and allowing it to charge. “Cool.”

What a person like me will do, is literally align the light-bar – now at the bottom of the back of the tablet – with the space-bar on the Keyboard, which left a part of the keyboard protruding. That part of the KB which was protruding, actually contains the coils that the keyboard needs, to receive a charge.

The fact that this was an error did not become obvious immediately, because the magnets in the KB nevertheless allow it to snap into place, out of position in this way.

But my failure to pair this KB with the tablet then stemmed from the fact that it had never received a drop of charge. And the fact that the keyboard itself has no charge-indicator, again did not alert me to the error. I suppose that anybody who is used to this device, would know better. I am a first-time customer.

What the instruction-card should say, is that we should flip the tablet over, with the light-bar on its back facing towards us, but on the side of the keyboard that has the space-bar. And yet, we should align the tablet with the keyboard exactly, flush. It can then receive its charge.

I left it charging for about 4 hours while connected to the A/C, before trying it, and it worked just fine. Yet, the keyboard also has the ability to charge – presumably with reduced current – when the tablet is not connected from to the A/C. When it is doing that, the light-bar on the tablet briefly pulsates in green, instead of pulsating in the 4 colors it pulsates in, when the A/C is connected.



And, it was the fact that part of the keyboard was protruding, which also prevented me from just carrying the two components under my arm, while they were magnetically attached. When they are completely flush, they are also fully ready to be carried in this way. And this way, the keyboard fulfills three functions perfectly:

  1. It protects the tablet sufficiently – better than a leather case would.
  2. It provides a keyboard when the user is on-the-go, which the user can therefore take with him with no encumbrance.
  3. It props up the tablet.

But there is a way in which the pairing procedure itself could get confusing:

Continue reading Pixel C Keyboard Works Now.