New Potential in my Galaxy Tab S.

As I wrote in this earlier posting, I believe that my ancient Galaxy Tab S First Generation (Android) tablet has finally bit the dust, due to File System Corruption.

This is not just due to the wonky behavior following the latest hard-boot (during a routine software-update no less), but also because over the years, the amount of free memory on it has become very small, even though I have uninstalled most of the apps that were once installed on it. Typically, failure to reclaim unused space, is one of the earliest signs of FS corruption.

Depending on how one looks at it, visualizing this as a terminally-crashed tablet can have its upside, especially since my needs for a stock Android tablet are met in my ownership of a Pixel C. What this actually means is that I can regard the present installation on the Tab S as expendable, which means that eventually, I’d be able to experiment with it as I wish. For example, I might eventually want to root the Tab S, or install Linux on it…

But one fact which I seem to gather after some reading, is that even to install Linux on Android-capable H/W, does not take place as it does with PCs, where the Linux system is the only running O/S. Instead, Android-capable H/W seems to require that one way or another, we install Linux alongside Android. Thus, unless I get Android working again on the tablet first, I also wouldn’t be able to get Linux working on it.

Further, rooting an Android device does not (necessarily) cause the firmware to be flashed. Instead, if we want to flash the firmware, this is a separate operation which can also be done.

Long story short, whether I’ll ever be able to resurrect that tablet, depends on how it’s partitioned, and in which partitions I suspect the FS corruption has hit.

For example, if I just root, then the data and apps on the ‘/sdcard’ will not even be affected, and if that’s where the FS corruption was, the FS corruption will just stay there. The similar effect would take place, if I was to flash a custom ROM Image on the device, which would affect the ‘/system’ partition and/or the ‘/boot’ partition, but not affect the ‘/sdcard’ .

I would strongly suspect that the FS corruption is on the ‘/sdcard’ , especially since I wasn’t updating the O/S, when the latest crash took place. And what that would seem to suggest, is that my next step should actually be, just to perform a factory reset: The simplest advice sometimes given! That should reset the ‘/sdcard’ , and the ‘/data’ partition, mainly.

If that causes the tablet to become stable again, Then I could proceed next, to root, to install Linux, etc., etc., etc.. Or, I could just recommence with Android, with more reclaimed memory, and with a stable tablet…



A Realization About Samsung S6 Power Saving Access

In a previous posting, I had remarked that the (famous) “Tasker” app has a 3rd-party plugin named “Secure Settings”, which has a sub-section named “Samsung ROM”, under which there is a function named “Enable / Disable Power Saving”.

The general context of this is, that Tasker is a task Acceleration / Automation tool, in which each Task is defined as a sequence of Actions, many of which are built-in, but some of which are Actions defined by 3rd-party plugins, such as by ‘Secure Settings’. Hence, it was a goal of mine to insert the Action into a Tasker Task, which would turn the Power Saving Mode on, on my “Samsung Galaxy S6″ phone.

I am Not Rooted.

This failed every time, and at first I thought the reason would be, that the author of ‘Secure Settings’ had failed to keep his module up-to-date with the latest Android Lollipop version, which my S6 is running.

But then another observation came to my attention.

The app “NFC Tools Pro”, and its companion, “NFC Tasks”, is also supposed to support, that an NFC Tag should enable Power Saving Mode on a Samsung Phone, when we tap the Tag. ‘NFC Tools Pro’ additionally has a mode in which it executes its Task as a test, before that Task has even been programmed into a Tag. And when I ran the test, this app was also unable to switch on Power Saving Mode.

In both cases the behavior is identical, in that the Action returns as a ‘success’ immediately (even though when I Enable Power Saving manually, it takes several seconds for this setting to kick in), but in that Power Saving Mode is not enabled – even later.

And so an inference which I am making about this feature, is that indeed the app developers are not up-to-date with the latest Samsung API – Only Because on the latest phones, one needs to be rooted in order for this command to work (!)

And so what I ended up doing both as an intended, future NFC Tag Task, and as a present Tasker Task, was simply to script a pop-up to appear, which states “Suggest to Enable (or Disable) Power Saving Mode Now.” It is a shame, that the whole procedure cannot be 100% automated, but I guess that Samsung has been very conscientious in its efforts to increase security. And denying ‘any old app’ permission to fiddle with the power settings in general, could be a step towards greater security.



NFC Tasks Requires that the Phone Not Be Locked.

I this previous posting, I wrote about how tapping an NFC Tag, with the “NFC Tasks” app installed, can cause a phone to perform an automated sequence of actions. I have learned that in order for this to work, any lock screen on the phone must have been unlocked, and that the phone must not be asleep.

I find that sensible.

And there do exist rooted users, who will go through complicated measures to bypass this. But since my phone is not even rooted, this subject does not apply to me.