About a minor (Home-Screen) nuisance I’ve experienced on Android deviceS.

I have owned several Android-based devices, and some of those were purchased from Samsung, those being:

  • A Galaxy Tab S, First Generation,
  • (An earlier Smart-Phone),
  • A Galaxy S6 Smart-Phone,
  • A Galaxy S9 Smart-Phone.

A feature which all these devices have, is the Touchwiz Home-Screen (program). This is the default of what the devices display, when not displaying a specific app, when not displaying the app drawer, and when not displaying ‘Bixby’ (most recently). An unfortunate behaviour of the devices is, that Touchwiz will sometimes crash. In my experience, when it does, this is no big deal, because it restarts automatically, and after a few minutes, even my Notification-Bar Entries will reappear. If certain apps fail to make their notifications reappear by themselves, then launching those apps from the application groups will make their notifications reappear.

I tend to rate each Android device, according to how rarely its Home-Screen will crash in this way. According to that, my Google Pixel C Tablet fared better because its home-screen has never crashed on me. My S9 Phone fared almost as well, in that Touchwiz seldom crashed. But now I think I’ve identified a situation which will frequently cause Touchwiz to crash on the S9 Phone.

Firstly, as I’m writing this, the firmware on that phone is at its latest version, that being the October 1 patch, of 2019, of Android 9.

I discovered that I can trigger this situation, as I was experimenting with the Super-Slow-Mo camera recording mode, in which the camera can record up to 0.4 seconds of video at 960FPS, at a resolution of 1280×720. When the camera does this, it generates a 20MB video, after that has been compressed via a standard H.264 CODEC into an .MP4 container-file. I have the default set, to record all camera footage to the external Micro SD Card. Having recorded the super-slow-mo video once, triggered this behaviour.

There is a simple way to interpret what has caused this, that does not seem to lay any blame on Samsung: When the camera is recording video that fast, it’s generating data faster than the external SD Card can store it. Therefore, the data takes up RAM, until some later point in time, when the O/S has transferred the data to the SD Card, by writing it out. This moment was reached several seconds later.

Here’s where the news gets a bit worse. I can download This 3rd-party app, that’s designed to test what speed of external SD Card I have. The reason I need to do this is the fact that I never seem to remember exactly what type of SD Card I purchased, for use with one specific device.

According to this app, my external SD Card can be written to sequentially at ~12MBytes/Sec. That makes it a Class 10 card. Yet, 20MB of data are to be stored in 0.4 seconds. In fact, simply running the benchmarking app caused a second Touchwiz crash, which was just as inconsequential as the first, that I was trying to investigate. What this seems to suggest is, that virtually no SD Card that I can buy, can really be fast enough to be written to at the speed with which the camera app can generate its data. The camera app will need to cache its footage in RAM, before that footage has been written to the SD Card.

Further, the footage is certainly being stored in RAM in an uncompressed form of data (384 raw frames), while what’s to be written to the SD Card is finally compressed. (:1)

And yet, either of these two apps will cause the Touchwiz crash. Hmm… I think that for the moment, I’ll just hold my horses, and record a maximum of 0.2 seconds of Super-Slow-Mo. Thankfully, this is a parameter that I can choose, with the little icon in the upper-right-hand corner of the view, before shooting.

(Updated 11/17/2019, 12h10 … )

Continue reading About a minor (Home-Screen) nuisance I’ve experienced on Android deviceS.

How to patch ‘kdeconnect’ to work under Debian / Stretch.

There exists an Android app named ‘kdeconnect’, which, when paired with the Debian / Stretch / Plasma 5.8 desktop widget by the same name, allows users to sync various features between their Linux desktop, and their Android device. The versions I’m presently using are:

  • Android app: 1.12.9
  • Linux package: 1.0.3~bpo9+0

Besides syncing certain basic messages, such as phone Notifications to the widget, this app allows for the desktop computer to browse directories on the Android device, which the user has authorized from his Android device – as long as the Linux desktop widget software has been patched! Below is another shot, of what this looks like when it’s working:

Screenshot_20190615_181900

The main observation about this is the fact, that it does not work out of the box. The reason for this is the fact that the Linux widget is out-of-date, as a backport. The Linux-based software tries to use an SSH-FS Mount, that specifies ‘DSA’ as its crypto-algorithm. DSA is an outdated, insecure protocol, for which reason the application framework of Android no longer supports it! Android will demand that RSA be used as a minimum.

And so, due to this initial incompatibility, the SSH-FS Mount, which creates a virtual file system in the user’s home directory, in a hidden sub-directory, fails, with an error message to the user that doesn’t seem helpful. This error message simply complains that certain files and folders could not be found, that are supposed to exist remotely, from the Android device.

And so at first glance it might seem like an unsolvable problem. But as it happens, with this exact version of the Linux package, there is a fix, which I’ve been using for months. In the past I wanted to keep this patch to myself, out of fear that my readers might botch this delicate surgery. But I’ve had a change of heart, in that I want everybody to benefit from this app, even if they are using an outdated version of the Linux software. If the reader has the courage to perform this surgery, then the following is for you:

Continue reading How to patch ‘kdeconnect’ to work under Debian / Stretch.

Latest Android Update Breaks ‘kdeconnect’ on Debian Stretch (Already Resolved).

One of the apps which I have installed on my Android phone, is called ‘kdeconnect’, and I’ve blogged about it before. This is an app that allows a compatible Linux widget to sync certain data with the smart-phone.

Screenshot_20190216_130006

(Screen-Shot from some earlier version of this app, which did not constrain the available directories.)

The version which I have installed on the Debian / Stretch computer I name ‘Phosphene’, is 1.0.3~bpo9+0 . I actually needed to patch this package, so that for the following few months, it was able to browse the file-system of my phone, specifically, directories which I authorized on the phone app, from my Linux computer.

Well the Android companion to this app has just received an update through Google Play. This update broke the ability of my Linux computer to mount the remote file system – i.e., to browse any directories on the phone.

(Update at 18h25 : )

But what seems to have happened is that two updates were pushed to my phone in rapid succession, the second of which put the Android app version to 1.12.9 . The reason for which I’m inferring this, is the fact that this remote mounting of the phone’s chosen directories works now, with no actual intervention from me:

Screenshot_20190615_181900

The detail of this experience which puzzles me, is the thought that I had in fact been testing v1.12.9, when I first reported the app as broken… :-?

However, this ‘broken’ result can also occur, just because of faulty communication between the two devices.

(Update 7/6/2019, 21h25 : )

Continue reading Latest Android Update Breaks ‘kdeconnect’ on Debian Stretch (Already Resolved).

Issues in getting ‘kdeconnect’ to browse the Android phone’s file system.

One Plasma 5 application which I’m a fan of, is the ‘kdeconnect’ application, which, if The corresponding Android app is installed on a smart-phone or tablet, allows synchronizing data and use between the phone, and our desktop environment.

Here is what the widget looks like on the Linux computer’s desktop, when it’s showing no notifications from the phone:

Screenshot_20190216_125813

(It has the capacity to display notifications which appear on the phone, but on the Linux desktop, as well as numerous other capabilities.)

Under Plasma 5.8, most of what it has to offer works out-of-the-box. But there has been one issue, when trying to browse the phone or tablet’s file system, from the desktop, and which is a known issue. This does not work out-of-the-box. I know why it does not.

What ‘kdeconnect’ will do from the client, which is the desktop, is use an ssh-mount to mount the file system of the phone or tablet, virtually, on the Linux computer, after which that virtual file-system can be read from and written to, on the Linux computer. In order for this to work, the app on the phone needs to act as a file-server, and as far as I can tell, the Android app does so without flaw.

(Updated 3/27/2019, 7h40 … )

Continue reading Issues in getting ‘kdeconnect’ to browse the Android phone’s file system.