April 1, 2020

Cell Phones

I have been using a cell phone (like most of the so called civilized world) for several years now. I have always intended to learn more about the technology involved and collect some notes .... right here. But I never seem to get around to it.

New phone (google Pixel?)

Repair

Instagram

Easy from the phone, but from the desktop? There is a Chrome extension, "Desktop for Instagram" that seems to be the easiest option.

Carriers

I have always used Verizon and been entirely satisfied with their service. There seems to be some validity to their claims to have a reliable network. Note that there are two "schemes" of cell phone transmission and encoding: They are incompatible, and a phone designed to work on a CDMA network may be hardware incompatible with a GSM network. Apple is the only maker I know of that sells phones that can work on either network -- though this may depend on the specific model number. The carriers have various stupid rules also that may limit your ability to change from one carrier to another, though this is always in a state of flux.

My Phones

Android tips

To move an APP from device storage to the SD card -- go to Settings, More, App manager. This gives you a list of your apps. Visit each one, it should have a button that says "Move to SD card" (sometimes this is greyed out).

Text clients - Chomp SMS

Years ago I switched from the default android client to "chompSMS". I liked it well, but some issues arose that made me want to switch. Namely ads and some bugs sending messages.

Text clients - Handcent (forget it!)

Just today (11-30-2020) I switched from "chomp" to "handcent" which labels itself as "Next SMS". The motivating thing was sending text messages and finding out hours later that the text had not been sent. This typically happens when I am in a remote area and send something very important. I want a notification that slaps me in the face if a message doesn't go out, not just a flag that I will see days later when I revisit the thread. It remains to be seen if "handcent" will do better. But I already like one thing -- when I have several recipients, it shows me all of them up front in a compact way.

I like Handcent, except for one thing. It is murder on my battery life. Others are complaing also, while some are in denial. A common suggestion is to go to "Go SMS". To be more specific, I took my phone off the charger mid morning (10 AM) and by 9PM the battery is nearly dead. I could go for nearly 2 days before Handcent came along.

So we gave Handcent less than 24 hours. It was nice, at least I liked the way it showed conversations with multiple people much better than chomp. I didn't have enough time to get to evaluate other features. I am not sure about Go SMS, I wish Handcent didn't have this stupid battery issue as it looked pretty nice. I corresponded with the handcent team and they sent me various versions to try, none of which solved anything. I gave up.

Text clients - Textra (looks promising ...)

Now it is July 15, 2021 and I am going to try another text app, this time "Textra". Two things are motivating this. One is that about a month ago, "Chomp" started injecting ads. I can pay a one time "pro" fee that is less than $5. For life they say, but do I believe them? Even more annoying is a bug where I get errors trying to respond to multi participant mails and even some old message threads. This could be a global android problem, but switching to Textra may help diagnose that.

Getting photos from an Android phone to linux

The MTP protocol seems to be the thing. On my Fedora 30 system, I do this:
su
dnf install simple-mtpfs
Fooling around with it:
simple-mtpfs  mountpoint [options] (this is the usage message)
simple-mtpfs -h (gives help)
simple-mtpfs -l (lists devices)
With my Samsung S4 connected via a USB cable, I get:
simple-mtpfs -l
1: SamsungGalaxy models (MTP)
The github page for this gives better documentation than the usage message. Source is completely misleading and optional. If you only have one possible device (like I do), you ignore that and just supply a mount point as in:
cd
mkdir mtp
simple-mtpfs ./mtp
....
fusermount -u ./mtp
Note the "fusermount" command to unmount the device. The simple-mtpfs software works with "fuser", which is a driver that supports a user filesystem, for better or worse.

If you had multiple devices (which seems highly unlikely, but who knows, maybe you want to copy files from one phone to another or something), you would use:

simple-mtpfs --device 1 ./mtp
But never mind all of this, the simple command works and I see stuff mounted under ./mtp -- and no need in my case to fiddle any settings on my phone or answer dialogs. There was a long delay waiting for my phone show up and my Fedora desktop briefly showed a useless icon about a Verizon phone.

The trick now is finding my photos (which is what I want in this case) in the mounted directory structure. There are two directories, "Phone" and "Card". Pictures does not have what I want. However each of these has a DCIM directory.

I like to have any commands I won't remember after a week in a Makefile. Then I can just go to a directory, find a Makefile there, look at it, and be back on the air without hassle. So I set up this simple Makefile:

# mount and unmount phone

list:
	simple-mtpfs -l

mount:
	simple-mtpfs /home/tom/Phone/mtp

umount:
	fusermount -u /home/tom/Phone/mtp

pull:
	rsync -av mtp/Phone/DCIM/Camera/ Camera
So, all my phone related stuff (including the mount point) is in the Phone directory on my linux machine.

Note that I added a "make pull" command to pull any new photos off of my phone and maintain a mirror of my phone photos on my linux machine.

So now the scheme to pull photos off my phone is:

-- connect the phone with a USB cable
cd Phone
make mount
make pull
make umount

Have any comments? Questions? Drop me a line!

Tom's Cell Phones / tom@mmto.org