Thursday, March 27, 2014

Windows 8 and Pantech Burst

I tried to root a Pantech Burst a year ago, but failed to get the driver to work on Windows 8. I gave up and simply used a Windows 7 laptop to do it. Now I have the Miix and I need to root another Burst, I gave this comb another try.

Turned out, I didn't need to install either Pantech suite or driver, all I needed is to add the hardware ID to the Android's INF file,  android_winusb.inf, found under: C:\android\android-sdk\extras\google\usb_driver:

...... 
 
[Google.NTx86]
;Burst
%SingleAdbInterface%        = USB_Install, USB\VID_10A9&PID_6050&MI_01
%CompositeAdbInterface%     = USB_Install, USB\VID_10A9&PID_6050&REV_0231&MI_01

......
 
[Google.NTamd64]

;Burst
%SingleAdbInterface%        = USB_Install, USB\VID_10A9&PID_6050&MI_01
%CompositeAdbInterface%     = USB_Install, USB\VID_10A9&PID_6050&REV_0231&MI_01

......

Then manually point Device Manager to this location and the phone will appear as an Android ADB device in Windows 8.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WiFi hotspot through VPN

I had been using Bluetooth and USB DUN on my Miix, because WiFi hotspot could not go through a VPN connection on the phone. Well, this problem has been solved, thanking to this XDA post! Here I summarize the process:
  • Start the VPN connection.
  • Start WiFi hotspot.
  • Open a terminal or ADB shell, run the following commands as su -:
iptables -t filter -F FORWARD
iptables -t nat -F POSTROUTING
iptables -t filter -A FORWARD -j ACCEPT
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -j MASQUERADE 

thantos_mehak also posted his source code that makes above last step a simple click. I edited the code with above commands, compiled it and it worked fine. Note:
  • Your phone must be root.
  • You don't need to run VPN on other devices that are tethered to the phone.
  • If other devices still cannot connect, but ping 8.8.8.8 is successful, then change their DNS servers to, say, 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4. Or add another commands:
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p udp --dport 53 -j DNAT --to 8.8.8.8

PS:  WiFi Tether Router by Fabio Grasso works through VPN on its own (i.e. no need of above iptables commands). It is also the most featured among such apps I've seen. The only missing feature is auto WiFi channel. It works fine on my Galaxy S4 (root stock 4.3 ROM) but does not on my Pantech Burst.

PPS: Works for native Android Bluetooth PAN and USB tether too, and for proxy too (might need some extra routing work).

PPPS: For KitKat 4.4.2, some ip routes must be added as described in this XDA post:

ip rule add from 192.168.43.0/24 lookup 61
ip route add default dev tun0 scope link table 61
ip route add 192.168.43.0/24 dev wlan0 scope link table 61
ip route add broadcast 255.255.255.255 dev wlan0 scope link table 61

PPPPS:For some phones, even earlier than 4.4, the added lookup 61 will be removed randomly, hence need to be added again and again. Sometimes it is 60 instead of 61.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Must-have accessories for Miix 2 8

The very first add-on is the clap-on keyboard, of course. With it, your Miix is also a content producer on the go in addition to a consumer. And who wants Windows in the first place if just for consuming content? And why you still want a consumer only while you can have both in one?

If you don't want your eyes killed by the 8" screen, you should connect it to a large monitor whenever you can. Then you need a USB-VGA or USB-HDMI adapter. I have used some EVGA for many years, they cost me only $20/ea and come with VGA-DVI adapter, nice retractable cable and carrying pouch.


And you need a USB hub. If you need more than 4 ports, you may chain more hubs or get a 7-port one. I like the one from RadioShack, it is the smallest and thinnest, only a little larger than a US quarter.



 Now let's put them together, plus charger, mouse and keyboard:


Don't get a big head from above picture; afterward, there will be only one little plug to deal with, neat, no hassle:


Note that I did not use an OTG adapter on the Miix side, only a micro USB cable that comes with any smartphones these days.

Some more adapters you may also need

I like this tiny and cute OTG adapter, the tiniest I've seen:

This right-angle one is also nice:


And this one is a transformer - you can bend it into any shape and angle:


As the Miix charge cable has a micro plug like those for smartphones, you need this adapter to plug it into a USB hub if you want to charge your Miix while using USB devices (see this article for more details on charging Miix):


If you need a microSD card reader, these tiny and cute adapters are handy. They can be plugged into both standard and micro USB ports and the right one serves as the above adapter as well:


All above adapters cost only few bucks and take very little room. They are good to have in general, not just for Miix.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sprint birds coming back, check your dryer exhaust

If your dryer takes quite long to dry your clothes, you'd better check its exhaust. Don't be surprised to find bird nest there. To prevent it, get an aluminum BBQ screen from Walmart for $1 and cut it to fit the outlet.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sluggish SD slot and fix for Miix 2 8

Uninstall KB2913236 update.

There is one more issue: after insert a micro SD card, it is not recognized. The fix: disable the Intel SD host controller (the 3rd one under SD host adapters), then re-enable it. To do this with a simple click:

1) Find devcon.exe. This little utility by Microsoft can disable and enable a device.

2) In the same folder of devcon.exe, create a sdslot.bat file and copy and paste these two lines:

devcon.exe disable "ACPI\VEN_8086&DEV_0F14"
devcon.exe enable "ACPI\VEN_8086&DEV_0F14"

3) Optionally make a shortcut of sdslot.bat on your desktop for convenience.

From now on after you insert a SD card into the slot, right click on the shortcut, run as administrator, the card will be recognized immediately.

Watch local HDTV on Miix 2 8

and on any computer.


First you need a TV antenna, anything should work, even the simplest rabbit ear. I use a RadioShack box; so I can remotely adjust its direction. I tried many, this box works the best and gets all my channels 40 miles away. You need to try different locations to find the best spot in your house.


Then, you need a HDHomerun, often on sale for $30 or so. You plug the antenna into it and plug it into your router.


Now download the software from Silicondust and watch your favorite shows.


You may watch on an large external monitor via a USB-VGA adapter, CPU load is only a little higher, 32% vs. 12%. Watch and work, at the same time.


If you don't see image but audio only, you need MPEG2 decoder. Search for "CLVDPack080410.rar". During installation, the only item you need to select is "Cyberlink MPEG- 2 decoder (PDVD 10) v8.4.0.1408":


If you want to watch on your Android phones and tablets, you need the InstaTV Pro app, works very well. If you want to record your shows, you need Windows Media Center or MediaPortal.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sogou pinyin - still the king

The pinyin in Windows 8.1 is much better than the one in XP, Vista and 7, finally the first usable MS pinyin after Windows 2000. However, it is too sluggish in Firefox and IE and it always crashes them on my Miix. I have no choice but, as always, go to Sogou 4.3 which is the only Chinese/English input method I can live with for many years now.


After Sogou 4.3 installation, you must replace two files, ImeUtil.exe and PinyinUp.exe, with dummy ones, otherwise it'll upgrade automatically to the new versions that suck. You also must disable the SogouIMEMgr in Task Scheduler.

If you use MS OfficeXP on Windows 7/8, Sogou 4.3 is not compatible to that combination. You ether upgrade your Office XP or, like what I do, use Windows 8.1's build-in pinyin just for OfficeXP. Switching between these two IMEs are very convenient with Win+Space.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

More on Miix 2 8 USB charging

The key to charge Miix 8 is to plug a charger into the USB port of a hub. If you plug only an AC adapter into the hub's DC-in jack, it won't work. You may use any hub and USB charger. Another important fact: don't plug in an OTG adapter into Miix before you connect the hub; i.e., you must connect the hub to an OTA adapter first, then connect the OTA to Miix. Afterward you may hot swap USB devices on the hub, as shown in this video:




PS: the cable plays a very important role as is in Galaxy S4 and Note 2. If the cable - all the cables from charger to Miix, are not short and/or thick enough, charging is either very slow or not effective at all. And of course, if you use a 3rd party charger, it must be able to output 2A or more current. I also plug AC adapter(s) to the DC jack of the hub(s), it helps charging speed while I use many USB devices (I even chain multiple hubs).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Link Shell Extension - a must tool for Windows

Case #1: you added another hard drive to your computer, you want it appear as C:\MyData instead of D:\MyData.

Case #2: you have your GPS maps in a SD card, but the GPS app only recognize content on the C: drive.

Case #3: you want to back up your files, but they are scattered every where, such as C:\MyData, C:\users\john\Documents, D:\MyData ... .
......

Then simply go get Link Shell Extension. With this great little tool, you can make any folders and files to appear at any more locations. For example, if you want to let D:\MyData to show up at C:\MyData as in the above case #1:

You right click on D:\MyData and select Pick Link Source:


Then right click on C: and select Drop As Junction:


That's it, now MyData folder appears on your C: drive:


Note: you were not making copies, you only made a "pointer" pointing to the original place. But to applications, such as your GPS app, they do not know your trick and they really think the folder is at the new location.

This is not a normal shortcut that can only trick you (the user) but cannot fool applications.

As for the case #3, you pick up all the folders and drop them into a single folder. Then when you back up this single folder, all your files and folders are backed up.

[update 03/25/2014] Windows 8.1 protects the C:\Program Files folder, thus you cannot use LSE to make a junction or symbolic link in it. You must use the mklink command instead. For example, if you have your GPS maps in D:\GPS, but you want it to appear in C:\Program Files\GPS (or whatever name, in whatever sub folder), you open CMD Prompt as administrator and type in:

mklink /j "c:\program files\GPS" "D:\GPS"

MoGo - a mouse of credit card size

Now we have the ideal keyboard for Miix, what about the mouse? Although TouchMousePointer works like a charm and put the lack-of-mouse problem behind, there are still times a real mouse is much preferred like with any laptop. All mouses are bulky, you never want to carry one and what's the point to carry something that's thicker than your Miix?  But the MoGo mouse is exceptional, just a little thicker than a credit card so you can put it in your wallet. And it cost less than $20.


It works very well with Miix, except the scroll strip - totally erratic and useless. Fortunately, MouseImp solves the problem and it is free.


There is one more problem, charging. It is designed to be charged in a ExpressCard slot, therefore, I had to add a socket to it and make a small cable to charge it with USB:


I did not solder the socket to the connector pins, instead, I cut off a high temperature silicon strip from a $1 utensil, squeezed it into the female connector and secure the socket:


This way, I can easily remove the socket if one day I do need to put it into a laptop again. The cable is also straight forward to make. The 5V from USB works, but the light won't go off after fully charged. So I added two 1N4148 diodes, to drop the voltage down to 3.5V, then all became fine and the diodes protect the polarity too. I also noticed that now I don't have to turn the mouse on to charged it and charging is much quicker.


Nice, now I have a work horse running full Windows 8.1 with a real keyboard and mouse, all weigh a little more than 1 lb.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mod the keyboard for Miix 2 8

There is almost no accessories for Windows tablets while tons for iPad Mini such as a clap-on keyboard found on eBay and Amazon for only $20.


Above is not the only one, there are similar ones, such as this HYPE branded:


You should not get the HYPE and its kind, because the width of the slot is fixed - cannot be adjusted. Because Miix 2 is about 0.7 mm thicker than iPad Mini and Dell Venue Pro is even thicker than Miix, so the fit is not ideal especially for Dell. That said, there are two nice things about the HYPE: 1) The maximum open angle is 180 degree, i.e., the screen can be totally flat with the keyboard. This is very good for using it in bed. 2) The bottom cover is aluminum, looks nice while balancing the tablet. The other ones are all plastic with a piece of iron inside for balance (a better engineering, see the photo below).

Now back to today's subject. We need to do two simple mods to make the keyboard to work well with our Miix.

Open up the angle

The maximum opening angle is only 95 degree or so as you see in the first photo above. This is simply not acceptable, even though I understand the reason. Lift up the four rubber feet and screw off the screws (6 in total), then you can open up the case.


Remove the joints and replace the notched washer (left) with something (right) you can find (update - you don't have to find a new washer, just swap it with the other one that's not notched):


That's it, put everything back in the original order. It might be a good idea to add some grease to reduce wear.


Make the slot wider

Miix is 0.7 mm thicker than iPad Mini, so when you insert it into this keyboard, it is a tad too tight. The little rings (beads) you see in above photos happen to be 0.7 mm thick, perfect! So I added them to the claps:


That's it! Now we have the perfect keyboard for our Miix - fully adjustable angle and not too tight:


Increase the gap

The gap between the keyboard and screen is too small, so the keyboard will make some prints on the screen. To avoid this, I added a small piece of silicon with strong double-side tape on both sides:


You may have realized that we did not do any physical damage to the keyboard, in case you need to put everything back to factory status. All we did was added, or replaced with, some washers. This is my philosophy: when do mods, I try my very best to make them reversible.

The left clap blocks the Start button, not a problem though, not at all. There is a WIN key on this keyboard - the cmd, left to the space bar. If you really love to touch, you may touch the soft Win button at the right edge of the screen.

Remap some keys

This keyboard does not have a "Del" key: the "delete" key at the right side is actually a "back space" key. So I added this into registry to map the capslock to delete:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout]

"Scancode Map"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\
02,00,00,00,\
53,00,3a,00,\
00,00,00,00


If you don't know what a fuss is this, simply download it here, double click on it and reboot your Miix.

"Esc" is another missing key. I use AHK to remap the WWW-Home key (at upper left corner) to "Esc":

;WWW_Home -> Esc
SC132::ESCAPE
;Ctrl+Shift+Esc (Task Manager)
^+SC132::^+ESCAPE
;Browser_Search -> F3
SC165::F3
;Ctrl+Alt+W -> Prt Sc
^!w::PrintScreen

As you see, I also remapped some other keys, to F3 and Prt Sc, respectively. You may remap more keys, such as PgUp, PgDn, Home and End with right shift and arrow keys.

RShift & Up::Send {PgUp}
RShift & Down::Send {PgDn}
RShift & Left::Send {Home}
RShift & Right::Send {End}


Now, we have a truly productive little computer, finally. The last time we had something like this is the UMID M1 (5", 5 years ago) and Toshiba Libretto 100 (7", 20 years ago).

This keyboard has extremely good battery life. I have used it for more than a week now, heavily everyday, and I have not charged it yet since I received it in the mail! Do switch it off to save Miix's battery and update the UART driver if you experience unwanted disconnects.

Although this keyboard provides a good protection to the screen, you'd better still apply a screen protector, because I've seen some prints (lines) on the screen made by the keyboard edges.

[update 03/23/2014] Windows has a bug with Bluetooth keyboards: sometimes a key repeats itself forever, such as ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ...... . Then you must hit Esc key to stop it. So, it's better to remap the capslock to Esc instead of Del:

Change above this line:

53,00,3a,00,\

to

01,00,3a,00,\

Change above these lines:

;WWW_Home -> Esc
SC132::ESCAPE
;Ctrl+Shift+Esc (Task Manager)
^+SC132::^+ESCAPE

to
 
;WWW_Home ->Del
SC132::DELETE

If you need F4 - F10, add these:

#4::Send {F4}
#5::Send {F5}
#6::Send {F6}
#7::Send {F7}
#8::Send {F8}
#9::Send {F9}
#0::Send {F10}


Then WIN (cmd) + 4-0 become F4-10.

[update 03/27/2014] Battery life is extraordinary. I had been heavily using it daily since I received it without initial charging. Yesterday morning, its blue LED started flashing but still worked until evening when the LED became steady blue. I plugged in a charger, the LED turned into red. After about 1 hour or 2, the LED turned into blue and it was fully charged.

Another nice thing is: it can still be used while being charged and you can use any charger including portable power banks. You may also use your Miix to charge it while using it, simply connect its micro USB port to that of Miix. So, you never need to worry about its battery running out at an unexpected moment, peace of mind.



Now I have a further mod.

Local Walmart stores are now carrying such a keyboard for $19.88.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

View RAW files on Windows

If you take photos in RAW, would it be nice to insert the SD card into your PC and be able to view them immediately without converting them in Lightroom first?

For Windows 8 and 8.1, just download the Camera Codec Pack from Microsoft download center. Install it and reboot. Then you can view thumbnails in Explorer and double click to view them in full size. You may do some simple editing and save a copy in jpeg, very convenient.


For Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows, you need to install FastPictureViewer Pro (free). For this purpose, you may select only the basic program and the RAW codec for your camera during the installation process.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Make Lenovo Miix 2 8 Windows 8.1 Tablet also a laptop and desktop


Among current 8" Windows 8.1 tablets, I picked up the Miix 2 because it is the only one that can be charged while using USB devices. The Dell Venue Pro 8 needs some nasty hacks and it is tricky and hassle to enable charging, each and every time you connect a USB device. With Miix, you simply plug the USB charger into any USB hub (one of its USB ports, not the DC-in jack), then connect the hub to Miix. That's it, no any trick and you can connect all your devices to the hub. I actually chain 3 hubs to use my external hard drives (two), SD card reader, USB-VGA adapter, audio adapter with MIC, Ethernet adapter, BluRay drive, keyboard, mouse and etc. See this video:




The monitor

I have some EVGA USB-VGA adapters for many years now and used them with many computers, but none of them was able to play 1080p. So, when I saw totally smooth 1080p60 video with this above setup, my jaw dropped on my stomach! Then I checked CPU load, only 30%, I lost my conciousness and the last thing I remembered was my jaw on the floor. I was worried about the lack of HDMI port before I ordered this tablet, but I no longer miss it a single bit. Don't know who made such a magic, Bay Trail? Miix2? DisplayLink's new driver or Windows 8.1? And did I tell you the video was from a portable hard drive, then to the Miix, EVGA and the external monitor, all through a single USB port?



The keyboard

As long as you run legacy Windows applications, Windows 8.1's onscreen keyboard is uselessly hard to use. Miix 2 8 is currently the lightest and thinnest, almost identical to iPad Mini. Fortunately I found by accident a clap-on iPad Mini keyboard that fits the Miix ideally. The open angle is only 95 degrees or so, so I had to open it to do a very simple mod (more details to follow). All I did was to replace two notched washers with ordinary (non-notched) ones and now it can open up to almost totally flat (180 degrees). This keyboard has very good keys and battery last forever, but do turn it off to save Miix's battery (see Connected Standby below).




This keyboard does not have Esc and Del keys. I made an AHK script to remap the WWW-Home key (at the upper left corner) to Esc and remapped the capslock to Del with regedit (details to follow). I also remapped the search key to F3. BTW, the multimedia keys on this keyboard work, very handy for audio volume control.

The Windows "Start" button is blocked by the left clap of this keyboard, but this is not an issue at all. Even better actually, because the "cmd" (left to space bar) is the WIN key. There is also a soft WIN button on the right side of Miix.

More details on this keyboard.

The mouse

Many Windows applications including the latest MS Office 2013 don't know what to do if they do not see a mouse, at least at some points. When I had the Acer W3 (the very first 8" Win8 tablet), I had to carry a mouse just in case. Now there is a fantastic utility, TouchMousePointer, it adds a touchpad on your screen, problem solved. See above video on how it works.


I also made a mouse emulator so I can conduct mouse functions on the keyboard (details to follow).


Make it easier to read and touch

The 8" screen is just about right to be productive while still pocketable. But the 1280x800 resolution is a little too high for fonts. So I scaled it up to 120 DPI (125%). I also made slide bars and other items wider with regedit for easier finger touch.



Tether over Bluetooth 

Such a powerful and pocketable computer would be pointless if not connected all the time. When in office and at home, I use USB tether to enjoy full speed of 4G while the phone is being charged by Miix and can exchange files with Miix. While on road, I use Bluetooth tether for convenience and low battery drain than WiFi, although bandwidth is limited to about 1 mbps.



A huge benefit of such tethering over WiFi hotspot or Bluetooth PAN: it is totally transparent. I.e., if the phone is using proxy or VPN to get an unrestricted Internet access, Miix goes through them too - both the phone and Miix are on full Internet at the same time. I realized how important this is when I went to China last summer with my W3 and Note 2, where VPN must be used to climb over the Great Firewall. With WiFi hotspot and BT PAN, I had to close proxy and VPN on the phone and ran them on the W3 instead, and the phone itself then no longer had Internet, quite hassle back and forth.

With BlueDUN, uploading speed is very low and latency is very high, but you don't need to install anything on Miix - just use Windows' built in DUN as showing in above video. With FoxFi, you have to install PDANet on Miix, but latency and speed are good especially via USB.

Because both Miix and Galaxy S4 support BT 4.0, power consumption is extremely low. I can leave PDAnet on Miix connected all the time and it drains virtually nothing, only about 2% overnight. See "Connected Standby" below. The coverage is great too, I can leave the phone downstairs and tether to it from upstairs. My audio BT devices never worked this far.


Connected standby

This is a great feature of Windows 8 and Intel's new processors. When it works, Miix can idle for 30 days! However, it is very fragile, a bad driver can easily break it and result into very heavy battery drain during idle. To see if any offending driver, open a CMD window as an admnistrator and run: powercfig /sleepstudy:


Then in the same folder, open the generated sleepstudy-report.html. If everything is fine, the last session will be all green, like this:


Otherwise, the top 5 offenders will be listed as red, so you know who you need to fix. For example, if I forgot to turn off the Bluetooth keyboard, the UART driver will keep Miix active and drain about 2% battery per hour:


The Bluetooth driver downloaded from Lenovo disconnects the BT keyboard after 10 minutes or so, then I have to turn BT off and on to get it connected again. Very annoying. To resolve this issue, I had to manually check Windows updates (I never enable auto update for anything) and only install the "Broadcom serial BUS Driver over UART Bus Enumerator" driver. Don't let Windows automatically install other drivers, because there are bad ones among them and I ended up with a fresh re-installation of Win8.1 (twice actually).

Don't install the KB2913236 Windows update, it makes the SD slot uselessly sluggish.

Furthermore, I uninstalled those live (push) metro apps, including email, people, calender, skype, weather, stock, food, travel, etc. Now my Miix's battery drain is less than 1% per hour with WiFi and BT on, or less than 1% overnight in airplane mode or 2% with just BT on.

All-in-one

Finally, I have the one computer for all. On the road, in the office and at home, for web search, entertainment, daily routines (such as Quickbooks) and serious jobs (such as video editing with PowerDirector and RAW converting with Lightroom). It can be charged and docked via a single USB, very convenient. It can have a real keyboard like a true laptop and can still slide into a jacket and pants pocket, truly portable, unlike 10" that's only transportable. A single plug-in turns it into a full desktop computer, very productive. See, I can write this blog while watching online TV or type an email message while sitting in sofa:



Mobile computing is no longer about just travel, it also means at the desk, in sofa and on toilet. The Surface Pro is expensive bulky crap, you cannot use its keyboard, say, in sofa like above.

I don't know why WinTel sell such a powerful and versatile computer for so little money. They beg Apple for a share while they have a golden rice bowl in their hands. I got mine from Amazon for only $250, yes, it is 64GB. Actually I know why: they don't have a guy like me or Steve Jobs to do above tweaks. What a pity.

There are too many more details to be covered into this single article, so stay tuned.

[USB Tether BSOD and Fix]
[New BIOS 1.07 for Miix 2 8]
[More on Miix 2 8 usb charging]
[Must have accessories for Miix 2 8]
[Touch problem and fix]

Some photos and video taken with Miix

All directly out of Miix and inserted right into this blog which is written on the Miix, mostly on a bus or while walking around under the Spring sun.











You may download the raw video clips here and here.

video