Galaxy Note is slow with Jelly Bean?

Finally got Android 4.1.2 on the AT&T SGH-i717 phablet, the original Note. Looks great, the graphics are better, sound is clearer, many nice things. But …

One thing that seems slower is switching from app to app. It could be my configuration, number of apps, and so forth. Still looking into it.

Interesting how the ram load increases on this phone after a restart: an initial 450MB climbs to 527MB/743MB. Then when you click ‘clear memory’ you see ’18 applications closed’. Now there is 352MB/743MB.

May 5, 2013: I got some speed up by clearing each app’s cache. Some app’s Cache button are not enabled.
May 26, 2013: Continued topic: Speeding up Galaxy Note

Is a factory reset really needed?
How safe is that? Sure you can save your settings in Kies, but we all know about backup software, getting things back is not guaranteed. “Full Backup of non-rooted devices” has some an interesting information.

In the PC world there is a saying “Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away”. Is the same true in the mobile world? ARM gives, vendors take it away? So much cruft pre-installed, sneakily added, hard to disable or remove, hidden, and so forth. Also, the social frenzy. Must everything be connected. I tried a simple app once, very simple, it wanted to connect to my social network, promptly canceled and deleted. Then there is the location aware “helpers”, really advertising revenue streams and consumerization culture enforcers. No wonder they are talking about octo-cores!


Your device's current firmware version is not supported via Kies

Getting this error message when I connect my Samsung Note I717 to Kies on Windows 7 PC. This is with an unrooted phone. Was last updated to Android 4.0.4, but I don’t recall if it was by OTA or Kies.

No real good information on web about this. Just that Kies needs to get updated by Samsung to support the new firmware. Or that it is just a bad error message and really just means you have the latest version of the software on your cell phone.
[May 3, 2013: Apparently, it is the latter in this case. I was able to upgrade to Jelly Bean.]

Looks like Samsung and AT&T are not cooperating too well when it comes to the original Galaxy Note.

Why it matters?
This is how some updates for the phone are distributed, such as the new Jelly Bean update.

May 15, 2013: Just did another update via Kies. Looks like just a firmware tweak.


Model SGH-I717
Android 4.1.2
baseband I717UCMB3
Kernel Version
se.infra@SEP-95 #1
SMP PREEMPT Sat Apr 6 07:12:29 KST 2013
Build JZ054K.i717UCMB3

PC: Windows 7 64bit Professional

Patience: Low


Transfer files with Android smartphone?

Lately I’ve been using the free AirDroid app.

Pretty easy to use:

  • Install via “Google Play Store”.
  • Start AirDroid on phone.
  • The app displays a web address you open in a Browser on the PC or laptop that has the files you want.
  • Enter the displayed Dynamic Passcode (I also select the secured connection).
  • Now you have a “desktop” of the Android on your browser.

This works over wifi connection.

To upload music (from PC to phone), just click the Music icon, then click ‘Upload’. On FireFox, you can drag&drop files in the resulting dialog. The advantage of using AirDroid compared to a dedicated file transfer app is that you can do more with AirDroid, like send SMS messages from your browser, etc.

Is it secure? Who knows? You investigate all these apps and you find conflicting data. I think in today’s age we are the product, as FaceBook epitomizes.

Kies Air works similarly.

Window limit reached on Android

I’m getting this alert message with the alert box information of “Can’t open a new window until you close one”.   Well sure, that makes sense and yet it doesn’t.


Well, for those who are not into tech here is the quick rundown.  If you were not on a smart phone or maybe tablet, these windows would be called browser “tabs”.  On my phone the limit is 8.  Thus, you just have to close one. That is, in this particular situation, window === tab, and this browser won’t allow many tabs.

Another option is to use another Web Browser. I’m now trying the Google Chrome browser available for Android. On Jelly Bean you can even replace the default browser link icon on the bottom toolbar of the screen with the Chrome one.

How to close a tab in browser

On my phone you scroll to the top of the current web page, and in the top right of the browser app,there is a button, widget, or something that you have to click.  This gets you into the ‘menu’ where you can close some of the open windows.  On my Samsung Note with Android 4.0.1, the button is an icon of cascaded rectangles.  I read that on other phones it is a vertical series of dots.

Note that on web sites they say you have to go into the menu to close a browser window.  Not really true, afaik, there is no old style browser menu.  If you go into the phone menu or soft key and close the browser you are closing the application, not a browser window or tab.   I know, what a mess!


This is so bad.

  1. Prior to my update to Android 4, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, I never had this problem.  So, it is this browser.
  2. It takes too much effort to close those windows.
  3. It takes too much time to close even one window.
  4. This whole thing is dumb.

Instead, why not just prompt or do something to offer a quick solution.  Like:

  • Offer or automatically reuse least recently used window?
  • Offer list of windows and single click to reuse one.
  • Put a link in the alert box to allow single click to go into the window list and close cha cha.
  • Not have a limit.

2013-05-02: The Chrome browser for Android handles multiple tabs much better than the stock browser, at least on my Note. You can have many, resize, order, scroll them, “… all kinds of moves.”

How to Measure User Interface Efficiency

My frustration level reached a peak while using a mobile phone.  So, again, I’m thinking about GUI design.  Why are the interfaces so bad and how to fix them?

First step is just figuring out how to measure the badness.  There are plenty of UI measures out there and many papers on the subject.  BTW, I’m just a developer grunt, coding eight hours a day, so this is out of my league.  Yet, the thoughts are in my head so ….

To get to a goal takes work.  In physics, W = Fd.  Work equals force times distance.  No direct correlation to user interface.  But, what if W is equal to user interface element activated times number of possible objects to act upon, i.e., W = U x O.  Work equals UI force times number of options.  This ‘force’ is not a physical force or pressure, of course.  It is a constant mathematical value.

Example, you click on a button and then you are confronted with a choice of five options.  Lets say you are reading a web page and you want to share it with someone.  This takes too much work, way too much.  Even getting to the sharing choice is monstrous; click the menu button, click share, find which method of sharing, get to contacts app, blah blah.

So, here is what we have.  Activating a user interface element is a force; each type of element is given a constant value, a button is 10, a scroll bar is 100, and so forth.   The number of options that results and is relevant toward the end goal is the ‘distance’.

Now you divide this resulting value by how much time it took you to get there and you have Power.   P = (U x O)/T. (Update 7/26/2013: Probably a better dimension is actual distance of pointer movement or manipulations).

Add these up for each step in completing the goal and you have a metric for an interface user story.

Why use the number of options for distance?  The number of options presented to the user is stress. Kind of related to Hick’s Law, “The time to make a decision is a function of the possible choices he or she has”. If computers and software were not in the 1960s (face it modern stuff is just fancy screens) they would know what the hell I want to do.

A follow up post will give the solution to this User Experience Design (UXD) or Interaction Design (IxD) problem, and the solution is actually pretty easy.


Created the follow up:  Proactive Interface

Related Posts


How to auto redial busy line with Android?

As with the iPhone, automatic redial is not really directly supported. You have to use secondary apps to do this. Update: Just noticed that the Samsung Galaxy S5 does have auto redial feature. Is it now part of Android or just a Samsung thing?

Perhaps in the Android platform there is more choice, at least last time I looked for an iPhone app. Search for an Android app turns up interesting possibilities. One blog post was really helpful in this.


Samsung Note and Android 4 upgrade worth it?

Finally Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is available for the AT&T version of the Samsung Galaxy Note i717 and Galaxy S II. Is it worth the upgrade? I was hesitant to run the upgrade. What if it didn’t work? What if it lost my stuff?

I followed the instructions at: AT&T Cell Phones: How do I update my Samsung Galaxy Note to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich? Essentially you have to download the Kies application to your PC or Mac and connect your phone to the PC and follow the process. Of course, you should back up your data using the Kies backup system.

My first download of Kies was damaged. So, I downloaded it at a different time period. Then the first use of the backup was extremely slow. I cancelled it. The next day the backup attempt was extremely fast. Hmmm. The Kies app has a lot of critics on the web. Oh well, its free.

But, then you have to update the Kies app on the PC/Mac. Then when you restart Kies, connect the Note to the PC with USB cable (wifi works for upgrade?), you can select the update option for the phone. Of course, this takes long if you watch it. On Windows 7, you have to stick around to respond to the security prompts. Eventually, after very confusing messages on the Kies, your phone will do its thing and be ready.

Of course, some things will change and certain settings will be gone. The above link gives you the list of what changes, for example:
“Application Menu: The application menu sorting, folders and home keys will be reset. Downloaded applications will be preserved.” Fortunately, ICS makes setting the screens so much easier.

Why upgrade?

  • Faster
  • Smoother
  • S Pen lag is gone!
  • Hard to tell, but when playing music, the sound seems better

Yeah, there some productivity suites enhancements and all that. And Android 4 has UI improvements and new features. What I noticed though is the speed. I can scroll web pages so fast it is a a blur. Also, the S Pen is now usable. Well, you could use it before, but on my phone the lag was annoying. Maybe I’m imagining it, but even the Swype keyboard is faster too.

Wikipedia’s list of features in Android 4.0.x Ice Cream Sandwich.

PC: Windows 7, AMD quad-core
Phone: Model SAMSUNG-SGH-I717
Android: version 4.0.4

Swype on Samsung Galaxy Note

I’ve had my Note since Feb 2012, I think.  Love it.  However, even with the large screen I found using keyboard input tedious; I’m just not good with my thumbs like that. 

Finally I retried using the Swype keyboard.  It comes pre-installed on the Samsung Note. Swype is really good!  Takes just a few minutes to get comfortable with it.

The way to get good at it is to not try to be accurate. Coming from the standard keyboards, you always try to tap the correct key. Swype works on gestures, so you can even miss going over the correct keys, it will figure out what your wanted. Plus, it will show you a list of word options too.

The upcoming Swype is even better and available as a demo. The new Swype will have word prediction built in:

Next Word Prediction
Swype’s next word prediction is more intelligent than ever. Imagine your device figuring out what you will type based on the history of how you’ve used specific words in relationship to one another. A cutting edge Advanced Language Model, the latest XT9 algorithms and a robust Dynamic Language Model all work together with a preloaded baseline language database to be able to (almost) read your mind.

That reminds me of something I was working on years ago, Predictive Interface technology. I’ll have to blog about it one day.

iSwipe on iPhone and iPad
Looks like someone is making a Swype-ish app called iSwipe that runs on Apple products. Will require a jail broken phone though. There are other apps that provide Swype type of input. I wonder why the makers of Swype don’t provide an iOS version.



  • Phone:  Samsung Galaxy Note i717
  • Swype version:  3.26.92….. etc.
  • Android version:  2.3.6

Chromatron laser game for PCs or Android

This is a nice little game involving mirrors that you have to arrange to direct lasers to light up various targets.

This is a nice little game involving mirrors that you arrange to direct lasers to contact up various targets. One of those spatial puzzles thing.

This has better playability on the Samsung Note’s larger screen size. One small critique is that the colors, even on a good display are sometimes hard to discern. Maybe the background color should be customizable.


  1. Chromatron for PC and Macs
  2. Chromatron for Android at AppBrain site

Upload files from PC to Samsung Galaxy II Skyrocket

How to transfer files from PC to Samsung Galaxy II Skyrocket

How do you transfer files from PC to the smart phone?

A family member got the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. Awesome! I’m stuck with the original IPhone 3G. Time to save my pennies for a real phone.

Anyway, there is a web page with the info here ( The manual as usual is useless in this topic.

Not to criticize that web page’s content, but the instructions are not too clear. My family member was stumped on the very first step. When I get time I will try to explain it for the non-tech user.

Basically though:

  1. The Skyrocket comes with a built-in app called KIES.
  2. You run that,
  3. connect your phone to the PC with the USB cable, or just wireless
  4. then on the PC you open a browser to a specific address that the KIES app is listening on. KIES will indicate the URL.
  5. After that, you get this user interface on the PC’s browser with a bunch of stuff so that you can pick what you want to transfer to the smartphone. KIES gives you access to much more, btw.

I guess it is ok. I’m an old school nerd, let me see the file system, and I’ll copy stuff, thank you, never mind with those straight jackets like iTunes, Microsoft Live, etc. Grumble, grumble. [Update: On my Samsung Galaxy Note, I just connected the USB cable and viola, had access to the Notes file system. Maybe this is possible on the Samsung Galaxy II, but it didn’t work for me.]

An alternative is to use the sync capabilities that most mobile devices have. Good luck with that. My problem with Sync on mobile devices is that they are too intrusive and invariably slow everything down.

A tall tale
I once had a USB stick who’s sync wanted to sync everything, and I mean everything; it was pulling my soul right out of my body, I could see the ectoplasm pouring out. Luckily it was to a Windows PC, that ran out of memory and crashed. If not I would not be typing this post.

* Kies Air Overview on a Samsung Galaxy Note™: AT&T How to Video Series
* Import MP3 Files To Samsung Galaxy S2 Via KIES

Give this work a listen. One the greatest works of electric guitar. Also the drummer is Billy Cobham. Keyboardist is Jan Hammer.

Santana & McLaughlin – Love Devotion Surrender – 03 – the life divine