Do tablets have a black screen of death problem?

Just happened to my tablet, a Samsung Tab Pro 10.1. If you search online for this you find many discussions and pleas for help. Does this happen to other brands of laptops?

BTW, there is also a White Screen of Death associated with iPod, iPad, or iPhone.

On restart, the screen would not show. Sound is ok, buttons seem functional. A restart or reset using button combinations did not fix this.

The Fix
Luckily I found some instructions on how to fix this. Remove the back cover, disconnect the LCD cable, wait for a few minutes, then reconnect.

Note: Now my WI-FI level is very low. Yikes! I took it apart to see if there is some kind of antenna connection to the case or cover. Don’t see anything. waaaaaa. (;゚︵゚;)

Update: June 18, 2015 – Changed the channel my wi-fi router was using. Fixed! But, now if I hold the tablet at edge, get low WI-FI level. Arrrrr. >:(


One person wrote Galaxy Tablet Reboot Trick. Too bad I did not try that first.


  1. Doing this may void your warranty.
  2. Don’t use a metal device to pry the back cover off. Get a plastic prying device that are sold in kits for this kind of thing. Or use a guitar pick.
  3. Getting the cover off takes a lot of careful prying.
  4. Some people recommend you disconnect the battery connector before you disconnect the LCD connector.
  5. Getting the cover back on is just as hard. I still don’t have it seating well.

Note that all (?) electronic components that have multiple connected parts will have issues. When I worked with metrology components or Electrochemical control devices, sometimes the only thing that would fix them was to disconnect and reconnect some device or subsystem, wait a while, then turn the unit back on. I just read that this is one technique to ‘fix’ ECU units on some automobiles.


Speed up Android home screen display

I followed the suggestions in “Speeding up the Samsung Galaxy Note” which worked, but now a new problem: after pressing the Home button, the ‘desktop’ takes very long to show the icons. This is on my Samsung Note (original) i717 with Android 4.1.2, on AT&T network.

Searching I found that many were blaming the lack of memory.

What I did
Using the SystemPanel Lite app, I saw that there were a bunch of apps in the Inactive (Cached) Applications list. I closed these. Now the home screen pops up a little quicker.

I don’t think it is just a memory issue. Something is wrong with this OS version on my phone. More likely the caching system needs a major revisit. Are the latest versions of Android any better?

SystemPanel Lite version 1.3.1

So What” by Miles Davis from “Kind of Blue

What slowed down Galaxy Note with Android 4.1.2 update?

In my prior post on how to speed up the Galaxy Note I added an update on changing the battery.

Update Dec 26, 2013: I got a new battery for the phone. Hmmm. It’s faster. I’ll give it a few days of use to make sure it is not a fluke. The original battery was 2500mAh, the new is 2700mAh. Should not matter!

So, far the phone is noticeably faster. Its like getting a new phone! I’m trying to remember if I changed something else, or did not access yet an app I normally use.

The only thing I did was in the developer options of phone, checked off “Do not keep activities”, but I unchecked it before leaving the screen. So no configuration changes were made. All I did was put in the new battery, turned off the phone and let the battery charge up to 100% overnight, took out the battery for about 10 secs, put the battery back in. Restarted the phone.

One last test is to put the old battery back in. Will do this tonight. I’m hesitant, you know if its working don’t fix it.
I put the old battery in, and the phone is still fast. Didn’t really use it for long. It is faster with the new battery. When I go from the Sonos controller to the home screen there is a slight pause. With the new battery there is no pause. Now I’m puzzled. Something changed. Oh well.


The Helix Nebula: a Gaseous Envelope Expelled By a Dying Star
The image is of: The Helix Nebula: a Gaseous Envelope Expelled By a Dying Star

Speeding up the Samsung Galaxy Note

In my post “Galaxy Note is slow with Jelly Bean?” I was frustrated with the slow down after I updated my Note to Android Jelly Bean.

So far this has helped:

  1. Removing seldom used apps. This phone has a measly 1G of RAM, and many apps cannot be moved to sdcard.
  2. Clearing each apps cache (in application manager). This must be done periodically.
  3. Limiting background processes to 3 or even 2 (in development settings),
  4. Setting to 0.5x the three windows animation scalings (in developer settings). Some say they should be turned off.
  5. For browser, turn off “allow web sites access to location info”.
  6. Removing recently installed apps. These may have had side effects.
  7. Do not keep activities (in developer settings) But this will slow down app startups time.
  8. Use GPU rendering

However, the phone is still much slower than when it had the Ice Cream Sandwich Android version. What is still slow? Everything except in app scrolling and use. App switching and setup suffers. This seems to be a memory or cache problem with the new Android update. If it were hardware, the older Android version would have had a problem. The phone has only 1GB of RAM, and this could be acerbating the situation.

Here are some things other people are recommending:

  1. Factory reset: I did not try the factory reset approach. Not sure of backup and restore capabilities. Also, I read some posts that said a reset did not improve the speed.
  2. Move apps from card: Is the memory card too slow? Move the apps back to main memory. I did not try this.
  3. Turn off power saving settings
  4. Recalibrate the battery? Some say this is never necessary, just do a full discharge and charge cycle.
  5. If you have “S Voice”, turn off the ‘open via the home key’ setting (in S Voice)
  6. Is Google Now turned on? See if turning it off has an effect.
  7. Clear memory via the home button. In Android, unused apps do not have to be stopped, and memory is automatically reclaimed. However, one can try clearing the memory to see if this has any effect. Hold down the home key, then in the app list’s bottom, click on the pie shape.
  8. Remove bloatware. If you can’t, try to disable them.
  9. Turn off auto update of applications
  10. Turn off automatic sync. Unless your making money from social stuff, it can wait
  11. Restart the phone

You get to the application manager and the development settings via the phone’s Settings menu.
Unfortunately, some of these settings will revert if you turn off and restart your phone. If the above don’t help, the next steps would probably be removing or disabling any newly installed apps. One user even suggested turning off many high end apps like ‘Google Now’, ‘S Suggest’, and so forth.

Legal recourse?
Since this Jelly Bean update was via the approved carrier’s channels, it should be supported. If you bring in your automobile to the car’s dealers for an official upgrade sanctioned by the manufacture, the car should not begin to stall on the highway. But, this is a complex legal issue, I guess. Reference: SOFTWARE PRODUCT LIABILITY: UNDERSTANDING AND MINIMIZING THE RISKS

The custom ROM solution?
Whenever a plea is posted on a forum regarding smartphone issues, some geek will chime in and suggest that rooting and a custom ROM is the way to go. Perhaps, but that is not for the faint of heart and is very complicated. Maybe there will be some advances in this area, for example, see “CyanogenMod for All! ”A mobile revolution” coming [UPDATE].” There is a video on the updater: Install CyanogenMod on your Android Device with the CyanogenMod Installer. Is the Note supported?


Some of the advice out there and even some urls are “suspect”. Be careful trying to root and install a ROM. If you read closely you’ll find these ROMs are beta and unsupported. Also, the install process can fail and your phone can be bricked.

What caused the slow down with JellyBean update?
In this post the author has argued that the install process without using a reset will cause these issues. In the post, the author also says that one cannot correct a bad JellyBean install; it requires a real ROM flash: “… you want the phone cold/hard flashed to 4.1.2 as if the phone were fresh off the assembly line with no OS flashed to its ROM (meaning they should wipe the ROM, first) ….”

This is the problem I have with all these advice pages on the web, they contradict each other. In this post, the author says something about making batteries last longer that is directly called bogus in other web pages. So, while a minor quibble, I then wonder if the rest of the information is correct.

No information is available from Samsung, this is the standard response on their support page:
“Thanks for your inquiry! Unfortunately, we do not have any information about a future update release at this time. Stay tuned to for information.”

Compute devices slow down
From searching for solutions I did find something troubling. All smartphones slow down after months of use. There should be tools to handle this and manufactures and vendors should be more honest about the capabilities of the actual storage and cpu. I tried a monitoring app but it was useless, same thing for a battery diagnostic app. I guess a smartphone requires a smart user? 🙂

There is an alternative. When you buy something it should be guaranteed to work at a certain capacity. When you buy a car you don’t expect it to start slowing down if you give it normal maintenance and don’t change its major components. That is the tricky thing, a compute device is meant to be extended.

Related post: Bloatware should be outlawed.


  • November 3, 2013: Added a section on custom ROM use.
  • May 27, 2013: One thing that is needed are tables or a database of what apps can be removed or disabled on various smart phones. The average user is at a loss in determining what is really needed or not. The often made suggestion to root one’s phone is not really very practical for most situations.
  • Dec 24, 2013: Some buzz on web seem to indicate the first Galaxy Note will not get an Android update. Time for a custom ROM install? Unfortunately, everything out there seems unstable. An example, for the AT&T i717, we have: “This device does not support the newest version of CyanogenMod.
  • Dec 26, 2013: I got a new battery for the phone. Hmmm. It’s faster. I’ll give it a few days of use to make sure it is not a fluke. The original battery was 2500mAh, the new is 2700mAh. Should not matter?
  • Feb 19, 2014: It is not the battery. But, the battery did fix the battery drain issue, and when it does run well, it is slightly faster. Can’t wait to get a new phone one day. 🙁


Some things I’m playing lately …

Meeting Of The Spirits/You Know You Know –
The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Live in Germany 1972
John McLaughlin – guitar, Billy Cobham – drums, Jan Hammer – keyboards, Jerry Goodman – violin, Rick Laird – bass

Apple wants to ban the Samsung Note phablet

I used to own an iPhone then I switched to the Note. I especially bought the Note because it was not like an iPhone at all. Seriously, 5.3 inch screen; I could finally read without going blind. Everything is much better at that size, unless all you want to look like is trendy with that little tiny thing up to your ears all day long.

I don’t begrudge any legitimate patent concerns, especially hardware. But, stylistic, generic shapes, and to some extent Look and Feel, that is harder to justify. Like a bar of soap. Could you imagine companies going to court because their soap’s shape was copied by another company. How many ways can you produce a bar of soap so that it adheres to certain human factors, like easy to hold.

Maybe Apple should just continue to innovate and for a change listen to the non-fanboy potential customers. Like make a bigger phone. The reviewers all panned the Note, but it is selling.

The whole software patents thing is very fuzzy. For example, one of the patents being used in Apples suit is the “Data Detectors”. Don’t tell me that since the 1950s no program has parsed data looking for patterns of datum and acted on it? Even Google mines email and anything it can get it’s hands on and reuses embedded data to generate ads. Of course, it knows what the data is for, using patterns, one can know that something is a URL, for example. What are *nix tools if not parsers of files looking for patterns.

Maybe I am missing something about the patent? Perhaps, what the patent is really about is the vectoring of found patterns into ‘end user’ goal oriented automated actions. Hmmm. I bet the Eclipse IDE does things like that.


Android 4 update changed voice of GPS Navigator

After I updated my Samsung Galaxy Note I717 phone to Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), my GPS navigator’s voice is now very different.

First, the big change is the volume. It is very low. Even when connected to my car’s CD Aux input, the volume is totally inadequate. Unfortunately, I doubt I will ever afford a luxury car with no road and engine noise. I read somewhere that the volume was changed so that it is not independent of the phones media volume.

Second, the voice has changed. It is now a male voice. No problem with it being male but the frequency range of a male voice (at a low volume) causes it to get soaked up in a car, sounds muffled. Also, it has an accent. I don’t mind an accent, kind of nice, but I got used to the old female newscaster ethnic country neutral voice. Plus that female voice pierced the noise even with my window down to enjoy the breeze.

The weirdest thing is that sometimes I hear the male voice and the female. Leads me to think that the update was not perfect and I got some local information mixed up. Maybe the phone thinks I’m in Europe but the map knows I’m not.

I’m searching for a fix, but nothing yet.

By the way, nice app: Bookmark Home.

Some links

Phone: Samsung Galaxy Note, SGH-i717. USA.
OS: Android 4.0.4

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

Samsung Galaxy Note is not too big.

Samsung Galaxy Note has the optimal screen size, but the bevels may make it too big for some.

Just got the Note. The AT&T model differs from the prior European model, I believe. Previously I had an iPhone, probably could even be the original one. I think my iPhone was using cogs and gears, so slow. If I opened the map and started entering an address, by the time the screen would respond to the first character, I would stumble upon my destination or get there by stopping at every gas station along the way. Well, anyway.

Most reviews of the new Note carry on about the size. Yes, it is larger but not by that much. In fact, like monitors and flat screen TVs, its the trim (bevel) that makes them look larger. The Samsung Note’s screen size is just about right. If Apple came out with a five and a half inch smart phone all the pundits would be drooling and everyone buying; let’s see how cool this would look in the cafe!

If I put the phone in my shirt pocket only about half an inch sticks out at the top, and that part is the trim where the camera and AT&T logo are located. Highly nerdy looking, btw. It is not very pocketable. They could have made the Note even better by minimizing the top and bottom bevels.

So, since it is a cross between a phone and a pad, where and how do you carry the dam thing? Is it squinting into tiny little screens or “hey baby, I’m happy to see you in a square kind of way!”.

As to the phone’s worth? [After using it a few days? Great!]

Of course, the screen is great. A Netflix movie looks awesome. But, what noob would really watch many movies on a phone; what about cinematography, sound, and all that? Better for shorter stuff like Youtube videos. At least, currently, for my tastes.

Meah. I tried it once, it did not keep up with my strokes. Perhaps, there is a setting for it. I will probably use it if I can adjust that. I think the old Palm Pilot’s pen kept up with the strokes, so a dual-core 1.5GHz system should do better. [update: Tried it a few times. I selected the eraser. If you stroke too fast, the eraser circle disappears. Come on, really?]. I read somewhere that this lag is due to the Note’s processor having to do it all; until Android 4.0 the graphics chip is not really used to its fullest. Don’t know if that is true.

Apps and OS:
It works and looks pretty much like a Galaxy SII Skyrocket. I think they changed a few things and the Skyrocket seems a little smoother and less error prone. Like the soft keys, volume rocker, and sleep switch are just too sensitive on the Note. Maybe it will take getting used to the new form factor so that the hands don’t trigger unwanted actions.

Active Apps app
I was testing the Navigator GPS app that has voice prompting and all that. Then I had to leave on an errand to a different location. The app just kept telling me “turn here, turn here you idiot; your going the wrong way!” Very annoying. I couldn’t stop it.

So, I clicked on the app for active apps, the navigator did not show in the list, huh? Its speaking, knows where I should be going, not where I want to go. So I just dragged the top of the home screen down (nice Android feature) to list the app, opened it, got to its menu, and exited it. In the meantime I almost went off the highway. Yea, don’t drink or mobile while driving, especially with a Note that needs two hands, and a Padma Mayurasana to manipulate. Maybe these things should except an overriding voice input: “shut up!”. Not you honey, this thing that is always so happy to see you.

Feb 21, 2012:
Headphone does not mute speaker volume?
Was using the Note at work today. Had the headphones on. People looked at me like I’m a nut. Turns out the Note was ringing all over the place. I thought my tinkering with the ringtones was just in my earphones. What is up with that? I don’t remember if the iPhone automatically muted the speaker when the headphone was connected. In both, of course, the music, like Pandora was still going through the headphone. Someone told me I first have to reduce the volume so that the ringer is off, then plug in the headphone. Seems convoluted. [that did not work. If you mute the ringer, then only the media volume is working.]

When I Receive A Call, The Ringtone Is Not Heard Through The Hands Free Headset. Is There A Setting To Turn It On?

There are no configurable options or settings available to turn on the ability to hear the ringtones through the headset, they are heard through the handset itself, only. This is a matter of safety, as the decibel level for a normal call is much lower than that of a ringtone. Due to the decibel level of a ringtone being much louder than the human voice, the ringtones are not audible through the headset to protect against possible hearing loss.

That sounds like a lame excuse. If the handset can detect that a headphone plug was inserted or removed it can reduce the ringer volume to a subset of the media volume. Or should, but what do I know?
Blanking of the screen:
The “normal” settings for blanking don’t stop the screen from blanking so quickly. Turns out that is a setting in the custom power saving mode. Maybe it is elsewhere and I missed it.

Good reviews on youtube:

Further Reading

  1. On Wikipedia
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note Top Tips Collection
  3. Download Android app, give away your body, mind and soul?
  4. Samsung Galaxy Note page
  5. Samsung Galaxy Note: Unboxing, size comparison to Galaxy S II

  6. The Samsung Galaxy Note Vs Galaxy S II Vs Pockets Showdown / “Pocketability” demo!

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