Thursday, November 25, 2010

How I unbricked my Samsung Galaxy S I9000 and installed a new firmware with Odin

The Samsung Galaxy S I9000 is one of the best smartphones and a real iPhone killer. Unfortunately the firmware update is done through a Samsung program called Kies wich is really bad.

How Kies bricked my Galaxy S during firmware update

I would like to report how I recovered from a really bad flash (actually a brick) caused during firmware update using Samsung Kies on the Galaxy S I9000. First of all, I was not prepared that official Samsung firmware flashing could cause me such problems and could brick a smartphone at the end of 2010! But this is what happened to me! Really bad what Samsung gives to its customers. BTW, I would describe myself as a computer pro, programmer and hardware developer, so I am not a complete newbie regarding firmware updates ;)

I had bought my Galaxy S I9000 in Germany and its official firmware stated:
pda: i9000xxjm1, phone: i9000xxjm1, csc: i9000xajm1, pccode: gt-i9000hkddbt

I had installed multiple progs on the phone but had NOT modded it in any way. When Andoid 2.2 (Froyo) came out I decided to wait for the upgrade to become available through Kies (rinning it under Win XP) because I wanted to flash it the official way. I thought that this would be more secure (it is not as you will see later). I had not experienced any serious problems with Kies until then, although I had not worked a lot with it. So when the XXJPO Update arrived through Kies, before beginning with flashing I restarted my phone (normal mode, not recovery mode) and plugged in the phone. Kies recognized the phone and I started flashing the firmware. The download screen with the digging android appeared on the I9000. If I remember correctly at this point Kies or the phone itself disconnected for short and maybe some drivers tried to reload but I am not sure about this.

When I looked at the phone at some point, the digging Android was NOT there anymore - instead the whole screen was green (or yellow). Kies did not report any error but the firmware update progress bar did not move on. After some time I realized that the phone had crashed. So I disconnected the phone and restarted it. Now the only thing that appeared on the screen was a phone icon connected to a PC icon with an exclamation mark icon inbetween - I call this the screen of death ;-) The phone could not be recognized anymore by my PC. Kies offered me some kind of firmware recovery option (which will disappear if you try to uninstall and reinstall Kies) but Win XP and Kies just did not see the phone anymore so I could not recover anything.

Trying to get the Samsung Galaxy S into recovery mode by pressing Volume Down + Home + Power (or any other key combos) did not work, no matter how many times I tried. Most of the forums reported that the phone is bricked when you can't get into download mode and the only way to get it back to life is to give it back to Samsung for repair. At this point I want to emphasize that the recovery mode key combination must have worked on that phone previously, because my brother has the same phone (bought them at the same time) and his download mode combination works!

How to unbrick the Galaxy S I9000 - Download mode

So it turned out that the phone has been bricked - thank you Samsung! I decided to call Samsung but then I suddenly found an amazing thread http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=819551 and a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cbUo8K4z2o stating that with a modified micro USB plug and a resistor one can bring the phone back to life. I was a bit sceptical first BUT IT IS TRUE, IT REALLY WORKS! So a colleague of mine prepared the USB jig and it really brought the phone right into download mode when I inserted the battery. The phone had been unbricked! Now Windows recognized the phone again but Kies was still not able to connect (I had not expected anything else).

How I installed a new firmware on the Galaxy S I9000 using Odin

Now I finally decided to try Odin (the unofficial but much better alternative to Kies) and flash the latest official Samsung firmware I9000XFJP7 (many thanks to Richthofen) that I downloaded from http://www.samfirmware.com. So once again I used the USB jig to get into download mode and flashed the I9000XFJP7 firmware with the Germany only CSC CSC_I9000DBTJP3 as described here:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=844459
After the first repartitioning-only step with Odin where Richthofen says "Plug out your phone, remove the battery, put it back in and put phone to download mode again." the phone seemed completely dead. It was another shock for me. Nothing happened, even the phone + PC + exclamation mark icons did not appear anymore - the screen remained black and pressing power, home, vol down did not do anything. But then I put in the "magic" USB jig again and the phone started in download mode again. So I continued flashing the firmware as described in Richthofen's thread. Finally the phone restarted and the new Android 2.2 Froyo booted.

The Galaxy S - Back to life :)

The biggest surprise for me was that all my 3rd party programs were still there. Only some of Samsungs built-in progs seemed to have been updated and had lost their data. Also some widgets on the front-screen were missing but these can be reinserted on the I9000 desktop.

On the one hand I hope that Samsung will get a lot of negative feedback from its customers in order to finally rewrite and improve its bad software. On the other hand I hope that this report will help other people to solve the firmware upgrade problems and show them how to unbrick their Samsung smartphones (the Samsung hardware is really nice). I also encourage people to support the firmware contributors at XDA Developers (xda-developers.com).

Anguel

Friday, October 15, 2010

Content Management Systems (CMS) Comparison and Usage Statistics

While looking for the amazing Contao CMS (aka TypoLight) I discovered two nice links:

The first link is an interactive CMS feature comparison matrix:

http://www.cmsmatrix.org/

The second link offers CMS (and other) usage statistics:

http://trends.builtwith.com/cms

MyComputer & Taskbar Freezing / Hanging Not Responding (Windows XP)

Some time ago I noticed a problem with my Windows XP Pro. While browsing MyComputer the folders window freezes / hangs / does not respond anymore. The taskbar also becomes unresponsive. The only thing I can do is to kill the process. Of course this is not a good solution. Fortunately running chkdsk does not report any problems on the drive after that.

I found a post on another blog regarding this problem with some possible solutions and I would like to share it:
Solutions to Taskbar Hangs or Freezes in Windows XP

I have done the first two steps and will watch if this has solved the problem...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spelling Alphabet Tool (also spells special characters)

www.spelltool.com

Have a Look at My New Website!

I have developed a new web site with the features listed below:

English: Spell According to the ICAO/ITU/NATO Spelling Alphabet

  • Avoid confusion on the phone!
  • Let us spell names, e-mail addresses, foreign words and technical terms automatically for you.
  • Letters and numbers are spelled according to the international spelling alphabet adopted by: ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), ITU (International Telecommunication Union), NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), IMO (International Maritime Organization), FAA (American Federal Aviation Administration), ANSI (American National Standards Institute), ARRL (American Radio Relay League)
  • Punctuation marks, signs and special characters are also presented with their full names.
  • Very helpful when talking to your business partners on the phone, but also for dicatation and voice radio.
  • On this page you will also find all tables containing the letters, digits as well as most often used punctuation marks, signs and special characters with their names.
  • FREE OF CHARGE!
Just type the word and it will be spelled automatically according to the international ICAO/ITU/NATO spelling alphabet (also called phonetic alphabet or radiotelephony spelling alphabet) - from "Alfa for A", "Bravo for B", "Charlie for C" and so on to "Zulu for Z". Now you can spell the word immediately on the phone without having to think about it.

German: Buchstabieren nach DIN 5009

  • Vermeiden Sie Missverständnisse am Telefon!
  • Lassen Sie Namen, E-Mail-Adressen, Fremdwörter, Fachausdrücke automatisch buchstabieren.
  • Buchstaben und Zahlen werden nach DIN 5009 buchstabiert.
  • Satzzeichen und Sonderzeichen werden mit ihren Namen angegeben.
  • Sehr praktisch nicht nur beim Telefonieren, sondern auch beim Diktieren oder für den Sprechfunk.
  • Auf dieser Seite finden Sie auch alle Tabellen mit Buchstaben und Ziffern nach DIN 5009 sowie Tabellen mit den am meisten verwendeten Zeichen wie Satzzeichen und Sonderzeichen und deren Bennenung.
  • KOSTENLOSE NUTZUNG!
Tippen Sie einfach das Wort ein und es wird automatisch mit Hilfe der Buchstabiertafel (auch Buchstabieralphabet, Telefonalphabet, Funkalphabet oder Fliegeralphabet gennannt) in entsprechende Wörter umgesetzt - von "A wie Anton", "B wie Berta", "C wie Cäsar" bis "Z wie Zacharias". Nun können Sie das Wort sofort am Telefon buchstabieren, ohne nachdenken zu müssen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Content Management Systems (CMS) Explained: Drupal vs. Joomla vs. Wordpress

I found some good explanation what content management systems (CMS) are and a short comparison of three main CMS: Drupal vs. Joomla vs. Wordpress. Although Contao aka TypoLight and Typo3 are missing in the comparisons, these are very nice videos:




Installing MS Office 2007 (SP2) on Asus Eee PC 901

Eee PC 901 Hard Drive Size Problems

The Asus Eee PC 901 is a very nice netbook featuring two (!) SSD harddrives. I don't know why Asus has chosen this configuration - probably this was cheaper. Unfortunately the SSD "feature" is also its biggest problem. The two SSD drives have 4 GB and 8 GB. And the Windows XP system drive C: is the smaller 4 GB drive which means that you are going to run out of hard drive space as soon as you need to install a bigger application like Microsoft Office 2007 (I have not tested Microsoft Office 2010). This will happen although you chose to install the programs on drive D: which is strongly recommended!

Backup First!
I expect that you are an experienced XP user if you want to proceed here. I know that you sometimes get the recommendation to backup although this is not really required but in this case I strongly recommend to do a backup (Acronis True Image, Norton Ghost, etc.) because you will run out of disk space during the Office 2007 SP2 update and you will have 0 bytes free on your C: drive which can make Windows XP run into unpredictable problems!

Microsoft Office 2007 Installation
The initial installation of Office 2007 is just where the problems start. First of all you need to get rid of all the Eee PC software you don't need. I removed as many programs as I  could including all that I did not need, e.g. the preinstalled StarOffice. It is an older version anyway and I would have replaced it with the latest OpenOffice if I wanted to use a free office suite. But I wanted to have Microsoft Office because this is what I use at my company and I am used to it. So I freed up as much space as I could and the initial installation of MS Office succeeded without problems. make sure that you install only the Microsoft Office components that you really need. You are short on disks space!

Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) = Out of Disk Space
In the meantime Microsoft has released Service Pack 2 (SP2) of MS Office 2007 including improvements and security fixes that have to be installed. Although you can download Office 2007 from the official Microsoft site www.getmicrosoftoffice.com, unfortunately you cannot get it with Service Pack 2 already integrated. When doing the SP2 update through Windows/Microsoft update it looks like Service Pack 1 (SP1) is installed first and then SP2 is installed (at least in my case). But you can also download the full Service Pack 2 (SP2) and install it immediately after Office 2007 installation. This is what I recommend. But turn off your network connection to prevent Win XP from automatically downloading the Office updates prior to Office 2007 installation and do not turn it on until you have finished SP2 installation. I recommend to have a second PC to be able to look for troubleshooting on the Internet and download utilities during installation.

Unfortunately you will see that SP2 will fill up your harddrive before finishing installation. And this also happens with the standalone SP2 installer. The problem is that the SP2 installer will have to unpack files first and then starts installing those files which requires much more than 1 GB of free disk space on your C: drive. You don't have that space on your EeePC and therefore your C: drive will become full and the SP2 installation will fail. The annoying thing is that this will also leave installer files on your C: drive and you will have no space or much less space than you had before starting the SP2 installation. This behavior does not speak in favor of Microsoft. Restarting Windows does not free up the space either.
So I first tried to change my TEMP system variables in Windows XP to point to D:\TEMP instead of my user profile on C: and to make the installer unpack the install files there this way but this did not solve the problem completely, I still could not complete the install process. Finally I discovered those tips in the EeeUser Forum describing how to clean up space on your C: drive in Windows XP which you should only apply if you have the experience and understand what you are doing exactly and have backed up your Eee PC. After having run the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility to remove orphaned installer files I got a lot more free disk space. That way I could finally install the Microsoft Office 2007 with Service Pack 2 (SP2) on the Asus Eee PC.

Hope this helps!
Anguel

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Do you like YouTube? I think it needs improvement!

Everybody uses YouTube. It is one of the most popular sites. But is it really good? I am not a real YouTube expert but I think there is a lot of room for improvement:
  • Videos sometimes freeze while loading or simply load too slowly.
  • When I want to play multiple videos and switch to full screen YouTube turns off full-screen for the next video in the queue.
  • Whenever I use YouTube I feel lost on the site. I don't know where to click next.
  • I think that the search engine is not the best and the search results are not always the most relevant.
  • When (or if) I have finally found an interesting video it often turns out that it is a part of a series of videos that go together. I have real problems to figure out how to play the whole series in the correct order or even to find the other videos (some people post a lot of videos). I don't know if this is my problem, a problem of the users that have added the videos or rather a problem of the YouTube site but I hate the site interface.
  • The posting date of a video is important for me to know if the information is up-to-date or not. YouTube makes it very small and displays it in gray so that one cannot find it easily.
  • There seems to be no way to see the comments you have posted to videos. So you don't know which videos you have commented on. Very poor.
  • And it looks like everybody can take any name as his channel name on a first come basis. And he keeps it forever. This means that if there is some idiot who takes let's say your company name and posts stupid stuff you have no chance to do anything against it. And to make things even more annoying the YouTube channel with your company name and the stupid stuff will appear on top of the Google search results...
Well if it is my mistake that I am not able to use the YouTube site I apologize for my statements. But searching on Google lets me believe that there are a lot of other angry users that would be very happy about some changes, e.g. here.

Why Blogger? Blogger vs WordPress vs ...

So why Blogger?

Although I classify myself as a rather experienced computer user I must admit that I have had no experience with blogging before. So I looked at some comparisons first (primarily on YouTube) and came to the conclusion that the choice will be between Blogger and WordPress.

Looks like WordPress is very powerful but to use all the power one should go with the install version from wordpress.org and one would have to put it on his own server. Because I have to manage and update other websites and do not have much time I did not want that, so I decided to use something that is ready to go and constantly updated so I can just blog and not care about installations, databases, updates and so on. On the other hand the free version from wordpress.com seems to have some limitations...

Well and then there is Blogger. By Google. This looks like SEO (search engine optimization) out of the box. And I also like the other Google products I use. As any other product they are not perfect but they do their job pretty well. And it looks like integration with AdSense is also something you get out of the Google box :)

Some people may not like Google getting everywhere in their life but on the one hand one has to admit that it offers a lot of nice and cool things for free. Google has the techie-factor and makes our life easier... So I decided to go with Blogger for now. And as far as I can see one can even tweak some things I did not expect to be able to tweak, e.g. the blog's name and even the URL...

Hello World!

Hello World!

From time to time I have some techie stuff or IT topics I would like to share with others...
So I finally decided to create this blog. More coming soon...

Anguel