Secure Android Development, project preparation, a cold and a new year

It’s been a mixed start to the new year. Watching what I eat for the rest of January, damn you Christmas. Back at work after three weeks off, achieved nothing and left by eleven. My ego got the better of me and I went for a run despite having a cold, so am now suffering. Need to shift it with the first cross country league race on Wednesday. I can’t help wondering why generic medicines are so much cheaper than brand names.

Finally got around to ordering a replacement Acer V3-112P screen. Replacement was straight forward. Like most avionics technicians, I breathed a sigh of relief when the LED panel lit up proving the fault. The old girl is now sitting running a million updates courtesy of Microsoft.

While many Linux advocates eschew Microsoft, I prefer Office (Home Use Program). Like current, I take the path of least resistance and I use Word and Excel so often I know them inside out. Linux is an outstanding development platform, I’m using it for TM470.

TM470 project preparation continues, reviewing both TM353 and TM354. FutureLearn is a fantastic resource with a course on Secure Android Development. Delivered by the University of Southampton, it started last week. I haven’t decided the tool chain yet, particularly versioning. I have used SVN and Bazaar, which I prefer as it integrates well with Launch Pad. I won’t be using LP though so should investigate Mercurial and Git.

Read Original Sin too – best Marvel I’ve read in ages. Like Murder She Wrote in space. A real page turner, I read it in one sitting.

Something that didn’t grip me was the Assassin’s Creed movie. It starts off quite well, with a similar story to the games. It suffers the same problem as earlier games though – the present interrupts more interesting stories in the past. What I don’t get though is why option a game as a property then try not to appeal to that market?

What I haven’t made time for though is the Nintendo Classic Mini. I played a little Ghosts ‘n Goblins – damn I forgot how hard games were then. I always thought as a kid that I’d somehow be better at them as an adult but I guess I didn’t factor in reactions.

Word 2013 stopped saving

Wasted a good chunk of last night and today farting around with Microsoft Office 2013 after it decided to crash every time I saved. No idea what caused it, other than that it started after I had pasted some Python code from an editor.

Control Panel, Programs, Programs and Features. Select Microsoft Office 2013 and click Change. Quick repair didn’t work but full repair did.

Nexus 7 screen not coming on

My Google Nexus 7 had a weird fault earlier, its screen wouldn’t come on – just what you need before a nine hour flight. I tried a reset – it appeared to be caught in a loop with some static displayed on screen. I thought I might remove the back cover, disconnect the battery and take it from there.

Glad I did – the battery connector wasn’t engaged properly. A piece of insulating material had got in the way, preventing the connector locking in place. It must have worked loose.

Since then I’ve seen a few threads on Reddit with people mentioning that disconnecting and reconnecting the battery had fixed the same issue. I wonder if this is something more common than I thought?

Samsung NP-RV511-S02UK

I bought a new laptop the other week, a Samsung NP-RV511-S02UK. I have been using a Samsung NC10 dual booting Ubuntu and XP. An NC10 is a wondrous thing but when push comes to shove, a 1280×600 resolution is too small for Visual Studio work – especially when you want to see a PDF at the same time.

Continue reading Samsung NP-RV511-S02UK

Repair Samsung NC10 MBR

I removed Ubuntu from a Samsung NC10 yesterday, now the F4 recovery option doesn’t work. Please excuse the lack of screen shots on this Howto but I couldn’t think how to capture from the recovery manager and camera shots look rubbish.

It would appear that Samsung uses a custom Master Boot Record (MBR) – so for Grub all is well because you can choose to boot into the recovery partition and away you go. However if you have followed any of the usual guides to removing grub (such as running an XP CD to a recovery console and typing fixmbr) F4 will not launch the restore tool.

System Rescue CD is a great tool to have handy on a USB key. You can, so booting into it run this command:

fdisk /dev/sda

Now pressing “p” should show you that the recovery partition is 1, so type “a” then “2”, “a” then “1” to make it bootable. Now write the partition table by typing “w” then reboot. At this point you will boot into the recovery manager and be able to recover but the F4 key will not still not be available at boot and of course trying to create a backup will not work either (as Windows will be booted on restart).

Once Samsung Recovery Manager III has loaded up, press Ctrl+Alt+F10 – I had no idea there was a management mode until I read this page (French) but be aware its only available from the recovery partition. It asks for a password – “secos” (without the quotes). Once in management mode, click the “Image” tab and select “Export” then “Select Location”, I used “D:”. Click “Start” and accept the dialogue box that comes up. This is a backup of the recovery partition.

Once this stage is finished, select the “Tools” tab, insert a spare USB stick and click “Admin Tool USB”. It will format the USB stick and then install some utilities. It takes a couple of minutes. Once finished click the close button in the top right and it’ll ask if the computer should be turned off – say yes.

Boot with the USB key we just made, bringing you to a completely different recovery menu. Click “MBR Fix” and then close the application.

Now when you reboot you’ll notice that the MBR has been repaired and F4 once again boots into Recovery Manager III.

Compaq CQ10 failed BIOS update

A friend brought me a Compaq CQ10 over earlier. It seems it lost power during a Softpaq BIOS update. Initially the screen was booting to the HP BIOS recovery screen, attempting to rewrite and failing around 10%. I tried a few things and nothing worked, until the owner mentioned they’d upgraded the RAM.

Sure enough, it was a different size and type to the original specification so I refitted a 1 Gb 666MHz stick I had lying around from a previous upgrade and rebooted.

This time we re-flashed, verified and rebooted. Then it kept repeating this cycle so I took off the back panel (use the orange latch visible when the battery is removed) and removed the CMOS battery. After a short pause (30 seconds or so) I put it back and rebooted. This time there was an error message about the CMOS settings (unsurprisingly) and it rebooted.

However this time we got the Compaq BIOS boot screen, so I hit the escape key to enter BIOS. Then hit F9 to load default values, accept it and hit F10 to save values and hey presto the system is back up and running.

Black Ops “Strict”

Odd solution to an irritating problem – Black Ops say “Strict” in multi-player, even with “Open” NAT. Load Modern Warfare 2, go to multi-player on-line up to the point where you choose the game type and eject the disc using the button on the front of the PS3. Insert Black Ops and load it, go to multi-player and you will be open.

I have no idea why this works, I got it off a forum post. I have tried putting the PS3 in a DMZ but it doesn’t work, so it’s not as if the game uses non-standard ports – it’s just bugged. It only needs to be done once each session – you can play something else and reload Black Ops as long as you don’t reboot.

Black Ops is an OK game, it’s not the best FPS and the single player is woefully short (with a very poor story) – its multi-player where the fun is to be had. With the latest DLC out on the 10th June, it’s a shame that Activision and Treyarch can’t get it together enough to sort this out. The truth is though that until we stop buying DLC, there’s no incentive for the publishers to fix bugs.