Category Archives: Opinion

Google Pixel “No command” error – FIXED!

I recently received a Google Pixel through my employer to do Android testing on.  It’s a wonderful device, sleek, fast, beautiful screen.  A week ago I had to switch the device off due to traveling on a plane, and when switching it back on again, it did not boot correctly, instead showing a little Android mascot, with the words “No command” underneath.  I was baffled, but after a few hours of Googling and trying different things, I eventually found the fix.

Device

For reference, the device I have is a Google Pixel 32GB, model “2PW4100” it says at the bottom of the back panel, and the build number ended up being “NOF26V”.  This is a stock device, no rooting, no funny bootloader unlocks or anything, out the box, and minimal software installed.

Cause

I can’t be 100% sure.  Haven’t a clue actually.

Solution

So after rummaging around on Google and everywhere it lead me to, I didn’t find an actual “Oh hey, got the ‘No command’ problem?  Here’s the fix: xyz” solution, there were several “try this” and “try that” type things, and as these things go, hardly ever any kind of feedback.  I did end up fixing the phone though, without losing any data.  The solution is to do a manual OTA (Over-The-Air) update.  The steps to follow requires slight familiarity with the command line of your operating system.

Tools you will need

You will need a PC or laptop running either Windows, Linux or MacOS, and the appropriate USB cable for your phone (In the Google Pixel’s case, it’s a USB Type-C cable, the one that came with the phone for charging works just fine.) . You will also need a command line utility called “adb“, which is the Android Debug Bridge.  Luckily, as of this year, instead of having to download the whole Android Software Development Kit, you can download adb by itself here.  Extract the zip file somewhere.  If you’re running Windows, then firstly, I’m sorry.  Secondly, you may need the Google/Android USB drivers which you can find here.

Steps to follow

  • Switch your phone on if it is not already switched on.
  • On the “No command.” screen, keep the power button in, then press Volume Up.  This will present you with the Android Recovery menu.
  • BE CAREFUL!  On this menu, there are some destructive options, such as Factory Reset etc.
  • At the top of the screen, you will see a few lines of yellow text, followed by several menu items in blue.  Look at the yellow text, and look for the version/build number, which will be in a format similar to: “7.1.0/NOF26V/1234567” – That “NOF26V” is the build number you’re after.
  • Go find the build number on the Google “Full OTA Images” page.  The page lists downloadable OTA images for all the currently Google-supported phones.  In my case, the build number “NOF26V” was found twice on the page, once for the Google Pixel XL (codename marlin), and once for the Google Pixel (codename sailfish).
  • Click the appropriate link to download the (as at time of writing) ±850mb zip file for your phone.
  • Once the file is downloaded, copy it to the same location as where you extracted the “adb” tool earlier, open up your favourite command line terminal tool, and navigate to where the adb and the OTA zip file is.
  • If you haven’t done so already, connect the phone to your computer using the USB cable.
  • Confirm that the adb tool can see your phone by typing “adb devices” into the command line.  The output should show a serial number on the left, and “recovery” on the right.
  • On your phone, which should still be on the Android Recovery screen, using the Volume Down button to navigate to the “Apply update from ADB” option, and press the Power button once to select.  The phone will prompt you to start sending the update using ADB.
  • In the command line tool, type the following: “adb sideload <downloaded_ota_file_name_here.zip>“, in my case, the downloaded OTA zip file was called “sailfish-ota-nof26v-4bbb310d.zip“, so my command line was: “adb sideload sailfish-ota-nof26v-4bbb310d.zip”
  • There will be some progress appearing on your computer, and some progress displaying on the phone as well.  After a minute or two, the update should be complete, and you will be able to select an option on the Recovery menu again.
  • NOTE!  Do not be alarmed if you see a warning about “Unknown volume for path” at the end of the update, this is not a critical problem and does not mean the update failed.
  • Use the Volume Up/Down buttons to navigate to the “Reboot” option at the top, and press the Power button to confirm selection.
  • The phone should reboot correctly now and start up as per normal, with all data and everything still there.
  • Once you’ve logged into the phone, there will be a short period of “Completing Android Update” in your notification tray as the last bits of the OTA update is completed.

 

And that’s that.

Let me know if the above worked for you, or if you have any questions.

The price of “performance”

So today, on a whim, I decided to see what a “reasonable” gaming PC will cost if I had to chuck out most of my PC, and buy all new parts.  I have a harddrive and a video card, so wouldn’t need to buy those.  I also wanted to keep in mind that I may want to try my hand at creating a Hackintosh at the same time, so decided to check out some Hackintosh hardware guides, as I figured the Hackintosh hardware guides, plus my video card (confirmed, supported under OSX), should be “good enough” to give me both a gaming PC and a Hackintosh-capable PC.

So off to takealot.com I went, as well as followed this guide from TonyMacX86, for a “budget” mATX Hackintosh, making sure I can fit my video card and harddrive as well.  Here’s what I came up with, a list of Hackintosh-supported hardware:

Case
I chose a reasonably cheap case, as a case for me is purely functional, and not decorative, so I chose the
Raidmax Super Atlas Black – coming in at only R441.  The case does not come with a power supply, which was my intention, as generally the PSUs that come with a case are generally not powerful enough to run several devices as well as a reasonably power-hungry graphics card.

Powersupply
As takealot did not have the suggested 500W Corsair modular PSU, I ended up choosing the
RaidMax 850W PSU V2.3 80PLUS modular PSU.  More than enough wattage to be able to add more peripherals, but a bit more expensive than I’d ever pay for a PSU before, a heavy R1149.  It is a modular design, so no extra cables hanging around causing airflow problems inside the case.

Motherboard
One of the suggested, and Hackintosh-supported motherboard, is the
Gigabyte Z87M-D3H M-ATX motherboard.  4 memory slots, supports 4th generation i5 and i7 CPUs, has USB3.0 support, supports 6GB/s SATA drives (6 SATA ports, so lots of RAID possibilities there), and has a single PCIEx16 slot.  I won’t ever run a second video card in my machine, so the single PCI-Express slot is fine for me.  Never having paid more than maybe R1000 for a motherboard before, this one’s price of R1716 was a bit of a drag, but hey, it’s chock full of goodness.

Memory
PC, and Hackintosh, memory is a dark art.  Lots of numbers and CL this and latency that, to tell the truth, I don’t know much about it.  And the bit of reading I’ve done, the differences between a lot of these numbers may mean an extra 1% or 2% extra performance.  Not enough of a performance gain to spend much time on that, so I just took the suggested memory dimms from the buyer’s guide, and went with CORSAIR VENGEANCE Low Profile 8GB – 2x 4GB DDR3-1600 CL9 from takealot, coming in at a reasonable-ish R1293 for 2x 4GB, leaving enough room in the motherboard for future expansion too.

CPU
The CPU was the shocker for me.  The most I’ve ever paid for a CPU was about R2000 for my Intel Core2Duo E8400 CPU, a fantastic CPU for its time.  The CPU I ended up looking at, based on the recommendation from TonyMacX86, was the Intel Core i5 4670K – 3.40Ghz Socket 1150 Processor.  I read up a bit, and found that the “K” in the model number indicates that the CPU is overclockable, which I’m OK with.  It’s only about R200 more expensive than the non-overclockable version, so a no-brainer.  The price of this puppy was my biggest surprise.  Coming in at a very heavy R3339.  It comes with its own CPU cooler, so no overclocking quite yet.  It will require a better cooler if any overclocking is going to happen.

Total
Doing the math now, this comes in at just under R8000, keeping in mind the above kit does not include harddrive, graphics card, mouse, keyboard or monitor, all of which I already have.  Adding the price of those could easily put the price of this Hackintosh/gaming PC at easily over R15000.  Fine, R8000 for an upgrade to a reasonably new hardware platform, and allow me to run both Windows and OSX on it is not a bad price at the end of the day.  Now if only I had the R8000 to make it happen.  Anyone want to donate me some bitcoins?  😉   (Really?  Bitcoin tipjar here: 1KDHFgVsw2Zcp3erPDNDRz8VF6vQQvmjAj )

Mac OSX tips for Windows users

I was recently asked “Now what?” when a primarily Windows user was faced with a sealed Macbook Pro box. So I ended up typing the following few tips off the top of my head to help said Windows user to find their way around OSX:

  • Your system tray is top right, not bottom right.
  • Your menu bar at the top left, is there *all* the time, and changes depending on which application has the focus
  • Applications do not have their own menu bar attached to the window, their menu bar *is* the menu bar at the top left of the screen.
  • Ctrl is now Cmd (Cmd-c to copy, Cmd-v to paste, etc).
  • Alt *really* means what it’s meant to mean – alternative. want a ™ sign? alt-2. £? alt-3. ¥? Alt-y, etc. (shift-alt-letter is another alternative).
  • Want a kappie on your e? Alt-i_let-go-of-Alt_e (Umlaut is Alt-u, Accent is Alt-e). Kappie on the u? Alt-i-u -> û
  • Where is your Control panel? Click the apple icon on the menu bar, click System Preferences.
  • Where’s your right-click on your laptop trackpad? Ctrl-left-click. Want to have a right click? Enable “click-with-two-fingers-for-right-click” in System Preferences->Mouse.
  • The dock at the bottom is both a taskbar *and* a launchbar, just like in Windows 7. Little dot under the icon means the app is running.
  • Want to close an app? Click the red x icon top left of the window. But the little dot is still under the icon on the dock! Yes, you closed the app, you didn’t Quit the app. Want to quit it? Cmd-q or click on the app’s name in the menubar – then click Quit.
  • Quick way to kill an application? Alt-Cmd-Escape.
  • Want to use the built-in media player? Cmd-Escape. (no mouse in there, use the keyboard. escape to go back/escape out)
  • Try the tap-to-click option in System Preferences->Mouse – no more *clicking* of the mouse touchpad, just tap it to click.
  • Scrolling up and down in a webpage/document? Drag up/down with three fingers on the touchpad.
  • Where’s your Start menu? Click “Applications” on the right-hand-side of the dock at the bottom.
  • Can’t find your file explorer? it’s now called “Finder” (usually far-left of the dock)
  • Default browser? Safari.
  • Default mail application? Mail (or also written as Mail.app)
  • .app is the “application” extension, you won’t see the extension, but it’s implied. It behaves like an exe in Windows.
  • .dmg is “Disk image” aka a zip-ish file that contains an application – double-click the .dmg file to open the disk image – it opens a Finder window.
  • Want to “install” that application onto the laptop? Drag the application from the disk image window onto your Applications icon on your dock.
  • Want to delete a file? drag it to the Trash icon. Or select it by clicking on it once, then press Cmd-Backspace.
  • Want to clear your trash? Shift-Cmd-Backspace, or right-click on the Trash icon, then click on Empty Trash
  • What about your desktop? That’s there still as well, and works similar to in Windows.
  • Attached a USB disk to your Mac? It appears inside Finder on the right-hand side as well as on your desktop
  • Want to detach that USB disk safely? Right-click on the icon and click unmount -OR- drag the icon onto the Trash folder. WAIT A MINUTE! That Trash folder icon changed to an Eject icon! Now that’s clever.
  • Want to connect to your Exchange server for mail? Mail.app supports Exchange, otherwise, you can install MS Office for Mac – it has Outlook.

I hope this helps Windows users that have never seen Mac OSX.
Did I miss some rather obvious things? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

LAMP development on OSX

mamp_homeI recently acquired myself a 13″ Macbook Pro, one of those new shiny unibody ones, which I now use as my primary work and freelance machine. I used to run Ubuntu on my laptop to ease freelance web development that I do with Zend Framework and WordPress etc. Mostly PHP type work.

With the Mac comes a whole host of new issues to get things going, where the more hardcore Mac fundi will install things like DarwinPorts or Fink or some such. Previously I had fink installed, and never really found that I absolutely *required* it, so this time around I’m not installing anything like DarwinPorts of Fink.

However, the underlying components to do LAMP-type development are all open-source and free, and the nice folks at MAMP put together a stellar package to ease the pain. The MAMP installer gives you everything you need, to get local web development going on a Mac. It includes Apache 2.x, Mysql 5.x, PHP 4 and PHP 5, Postfix for mail delivery, and if you’re OK with paying $$$ for MAMP Pro, you’ll get virtual hosts, PHPMyadmin, Dynamic DNS support and a whole host more features. MAMP Pro is available for a 14-day trial as well.

In summary, MAMP is a one-click-to-download one-stop app for everything you need to run a fully functional local web development setup, for all values where “P=PHP”. Perl and Python support inside MAMP is not there, for those you’ll likely need to do some hacking around, but I’m sure it’s possible. Oh, there’s one thing MAMP doesn’t give you, and that’s naturally an editing environment for your projects. IDEs for [L|W|M]AMP development is a personal choice, some people prefer gvim, others use bbedit, or textmate, or Eclipse PDT. I still use the Zend IDE, as it has nice built-in support for Zend Framework, and I’ve been testing out the beta version of the 7.0.x version, and so far it looks very good.

Blog update

seedling1Ai, so I’ve not updated this blog for many moons. Yes, I’ve been lazy, and I’ve kind of been keeping busy writing twice a week (mostly, twice a week…) for The Incredible Blog, so my blog’s been taking a backseat.

I’ve always threatened myself that one day when I have a portable-enough laptop, I’ll be *that* guy that goes to sit in a coffee shop, sips a Latte while churning out a blog post or something. Well, I traded in my ugly 15″ HP work-laptop for a new 13″ Macbook Pro, which at some point in the future I will fully own. So, now I’ve got the “portable enough” laptop part done, and hell, it’s pretty enough, so now I just need to find that (a) time, and (b) motivation and (c) coffee shop, and (d) topic to write a blog post. Or ten. I really don’t want to become a “I had Marmite toast for breakfast” blogger, I’d rather write about thing topical and interesting and about things that I love. That’s what this new Docile Tree home was going to be, so, look forward to more Linux, Mac, gaming, development, movie, gadget, techie and geeky blog posts in the near future.

I also decided to update the theme of my blog along with the upgrade to WordPress 2.8, browsed through the new WordPress themes, and came across this one. It’s called “Inanis Glass”, I love the boxes around everything, even though it does make the page load time a bit heavy, I dig it. The “Start Menu” thing at the bottom is a bit overkill, but it’s sufficiently out the way to not be a bother.

Here’s to new beginnings! Again!