Android battery life, Kitkat vs Marshmallow

I recently got 2 samsung i9506 (S4 galaxy) phones

i’ve had such a bad experience with lollipop battery life, that I went back to using kitkat

But now that I have 2 identical phones, I decided to compare kitkat with the latest android: Marshmallow

Although the phones were not setup identically, I did give Marshmallow some big advantages as follows:

KitKat phone:

  • running standard Samsung kitkat 4.4.2
  • uses my current SIM card, used as a normal phone
  • I rooted, & disabled as much Samsung bloatware as possible
  • Running GSam battery monitor
  • Connected to WiFi
  • Max screen brightness
  • Fully charged
  • about 5 different gmail accounts activated, with notifications active
  • various other accounts setup (eg trello, firefox, etc)


  • Running AOSP Cyanogenmod (from sometime in May 2016)… IE a bare-bones android with no bloatware
  • no SIM card
  • GSam battery monitor
  • Connected to WiFi
  • max screen brightness
  • Fully charged
  • Only 1 gmail account

Now, since I use my phone a lot, what concerns me the most, is the battery drain while the screen is on, & I’m active browsing, reading emails, & playing some trivial games like hill climb racing.

So I used both phones, side-by-side, and spent about 30 minutes on various activities… the same stuff on both phones, side-by-side.

I then went into GSam, & looked at the battery “rate of change” chart, to see how efficient each android was…

Surprisingly (and disappointingly), I found that MM would drain at around 35% to 40% per hour… ie it would go flat in under 3 hours of constant use.

Given that KitKat was also powering a 4G SIM card, it should have been worse… but it drained the battery at around 20% – 25% per hour… ie it would go flat in around 4 – 5 hours.

Just to be sure, I swapped the batteries, & did the test again… & got the same results… so I’ve ruled out any differences in batteries.

As a result, I can guess that both Lollipop & Marshmallow have some major flaw, or an inefficient OS design.

As such, there is no way I will be moving away from Kitkat anytime soon.

The only reason I would recommend MarshMallow, is for those who only use their phone for 2 or 3 minutes per day, as MarshMallows “doze” mode means the battery barely drains while the phone has the display off.

YMMV (Your mileage may vary)

The crap that Fibre To The Node technology will deliver for Australia

It is with great sadness, that I can announce Australia will take a step backwards in becoming the agile and technologically advanced nation that our leaders say they want to promote.

Australia is now a step closer to implementing the non-future-proof FTTN NBN internet technology, as an “alternative” to FTTP.

Based on the “spin” in this article: , its obvious that Australia will have serious long-term issues with broadband speeds.

Its unfortunate that the future potential of Australia’s technology will be hamstrung by “spending dollars in order to save pennies”.

Optus emails disappear

Optus-NO2I had a customer that was having some emails disappearing, or more accurately: never arriving.

As with most people, she was using an email program (Mozilla Thunderbird) to download email from her ISP account at Optus (an email address).

The first obvious step was to check the thunderbird spam folder: nothing there.

Next: did she delete them accidentally? No, the Trash was clear.

She then mentioned that sometimes she get warnings about her mailbox being full.

So I figure: ah ha… optusnet shouldn’t get full… so maybe thunderbird is misconfigured… I check the pop3 settings, & I see thunderbird is set to delete emails from the server after 14 days… all quite standard.

So… I’d better check the Optus webmail & see whats going on there.

As soon as I login to Optus webmail, I can see a problem: about 1500 emails sitting in the optus spam folder.

Hold on… did I see that right?

Optus diverts emails to spam BEFORE they can get downloaded to Thunderbird?

I spend some time marking all the spam as “NOT spam”… & while I’m waiting (yes, the Optus webmail is not quick), I do some research:

Turns out Optus Implemented a “new” webmail system in early 2013… customers have no option of disabling the spam filter… none.

And it gets worse: Optus is not good at detecting spam, so occasionally legit emails will go to “webmail spam”… where an average customer will never see it unless they use webmail.

In this case, I noticed some Optus “your mailbox is full” emails in the spam folder!

OK, so someone at Optus is brain-dead, fine.

Maybe I can get around this by re-directing (forwarding) the emails to, say, a gmail account?

No: Optus do not allow mail forwarding.

What about abandoning optus email, & going with one of the free ones like gmail? No: customer has many people who have this address & will not change email address.

So I now have to setup a desktop “webmail login” icon for the customer, & tell her to login once per week, & flag spam emails as legit… she struggles to understand why, but I do the best I can.

In the end, she will probably have to move away from the optusnet email, even if its a gradual “weaning” process.

Looks like Optus have taken a leaf (or a few chapters) from the Telstra/Bigpond customer dis-service manual.

activation error 0xC004C003 (dont update bios after a windows 10 upgrade)

windows-10-backdrop2I guess I’ve been lucky, as all Windows 10 upgrades I’ve done, have been uneventful.

But today was my unlucky day.

I upgraded a Windows 7 PC to windows 10, made sure it was fully activated, then proceeded to do some tweaks & some tuning (ie ccleaner, mydefrag, etc).

At some point, I decided I should do a BIOS update, as sometimes, PCs seem to have hardware errors, but the problems disappear after a BIOS upgrade.

I didn’t notice any problems at first, but after a while, task manager refused to show me all the details I expected to see…

Then running speedfan didn’t automatically pop up a UAC prompt… I had to right-click & run as administrator… weird.

In trying to resolve that issue, I then found I couldn’t run an elevated Administrator CMD prompt, even though I was administrator.

WTF is going on?

I find I still use Control Panel instead of the new Settings app… there just isn’t enough technical power in the Settings app… it needs some serious work before it can replace Control Panel.

Anyway, while looking through Control Panel, I notice Windows is no longer activated, & the displayed product key ends in 8HVX7.

The error code I see is: 0xC004C003

So I figure: I’ll just ring Microsoft & get them to re-activate it… after all, thats what would happen with windows 7 & 8.

Since it was an upgrade from Windows 7, I decide its probably easier to talk to a real human… BIG mistake.

After explaining the situation to the “Microsoft Employee”, I’m told “Our activation servers are very busy, and it can take a few days for windows 10 to activate”


So I explain again: 10 was activated & then got de-activated… could it have been due to the BIOS upgrade?

And I’m told “No, nothing to do with a BIOS upgrade, trust us, it will be fine in a few days time”

Well, the last time Microsoft asked us to trust them… they released Windows 8.

So no, I’m not going to trust them, & I don’t believe a word this guy is saying… So I just say OK, then hang up.

I toy with the idea of calling again… maybe I’ll get someone competent this time? What are the chances of that? 😉

So a quick search online shows others with similar stories (who are fed similar BS from Microsoft).

So, the solution?

I don’t like it, but I re-installed windows 7, & then did the whole upgrade process again (making sure Windows 7 was fully updated before doing the Windows 10 upgrade).

Luckily, I have downloaded a windows 10 install ISO & made a Windows 10 boot USB, so I don’t have to wait for a 4GB download over my slow internet connection… no thanks to our pathetic Prime Minister: Tony Abbott…

After the Windows 10 update, it activated immediately, and stayed that way.

So my advice is: If you think you might need to update your BIOS, do it before updating to windows 10.

windows 7 NTFS will corrupt windows 10 NTFS

windows-10-backdrop2I’m hoping this is just an isolated problem.

I upgraded customer PC from 7 to 10 due to a HDD failure.

Luckily, I was able to backup data to my workshop PC (Windows 7).

So on the customer PC, I installed a new HDD, installed windows 7, activated & did most updates, then upgraded to windows 10

Since the HDD was new, I decided to then do a clean install of Windows 10, after which, it re-activated after skipping the registration key prompt… so far all normal.

To speed up restoring customer data, I typically remove the HDD from a new system (in this case its a Windows 10 PC), attach it to my workshop Windows 7 PC (using SATA), copy the customer data to the Windows 10 HDD, then re-insert the Win10 HDD into original PC…

But each time I tried it, data would disappear, or was only half was visible, or I would get boot errors & all sorts of corruption.

After re-installing Windows 7 & doing the win10 upgrade 3 separate times, I eventually decided that windows 7 just cannot handle the Windows 10 file system

So, after much frustration, I just copied the customer data from the workshop PC to an external USB drive, then copy the data to the Win10 system via the USB

Now I need to ask myself: how long will I wait before upgrading all my work PCs to windows 10?

How to Pick Out the Right Tablet

There’s no denying that the tablet market has blown up in a major way.

Indeed, it seems hard to cast your mind back to when many people considered the iPad a ridiculous invention that would never catch on.  Those seeking a tablet in 2014 have a whole host of different options to choose from, which is why we’re going to take a look at how to go about choosing the right one, whether it’s a tablet hybrid from Lenovo or a Nexus 7:

Picking a camp

The first major decision in choosing a tablet is which operating system you’d prefer to have.  It’s an entirely subjective thing (despite what many of the more passionate fans might say!) and it’s simply a matter of trying them out and seeing which one works best for you.

iPads will obviously use Apple’s latest operating system, with Android supplying the operational software for most other manufacturers including Acer, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Samsung.

It’s also worth noting that there are now some affordable Windows 8 tablets making their way onto the market.


Needless to say, apps remain a key reason for the success of the tablet market.

For some people, they offer the ability to watch movies or YouTube videos, for others they provide the ability to edit photos.  Others, of course, simply like to relax and read a book.

The Apple App Store is certainly very well maintained, with nearly half a million programs and games available right off the bat.

Android has certainly stepped up its game in recent years in a bid to compete.  However, the Android store also has a reputation for being less well regulated in terms of security: a lot of malware-affected apps originate there.

The visuals

Needless to say, the size of the screen also plays a key part. Tablets vary by a reasonable amount, usually between 10 and 7 inches.

Fortunately, most of the major models (iPads, Nexus Tablets and Kindle Fires) all come in different size, so you don’t have to be stuck with one brand just because you like the size.

Screen resolution is another important factor.  The more detailed the activities the tablet is being bought for, the bigger and more detailed the screen will need to be.  The Kindle Fire 8.9 currently offers the best in terms of pixels at 2,560 by 1,600.  The iPad’s retina display (at 2048×1536 pixels) is also excellent.

Wi-Fi and other connections

This is actually a major characteristic, and one that inexperienced users will often forget to take into account.

Different tablets will have different connection options, with some only able to connect to the web when there is a Wi-Fi hotspot nearby.  This means that they won’t be able to connect to the net when out and about like a smartphone does.

The ability to connect to 3G/4G is something that does add a bit to the price but for those that want to access the web when out and about, it’s not really optional.

Those that just want to use the tablet at home, however, could probably get away with just Wi-Fi.

Should your browser remember website passwords?

We have all fallen into this trap, even those of us who should know better

We let IE / firefox / chrome remember a website password, because you are so tired of always entering the same password, sometimes many times per day.

But this is a big problem, particularly if you get infected, or someone gets access to your PC.

By default, anyone who can access your computer (including viruses), can view and use your password to gain access to your accounts… In todays environment, it would be a disaster for most of us.

firefoxHowever, at least Firefox has a way of making the passwords much more secure: a master password.


Under tools -> options -> security, just tick the box “Use a master password”, and then enter a password you are sure you can remember.

After that, every time you start firefox, you will be asked for the password. No password, no remembered passwords.

This won’t guarantee that a virus or intruder won’t get your website passwords, but it does make it much more difficult.

beware of &

I just got an unusual email from

At first it doesn’t seem unusual, he says he’s from, a division of

he started off saying:

I’m contacting you to discuss a possible partnership between CodeFuel and your company.

CodeFuel offers a free software monetization service, including:

* Search Monetization: Get paid per user with our SearchFuel solutions.
* Smart Installer: Monetize software with the InstallFuel recommendation engine.
* Advanced Analytics: Analyze data, traffic & boost revenues with our Control Center.

Yep, it all sounds vague, yet interesting enough to get a software developer interested in getting money for software.

Hovering my mouse over some of the links in the email shows that the links point to a portal.

In this day and age, it pays to be suspicious, and since the only address I recognise is (from my experience in helping customers with computers bogged down with junk software (ie its not virus/spyware/malware, but it gets in the way of using the computer the way it should be used), I know that conduit should be avoided at almost any cost.

So rather than click on any links, I decide to go directly to and

at, I see mention of software like:

  • incredimail
  • smilebox
  • sweetim
  • molto
  • photojoy

and various other junk software.

So now I know for sure:

Stay away from and

As far as I’m concerned, based on all the negative experience I (and many of my customers) have had with incredimail alone, I know that this leopard might have changed its spots, but its still something you should stay well away from.

You have been warned!

Computer superstitions and false beliefs

I encounter many people who try to fix their computer problems before they call me.

Quite often they tell me what they did to “fix” the problem, and many times, their remedy verges on superstitious actions, performed out of sheer ignorance.

Examples of computer repairs made out of false beliefs:

  • Internet is slow, so deleting Favorites/Bookmarks will speed up the internet
  • Related to the slow internet: switch off the modem will let it rest, and it will be faster after a few hours.
  • Computer is slow, so deleting desktop icons will speed it up
  • Related: deleting documents will make it faster (this is dangerous, as you might delete important data)
  • Computer takes a long time to start, so allowing it to “rest” overnight means the PC is faster in the morning
  • Hitting/tapping the screen / keyboard / Mouse to get the computer to work “faster”
  • Yelling at it (I don’t get this much… by the time I get to a computer, people have usually had time to calm down & their hope are high that I will fix things).
  • If double-clicking doesn’t start a program, then try again, and again. I admit I’m guilty of this one, although I kinda have a reason: I sometimes get problems with faulty mouse buttons, such that some clicks don’t actually register.
  • Backups: this is where people can cause many problems: I often hear: I once lost a whole stack of photos/documents on my old computer, so now I transfer them to an external USB drive… After I ask a few questions I usually discover that the photos / documents really are transferred to the external USB, with no local copy on the PC… sometimes just a hard bump of the external drive, and they will (once again) loose all their important data… scary!
  • There was a thunderstorm yesterday, and now my PC will not start: Many times, I find the problem has nothing to do with lightning (eg viruses, faulty RAM, broken power switch, etc)

cleanup the email buildup in cpanel

Ive had this ongoing problem with emails on hosted domains that use linux cpanel.

I’ve had this issue for over 8 years, and across 3 different hosting companies, so it must be quite widespread, yet nobody seems to be interested in fixing it.

So what’s the problem?

While using a pop3 email account, the hosting server accumulates email files that get downloaded to the email client.

Even if the email client is configured to delete the emails from the server after download, the cpanel server still keeps these emails… indefinitely!

In the early days, I would routinely get warnings about my disk storage reaching maximum capacity (ie I was running out of space).

After some investigation, I found that emails were the culprit, and there was nothing in place to fix it, other than to login to the cpanel, and manually remove the large number of files.

I managed to create my own solution, using my unix knowledge:

I created a cron job, which would run daily, which would scan all the mail folders, and delete any files that were older than, say, 60 days.

So as long as I checked my mail at least once every 60 days, then my system wouldn’t delete any undelivered emails.

Since starting my own hosting company, I have found this technique very useful in preventing my own customers from having similar problems.

So exactly what do I do?

If you are familiar with cron and unix scripts, the command looks something like:

13 3 * * * find ~/mail -name "*.*.*.*.*" -type f -mtime +60 -exec rm '{}' ;

In simple terms, what this means is:

at 3:13 in the morning, every day, execute the command:

find ~/mail -name "*.*.*.*.*" -type f -mtime +60 -exec rm '{}' ;

And the command means: search the folders under the mail folder, and find a file that has 4 dots in the name (*.*.*.*.*)

the -type f makes sure it only finds files, and not folders, or other weird stuff.

the -mtime +60 means make sure the files have been modified over 60 days ago

the -exec rm ‘{}’ ; means use the rm command (ie delete) on each file found ( the ‘{}’ will substitute the file name), and the ; means this is the end of the -exec part on the command.

Try this at your own risk… this has the potential to delete your whole website, so be extra careful, and don’t just blindly copy/paste what I wrote.

I tested the command by using the ls command, instead of rm… that way I could see which files would get deleted, without deleting anything!

Besides the risk of not knowing what you’re doing, the only problem with this system, is that it doesn’t seem to work if you use IMAP eg it can happen if you use smartphones/ipads/tablets/IMAP email clients… particularly if you rely on the email programs “auto-detect” system, then you probably find that the cleanup just doesn’t work.

In this case, besides some careful customer education, the only option is to use an email redirection to something like gmail , so that you use the large gmail storage, rather than the more limited hosting storage.

brother wt100cl waste toner cartridge cannot be re-used

I have one of these really cheap brother HL-4040CN colour printers.

It works quite well for me

One of my customers also has the same printer, and has had it about the same amount of time that I have.

However, she hardly uses her printer (I probably print out 10 times as much as she does).

So when she called me to look as her printer (she said it was refusing to print), I assumed it would be a simple problem.

But once I had a good look, I could see that it was complaining about the waste toner cartridge being full.

My first thought was: what exactly is a waste toner cartridge?

It seems that as toner powder is arranged on a page, a small quantity doesn’t stay on the page, and ends up in a waste container.

Once this container is full, it must be replaced before printing can continue.

But… why did the customer printer fill the waste toner box before mine (and months later, mine is still not full).

Anyway, I first attempted to empty the waste toner box, but after making quite a mess, the printer still refused to print.

So I get a new cartridge, and everything was back to normal.

I then had a careful look at the old waste cartridge, and after dismantling it (and removing even more waste toner powder!), I started to notice that some of the surfaces had a sticky residue.

Ah, now that might explain the early “failure”… The customer might have had a fire, or maybe burnt some oil while cooking, and some of that sticky “smoke” probably made it into the printer.

Anyway, I eventually cleaned the box quite thoroughly, and its now waiting to be used in my own printer, once my own waste toner cartridge fills up.