Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Update on Skype on F102 3 phone exiting when minimised

In a break from the norm I'm posting my 3 correspondence on my blog to garner some attention, maybe you'll have some fun reading it but the real grit on what I've uncovered can also be found here on the Skype forum.

My email is probably overkill and hyperbole but I was quite incensed by finding the forced upgrade deliberately prevents incoming calls when Skype is in the background and when Three's customer service told me I needed a better phone to run Skype properly. So incensed in fact I wrote a program to workaround it. In any case if it goes further I'll be claiming for 2x£30 (two phones) in the small claims court, it all depends on Three's (possible lack of) response.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re. Notification of potential legal action.

About a week ago I sent a support email requesting that 3 restore my original Skype functionality to my F102 mobile phone as since the update I cannot receive any incoming SKYPE calls as the Skype application exits when it goes into the background ("minimised").
I received a call from one of your customer service representatives telling me because my phone "was not multitasking" I needed to upgrade it to run Skype in the background (despite my pointing out it was working fine in prior to the Skype update). I have uncovered EVIDENCE to suggest 3 HAVE DELIBERATELY pushed out this change in the Skype application reducing its functionality and this is NOT TO DO WITH THE PHONE NOT "MULTITASKING" - THE SKYPE UPDATE LINK CLEARLY STATES IT WILL EXIT IN THE BACKGROUND:

I request that you restore the previous version of Skype application on my phone within 10 days or will consider legal recourse and potential group action to rectify this situation as clearly 3 are at fault and have been attempting to make me purchase a new phone to solve the problem 3/Skype have caused.

Please email or post your response to me as I require your responses in writing. Telephone calls from 3 will be unanswered.

Yours regrettably,

Benjamin Brown

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Skype on three.co.uk 3 telecom not receiving calls

This is Part 1 (my first email), Part 2 of this is here

I'm putting this out there to see how many other people are having a problem with the recent Skype update disconnecting when idle or not minimising meaning you can no longer receive incoming Skype calls. I sent this to three.co.uk support, lets see what I get back:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Since recently updating Skype on my ZTE F102 the application no longer remains connected in the background after I minimise it. The application also disconnects from Skype when it is idle. This now means I will no longer receive incoming *Skype* calls during this time. I notice your Support on the subject (under "Skype calls and chats") has Skype questions for "Making a call", "Sending a Skype Chat" and "Receiving a Skype Chat", but NONE for receiving Skype calls.

I politely request that you restore the original functionality of the Skype application for which I purchased my phone, by either a providing a new version or enabling me to revert Skype to an older revision.

Yours faithfully,

Benjamin Brown

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Surfing the web Sinclair ZX Spectrum style

Recently I've integrated a Java proxy server and Image to ZX Spec to allow you to surf the web seeing every image as would be displayed on a ZX Spectrum.

Of course the youtube video being low resolution doesn't really help, but look at about 2 minutes in to see the difference when I disable the proxy.
I'll be releasing the proxy patches and a modified version of Image to ZX Spec that will allow you to do this with your own browser in a few days (fun for parties maybe?!!). If I get time I'll also add conversion of the font so the text on the pages even looks like that on a Spectrum.

If you came here looking for a real way of getting your old Spectrum on the net you should have a look at Spectranet.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Chinavasion's Gold Bar 16GB USB Review

The honeymoon period:
Shortly after receiving my 16GB Chinavasion Gold Bar USB Stick the other week I went about immediately using and testing it and found it wasn't very reliable. Since Chinavasion refused to publish my review I'll provide the fully damning one here. Incidentally as of the time of writing, 6/6/10, and after my quick search of reviews Chinavasion don't appear to have many (any?) 2 star or less product reviews (I only saw 2x 3 star reviews, the majority are 5 star, with a few 4 stars).

The casing:

The casing, weight and feel is as good as it looks on Chinavasion, however the stick I received has a tiny chip on the top right corner (not very noticeable) and one of the reverse side screws was not gold coloured but regular grey and looked very out of place (the type and size was correct). I have been tempted to rip out another USB stick memory and use it inside this because of the next problem...

The electronics:
The memory stick appears to be a genuine 16GB, that's the good part. The bad part is that it appears to be Grade B lower quality RAM which has data failures. Initially my investigation required verifying the make of the controller chip to ensure it was the correct memory size, somewhat suspiciously the controller and RAM chips inside the USB stick seem to have extremely faded manufacturer and type details printed on them. This made it impossible to determine what the specific makes were.

The fix:
Starting up fake USB stick software and testing took me a better part of a day as there are literally a hundred different "Alcor" Chinese language low level format and controller modifying applications I eventually found one that was able to recognise the stick. The memory is marked as Generic and the type is an AU6981 (or 6986), although this information can be falsified. Initial analysis with an old version of ChipGenius and its old database initially identified it incorrectly as the 98xx series, through trial and error using a newer version and other programs eventually got the right result.
The version of AlcorMP tool you need if you have one of these USB sticks is available in a zip called AlcorMP_AU698X_091111.zip (or AlcorMP_AU698X_091111.rar).

Running this tool with some modified settings* and checking the "Status" determined on one run I had 3 bad blocks (with default settings), another run told me 4099 bad blocks and corrected the available size down to 12.1GB. Actual hit and miss testing via USB disk partitioning on Linux had already determined I only had 12GB of reliable memory on the stick as anything above would become corrupted on retrieval (it appeared to write but would consistently fail to read or files vanish and a corrupted filesystem warning show if I used the full 16GB capacity).

The result:

So why didn't I send this back? Well because shipping it back to China after I had just waited 3 weeks to get it (cheap postage) meant another round trip of about 6 weeks and there was no guarantee that the replacement would not be even more defective. The relatively cheap cost of £23, or half a night out, was another factor in that it just wasn't worth the hassle. Basically I used the Alcor tool to mark the USB key's bad blocks and to only use the reliable 12.1GB and this seems to have worked.

* Follow this translated guide. Under the Flash Type tab use the following LLF Check: Natural Check, Scan Level: Full Scan4, Scan Mode: Low Level, RW Cycle Time 33ms (as far as I can tell the memory is rated at 25ms however the stick is faulty so better to be safe than sorry - my write speed is still a slow 3.3MB/s).