Tablets And Oscilloscopes: Updates On Some Recent Posts

-April 29, 2011

Boy, you folks sure are interested in hacking inexpensive tablets ;-) I just had a look at the last few months’ worth of EDN Magazine website stats and my recent Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor-hacking update is running neck-and-neck with its series-premier predecessor, both in the multiple thousands-of-hits arena. For some reason, you seem to prefer 7″ tablets to their 10″ bigger brethren, however, since my ViewSonic gTablet-hacking writeup is running notably behind its peers from a site traffic standpoint. Nonetheless…

A few days ago, I became aware via comments left on an enthusiast’s blog post that CyanogenMod had just been upgraded to v7.0.2 after a brief flirtation with v7.0.1 (I’d installed v7.0 on both tablets). The changelog has the nitty-gritty details on the bug squashes and feature additions; I was specifically hoping for one particular fix. Subsequent to publishing my ViewSonic gTablet piece, I’d realized that even if I’d enabled Wi-Fi on the device prior to powering it off or rebooting it, it’d come back up next time with wireless disabled again. A minor annoyance, to be true; one swipe of the status bar, followed by a finger-press of the Wi-Fi graphic, would get it going again. Regardless, none of my Android handsets exhibit this quirk, nor does either the Motorola Xoom or my hacked NOOKcolor, so…

I actually tackled the CM 7.0.2 upgrade on the NOOKcolor first, and in retrospect I don’t suggest you follow in the entirety of my footsteps. ROM Manager actually didn’t alert me to the update’s availability when I accessed the utility’s ‘Check for ROM Updates’ feature, however I was able to navigate to CM 7.0.2 via the ‘Download ROM’ facility. After downloading both it and the optional Google Apps build, ROM Manager prompted me to reboot into ClockworkMod Recovery to continue the installation…

…which it did, upon which time I realized my urge-overkill mistake. By default ROM Manager advises ClockworkMod Recovery to clear the Dalvik virtual machine cache, which is always a good thing to do when upgrading ROMs…the worst that will happen is that the initial subsequent reboot will take somewhat longer as the cache is rebuilt from scratch. And I’d also selected the by-default-unchecked option to back up my current ROM prior to the upgrade, which filled up a bit of my microSDHC card but was a decent better-safe-than-sorry move.

But I had also selected the by-default-unchecked option to “Wipe data/factory reset”, which as it turns out sends the tablet back to step #1 with no user settings or additional apps preserved. In retrospect, it was a good thing that I’d previously guided ROM Manager to download not only CM 7.0.2 but also Google Apps. And restoring the system state from my Google account backup got most of the other programs back on the tablet in short order. However, I still needed to manually install a few other apps, as well as to re-configure all of them…my six Twitter accounts in TweetCaster, my two Facebook accounts, the 24 RSS feeds that I follow in Pulse, etc.

I vowed to not repeat that same mistake on the gTablet, so I didn’t enable “Wipe data/factory reset” in this particular case. But every time ROM Manager told me that it was going to reboot into ClockworkMod Recovery…it didn’t; the gTablet kept restarting in ‘normal’ mode instead. Pressing and holding the power button, then selecting the ‘reboot->recovery mode’ option, didn’t work either. Finally, I succeeded by first powering off the gTablet and then pressing and holding both the power and volume+ buttons, as I’d done when first putting CM on the system. At this point, I was able to clear the Dalvik cache (in ClockworkMod Recovery’s Advanced menu), find, navigate to, and select the CM 7.0.2 ZIP for installation, and reboot to find the O/S upgraded but everything else left as-is.

Alas, Wi-Fi still doesn’t come up enabled on the gTablet. And I’ve discovered one other head-scratching quirk. I’d mentioned before that with CM 7, the gTablet self-identifies as an Android 2.3.3-based phone, whereas the NOOKcolor thinks it’s an Android 2.3.3-based tablet; this discrepancy precludes the conventional USA Today app (for phones) from installing on the NOOKcolor but also blocks the USA Today app for tablets (which requires Android 3.0 at minimum). Well, neither tablet is able to access the Docs for Android app that Google released yesterday. I can only assume that Google’s intentionally blocking hardware running non-standard ROMs, for some reason.

Speaking of recent posts, I’ve got a few more things to say about Oscium’s iMSO-104 Apple iOS-based mixed-signal oscilloscope peripheral, which I wrote up yesterday. First off, to be clear, I mentioned the unit’s ‘SMB that was not mechanically sound, along with a reworked PCB’ only to reinforce that I had a pre-production unit in my hand, as a means of fending off ‘hey, I ordered my unit but it hasn’t shipped yet; how’d Dipert get one’ comments from hopeful owners. Obviously, full production units will be 100% mechanically and electrically sound; please don’t take my comments out of context.

And speaking of unit ordering, whereas Oscium had previously told me (and documented on its website, as well as its page on the App Store) that production hardware wouldn’t ship until May 20th, company president Bryan Lee mentioned to me last night that:

By the way, we shipped all the purchased units out yesterday, because we like to under-promise and over-deliver…We work hard to exceed our customers’ expectations.

Commensurate with the hardware release, the company rolled out v1.1 of the iMSO-104’s software suite, which seems to have speedily made its way through the Apple app approval process, judging from the fact that it was available for me to download on my iPad this afternoon:


So, iMSO-104 purchasers, please let Paul Rako and I know, via comments to this blog post, what you think of your new (signal) acquisition (hah) once it arrives. Thanks in advance!

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