Pebble 2 smartwatch won’t re-connect after Android 10

Pebbles growing in work

I like many Google Pixel users recently got the Android 10 upgrade. It was smooth and everything was in order except there was a notification that the Pebble/Rebble smartwatch software may need to be upgraded as it might be incompatible with the Android 10.

What follows was a long painful process trying to pair the Pebble 2 with my Pixel 2 phone. It took forever and ended up with me unpairing both rebooting both and repairing the whole lot again. Nothing was lost in the process but its a real painful process and I thought, once its done, its done forever.

However I was wrong. It seems like this happens every few weeks? Others have suggested it happens when the Pixel doesn’t see the pebble for a little while. Someone started a bug issue with Google, thankfully and I added my own comment to the growing list.

If you are having similar issues, do add a comment to show Google there is a problem and maybe the Bluetooth LE stack might be at fault? Although I’ve not had a problem with my Motiv Ring yet?

Pacemaker big battery replacement

Old Pacemaker with new 1500mAh battery

Thanks to our excellent lab technician Elizabeth. I bought a 3.7v battery to replace the one in my 2nd pacemaker. I previously had replaced the 1.8 inch SSD with a SD card, so knew there was more room in the pacemaker case.

I had hoped to buy a very thin battery which I could slip under the SD card but I couldn’t find one with a higher capacity than 500mAh. Instead I looked for the highest capacity I could get which fit into the same battery space. I found a few 1100mAh batteries but then finally found one which was 1500mAh and the same voltage.

Old Pacemaker with new 1500mAh battery

I unfortunately couldn’t didn’t quite get the right size, I was about 1-2mm’s off in height. The only way to make it fit was to remove the brackets which protected the old SSD/HD from the battery. As there was no drive anymore I decided its ok to remove them. With them gone, I could shift the battery over a bit and fit it in.

Old Pacemaker with new 1500mAh battery

With some great soldering from Elizabeth, I was able to get everything back in the case and screw the whole thing together.

Looking forward to doing similar with my main pacemaker device, maybe?

iPhone XR ad promotes smartphone addiction as a way of life?

Found via Hannah while working away, Latest iPhone XR ad promotes smartphone addiction as a way of life, and that’s bad
I hadn’t seen these Apple adverts but yes this isn’t good and strange for a company who was pushing for time well spent a while ago.

If you are affected by any of this, I would recommend having a look at my guide to take control of your smartphone and likely improve your phone and personal batteries

Throw back to the past, my first PocketPC

HP 200lx pocketpc

The HP 200LX was my first pocketpc and it was quite a device. It nicely had a PCMCIA slot (remember those things?!) which means I could upgrade the storage to a massive 8meg. The big thing I found extremely useful was the installed version of DOS which meant I could do lots of things the device was never setup for. The infrared was great for actually getting things remotely over my 2.5g connection. Not really the web but the internet.

I can’t even tell you how many times I was busy writing stuff on this, while in the booth of the cinema box office.

Thanks to Phil for this flash back from the past.

Google takeout to the rescue?

My Motiv ring on my hand

So recently I’ve gone into Quantified Self overload with my new Motiv Ring, added to my Pebble smartwatch for sleep tracking.

The ring is very good, but the app isn’t the best, its seems to work but isn’t very clear when its not syncing with the ring. Also I knew the 2 day battery was going to be a pain but to date I’ve been charging it every 2 days and never got to the point where its gotten below 44%.

As the app is pretty rubbish, I have sent everything to Google fit. I pretty much have everything synced with Google fit now.

The first time I noticed it was all working, was when I looked at sleep as android which I use with my pebble smartwatch and noticed my heart rate over the top of my sleep data.

Sleep data with heart rate
I warn you the sleep is a mess due to my flu I currently have… also why I’ve not blogged those great conferences I’ve been to recently.

Likewise I recently hooked up my Withings/Nokia iot scale to Google fit. The scale has its own app which isn’t bad but frankly its not great. It suffers from the similar problems as most of the quantified apps attached to a device or service; they want to be the centre of the world. Reminds me of my Fitbit which import everything but export little.

I understand Google fit is mining the heck out of my quantified data but with Google takeout, I can get the raw numbers in one place. Everyone wants to sync with Google fit and the dashboard view is far better than what everyone else right now.

I’ve also set it up to send me an update every 2 months. Now that’s pretty neat. Would I pay for a service to do this? Yes I would, how much is the question…

I decided to get the Motiv Ring

Oura Ring vs Motiv Ring

I have been considering something else to help track different activities, since I lost the Mi Band 1. The pebble smartwatch is great for this but there is no way I can wear it while playing volleyball. I also found using gadgetbridge more painful than it needed to be.

While keeping my eyes open for alternatives, I seen Oura but not the Motiv. After reading about it against the Oura and then further reviews. I decided its worth trying. FIDO and 2FA swung it for me, so put down the money and bought one. I’m looking forward to giving it a proper review once I get it and try syncing data, etc. Hopefully its more spa proof than the pebble.

The pebble maybe water resistance but not spa resistance…

Dead pebble

Sadly its the 2nd Pebble smartwatch I have lost to my love of spas. First one died during a spa visit in the Midland hotel, weirdly about a year ago. I instantly got another one exactly the same as my kickstarter version. It worked great but I didn’t learn the lesson and kept wearing the smartwatch at spas and swimming pools.

Then a few days in a hotel spa in London and Liquidrome in Berlin, caused my smartwatch to fail again.

Dead pebble

Looking at the damage I think its the intense steam of the steam room (to be fair, was in the steam room for over 30mins) mixed with the heat of a sauna. Then floating in a salt water pool just killed it for good. I really should have done the bag of rice trick but I was mitte, Berlin and well bags of rice wasn’t easily available at midnight while leaving Liquidrome.

After a few days in Berlin with no smartwatch I realised how much I missed it and looked online to get a replacement. Black pebble 2’s were closer to the 400 pound mark, while the white one was less than half that brand new. So I got a white one.

All the my pebbles
From left to right, My dead pebble from 2017, then my new white pebble and finally the one which just died in Berlin

I did spend some serious time looking at alternatives to the pebble but couldn’t find a decent alternative for anywhere near the price. My list was simply this…

  • Non LCD, so I can get more than 3 days battery on a charge
  • Basic apps to do sleep/fitness tracking, read Google tasks, etc
  • Clear display in sunlight and darkness
  • Replacement straps which are not custom to the device
  • Android WearOS support to get notifications, etc

Nothing too complex but the smartwatch still seems lacking in diversity. As most seem to be clearly copies of previous with beefed up specs. I even consider the Fitbit charge but I hated the straps and the size was massive.

How good is the Oura ring tracker?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5U4F9xvWY

Its a nice looking device, seems to work well but at £300+ its a high price.

I do find the back story interesting however, especially since its been floating around the Quantified Self community for quite some time.

My usual worries about data-portability, app access (the android app looks like it needs work), etc all come into play but as a replacement for myband2 and sleep tracking on my pebble smart watch. It does interest me.

I don’t usually wear rings but I did obviously have a wedding ring and also did try wearing one of those cheap NFC rings.

Love your pebble, don’t want to see it turn into plain watch? Setup a rebble account now!

Pebbles growing in work

If like me you love the pebble and although I hate that Fitbit bought them, can’t really slate their support to keep the watch alive and working with the rebble team.

The Rebble team have been literally everywhere urging pebble users to create an account on the rebble servers before the pebble servers are switched off for good.

The Rebble account system is up and running, and now is the time for you to create your accounts. Head over to Rebble Auth and log in using your preferred site. You’ll then be asked to link your Pebble account. Please do: we will use this to import information from the Pebble servers before they shut down in order to help make the transition smoother.

It is especially important for developers to link their Pebble accounts now. Once the Pebble services shut down at the end of this month, we will no longer be able to identify developers who did not link their accounts, and so we will be unable to let them update or otherwise change their apps.

We are also going to use the number of accounts created to assist us in determining service usage and attempt to validate our assumptions about the number of users we expect to see.

That’s all there is to do right now: there is no app to install, and we are not yet ready for users to switch over to Rebble services. We will be sure to update you when we are!

Do it now, it takes a minute or so and will save you a lot of heartache later!

The realm of third-party trackers on Android

Luman android root cert

I was excited to learn about Lumen Privacy Monitor, as I’ve always wondered about the apps I have installed even when I have restricted the permissions wanted from the installed app.

New research co-authored by Mozilla Fellow Rishab Nithyanand explores just this: The opaque realm of third-party trackers and what they know about us. The research is titled “Apps, Trackers, Privacy, and Regulators: A Global Study of the Mobile Tracking Ecosystem,” and is authored by researchers at Stony Brook University, Data & Society, IMDEA Networks, ICSI, Princeton University, Corelight, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“This is the start of a long project to uncover all the hidden data collection and data dissemination practices on the internet,” Nithyanand explains.

“There’s a huge lack of transparency around how mobile applications behave,” adds Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, a co-author and researcher at ICSI. “People install software, but don’t know what that software is doing.”

The paper’s introduction lays out a troubling scenario: “Third-party services inherit the set of application permissions requested by the host app, allowing them access to a wealth of valuable user data, often beyond what they need to provide the expected service.”

To study this scenario, the researchers used Lumen Privacy Monitor, an Android app they built themselves over a two-year period.

So I installed it just to see what was going on with my Android devices. But there is a problem… Best summed up in this comment from Wcat.

Not open source? TLS interception? Before you install this stop and think about TLS interception. “Those who would trade privacy for security deserve neither.”

Luman asks for permissions to install its own root certificate, and this deeply worries me. TLS inception isn’t a trivial thing to be honest, I know its needed but it had me questioning how I really want to monitor the apps? Also if I remove the app, will the certificate be removed too/how would I know?

Right now, I’m keeping an eye on the app but haven’t installed the root cert yet.

Google clip, decentralised intelligence?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD48ZEltaSo

The reviews are appearing about the Google Clip camera. Its not great but to be honest, the only thing I found interesting about it on the announcement, was all the logic/intelligence was onboard. Google has become well known for doing the logic via their own cloud systems, so this was a surprise.

the main reason Google Clips isn’t as worrying as “Google camera that recognizes your family’s faces and records them automatically” sounds is that Google made a few carefully considered technical choices to protect its users’ privacy.

The first is that everything on Clips happens locally. Nothing is synced with Google’s cloud at all — except the photos you save into Google Photos. All the facial recognition happens on the device using its own processing power. None of it is paired up with whatever facial recognition you may have set up in Google Photos. It doesn’t pair faces with names, it just recognizes faces it sees a bunch over time. It also tries to ignore faces it doesn’t recognize. So if you’re at a park with your kids, Clips will endeavor to only take photos of your kids.

The clips the camera takes are also stored only on the camera itself. They don’t try to sync over to your phone unless you ask for them. They’re also encrypted on the camera, in case you lose it.

On first look, I thought it might be a similar replacement for Google Glass, then I thought maybe its the Google GoPro but it doesn’t seem to operate like a point and shoot. So I thought maybe a lifeblogging devices like the autographer and narrative clip. But it seems to be a different category all together.

Its a interesting device, but certainly pricey for a new category camera.

Google maps you have a speech problem

Google Maps

I love google maps but it has a problem.

I use it as a GPS when travelling around on my scooter, which means I don’t have a screen in front of me. Instead I’m reliant on the audio output to tell me where to go and when. I imagine for most people this sounds kind of crazy because they want to see the map and directions, but when it works it really works well. It says before the turning and then again just at the point of the turn. Pretty much once you get use to it, its just great and I find it weird sitting in peoples cars when they are not listening to the voice.

However there is a bug/problem.

I use to think it was just my Nexus 5X but its happened with my Google Pixel2 making it clear its a google maps issue.

Every once in a while, google maps stops talking and leaves you with silence.  This seems to be solved with a restart, which is hardly great when driving along. I imagine most users tend to have the display and don’t care too much about the voice. But if you are reliant on it, when it suddenly goes quiet you start to wonder. Worst thing about it is Google maps doesn’t say anything when you don’t need to take a turn. Meaning if you are going down a motorway you have to assume everything is fine.

Google maps fail

This is what happened as I drove down the M6 towards London not Bristol on Monday afternoon, wondering when the M5 turn off was coming. Now to be fair I was on the right motorway but when I came across the M6 toll road, I took it and that led me towards London.

M6 toll
Taking the M6 Toll road
M5 from Birmingham
The M5 I should have took

Google maps said nothing, so I just kept going expecting something over the headset when the turning came. To make things even more difficult I had my pixel 2 phone locked in the scooter charging, meaning I couldn’t see the phone unless I pulled over and turned off the engine. Once again not ideal.

Ok this example is quite extreme (but it happened) and you could say I should have been aware but I honestly didn’t see a sign for the M5 south. Its likely I wouldn’t as I took the M6 toll road.

Google maps has a speech problem and I’m not the only one who has experienced this.

Anyone else?

Nexus 5x issues ongoing…

Google Nexus 5x
I like the irony of the good place paired with the problems of the phone

I recently got my Nexus 5x back from Carphone Warehouse. This follows the sudden bootloop of my Nexus 5x in November.  They replaced the motherboard as it was still under its 2 year warranty. I was hoping they would just refund me for it, as I bought the Google Pixel2 on its launch.

But it will do for now, till it happens again and I’ll be demanding more. Right now its a spare/backup phone with my pay-as-you-go 3 sim inside. I did pause to think if I should upgrade to Android Oreo, but decided I should do it.

In the mean while its interesting to see some of the solutions people have come up with including this one using salty ice to keep the CPU cool.

Nexus 5x under ice

Dead pebble…?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/24449307698/

On my leui half day, I decided to hit the Spa – keep me away from work stuff. Knowing the Pebble is waterproof I was kept an eye on how much time I was spending in the Steam room. To be honest I’ve used in many spas and swimming pools no problem but today it was stuck on the preference screen. I held the left button in and it felt weird and then collapsed in on its self. unfortunately (or stupidly) I did this while in the jacuzzi. It wasn’t in the water but I got the feeling my wet finger might have caused some water to go inside.

Later I tried to start it up after leaving it in the locker with ventilation, but it didn’t help as its now totally dead. Although I haven’t tried the bag of rice water damage trick.

Dead pebble 2 watch

It feels like my arm is naked right now and having to look at my phone to see the actual time or why its buzzing is almost as weird. I had thought about buying another pebble 2, now they are not being made. Looks like I’ll be doing that now, just hoping it will reach me before I go to Madeira. I guess thats the point of Amazon Prime?

Update – The next day

Dead pebble watch

So I hooked up my dead pebble to the charger and it kicked into action. After a long time and looking up the pebble SOS site with a bunch of searching the pebble forums; I was able to get it repaired with my phone again and usable again. I say usable but its never going to be waterproof again.

Dead pebble watch

I also noticed the rubber seal which I assume protects the inners of the watch is coming loose; plus the battery is depleating far quicker than usual. After half a day the battery was down to 50%. I’m assuming it might be the bluetooth discovery trying to connect to my phone killing the battery but I wouldn’t be suprised if it was down to the water damage in someway.

Right now its usable but the back button doesn’t work at all, even pushing the microswitch inside does nothing anymore. This means any sub menus can’t be reversed. I actually found the only way to get back to the clock, is to open the pebble app on my phone and switch the clockface. Not ideal but this means it can work enough for a short while, as notifications and messages automatically switch to the clock after a while.

It could be worst I guess…?

I bought a Google Pixel 2 and its bloody fast

Google Pixel 2

After my Google Nexus 5x died a few weeks ago, I switched back to my very old Nexus 5 with the broken screen. It was painful, especially with no fingerprint and of course the pixel filled screen. Knowing I would be switching, I put the bear minimum amount of apps on it and played the wait game with my google authenticator.

In the end I pre-ordered the Pixel 2 (which keep calling the Nexus 2) from Carphone Warehouse (mainly because I needed to guarantee I could get it at a certain day, before heading away)

It costed so much my credit card company rejected the transaction and I didn’t get the ability to say it was me before they rejected it. Yes the cost was eye watering but mainly because I’m use to the Nexus lines of £200 ish. Yes I considered other phones but I liked having pure google and the reviews of the Pixel2 were good (I didn’t get the XL version with the odd colour screen). The alternative colour ones were going take too long so stuck with pure black.

When I finally got my hands on it (Thursday) I was surprised how smooth, silky and solid it was. Compared to my Nexus 5x, it was quite a different feeling. You can feel the quality of design and build compared to the Nexus range.

Pixel 2

There are a lot of reviews of the in-depth Pixel 2 reviews so I won’t try and do that. But some surprises I had.

The speed of the fingerprint is out of control now, my nexus 5x was fast but this is like warp speed. The general speed of Oreo is zippy, especially compared to my dead Nexus 5x which got the upgrade soon before it died. I had some problems with the wifi but a reboot seems to have fixed it. Having 128gig of space online is kind of crazy, so finally my Plex life time subscription is making a lot more sense. I’m syncing all my podcasts and a lot of audiobooks. Trying to decide if I should put all my single tunes on it or not?

Moving things over was a bit painful only because I only had my backup Nexus 5 with the basic number of things on it not the Nexus 5x. The USBC to female USB A dongle was pretty handy I have to say, although I have done similar with NFC previously to start the pairing process.

Not having a audio jack isn’t a big pain for me as I’ve been monitoring how often I actually use the audio jack since the iphone jack removal; and it was low to not at all. The USB C jack is included and I also have a number of Bluetooth audio jacks I can use easily enough including on my helmet. Battery life so far seems very good with a whole day of my non-use taking only 38% of the battery. The figure said I had another day and a bit of battery use. I had a problem with the Wifi for a bit, which was only noticeable in things streaming like Yaste and Plex but after its second ever restart its all good now.

The camera is insanely fast and I reduced the resolution down because shooting 12+ mega pixel pictures is not so needed generally, although there is plenty of space. For the first time, I have also reduced my font size down to smallest across the whole of the phone, because the screen dpi is excellent enough for me to read the tiny text comfortability; oh and the Redshift feature finally means I loose twilight.

Generally I’m quite impressed with the Pixel 2 (but the price is still eye watering) but its only its 3rd day. Its super fast on everything including unlocking, switching tasks and taking pictures.

Update – Sunday 12th Nov

 

I felt like I needed to do a quick update.

I still am impressed with the Pixel 2 but every once in a while, the phone will just turn off (its happened 4 times so far). It always happens when using the Bluetooth headphones; I’ll be walking along and it will suddenly go silent like its lost the bluetooth connection, but my headphones doesn’t say its lost the connection. When I pull out my phone its blank and needs to be reset. Only then does the headphones say its lost the siginal. Its weird and I’ve done everything except reinstalling the phone

Besides this the phone is pretty solid and reliable. The Battery is still excellent and most of the time its only used 15-25% over the course of a day. I seen Google are rolling out updates for the Pixel 2 XL screen problem hopefully this will be high on their bug list too.