Article History

January 2012

February↪↩December 2011



Looking on Youtube for videos of the Atrix and I came across a video of a guy using the the HDMI output to display a skateboarding game on his big television. But the interesting part was that he was using a PS3 controller to play it. Cool! The controllers use Bluetooth to communicate wirelessly, but I guess Sony has some special method to make them automatically pair with PS3's. So you need a special program on your desktop to make the controller pair with a phone.

Once the controller is paired, there's a few apps in the Android market to interpret the PS3 controller data and make it work with existing games or other apps. Not only can they set up buttons to send normal key presses, but the analog joysticks can be set up to send fake touch events to areas on the screen. This is because many games have you touch the bottom corners to emulate buttons or joysticks; these apps are just re-emulating (de-emulating?) this input method. Perhaps in the future, Android games will support the controllers directly or use a standard API.

So I‘m adding a SixAxis or similar controller to the wishlist of accessories I’d like to get for the Atrix.


Compiled a new version of MythTV on Buster. The version it's running is from early May last year.


Searching around for Atrix‘s, I noticed that there were two model numbers. The first is MB860 and seemed to be the main “4G” model. But there is also the ME860, which appears to be the international “Atrix” model (no “4G”). I did some Googling to find the differences between the two models, but didn’t turn up much of any confidence. Searching for “ME860” on eBay only returned one or two items. The Motorola website seemed to only use the “4G” qualifier on the U.S. version.

At about the same time I was searching around for info on the webtop feature. A google search for “motorola webtop” gave me a Motorola Developer web page, which linked to a page listing all of the devices which support webtop. It turns out there's quite a few, although I'm not sure if any other than the first Atrix can fit in the “Lapdock”. In there were two entries for the "Atrix 4G MB860“ and the ”Atrix ME860/MB861". These entries linked to the Motorola Developer info pages on each phone. Ah! I'd forgotten about this resource! Right there were the listed frequencies. The MB860 has a tri-band UMTS radio supporting 850/1900/2100, while the ME860/MB861 is quad-band, supporting 850/900/1900/2100.

So I‘m going to have to get the latter to support the 900/2100 bands that Vodafone and most other networks use here in Australia, with the added bonus that it will also support Teltra’s NextG and Vodafone's new 850 MHz network. But it's a little difficult to find the ME860 online; it looks like most people label all Atrix's as the MB860, which is a little confusing. Not all are labelled “4G” though, so that may be the more reliable way to differentiate the two models of Atrix.

One other difference between the models is that the MB860 supports HSPA+, while the ME860/MB861 only support HSPA. This is of little practical concern to me, but it's likely why the former is labelled “4G” and the latter is not. It was bad enough when carriers in the U.S. started labelling their new LTE networks and phones as “4G”, even though they‘re not. LTE is pre-4G technology — “3.9G”, if you will. Now they’re even labelling existing 3G technology as “4G”. Telstra's NextG network has been using HSPA+ for several years now! And what will the carriers do when they start rolling out real 4G technology in a few years time? What adjective or other description will they add to differentiate it from the faux-4G products they‘re selling at the moment? Stupid marketing, that’s all it is.


Another SSD came in the mail. This is for Mars, our server. Installing it will be a little more involved because I also want to transfer in two 2 TB hard disks to replace the current 1 TB ones. And because it's the server, I'd rather not have it down for too long. It's kinda important. So I'm trying to plan everything out for this process.


Andrew and Liss dropped in with their kids, on the way home from visiting Liss's father.


Read an article about why the Galaxy Nexus uses OMAP4 instead of Exynos. The main two points seem to be the IVA unit that handles media encode/decode and a dual-channel memory controller. I checked out the specs for the Tegra 2, and it sadly also has only a single-channel memory controller. It also lacks NEON, the SIMD extensions that give a real boost to many workloads. That's put a dampener on my enthusiasm for the Atrix phone. The Atrix 2 uses the OMAP4, and a check on GSMarena turned up other phones that use the Ti SoC. But they're all much too expensive for me.


Stayed up to 3 am to try my luck at SparkFun's free day give-away. I gave up and went to bed after two hours of typing in captcha‘s. It looks like they’ve finally gotten their shit together on being able to host such a popular event without their site going down or becoming incredibly slow.


Andrew rode his motorbike over to visit us.


Mum and Dad drove to Sydney to have lunch with some old friends. While they were away, we had a thunderstorm. There were a pair of really close strikes that scared me while I was still trying to sleep. And it pissed down.

The OsmAnd map creator is working again! It had stopped working when I had replaced the “sun-java” runtime with a OpenJDK-based runtime. Neither version 6 nor 7 wanted to work, bailing on an index out of bounds exception or something. So I generated my first map since the ones I made in late October and used in New Zealand.


Mum, Dad, and I went over to Andrew and Alissa's new house. Andrew and his family were all there. They'd gotten the key today. I found Sarah and Zac in the under-cover area out the back. They had notepads — the real estate agent had given them a bag full of branded stuff.

The house looked pretty good. Not huge, but not too small either. The lounge room isn't as big, but they gain a small family room joined to the kitchen. And the kitchen has a long bench/breakfast bar. But probably the best feature is that the land is mostly flat. The only major slope on the property is the driveway. The main house area is a good 1.5 m or more below street level and a retaining wall holds back a garden next to the driveway. There is also a large mostly-covered area at the back, in the crook of the L-shaped house. I say mostly covered, because it needs a few more sheets of corrugated roofing material. So that's where the barbecue will go, and where the kids will play. Unfortunately the rest of the back yard is a few-metre-wide strip along the back, and thinner strips along each side. But I'm sure the kids will make-do with that.

Being below street-level and not being above the ground itself does leave the house vulnerable to rain. This was evident because we had the storm on Saturday — there were apparently wet marks very close to the front door. They have to do something about drainage at the front of the house.

They‘re getting their telephone number transferred to the new house tomorrow and don’t know when they'll have ADSL transferred/setup.


Andrew came over to take the trailer. He said Alissa had been over at the new house and managed to sweep out the garage and front veranda before "getting jack of Zac" and going home.

Installed HO!NO! CM7 ROM on my Milestone. Tried to prepare a set of “baseband” files for Australia.

Fixed the Ext4 filesystem on my microSD card.


Found I couldn't ring my phone, so worked on the “baseband” files in I ended up including everything under /etc/motorola/ from the hobomod. That seemed to do the trick.

Fixed up IPv6.


Andrew brought our trailer back. I went out the back to see him and the whole family were there too. I lifted the kids over fence and we played. Spinning around after just having dinner is not a good idea.


Andrew came by and picked up our trailer again. I decided to get out of bed then and chatted to him a bit from the back veranda. The weather forecast was for another storm and so far it had been hot and sunny. There were lots of clouds about, but they looked all white and fluffy. But sure enough, within a half hour of Andrew leaving the clouds were turning dark. And within another half hour rain had started.

Andrew wanted to be at the house during the rain so he could catch it in action and see where it was coming in. He later called and I answered because Mum and Dad were out for their weekly dinner at the Kelso Pub. He said water had come into the garage, both at the front and under the back door, which has a large gap at the bottom. Being essentially level with the surrounding land, there's little to stop the rain getting in. They also found water splashed on the kitchen window, which is odd since it's well under the cover of the pergola. They didn't notice that until after the rain, so they don't know exactly where the water came from. The options aren't good though.

Ooh look, a new release of CM7 for my Milestone! Kabaldan has mostly been working on CM9 for the last several weeks and released an alpha of that before giving us some CM7 work. So I did a nandroid backup and installed CM 7.1.4. I had some trouble and had to reinstall gapps. But it was working well after a few reboots to fix things.


Andrew and Alissa moved the last of the big things to their new house. I wasn't up early enough to join in, but Dad went along. In fact, they finished fairly quickly and Dad was home before I got up. That was about when the rain started. Sorry, I meant storm. A real serious storm. It came on pretty suddenly. There was thunder and lightning. And it absolutely bucketed down. It was the hardest downpour I'd seen in a long time. It was so hard that the water coming off our roof was simply pouring over the gutters and onto the ground. I could barely see the backyard it was so hard, and our backyard isn't that big! Thankfully it only lasted about 10 minutes or so.

Mum arrived home from her lunch so I rung up Andrew and Alissa's house to ask if it was okay for us to come over. Of course it was! Mum was having trouble because her left little finger had decided to swell up mysteriously last night. We eventually left with me operating the (automatic) gear lever and parking brake. She had some trouble steering. Perhaps I should have driven.

Alex was still at the house when I arrived, but I was quickly grabbed by Sarah and Zac to be given another tour of the house, mostly their rooms. Which quickly turned into simply playing.


Another CM7 update! Installed CM 7.1.5 on my Milestone. This gives us an ICS-style animation when the phone is rotated.


Stayed up to 6 am to bid on a Pentax LX on eBay. I won! And at about $50 cheaper than some other ones that up as “buy it now” items.


The last of the pieces Dad ordered for the multi-tuner setup on Buster arrived in the mail. We had Buster on its side and connecting up the USB brackets when the doorbell rang a few times. There was a short silhouette standing at the door and when I opened it, sure enough, was Zac. I asked him were everyone else was and he said they were out the back. So out the laundry door and there's Andrew preparing to return our trailer for the last time. I helped him push it back into place. They didn't stay for long.

Tested Buster with the three dual-tuner receivers. We opted not to do another stress test because I explained to Dad that Buster still uses a reiser filesystem to store the MythTV recordings, and the MythTV wiki says that's a bad choice. I intend to move the 1 TB disks from Mars into Buster once I‘ve replaced them with the new 2 TB disks (and using the SSD as a root fs). But that’s not happening fast. So instead I can allocate some space on my server to store Buster's data, before creating a new XFS filesystem and transferring it back. It won't be a fast process though.

I started my plan and started transferring the MythTV files from Buster to Taliesin with Rsync - a whopping 10 MB/s. I wish I could connect Taliesin to the gigabit switch.

It's Scott's 23rd birthday today. He called Mum on Skype. Later they set up a “hangout” on Google+ and Glenn joined that as well.


Did a final Rsync of the MythTV data from buster and created an XFS filesystem over the old ReiserFS. Then I started transferring the data back to Buster. More waiting...

Watched a video from about XFS. The presenter talked about recent improvements to metadata performance and compared it to Ext4 and Btrfs. He said that Ext4 had problems because its fundamental design is still very old and the new features that have been added don't necessarily work well together. He also said it wasn't as tested as many people believed. Btrfs also had problems, but he said many of them weren't fundamental to its design. It'll just take a lot of time to get it to an acceptable level of performance and reliability. I‘m feeling a lot more positive about XFS now, and very doubtful about Ext4. I’m using it on my server, and the performance has not been great. Maybe I should transfer that data to XFS.


Transferring the MythTV files back to Buster had finished. I started up the MythTV backend and it was fine, so I started up the frontend. We'll have to stress-test it later to see how XFS is handling things compared to ReiserFS.

Went over to Andrew and Alissa's house for Zac's 5th birthday. We gave him presents, had pizza for dinner and chocolate cake for dessert.


Andrew and his family came over around 2 pm, pretty much forcing me to get up “early”. I'm just not good at going to bed early. They had to do some online banking and with their ADSL being down for a few weeks, we were an easy alternative.

Mum had another “hang out” with Scott and Glenn on G+.


Mum, Dad, and I drove down to Canberra, via Cowra like we always do. But since our motel was on the Federal Highway, just outside the ACT border, we turned off at Murrumbateman and came in through Sutton. I had a separate room, but only for tonight.

We drove into Belconnen Mall for dinner with Scott and Shannon. We found the new Thai place and were seated. They arrived shortly after. A very yummy dinner!


Checked out of our motel rooms and drove over to Gungahlin for some shopping. Bought Scott a birthday card before heading over to his apartment. After some talking, it was time for some adventure! We got into our cars and headed out to Tidbinbilla tracking station. We looked around the visitor centre and had lunch at their cafe. Then we headed way south to Honey Suckle Creek, where there are remains of the tracking station that used to be there. Scott posted about riding there one day on Google+.

We were low on petrol, so we head back to civilisation with the air conditioning turned off. But once the car levelled off (we were up in the mountains) the fuel reading in the car read more reasonable numbers. We got petrol in Tuggeranong and then headed over to the Old Parliament House to see the Aboriginal tent embassy. There were quit a few tents! We drove around a bit and found the restaurant where the P.M. had had her little security scare a few days earlier. It was only at the end of the street that runs in front of Old Parliament House, only fifty metres from the tent embassy! No wonder things escalated so quickly.

Then we headed back to our motel with Scott and Shannon because he wanted to see it. We checked into our new rooms — they were connected with a door. We talked a while more before we had to get ready for dinner. So they left with instructions of how to hook up again.

Off to Black Mountain Tower! Up the elevator to the revolving restaurant and we were seated. We had a lovely three-course meal with desert. We went up to the observation level to get some photos, but soon it was 10 pm and the tower was shut. We went back to Scott and Shannon's apartment again and talked some more. Then it was back to our motel.


Checked out of the motel for the second time. Down to Fyshwick to pick up some baby stuff for Glenn and Tania. The pram was too big to fit in our car, but we got a car seat and some sheets. We dropped in to the Canberra tourist centre to look at some stuff. Then it was off home, stopping in Boorowa for lunch.