Some IT news for today (March 17th, 2023)

First, a test of a notebook which runs Linux pretty well. It’s the modern version of one that a former colleague of mine had, the Lenovo X1 Carbon, here in its 10th Generation. Liam Proven checked it on The Register’s site, here:

I had a much bigger and heavier Lenovo P50 “workstation” type which also ran Linux just fine, just like my wife’s L380 Yoga 2-in-1, as you now would call them if you can rotate the display 180 degrees and use it with the in-built pencil.

Seems that for Liam, Linux Mint in its latest version has been a good choice. But others will follow…

Next: Debian’s upcoming version “Bookworm” (or Debian Linux 12) is now in hard freeze, which means that bug fixing will be going on full steam by now, and after a short “full freeze” period we’ll get that next version. Announcement is here:

Which I’ve found via the Debian micronews (thanks Laura!).

One last one for today, which this time is about a vulnerability on a Samsung chip. Google’s Project Zero warns about an issue with Exynos Modems, read here:

Its Pixel 7 devices should be safe already, but in case you have some sort of Pixel 6 or a Samsung Galaxy S22 or others, read AndroidAuthority or other sites about it as well. And turn off VoLTE and WiFi calling until there’s a fix for this.

Ok folks, that’s it for now – and like always, thanks for reading.

Well – the percentage is right…

… but KDE Connect and GSConnect differ with my phone’s opinion about the remaining battery time – see here:

For me at least, “48:29” – what is that – hours and minutes? Or minutes and seconds? – sounds a bit different from the phone’s display of “1 day, 5 hrs”

Have to check where to send a bug report about that…

Anyhow, like always, thanks for reading.

Easily repairable, but…

I’ve read the very positive reviews in The Guardian and also in Trusted Reviews about the new Nokia G22 mobile phone. This new device does indeed stand out of the crowd because like a Fairphone 4 you can pretty easily repair it yourself – changing its battery for instance would take mere minutes, and would require almost no special tools. I’ve looked it up, and it starts at around 180€ in the price comparison engines – far cheaper than the Fairphone.

That alone and in itself is applaudable indeed, and we all should give HMD/Nokia credits for it.

from the Nokia website


Last weekend, we walked through a big chain electronics store, and when coming past the mobile phone section we saw quite a number of people standing around the Xiaomi/Redmi exhibited parts. I’ve had a short glance, and wow, these had really gorgeous displays, must have been OLED, although I didn’t really look them up until now. And they, too, were about 180€ – no wonder that people flocked around them like flies around honey.

And that is probably the Achilles heel of the new Nokia G22 – which comes with a rather huge 6,52″ IPS display with a mere 720×1200 pixels – not even Full HD! They even got it wrong on their own website, because an aspect ratio of 20:9 means that it has in fact 720×1600 pixels – but HD+ also means that for normal video content, 720×1200 is about right (should read 720×1280 for that)… come on, Nokia/HMD, even the Google Nexus 5 from 2013 did far better than that – it had an IPS display as well (OLED wasn’t really a thing in 2013 yet), but at a much cuter 4.95″ size it had Full HD, which easily beat even Apple’s SE line until today.

That Nokia G22 does everything else quite right, and it even comes with a headphone jack. It would be perfect if it wouldn’t be a) that big, and b) come with that lame excuse of a screen. It almost hurts to see a good idea ruined through corporate greed like that!

HMD Global has their phones made by Taiwanese maker Foxconn who have facilities in Vietnam and who also make Google’s and even Apple’s phones. But would customers respect that, or rather take a similarly cheap Chinese brand like the -mi ones I saw on display? That large crowd of people around their display stand wouldn’t probably have a second look onto the Nokia G22 in direct comparison, which is sad.

So my advice to HMD would be: great start, people – now make it 20$/€ (10%) more expensive, and give us a nice OLED display with at least FullHD. Oh, and making it a bit smaller, like 6″ or so, would also be nice. Thanks for your consideration.

Oh, and to the reviewers of other sites:

It also helps not only to look at the makers’ support cycles (like in this case, three years), but also to help/hints about the possibility to unlock the devices’ bootloaders, so that after the end of these support cycles, we can easily unlock the devices, and put something with longer support onto them. I’d love to read any news about that, and if the makers don’t claim anything, ask them – you’re journalists, aren’t you? And as jourmalists you should ask questions, not only repeat the maker’s ads. Thanks a lot.

No “AI” needed…


Flageolet, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

… is the same as my blog header photo, but heavily blurred with The Gimp‘s “Lens Blur”, using a radius of 200.

I took inspiration from the wonderful wallpapers (especially the “Sage” one) of the Google Pixel 6a mobile phone, which let you really concentrate on your foreground instead of the underlying background. See here as an example:

my desktop as of now

See how much the browser window and also the Conky system monitor stand out if the background just isn’t that sharp and detailed? What a simple but effective idea from Google’s artist crew; bravi! See 9to5google, and especially this image which would also be big enough to cover my desktop…

Like always, thanks for reading.

Better than official numbers…

C. Scott Brown reports about the Fairphone 2 phone on AndroidAuthority, telling us that it has been supported for 7 years until now, and that this is better than even Samsung’s update policy.

And right he is of course, but forgetting that a) some iPhones were supported equally long, and that b) there are third party offerings like for instance LineageOS (just to name the most well-known one) who easily top that – for the mentioned Fairphone 2 for instance, there’s Android 11 in form of LineageOS 18.1 available.

And that’s far from the end of it – on my Google Nexus 5 I had an (unofficial but still great) version of LineageOS 20 which equals Android 13 – and that was a device which was even 2 years older than the Fairphone 2, and which LineageOS officially supported until 14.1 (Android 7).

So the real question before buying any new phone should be: is it supported by LineageOS and other 3rd party offerings? Do the makers at least give you the option to unlock the devices’ bootloaders so that you *can* install something different than the makers’ version of Android? For Apple’s iPhones and the iOS, the answer is generally “no”, so despite their long support through the maker they still lose against “open” Android phones like all devices from Google themselves for instance. See the devices listing on LineageOS, and if your phone is as old as a Nexus 5, don’t forget to mark the “discontinued devices” checkbox – if you find yours there, then there’s a great chance to also find some newer ROMs on the site of the XDA Developers.

The jury is still out, but at least with Android 13 on my late brother’s Pixel 3a I can even use my banking app, haven’t found many bugs even in that unofficial ROM yet.

So would I like to have a newer phone than that? Definitely yes. Do I really need one? Not so sure yet, although having Google’s quarterly “feature drops” is of course something really nice.

So if you’re reading articles about the longevity and the support cycles from manufacturers, don’t forget the third party aspect, it’s an important one in my opinion.

As always, thanks for reading.

Hmmm… another one swelling…

When three days ago I asked why things have to grow, I also meant that in regards to a swelling battery in one of our phones – again. This time it’s my Pixel 4a which is kind of hard for me because I consider that the perfect phone regarding size, features, and all…

So my first reaction was to change that battery, and I looked up videos about it and thought: “Oh my…”, because with *this* device it’s really hard. So I looked up an estimation for repair costs at Google, and oh my again…

estimated repair costs for a Pixel 4a phone

Don’t know if you can see that, but it says 326,06€ – which is more than a new Pixel 6a would cost either on mail order or in local electronics shops.

So for now I switched over to my brother Willi’s last one, the Pixel 3a. I had installed LineageOS 20 (Android 13) on it already, and after moving over the SIM card as well as some data, it almost looks the same like on my 4a:

Pixel 3a with LineageOS 20

So let’s see. Haven’t tried everything yet (like my banking app for instance), but so far this looks good…

Like always, thanks for reading.

Why do things have to grow?

Look at our phones:

The size of our phones according to

In case you can’t read it: from the left, we have the Google Pixel 3a (from my late brother), my Google Pixel 4a, then our kid’s Pixel 4a 5G, and at the right Mitchie’s Pixel 6.

And with their latest line, even Apple now left away the “mini” version of their iPhone, so in case you want small, you’re left with the 13 mini, or on Android, with the Asus Zenfone 9 (which even still has a headphone jack).

The Pixel 7 is a bit smaller than the Pixel 6, and the (to be announced) 7a and 8 are – like the 6a – also a bit smaller than the Pixel 6 (at least, we hope so). But that 6a still has a 6.1″ screen just like a now “normal” iPhone 14 or 13, so the question is: why do they have to grow all the time? Are our pockets getting bigger as well, like our garages and even roads for the ever growing cars? Are we humans getting bigger and taller all of the time?

Some things are hard to understand for my (small, pun intended) brain… but I don’t think that bigger equals better. My 4a has about the perfect size, and the guys over at XDA Developers wrote in their “best phones” article:

“Many of us at XDA actually think the Zenfone 9’s 5.9-inch screen is the perfect “small” size, as the iPhone 13 mini’s 5.4-inch panel is just a bit too cramped for most modern content.”

And that’s what I think about the 5.81″ screen of my Pixel 4a as well. Just right for my hand and eyes… and if “modern content” means more whitespace, well I could do as well without…

Like always, thanks for reading.

P.S.: just checking on the battery of my Pixel 4a – last full charge was exactly 48 hours ago, and my gsconnect (kconnect but for the Gnome desktop) shows it with still having 31% of its charge:

phone status on my desktop

So far so good…

Cookie with “Eiffel” preset, and from raw file

When I got up today, my chair at the computer desk was occupied already. So I let the guy sleep and took some photos of him with my phone, first a black & white “portrait” which I changed to the built-in “Eiffel” preset, and which looks like this:

Cookie with “Eiffel” preset from Google Pixel 4a phone camera, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

But I had set the phone’s camera to also save raw .dng files, so I took one of that format and converted it with RawTherapee 5.8 on Linux – looks like this:

Cookie from raw phone dng, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

Such photos have of course a much larger dynamic range in case you need that – but that takes some space as well… anyway, here you’ll have all the possibilities of your favourite raw converter(s) (I used nothing here, just a conversion without changing anything).

Just to compare, here’s a straight out of camera photo from my Olympus camera, with a Panasonic Leica 25mm/1.4 lens:

Cookie with my Olympus straight out of camera, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

Like always, thanks for reading, and for viewing.

A reason to say “Goodbye”

Our old Google Nexus 5 phone concerns me a bit. Look:

A reason to say goodbye, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2023

This must be the battery swelling up, and it’s getting worse – so much so that by now it’s hard to even switch it on or off.

And since that’s a Lithium based battery, this could mean danger – we’ve heard often enough that these things can catch fire. I’ve looked up spare parts, and while LG doesn’t sell original batteries (or whole phones for that matter) since a few years anymore, 3rd party offerings at Amazon & Co. start at around 20€. Which means that it’s probably not economically viable anymore to invest that much into a 10-year-old phone, even if with LineageOS it has the latest and greatest Android 13 on it.

Too bad. But I think this one has to go into recycling then. Can’t give it away to anyone else, and probably endangering them…

Like always, thanks for reading.

This is really secure…

I can’t reuse my deceased brother’s mobile phone. He set up a secure code and/or fingerprint, and that cannot be removed except by himself – which is of course a problem.

I have written to Google about it, because although I’m really not a beginner in putting other operating systems on a phone, to do so you still have to unlock the bootloader first, which cannot be done if you can’t log in into the device. No way, and I’ve tried several times to factory reset it – still the security wants Willi’s secret number and/or credentials after rebooting it. And Google wrote back that they are sorry for our loss, but cannot help – they don’t store copies of your device passwords and/or fingerprints.

And that seems to be pretty secure indeed. In fact, in 2018 they were proud to announce their new ‘Titan M’ chip, and the media was full of praise, since while not perfect, that is a better and more secure setup than even Apple’s, as some wrote. Google even went so far to offer a reward of up to 1.5 million dollars to anyone who could hack the chip, and although that was done by three capable gentlemen, it took them a year and a half to fully understand what’s going on. Google thanked them and removed that possibility, giving the team some 75,000$ as they wrote.

So for me/us, my brother Willi’s device – a Google Pixel 3a which he got from us (I bought it for my wife originally) – is what you call a ‘landfill’, which is too bad considering the hardware being not even 4 years old. Maybe we could trade it in with our next purchase, let’s see. But hats off to Google as it really seems to be practically impossible (read: 4.5 man years worth only 75k$) to hack these devices.

What does that mean for me and for you? Well our data – at least the one on our phones – is pretty secure indeed (assumed you’re not too sloppy with security yourself). But if you want to have your relatives backed up in case of your own demise, you should probably consider to set up Google’s ‘Inactive Account Manager’, and probably send your secret code to your family if you don’t want your phone buried together with you… (this is a joke of course, these devices should at least be recycled).

Like always, thanks for reading.

Edit/update, from 3 days later:

[x] done. Guessed the right number, installed LineageOS 20 which is Android 13. Cool – this is a much better device than my old Nexus 5 which I still had in reserve and/or for development.

It’s astonishing by the way how close the look and feel can be to Google’s interpretation of Android on their Pixel phones – even the Easter eggs work in LineageOS as well, like the one simply called “13”. And once you have that, you can hold one of these bubbles to change that look. Funny:

13. Or, better said, LOS20’s view of it.

Edit/update, from 5 days later:

That Pixel 3a is still a wonderful device, especially with that inofficial LineageOS 20 image I have on it right now. That even came with the Pixel Launcher, so it almost looks like my 4a with Google’s version of Android on it. The only difference is that I didn’t set up an account on that 3a, so I also don’t have Google’s weather applet but a free one from OpenWeather instead. Look at them side by side:

Pixel 3a with LineageOS 20 left, Pixel 4a with stock ROM right

Like always, thanks for reading.