Thursday, February 25, 2016

Samsung Galaxy Phone Shuts Down After Taking Photo

I have a Samsung Galaxy 3 android phone and noticed something odd recently that had happened a few times. After taking a photo, the camera would immediately shut down. Sometimes I could get it to start up again using the power button, and sometimes I had to take off the back panel and remove/re-insert the battery to get it to come back to life.

I figured out the following regarding this issue:

  • It only occurs when I use the flash
  • It only occurs when my battery life is low (about 30% or less)
  • It only occurs if I use the stock photo app that comes with the phone (which is what I normally use by force of habit, even though I have some better photo apps installed)
  • It started occurring when I purchased a spare battery from a third party manufacturer
  • Alas, when the phone finally comes back on, the picture that I took when it shut down did not get saved
  • When the phone comes back on, it still has the 30% charge (or whatever it had before the incident)
I believe what is causing this issue is that the phone has a mechanism that shuts it down when the power gets very low (usually below 1%). This is a safety feature so that it shuts down gracefully rather than abruptly when the battery dies completely. I think when the flash picture is taken, the phone is somehow confused for that moment and thinks it is very low on battery even though it is not. Hence it implements the emergency shutdown.

The workaround to avoid the issue is:
  • Do not use the third party battery, except in an emergency when the primary battery is dead and re-charging
  • Do not use the flash when battery life is less than 30%

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Xbox 360 Wireless Controller on Windows 8.1

My son was having issues installing an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller on Windows 8.1. He borrowed his brother's bluetooth USB device and connected that to the USB port. Then he installed the software from Microsoft. The software said it was only compatible on Windows versions XP and 7, but we tried it anyway. The device was detected by Windows (green light on, and new device showing up in Device Manager), but we could not get the controller to pair with the device, The device showed up twice under the Printers and Devices screen - once as a Bluetooth USB device, and once as "Unknown Device". We tried messing with the settings for the Bluetooth USB device, but nothing would make it pair with the controller.

This is what we did to get it to work:

1. I read that there are sometimes issues with the computer giving enough power to USB devices. But you can trick the computer into giving more power to the USB slot by plugging in a USB hub and then plugging the wireless bluetooth adapter into the USB hub. We did this first.

2. We then clicked on the "Unknown Device" (in Control Panel / Devices and Printers) and said we wanted to manually install the driver. We searched the local driver list and selected the category "Xbox" at the bottom of the list, and then found the list of wireless adapters. We selected the bottom one (something like wireless connector 6.2.x). It said the version might not be compatible, but we said to try anyway.

After the above, the controller instantly connected. And then the game was working. I'm not sure which of the above (or both) fixed the issue, but I suspect it was #2.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Coloruid is a pretty interesting game.

When you get to level three, it seems impossible and you want to give up. But if you fight just hard enough, you can figure out how it works and then finish the remaining 13 levels soon after.

I suspect that about 70% of the people who play this game don't make it to level 4, but of those who do, most of them probably make it all the way through to the end. A fun diversion.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Boise, Idaho

This is a review of the one-act play Boise, Idaho as performed at Broad Run High School on February 2, 2016. It was the fourth of the four one-act plays presented that evening, by the Theater department under the production of Ms. Laurie Halloran.

Writer: Sean Michael Welch
Director: Marietta Ruiz
Olston/Stanley: Peter McCulloch
Chastity/Stacy: Julia Connor
Narrator: Tyler Lohmeyer
Waiter/Stanley: Brandon Gormon

This was an excellent performance – the best of the four presented this evening, in this reviewer’s opinion. The mix of drama and comedy was an ideal selection for the audience, and it was very well presented.

The action takes place in a cafe in Paris. It is completely concerned with Olston Riggs, on an extended trip away from his wife and hometown of Boise, and his mistress Chastity. Unbeknownst to them, their lives are at the whim and mercy of the Narrator who is conveniently seated at a nearby table. Once Chastity becomes aware of the existence of Narrator, things start to rapidly collapse upon themselves until ultimately everyone is mired in the confusion, including Narrator and audience. It is not often in theatre that you hear the characters pleading with the Narrator to “Do something”.

Welch’s script is an aggressive post-modern effort that breaks many of the conventions of classical theatre. The spirit of the script brings several other literary works to mind. The audacity of the Narrator throughout the play evokes the omniscient works of Vonnegut, but in a much more upbeat and appealing approach. The fourth-wall interplay between the characters and narrator strikes a similar chord to the latter stages of Into the Woods. And of course, the diabolical unraveling of Olston by the suggestions of the Narrator, and their tragic results, becomes rather evocative of Othello. At the end, the audience is left wondering whether it would be such a good idea for us to become aware of the man upstairs (or at the next table) who is pulling the strings, or if we’d actually be happier not knowing. We will not reveal the ending here, but if you have seen The Truman Show, you will not be surprised with the choices made by Chastity as the curtain falls.

The performances in the play were excellent. Topping it off was the brilliant portrayal of the Narrator. Mr. Lohmeyer brought a cheerful exuberance to the role, and his effortless presentation certainly hid any challenges he may have had with mastering the breadth of the role, including the many mini-monologues. His playful demeanor set the tone for the entire production. Connor and McCulloch were also strong, although the anger and frustration in McCulloch’s performance seemed at times a carbon copy of his Henry Saunders in the recent production of Lend Me a Tenor in this same theater.

Congratulations to Ms. Ruiz for directing this excellent production. The glory of being a High School Senior/Director is that you get to personally clean up the tossed salad from the floor of the stage immediately after the production. But that should not in any diminish what was accomplished here.

I was inspired to write this review primarily after an internet search on this play did not yield much at all in the way of analysis or reviews. It has only been officially performed 44 times since its release in 2001. Hopefully this is a work that will see many more performances in the future. If anyone has any feedback on this review, or would like to link to their own review, please feel free to leave a comment.