Reinstall Google Play on Motorola DEFY XT for Republic Wireless   1 comment

My Motorola DEFY XT for Republic Wireless crashed yesterday. It would freeze right after booting when it showed “Contacting Network …”. If I remove the SD card, it booted normally. I inserted into the phone again it did not boot. I inserted the SD card into my PC, and PC could initially see the drive, but copying files out of it was extremely slow (like 5KB/s) and finally hung. The SD card was faulty, and I could not recover some useful files, such as downloaded files.

DEFY XT has very limited 388MB Internal storage (i.e., /data). The Internal storage is used to store user installed apps (apks), and user specific data files for system and user apps. The user app apks can be found in the /data/app directory. The data files associated with apps can be found in /data/data/<apk_name>. For example, more than 100MB was used for WeChat data in /data/data/, including chat history and others. /data/dalvik-cache can take a lot of space too, as it houses the dex files for the apps. Some of the dex files can be removed to save some space. For example, I deleted the dex file for Google+ because I did not use Google+ on the phone. It is easy to browse around if you have ES File Explorer installed. In the end, it is quite easy to get “insufficient space” error when trying to install more apps. I installed Link2SD and an SD card with 2nd partition to offload apks to the SD card, so I was able to install quite some apps on the phone.

Now that the SD card was gone, a lot of offloaded apps on my phone could not run, because the Link2SD linked apks were no longer accessible from the phone. To accommodate the big data footprint of WeChat, I had even linked Google Play Services and Google Play Store. The trouble was that without Play Store, I could not reinstall other missing apps!

Initially I thought Link2SD moved the Play Store app in /system/app. If the apk was removed from system partition, even factory reset would not be able to revive it, see Factory Reset what is it, and why would you.

Luckily I had another DEFY XT phone with almost the same configuration. Play Store worked fine on that phone, so I was able to download and install ES File Explorer easily. Using ES File Explorer itself, I copied its own apk file to the problematic phone. I could run ES File Explorer on both phones and compare the apk files side by side.

It was easy to find out that the stock Play Store in DEFY XT is /system/app/Phonesky.apk. However the faulty phone had the same apk at the same location. Obviously this was not used. Then I looked at /data/app. Here I saw the difference. The good phone had a newer Play Store /data/app/ (11.16MB); while the other one had a dummy 0-byte /data/app/, which was a symbolic link to actual apk on SD card 2nd partition managed by Link2SD (now non-existing). I also found Google Play Services /data/app/ (27.64MB) on the good phone, which I assumed necessary for Google Play to work.

The next step was simple. I just copied the two apk files from the good phone to the crippled one, and installed them. Launching Play Store right after installation did not work (“application stopped unexpectedly”), but a reboot fixed the problem. I think it should also work if I download the Play Store apk off the internet, see How to download & install the Google Play Store manually.

With Play Store recovered, I was able to install more apps and fix other problems in the phone.


How To Install Any App As A System App On Android [Guide]

SM-22301 Shower Radio User Manual   Leave a comment

I cannot find the user manual of SM-22301 Shower Radio over the internet, so I post a scan here.


Posted February 21, 2015 by binglongx in Home

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Dropbox Referral Program For 500MB Extra Free Bonus Space   Leave a comment

Dropbox is a cloud storage service. It is like a remote online drive that you can put your files there. It is slower than your local hard drive, but it is super reliable. A basic personal account is free to open, and it has 2GB free space.

I have been using Dropbox for quite a few years. There are many nice features of it. For me, the most convenient feature of Dropbox is automatic uploading of photos that I take on my mobile phone. I just install the Dropbox app on my Android phone, and set up the automatic uploading. Whenever I take a picture, it would be backed up to my online Dropbox account automatically. It saved a lot of photos when my microSD card in my phone went wrong some time ago.

If you open an account at Dropbox right now, you get 2GB free space. However, if you create a Dropbox account through a referral link from an existing Dropbox user, you will get extra 500MB space, i.e., 2.5GB total free space. The existing user will also get 500MB extra space for free.

If you so happen to need a Dropbox account, you can use my referral link To get the 500MB extra space, you need to:

  • Use the referral link to create a new Dropbox account; and
  • Install the Dropbox desktop application on a Windows, Linux or Mac computer; and
  • Sign in to the installed application with the newly created Dropbox account.

That’s it. You will see 2.5GB (instead of 2.0GB) space available in your Dropbox account. And thanks, this will also add 500MB to my Dropbox account. If you need more space, you can publish your referral link to earn bonus space.

Please note that, for this to work, you have to install the Dropbox desktop application on a desktop computer. Installing the Dropbox app on your Android or iOS phone or tablet does NOT qualify for the referral program.

For details, you can also check with Dropbox Referral Program.

Megacubo: A Broadcast Tuner Application on Windows   Leave a comment

Megacubo is featured as the Staff Pick project of February 2015 at SourceForge. The Windows application allows users to watch hundreds of live TV channels and listen to many radio stations on a PC with internet connection.

Excited to learn this in my SourceForge February newsletter, I headed to SF to download and install the application. After downloading megacubo_setup_f.exe, I was really surprised by the way the installer looks. It basically wants to install a lot of fishy bloatware. I checked its SourceForge reviews. It received straight 1-star negative reviews in past 2 months, mostly complaining attempts to install bloatware and language issues.

It is however unfair as I find out that Megacubo is not that bad. The installations of bloatware can be declined during Megacubo setup without affecting the functionalities of the installed application. With some help from free online tools on the internet, I was able to navigate in Megacubo and turn the Portuguese UI into English. Below is a summary.

Install Bloatware-Free Megacubo

The key here is to read each page carefully, and decline the bloatware offers in the installation process, even though sometimes the Decline button may not be very obvious.

Megacubo Setup Wizard shows the Welcome window:


Click “Next”, it shows the License Agreement window:


Click “Accept”, it now asks if you want to install Binkiland Browser.


Most people would believe this is bloatware. Click “Decline” at the bottom left corner. It now asks if you want to install Optimizer Pro.


Again I think Optimizer Pro is unnecessary for most people. Choose “Decline”. Finally, it starts to install Megacubo:


Turn UI Language From Portuguese To English

When Megacubo runs for the first time, it shows a message box to let you choose Yes or No. The problem is that the message is in Portuguese and I do not know any Portuguese. Worse, the text is not selectable, so I cannot copy it and use Google Translate.

This was what I did. I capture the window while it is on focus using Alt-PrtScrn (a Windows feature), then paste the captured image to IrfanView. In IrfanView, I cropped the text portion of the window. I did not take a snapshot of the message box window, but this was the text portion of that window:


I saved that portion to a .jpg file on my local hard drive. Then I used online Free OCR tool to convert the image into Portuguese text, which was:

Deseja ativar o "Controle dos Pais"?
Com o "Controle dos Pais" você pode configurar uma senha
que passará a ser pedida sempre que qualquer usuário_acessar qualquer
conteúdo inadequado para menores. Respondendo NAO os canais com
conteúdo adulto abriram livremente sem pedir senha para acesso.

This was relatively easy job for any OCR tool as the input image was perfectly distortion and noise free. Now Google Translate took it and translated into English:

Want to activate the "Parental Control"?
With the "Parental Controls" you can con fi gure a password
which will be requested whenever any usuário_acessar any
adult content. Responding NOT channels with
adult content freely opened without asking password for access.

From here it is obvious what you want to do with the Yes or No choice. In fact, below is the same message box in English (just that you will not see the English version in most situations):


After you dismiss the message box, you arrive at the main UI of Megacubo. It is however Portuguese:


If you are like me, and don’t read Portuguese, you want to change to use the English UI. Click the Settings icon and choose the Language menu item:


In the dialog box, choose “English”:


Megacubo will restart and show the English UI! See below:


Choose TV/radio channels here:


And you can also see the Options | Change Language menu item that was used above, the English version (in case you want to go back to Portuguese…):


When watching TV, sometimes there are Portuguese ads popup windows blocking the TV contents. Normally, you can click the “Fechar e tocar” button on the ads window to dismiss it (according to Google Translate, it means “close and touch”, I bet it is just “click to close”).


It is possible to install Megacubo without any bloatware, and use it with its English UI. As a free TV application, Megacubo has decent quality on the channels that I tried.

However, a lot of TV channels and radio stations in Megacubo are Portuguese. Sometimes when you quit Megacubo, it may fire up a marketing web page in your default web browser – not a big problem for me.

Install ecobee Smart Si Thermostat   Leave a comment

My local utility company was providing free smart thermostats to promote electricity and gas use reduction. I signed up at their website. Today the technician came over and installed two smart thermostats. This post is simply records of the replacement for future reference.

The old thermostat installed by the home builder:


After removing the panel, the wall-mounted part of the old thermostat:


It’s basically a connector to the wires from the forced air unit and a battery compartment. The close-up of wires and connector:


The wires are color coded following the letters on the case. The technician snipped the wires such that I can see the original wiring now. According to the technician:

  • Yellow (Y): turn on  AC
  • White (W): turn on heater
  • Green (G): turn on fan
  • Red (R): power
  • Cyan (C): ground

The new thermostat back piece installed and wired:


The letters are a little bit different for the new thermostat. More details about thermostat signals and wiring can be found here.

The new thermostat, ecobee Smart Si Thermostat:


This was before it’s programmed to use Wi-Fi and connected to the Internet. After creating a web portal account at and registering the thermostat, it would pull weather information and show in the right column:


Smart Si can also connect to the electrical meter of my utility company near the breaker panel through ZigBee, and show the graphs of electricity usage on its little screen. Please follow the user manual.

The thermostat can be viewed and controlled in the web portal from anywhere. There is also ecobee3 app in Google Play Store for Android phones that allows viewing and controlling the thermostat even one is not home.

Water Leaking from AVB in Irrigation Valve   Leave a comment

At a friend’s home, one of the irrigation anti-siphon valves leaks water. When the zone is turned on, the water leaks from the AVB (Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker) part of the valve.

There are two reasons that this can happen:

  1. The valve side (the side with solenoid and electric wires, i.e., the inlet side) of the valve is faulty. When the valve is turned on, it does not let enough water through. When water arrives at the AVB side (outlet side), it does not have enough pressure to close the vacuum poppet valve to close the air entrance in AVB. The water will just leave from the air path and leak from AVB.
  2. The vacuum poppet is stuck in AVB, so even the solenoid controlled valve works fine, the normal water pressure still cannot push close the vacuum poppet in AVB, and water just leaks from AVB.

Some related discussions can be found here:,376766

Depending on how difficult it is to open up the valve/AVB, to locate the faulty parts, and the availability of repair parts, it might be possible to repair the faulty parts with valve in place. This can potentially save digging, cutting or unscrewing the pipes.

If above seems too uncertain, it might be better to just replace the whole valve. This depends on the availability of space clearance, replacement valve, whether it’s installed on a riser and so on. A previous post mentions an interesting approach to save the risers when replacing the valve.

Irrigation Valve Riser Saver   1 comment

The author shows to create cheap adapters (using a FPT x slip, short PVC pipe and slip x MPT) that are installed between the risers and the valve inlet/outlet. When replacing the valve, there is no need to dig, cut the risers, or saw the valve into two halves. Just cut the cheap adapters at the central PVC pipe, the valve would come off. Then unscrew the remaining bottom halves of the adapters from risers and throw them away. The risers are intact. Then create new adapters in the same way and the newly installed valve would be at the same height.

That’s brilliant.

Posted January 18, 2015 by binglongx in Home

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