All posts by Big


Google will replace your Broken Nexus 5, free of charge!

I recently heard that Google has begun replacing broken Nexus 5s, completely free of charge.  Believe it or not, they will even replace one with a smashed screen.  Apparently, this isn’t an official policy, but the Google Play Store representatives can do this for you under their own discretion.  So be nice and respectful :-).

I’ve had good luck with my Nexus 5, except that it developed a significant GPS problem a few months ago.  The GPS has been inaccurate, and losing connection often.  It’s been frustrating and dangerous to use it for navigation.

So I called for a replacement.  Note:  this only works if you are the original owner, and you bought the phone directly from Google (via the Google Play Store) within the one year warranty period.  And this is a US replacement policy, I’m not sure if it applies to other countries.

Here’s how it works:

  • Google will send a refurbished replacement phone,  “reconditioned to strict factory standards and like-new condition”
  • Once you receive the replacement phone, you have 7 days to return the broken device.   Google provides a UPS shipping label that you print and attach to the box.
  • You keep your original charger, and other accessories.  The only thing Google sends is a bare phone, and the only thing you return to them is the bare phone.
  • This is completely free, Google covers everything, including shipping the new device to you, and the old phone back to Google
  • Your credit card will be authorized for the full price of the phone and shipping, but it will not be charged as long as you return your old device.

I requested my replacement, and it was very simple and painless.  My replacement Nexus 5 is on the way.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Call Google Play support at (855) 836-3987.  Go through the phone options for Android devices, warranty issues.
  2. The representative asked for the phone’s IMEI number.  You find this under Settings –> About Phone –> Status –> IMEI
  3. The representative looked up my IMEI number, and after a minute or so they asked to verify my address.  After that, they explained the return process.
  4. After finishing this conversation (~5 minutes), I got an email from googleplay-support, with a a custom link to  order an exact replacement for my phone – which happens to be a 32GB black model.
  5. I clicked on the order link, chose my address and payment method (remember it’s only authorizing, not charging you), and that was it.

I’m now waiting for the replacement to arrive.  This is outstanding customer support.  Great job Google.

How to root a Nexus 5 Running KitKat 4.4.2

The tutorial uses CF-Auto-Root file by a well recognized XDA developer, chainfire.  Download for the Nexus 5 from the following link, and consider donating a small amount to the developer:

This is the best tool for rooting beginners, and is the quickest and easiest root method commonly available.  CF-Auto-Root supports Windows, Linux and Mac.  Once you’ve downloaded the CF-Auto-Root file, use the following process to root your Nexus 5. 


Note that if your device had not been unlocked before, this procedure will wipe all your data!  So back up what you need to save before you proceed!


  1. Make sure you have USB drivers installed on your computer.  If you are able to connect your Nexus 5 to your computer and browse the files on your phone, you are okay.  If you don’t have a USB driver installed, the easiest solution is to install the Universal ADB Driver for Windows.  Just click here to download and install the driver – it works for most all reasonably popular Android devices (including the Nexus 5 of course).
  2. Make sure you backup any files you need BEFORE you root.  For instance, most people will want to save their pictures.  Do this by connecting your phone to your computer via USB, and browsing to Nexus 5\Internal storage\DCIM\Camera folder, and copying everything in that folder.  If you want to preserve your text messages and phone logs, etc, you can find a lot of apps on Google Play store that will back them up and you can restore after you root. 
  3. Ensure that USB Debugging Mode is enabled on your phone.   This requires that you enable Developer Options.  To do this, go to Settings > About Phone > Build Number, then tap the build number (at the bottom) 7 times.  Next, go to Settings > { } Developer Options and tap the box next to USB debugging to enable this feature. 


How to root Nexus 5 running Android 4.4.2 KitKat :

Step 1:  Extract the CF-Auto-Root ZIP file (downloaded above) to a directory on your PC

Step 2:  Turn off the Nexus 5.  Enter Bootloader/Fastboot Mode.  To do this, turn the phone on by pressing and holding Volume Up, Volume Down and Power buttons together until you see a large Start button at the top of the screen.  There will also be a picture of an Android undergoing surgery, and some text info at the bottom.  

Step 3:  Connect the Nexus 5 to the computer using a USB cable  

Step 4:  From the directory you created in step 1:
    Windows:  Run root-windows.bat
    Linux:   chmod +x then run
    Mac OS X:  chmod +x then run
and follow the onscreen instructions.  If you are stuck at “Waiting for Device”, make sure you installed the Universal ADB driver discussed at the top of this post. 

Your phone will go through several restarts.  Don’t be alarmed, it will take several minutes for the phone to completely wipe out your data and restart.  When you finally do get restarted, your phone will be rooted and ready to initialize. 

How to reset the toner warning on a Brother HL2280DW Laser Printer

This is a great, inexpensive laser printer, but the low toner warning will come before the toner is really gone.  The trick is to reset the the toner warning. 

Here is how you reset it:

  1. Open the front cover of the printer
  2. On the printer front panel, press and release the “clear” key
  3. Press “start”, then press the up arrow until you see the number 12 on the display
  4. Press “ok”, you will see “accepted” on the display
  5. Close the front cover, your toner cartridge should now work.

Keep doing this reset procedure until the printer really runs out of toner.

Use Paypal to Buy Postage and Print Shipping Labels


If you’ve ever sold anything through Ebay, you have likely used Paypal to buy postage and print shipping labels. 

Recently I wanted to send a package and use this shipping service, but logging into Paypal, it wasn’t obvious how I could do it. 

Good news:  you can create shipping labels using PayPal and use for non-ebay USPS package shipments.   This is convenient and can help save money because you have no monthly fee, and some types of packages are discounted. 

This is similar to the Click-n-Ship online shipping on the Postal Service web site, but you can pay with your existing PayPal account.

Here is link:

Nexus 5 or Nexus 7: Fix MTP connection problems with Windows PC USB connection

When connecting my Nexus 5 to my Windows PC, it was NOT showing up in Windows Explorer.  This also happened with my Nexus 7.

First things first – make sure you have the proper USB driver installed for your Nexus.  Here is a link to download the Google USB driver.  Another solution is to use a Universal ADB (Android Debug Bridge) Driver for Windowsdeveloped by Koushik Dutta in April 2013.  Just click here to download and install the driver – it will work for most all reasonably popular Android devices.

Once you have the proper USB driver installed, you may still have problems browsing your device from Windows Explorer.  Here’s what I needed to do to fix the problem:

Go to Device Manager.  At first, the Nexus device showed up under a heading of “Android Device”.


Uninstall the driver and delete it (check the box).


Next, unplug and replug the device.  It will then show up under Portable Devices.


Uninstall this driver too.  Then, unplug and replug again.  This time, Windows will install the correct driver, and you should be able to access your device’s data files from Windows Explorer.

How to restore a rooted Android phone to Stock

If you have rooted your phone and tried out various ROMs, it is possible to “unroot’’ your phone and go back to the stock ROM.  You might want to do this if you need to get your phone serviced, or if you want to sell you phone on eBay or Swappa.

Here is an overview of the process:

  1. Back up whatever you need from your phone
  2. Optional:  Reset the flash counter using Triangle Away
  3. Locate and download the stock ROM for your phone
  4. Install the stock ROM using Odin

Warning – you can brick your phone if you’re not careful (or really unlucky).  This guide is intended for people who are comfortable with the risks involved.

1.  Back up whatever you need from your phone

2.  Optional:  Reset the flash counter using Triangle Away

Most Samsung phones have a counter which tracks the number of times the phone has been flashed with a custom ROM.  Triangle Away is an app on Google Play that attempts to reset the counter.    This makes it difficult to detect that the phone has ever had a custom ROM installed, which is potentially helpful for warranty purposes, or prior to selling a phone.

If interested, make sure you read this XDA post in order to understand the risks involved.

3.  Locate and download the stock ROM

Samsung ROMs can be downloaded from here:  Sammobile.   It requires a free account, which is probably worth setting up, since this is generally recognized as the best source for stock Samsung ROMs.

If you don’t want to create an account, here is another source:

Once downloaded, extract the contents of the zip file into a temporary directory.  You should have a large (~1GB or more) file ending in .tar.md5. 

4.  Install the stock ROM using Odin

Odin is a Windows program from Samsung that you will use to flash the stock ROM onto your phone.   Typically, Odin is used only for official stock Samsung ROMs, which are distributed as .tar files.  Custom ROMs have a .zip format, and are not flashable by Odin.

If you don’t already have it, download Odin from the following thread on XDA:  Make sure you get the correct version.  For the Galaxy S3, the proper version is 1.85.

Once you have Odin, start it up, and then put the phone into Download mode.  You can do this either from the reboot menu in recovery, or by powering the phone off, then press and hold the Power, ‘Home’ and Volume-down buttons until you see the Downloading… screen

At this point, you should see a COM port listed in a box under the ID:COM heading.

Press the ‘PDA’ button and select the tar.md5 archive. Make sure the ‘Re-Partition’ box is NOT checked.


Press the Start button and Odin will flash your phone with the stock ROM.  After a few minutes, you should get a ‘PASS’ message, and then your phone will automatically reboot.

Migrate everything (apps and data) from one Android phone to another using TWRP Recovery

Here I describe a method to migrate an Android phone ROM from one phone to another phone of exactly the same model.  Don’t try this unless you have two phones of the same exact model.

One common reason to do this – if your phone is damaged (screen cracked), and you want to transfer all of your apps, settings, history, etc. to a new phone.  This is an easy way to pick up right where you left off with a new phone.


  • Teamwork Recovery (TWRP).  If you have this, you probably have a rooted phone with a custom ROM, and you know what you’re doing.  If you don’t have this, then this tutorial isn’t for you.

Here are the process steps in a nutshell:

  1. you create a backup of the ROM from your old phone
  2. copy the ROM backup from your old phone to your PC
  3. then copy it from your PC to your new phone
  4. flash the backup onto your new phone

The process isn’t quite as straightforward as it sounds though.  Details below.

Step 1: Back up the old phone

First, you make a copy of the ROM from the original phone.  You will be using this copy to flash onto your new phone.   It is very easy to create a backup using TWRP.  Unfortunately, by default, TWRP sets restrictive permissions on the backup files so that you can’t easily copy them to your PC.  So

  1. Reboot into Recovery.   The process varies for each phone.  One way to do this for the Samsung Galaxy S3 is to power down, then press the home , volume-up and power buttons at the same time to turn the phone on.  From the main TWRP screen, select Backup.
  2. On the next screen, you will see that Boot, System and Data are checked by default.  Leave these defaults as-is, and Swipe to Back Up.  This will take several minutes, as ALL the files on your phone are backed up.  When it’s done, you will have a button that says “Reboot System”.  Don’t press this yet.
  3. Press the soft home button (bottom left of your screen).  Choose Advanced, then File Manager.  Inside File Manager, navigate to the /data/media/TWRP/BACKUPS directory.   You will find another directory here with 8 alphanumeric characters.  Select it.
  4. Now you will see one or more directories.  If you only have one backup, there will be only one directory.  If you have multiple directories try to figure out which one you just made based on the date and time in the directory name.   TWRP typically doesn’t know the real date and time, so if you look at the current time that TWRP thinks it is, you can figure out which directory corresponds to the backup you just made.  Select it.
  5. Now, you need to change the permissions of every file in this directory.  there are probably between 7-9 files you need to do this for.  Select each file one by one, and then select chmod 755, then Swipe to Confirm.
  6. After changing permissions on all files in your backup directory, select the soft Home button (bottom left) and then select Reboot, then System.

Now you have a backup ready to copy to your PC.

Step 2:  Copy your Backup to your PC

This step is simple.  Connect your phone to your PC via a USB cable.  Browse to the \Phone\TWRP\BACKUPS directory, find your backup folder, and copy the entire folder to a location on your PC.   Browse to the \Phone\TWRP\BACKUPS directory from your PC, and copy the “old phone” backup you made in step 1 from your PC to the phone.

Step 3:  Copy the Backup from PC to your new phone

This step is a bit more complicated than you would think.  First, you need to make a simple backup with the new phone.  This ensures the directory you will be copying to is set up properly.   So here are the steps:

  1. Boot your new phone into recovery.
  2. Select Backup, then check only Boot (uncheck System and Data), then Swipe to Back Up.   This creates sets up your BACKUPS directory, and creates a small ~10MB backup.
  3. Select the soft Home button and then Reboot, then System.
  4. After the new phone fully boots, connect it to your PC via USB.  Browse to \Phone\TWRP\BACKUPS and copy “old phone” backup files to the backup directory that you just created.

Step 4:  Restore the backup to your new phone

  1. Reboot the new phone into Recovery.
  2. Select Wipe from the main menu.
  3. Swipe to Factory Reset.  This doesn’t take long.
  4. Hi the Back Button twice to get to the main menu.
  5. Select Restore.
  6. Find the directory you copied from your PC.   Select it and leave everything checked (Boot, Data and System).  Swipe to Restore.    This will take several minutes, as all of the phone’s files are restored.
  7. Once restore finishes, do not reboot yet.  Select the soft Home button (lower left) to return to the main screen.
  8. Select Wipe, then Advanced Wipe, then select Dalvik Cache and cache, then Swipe to Wipe.
  9. Select the soft Home button (lower left), then Reboot, then System.  Your phone will reboot, and after an initialization process, it should work exactly like your old phone.

AT&T Samsung Galaxy S III – How to root and install a custom ROM

This post describes how you can take an AT&T Samsung Galaxy S3 (SGH-i747), and configure it with a custom ROM. 

imageWhy would you want to do this?  For me, the biggest reasons are to gain access to the native tethering (hotspot) features that Android has, but the carrier disables.  Most custom ROMs also completely remove carrier bloatware, and add some nice features, such as custom toggle buttons, themes, and the ability to increase battery life or improve performance. 

It can be fun to try out different ROMs, to see what your phone is really capable of.  Some people get bored with their phones, and want to try new ROMs all the time.  These people are called “flashaholics”.  This guide isn’t for flashaholics, and it isn’t for people who have never rooted before.  This is intended for people who have rooted and/or flashed ROMs before, and are looking for a simple set of steps to configure an SGS3. 

I will further assume that you’re looking for a very stable replacement for the stock ROM, you want to preserve some of the Samsung “special sauce”, with enhanced capabilities and great battery life.  For the SGS3 – I believe that Intergalactic V3.0 meets these criteria.  So this set of steps will focus on how taking a stock SGS3 and doing only the necessary steps to install this great ROM. 

This process is adapted from a great tutorial by Rastabolino on XDA.  You can see the original thread here.  If you run into problems or have questions about the overall process, this is the best place to start.

DISCLAIMER:  you can mess up your phone if you don’t know what you’re doing.  You are responsible for any problems or damage to your phone – do this at your own risk!

The steps are as follows:

  1. Backup anything you want to save (pictures, text messages, phone history, etc.)
  2. Get Root Access
  3. Install a custom recovery
  4. Download and flash a custom ROM
  5. Enable

More details on each step below:

Step 1:   Backup pictures, text messages, phone call history, etc.

To backup your pictures, connect your phone to a computer, go to your File Explorer, Select your phone, browse to the DCIM folder, and copy all of the images inside.   If your phone isn’t recognized, you can install the Samsung USB drivers here.

To backup text message and call history, install an app called SMS Backup +, and follow the instructions. 

Step 2:  Get Root Access

First, install the Samsung ODIN utility.  Download and install it from here.  If you have Kies installed, make sure it is closed and kill the background process using task manager.  Or just install it. 

Next, download a rooted version of the stock ROM from this thread on XDA.  Make sure you select the correct image (e.g., i747 if you’re using AT&T).  The downloaded file will be very large (>500MB). 

Unzip the image using 7-Zip.  If you don’t have this utility, download it here

Follow these steps to put your phone into download mode:

  1. Unplug the USB cable.
  2. Shut down the phone.
  3. Hold down the ‘HOME’ + ‘VOLUME DOWN’ buttons and press the ‘POWER’ button for about 2 seconds until a WARNING! Screen appears. Press the ‘VOLUME UP’ button to enter Download Mode.

Start Odin, connect your phone to your PC, you should see the box under ID:COM change color to show your device is connected. click on PDA and select the .tar file you just extracted. Caution:  DO NOT TOUCH THE CHECKBOXES!  Specifically, DO NOT TOUCH THE RE-PARTITION CHECKBOX!!!!

Hit the start button and wait for the file to flash to your phone.  It will take 10 minutes or more to complete flashing.  Do not be concerned, and DO NOT remove the USB cable while the phone is flashing.  When done your phone will reboot automatically.   

Step 3:  Install a custom recovery

OK, now you are rooted!  Next step, go to the play store and download a program called GooManager.   Launch it – it will request SuperUser permissions, say yes. 

Press your Menu button (bottom left), and choose “Install OpenRecoveryScript”, and confirm by selecting Yes.   GooManager will download and install TWRP recovery on your phone, which will allow you to easily install custom ROMs. 

Step 4:  Download and flash a custom ROM

Now, back in GooManager, select the top option:  “Browse Compatible ROMs”.  Scroll down to “stratatak7” (this is the developer for the Intergalactic ROM).  Select “Intergalactic 3.0”, then “Begin Download”. 

If everything’s working okay, your download should start after a 10 second pause.  But sometimes the servers that GooManager uses seem to be overloaded.  If you don’t see anything happening, or if it’s too slow, you can download directly from stratatak’s Intergalactic XDA thread

If you manually downloaded it on your PC, connect your phone via USB, open your file explorer, and copy the ROM zip file to the phone.  The “Download” folder is a good location, but it doesn’t really matter.  This will take a while. 

When the ROM file has finished transferring, unplug the USB cable and reboot your phone to Recovery mode.  The easiest way to do this is go back to GooManager, and select the Menu button (bottom left), and select “Reboot Recovery”.   Alternately, you can shut down the phone, then hold HOME + VOLUME_UP while you press the power button for about 5 seconds. 

Once you’re in TWRP recovery perform the following steps:

  1. Do a factory reset (select Wipe, then swipe at the bottom to perform a Factory Reset)
  2. Wipe cache and dalvik cache (select “Back”, then go to Advanced Wipe, check the boxes for Dalvik Cache and cache, and then Swipe to wipe)
  3. Wipe system (select “Back”, check the box for System, and then Swipe to wipe)
  4. Flash Rom (select “Back”, hit the curled Back arrow at the bottom right twice, select Install, locate and select the Intergalactic 3.0 zip file, then Swipe to confirm flash.  This will take a few minutes)
  5. Wipe cache and dalvik cache again just to be safe (select the Wipe cache/dalvik button)
  6. Reboot (hit Back and Reboot System).  If you are prompted to allow TWRP to fix SuperSU permissions, go ahead and do it. 

Your first boot will take quite a while, don’t be alarmed.  Enjoy the ROM!  If you are so inclined, head over to stratatak’s XDA thread and use the “Donate to me” button to buy him a beer.