Sunday, July 30, 2023

Pixel Green Screen of Death

While on vacation, my Google Pixel phone experienced the Green Screen of Death.  Basically, what happens is that the screen will either not turn on at all, flash a few lines, or flicker a primarily green color before the whole display turns dark.  The phone is still functioning in the background as you can hear the notifications and it still senses your finger touches, but you can't see anything.  

I had a separate tablet with me on the trip so I quickly searched to see if this is a known issue and if there was any easy fix.   Searching on Google, I found out that it's what people call the Green Screen of Death so it's not unheard of, but nobody can fully explain the cause.  The general consensus is that this is a hardware failure and requires the phone screen to be replaced.  The speculation is that it is caused by the phone overheating, but whether it's a defect in the design or manufacturing is still under debate.  I don't have any definitive answers but will share my experience here.  My situation started after I left the phone in the armrest of my rental car for a couple of hours one morning.  When I took it out and turned on the screen, it started flickering and then turned dark.  After a few seconds, the screen came on only to flicker and turn dark again.  The phone felt warm but not burning.  It might have felt a bit warmer than when it is doing a fast charge. 

On YouTube, there are a number of videos that offer a "fix" to the problem, but none of them mention that their fixes are just temporary.    Their "fix" mainly is to press down on the screen at different locations starting with simple taps and if that doesn't work then move to more firm presses with your thumbs until the screen comes on.  Since that's really the only solution I found (besides the "Call Google and get a replacement"), I gave it a try and it kinda worked.  Sometimes the display will come on but inevitably it will go dark.  I'm not sure if the pressing thing really helped or if it was just that the display just turned on while I was pressing.  I guess the theory is that the screen lost some kind of contact inside the body and pressing the screen will help it regain that contact.   Are there that many moving parts inside of a smart phone for something to come loose due to heat?  I think it's more plausible that the heat damaged some components so I don't think the phone will recover on its own.

Until I get the phone fixed or replaced, I wanted to make sure that the phone can continue to function enough so I can transfer the data over.  That meant keeping the phone somewhere cool and minimizing moving or using it.  The screen seems to work longer when the phone remains cool.  I tried to charge it one time and when it warmed up while charging the screen started glitching more quickly.  

Not having a mobile phone these days is really inconvenient.  We rely on it for maps, photos, and so much more beyond phone calling, but I guess a positive outlook is that it forced me to really disconnect from the grid while on vacation.  This experience also made me aware that Google has pledged to make their phones DIY repairable so you can now buy genuine Google parts to replace the screen, battery and camera.  That gives me a bit more confidence in getting another Pixel.  My experience with the Pixel has been good and I usually noticed the battery capacity dropping after a few years rather than any hardware failure so being able to replace the battery (even though it doesn't look super easy) is better.

I also learned that you can get the phone fixed quickly at a ubreakitifixit shop if one is nearby.  What I worry about sending a phone to a shop is that unless the phone is completely wiped clean then it might be possible for the shop to access the data on the phone.  These days we have so much data on the phone and if the problem is a broken screen then you can't even wipe the phone before sending it in.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Basic tools for homeowners

 New homeowners often find themselves constantly visiting the hardware store the first few weeks after moving into their new home.  Those visits take time and can be intimidating given all the items available so here's my suggestion for an inital shopping list that will hopefully save you some times and lower the number of trips to the store.

  • Tape measure - this is used so often that you might consider buying two
  • Knife/Box cutter - you'll be opening a lot of boxes and packaging.  A multi-tool might be a good option for versatility.
  • Screw driver - After driving back-and-forth, you might hope this is the drink but sorry, no.  Have at least one philips head screw driver and a flat head screw driver.  The latter is also useful to pry open paint cans lids, etc.
  • Pliers - a pair of hand pliers can save a lot of pain trying to get an old nail or object out.
  • Level - Checking that something is level happens more than I expected.
  • Paint brush - useful for both applying paint and also brushing things off/
  • Painter's tape - People swear by duck tape, but I use the famous blue painters tape for everything and not just for painting because it comes off easily.
  • Hammer - I don't use a hammer all that much but when needed there isn't many other substitites so keep one around.
  • Sand paper - For sanding and removing things stuck on surfaces.
  • Vynyl gloves - inexpensive and protects your hand from chemicals and other gross stuff.
  • Eye protection - Listen to Norm!
  • Dust mask - Don't want to breath in dusts and molds.
  • Power drill & drill bits - Save time and your wrists and get a power drill.  I recommend getting a drill and driver set as they are common and cost effective.
  • Stud finder - Don't rely on your Tindr app.  Get a real stud finder so your picture frames don't fall off the wall.
  • 5 gallon bucket - Useful for bringing your tools around to where you need them and can use to hold other stuff.  I suggest getting two (or get a tool bag to replace one of the buckets)
  • Paper towels - DIY can be a dirty job
  • Baby wipes - It's gentle on a baby's skin so probaby also for your painted walls.
  • spackling compound - I know  you don't make mistakes but the previous person might not have put the hanger your spouse wanted.
  • putty knife - Cover up the mistake by the other person.

My most essential tools for woodworking

When I first started learning woodworking, I watched shows like the New Yankee Workshop and videos on Youtube.  I was envious of all the tools and gears that the creators had but over time I realized that I don't work like them or build things the same way they do.  The tools that I reach for my projects turned out to be different from what is often shown on the videos.  To give another perspective on what are tools to consider for the hobbyist, here are what I use for almost every project.

Used for Every Project

Measuring tape - There's no project that doesn't require some way to do measurements.  Even if you are going to buy rather than build, you will need to be able to measure.

Mechanical pencils - I don't recall any project that I've done that didn't require having a pencil to write or mark something.  It was so common for me to be searching for a pencil that I ended up buying a bunch of cheap mechanical pencils and having them everywhere so that I don't constantly stop to look for one to write with.

Combination square - I didn't expect this to be my #1 most useful tool for woodworking.  You don't usually see it being shown or highlighted in woodworking videos, but this the versatility and usefulness of this understated tool means that I use it for every project.  I use it to mark, set repeatable heights, as a straight edge, 45/90 degree finder and a host of other activities.  I started with a basic one and eventually knew that if I bought an high end one I'd have no regrets.

Used for Most Projects

Drill & Driver and screw drivers - Most projects will require installing fasteners (e.g. screws) so either a set of screw drivers or a power tool (driver) will be used.  A drill is used for drilling holes but can also can drive screws but I  prefer having separate drills and drivers. 

Woodglue or Screws - Joining things together requires either glue, screws or nails.  I don't use nails much so it's either glue or screws for me.  For screws, I prefer the square head screws rather than phillips screws but it's not so common to find in US hardware stores.  Torx head screws can be found but they might be more expensive.

Saw - Having a saw is very useful.  I'd recommend starting with a Japanese handsaw which are less expensive but cuts better (in my opinion).  I also find Japanese handsaws to be more versatile then western style handsaw.  There are also powered saws such as table saws, track saws, circular saw, etc.    Having something to cut with is VERY useful but there are times when I buy materials to size that meant I didn't have to do my own cutting.

 Very Useful

Woodworking square - My first "splurge" tool was a Woodpecker woodworking square and I nearly always reach for it at some point when I'm working on a project.  I mostly use it to check for square but I also use it to hold things square and check for straightness.

Mallet - I use a rubber mallet a lot more then I use a hammer to avoid marring surfaces when I really need to pound something.