Android 4.4 Includes Native Screen Recording

Android has had native support for user-taken screenshots since Version 4.0. A few OEMs like Samsung offered this feature even before that. However up until now, getting a reliable video recording of your device’s screen has been quite difficult. It generally involved some kind of root solution that doesn’t work for all hardware or devices. In KitKat, Google is finally offering an official solution to directly record a video from the screen that doesn’t require root and should work across all devices.

The following blog post about the new features and changes of Android KitKat briefly talks about a screen recording utility but fails to provide any details about where to find the utility. So far I haven’t found an app on the device itself that allows to start the screen recording. However you can initiate a screen recording through adb with the following command:
[bash]
adb shell screenrecord /sdcard/nexus5_screenrecord_20131102.mp4
[/bash]
Afterwards you can use the “pull” command to download the video from your phone to your computer:
[bash]
chriss-mbp:Downloads chris$ adb pull /sdcard/nexus5_screenrecord_20131102.mp4
4689 KB/s (18875465 bytes in 3.930s)
[/bash]
The video quality is truely remarkable. I created a short recording to demonstrate the screen recording feature.

“Fixing” Slow Wake Up of MacBook Pro with Retina Display

My main machine I use throughout the day is a Macbook Pro (soon to be one with a Retina Display). I really love almost anything about this laptop except that sometimes it’s a little bit slow to wake up from sleep when I open up the lid.

After opening the lid, it instantly shows the password dialog box, but the shown ui is not real. What is shown immediately is a screenshot of what the screen looked like when it went to sleep. 
The ui, although visible, is not functional for almost 10 seconds. You can most likely tell that this is happening by watching the clock display in the upper right of the display. Right after opening the lid, it will show the incorrect time (the time when the laptop went to sleep). After 8-10 seconds, the time will become accurate and this is the signal that you can actually start typing your password to unlock the laptop.
What is actually happening is that these new MacBook Pro’s (and recent MacBook Air’s) have a new powersaving mode which Apple calls standby. Standby mode kicks in after the laptop has been in normal sleep mode for about an hour. When that happens, the content of the ram is written to the hard drive and the ram is powered down to further extend battery life. 
In theory, the laptop will last up to 30 days in standby mode. The trade off is that, when waking up, it takes a long time to reload 16 GB of RAM from the hard drive (even with an SSD).
Note that if the laptop sleeps for less than an hour, then it will wake up nearly instantly. I’ve seen this myself in cases where I close the lid briefly while walking between meetings. It turns out that this 1 hour delay is configurable.

I changed the standby delay for my machine from 1 hour to be 24 hours by running this command from a terminal window (86400 seconds = 24 hours):
sudo pmset -a standbydelay 86400
Given that I plug my laptop every night to charge up the battery, I don’t care as much about the standby feature keeping my battery alive for 30 days. 
In theory, I may go on a trip or something and standby mode may be more useful, so I didn’t disable it completely (which can be done by setting the delay to 0). By setting it to 24 hours, standby will almost never happen with my normal day to day usage patterns and I’ll almost always have instant wake times. 
It may be that 24 hours is unnecessarily long and 12 or 18 hours would have worked just as well while providing a little better balance between battery life and day to day convenience. Time will tell.
P.S. If you want to see what your current settings are, you can run this command from the terminal:
pmset -g

Android full phone backup without an unlocked boot loader or root

When it comes to computers, smartphones or just anything electronics in general it’s always a good idea to have a backup. The Apple iTunes ecosystems allows a user to easily create a backup from your phone that includes your data, settings, literally everything with just a touch of a button. So even if you lose or break your device you can simply buy a new one and restore your backup. It’s as if it never happened. 

However things on Android have never been that easy. Users with a rooted device could always use Titanium Backup to backup all applications and settings but I haven’t heard of an application that allows this on non-rooted devices. I reckon that technically it’s not possible without root access as applications don’t have the permissions to access the /system/app/ folder where all the installed applications reside. 


Luckily, there seems to be a way now to backup your Android phone with the help of ADB – the android debug bridge from the android SDK. Keep in mind that your phone needs to have at least Android 4.0 running. As this hasn’t been publicised explicitly as a new feature of ICS I would still treat is experimental. From my personal experience I can tell that it works rather well, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it.


Before we start, I am going to assume that you’ve already installed the Android SDK and updated the SDK Platform Tools to the latest version using the SDK Manager.

To Backup your phone: 

  1. Connect your phone via usb and make sure that you have enabled usb debugging in the developer options. Open up a command / terminal prompt
    1. Optionally you can type the command “adb devices”
      1:  chriss-mbp:~ chris$ adb devices  
      2: List of devices attached
      3: 047c58661c9162b9 device
      4:
      5: chriss-mbp:~ chris$

  2. The command ‘adb backup’ allows you to create a full backup of your android device

The command syntax:     [ command ] : optional argument

 adb backup [ -f ] [ -apk | -noapk ] [ -shared | -noshared ] [ -all ] [ -system | -nosystem ] [  ]  


The following basic command will use the defaults to backup only application and device data without the APKs itself to the file ‘backup.ab’ in your current working directory

You might need to specify the backup file in case the following error occurs:
“adb: cannot open file ./backup.ab”

 adb backup -all -f C:\backup.ab  

Explanation of parameters:

 -f   

specifies where the backup file will be saved.

 -apk | -noapk  

flag sets whether or not the APK’s of an application should be included in the backup or simply the application’s respective data. The default is -noapk. I highly recommend -apk just in case the apk is not available anymore from the market. Saves hunting down the apk on some dubious 3rd party file hoster.

 -shared | -noshared  

flag sets whether the device’s shared storage (included memory of the device), usually mounted at /sdcard/ is backed up. The default is -noshared. I highly recommend this for nexus devices as they have no external micro-sd card slot and all the pictures/music are saved on the internal storage. Still use a PC to backup your pictures/music manually or use something like Dropbox or G+ Auto-Upload. Better safe than sorry.

 -all 

flag set whether to backup all the applications or just backup the app specified by the argument

 -system|-nosystem

flag sets whether or not the -all flag will also include system applications or not. When I backup my phone I always use -system just in case. I guess when restoring your backup to a new phone with a higher Android version it would be advisable / safer to use -nosystem.

Once you’ve have made your decision on what to backup, simply type the command into the terminal. I usually use:

 adb backup -apk -shared -all -system -f ~/backups/nexus4_20130901.db   

A screen like this will appear on our Android device:

Backup dialog

You can enter a password to encrypt the backup. You will need this password to restore the backup. Thus make sure not to forget or don’t set one.

This process can take several minutes up to a couple of hours, depending on the settings you have chosen, especially when you included the shared storage. As soon as the backup completes, a toast message will appear saying “Backup Complete”

To Restore your phone:

With your device connected enter the following command into command prompt / terminal

 adb restore ~/backups/nexus4_20130901.db   

replacing ~/backups/nexus4_20130901.db with the location of your backup file.

A screen like this will appear on your Android device:

Restore dialog

Type in your current encryption password in case you set one and press ‘Restore my data’ to begin the restore. Again it can take several minutes up to a couple of hours. After the restore your should system should be back just like when you created the backup short of some widgets and wallpaper on the homescreen.  My alarms remained and for most applications it even kept my login. It kept everything.

NOTE: This will not backup your SMS. I suggest using something like SMS Backup & Restore

Playstation 3 Update 4.45 Issues

The latest Playstation 3 update version 4.45 is reportedly soft-bricking ps3-systems. After the update the xmb-menu won’t show up and the ps3 system will appear to be stuck on the boot screen. According to the following thread on the official Playstation forum the following systems seems to suffer from the issue

PS3s with aftermarket HDDs, 500GB-1TB ~90%
Stock 500GB model ~8%
Stock 120GB model ~1%
Stock 1st-gen fat models ~1%

Sony have released PS3 System Software 4.46, which replaces the buggy 4.45, as well as fixing some network issues some users were having. If your PS3 was broken by updating to 4.45 last week, the following information (from PlayStation) should hopefully fix all the issues. The following instructions will enalbe you to install the 4.46 update even if your ps3 is currently not booting due to the 4.45 system update.

Step 1: Download PS3 Software Update

  1. You will need a USB Mass Storage device such as a USB flash drive with at least 168 MB of free space. If your PS3 is either CECHA00/CECHB00 series model, you can also use Memory Stick™, SD Memory Card, and CompactFlash®.
  2. Create a folder named “PS3” on the storage media or USB device.
  3. Within the PS3 folder, create a folder named “UPDATE”.
  4. Using your computer, click the following hyperlink to begin downloading system software 4.46
  5. Download the update data from the webpage and save it in the “UPDATE” folder.
    • Location: Save in the “PS3” folder > “UPDATE” folder
    • File name: Save as file name “PS3UPDAT.PUP”
  6. Note: If the data is not saved in the correct way, the PS3 will not recognize the update data. The folder name must be in all uppercase letters.

Step 2: Active Safe Mode on the PS3

  1. With the PS3 off (power light should be red), touch and hold the Power button, you will hear the 1st beep indicating that the PS3 is powering on.
  2. Continue to hold the power button, and after approximately 5 seconds you will hear a 2nd beep.
  3. Continue to hold the power button and after 5 more seconds you’ll hear a 3rd beep, and system will power off (Power light goes red).
  4. Release power button.
  5. Touch and hold the Power button, you will hear the 1st beep, again for PS3 power on.
  6. Continue to hold and after approximately 5 seconds you will hear the 2nd beep for video reset.
  7. Continue to hold and after 5 seconds you will hear a quick double beep. At that point release power button.
  8. If you succeeded in activating Safe Mode, you will see a message on screen saying, “Connect the controller using a USB cable and then press the PS button”.
  9. Connect a controller to the PS3 with a USB cable.

If you were not able to get into Safe Mode, your system may need service.

Step 3: Manually Update PS3 Software

  1. Connect the storage media to PS3 system.
  2. Select [6 – System Update] and Press X.
  • Please note: Data and settings may be deleted if you choose any of the first (5) options.
  • Please make sure to only choose option [6 – System Update].
  • Press Start and Select at the same time.
  • The PS3 system will restart and recognizes the update file in the storage media.
  • Press right on the d-pad to scroll through the update description and user agreement.
  • Press X to confirm the update.
  • The system will now install the new system software and restart automatically upon completion.