Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dead Blackberry Bold (9000 & 9900) Fix

Update 10/10/2014: the voltage of your charger may play a factor into whether or not the battery needs to be removed. I've noticed that when the charger voltage is of higher variety (e.g. 750mA), then oftentimes the phone will begin recharging after a few seconds. No removing of battery and re-plugging necessary. But when I tried with a lower voltage charger, then the manual process outlined below is necessary. Takeaway is, if you have a higher voltage charger, then using is to recharge may be all you need.  

This is going to be quick post to fix a dead Blackberry Bold 9000 or 9900 series. Mine just inexplicably died over the weekend (possibly due to lack of battery power), but it wouldn't charge at all when I plugged it in. So I had to dig around the internet for some help and came across a couple of good ones -- which I figure to share in case these sources are removed in the future.

The first and most popular solution appears to be a simple case of:
1. Remove battery from the Blackberry
2. Connect to the charger while battery is removed
3. A continuous red light (in place of notifications light) should appear shortly, followed by a "no battery" sign a couple of minutes in
4. After the "no battery" sign appears, insert the battery while the charger is connected (don't worry, you won't get electrocuted)
5. Give it 10-20 minutes to charge itself, which then should start booting automatically

I have to admit that I had a weird experience. Tried the above a couple of times, before it finally working on the third attempt (guess it's true, third times the charm..). In short, it might take a few attempts and lots of patience.

Another method I found (here) is copied and pasted below. I didn't get to try it, but seems like a much more methodological approach. Needless to say, full credits belong to the original poster -- devinr501.

Hello users of CrackBerry, I recently ran into the same issue it seems MANY other owners of the Bold 9000 series smartphone.; Examples being:

Seems completely dead, no charging whatsoever when connected to computer, wall, car charger, etc. It started off with a continuous red LED light that you normally get when first booting the device. Then it just completely stopped showing any signs of connectivity/power being supplied to the phone/battery. No red LED, windows didn't recognize it was even connected! So, I got onto google and searched for hours trying to find solutions to this problem. Everyone recommends that you leave the battery out for 24-48 hours.; Well, as that may work for some, it isn't working for everybody with this issue. I did some searching for the mainboard lay-out and functions, what circuits are which, etc. All it took was a little computer knowledge to figure out that the CMOS on the board needed to be cleared! If you have ANY hardware experience when it comes to computers you will know that sometimes you need to remove the little battery on the motherboard and then put it back to fix problems you may run into when adding new hardware, tweaking settings, power failure, etc. This does NOT mean your phone is completely dead, does NOT mean you need a new battery/charger, does NOT mean you need to reload your OS. This a hardware fault that happens when the battery is completely drained, it causes the whole board to act "dead". This tutorial fixes ALL related problems listed above if there is no other indications of hardware malfunctions such as broken USB port.

As you see the battery is a small round silver looking object. It's located on the backside of the bold. 
This process takes pretty much NO tools, no taking apart your phone, nothing that extreme. It's actually relatively simple if you have steady hands and a well-lighted room! :P

1. There is a sticker covering these components that says the model of the phone, IMEI, and other information. Peel this off. 
2. You will now see the small circular battery just to the right of your SIM card slot. GENTLY pry the metal rectangle that is on top of it holding it into place back a bit, until the battery will move. This will take a little bit of time, and you DO need patience when doing this.
3. When you get the battery out, put it back and make sure you put the metal rectangular piece back onto the battery and make sure it is securely in place.
4. Re-apply the sticker after you have completed steps 1-3 and put it on the charger without the battery inserted.
5. The red LED should shine again, and if you leave it connected it will show a dead battery symbol. At this point reinsert your battery & leave it on the charger! It can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes to charge up enough to boot the OS. 

Success! Your once dead Bold is back alive and running like a champ! No need to reinstall the OS & all your data is safe & sound on the device. 

And you wonder why Research in Motion, makers of Blackberry, is going down the toilet.

Friday, October 4, 2013

iPhone 6: Expectations vs Reality

While I do not own any Apple devices and adamantly refuse to do so, I have a deep-seated interest on mobile technology and can't possibly ignore Apple's recent developments. (Return readers would probably notice the unusually high number of Apple-related posts I have written...). This interest is in part explained by the fact that Apple is in my stock portfolio. As a good friend recently said, "while I invest in Apple personally, you invest in Apple financially." All I can say is, Apple has been a solid investment so far.

But let us not detract from the purpose of this blog post, which is to provide commentary on the numerous rumors regarding the next iteration of Apple's popular iPhone device: the iPhone 6. As articles like this or this speculate, the iPhone 6 should be a major upgrade in both hardware and software. And therein lies the keyword: should. Amongst the many features these writers/bloggers are clamoring for, there are few very popular ones: (1) bigger display, (2) quad-core A8 processor, (3) NFC, (4) iOS8, (5) wireless charging, (6) element resistance, e.g. water, (7) better camera, and (8) eye-tracking. All of the aforementioned would be major enhancements to the iPhone, but I think if we're rational and review what Apple has done historically, only 1 or 2 of will actually be part of the iPhone 6 next year. In short, people need to be real and stop overhyping.

Historically speaking, the "S" iteration of every iPhone release sequence has included the biggest and most evolutionary changes to the least on the hardware side. We've seen this most recently with the iPhone 5S -- with its superior camera, iOS 7, the M7 sensors and, arguably the most significant, the A7 SOC chip. The vastness of the 5S upgrade from the 5 is underscored by the folks over at AnAndtech labeling it, "quite possibly the biggest S-update we've ever seen from Apple." I'd have to agree, especially remembering that the biggest update from the 4 to 4S was the inclusion of Siri. So in other words, history has shown us that Apple tends to save its biggest "under-the-hood" updates to the iPhone for the "S" iteration.

With this in mind, I believe we can start debunking some of the wild rumors flying around. Let's go back to our original list of 8 and do a brief breakdown of each:

1. Bigger display -- Certain
The screen on my Samsung Galaxy S2 is still bigger than that of the iPhone 5S. Think about that for a moment. Apple is missing out a large part of the market by being fixated on a single screen side, and my best guess is that they will increase the size screen a further .5 inches to 4.5 inches. This should be the sweet spot for Apple as it won't alienate the current customer base while appealing to potential customers with a fetish for bigger screen sizes. The bonus is that this strategy would further differentiate between the flagship and the "C" iteration, and consequently sell more of the flagship device.

2. Quad-core A8 processor -- Likely, but...
...the performance update will be incremental at best. Think in terms of higher frequencies all around, rather than more physical cores per CPU and GPU. The A7 SOC already performs against the best other manufacturers like Intel and Qualcomm have to offer, and ushered in the 64-bit era to ARM chipsets. Apple might double the number of CPU cores to 4, but will certainly retain the quad-core GPU configuration. The potential for performance gain will fall on software developers to take advantage of the new architecture, rather than from the hardware side. 

3. NFC -- No
Apple is proud of its proprietary technology and I don't see them deviating from their current stance, unless NFC is somehow recognized as the de-facto contact-less payment and file transfer systems. 

4. iOS 8 -- Likely
The 7th version came out only six months after the 6th version, and I can see Apple continuing this trend. While the hardware on the iPhones is difficult to topple, it's another story on the software side. Android and, to a lesser extent, WP8 platforms have been on the forefront of innovations and iOS at this point comes off as an also-ran. It might be a big change too, considering the newer processing power available and Tim Cook's boast of "desktop-level" performance.

5. Wireless charging -- No
Just like the NFC above, Apple is into its own proprietary technologies and not about following others. 

6. Element resistance -- Unlikely
Aside from the usual resistance to fingerprints and scratches, Apple is not going to risk their profit margin on a feature that few customers will ultimately find useful. There's also an ascetic factor that can't be overlooked.

7. Better camera -- Likely
As good as the improvements to the iPhone 5S' camera, the resolution remains a mediocre 8 megapixels. An upgrade to 13 megapixels would be straightforward and bring Apple even to its other competitors -- all except Nokia's ridiculous 41 megapixel sensor.

8. Eye-tracking -- No
Just as Siri was cool but ultimately is proving to be relatively useless, eye-tracking is a gimmicky technology that customers are impressed by but won't be a deciding factor.

I'll add that I do also foresee the increase of the memory (RAM) from 1GB to 2GB for the iPhone 6 (before being doubled again to 4GB for 6S). This would be a no-brainer given the new 64-bit architecture now powering the iPhones. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Economics of Apple's iPhone 5C

As the whole world is probably aware of it now, Apple's newest generation of iPhone was released last Friday and quickly sold out across many countries. This morning, the company reported a staggering 9 million units sold of both the 5C and 5S flavors. Very impressive for any company but, especially for Apple, it demonstrates that despite all the competition from Google's Android platform, its own iOS and iPhone devices still command a massive following.

What's interesting about all this is the attention and ridicule at Apple's decision to release a cheaper companion to their flagship iPhone. For the current (seventh?) generation, this means the iPhone 5C. The general opinion was that without a cheaper version of the flagship iPhone, Apple would be surrendering a significant portion of the market to Android handset makers like HTC and Samsung. After all, the $650 unsubsidized price for a top-of-the-line iPhone is beyond what most of the world's population can afford. One popular rationale is that the letter "C" in the "5C" represents China, a country in which iPhones have unsupported by its carriers until recently. In short, not pursuing this lower-tier market segment is akin to throwing away good money -- something unacceptable to any rational corporate executive.

Returning to the topic of the new iPhones (5S and 5C), let's review the differences between the two. The infographic below from CNET does an excellent job of comparing the two. In short, the 5C is akin to the previous generation with the exception of being a bit cheaper, lower build quality (e.g. more plastics involved) and available in different colors. Essentially Apple rebranded the previous iPhone 5 into an iPhone 5C, and released an upgraded version known as the iPhone 5S. Nothing too confusing, right?

As an economist, my insight on this strategy of releasing a lower-tier device to go along with a flagship device is simply: it's a very shrewd business decision. People, be them technology critics or the general populace, may whine and scorn Apple's decision to release the iPhone 5C, but they overlook the behavioral element that Apple is targeting.

In economics, this behavior is known as "relatively". One of my favorite economists, Dan Ariely, presented the case so well in his book "Predicably Irrational". Relativity refers to the human tendency to compare their environment or a good relative to another. However, the caveat is that we prefer to compare things that are easily comparable. Ariely first observed this phenomenon in an advertisement to subscribe to the magazine "The Economist", when he was presented with 3 different subscription options: a standalone mailed copy, a standalone online copy, or both a mailed and online copies. I forget the exact number he reported, but the last option was presented as much cheaper than the first two combined. The result is that "The Economist" probably sold the combination option much higher than the first two. (There's also a really good example about honeymoon options from the Wikipedia link above.) The bottom line is, when one is presented with comparable products but one is clearly superior, the superior product tends to get purchased.

Do you see why Apple released the iPhone 5C now? I get that its cheaper price allows greater market penetration than otherwise, but the iPhone 5C also indirectly (yet very effectively) promotes the purchase of the iPhone 5S. This is especially given that the 5S is only $100 more and provides essentially double the performance of the 5C. When your average consumer is presented with the choices of, say, a Samsung GS4, an iPhone 5C, and an iPhone 5S, the 5S would probably win out. Curiosity, it also dissuades any current iPhone users from jumping the ship. Apple ultimately may not move as many units of 5C but the company still wins in the end, regardless. And as the late Steve Jobs puts it so well, "If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will".

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mid-2013 Update: Changing Jobs and....Maturing

(Okay, the title is a bit of a misnomer as we're almost through the month of July -- which technically makes this update slightly past mid-year to be called "mid-year". I confess to having been lazy and procrastinated big time to write this. Motivation can be a funny thing: it ebbs and flows like the waves...)

It's a Friday night and I riding this one easy for a couple of reasons. The first is being physically exhausted, while the second is planning to retire early as I promised to drive a friend to the airport early tomorrow morning. Yet as I sit here at my desk trying to find something to occupy my thoughts and slowly lose this drawn-out fight against slumber, I decided to reflect on where I am in the year of 2013.

First off, I recently started a new job with the federal government -- working as a project manager on software-related activities. I was (and remain) excited for this new opportunity as it seemed my previous job was going nowhere despite its reasonable pay and generous company perks. What I have effectively done is move from the private sector to the public sector and, in hindsight, completely changed my work responsibilities. No longer am I an analyst working on specific projects or reports, but now I effectively coordinate (I've grown quickly to dislike the term "manager" due to its grandiose/snobbish connotation) a wide spectrum of different teams to develop a customized software suite for our clients. It's a drastic change and one I'm still slowly adjusting to, since I'm not responsible for any specific part of a project but for only its entirety. Oh and by the way, I was assigned to a project already more than halfway through to completion...bummer. As a fellow project manager likes to put it, "You're drinking from the fire hose". He's such an encouragement.

Although I'm still getting used to the new position, I figure I'd try be helpful and share a couple of key lessons I've learned so far. These will be specific to being a project manager of course. The first and arguably most important lesson is, as I like to call it, the "T word": TRUST. My organizational structure is a bit weird as I function as oversight for contractors who do the actual work. The immediate implication of this is that contractors may have a slightly different agenda from your own, even if we're supposed to be on the same team. To further complicate matters, there is an outside client to which I am responsible for and the outcome of the project falls square on my shoulders. (I sometimes wonder if I would've accepted the job had I known all of this beforehand....). So why is trust important? Trust is critical as it allows an alignment of interests so that an overseer allow others the freedom to accomplish a task in their own unique-yet-productive manner. But unlike other forms of leverage, trust can only be earned. In my case, I have to earn the trust of not only my contractors but also the internal management team as well as the client. In a world without trust between any of these three parties, a project would be infinitely more delayed due to the resulting need for validation of the work done and to be done. I've seen another colleague not having earned the trust of her team and, needless to say, the results aren't pretty.

The second lesson learned is quite specific to being a project manager: reading everything. And when I say "everything", I mean every single piece of document and email you can get your hands on, especially related to the project you're on. Whether a project manager is successful depends not only on their time management skills, but also in their ability to grasp the entirety of a project and make sure every single piece is progressing along. The goal of reading absolutely everything is understanding more than the basics of a project, so that in the event of a so-called "showstopper", you'd be able to quickly identify the needs and create an appropriate solution. Admittedly this is pretty darn daunting for my project as we have more than five different products rolling out to the client, but what must be done must be done. The show must goes on -- and nothing loses the trust and confidence of your team than to have a manager barking orders up the wrong tree. In my case again, not grasping the whole picture could lend to contractors trying something fishy. (Oh I must trust them...).

Aside from changing my job, I've also began searching for a condo to purchase in the Arlington/DC area. At this point the biggest criteria is the price -- housing prices around here is absolutely insane, so hence I'm looking for a small condo to live for a few years before moving on. The opportunity cost of paying rent is simply too great. Besides the price criteria of below $175K, my other requirements is proximity to a metro station and/or a highway (e.g. I-66 or I-395), a max condo/HOA fee of $400 per month, and reasonably price-to-space ratio (e.g. 450 sqft for $175K). I understand these narrows (read: destroys) my choices but I'm willing to wait a bit for the right opportunity. As stated so well in the book "Rich Dad Poor Dad", I agree with the statement that a house is a liability until fully paid off.

My other endeavors for now are: planning to take the CFA in December to eventually become a full Certified Financial Analyst, looking into procuring a PMP certificate soon, doing a fair bit of traveling, The last one is probably the most uncertain one of the bunch but, hey, I'm an optimist.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

All the Pieces of My Life

There are times in our lives when moments of clarity occur, when everything makes sense and you marvel at its beauty. These are instances in which we are able to transcend beyond our momentary joy, sorrow, pain, and disappointments and look at the so-called "big picture". For me, such a time as this happened yesterday as I left the office, strapped on my helmet, and proceeded to bike home. It had been an exhaustive day, compounded by the previous night's over-physical exertion at playing basketball. In short, I felt physically and mentally drained -- ready for nothing better than a long nap.

But as I climbed onto my bike and started the journey home, something amazing hit me. As I began to consider about my accomplishments and endeavors recently, I realized just how blessed a life I have lived and how blessed I have been. This thought quickly turned into a "high" that stayed with me for the rest of the evening. (Regrettably, I should have written this blog post last night instead of the day after. I don't feel exactly the same as yesterday....)

These past few months have been a trying time in my life, as I wrestled with failures/disappointments, struggled through various ordeals, and challenged to do many things. One has been the seemingly never-ending search for a new job as I am being laid off my current position. Ironically, I fully understood that it was going to be about attrition but nonetheless felt burned out from all the applying and interviewing. Despite telling myself that I would restart my job applications after returning from my recent vacation to China, I have not posted a single job application since my return. I suppose I either lowered my expectations or gave up entirely -- opting to see through the leads that I had on hand. Admittedly I had grown bitter at my current position, particularly from a perceived sense of being underutilized as well as underappreciated. The latter being highlighted after an insinuation from my manager that in spite of being in line for a promotion, that I wouldn't be because "I wasn't ready." I have been waiting to hear back from the federal government for a new position, in addition from AOL for a seemingly career-moving new role. However, both seemed to be moving very slow and I was beginning to hate the uncertainly of it all.

The second major area of struggle was with relationships with others, namely in dating. Most repeat readers of this blog now should know about the girl named "Mandy", who has left this country last year for her motherland...indefinitely. I had fallen hard for her and it was incredibly depressing at the time to have walked away with nothing but half-empty memories. In the months since, I have told myself to forget about her and move on to someone else -- striving to believe in the proverbial "plenty of fish in the sea" saying. But alas, things simply have not worked out. The girlfriend I liked the most has been someone significantly older in age and, while age wasn't absolutely, it remains a powerful determinant of our habits and thinking. In short, it eventually dawned upon both of us that we were at different stages in our lives; for her my numerous pursuits were a worrying sign of "restlessness" whereas for me, her comfort with the status quo and constant exhaustion overcame her cuteness. We broke up after about 4 months of dating and I'm single again. Since attending a coworker's wedding a week ago, the thought of what could have been with Mandy awakened bitterness that I thought was put to rest.

The third and final major area of struggle is the contrast between where I am and where I want to be. In other words, how I measured against the expectations I had cast on myself and the things that I wanted. For example, I wanted to buy a condo or a house but this likelihood is greatly diminished by the lack of capital in face of Arlington's insane real estate prices. Other examples include a new sports car, a cool dog, and being able to buy parents a lakefront house. Are you beginning to see the pattern? All these things require finances that I do not have, but deeply longing for. Since returning from China, I have visibly been thinking more about money and how to make more of it to spend. But not just spending it on myself. I long for the ability to help others in a significant manner, such as being able to lift my entire extended family out of poverty.

All three struggles or challenges articulated, now let us return to that moment of enlightenment discussed in the beginning. I think I realized something yesterday, something so profound that it affects my own opinion of the future and of my own capabilities. This thing is: endeavor coupled together with persistence. From my recent adventures on Udacity to learn about entrepreneurship, it dawned upon me that my greatest asset is a refusal to succumb to determinism. Personally, it pains me to not strive for something that I want; failures will come and it hurts like hell when I fail, but the silver lining is knowing that I tried to do something rather than doing nothing. The positive term for this is constant "self-improvement" and a lesser term is being a "perfectionist". This is the reason why I have started my own consulting company last year, and the same reason I want to open a restaurant despite a complete lack of industry knowledge and expertise.

In addition to endeavoring, I realized that I had become too focused on the things I thought I lacked and on the things that did not work out. In other words, realizing that I had become a cynic. I had increasingly mired myself with thoughts about not having achieved what I wanted, when all along there are much more important things at play. Or more importantly, there are things I did achieve. I am in a very different place where I was even a few months ago -- less naive perhaps, but a more mature and altogether better self. I discovered a resilience that I didn't know I had, as well as creativity that I believed was only found in artists. For all the things I didn't have, I still have wonderful things like a cohesive family, good health, gainful employment, and awesome friends. I think in hindsight I have made the most of the majority of the opportunities given, taken action when I could. Even when I shouldn't have, I took action and did something. Even when I failed, I learned valuable lessons.

Life, as they say, is beautiful. It is also what you make of it. Don't get caught up in the little things, nor try fruitlessly to restore karma to the world. Be open minded and strive for the things you want. As Conan said, "work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen". I'll also add something from a proverbs book I read -- "shoot for the moon, if you miss, you'll land amongst the stars".

Monday, January 7, 2013


I guess the Mayans were completely wrong, because it's 2013 and the world did not end. Rejoice!

There are two things that I heard about before, but didn't fully understand until now

The first is the idea that we don't live in a fairly tale, and more often than not, our hopes/dreams/plans are not realized. It's not the same as the concept of "unrealized expectations" as discussed before, but simply that disappointments do come and the best protection is just to brace oneself. At times it's things that you thought "Oh, this would never happen to me, only to other people!" that end up happening to you. Yet as bad as things get, it will never be as bad as we think it is -- we are much more resilient than we believe ourselves to be. Ultimately we make it through and, looking back on those disappointments, there's a sense of gladness for how they happened. You're stronger because of going through the process, more experienced and better equipped than before. I'm not saying that it doesn't suck to be disappointed when those hopes and dreams we cherished fail; it absolutely does, and sometimes you just want to crawl into a hole and....sleep away the pain. But we don't realize that there's light at the end of proverbial tunnel until afterwards. For these reasons I really like Conan O'Brien's words at the end of his show with NBC: "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen."

The second is the fact that as we grow older, we form habits and thought patterns that are difficult to break. We tend to get stuck on certain things and there's this nasty little thing called "pride" that goes into overdrive. Due to our pride in our own abilities and character, we are consequently less open to change as well as criticism from others. As I look at my older friends as well as at myself, this is my new realization. I find myself these days tending to take criticism from others rather personally -- and justify my own reaction as the other person "being inherently wrong" and needing to be adjusted in their reasoning. But looking at these instances, I'm actually the one in the wrong and the stubbornness only inflicted damage on an otherwise positive relationship. It's also true the saying that only those who truly care about you will try to correct you when you go astray. I hope that for this year and especially in later years to come, I will remain open to criticism and changes around me -- and to me.