Blog: March 2022

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

What's confusing my phone?

I have a problem with my (older) Android phone and am not sure how to debug it.

Four times in the last six months, I have used the navigation in Google Maps while in a car (audio, not looking at the screen). Every time the trip has ended the same way: the app informs me that I have reached my destination, I reach for the phone to exit, and the phone crashes. On restarting, it tells me I have 1% battery and crashes again. (Phone was not low at the start of the trip.) Now here's the interesting part: when I plug it in to charge, it reports something in the range of 30-40%. So, something is confusing the phone about its battery state, because no way does my phone charge that quickly (especially on a car charger).

Here's tonight's case: I was at something over 60% when I turned on nav for a 15-minute trip. Crashed on arrival, plugged in (in the car) and turned on, it said 32%, I unplugged, and it crashed again (back to 1%). I left it off while I completed my errand, but plugged it in to charge on the drive home. At home, it was 40% and, this time, did not crash when I unplugged it from the charger.

To determine whether the problem is specific to Google Maps, I installed another navigation app (Waze). When the installation finished I opened the app...and the phone crashed. When I connected it to the charger, it said it was at 31%. I let it charge for a bit (I turned it on while it was connected to the charger), and disconnected it around 50% with no issues.

Here's all that in pictorial form:

Image without description

Also, the power manager reports no fast-drain apps. iDrive, a backup app, was a fast-drain app and is the singular entry in the history, but I've nerfed it and it hasn't popped up recently. Could its mere presence be a problem?

Now, I'm pretty sure the battery isn't actually being drained to practically nothing, because it wouldn't bounce back that quickly. And apparently it's not just Google Maps or GPS, because Waze didn't even finish opening before that crash. But something, either Android or something in hardware or firmware, sure thinks there's a problem that calls for shutting down.

How do I find it?

I have not had crashes with other apps -- though I also don't stream videos or play games on my phone, so I'm not taxing it. I have noticed the pattern of "steps" you can see in the picture here -- battery will drop noticably, then stay level for a while, then do it again. I don't know what's causing that or if it's related.

The phone is old -- ZTE Axon 7, bought in 2017, running Android 7.1.1 and apparently not eligibile for newer -- but it otherwise works, has the (rare) aspect ratio I crave, and already has all my stuff on it. I'd like to keep using it for a while (and let the 5G world sort itself out in the meantime).

Help wanted (involves git)

Dear Brain Trust,

I have a technical problem that I'm a few clues shy of solving. Can you help?

I have a personal web site, which I built using an SSG called Yellow. I'm using a few of their extensions, most importantly Blog. The way you use Yellow is to download and unpack a ZIP file, download any extensions you want into that directory structure, and add your content (also into that directory structure). The source is on GitHub but they also give you these ZIP files.

Last summer I downloaded those ZIP files, unpacked them, started tweaking things, and added my own content. I never cloned their repositories; I just took the ZIP files. Eventually I figured out that the easiest way for me to deploy my site was to use GitHub: I created a private repository, into which I added my then-current versions of both the tooling and the content, and I update it as needed (for example to add this post).

Yes I now know this was the wrong way to go about it. Apparently we won't have gotten "send clue back in time" working in my lifetime.

Since then, they've made some updates that I would like to take advantage of. I want to update to the new version, incorporating the changes I made to the previous version (figure out what they were and how to apply them). And I want to figure out a better way to organize this so that the next upgrade is more straightforward.

I imagine that what I wanted to have done instead was to fork their repos, apply my changes, make a separate repo for my content, and (do magic here) so it all works together. I don't know what that magic is. I'd like to check my assumptions about this being a better approach. Is there some other way I should be managing this? Another way to think about it is that my project (my site) has GitHub dependencies (those other two repositories); I'm not familiar with how dependencies are typically managed.

I mentioned I'm using GitHub for deployment. More specifically: I make edits on my personal machine, commit and push, and then on the hosting server I pull and, wham, the site is up to date. There's no explicit build step and I'm not fussing with rsync. My "aha" moment was that git can already figure out what's changed and needs to be pulled, so why should I have to? I like this simplicity.

I have found the version of the blog extension I started from (thank you for explicit version numbering), so it is possible to identify the changes I made to the original.

Should I create new repos (or forks) from the previous version, apply my changes, get that working, and then try to do the upgrade from there? How should I manage the multiple git repositories so that everything ends up in the right places? There's one repo for the base system (yellow), one for all the extensions (which overlays the file structure of the base system), and then I need a place for my actual content. How do I do this?