Saturday, August 20, 2011

Motorola Millstone

This weekend I had planned to write about my Android smartphone, a Motorola Milestone 2, which I bought in early July soon after I came out of hospital. It was a fantastic phone with a big, clear screen and a really usable slide-out keyboard. It became my main method of electronic communication. The Android user interface is great - far, far superior to Windows Mobile. It is well integrated with Gmail as you would expect and it has an excellent web browser that can display almost any website, unlike the IE browser in Windows Mobile which is just a piece of s***. I was also intending to write about an Android APRS application called U2APRS. Unfortunately, last night my Milestone turned into a brick.

The one thing I hadn't got round to doing was install a good app to read the various blogs that I follow. Blogger Dashboard is one of the few sites that doesn't work well in the Android browser. I decided to install Feedly, found that I liked it, and spent some time going through all the blogs marking all the posts as read. Having done that I was trying to figure out how to get back to the list of blogs now that there were no new posts when the screen froze and refused to respond to touch input.

Thinking that this was just a software crash, I pulled the battery. But when the phone started up again the screen still refused to respond to finger movements. And now I couldn't get past the lock. This situation persisted after several attempts.

Time to go online. A Google search revealed that problems with the Motorola Milestone 2 touch screen were not uncommon and that the only diagnostic to try was to perform a factory reset to make sure that the trouble was not due to a software glitch. This would, of course, remove all my apps and settings. But there was no alternative. Except that the instructions for performing a hard reset - press and hold the Camera button while powering up the phone - didn't work. Every time, the phone booted into its normal screen, which was still locked.

After wasting quite a lot of time making several attempts at this I found another forum post that suggested holding the X key on the keyboard whilst powering on the phone. This got me a step nearer to where I was trying to be - a screen with a warning triangle and an Android icon on it - but the instructions to bring up the menu - press and hold the Volume Up button and then the Camera button - did nothing. Again, a lot of time was wasted trying this several times, including different permutations of pressing and holding, and trying both of the Volume buttons since I couldn't be sure which was Up and which was Down, to no avail. Deep frustration was setting in.

Olga found a forum post which suggested that pressing the keyboard Search button from the Android warning screen would bring up the reset menu. That didn't work either. Then she found another one that said to use the the @ key. At last, the menu! I was finally able to format the system and wipe all my apps and data. When the phone rebooted it entered the initial configuration sequence, asking what language I wanted it to use. Which I was unable to select because the touch screen still didn't work.

So my Milestone is currently as much use as a lump of rock. I'm missing it already. It will probably take several days to send it for repair and have it returned, which I can't even start to do until Monday. But I'd rather do without a phone than go back to Windows Mobile, which may be a very good platform for running apps but is absolutely loathsome as a telephone and is totally useless for Gmail.

Deep frustration. Not to mention irritation over the valuable time I'll have to spend reinstalling and reconfiguring everything once it's back. And to add to my annoyance I've lost U2APRS because the developer JA7UDE's web site has been offline for the last couple of weeks for reasons unknown and there is no longer any way to obtain it.

I'm not a happy bunny.
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