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.


skids said...

Hi Julian

Try this site for USAPRS

It appears to have a U2APRS zip file.

I've not tried it but it may be worth a look.

Chris G0BHX

Jeff Davis, KE9V said...


At least all the apps you downloaded or purchased from the Android Market will be waiting on you when you get the phone back.


Jeff, KE9V

James said...

If the site that Chris posted doesn't work, it appears there's a Yahoo group here: with the latest APK in the files section. I might try this with my android phone too.

Unknown said...

Thanks, it looks like it has a newer version too. I really like the program though just as with APRSISCE on the Windows phone it hammers the battery if you use the GPS.

Hopefully someone will explain how to install the program from an APK file. I think JA7UDE's site had the instructions but I can't remember how I did it. Not that I can do anything with the phone at the moment. :( :(

Alex Hill said...

You have to enable unknown sources in the applications part of the settings menu then actually navigating to it and installing seems to escape me. I have a feeling it did it all on its own which doesn't help

Anyway I've emailed you an apk if you need it


MM1MPB said...

Go to market place julian and look for AppInstaller its free and once installed it lets you install files from a memory card. Im just waiting on validation to the group so i can try it out. Hope this helps.

G6XJU said...

If you want a better browser when you get your 'phone back try Dolphin. I have been using it on my Motorola Xoom tablet for a while and I find it a lot better than the standard one.

Steve GW7AAV said...

I had to laugh at your Motorola Millstone title, because that is what I thought of when I saw Milestone.

I had a pal who was a drummer in a band called Millstone Grit years ago, which is probably why it popped in to my head.

Hopefully you have got it fixed by now. A similar thing happened to my daughters phone and as it was on contract we took it back to Carphone Warehouse. It was away 3 days before they rang us to say it was ready. Unfortunately we could not get to the shop for a week, in that time they rang us 4 times sent 2 emails and a letter to say it was ready. Wow!

The last time I had a problem like that the phone was away for six months, what an improvement!

Unknown said...

It was away just over a fortnight from sending it off to receiving it back. Hopefully it will be OK now, rather than being a design fault that will cause trouble again in the future, but a Google on "motorola milestone touchscreen problem" turns up a lot of results so I'm not exactly confident.