Un-hanging the N8


This happened a couple weeks…

(Nokia N8 is great but sometimes I forget that it is more than a phone – it has a very complex system running in the background. Image source)

I somehow had managed to screw up my N8. Sometimes I forget that smartphones are just like personal computers when it comes to installation of new software. It can very, very sensitive. After all, it has a complex Operating System, root folders, power hungry applications, etc. So, if one installs the wrong application (especially from an untested, dubious third party source) or installs it half way, it will screw up the system. And this is exactly what happened.

I was reading about a virus that was been roaming on smartphones in recent weeks. I used to have NetQin anti-virus application for my Symbian Anna powered N8 but I started to note that the anti virus application (I should take the blame for this – I have been playing with the settings) started to get into running of all other active applications. And then one day, I noticed it starts to connect to the Internet without my express authorization. Bloody hell, this was getting scary! So, I did what I suppose to do in panic when these things happen – I simply uninstalled the AV application and left with an unsecured smartphone.

(A robust AV app for smartphone is a must and to be fair, NetQin does the job rather well. It is just that incomplete installation and itchy fingers playing with the settings can create major havoc to the phone. http://dandroidtabletpc.com)

So when I read about the virus on the net and realized that I don’t have any AV on board, I started to look for an AV application – with NetQin being my last choice. There were not many choices out there when it comes to free based AV for Symbian^3 powered smartphones. NetQin was the only one I found that was available for N8 for free (although AV update will cost me but I was ok with that – the main application was still free). Not wanting to spend too much money on AV or Internet Security applications for smartphones for now, I hestitately installed NetQin back, hoping not to play with its settings this time around. But something else happened.

The installation did not complete as there was a disconnection of internet and I was left with a half-installed AV application which I was not aware immediately. Only when I decided to restart the phone, I realized this problem.

The phone starts up – the home page is shown but I could do anything else, the whole phone freezes. After a couple of tries, I noted that the installation starts up and this is causing the rest to freeze up. Then there is another problem as well – normally it is easier to stop this installation program from starting but since the phone freeze, I was unable to click on the application option. I was left with a dead phone now.

It was time for Google things up and it seems like there was only one choice – a hard reset but as many have warned, this should be a last option as it will format the whole phone and when restored, I am likely to lose Ovi Maps and Ovi Store (it needs a lot of manual installation for this and this too may not work 100%). There is another option of reseting to factory settings but it requires me to navigate through to the application menus and click on the option before the phone freezes over.

I tried the hard reset first – it was not possible to do the normal reset as the phone keeps freezing up. But the hard reset did not work – nothing happens. Then I remembered my sim card was still in the phone – I took it out and instead of hard reset, I tried the normal resetting for one last time.

When I restarted the phone, I noted that there was a longer gap before the phone freezes over. That small gap was just enough for me to disable the installation apps that kept running in the background whenever I started the phone. When I did that, I then realised that NetQin was also running in the background too (it was a mystery to me because I thought its installation was not complete) and due to frequent startup of the phone, NetQin had thought that the phone was under attack from virus and decided to freeze the phone to avoid further damages. I disable NetQin as well and proceeded with the safer and recommended method of resetting the phone to factory settings. Resetting was smooth and hassle free.

It did not take too long as well – once restarted, everything remain intact. I then restore back my contacts from my earlier backups using Nokia Ovi Suite (I had to do it twice – the first time; I wrongly included the restore of apps settings which did not work well. I reset and restore back but this time, excluding the settings). I got back my contacts updated into the phone and then proceeded to update to the latest Symbian Anna manually. And after that, I was home free.

I opted to leave any AV or Internet Security apps from my phone for the time being. Considering the risk – I may opt for a proper robust paid AV apps to be installed but not for now. Nonetheless, it was a scary moment – having the phone freezing up just like that and almost not having any way out to resolve it.

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Nokia N8 Firmware Update Part 2


Read Part 1 here

(I love the smell of napalm…err…software updates in the morning. Image source: http://noknok.tv)

I thought it was the long overdue PR1.2 update but the device updates screen shows the release type as “Symbian Anna” (now I believe that PR1.2 was never released in Malaysia). It took less than 30 minutes for the latest updates for my N8 from Nokia servers – it was clean and smooth.

The updates contains among other things:-

  • Fresher, renewed look with new icons and wallpapers, and split screen view for Messaging, Mail, Browser, Phone book, Calendar, and Maps
  • Improved full QWERTY virtual keypad with split screen view and faster access to special characters
  • New, faster and easier-to-use browser, with new search features, and most used features available with one tap
  • New Maps version, with improved search, a public transport network view, and a new Check-in feature for sharing info about places through social networking services
  • Improved calendar, enabling you to create and accept meeting invitations through Mail
  • Microsoft Communicator Mobile available
  • Improved information and communication security
  • New versions of Ovi Store and QuickOffice
  • Performance and usability improvements

Other Software Updates

  • Flashlite 4
  • Java Runtime 2.2
  • Qt Mobility 1.1
  • Qt4.7

(Source)

For a more complete change log, click here for details

However, the latest updates is not really noticeable until it is time for you to type on a number or message – the QWERTY feature in portrait mode is really helpful (although sometimes the keypad seems too small but there is an option to switch off QWERTY function off) and when I start typing to call, the address book comes in other top side of the screen for an easy pick (it was not that easy under PR1.1). The Communicator function now is on display on home page but I have not played with the settings yet. The camera’s auto focus seems working better now.

Nokia has chosen to use Windows Phone as its primary OS for its future smartphones so I do hope that we were still get updates for the Symbian^3 OS in terms of new functions, performance and security.

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