How to root T-mobile Samsung Galaxy S3 SGH-T999

Did my first root of Android phone. I had two Android phones before, but I never rooted it. This time I had a need for root to add the Chinese language to a Samsung Galaxy S3. The specific model is T-mobile SGH-T999 (shown in the Download or Recovery mode, but the model number on the settings says AT&T model number, which caused some issue for me later down the road).

The main reason for doing this is to add Chinese language support. It looks like by reading the article we can only get it work by rooting. I also looked at another article on the language support that suggested both MoreLocale2 and Language Enabler. Tried MoreLocale2 first but it seems needing root. So I started looked at the root tutorial. Because of the “wrong” model number, initially I thought this is an at&t device (model number at&t samsung galaxy s3 i9300, and here is an tutorial for that). Note the two tutorials are similar (t-mobile root tutorial here), the main difference is the at&t one is more verbose, and it has a link to the mod5 file for the at&t model. The odin program did not work for me initially because I was using the latter mod5 file (mismatch between hardware and mod5).

After that mistake the device was stuck in the Download mode (link to get into the Download mode), and could not reboot. I googled I have to download a Samsung software to get it restored. There were other hiccup too, one being the device cannot connect to my Windows 7 laptop (a bit old HP elite book), even after I install the driver. Had to reboot to make sure they connect. Back to topic, I was able to root after I switched to the mod5 file for t-mobile device. And it worked like a charm. After that I installed the rootCheck and SuperSu app from the Play store.

After the root, reboot I installed the Language Enabler app by Wanam from Google Play store (again refer to the language article above).

Final impression: the Samsung s3 is a relatively old device by today’s standard, but it works as a basic smartphone and adding the Chinese language to it, in my specific case, could potentially save an iPhone purchase (SE starts at about $400 in the states). It just takes some work to get it work, from enabling the developer mode/USB debugging on the device, to the odin software root.

Happy rooting :-)

Production, production, production

I first learned the “production environment” in 2010, when I worked as contractor for a major railway company. Before that I was mostly in CAD software development and consulting environment the word “production” did not come often. To be precise at Siemens PLM/UGS as developers, we did have access to various production releases and did validation for bug and bug fixes from time to time. Our code goes to release per year or per quarter. But production is not as significant as the maintenance releases, so this is the world of shrink wrap (engineering) software world.

Came to the world of business applications, or web. The first thing I learned is it’s not a good idea for newbies to touch production data. Or for that matter, not good idea for devs to touch that either. Very few people has production access, besides admins (database, web), the few people have access are usually product owner, business analysts, or product support people. And fast forward 5, 6 years, I became one of the latter. This is a privilege. Something I learned over past year:

1) Start from baby steps: e. g., if we want to update 1000 records: start from one or two records, do the update, validate and if everything looks good, do the mass update. This goes th way of divide/conquer too: so for example, if I need to delete 3 or 4 million records in one script (one run), I know it will be a long operation, and I don’t want the operation hang or fail in the middle. So what do I do? I divide the deleting operation into a few, each operation deletes half a million, much more manageable, and I will get the it complete much faster or get feedback much faster.

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Contractor or employee ?

A common question for software developer is to be an employee (full time, perm) or be an contractor (W-2, or 1099). Strictly speaking the 1099 is more like a small business, and I have not done it personally. I heard some experienced people did the 1099; I will share if I have that exp. down the road.

I spent most of my career so far being an employee (8 years for Siemens PLM/UGS was the longest); I also spent some time being an contractor (total 3 places, about 28 months). Each option has pros and cons. A few things I learned from my own exp.

1) People have all kinds of expectations for contractors, usually the higher pay, the higher the expectation. For employee, they are a bit more patient.

2) Contract to hire. I found this is usually promised or at least suggested at the beginning, as personally I still prefer to be employee long time. But in two cases, I found they were not the case. All types things happen at client, but in one case looking back I felt the client may never had intention to convert. So this is something to keep in mind as for some people the longevity/conversion is important factor.

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Soft spoken, killer app, killer instinct and no news is good news, software update

I am a soft spoken person. I got to know this word when a recruiter gave me feedback in 2000, when I applied for a consultant position at software company. That’s ok most of the time, except in certain cases we need to be clear: we cannot be vague, and we cannot waiver. Some examples include communicate with clients or customer when we work on a project, we need to be clear about the responsibility of each party, the expectations and the timeline or milestone.

A related topic is the “killer instinct” or “killer attitude”. We all know “killer apps”, the apps that knock the ball out of the park. Similarly, by killer instinct I meant in certain cases, we have no choice but to fix the issue, and we have to deliver. An example is the crisis situation, customer was already unhappy with the situation, we need to turn it around. I had couple instances like that recently. The solution usually involves putting head down, looking at the code, ask question or solicit help as needed. The solution will come eventually.

On the other hand, I have seen very intelligent people that are soft-spoken but don’t have the killer-instinct, or the drive to solve or fix a problem. This is ok, as long as the team has other people with the attribute above. But for the person without that trait, he/she may hit a career glass-ceiling soon. Because in real world, stressful situation/conflict arise and it usually needs that skill.

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Podcast I listened recently

I used to listen APM: Market Place (NPR) and the Nightly Business Report (PBS => CNBC). I was a business news junkie, and was into stock market. I also listened to a more in-depth podcast: the weathtrack by Consuelo.

More recently, I expanded my podcasts a bit, as you can see from below.

NPR hidden brain: I grew interest in psychology in recent years. It’s very much applicable in the business, work place, and the home.

Developing Perspective: david smith, note he moved on to the under the radar with Marco recently. But very good stuff from indie dev perspective.

Under the radar: by david smith (web, twitter) and marco arment (web, twitter). This is the new podcast launched by David and Marco (the lead developer of tumblr and famous tech blogger).

Release notes: this one is more geared toward developing iOS/Mac apps for business. I used to listen quite a bit, but have not followed as close as before since I am no longer doing iOS apps.

Moved domain registrar from bluehost to godaddy

Followed this instruction move away from bluehost; and move domain into godaddy. Most instructions are accurate, except one needs to ping pong couple times, started from bluehost first, then at godaddy website, after that I received email from godaddy asking about the transfer, go ahead and use the information in the email to start the official transfer, at last I go to bluehost website and approved the transfer. The interesting part is the entry of name server on my web host (digitalocean) gets updated automatically once I approved the transfer by clicking the link on bluehost. This really surprised me as I was expecting to make changes manually on my own :-)

You may ask why I bother to transfer? I have actually moved my web hosting from bluehost to digitalocean (shared host to dedicated hosting) a while ago. This is the last step before moving completely away from the bluehost. No ill feeling towards bluehost (although couple years ago it did give me some headache). It’s just the cost between the two are comparable and I like to have more say on the web hosting.

Last but not least, if you have Amex card, check if you have the godaddy $20 off $50 offer. I found it from one of my Amex card, and I used it for domain transfer ($9.99 x 5 years plus a bit tax/fees). So the total will be about $30 after Amex offer. :-)

Question on the Costco payment: should I pay Amex or Citi ?

Reading FAQs from Citi web page. Quoted below.

Q1. When do I start sending my payments to Citi instead of American Express?
A1: When you receive a statement from American Express please send your payment to American Express by mail, phone, or online. When you receive a statement from Citi, please send your payment to the address in your statement or make a payment online once you register for Citi® Online.

Q2. If I have a balance on my Costco card from American Express, will it transfer over to my new Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi?
A2: Any balance on your Costco card from American Express account will transfer automatically to your new Costco Anywhere Card on June 20, 2016.

Now what if I have balance left over from Amex on June 20, 2016, to whom should I pay: Amex (according to A1), or Citi (implied by A2).

(Update 06-22-2016) Gave it a bit more thought, decided to keep the pre-scheduled full payment to the original Amex Costco, while adding a minimum payment to the new Citi Visa Costco. This way I would avoid the penalty if the Amex => Citi did not go through. :-)

(Update 06-24-2016) So out of curiosity I actually posted this question to Citi via secured message. I received reply a few days later which appears stating they will do automatic transfer (from Amex to Citi).

(Update 07-02-2016) The payment went through (from Amex to Citi). A separate topic: it appears Citi did not give me 2% extra cashback for being Costco executive member (which according to the bulletin Costco just sent, it should). Anyway for me personally I will use Chase freedom (Visa) at Costco to get the 5% back (need to activate every quarter, which I did so far).

OK, I am reading the fine prints at Costco: Only purchases made by the primary and primary household cardholder on the account will apply toward the Reward. Since my wife made the purchase, so it sounds I won’t get the 2%?

Back to iPhone

I used the Amazon Fire phone as my personal phone for almost a year. But a recent incident made me decide to switch. I have an iPhone 6 from work since last Sept. But for all the important places such as my daughter’s school I leave my own mobile phone number there. And last week, during a time when I need the Amazon fire to work, it failed. Basically the school bus coordinator wanted to get hold of me because of a mistake on my daughter’s side (she was supposed to go home after the art club activity, but she forgot about that and took bus home right after school, which means there is no grown up to pick her up at the bus stop).

I know one reason I did not answer phone initially was these days most of my unsolicited calls are from spammers (not just recruiters, they are people who tell me I won lottery, won a cruise, or try to sell me cable or home security services). I knew this one is real because the same number called twice. But when I picked up the second call, there is no sound. After a while I did figure out, the speaker on Amazon fire phone ONLY WORKS when I plug in the headphone (the ear phone). So on my way to home, the 3rd call came, this time it worked because I have bluetooth on the car, and I picked up the phone and found out what was happening. It has been about 14 minutes since the first call.

This incident was the main motivator for me to switch back to iPhone. Since I already gave my old iPhone 5s to my wife, I decided order the new SE for her, and then get the old 5s back. Switching back was almost trivial, just swap out the nano SIM card, and also since I had the google contacts managing my address book on Amazon Fire, I just imported them when I added the Gmail to iPhone 5s. I know when switching from iPhone to iPhone, the best approach is via iCloud (to get the contacts moved over).

Now that I switched over, I was hoping this kind of thing does not happen. It could be nerve racking when taking about calls about bus accidents etc.

JCC St. Louis and my exercise

JCC St. Louis (2 locations, Creve Coeur and Chesterfield) are very good. I joined JCC in early 2012 mostly for its exercise facilities. At the time I got discounted rate through my employer, and at the same time the employer paid 3/4 of the membership fee. Over the years I changed my employer couple times, and I still kept the membership (paying the full price from my own pocket). But I felt it’s worth it, not only I used it for exercise, but also my family esp. my kids have lots of funs at the recreational pools. Also my old daughter had her art summer camp there last summer.

Keep in mind JCC is more than an exercise facility, or a summer camp. It also has a lot educational, cultural, or health related facilities and activities. Recently I attended a free seminar hosted by St. Lukes Hospital which talked about joint health and replacement (mostly knees and hips). For me it’s mostly educational since I am still in 40s and there is no need for replacement, the reason I went there is I got some hip pain, and I like to get more information out of it. Also, my doctor is also working at St. Luke’s orthopedic and joint center. Let me back to the exercise topic. Over the years I started pay attention to my activities esp. daily walking steps (read my post about this one 10 years ago>pedometers I used over the years). In St. Louis weather, there are some days in summer and winter, it will be too hot or cold to walk outside, we can walk in mall, in company hallway (if they have a long one, note I try to stay away from stairs recently as it may have contribute to my hip issue). JCC always offers the opportunities for me to walk or swim, probably more swim than walk for me. Most recently as I mentioned my hip issue, I started doing walk in water instead of swimming, using the floating drum-bells. It can exercise my upper body nicely. And in the past I used the steam room, recently I started using the whirlpool. It’s funny I heard once from a gentleman says he has been to 5 JCCs across the country, the St. Louis one is the best (I think he meant the Creve Coeur one :-) So basically I used water to relax and get the stress out of my hip and back. I will try get back to swim soon, hopefully. Maybe someday I will find a swimming coach to correct my technique.

I used the Chesterfield facility too, both for exercise (again walk/swim) and kids activity (KinderMusik). My old daughter attended kindermusik for 2 years (between 2.5 years old to 4.5 years old). I recall when she was switching from toddler program to the preschool (when she became 3), for a brief period, KinderMusik class is the only class she wanted to go. The indoor swim pool at Chesterfield is not as big as Creve Coeur (it has 2, a lap pool and a recreational pool). But Chesterfield has one advantage, the water temperature there is just about right, vs “a bit cold” in Creve Coeur lap pool, and “a bit warm” for the recreational pool.

I recall once I went to see the shabach on Friday afternoon during my daughter’s summer camp, it’s fun and interesting to see how they share the special bread. And also kids perform. It’s something that will stay in my memory for a long long time. Note they have koshal food too. I esp. like their corn beef, which I can also get from Kohn’s, which is down the street.

Got new windshield wiper, tires

Last wed. morning,  temperature was below freeze point, there were some leftover snow. When I start my car, windshield wiper blade broke. So early afternoon I bought a new set and tried to replace the wiper. Those were worn out before last wed. The problem for me is, I don’t know how to take the old set off the Camry. Even after I watched YouTube video, I still did not know. So I went back autozone and asked for help. 

This is minor compared to the tire pressure problem for my wife’s sienna minivan. She texted me this picture, I know I know it’s tire pressure warning. I went through the same exercise last winter, even pumped couple times on sienna. And I left some damage on the sensor by doing that too :-(. And this time I am paying it back. The warning went away and came back last few weeks, even after I pumped air. So I thought to make sure, using a meter to measure the pressure. And I blew this one. When trying to measure the front driver side tire, the one has some sensor demage, that thing came out, and air came out. Flat tire :-(. This is not new but not often encountered, so I follow the procedures: use jack to get the van up, trying to locate the spare tire. Since it’s hard for me to get out the jack from sienna, I used the one from Camry. It’s not as strong, and I made couple mistakes the jack fell twice. But I still could not figure out where is the spare tire, even after reading manual. So I called AAA. A technician from AAA helped me on this issue. Today I went to Costco in the afternoon and got a new sets of tires on. It cost me about $770 for 4 Michelin tires. I still need to figure out how to put the spare back to its original place. 


My lesson learned:

1) It’s fortunate that we did not got hurt with this potential tire sensor problem. 

2) It’s ok to buy certified used (sienna), but it’s not necessary to buy extended warranty, put the money in bank for repairs and maintenance instead (the squirrel problem and the new tires).

3) Use Costco tire service, they seems have the best service plan for the $15 installation fee.

4) It’s kinda ironic I majored in ME in college and grad school. And I cannot figure out windshield wiper and spare tire.