R. I. D. P. Samsung Note II

A few people (none I can think of, but it sounds better than saying “no one”) noticed my blogging absence. Well, I’ve suffered a digital loss. 

Sunday morning had me waking up to an unresponsive phone. Pretty much all morning and early afternoon were spent trying to revive it. I didn’t even eat, and my coffee got cold as it sat in the cup next to the computer. 

I worked the magic of soft boots, hard boots, factory resets, wiping cache, but at each step got errors that it could not find the system files or the backup cache. Tried to find the original firmware so that I could reload it and found firmware for just about every country on Earth except the US (Verizon).

Tried loading custom firmware but you need the phone to be able to boot for that. Tried a leaked Samsung program that is supposed to unfreeze bricked phones but it could not communicate with my phone. Tried an official Samsung program that’s supposed to fix this thing and nada.

Paraphrasing Jayne and Mal:
I found the patient unresponsive. I tried pulmonary resuscitation and applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neural reaction from the patient.  

The phone is four-and-a-half years young . . . it should have lasted longer than this, although I read that it was incredible that it lasted this long. And yes, it’s not comforting hearing “it had a good run, but you now need to let it rest in digital peace.”

All in all, a pretty shitty day.

The Samsung Note II came to me in March of 2013. As I look at it sitting — dead — on my desk, I note that it has no scratches or dents, and it’s still housed in the case I bought for it way back then. It looks as amazing in death as it did in life. 

Readers can do a search of the Samsung tag and find photos and videos taken with the phone. Over the course of the four years, I’d gotten fairly good at coaxing decent photos from the limited lens and 8 MB camera. 

Truth be told, I’d been having problems with it. It was losing it’s digital mind, running sluggishly and occasionally freezing. Still, it was functioning at a higher level and was more pleasing to the eyes than, say, a sharp stick. But, the plan was to wait until the sales at the end of the year. 

But the Note had had it. It had fought the good fight, conquered e-mails, wrestled with unwanted calls and texts, buzzed when it needed to remind me of something — and on occasion when I didn’t want to be bothered — and in general, it’s been a faithful companion both at home and on the road. 

Normally I would have waited, but we no longer have a landline; my phone number is the phone number for utilities, accounts, customer service identification, and so on. Without thinking, I had gotten rid of all our old phones when we left Colorado. 

There was nothing to it; I needed a new phone and quick . . . so, off to Costco we went. 

Now, since we were planning to upgrade at the end of the year I’d done a lot of research on phones. Once I was assured I didn’t have to join a cult, I even contemplated switching to the iPhone . . . until I came across the same barrier I hit when researching PCs and laptops. Namely, you pay a lot for the name. 

Here’s the thing; it’s not that I don’t care about money because I do. There are those who speak of it as evil, but I learned early on that it’s a useful thing and that I should not waste it. But, I also learned that for some things it’s better to buy quality and hang on to it. Also, utility and functionality are important. 

With that in mind and because of a rebate, I decided I would replace the Note II with the latest model of the Note line, the Note 8. It was not an easy decision and based on the cost, it better last me at least as long as the Note II and preferably longer. 

Normally, when you switch phones, you get to transfer all of your stuff from the old phone to the new one . . . there’s an app for it; literally. 

When your phone dies, you give a quick thanks to Google (it remembered all of my information and contacts and stuff) but then you set about recreating your vast database of information. Financial, medical, insurance, household . . . account numbers, passwords, logins, if it’s a part of my life, it was stored on the Note II. 

Mind you, I’m not an idiot (contrary to the opinion of some). All that information is double encrypted with long and difficult passwords. In fact, it’s also encrypted in a couple of vaults on my PC. Even so, it takes time to load apps onto a new phone, load data, figure out that some of the apps you had won’t work on the new phone because they are not supported, research new apps, arrange everything for optimal use, and so on and on and on. 

In fact, I’m still not done with the setup . . . because the phone is friggin awesome. It’s blazing fast, yes, but it also has a lot of new tools and capabilities that I’m integrating into the way I do things. That means rethinking some of my organizational plans, how I interact with the phone, and adapt to what it can do. 

And, it can do a lot. If interested, there are many videos on YouTube that cover features, hidden stuff, and talk about ways you can use the phone. When I read or see something, I then research if the feature really is as good as the person(s) say it is. So far, yes. 

What about the camera?

Well, all of the photos on this post are from the phone. No adjustments, just as they came straight out of the camera. These have been shrunk down a bit, but THIS Smugmug Gallery has the originals. Some of the photos might not look all that good to you, but I was impressed. All of the above ones and most of the remaining were shot in the evening with a heavy overcast sky. I took no great care in framing and shooting (I didn’t have my glasses) and I’ve not set the camera app yet. It’s doing everything on its own. 

One thing to note with the foliage . . . those plants are under overhangs. They are in the dark. The camera “saw” a lot more than I could see with my eyes. 

Yes, some are soft . . . but some are amazing.

This next shot? It’s evening and while not dark yet, getting there (sorry, Dylan)  . . . but you’d never know it.

The background of that tree was in the dark. Now, you probably don’t always want that, but the low-light capability of this camera is surprising. It has a 12 MB, dual-lens camera. 

Again, I’ve not processed these. I also had the phone close to some of the subjects and didn’t know how to switch the focus around, so some of the stuff that is in focus is not what I was interested in. 

It also handled the difficult dynamic range of a sunset pretty well . . . 

It’s not too shabby with macros-type shots. 

Now, all of these were taken with the default camera. I normally use Open Camera for most of my shots because it gives me the best results . . . well, not so much here. 

Here’s Open Camera’s version of a low-light shot . . . 

. . . it’s not bad and some will prefer it, but here’s the default camera version . . . 

Another Open Camera shot . . . 

. . . and default camera (not exactly the same angle) . . . 

Now, those were taken at different times, but still, the colors are almost dead-on. In fairness to Open Camera, I did not do the full set-up I usually do, but still. 

These next photos were all taken today (a rainy day) . . . 

At the Magic Sands beach (which went away because of high surf) . . . 

I also shot video which is another thing to see in comparison to the Nikon P900 (future posts). 

More wet foliage . . . 

Again, I did not control the focus, so the flower is not in perfect focus.

Here’s a photo of the pool for the next building over . . . 

I look forward to play some more with the camera and see what it can do in various conditions, but so far I’m pleased. And yes, the stylus (S-pen) is also a big improvement from the Note II (which was already good). 

Last but not least, I downloaded a coloring app for when I’m waiting for stuff. These are my first two efforts . . . 

Here’s the gallery of all the photos plus a few more. 

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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