Akom's Tech Ruminations

Various tech outbursts - code and solutions to practical problems

Code and Hacks Blackberry suddenly missing Browser Service Books

Posted by Akom • Friday, December 26. 2008 • Category: Code and Hacks

I have an Enterprise Activated Blackberry 8830 (World) which has worked just fine for over a year. I recently installed Opera Mini (which works great for most things), but some time after that I noticed that the built-in Browser no longer works and produces the following error message:

Your device does not currently have any Browser Configuration Service Book Entries.
Please contact your service provider to enable the Browser on your device

Took me some time to sift through the various responses on forums and various advice. In the end, it appears that they all boil down to two possible solutions (assuming that your blackberry browser should/did work at all, as in you have a data plan, etc, etc):

  • Send Service Books
    1. Click your internet email icon (the envelope with a gear in front of it)
    2. Log in to your BIS account, as needed (yes even if you are on a BES). Create one if you've never done this before
    3. click service books
    4. Click send service books
  • Register Device
    1. Click options
    2. Click advanced options
    3. Scroll down and click host routing table
    4. Press menu key
    5. Choose register now
    6. You can now exit. You should receive an happy email shortly

As for me, the first one did the trick. The second one (including resetting device) did nothing.


If your Browser and/or Email Setup icons are missing, try this:

  1. Go to the verizon BIS site with your desktop browser
  2. Log in or create account
  3. Go to help->Send Service Books (Seriously, it's hidden in the help menu!)
  4. You'll get activation emails on your device
  5. Pull the battery and it should be fine after a reboot
  6. NOTE: my blackberry stopped receiving mail after this - and after logging back into the BIS account I was asked to set up my blackberry from scratch. Never fear - just click the newly restored Email Setup on your blackberry and you'll see what to do, and voila - everything is back to normal, even the online account

Hardware Hacks Fixing Sensitive Button on Motorola HS850 bluetooth handsfree headset

Posted by Akom • Monday, December 22. 2008 • Category: Hardware Hacks

The Motorola HS850 was a very popular bluetooth headset in its day. A lot of people seem to complain that their HS850's gradually develop one of the following symptoms:

  • Dials/hangs up, randomly
  • Redials on its own, randomly
  • Hangs up or dials at the slightest touch or handling of the unit

This is what is most likely causing the problem:

Continue reading "Fixing Sensitive Button on Motorola HS850 bluetooth handsfree headset"

Hardware Hacks Replacing Garmin C330 Li-Ion battery on the cheap (with whatever is onhand)

Posted by Akom • Sunday, December 21. 2008 • Category: Hardware Hacks

I have a hand-me-down Garmin C330, the el-cheapo, no-text-to-speech teletubby-looking GPS unit that every online store was liquidating a few months ago. Mine also has a dead battery, and while it used to run for 1-2 minutes on it, now it barely runs 5 seconds. I can live with that, after all - you generally use it while plugged in, but it is oh-so-handy to be able to hand it to the passenger for co-pilot... co-piloting.

So, I had to do something...

Continue reading "Replacing Garmin C330 Li-Ion battery on the cheap (with whatever is onhand)"

Hardware Hacks Toys Not all that is hackable should be...

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, December 2. 2008 • Category: Hardware Hacks, Toys

Last week I hacked up my RC transmitter and added a Dual Rate switch

Dual Rate switch

See here: (How I hacked it up).

I thought I was so cool for adding two wires, one toggle switch and two drops of solder to an RTF transmitter (oh and a nice hole too). Well, everything worked great on the ground, but once I actually flew the plane, not all was well - the control range dropped to about 60 feet!. I didn't connect the dots at first and thought it was a broken antenna wire or something, or a new flying site (coincidence). Nope.

Apparently, adding two thick wires radomly into a complex circuit and placing them along the perimeter of the case can have some unexpected results. I took the wiring and the switch out, and all is well again, control range is longer than sanity permits me to test (plane is a dot in the distant sky, but still seems to be controllable).

Continue reading "Not all that is hackable should be..."

Hardware Hacks Toys Hacking up RTF RC Transmitter with a Dual Rate switch

Posted by Akom • Monday, November 24. 2008 • Category: Hardware Hacks, Toys

I can't say that I have a good reason for doing this, other than the potential for letting inexperienced family members fly my plane, but I thought this should be easy enough to do:

RTF Radio with DR Switch

The RTF transmitter that came with my Pitts S2A has a bunch of dip switches, which are not so quick to flip on the fly - and I've played with friends' real professional transmitters - and they have what seems to be useful toggle switches to control this stuff. So I figured I'm gonna pretend that I'm cool too.

The transmitter turned out to be very neatly designed, and finding the switch and soldering a pair of wires was surprisingly easy. Moreover, the cute silver pads on the top corners of the transmitter are actually silver stickers, covering up pre-drilled holes intended specifically for what I'm putting in there - a toggle switch.

Continue reading "Hacking up RTF RC Transmitter with a Dual Rate switch"

Reviews The Mystery B6 balancing LiPo/LiFE/NiCd/NiMh/Pb charger (review, sort of)

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, October 21. 2008 • Category: Reviews
The Mystery B6

I got this charger because the little unit that was included with my R/C plane just did not inspire a lot of confidence. It did charge, just took hours, and gave no hints about why. So I figured I'd go and buy something that gives me a little more information. And I found it. In Hong Kong. But now it's on my desk.

For being able to charge anything, the $50 and two weeks of waiting simply doesn't seem excessive.

As far as I can tell, the Mystery B6 gets a fair amount of negative commentary on the forums. People seem to question its voltage precision and balancing accuracy. So I thought I'd run a very simple test.

Continue reading "The Mystery B6 balancing LiPo/LiFE/NiCd/NiMh/Pb charger (review, sort of)"

Toys On Wheels, Thrust Vectors, and Gorilla Glue

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, October 21. 2008 • Category: Toys
New Wheels next to old wheels

I upgraded the wheels on the Pitts plane, and what a difference it makes. I never thought it could land (and sometimes even take-off) on grass! (Well, short grass, anyway). I don't nose in every landing now. Just got those 2.50" Sport wheels from the hobby store. The stock wheels are just way too small. I did need to cut the wheel pants slightly to fit them, but I think it is cute the way they stick out. And as you may have noticed, the Fiji bottlenose got a paint job.

Now about those thrust vectors...

Continue reading "On Wheels, Thrust Vectors, and Gorilla Glue"

Toys Pitts S2A third video flight, straight and level

Posted by Akom • Wednesday, October 15. 2008 • Category: Toys

I did it! I flew straight and level. Video is available.

Since the side of the fuselage seems to be the best place for the 215g that is the camcorder, I needed 200+ grams on the other side... or less all the way at the tip of the wing? Then it hit me... I have two lipo batteries, about 100g each. And that is how the balanced Fiji Bottlenose was born.

Balanced Payload

In addition to balancing the plane correctly, I finally got to cleaning the camcorder lens, which helped a bit with the sunspots and artifacts. I also covered the microphone with a bit of soft grey packing foam to act as a windsock - and the sound is no longer clipping from the airstream.

The details...

Continue reading "Pitts S2A third video flight, straight and level"

Toys Pitts S2A second on-board video flight

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, October 14. 2008 • Category: Toys

This morning I thought I'd test my luck a little more, and mount the camcorder (Panasonic SDR-S10 at 220 grams) on the side of the fuselage. Visually, it just seems safer there - in a crash I expect the wings to protect it. On the downside, it unbalances the craft a lot - 635g plane with 220g of now unbalanced payload! But I did it anyway.

Camcorder on the side

See the video...

Continue reading "Pitts S2A second on-board video flight"

Toys Pitts S2A Bottlenose motor mount rebuild

Posted by Akom • Monday, October 13. 2008 • Category: Toys

I didn't see this coming - hesitated in my landing approach, caught a gust of wind, clipped a cute little pine tree - and dove straight down 15 feet, carefully missing the soft lawn and hitting the packed dirt road. Front end demolished - engine cowl and engine mount are in pieces, fuselage cracked. The prop saver may have helped the motor survive this adventure.

New Engine Mount (mount cross is inside bottle)

I tried to find suppliers for these parts (again), but nothing turned up. Other than buying a whole new plane, I don't see a way of getting a new motor mount (that seems a little silly, no?). The fuselage is easy, Gorilla glue got that back together in an hour or two. (In fact, I've already glued the fuse with it once, and that weld did not break).

But the mount?

Continue reading "Pitts S2A Bottlenose motor mount rebuild"

Toys First Video Flight!

Posted by Akom • Sunday, October 12. 2008 • Category: Toys

I've been thinking about aerial photography for some time, and I've worked out exactly what equipment I'd get too, but for now I'm not allowing any funds for this expenditure. I figured that AP is way in my future, but this morning I just decided - what the heck. FPV (First Person Video) may not happen right now, but at least I can record the flight and watch it later. So I went and weighed my SD camcorder... Panasonic SDR-S10. 220g or so - not too bad (My ultra-compact Optio S550 is 270g, and that's only a still camera!!!). The plane is 635g with battery. Hmmm...

Continue reading "First Video Flight!"

Code and Hacks Blackberry Pearl Causes Windows XP to freak out with USB Device Not Recognized

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, October 7. 2008 • Category: Code and Hacks

This was annoying. Whenever the blackberry was plugged in (USB), windows would ding and show a baloon saying "USB Device not recognized", and this would continue forever, repeating about every 10 seconds! Clicking the baloon would show you the USB device tree, with a very helpful "Unknown Device" shown in bold. It took some time to figure out that it's happening only when the BB is connected. It sort of seemed as if someone is rapidly connecting/disconnecting the USB cable.

Well? Turns out that this is sort of what was happening. It was a bad cable. OK, perhaps not a bad cable, but one that the blackberry didn't like. And, unlike what some people suggested, having it plugged in through a hub is not the culprit. Interestingly, the cable that was malfunctioning was heavy duty, with ferrites. The cable that works is thin and flimsy.

Code and Hacks Firefox 3 Uber SSL Security madness for Self-Signed Certificates

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, October 7. 2008 • Category: Code and Hacks

Or the infamous "Or you can add an exception" thing.

Apparently since Firefox 3, if you stumble on a site with an invalid SSL certificate, be it expired, self-signed, or bad in any other way, you are greeted (as before) with a warning. Only this warning requires 8 steps to bypass, not all of which are intuitive to the normal power user. Moreover, in my experience, Firefox will prompt you again and again once your restart it, despite the fact that you checked "Permanently store this exception". And why do I need to "download" the certificate anyway? The browser must have already retrieved it by now since it's warning me about it.

I actually considered downgrading to Firefox 2... but I found a solution.
Here is what you do:

Continue reading "Firefox 3 Uber SSL Security madness for Self-Signed Certificates"

Toys Sapac Pitts S2A electricals and motor replacement

Posted by Akom • Monday, October 6. 2008 • Category: Toys

I killed the motor. Apparently ramming into pavement at full throttle (don't ask. From now on, when something goes wrong on takeoff, I abort) is not such a good thing for a long thin shaft and a firmly bolted prop. A few flights later, the motor died and started singing instead of spinning. One of the windings seemed to be busted (based on measuring voltage with a drill).

Measuring Current

Anyhow, I did some measurements when it was all good, and here are some specs: With the stock Sapac 2830 motor and the 3-blade 9x8 prop, the battery put out as much as 12.5A at full load (my measurement, massive analog meter). The battery is 10C, 1200mAh, meaning that 12.5A is about as much as you could ever expect it to put out, in other words - running dangerously high. I also got a 10C 1800mAh battery and the plane had noticeably better thrust (haven't measured the current), so it actually did want more than 12A!

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Code and Hacks Old Hard Drive, New Motherboard and the Windows Stop 0x0000007B error

Posted by Akom • Saturday, September 27. 2008 • Category: Code and Hacks

My old motherboard finally died, so I managed to free up another one and threw it in. This is one of my very few windows machines, dual boot Win2K/XP. Neither one worked with the new motherboard - 2K gave me a very nice bluescreen with the infamouse Stop 0x0000007B error, while XP simply quietly rebooted.

The old board was the wonderful (back in 2001) Gigabyte 7VRXP (1.1) sporting an Athlon XP-1800+. The "new" board is a NVidia based A7N8X-VM, complete with an Athlon XP-2000+.
I managed to downgrade my server to an Intel Atom low power setup (see separate post), so this one was available, moreover - it has n AGP 8X slot and the old board - only 4x. Yes I know this is ancient hardware, but I have no interest in spending hundreds on all new hardware when all I want is something to run Nero and Realflight. (And occasionally, Blackberry JDE).


Continue reading "Old Hard Drive, New Motherboard and the Windows Stop 0x0000007B error "