Marshmallow on the Galaxy S5

It’s possible that Samsung are going to update the Galaxy S5 to Marshmallow (Android 6.0) this year, and there was even a leak when someone received an OTA update to a beta version of Android 6.0 on their Galaxy S5 but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting.

If it ever arrives, that update will still come with all the usual Samsung bloat. Some of it is useful but honestly, I could do without it. I managed to get rid of most of that when I used a different TouchWiz based rom but it didn’t leave much free space in the internal memory of the phone.

Then a few days ago came news of a 3 year old Linux kernel bug that puts any machine running vulnerable versions of Linux at risk. That includes millions of Android phones. Most of those phones will never be updated.

With Marshmallow, Google are responding faster with dated “patch levels” so you know when it has been updated but that’s not much good if you’re still on an earlier version of Android or using an older phone that’s unlikely to be updated.

So, with my phone regularly running out of space, the prospect of more Samsung bloat, and a nasty exploit, I decided to go down the Cyanogenmod route once more.

It took about 3 hours to do, and most of that was because of backing up and reconfiguring apps. I had a head start as my phone was already rooted so first I installed Philz Touch Recovery using a handy app called Rashr that I found through this video. I skipped the first 12 minutes where he rooted his phone:

I backed everything up (nandroid, Titanium, SMS etc) and grabbed a nightly build of Cyanogenmod from here and with the help of the install instructions I found the right Google Apps package. Installation after that was a breeze, I just followed the instructions. (Boot into recovery, wipe, flash Cyanogenmod first, then Gapps).

There was one hiccup. I couldn’t get root access, even after enabling it in Developer Options. I had to flash CM and Gapps again.

The phone does feel faster, even with Facebook, Messenger and Google Plus installed now. Unfortunately Greenify isn’t hibernating them as it thinks they’re “working” but Marshmallow has it’s own doze mode that I presume is doing something.

I also have lots of extra space. With nothing else installed I had around 9GB free in the internal memory! Samsung software usually swallows the majority of that.

It’s a good thing I had that space, as Pocket Casts wasn’t behaving properly. I had it backed up so when I restored it I tried to point it at my podcasts directory on the external card. For some reason I had to set the “custom directory” to point at the directory, but then it couldn’t download new podcasts so I moved the files to the internal memory. Several minutes later and 5GB of mp3 files were moved. Luckily, when I checked the settings again, it had an “sd card” option, so I was able to move the files back toe the external card.

I had worried that bluetooth wouldn’t work but it works almost as well as with the Samsung software. Occasionally there’s a click sound, and once it disconnected when I turned on the torch.

When I first turned on the phone I used a new external sd card (just in case), and I was offered the choice of making it behave like internal memory using Marshmallow’s Adaptable Storage feature. I enabled it, but the phone said it would be slow (even though it was a HCI, class 10 card) so I reformatted it as portable storage. I then rebooted and inserted my original card.

I like to read books at night, so I use screen filter to make the screen almost completely dark. I also use Twilight to make the screen more red (Marshmallow has a feature that changes the colour temperature of the screen, but I prefer the look of Twilight). Unfortunately, and I remember this from my previous adventures with Cyanogenmod, the capacitive buttons on my phone light up whenever I touched the screen, not just when I touched the buttons. Also, the charging light would remain on when the screen was on. There’s an option to disable the notification light for app notifications when the screen is on, but not the charging light. Luckily I was able to disable both buttons and charging light in the settings.
The button light is an issue going back years so it’s unlikely to be changed. I think I had to use an Xposed module last time to fix it. :(

The only thing I miss from the original S5 software is the pedometer in Samsung Health, but I’ve been using Google Fit for some time now and that works just as well.

I really love the app permissions in Marshmallow. Unlike earlier versions of Android where you have to grant an app a number of permissions on install, you grant them now when they’re needed (well, except Internet access). When I tried to post a photo to Facebook up popped this message:

Photo by: Donncha O Caoimh (http://inphotos.org)

I still have a nandroid backup of my phone so if I wanted to go back to the Samsung TouchWiz world I can, but I suspect I won’t.

Oh yeah, They’re working on that Linux exploit too. :)

The Swollen River Martin

A few photos of the River Martin in Blarney, swollen after the rains of Storm Frank yesterday. Not pictured are the broken garden fences I haphazardly repaired in torrential rain last night. At least the rain stopped this morning to let me repair the roof of our shed.

Cold tonight with clear spells and light winds over the northern half of the country with temperatures falling to between 0 and 4 degrees with some icy patches. But further south, cloud and winds will increase with rain developing and pushing northwards through the night (falling as sleet or snow in parts of Ulster towards dawn). Winds will be light variable at first then easterly and increase fresh to strong veering southwesterly in southern counties later in the night. (met.ie)

Ever wondered how climate change is going to affect Ireland? This post will be of interest to you.

In Ireland the average air temperature has risen by approximately 0.8°C in the last 100 years, with much of the warming occurring towards the end of the 20thcentury, all seasons are warmer. Some of the impacts can already be seen; the start of the growing season for certain species is now up to 10 days earlier, there has been a decrease in the number of days with frost and increase in the number of warm days (days over 20°C).
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Over the last 30 years or so rainfall amounts have increased by approximately 5%, and there is some evidence of an increase in the number of days with heavy rain in the west and northwest. Climate projections for rainfall have greater uncertainty than for temperature, they indicate that overall rainfall amounts in Ireland might decrease slightly, summers are likely to become drier while winters may be wetter especially in the west and north. There are also indications of an increase in the number of very wet days (days with rainfall >20mm).

These projections, applied to river flows, show an increased risk of winter flooding, an increased risk of short duration ‘flash’ floods and to possible water shortages in summer months due to higher temperatures and lower rainfall. The rise in sea levels will make low lying coastal areas more prone to flooding, especially from storm surges.

It warns that the changes will happen slowly so we’re not going to notice them year-on-year but it doesn’t look good.

I always thought flossing was good for my teeth

This SBM article leads me to question the idea that flossing my teeth helps to prevent dental cavities and gum disease.

It’s more complicated than that.

Done “by professionals” it can reduce dental caries (tooth decay) but if you’re not flossing at least five times a week there’s little benefit to it. Maybe the professionals had a technique the rest of us don’t know, or perhaps they were more diligent about flossing during those trials. Who knows?

To floss, or not to floss? That is the question. Now that you are armed with the evidence, you can make the choice which is best for you. If you want to prevent tooth decay, you should focus on reducing your sugar intake, use a fluoridated toothpaste, and perhaps a fluoride mouth rinse. Whether you decide to floss or not depends on your desired outcome. For a fresh, debris-free mouth, yes, go ahead and floss away. If your desire is to prevent cavities or periodontitis, other methods are more effective.

Many years ago before I started flossing regularly I rushed to the dentist while on holiday with a terrible pain in my mouth. Fearing that a tooth would have to be pulled or cavity filled I sat in the chair, leaned back and the dentist took one look. He grabbed some floss and removed the crumb that had lodged between my teeth. The pain was gone!

So, just like the author of that article, Grant Ritchey, I’ll continue to floss every night. There’s no downside and my mouth feels better for it, even if the science doesn’t fully back me up on this.