Saturday, November 24, 2012

Updating the Fujitsu Arrows Tab to ICS


I've now updated both the NTT Docomo LTE version (F-01D) and the Wifi-only version (FAR7). As far as I can tell, there is nothing but goodness that comes with this. Mobile Chrome has grown far beyond the default Android browser but requires version 4 (ICS) or higher. Google Maps was previously very unstable, often force quitting. In the short time after updating, I've tried but been unable to crash it (yet). Zooming, rotating, displaying multiple layers all work much better than before.

Best of all, the ability to disable system apps has not been removed by either Fujitsu or Docomo! Finally, I don't have to stare out a bunch of useless installers for crap I'd never use!


There are two methods for updating:
  • Either download the update package via a PC and copy to the internal or SD card storage
OR
  • Do it all over wifi from the tablet.
Since I was updating two of these, I did both. For the Docomo F-01D, I first downloaded the update package. For the Wifi-only FAR7, I did it all from the tablet. Each of these require downloading a an updater app (apk).

F-01D

  • Confirm that you have at least 1.5 GB free on either the internal memory or SD card
  • Use the default android browser and visit the Fujitsu site at:
http://spf.fmworld.net/fujitsu/c/update/nttdocomo/f-01d/update1/top/index.html
(NOTE: that if you visit this site from a PC, you'll only be able to download the update package, not the android app that actually performs the update.)

  • Click the 「OSバージョンアップデートダウンロードページへ」button, then on the next page, scroll down to the bottom and click agree 「同意する」after which the updater apk will be automatically downloaded. First install, then run the updater app, making sure you have 1) 50% battery (at least) and 2) enabled sideloading of applications.
  • Follow the directions and make sure you keep the tablet on a power source.
Engrish. I was presented with this because I pre downloaded the update package.

See below for a screenshot of the same in Japanese.





Wifi-only FAR7

This one can be updated with less trouble because the updater app can be downloaded from a PC and installed on the tablet from this link:

http://www.fmworld.net/arrows/wifi/support/download/software/

Scroll down and select  the link to download the apk, and if you have adb enabled, install it with the command, adb install FAR7_SWUpdater04.apk. From there, the process is the same. Note that you can also download the update package in advance and copy that over, but that is more hassle.



The wifi version has often had these errors with android.process.media. I guess at some point I need to look into that because it's obviously not yet fixed.


Monday, November 19, 2012

b-mobile 3G Nano SIMs for the iPhone 5

The b-mobile Smartphone Voice SIMs now have nano SIMs. From 3 pm today, they'll be available for purchase online from JCI. I'll update this post with the link once it goes live. However, these SIMs are 3G FOMA SIMs and, even if a fix for Docomo LTE on the iPhone 5 is found, these SIMs will not provide LTE access. Ever.

There was of course a video that came out showing that Docomo's LTE network (Xi) can be made to work with an iPhone 5, but none of our readers have been able to recreate with success. All of them are still stuck with a 3G connection.

The price and terms are the same: ¥3,150 activation fee, 3-month minimum commitment
  1. Voice Plan
    • S: ¥1,290 for 32.5 min (¥21/30s per additional minute)
    • M: ¥2,290 for 75 min (¥18.9/30s additional)
    • L: ¥3,710 for ~357 min (¥14.7/30s additional)
  2. Data Plan
    • U200: ¥1,690 (200 kbps)
    • 2GB Flat Rate: ¥2,990 (best effort)
  3. Nano, micro, normal SIM size
Keep in mind that you're not out a whole lot if you get this SIM now, and an LTE version comes out some time later because you only need to use the SIM for 3-months to avoid a ¥5,250 early termination fee. You would need to pay a new fee for another SIM card, though.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NTT Docomo's "Hanashite Honyaku" machine translation app

EDIT: this was posted in a hurry. Here's the market link to the app called はなして翻訳


We've been waiting to get our hands on this for a while. A full review will be coming later, but, suffice it to say, this machine translation app works surprisingly well. Granted, expectations were low from the start. It does fine with the easy basic stuff that you might encounter trying to give directions on the street.

The above image shows me speaking in Japanese, saying 「このアプリは私の変な日本語を理解できるのでしょうか?」。This was one of the first things I said to it, and was absolutely shocked that it got it right - That is exactly what I said in Japanese. It's definitely hit and miss though. I've had about the same results speaking to it in both Japanese and English.

So I decided to throw something a little more difficult at it: some classics from the Japanese comedy duo The Rahmens. Totally crashed and burned but certainly get an "E" for effort.


  • 寿司は下駄に載せて出されます。
    Sushi ha geta ni nosete dasaremasu.
    Sushi is served on geta.
    主人は実家に助け出されます。
    shujin ha jikka ni tasuke dasaremasu.
    The master is saved by the parent's house.
  • 消毒したものを使用していますので、安心して寿司を食べられます。
    shoudoku shita mono wo shiyou shitemasunode, anshin shite sushi wo taberaremasu.
    Disinfected geta are used so you can relax and enjoy the sushi.
    承諾したものを使用していますので、安心して寿司を調べられます。
    shoudaku shita mono wo shiyou shitemasunode, anshin shite sushi wo shiraberaremasu.
    Because I use the thing which I consented to, it is checked in place.
  • これをそのままはいて帰る人も居ます。
    kore wo sonomama haite kaeru hito mo imasu.
    Some people just wear them home.
    これをそのまま入れ替える人がいます。
    kore wo sonomama irekaeru hito ga imasu.
    There is the person who just replaces this.
  • 多くの日本人の足から酢の臭いがするのは、このためです。
    ooku no nihonjin no ashi kara su no nioi ga suru no ha, kono tame desu.
    多くの日本人らしから常に変化しなかったためです。
    ooku no nihonjin rashi kara tuneni henka shinakatta tame desu.
    This is because much Japanese rashikara did not always change.

Here's the audio transcript (no video, just audio). There's a bonus from the "ShimBASH" video at the end.

video




If you want to try this out, it is free for docomo subscribers who:
  1. You are a Docomo user with an active data plan.
  2. Connected with FOMA 3G or Xi LTE - NO WIFI CONNECTIONS.
I am told the app won't even appear in the market unless you have a Docomo SIM card. If wifi is turned on and connected, the app with tell you to shut off wifi before proceeding (with a "confirmation" button). So Sorry, no SBM and KDDI freeloaders! The requirement for an active mobile data connection to the online voice recognition and translation servers is a brilliant move by Docomo. If you're a Japanese person who wants to use it overseas, you have to pony up for international roaming. How's that for shrewd?

Friday, November 16, 2012

本当にドコモのベースバンド(radio.img)で上書きする必要はあるのか?

Editors Note: See below for English.

ドコモ版Galaxy Nexus(SC-04D)がJB4.1にアップデートされたタイミングで手元のデバイスをJB 4.2 (JOP40C)にアップデートしました。

Factory Images "takju" for Galaxy Nexus "maguro" (GSM/HSPA+) (with Google Wallet)

このROMに含まれていたradio.imgのベースバンドはi9250XXLH1で、いつもはflash_all.shでアップデートすることはなくベースバンドはドコモバージョンを残しておくか上書きするのですが、今回はせっかくなのでグローバル版のベースバンドとドコモ版のベースバンドの通信状況を比較してみました。

試しに焼いてみたのは下記radio.img。
  • 2012.06.10: SC04DOMLE3 radio.
  • 2012.11.13: JRO03C.SC04DOMLK2 build. (yakjusc, ドコモ版)
  • 2012.11.13: i9250XXLH1 radio. (takju, アメリカ版, 下のスクリーンショット)
これらを各々インストールした後、通信状況やスピードなどをドコモのFOMA SIMで試してみたのですが、有意な差はありませんでした。(n=2)
なので結論からいうと、気にせず最新のブートローダやradio.imgを焼いても問題がなさそうです。これで迷うことなくROM焼きができますね。





Comparing Galaxy Nexus radio (baseband) between docomo vs global


I have 2 Samsung Galaxy Nexus handsets, and I compared the radio baseband version of those two after updating on the same day. I always leave the docomo radio because I assumed the baseband that the carrier releases includes better support for local radio frequencies or optimized for bandwidth / speed / packet size.

But after comparing, I couldn't find a significant difference between the following basebands:
  •  2012.06.10: SC04DOMLE3 radio.
  •  2012.11.13: JRO03C.SC04DOMLK2 build. (yakjusc, docomo version)
  •  2012.11.13: i9250XXLH1 radio. (takju, US version, screenshot above)
Conclusion :  Flash newer img bundle with stock Google factory ROM.

KDDI has better Band 1 LTE coverage in Tokyo than Softbank

Via Ishikawa Tsutsumu's twitter.
According to data put together by NTT Docomo, to show how much ahead they are with Band 1 (2100 MHz) LTE deployment, KDDI actually has a larger number of base stations in the 23 Ward area of Tokyo than Softbank. It is of course no surprise that Xi would have the largest number of stations, since Docomo was the first to deploy LTE.

Band 1 is the main band in Japan and the frequency that the iPhone supports.

KDDI is actually in a very good position to cover Tokyo for phones that support 800 MHz LTE, which I assume KDDI will be releasing in the future. This will provide great coverage below ground.

NTT Docomo smartphone trade in program


Following Softbank Mobile, NTT Docomo will also begin a trade-in program for old phones. Only relatively newer phones are eligible. The oldest Samsung phone is the Galaxy S, and the oldest Xperia is the Acro. Several feature phones are also included.

See the Docomo site for the full list of phones. NTT Docomo will credit up to ¥5,250 when upgrading to a new phone.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

iPhone LTE data with a Docomo nano SIM


Via commenter Willy comes a post purporting to have LTE data working on an iPhone using Docomo's Xi network. The post is in Japanese, so I'll explain below in English. It seems he:
  1. Started a contract for Xi with a Docomo nanoSiM (aka nanoUIM) with an factory unlocked iPhone.
  2. Turned on data roaming (Not sure why - maybe because DCM is not in carrier.plist?).
  3. Set the APN to open.mopera.net.
  4. Used iTunes to restore the 6.0.1 firmware, downloadable from here:
    http://appldnld.apple.com/iOS6/041-8531.20121101.Fvjr6/iPhone5,2_6.0.1_10A525_Restore.ipsw
His carrier version is 13.0. He confirmed that power cycling the phone, yanking (and replacing) the SIM, and turning off roaming didn't affect the ability to connect to LTE. Turning off automatic carrier selection shuts off data, however.

If this works for a Docomo SIM, it should work for a b-mobile SIM. I don't have any idea why simply restoring the firmware would work. As always, do any of this sort of thing at your own risk!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

B-Mobile visitor SIM airport pickup


JCI's new Airport pickup Service allows Visitor SIMs to received directly from an airport post office. For an additional ¥210 a SIM card can be sent to New Chitose, Narita, Haneda, Chubu, Kansai, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kagoshima, and Naha International Airports. This appears to use Japan Post's Yubinkyoku-dome(郵便局留め)service. A passport is all that is needed for pickup.

A word of warning: Confirm that your flight is scheduled to land during the post office's operating hours! If you flight is delayed or your other wise don't have tim to pick up the SIM before it closes, the package cannot be redirected to your hotel. You'll have to go back and pick it up the following day, which can be quite expensive and time consuming, depending on how far away the airport is located.

This is something that JCI should have done from the beginning. There was originally no differentiation between the standard U300 and Visitor SIMs, other than of course the English support. After prices were increased for the Visitor SIMs, no additional value was added. Airport pickup service now gives people more of a reason to purchase a Visitor SIM.

The extra fee for airport pick up is a bit dubious, though, because the post office doesn't charge any extra for Yubinkyoku-dome.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review of docomo LG L-04D

The docomo L-04D is one of the newer (2012 summer model) "pocket Wi-Fi" solutions to enter the "me too" market that was first pioneered by eMobile in the Japan. Unlike many other devices, this one is LTE. After having used it constantly for a month, I can say that it's definitely a keeper and will be my regular data device for my Nexus 7 — as well as my laptops and Wi-Fi only iPads when I'm on vacation in Wi-Fi less areas.

The actual device comes in either white or red, with a black LED panel lit in blue covering one third of the device. It comes with a Velcro-closing gray pouch with the docomo LTE "Xi" (Crossy) brand on it, allowing you to throw it in your bag without worrying about scratching it. As the pouch is soft, you will still need to worry about pressure from other items in your bag pressing the buttons, though all the buttons require them to be depressed for more than two seconds for them to do anything.

The back thin lid can be pried off to insert the miniUIM (aka "micro SIM") – that is located underneath the battery – by prying the clipon back from the microUSB port. You will need long nails and a little bit of strength and practice to open it up. The IMEI, serial number, factory default SSID (which will be in the form "L04D_XXXXXXXX" where X is a hexadecimal digit, and factory default WPA security key (another different eight digit hex string) are printed.

The actual device is SIM-locked, and will only take SIMs that MNC and MCC set to "Japan" (440) and "docomo" (10), respectively. I do not know if there is an official (or unofficial way) to unlock the device. Furthermore, when the device is in Japan, you cannot select the carrier APN; it is locked to Docomo's data "moperaU" based network. When you are overseas, however, you can select the network provider.

The battery is changeable, and it uses a smartphone-use 1650mAh "L17" battery, which is used by another LG pocket Wi-Fi (the L-03D device that plugs into your USB port) device. The spec sheet says you should be able to get 4 hours of continuous use on LTE, five hours on 3G, and I've used the device hard with a tablet, and I can confirm that I'm hitting that number doing moderately heavy web activity — downloads but no video streaming. The specs claim 160 hours of idle time, but I didn't test this, and it's unlikely you'd ever hit this due to the default auto-idle power off of wifi and the fact that most devices these days are always doing some sort of minimal network activity in the background.

When the device is operating, either in 3G or LTE mode, the whole device will get very warm. In winter it could double as a hand-warmer, especially with the felt pouch.

The microUSB 2.0 port serves three functions:
  1. charging, either while off or while operating
  2. providing a read-only mass-storage USB drive to provide a tethering/"modem" driver for Windows. A driver is not needed for MacOS.
  3. providing tethering/wired internet capability for Windows OS, which is used to access Japanese-carrier mail (@mopera.net)
It will behave as a proper USB device and identify itself to the computer with a "LG Electronic, Inc." major/minor ID of 1004:6329. It does not need the USB to have its data pins active or shorted (in other words, all USB chargers should work), and it only needs the minimum amount of current provided by USB (500mA) and can charge and operate at the same time; you do not need a high-current USB charger for it. A charger is not included with the purchase of the device. The other minor purpose the USB port serves is that it's opening hole serves as the leverage point for prying the rear cover off.

I did not test the Windows driver or its tethering capability or mail capability, but there are instructions for setting up the virtual dialing on both Windows and Mac (sorry, no Linux) to access the carrier mail.

It's at thin as a modern smartphone (12.9mm) and much lighter (89g), and has exactly three buttons:
  • a power button, which powers the unit on or off after holding it for 3 seconds. It will also "wake" the device if you've set the power savings mode (set to on by default) if you press it momentarily, and even when awake it will light the LED screen showing the status of the device for about 15 seconds.
  • a Wi-Fi on/off button, which turns the access point on/off if held for 3 seconds while leaving the cell radio unchanged. The Wi-Fi defaults to turning off to save battery automatically after 10 minutes on inactivity. The timeout can be changed in the settings, including disabled.
  • a WPS button. When pressed for three seconds, the device will enter "push button WPS" mode, which allows a Nexus 7 (or other Jellybean device) or anything else that supports WPS to negotiate, within a 2 minute window, the SSID and the password for the device. This is pretty handy, as although you can change the SSID of the device, you cannot change the hard to remember password, which is a 8 letter hexadecimal sequence. The Jellybean-based Nexus 7's WPS function works like a charm here. The extra security concious may change from push-button 2 minute window based WPS to PIN code based WPS through the settings, or disable it completely.
The LTE speed in Japan is very good; I was routinely getting over 80% of the 75Mbps downstream and 25Mbps upstream speeds. In the 23 wards of Tokyo, I did not notice it going into 3G mode for any serious periods of time. Cell negotiation is pretty fast, so if you're underground in the Metro and signal isn't available in the tunnels, you can get about 25 seconds of usage per station between cell handshake completion and loss of signal. I tested it overseas in the San Francisco area; it wanted to connect to either AT&T or T-Mobile, and connected at 3G speeds. In South Korea, it connected to SK.

The Wi-Fi access point does 11b/g/n (you can force it to 11b only, 11b/g, 11g only, or 11n only), but Japanese style, which means 2.4Ghz only (5Ghz is not permitted for use outdoors for 11n or 11a in Japan). You cannot select channel 14 for 802.11b. Japan mode gives you 13 channels, but there is also a U.S. mode (11 channels) as well as a mode for Korea and Canada. You can force it to use a particular channel but the default auto mode will do its best to pick the least congested frequency range. The default encryption is WPA2/PSK/AES256 but you can set it to weaker protocols for devices such as the Nintendo DSi. The DHCP server gives out 192.168.2.0/24 addresses by default, and allows a maximum of ten (10) simultaneous connections. It supports IPv4 only. UPnP support can be enabled. WAN ping is disabled by default. Like most consumer routers, the IP address range, the default address, etc., can all be changed in the web configuration.

The status screen is mostly icons, but with some Japanese. The most interesting things on the screen for most people will be:
  • whether you're connected to a cell yet, if it's 3G or LTE, and the signal strength
  • how many clients/devices/laptops are currently connected to the device
  • the battery life left
  • the amount of data you've sent/received. This odometer resets every month. While the recommended data plan is unlimited, you can look at this and tell if something is weird with your consumption. You can also set a hard cap via the web Connection Manager.
When connected overseas, the carrier is displayed in a plain font. When connected domestically to docomo, you get a graphical brand rendition of the carrier docomo.
One Wi-Fi client connected
shutdown screen; a couple seconds
boot screen; lasts a few seconds
finished booting, trying to find cell
Connected to cell with 0 Wi-Fi connections
power off and charging
Connection Manager in English on Chrome
The web "L-04D Connection Manager" defaults to address 192.168.2.1 with a hard-coded username of "Admin" and a preset password of "0000". The device is pretty much plug & play, in that most people, especially with WPS, will never need to use the web configuration to make it work. One exception is if you go overseas with it; you will need to confirm the carrier/APN the first time you use it with Docomo's WorldWing overseas pake-hōdai plan. The web interface allows for English or Japanese.  It is PIN protected and defaults to "0000", which can and should be changed through the settings. You cannot change the Wi-Fi password, however. The manager is written in non-complex CGI-ish HTML with some Javascript but nothing at AJAX level and seems to work just fine on simple devices like Flash-less mobile touch screen devices as well as minor browsers such as Opera. The web connection manager controls receiving over-the-air firmware updates for bug fixes, etc. The default setting is to check for a new update every time the Connection Manager is used.

If you've ever used a consumer Wi-Fi router, most of the (non-advanced) features and functionality you expect will be in this interface, including an extremely primitive firewall, MAC address restrictions, etc. 99% of L-04D customers will never need to touch this stuff to make the device useful.

In conclusion, the L-04D delivers what it claims to do, and pretty much stays out of sight / out-of-mind, which is exactly what it's supposed to do. I can now travel to work, with the access point hidden in my bag, using my Nexus 7 to read the news and surf the net while I travel in and out of midtown for work. The performance is as good as it gets speed wise for Japanese LTE, even during peak periods (rush hour). Overseas the performance was not as nearly as fast (3G), but the speed was more than adequate. While I only tested in the 23 wards of Tokyo, I received a LTE signal over a 3G signal 95% of the time (I can force a 3G signal by going underground in my home). If a pocket Wi-Fi device at LTE speeds is what you're looking for, you could do far worse than the L-04D.