Posts tagged nook tablet

Kudos to Barnes & Noble

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So awhile back, the charging cable for my Nook crapped out. It had a little help- one of the kids dropped the Nook and it hit connector-first. It slowly flaked out from there to the point where it no longer worked.

It was not big deal at the time because the kids inherited a Nook so I used their charging cable. Sadly, that too has expired. Which left us with 2 Nook’s that couldn’t be charged.

Thankfully, both are still under warranty and tonight I happened to be in the area of the closest B&N. I brought the Nooks in to a sales person, who promptly took the serial numbers off of the tab where the micro SD card goes(both Nooks were out of charge so they couldn’t be powered on to get the SN’s), typed them into a computer, hit several more keys and then said “Let me get you 2 new cables.” I waited a couple of seconds and he came back with the cables and handed them to me.

And that was it. Places like B&N get excoriated all the time for what the mess up. I just figured I’d give credit where it’s due when they don’t.

Nook Tablet Update- Part II

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In the previous post on this topic, I went over the new rooting method for the Nook Tablet that involves simply booting an SD card with some special files on it. It was pretty simple stuff, really, and gives the user access to the Android Market for apps.

However, if you were like me and had loaded apps from the Amazon market prior to getting the v1.4.1 update from Barnes and Noble, then you were still hung up. The “unknown sources” hack was still unavailable at this point.

Luckily, there’s an alternative. It’s possible to used the Android Debugging Bridge (adb) to load apps. And as it happens, there’s an app that overrides the unknown sources block, thus allowing for installing apps from Amazon.

First, the Android SDK has to be installed. I’m not going to go over that as it’s documented elsewhere. It’s easy enough to find and do. Once the SDK is installed, make sure any path settings are updated appropriately. Then, it will be time to setup the adb to recognize the nook.

Just to be clear, these instructions are for linux. In particular, I’m using debian linux.

The next step is to update the rules for udev so that certain links are created when the device is plugged in. This is the resource I used to help get it all running. Create a file in /etc/udev/rules.d/ like 20-android.rules and enter the following 3 lines:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb",ATTR{idVendor}=="2080", MODE="0666", OWNER="<user>"
SUBSYSTEM=="usb",ATTR{idVendor}=="2080",ATTR{idProduct}=="0004",SYMLINK+="android_adb"
SUBSYSTEM=="usb",ATTR{idVendor}=="2080",ATTR{idProduct}=="0004",SYMLINK+="android_fastboot"

The first line assigns permissions and the owner to the device. The <user> is a place holder and should be replaced by the user name of whomever is running adb. Without this line, permission errors occur when connecting to the nook. The other 2 lines create symbolic links in the /dev directory that adb uses to connect to an android device.

When done, load the new rules into udev using udevadm or by just restarting the daemon.

Next up, modify, or create, the file ~/.android/adb_usb.ini and add a line that reads simply 0x2080. Alternatively, plug the nook in and type the following command:

$ android update adb

Next, debugging needs to be enabled on the nook. Simply try to install something from Amazon. When asked, choose the “Package Installer” and then proceed to Settings where you’ll get the familiar Unknown Sources checkbox. This time, however, don’t bother. At the bottom of the box is another option labeled Development. Go there and then check off USB Debugging and uncheck Automount.

Now, everything should be ready to connect adb to the nook. Plug the nook in and a little beetle icon should appear in the status bar area of the nook. To make sure the debugger is loaded with all the changes done, execute the following command:

$ adb kill-server && adb start-server && adb devices

There should be output like the following:

* daemon not running. starting it now on port 5037 *
* daemon started successfully *
List of devices attached 
<device id>        device

The <device id> field will be a long number. Congratulations! It’s almost done.

Now to get the app to fix the unknown sources setting. [Here’s][3] the original forum link where the app was originally posted. It’s been updated a few times and the link is towards the end of the first post in the thread. Download that app to your home directory.

Once the file is downloaded, simply type the following command:

$ adb install NTHiddenSettings.apk

It’s done. Now the Amazon Appstore will be available again.

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Nook Tablet Update- Part I

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I finally took the time to root my Nook Tablet today. I’d been keeping an eye on it and the guys at XDA came up with a fairly straightforward process for rooting it that simply involved using a custom SD card and a special APK. From there, I also took the time to get the Android SDK working on my netbook so I could ultimately re-enable sideloading of apps again, as the root process doesn’t re-enable that functionality yet.

Here’s the link to the process for rooting the NT using an SD card. I used a 4GB card. The initial post contains 90% of the instructions assuming you know hot to reformat memory cards and the like. The final piece to the puzzle for me was what to do after creating and booting the SD card.

Theoretically, it should be possible to perform all of the formatting steps with the card in the NT, especially if done from an attached Linux computer. That said, I used a microSD card adapter and performed all the operations right on my netbook. Essentially, the card becomes a custom boot loader and can run any program a developer wants. In this case it starts a program called ClockWorkMod. CWM presents a bunch of actions to take, from simply rebooting the device to installing things from zip files. For navigational purposes, the ‘n’ button on the NT selects the action while the volume keys are used to move up and down through the list of options. Clever.

Assuming the Gapps_and_root.zip file is located on the internal SD card of the NT, select the install zip from internal sd option, then navigate to wherever the file is. In my case, I stashed it in media/mnt as the instructions advised. If the file is on the external SD card, then use the install zip from
SD card
option to select the file. The program will then request confirmation along with a warning that you could potentially be zooting the NT. All I can say is it didn’t zoot mine.

After rebooting, well, there won’t be much obvious difference. Mainly, the Android Market app will be installed and it will now be possible to install applications from there. But stuff from the Amazon market will still not work. To get that working, it’s necessary to install another application using the adb.

And to do that, adb has to be able to find and recognize the NT and in order to to that, the NT has to be put in debugging mode. Oh, did I mention udev? But it’s late, meaning that will be a topic for one of tomorrow’s posts.

Nook Tablet Hacking News

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Good news on the Nook Tablet front: the bootloader has been successfully bypassed and it’s now possible to load recovery software as well as an early version of the Android 4.0. For that matter, it’s now possible to boot an image from the SD card, which seems the best of all worlds.

While on the subject, I can say the Nook has become my goto device for consumption. I use it to check email using K-9 (which I sideloaded before B&N whacked my ability to do so- I didn’t care for the stock email client), Pulse to read blogs and other various websites, ConnectBot for quick SSH sessions with my server, and CalenGoo for calendar stuff with Google calendar.

None of these were available on the B&N market, BTW. Foolishness on their part, but I’ve beat that drum before and won’t continue to do so here. The point is, the device is very functional when it comes to consuming content, i.e. reading. Pulse, in particular, has been very nice to use and has virtually replaced my browser when it comes to online reading. I’d also highly recommedn K-9 as a mail client. I found the UI easy to navigate and set up but it also offers plenty of customization, if that’s desired, as well as functionality for general mail management.

Oh, I’ve also read some books on it. No complaints there either. Definitely a nice device to have and, based on the going rate, well worth the $250 price tag. Especially with the evolving opportunities to use it to its full potential.

Bad News for B&N

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This is enough to give me cause for concern. Actually, if anything, it will increase the likelihood of me rooting my Nook Tablet. An e-reader without any books to read on it would surely be a waste. All told, I’m not sure what to make of B&N spinning off their Nook business.

On the one hand, it might result in a decision to free up the Nook so that people can modify as they so choose. Or perhaps they’ll concentrate on adding content to the reader by adding a music store similar to iTunes. Additionally, perhaps they’ll add an ESPN3 app or something.

On the other, if they just spin it off and keep things as is, it’s hard to see any additional value in that. In which case, it seems like they’re just hanging it out there where it will ultimately whither on the vine.

I’m really enjoying using my device, it would be a shame to find out I’d picked a pig-in-a-poke. Obviously, we’re not there yet. But it’s something to keep an eye on, that’s for sure.

Nook Tablet Update

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Actually, literally in this case. I’m guessing it happened last night at midnight. I happened to be using it and noticed that my WiFi was down, but couldn’t understand why. So I shut it off and went to bed shortly thereafter. I awoke this morning to a little notification that the update had been completed.

I’d been using it since Christmas and fortunately I’d already sideloaded some apps I was most interested in. I’d intended to root it to prevent just this sort of thing, but my complacency undid me in the end.

For the record, I agree with everyone else saying it’s a bad move. And not just because it affects me personally. It’s a bad business decision because the only content B&N allows out of the box is their own.

The problem with that approach is people with lots of Amazon content, and there are a lot of them, won’t take the plunge if they can’t access their content. B&N isn’t going to convert those people wholesale under any circumstances. The best they can hope for is to entice potential new customers with a better reader product (and the Tablet is a superior hardware device to the Fire) that gives them (the new customer) access to sales they (B&N) otherwise would not get. By not giving those potential customers access to their current content, they completely cut themselves off from that segment of the market. It’s a foolish business decision- they are essentially choosing all of nothing, rather than part of something.

I recall reading a comment by B&N’s CEO stating something to the effect that they wanted people to be able to access their content, but only on terms of B&N’s choosing. The exact wrong mindset for the market. The Tablet is not some single-task piece of hardware. It’s a computer and the expectations people have regarding computers are that it’s theirs and they can do what they want with it, including hacking it. The best opportunity for B&N’s apparent current strategy to work is if they had the infrastructure in place to deliver content on a par with Apple or Amazon and the simple fact is they have only 1 piece. That’s why they paired with Netflix and Pandora. But it won’t be enough.

I intend to continue with my Tablet as is for the moment- it may well be that I’ve installed all the additional apps I need making it as functional as I’d like. But still, the whole business definitely rankles.

Connectbot Is Awesome

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I blogged this from my new Nook Tablet using Connectbot to ssh into my desktop and use my command line blog client, which relies on vi. Yes- I used vi with the Nook Tablet. Seriously, how cool is that?

That said, I won’t be doing it much. Just this short post was an exercise in tedium. The Tablet isn’t made for typing documents. Still, it’s useful enough.

More on that later.

Say what?

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I read [Engadget’s comparison][1] between the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire and that’s what I thought when I read their conclusion that the Fire best the Tablet. Up to that point, they gave the Tablet an edge in form factor, performance, display, reading and specs. The only thing that gave the Fire an edge was Amazon’s cloud services. Even there, with Hulu Plus, Netflix and Pandora the tablet isn’t exactly blown away by the Fire. Despite all that, they prefer the Fire. Again, say what?

For my part, I was in the area and stopped by a Barnes and Noble to checkout the Nook Tablet. The nickel version of my impressions are- I liked it. A lot. Almost bought it on the spot. If it weren’t for my unusual ability to resist technology products (despite my enthusiasm for technology and computers), I probably would’ve brought one home. Then spent the evening trying to justify it to the Wife.

Anyway, if interested, read on after the break for more details.

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