Random Hacks of Kindness

Things I hack to make stuff better

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This project serves as my catch all for the random hacks and mods which are too small to merit their own project, but should be documented somewhere.

Quite often I find myself hacking some electronics device because I'm unhappy with its off the shelf state; i.e. something I knock out on a Friday night with a craft beer. The effort is usually too small to start a project itself, but a standalone log should suffice so this knowledge isn't lost. I cant promise this will be updated often, that all logs will be entirely hardware (it may just be grabbing a shell and modifying hidden settings), but at the very least when I roll a side project on the weekend, I'll document what I did and hopefully that knowledge helps someone else make their shit better. If you're interested in this one off kinda thing, DM me and I'll add you to the project. Requirements: (THRESHOLD) Standalone details to one log entry, lead you by the hand explanation so a novice could repeat, references to what you learned elsewhere so due credit is given (OBJECTIVE) Beverage ABV 5% min and foul language.

  • Wear OS Smartwatch - Uninstall Hidden Bloatware & Performance Boost

    Hyr0n01/27/2019 at 07:49 16 comments


    So I got myself one of the fancy new smart watches, a Fossil Sport. 

    TBH I'm not a watch wearing person, I have no desire for a tiny smartphone on my wrist throughout the day. This is not gonna be a rant or review of the Fossil Sport, but I want you to understand my use case: I run. In the past, running consisted of having this stupid arm pocket strap on my bicep with my phone zipped up in it, then a heart rate monitor strapped to my forearm, and some wireless headphones. I hate it, i hate having stuff on me. However I'm also a data freak who likes tracking all runs run via GPS, watching heart rate, seeing how interval training affects my HR and overall pace performance over time, etc. So here comes a water proof smart watch where I can do all that (GPS, Heart Rate Monitoring), syncs with Google Fit, listen to my music offline, NFC wallet so I can run down to Lassen's for some alcoholic watermelon kombucha, all while leaving my phone behind. PERFECT. That's all I need it for and I've now reduced my "stuff" to just a smartwatch and BLE headphones.

    Well it didn't take long for me to get pissed off about it (I'm never happy...ever). It was laggy at times by 400-600 ms, which is just enough of a delay to make someone like me insane. Then to top if off,  I was messing around with the Wear OS companion app that goes on your phone and I saw this when I looked at the Advanced Settings -> Watch Storage (and scrolled down a bit): 


    The watch had visibly come with no bloatware (from the Wear OS installed apps POV), but there was obviously hidden/disabled Tic/Mobvi, Ali Express Pay, and a bunch of stuff in Chinese which I sure as hell don't need and cant read anyway. Now if you add all that up, its probably less than 100MB. However this is a smart watch which boasts 2GB of storage....which is already eaten up by Wear OS and other apps. In fact with just factory settings you only have about 1GB free. So were back to the early days of Android with smart watches, every byte counts. Because (remember my use case), those precious megabytes equate to roughly a minute of music each I could be listening to while running. I had a bit of motivation, but not much to do anything other than read at this point.

    So I tried googling the interwebs as to WTF this stuff was an why, and you start finding many Reddit posts about most Fossil, Tic/Mobvi, etc watches all having this same crap on them. While I did not see anyone show proof of the "why" (its not lie the OEMs are gonna come out and say it), the crowd sourced consensus was, Fossils manufacturer makes many of the WearOS smartwatches for them and other "competitors" and to simplify configuration management, most watches get the same software load and modifying it with ADB scripts after the fact to enable or disable certain apps. I'm not in China, so all of those Chinese apps are disabled. I don't have a Tic watch, so the Tic apps are disabled. Some people even believe the location service enables them if you show up in China. Who knows. Overall I'm not a big fan of folks on message boards running with theories as fact. I just want to leave those ideas here as being "alright" hypotheses. At the end of the day, Fossil makes the watch and decided to leave it on there, so it's on them for not disclosing the space advertised is taken up by garbage.

    I slowly stopped caring about the disabled apps (which you could not uninstall) until something weird happened. I got a notification on my watch from Tic Health that I was only 50 steps away from my goal. WTF? One of those disabled apps went active (possibly sentient too and is currently contributing to the rise of the machines)

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Mike Szczys wrote 01/28/2019 at 20:57 point

This is a great idea. I need to keep a sketchbook of hacks like this as far too many of mine fall in the trap of me assuming I'll remember what I was doing next time I pick it up.

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Hyr0n wrote 01/28/2019 at 21:50 point

Thx Mike! Yeah, it occoured to me there are many quick and dirty one nighters of hacking which get lost. I mainly see this kinda stuff on Reddit. However, I'm not a fan of message board architecture / layout / etc, especially when it comes to detailing photos, command line, or gerbs. Hopefully I'll have another post going up soon, now it feels like I'm digging in my backlog of things comepleted which are worth sharing.

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