my father came to my house at 11:00 to deliver some food my parents bought yesterday on our flushing chinatown trip. of course i was still asleep at the time (went to bed at 4:00 last night), but got up to open the door.

today was a day of non-stop rain, which washed away the bit of snow that fell last night. not some drizzle, but a daylong deluge, hard cold rain. i heard it pelting the house all day, periodically checking my windows to see if any of the rain had seeped into the house.

all this heavy rain meant i couldn't go outside today. not that i would've gone anywhere except to the supermarket for my weekly food supplies. but i already had food delivered so a market basket run wasn't urgent.

it also got real dark real soon, and i already had the lights on by around 2:30. evening time quickly enough, and at 6:00 i turned on the heat. the nest did something strange though: at the midway point it just stopped at around 65°F when i had it set to 70°F. i didn't notice at first, but when i noticed it was still cold, i went to check the thermostat. the reading on display said it was heating, but the furnace wasn't doing anything. i played around with it a little bit before finally the furnace kicked in again. was it just my imagination? but it seems like this is the third time it's happened on consecutive days. last night when i got back i set it to 60° (it was already 50° inside the house), and like today, it just stopped at the midway point, before playing around with the thermostat got it to work again.

this nest thermostat seems to be giving me more headaches than it's worth. the company's been doing a publicity blitz recently, with tv commercials and print advertisements (e.g. all around south station), but every time i see one of their ads, i feel a little sour. the nest isn't all that great! i'm still debating whether or not i should return mine.

i finally replaced the ROM on my circa 2013 hisense sero 7 pro (M470BSA)1. at the time (just last year!) it was probably the best tablet for the money (just $149) that not too many people knew about because it was a brand2 nobody had ever heard before and only sold at walmart. the specs: 7.0" 1280x800, NVIDIA tegra 3 quad core 1.3Ghz, 1GB/8GB, 5/2M camera, microSD card, NFC, GPS, mini HDMI out, android 4.2. it shares a lot of similar guts with the nexus 7, but at half the price (and with a few extras, like an expandable microSD slot).

this would've been the tablet for anyone looking to hack around with android, except for one thing: hisense never released the kernel source (even though under the agreement of android usage they're supposed to), so without being able to see what's under the hood, it's difficult to create working ROM's for the device. nevertheless, i managed to find a stable ROM based on android 4.4.4 called dopa 2.6.

i had the installation instructions for weeks now, but just never got around to doing it. it was actually pretty painless, first flashing philz touch recovery tool onto the device by using fastboot on a pc (through bootcamp running windows 7 on my macbook pro) via an ADB USB driver. i actually got stuck a little bit because it was missing things like the AdbWinApi.dll, until i realized there were other parts to the fastboot.exe and i had to have all those additional files in the same directory. once i figured that out, it was a cinch getting philz onto the sero. i then made a back up of my ROM before erasing the device and installing dopa 2.6. i also tried installing google apps but it wouldn't install, something about needing to reformat the system partition, and how gapps had to be installed on top of preexisting gapps. finally, i installed a spoof that makes google play thinks i have a nexus 7 instead of a sero 7 pro. with that i rebooted and started up with dopa.

there were a few new things i wanted to try out. i went to the google play store and was able to download all the google apps i needed that i was otherwise trying to install via the gapps. i noticed the goggle camera app was available so i installed and played around with it. photosphere is one of the coolest features. i first saw a demonstration of it back in china, when lihui showed me on his nexus 5 phone.

all the apps i wanted i could download, with a few exceptions. i couldn't find the htc camera app, which i guess you need to have an htc device in order to use. that makes sense. what didn't makes sense was baidu map said my sero wasn't compatible with its app. it couldn't be because of the android version, because i managed to install it on my V975 running 4.2. that one was a weird one, but i managed to extract the apk from my phone and copy-installed it onto the sero without any problems.

i tried the htc re app (that was one htc app i could download). once again, it wasn't able to find the camera via bluetooth. it didn't work on the ipad 2 (iOS 8), it didn't work on the teclast P89 3G tablet (android 4.4), and now it doesn't work with the upgraded sero 7 pro. without the app, the re camera is sort of pointless. i love the physical design of the thing, but if it doesn't work, i may just have to return it.

for lunch and dinner i had some honey duck and bread from flushing chinatown. the duck was very good - a delectable smokiness. the only thing i didn't like was a bit of the fatty skin (would've been amazing if the skin was crispy, a la peking duck style). i finished the last of my vanilla milk (i added the leftover vanilla seed pod shell into a gallon of milk) but i think it must've gone bad because a few hours later i was in the bathroom with existential stomach cramps and a terrible case of diarrhea.

i played around with dopa 2.6 on the sero 7 pro the rest of the night. still bothered that i wasn't able to install the gapps from the installer package, even though in the end it didn't matter because i could install all the google apps manually via the google store. but i decided to re-erase the ROM and reinstall dopa again. i was also curious to find out the difference between a nexus 7 spoof device versus the authentic sero 7 pro. ROM re-installed without any problems, but the gapps still wouldn't install even though i made sure to format the system partition. i gave up at that point and rebooted into the tablet. i didn't apply the nexus 7 spoof this time so the store recognized my device as a sero 7 pro, but i didn't notice any difference, and i still managed to re-install all the apps i wanted. baidu map still didn't work for some strange reason, but i just installed it from an external apk instead, no problem.

dopa 2.6 is essentially the stock android OS 4.4. one thing i didn't like was there 5 pages in the launcher, and you couldn't erase the pages you weren't using (this was the case with the original 4.2 OS that came with the tablet). in the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, missing was the screen capture button found on the original ROM. i don't think i'll miss it, i'd always accidentally hit it and take a photo of the screen. one thing i discovered was no easy option to save things onto the external memory card. for example, photos are saved in the internal memory instead. not sure how the original ROM handled this problem, but on my ZTE V975 phone, all my photos are saved externally. other than being able to install the camera and re apps, i didn't really notice too much difference than before. the dopa 2.6 comes with gravitybox. it didn't work at first, until i figured out i had to update and activate it in the xposed installer app. after a reboot, i could tweak the OS however i wanted via gravitybox.

later i switched the launcher to google go instead of the default android launcher. the problem i ran into was i didn't have a home option in my settings even though i was running 4.4.4. but after i downloaded a different launcher (MIUI emulation), it showed up, giving me the option to pick which launcher i wanted. i tossed the MIUI launcher, erased google go, reinstalled it, and got it to work finally. i like google go's minimalist approach, especially since it will only give me just enough pages for my apps (in my case just one page). i've always been very against google's domination of everything online, how it can target you with advertisement based on your browsing experience. but it seems like a lost cause at this point, and i finally gave myself up completely to the google ecosystem experience. there is something convenient about surfing on my computer, and then going to my tablet or phone and having those same pages opened. as much bad i think google's hegemony is, there are also some good as well.

1 the hisense sero 7 pro has been discontinued. there's currently a sero 8, which is a far inferior tablet in my opinion. it's just a smidgen faster (1.4Ghz), but on all other specs it's just less than the sero 7 pro: 2.0/0.3MP cameras, larger screen but same resolution as the sero 7 pro, missing NFC and GPS. it is however cheaper, at only $129, but new/refurbished sero 7 pro can be found online for less than that amount.

2 hisense is a chinese brand, which i occasionally saw in china in the form of HDTV's.