Wednesday, June 20, 2012 Crashing: The Problem

The solution to process crashing is here. This post explained what I did to get to the solution.

I was out enjoying a warm day in the park. That, I think, was how the problem started.
Basically, my Xperia Mini Pro suddenly gave the error " stopped unexpectedly". It didn't give me much of a choice but to Force Close it. Then it began looping the error. The only way to make it stop was to go into Airplane Mode. Once set, I couldn't get out of Airplane Mode. I had lost all network connectivity.
Since this was a relatively new phone, I tried remembering what I learnt from the LG Optimus One. And the number one culprit on that phone was resource starvation, specifically memory. I had 50MBs of Internal Memory and I could blame the Linked.In app I installed earlier as the villain.  But clearing cache and data to free up to 100MBs didn't solve the problem.
I tried removing my text messages because on the LG, they too used up memory. It was hard because the pop-up message was kicking me out of the Messaging application. There was a long draft message with random characters, probably made when I put the phone in my pocket without turning on the screen lock. After many tries, I managed to tap fast enough to remove it. I rebooted the phone with the same results.
I was in the park which gave me a significant disadvantage. Since I had no network connection, I couldn't get to a PC to look up the error message. So the next thing I could think of was that it was a malicious act, one of those mobile trojans I keep hearing about. I opened Settings and navigated to Manage Applications, looking for the process. I remembered seeing applications like those on the LG. I couldn't find any. I was getting worried. Maybe a malicious program had come in and deleted the file. That would be the equivalent of deleting in Windows, making a statement that the machine had been 0wned (yes, I am that old). I opened the file manager and tried looking for the file. I couldn't find it which made me think that it was true. Then, I did a sanity check. Android is more akin to Linux than Windows. There is a possibility that isn't visible to me since the phone wasn't rooted (yet). So I had to think like I would on a Linux box.
I managed to get to somewhere I could get a WiFi signal. To my surprise, Wi-Fi worked. I could see other SSIDs. Still, no public access where I could get on the net and find a solution. Other Android games and applications worked fine. So the problem was not as wide-affecting as I thought.
A long time ago I learned not to look what a bug is doing but to look at what a bug is or what it is about. While what the bug is doing may give a clue to what it is, we can get too engrossed in fixing what it does than actually fixing the bug. I forgot that for a while. The bug was clearly something about the phone part of Android and not the smart part of it. My attempts to look at the Mobile Networks section under Settings were not successful under Airplane Mode.
Rebooting the phone gave me access to the section but under constant bombardment of the error message. Force Closing would give me a few seconds to navigate in the section before the error message would return and kick me out of it again. In those few seconds, I managed to check the list of APNs available and to my surprise, there was only one called 'wrt' with all sorts of random characters in the setting details. I also discovered that trying to find mobile networks would fail. Finally, I couldn't change any settings in Mobile Networks except to toggle Mobile Data, which made no difference. So, I had a bad list of APNs and the process is having trouble finding networks.

The solution the process crashing.

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