Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category
I’ve been experimenting with hacking Android phones recently, either to extend their functionality, or to circumvent mobile phone companies’ annoying blocks.
This post is really just to detail what I did, with the aim of providing useful reference for others doing something similar. It took ages searching forums and other blogs to find a correct set of steps to do this, so hopeful I can shorten the time it takes the next person.
My first effort with this was with an old HTC Wildfire I’d bought from a friend for about £60 (cheap enough ont to matter too much if I inadvertently turned it into a paperweight), I was to realise that this was not an entry level task.
Normally hacking an Android phone has two basic steps:
1) Find the vulnerability that allows you to become a superuser.
2) Become a superuser (getting root access)
3) Add all the software you want that the manufacturers didn’t necessarily intend.
In many cases, gaining root access is a well-practised function, that some developers have even packed up into a handy piece of software that does step one and two for you. UnRevoked is a good example for a selection of HTC handsets.
S-On / S-Off
Annoyingly HTC have a security setting to prevent you doing this, which leads to the additional step at the start of removing this (S-OFF). Turning it off should normally be simple, again it’s been done so many times that there’s some software which perform all the steps for you, in this case, Revolutionary will do it.
Except it didn’t work for me because the firmware in my phone was too recent and there was no way to hack it to turn S-OFF. I had boot version 1.01.002, and Revolutionary only works with boot version 1.01.001.
So now I had to downgrade the boot software to the earlier, hackable version. This alone was fiddly and time-consuming, and by far the best instructions for doing so are in the Aritrasen blog.
So after all that, only now, was I in a position to begin the superuser process.
Only I then discovered that there was another stumbling block. The superuser exploit only works on Android 2.1 (Eclair) and my Wildfire has already been upgraded to Android 2.2 (Froyo), and I had to downgrade that as well (keep following the Aritrasen guide, don’t skip that step, it is not optional).
OK, now I could finally start at step 1, above! Happily the rest of the process was simple and done for me by the software packaged listed. At this point I chose to use CyanogenMod rather than standard Android as the phone’s operating system because the Wildfire will only support 2.2 (Froyo), but with CyanogenMod 7, it effectively becomes a 2.3 (Gingerbread) device.
It takes a lot longer to boot now than it did (boot screen picture at top of post) and actually pretty much everything about the phone is slower, especially if you want to use Swype, or Opera, but that’s what happens when you start to push the hardware to its limits.
However, I now have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve made my phone do something it shouldn’t really be able to do, I have a more technically capable Wildfire handset than most other people, and it’s my first play with an Android (ish) phone! Smiles all round
A rare off-topic post. Because flexibility is fun.
I got to my desk this morning and as I’ve got into the habit of doing, I made a rough list of the things I wanted to do today.
Then I made some tea, and looked at my list to work out which one I should start first. And I thought, yep, this list really helps me focus on what I need to do, and it’s a great visual prompt.
At this point I was immediately distracted by wondering how many other people think so to, so I started search for “Why to do lists are great”. I got four words in and google’s autocomplete came up with:
Why to do lists don’t work
It seems the productivity industry can’t agree on whether they’re good or not:
Lifehacker notes that some people have so many things to do, they need a range of online tools to help them keep track. (I go for the pen/paper option)
Morgan McLintic likes To-Do lists, but says you need to do more than just write stuff down.
Although Mike Reeves-McMillan goes into little too much depth for me, suggesting I should “Link To-do Items to Higher-Level Goals”. I think I might spend all day supercharging my list, rather than doing the actual work.
This post on the Harvard Business Review blog shuns lists because they are “setting you up for failure and frustration”.
Actually I think the best advice comes from Leo Babauta’s calm-inducing Zenhabits, with some simple tips on getting things done. Basically, take a deep breath, and start a small part of the task.
I feel better now.
I’ve just noticed this from a Times blog post from last month.
The perils of little cameras – you can turn them on their side. They used it anyway.
I’m surprised and amused over the number of people I know on Facebook who have replaced their profile pictures with a custom Simpsons avatar.
It’s a brilliant gimmick to publicise the upcoming Simpsons film, and you can get one by following this link.
The show’s been on for over a decade and remains popular all over the world, we ‘get it’ because we’re all drawing on that shared experience. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t watched The Simpsons at some point.
But I wonder if we’re the last generation who are able to do this on such a scale. Given the fragmentation of audiences, is there less likelihood of a critical mass of people to give a viral campaign like this enough scale, for it to mean enough, to enough of the population to make them want to participate?
In the meantime, I haven’t yet changed my profile picture to a cartoon me yet, but I still might.
And I get annoyed when my PVR fails to record it
I can’t put it any better than the American Journalism Review‘s Rachel Smolkin, so I’m not going to try. I just wish there was a British equivalent nowadays.
I’m just back from a trip to Florida. When visiting Orlando, it’s hard to resist going to Disneyworld … and I didn’t manage to resist.
I’ve seen some amazing theme parks and experiences around the world, (Lotte World in Seoul was particularly baffling) but I can’t think of an organisation that does it better than Disney.
The secret is showmanship.
While some parks are just a series of rides, visiting a Disney park is a contiguous story and the attention to detail is everywhere, in the shops, on the rides, even on the walks between each attraction.
The most memorable experiences for me are the ones where the queue to a particular ride is as enjoyable as the ride itself. That’s quite an achievement. Worthy of particular note are ‘Tower of Terror’ and ‘Mission: Space’.
Content producers could learn a lot from a couple of days in one of the Disney parks. The showmanship is everywhere and it’s infectious.
I’ve certainly come away with a new desire to accentuate the entertainment aspects of content. That’s largely what makes people want to come back to their favourite site again and again.