Brad Dobbs's Blog

Icon

Just another WordPress.com site

Rooting + Flashing…an Android Device

Android robot logo.

He is a cute little guy

With one swift upgrade to an iPhone 4, my girlfriend’s old iPhone 3G had become a dust magnet on my computer desk.  The thing about this iPhone is that for the entire 2 years that she used it, it was always kept in a case with a screen protector.  It sat around and was part of a few projects for me on Saturday afternoons just to stretch out my “hacking” (note the quotes, using this term extremely loosely, considering I am not hacking but merely following the instructions posted by people who did the real jailbreaking work…)

I downgraded it to the last version of iPhone OS 3, jail broke it, unlocked it, played with the notion of dual-booting it with Android, but never really did anything with it.  I actually threatened to make it a remote control for the Apple TV I don’t have yet.

So what started out of boredom with a few spare hours this weekend in reading about rooting & flashing Android ROM’s and other general hackery, I traded the dust magnet iPhone 3G for a T-Mobile G1, straight up.

I have flirted with Android in the past with a Nexus One (but twice actually), but never kept it around as I was constantly switching the SIM and having to use it as a primary phone, which was pretty annoying. This time around I didn’t intend to make this a primary device, but a little test bed to really play around with Android.  I snagged a quick pre-paid SIM for it at T-Mobile for $30.00 with basically enough data for me to activate the phone.  It has been on Wi-Fi ever since, so I won’t even get close to the data cap.

What has made this phone fun for me is that it is fairly easy to get into and modify.  The original Google Phone comes with Android 1.6, which is a pretty old version of the “Droid” system that people know and love today.  I think there is enough material for a different blog post in just the jumps Android has made in less than two years, as this phone is a pretty crazy reminder of how dumbphone Android used to look.

I had already done some research on how to root the device and load the latest version of Android on the G1.  I knew performance was going to be terrible, but I really wanted to give it a shot to see if I can do what people are charging $20 bucks on Craigslist to do.

After a few YouTube clips and a step by step tutorial and a few hours, I was able to successfully replace the old version of Android to basically the latest thing in market today (2.2…for now).  The speed is lacking, there isn’t any storage, but there is something fun to be said in terms of completely wiping out this phone, restoring it with something else and actually having it work after I was all done.

It was pretty cool.  I think I can kick up my geek cred a little bit.

Filed under: Technology, , , , ,

This PlayStation Phone…May Just Work

PSP Phone - photo credit, Engadget

PSP Phone - Photo Credit, Engadget

One of my favorite tech blogs, Engadget just got their hands on some product shots of what appears to be the PSP (or Playstation) phone.  It will be running Android.  It has a slide-out….gamepad.

This idea is just so out there – it may just work.   Where will this product pick up where past failures, such as the Nokia N-Gage failed?  Can Sony-Ericsson, on the brink of irrelevancy, claw their way back into the consideration set?

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Technology, , , , , ,

My Unofficial Rules of Foursquare

As an avid Foursquare user now for some time, I think it is cool that more and more people are starting to discover the “game” of it all and using it as a way to meet up with friends.

There has been a few times where I have used it to meet up with people who were near me, discover new places and also as a Superuser, close venues that are no longer with us.  I also feel since I was an early adopter (shout-out to by friend Ken who introduced it to me), then I get to make some rules for all the newbies that are getting on board.

So, I give you – my unofficial rules to Foursquare, as I have declared myself the official arbiter of what can and can’t be done.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Mobile Apps, , , , ,

iPhone OS 4.Oh Wow

As some may know, I have been struggling with what to do with my iPhone when the latest hardware comes out inevitably in late 3Q this year.

I have been firmly on the Windows Phone 7 train since the introduction at Mobile World Conference this year in Barcelona, mostly beacuse of the Xbox Live integration as well as the Zune Pass integration.

Feature for feature with iPhone OS 3.2, WP7 exceeded or met virtually every expectation I would have for Apple moving forward as a device platform as I knew it.

That changed today.

iPhone OS 4.0 as it was rolled out today exceeded any expectation that I had for the platform moving forward, and the ancillary benefits that will come to iPad later in the year.

Mutlitasking, folders, U/I improvements and more make the iPhone again back in the lead when it rolls out this summer. Blackberry, Palm and Windows, are you going to answer?

Filed under: Technology, , , ,

Play TrenchesVS, Win an iPad!

A new angle I just found in an app update which I find very interesting. Play a game, and be entered to win an iPad.

The game is TrenchesVS (pretty popular iPhone game) that with the latest game update will enter you to win the magical iPad with every game played. You get more chances to win if you play multiplayer.

Interesting strategy, considering I have heard that Apple frowns upon the apps in the App Store turning into contests. But if it promotes the iPad? Apparently that’s good to go!

Filed under: Mobile Apps, , ,

Scout is Freaking Amazing

For me, Craigslist is the first place I go to look for great deals on anything that plugs into a wall. I have purchased cell phones, computer parts and MP3 players several times and have secured some great deals.

One of the nuances about Craigs many times is that you have to be first in with the email or a call to get what you are looking for. Listings are priced to move, so if you don’t move quickly – you can be left in the dust by someone that just had better timing or luck.

Using Scout for the iPhone is now an easy way to get instant notifications when something you are searching for has hit the internets.

Set up your filters, turn on notifications, and get to browsing. The simple and clean interface make it a breeze to start pining over a new MacBook Pro.

Scout is $4.99 and on the App Store.

I can't get enough of the MacBook hardware.

Extremely clean!

...but right now I am a Win 7 guy on Asus hardware.

Filed under: Mobile Apps, , , ,

Do I Have Room for Both Loopt and Foursquare?

I was a big Loopt user when I first got my iPhone.  It was fun to mark where I was on the map, and ping my friends endlessly to find out where they were.  Many of those same friends were not fans of both constant pings, or revealing their location.  I get the latter, not everyone wants to broadcast where they are at any given moment, so I generally left them alone as I needlessly broadcasted my location to about 7 people.

I had a jailbroken iPhone at the time, so I couldn’t upgrade to a new application with the same idea, Foursquare some time ago.  My friend Ken tried to evangelize me on it, but I didn’t really get why I would use that over Foursquare.

Needless to say, after I got the jailbroken thing reversed (I am sure I am one of the few and the proud on that one), I started on with Foursquare and it finally gave me a compelling reason to get my other friends to try it out.  That compelling reason, as simple as it sounds, was the Mayor’s crown.  Instead of broadcasting my location on a map, it was now tied to a specific place, in which I could get credit and then compete against my same seven Loopt friends for supremacy of bars in the Belltown, Queen Anne and Ballard.

I virtually abandoned Loopt, as I now was bloodthirsty for points, mayorships, and also seeing interesting offers for other places around me.  I must admit I haven’t taken anyone up on the offers yet, but I could see it useful someday.  The only reason I have even launched Loopt was that I saw I had the app update for it,  as having out of date apps on my iPhone kinda drives me nuts.

What I found was a copycat – Loopt is now tied to locations as well as points on the map.  However, there still isn’t a hook to keep me using it.  Now granted, it isn’t like the points and the mayorships of Foursquare actually have intrinsic value, but it is better than nothing.  Plus, I get to brag to my friends list of about 10 now.

Filed under: Technology, , , , , ,

Times Technology Doesn't Make Things Easier

Would someone just ring these people up?

Computers generally make our lives easier.  In the case of automated self-checkout, they make things worse.  Some things are better left to humans, as letting the public interact with an unfamiliar computer interface while feeling the pressure of their fellow consumers to make it snappy is a recipe for disaster.  I raced the lady in the cart with the “Fred Meyer” license plate by going to a regular checkout, headed up by a smiling employee.  Guess who won?  Me.  Easily.

Filed under: Technology, , , ,

OK, So This Kills One Bus Away

So while riding the bus home the other day I wrote this really long winded post about how, basically, how great the iPhone is.

The idea was inspired by OneBusAway, and I felt I had to give my life story on the evolution of the cell phone as it related to my use.

However, CatPaint ($0.99, Apple App Store) if I had existed yesterday, could have summed up how awesome the iPhone and the app experience truly is with a few photos.

Please observe, Downtown Seattle before CatPaint, and then Downtown Seattle after CatPaint.

This is up there with the Black Jack taco for best $0.99 purchase this year.

Filed under: Photography, Technology, , , ,

How Awesome One Bus Away is

It is kinda funny how far along my mobile phone use has come along in the last 18 months.

It’s hard to even imagine what phone I had then, and if my memory serves me correctly it was a Windows Mobile 5.0 powered Samsung Blackjack.

At the time, my purchase reason was the QWERTY keyboard. I texted all the time (and I still do), but I dreamed of how much easier it would be over my bright orange Motorola PEBL.

It had 3G (which at the time, I just knew that was “fast”), e-mail capabilities (was not concerned about this at the time), and could surf the Internet a lot faster than the PEBL. Considering I never did that ever on the old phone at all, I wasn’t sure if that was a cool feature.

So the Blackjack had my keyboard that rocked, a decent camera and the familiarity of the ye olde Internet Explorer logo that fired up how I thought the Internet on a mobile phone should look.

I was pretty happy with this phone. As I traveled more for work, I found myself renting GPS units at every airport which invariably got old (as they are not a guarantee, and sometimes I was stuck with a map which sucked).

So my next requirement was a phone that had a GPS built-in, not only so I could quit signing damage waivers and releases at (insert your friendly neighborhood car rental counter here), I could save the company a little money. So naturally, I went to the BlackJack 2 as I was familiar with Windows Mobile, and it had GPS.

Long story short, the phone was terrible. The GPS software, the only reason I upgraded was terrible. So painfully slow. This is the only time I have taken a piece of electronics back.

This resulted in me getting a Blackberry Curve. The only reason I went BB is that it didn’t cost me anything. It was a straight across exchange. I didn’t know much about the Blackberry, but was willing to ditch WinMo for a device that could actually deliver on what I needed it to do.

Around this time, mobile web was really starting to take off, due in part to the iPhone. Now my friends had iPhones, and now as a new found Blackberry loyalist, I naturally told them that Blackberry was the device to have. The only killer “app” at the time that I could mention was BlackBerry Messenger. However, the more I thought about it, the weaker that argurment got. Plus when Oregon Trail, by far my favorite video game of all time came out for iPhone, I quickly fired up Craigs so I could sell my Blackberry to get an iPhone 3G.

Now, I had a device that could surf the net, compose email (as Blackberry brought me back to the email train), GPS with Google maps, AND Oregon Trail? Does it get any better than that?

Now, before I jumped on this bus that I am writing this post from, I was able to see to the minute when my next bus was arriving via GPS in the One Bus Away application. On top of dying from dysentery on the Oregon Trail. What’s next? Being able to do both of those things at the same time.

Will the iPhone bring that, or will it be another stepping stone in my phone evolution?

Filed under: Technology, , ,

Twitter