Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CyanogenMod 6.1 stable released

On Monday, December 6th, CM 6.1 stable was released to the general public.

Shortly after, Tuesday, December 7th, the port for the HTC Hero CDMA was made available by @darchstar.

I had problems with my phone a few days back and had to switch back to the stock 2.1 ROM from Sprint, and of course as soon as I got used to the slowness, the lack of Froyo, and the glitz of the Sense UI again, CM announced the much anticipated stable release of the next gen of their Froyo / Android 2.2 ROM, and I couldn't resist.

My initial thoughts:

Before flashing CM 6.1 stable I flashed the latest radio from Sprint, While the verdict is still out on whether this has actually shown any signal improvement, why wouldn't you keep your phone up to date?

I also didn't wait to update the kernel, and after flashing CM 6.1 and before booting from recovery I flashed decad3nce's kernel, #43. This allowed me to use the smartass governor to overclock (and underclock) the Hero's processor which vastly improves the phone's performance and battery life in comparison to what you experience with Sprint's stock Android 2.1 ROM and kernel.

On first boot having my old apps (from the last time I ran CM 6) automatically reinstall from the cloud is simply beautiful. I only had to manually install a few of the custom apps that were not on the market, so my typical TtU (time-to-usable) was cut down from a couple hours to about 30 minutes. DropBox and AppBrain made installing the remaining apps a snap.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adventures in Android hacking (update)

I love my HTC Hero from Sprint. Wait, let me rephrase that, "I love running Android 2.2 on my HTC Hero from Sprint," and that is all thanks to the man (and related team) that is known in development circles as Cyanogen.

This isn't news for some of you. I personally jumped in with Cyanogen's first offering of Android 2.2 for the Hero, CyanogenMod (CM) 6.0.

However, the latest release candidate, CM 6.1 RC1 added some great functionality over CM 6.0, and now using Deca's kernel my Hero is not only running Android 2.2, but it is also getting better performance and battery life than my wife's personal Hero which is still running a stock version of Android 2.1 from HTC/Sprint.

My current setup uses the CFS #24 kernel (download and details on XDA) and SetCPU to overclock the phone to max at 633 MHz with the CPU governor set to interactive. Where CM 6.0 made my Hero seem actually usable again, 6.1 gives the Hero new life. Note, this is based on my subjective opinion that Sprint's stock 2.1 update really killed the performance of the Hero to the point of being nearly unusable as a phone.

Of course, you have to deal with the loss of HTC's beautiful Sense UI apps, but I have found some acceptable replacement apps: Handcent for IM, Winamp for music, Google's "News and Weather" for real-time weather updates, Google Voice for visual voicemail, CalWidget for viewing my agenda on the home screen, and TweetDeck for integrated social media. 

However, I still miss having HTC's integrated contact management, and their calendar "agenda" widget is irreplaceable, both functional and gorgeous. So when I eventually break down and upgrade my Hero to something like the EVO 4G, I will appreciate having a phone with enough processing power to run HTC Sense UI on Android 2.2 and actually let me answer phone calls.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How to disable iTunes Ping

For those of you who want the social networking aspect of iTunes, feel free to disgregard the following.

For those of us who value our privacy and use iTunes to manage their music because they simply have to, either because you have an iPod/iPhone/iOther device, or you are too lazy to find an alternative program to manage your music. Are you annoyed by the "ping" dropdown option that now shows up next to each song when selected in iTunes? Here is how you can disable iTunes Ping and remove the dropdown from the library interface.


1. Open the iTunes Store.

2. In the top-right corner, next to your account name, click the arrow button and select "account". Note: you may have to log-in to your iTunes account in order to proceed.

3. Under "Apple Account Information", scroll down to the "Ping" section. If the label shows, "Ping: ON", click on the "Turn Off" button.

4. Scroll further down to the "Recommendations & Ping Posting" label. If this is set to "On", click on the "Manage panel" button to the right. Uncheck "Show recommendations...", and click "Save Changes" to return to the account screen.

5. Click "Done" to return to the main iTunes store screen.


1. If iTunes is open, close the application.

In Mac OS X, launch the terminal and type:
defaults write hide-ping-dropdown -bool TRUE

In Windows, launch the command prompt and type:
"C:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunes.exe" /setPrefInt hide-ping-dropdown 1

3. Launch iTunes. Open your library. Rejoice!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

CyanogenMod 6 for the Hero

For fellow Hero modders like myself, you probably already know that Sprint and HTC announced that they would not be pursuing an official, Sense-ified version of Froyo for the Hero. So I have been running CyanogenMod on my Hero for several weeks now, and I must say it has been a very satisfying experience.

The basic facts:

CyanogenMod is based on the AOSP (Android Open Source Project)
CM6 is a stable build of Android 2.2 (Froyo)

My configuration preferences:
JIT enabled
SetCPU overclock capped at 614Mhz (roughly 16% OC)
Froyo native apps2sd support enabled, moved non-essential apps only

I have been running CM6 for a while now, and while I managed to find a respectable config for SetCPU to overclock the Hero processor, my battery life was unpredictable, and unfortunately I could burn through a freshly charged battery in as little as 6 hours, even though I kept my cap at 614Mhz and used profiles that should have scaled down based on battery charge.

Tonight I am switching away from SetCPU to the Collin_ph battery tweak to see if I can solve some of the battery issues I have been experiencing. If anyone else has some recommendations for customizing the collin_ph settings, so far I am sticking with my original cap of 614Mhz, both for stability and for battery life, but if there are any other setups that are considered "stable" I am open to suggestions.

Other observations:
- One of the first things I missed was the agenda view from the HTC Sense calendar widget. I did find that CalWidget was a sufficient functional substitution, albeit ugly as dirt. 
- I also am running FancyWidget to replace the beautiful clock/weather widget that is the signature of the HTC Sense UI improvements.
- The stock Android camera/camcorder UI is uglier than Janet Reno. (Does anyone have a recommended alternative?)
- Google Voice integrates nicely to replace the HTC Sense visual voicemail, and the Froyo-only GMail is also rather slick.
- JIT on Froyo actually works. (I realize that others may be successful at enabling JIT in an Android 2.1 rom, and actually got a performance boost out of it as expected, but in my experience it was a waste of my time even trying.)

When Flipz releases a Fresh ROM update based on the latest Sprint update I may nandroid my current setup and switch back for a bit, just to see what Sprint has come back with to fix the dialer issues, but for now I am very happily enjoying Froyo on the Hero, and recommend it for anyone with a little time and the willingness to tinker.

Thankyou's go out to:
Cyanogen and team, for bringing us the awesomeness that is CyanogenMod
darchstar, for porting CM6 for the Hero CMDA
XDA Developers, from which I have learned nearly everything I know about modding
Jesus Christ, for saving my soul from sin and death, and freeing me from the fear of voiding the warranty on my Hero

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Android 2.1 JIT compiler a waste of time

So I have been experimenting with a JIT compiler in Android, and I have to say, it is really frustrating when the HTC Hero runs out of internal memory because of the memory requirements of JIT, and Android 2.1 automatically reboots itself. Besides that "feature", it works great.

I have read that Android 3 will have built-in support for JIT, and I imagine that phones newer than the HTC Hero will come with more built-in memory, so until then I think I will switch back to the standard Dalvik VM and get my geeky kicks elsewhere. (Such as with OC'ed kernels.) For now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A list of my favorite apps for Android

I have an HTC Hero from Sprint which is currently running Android 2.1. It really is a great phone (and one of the first true geek's answer to the iPhone).

I am making this list for posterity sake... and in case I decide to wipe my phone or someday upgrade (the EVO looks pretty sweet, doesn't it?)

This game looks simple at first, but it's enjoyable (and a great way to distract children in a pinch). Use the accelerometer to help bounce cows and other farmyard animals to freedom from UFO's.

Bible (YouVersion)
Has NIV for free, but it's web based. I only have this because CadreBible doesn't have the NIV (yet...)

Has a host of free and paid bibles, commentaries, references, etc. I especially like being able to switch from a verse in an english translation straight to that verse in another translation or language (greek, hebrew, latin, etc). It also includes some nice study guides if you are looking for that sort of planner.

demoPlayer (RockPlayer beta)
Plays most any video format you would want on the Hero. Currently the beta is free.

Dice Bag
For RPG enthusiasts, if you forget your die-20 at home, no worries!

Free (up to 2GB) file depository that lives in the cloud, sync files between your home PC, work, and now your Android phone, too!

ES File Explorer
E-Strong's file explorer. It lets you explore the file system on your phone. Self-explanatory.

Free universal note-taking that backs up to the cloud and syncs between your phone and PC, too.

A chromatic tuner for guitars and other instruments. Great!

A secure database for remembering your passwords. Functional and free.

Google Listen
I know, it's a stock app, but I use this literally every day on my walk to and from work to listen to podcasts. And it sync's with Google Reader, too!

Google Maps with Navigation
Google maps added walking, biking and public transportation directions; Google Buzz for finding local hotspots; and free turn-by-turn directions with GPS navigation.

You have an audio file. You want a ringtone (or a notification sound). Also does cropping.

Robo Defense
The free version is a pretty fun strategy game, or pay for additional maps, difficulty levels and tools. This is the only app I have paid for.

I use this for those times when I hear an awesome song on the radio and simply need to know who and what it is.

Google Shopper & ShopSavvy
Comparison shopping by scanning bar codes.

The Weather Channel
I use this every morning to determine the weather is appropriate for walking to work, or requires some alternative method to transportation.

At the moment, my favorite twitter client. Does everything it needs to do, and it's free.

Wifi Analyzer
Helps to find wireless access points on the road, and at home to plot which channel has the least interference in my condo building.

Gives me mobile access to the forums, for all my Android news and hacking updates ;)