Installing CyanogenMod on HTC Desire [Android]

I’m tired of waiting for T-Mobile NL to give me FroYo (Android 2.2). Besides, that controlling which apps I can or can’t have access to.

So, let’s get to it ourselves!

Starting this process I didn’t have the needed warm and fuzzy feeling because the tutorials I found were not so detailed. Which is why I’ll describe step-by-step what I did  (actually typing while I’m going through the process myself):

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Note: I’m not responsible for anything that happens to your phone and I can’t provide any support or additional information. I ran it on my own doing some research, please try to do the same if you get stuck.

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  1. First, backup your apps. I did it with an app called “Astro File Manager”
  2. To get root, go to Unrevoked. Select your mobile device and your OS.
  3. I’m on a Linux machine, so after I have reflash.tar.gz downloaded on your computer, untar it, than run sudo ./reflash
  4. You’ll be guided about the next steps (connect your phone as disk drive, turn on USB Debugging).
  5. Once everything is done, I got on my phone a “ClockworkMod Recovery” boot screen. Just to be extra safe, I ran through “Backup and restore” to create a backup. After the backup was done, I chose “reboot system now”
  6. Now you should have root! 🙂 The phone should restart the looking the same as it did before.
  7. Let’s prepare to install something else. From your computer download the latest version of the radio. I got the link from here . Move the zip file to the root of your phone’s SD card.
  8. Go to the Android Market and find/install “ROM Manager” (I used the free version). After it is installed, run it and choose to boot in recovery mode. You should get a screen asking you if the action has root access, allow it and run it again.
  9. Now back in ClockworkMod Recovery, choose “install zip from sdcard”. Find the zip file you just downloaded and install it.
  10. Reboot your phone.
  11. Now back into your normal looking phone again. Go back to ROM Manager and select “Download ROM”
  12. Let’s pick CyanogenMod, latest build is given and select Google Apps as well.
  13. Once everything is downloaded, click both checkboxes “Backup existing ROM” and “Wipe Data and Cache”. Press ok.
  14. You’ll now reboot to CyanogenMod! Process done!

References:

SIP client for Android OS

Finally a SIP/VoIP program for the Android OS!

Sipdroid is a great GPL licensed program that allows you to make and receive SIP and make VoIP from your mobile. The app is incredibly simple to use, which just requires you to enter your SIP credentials (server, login and password).

Once it is on, you will see a little green bubble on the status bar indicating that you’re online. After that, just enter the phone number you’d like or use the phone numbers on your contact list, remembering to enter the country code.

The only detriment for now is that it connects only through wifi, so no 3G data connections while you’re out-and-about.

New Android 1.5 (Cupcake)

The last time there was an Android upgrade, I had to wait over 1 month to get mine. Fortunately this time it appears Europe had Android 1.5 launch date before users in the U.S. This is a much expected release because of the extensive list of new features.

Without further delay, here is the tour of what is new in Android Cupcake.

firmware-info

First, here is my home screen where you can add shortcuts, widgets and live folders:

home-screen

We now have the new widgets Calendar and Music. In the “shortcuts” category, to be honest I had never used it before but here also goes a screenshot of what is offered:

widgets-and-shortcuts

I really enjoyed the calendar widget although I wish I could expand it a bit more to display more event information. Your music widget will display a cute little bar with the song currently playing or the option for you to select a playlist to start playing on your device.

calendar-and-music

Next cool feature is video recording!

video

The videos you record on the Android can be pushed directly to YouTube now with 2 simple clicks. A nice way for Google to tie its services well.

Next comes the soft-keyboard! I’m still struggling to get used to this new keyboard, it is so tiny compared to the ‘full sized’ one on the G1.

soft-keyboard-tour

But, there is a very nice feature of suggested words. So, as you type the system tries to identify the word you wish to write and even if you get lost typing incorrect keys it still picks up misspellings quite well to suggest the correct word.

A nice little extra is automatic screen orientation. On the G1 you were able to get landscape view only once the keyboard was open. But, with new Android devices coming out soon without a keyboard, orientation was adjusted to how you’re holding the phone.

screen-orientation

Last but not least, a few cosmetic changes were made. The background of the app menu is no longer transparent and the pull-down status menu had some minor visual improvements as well.

apps

Unfortunately I couldn’t test the stereo bluetooth since the headset I used with my Nokia N96 was still not recognized.

Like mentioned, a whole lot of new things and that is not all, there is still:

  • browser improvements (latest Webkit browser & Squirrelfish Javascript engines);
  • Linux kernel (version 2.6.27);
  • Upload photos on Picasa;
  • native video playback (MPEG-4 & 3GP formats).

The complete change log can be found here.

Unfortunately not everything is perfect… Loading some apps and going back to my home screen takes a bit longer than before.  Plus, for some reason at times the app list gets loaded on-the-fly and I have to wait a few seconds for everything to get loaded and sorted alphabetically.

Overall, Cupcake is an awesome release and Android is now in a much better position to be released on more mobile phones and (rumors have it) netbooks!

Task manager [Android]

I’m an follower of GTD. Probably not the best one, but at least I try to keep myself as organized as I can in the stream of neverending to-dos.

Which is why one of the first applications I searched for to install on my Android device was a good task manager to sync with RememberTheMilk. I was quite happy to find the open source app Astrid. The program does exactly what I need:

Asstrid Android task manager

Asstrid Android task manager

Syncing with RememberTheMilk is a breeze, the only problem is that all tasks go to my inbox and not the lists I have already defined. But, overall Astrid meets all of my demands 🙂

Mobile phones – does the hardware matter anymore?

I was recently using Nokia’s N96 which is an impressive phone. The phone has a great camera, flash, a nice screen size, bluetooth, wifi, an impressive 16GB of storage space and it even plays DTV. I switched it for an Android G1.

A while ago we tended to switch phones when the hardware got better. A lighter phone, a better camera, better screen resolution / size. But, now the mobile OS war has just gotten interesting with Apple leading the new era.

Talking about mobile phone’s operating systems the main players are:

  • Android – google sponsored, open source;
  • Symbian – Nokia recently bought it and promised to open source it;
  • Blackberry – RIM’s OS that is quite famous among enterprises, proprietary closed source;
  • iPhone – developed by Apple, proprietary closed source.

The G1 I’m now using, although it has lower specs than the N96 is making me much more productive. The relatively new Android Marketplace has a lot of very nice stuff for productivity, connectivity, media management, navigation and more.

As mentioned before, the iPhone right now is leading. The Android has quite a bit of potential to be as big, if not bigger. It is open source so a great excuse for cell phone makers to worry more about making hardware and not spending money on software (like Motorola might be doing).

The Android’s future though is not looking as good as it should. I feel it lacks some of the same things missing with Linux – a big marketing sponsor. Although Google launched the Android initiative there doesn’t seem to be an organized continuous push for it.

I’m hoping the situation changes so we don’t see in a few years a 97% market share dominance of a proprietaty mobile phone OS.

eBook open standards

If you like to support open standards format, here is a (at least for me) new discovery:  .epub.

If you like open standards and ebooks, support the spreading of .epub. This file extension is a mixture of three open standards OPS ( Open Publication Structure ), OPF ( Open Packaging Format) and OCF (Open Container Format), produced by the IDPF.

From what I know Kindle – the hot ebook reader of the moment – does not support .epub format However, you can find some .epub ebooks in various websites, including Project Gutenberg. Viewing these files will be no problem with a software like FBReader.

Last.fm on Symbian phones

I’m a big Last.fm enthusiast (although it isn’t open source) so I try to install a scrobbler on every single media player I use. It took a bit of time for me to find a Symbian Last.fm client and mobbler it was.

mobblerMobbler works like a charm! It recognizes and scrobbles songs being played by the phone’s native media player, plus I get all of the cool Last.fm features such as:

  • “love this track”;
  • “ban track”;
  • direct link to Amazon’s music store (if your region has one);
  • set to play radio stations (neighbor, recommended, artist or tag defined).

If you’re on a limited data plan, Mobbler can be set to scrobble offline and queue the data to be sent until you’re on wi-fi.

For some reason I can’t listen to the radio when I’m on my 3G connection, must be some nasty restriction of my mobile carrier (I’ll make sure to complain to them).

Listen to ogg on your Symbian device

As an open source fan, I make my audio CDs portable in .ogg (.oga) format. Problem is that unfortunately .ogg isn’t as popular as it should be right now so sometimes it can be difficult to find a decent player, which is exactly what happened with my new Symbian cell phone.

Symbian OggPlay to the rescue, I was able to solve the issue. OggPlay can play.ogg, .oga, .flac (haven’t tested it myself yet), and .mp3. It also recognizes the default audio formats you have on your mobile so you can still play .wma (for example) with the same program.

I did have a couple of glitches with it, such as: no recognition of the phone’s media keys and when ending a phone call, the music never restarted.

Overall, thumbs up for OggPlay and it is now being used more then my phone’s default music player. Shame on Symbian for not having supported .ogg and .flac by default.

Open source push emails and contacts sync

I got a new phone and was terrified about the manual work that would be needed to sync all of my contact details. But then I thought, we’re in 2008 so there must be an open source way of doing this!!

Funambol MobileWe did the trick perfectly! Funambol allows syncing over the air emails, contacts, calendar, tasks and notes with mobile devices. The site reports syncing capabilities with 1.5 billion mobile devices and thousands of online services. You can sync your information from GMail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, Thunderbird, AOL, MS Outlook (if you’re still using it), and emails from POP and IMAP access.

If your contacts are scattered all over the place, like I had, with Plaxo, GMail and other cell phones, first centralize everything in one spot. I chose GMail’s Contacts since I can then sync it nicely to my Evolution.

Then, create an account at  MyFunambol, select your mobile device, go to your profile link, and configure your email and where to sync your information from. After all the configuration is set, you will receive a message on your mobile to download the needed sync app.

After everything is installed, with a click of a button on your phone, all of your contacts will be synced and you’ll even get push emails! Much better then Blackberry and Apple’s MobileMe. With MobileWe you will have a safe backup of contacts, receive push emails and sync contacts even with multiple devices.

End result for me? Contacts nicely synced and my phone displayed even the pictures of my contacts I had created in GMail.

*Note: also supported but not endorsed by this author are iPhones and Windows Mobile OS.