Trouble Down t’Mill

Updates to Readmill for iPad

 

 

I just did a guest post for ReadMill on how all the choice we’re given around ebooks boils down to no choice at all.

 

If you haven’t heard of ReadMill, their software tries to turn ebook reading into a kind of virtual reading group with shared highlighting, commenting, and conversations centred around your reading.  Although the reader is only available for iPad, there are ways to use the site with Android and iPhone applications and your Kindle highlights.

I’ve found it invaluable for cataloguing noted during my psychology MSc and it’s fun to see what other people highlight as important. At the very least, it’ll estimate for how many hours you’ll have to endure that statistics textbook.

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Cargo Cult Crackberry

Cargo Cults emerged on New Guinea during World War II after the indigenous populations saw planes landing to deliver food and other materials. Later, to bring back the aeroplanes and hence their cargo, the islanders built runways on the beaches, a hut to serve as a traffic control, and even lit small fires for landing lights. Obviously, this didn’t work.

Unfortunately, for Samsung, their new business style phone seems to suffer from Cargo Cult Blackberry disease. On the outside, it looks like a RIM device – it’s got a tiny screen, a keyboard, and can fit in the palm – and gives off the appearance of that holy talisman of the pin-striped priesthood. On the inside, however, it runs the Android smartphone operating system leaving a hybrid that has none of the good points of either.

What sets Blackberry apart, in spite of their aging devices, is their efficiency; Blackberry server and devices are perfect at email they use very little data and are designed only for this purpose. Android can handle email either through the build in Google Mail application or over SMTP, but it’s not as quick and easy. As with the New Guinean cargo cults, Samsung have built a Blackberry body, added a keyboard, and even stuck in a few software tweaks to make Android a little more businesslike, but I don’t think the planes will come.

Which is a shame, since their actual smart phones are pretty good.

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How to lose a ROM in 30 days

Meow-Pad
Image by Damien Ryan via Flickr

One of the advantages of getting an Android mobile is the active developer community who work on the operating system in their spare time.  Community ROMs can extend the life of a phone beyond the usual six months, and with contracts now lasting for two years it’s never been as necessary.  Unfortunately, phone manufacturers don’t always feel the same way and employ any number of tricks to stop users from using anything other than the version of Android they supply.

As I just upgraded from a HTC Hero to their Desire HD, it became clear that the tricks used to install a ROM had changed, but thanks to the constant hard work of Paul O’Brien at MoDaCo it’s become pretty easy.  As always, rooting your phone carries a risk and may invalidate your warranty.

1. Install Root Privileges

  • Install VISIONary and click the TempRoot option.
  • To check that worked load up a terminal application and type su. The prompt should change from $ to #
  • Click the PermRoot option and check once again.

2. Enable S-OFF

  • The easiest way I found of doing this is to use this tool from the XDA development community.  HTC Sync needs to be installed on the machine you run it from, but you can uninstall it once you’re done.

3. Install a recovery image

  • There are better ways of doing this, but the easiest (again) is to install ROM Manager and click Flash ClockworkMod Recovery.
  • On success then click Reboot into Recovery and you should be in a console that allows you to install ROMs, backup, restore, and wipe your phone.  Run a backup now and reboot your phone once done.

4. Install a ROM

  • Have a look through the community at XDA and MoDaCo and find a ROM you like.  I prefer MoDaCo’s images as they’re optimised versions of HTC code and contain the HTC Sense improvements that make the Desire HD worth the extra money.
  • If you have many applications and settings then install Titanium Backup as you may need to wipe your phone to factory settings if there are any problems.
  • Copy the image to your phone’s SD card.
  • In ROM Manager select Install ROM from SD card pick the zip file, select Backup Existing ROM and let it flash.
  • The device can take a while to load once the new image has been installed, but if it’s stuck on a loading screen for more than fifteen minutes then you will need to restore the backup you took in Clockwork Mod earlier, repeat these steps and make sure Wipe Data and Cache is selected.
  • Your phone will be restored to factory settings, but once you install the backups from Titanium Backup (remember that) you’ll have most of your settings back.

And that’s all there is to it.  It’s a fiddly process and there are many places in which it can go wrong, but if you make enough backups and don’t mind spending a night re-loading all your applications then it’s definitely worth it.

(Irishperson in Exile takes no responsibility for damage to handsets, loss of data, or sanity caused by rooting an Android device.  All warranties may be voided by using these steps and unless you backup and read all instructions your time may be wasted.)

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