Monthly Archives: August 2010

Samsung Galaxy S, pt. 3, My Favorite Applications

Ok, so you have your phone rooted, updated and lag-fixed. You want some apps? Here are my picks:

  • Android Terminal Emulator (Well, it’s a terminal emulator)
  • Quadrant (For benchmarking and cock-measuring contests)
  • IMDB (Because i love my movies)
  • Spotify (Great if you have the.. Unlimited? Premium? Whatever it’s called nowadays account)
  • XBMC remote (Control your XBMC media center on your phone!)
  • FMI Helsinki Testbed (great weather app for the Southern Finland area)
  • Market Access (allows me to pay for applications. Paid apps are not available in Finland officially)
  • Advanced Task Killer (kills apps left open in the background)
  • Facebook / Twitter / Other Web 2.0 Socialwhoring apps
  • Astro File Manager (Look at your filesystems. More functionality than the built in “My Files”)
  • Barcode Scanner (handles all kinds of barcodes and can do searches online)
  • Instant Heart Rate (This one was fun, measures heart rate using camera)
  • Droidopas (Helsinki area public transport guide, by my good friend Anteuz)

Samsung Galaxy S, pt.2 – Firmware Update & Lagfix

Short disclaimer: Flashing your phone may be illegal, immoral and may cause damage to your phone and/or soul. I take no responsibility for any actions you may or may not take. Proceed with caution, and remember, i don’t care if you brick your phone; even though that should be pretty hard to do!

So time for part two.

As of August 2010, The Samsung Galaxy S (European Model) ships with Android 2.1, also known as Eclaire. While it’s a pretty stable version of Android, where everything works sort of, it’s not very fast or optimized. 2.2 or Froyo, will bring out the heat, and make this into the fastest device on the market.

Want to acchieve this speed boost right now? Thought so. You can do it, with Android 2.1, by doing a few simple hacks:  Upgrade to a later build (unofficial), and install the One-Click Lagfix. I’ll try to explain both:

– The newer build of 2.1 (currently JM6 is the name assigned to the latest firmware) will improve some functionality, mostly not related to speed, but for instance GPS functionality. The builds are unofficial and come from..various sources. I won’t link to them here, as i’m unsure of their legality, but i can say that they work just fine. Paranoid users might want to skip this, as this would be the perfect slot to slide in malware or other nasties to peoples phones.

– The lagfix adresses one of the more serious issues with 2.1, namely performance. The Galaxy S phone uses an RFS filesystem on the internal flash memory, which is far from perfect or optimized for such a platform. The problem is visible as general sluggishnes, for instance while flipping from page to page, or doing things in quick succession. The lagfix creates an ext2 filesystem within a file inside the internal memory, and places system files there, which is clearly visible as a highly increased performance. No more sluggishness anywhere. Synthetic benchmarks, such as Quadrant show an increase of over 1000 points. But subjective usage improvements are, of course, most important. The lagfix used to be much more complicated (while not impossible) but is now available as an application in the Android Market, and offers “One-click” installing.

Firmware Update

Updating the firmware is not an easy process for JoeBob69, but for someone who has played with gadgets and computers for a while, it’s no trouble at all. The things you need to start updating your firmware are:

  1. An installation of Microsoft Windows (i have not tried this through wine, but it might work
  2. Samsung Kies, or just the driver for the phone. When you connect your phone with the provided  MicroUSB cable, Windows should detect the phone. This isn’t specifically needed for this phase, but you will need it for the lagfix.
  3. Odin 1.0. This is the actual firmware flashing program.
  4. The correct .pit file, which for the Galaxy S with 2.1 Android is the s1_odin_20100512.pit. Again, i won’t link to it, you can find it through google
  5. The firmware you want to install. The fastest one right now seems to be the 2.1 build JM5. The 2.2 builds are as of this time not yet good choices, and usually slow. Firmware packages need to contain three files (two in some cases, but i won’t go in on that issue here): CSC, Phone and Modem. They can be of different versions internally, for instance, my phone now has a JM6 Phone firmware, a JM1 modem and a JM3 CSC package.

Start out by setting your phone in download mode.

  1. Make any necessary backups. Your contacts, SMS messages and Emails will not survive. Stuff under /sdcard on the phone will most likely survive (pictures, media, etc.), but take precautions here. Smart people sync their stuff elsewhere, like Google. They already have everything they need about you, so don’t worry.
  2. Shut down the phone, and if you like, remove the sim card and any microSD card you might have inserted.
  3. Press down the Home key and the Volume Down button, then the power button.
  4. Phone should start to a black and yellow “Download” mode, with the classic Android mascot
  5. Start up Odin on your PC, but DO NOT hook up your phone yet.
  6. In Odin, select your pit file, and on the left side, check all three boxes (Re-partition, Auto-Reboot and F. Reset Time)
  7. At this point, hook up your phone, and wait for Odin to detect it. The status box should read “Device added!” or similar.
  8. Hit Start on the right side. Wait for the phone to reboot, and Odin reports PASS with green background.
  9. Remove the battery and disconnect the phone. Boot it up to Download-mode again, but don’t hook it up to your PC yet.
  10. Restart Odin, and this time don’t add the .pit file. Instead add the three firmware packages under Phone, Modem and CSC. They should be individual .tar packages. Don’t try to open them.
  11. Remove the checkmark from Re-partition, on the left, but leave the other two.
  12. Connect your phone and wait for it to be picked up by Odin.
  13. Hit Start, and wait for it to go to PASS, again.

Depending on the firmware you may have downloaded, you may get a funky language on your first boot. You can fix it with the following “Blind-Guide”:

  1. In the Home-screen, hit the left function key to get the menu up.
  2. Select Settings, which is the Gear-icon, in the bottom right corner of the menu.
  3. Select Locale and text, the icon is a grey box, with the capital letter A inside.
  4. Hit Select Local. This is the top item in the menu.
  5. You should now find your locale from the list.

You may also need to restore your backups, and your APN settings for mobile broadband and MMS. Follow operator directives for these, as they will probably be lost during the firmware update. Android 2.2 will fix this, allowing you to do updates Over the Air, without losing your stuff.

Lagfix

The lagfix, which is a must for any Samsung Galaxy S owner, has now been made very simple. Open up market, and search for Samsung Galaxy S. You should see the One Click Lagfix. Download and install. Start it up, and install ext2 tools, and then the lagfix. On-screen instructions are pretty self explanatory. You can also do some kind of rooting here, but i haven’t tried the functions. Reboot when asked or just let it do its thing.

What happens is, you’ll get an ext2 file system on a part of your internal memory (you can also use a fast microSD card, which, i’m told, improves performance even more), and stuff will be run from that. This is much faster, and i am sure you’ll notice the difference.

Can i break something?

Well, it’s unlikely. You can use Odin in every scenario i’ve read about to restore a working firmware on your phone. I have read of a few isolated cases where things went awry, but were still fixable through some hacks.

Everything described here should be pretty safe, but again, i’m not liable if you brick your phone. Proceed with caution and don’t forget common sense.

Benchmarking

A standard 2.1 off the shelf Galaxy S should get about 900 points in Quadrant ( a benchmark application you can find in the Market). After the firmware upgrade and lagfix, i’m getting around 2100 points. This is of course synthetic stuff, measuring CPU, I/O and Graphics performance. Quadrant Pro will show you more details about how the points are distributed and calculated. It seems to be very I/O focused, as the filesystem fix brings an improvement of over 1000 points.

On the other hand, you’ll be so pleased with your smooth flowing UI that you won’t really care.

Samsung Galaxy S, pt.1 – Rooting

So, i became a Droid of the Galactic Empire, and left the Cult of Steve; dumping my iPhone 3GS to some other poor sod at the office. A few weeks ago, i went out and got the Samsung Galaxy S; their current flagship model.

The specs of the phone are as follows:

  • 1,0 GHz “Hummingbird” processor (Arm Cortex A8 base)
  • 2,0GB ROM
  • 6,0GB Flash
  • 512MB RAM
  • microSDHC slot (up to 32GB)
  • 4,0″ Super-Amoled screen 480×800 resolution
  • All the standards in the way of wireless, 802.11n, BT, A-GPS, HSUPA (7,2Mbit/s mobile broadband)
  • MicroUSB out, with support for TV-out

Basically it has a lot more oomph than the computer i had 10 years ago, in terms of almost everything, storage, cpu, telecom, etc. Anyway. It’s a nice phone, and so far i’ve noticed very few things to complain about. My intention is not a review per se, there are tons of those which speak for themselves. I’m gonna try to write simple-as-possible instructions for doing things like firmware upgrades, lag-fixes and other nifty tricks, as well as listing handy applications from the Android Market.

rooting

rooting of the phone has been made fairly simple. it consists of three distinct steps:

  1. Copy update.zip (as is, do not extract) to the /sdcard folder on your phone
  2. Boot phone into recovery mode
  3. Apply update.zip and wait for phone to reboot

Steps are performed as follows.

1. Go to the Homescreen and press the menu button (left of the home key), -> Settings -> About Phone -> Usb Settings -> Mass storage
2. Hook up USB cable and install any drivers that might be prompted, or not. Your internal memory (/sdcard) should be mounted
3. Copy update.zip to the root of that folder
4. Disconnect USB cable, and shut down phone
5. Boot phone so that you first press the volume up key on the side of the phone, and the home button, and keep holding them down, while pressing the power button. Phone will boot into recovery mode. Release all buttons as soon as you see text scrolling by. This will come after the Samsung logo.
6. Using the volume up and down keys, select the menuitem called “Apply update.zip”, and press the Home key to confirm. Rooting will commence, and phone will reboot after it’s done.
7. You will have two new menu entries in your phone under the Applications menu: “Superuser permission” and “BusyBox Installer”.
8. Open up the BusyBox Installer and upgrade to the latest version, or do it through the Android Market.

You now have a rooted phone, which can access any part of the phone filesystem, and allows you to use su to gain superuser permissions to do whatever you want. Get a terminal app from the Market, or do whatever you please. You can’t really break it, since you can always use Odin to reflash the phone, should something go pear-shaped. I’ll cover this in my next post.

Edit: Small corrections in terminology, download mode -> recovery mode. Thanks Anteuz.

Uncharacteristics.

I’ve taken to not writing anything about my personal life, but.. it’s a late hour, and i’m feeling like shit, so i might as well use this as a kind of diary. I don’t expect commentary. Not many people can understand what i’m going through, and that’s just fine. This is mostly for me. So i can read about it later. Maybe i was also influenced by E to some degree to write this.

Since the breakup from my 6 year relationship with the first woman i really loved, I’ve gone through so many stages. I guess these are all in psych 104 or whatever, but it’s another thing experiencing them on your own.

I thought i was set. A great kid, a son none the less, someone to carry on the family name. A beautiful wife whom i loved. A burgeoning career doing the thing i love the most. Years worth of un-replaceable experiences, good memories and immortal moments. A home.

Some people say that home is where you are. But when you’ve built something together, and one of the architects are taken away, it’s no longer your home. It’s just a storage place for memories.

Granted; good memories never fade. Bad memories stick around just long enough to teach us something, but they are gradually put aside. It’s how the human mind works. The brain can’t handle too much of the bad stuff, or it malfunctions and you become incapable of performing anything but the most basic tasks; if even those. I have what is called a high thresh-hold for activity or performance. I can take higher than average loads of crap, before i become unable to go to work, meet people, do things. Whether this is a good thing or not is debatable.

We’ve sat on the beach facing the Mediterranean, felt the fine sand under our toes, looking at the sunset. Feeling the salty breeze on our faces. Being happy, smiling and looking at each other. Ate rabbit stew up in a restaurant in a small village in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with an entré of Jámon Serrano. Climbed up to an old Moor castle. Climbed the Eifel Tower. Walked across Paris to reach the Louvré which looked a whole lot closer on the map. The gargoyles of Notre Dame. The steps leading up to the Sacre Coeur. Standing in the middle of Time Square. Looking across the bay toward the Statue of Liberty.

Sitting on the couch watching Eureka, or Alias or something. The small things. Saw the whole of Alias almost in sequence. And this was just a few months ago it feels.

Since i have partially eidetic memory, and a visual memory in general as well, i can’t look at certain items anymore without feeling such deep sorrow. I remember where almost every DVD in my shelf was bought. When we first watched it. I had to replace about 3000 euro worth of furniture just to be able to live here. And here i am, still stuck in this 95 m2 appartment, with jack-all to do, and a brick where my brain should be. Just writing this makes me cry.

As i’ve concluded to so many people: all i have is a pile of good memories and the question of why.

Why do nice guys finish last?

Assembly 2010, and some other updates

Assembly 2010 is over and done. Thursday through Sunday was spent at Hartwall Arena, the biggest hockey arena in Finland. Assembly is, to my knowledge, the biggest demo-scene party in the world. It’s also basically (and some would say today, more) a LAN party. Imagine 3000 geeks hauling their computers, audio gear and other doohickeys to a single location with near limitless bandwidth and power to make music, socialize, play games and above all else, watch demos and music produced by others; competing in different categories. These are collectively called compos, short for competitions.

*disclaimer* I’m not involved in the demo-scene, even though i greatly admire it. I also did not start computing with Charles Babbage in the late 1800’s, and am not familiar with most of the older hardware. Some terms might be wrong, because i simply don’t understand everything, but i try. *disclaimer*

The wildest part of the event are the compos. It’s a demo scene event, not a LAN party. There’s a separate event called Assembly Winter, which is focused on gaming. But still, i would say most attendees are there to play games. And while i did my fair share of gaming, demos are what i come there for. And my friends.

So what’s so special about demos, and what are they? Well, demos are interactive, or non-interactive multimedia presentations, that have to abide by certain guidelines. Some demos are called intros, and are shorter, and smaller in size than full demos. There are two kinds of intros at assembly, the 4K and the 64K intros. The K refers to Kilobytes, as that is the sizelimit for the compressed intro. Intro are all executable, so whatever you see and hear are created by the program as it is being run. It’s not a drawn animation or a set of ready made frames.

Now imagine 4KB. 4096 characters. Try to include music, moving graphics and text, and if you have any concept of memory, you will be blown away. My Suunto T3 digital watch has multiple times this amount of memory. Heck, your SIM card has more memory to use! Though, it has to be mentioned that libraries and such are not included in the compressed demo. With libraries included, the size is considerably larger, but.. still. They are awesome, and the people making them are total demi-gods at their craft.

The entries in general were good, and surprisingly plentiful. Quality was high in the 4k and 64K intros, while the demo category was a bit of a letdown, compared to the last two years, at least.

I met some great people. you know who you are. Met some current and ex-colleagues, most of whom hard at work organizing the whole thing for the rest of us. Thanks to you guys.

—-

Updates

—-

Jacob Appelbaum, whom i mentioned in the HOPE posts, was recently arrested arriving to the US. Interrogated, his laptop confiscated and then returned (because he refused to hand over encryption keys). So i guess, the FBI didn’t really like the stunt he pulled at HOPE. I’m not sure what the current situation is, but i hope he’s alright. He seemed like a nice fellow, who does not deserve to be persecuted.

In other news, the Pentagon has threatened Wikileaks. They are demanding they take down all the material stolen (they mean leaked by their own people), or else. I wonder what the fuck they are going to do about it, huh? Bomb every colocation center in the world? Well it wouldn’t be the first time you just shoot at everything to prove a point. But i double dare them to do anything. Wikileaks isn’t going anywhere, and since the materials are already on the tubes (the internet for the rest of you!), they are never ever coming back to them again. Removing wikileaks, though this will never happen, will change nothing. It will merely fuel the fire, and for every mirror taken down, five new ones will come out. The files are available as Torrents, and already on numerous other sites. “Taking back” or “returning” content does not work like the on the internets, guys. If person A steals a missile, you can demand to have it back. If person B copies files that you inadequately protected, and walks out with them, and posts them on the web, it is a copy, therefore un-returnable, especially when it’s been distributed.

So in conclusion, do not threaten people when you do not have the slightest fucking idea of what you are talking about. Second of all, secure your shit if you don’t want it to get out. Third of all, i hope you burn in hell for the stuff you’ve done all over the world. You do not run the world, even if you have all the bombs.

That is all.