Saturday, May 29, 2010

Much Ado About Android – part I

After years of dealing with completely frustrating and useless Windows mobile cellular devices I decide it was time to jump on the inevitable bandwagon of Google and their Android platform. The reason I choose Android over the iPhone is I like the idea of a little more freedom and while I do not agree with all of Google’s business practices, I appreciate that their prison is little more accommodating. Now, every technology platform is its own little prison, regardless of what people will even say about Linux or FreeBSD.

When it comes to vendors, hands down, Apple makes the nicest and most comfortable prisons. Microsoft makes functional prisons that appear to work seamlessly so long as you can tolerate all of the constant maintenance, damp infected rooms, and doors that should lead to bliss but only lead to dead ends. The Google prison is very similar to Apple’s but not quite as refined or clean. The trade off is that Google lets you out of your cell from time to time and even lets you share food and toys with your neighbors. And if you are adventurous enough and willing to go through all the hoops you can even leave the prison for short periods of time to go get your own soda and desert. All in all Apple and Google make very similar and wonderful prisons, but I choose Google Android.

Before I get carried away and you all think I am hook-line-and-sinker in love with Google; Google is evil and stores and tracks way too much information about what we do, what we like, and how we use our computers and the Internet. The reason I am okay with Google compared to the tactics that Microsoft employs is that Google does not force their technology down our throats. Now if Google decided that you could only use their search engine from certain computers, of that you could only access GMail through Chrome, or if they created their own language that you were forced to use to access any of your data stored on their cloud, I would definitely lump them in to the Microsoft camp and boycott them. But I digress; this post is not about my views of why and how Microsoft failed when they could have so easily taken over the world.

The phone I purchased was an unlocked version of the HTC Magic (same as the T-Mobile myTouch 3G, just an unlocked version). This phone shipped with version 1.5 of the Android OS commonly referred to by its code name of Cupcake (Version 1.6 has a code name of Donut for example, 2.0/2.1 is called Eclair, and 2.2 is called Froyo). Now as you can see, version 1.5 is really starting show its age. Eclair is out and Froyo is quickly on its way. So I decided I was going to take Google’s pledge to the test and try and take my phone out for a walk and see about updating its code.

So following all the buzz about newer features and the beauty of the Android platform I spent the better part of the weekend reading and reading and reading about all the bits and pieces that are needed to get your phone “hacked”, “rooted”, and upgraded. Now I must say that there is a LOT of information out there about how to do this and do that, and the folks over at and have a plethora of information. However, like all things Linux it is a PAIN-IN-THE-BACKSIDE to try and piece it all together. Linux people and developers are often of the mindset that it is it out there somewhere in some nasty forum list somewhere and that you need to read every meaningless post for hours and hours to find the one nugget of information that you need.

Over the next few days/weeks I am going to write a series of short posts that talk about the various bits and pieces and how they all bolt together so that you do not need to spend hours trying figure out what is what.