Flashing a Google Nexus 7

This post is going to describe the process of flashing your nexus 7 from stock android ( the google nexus 7 doesn’t come with any carrier add-on software )

What You Need :

  • Android Platform-Tools from the Android SDK (Install Platform-Tools only… You do not want nor need the Google USB Drivers)
  • Universal Naked ADB/Fastboot/APX Drivers for Android
  • Team Win Recovery Project Recovery Image for Nexus 7 (Grouper)
  • CyanogenMod 10.1 for Nexus 7 (Grouper)
  • Google Apps (2012-12-12) for Android 4.2.x
  • SuperSU v1.04 (Superuser has problems on 4.2)

Continue reading “Flashing a Google Nexus 7”

Best User Instruction manual ever

I’ve seen some pretty creative ones over the years, mostly online manuals, but this one has to take the cake.  When I saw this, I couldn’t resist sharing it.

The idea of having a step by step guide, available to new users, users who have never had a smart phone.   Take a look for yourselves.


Nexus S/Android review

Back in May i was faced with replacing my IPhone4 with another mobile device. The reason i needed to change was that i was changing jobs and the phone was a company phone. Being in Canada, i was going to get screwed by the astronomical prices we have here no matter what, so it wasn’t really a matter of finding a good deal, there is no such thing as a good deal on mobile service for Canadian residents. For those unaware, Canada has probably the highest costs for mobile service of any developed nation.

I decided to take the time and look around the options and figure out what i wanted. I had already had an IPhone 4 for almost a year, and wasn’t overly impressed. I am not a windows guy so a windows phone wasn’t very interesting. I decided Android was the platform for me. Now the problem, which model. I finally settled on the Nexus S. I like the fact that the nexus series phones, as they aren’t locked to a specific version.

I’ve had my Nexus S for a little over 4 months now, and feel comfortable to give it a decent review now.

I am running Android 2.3.6 on my nexus S. It is snappy and responsive ( even while running Launcher Pro with a bunch of widgets enabled. ) The first thing that i noticed enough to compare was that you could have widgets that actually do stuff as opposed to on the IPhone widgets aren’t supported ( i am not talking about rooting the phone, i am talking “stock” setup. You can root either device and do more, but even rooted i give this win to Android as you have more control than a rooted IPhone because of the OS). Customization options on the android are pretty slick.

First thing to notice on android, is its intuitive, and easy to use.  Navigation is easy and simple, they even have a “intro” widget that will guide you through the basics, such as finding applications, adding shortcuts to the main screen.

There is a fundamental different thought that should be noted, on an IPhone, your apps are listed on the screen where as Android has a drawer, and you have the option of adding shortcuts to the screen.

The Android market has a good selection of  apps to suite most of your requirements.  A lot of companies are starting to see the light and offer both Android and IPhone apps.  There are however someone people going for biggest bang for their buck and will only provide an IPhone app.  Typically these are more related to specific services, and not tasks.  An example of this is instagram,  they only offer an IPhone app, but there are other alternatives ( such as Retro Camera ) that will accomplish most of the same things.

As for the hardware, the camera on the Nexus S, is very comparable to the one from the IPhone 4, the screen isn’t as pixel perfect ( but uses less battery as well.

I have to say one thing that i really appreciate about the Nexus S, the SD partition mounts like a normal removable media device.  You don’t need to be tied to ITunes, or anything else.  Which makes it simple for adding/removing music pictures, videos, ring tones, etc.

Overall, for people fitting my profile( slightly more geeky, wanting an easy to customize platform without voiding warranty by rooting ) i definitely suggest the Android.

Scripting Layer 4 Android

Last week I wanted to try out some of the touted “customization abilities” and ease of development of the Android platform for developers.  Being a hacker at heart, I had to give it a shot.

I wasn’t yet ready to fully throw myself into full on app development yet, mostly due to time constraints, and family commitments ( I must keep the family happy after all ).  So I just wanted to try out some stuff without spending too much time on this quest.

After a little bit of googling, I landed on SL4A ( Scripting Layer for Android ).  It appears to be a pretty cool option, as you can use a few different scripting options including but not limited to Lua, Perl, Python, PHP and Ruby.  I personally feel more comfortable, for now, with python, so I figured, what do I have to lose.

Setup is relatively straight forward, you install the sl4a app from their site, follow the instructions to install an interpreter ( i.e. the python, perl or ruby interpreter ).  Then its a simple matter of firing up a text editor on your computer, pumping out the script and copying it to the /sl4a/scripts folder on your phone ( by mounting your phone using USB storage ).  The python interpreter actually had quite a few sample scripts to take a look at, including Google authentication, accelerometer readings, UI components, barcode scanner and Text to Speech.

I wouldn’t recommend this as an alternative to app development, but it is a pretty cool way to prototype, or to test the feasibility of something.  In fact that’s what I used to test the possibility for an App I’m working on. (more on that later).

Anyone out there wanting to try something out, or just see what can be done on an Android device, the learning curve is a lot easy to manage than the IPhone one, especially since you can stick to a language you know.

happy hacking

an IPhone, the experiment

apple iphone 4For the last six months, I have been an IPhone user.  Yes, yes I know, anyone who knows me is saying “what? the Linux guy turning into an apple fanboi?”  Not quite,  the phone is a company phone.  The phone is a black IPhone 4G.  I must admit, it was a pretty cool phone.  I still had my problems with it, but overall, it was an enlightening experience that I enjoyed.

First the good, this was my first experience in having a smart phone, sure I’ve used them on occasion, but never on a day to day basis.  The IPhone’s interface is really well done, apps are easy to install and use.  Navigation on the phone is nice and harmonized, and things are mostly where you would expect them to be, sometimes too many levels deep in the menu, but where you would think all the same.  The base installation of the IPhone is a very nice platform to use.

Lets talk about apps now.  The Apple AppStore, as of this post, has 350 000+ apps.  That is a huge number, and I have only sampled a very very microscopic sampling, but my experience has been mixed.  Some apps are really well done, to the credit of the development team, but some have been AWFUL, to the point of crashing repeatedly.  It goes to show that more isn’t always better.  I even at one point worked on an IPhone app, for a former company, and can only say that the development is one part, but then the process to get the app published to the AppStore, is both complicated, and not entirely logical.  Some apps make it online easily, while others get refused for weird reasons.  It almost feels like there is some guy ( or girl ) at the other end, and depending on their mood at that moment.  I had thought that the complicated purpose of getting apps onto the app store was to GUARANTEE quality, but that seems more fiction that fact.  So I ask myself, why the complex and lengthy submission process?

Of those 350 000+ apps, there are hundreds that do the same thing, I agree selection and competition is important, but at some point having 400 options becomes a hassle to find one, that isn’t broken, no longer supported, that does what you want, etc.  My only real other comment about the apps, is the selection of pre-installed apps.  Some of which I would have preferred not being there.  There are some options, that I wish I had the option to not have there.  For instance the weather app, for a Canadian is not the best option. The YouTube app, is “unnecessary” since you can add the mobile web page to the home page.  The Notes app, is also not the greatest, but usable.  I just believe that if you are going to impose apps, make them the best around, or offer people the chance to remove them.

I guess that’s it for now,  I will be switching to an android phone in the next couple weeks as I must return this phone upon leaving the company I was formerly employed at, so look forward to seing a post about that at some time in the future.