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My New Phone (Written on said phone)

Date: 2013-03-29
Tags: android

NOTE: I’m fairly reckless with everything that’s about to happen for two reasons (1) I literally don’t have anything to lose on the phone (SD Card is backed up and Android/Google take care of the rest) and (2) the phone is returnable (I was told for any reason but wasn’t hoping to test that out) in the next 6 days. Please don’t follow my lead if you’re not comfortable with loosing the SD card or the phone.

The old phone

Incredible 4G and FreedomPro keyboard. (Standard-sized postcard and HDMI cable behind the fireball for size comparison)

I had been using an Incredible 2 (vivow) for the past one and three-quarter years. It had worked great until it decided to stop charging this week. I disassembled the phone and couldn’t find any obvious disconnection.

I’ve had issues with the phone, but nothing that would have caused me to replace it. For instance, I’ve been running a nightly build of CyanogenMod 10 thanks to AeroEvan, but it had its fair share of bugs. I also had a build of CyanogenMod 9, which was a bit more stable, but also had little quirks here and there. I’ve been able to deal with those minor bugs and quirks without any large sacrifice on my part.

The new phone

Once my vivow died, I did some research and the Incredible 4G LTE (fireball) was the best deal and it had the specs I wanted (world phone and rootable, but no FM radio, noöne seems to include those anymore), and people have gotten S-OFF, thanks to Team Unlimited and jose51197 & captinrewind, and custom roms, thanks to the CyanogenMod Team, on it, so there is some developer support. None of this is thanks to HTC, probably due to Verizon, not listing the fireball on the HTCDev site to get unlock codes for bootloaders.

I wanted to give the stock rom a fair shot. It lasted about an hour before I get fed up with the limits to the customizability of it. Within 2 hours I had CM 10.1 and was downloading all the apps I normally used via the Play Store (plus a couple not there like moonblink’s Tricorder.

However, there were a couple bumps I hit that I’ll go through here. First, to get into fastboot mode, I had to pull the battery; apparently shutdown doesn’t mean shutdown anymore. I ran a Ubuntu 12.04 i86 LiveCD to use DirtyRacun. At that point between the instructions from Team Unlimited and on xda it was a fairly straight forward process to acquire S-OFF and temproot. Those two allowed me to easily install a new recovery partition and from there a new ROM. I chose to use the monthly build of Cyanogen 10.1 for the Fireball.

Once installed and all my apps got redownloaded, I realized that my 32GB SD card wasn’t being used in the way I expected it to be. I learned that there is “internal” and “external” SDcards now, in addition to phone storage. It appears to have to do with a new, multi-user feature. I wondered how much chaos I could summon if I just mounted them in the opposite places. ADB, here I come!

No devices found

After seeing no devices in adb devices I figured USB debugging must be off. To the dev menu! There is no dev menu. After a little disbelief I learned that the dev menu can be summoned by rapidly clicking the build number in the System submenu 7 times (it helpfully gives a countdown). I enabled USB debugging and having the power menu list reboot options, like recovery, which I had also noticed were missing, but didn’t think much about it.

Device Offline

After a little searching I came across a thread that said that Android now requires computers to be OKed before adb can be used, and that requires the newest SDK. Once downloaded and the server restarted (as root), my phone asked if such and such computer is OK to use adb.

Wife^H^H^H^HSD swap!

I began with an su, as most dangerous and exciting things do, and no love. I find that in the developer menu I need to enable apps and adb to have su powers. I promptly enable adb and start off again.

I edited my /system/etc/vold.fstat file (after making a backup!) in vi (because it’s everywhere) to swap sdcard with external_sd and sdcard0 with sdcard1. I go to save and no joy. I find that you can mount -0 rw,remount -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system and my adb session freezes,but the phone works.

With minor concern I open a new terminal and adb shell into my phone again. All looks good and I make the change, save, and reboot. Everything comes up and works. Huzzah. Let’s do some tunes!

WinAmp! Where are you?

I notice that every app, not to my surprise 10 sec later, is gone. “OK” I think, “I’ll just move them to the new card.” ADB, here I come.

After trying to copy .android_secure from sdcard1 to scard0 I find a permission problem. I can’t seem to figure out how to remount the appropriate filesystems, so I proceed to reboot into recovery, mount, adb in, copy, reboot.


The Keyboard

Because I happen to think it’d be super cool to type out blog posts, notes, and ideas on my phone, I purchased a FreedomPro Keyboard. I got it today and once I figured out it needs to be in SPP mode and you need to use the driver, not Android , to connect to it, it works fine. The media and home keys work as expected. The AltGr works. The call and hang-up buttons work.

I only have four complaints about it. Two relate to all subfull sized, this guy is about 90% size, the right shift is short and I often hit the up arrow and esc key is where I feel the one should be (the top row goes ESC, backtick, then numbers). The next is mixed actually. It uses AAA batteries, and isn’t USB rechargable. The third is really something I was hoping for and not really an issue with the device: the pop out phone stand (which is nice for just a stand too) doesn’t attach to the keyboard when open (it stows inside the keyboard when being stored).

All-in-all I’m very happy with my choice of phone, rom, and keyboard.


About 95% of this post was written on my phone, from my keyboard. I’m pretty happy with how this all turned out, and we’ll see if my recklessness will get me into trouble anytime soon. I’d recomend both the FreedomPro Keyboard and the Incredible 4g. I feel like we’ll have a nice, long, productive relationship.