Tag Archives: root

Android Rooting and Modding: It Hurts So Good

Don’t do it. Seriously, don’t even think about it.

If you’ve listened to episode 95 of Pop Tech Jam you know all about the trouble I’ve had trying to unroot my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone and revive my Nexus 7 tablet (Mark 1).

I successfully rooted my Galaxy S4 not long after first getting it but recently realized I no longer needed root access. I could get the same functionality by throwing a few bucks at the problem.

No more tedious and extremely complicated manual updates. No more buggy customized ROMS and strange boot behavior.

If I could just get the darned phone back to factory new my life would be chock-full of unicorns and rainbows. It might even rain Skittles and fun-sized Krackel bars.

I’ll live with the bloatware—for now—until I can put together enough scratch for a Google Play Edition device or a Nexus phone.

The Nexus tablet had also been rooted many moons ago and I was running a CyanogenMod customized ROM that I liked very, very much. It worked fantastically well…until it didn’t.

The tablet sat idle for a few weeks and when I started it up it was bricked. Desperate to find a way to get it working, I started slogging through the seemingly endless amounts of bad information available on the Interwebz.

Most of what I found didn’t help and occasionally made the problem worse.

I’d spent weeks working on finding solutions but in an unprecedented wave of luck on a gorgeous Sunday in early June I was able to unroot the Galaxy phone and go full Lazarus on the Nexus tablet.

(Yes, I awkwardly pumped my fist a few times but don’t you dare judge me.)

The Unified Android Toolkit from a British outfit called SkipSoft looked to be a promising solution for both problems but it was only able to get the Nexus back in business.

For the Galaxy S4 I was forced to resort to more drastic measures. I tracked down a stock firmware image of the Android JellyBean that would work on the phone then used a ROM flashing tool called Odin to install it.

After what seemed like hours the Galaxy S4 was once again factory new, unrooted and happily installing over-the-air updates that has the phone humming along with the Kit Kat version of Google’s Android OS.

If you plan on ignoring my warnings about staying away from Android rooting and modding just PLEASE do your homework before attempting any type of customization.

Your warranty is void as soon as you start mucking around and if you permanently brick the device you’ll have to pony up for a brand new phone.

As I mentioned on the show the XDA Developers forum and Wiki has invaluable information if you decide to dive into the not so fun and incredibly stressful world of Android phone customization.  There’s also helpful stuff at the Phandroid site and forum.

The Wiki section of the CyanogenMod site and the forum has useful data, plus you can grab one of their fancy-schmancy “customized, aftermarket firmware distributions” while you are derping around.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I stumbled across a few blog posts that claim you can mod an old Nook tablet and have it run a full version of Android.

Looking forward to not heeding my own advice…

PTJ 95: Another Rootin’ Tootin’ Good Time

The Pop Tech Jam crew couldn’t help getting their geek on over this past U.S. holiday weekend.

J.D. spent her time off digging up online Cultural goodies from the British Library and New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art while El Kaiser tried valiantly to install customized versions of the Android mobile operating system onto his Samsung and Google branded devices.

In the news Amazon offers selected users the opportunity to sign up for a free 30-day test drive of the Fire TV set-top box ;  Oculus Rift technology may become an integral tool in the training of cyberwarriors;  Sony will allow customers to download pre-ordered games in advance for the PlayStation 4 game console; Intuit, makers of Quicken, goes shopping; technology paves the way for a new album from Queen with Freddie Mercury on vocals; and the Fine Brother’s “Kids React to Old Computers” video lights up YouTube.

Episode 55: Just Jammin’

This week we bring the jam! J.D. offers up alternatives to Photoshop as El Kaiser tries to find something decent to watch on Netflix and answers listener mail. In the news, the U.S. Emergency Alert System might be vulnerable to hackers; Google patches a 4 year old vulnerability in the Android mobile OS; bookseller Barnes & Noble get out of the tablet business; and the Mars rovers continue to do their thing on the Red Planet.

Episode 55 News: The Martian Chronicles

Another week, another collection of software vulnerabilities…For starters, the U.S. Emergency Alert System has a critical security flaw that could allow intruders to break into it and broadcast fake messages across the country. This is according to the security firm IOActive, which discovered the issue. The problem was due to a shared private SSH key for root privileges distributed in publicly available firmware images for the servers and computers that run the alert system. (Hackers are fond of creating messages about zombie attacks over public service signs and systems, so this could be tempting.)

malware2Bluebox Security found a big ol’ hole in Android last week — something about any app potentially turning into a nasty Trojan horse to get all up in your business. Google quickly whipped up a patch and pushed it out to smartphone OEMs for distribution and spokesperson said even though there’s a flaw, most users don’t have to worry about it.

As for Android, new numbers from Google this week that show that the Jelly Bean flavor of the system, (versions 4.1 and 4.2), have now combined to beat out the older Gingerbread 2.3 on active devices, with Ice Cream Sammich (version 4.0) firmly in third place. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4 phones are thought to be behind the surge in Jelly Bean use over the past year or so. So now we wait for a slice of Key Lime Pie.

The Boy Genius Report Web site claims to have news of Amazon’s plans for its next batch of Kindle Fire tablets. According to the BGR, Amazon has three new versions of the Kindle Fire in the works to debut this fall. While Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets are doing well, Barnes & Noble Way announced last week that it was getting out of the tablet business and leaving third-party hardware companies to build any future Nook tablets and the B&N CEO has now resigned. Not surprisingly, Microsoft has been mentioned as a potential buyer for the Nook business. Some are speculating that Barnes & Noble ditched the Nook in order to save its brick-and-mortar bookstores from extinction.

As promised earlier this year, Facebook is now rolling out its Graph Search feature across user accounts here in the US. (Graph Search is the new Facebook tool that lets users make very specific searches. If you’ve been on Facebook for a while, this might be a good time to review your privacy settings. In other social-networking news, Twitter updated its mobile apps this week with improvements to its own mobile search tool and direct message sync across all devices and platforms.

Apple TV, which added a few premium channel apps for cable subscribers last month, is reportedly in talks with Time Warner Cable to let subscribers watch their channels on the little black set-top box, according to Bloomberg News. And CNET reports that Beats Electronics is hoping to partner with AT&T for its new music subscription service.

Meanwhile, up on Mars, the Curiosity rover took a video of a Martian moonrise and its older sibling, the Opportunity rover just celebrated the 10th anniversary of its launch toward the Red Planet. While Martians used to be the stuff of fantasy, there’s a recent essay by Judith Shulevitz in the current New Republic magazine called “And the Martians Shall Save the University — Why Do We need the Liberal Arts? Because It Gave Us Sci-Fi.” If you like science, science fiction — or just find it really cool that a writer can dream up fantastic inventions to inspire engineers and researchers to build for real, give it a read. But first, go check your Facebook privacy settings.