Thursday, October 10, 2013

...welcome back



No..I'm not watching reruns of Welcome back Kotter.  Are there still reruns of Welcome back Kotter?  I haven't seen mention of that show in maybeeeeee.. 5 years?

No...No.. this post is to announce something far grander.  I am...jumping out of Apple's crockpot and back into Androids cold metallic embrace . Way...back...when, I used to use Android devices and I enjoyed them,  but somewhere along the way, style became more important than substance.  I guess I just wanted to be one of the cool kids with just the right G.I.Joe to give validity to my status.  Having gone through an iPhone 4, 4S and an iPhone 5 as well as three iPads, I can confidently say that I have tried embracing the dark side and it no longer fascinates me.

I call it the dark side, because of it's limiting nature. The standard iPhone user has no problem with the iOS "ecosystem" (I don't like that term, by the way.  It's too....blah...but it is the industry standard, so I digress), but there are some of us that feel far too constrained by the limitations in these devices.

  • Screen size...with the competition building various sizes of devices that fill almost every niche, Apple's decision to simply add a cheaper option made of plastic (iPhone 5C) instead of adding a larger option to capture the market segment that is held almost exclusively by buyers of the Galaxy S4 and/or Galaxy Note leaves one scratching their head.  I understand the need or desire to capture the base market segment, but there is a wide swath of people that pine for a larger screen.  Note...I said larger, not longer.  My thumb was comfortably able to reach the top of the 4/4S screen without feeling encumbered.

  • Expandability.. I understand the concept of planned obsolescence.  Whether it be an iPhone 4 coming to a crawl after a recent OS update or simply a user running out of space because any app "worth-a-damn" is just too dang big, the nature of Apple's business model requires more frequent "Upgrades" than one should have to.  To be forced to buy a new iPhone should the need arise to expand storage because I love the image quality of the iPhone 5 camera and therefore take a massive amount of pictures is simply ludicrous in this day and age of rock bottom flash memory prices.  A 64gb microSD card costs about $20...you do the math. 

  • iTunes.. Simply put...it's a dog.  ...and not the cute kind that just wants to cuddle and kiss and follow you around in hopes that a Chicken McNugget will spontaneously fall out of your arse. It's the kind of dog that chews on everything in the house and takes a wizz on your computer, eating up valuable resources and leaves other types nuggets all over the place.  In all seriousness...the piece of software (POS)  is poorly written and badly implemented in the Windows environment.  ...and this boy ain't going Mac...he likes to build his own PC's...but that's another story.   Android requires no Ball-and-Chain to a desktop client.  It's all in the CLOUD, baby!...and not in the iCloud (Apple's half-assed implementation of cloud storage).   Do yourself a favor and open DropBox and Bitcasa accounts.
To get familiar with the Android farm, I dug up an old Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 that I had sitting in my storage closet.  This thing is now a couple years old with specs that are outclassed by today's flock of tablets, but it's current enough to run Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). To those of you unfamiliar with the process involved with gaining full control over an Android device's settings and appearance, it'called "rooting". A rooted device can be overclocked to increase processor speed, underclocked to decrease the same (to say...save battery life), or simply updated with custom ROMs (builds of the Android OS) that allow different features and nuanced aesthetic modifications. On occasion, you'll find ROMs that allow the installation of newer versions of the OS on older devices, breathing fresh life (though oft short-lived) into their aged bones. 

I directed myself over to XDA-Developers.com (a fantastic repository of all things Android) and started searching the Developer section for my GT2, which is a 7" model (GT-P3113).

XDA-Developers Page for the GT2 7"

I settled in on a custom ROM built by a group know as SlimROMs called Slim Bean-P31xx that is based off of Jelly Bean.

Slim Bean

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I purchased my GT2 pre-rooted.  The previous owner had done the "hard" part and installed a recovery console (ClockworkMod 5.5.0.4) and installed a different ROM based off of an older version of Android.  I did not deem it necessary to update to a newer version of the recovery console, but I did download the Slim-Bean ROM to a microSD card to flash onto the GT2. I powered down the tablet, installed the uSD card and booted into recovery by simultaneously pressing the "power" button and "volume up" button.  I then navigated through the menu to instruct the console to flash from the uSD card (manually selecting the correct file).  A few minutes later, I had a fully updated and functional Jelly Bean tablet.  I'm still experimenting with features, but I'm happy with the upgrade:




























Stay tuned for updates when my Galaxy Note II phone comes in.  I'm going to go all "War Games" with that thing!



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