Flashing Dragons

Having flashed a custom Froyo (Android 2.2) ROM onto my Vibrant, I was now giddy with excitement over the new capabilities my phone inherited with the new software.  WiFi Calling, WiFi hotspot (although I already had this installed), FFC support, plus a host of other improvements.

The ROM, called Onyx (like the gemstone), is based on a beautiful black setting.  This was flashed on top of the stock 2.2 kernel.  Unfortunately it’s been found that the stock RFS format on the Vibrant can become corrupt.  To overcome this I flashed a custom kernel call Dragon.  What this does is avoid RFS entirely by formatting the entire system as ext4.  This is not only much more reliable than RFS, but is much quicker in terms of I/O.  As such it has been used in a lagfix called Voodoo.

So now my Vibrant is running much quicker and smoother than it ever could on the stock system.  A dragon with a black onyx.  What a potent combo.

A Norse God Saved My @$$

Being a certified Android Flashing Fool it was inevitable that I would one day brick my phone with a bad flash.  Well, it happened not once but twice.  With the help of a Norse God named Odin I was able to return my Vibrant back to stock (and without even resorting to a human sacrifice)

While they don’t condone or promote flashing custom ROM’s, Samsung does provide users with a way to bring your phone back to stock form.  Check out the Vibrant Directory on the XDA forums for numerous posts about using Odin (includes links to download the program, the required files to bring it back to stock, as well as how-to videos showing the procedure).

And if you’re interested in flashing a custom ROM (Or even jumping the gun and flashing a stock version of Froyo (Android 2.2)) on your Vibrant the same Vibrant Directory will also provide the necessary files.

Shall we Tango?

Now that the front facing camera is working, it’s time to find me some good video chat software.  Originally stumbled across an app called Fring.   While it was a good start, the app has a lot to be desired.  Grainy video and an almost comic book interface.  Not quite my style.  The one redeeming quality was the loop-back test, quite a good feature as it allows you to test your setup without another handset.

While perusing the xda forums I happened upon a few folks mentioning an app called Tango. So, doing my best lemming impersonation I followed.  Boy was I glad I did.  The first thing you notice is the definite difference in picture quality vs Fring.  The image filled the screen and it actually looked good.  Plus the interface was much cleaner.  It also allows you to switch back and forth between the front and rear camera.  The only issue (and one the I’ve brought to the attention of the Tango Dev team) is that there isn’t a loop-back capability.  They liked the idea and hopefully we’ll see one soon.

What might you ask makes this so different from the apple Iphone 4 facetime app?  The main difference is that you can run it on a 3G network, you don’t need a wifi connection (by the way you Iphone 4 folks can run Tango too).  Of course the video/audio may be choppy depending upon your connectivity.  But it works.  So while it currently isn’t much more than a novelty item, the video chat capabilities are definitely available.  Even without a front facing camera, you can use Tango to stream live video directly to someone.

So get your groove on and Tango the night away.

Let’s just hope that there isn’t a video chat app out there called the Quickstep.

The Patient Is Doing Fine

A couple of days after the Vibrant surgery and the patient is none the worse for wear.  The mod itself is a simple matter of replacing the existing camera unit with the newer one (it’s the same camera except with the ffc attached).  All mounting holes and spaces are still intact from the international version.  The only physical change to the phone is the removal of the paint that is covering the hole.

The last step is to flash an Android 2.2 based ROM.

If you’re interested in the mod see the xda-developers forum at:  http://bit.ly/csbfDN

For a 2.2 based ROM check out the Team Whiskey site at:  http://bit.ly/9ziLXY (ROM called Obsidian) or http://bit.ly/d64XMp (ROM called Onyx).  There’s also some 2.2 based ROM’s on the xda site (a little searching will uncover them).

Surgery Pre-Op

Okay so the FFC camera has arrived.  Time for my camera pre-op.  I wonder if I should have it sign a release waiver.

Vibrant surgery

Feeling a lot like Tim “The Toolman” Taylor as I embark on some minor surgery for my Samsung Vibrant.

A little background info. In their infinite wisdom Tmo decided to remove the standard Front Facing Camera (henceforth referred to as FFC) from the Samsung Galaxy S smartphone while rebranding it as the Vibrant.  This left a lot of folks (well actually a lot geeks, not sure I would characterize them as “folk”) feeling deprived of something that’s a standard item in the international as well as some US versions of the phone.

As Tim would say about something that needs an improvement ….”I’ll rewire it…”

So after some minor surgery and some software tweaks to the kernel my Vibrant will have the the capability of doing video calls.   One downside to all of this is that there is only 2 people that I know of that have the capability of doing video calls from their phone, my buddy @GeeWhy (he has the iPhone 4 but I wont hold it againts him) and a buddy at work (who also has an iPhone 4, what is this world coming too?).

So what does this get me besides additional hardware on my phone?  Probably nothing, but it does give me the satisfaction of fixing something that should never have been broken in the first place.  Oh and it does allow me to say “I HAVE THE POWER!….”  Sorry, just had a He-Man moment there.

So stand clear as I break out my Binford pocket knife with the attached smartphone cover extration tool and get to work.   And dont mind the occasional grunt or growl.

Hawaiian Trekkie Nirvana

Christmas is coming 3 weeks early for Hawaiian Trekkies.  The Star Trek Convention in Hawaii will kick off the 45th Anniversary Celebration.  For more information check out the official website .

Android Flashing Fool

One downfall of being an avid Android geek is feeling the inherent need to continually upgrade ROM’s and Kernels. In a never ending quest for speed and capability I’ve gone through at least 10 ROMs and 3 different kernels for my Samsung Vibrant.
My latest combination is the Bionix Fusion 1.1 ROM with JACs Overclocked (OC) / Undervolt (UV) Kernel and Voodoo LagFix.  Will this be my last flash?  Probably not, when the Devs come out with a better, faster, cleaner ROM I’ll be standing in line to download and upgrade.

Whether you’re looking to enhance your Android or Win smartphone with just a cool theme or if you’re adventurous enough to do a full ROM/Kernel change,  http://www.xda-developers.com/ will have something to suite your tastes.


miXtape at the Horton Grand Theater

While in San Diego my wife and I had the pleasure of attending a local production called miXtape.  It’s playing at the Horton Grand Theater through December 19.

The cast and crew take you on a nostalgic journey through the 80′s via the entertainment tool known back then by teens as the mixtape.  It was basically a cassette tape with a mix of one’s most important songs merged into a nonstop entertainment train.

The women in the cast were incredible singers but the guys were the ones who stole the show.  While their voices weren’t as smooth as the women their antics and facial expressions really got the crowd hooting and howling.  From Duran Duran to CHiPs they had the crowd dancing and singing along (also having one of the male leads come running onto the stage in his whitey tighty’s ala Tom Cruise in Risky Business surely helped their cause).

So if you happen to be in San Diego before December 19 I wholeheartedly recommend saving a night to watch miXtape.  The Horton Grand Theater is located just a block away from the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, so you can make it a night out on the town with dinner, a show and dancing (oh and dont forget dessert at the Ghirardelli ice cream shop).