Hacking on the telephone   Leave a comment

I for one welcome our new robot overlords.

I may have remembered the ‘more’ tag.

Yesterday (Monday, shhh) I decided I couldn’t hold off voiding the warranty by mucking around with the ROM in my San Francisco any longer, and so I rooted it, backed up its apps and Android 2.1 install, nuked it from orbit, and installed Android 2.2.

And, you may be surprised to hear, it all went perfectly smoothly. Nothing corrupted, broken or bricked. That makes two Linux installs in a row that have gone off without a hitch. I know, right? Nobody more surprised than I.

The instructions I followed are here. Obviously, they’re only for the Orange San Francisco and ZTE Blade, and you should follow them very carefully, if you follow them at all, which anyone who works for Orange will say you shouldn’t.

The advantages so far are, firstly, that it’s got rid of all the crap, useless and broken apps Orange lumbered the poor thing with, meaning there’s an extra twenty or thirty megs of RAM free when you kill everything. Secondly, Android 2.2 lets you install apps to the SD card. On a ‘phone with such limited built-in storage as the SanFran (half a gig, and that includes the OS), this is invaluable; big, fat things like games can be shoved on removable storage, leaving you plenty of space on the ‘phone for essentials.

The only downside (aside from the usual EVERYTHING I WAS USED TO HAS CHANGED) was that the app I used to back-up my apps, Astro, only backed up the programs and not their data. So I had to re-enter email settings, but most tragic was my Angry Birds progress being lost, and my glorious 298-point Dropwords high-score is gone forever. Boo.

Happily, a few hours’ playing Angry Birds tonight got me all the way to the third page of levels, further than before. Dropwords’s previous best has just (while I was writing this) been smashed to a whopping 467, and it has given up trying to use its silly online nonsense instead of the local scoreboard, so overall pretty great.

Dropwords is a funny thing. It’s got ads, being free, but they’re not intrusive, don’t distract you from the game or cover things up, or even prevent the game running off-line, and are almost the perfect example of in-game advertising – apart from they sometimes absolutely murder performance. Dropwords is pretty slow anyway considering it just has to draw 25 squares with letters on (Angry Birds is much faster, and that’s got scaling, parallax scrolling and a physics simulation running as well as the ads), but sometimes the ads render it unplayable. When all you have to do is drag your finger over the squares. I don’t know how they manage it.
But kill the WiFi and fire it up and bang, smooth as slightly rancid, lumpy butter.

It’s a good game, though.


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