Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I have to apologize for the past couple of weeks and for the next two-three weeks. Holiday break was off, so we were pretty busy at college. Now, the semester ended and guess what? EXAMINATIONS TIME! :(

I will resume posting regularly once I finish the exams (notice I didn't say "pass the exams") : algebra, chemistry, just what I "like", haha...

Until then... bear with me and wish me luck.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Downgrade, root, S-OFF & flash HTC Desire HD

I know I haven't been very active with the blog lately, and I apologise for that. I've been quite busy around the house, with Christmas and New Year closing in...

Now, I'm done with all that. Christmas has passed, New Year as well... and I wish you to have had a wonderful time with your family/friends these holidays.

Got anything for Christmas?
I sure did. I got rid of that HTC Desire and got myself a HTC Desire HD, as a Christmas gift. Not much of an upgrade, but still...

I finally managed to get a custom ROM running on it. I had to downgrade the firmware from 2.x (it was running Gingerbread) to 1.72 (with Froyo) to be able to root it and then S-OFF and flash a Recovery. This entire process took me about 3 hours, basically because I was screwing up on making the goldcard.

Here's what you need to do in order to have a custom ROM and all that. If your phone is running HTC firmware 1.72 or earlier (not 2.x, in any case), you don't have to make a goldcard and downgrade the firmware manually; just skip after those steps.

So... here we go.

Follow THIS guide to:
-create a goldcard for your phone (basically, a microSD card fooling the phone so that you can "upgrade" to a older image file instead of a newer one)
-downgrade the firmware
-obtain temporary / permanent root on the downgraded firmware
-flash ClockworkMod Recovery : I reccomend you NOT do that until you S-OFF (keep reading)

To create the goldcard, I'd reccomend you follow THIS guide instead. I was struggling with HxD editor for the first two hours, trying to make a goldcard (tried with 4 different microSD cards)... all failed : "CID authentication failed". So, the program I linked you to is way better -- with that, it worked.

Then, once you're downgraded & rooted, proceed to S-OFF. There is now a VERY easy tool you can use to obtrain ENG S-OFF on your HTC Desire HD. I used it, and it only took 5 seconds. For this, you would need (naturally) : ADB drivers, the Desire HD to be rooted & with a firmware older than 1.7x and .NET Framework 3.5 installed. HERE it is.

Once you're done with all that, all you have to do now is flash a Radio and a Recovery.

Detailed info on Radio flashing can be found HERE. Also, there is a large repository of Radio image files there. The latest Radio is from 1st of December, 2011, (extracted from HTC 3.12.405.1 WWE). Even though its source is NOT known and the maker of the thread reccomends against flashing it, I, among many other DHD users, have flashed it, and it's working VERY well.

Now, flash a Recovery. I'd reccomend you use 4EXT Recovery, which now has a Touch Recovery system, which is basically what its name says : a recovery through which you don't navigate using the awful volume + power buttons, but rather the actual touch screen. Check it out, it's quite neat. Also, it's better than ClockworkMod's. You can also follow the thread for future updates and more information, HERE.

Now that you have the latest Radio... Here's the thing. The latest Radio is What Radio you have does not matter for the ROM, it only gives you better reception and stuff like that. The RIL (Radio Interface Layer) matters, though.
The Radio is flashed separately from the ROM (just like the Hboot and the Recovery : they're not touched if you flash a custom ROM). The RIL, however, is part of the ROM. The RIL is the bridge between the ROM and the Radio. Say you have a new webcam. The webcam itself would be the Radio, and the webcam's software (driver) would be the RIL. We all know how tricky webcams get when the driver is wrong, right?

There are two types of custom ROMs : AOSP ROMs (based on Vanilla Android : CyanogenMod, MIUI etc.) and Sense ROMs (those that have HTC Sense UI on top). For AOSP ROMs, a different RIL and kernel is required. For Sense ROMs, a different RIL and kernel is required. Flashing a Sense kernel on an AOSP ROM doesn' do any good. Flashing a Sense RIL on an AOSP ROM would mean that you no longer have 2G/3G connectivity, for example.

If you plan on flashing a Sense-based custom ROM on your Desire HD, see THIS thread. There is a repository of RILs, SENSE RILs. Maybe a Sense-based custom ROM developer is reccomending that you use a DIFFERENT Radio from the last one, perhaps one that was released 6 months before. The only reason that he's suggesting you use THAT Radio is because the RIL according to THAT Radio is included in the ROM. That's why I advice you to flash the latest Radio, and, ONLY if you plan to flash Sense-based custom ROMs, flash the according RIL, afterwards.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Help us fix hardware acceleration for Adreno 200 based devices

Sandvold, a developer from XDA, currently working on an Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for the HTC Desire, has made a proposition that is most likely to succeed in its main objective.
You can track his progress on the ROM on his website. You may try it for yourself, if you're a Desire owner, and see how well the hacked hardware acceleration works -- not very well! :(

Sandvold asks that we send an e-mail to the CEO of Qualcomm, asking for the GPU drivers that are much needed in order to make the hardware acceleration work.

As you may know, Android 4.0 ICS is relying on the GPU to accelerate the user interface. Since HTC and Google dropped support for the Google Nexus One and related devices (such as the HTC Desire) -- all using the Adreno 200 GPU, by Qualcomm -- base drivers are out of date. Our only hope is the development community AND Qualcomm. Many developers from XDA, including the CyanogenMod team, are hard at work trying to hack the hardware acceleration, but this may not be possible as soon as we would hope without Qualcomm's drivers.

This is what you can do to help us : send an e-mail to the address pjacobs@qualcomm.com, with the subject QSD 8250, Adreno 200 hardware-related proprietary libraries for hardware graphics acceleration.
The content of the message should look like below, but perhaps you could edit it a bit (a bit more, actually) or write your own wall of text, so it doesn't get marked as spam...

As a mobile devices enthusiast, I am here to ask Qualcomm to be a real community oriented company.

You are well aware of the Hardware Accelerated User Interface in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, that relies heavily on GPU of the device. Google, with its Android Open Source Project, has decided not to support the Google Nexus One, HTC Desire and related devices. As community users, we have long stopped relying on HTC and Google to support these devices - this is now a community effort that brings joy to millions of people, and is a true development pass time for many.

Since the ICS source outing, many community projects have been started to bring the new platform to older devices, but all of them (for devices based on this and similiar platforms) are missing the proprietary user space drivers, needed for the Hardware Acceleration to work.

I believe it would be a great move for a company like Qualcomm to support advanced users and enthusiast in their efforts to port Ice Cream Sandwich to Adreno 200 based devices.

I sincerely hope you will at least consider this request and decide to support the community - the same community that, with their enthusiasm, helped to make the smartphone market what it is today.

Take into account that we do not ask for much; it is just a set of compiled binaries that you surely have already, or are easy for you to make. We do not expect you to support the release, or do bugfixes. It would be even better if you could supply the source code - but let's not push it too far. 

Also, you can join us on the thread we created for this, on Qualcomm's Developer Network, and say your opinnion there and track the progress if you're interested!

I thank you in the name of all Adreno 200 based devices owners from XDA :D

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lockscreens for all

ROMs like vanilla Android ROMs and Sense ROMs don't offer you many lockscreen styles to choose from. In fact, you barely get three styles (and that is in the case of CyanogenMod) or none at all (when it comes to HTC Sense). Well, you can change that now. It's very easy, works on every ROM, and I assure you, the outcome is AWESOME.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Colorful... bright... why not both?!

I've been busy during the last few days : been going to all GSM providers' shops, see what's new and play around. I've seen what I was expecting to see : the Samsung Galaxy Note, HTC Sensation XL and the Nokia N9. I'm not going to go into any of their details now. All I want to focus on is the displays, and not only those that are found in the three devices mentioned above.

I own a HTC Desire myself, and I'm pretty proud with it, by the way. It has a Samsung-provided AMOLED screen, which is said to beat the S-LCD that is found in many devices nowadays. I'm kind of lucky for having the AMOLED version of the Desire, and not the S-LCD one. Why "kind of"? You'll see.

Samsung Galaxy S - features Super AMOLED
Samsung Galaxy S II - features Super AMOLED+
Samsung Galaxy Note - the same Super AMOELD+ found in the Galaxy S II
HTC Sensation, HTC Desire HD, HTC Desire S, HTC Desire Z - Super LCD
iPhone 4, iPhone 4S - LED-backlit IPS TFT (the name combines so many "technologies" that it makes me don't wanna look into what this screen actually is)

I've put all these devices next to my HTC Desire. I've tested how each of these devices' screens behave with the brightness set to maximum, then to minimum, to better observe and reach a conclusion.

HTC Desire vs. Samsung Galaxy S
Both phones have basically the same screen, with the Galaxy S having a brighter one (hence the "SUPER" in the name). Also, it displays colours sharper, so I'd say Super AMOLED is better than AMOLED, which everyone would expect, by looking at the name.
There's a problem with AMOLED screens, though. After some time, the "wear" effect appears, commonly known as "ghosting". I already have this on my Desire, and even though it's not ALWAYS noticeable, when it IS noticeable, it's UTMOST ANNOYING. Basically, when the "ghosting" occurs, you see "shadows" of what was on the previous screen (image), say... when you open the keyboard to type something, then close it, and you still see some fading remnant of the keyboard.

HTC Desire vs. Samsung Galaxy S II

The Galaxy S II's display is said to be BETTER than its predecessor, the Galaxy S (hence the "+" in the name). Well, the reality is that while the Super AMOLED+ may display colours a BIT better than the Super AMOLED, put next to my Desire's AMOLED, it doesn't look great at all. To be honest, the SAMOLED+ fared better only in the "theoretic" test, made with the Screen Test application.

<< I do not have enough time to finish this post, I will finish it within 24 hours, I promice :D >>
Attempt to finish the post. One more phrase and it would have been done... but, somehow, I clicked the RMB wrong and it went back one page -- post unsaved. I'm raging out, I'll finish this post before Christmas...