Sunday, December 4, 2011

Feeding the Eris Gingerbread

My HTC Eris is coming up on two years old and I decided it was time for a change.  Tiring of waiting for the Nexus, and aggravated by laggy phone experience, I decided to try the root and ROM route.  And now this is what I have: gingerbread 2.3.7 and a whole new outlook on life.

Not too shabby, eh?

So how do you get there?  Pretty easily it turns out.

Step 1: Backup your phone.  I used Titanium Backup to backup everything, then copied the backup folder over to my PC.  I didn't concern myself too much with stored information such as addresses since I save everything to my Google account.  It might be helpful to make a list of apps you've downloaded, because you will need to reload them from the marketplace.

Step 2: Root your phone.  Download the one-click Eris root app. If you have the stock version 2.1 on your phone, as I did, there is no reboot option - when the directions say "reboot", simply power the phone off and then back on.  I found this video on YouTube helpful (however, don't bother trying to load Rom Manager on your phone, it is not supported on 2.1 - as I discovered).

Step 3:  Choose a ROM.  I chose the Condemned CM 7.1 ROM, which is based on Android 2.3.7.  I chose the "vanilla" CCM ROM.  Download this ROM to the root folder of the phone's SD card. Shut the phone off and then restart it,  holding down the power and volume up keys.  This will load the recovery screen.  Next, follow these steps as cribbed from the HTC Eris: Full Update Guide.
  • Once you enter Recovery, maneuver by scrolling up & down with the trackball.  Use the trackball button to select options.
  • Select the option to create a Nandroid backup 
  • Select Wipe, then Wipe data/factory reset.  
  • Select Flash zip from sdcard.
  • Select the
  • Once the installation has finished, select Reboot system. The HTC Eris now should boot into the new ROM.
It will take a few minutes for the phone to start back up again.  Eventually the phone will come back to life and brings you into the home screen and will ask for your Google username and password.  Once that is finished you can go about the process of reinstalling your apps from the marketplace. 

After playing around with themes and wallpaper I finally settled on the landscape wallpaper as displayed above, which I downloaded from here.  I missed the HTC clock/weather applet but couldn't find a replacement I liked.  Instead I went minimalist, and used the BeWeather applet to display the weather using the smallest size available.

So how is it all working?  In short - it's like having a new phone.  It's much more responsive, the battery life is better, and the revised apps and interface are all improvements.  The Car Home applet is a great idea and much appreciated.  No complaints about the apps so far, they seem to be nicely refined from 2.1. The only thing I miss is the old friendly HTC weather applet I mentioned above.  But in its absence I am enjoying the pared-down aesthetic.

A hearty thank you to all the folks who made this possible, you are doing amazing  things.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You Are Now in Bedford Falls

Last Monday I hurried to join a man crossing Mass. Ave. in Central Square, hoping in both safety in numbers and in the efficacy of his bright fluorescent vest to ward off evil.  We struck up a brief conversation as we warily watched the oncoming traffic come to a sudden stop.  We joked about the accident that could have been.  Laughing he made a quip about collecting on his life insurance if he was hit by a car, to which I reminded him he wouldn't be around to collect it himself.  And to this he replied, "as my wife says, I'm worth more dead than alive."  And this instantly made me think of the late, great George Bailey of It's a Wonderful Life fame.

I had never seen nor heard of this movie until I was in my mid-twenties, when all of a sudden for several years it was constantly on TV at Christmas time .  There seemed to be no escaping it.  It was a great movie, but I didn't really get it. I have to admit I didn't have a lot of sympathy for George Bailey.  Sure, he always seemed to get the bad break when he was ready to escape Bedford Falls and see the world.  Chance, luck bad or indifferent, his reasonableness and willingness to sacrifice for others ended up putting him in a tough spot time after time, even if the bank examiners decided to break for Christmas Day and let him sweat it out another day.  I have to admit that in the arrogance of my youth I made fun of the poor man.

Of course, that was before I ended up in Bedford Falls myself one day.  It was quite by accident, just like George.  But all of a sudden I was a middle-aged man like George, who had had dreams but was instead living a rather ordinary and boring life.  What happened?  What went wrong? How did I end up like George, the very man I mocked?

You are now in Bedford Falls.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sardine Redux

Thanks to popular demand I have a couple of sardines to review today.  Both interesting in their own way, yet very different.

First off let's present the star of  the show: Coles's sardines, a smoked Portuguese sardine in olive oil.  These unexpectedly showed up at my local Shaw's. These are indeed the highest quality sardines I've been able to buy so far, about $1 more than the better quality King Oscar cans. 
Take a look at the contents, how neatly snuggled they are up against each other in their genuine smoked little skins.  How handsomely bronzed they are. Qualitatively these play in the big leagues.  The flavor and texture are outstanding.  Be forewarned, however, they are quite smoky.  I think they would be a very interesting substitute for a smoky bacon in some recipes, and these could make for a unique and surprising dish.  This is an idea worth exploring.

The second review is of a more pedestrian, but still a good eating can, these inexpensive Goya sardines in olive oil, imported from Spain.  They cost a mere $1.99 at Shaw's.
Could these even be the same species of fish as in the Cole's can? It looks like there are three sardines in this can!  In fact there was one other hiding underneath, for a total of 4 sardines. These are the brawny big brothers to the more delicate Cole's clan. Calling these sardines is a bit of a insult to the brethren of sardines.  These things are huge.... Nonetheless, despite the bigger size, they are meaty and the texture is good.  The meat is not too dry, the olive oil helps out here.  The eatin' is of acceptable quality and the price is right.  They make a decent quick lunch, and I recommend them.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sharing Stuff with Windows 7

Homegroups suck. Maybe it's just me. But I don't get it. Under older versions of Windows you enabled file and printer sharing, made sure everyone was in the same workgroup, and you were good to go.

So forget the homegroup. Who needs another password? And what do homegroups do for you that the old system didn't do?  If their aim was to make it simpler, well forget about it. It's not. So here's how to bypass this homegroup malarkey.  I'm writing this so I can remember these steps again when I have to do this again in 6 months.
  1. Decide upon a workgroup name and assign all your home PC's to it.  In Windows 7, you can rename it from "Workgroup" to something a little cleverer.  You are clever, aren't you? Of course you are. In the start menu, click on Computer -> System Properties tab -> Advanced System Properties -> Computer Name tab, then click the Change button.  You can rename your PC here as well.  You have to restart the computer for the workgroup assignment to go into effect.
  2. If you have a wireless connection (maybe this works for wired connections as well, I dunno) right-click on the tray icon and select Open Network and Sharing Center.  An alternative way to get there is to click on the start menu Control Panel,  then...well, here it depends on whether your are looking at the Category view or the Icon view.  If it's the Category view, click on the Network and Internet link.  If you have the icons view open, click on the Network and Sharing icon.
  3. Now, on the left hand panel click the Change Advanced Sharing Settings link.
  4. And now, we have finally arrived at our destination. Here we update the settings for sharing.  Did you leave breadcrumbs along the trail so you can find your way home?  Not to worry.  You can always click your heels together three times and return home to Kansas, unless you never left.  Good luck with that.  
    1. OK, here's what to check, some settings may already be set as listed below, but as I don't remember how they were originally set on my PC let's make sure nothing is missed.
    2. Turn ON Network Discovery.
    3. Turn ON Network and Printer Sharing.
    4. Turn ON sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public section (optional, but why not...good for troubleshooting)
    5. Media Streaming - mine is OFF.  I don't know if this is useful or not. Change as you see fit.
    6. ENABLE file sharing for devices that use 40- or 56-bit encryption.
    7. Turn OFF password protected sharing.
    8. USE user accounts and passwords to  connect to other computers.
  5. Click the Save Changes button.
  6. Start sharing.
Fortunately you only have to do this once.   Until you get a new PC and can't remember how you did it before.  Now you only need to remember where this link is.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Fishies, Goodbye

Last year I decided to explore the world of sardines. I wrote a short piece in my blog about my first wave of tastings.

I had plans to publish my findings in a series of follow-up postings, grouping them into a best, good, and unacceptable, complete with photos of boxes and the contents. In the end I would have a nice little guide to sardines, with most everything one would want to know.

As the spring and summer rolled along I bought sardines wherever I found them - from grocery stores, food coops, TJ's, WF's, etc.  I took pictures and sorted and organized them. I was all ready to roll with the grand story. But then one day I lost all interest in the project.  I suddenly had enough of sardines. I deleted my pictures. I discarded every material piece of evidence. That was it.

But it has always bothered me, just a bit, that I never tidied up the loose ends here. So I will pass along my quick hits.
  1. Sardines packed in sauces - don't go there.
  2. Skinless and boneless sardines are typically dry, even if packed in oil. They may be useful as a part of a dish, but I don't recommended them as a snack out of the can.
  3. Sardines packed in water are bland.
  4. Sardines packed in soybean oil or any other industrial oil are not worth eating.
  5. Sardines packed in olive oil are usually better, but not always, depending on the brand.
  6. Like so many other industries, loss of the small factory leads to ever more blandess and mushy soft fish.  Bumblebee, I'm looking at you.
  7. My favorite: King Oscar two-layer sardines in olive oil. Yes, King Oscar is also owned by Bumblebee and they are now packed in Poland. However, these are the best of the commonly found cans.
  8. And lastly - googling sardines will net you enough quirky blog entries to fill up many an hour you will never see again.