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Interview with CyanogenMod Developer Ricardo Cerqueira

In Android, every device has its Kung Fu master and for anything LG, this master is CyanogenMod developer Ricardo Cerqueira, otherwise known as XDA Recognized Developer aremcee and cm_arcee. I know this first hand as I am a proud owner of the LG G2x, a device that was Ricardo’s daily driver for some 10 months.

We recently had the chance to have some one-on-one time with Ricardo. Here is your chance to meet the man behind the myth.

XDA: How did you first get into Android development?

Ricardo: I got into Android out of… boredom. I’ve been working in IT since the late 90s, and eventually got to a position that implied more meetings and presentations than doing actually fun stuff, so I needed something to get my fix. Android was all the rage at the time (3-something years ago), so it was an easy choice.

XDA: What was your first Android device?

Ricardo: My first Android device was… the emulator, I seriously played around with it for months, actual android hardware was harder to come by where I live.  My first actual physical device was from a small spanish company named Geeksphone, the Geeksphone One. Crappy little device even for its time, but an excellent learning platform, and the company was incredibly supportive.

XDA: You list Lisbon, Portugal as your home, have you always lived there?

Ricardo: Tough question… :) Yes and no. Family is portuguese, but migrated to Canada in the 70s.  They returned to Portugal when I was 5.

XDA: Who is the “real” Ricardo Cerqueira?

Ricardo: The real me is father of one, husband of another, and I like to think “overall regular guy” when away from a keyboard.

XDA: What are your hobbies?

Ricardo: CM is my main hobby. Outside that, strictly non-tech stuff, mostly gardening :)

XDA: Let’s talk CyanogenMod, you’ve got to tell us, where’s the secret  “Bat Cave”?

Ricardo: No secret bat-cave, not even a secret handshake. There’s an IRC channel where all of us hang out, and yeah, from almost all over the world, US, of course. Canada, Argentina, UK, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany…Australia and I’m sure I’m forgetting people, not to mention the translators, every continent and a huge number of countries are represented from that direction.

XDA: How does one become a member of the fabled CyanogenMod team?

Ricardo: CM grows mostly from external contributors that end up joining the party; the most frequent case is people contributing support for new devices, but there are also cases of people who submit so much stuff we just end up asking them if they want to do it from the inside.

XDA: What makes up the majority of your duties at CyanogenMod?

Ricardo: I do a bit of everything for CM, from maintaining devices to reviewing code submissions. A lot can be said to describe it, but boring is something it is not :)

XDA: How long have you been with CyanogenMod?

Ricardo: Hmm… let me check,  since oct 2010, 20 months, give or take.

XDA: What is the love affair between you and LG?

Ricardo: I do mostly LG devices because of the 2X, actually. I just had to buy that dual-core goodness, bought it, got CM on it, and then happened to meet an LG guy at a conference; after nagging him about some of the most annoying issues I had found in it, I was surprised when LG called back.

XDA: Really? How did that go?

Ricardo: We had a nice, long conversation about what and who CM was, they asked how they could help, so I just threw my xmas list at them… and got a bunch of “OK”s in return. LG has provided us with almost every device they did since then, mostly to me, as well as a feel-free-to-ask support channel if necessary. It has worked out pretty well so far.

XDA: What has been your toughest project to date?

Ricardo: Most challenging project in CM… The starDOPs (p990/p999). There were so many little nuts to crack, so many tiny incompatibilities, that it took much longer than usual to get everything that mattered working. For that same reason, it’s also been my favorite. I love puzzles :)

XDA: I remember the morning you released “self-kang1″ for the P990/P999.

Ricardo: True. I regret that decision, though.

XDA: Why?

Ricardo: Because it opened a can of worms that can’t be closed again. Getting it to work needed some very ugly workarounds that directly go against Google’s compatibility document for ICS. An app developer targeting ICS as a minimal version for his apps has the right to expect some functionality to be guaranteed on a device that claims to be ICS, that wasn’t (and isn’t) true for ICS builds with these hacks. That’s one the main reasons CM9 does not officially include a bunch of devices that are “working.”

XDA: Well, you said it yourself, they were and are “hacks”.

Ricardo: Yes, and some users understand that, but a lot don’t, and they’ll submit error reports on those apps, or they’ll rate it badly at the Play store. This is not a hypothetical scenario, it has happened whether we like it or not, asked for it or not, CM’s userbase is large enough to matter, even if you don’t count derivatives. We have a responsibility not to cause that kind of grief to app developers and we did. With all the mostly bullshit talk about fragmentation, we actively contributed to a break in the platform, no matter how small. That’s not a good thing :X People SHOULD know these builds contain hacks, but you’ve surely realized by now that they don’t :-P

Thank you Ricardo for this interview. Also, on behalf of XDA and myself, thank you to the entire CyanogenMod team for all your hours of work and dedication.

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