Mike Szczys

szczys is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. Mike Szczys is a professional musician but spends all his free time working with hobby electronics. As Contributing Editor for Hackaday.com he became interested in Android as some of the early hardware hacks started popping up on the Internet. What followed was a gradually rising addiction to all things Android.

Posts by szczys

Mike Szczys · Jul 8, 2013 at 11:00 pm · 1 comment

How to Overclock NAND Devices with PLL2

Anyone who's remotely interested in the topic of overclocking hardware will enjoy reading about the proper way to do so on NAND based devices that have PLL2 rather than PLL4. Notice my use of the term 'proper,' as right off the bat, the guide makes a reference to burning out the hardware if this is done wrong. The clarification between PLL4 and PLL2 overclocking is provided by XDA Senior Member Rootdefyxt320. He uses the analogy of Front Side Bus overclocking on...

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Mike Szczys · Jul 2, 2013 at 09:30 am · 18 comments

ADB and Fastboot Quick Start Guide

I run Linux exclusively and I was not happy when my Android device stopped enumerating as a mass storage device. The OS version I have right now doesn't automount MTP, so how am I supposed to get files on and off of my phone? There are several options, but I think the most simple answer is to use ADB. I have long ago figured out all the commands and syntax used with the Android Debug Bridge, but I can't say...

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Mike Szczys · Jul 1, 2013 at 05:00 pm · 3 comments

Guide on Using the Repo Tool

Everyone who builds ROMs knows about the repo tool, right? I say wrong. You can build ROMs all the live long day and know nothing about it. But you'll face-palm after learning about what you're missing. The repo tool is a Python script that adds a layer of abstraction between you and Git. Git is of course the source code management system used by the Android code base. If the last two sentences were more gibberish than sense here's the...

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Mike Szczys · Jun 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm · no comments

More than You Want to Know about Context

Context---there's always a context. It doesn't take long to get the hang of dealing with the context objects called for in most of the UI portions of your code. But do you really know what these parameters are doing? It's easy enough to use getApplicationContext(), getActivityContext(), or even just the keyword 'this'. But do you know which one to choose? Dave Smith has already done a good job of describing layout inflation. Now he's tackled the sticky wicket that is...

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Mike Szczys · Jun 20, 2013 at 04:30 am · 6 comments

Dos and Don’ts of Android Design

As long as you're coming from some type of programming background, the unseen part of app programming will not be very hard. Java is a pretty forgiving language and a good IDE makes all the difference. But that doesn't mean the User Interface is going to be easy. A fair amount of upfront planning for the user experience will save you time tenfold when it comes to writing the code. XDA Forum Member Leafhill wrote a thoughtful post covering common mistakes in Android...

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Mike Szczys · Jun 19, 2013 at 04:30 pm · 4 comments

MicrowaveTimePicker Brings 4.2 TimePicker to 2.1+ Devices

It's frustrating to see slick new features that you can't use when supporting devices with older versions of Android. Sometimes Android adds in support for a few previous versions, like when the ActionBar was added. But other times, you're just going to have to do it yourself. That's what XDA Senior Member icechen1 did to make the slick looking TimePicker from Android 4.2 work with devices as old as 2.1 (Eclair). He's calling it MicrowaveTimePicker, which is a great descriptor. These...

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Mike Szczys · Jun 17, 2013 at 06:30 pm · 2 comments

Heimdall Suite 1.4.0 Released

The release version of Heimdall Suite 1.4.0 is now available after an epic wait. You may remember hearing about this version of the suite way back in October when the release candidate was first announced. That's quite a slow pace for the last steps toward a stable release, but it sounds like the time was well spent. XDA Recognized Developer Benjamin Dobell cited problems with packaging and squashing outdated content as the main cause of delay. He hopes that the work he...

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Mike Szczys · Jun 16, 2013 at 11:30 pm · 10 comments

Why Devs Should Avoid ‘Null’ when Inflating Layouts

We've all done it at one point or another. You are hammering out some code and need one aspect of a method call to work so you just put null in for the rest of the parameters instead of actually researching how they work. I've actually done the very thing Dave Smith writes of in his article about inflating layouts. The second argument in a LayoutInflater inflate method calls for 'ViewGroup root.' I just slap 'null' in there and go about my...

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Mike Szczys · Jun 6, 2013 at 07:00 pm · 3 comments

Test Libraries with Libraries for Developers

I was really excited back in April when I heard about a list of open source Android apps that could be used for learning. Here's an app that will go hand in hand with that kind of resource. XDA Junior Member DesarrolloDroide has been hard at work on "Libraries for Developers." It's an app that features a wide range of  libraries, presenting them by category and including demonstrations of what they have to offer. The main categories include Widgets, Menus, Popups, ActionBar,...

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Mike Szczys · Jun 4, 2013 at 07:30 pm · no comments

Parse SDK Helps Add Push, Social Integration, Cloud Storage, and More

I've never heard of Parse before, but a quick look into what they're all about really drives home the value of this type of service. The package comes in the form of an SDK to include when developing your app, and server-side services that go hand in hand with it. When XDA Senior Member MaartenXDA first discovered Parse, he was looking for a way to send Push notifications to his app. It does that quite easily, and there's a free version of the...

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Mike Szczys · Jun 4, 2013 at 05:30 am · 11 comments

Sound-Triggered Malware Could Rickroll Rooms Full of Infected Androids

How do you know if your handset is infected with malware? You might not be able to tell until after it's triggered. And this particular trigger method is very interesting. You know how Google Now listens for you to say the word "Google" to initiate a voice search? Malware might know the same trick. An infected device could be just waiting to hear the right thing before taking action. This white paper (PDF) from a group of student researchers envisions an...

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Mike Szczys · May 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm · 12 comments

Doing More with the ActionBar

I love the look and functionality of the ActionBar. I find my thumb has more dexterity at the top of the screen than it does at the bottom when I'm holding my phone with one hand. And so I'm happy to see that the interface is evolving while retaining that valued real estate. Play Music is one app that show off that evolution. The app allows you to see the background at the top of the page, but then fades...

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Mike Szczys · May 30, 2013 at 05:30 pm · 4 comments

Using Internal/Hidden Classes of the Android API

Pssst... over here. Yeah, did you know about the Hidden Android Classes? Shhh... it's a secret. They let you do stuff you otherwise couldn't. You can read internal data, like the text message database stored on a phone. You can also gain lower level access to the hardware in order to extend your app's access to things like the touchscreen input values, or WiFi radio usage. To get your hands on that kind of contraband, you'll need to do some...

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Mike Szczys · May 28, 2013 at 07:00 am · no comments

Weather App by Example Teaches JSON, HTTP, and API Use

Developers who are just getting started can leap through the learning curve by reading code written by more experienced programmers. It becomes even more useful if you can read an explanation of what each code chunk does, like with this weather app tutorial. Francesco Angola, who also wrote that guide on using Httpclient, has done a great job of explaining how to use a website API, parse a JSON string, and present the results to the user. Francesco starts by...

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Mike Szczys · May 24, 2013 at 12:00 am · 10 comments

Flash Custom ROM and Recovery to Samsung Galaxy S 4

After reading about Dan Rosenberg's bootloader exploit for the Samsung Galaxy S 4, I figured it would not be long before someone would craft a package for loading custom ROMs. Of course, I shouldn't be surprised that Dan is the one who figured it out. You may know him better as XDA Recognized Developer Djrbliss. In his original thread, you'll learn about the Loki package he put together to load custom recovery and ROM images into AT&T and Verizon variants of...

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