August 25, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Just yesterday, we covered a couple of guides aimed at helping developers get started with XDA Recognized Developer amarullz‘s powerful AROMA installer. While versatile in that the guides help developers use the AROMA installer for customizing ROM installs, this isn’t all that AROMA can be used for.
Another popular use of AROMA is to create custom app packages, in which users can pick and choose which apps to install. We previously talked about a utility for creating these app packages with AROMA installer functionality. Well, some time has passed since then, and the AROMA App Package Creator has received several substantial updates.
Created by XDA Senior Member commandersafi, AROMA app package creator runs on Windows and requires users to have Java 6 or higher installed. Just as before, the utility allows users to easily insert and categorize APKs that can be selected from using the AROMA installer interface. Unlike before, however, the AROMA codebase is now 2.56, so device-specific calibration is no longer needed. Furthermore, you are now able to install apps to /system/app/, zips can be signed, multiple APKs can be chosen when adding apps to the installer, and various other tweaks have been made.
Head over to the utility thread to get started making your own custom app packages.
So you’ve got yourself a shiny new HTC One, and you want to get started playing with it. Obviously you’ll want to do things like apply Revolutionary Team’s Revone S-Off. You’ll probably also want to then flash a custom recovery, and then root your device. All of this will ordinarily take a moderate amount of time and effort, right? Not anymore, thanks to XDA Senior Member squabbi and his GUI-driven toolkit for the One.
Squabbi’s extremely user-friendly toolkit allows Windows users to do basically everything they’d need to get started playing around with their new device. It lets users start out by installing the requisite drivers, and provides methods for unlocking the bootloader with HTC Unlock or using the much more powerful Revone. It then also allows you to change the device CID, flash a custom recovery of your choice (you can select from CWM, CWM Touch, TWRP, or even upload your own), root the device, flash an image to a specific partition, and execute basic ADB commands for commonly used functions and sideloading apps.
If you’re looking for an easy and streamlined way of getting started with your new HTC One and are a sucker for well organized and user-friendly interfaces, squabbi’s toolkit may be up your alley. Head over to the utility thread to get started with the user-friendly modifications.
August 17, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
A little under a year ago, we talked about Online Nandroid Backup version 6. At the time, the tool did as its name implies and allowed users to make online backups. No, these aren’t “online” in the sense of cloud data storage. Rather, they’re “online” in that the backup is performed while your device is online, rather than in recovery.
Naturally, Online Nandroid Backup is quite useful since you don’t have to disable your phone in order to keep your backups up to date. And if you’ve ever performed a Nandroid backup on a device with a lot of data, you know exactly how long it can take. So what exactly does Online Nandroid Backup backup? Glad you asked.
- mmcblk0_start (for Acer devices)
- wimax (for Samsung devices)
- appslog (for HTC and Sony (Ericsson) devices)
- datadata (for Samsung devices)
- efs (for Samsung devices)
- preload (for Samsung devices)
- .cust_backup (for Huawei devices)
- flexrom (for Acer devices)
- custpack (for Alcatel devices)
- mobile_info (for Alcatel devices)
- boot (for HP Touchpad)
In the time since our last posting, XDA Recognized Developer ameer1234567890 has brought the useful tool up to version 8.22. One of the biggest new features of onandroid (pronounced “oh-nandroid,” not “on-android”) is added support for TWRP recovery, the exclusion of Google Music cache files, a plethora of bugfixes, and the ability to backup the /emmc partition on Mediatek devices.
We all know the importance of having an up-to-date backup, but many of us are simply too busy to backup often. Now, you have no excuse. Head over to the utility thread to get started.
August 16, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
As large as our cell phone screens are becoming, they still offer nowhere near the real estate of a traditional computer monitor. And let’s face it: Hunching over and fiddling with our phones while more powerful computers are available is a bit silly. So how do you make use of the more efficient interface afforded by extra screen space, as well as a keyboard and mouse?
This is where XDA Senior Member proseray and his Windows application Mobogenie come in. Serving as a frontend of sorts for ADB, Mobogenie gives you much of the ADB functionality without the stress of remembering commands and syntax.
Of course, to actually use the app, you must have USB debugging enabled. Once that is ready and the app is installed on your Windows PC, you can access to your device storage, backup and restore your phone, install and manage applications, and access data such as contacts and messages. Thus, with this application you can avoid data charges when loading up on your favorite apps, and you can avoid the mental anguish of sorting and editing your messages and ginormous contact list on a 4.7″ screen.
Avoid the eyestrain and get started by heading over to the utility thread.
Please Note: According to the developers (FAQ #5), Mobogenie installs Mobogenie Phone Daemon on your server device (phone) upon first connection (presumably via ADB install functionality) in order to better communicate with the client PC.
It’s that time again. Right after you’ve finished the last line of the mod, moved the right .pngs into their respective drawable folders, recompiled everything, and finished the last piece of that chocolate that’s been keeping you going for the past couple of hours. Now, it’s time to test it all. You look at your options. You can either copy each flashable zip file over to your device to then tediously flash each of them through a custom recovery, you can rack your brain to remember the commands needed to flash files through ADB, or you can simply use Desktop Flasher.
A very useful tool developed by XDA Senior Member filmaker, Desktop Flasher will allow you to flash zip files onto your device from your Windows PC without the hassle. It does this by allowing you to merely drag and drop the zip file into the program, which will then prompt either TWRP or CWM to open on your device, beginning the flashing process. This has to be done over USB and device-specific ADB drivers must be installed for things to work. Additional options include wiping data, cache, and dalvik cache which can be toggled with simple checkboxes within the program.
Filmaker has been actively working on issues encountered, and we may see support for a wireless connection in future updates. If you want to check this out, be sure to head over to the original thread for more information and download.
Organizing APKs on your PC is quite a tedious process. More likely than not, they’re probably named as nonsensical gibberish, and trying to find a specific APK is akin to the ‘needle in a haystack’ cliche. That’s probably why apps such as ApkRenamer are great tools for the typical Android user. If, however, you’re looking for something that does the same thing on your PC, you may want to check out XDA Senior Member pesiran‘s APK Organize.
APK Organize is a free program for Windows PCs that comes with a suite of functions that’ll help organize your APKs—specifically to rename, compare, search for, install and uninstall, and backup and restore APKs. Renaming APKs goes further than just individual apps on your PC, as APK Organize allows for batch renaming, pattern renaming, and renaming of APKs on your device. It also comes with a monitor feature that automatically renames any APKs you place into a specific folder. The compare function allows you to easily and efficiently delete, copy, and move files to a specific directory. And if you want to install/uninstall, copy/move, or backup/restore select apps, you can do so with the search feature. Installing and uninstalling apps on your device simply requires a connection to the device with ADB enabled, and the same requirement goes for the backup and restore function.
The only other requirement is that .Net Framework 4 must be installed on your PC. But other than that, there’s really not much else that’s needed. APK Organize is free exclusively on the XDA forums, and is being constantly supported and updated by pesiran. If you would like to give APK Organize a go, be sure to visit the original thread for more information and download.
For the longest time, XDA has been a bastion, a pillar in the world of development. This is essentially because we try our hardest to make the free flow of knowledge and information our main focus so that everyone can benefit and grow, but more importantly, because it encourages others to share as well.
Everyone understands that very few things in this life are free and many simply see the things that started as hobbies either as a potential business or even as a waste of time that would need to be monetarily justified in order to carry on with their continued existence. This almost inevitable shift in mentality of people who slave themselves behind keyboards has led into a rather interesting new business in the underground world of mobile development: paid apps. Mind you, we are not saying that this is a bad thing. In fact, economic stimulus can be a fantastic driving force to get you to do more. But again, remember: XDA is a place to share knowledge, not make a quick buck.
Having said that and because of a large influx of brand new developers due to the advent of Android, we feel that we needed to clarify a few things regarding paid work on this site. First off, lets start with the most obvious place, Rule 11:
11. Don’t post with the intention of selling something.
Don’t use XDA to advertise your product or service. Proprietors of for-pay products or services, may use XDA to get feedback, provide beta access, or a free version of their product for XDA users and offer support, but not to post with the intention of selling. This includes promoting sites similar/substantially similar to XDA-Developers.com.
Do not post press releases, announcements, links to trial software, or commercial services. unless you’re posting an exclusive release for XDA-Developers.com.
Encouraging members to participate in forum activities on other phone related sites is prohibited.
Off-site downloads are permitted if the site is non-commercial and does not require registration.
Off-site downloads from sites requiring registration are NOT encouraged but may be permitted if the following conditions are met:A) the site belongs to a member of XDA-Developers with at least 1500 posts and 2 years membership who actively maintains XDA-Developers’ support thread(s) / posts, related to the download,B) the site is a relatively small personal website without commercial advertising/links (i.e. not a competitor forum-based site with purposes and aims similar to those of XDA-Developers.com.)
Now, a big chunk of Rule 11 deals with other topics aside from paid apps, so we will only focus on the two bold, underlined sections (the first two bullets for those reading this in apps that may not display formatting correctly). Both of these converge to the same point: Do not use xda to make money. Use it to share, to learn from others, to teach, to help; this is the intent of our site. This is what we are here for and the sole reason why we have survived for 10 years (and counting). If you feel that you must/want to post your paid work in here, you are welcome to do so. But if you choose to, please make sure that you follow a few simple guidelines to keep you out of trouble:
Pro-Tip #1 – Sell in the correct area
If you have a paid app that you are advertising on xda-developers, it must be posted in the Paid Software Announcement and Discussion section, which has a few guidelines that need to be followed before posting. To save you some reading, you must be a member in good standing with some good history behind you on the site. This way, we ensure that people are not here solely to sell stuff.
Pro-Tip #2 – Sharing is caring
If you do not have the status to sell your apps directly on the aforementioned Paid Software section, you may link to your paid app in the app store from a thread that offers a free version of the app you are trying to sell. In other words, you must create a free version of the app that is either exclusive to xda-developers or at the very least, free of charge. The free app, however, must not be:
So, what you can do is to go about using some of the commonly used methods of free app developers, such as
To sum this one up, feel free to have a Pro/Advanced/Plus/Premium/Donate (or whatever you want to call it) version of your app alongside the one you are sharing with the community. If people like your work, they will likely want to see what you can do when money is involved.
Pro-Tip #3 – Link =| Spam
Be mindful of the amount of advertising you do with your paid work. Again, you can link from within the thread of your free version. However, you cannot include direct links to your paid apps in your signature, profile, or anywhere else. You can, however, put links to your free app threads in the aforementioned places, which already contain links to the paid counterparts. Simply put, you must first present your free app before you direct others to your paid work.
Pro-Tip #4 – We Showcase Free Apps!
We tend to feature free work on the Portal, regardless of whether it has a paid counterpart or not. Use it to your advantage. And don’t forget to submit a tip if you feel that you meet all of the above and wish for additional exposure.
That is essentially it. Following the above will certainly ensure that your stay at our site maximizes your time spent here as that of others. Always remember, sharing in here is about sharing knowledge and not finished goods. That is what the Play store is for. Thanks for reading and happy sharing!
Small link to the rules for a bit of a refresher course for those who need them
Want something published in the Portal? Contact any News Writer.
May 29, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
With all of the (often pointless) sound “tweaks” out there, it’s easy to forget that the true sonic upgrades will almost invariably come from output hardware rather than software. And while some software tweaks do actually make a marked improvement on sound quality without sabotaging clarity and neutrality (Elite Recognized Developer Supercurio‘s Voodoo Sound and the HRTF functionality in DSPManager come to mind), much of the software tweaks are are just glorified bass-heavy equalizers (*cough*Beats*cough*) that would make any true audiophile cringe.
So, what does this mean? Simple. It means that if you’re looking to improve the sound quality of the music coming from your smartphone, you’re going to have to pony up a few bones for a decent output stage. While many are content with simply using the included earbuds, others go so far as to purchase an external USB-enabled DAC, a portable headphone amplifier, and truly impressive transducers. However, this kind of rig is not for everyone. Not only are there price considerations to take into account, but all of this gear will most likely not fit into the already stuffed pockets of your skinny jeans. And let’s face it, not everyone will appreciate an electrostat rig like the $12,900 Sennheiser Orpheus HE90 pictured above or a set of Stax. And if you’re spending serious dough on the output stage, you had better have solid electronics and a well recorded music supply to back it up.
Thankfully, this is where XDA Forum Member jRi0T68 comes in. He shares with us a few tips to help hone in on exactly what it is that you want in the world of mobile audio with his brief guide. Now, I know what you may be thinking: “Why in the world does a headphone buying guide belong on XDA?” Well, for many of us here, one of the key functions in our mobile device, and as such, it is of significant importance to many in the community. Despite being only a primer, the guide covers a decent number of topics that should be considered before making a purchase:
2: Genres/Musical preference
3: Type of headphone
5: The audio rig as whole
6: Source material
7: Build Quality
I’d also toss in one final criteria: sonic preference. Not everyone wants neutrality (i.e. to hear the recordings the way the recording engineers meant for them to be heard). After all, that’s why many enjoy the warm sounds and even-order harmonic distortions of tube amplifiers, which by all objective means of measurement are inferior to their more analytical and razor-flat transistor counterparts that deliver unpleasing odd-order harmonic distortion when pushed too far. That’s not to say that all tube-based amps are warm and have an excessive amount of even-order harmonic distortion, but that is a general trend caused by the underlying technology exhibited by many models.
As with amplifier technology, certain sets of cans (and loudspeakers, for that matter) are not aimed at being neutral, but still deliver pleasing sound, if that’s what you’re looking for. This is where the traditionally neutral and transparent Canadian (NRC research and work by Floyd E. Toole) and warm British (traditional “laid back” B&W character in many models) ideologies diverge, but that’s far beyond the scope of this article.
Now if you are lazy and want a few quick blanket recommendations, I suggest taking a look into the following cans. I’ve owned, listened to, and/or played around with them as well as dozens of others, and they are some of the best in their respective categories and price ranges for those looking for neutral and detailed sound:
*Keep in mind that in order to properly drive higher impedance cans such as the HD 650, HD 800, and ER-4S (not ER-4P/PT); you’re going to want to have external amplification circuitry such as an Airhead or Bithead. And even then, a proper desktop amplifier is preferred.
However, if you’d like to delve deeper into the world of audio and find out what works best for you, head over to the original thread. Your ears will thank you.
No matter what you end up choosing, though, make sure you heed jRioT68’s advice:
Many popular headphones (ahem Beats, Bose, Skull Candy) are more appearance than quality, and may offer booming bass that overshadows the rest of the music. THERE ARE BETTER OPTIONS AT THE SAME OR LOWER PRICES. Don’t settle for a nice label. Get quality you can hear.
So you’re playing with your shiny new Windows 8 tablet PC, when one of your like-minded geeky friends asks you to recite its hardware specs. Unfortunately, when you’re about to spout off details of its Clover Trail architecture and its supported features, you draw a blank. In fact, you even forget about its clock speed and whether or not it supports virtualization.
Luckily, this is where XDA Forum Member familyguy59 comes in. He has shared source code for an app that detects CPU information. The app actually goes beyond simple information such as max clock speed, processor name, and number of physical and logical cores. It can even detect bus speed, cache sizes, and much more. And best of all, the application is open source.
Today I created a small program which detects most information of your CPU. The program is called ‘DetectCPU’ and it does what it says.
The program is licensed under the GPL3.0. This program is written in Visual Basic(.Net) 2012 for Windows Desktop.
Want to look at the code or compile a copy for yourself? Interested in incorporating some of its functionality into your own app? Whatever the case, head on over to the original thread to take a peek!
If you are a flashaholic and an owner of the Sony Xperia U, you may be interested in the multi-purpose tool developed for the Xperia U by XDA Forum Member AlexDroid00 that allows you to perform a whole host of actions that may alleviate the required process that are necessary otherwise.
Developed for Windows PCs, the multi-tool for the Xperia U combines many actions, which would otherwise have to be performed individually and with different tools, into one program for your convenience. These functions include:
Using the tool is easy and straight forward, only requiring you to follow the prompts in the program when running. With 8 updates under the belt, AlexDroidoo is actively working on the tool, He also has an extensive list of future improvements and features on the agenda, and he is taking part in discussions and answering queries from the community. The tool is available in 2 languages, Italian and English, and is a free download of about 45 megabytes.
So if you are a user of the Sony Xperia U, be sure to check out the original thread for more details and discussion.
Mobile technology has taken quite a leap in terms of evolution. As technology advances, we are able to put more and more power into these handheld beauties that we “used” to use to make calls, which are now used to do virtually everything, including serving as a credit card thanks to the wonders of NFC. Dual cores, quad cores, and recently announced octo-core devices seem to be a dream taken straight out of The Jetsons, where technology is powerful enough to interact with us and become a day to day necessity, almost like an electronic extension of our bodies. However, much as with everything else, technology has a limitation which can render it useless in the blink of an eye. Mobile devices are not always impervious to the effects of mother nature, and as such, they can get easily damaged by something as basic to humanity as water and gravity. Tech manufacturers are well aware of this “deficiency” and have, for many years, been working on taking the elements out of the list of possible things that can hurt their products.
The military/defense oriented manufacturers have offered rugged hardware able to take serious beatings for a very long time. However, it was not until recently that this tech made its way into the consumer market, based essentially on the potential clumsiness of people. There are, nowadays, a wide array of devices that are presented as “rugged” or capable of withstanding elements such as rain, dust, elevated temperatures, and also capable of taking moderate to high levels of physical punishment. This is a great cure/remedy for the aforementioned clumsiness of the everyday consumer. Lets face it, how many times have you had your friend tell you that his/her phone decided to take a dive into a toilet, a cup of water/coffee, swimming pool? What about an issue that has plagued our devices since the very early days, which is dust “magically” appearing behind the screen? Accidents do happen, and getting a phone that fits your “lifestyle” could potentially save you from having to buy replacement devices often. But understanding the specifications could save you from making a costly mistake.
Most of the claims from manufacturers about protection levels for electronic devices are not simply made up. They are carefully studied and tested standards that are used during the manufacturing process of devices. These standard testing procedures are used to evaluate the devices in question to see if these can be certified under the rigorous standards. Some of the most commonly used standards for testing come from organizations such as ISO, NIST, ASTM, and several others. They provide manufacturers guides to follow for the manufacturing and testing of certain qualities and properties such as ingress of external contaminants, impact protection, etc. Certification is done by certain other agencies such as UL, CSA (for Canada), and many more, which make sure that these standards are met. Once these conditions are certified, products are given IP (ingress protection) ratings followed by numbers which denote their level of protection. So, the format for IP ratings looks like this:
The third digit, which denotes the resistance against hitting it, is not displayed according to IEC60529. This is the standard to which enclosures for small electronics must adhere to. However, not showing in there does not mean that the test was not performed.
As stated in an earlier example, dust can get under your screen. We have all seen this at one point or another with our electronics. It is almost inevitable since our devices operate with electricity. Thus, you will have some level of static that will attract dust onto the electrical components. This will find its way through the seals around the screen and into your device. But dust is not your only concern, as there are larger solids that can also get into your device that could damage key hardware components inside (salt, sand, etc). Protection against the ingress of solids into our devices can be categorized as follows:
|0||No special protection|
|1||Protected against solid objects over 50 mm, e.g. accidental touch by persons hands.|
|2||Protected against solid objects over 12 mm, e.g. persons fingers.|
|3||Protected against solid objects over 2.5 mm (tools and wires).|
|4||Protected against solid objects over 1 mm (tools, wires, and small wires).|
|5||Protected against dust limited ingress (no harmful deposit).|
|6||Totally protected against dust.|
Water-Proofing / Water Resistance
Quite possibly one of the most commonly known misconceptions in technology is that of water resistance. There are very few man-made tech apparati that can be considered to be fully waterproof. Cell phones unfortunately are not among them. Having said that, in recent years, companies such as Motorola, Kyocera, and Sony (among a few others) have made devices that will comply more with a less stringent level of protection, water resistance. Before we go into the ratings themselves, it is worth mentioning that waterproof is something that is completely sealed off and will prevent the ingress of water under most/all conditions. Water resistance, on the other hand, means that the device is protected against the ingress of water to a certain degree. And as such, depending on the exposure to water, ratings are given to the various possible situations. All in all, a water resistant device is not waterproof, and making sure that you understand this difference can save you from having to replace your device since most manufacturers do not cover water damage under their limited warranties. Having said that, let’s take a look at the ratings:
|1||Protection against vertically falling drops of water e.g. condensation.|
|2||Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15o from the vertical.|
|3||Protected against direct sprays of water up to 60o from the vertical.|
|4||Protection against water sprayed from all directions – limited ingress permitted.|
|5||Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions – limited ingress.|
|6||Protected against temporary flooding of water, e.g. for use on ship decks – limited ingress permitted.|
|7||Protected against the effect of immersion between 15 cm and 1 m for 30 minutes.|
|8||Protects against long periods of immersion under pressure.|
Mechanical Impact Resistance
Aside from dropping your device(s) in puddles of water/washer/swimming pools/etc., one of the most common occurrences with mobile devices is the accidental drop or the (un)intended accidental meeting with walls, hammers, or other blunt objects. This test is fairly straightforward, it is tested to see how much “love” a device can take. It is measured in Joules, a unit of energy. Due to the fragile nature of most electronic devices in this day and age, it is assumed by the manufacturer that you will not test the device’s “time of flight” capability, nor that you will test if your glass screen is able to hold its own against a hammer. However, there are some devices out there that will provide (without the need for a second enclosure) some level of protection against possible mistreatment. The third digit (not depicted in the IP standard) conforms to the following testing criteria:
|1||Protects against impact of 0.225 joule
(e.g. 150 g weight falling from 15 cm height).
|2||Protected against impact of 0.375 joule
(e.g. 250 g weight falling from 15 cm height).
|3||Protected against impact of 0.5 joule
(e.g. 250 g weight falling from 20 cm height).
|4||Protected against impact of 2.0 joule
(e.g. 500 g weight falling from 40 cm height).
|5||Protected against impact of 6.0 joule
(e.g. 1.5 kg weight falling from 40 cm height).
|6||Protected against impact of 20.0 joule
(e.g. 5 kg weight falling from 40 cm height).
Other common rugged factors
While the IP ratings are the ones that will protect against mostly everything, there are other things, not covered in the standard that are tossed around by manufacturers as “features.” For instance, one of the most commonly known ones (that we are used to anyways), is scratch resistant screens, which are made out of Gorilla Glass (a product developed by Corning). This glass is essentially regular aluminosilicate, but with chemical additions and coatings to boost some of its mechanical properties. The scratch resistance comes from a special, invisible coating on top of the actual glass that prevents light scratches from ever reaching the surface of the actual glass. While some of the other chemical additions actually do increase the mechanical strength of the glass by a little, Gorilla glass is not more resistant to impacts than its untreated sibling (regular glass). This is a big misconception that has been around as long as Gorilla glass where people believe that scratch resistance equates to impact resistance. Thousands of handsets are sent in for repairs by people who believe this to be the case.
Last but not least (and along the same lines as Gorilla Glass), is another misconception about glass strength: shatter resistance. The way this feature is presented is by calling it anti-shatter screen. The crux of this is that this is a bit of a fallacy. There is nothing special done to a screen deemed as “anti-shatter” other than a adding a special film, which will contain all the glass shards in case of screen breakage. This is the same technology used in car windshields. A coating gets added to the user-facing area of the glass, so that glass pieces do not pose a risk to the user in case of the glass breaking. What this film does not do is provide additional mechanical strength to the glass itself (well, maybe a bit, but certainly not enough to protect it from significant impacts).
I hope that this article is useful to some. If you see someone using their device as a prop for party tricks (“Hey look! I am going to hit my phone with this hammer!!”), please stop them (unless of course, you believe that the person deserves not having a device that could potentially be smarter than he/she is). Remember, these features are added onto devices for “what ifs” and “oops” situations. If you don’t have to put the devices to the test, be on the safe side and don’t, unless of course you have extra cash laying around to buy devices every time you decide to show your friends how you use your Motorola Defy for deep scuba diving.
Thanks for reading.
Sources, ratings and tables, and more information can be found in the following websites:
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It is truly great to see that the United States has a rather active Government that worries about its people. Its people have opportunities to speak their mind and make requests to all the branches of this bureaucratic machine, and they are bound to get a response in one shape or another. This seems to be the case for the “little petition that could,” in which over 114,000 people expressed and shared their concerns with the US Government regarding network unlocking of devices legally purchased. This petition received official replies from the White House and the Librarian of Congress, and gained nationwide interest, thus making what many thought would be a silly “nerd rage-filled rant” into a topic of national importance. However, as with most systems, this one is not one without its faults and pitfalls, thus making it quite imperfect.
For the sake of illustration, just imagine that you had a 3 year old silver Civic that was dying and that you wanted a bright red Ferrari. Someone told you that if you worked hard enough and made a certain amount of money within a 2 month period, there would be a chance for you to get your hands on the wonderful beast. Two months later, you had completed your target, got all the money you needed, some people winked at you when you asked if you would get it (raising your hopes in the process). Then, that someone puts a blindfold on you and takes you outside. You proceed to take the blindfold off and upon opening your eyes, you see your 3 year old silver Honda Civic, but with a fixed engine.
Are you happy to have a car? Sure, but to say that you are disappointed would be the understatement of the year. You are simply baffled and trying to pull yourself together in dismay as to what kind of person would lift your hopes high up in such a manner. This was the case for the bill that everyone in the mobile scene was waiting for. Earlier yesterday, US Senator Patrick Leahy (Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) along with several other Senators from both parties announced the drafting of a new bill that they were hoping to pass in the hopes of addressing the issues raised against the Librarian of Congress’ new incarnation of the DMCA. More specifically, the bill, known as the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, was aimed to target the cell phone unlocking debacle as well as the consideration for tablets. At first sight, the law addresses the main concern presented to Congress, but when you sit down and analyze it a bit further, its that fixed up 3 year old Civic.
There are several concerns regarding the wording on the write up like the fact that it will still be up to the carriers to grant you an unlock code while you are on contract. On the flip side, at the very core, the law would reinstate the 2010 exemption that made it legal for people to pursue other “venues” to get their devices unlocked. It still grants a lot of power to the carriers, but at least it does not grant them complete control, which the removal of said exemption was achieving. The problem (the elephant in the room if you will) is the fact that the law fails to address the main, biggest point of this entire ordeal: why is this in the DMCA in the first place? Why are we depending on the (lack of) knowledge of someone who is not an elected official to determine the future of our rights as consumers with products that we legally own? In other words, why is this harbored/lumped with a law SPECIFICALLY made to tackle piracy? Unlocking cell phones has 0, zip, null, nada to do with piracy and/or intellectual property rights. Yet the decision on this will be based solely on the following:
9 upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights,
10 who shall consult with the Assistant Secretary for Commu-
11 nications and Information of the Department of Com-
12 merce and report and comment on his or her views in mak-
13 ing such recommendation, shall determine, consistent with
14 the requirements set forth under section 1201(a)(1) of
15 title 17, United States Code, whether to extend the exemp-
16 tion for the class of works described in section
17 201.40(b)(3) of title 37, Code of Federal Regulations, as
18 amended by subsection (a), to include any other category
19 of wireless devices in addition to wireless telephone
So, the Library of Congress needs to hear from, at least, two departments before anything can be done. Again, this is someone making actual law without being part of the overall process and certainly not someone who is chosen, but rather who applied for a job vacancy. Congress had a wonderful opportunity to separate the wheat from the hay and decided to simply apply a fix. Why a fix you ask? The DMCA exemptions and provisions are revised every 3 years. If this long standing provision was taken out without much thought or consideration, who is to say that we will not be here once again 3 years from now? CTIA will certainly still be there much like the little red guy standing on your left shoulder telling you to set your building on fire. They went through great lengths and found a twisted enough argument to sound pseudo-plausible, and 3 years is an eternity in terms of mobile development. So, chances are that we will find ourselves here fighting once again. However, lets assume that we fix it yet again 3 years from now. We will be back in 2019, this time around from within the Matrix and trying to avoid Sentinels.
There are enough experts on the scene to give the people who need the explanation, the best possible and most logical, level-headed argument they will ever get to hear. And best of all, it comes from the people with the people’s interest in mind. I made a small point in my previous article about the Library of Congress’s statement about the general public being consulted prior to amending DMCA. Maybe they should follow their own processes and ask ACTUAL PEOPLE as opposed to corporation conglomerates when the time comes to make law.
It looks like we have gotten quite good at making noise, so maybe we should make one final stance before this band-aid comes to pass. Please share any and all articles with colleagues, media outlets, your Congressmen and Senators, all the people who need to see this in order to make the voices heard. We did our share of work, we expressed our views and told them why things should be different. Please, lets try to push forward so we can finally get rid of that Civic and go for the Ferrari.
You can find the entire proposed law in the following link and the official announcement made by the Senator of Vermont by following this link. Additional links with interesting articles can be found in PublicKnowledge and TechDirt,
Thanks for reading.
[Thanks to OEM Relations Manager jerdog for the tip!]
February 21st was a rather interesting day for those of us in the mobile scene. What seemed like an ordinary day for many, was the day that marked the beginning of a real fight to regain our freedom to unlock SIM cards. That day 100,000 signatures were reached in the petition started over at We the People website. The latest installment in the saga, after almost 2 weeks of silence, was that earlier today, the White House issued a statement, as promised, regarding the petition. Now, before we get to the nitty gritty, we will have to make one point crystal clear: Nothing has happened yet other than the House having made a statement and taken a stance on the entire issue surrounding the DMCA. So, if and when you read on media outlets that SIM locking is once again legal, please, read into the most recent developments first.
Having gotten the disclaimer out of the way, let us get onto the good stuff. As stated above, the White House has issued a statement in response to the petition, which at the time of this article, has over 114,000 signatures, about 14% over the minimum requirement. The condensed version of the response essentially states that the administration and technology experts, including the FCC agree with our stance, and that the unlocking model currently in place does nothing to hurt the market or to put intellectual property in jeopardy, the latter of which was the biggest argument used by the CTIA to convince the Librarian of Congress. Keep in mind that DMCA was conceived to stop piracy and IP theft, and locking GSM devices to carriers does neither of the aforementioned. Luckily for us, there are people out there with a dash of common sense who can see past the bogus statements by the carrier/manufacturer conglomerate.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has sent a somewhat lengthy letter explaining everything that should be modified in the new implementation of the DMCA. Lots of information to go through in the linked 36 page (PDF) letter to the Librarian of Congress. This goes through several (if not all) key points of the Act and how various parts need to be modified for either lack of scope or overall non-sensical dribble. An added bonus of this letter (on top of the already great push for the purpose of our petition) is the fact that the NTIA and the FCC have provided the Librarian with a great definition of what a Tablet actually is. If you recall back sometime last year right after the original draft of the updated DMCA came to light, there was an interesting point made about tablets and how exemptions to tablets should not apply as they constitute a different kind of device. Our good friend XDA Developer TV Producer azrienoch essentially explained how this was a bunch of non-sense. The new provisions would effectively lump tablets and smartphones in the same group since the dividing line between them is almost invisible at this point. A tablet can effectively do anything a cell phone can, so this new arrangement could certainly put a few things back where they should be.
Shortly after the White House made the official announcement, the Librarian made a statement in response to it. The response essentially does absolutely nothing to address any of the points being brought forth by the NTIA. However, it does go on to state that before an exemption is either added or removed, a lot of factors are taken into consideration and said amendments are done as per stated procedures. Well, quite honestly following a procedure does not mean that something cannot go wrong.
The question of locked cell phones was raised by participants in the Section 1201 rulemaking conducted between September 2011 and October 2012 by the Register of Copyrights, who in turn advises the Librarian of Congress. The rulemaking is a process spelled out by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in which members of the public can request exemptions from the law to enable circumvention of technological protection measures. In the case of cell phones, the request was to allow circumvention of technological protection measures controlling access to copyrighted software on cell phones.
I would LOVE to know if said members of the public actually include any public as in people from the public sector (and not multi-billion dollar companies). Based on the fact that 114,000 have signed this petition, the answer is either no or they asked people who had no idea what they were answering. Granted, we are a, somewhat vocal, minority and as such, our opinions on certain matters can indeed be overlooked. However, more often than not, since we can normally see past a few things that people take for granted, we are right about these things. As such, listening to what we have to say is what people know as “sound reasoning”. We know what we are talking about, we don’t sugar coat things, and we certainly do not need lobbyists telling you what you need to hear.
Look, we know that rule making can be hard when you have screaming businessmen (lobbyists) jumping in circles around you. We know that because clowns are quite distracting after all. However, if you are making rules to protect, you need to focus on who or what you are protecting. You are protecting IP from pirates and we applaud you for that. However, you do NOT need to cripple people’s entire existence and put them in the hands of people who, for the most part, are not IP owners at all (carriers, in case you are curious). The letter from the NTIA actually had a nice section (with foot notes) explaining how most companies will charge a fee or force you to a certain length of service before your device can be unlocked. If that is not enough to convince you that maybe, just maybe, this is not worth it… especially since carriers do NOT own the devices or the software in them (thus, no IP to protect), then I strongly suggest that you turn in your resignation and let someone a tad more competent look at this.
To the White House and the Obama administration, thank you very much for caring about us and most of all, for having the capability to recognize idiocy when you see it.
Thanks for reading.
You can find the entire response in the We the People website.
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