So you rooted your Android…Now what?

Let me begin by saying that I’m pretty new to Android rooting as well. I typically work in LAMP stacks and mobile development and tweaking is something I’ve only been doing for a few months now. Having said that, if you’re comfortable in *Nix environments, you won’t have any trouble.

Image courtesy of xkcd

Disclaimer

“Rooting your phone will void your warranty, damage your reputation as an upstanding member of society and maybe even insult your family. In no way, shape or form do we condone any action that goes against the principles of any agreement that you might have signed to not modify your phone’s software. Read further at your own risk.” –TNW

Anywho, this isn’t an article about why you should or shouldn’t root. If you’re here, you’ve probably already rooted or, at least, already decided it’s for you. This article assumes you’ve just rooted and you’re not sure what to do next.

Am I rooted?

The first question I had after I rooted my Droid Incredible (which was stock 2.2 OTA) was, “Uhm, did it work?” After rooting, the phone goes through a process of reboots which takes 5-7 minutes in all. (I was surprised, I assumed the rooting process would take longer.)

The quickest way to test for ‘root’ is to simply open up your Apps folder and see if a new app called ‘Superuser Permissions’ shows up. It has a picture of a ninja. If you see this, you’re rooted! Congratulations!

So, what’s next?

So you know that root has its benefits, but what should you do first? My opinion will vary from others, but then again you’re reading my blog, so you asked for it. 🙂

I would most certainly download Clockwork’s ROM Manager and perform your first nandroid backup. (Huh?) A nandroid backup is an exact file system copy of your phone (think .iso or CCC). It allows you to restore your phone (apps, settings, preferences, etc.) to that state in the future should you need to. It’s a good idea to have this ‘stock’ backup in case you FUBAR your phone with your newly granted Root rights and need to revert. There are plenty of instructions out there on how to Backup/Restore your phone using ROM manager.

Another Backup?

I also suggest people immediately download Titanium Backup (donate version) and backup their system & preferences with it as well. This may be redundant, but it also allows you to restore individual apps & settings in the future, should you need to.

Finally, if you haven’t already, download Appbrain’s app to your phone, create a free account, and sync your apps. If for some reason you lost your backups and has to reflash a stock ROM, you would lose all your settings but at least you could re-install all of your apps easily.

Next steps

So, now you’re all backed up. You probably want to start removing Bloatware and other preinstalled apps. In my opinion, Titanium Backup is the best option here. Once you donate, you get a Key to unlock features such as ‘freezing’ apps. While some apps can easily be deleted (Nascar on Sprint, Skype & VZNavigator on Verizon), others don’t like to be removed. Some applications like Friendstream.apk are used by other apps like Twitter and Facebook. For this reason, using TB to ‘Freeze’ these apps (basically renaming them to prevent them from loading) is a better option. This way they’re still on the phone if you decide you want to reenable them later.
(I actually mistakenly deleted FriendStream after my first root thinking that it was Footprints.apk. I had to reflash from my nandroid and then go through it all again; it cost me 3 hours or work but I was sure glad I had the nandroid!)

What about Wifi tethering?

Yes, after backups and removing bloatware, free wifi tethering is one of the greatest things about having a rooted device. Carriers charge between $20 and $30/month for 3G hotspot capabilities which seems erroneous since most smartphone plans make concessions for unlimited data.

There are a few ways to use free 3G hotspot (wifi tethering) and a Google search will bring you more info than what I can share. I will insert a few links to make things easier though:
Wireless Tether for Root (pre8) – This seems to be the crowd favorite right now for app-based tethering.
Verizon EPST hack – If you’re on Big Red, you may also want to read about this EPST hack. It’s fast, simple, and doesn’t require root or a 3rd party app. (Of course, I don’t condone breaching your contract, so only read about this. Never do it. Right Big Red?)

Next steps

So, you’re rooted, backed up, surfin’ the web for free…anything else? Of course! You’re just getting started. Lots of cool apps out there require root to run. A few of my faves include:

  • Screen Shot It: This app allows you to take those cool screen shots of your screen that you see when checking out forums. This particular one is paid, but allows for cropping and ‘shaking’ to capture. Great app.
  • Root Explorer: Also a paid app, this file explorer is granted SU access and can remount the drive from Read-Only to Read-Write quickly and easily. Very useful.

Closing Remarks

I hope this “What to do now that you’re rooted” guide helps. It certainly isn’t intended to be a How To guide of any sort…more like a roadmap for where to go next. Keep in mind that if you have a stable nandroid backup, you can experiment a good bit. Be careful what you uninstall and create new nandroid backups when you reach a point where you like your current build (i.e. after you remove bloatware and install your rooted apps.) It’s also a good idea to copy your nandroids off your SD card to your computer from time-to-time for safer storage.

Further reading

I didn’t get into the benefit of custom ROMs etc. in this short article; there are PLENTY of other write-ups out there on that topic. Here are a few other reads for you if you wanna dive in further.

Need more help?

If you still need help, many great supporters can always be found in the #unrevokedtest channel on Freenode IRC. Join from your favorite IRC client or via the web. I can typically be found under the handle “idowens”.

Rules for Eating Out with Friends

Several weeks ago, I stumbled upon the website Archive.org, a site that allows you to enter a URL and see that website on many different dates from the past. When I was first starting to blog, back in High School, I simply edited an html page, added my own timestamp, and uploaded my own pictures…this was just before I began using versions 1.2.* of WordPress. Anywho, I went back through some of the archives and found this gem, which I thought I would repost.

Ok, how many of you have been hungry before? Let me see a show of hands; and out of those, how many of you have jumped in a car with friends, family or strangers (if that’s your thing) only to have someone ask the inevitable question: “Where do you all want to eat?” Yea, just about all of you! Well, this is a common occurrence in my daily life and living in a large city with tons of places to choose from, the conversation can go on for quite awhile unless someone REALLY knows what they want to eat and no one else minds. With that in mind, I’ve come up with the Official Rules of Choosing a Restaurant when Eating out with Friends. They are as follows (and yes, I’m willing to make amendments if they are valid ones.)
RULES FOR 2 PEOPLE IN A CAR:
1.) If someone asks you go to a specific restaurant with them and you agree, the discussion is over.
2). If someone asks you what you want to eat and you reply with “It doesn’t matter” or “I don’t care”, then whatever he/she suggest goes…end of discussion.
3.) If you are allergic to any type of food, or if a specific type of food upsets you, you must make this known up front so there is not confusion later.
4.) If someone suggests a restaurant and you do no want to eat there and you make your desire known, it is now up to you to suggest the next choice.
5.) If someone pulls the “I choose last time, its your turn to choose” card, you must play it…it is a valid rule and trumps most others.

RULES FOR 3 OR MORE PEOPLE IN A CAR:
1.) If someone suggests a restaurant and no one in the car has a strong disagreement with the choice, accept it and eat. End of discussion.
2.) If someone suggests a restaurant and another passenger refutes it as a choice due to any number of reasons (price, quality, service, reputation, etc) it is now the refuter’s turn to suggest a restaurant. This rule may repeat itself as many times as necessary.
3.) If a food allergy or preference is held by any member of the party, the others in the car must respect that preference without asking possibly embarrassing questions such as “Does it give you gas?” or “Does that make you sick?”
4.) Once a restaurant is decided on by all members of the group, the discussion is over and all should make an attempt to find something on the restaurant’s menu that appeases them. They can always refute it on the next go’round.
5.) Once a restaurant has been refuted (for any reason) it may not be brought up for discussion again unless it is by the person who refuted it.
6.) At any time the driver of the car in which the party is traveling in may veto any suggestion for a restaurant. So as not to have a loophole, the driver may only veto as many restaurant’s as there are passenger’s in the car, and referring to rule #5, a refuted restaurant can not be brought back up by another passenger.

I hereby declare these the official rules for choosing a restaurant to eat at amongst friends. These rules may be amended at any time I see fit. These rules are to be held to the strictest standards. Feel free to print and distribute the rules to your friends whom you are likely to eat with so that there is no question about proper refusal procedure. If you adhere to these rules as they are written, the process for choosing a destination should be swift and without bodily harm.

Overlooked Gmail Security Features

One of the features I’ve long enjoyed with Gmail (and other Google accounts) is the ability to see which IP address logged in last and at what time; if you’ve never noticed this at the bottom of your Gmail window before, take a peek next time you log in. It looks something like this:

Then, of course, if you click on the ‘details’ link, you can see a more detailed view of which IP addresses have accessed your Gmail account and what type of device it was. Further, you can set up alerts to email you if ‘suspicious’ behavior is observed. Pretty nifty.

I know my home & work IP addresses so I take a gander from time to time and which addresses have accessed my account to see if I notice anything out of the ordinary. To see this for yourself (assuming you’re logged in to Gmail), click on ‘Details’ at the bottom of the main window; Gmail will also tell you which IP address is currently logged in; this is helpful if you’re using a public network at an airport or coffee shop, for example.

In my next post, I’ll explain how Facebook is incorporating some similar security features that are rolling out this week.