New Google Music Service in Canada

May 11, 2011

So, like me, were you excited about the new Google Music service? And were you disappointed to find out that because you’re not in the United States you can’t get an invite to the service? Well there is a way around seeing the “We’re Sorry” screen and sending in your request for an invite. I’ve managed to get my request sent in but since I’m a day behind I may be waiting for a while to receive the invite. If you download and install Hotspot shield, you’ll have no issues with your invite request. You’ll be able to hide your Canadian IP and fake that you are requesting from the US.

I’ve also installed the new Google Music app and now I just have to wait for the invite to see how it’ll work here in Canada. If any Canadians have managed to get an invite and have any more information on the availability of the service here, please comment and I’ll update my post with the information.

Update:

Since I had automatically assumed that  the music app would only be available in the US, I went ahead and used Market Enabler (ME) to fool the Android Market into thinking I was with T-Mobile when I installed the Google Music App. I’m still not sure if it was required or not as I’ve seen that the new app is only compatible with Android 2.2 and above. But if you have 2.2, are rooted, and can’t install the music app, you can install Market Enabler from the Android Market. Use ME to fake your provider as T-Mobile and then you should be able to find the app on the market without any issues.

If you’re not rooted, here is a copy of the app that’s been uploaded to hotfile.com. Or if you would rather you can get it from this thread at XDA-Developers.

On the high cost of electronics in Canada

April 27, 2011

Last week I ran across a news item about the Viewsonic 10’ gTablet being available at Amazon for around $300.00. As I’d been lately thinking about getting a tablet for my better half so that she wouldn’t have to compete with our 11yo for access to the main computer, I thought I would go check it out.

I found it here on Amazon.com for $318.00 which is a great price for a 10” tablet, even if it’s only running Android 2.2. Unfortunately, Amazon.com will not ship electronics to Canada, making us instead order items like this from Amazon.ca. That being the case, I headed on over to Amazon.ca and found the same tablet here. Boy was I ever surprised, on Amazon.ca the price is $639.00, double the price!!!  This is with the Canadian dollar currently being valued higher than the US dollar.

I was floored by this discrepancy and sent an email off to Amazon asking why the difference. This is the response that I received.

I’m sorry to hear that you are disappointed with our policy concerning and I would like to offer an explanation of some of the considerations which have led us to adopt this policy.

Prices on Amazon.ca do not reflect prices on Amazon.com, regardless of the current exchange rate. While many of the items we offer on the Amazon.ca website are also offered on Amazon.com, the prices of items offered on both sites may not match each other.

Also, I have forwarded your message to the appropriate department in our company for their consideration.

As retailers Amazon.ca, do not fix the price for the items on our website as our list price is the MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price). Unfortunately, we can only make changes to the list price on our website if the manufacturer has made these changes known to us. I apologize for any inconvenience the above information might have caused and hope you can understand our limitations.

We realize that from time to time, our customers will be able to purchase a title from another store at a lower price than ours. While price is obviously a very important factor in any purchasing decision, the best reason to buy from Amazon.ca is the quality of customer service we provide.

The employees here at Amazon.ca truly care about your experience with us and take great pride in the level of service we provide.  From the time you put an item in your shopping cart to the day you receive the order at your door, your order is given the individual attention it deserves.

Many factors in the Canadian marketplace, including what we pay to our own suppliers, affect the prices that we charge at any given time our customers on Amazon.ca. This may result in different prices on Amazon.ca and on Amazon.com for a particular item.

“This may result in different prices on Amazon.ca and on Amazon.com for a particular item” Ok, I can understand maybe a 10% difference but, double the price, common!! That’s just wrong! I decided to check out a couple of other items to see what kind of price disparity there was and this is what I found.

Amazon

6” WiFi Kindle $139.00USD vs $299.00CAD

SonyStyle

46” Bravia EX620 $1169.99USD vs $1499.99CAD  (US version on sale regular $1299.99)

Reader Touch edition $206.99USD vs $249.99CAD

Tiger Direct

CybertronPC $589.99USD vs $737.99CAD

Intel Core i7-990X $999.99USD vs $1249.99CAD

Edit: Thanks to Z for pointing out that I was comparing apples to oranges on the Viewsonic tablet (Funny Amazon didn’t point that out as I sent them the same links ;) I’ll edit the links later this evening.

So what do you think? Are Canadians being gouged?

Smartphone position tracking: Much ado about nothing.

April 27, 2011

Over the last week, I’ve seen headlines, in many blogs and mainstream news outlets, about how the Apple iPhone and iPad are keeping a record of their general position stored in a database on the device. Apparently this data (anonymized) is also sent to Apple on a weekly basis. To a lesser extent Google’s Android OS has been dragged into this fracas as well, the main difference is that Android only keeps stored the last 50 positions on the device. Today, I’ve seen in a few news items, that Window’s phone 7, is also transmitting data to Microsoft about the phones location but unlike Apple IOS and Google Android no data is being retained on the device itself. I’m not going to get into any details of how and what is being tracked as that’s not the purpose of this post but, If you do a Google search, you’ll be able to find more details on how and what data is being stored.

With several governments around the world demanding explanations from these companies and US Lawmakers making noise about congressional hearings into the recording and transmitting of positional information, this issue is looking to become a major headache for all concerned.

My take on the entire thing is “So what”. Anyone who is using one of these devices with any sort of location aware applications should reasonably expect some sort of position tracking being performed. Were their oversights on the part of Apple as to how they stored the data? Yes there were. Apple could have made sure that any data stored on the phone was encrypted and they could have informed their customers up front that the devices position was being tracked in order to provide quicker access to location based information. It’s an oversight on Apples part, just let them fix it and get on with providing their customers with the best product that they can.

I’ve seen posts about how the police would be and already have used the stored data to find out the location of a suspect at a given time but, in my opinion, all that proves is that the device was there at that time. Just because you own the device, doesn’t mean that you had it in your possession at the point in time that the police are interested in. Anyway, it’s a two way street. If the police can use positional data to say that you were in a give area at a give time, you can use the data to say that you were not in a given area at a given time. So, being that I’m not involved in any activities that I need worry about anyone knowing about, if ever questioned by the police, I’d tell them where I was anyway. In that case, I’d like to have positional data from my phone to back up my statement.

Now, onto the fact that your phones position could be and is sold to third parties. Again I say, “So What”. Do some people really think that the free location based services provided by Apple, Google, or Microsoft were being provided out of the goodness of their heart? These are corporations that are responsible to their share holders and are not providing this service without expecting to make some sort of profit from it. If, I’m going to have to put up with adds on some of the websites that I visit, they might as well be pertinent to my current location. Who knows, there might even be an advertisement that I would take an interest in.

All that leaves for any issues with position tracking is unscrupulous people being able to get at your devices positional information (or any data for that matter). This is where, in my opinion, we all have a reason and a duty to be concerned. If the data on your smartphone were to fall into the wrong hands, who knows what they could do with it. Rest assured though, that whatever it is, it’s not going to be anything pleasant for the person who’s data they managed to get their hands on. I would expect that in the future Apple, Google, and Microsoft will start putting more effort into securing personal data that is contained on and obtained through your smartphone.

What is your opinion on having your phones position tracked?

Rogers Magic Android 2.1 OTA update is now rolling out

September 8, 2010

@RogersMary tweeted a short while ago that the over the air (OTA) update to 2.1 for the Rogers HTC Magic starting today. Here is the text of Mary’s tweet.

Hello!! HTC Magic+ Customers should expect HTC to start rolling out 2.1 OS today, OTA

I’m really hopping that the testing that was done prior to releasing this ROM will mean that we won’t be seeing the same level of bugs that we saw in the E911 update.

You can find more information on the update from leavenodroidbehind.com http://www.leavenodroidbehind.com/2010/09/the-rogers-magic-now-with-2-1/

Rooting your Rogers E911 Magic or Dream using exploid script.

August 11, 2010

In my quest to make rooting your E911 updated Rogers Magic/Dream easier for everyone, I’ve come up with a script that should take much of the guesswork out of it for you. This procedure is based on the exploid script that was originally used to root the Droid X the procedure was modified by @xdaterry to recently break the perfect SPL on the Rogers E911 Dream.

The exploit that it’s using should be compatible with the magic as well and I’ve written the script as if it was. However, I don’t have an uprooted device to test it with. My script is written on a Windows XP box but if you have ADB working on a Vista/Win7 box it should be fine there as well. This will wipe all the data from your phone, so make sure that you back everything up before attempting it.

OK, Here are the instructions for you……

1. Download the RogersRoot zip file and extract it anywhere you would like to.

2. Open the Readme.txt file and read it!!!!!!!!!

3. Run the RootMe.bat file and follow the instructions.

Included in the RogersRoot.zip package are all the required files to perform a Root and ROM change to CyanogenMod 6.0.0

gbd

Root your post E911 Rogers Dream

July 23, 2010

It may have taken longer than anyone expected but there is now a procedure for rooting the HTC Dream that has the Rogers E911 patch applied. As you remember this patch placed a perfected SPL onto the device that blocked the rooting procedures in use at the time.

@xdaterry took the binary from the recent root of the Droid X and modified the procedure to enable the hack to work with the Dream. Great thinking!!!

@xdaterry tweeted this late yesterday evening

Work in progress.. http://tinyurl.com/root-rogers911-dream | remember to thank the DroidX hackers (I just ran their binary)

Go check out the link above to find the complete instructions and download links needed to break that nasty SPL from the E911 update and get CyanogenMod installed onto your Dream.

UPDATE

Xbrav hss gone ahead and performed the rooting procedure and now haas freed his phone from the phone police. Here is his guide for you to follow.

http://is.gd/dDJUp

gbd

New (shorter) Rogers Magic/Magic+ rooting guide

July 12, 2010

After seeing the popularity of my original guide for Rooting the Rogers Post E911 Magic / Magic+ and knowing how daunting the guide looked to someone who hasn’t done it before, I decided to try to come up with something much simpler for those of you who may have found the original guide just a little too involved to attempt. My first guides are the way they are because that’s the exact steps in the order that I took them to gain root back on a Post E911 magic.

The RadioSwitcher batch file is thanks to eyegor over at XDA-Developers.com, I’ve just changed a couple of the files and edited the script to use the E911 radio from the Rogers dream. We are using the Dream radio because CyanogenMod currently is not compatible with the E911 Radio from the Magic and Rogers scans their system looking for specific Radio files associated with the E911 update. If the correct Radio’s are not found, Rogers will cut your data access. The E911 Radio from the dream is compatible with The Magic, CyanogenMod and the Rogers Scan.

The original technique of using the European RUU to break the perfected SPL is credited to Orange_24 again over at XDA-Developers.com, I’m sorry that I don’t have a link for this one.

This guide will leave you with the following setup

  • SPL – 1.33.2010
  • Radio – 3.22.26.17
  • Recovery – RA-sapphire-v1.7.0H
  • ROM – CyanogenMod 5.0.8

WARNING

This guide is ONLY intended for the Rogers Magic/Magic+ that have the post E911 perfected SPL on them. As with all procedures involving the flashing of your phone there is always a risk however small that something could go wrong and you could end up with nothing but an expensive paperweight. If you choose to follow this guide or use the files linked within, you and you alone are responsible for any and all problems that you or your device may have.

UPDATE 1 – Added missing file copy and re-uploaded the CM6 files. New CM6 files that are linked below are now for CM6.0.0RC2.

UPDATE 2 – With the stable release of CM6.0.0 this guide has been change to use this new release

Step 1  Download of the required files.

Step 2  To create a Goldcard, Follow this procedure.

Step 3  Extract and copy files to required locations.

  • Make a directory on the root of your “C” drive called MagicRoot and extract the contents of MagicRootKit.Zip into that folder.
  • Extract the CyanogenMod.zip file wherever you would like and copy the 3 files contained within to the root of the Goldcard.
  • Copy the file c:\MagicRoot\update-hboot-1.76.2007-signed.zip to the root of your phones SD card
  • Copy the file c:\MagicRoot\recovery-ra-hero-v1.6.2.img to the root or your phones SD card

Step 4 — Start the rooting procedure

  • From your PC, run the downloaded file RUU_Sapphire_HTC_Europe_3.05.401.1_test_signed_NoDriver.exe
  • When the RUU has completed and the phone has rebooted open up a command window on your PC and enter the following commands
  1. path = %path%;c:\magicroot
  2. adb devices (you should see the Serial Number of your device listed)
  3. adb shell (you will get a prompt #)
  4. flash_image recovery recovery-RA-hero-v1.6.2.img
  • Turn off phone and turn on again holding Power+Home. RA Recovery should appear
  • Select Flash zip from SD card and flash the file “update-hboot-1762007-signed.zip”
  • After the SPL has been flashed you will be asked to reboot your phone, the phone will reboot back into recovery and you will see a message “formating cash” at the bottom that won’t go away, you can ignore that message.

At this point your phone is now rooted. If you wish you could leave my guide at this point and follow any other guide that you wish to install a custom ROM that is compatible with a 1.76.x radio. To continue with installing CyanogenMod it is now required that we change the Radio/SPL/Recovery to a version compatible with CyanogenMod.

Step 5  Change Radio/SPL/Recovery versions using RadioSwitcher script.

  • Reboot your phone into fastboot mode (Power + volume down)
  • Return to your command window and enter the command “radioswitcher”
  • Select option 1 ( Flash Old Radio)
  • after receiving message “Radio SPL and Recovery updated successfully”, Select option 3 (Exit)

Step 6  Flash CyanogenMod

  • Reboot the phone into recovery (Home + Power)
  • Perform a wipe
  • Flash the CyanogenMod files in this order
  1. update-cm-6.0.0-DS-signed.zip
  2. bc-6.0.0-ebi1-signed.zip
  3. gapps-mdpi-tiny-20100816-signed.zip
  • reboot your phone and you are now running CyanogenMod 6.0.0

If you have any problems with CyanogenMod, please visit the Dream/Sapphire section of the forum over at CyanogenMod.com and post your questions there. If you want to keep up to date on future releases of CyanogenMod you can follow Cyanogen on Twitter and if you want to keep up to date on the EBI1/32A kernel ports you can follow bcrook88 on Twitter

gbd

Another possible 2 months before Android 2.1 on Rogers Magic

July 7, 2010

Yesterday, @RogersMary dropped a couple of tweets on us letting us finally know the status of the expected Android 2.1 update to the Rogers HTC Magic. While the news was good in that HTC had finally delivered the update, it seems that the approval process for the ROM is going to take quite a bit longer than I or anyone else for that matter anticipated. In one of her tweets, Mary says that the approval process “Should” be completed by the end of August.

Here is a copy of her tweets if you happened to miss them.

Okay Magic fans, I have an update for you! Rogers has received a draft OS 2.1 Magic upgrade from HTC.

And the second tweet.

We’re in process of testing. No solid release date as that depends on Google’s approval as well. We anticipate end of Aug but plz stay tuned

RogersMary

To say that I was shocked at the further delay in the expected delivery date of Android 2.1 out to Rogers customers wouldn’t be a true statement, I did kind of expect it but not for this reason. I actually expected that we would be told that HTC didn’t have the ROM ready and it would be delayed for some period of time. Two months to run the ROM through its paces greatly exceeds the couple of weeks that I would have figured it to take for the approval process. I guess this just goes to show how little I really know of the ROM testing requirements that Rogers/Google has put into place. I’m not sure if this is Rogers/Google’s standard testing practice or if after the inferior ROM with E911 patch that HTC threw together and Rogers forced onto it’s customer a few months back is causing them to be extra carefull with this one.

I was also surprised to see that Google has to approve the ROM prior to its release to the public. The more that I thought about it however, I came to realize that since there are proprietary Google bits that will be included, like the Market app, Maps, Search etc. Google will want to make sure that these bits are functioning properly with the ROM changes that HTC makes to include their sense UI and Rogers modifications.

I would recommend to Rogers that, in the future, they add product testing time onto any date that they give to their customers.  In this case, giving the community a date of Q3 for the release of the update would have been a much smarter decision rather than Mid-Year followed up by End of June. This is of course entirely dependent on if Rogers even bothers to read my blog or takes any stock in my suggestions.

gbd

Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 finally rooted

June 28, 2010

After a couple of false alarms it looks like the folks over at XDA-developers.com have finally managed to crack open the X10 and have come up with a working rooting procedure for it. This is great news for anybody who owns this device as it will finally give those that choose to go the rooting method more control over their device. It should also lead to some custom developed ROM’s for it. Maybe Cyanogen could be convinced to add it to his list for CyanogemMod.

For those interested, you can find the post containing the rooting procedure and links to the required downloads, on the XDA-Developers forum right here.

Thanks to Jerpelea, biktor_gj and Bin4ry! for all their hard work.

You can find this post and other great informative Android posts over at Leavenodroidbehind.com

CyanogenMod 5.0.8 for Dream and Magic

June 21, 2010
Well, it looks like Cyanogen & his team over at CyanogenMod.com have done it again with a second stable release of Android 2.1 for the HTC Dream and HTC Magic. Cyanogen was the first developer to bring a fully functional Android 2.1 ROM to the Dream/Magic and doesn’t disappoint with this release. CyanogenMod(CM) is so popular that there are many ROM’s around that are based on Cyanogen’s version or are actually just re-skinned versions of CM. CM 5.0.8 had previously seen four “Test” releases before Cyanogen was satisfied enough to declare this version good enough to be a daily driver on your phone. In my opinion although, any of the test releases were usable on a daily basis.

CM5.0.8 now includes a new Launcher (ADW-Launcher) and as always is packed with many features that you wouldn’t find in a straight release of Android 2.1. Here is a list of features right from the CM 5.0.8 post in the forum at CyanogenMod.com

What’s NOT included that you’d find on a Nexus One:

* Launcher2 (too clunky for these devices)
* Stock Live Wallpapers (LWP support is there, but may not work with all LWP apps and/or performance may be bad)
* Facebook (install from the Market, contact sync works perfect, at least on Sapphire)
* Google Voice (install from Market, push notify works perfect)
* Gallery3D (too much of a memory hog)

What’s included:

* Everything that goes with Eclair
* 3D, video, camera, camcorder, BT, WiFi, etc are all of course working

CyanogenMod extras:

* Can be used with or without Google applications
* Kernel 2.6.34 with Pershoot’s tweaks
* ADWLauncher is the default launcher!
* Complete music app overhaul by Eliot Stocker
* New Apps2SD method implemented mostly by Chris Soyars.
* Built in USB & Bluetooth tethering
* Graphical enhancements, #boobs, and excellent wallpapers by Prash and SatanR1
* Includes BusyBox, htop, nano, powertop, openvpn, bash, irssi, and all engineering commandline utilities
* FLAC audio support from Kenny Root
* Phone enhancements from Cytown
* Contacts enhancements from Wysie
* MMS enhancements from, well, everyone (see changelog)
* Perform zipalign-on-install of applications
* DeskClock tweaks- longer autosilence and “require unlock” option
* Massive APN list
* All available locales are included thanks to PsychoI3oy
* 360-degree auto-orientation by Optedoblivion and Elanthis (enable in settings)
* OpenVPN integration thanks to James Bottomley
* Music app can respond to long-press on the volume buttons (from Metalhead)
* Many other bugfixes and tweaks from AOSP contributors
* Tons of work on the build system by Koush and Chris Soyars
* Big thanks to Zinx for debugging some really difficult issues! He really deserves most of the credit for getting this thing working so well.
* See the full CHANGELOG for all credits and details

One thing to note is that, the new 3D gallery that ships with stock Android 2.1 has not been included. This was done because as it says, it’s too much of a memory hog. While this is probably true on the G1/Dream and MT3G, I found that the 3D Gallery runs just fine on the 32A Magic. If you are using CM 5.0.8 and decide you want to try out the 3D Gallery, you can check around in the forum at CyanogenMod.com and you will be able to find it there somewhere along with instructions on how to install it along side or replace the old 2D Gallery.

For those of us on the Rogers network and using the EBI1 radio’s (CM is made for EBI0 radio used by T-Mobile), there is one additional requirement to installing the CM base ROM. An EBI1 kernel port is required for each release of CM. You can find the kernel port on the forum at CyanogenMod.com in the same post that you will find the base CM ROM. Or you can snag it from the dev’s site, briancrook.ca, just make sure that the kernel port matches the base CM version.

You can follow both dev’s on Twitter, @Cyanogen or @Bcrook88. If you are using their work, don’t forget to thank them @Cyanogen for the great ROM’s and @Bcrook88 for continuing to bring us the EBI1 ports even though he has moved onto the Nexus One.

You can see this post and find other great Android information over at LeaveNoDroidBehind.com

gbd


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