Categories
GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source Tutorials & Tips

Restore Samsung Galaxy S to Original ROM from Telcel Mexico

Flash Samsung Galaxy S with Odin

Two weeks ago, I messed up my Galaxy S phone. I was having trouble with the back key activating by itself without touching it. As I’ve said before, I use Darky’s ROM instead of the crappy Samsung/Telcel default one. So searching for a possible solution, I found out that you could update your touchkeys firmware.

Well, I went ahead and updated it. To my surprise, it completely disabled my touch keys (the back and menu buttons). So, if you have the same problem with you back button key, DO NOT upgrade your firmware if you’re using a custom or unofficial ROM…or keep reading… Now my problem was worse than before! I then searched for a solution on that, and the only answer was: return to the default ROM and upgrade the touchkeys again, then revert back to your custom ROM.

That’s when my long journey began. Back when I changed to Darky’s ROM, I used Clockwork Recovery to do so. And of course, I made a backup of my current ROM. Turns out that, to restore from a backup, you need to be on the original ROM (or the ROM that backup has). And well, I had no other place to get that, since I thought my backup would solve it all. So I ended up spending almost all saturday looking for the original Samsung Galaxy S ROM from Telcel Mexico, until I finally found it!

To flash your Android device, you’ll need a program called Odin which is a leaked Samsung application that unfortunately runs only on Windows machines. There’s an open source, cross platform flashing software called Heimdall, but I couldn’t get it to work correctly, there’s not much documentation, so I couldn’t figure out my problem. I hope that project grows and evolves into a more stable alternative to Odin. So, I had to borrow a Windows XP netbook from a co-worker for a day so I could use the Odin software to Flash my phone.

I wanted to share my finding with some friends who have asked me about the same problem. So follow this forum post if you need to revert back to the original ROM, or recover your phone from a backup and you have a Galaxy S from Telcel. The post makes reference to this unofficial guide to upgrade to Froyo in case you loose your 850Mhz band.

I hope this solves your problems and helps you save all the time I had to invest to get to this solution. Changing the original ROM on your Android device is a risky move, but I find it worth it.

Photo is Creative Commons by fraencko on Flickr.
Categories
personal

Arriving late to the mobile computing era

mobile computing

As I’ve mentioned on previous posts, I recently got an android phone. And I don’t say “smartphone” because I had a Nokia N95, which was considered a “smartphone” back around 2007 or so. But this phone is different. Ever since the BlackBerry and the iPhone got out and then the Android OS devices, the small device in your pocket was no longer “just a phone”.

I know, I’m VERY late to write about this topic as if it was today’s novelty. The fact is that at the time of this writing, not everyone yet has joined the mobile computing world. I would like to share some of the things I’ve been using my phone, for others who, like me, are joining late the smartphone world.

So, for those who are still thinking on getting a smartphone, and wondering what’s the big deal or the big buzz around the topic, here are three basic ideas that I’ve found out after I got my android device:

Your device is not a phone, its a pocket computer.

That’s the first paradigm I noticed to be a big shift. What’s the big deal about it? Well, you can install and create lots of applications that you can use as entertainment, but specially to assist you on the go. You would never have on your desktop/laptop an application to split the restaurant tab, or remind you your grocery list, or aided with GPS and accelerometers to track your exercises. Its a different kind of computing you’ll be experiencing.

Your device is an extension of your desktop/laptop.

With applications like Chrome2Phone, you can easily extend what you’re doing on your computer to your mobile device. I sometimes search for an address on my computer browser, since the normal keyboard is more comfortable, and use this app to send the map to my phone, so I can use it on the road to get to my destination. Once I traveled to Mexico city for 7 days and did not used my laptop at all! Games, browsing, socializing, were all done from my phone (I did no programming those days, I was on vacations).

Your device is an extension of your memory and yourself.

Having a computer in you pocket handy for whenever you need it and packed with applications for many uses, you can have a better control of your time and tasks. Your to-do list, your calendar, your contacts, your social network notifications, your camera, all this in real-time sync with the online world and your computer can help you not miss anything, from attending a meeting, tracking your health or saving a moment through a video or photo and immediately sharing it to get real-time feedback.

For those who have already been in the mobile computing era for a while, what has been your experience? How has your life changed since you got your smartphone?

Photo is Creative Commons Licensed by Johan Larsson on Flickr
Categories
GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source personal

Thoughts & Tips on the Samsung Galaxy S from Telcel

Samsung Galaxy S
After a couple of months of having the Samsung Galaxy S from my carrier Telcel, I now feel I can write a few lines about it and give you some heads up if you’re in Mexico and planning to get one as well.

The Good

First of all I’d like to start saying that it is a great device. Its a very light and slim phone. I used to carry around a Nokia N95, and switching to the Galaxy S is like switching from carrying a brick to a small pebble. I actually had some jeans with the mark of the N95 stretching the denim, now I wont worry about ripping my jeans with my phone. The screen size is great and the Super AMOLED resolution is very comfortable and bright. If you’re used to the iPhone’s screen, you’ll definately love the Galaxy S bright and high contrast screen. Also its a very fast phone with its 1Ghz processor and a very fast GPU unit, its the most decent Android phone offered by the largest carrier Telcel (at the time of this writing).

The Bad

That said, now to the bad sides of it. First, it comes with Eclair and the Froyo update is yet to be announced in Latin America (or at least Mexico as far as I know). But mainly, the bad part is: its from Telcel. And I’m not talking about the carrier service (which is very questionable, but off topic). What I’m saying here is that Telcel “crippled” it. The phone is loaded with crapware, and is missing key android OS ingredients.

They decided to remove Google search and replace it with Yahoo! (Bing). They removed the Gmail and Gtalk apps, and replace is with a Samsung email app doesn’t support Gmail at all, Gtalk is completely abscent. Oh and forget about trying to install them through the Android Market; its been filtered so these Google apps and others (like Firefox and Adobe Flash among others) are not available.

And last but not least, they removed the Voice Dialler app. Now why would they do that? For me its a security risk, since I drive a lot and I’m used to voice dial via my Bluetooth headset. Now I have to turn my sight off the road to see the phone in order to dial a phone, risking myself (and others) while driving.

I contacted Samsung Mexico and they answered back saying that those changes were made by Telcel, so they are really the ones to blame for this atrocities.

Samsung Galaxy S

The Ugly

The good news is that custom ROMs are the solution to these problems. If you don’t mind the warranty and all that, you can “safely” use Darky’s ROM which is based on Froyo with some nice improvements (thanks to @weymaster for helping me with my fear to install it). So far its the only ROM I know that works well with Telcel in Mexico. It makes the phone very fast, improve battery use and fix some GPS issues the Eclair based original firmware has. It also restores all the Google apps that Telcel removed, removes the carrier’s crapware and unfilters the Android Market. I really recommend the “upgrade”.

The Darky’s ROM page has all the instructions on how to upgrade. On my experience, I recommend you to use the Wipe version, which will delete everything on your phone, so be sure to make a backup first, of the data and an image of the original firmware, just in case you need to take it to warranty and you have to restore the phone’s original state from the carrier.

Conclusion

Overall its a very good choice if you’re in the looks for a smartphone of this kind and don’t want to buy an iPhone. I’ve been very happy with it, and even more after I “upgraded” it.

If have one, share in the comments your experience with it, maybe give out some tips on must have apps. I’ll be posting more on android and mobile computing now that I finally joined that bandwagon.