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ROM Review: MIUI.us 2.10.26

MIUI.us logoBack when I used the Motorola Droid as my primary device, I bounced between two primary roms – CyanogenMod 7 and MIUI. Back then, MIUI was pretty rock solid and just straight out of the box (or out of the zip?), offered incredible battery life, even on batteries approaching two years of age. I’m talking 33+ hours sometimes. Now that I’m toting an LTE Galaxy Nexus, you can see how this might’ve influenced the choice of ROM for this week’s review. I wanted to answer two main questions. First, could I expect the same sort of battery life out of MIUI on my Galaxy Nexus as I had gotten on my Droid? Secondly, how had the transition from Gingerbread to Jelly Bean affected the ROM?

For those that may not know, MIUI is not your standard XDA-style ROM. It’s a closed source ROM out of China, developed by a company called Xiaomi Tech. It uses CyanogenMod as a base for it’s ROM instead of pure AOSP, a move which I personally think is pretty brilliant. Xiaomi, as far as I understand it, reciprocates by submitting patches back to CM, or at least has in the past. I’m not sure what their working relationship is today. MIUI is so heavily customized that it’s almost unfair to the project to even call it Android. It’d kind of be like calling Ubuntu Debian. Where stock Android is a fairly barebones ordeal, MIUI is chock full of features, many you’d only find in an aftermarket ROM, a clear sign of it’s CyanogenMod underpinnings.

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One Liner: Convert All Audio Files in a Directory to MP3s

shebangHere’s a handy bash one liner for converting a bunch of audio files from one format to another via the console. You’ll need a directory of nothing but audio files as well as ffmpeg installed. They can be of mixed type, but you’re not going to want to have an M3U or TXT file in there, or you’ll get errors.

for audioFile in `ls -1`; do ffmpeg -i $audioFile -acodec libmp3lame -ab 128k `echo $audioFile | sed 's/.\{4\}$//'`.mp3; done

You can substitute libmp3lame for other codecs. Here’s the same command, but for creating OGG files:

for audioFile in `ls -1`; do ffmpeg -i $audioFile -acodec libvorbis -b 128k `echo $audioFile | sed 's/.\{4\}$//'`.ogg; done

NOTE: I don’t really use OGG, but it is Android-compatible, so I thought it’d be a good second example. It looks like there might be some bugginess in ffmpeg when creating OGG files, judging by some of these Google results. Point is, you can just basically change the -acodec flag to create different types of files.

This article at linuxconfig.org lists some of the codecs you can use. You can get a complete list of all of ffmpeg‘s supported codecs by issuing the command ffmpeg -codecs, though this will list video codecs as well.

As with most things involving bash, there are about 64 million other ways to do the same thing, many of which are probably in some way better than this one, but this works and should get you started if you’re new to this sort of thing.

Titanium Backup 5.7 Now Creates Flashable Backups

Titanium BackupWell, this is certainly a big win for crackflashers everywhere. One of the most longed-for features of any root utility in the history of Android has finally seen the light of day with the release of the latest update to Titanium Backup. Users can now create flashable zips of their apps and data. This should dramatically decrease the amount of time and effort it takes to switch from one ROM to the next, and is certainly a welcome addition for me now that I’ll be swapping ROMs every week for this blog.

This feature is only enabled in the Pro version of Titanium Backup, which will set you back $6.58 in the Play Store. If you flash ROMs even occasionally, the Pro version is worth every penny.

Here’s the full changelog:

What’s in this version:

  • [PRO] Can create update.zip containing apps+data, apps only or data only. Both user & system apps are supported and the file can be signed.
  • [PRO] Can upload files >150 MB to Dropbox.
  • Improved “Overview of app storage use” screen, shows app location & supports refresh / click / long-click.
  • [PRO] Improved fault tolerance for Dropbox upload.
  • Fixed failure to un-protect backups on ext2/3/4.
  • Fixed possible FC when importing a backup.
  • Misc bugfixes & improvements.
  • Updated translations.

Update: I’m not exactly sure what the problem is, but I’ve yet to get my phone to boot after flashing one of these app backups in CWM. No boot loop either; it just sits on the boot animation forever. I’d suggest holding off on relying on this new feature until there’s been a point release or two. This could be isolated to just a few people or some rogue app…I haven’t heard any feedback on this feature from anyone else so the problem is really a complete mystery to me for now. I needed my phone to be working when this was happening, so I didn’t really take the opportunity to investigate.

[  Titanium Backup  |  PRO  |  via Phandroid  ]

Boot Animations, Revisited

The whole reason that I decided to pick things back up with this blog was that Google Analytics kept telling me that even after well over two years and five major Android versions, people were still finding and reading my post on boot animations. I’ve spent those 31 months or so following the development of the Android platform closely, and decided that since I have such a thorough understanding of many of the issues that confound some greener users, I should share the wealth a bit and do my part to give back to the community that has offered so much to me and many others. To sort of celebrate that decision, this morning I sat out to create a boot animation for myself, something that I have actually not attempted to do since writing that initial post years ago.

In doing this, I discovered a few things that I thought might be useful to share, and could be thought of as a sort of addendum to that previous article.

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Happy Birthday, Andy!

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Andy!

Android, the mobile OS that has taken the tech world by storm, turned five years old today. Time really flies, doesn’t it? In that time, Verizon has shifted from being one of Android’s strongest supporters to a thorn in the side of crackflashers everywhere, Samsung has gone from just another feature phone manufacturer to the number one smartphone producer in the world, and Android itself has gone from a complete unknown to almost 30% market share worldwide (smartphones and tablets combined), with over 1.3 million devices activated every day. That’s 15 devices per second all 24 hours of the day, for those keeping count. Nice job! A big thanks to Andy Rubin, Google, and the entire Android community of devs, forum staff, and flashers for that make Android the most enjoyable piece of software that I’ve ever used.

ROM Review: BAMF Paradigm 2.4

One of the best parts of owning a Nexus device is the developer support and the community that forms around them. Since everyone knows they’ll be wide open without waiting around for someone to find an exploit or workaround, a lot of Android diehards jump on board on launch day and the ROM developers are no exception. My Galaxy Nexus was my first Nexus device since I am a Verizon customer (and it seems like it’ll possibly be my last unless I switch carriers…but that’s a rant for another day), and the options for ROMs and kernels meets or exceeds those for my Motorola Droid in it’s day. With so many options, I decided that it’d be nice to give some of the lesser known ROMs a try. I’m going to attempt to spend each week with a new ROM and then review it at the end of the week. Since this is an idea I had about 5 minutes ago, I’ll start by reviewing my current daily driver, BAMF Paradigm.

According to Team BAMF, their goal with Paradigm was to create a fast, stable ROM that improved upon the stock experience without adding useless features and bloat. I’ve felt since my first flash that they’ve accomplished this admirably.

BAMF Paradigm is available for the Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus 7, but I’ll just be reviewing the Galaxy Nexus version today.

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Wireless ADB

We’ve all been there. You want this APK on your phone, and you want it now. For some reason, whoever uploaded it put it on some site whose captcha isn’t playing nicely with your phone. No matter what you try, this file just isn’t going to download. It downloads on your desktop just fine, though. So what’s a geek to do? It’s either break out the USB cables, start messing with Bluetooth, or email the file to yourself. Maybe there’s a better way.

Most major ROMs these days include a feature called Wireless ADB. Often tied to a notification area toggle, this service can be turned on at will and allows users to quickly and easily perform a variety of tasks, not the least of which is pushing files to the device. In fact, anything you would normally be able to do with a USB cable and the adb command can now be done without the cable. This is really handy and could potentially be a lifesaver, and if a terminal is just as comfortable to you as a GUI, the level of convenience is rather amazing. If you’ve already got Wireless ADB turned on, you can push files to your phone without even having it in the same room as you, making your phone or tablet ready to go as soon as you go pick it up.

I’ve been noticing this feature in ROMs for a while now but had never stopped to give it a try. It sounded like something of a hack to me, and something that’s going to require homebrew software that’s probably Windows-only. Personally, if I start some computing task, I am going to sit there attempting to make it work for a full day if I have to, so I’ve avoided this, fearing that the sharks would show up. One day I was feeling particularly brave, I suppose, and decided to turn the toggle on. My phone’s IP and a port showed up beside the toggle switch. After a quick Google search, I issued the surprisingly simple command:

adb connect 192.168.1.133:3700

The terminal replied with:

connected to 192.168.1.133:3700

Wow. That was easy. A quick test…

lostsync@max:~$ adb shell ls
acct
cache
charger
config
d
data
default.prop
...

Look at that. It works.

Using Wireless ADB is that simple. You’ll need an Android device running a ROM that supports it (most 4.0 and 4.1 ROMs should at this point) and the Android SDK set up on your computer. That’s it. To start using it, simply turn it on on the device, then issue the adb connect command. The software on your device should tell you what your IP is and which port to use. For BAMF Paradigm on my Galaxy Nexus, it’s 3700, but the port can vary from ROM to ROM. After connecting, it’s business as usual with the adb command. A few of the most useful are:

  • adb push <local file> <remote path> – push <local file> from your computer to <remote path> on the device
  • adb pull <remote file> <local path> – copy <remote file> on your device to <local path> on your computer
  • adb install <local apk> – install <local apk> from your computer to the device
  • adb reboot <bootloader|recovery> – reboot bootloader will reboot your phone to the bootloader and reboot recovery will, of course, boot it into recovery mode. This is a good, quick way to get into your custom recovery.

For more info on ADB and what it can do, just run the adb command with no arguments, or check Google’s documentation.

If your ROM doesn’t support wireless ADB, as long as you’re rooted, the Play Store has you covered. Check out ADB Wireless, WiFi ADB, or ADB WiFi.

One last thing: While researching for this post, I came across a plugin for the Windows version of Total Commander called, appropriately, Android ADB, which supports Wireless ADB and would seemingly pair nicely with it. I don’t have Windows, so I haven’t tried it out, but it looks worthy of a mention, and Total Commander is my file manager of choice on Android, so I thought I’d give it a little shout out.

How To Install (and Create) A Custom Boot Animation on Android 2.1

Update 11/6/2012: This guide works on all versions of Android currently released, 4.1 being the most current that I’ve tested, but I’m 99% certain it’ll work just fine on 4.2 as well. For more information on this topic, check out Boot Animations, Revisited.

Android is a lot of fun for people who like to tinker with things, especially for rooted users. Even without root, the platform allows third party apps to dig deeply into the OS’s inner workings, changing defaults and adding menu items. If you’ve ever used Dolphin Browser or Share by QR Code, you know this. One lesser known fact is that you can actually replace the animated boot screen on your Android 2.1 device fairly easily, and even create your own.

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