Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Install Google Now (and Basic JB Voice Search Functionality) on ICS

To start with, here's the XDA-Developers thread where this was taken from.  Before we continue, please make sure you meet the following criteria:
  • You are on ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • You are on an AOSP (Android Open Source Project) Based ROM - not required, your mileage may vary however.
You also need a File Management app that allows for permissions editing.  I recommend Root Explorer - however, it is a paid app.  If you insist on using a free application, File Explorer is currently in BETA and allows for permissions editing of /system apps.

Once you're sure you're on ICS and have a File Management app that allows permissions editing, download the following files:
You should be ready to go now.  Follow these step-by-step instructions to install Google Now:
  1. Rename "Velvet-theos0o-5.apk" to "GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk"
  2. Place "GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk" and "GoogleNowVoiceSearch.apk" on your phone.
  3. Browse to the /system/app directory on your phone.
  4. Rename the existing "GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk" file to "GoogleQuickSearchBox.bak" by long-pressing on the .apk file and selecting the "Rename" option (mount system as read/write if required).

  5. Move the new "GoogleQuickSearchBox.apk" file into the /system/app directory.
  6. Set the permissions of the .apk to -rw-r-r by long pressing on the file and selecting "Permissions"
  7. Install the "GoogleNowVoiceSearch.apk" file like you would any other 3rd Party app - simply click on it and select "Install"
  8. Reboot the phone.
That's all there is to it.  If your ROM doesn't incorporate a widget that allows for Voice Searches you can download one from the XDA Thread.  There's also a troubleshooting section and an explanation of the various Google Now Cards.  So make sure to read the original thread if you have any questions!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Install Custom ROMs on Verizon SGSIII

Currently in the Verizon SGSIII world it seems that you need to have a specific recovery to flash certain ROMs.  Luckily, MMMEFF has released a cool little utility that makes this process incredibly easy.  It's called EZ-Recovery for VZW Galaxy S3.  Download it before you go any further (and go ahead and rate it 5 stars too!).

Most ROMs will tell you what recovery you need in nice big bold letters.  To flash the proper recovery simply:
  1. Select which one you want
  2. Click "Flash!"
  3. Click "Reboot Recovery"
Now you have to pick what ROM you want, I decided I want to install AOKP, so these are the specific instructions to do that; however, if you want to install something else, please read their specific instructions carefully.

Installing AOKP:
  1. Download the most recent versions of the AOKP and Google Apps (GApps) from here. (Check the "Downloads" section.
  2. Using the instructions above, flash CWM Touch and then click "Reboot Recovery"
  3. Format the system, data, and cache from Recovery Mode - don't skip this step
  4. Flash AOKP .zip
  5. Flash GApps .zip
  6. Reboot 
  7. The Activation Screen seems to hang, so at the "Welcome" screen you see immediately after the phone powers up simply bypass it by touching the four corners of the screen.  Start in the upper lefthand corner and go clockwise until you hit the bottom lefthand corner.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Boot Samsung Galaxy SIII Into Recovery Mode

Similar to the ODIN mode instructions, to boot into Recovery Mode on the SGSIII do the following from phone off state:

  • Hold Volume Up
  • Hold Home
  • Hold Power
That's all there is too it!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Set Up ADB (Windows 7)

These are instructions on how to set up the ADB on you system in order to do some basic shell commands, etc.  Plug your phone in and turn USB Debugging ON before you attempt this so it downloads the drivers for you.
  1. Download the platform-tools
  2. Extract platform-tools (comes in .7z format)
  3. Using a command prompt type the following commands:
  • cd [directory containing platform-tools]
  • cd platform-tools
  • adb.exe

That's all there is to it, now you should be able to perform commands like:

adb devices - lists devices connected to your computer

adb push - places a file on your phone, eg adb push filename.file /location/

adb pull - pulls a file from your phone, eg adb pull filename.file /location/

Root Verizon Samsung Galaxy SIII and Install Clockwork Mod

Here are the rooting instructions for the Samsung Galaxy SIII.  I snagged them from Rootzwiki. (you guys are the best!)  Make sure you USB doesn't disconnect during this process or you will brick your phone.  Also, this shouldn't trip the flash counter.  If you want to revert this process simply flash this file using the listed method and you'll be back on untouched, stock ICS 4.0.4

First you're going to need some files:
  1. Odin - the software used to flash your phone
  2. Rooted System Image - what Odin flashes onto your phone (large download, also in torrent) MD5=be4350a56e739eaf7a4184352d653a7b
Once you have those files you may begin the rooting process:
  1.  Boot your phone into Odin Mode and plug your phone into your computer.
  2. Start Odin, you should see your device in the ID:COM area
  3. Select PDA and browse to the rooted.system.img.tar file (second one you downloaded)

     4.   Click "Start" and wait.  This process took around 10 minutes for me.  Your phone will auto-reboot and Odin will have a large green "PASS!" in the top left.  Congratulations, you're rooted!

If all you wanted was root then you're finished at this point; however, if you want to install clockworkmod you'll need to  use the adb.  You can find instructions on how to set that up here.

Instead of the instructions below, if you want clockworkmod, simply use the awesome (and free) app EZ-Recovery and check out the ROM installation tutorial for how to use it.

Once adb is working place "recovery.img" (the third file downloaded) into the directory containing adb.exe and then put that directory on your desktop.  Open up a command prompt and type:
  • cd Desktop
  • cd platform-tools
  • adb.exe
  • adb push recovery.img /sdcard/
  •  adb shell
  • su
  • dd if=/sdcard/recovery.img of=/dev/block/mmcblk0p18
  • exit
  • exit
  • adb reboot recovery 
You're done, you should now have clockworkmod recovery installed!  Enjoy your root and keep posted for future updates. 

And, as per usual, a video tutorial:

Boot Samsung Galaxy SIII Into Odin Mode

So it looks like the Verizon SIII was rooted the day after it hit the shelves in the US.  In order to root and add a custom firmware you'll need to be able to access "Odin Mode", which seems to be the equivalent of the download modes of previous phone models.  To do it follow these simple instructions:

  1. Power off phone
  2. Hold Vol Down
  3. Hold Home
  4. Hold Power
Phone will vibrate and show you a screen that asks your confirmation to enter Odin Mode.  Press Vol Up to accept and you should see a little green android man with the words "ODIN MODE" in red at the top of the screen.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Samsung Galaxy SIII Unboxing and First Impressions

I just got my Samsung Galaxy SIII in the mail today from Verizon Wireless.  Here's my unboxing video for the device and (after I found the battery) the first boot of the device.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Steam Game Recommendations

I decided to recommend a few of the games I like on Steam.  I've crossposted them here in case anyone is interested in hearing what I have to say about a few of my favorites.  There's a character limit so they're all pretty short, but that works well in its own way.

Batman Arkham Asylum:
 Very fun game. Gameplay is smooth and you can progress Batman as you see fit. Be a tanky, indestructible martial artist or a sneaky little bat-man who hangs from gargoyles and throws batarangs at people.


A+ gameplay/Combat
Fun Character Progression
"Feels" like you're the vigilante himself


Platforming can get tedious

Great action game. Combat and gameplay is especially well done. A-

 Great little action RPG, soundtrack is quite well done as well. Not the longest game, but the outstanding narrative style definitely makes it a fun play and it has some replay value added to it with multiple endings and different ways to develop your character. Easily worth the price charged, grab the soundtrack at the same time if you can as it is especially worthwhile for this game.


Fun Factor


Playthroughs are Short

One of the best little games I've played this year. A+

 Half-Life 2 (Valve):
 The one, the only: Half-Life 2

Old, but has aged incredibly well, still one of the best FPS's out there. If you haven't played it yet do it immediately, then get in line with the people waiting for HL3.


Aged extremely well
Fun Factor


Some events can be tedius
Quicksaves can put you in a bind

One of the best games of all time. Pick it up if you haven't already. A+

 Lone Survivor:
 Extremely creepy indie game. Check it out if it's on sale for cheap. Fun, fresh, and unique, but the gameplay style leaves something to be desired. Pick it up if you can for <5$


Creep factor
Story (see above)



Creepy game, pick it up for yourself around Halloween and play with the lights off. B

Duke Nukem Forever:
 The infamous Duke Nukem Forever would displease no matter how good it was. Haters are gonna hate and this game is no exception. Really, I enjoyed it, it wasn't the second coming of Christ, and I didn't expect it to be. Funny, solid, oldschool gameplay, and the endless fun of blasting monsters left me fairly satisfied with this game. Plus, all the negative reviews have made the price hit rock bottom. Pick it up if you're in the mood for a laugh and an explosion or two.


Fun Gameplay
"No-Frills" Shooter
The Duke


Can't live up to impossible expectations
"No-Frills" Shooter

If you're into toilet humor and want to blast things without thinking too much grab this game for cheap and have fun while the haters still hate on it. B

Hard Reset:
 Awesome indie shooter. Plenty of particle effects and explosions. Runs my graphics card extremely hard so make sure you have a good computer setup before you try to turn up the graphics on this bad boy. No-frills, oldschool shooter where you make robots explode into tiny little transistor-bits. Instead of picking up new weapons as you go along there's a very cool upgrade system that lets you progress as you desire with new weapons, upgrades for your existing weapons, or upgrades to your character/HUD.


Old School, Healthpack picking up, no crouching shooter
Customizable Character and Upgrade Tree
Great Graphics
Solid, Clean Gameplay


Old School, Healthpack picking up, no crouching shooter
Fairly linear level design
Repetative Environments

If you want to blast some stuff and want a graphically updated version of the shooters you've loved in the past grab this indie gem. B+

 Alien Swarm (Valve):
As far as free games go, this is a really good one to kill some time with a few friends while you're waiting on someone/something. Doesn't have a lot of longevity, so don't expect to put more than a couple hours into it, but there are several different character classes and weapons to unlock in this third-person, top down, action/adventure shooter.


Fun, Addictive Gameplay
Well Polished


No real staying power (outside of SDK, if you're into that)

It's free, so download it and give it a shot. I recommend playing with a friend or two as teamwork is a vital part of this fun little game. B-

 DotA 2 (Valve):
 This game is outrageously addictive. If you're into this type of game then there isn't any reason to not be in the beta. It isn't too hard to get in and the gameplay is solid, the development team is fast and responsive, and the polish of the game is already outstanding. Play it. It may be difficult at first (especially if you didn't play the original DotA or any of its clones) but if you read up on the game, watch videos, and dive right in you'll pick it up before too long.


Extremely fun
Replayability is off the charts


Too addictive
Public matchmaking isn't perfect
Language barriers in public games
Steep difficulty curve

The only real cons with this game are that it's free to play, meaning the community won't necessarily always be the best. Language can also be a barrier in public games (as with any online, heavily multiplayer-based game). The difficulty curve (as mentioned above) can also be pretty steep. Don't let that stop you. A+

Beautiful little game. The aesthetics are very pleasing and the music was quite good as well. I'd pay around 5$ for it, as it's a pretty simple puzzle/platformer that doesn't have much replay value.


Fun on first playthrough


Limited Replay Value

Grab it if it's on sale or in a bundle. B+