Blog post

A few Android tips

Every time I flash a new custom ROM onto my Samsung Galaxy S, there a few things I have to change which will otherwise annoy me. Every time I end up having to look up how to do it again, so to save myself time in the future I’m putting them on here so it’s easier to find.

How to stop the phone making a sound during bootup

The simplest way to prevent the phone making a noise when booting up is to set the ‘System volume’ to zero. This doesn’t seem to affect any sounds that I like the phone to make – email, text and calls are still audible despite the System volume being 0. To find this setting, go to the main Settings, then Sound, then Volume.

Volume settings on my Android phoneHow to stop the phone vibrating when the battery is charged

I have no idea why this is the default setting, but when I flash a ROM and forget to change this I end up being woken up in the middle of the night by my phone vibrating to tell me the battery is charged. As most people will charge their phones at night, this seems very strange, but thankfully there’s a straightforward way to disable it. In the main Settings page, choose Sound, then choose Vibration intensity and set it to zero. If it’s greyed out, then turn Haptic feedback on, then change the Vibration intensity, then turn Haptic feedback off again. Of course, if you like the haptic feedback then this won’t be of much use to you, but I don’t like it so have it off anyway.

Vibration intensity setting on my Android phoneHow to take a screenshot on a Samsung Galaxy S (without root)

Sadly, the excellent ShootMe app is currently unavailable from the Android Market. However, there is a way of getting a screenshot on a Galaxy S that doesn’t need root – simply hold the Back button then press the Home button. This is how I took the screenshots above – I usually use ShootMe, but since flashing my phone again I don’t currently have it installed.

Blog post

Learn to develop for Android with 20 hours worth of YouTube videos

YouTube user thenewboston has created a series of 200 videos dedicated to teaching Android development. The videos have been organised into a playlist by another user, changingtheunknown. This looks like a very useful and informative resource for learning about Android, especially as it’s completely free!

Here is the first video in the series – for the rest, check out theĀ playlist!

Blog post

Grand Prix Story for Android – thoughts and tips

Grand Prix Story is the latest game released by Kairosoft, and for now it is exclusive to Android. It has been out for a few weeks, but I’ve been too busy playing it to write anything about it!

Grand Prix Story start pageIt builds on the formula seen in Game Dev Story, but adds a bit more depth, to the extent that I’ve now played Grand Prix Story through 4 times and am preparing for a 5th go! You start by assuming control of a fledgling grand prix team, and start by building a very basic car. As your skills increase you can build better cars, add accessories, upgrade items and train your driver and mechanics. You also have to impress your sponsors, who will give you money and bonus items if you do well.

After four playthroughs I have reached the point where winning races is no longer a challenge – my cars are so much more advanced than the others that the races are mainly a case of which one of my drivers will win. But I’m still playing because I want to improve my cars further and get quicker lap times. Here are my car stats at the end of my most recent playthrough:

My car stats on Grand Prix StoryIt takes a while to build up stats like this! These were achieved by carrying over the Kairo Kar and the Supercharger from my 3rd playthrough, and upgrading them only when my drivers had an aura. My main objective for my next playthrough is to see if I can get the speed over 1000.

Here are some screenshots showing my clear points at the end of my fourth playthrough:

Clear Points - 1st screenClear Points - 2nd screenMy clear points were 418,114 – this was achieved without really trying to get a high score, I guess it will help next time to try and research the different vehicle types and parts to bump up my score.

Here are a few things I found useful whilst playing the game:

  • When hiring mechanics, the tech stat is everything. Ideally the starting tech stat should be 30 or over. If you don’t get any at the start, hire whoever is available but don’t bother levelling them up – just keep checking the hire page and replace them when possible.
  • To win on an off-road track, you need the Knobby Tires. You’ll get these when you complete the Bridgerock Tires sponsor (the first sponsor).
  • To win on an icy track, you need the Studless Tires. You’ll get these when you win the Egypt race.
  • Auras can be used to boost your driver during qualifying or the race, training a driver, or to improve an upgrade or car. Don’t waste them on using them during the race – use them to build a car and you’ll get higher stats than without the aura. You’ll also reach a point where the driver’s stats won’t increase by training – but if you have an aura then training will still be effective.
  • Something to be aware of when carrying over items to a new game – you can carry over one car type and one upgrade. But it’s most likely that your starter garage will not have a good enough tech to build the car or upgrade. It’s still very advantageous to have these plans available for when your tech is good enough, but if your mechanics say that something will turn out to be a disaster, then they’re telling the truth – leave it until your tech stats are higher.

Hopefully that will prove useful to someone! I can’t recommend this game highly enough, I look forward to Kairosoft’s next effort!

Blog post

Using the Amazon Appstore outside of the USA

Amazon have set up a rival app store to the official Android Market, which allows users to download and purchase a wide range of apps, including some exclusives such as Plants vs Zombies. They also feature a paid-for app which is free for only one day. Frustratingly, people outside the USA are officially unable to access the Appstore and get the free apps, but a workaround has been found by About Everything.

Amazon App Store

The steps to follow are:

  1. Set up a new email address to register with – just in case you get banned, you don’t want to be using your usual email address.
  2. Register a new account on (make sure it’s the USA site) using your new email address. You’ll need details which suggest you’re in the USA – so generate some details using Fake Name Generator. You’ll need the phone number and credit card numbers – don’t actually try to buy anything with the credit card though! This is purely to enable you to download the free app each day.
  3. Now, download the Amazon Appstore .apk file to your phone and install it (you may need to change the settings to allow non-Market apps to be installed if you haven’t already done so).
  4. Now log in using your newly created account and you should be able to get those free apps!
Blog post

DarkyROM v10.2 now available

An updated version of Darky’s ROM for the Samsung Galaxy S and variants has been released. The new ROM is based on JVQ firmware which is Gingerbread 2.3.4 (10.1 was based on JVH/2.3.3), and contains a wealth of bugfixes and improvements over the stock ROM. The ROM also comes packaged with a new version of the DarkCore kernel.

Phone's about screen showing new firmware and kernelOne new feature is the DarkyROM tool which allows you to easily flash different modems, kernels, CWM zip files and uninstall system files. It also allows you to reboot into download or recovery mode.

The new DarkyROM toolFull instructions on how to install the ROM are on the DarkyROM forums. Since updating to 10.2 my phone has been much quicker, and I’ve not had any trouble with battery drainage that caused a few issues before.