The Magic’s gone, enter Samsung Galaxy S II

Two years ago I bought a HTC Hero, my first Android handset. I lost that great device about half a year ago and -after trying a very basic Acer e110– replaced it with a 2nd hand Belgacom HTC Magic which I upgraded to Cyanogenmod 6.
Now don’t get me wrong; me and my Magic, we got along real fine. But my employer likes the smell of a fresh smartphone in the morning and subsidizes to make that happen and when I saw a colleague with a Samsung Galaxy S II, I knew me and my Magic HTC had to part ways.
The Galaxy S II sports a huge, bright screen with vivid colors (Samsung’s super AMOLED screens are simply stunning), a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 16Gb of internal storage (with an microSD-slot to be able to add up to 32Gb). There’s no hardware keyboard like on the HTC Desire Z I once was planning on buying, but the Galaxy does come with Swype, the virtual keyboard that takes most of the pain out of … not having a keyboard. I’ve installed all of the favorite apps from my HTC-days and as a bonus I can now finally also use Firefox Mobile (which is great, by the way).
So what’s not to like about it? Well, it’s huge, for starters. Big hands come in handy when using the S II, so I wouldn’t want to market it in China, except as a mini-tablet maybe. I’m not too thrilled about Samsung’s TouchWiz as seen on the homescreen. And battery-life isn’t that great, but that’s to be expected, with that humongous screen real estate I guess.
All in all my S II is a great smartphone. One probably doesn’t really need a dual-core handset with 16Gb of memory and a 800X480 screen, but it sure is nice little gadget to play around with for the next 2 years or so …

How to buy, upgrade, brick, rescue and generally enjoy a HTC Magic in just 14 days

Step 1: Buy
So you’re not happy with your cheapo rebound phone, pining for your lost HTC Hero and you start checking out bargain-sites for a good 2nd hand Android smartphone. After a week or so you spot an HTC Magic, on sale for €100 and 2 days later go buy that beauty for even €10 less because hey, there’s no SD-card.
Step 2: Upgrade
Your brand new Magic turns out to be that very first Android-phone Proximus started sellinng in May 2009, with Android 1.5, but without HTC Sense and tethering. Not really the smartphone you’d settle for, so you start looking around xda-developers for an upgrade path. You install flashrec, flash a new recovery image and in recovery flash MyHero 2.0.5 and after 1 month without it, you can finally boot into that beautiful HTC Sense UI again.
Step 3: Brick
HTC Sense, great, but still Android 1.5 and no tethering, seriously? No can do Sir, so you head back to xda-developers to figure out your next step. Late at night, after browsing millions of forum posts about perfected SPL’s, goldcards and recovery images, you find a thread with links to official HTC RUU’s. Easy-peasy and you download one of those boot your Windows PC and start flashing. HBOOT updates, radio updates, … all goes well and you doze off for a minute. But when you open your eyes, the upgrade process halted and you have a white screen with “invalid Customer ID” in red and no Android. You reboot, no go. You try to enter recovery mode, no go. Congratulations, you now have a shiny (semi-)bricked HTC Magic and you go to sleep feeling an utter moron for trying to flash an official RUU.
Step 4: Rescue
The next day you start looking for information on the secret craft of goldcard creation. You spend a couple of days trying to get your SD-card’s CID on your PC, but eventually ask a colleague to adb-shell into his device with your SD-card in it to get the job done (thanks Thomas!). You don’t bother downloading crypto-software to reverse the string for all the wrong reason, instead immediately heading over to the goldcard-manufacturing-webstie, write the disk-image to SD and you try to flash the RUU with the goldcard you just created. Damn, no go! You reverse the string manually, no go. You buy a new SD card (4Gb Sandisk), adb-shelling into your own cheapo Acer this time to get the CID and create a new goldcard, no go. Over a week goes by and you decide to have another stab at it and opnly then you see that the string should be hex-reversed, not reversed. You click the link to an online hexreverser, create a goldcard with that string and bingo, the RUU flashes!
cyanogenmodStep 5: Enjoy
It looks like you’re back where you were at step 2; Android 1.5 with HTC Sense UI and no tethering, so you decide to install Cyanogenmod by first downgrading your radio & hboot and then -finally- flashing Cyanogen’s Android mod.
And there you have it, after only 2 weeks you successfully turned that old HTC Magic into a modern, fast and reliable Android smartphone. Android 2.2.1 that is, with ADWlauncher, tethering and Exchange-integration. Time well spent, except … Vodaphone has an official Froyo update for the Magic out as well and there’s already a tweaked ROM for it on xda-developers. You really should try that one out as soon as possible, now shouldn’t you?!

Why I’m rooting for HTC to buy Palm

It seems like ages, but just one year ago I had very high hopes for the relaunch of Palm; the OS was based on Linux, the UI seemed great (multitasking done right from day 1) and their Mojo-framework would allow applications to be developed with nothing but html, css and javascript. But the Palm Pré and Pixi weren’t the big hit, Palm has been hemorrhaging cash for years and they are now actively looking to be bought.
Apperantly Lenevo, Huawai and ZTE have expressed interest, but I for one am especially rooting for HTC. They do great hardware (e.g. my old Qtek 9100, my current HTC Hero and Google’ Nexus One) and they have exprience with a multi-OS product line (Windows Mobile and Android). But most importantly; they have Sense UI!
Sense is the user interface that HTC puts on top of WinMo and Android, to provide users with good looking, easy to use home screens that feature widgets to display e.g. calender, mail, clock, weather, but also information from Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. WebOS could really help HTC broaden and deepen Sense; e.g. by porting the WebOS multitasking cards metaphor, Synergy (unified contact list, deeply integrating internal sources and social web) and the nifty notification system. And Mojo could (easily?) be ported to WinMo and Android as well, HTC could then open up Palm’s App Catalog for all HTC WebOS/Sense devices, allowing developers to create, publish and sell mobile applications for multiple operating systems!
Picture all of that and all of a sudden you’ll see a major player that has the hard- and software and the experience to challenge Apple at home and abroad and in court with great hardware and, thanks to WebOS, even greater software. Go HTC!