Open-sourcing and Rooting

Router:  The past week was an exciting one – last week, I open-sourced my router with DD-RT.  DD-RT is a linux based, open-sourced firmware for routers.  My old Linksys router kept losing its wifi abilities.  The only way to fix it was via a hard reset.  This became extremely annoying.  Hence, I purchased a new router, the Netgear RangeMax Wireless N-300/WNR3500L, which is pretty powerful and easy to “upgrade.”  The DD-RT process took a bit longer than expected (~45 minutes) but, since I completed it, everything runs quickly and well — no complains plus, I have a lot more control over my router.  I’m the sort of guy who notices the fastest drop off in speed (I constantly check Speedtest), so having a router that I can fully control is nice.

Android Rooting: While working on the router was fun, rooting my Android phone was way more fun and interesting.  I recently returned from a trip to Mexico.  Prior to the trip, I had resolved to root my Droid 2 Global – it was slow and not what I believed the Android experience should be (I was starting to have dreams of going back to Blackberry so you know it was bad).  Immediately prior to the trip, I spoke with Verizon about adding international calling.  Long story short – the Droid 2 Global was not able to accept the service change.  After nearly two hours on the phone, Verizon resolved to send me a “new” phone.  However, since I was leaving the next day, I was lucky in that my company has extra Blackberries sitting around and we set one up quickly.  Given my previous dreams, using the Blackberry for the week was a nice reminder of why I left RIM.

The moment I returned from my trip, I decided to instead root an older HTC Incredible my brother gave me and keep the “new” Droid 2 Global in as new a condition as possible since I wanted to sell it (I don’t use the keyboard as much as I thought and my international travel is minimal right now).  I rooted it – going from Android 2.1 to 2.3 and then down to 2.2 since I wanted to use some of the HTC Sense UI/programs.

So far – major improvement although I think a lot has to do with the phone and not the rooting.  The initial rooting was incredibly simple (basically one step using Unrevoked).  Adding ROMS was a bit more challenging – not because it is hard to find them but mainly because there were weird boot looping issues that cropped up.  Nevertheless, I was able to run Cyanogen’s Gingerbread ROM (7.0) although, for the moment, I am trying out Skyraider’s Sense 4.0 ROM (just released a few days ago) even though it is Android 2.2.  The process took a while but it was a great experience.

Time to step away from the computer and head outside (with my “new” phone)!

TEDx San Jose 2011

Two weeks ago, I attended TEDx San Jose.  I have always wanted to attend a TED event.  It was amazing.

For those who do not know, TED stands for Technology, Education, and Design.  It is one of, if not, the, pre-eminent conference in the world.  They bring in a large assortment of the most interesting, important, and influencing people in just about any field (of course with a focus on the TED areas of expertise).  A few years ago, they starting putting their TED talks online.  I saw a few and was hooked.  TED Talks are short (under 18 minutes) and people sometimes practice months before giving them — how else to talk about your most passionate area of interest and convey its wonder in such a short period?  I would love to attend a TED conference.  Sadly, it is out of my price range (~$6,000) plus I believe you need an invitation.

Luckily, TED went open source two years ago and started their TEDx program.  TEDx allows anyone to start their own TED conference on just about any topic.  I found out about one in the DC area last year but could not attend.  However, I was reading Robert Scoble’s blog and he mentioned he was speaking at TEDx San Jose.  Since I sort of view Scoble as somewhat of a Silicon Valley legend (in fact, someone I very much just wanted to meet), I thought going to the conference was perfect.  I moved out to Cali to meet interesting, smart people who wanted to change the world.  What better place than a TED conference right in the middle of Silicon Valley?!  I signed up and the cost was a very reasonable $100.

The conference, which was an entire Saturday (from ~8am-9pm including the after-party), was incredibly well-done (kudos to the organizers).  The speakers were amazing.  Everyone from Salman Khan (Khan Academy and recent TED speaker) to Dr. Kim Silverman (a major guy at Apple but who wowed the crowd with amazing magic), Kevin Surace (Inc’s entrepreneur of the year), Jonathan Trent (“Green” ideas and Nasa PhD scientist), Karen Trivelsky (started an amazing company from literally the ground up and is now helping out hundreds of underprivileged kids with college and a People Magazine “Hero Among Us”), to Margo McAuliffe (started an amazing girl’s school in Kenya and you can’t help but want to donate to her cause) were great .  The organizers suggested that everyone sit somewhere different after each session – I did and met great folks.  Plus, at lunch, I strategically sat at Scoble’s table and had a pretty interesting conversation with him!

My friends tried to convince me to go skiing the weekend of TEDx San Jose.  I refused and I am glad that I did (although I did miss some amazing powder).  TEDx – thanks for a great experience.