Custom to the smallest degree

I like to keep things as simple and as functional as possible. This is one of the major reasons I moved from iOS to android.   On the simple side of things my main beef was that to get any information or complete a task iOS required more motions and more time than I really want to use.  Most of the time I would simply not use my phone for a task.  For this post I’ll define a “motion” as a swipe, touch, or typing.

To illustrate, while on default iOS to do anything with my phone one has to unlock (2 motions), locate the desired app (1-3 or more motions), open the app (1 motion), wait for it to open and update  So 4-6 motions and 10+ seconds later I would FINALLY have access to the app I wanted.  This doesn’t include any motions or time from within the app.

The greater foul was that by default Applications on iOS have are organized by date of installation and to change it is a time consuming process or requires the use of a computer (insert snarking Post-PC-bullshit quip here).  The end result being rather ugly and even more confusing


To alevate this pain I turned toward jailbreaking my phone through a series of apps, extensions, coding, and themes my lockscreen looked like this

here is a guide to doing this.

Still this whole process only allows me to view information, I don’t think it allowed me reply to text, email, or access any other data.

Enter android.  As I have said before, “Where there is a will, there is code.”  Android provides developers  with not only an open platform they encourage and provides them with everything they need to make android their what ever they want for free.  The days were I needed to hack and slash code are gone.  Everything I needed to customize my phone was in Google Play Store.

I am running a beta build of CyanogenMod 9 on a Samsung Epic 4G, so I am as close to vanilla Android 4.0.4 as I can possibly get.  No carrier apps, no manufacture overlays and I disabled the status bar clock.  But everything here can be accomplished on any android phone.

Here is my current homescreen accessible but just pushing the power button (1 motion)

 From this homescreen I can get detailed weather,  toggle WiFi / GPS / tethering / Bluetooth / 4G, launch any app that has an active notifications,  respond to text, capture video/take pictures, check my calendars, , make a phone call, listen to voicemail, play music / podcasts / audiobooks, launch and read Facebook / Twitter / Google+, and open maps / gallery / Google reader.   All in two motions.

For three motions I could enable an alarm,  download / update apps, and search and launch anything on my phone including music, video, apps, and search pretty much anything else.

The awesome-ness comes in with zero motions I get time, battery info, current weather and forecast.  With one motion  I can read new emails, read text, open gchat, open a browser, open dialer, and get detailed weather information.

That quite a long list for 4 motions and all accomplished with a custom minimalistic visual experience.

I’d also say that the wait time for all of this to happen is <1sec and compare it to iOS, but my last experience was on an iPhone 3G which by default was a 620 MHz processor underclocked to 412 MHz.  Its probably not fair to compare that to a 1 GHz processor overclocked to 1.1 GHZ.

Any Android phone can look like this.  it doesn’t have to have ICS to accomplish it.  Its all possible with a few apps from the Play Store.

First is the launcher.  Which controls homescreens, the app drawer, and custom motion controls.  i use Apex Launcher (  Swipe up motion to open the  app drawer, vertical continuous app drawer, infinite scroll-able dock, locked wallpaper, and a few other tweaks here and there. The same effects can be accomplished with Nova LauncherADW launcher,  Go Launcher EX, or a variety of other launchers.

The clock / weather widget at the top of the screen is Simi Clock Widget, which really appeals to me due to the minimal nature of it.  I have also used  and loved Fancy Widgets and Beautiful Widgets.

 Last I got the wallpaper from Lifehacker.

And that’s it.  2 apps and image file.

Day 1

I woke up this morning at 4:45 to change Michaela and didn’t see the point in sleeping anymore, so I hopped on the computer.

Booted up and into a updated system.  I had started the updates previous.  My goal this morning was to implement my 2 HDD system/data model.  First step is format my old data drive.  A quick search brought me to Gparted (link).  I installed and formated /dev/sdb1 to ext3.  I have no plans on going back to Windows and I am not going to make it easy for myself to do it.

My Newly formatted drive mounted itself as /media/Data.  I’m still very new at the file structure  in linux and the lack of drive names continues to throw me for a loop.  The only reason why have a clue on this is that my Android phone operates with the same file structure.

Ubuntu has a “My Documents” analog as /home/user.  In this directory all the documents, videos, picture and music are store and also have handy system shortcuts.  So my goal is to mount /dev/sdb1 (newly formatted) as /home.  This was easy enough to do in windows (right click My Documents….properties…..Move target) but it seems to be a little more complicated in Ubuntu.   I am finding out in linux, where there is a will there is a way and plenty of forums to help you.

I found this forumof another chap in my situation.  Seems easy enough.  I fire up gedit and add UUID=xxxx /home ext3 defaults 0 2  to /etc/fstab And reboot.  And then I can’t login anymore.  Stuck at login screen and nothing happens when I put my password in.  The best help i can find is on yahoo answers.  I opt to start over.

Quick wipe and re-install and 11 minutes later I’m back where I started the morning at.  This time I get the idea to FIRST copy the contents of /home to /dev/sdb1 before I reboot.  I try to copy the contents and i get an error that I don’t have permission to write to the drive.  Time for more google.  I learn about the chown command and a quick

sudo chown -R skyjedi:skyjedi /dev/sdb1

I own the drive now.

sudo cp /home to /dev/sdb1

After one failed attempt at manually editing /etc/fstab I opt for a gui approach.

sudo apt-get install pysdm
sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bak
gksu pysdm &

Point /dev/sdb1 to /home/skyjedi with pysdm

I cross my fingers and reboot.  IT WORKS!  Login and look at /home and it looks good.  I confirm that /dev/sdb1 is mounted at /home in gparted.   I start copying all my data into /home and confirm that /dev/sdb1 is taking the data and not /dev/sda1.

2 drive lifestyle continues!

That’s it for the day.