Into the Droid

For the past couple of months, I’ve tapped a universe very much unlike the one I’m accustomed to experiencing. I did this by purchasing my first Android phone, in this case, a Droid Eris. My Samsung Rogue suffered a mishap in the washing machine back in June, and I wasn’t eligible for a new phone until March 2011.

It just so happened Verizon was veritably shelling out previously owned Eris handsets, so I grabbed one to tinker. And tinker I did. See, the Eris is old. 2nd generation Android old. Android 1.6 old. They’ll never have an official release higher than 2.1, and there’s a pretty ridiculous bug in 2.1 that affects some older handsets, causing them to spend over 50% of the time without a signal polling for towers, thus draining the battery. This prompted me to try and root my phone so I could alleviate this concern.

And thus it began. Rooting my phone was easy. A 1-click root app is available right through the Android market. A quick series of Google searches led me to the XDA forums, a kind of one-stop shop for all things Android, from both professional and amateur developers. The Eris has its own faction of devoted hobbyists, and the hardest part was deciding which 2.2 (Froyo) to install.

I decided on CELB Froyo because it’s described as one of the cleanest releases of CyanogenMod available. One thing about Cyanogen, is that they’re not afraid to open all the hacks and tweaks available to the Android OS, and even insert a few of their own. Top it off with LauncherPro, and even a device as ancient as the Eris becomes a highly responsive device. It really is a tinkerer’s dream, and makes it pretty obvious why I love it. In fact, love is too timid a word; passion, perhaps, or a constant yearning.

The thing about Android is that it clearly demonstrates where the technology of miniaturization is leading. Constant availability of information, entertainment, connectivity, and even socialization can only attain further integration. For now, it’s a small handheld, eventually it’ll be smart contact-lenses ala Vernor Vinge, and eventually embedded interfaces of some variety, and then wet-ware adapted to our central nervous systems. Charles Stross explores this concept frequently in Accelerando, and I must admit he’s on the right track.

I’m one of those people who loves a constant stream of information. There’s a reason I own an E-reader, for instance. A reason I’m always online reading news. A reason I work as a DBA for a financial institution. My brain is always active, so much so that I’ve never been able to sleep in less than half an hour, for as long as I can remember. Even as a four-year-old, I’d stare at the ceiling thinking, or reading one of the books mom left in my room. For a mind that never rests, I need a source of information that can satiate it.

I, for one, welcome our Android overlords.