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Thursday, June 30, 2011

These Damn ATM Fees Are Killing Me!


Never mind that I have nearly one hundred million...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus


Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus from Patrick Clair on Vimeo.
An infographic dissecting the nature and ramifications of Stuxnet, the first weapon made entirely out of code. This was produced for Australian TV program HungryBeast on Australia's ABC1

Direction and Motion Graphics: Patrick Clair
Written by: Scott Mitchell

Production Company: Zapruder's Other Films.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How To Remove City ID (and other crapware) From Droid X (and other Android phones)

I've been on a quest to remove City ID, Blockbuster and other crapware that came bundled with my Droid X which Verizon won't allow me to remove.  Searching for "uninstall city id" or "remove blockbuster" will net thousands of results of people asking how to do so - almost all of which have nothing good to say about Ciquent (the developers of City ID), Blockbuster or Verizon.  I pretty much agree with all I've read.  In fact I have vowed to never use products ever again from Ciquent or Blockbuster, and I've notified both of my disgust and vows.

In my quest I haven't been able to find any specific instructions on how to remove this crap.  Most "instructions" say something like, "root, remove, reboot."  Well I persevered and figure it out.  It's actually pretty easy to get rid of these unwanted (cr)apps; in fact, it can be done using three readily available apps (actually four, but one gets installed automatically).

Here I'm going to provide detailed instructions (including pretty screenshots) on how to obtain and install the apps you need to root your phone (and unroot when you're done if desired) and remove those undesired bundled apps like Blockbuster, City ID, VZ Navigator and others.  First some warnings and notes though:
  • WARNING: Removing these annoying apps (rather than disabling or freezing them) will make it difficult to upgrade your Droid X to Gingerbread.  Not to worry though, here are detailed instructions on how to Upgrade to Gingerbread After Rooting and Removing Crapware From Your Droid X.
  • WARNING: use these instructions at your own risk.  You are responsible for what you do to your phone - not me.
  • WARNING: the web is replete with posts saying rooting your phone may void the warranty or brick your phone; however there are also a number of posts either disputing this or saying they haven't had a problem with warranty issues after rooting.  Again, you assume all risk for what you do to your device.
  • These instructions were used to remove unwanted programs from a Motorola Droid X running Froyo version 2.2.1 (system version 2.3.340).  It may or may not work on other devices or with other versions of Android.
  • These instructions work as of the date of this post.
  • Good luck and be happy to be rid of crapware from Verizon!
Android apps used in this guide
  • Superuser
  • z4root (AKA z4mod) by RyanZa - z4root.1.3.0.apk download mirrors (not in Market - use this link)
    • Busybox (automatically installed by z4root)
  • Titanium Backup
    Step 1 - Download/install Superuser from Android Market (search superuser)

    Step 2 - Download and install z4root, and root your device
    • Download z4root from one of the mirrors listed in the link directly to your Droid (may not be available in Android Market - click download link.  If not available via link leave a comment with a way to contact you and I can provide one).
    • Click the z4root-2.1.3.0.apk file to install (you may have to enable installation of non-Market applications - Home screen, Settings, Applications, check Unknown sources)
    • Launch z4root/z4mod
    • Select Permanent Root.
      • This may take SEVERAL minutes - be patient.
      • While it's running Busybox will be downloaded and installed.
      • You will also see various messages about the progress of rooting your phone.
      • It will either reboot your Droid or prompt you to do so.
      • NOTE: on my first attempt I selected Temporary Root which didn't appear to work as later steps failed.
      • NOTE: you can undo or unroot your Droid at any time.
      • NOTE: my first few attempts to root with z4root didn't work.  My Droid locked and I had to pull the battery to reboot.  I uninstalled z4root and installed again from one of the links above and it worked fine after that.  In fact, I did all these steps again so I could make sure these steps are accurate and grab some screen shots.
      • After rebooting open z4root/z4mod and if you see this screen you know you're rooted.


    Step 3 - Install and run Titanium Backup (search titanium backup in Market)
    • NOTE: the free version of Titanium Backup works for this, however as it does much more and is a great app I'd recommend upgrading to the pro version.
    • When you launch Titanium Backup it will tell you if you don't have root.  If you do have root it will say "Root access: OK" and look like this.

    • Click on Backup/Restore which will display a list of installed apps on your phone.
    • Scroll to the (cr)app you no longer want and click on it and select Un-install.
    • You will receive a warning asking if you're sure.  If so, click Yes and it's gone!
    • Remove other unwanted crapware to your heart's content.
    I used this to remove Blockbuster, City ID, Skype and VZ Navigator.  I'm definitely feeling better after removing all this crap!

    That's all there is to it.  Of course you can use z4root to un-root your phone if desired.

    Uninstall City ID from Droid X.  Uninstall Blockbuster from Droid X.  Uninstall Skype from Droid X.  Uninstall VZ Navigator from Droid X.