Geektech: G1 modding lesson learned

John Walton
Cell Phone Editor
| May 30, 2009

I am not a hacker. I am not a coder. I think of myself as a modder though I'm not sure I really fit the definition - it's not like I'm creating icon packs or rendering my own fonts. I'm just a moderately savvy guy who enjoys tinkering with electronic stuff and benefiting from the work of those who do reverse and re-engineer. So maybe that makes me an appropriate public guinea pig for flashing a G1 with leaked and hacked ROMs.

I've been through quite a few versions of Android since I first rooted mine a couple of months ago. And while I've run into a glitch here and there, I never created a problem I couldn't resolve. Well, not until the other day. You would think I would have learned my lesson a week-and-a-half ago when I carelessly hit the wrong button in the bootloader and basically undid all of my mods up to the point of rolling back to RC29. (No big deal. I regularly back up with Nandroid.)

It happened because I was in a rush and felt over-confident about what I was doing. It was a close call and I recognized it. And yet, almost immediately after wiping the cold sweat from my brow, I did it again. On my way back up the rooting/hacking ladder to mobile computing freedom, I missed a step. I realized after reaching JF 1.51 that I no longer had the ability to create Nandroid back-ups in recovery mode. I need that. I had run into this problem before but searched to verify the fix.

I found confirmation in a dated thread at xda-developers and I flashed back to JF 1.43. Apparently, JF 1.43 included an old radio. Mix old radios with the new SPL and you get bricks. I have received confirmation from Haykuro that downgrading the radio after flashing the new SPL would brick a G1, but I'm having a hard time figuring out if JF 1.43 downgrades the radio. 1.42 definitely does not.

Whatever the case, I was at JF 1.51 with the latest SPL and radio, and flashing JF 1.43 bricked me. I have no recovery mode or bootloader; though I do get the blue LED when pressing Action+Power - which some have said is a back door bootloader. That's exactly the kind of thing I need but I don't have the knowledge or equipment to take advantage of it. HTC does, and I was told to call back Monday to see if they would have a look at my phone for a small fee.

T-Mobile said there was nothing they could do. So whatever you read at xda or elsewhere, remember this: messing with your phone breaks the warranty and could make your phone unusable. The upside is that it's a nice looking charger and you can get a small amount of cash for one on ebay.

In times like these, I can't help but think of my paternal grandfather who got himself in the paper for snatching radio signals from the air and displaying images of Mars on a television in his basement - watching live with the scientists and engineers at NASA who built the satellite that was beaming the signal back to Earth. And while I think he'd be proud that a tiny bit of his geekiness lives on through me, there's no doubt that some traits lie dormant.

Oh, snap