Phil Nickinson

Instead of using this sentence to write a proper lede, quite possibly with (or without) a bit of wit, can we agree to stipulate that there are what I believe to be a few decent thoughts on the other side of this post, past that "Read more" thing that does double duty of breaking up a long-ish post and keeping the front page clean while, yes, requiring you to add one more click to your experience here at Android Central?

Holy crap. That sentence itself should have had a "Read more" break. It's been one of those weekends.

So, yeah. Click on through to the other side for a few thoughts on some of the goings-on of the past week or so.

Cat and mouse ...

Folks have been asking about the HTCRUU repository being demanded to stop using HTC branding and hosting RUUs -- which factory images for HTC devices for full restores -- and Rootzwiki's story opining that such a takedown could lead to the end of custom ROMs as well.

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I'm not going to dive into the legalities of this. As far as I'm concerned, you shouldn't be hosting something that doesn't belong to you. Custom ROMs based off OEM code are an ethically gray area, generally winked at by manufacturers, and we've never seen any major crackdown against them, so far as I know. RUUs (that stands for ROM Update Utility, btw) are a different story. HTC (and other manufacturers such as Motorola) has been vigilant about them for years. Sometimes takedowns seem spurred by leaks of unreleased ROMs, other times it was from hosting a repository of current and legacy ROMs. Either way, you want to distribute someone else's work, you're putting yourself in harm's way, particularly with HTC's RUUs and Motorola's SBFs. It's been going on for years and partially led to the "retiring" of the infamous Conflipper from the Windows Mobile ROM scene in 2010. None of this is new today.

I think it's a little early to worry about custom ROMs based off Sense or any other manufacturer ROM -- there's just not any real precedent to get excited about yet. Doesn't mean it can't happen, though. And that brings things back around to the purpose of the Android Open Source Project, after all.

The unlocking gestapo? Not so much ...

We can all agree that this thing where the ability to legally SIM unlock your phone so that it'll work on a network other than the one from which you purchased the phone is a bit silly, right? Technically this falls under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which you're probably more used to from those letters from your ISP after some ill-fated torrenting. Why the DMCA? From the Federal Register (emphasis mine):

"... proponents asserted that the owners of mobile phones are also the owners of the copies of the computer programs on those phones and that, as owners, they are entitled to exercise their rights under Section 117, which gives the owner of a copy of a computer program the privilege to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program under certain circumstances, such as to permit the program to be used on a particular machine."

OK, then. That this sort of thing needs to be legislated is a little ridiculous, but it does give the carriers more teeth than a section of a terms of service might.

I've unlocked phones through carriers before, and it was a quick and easy process. (Now that I think about it, though, I don't believe that phone was under contract.) Why unlock? Or me, it's to be able to use another SIM card overseas, which usually is a lot cheaper than using my carrier's international roaming package. That said, international data rates are much cheaper than they used to be, and there's something to be said for the ease of walking off a plane in a foreign country and having your phone just work.

Nobody's going to come knocking at your door if you happen to SIM unlock your phone today. But it remains to be seen what your carrier could potentially do should it discover you're trying to get around your contract. I'm willing to bet, though, that we might only see action in extreme cases. This is not keeping me up at night.

If you haven't yet, read Jerry's take on the whole thing.

The bullet points ...

  • A really good read from Stephen King (yes, that one -- he's far more than a horror writer) on the state of guns in the U.S. It's available as an Amazon Kindle Single. If you're that worried about the 99 cents going to the Brady Campaign, borrow it from a friend. Great ideas on gun rights. Or gun control. Both.
  • The CNet/CBS thing: A shitty situation happening to good people. There might not be a good way out of this. A lot of good folks are going to have to make some tough decisions. I don't envy them.
  • On the other hand, folk tend to have short memories these days. 
  • OK, maybe not everybody. Seriously, people need to chill.
  • Hey, Delta Air Lines. That's a sweet update to your iPad and iPhone apps. Let's get it on Android already, m'kay?