Root Camp is a series that is aimed at all levels of rooted and non-root users who are interested in the things that root can do. Each week a topic will be posted, but the comments are open to discussion of any root topic, or a better way to do the topic. We'll see how it works and modify accordingly.
Today's topic: Preparing your phone for any situation (rooted and unrooted), part one.
You might need to share your 3G/4G (root/unrooted option)
I don't use WiFi Tether except in extreme situations. Pretty much anywhere I go there's either free WiFi, or I am not using a laptop. And frankly Sprint's 3G speeds make me want to put a fist through a wall on a regular basis.
But, it's a very useful tool to have installed even if you're not planning on using it. Situations come up you don't expect. The most recent one for me was I was the only person with any data signal among five Sprint customers sitting in a bar in downtown Nashville. This meant coordinating anything using any sort of social media (and in one case texting) was out for the rest of the group.
I popped open WiFi Tether, authorized the other Sprint people I was with, and the "sitting there ignoring each other to talk to people on the internet" could begin again accordingly.
An unrooted option is ClockworkMod Tether, although it will only work for a computer connected via USB last I checked.
In an emergency, your cell will not work (unrooted)
I've now lived with Sprint through five ice storms that brought my city to a halt, two floods, a couple of tornadoes, a hurricane, hail storms, nearly 70 multi-mile long traffic jams caused by wrecks, and the Bonaroo music festival.
In most of these events, your cell phone simply will not work due to the high number of people in a concentrated area picking up the phone to call someone. I was without the ability to place or receive calls for nearly two days due to the main street a block away being a four-lane parking lot during an ice storm and everyone getting on their phones to say it was such.
Landlines were fine, the internet was fine, even the Sprint 3G data was sort of working if very slowly.
What worked for me to make a call was GrooveIP. I could run it over 4G or my WiFi. Although not a particularly great sounding call experience, it worked fine to coordinate my friends getting off the street to the houses of other friends nearby.
Several custom ROMs include SIP calling now. You can set that up if you want to save a few bucks.
If you download it, it will corrupt (root)
So, you need that mod, patch, ROM, etc. Before you flash it, you obviously should make a Nandroid backup. But before you even bother attempting to flash it, you should verify that the MD5 sum of the file is the same as what the developer reports it is.
An MD5 sum is basically a fingerprint of a file. If anything has changed in the file the sums will not match. The chances of getting a corrupted download and the MD5 still matching are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 17 billion. The chances of getting a corrupted download via 3G of a 200 meg file are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 20.
There are several MD5 checking applications, and most file browsers support hash checking also.
Spending a minute checking the MD5 before flashing will save you lots of Nandroid restore time.
If the power goes out, so does your phone (root)
When the electricity goes out, you're on a countdown to a dead phone. While you can extend the life with products such as a portable charger, chances are it will be dead when you need it.
While you may have avoided overclockable kernels like the plague due to the potential to fry your phone, you might want to take another look at them as all overclockable kernels are also underclockable.
Underclocking is literally setting your phone to run like molasses. There's a debate on whether underclocking actually saves any juice, as operations that might take a second to perform now take 6-8 seconds of awake CPU time, but if you're just trying to squeeze a phone to work as a phone a few hours longer, you see results.
Underclocking, surfing, and running Angry Birds will result in more of a drain. Underclocking and keeping the screen off and turning data off will result in significant phone improvement.
If you need your phone as a phone, underclock and kill data/background sync/etc as soon as possible after a power outage.
Remember the ABCs (root)
Always Backup Cr… stuff. Either keep a Nandroid backup of a working ROM on your phone, or keep a stock ROM on your phone, or better yet both. You might think this is overkill, but if you're away from a computer you can have some interesting things happen to a ROM that disable it.
Back in 2010 I was in a town with next to no 3G signal and my EVO 4G's ROM died due to one of the components of one of the mods not functioning correctly after a certain date. Restoring a Nandroid would not restore function to the ROM. Using a DSL modem at the house I was at, I spent hours downloading a replacement ROM. Always travel with spare ROMs preferably based off of different sources.
That's it for this week's Root Camp. I'll cover SD card issues, custom PRLs, WiFi-only modes, clustered/pack configurations, things you can buy, fast charging, and more next time. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for better ways to do things, feel free to share.