SwiftlyTilting: usability, reusability

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Gain 250 - 300KB of memory on the metropcs vx3200

I was poking around in my phone’s file system the other night and noticed that @metro uses about 250k for the interface files of the application manager… but there are two copies of these files: one copy is for English, the other is for Spanish. If you’re like me, you won’t be using the Spanish language feature, so these files are just wasting space.

As an experiment, I deleted all of the files in /brew/es/. Everything still works and I was able to gain about 250kb of space on my phone for additional apps/ringtones/wallpapers.

I then loaded /brew/en/brewstarting.bmp and /brew/en/brewexiting.bmp into Photoshop and converted them from 32bit (millions of colors) to 8bit (256 colors) and sent the 8bit images back to my phone. The difference was barely noticeable on screen for the 1 second you see the @metro logo, but it saved me an additional 50kb or so.. enough for another mp3 ringtones or a few wall papers depending on color resolution. I then decided to replace the stock images with custom images cause the @metro ones were lame. you may be able to replace them with 1px x 1px images or something to save even more space if you want

This works on my vx3200 but probably will work on any phone with @metro as long as you can access the file system

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Adding Ringtones and Wallpapers to the MetroPCS vx3200

Adding ring tones and wallpapers to the MetroPCS vx3200 is really easy. The phone supports MIDI and MP3 files for ring tones and BMP, JPG and PNG files for wallpapers, and the process for adding content is similar for both ringers and images.

To add ring tones
You may use either MIDI or MP3 files. Most MIDI files worth without modification, while MP3 files need to be 16kHz mono files at a low bit rate like 24 kbps. Both MIDI files and MP3 files must have the extension .MID.

Using Bitpim, copy the .MID file to /user/sound/ringer and then delete the file /download/dloadindex/brewRingerIndex.map.

To add wallpapers
Images must be 114 pixels tall by 128 pixels wide or smaller. The image will be displaced below a 14 pixel banner that runs along the top of the screen, which is 128px x 128px.

PNG and JPG are great formats to use if you would like to reduce file space, but BMP is also usable. JPG images do take some time to render when viewing the files on the phone so I recommend PNG as the preferred format.

Using Bitpim, copy the image file to /brew/shared and then delete /download/dloadindex/brewImageIndex.map.

After you’ve added media to your phone
After you’ve followed the steps above for either media type, you must reboot your phone for the content to be usable. Once you have rebooted, you can find the ring tones and images in Menu - Tools (7) - My Media (8)

A note about GIFs
It seems the phone recognizes GIF images, but does not render them. If anyone can get a GIF image to work please let me know.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hacking the MetroPCS LG VX3200

After many years of resisting, I finally got a cell phone. I went with a local provider MetroPCS, which offers unlimited calling for a flat fee without contracts or credit checks. Overall I think it’s a pretty good deal, though I wish they offered a way to browse the web through the phone.

I decided to go with the LG vx3200, which is a pretty basic model. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information out there on the LG vx3200 from MetroPCS (mPCS 3200 for short). Verizon Wireless also offers a vx3200, but the Metro vx3200 seems to be somewhat different. Luckily for Metro subscribers, the mPCS 3200 seems to be a bit easier to customize.

One thing you will need for almost all of the hacks is a data cable. The vx3200 requires a serial cable, or a USB-to-Serial cable. It should run about $30. Be careful of the cheap USB cables on Ebay; a lot of them don’t work with the 3200 even though they make that claim. I use a serial cable made by LG (the makers of the phone) which I found on Ebay. You can also look for a FutureDial USB cable. Many people use #19 which was sold by radio shack, though #49 is specifically made for the 3200. The USB cables require drivers while the serial cable doesn’t.

You will also need BitPim, which allows you to access the file system on the phone. I use version .62, but newer versions should also work.

I’ve added a new section to the site for this phone, and I’ll be posting some tips and tricks I’ve learned about this phone and about MetroPCS’ service in general. In the meantime, check out this site on LG 3200 phones. It’s a good starting point and most of the information (aside from the replacement wallpaper instructions) is accurate for the mPCS 3200.

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