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The Tato Series: An Interview with ChevyNo1

HELLO DROID-LIFE! Well as much as I promise, I also deliver. ;-)

We had such great feedback last week that this will become a weekly series on Droid-Life! Can I get a “heck yes”?!? I have had some awesome interviews lately and I (we) really can’t wait to share all it all with each and every single one of you.

Me and TechDeft (TechDeft and I?) had the supreme pleasure to chat it up with Doug (aka ChevyNo1, aka Kernel Masta, aka Mr. Simply Stunning). If you are in the rooted community, then you know this name. If you are non-rooted, you know this name. Let’s face it……you know his name!! So without further ado I give my second installment of The Tato Series. This place has become my second home. After Facebook of course ;-)

Enjoy!

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TechDeft: So Mr. Chevy, could you introduce yourself for readers who may not recognize your name?

ChevyNo1: Well, I call myself ChevyNo1 on all online forums (not just tech). My first name is Doug!

Tim-o-tato: “ChevyNo1″…whats the story behind that?

ChevyNo1: I started off in online forums I would say around 1997 – for me it was all about cars. Was looking into buying a 1998 Camaro, and wanted to get involved in the scene – so that’s where the name started. Of course, I am a HUGE Chevy fan. So I belong to a few automotive forums, also known as ChevyNo1.

Tim-o-tato: Excellent. Who doesnt love American muscle! :)

ChevyNo1: YEA!

TechDeft: So how did you chart a course from the car scene to the linux/Android scene?

ChevyNo1: Well, I’ve been quite the tech geek for quite some time as well … and over the years, tech I would say has pulled even with automotive for my interest level, and in the past few years has even surpassed it. I have been a programmer for 18 years now, but never mobile. I got the Droid in December of last year, and that was my first foray into ANYTHING mobile.

TechDeft: What have you been programming in? 18 years, you must have learned on COBOL I’m guessing?

ChevyNo1: Yep, COBOL was my primary language that I learned … ‘C’ was just starting to become popular so I only got one class of that … learned on a DEC VAX. My first job out of college though (1992) plunged me headfirst into UNIX – first 10 years was all UNIX, ‘C’, X-Windows/Motif.

TechDeft: You have an extensive background! Some readers are nodding their heads here, others are scratching them. Was it hard to move into mobile? What about Android made you want to develop for it?

ChevyNo1: I had been interested in either programming Palm or Windows (had several Palms before the Droid) … but didn’t jump in. Once I heard these phones were running a Linux OS, it was a no-brainer for me. I HAD to have one!
I actually wrote an app in the emulator even before the phone arrived!

TechDeft: Wow, you were excited! So you started with applications? Or you dove into kernel development?

ChevyNo1: Started with apps – and I haven’t written once since – that is until recently, when I started digging into Settings.apk. But after the apps – first it was a basic ROM build – THEN it was kernels – then it was more extensive ROM changes.

TechDeft: What apps did you write? Should we be scouring the market for gems?

ChevyNo1: Lol! No, nothing really exciting, pretty basic stuff. One of the earliest was a patcher for the wifi-tether application. There were lots of manual steps needed to make it work, so I put together an apk that did all the work, and made it a single-click widget on the desktop. Another was a brightness patcher, because the wireless driver floating around broke brightness. I have never put anything on the market – maybe one of these days!

TechDeft: Some of the work you have done is fairly complex, in some cases requiring pretty deep hardware knowledge(Overclocking). Did you do this kind of work on Linux kernels previous to Android, or did you learn it fresh for the mobile platforms?

ChevyNo1: I learned it fresh – I had never worked on a kernel in my life. Got 2-3 tips from Tasmanian Droid (old alldroid board) and from there I learned the rest!

Tim-o-tato: That’s very impressive!

ChevyNo1: I think of myself as a pretty quick learner ;)

Tim-o-tato: So how old were you when you got into all things programming?
I did the math and if it was 18 years ago when you started, that means I was still receving milk from my mother still! LOL

ChevyNo1: The first time I saw a computer was in 7th grade – a Vic 20!! First programming of any kind was done in 1987 on a SuperPet running Basic. Our science teacher wouldn’t even let us touch it! Haha

Tim-o-tato: Wow, 87! I wasn’t even a thought lol

ChevyNo1: I can’t believe I’ve been around this long … *sigh* lol I still feel 20!

TechDeft: What kind of things do you feel are lacking in your work right now? What do you think could improve?

ChevyNo1: I am constantly digging into the guts of Android – and day by day I am becoming more knowledgeable, and more comfortable. I feel like I am just starting to get a firm grasp on it. If I weren’t so busy with ROMS, I would like to get into the kernel even more! I would specifically like to get into the hardware, and be able to tweak things beyond what I’ve done already. For example, make the screen more sensitive. Those types of things – really hardware-level stuff. Anything in the kernel is more difficult in my opinion than in the ROM. ROM programming is more intuitive, since it involves layouts, graphics, etc. Kernel development is all behind closed doors, and it’s just so low-level.

TechDeft: Which is some of the harder programming to do.(If you do get into it, figure a way to make 270 rotation less finicky lol) What phone do you focus your development for? Android as a whole? The “original” Droid(Moto)?

ChevyNo1: Right now I’m ONLY programming for the D1. I pretty much have enough donations now to purchase an ‘X’ – so that is my next victim :)

TechDeft: Will you continue to develop for the original Droid? Or will you focus your efforts on breaking your way through the bootloader?

ChevyNo1: I plan on continuing both – I have a loyal base of clients for D1, and I don’t intend to leave them in the dust. BUT cracking that bootloader will be high on the list of priorities!

Tim-o-tato: Let’s hope you crack it! :-)

TechDeft: What do you think could most benefit the Android community as a software developer?

ChevyNo1: I think so far it’s doing well – it’s a good community of sharing, and I think that ultimately is the key.

Tim-o-tato: Agreed. It is a wonderful community.
Did you ever think your work would be admired by so many people?

ChevyNo1: No I didn’t!!! lol

Tim-o-tato: How does it make you feel to see so many people admire your kernels and the Simply Stunning ROM?

ChevyNo1: It makes me very proud of the effort I put into this – and thankful that people have given me a chance when they have choices. I only dream my job could be this much fun, lol

Tim-o-tato: Don’t we all? lol So do you have any family or friends that use Droids??

ChevyNo1: My best buddy bought a Droid after he saw mine :)
And now of course he’s running my ROM!

Tim-o-tato: Well he has the best user support anyone can ask for! lol

ChevyNo1:That’s actually one way I plan to make myself known – is by my support – I want everyone to know where the best support is. That and my attitude towards people – I feel I am very approachable and do not make anyone feel stupid for asking questions. ;-)

Tim-o-tato: That’s definitely a way to do it. As a user myself, having a way to get the right answers to questions is a big issue I myself have all the time.

TechDeft: How many hours a week do you spend doing this stuff?

ChevyNo1: Let’s see…I would estimate 15? Maybe 20 if I have a release.
I had a pretty big learning curve compared to the other ROM builders who have been at it for a while.

Tim-o-tato: Considering that Pete (Bugless Beast) has been working on programming for about 6 months, I would say you have a huge curve!

ChevyNo1: Yep, considering Pete has no programming background, I think he’s done a very nice job – he’s just limited as to how deep he can dig. Good work though!

Tim-o-tato: Are there other Devs that you look to for answers to questions you have? Or any Devs whos work you admire a great deal?

ChevyNo1: The obvious – Cyanogen, whom I’ve never interacted with, Koush ( have interacted some ). Another newcomer I’ve spoken a lot with and helped is JRummy – he’s doing excellent considering he has no background either. And also Sniffle (Sapphire|CVPCS).

Tim-o-tato: Sniffle is quite the comedian sometimes!

ChevyNo1: Haha yea! Nice guy from all I can tell – and smart!

…..So it’s time for my silly Q’s.

Tim-o-tato: If Steve Jobs offered you a job at Apple. Would you take it?

ChevyNo1: Only if he lets me make it open-source!!!

Tim-o-tato: We won’t get our hopes up lol

Tim-o-tato: Task Killers. Do you yourself have one?

ChevyNo1: Nope! I feel Android does quite a good job of managing that sort of thing – and yes, I was using one for a while. Not that I’m against it, but people must realize that if ANYTHING kills your app, it’s going to take time to reload. Often times this stuff gets blamed on a ROM or kernel.

Tim-o-tato: The name Simply Stunning. How did it make its way to fruition?

ChevyNo1: As far as the name – I felt two ‘words’ seemed fitting – I think at the time I was thinking of what would sound good alongside ‘Bugless Beast’ … and I really did feel my first attempt was ‘stunning’ ;-)

Tim-o-tato: That’s wonderful! I must say when I first rooted and had only a few choices. JRummy, and Simply Stunning. I went with SS 3.1!

ChevyNo1: Glad you liked it!

Tim-o-tato: What launcher do you use for your Droid?

ChevyNo1: Just the good old stock Launcher2 that comes with the build – I am fine with it – have played around though, and if I recall correctly, I really did like LauncherPro. Would be fun to create my own Launcher as well – but so many others have done it, and have done it well …

Tim-o-tato: Tell us something no one would ever guess about you…

ChevyNo1: I a huge metalhead – not sure anyone would guess that, especially at my age!
I go with my son to metal concerts – not sure how many dads do that lol
I DO start out the day very lite – classic rock, 60′s and 70′s – but by the time noon rolls around look out!

TechDeft: (you just became Tims bestfriend)

Tim-o-tato: I’m in love! A Dev who likes metal! This is great!
So for the readers, name some of your favorite bands if you’d like.

ChevyNo1: My new favorites – Lamb Of God, Devildriver, Droid (the band)
Older metal – Pantera, Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, etc

Tim-o-tato: Oh yea! +1 all day long!

ChevyNo1: When I moved to Pheonix 14 years ago I went into concert frenzy, because everything comes here. I’ve been to about 100 metal shows in the last 14 years and I have the ticket stubs and concert t’s to prove it! lol

Tim-o-tato: You mind giving just a bit of insight as to what your day job is or is like? Do your co workers know about your Droid fixation?

ChevyNo1: I work for a Fortune 500 company as a lead programmer analyst – mostly business programming. I do more leading than coding these days, which is why it is Android to the rescue of my sanity lol. A few at work know about my obsession – they think its quite cool. It’s been there 14 years now since I came to the USA.

Tim-o-tato: Since you came to USA? Where do you hail from?

ChevyNo1: I came from New Brunswick, Canada – that is where I grew up. Then I lived in Toronto for 2 years – then I came to the USA in 1996.

Tim-o-tato: Excellent. Canada is great! Poor Milestone users though lol

ChevyNo1: Hahaha I know it!

TechDeft: Is there anything that you would like to ask the non-developers of the community?

ChevyNo1: What can I do to become their premier ROM of choice?
What is it, about “ROM x” that makes them want it more than SS? :)

Tim-o-tato: That’s good for sure! (So, in the comment section below people: Answer his Q!) :-)

TechDeft: What is the best way for folks to get in touch with you about your ROM? Is there a best forum post to post on, or an e-mail that you want public?

ChevyNo1: Sure! You can mail (chevyno1.droid@gmail.com) for any questions related to my ROM or kernels – also I have twitter (@ChevyNo1Droid)

Tim-o-tato: Well Chevy, I really wanna thank you for ALL of your time. This has been a true honor for myself. It’s been fun!

ChevyNo1: Very cool – thanks SO MUCH!

Tim-o-tato: You got it :)

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So there it is. ChevyNo1 has been doing his thing for 18 years! A true pioneer! We salute him and all his hard work to make our phones better everyday! Woo-hoo! Anyone else notice how when TechDeft and Chevy go into their ‘Nerdery’ I retreat and don’t say much? I really am clueless about all that!

So tell me everyone in the comments: What makes you choose other ROM’s over Simply Stunning? Chevy wants to know!

Thanks again everyone! See you in the comments!

-Tim-o-tato and TechDeft

Follow @ChevyNo1Droid on Twitter! And see his ROMs and Kernels HERE!
You can check out:
TIMS BAND They have a CD release party this Thursday in San Fran! :-)
TechDefts Blog is
SUPER SWEET!

  • CJ

    I love Simply Stunning…but my main tweak to it would be adding a list of scripts i can use with a terminal emulator…that is where BB wins. Tons of user friendly scripts that I can personalize to my liking…maybe you have them but there not posted with the download link and I seem to be having a hard time finding it….the reason is I like to keep the rom i have but tweak it when i want to…change the bootanimation, add more or subtract more memory, whatever…but let me control it, not the rom. BB and SS both rock, I like the visual tweaks of SS but also like the internal tweaks of BB…give me both without glitches and that's the winning rom.

  • CJ

    I love Simply Stunning…but my main tweak to it would be adding a list of scripts i can use with a terminal emulator…that is where BB wins. Tons of user friendly scripts that I can personalize to my liking…maybe you have them but there not posted with the download link and I seem to be having a hard time finding it….the reason is I like to keep the rom i have but tweak it when i want to…change the bootanimation, add more or subtract more memory, whatever…but let me control it, not the rom. BB and SS both rock, I like the visual tweaks of SS but also like the internal tweaks of BB…give me both without glitches and that's the winning rom.