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The Tato Series: An Interview With Actngrezy, Developer of Project Elite

It’s been too long since we’ve done a developer interview here at Droid Life, and you won’t believe how many emails and tweets I get asking that we bring it back. When we ran a poll on which custom ROM users were using on their OG DROID, I saw that the majority of readers were using Project Elite, even more than CM7. I knew that I would soon be reaching out to the developer for an interview, and here it is.

Greg (“Actngrezy”) was a pleasure to chat with, and we’ll definitely be keeping good track of his future releases for all our readers. We’ve heard nothing but good coming from P.E. users, so be on the lookout for it if you haven’t already tried it.   

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Tato: So can you introduce yourself and give everyone here the run down on what it is you do?

Greg:  My name is Greg Maahs and I go by Actngrezy or Greg, I develop a custom rom that goes by the name of Project Elite for the original Motorola DROID (Good ol’ trustee). I would also like to point out that mojo_droid is a co-developer of P.E. and there are others that help as well.

Tato:  Ahh, yes. Project Elite is very well known in the OG DROID community. How long have you been developing for the DROID?

Greg: I got the DROID in Feb of 2010 and couldn’t help but notice everyone talking about rooting and having features that weren’t available with stock software so I began to research and dabble about a week after purchasing, but did not actually begin to really do anything as far as ROMs until July which were just tweaks for myself and a select few friends.

Tato: So how did you learn about making ROMs and doing tweaks? Do you have a background in development?

Greg:  Well at first I was just making tweaks and edits to the OTA software and leaks. I started reading day and night, bought books, and more books. I read everything I could online from more knowledgable people and couldnt keep myself away. Then after releasing the first version I realized I needed to build from source if I wanted to actually do anything that would be interesting. At first I had help from different members in the community getting started.

Liquid was there to help me and show me alot about compiling from source. Other members from the android community like Koveleski, Gurluvsdroid, Cereal Killer, etc helped me get P.E. off the ground and continued to help and support the project. From then on I just kept up with reading about Android, Java, and trial and error of course. I didnt have a background in mobile platform development but went to school for computer science so I had the basic c++ and other courses that helped me a little but nothing as far as developing anything like Project Elite.

Tato:  That’s wonderful! When I talk to our readers about Project Elite, they have nothing but nice things to say. What do you think makes P.E. different from the many other different custom ROMs available for the DROID?

Greg:  Thats a tough question. There are so many great ROMs and developers out there. I honestly never expected P.E to even come anywhere near as far as it has. Especially with ROMs like CyanogenMod, LGB, Simply Stunning its hard to even think P.E. can compare to any of those. I think one of the main differences is that I feel like P.E. is a team effort. Without the support from others like Gurluvsdroid who’s always around on the forums to help out with questions, help from other developers at times, Mojo_droid who helps with development and maintains the website,many others on the forums who are always around to help and users who voice their input Project Elite wouldnt be what it is. I definitely try to read and see what the users want as long as it can be implmented without impacting the performance of the ROM. I try to include their feedback and suggestions into the ROM so I think those are the factors that help out a lot.

Tato: We love a good team effort around here. Where do you think the future of your developing is going? Anything new on the horizon?

Greg:  I would like to expand and build for other phones/devices. I would have already but I really feel like I should have the phone that I develop for. If I have the phone, I can test for something specific or need to log something or throw something in and I have the device then I can. If I do not have the device then I’m relying on someone else which isn’t a bad thing but I feel more comfortable if I could do the intial testing. The worst is releasing something that has problems which could have been prevented. I am eligable for upgrade but just waiting for the right phone to come along or if I got my hands on an older phone then Project Elite would expand.

Tato:  So expanding and developing on more phones is your goal. That’s great. So is this a full time job for you, or do you have day job and this is the hobby?

Greg:  This is a hobby. It would be nice to do this fulltime. Actually this is going to sound kind of funny but I am now a plumber. I fell into an opportunity for decent money a few years ago and while I would love to move back into the computer field, for now I am a plumber. I have been working alot lately which hasn’t allowed me much time to play with Android as much as I would like to, but a recent job change will open up more time for me to work on Android stuff again.

Tato:  Oh wow. Well everyone needs plumbers. No flack there. What did you do before your current occupation?

Greg:  I worked at General Motors. There was a plant where I live but all the plants on the East Coast started to close which forced all the younger people out of a job because everyone with senority moved to the plant I was working at. Of course I was one of those younger people so I was out the door.

Tato:  And how old are you?

Greg:  I will be 29 in August.

Tato:  Is there anything you wish Android had which you think it lacks currently?

Greg:  Not so much Android, but maybe Google to enforce their open source policy on manufactures and carriers. I just don’t feel its fair that they can take an open source platform and try and close it down. While I know this is probably about politics and money since they are a business  but it would be nice to see. While that wasn’t so much an answer geared towards features and Android, that is the one thing I would like to see happen with Android powered devices.

Tato:  Well, in closing, is there anything you would want to say to the readers, or anyone else reading?

Greg:  Well I’d like to thank everyone that helped make Project Elite possible. Without the developers from the Cyanogen team, and people like cvpcs, p3, Birdman, b16a2smith, JRummy, Droid Life, forums and others that are in the forefront of the android developing community android wouldn’t be what it is today. Also with these people and others such as Koveleski, Gurluvsdroid, Mojo, Liquid, Peter Alfonso, Cereal Killer and many others Project Elite would not have been possible. Especially the users, themers, etc. I wish I could name everyone. I would just like to thank everyone for all the help and support Project Elite has received and I hope to continue to bring great roms and contributions to the Android community as a whole.

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If you wanna know more about Greg and stay up to date on Project Elite, follow him on Twitter. More importantly, if you’re a DROID owner, check out the Project Elite ROM.

Thanks again everyone for all of your previous feedback concerning developer interviews. If you would like to request/submit an interview then just email me at timotato at droid-life dot com.

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  • Spc Hicks09

    Sorry but ChevyNo1′s Gingerbread Build “S.S 5.4″ is way better and faster than this.

    • Paulding

      No, I’m sorry you make such a false blanket statement.  SS may be better for you, but not for me or many, many others. 

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  • http://twitter.com/ChrisCorp ChristopherCorpening

    This seems like an amazing ROM since 25% of people with OG Droids are using it. So can someone explain to me the difference in PEv5 and CM7/nightlies? 

    I am currently running CM7 nightly #110 and it seems that CM7 is getting “updates” about once every couple of days while PE hasn’t had an update since February. Any thoughts on that as well? Thanks!

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  • Loadiesinc

    I’ve been running P.E. since 4.2. Currently on v6 beta. not only have gregs rom’s been the most complete, best overall working, feature loaded rom’s I’ve tried but the support from the P.E. team and droid community make it flat out the best !! much thanks to everyone for all you do

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  • Yonnor

    Go Greg! :) PE ftw

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  • Prickee

    Still rockin’ the OG Droid cause like many can upgrade but not quite made the plunge yet.  Thanks to Greg and PE 5 & 6 beta which I’ve installed on my OG Droid I wanted to say thanks. Although I’m currently running SS Rom which I’m enjoying I’ve always ran PE.  It’s the fastest ROM IMO.  Would love to see v.6 finalized but I understand it’s a hobby.  Best of luck with the PE project.

  • Mike Tarakjian

    I don’t have my OG Droid anymore, but Project Elite was favorite (and I think last) Droid ROM. It was so fast and stable!

  • Vnvjeep

    Mr. Google, if you’re listening … give Greg here a kickass 6 figure salary job because you need him on your team!

  • tjhrulz

    Just wanna say if it is open source according to the patent if I wanted I can take it make it close source change nothing and sell it, so long as the original source is referenced somewhere 

  • AndroFan

    Question for PE users: have the recent versions fixed the memory management problems?  It was the only reason I switched to CM7…I really liked PE, but the inability to run any process for more than a minute or two before the memory manager closed it was frustrating.  Can’t remember what version number it was, but I was using the last version before CM7 came out.  

  • WormDoes

    Good stuff. Nice interview, Tato!

  • Andy Stetson

    Somebody get that man a Thunderbolt!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Poe/1126894244 Gregory Poe

      Yeah… I don’t think I am going to upgrade until I find out what phone he gets

    • Nick177th

      I second that motion. 

  • Anonymous

    This is the best ROM for the D1. PE6, even though technically considered beta release, is amazing.

  • Actngrezy

    Thanks for all the support and I’m sure there will be a bunch asking where the next release is. I know you all have heard its coming but I just want this version to be stable, bug-free and give you all enough options to tweak that you can hopefully avoid some of the issues that came with gingerbread and the og droid.(memory issues)  It’s very close but would like it to be perfect. (as much as it can be)

    • Punkdefied

      LOL They deleted my post promoting your guest host spot on Saved by the Cell.  Oh well you are still a cool dude cant wait til PEv6 goes live :)

      • http://www.droid-life.com Tim-o-tato

        I see it. It got marked as spam for having all the links :P

        • Punkdefied

          It’s OK Tim-o-tato I did go a little nuts with the links.  I just got really excited.  I love droid-life so much I wet my pants :)

  • J Dub

    I like this. Seems like a lot of custom ROMmers just were interested in Android enough to learn about its under workings. This says a lot for Android I feel because you can really know nothing and read, read, read and start developing for it without much programming knowledge. I totally feel on the fact that there need to be really open devices out there instead of the locked down stuff we keep seeing. Thats what made Android as we know it. Open and ready to go where anyone could take it. PE is def. solid and the OG is def still the phone to beat IMHO. No other device has come close to what it is capable, again IMHO. I mean the thing was stock at 550 mhz and yet it is pretty much rock solid at twice that speed. I have said it before, I am really excited for the GS2 just to see what it can do as a pretty much open beast of a phone. Can’t wait for custom kernels to push the limits of what it can do. Stock dual core at 1.2 ghz I would like to see pushed close to 2 ghz on OC. Android is still on the up and up and theres really no stopping it for a while I feel. 

  • cereal killer

    PE Rocks!!! Man this is GREAT to see. Greg is not only a fantastic developer he is also a wonderful person and friend. I have sent other devs his way who needed some questions answered that I had no clue about and he stepped right up to the plate and helped them. Never asked for credit or any mentions (rare in the dev community) A real gentleman and always willing to help when he can. PE still runs on my Droid to this day with no plans on changing. It is by far the most stable and reliable ROM I have ever used and that is saying a lot because there are some STELLAR ROMS out there for the Droid. PE is A+++++++++++++++

    cereal killer

  • Anonymous

    No info on v6 2.3.4?  Then what use is this. :p

  • Punkdefied

    Greg is a great guy.  He was  a guest host and did an interview for Saved by the Cell on episode 12 (http://goo.gl/WqbKf) two weeks ago.  We also just had the Director of Mobile Business Development from PopCap Games (makers of Plants vs Zombies) talking about Android development on this weeks episode 14 (http://bit.ly/lDBusI).  Saved by the Cell is a weekly smartphone podcast  (http://goo.gl/6jLqS).  Sorry for all the promotion but its so relevant I couldn’t let the opportunity pass by.

  • Mr.Joe

    I was wondering where this went off too…

    NOW what I want to know is… Why the frell didn’t you grill him on where the new PE is!  I’ve been waiting and BY GOLLY GOSH I want it.

    =^)

    • http://www.droid-life.com Tim-o-tato

      I can actually tell you it’s right around the corner ;)

      • Mr.Joe

        Mr. Tato… Out of all the writers here at DL you’re the one I trust the most.  

        Next being Mr. Demmers!

        • http://www.droid-life.com Tim-o-tato

          Coming from you, I will take that with much happiness :)
          Thanks!

        • Anonymous

          I totoally agree with Mr Joe, Tato is the BOMB!!!!!!!  Whats up SF Tato glad to see that your back with this series :)

          Good job as always :)

          • Inkster09

            Alwaysloved reading these series

      • Anonymous

        I miss helping you with these gtalking/ircing on my commute home!

    • cereal killer

      He’s working on it. He’s adding some goodies. He won’t release it until it’s stable though so give him some time. It will be worth the wait

    • Inkster09

      Kellen tato more of these and vids please. You guys are the best at these things. Can’t watch or read others stuff. I mean i can and do but you guys ar. e mo

      • Inkster09

        Wow its hard to edit on phones shld b on computer but most can’t get to one. But what i meant u guys indeed are easier on the eyes and ears when it comes to these things.

  • Anonymous

    The Sean Connery Droid continues to kick ass and slap women, thanks in part to PE.

  • JB

    I so missed this series. I am glad to see it back. Great job, Tato!

  • Anonymous

    Best ROM out!

    • cereal killer

      without a doubt

  • Racyn27

    I would still be on the OG droid if it wasnt for the the touch screen going crazy. Loved P.E. over all of the other roms and it was my Daily Driver for along time. Would love to see it on Thunderbolt now that I have it.

    • Anonymous

      As would I my friend…as would I :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Forte/542650247 Michael Forte

    I’ve missed the Tato Series interviews so much. Great to see them again and I hope to see more interviews.

  • PhilW

    PE6beta has been the best ROM for my OG Droid.  Great work.

  • Anonymous

    Best ROM I’ve used so far for OG!!!