The Tato Series: An Interview with CVPCS of Sapphire

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Well…..Hello there lovely readers of Droid-Life! Boy, has it been busy around here! We got an IRC Channel, we got OTA’s, and even Manual Updates! Plus, you can expect it to get busier!

Time for a break and a nice lil’ sit down with one of my favorite peoples in the Android Community, Mr. CVPCS of the most righteous Sapphire ROM. You guys may know me for my non stop flashing of different ROM’s and themes, but if I had just one choice for a “backup” emergency ROM….it would be Sapphire. *sheds tear* It’s very good!

Anyways, enough of the emotional stuff. TechDeft and I had a great time chatting it up with CVPCS and are very excited to share this with you!



Tim-o-tato: So, its great to chat with you as always CVPCS. For the people who might not recognize the handle, mind giving us your name and what it is you do?

Cvpcs: My name is Austen Dicken, and I am currently a software developer full time over the summer and full time student in the fall/winter/spring.

Tim-o-tato: What is  it you are currently in school for?

Cvpcs: Computer science and Mathematics (double major)

Tim-o-tato: From your work, I would say that’s just about right!

TechDeft: Is the development you mention just android or professional as well?

Cvpcs: Professional.  I develop software that tracks the manufacture and testing of black box recorder systems designed by the company where I work for use in helicopters.

Tim-o-tato: I feel out of my league already! Thanks!

TechDeft: Sounds like you’ve already said too much! Do you have to kill us now?  When did you get your start in programming?

Cvpcs: I started programming around when I was 12. About a half-year after my parents had bought their first computer.  I started with Javascript, and then moved onto Java.  From there I wanted to get into more low-level stuff. Around the time I turned 13 I started working on learning C. (give or take a year, it was some time ago)

Tim-o-tato: So with all of these things you seem to have going on, how is it you find time for Android? A natural love?

Cvpcs: Like most of my personal programming projects, they tend to be quite time consuming and don’t pay well, so I would have to say I do it out of love, haha.  I find programming in general to be a ton of fun, especially when it comes to just trying to do interesting things with technology. Android is the coolest thing I’ve been involved with in a long time.
I always love seeing the different things there are to do.  And it’s an extension of some of the stuff I’ve done in the past.  I used to spend lots of time fiddling around with trying to see what different devices I could get to run Linux. Haha

TechDeft: Whats a personal goal for Android that you are working on now?

Cvpcs: Well currently I am excited to see the GEM series of ROMs ported to new devices.  Most know we are working on Ruby for the Incredible, and we are also looking into Emerald for the Evo.
I am also working on some other really exciting stuff, but sadly I can’t openly discuss it at present.

Tim-o-tato: Awe. We understand how that is!  So tell us, how did the affair start for you and Android?

Cvpcs: Well, as soon as I heard Google was going to put out a Mobile OS I was hooked.  I knew I wanted a droid pretty much as soon as they released it.  After that, it took me about a month until someone asked me, “Have you rooted yet?”.  While I knew what he meant I had never really thought about it. So I went online and (of course) Googled it.
After that I found “Alldroid” and a lot of information about all this “ROM” business.  To be honest though, at first I was a bit skeptical, and like most people a little scared.  I mean I had just dropped a few hundred on this phone!! Haha

Tim-o-tato: Makes sense lol
Given your background with java, were you able to easily dive right in once you got your feet wet?

Cvpcs: Well, after awhile I just decided, “Hell, I hack every other thing I own, why not this?!” I did it and haven’t looked back since. It actually wasn’t quite as easy as you’d think.
I didn’t start in the java end of it (what can I say, I’m a low-level guy).  My first android-related hacks were working on porting various x86 libraries and programs over to android. My first popular port was of the CWiiD Wii-mote connectivity library.
After I got that working I knew I was going to be messing with my phone for awhile.  It was bliss being able to use my classic controller to play SNESoid!

Tim-o-tato: Wow! I can see it now! Must have been exciting knowing you were doing all this…with a phone!
So then how did you make your way to building ROMs? From source nonetheless!

Cvpcs: Well, to be honest I started by reading some of Sniffle’s guides on Alldroid, but needless to say the source building process is very difficult, and very hard to explain in a simple guide.
I was determined to build my own ROM just out of the curiosity to learn how it’s done and the excitement of being able to make in-source changes.

TechDeft: Outside of programming for Android phones, what are some hardware or software hacks that you have done that might be interesting to our readers?

Cvpcs: Well, I personally love the reboot recovery menu option and the extended volume/camera button music controls.
I also love seeing what kind of crazy things I can get running on my Wii, as well as attempting to push the limits of my EeePC.

TechDeft: Wii and Netbook hacks!  Have you tried installing Android to the Asus EeePC at all?

Cvpcs: Way ahead of you!  I think I first installed android-x86 on that thing back in March. Right now it dual-boots!

TechDeft: That is impressive! So what do you feel Android is lacking?

Cvpcs: An open-source bootloader 😛

Tim-o-tato: Amen to that 🙂

Cvpcs: Let me rephrase that…A standard open-source bootloader.

Tim-o-tato: So did you ever think your work would become as popular as it has with the community?

Cvpcs: Well, yes and no.  I always figured that one day Sapphire/GEM would become popular, as I truly believe in open source, and a lot of people hadn’t really been going down that route when I first started.  I wanted to do work that was freely available and always online for others to look at and base their work on or add their work to it, to show what it is like for a project to be completely open.  Everything about GEM is open.
What I had never expected was that it would take off so fast.  People have been so supportive that it caught me off guard.  It’s been a real blast working on all of this!

TechDeft: You do have quite the community! Do you have any metrics available?  Number of ROM installs, number of contributors, etc?

Cvpcs: Well, we have Google Analytics on our website, but the most interesting metric is I suppose downloads to date. Haha

TechDeft: Oh yea?  Would you care to disclose?

Cvpcs: The 1.0.0 zip has been tracked at approx: 20,000 downloads as of right now.

Tim-o-tato: That’s quite the number! What about all this work and social status. Do you get a kick off knowing you are a Dev for one of thee best built and popular ROMs for the Android device? Get a sense of cockiness at all? I think I would. Just being honest 😛

Cvpcs: I try my best to keep a level head about it.  If I ever find myself feeling popular I just tell myself, “Yes Austen, you’re popular….. on the Internet!” Haha.  But in all seriousness I do enjoy when people recognize the name. But it’s about community and helping out. I still get a lot of help from a lot of people and I still like doing my best to help out anyone who has questions be it about the ROM or about Dev.

Tim-o-tato: Classy answer. +1 Do you mind if we ask your age?

Cvpcs: I’m presently 23, going to be 24 this fall.

Tim-o-tato: Happy early B-Day!

So im gonna go for the goofy questions now! Feel free to let loose and open up on these!

Cvpcs: Haha sounds good!

Tim-o-tato: So….Steve Jobs hands you an iPhone and says, “Come to the Dark Side and Dev!” What do you say back?

Cvpcs: “You’re holding it wrong”

Tim-o-tato: Yay! Good answer!

Task Killers- Do you use one? Or have you ever?

Cvpcs: I use Advanced Task Manager Free.  I don’t really support task managers the way people tend to use them, but when developing it’s common to have an app that may go haywire and for whatever reason the system won’t let you force close it.  In those cases a task killer can be useful.

Tim-o-tato: Well from a Dev stand point that is understandable lol

TechDeft: I like to keep the ATK widget on a screen for quick and dirty memory management myself.

Cvpcs: Haha don’t even get me started on task killers and memory management. >.<

Tim-o-tato: So Austen, tell us all something you think no one would know about you.
Exclusive Droid-Life info lol

Cvpcs: Well, when I was 16 I toured Europe as a tenor in an a-capella choir, where I performed in ~14 locations in 7 different countries.

Tim-o-tato: Wow! That’s awesome! Do you travel a lot anymore? Ride any of the helicopters? lol

Cvpcs: I haven’t been overseas again since then, but I have traveled quite a bit around the states.  I’d like to go see Asia next, as I’ve never been there and the culture is so rich.  As for helicopters, I’m strictly a developer, so no I haven’t had the pleasure, haha.
I’ve always wanted to see Japan, China, Mongolia, and India

Tim-o-tato: The Japanese would LOVE you! lol

TechDeft: So we are getting about ready to wrap it up…but before we go, can you think of one question you would like to ask of the Android Community readers?

Cvpcs:  Hmmm, that’s a tough one!

Tim-o-tato: Good! It’s hard thinking of tough Q’s for someone of your caliber!

Cvpcs: Last I heard, the Droid1 makes up 80% of the market share for android devices.  This as well as it being one of the most hackable phones created such a strong and vibrant development community that we have today.  Other phones had communities of their own but they never seemed as big or strong as the Droid1 “home brew” community.  Now Verizon/Motorola have discontinued the Droid1.  I’m curious what people think will be the next big thing!

Tim-o-tato: Great question! (ANSWER IT PEOPLE!) lol

I wanna thank you for all of your time today!!!
It has been a real pleasure! I’m walking away with +5 I.Q. points 🙂

Cvpcs: It’s been a real pleasure for me as well!

Tim-o-tato: Excellent! Hope to see you around Droid-Life sometime! Don’t be a stranger!


And there it is. Another one for the books! Talk about someone who is on a completely different conscience level then me (and most people). Reminds me of Russel Crowe’s character in Beautiful Mind. Just a complete whiz. Someone with a gift. I absolutely LOVE how the Android Community is filled with them too! We need more people like Austen to lead the way in Development!  *sheds more tears*

I wanna thank everyone again for all your support of this site and Android in general. None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the readers! Keep it up! I’ll see ya in the comments section! (I’ll be the one posting “first”) 😉

-Tim-o-tato & TechDeft


Don’t forget to check out Tim’s previous interviews with Peter Alfonso and ChevyN01.

Support Cvpcs and check out the Sapphire Wiki Site! | Also: Cvpcs on Droid Fourms

Check out Tatos band! They just released an album! | Mr TechDeft runs a Blog. Perhaps you’ll stop by?

So tell me…”What’s gonna be the next BIG thing?”

Also: Submit questions for my next interview with Aaron Carpinteri of InsaneNemesis/Shadow ROM!!!



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