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The life of Conflipper, a Great Developer

July 22, 2010 - Written By Chris Yackulic

Most folks involved in the world of mobile devices have heard the name Conflipper. If they didn’t know it before April they certainly do now. He developed and cooked mobile ROMs for years and made quite a name for himself. After spending time developing and helping the mobile community, he was brought under siege but the mighty HTC. Because of the content on his shipped-roms.com website they issued a cease and desist order and demanded that he cease developing custom roms from the software they shipped on their phones. He, in the end has complied. Below is his statement and story.

Fin

Well for the most part this HTC Saga is over. The verdict is in. They have asked me not to upload more files in the future. For a compromise, they are allowing me to keep everything else that is online.

This is a compromise on both sides. Although I do not enjoy how this turned out. I am not about to go head to head with a corporation of that size.

The other side to this is going to hurt a little more. Because of the recent turn of events. I am decided to leave behind the PPC community; and focus my time on other tasks at hand.

I got my first Cell phone (CDMA RAZR) 2 weeks after I turned 18 (June 2006), it took me 3 weeks, and I was looking for ways to modify it. I had that device until October 2006; I then went and purchased a Motorola Q at retail price for $510. This was a great device with a great keyboard.

March 2007, I downgraded to a RAZR once again, I ran into money issues and I had to get a new contract with Midwest Wireless. This was a big change and something I was not happy with, but I had to do what I had to do.

September 2007, I got a Motorola Q back again, at this time Alltel had purchased Midwest Wireless and so I was now an Alltel Customer. This was great, I loved that device. This was where I started to get into a lot of modifications. I was changing registry edits, I had the device hooked up to RSD General, so that I could downgrade the PRL, modify the PPST Settings. This is where I learned a lot of fun things.

December 2007, I had a friend that worked at an Alltel store, they had an extra HTC Apache lying around, and they figured I would want it. I gladly purchased this device from them for $100. I took that device home, and started to see what I could modify. I tried making my own ROM right away, this turned out to be a disaster. I was building a ROM, using the Motorola Q to tether for internet (1x), on an older PC that had 64MB RAM, with a 13″ CRT monitor. I finally decided on Helmi 6.0 Apache Build.

I was now curious about ROM modifications, and January 9, 2008 I purchased a HTC Vogue. This was a great little device, I started to play with it, but I still didn’t know much about ROM cooking. I started to read a few sites, read some more and more. Finally it was around April, Alltel released a firmware update for the Vogue, this allowed for GPS radio to work. It was that night I wanted to try something new. I plugged my Motorola Q into my old PC, and I started to download everything I could. The files were taking about 60 minutes to download. But I was dedicated.

I started to ask a few questions to some developers on PPCGeeks. I got replies at 3AM, I was shocked by this one. But I finally learned how to make my first ROM. I made a 6.1 ROM of the Stock Alltel Update. This was great, but ROM cooking is like doing drugs. Once you start you cannot stop. So I wanted to try new things than, explore what else I could do.

I released my first public custom ROM in July 2008, this ROM was met with great success. Before this time there was no other working MMS for Alltel Vogue. So this really helped me a lot doing a lot of things. I had great success with the Vogue, I learned a lot of new things on what can and can’t be done with a device. The Vogue was also where I personally feel like I did some of my best work. That final ROM I did on that device, was about bug free as they come. I had a person email me 10 month later saying he was still on that ROM, and he still had no issues. This was a great honor for me to hear.

September 2008, I purchased a HTC Mogul, I would never use this device, but I had it for historical reasons. I then purchased a HTC Victor in November 2008. This was a big upgrade for me because it had VGA screen.

The Victor was good because it really helped me learn a lot more. It wasn’t until I got the Victor that I learned how to port and XIP. I learned how to port the XIP by hand; this was not a fun afternoon. But to realize I was able to do it by hand really helped me gain a lot of confidence. This also allowed me to use my own files. Around this same time Ervius was getting an automatic XIP porting program working. This was a great time saving, but it always felt like cheating. This did allow for anyone to port and XIP, so for the community it was great.

December 2008, HTC Hermann was being released at this same time. The day it was released I walked into the store and paid $600 for the device. This was great, everything was good. However I then had a clever idea, I had a contract that was going to expire in 26 days. I took the device back at 26 days. I wanted to exchange the device. I then got a brand new device;  I also got $300 back. This allowed me to play with a new device for a full month before I needed too. The device I had for the 26 days, got a small scratch on the screen, so I was able to hand this device in, and get a new device. This was a great loophole I was able to exploit.

January 2009, this is the time that WM6.5 first started to leak out. This is where it started to get real interesting. Every time a build would leak it would be on a Chinese website, this meant you had to lurk around those sites if you wanted to get a new build. Once you got a new build you had to translate everything over to a WWE language. This was a headache, but it was also great.

This is where I really started to be known inside the PPC Community. I was able to get 6.5 going on the Vogue, Mogul, Victor, and Hermann, I released a kitchen for each device on the same day. This was a huge undertaking. Originally I had no intention to release one for every device; however I got an email from an editor from a news blog, asking for the exclusive for when I did release it. After I read that email, I was still up in the air about it. I was taking a shower, and I realized I could do it. I cancelled all my plans for the rest of the day, I then spent about 10 hours that day working on a Kitchen for every device. This was well worth the time spent on it.

After I had that first success everything started to fall into place, by this time I was lurking around Chinese websites enough, that they had begun to notice me. I was then receiving emails from the Chinese Users offering to give me WM6.5 files that were in WWE. This started up a great friendship, where WM6.5 porting become so much easier.

I was also dealing with WM6.1 at the same time, mainly with AKU 1.6. There was no WWE MUI released for this AK U at that time. While searching for 6.5 files; I come across a user that had 21027 WWE files. However it was priced at 100 Gold Coins. I did not have this much. I proceeded and emailing them about the files. I received an email back with a link to the files. This then started a new friendship with everything.

I was then receiving files on a regular basis, for both 6.5, and also for unreleased devices. This was great for me, because it gave me insight about what was coming out.  This helped me time everything that was being released, really made the pieces fall into place.

June 2009, that I got yet another source to files. This was great, but it was also at the time I was moving 1600 miles cross country to start everything over. After I had been settled down in Portland Oregon; it was time to start to tether again for internet. I then was able contact different sources and learn more things. This ended up being my curse, the access to files I was soon coming into was to many to keep track of. It was to a point that I was able to get files from the future, meaning the compile time would be in the afternoon of the same day. Yet I would have the files that morning, because of the time difference from Taiwan to USA. This was how the files were from the future. But to have the files the same day they were compiled was saying something.

So once I had so much access to so many files. I really lost time in getting everything I wanted to, I no longer had time to decompile everything, and I had no time to examine what was inside the new devices. I decided then to start an underground website. This was a site that was set up only for Test HTC Files. There was only about 6-7 people that had access to this site. The requirement you needed to have in order to get access to this site was you needed to have access to files that you could share. This allowed people that may have access to 6-7 different files, to have everything in one location. This was great while it lasted.

January 2010, at about the time that site was going down, I decided I should then open a site for Shipped ROMS. I was getting out of cooking ROMS, but I wanted to still provide support. So I started out having it at http://conflipper.com however the amounts of files soon become very large. I decided it was time to get a VPS for everything. So I ordered a few more domain names, I order a VPS that allowed for high storage and bandwidth.

Finally I was able to get everything online. This was great, I ended up having to upload everything, and this ended up being about 110 GB of shipped ROMS at first. This was quite a few, but it quickly showed how much a site like this was needed. April 2010 was the first month of official use on the new site. This was met with 1700GB of bandwidth. I was happy with this amount at first, it was a large increase.

May 2010, this is when I was on XDA, and I noticed a new user had popped up, this person seemed to have access to files that no one else had. I email this user, and turned out he had access to quite a few shipped files. I proceeded with giving him FTP access to the site, to upload what he could. He was glad to help, because he felt like shipped files should be available to download freely. May 2010 that site had, 7500 GB of Bandwidth.

June 2010, this is where HTC decided they didn’t like what I was doing. It was June 17, 2010; that everything changed. HTC sent the site http://shipped-roms.com a cease and desist letter. This was met with some fears at first, but more questions than answers. A series of emails was sent back and forth, phone calls were made, and it was finally decided that a few of the test files needed to come off. This was not an issue; I didn’t realize they were on there. This site was needed though; looking at the 15,600 GB of Bandwidth used in June showed me that.

July 2010, this is where the story tends to come to a close. More calls and more emails were exchanged with HTC, meetings were made. Finally it was decided that I would be able to keep everything I have online active right now. However I was asked not to upload any other files in the future. It didn’t matter if they were or weren’t “public” files. I was not to upload anything else. This really hurts me a lot. But at least I can keep everything active right now. With over 145GB of ROM files to download at free will. I figure I can live with this.

This leads me to the ending of this saga. I have spent the last 4 years devoting my time to mobile phones. Making them better, expanding on what they can already do. Helping thousands of users do what they could with their devices. I have made many friends from all around the world. However I think that it is time for me to call it quits. I have enjoyed everything, and phone modifications will always be in my mind. It is just time for me to spend my time focus on other activities and learning new skills. The times I have had will always be remembered. However everyone has a time they need to call it quits. This is my time, with HTC being curious about what I am doing. I think it is time for me to walk away when I am on top. I wish everyone the best of luck, I will be paying attention, however I will not be taking part of what is going on.

I wish the best of luck to everyone out there that is reading this post. Best of luck to all my good friends.