Older version of software might be the fix you need

Sometimes – and this is particularly pleasing to an old guy like me – the newest thing is not the best.

I found this out recently when my phone, an original Motorola Droid, somehow became “unrooted.”

You root an Android device primarily because it gives you access to the operating system in a way that allows the use of applications that aren’t in the Android Market. It allows access to the “root,” the basic level, of the operating system.

I rooted my phone months ago primarily so I could use it as a wifi hotspot from time to time. When I tried recently, the app no longer worked. And I couldn’t quite figure out what happened, nor could I find a way to restore that capability.

I’ve learned two things about Android phones that this situation reminded me of: Someone else has already had the same problem I’m having and has posted in a forum online about it; and there is always another way to fix the problem.

Blog PhotoMy favorite Android forum for issues like this is at xda-developers.com, but there are several others.

In this case, I found that many other people were having the same problem I was, but while their solutions were working for them, I couldn’t figure how to make them work for me. Basically, I was being told to start over – uninstall the software I’d installed, and reinstall it. And it wasn’t working.

Then, someone said, try using this older version of the software, which is called SuperOneClick, and included a warning to use a specific  setting. I tried that, and it worked like a breeze. So instead of using the newest version (2.3.3), I used one of the oldest (1.7). Now, my phone works again like a hotspot, and other apps I have that require system-level permissions – they’re called “superuser” permissions in Android – also work again.

A word of caution or two: rooting your phone changes things in ways that could make the phone inoperable. It’s worth the time to read user forums – I recommend xda-developers.com – thoroughly before you try this. The procedure itself is really easy, but understanding it beforehand will help. Also, the software includes elements that some antivirus packages will identify as viruses and block. My workaround was to use a laptop with the antivirus software turned off and disconnected from the Internet before extracting the zip download. That kept the machine safe while I used the software.

One other discovery: There is an excellent package available in the Android Market to use your phone as a hotspot if you don’t mind physically tethering it to the computer you want to have Internet access. It’s called EasyTether, and requires a download both for your phone and your computer. But it doesn’t require you to root your phone, and the installation is a breeze. There is a free version, which does not allow access to secure websites, and a paid version that seems well worth the $9.99 price.

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