Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hacking on the Sony Walkman Cell Phone

When I first came to Japan, I signed up for service with AU, and picked up the Sony Erricson W42S Walkman phone. It was fantastic: it played music with ease, had a great screen for video, was simple and compact, and styling superb.

My only problem with it was the software. Sony and AU both enjoy making users go through all sorts of hoops in order to protect their IP, such that it makes the product nearly useless. Complicating the matter was the fact that the software was only available in Japanese. It drove me nuts. AU's software in particular was so bad, that it would even refuse to install on Windows unless it was a Japanese version.

I HAD to gain access to all those cool features, for which I fell in love with the phone in the first place. So I set out on several adventures in 'bypassing' certain basic procedures apparently designed to confuse people. Few of these jobs could technically be called "hacking." Most of them were simply discovering how to get around stupid measures taken by both companies designed to confuse people, such as switching your international settings in Windows to temporarily allow installing the software, or dropping files into hidden folders on the memory stick in order to get your own movies to play without paying extra for additional software.

I figured that if I were having trouble with the phone, than surely many other foreign customers were in the same boat. Sure enough, with a little bit of advertising on the various cell-phone fan sites, people starting asking me lots of questions. So, in a way, I became an unofficial English help line troubleshooter for AU and Sony.

The results of which are cataloged in the following blogs:

The posts have also been merged with THIS blog. You can find them by clicking the related links on the left.

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