Jaxbot : we finally put a face to the legend [ Interview ]
Today we will be interviewing the hacker on Windows Phone, Jaxbot from WindowsPhoneHacker.com. This bloke has been tinkering with Windows Phone from day one ( well I am not sure about day one but I can safely say he has been at it from the early days of the OS ). May of you will need to special introduction to him and some of his hacks are used by many home-brew users. So lets get in to it
Not that you would need a special introduction to our readers but let us get this tradition out of the way .. ( tell us a bit about yourself )
I’m an independent homebrew developer under the handle “Jaxbot”. I run the site WindowsPhoneHacker.com, and am responsible for many hit homebrew applications such as Folders, Tweaks, LockWidgets, and Orientation Lock.
What is a JaxBot ? Why did you pick that name ?
Actually, “Jaxbot” is simply one word, a proper noun if you will. The history of this name dates back to when I was a six-year-old (no kidding), in which I devised a combination of a few two words I could spell. The reason for it is quite silly, but it’s simply been my internet handle my entire life. It’s a second name to me, and though it probably looks and sounds ridiculous, it’s received its own reputation.
What is your day job ?
I’m a student, which takes literally all my time. WPH is my hobby, but it also helps to support my educational efforts, which is always a nice thing.
Some of our readers wanted to ask us if we could get a picture of you .. I told them that is not very likely to happen , so humor me and answer this question for us . I would be interested to know why , if you don’t mind answering .
I try to avoid mixing and mashing my personal life with “work”, as I would hate to pollute followers with things they simply couldn’t care less about. But since they asked nicely, I’ve attached a little something, just for fun ;)
I can’t vouch for how recent or accurate this depiction is, however, so keep that in mind when you attempt to track me down p:
I am going to assume you have a passion for the homebrew scene, any other platform you work with ?
Hm… I don’t really do any homebrew on other platforms, but I will admit to being a sucker for Linux systems and web development.
Why Windows Phone Hacking ?
The reason for this comes from a basic premise; when I started mobile development, it was on my HTC 8525, a Windows Mobile based device. I owned this phone because Android had, at this point, not made it to the commercial market yet, and the only other choice was iOS. WPH was born sometime in the life of this phone, and as time progressed, WP7 was born and I adopted it. It also helps that I’m fluent in C#, and that I prefer a challenge; Android has thousands of talented devs, WP has few.
While I appreciate the stuff you guys ( hackers ) do by giving users control over their devices and allowing them to do things on their phone that the OEM’s / Platform / Carriers would not otherwise allow… but there is often question raised about Hacking leading in to Piracy .. What is your take on that ?
Here’s my position on this subject. Piracy is possible due to poor security in the OS. While dev unlocking allows sideloading, the problem really isn’t that we can sideload apps. The problem is that the XAPs are currently unencrypted and can be easily resigned and deployed as homebrew apps. The new eXAP system helps solve this problem, but it’s not implemented and I have a feeling it may not be for quite some time. So while unlocking these devices technically allows piracy, the problem isn’t that people are able to use the stolen goods; the problem is that the goods are easily stolen in the first place, if that makes sense.
Tell us a bit about your windows phone gear?
My daily driver is my loved Samsung Focus, first generation. I have a few other devices that have been graciously donated and I use for testing/development, but there’s something very nice about carrying around a light, plasticy phone that I don’t fear damaging.
You have quite a few number of homebrew apps .. Do you have a favourite ? Tell us a bit about them
Hm… my favorite is definitely orientation lock. I’m a heavy texter and the screen rotating is a pet peeve of mine, so this application gets used almost daily. A second favorite is Eco, as there’s something very rewarding about killing off the battery drainers.
What are a few other homebrew apps you recommend?
Hm, good question. Screen Capturer is perhaps the most useful on a day-to-day basis, and is a must-have in my opinion. There are some other applications I use for development, such as WebServer or WMDC. Also, as far as hacking goes, WP7 Root Tools is a must-have imo.
Who do you consider to be some of the best hackers on Windows Phone ?
I have a lot of respect for Heathcliff74, just as an overall nice guy and talented hacker. In addition to this, a shoutout goes to Cotulla for the stunning work on custom ROMs and bootloaders, as well as ultrashot for some serious low-level work. As far as developers go, Fiinix and GoodDayToDie also make my list, as they both are bright minds who help shape the WP homebrew scene.
Tell us 5 apps and 5 games that you love on your Windows Phone ( no stock apps like bing, calendar, etc )
Hm, that’s a very rough question, because I honestly don’t use my phone for much besides communication and information. Homebrew aside, I’ve been experimenting with some of the remote desktop applications, as well as SSH clients for connecting into my server. As far as games go, it appears my XBL hub is… empty, though I did enjoy Krashlander quite a bit.
What are your thoughts on Windows Phone as a mobile OS ? How does it stack up against the other players?
Currently, with WP7 and the way it’s advertised, I don’t see it competing directly against the other players. I feel like WP has it’s own niche, a place for people who want a simple, sleek, fast phone, who are not overly concerned with being able to power-use their phone in the way iOS or Android users do. I say this because the capabilities of the phones are very different; Android allows much more flexibility in applications and the feel of the system is quite different, and reminds me of the good days with my Windows Mobile devices (except, in this case, much more usable). WP has a very limited scope for applications, and focuses on a consistent, fast, secure user experience, which certainly has its advantages. The way Microsoft leads the platform will determine a lot of things, but simply put, I feel like WP currently serves a role in the market that is rather different from other two big platforms.
You have uncovered some cool stuff on Windows Phone 8 and I assume you have had the chance to dig through the leaked SDK .. what are some of the stuff you were impressed with. Did u notice any potential road blocks for homebrew ?
I’m very impressed with how Microsoft ported the operating system, as most pieces from WP7 are simply compiled over for the new NT kernel. It’s also worth nothing that the developer unlock system is currently the same as on current WP7 devices. While this is subject to change, it’s really hard to tell what will happen; Microsoft is well aware of the homebrew community, and will do what it can to block out exploits. At the same time, however, I suspect that holes will be found in a timely fashion, and homebrew will continue with even more capabilities compared to before.
You have a website now for your homebrew tools, tell us about that .. what are the other channels users can follow your work.
Well, I’ve always had a website :p But the best place to follow my WP work is the @wphonehacker Twitter account, or of course the website itself. If you want to keep up to date on my more personal projects and experiments, you can always catch me on @Jaxbot.
Thanks for taking the time off home brew dev and chatting to us mate , it’s good to finally put a face to the unknown hacker in the Windows Phone Homebrew scene :)