22 October 2011

Cookies! Aztec Chocolate Sugar Cookies

I'm a chocolate addict--not the vaguely brownish milk/sugar (or more often in the US, corn) concoctions in the candy aisle, but real cacao. At sufficient concentrations, it's a little intoxicating.

Now, these aren't 50%+ cacao Dagoba or Green & Black chocolate bars, but they do deliver a surprising punch of real chocolate flavor. I started with this recipe and added a little spice, as well as adjusting the prep to save time and get a great texture/consistency. Just enough cayenne (or any chile) can really open up a rich flavor like cocoa, and gets balanced by the sweetness of the sugar, so that it doesn't add heat so much as it enhances the other flavors.

This was my first foray into baking, by the way, so it's quite an easy recipe. Yield is about two dozen cookies.


At least:
2 large bowls (wet + dry ingredients)
1 mixing implement (e.g. wooden spoon)
1 clean, flat surface
1 oven
1 baking sheet

Optional (preferred):
1 electric hand mixer (step 2, start step 3)
1 sifter or whisk
1 more baking sheet
1 sharp, non-serrated knife (e.g. French chef's knife)
1 dough cutter/scraper


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, shortening or margarine*, softened
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 egg

*I like to use 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup margarine. I'll pop them in the oven in a coffee mug while I'm gathering ingredients. The oven's always above room temp just from the pilot lights.

  1. Mix and/or sift* the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, cayenne and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a separate, large bowl, mix butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg.
  3. Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients to form a soft dough.
  4. Divide dough in half and, on powdered surface**, roll into approx. 1 1/4 inch diameter logs.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). With a sharp knife or dough cutter, slice logs into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick rounds. Toss each round in powder mixture and place on baking sheet, even spaced.
  6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven.
  7. Your call. I immediately use tongs to gently move the cookies from the baking sheet to a glass or ceramic surface, then let them cool for a good 45-90 minutes before loading my cookie jar (or sealed storage bag).
*As a novice baker, I don't have a sifter or even a strainer. I tried a colander, but that was slow, awkward and ineffective. The best method for me was my first improvisation: a quart bell jar, a butter knife, and a second, flat-bottom container. I put the ingredients in the jar (which also served as my dry measure for the cocoa and flour), stirred them together with the knife (not too vigorously), then used sweeping motions of the knife at the lip of the jar to sift the mixture into the second container. I played whack-a-mole with any visible clumps, and it all got a final sifting going into the dough. A whisk might be a better solution than even a sifter, and I'm not sure how a strainer would compare to my method--I suspect it would be as slow as a colander, almost as awkward, but much more effective.

**One would use flour for most recipes, but then you can get white splotches on your finished cookies and even blunt the flavor a little with that outer coating. I've found a 2/2/1 ratio of cocoa to flour to sugar works best to preserve the color and even give the flavor a little bump. I start with 1 Tablespoon each sugar and cocoa and 1/2 Tablespoon sugar, then replenish before I cut up the second log. I mix them right on the surface (I use a glass cutting board) with the dull top edge of the blade on the chef's knife I'll be using to slice the logs. You'll want your hands dusted with the mixture, too.

I could see adding maybe 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla in step 2, but haven't had it around while I've been making these. If you want to go double chocolate, 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips are always an option, but this recipe really doesn't need them.

20 October 2011

Working with Bootable SD Cards

My experience with bootable SD media is specific to microSDHC cards in the Nook Color tablet/ereader, but the issues people encounter will probably apply to any device, particularly any Android device, that boots first from its SD reader. These issues are also largely Windows-specific, but some of the concepts apply more broadly.

The ability to boot first from external media makes modifying or repairing a device much simpler and more straightforward in a lot of ways, but it also introduces concepts and processes that may be as unfamiliar to veteran Android rooters and flashers as they are to total tech neophytes (aka n00bs).

Bootable Media

Anyone who has installed a computer operating system (OS) or run a Linux live disk is aware that nearly all full-fledged computers check to see if any of their optical drives (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) and/or USB ports and/or flash card readers contain any bootable media before loading the OS on the primary system drive. Most programs run inside of an OS. For external media to be bootable, it must provide an alternate framework within which its program(s) can run: an OS of its own, however simplified in most cases. As long as all of the host device's hardware is intact, no matter how badly the native OS is screwed up or how tightly it's locked down, bootable external media can do things like reset factory defaults, run hardware diagnostics, in some cases extract, move, or erase data, or install a whole new OS.

No ADB? No Root? No Problem.

In terms of Android modding, particularly running custom ROMs (volunteer-built alternative OSes), bootable SDs allow us to skip some preliminaries like installing developer software packages and drivers on our PCs, rooting our device's stock firmware, and replacing stock recovery with custom utilities. It all but eliminates the risk of "bricking" (rendering the device permanently unable to boot), because again, no matter how badly you screw up the software, you can always plug in a bootable SD, wipe the system clean, and start over. Because you didn't overwrite the stock recovery, you may even have the option of triggering a built-in factory reset. Moreover, because SD cards are almost identical to an Android device's internal flash storage, complete custom ROMs can often be run stably from SD cards without altering the stock software at all.

Obstacles, Ordeals & Misunderstandings

While bootable SDs are often more direct, safer, and more flexible than other modding tools, they can also be less familiar and intuitive than some of the install-and-click root methods out there.

  • Software: You'll need a disk-imaging program like WinImage (shareware) or Win32DiskImager (free and open source). The latter is designed more with developers than average users in mind, and the installation process can be daunting. Both are intended more for backing up and managing images than writing a downloaded image to a new disk, so it's by no means obvious at first glance how to accomplish our task, though most modding guides give specific instructions. In WinImage, it's Disk | Restore Virtual Hard Disk Image on Physical Drive. Make sure you know your card's drive letter, then select file type All Files.
  • Hardware: Not all card readers that can read SD are reliable for writing images. Your laptop's all-in-one cardhole probably won't work. Even a regular-size SD slot and an adapter may not work. Some people (including me, making my first card) have success using a tablet, phone, or camera as their reader via USB, but if the connection is interrupted, the card may be rendered unreadable. Your best bet is a USB ɥSDHC reader, which are quite inexpensive. The other options are worth a try, but if the image isn't writing, the reader may be to blame.
  • Cards and Class: If you're only making the card to run a rooting utility or a custom recovery like ClockworkMod, any card will do. For running ROMs from SD, however, class 2, 4, and unclassed SanDisks seem to outperform most other cards. Card class measures only how fast a card can read and write large, sequential files, like high-megapixel digital photos; indeed, few devices other than a newer SLR camera will benefit in any way from a class 10 card. An OS relies more heavily upon small, random reads and writes, which are not measured by card class and often suffer in higher-class cards.
  • Partitions: Some bootable images, particularly a complete OS, will need to divide the card into multiple partitions (separate virtual disks on one physical disk) to function properly, but Windows Explorer only looks for the first partition. So, Windows may tell you your 8GB SD is now only 103MB: DON'T PANIC. It's perfectly normal. If you need to erase the card, use SD Formatter. If you still don't see the whole card, use EASEUS Partition Manager's slider interface to delete all but one partition and stretch that one to take up the remaining space on the card, then format again.
  • Downloads: they get corrupted sometimes. Check the md5 sum of your image files if available, or if an image doesn't write successfully, delete and re-download.

Updating a CM7 SD install for the Nook Color

With the recent release of a signed, stable version of CM7.1, many people are trying for the first time, in some cases after months, to update their SD installs. Now, there's more than one SD install out there. These instructions apply only to cards prepared using verygreen's SASD method. If you used another method, such as a size-specific SD image of CM7, or a pre-made Phiremod/Honeycomb dual boot card, consider this step zero: backup with Titanium Backup, wipe the card, and either make a SASD or consider other options.

To update a verygreen SASD running one of the CM7.0.x builds to CM7.1,

  1. Download the update for the installer/bootloader: http://crimea.edu/~green/nook/update-genimage-1.3.zip*
  2. Download the CM7.1 zip: http://download.cyanogenmod.com/get/update-cm-7.1.0-encore-signed.zip
  3. Download latest gapps (not required, but a good idea): http://cmw.22aaf3.com/gapps/gapps-gb-20110828-signed.zip*
  4. Remove the SD from your NC and plug it into your computer
  5. Move the first two files to the SD card (you will only see a 100MB-ish partition; that's where they go). If both won't fit, do the installer update first.
  6. Confirm that the files are still .zip format (some people accidentally unzip them due to their PC settings)
  7. Return the card to the NC and boot into the SD's alt partition (the installer): "hold nook N key and then press and hold power until the "Loading..." message appears and then disappears with screen going blank. Release power button, then press it again and hold for ~5 seconds, the bootloader "Loading..." message should be on the screen for three seconds or so before you release power button, keep holding N button until screen blanks again. If the screen went off while you were holding the power key, that means you were holding it for too long"
  8. The installer will automatically install the package(s).
  9. Repeat steps 4-7 for the remaining files.

*For most ROM udpates on a SASD, the installer update and gapps package would not be necessary. If you're already running a CM7 nightly more recent than #86, the installer update won't be necessary. They're only needed if you're moving from a CM7.0.x stable release to CM7.1. It is a good idea to update gapps if there's a more recent package at the bottom of this page.

As of now, there is no user-friendly update path from 7.0.x to 7.1 for any SD install other than verygreen's SASD, AFAIK. In the months that CM7.1 has been under development, the SASD has become very much the standard method for running CM7 from SD on the NC. If you purchased a pre-made CM7 card, check the vendor's website for update information.

04 October 2011

Your Nook Color Options: Root & ROMs

The Nook Color has seen a lot of modding, hacking and customization, due to its low cost, under-utilized hardware, and highly flexible, nigh-unbrickable configuration. After nearly a year of both regular firmware updates from B&N and furious volunteer development, the array of hacks, mods, custom ROMs and utilities for this device can appear sprawling.

What it comes down to, however, are three main options. All of them take advantage of the configuration that makes the NC so flexible in the first place; unlike most Android devices, the NC boots first from the ɥSD slot, in the same way a PC looks first for a bootable disk before loading the OS on the primary hard drive. As with a PC, this configuration makes it very easy to run a utility, install an OS, or even run an OS completely from bootable* ɥSD.


When used as a verb, rooting means altering your current stock firmware to enable root, or superuser, access. Like having the Administrator account on a Windows PC, root allows you to change high-level settings such as those preventing you from installing unapproved apps, and accessing unapproved app markets. Rooting the NC maintains the stock interface, the stock reading app, and device-specific perks like in-store reading, but lets you install the Google and/or Amazon app markets, which have many more apps than the B&N market, often at lower prices. Apps purchased on those markets can also be installed on other Android devices.

If you basically like the NC's interface but would like a couple more apps, rooting may be your best option. The most common way to root the NC is ManualNooter. If rooting stock firmware 1.4.x, follow the linked instructions but use ManualNooter 5.12.20.

Custom ROMs (OS replacement)

Custom ROMs are volunteer-built operating systems that completely replace stock firmware when installed on a device. Virtually all custom ROMs have root access by default, and do not need to be rooted. Because we can boot from ɥSD, it's also not necessary for us to root before installing a custom ROM, as is necessary on many other Android devices. For the NC, there are three ROMs worth considering, and one to rule out.

  • CyanogenMod7: The CyanogenMod project is a robust team of developers releasing nightly improvement of their ROMs for a variety of Android devices. CM7, a version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread, is by far the the most feature-rich and flexible ROM for the NC, with the most community support. CM developers have added features like bluetooth, Tablet Tweaks, audio improvements, USB host, and more to the NC. Replacing B&N stock with CM7.
  • MiRaGe CM7.2 KANGs: With the CM7 team no longer providing quasi-nightly test builds, this ROM is the simplest way to keep up on the latest changes until there's a new stable CM7 build.
  • MIUI: a popular makeover of Gingerbread's UI, brought to the NC using CM7 codebase.
  • Honeycomb: the only versions of Honeycomb available for the NC are basically demos and are not being updated. Honeycomb is the only Android version for which Google has not released source code, so there is very little for devs to work with.

Custom ROMs (ɥSD install)

The NC's fairly unique configuration opens up a third option that leaves the stock firmware untouched and arguably preserves your warranty (though I still wouldn't mention it to customer service). Because it boots first from a ɥSD card, and that card is virtually identical to the internal flash storage (eMMC), it's possible to run a custom ROM entirely from ɥSD. This option is probably the best place for most people to start, even if you think you'll eventually be replacing the stock firmware. It's a fairly simple procedure that leaves you in a good position to make future changes if you decide they're necessary. With the right card (see instructions), many people find ɥSD installs to perform just as well as an OS housed on eMMC.


For the more adventurous or more particular, you'll find a variety of projects on the xda-developers NC forums, such as moving your stock firmware to ɥSD. I've also assembled a guide for dual booting two OSes from eMMC.

*Perhaps the least familiar aspect of all these methods, where a lot of people run into trouble, is writing a bootable image to ɥSD. A couple of things to keep in mind:
  • Your laptop's all-in-one cardhole probably won't work. Even a regular-size SD slot and an adapter may not work. Some people (including me, making my first card) have success using the NC, a phone, or a camera as their reader via USB, but if the connection is interrupted, the card may be rendered unreadable. Your best bet is a USB ɥSDHC reader, which are quite inexpensive.
  • Downloads get corrupted. Check the md5 sum of your image files if available, or if an image doesn't write successfully, delete and re-download.

03 October 2011

Nook Color Dual Boot Guide

MAJOR UPDATE 2/22/12: While the process hasn't changed too much, the key files have all been replaced for greater flexibility, and they are NOT compatible with the old method using rookie1's prep-dualboot zip. For an update path from earlier versions of this guide or resources related to the earlier version, see the XDA thread.

This guide details how to repartition your internal storage and install two operating systems, or ROMs, side by side. If you want CM7/9 on SD without changing your stock install, you're in the wrong place: CM7 SD Install Guide. Previous versions of this guide only worked with CM7/9 on the primary partition set and stock on the alternate partition set, and there was no way to backup or easily update the alternate install. Now, you can have either system on either partition, or have CM7 on one partition and CM9 on the other, or two side-by-side stock installs. You can also move the alternate system back to primary to back up or update. I would call this process an intermediate or advanced mod, and would not recommend trying to follow these steps if you don't understand what you're doing.

This guide takes advantage of the multiboot functionality built-in to CM7.1 nightlies since about #140. As such, it is not compatible with CM7.0.x builds or with earlier boot menus.

What you'll get: Whatever two ROMs you install, each will have a 2GB /data partition for apps and they will share a 2GB /media partition for storage, and both will have access to the SD card for more storage. At startup you will see a small green bar labeled "CyanogenMod." You have a few options when this bar appears:
  • Do nothing, and your primary system will boot
  • Hold down both volume buttons, and your alternate system will boot
  • Hold down 'n' for a more detailed boot menu
  • Hold 'n'+power and recovery will boot (if you installed CWM internally)
All of these actions must be taken in the first few seconds, before any message appears below the green bar. Once you see a confirmation message, you can release all buttons.

DISCLAIMER: As usual, YOU are responsible for changes YOU make to YOUR device. If you're uncomfortable using ClockworkMod Recovery, turn back now. If you're not sure how your NC is currently partitioned, turn back now. If you want to preserve your warranty, turn back now. Here be serpents; be so warned.

Following the guide as-is with all default options gets you a stock 1.4.1 install on secondary and a CM7 install on primary. I hope you can figure out what to substitute where for different results.

Questions or difficulties should be directed to the thread on xda-developers.com.

  • CWM on either SD or internal recovery
  • Wi-Fi access



  1. Put all materials in your SD card's root directory.
  2. Boot into CWM.
  3. From CWM main menu, "backup and restore" and "backup."
  4. From CWM main menu, "install zip from sdcard," and "choose zip from sdcard."
  5. Choose the repartitionDual2GB file.
  6. Reboot recovery. If you have internal CWM and no boot menu, you may need to use the rhythm method:
    hold nook N key and then press and hold power until the {first} message appears and then disappears with screen going blank. Release power button, then press it again and hold for ~5 seconds, the {first} message should be on the screen for three seconds or so before you release power button, keep holding N button until screen blanks again. If the screen went off while you were holding the power key, that means you were holding it for too long
  7. Repeat step 4 and choose reformatData.
  8. If your backup in step 3 was stock, you can "backup and restore" then "restore" and skip to step 13.
  9. Otherwise, repeat step 4 and choose 1.4.1-keep-CWM.
  10. When it finishes, hold the power button to shut down, remove your CWM card (if applicable), and power back on.
  11. Complete B&N registration process¹
  12. Power off and boot back into CWM (may require rhythm method above).
  13. Repeat step 4 and choose BNpri2alt.
  14. From CWM main menu, in "mounts and storage," format system, data and cache.
  15. From CWM main menu, choose "Advanced" and "Wipe dalvik cache."
  16. Repeat step 4 and choose CM7/9 update zip.²
  17. Reboot into main partition and set up Wi-Fi.
  18. Reboot into alt partition (hit both volume buttons at once on "CyanogenMod" loading screen) to make sure it's working.
  19. optional: install gapps, keysmod, etc from CWM.

¹Any mods you want to make to stock, do it now: update to a newer version, root with Manual Nooter (if rooting 1.4.1, follow the linked instructions but use MN 5.12.20), flash keysmod, overclock kernels, or any other CWM-flashable mods.

²If you backed up an existing CM7/9 install in step 3, then after step 16 just install gapps, install keysmod if you want it, then from CWM's main menu, Backup & restore > Advanced Restore, and restore data only from your most recent backup. When you boot into CM7 (not tested with Phiremod), it will be just like you left it.³

³Steps 17 and 18 may look unnecessary, but several users experienced force closes in their CM7 installs when they didn't take these steps.

Other Resources:

  • CMpri2alt: Moves a CyanogenMod install from the primary partition set to the alternate partition set
  • BNalt2pri: Moves a stock install from the alternate partition set to the primary partition set
  • CMalt2pri: Moves a CyanogenMod install from the alternate partition set to the primary partition set
  • Revert dual boot: deletes the alternate partition set and alternate boot files. Does not restore stock partition sizes, but must be run prior to partitioning back to stock
  • 1.4.1 full restore: removes CWM from internal recovery, does not affect partitioning
  • 1.4.1-to-alt-partition: updates any existing stock install on the dual boot partition (removes root, does not remove installed apps)
  • Steps to back up and/or update both partitions
  • Instructions to rename boot files created with j4mm3r's multiboot
  • Possible fix for boot-loop at 'n' screen on stock partition (largely untested: don't use it unless you have this problem)

  • repartitionDual2GB and reformatData provided by DeanGibson
  • 1.4.1 zips provided by rajendra82
  • BNpri2alt, BNalt2pri, CMpri2alt and CMalt2pri are minor alterations of DeanGibson's files linked above
  • revert-dualboot is a minor alteration of rookie1's remove-dualboot
  • Racks11479 provided key info for the above alterations

Originally posted on xda-developers.com