Cheap smartphone, addappt app & more

Create your own

You don’t have to merely “consume” gadgets, but you can actually create your own open hardware! Check out the www.oshwa.org website, which focuses on open source hardware.

Initiatives are underway in different parts of the planet. For instance, HarvestGeek is an attempt to offer greenhouse monitoring and an automation system for your farm or garden. This is meant to promote the “local food movement”, by making it easier for urban and not-so-urban farmers taking to small scale agriculture in their backyards, rooftops, basements, attics, abandoned warehouses and vacant lots.

To learn more search for ‘harvestgeek’ on kickstarter.com

With the monsoons here, and with it the season for planting, can open source hardware actually change how we farm? That seems to be exactly what’s happening, even if we might not be too much into it in this part of the world…

Take the LifeTrac tractor, for instance. This open source machine could cost half as much to build as a commercial tractor cost to buy, and it is designed to last a lifetime, says the engineeringforchange.org website.

Polish-born Marcin Jakubowski who founded Open Source Ecology, says: “I realized that the truly appropriate, low-cost tools that I needed to start a sustainable farm just didn’t exist, yet.  I needed tools that were robust, modular, highly efficient, optimized, low cost, made from local and recycled materials that would last a lifetime, not designed for obsolescence. I found that I would have to build them myself.”

Jakubowski aims to perfect the designs for 50 machines and publish their blueprints online, open source and free to use.

Check out http://openfarmtech.org/

Keeping track

Cheap smartphone, addappt app & more

Check out addappt, what calls itself the always up-to-date address book maintained by your friends — on iOS and Android. Addappt allows you to change your contact information once, and see it getting updated everywhere — in all your friends’ address books. With good enough reason, it has been called the “contact-syncing app”. Addappt works to automatically keep your information in your contacts list current.

So how does this work? Anyone who needs to update their address book very often would appreciate the potential of addappt.  It will keep track, says android377.com, of all your contacts on your phone and update them automatically if a person changes anything.

Addappt can also sync your contacts with Facebook, Google+ or your email address even.  It is available free. Meanwhile, android377.com also recommends a number of other ‘must have’ useful apps for the Android phone.

These include Everypost (for heavy social media users), Phongy 3D (to take 3D photos with smart phones), Dragon Mobile Assistant (like Google Now), Wikipedia Beta, Hodor Keyboard, among others.

In case you didn’t encounter it yet, Google Now is an intelligent personal assistant from the Google stable.  Google Now uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of web services.

Bar on the driver

New from Bengaluru tells us that Indian engineers have created a device that stops automobile drivers from receiving (or making) calls from their mobile phones while they’re driving. However, other passengers can use their phones.

This electronic circuit takes advantage of the fact that a cellphone emits a tiny amount of radiation when it is activated by either an incoming or outgoing call. This radiation is detected by an antenna coupled to the device. If the strength of the radiation is above say 75 millivolts, a mobile jammer gets automatically tuned on.

Smartphones at $25?

Mozilla’s $25 Firefox OS phones are looking forward to “score” in India.  So says Stephen Shankland, in cnet.com

Firefox OS, which is Mozilla’s ambitious attempt to establish a more open mobile operating system when compared to Apple’s iOS or even Google’s Android.

Cnet.com says two Indian companies — Intex and Spice — will build the “super-cheap” $25 Firefox OS phone.  It is to be based on a processor from the Chinese company Spreadtrum, and is expected to “start selling in the next few months”.

Affordability is a factor that all are pointing to here. But Firefox also believes that it will provide significant openness.

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