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More Crowdfunding Projects I’m Backing

It’s time for another blog post about crowdfunding. What am I backing this time? Here’s a look:

Fidget Cube

Fidget Cube: A Vinyl Desk Toy -- Kicktraq Mini

Fidget Cube is pretty much what the name makes it sound like: a little cube-shaped desk toy that encourages you to fidget. I like fidgeting with things. My current fidget toy is a flashlight with an interesting-to-feel shape and texture. I look forward to seeing how the Fidget Cube compares.


(No graph, sorry!)

ZeMarmot is an open movie, made with free-as-in-freedom software, currently being funded through Patreon.

Marmot likes to sleep, eat, and sleep again. One day, an old migratory bird tells him of the wonders of the world. Marmot decides to leave his home for the trip of his life and find the ultimate napping spot.
From Iran flying carpets to Paradise pacific island, Marmot will wander all over the world and be the first marmot explorer. Will he find what he is looking for?
(quoted from the Patreon page)

Crowdfunding projects I’m backing

As the end of the month, thus payday, approaches, it occurs to me that I’m backing an unusually large number of crowdfunding projects this month. I love crowdfunding: it’s a way that I as a consumer (I can be a consumer when I want to be!) can get a little influence over the products I buy: I spend money, perhaps a bit more than I would at a store, and in return I get the ability to communicate directly with the creators whose products I’m going to receive. Sure I am but one voice among many, but before crowdfunding it was hard to even have a voice. Plus I get the satisfaction of finding and funding products that either never existed before, or were previously too niche to be sold anywhere.

Most of these this month are on Kickstarter. Here they are, in no particular order:

System Shock

System Shock -- Kicktraq Mini

I have fond memories of playing the original System Shock even though I only bought it last year. It stands the test of time thanks to an incredibly well written story, a dark and foreboding atmosphere  (not easy to achieve given the graphical limitations of computers in 1994!) and a truly terrifying villain. I refused to buy System Shock Enhanced Edition because it’s Windows only. With this Kickstarter-funded reimagining of the game, Linux support is the first stretch goal and I have no doubt it will be reached.

Link to project


ZED -- Kicktraq Mini

Another game I’m buying due to nostalgia. I love the look of Myst. I love first-person adventure puzzle games. This is made by one of the same people who worked on Myst. Plus the downloadable demo supports Linux (but no promise that the full game will).

Link to project

Legendary Showdown: Gamer’s Quest

Legendary Showdown: Gamer's Quest -- Kicktraq Mini

I’m not that into card games, but I am into the comic Ctrl+Alt+Del. I’m really buying this for my brother since this looks like exactly the kind of game he’d enjoy playing. I’ll make it a birthday or Christmas present, depending on when it arrives. I know the estimated delivery date is October, but my experience with crowdfunded projects is that those date estimates are totally unreliable.

Link to project


SilentKeys: A Keyboard that Protects your Privacy & Security -- Kicktraq Mini

Any hardware that attempts to protect your privacy and security gets two thumbs up from me. This is the only project that I’m funding with no expectation of reward.

Link to project

Earth-friendly EOMA68 Computing Devices

Sorry, no graph for this one!

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of Crowd Supply before. I’m a little teeny bit worried about leaving my debit card data with them, but it’s worth the risk to support these earth-friendly computers. Plus they say they expect their Libre Tea Computer Card to earn the Free Software Foundation’s Respects Your Freedom certification. It hasn’t been earned yet, but the fact these guys are even trying speaks volumes.

Link to project

Note to self: Build a solar-powered cell phone

So I’ve recently received a Spor (official site, Kickstarter page). I actually got two of them. I don’t really know what to do with them – my flashlight lasted 8 months on a single charge, and my phone tends to be kept off most of the time. I could use one to power my Raspberry Pi, but I really only use the Pi for traditional desktop/server computer stuff. It wouldn’t benefit from attaching an external battery and solar panel.

I ended up giving one of the Spors to my brother. The other I’m keeping for myself to use in a future project.

Did I mention the Spor is open hardware? That’s as freedom-loving, open-source as you can get. The PCB schematic is on Upverter and the case designs are on Thingiverse and YouMagine.

I honestly really like the Spor from a design perspective. It takes effort to create a device as beautifully simple as this. I would even say the Spor follows the Unix design philosophy: it does one thing (providing electricity to USB-powered devices) and does it well. The fact that Spor’s creators are making it open hardware, really encouraging people to further improve on and customize the design, makes this an even more beautiful product to me.

Now, to get to the actual reason I’m writing this blog post: There’s another project being funded on Kickstarter right now: RePhone. It’s an open source, modular cell phone. I’m apparently not the only person excited about it, since it’s already way over the initial goal of $50,000 with 17 days to go.

RePhone Kit - World's First Open Source and Modular Phone -- Kicktraq Mini

I don’t know yet whether it will be possible to power a RePhone using USB, but if it is, you can bet I’ll be hooking it up to my Spor. I might even 3D print a custom-designed case to combine the two devices. Imagine that: a totally open source, solar-powered cell phone. And the case design will be my contribution!

Update: I asked the RePhone creators about powering it over USB. Here’s their response:

For the Core modules you can use external power source in the range 3.3-4.2V as there are breakout pins for it.

The USB port can only be used for software debug/upload and battery charging.

The Man From Earth gets a TV series (if you want it enough)!

Okay, so anyone who’s read this blog probably knows my enthusiasm for the movie called “The Man From Earth”. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It has a solid 8.0 rating on the Internet Movie Database, which is almost impossibly high. I like it for the thought-provoking story concept (what if a man from the upper paleolithic era survived to the present day?), the total lack of visual effects (Most of Hollywood seems to think that “science fiction” means “action movie that totally ignores science, set in space!”. The Man From Earth is real science fiction, not an action movie.), and the fact that it was created on a very low budget (as a low-budget movie maker myself, I find this encouraging).

Although they failed in their previous attempt to crowdfund a sequel, director Richard Schenkman and producer Eric Wilkinson haven’t given up: they’re now trying to crowdfund a Man from Earth TV series. I’ve pledged $40. How much will you pledge?

Man From Earth: The Series -- Kicktraq Mini

The Blender Foundation wants to make a Free movie.

The Blender Foundation has announced that they want to make a movie. They’re crowdfunding it with the hope of reaching €1.9 million (that’s $2.626 million US dollars calculated using DuckDuckGo). €1.6 million with their own resources, for a total of €3.5 million ($4.837 million). That’s the minimum amount they would need to make Project Gooseberry, as they’re currently calling it.

The best part is, this being the Blender Institute (makes of great shorts like Big Buck Bunny and Sintel), they’ll release everything Free under the Creative Commons Attribution license. In fact, they’ve already started doing that.

The fates myst be conspiring to rive my money from me.

The fates myst be conspiring to rive my money from me. How else could there suddenly be so may exciting Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, and I have so little money to give?

I got my first own computer in 1998. Not the first computer I ever had, but the first that was officially my own. It ran Windows 98, had a 14.8 GB hard disk, and had a DVD drive and decoder card (remember those?) so I could watch movies on its gigantic 21-inch CRT monitor. That monitor weighed so much it left a permanent dent in my desk.

I loved playing computer games. At first I played old DOS games, things like QBasic Nibbles and Pharaoh’s Tomb. That was what I had, since my previous computer had been a DOS machine. Then my mom bought something new: “Ages of Myst”. It was a small box containing the games Myst and Riven. We played the games together, she and I. I fell in love with them immediately. Continue reading The fates myst be conspiring to rive my money from me.

12 hours left to set Chopin free!

We’re down to the final few hours now. I mentioned this wonderful Kickstarter project once before. If you’ve been waiting to contribute, now is the time!
[kickstarter url= width=480]
[kickstarter url= width=220]

Another crowdfunding campaign: 0 A. D., a FOSS strategy game

I’ve often said that I would be perfectly willing to buy computer software if I knew I’d get the source code. Lots of people think there is a dichotomy between commercial software and free/open source, that free (as in freedom) software is necessarily also free (as in price). I think that dichotomy is a false one. Now I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

In addition to being a paying member of the Free Software Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which I’ve been doing for some time, now I’ve contributed money to a FOSS game, 0 A.D. They set up an Indiegogo campaign here.

0 A. D. is a real-time strategy game in the style of Age of Empires. It works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and (being free) will probably get ported to other operating systems too.

A New Musopen Kickstarter

MusOpen is doing another Kickstarter campaign, this time to free the works of Frédéric Chopin. After their wildly successful campaign in September 2010 (see here and here for my posts about that), I have to wonder what took them so long. Not that I’m complaining; I think that releasing public domain music recordings is a great thing to do. It’s just that it’s been so long since the previous campaign, it seems like a lot of the excitement that I and others felt has had plenty of time to dry up. It’ll be hard to get everyone excited again. Then again, considering that it took until 2012 for their 2010 campaign to actually get the music recorded and released, it’s understandable that they might wish to wait a bit before going to all that effort again.

Set Chopin Free -- Kicktraq Mini
Continue reading A New Musopen Kickstarter