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Software freedom means no lock-in.

Couldn’t decide on one quote for this post, so I’m going with two. Read them both.

The 4 Software Freedoms: -The freedom to run it for any purpose -The freedom to study and change how it works -The freedom to distribute copies and help your neighbor -The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions (Paraphrased from the Free Software Definition @ www.gnu.org) "You know, there are some words I've known since I was a schoolboy: 'With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.' Those words were uttered by Judge Aron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged." -Jean-Luc Picard
The 4 Software Freedoms:
-The freedom to run it for any purpose
-The freedom to study and change how it works
-The freedom to distribute copies and help your neighbor
-The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions
(Paraphrased from the Free Software Definition @ www.gnu.org)
“You know, there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy: ‘With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.’ Those words were uttered by Judge Aron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.” -Jean-Luc Picard

Free Culture

This is why I support the idea of Free Culture. Obviously Thomas Jefferson was not writing with culture in mind, but I do think he deliberately chose wording that could be applied in a wide variety of situations. The Free Culture idea is all about liberty and the pursuit of happiness: the liberty to take and reuse the culture that has been forced upon us. Disney did not ask my permission to inject Mickey Mouse images into my mind. Nor did Warner Brothers, Bad Robot, or the Blender Foundation (gotta include some good guys in this list!). If they force their culture on me, it becomes my culture. I will use it as such.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This is what free/libre/open source is all about

This is what free software and free culture are all about: the process of invention, of taking existing things and using them in novel ways that the previous inventors never even dreamed of.

"Here we ask those what if questions, and we are free to imagine what the answers look like. We're encouraged to look around us at the things that exist and imagine how we could make them better, how we could take them to the next level, how we could transform them." -Naomi Novik
“Here we ask those what if questions, and we are free to imagine what the answers look like. We’re encouraged to look around us at the things that exist and imagine how we could make them better, how we could take them to the next level, how we could transform them.” -Naomi Novik

This quote is why I do Open Source

This quote – I don’t know how I originally found it – is one of the reasons why I got into Open Source. I remember, several years ago, printing it out and putting it above my bed so I would always have this reminder of why a good person does what he/she/xe does.

"Before our white brothers came to civilize us, we had no jails. You can't have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a man was so poor he had no horse, tipi, or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them way. We had no money, and therefore a man's worth couldn't be measured by it. We had no written law, no attorneys or politicians, therefore we couldn't cheat. We really were in a bad way before the white men came, and I don't know how we managed to get along without THESE BASIC THINGS" -Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions
“Before our white brothers came to civilize us, we had no jails. You can’t have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a man was so poor he had no horse, tipi, or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them way. We had no money, and therefore a man’s worth couldn’t be measured by it. We had no written law, no attorneys or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat. We really were in a bad way before the white men came, and I don’t know how we managed to get along without THESE BASIC THINGS” -Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

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.

Looking for a cheap & hackable phablet

so my Kindle Fire tablet died a few days ago. Completely dead. Once it died I tore it apart to see if it had an SD card inside which might have private data (it didn’t have a card). Now I’m looking for a smartphone or tablet to replace it.

  • Must be cheap. Like $20 cheap. All I ever used the KF for was listening to podcasts and occasionally checking email, both of which I can easily do with my laptop. I carry my laptop everywhere anyway; the only benefit to using a separate device was that I could use it without having to pause whatever game I happened to be playing on my laptop. I like to game while listening to podcasts.
  • Should be a phone, does not have to be. I have a cameraphone which works well enough, but I do like the idea of having one device that does everything. I sometimes wonder why bigger computers don’t have phone capabilities. I mean, it used to be common to see physically large phones sitting on a person’s desk right next to their physically large desktop computer. Computers even used to have modems, by which phone functionality could be integrated into these general-purpose computers. I want cell phone abilities in my laptop: the ability to make and receive calls (all laptops now have speakers and microphones) and to type SMS text messages on a real keyboard (ok, I know you can do that: you can send them as emails, but you’ve got to know which carrier originally issued the phone number. E.g., my phone number was originally issued by AT&T, so if you wanted to email my phone you would send the message to [phone number]@txt.att.net even though I’m now a Consumer Cellular customer. My point is this functionality should be built-in and should require as little guesswork/research as it does when using a phone.)
  • Must be hackable. I believe in the concept of property and the first sale doctrine. When I buy something, I want it to be mine. Not Apple’s, Microsoft’s, or Motorola’s. I want to be able to install F-Droid and CyanogenMod and Clapdroid and anything else, without having to seek the approval of some company convinced that they own my legally bought and paid for device.