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Live Blogging: Keynote conversation Limor Fried & Phil Torrone

This might not be the wisest thing I’ve ever done but maybe it’s time to buy a new laptop anyway. I’ll try to keep up with some of the the craziness that Limor and Phil and very likely to create. I’m sitting front row and center thanks to a little help from Scott Beale so look out for some awesome photos too.

So far, the crow’d slowly gathering, the room is filling up. The techno music stopped, Phil and Limor are on stage, are we finally getting started?

14:15 Here we go! Phil and Limor are displaying a slide show of some crazy things people build.

  • Bacon alarm clock! Oh yeah!!
  • A vest made of old PC fans, wow, i’m getting one for Burning Man this year.
  • A Gummy bear chandlier? ewww!
  • Oh…. a device to measure when dogs have seizures. Poor princess!
  • Home made laptop, pretty cool though not as pretty as your average powerbook
  • Plants that call you when they need water. Finally someone thought about me!
  • Last but not least the death-star(tm) sub woofer. Bass!

Talking about open source hardware now. Limor is talking about the tinkerer community and how this might evolve into something similar to the OS software movement. A definition:

There are different levels of hardware.
Physical measurements and models of hardware released in open formats. Open Source CAD design
Open source circuit board design. Releasing schematics and the like under open licenses (like CC).
Firmware – The Software that’s running your hardware, but this is close to OS software.
Parts lists are also important, what parts to get and where can you get some components.
And finally whatever software is running on top of the firmware.

BTW, Limor’s OK with you taking her OS projects and using for commercial purposes.

Talking about modding linux based routers, sounds like a few people in the crowd have done this.

The Roomba (I just got one too!) has an open API that lets you connect to the robot and control it. iRobot also just released a platform that people can just use for their own projects.

Phil: Getting your robot to move is hard, many people find that’s enough of a problem to solve. iRobot solved that problem for you so you can focus about making the robot do other clever things.

GreenPhone: a phone that’s running linux with other open software that you can mod to your heart’s delight. Getting apps on phones is possible but you’re limited with the API that’s exposed. On the linux phone you have access all the way down to the device drivers so you can do whatever you want. Example: visual voice mail.

Talking about the ambient glowing orb that can display information. The company released their schematics and are encouraging users to go build their own.

The iPod linux project. Analyzing the sounds the iPod makes to figure out how it boots up. Crazy reverse engineering stuff. Wouldn’t it be nice if apple let you just do all that? Would have save a lot of effort to everyone involved. Similar to the ongoing war between Sony and people trying to mod their PSPs or the disposable camera that was reverse engineered and led to interesting projects like taking photos from an amateur rocket.

14:33 Limor is taling about the relationship between the web and hardware hacking. She uses the web to publish the information related to her projects.

Phil is talking about an exciting new way to void your warranty. They have a $20k laser and they’ll etch things on your various gadgets. They also have a wiki with information about every piece of equipment and they’ll publish templates and everything related to start your own laser business.

14:39 Podcasting. Limor is showing off one of her OS projects a midi synth that’s based on the Roland 303. And it also makes funky electronic music! The podcast includes tracks that people created, mods and pictures. Building a community of users.

Talking about some projects on Make and Craft (?). A spud gun and some knitting templates. Weekend projects from Bre and Phil on make. Make also sells complete kits. Maybe I should get one… 🙂

Moving on to cool blinky related projects. Instructables is a pretty useful site for publishing this kind of information. Photos with notes on them, etc.

14:50 We’re moving on the the cellphone jammer part of the show, will my wifi connection survive? Showing the jammer hidden inside an innocent looking cigarette box. Limor is explaining how her spectrum analyzer works. Phil gets a call that magically gets dropped. Apparently there’s been all sorts of stories about what happens when you use one of those in a busy cafe. I’m sure Phil never did this himself.

Phil’s phone’s gone all wonky (go windows mobile!). Luckily the jammer they’re using has only a 5′ range, lets you build a small bubble of quiet around you. Samsung wanted to include the device in their phone to only block phones made by the competition. Now on to the evils of city-wide wifi. The bubble will let you disable wifi where you don’t want it go.

Phil: If people really want to do things with their technology and “bend” it, you can’t stop them. It will happen anyway. Like trying to stop a video on YouTube.

Q: Sears has craftsman CNC for wood
A: Make will have (or already has) reviews. Print your own 3d objects.

Q: Limor, are you planning on selling out any time soon?
A: Limor’s making enough money, selling kits on her store and is making a living selling open source hardware. More people are creating businesses around open source.

Q: Any movement toward OS in other science? Chmistry, biology, etc.
A: Limor’s focusing on electronics mostly but it’s happening already. Example: a dr. who created a simple way to create a baby warmer. From the crowd: MIT is doing OS bio-engineering (scary!).

Phil pulls out the $100 laptop. One child per laptop or somesuch… very fisher price looking piece of hardware running a cool linux based OS.

Q: A history lesson from the crowd. Companies used to publish schematics for their devices (stereos, TVs, etc.)
A: Companies are now more scared of being ripped off and people more prone to buy new stuff instead of fixing. Phil: I blame the Eighties (applause!)

Q: Can developers get their hands on the $100 laptop?
A: There’s a wiki for developers but it’s not easy to get one. Phil: I had to beg for one. Didn’t mention i was planning on taking it apart…

Q: Something about education and kids.
A: There’s a lot of hand-on-learning going on and kits are a big help. Also maker fair.

And we’re done! Finally Limor’s turning off the jammer. Thanks!

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  1. […] de from readily available components Audience member calls him and gets blocked on screen Hellonline has another great writeup on Limor and Phil’s keynote conversation. Permalink […]

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