Every Friday I share the five coolest things I’ve found on the web in the last week.
1 – Plug ‘n Drive
Electric vehicles have become more common over the last few years but most people still have no direct personal experience with them. That’s too bad, because a little time spent talking to someone who owns one and a little hands-on time behind the wheel can go a long way toward dispelling the myths around electric vehicles and removing the anxiety people sometimes feel about owning one.
Plug ‘n Drive aids in this by providing both fixed-location and traveling events where people interested in electric vehicles can get first-hand experience with the vehicles and learn all about the pros and cons of ownership.
This is something I’ve thought about creating here (Plug ‘n Drive is currently Canada-only) because I’ve met a lot of people who would be willing to consider purchasing an EV after they learn what it’s really like to own and drive one.
2 – KODAK EKTRA Smartphone
If a typical smartphone is a phone with a camera built-in, then the KODAK ECTRA is a camera with a phone built-in. I’ve seen a few other devices like this but most of them try to replace high-end cameras which I think is a mistake because most people who buy high-end cameras are looking for a specialized, purpose-built piece of equipment that does one thing excellently.
The EKTRA on the other hand appears to be aimed at replacing a nice point-and-shoot camera (which itself has been largely replaced by smartphones). The difference is that the EKTRA puts the camera first. The phone component allows for things like a rich user interface (compared to the primitive ones found on most point-and-shoot digital cameras) and the conveniences we’ve become accustom to like auto-uploading photos to the cloud (remember having to use a cable to download photos to your laptop?) and sharing to cool social networks like Mastodon.
I haven’t handled one of these cameras personally and that’s something I’d really like to do before recommending them, but if nothing else I’m excited about the fact that a company was willing to create something like this, and I hope to see more products like this in the future.
You can order an unlocked EKTRA from Amazon.com now for $399.99.
3 – Stir to Action Magazine
I’ve recently become interested in co-ops and in understanding what their advantages are and why they’re not more widespread. Stir to Action has a lot of well-designed resources that are accessible to non-business-oriented types like me.
Definitely worth checking-out if you’d like to know more about how co-ops and other people-first business models might be applied in your community.
4 – kdenlive
For ages I’ve used a Mac and Apple software to edit films, but as part of my efforts to stop using closed, proprietary software I’ve had to find a replacement for these tools. Additional, I’m not a fan of the direction Apple has gone with Final Cut Pro, so I was very excited to come across kdenlive, a very well made and modern non-linear editing program for Linux.
I’m still learning the ropes and haven’t yet had a film to really test kdenlive out on yet, but I’ve got a couple of small video projects coming up that I’m going to try to use it on, and I’ll definitely need something like this once I have some usable output from the Open Digital 8 project to work with.
5 – 3D Modeling on the Raspberry Pi
One of the greatest outcomes of the Raspberry Pi project is that it’s now possible for almost anyone to have a computer of their own, even kids. This factor is one of the most important things that contributed to my own interest in computers and my ability to pursue the field. Having a VIC-20 at my disposal to do with as I pleased was the foundation of my work with computers. That’s why I’m always excited to see examples of the Raspberry Pi being used for “real work” that traditionally required bigger, more expensive machines.
This post from 2016 explains how to get FreeCAD up-and-running on the Raspberry Pi and includes the details you need to know to make sure you’re getting the most performance out of the hardware that is available. It also includes a basic introduction to using FreeCAD (which is how I found it as I’m learning FreeCAD myself), enough to let you decide if FreeCAD is a tool you’d like to learn more about.
It might be hard to appreciate how significant something like this is, because in the past a CAD workstation would have cost thousands, perhaps more than ten thousand dollars. The fact that you could put together a usable CAD workstation with a TV set and about $50 in parts and open-source software is amazing, and it makes learning these skills accessible to a wide-range of people who would have been otherwise left out.
I like to think of all the cool things that will exist when everyone has access to the tools that were once only available to the more privileged classes.