Cool stuff you can use

A Penguin-powered couch potato computer, a greasy monkey, and two do-it-yourself projects sure to impress your friends.

A Penguin-Powered Pepper Packed with Potential

Pepper Computer (http://www.pepper.com/) has released Version 2 of their Pepper Pad. The Pepper Pad (pictured at right) combines elements of a handheld, a tablet PC, and a laptop in a snazzy package that’s perfect for surfing from the couch or Lazy Boy. And it’s powered by Linux.

The Pepper Pad has an 8.4-inch LCD screen, a split keyboard, a 20 GB hard drive, and support for Bluetooth and 802.11g. It employs an Intel Xscale processor to skimp on power consumption and a multimedia chip for full screen video. The Pepper 2 runs Monta Vista Linux CEE 3.1 (based on kernel 2.4.20) and includes software for managing music, image, and video collections.
Priced at $800 dollars and weighing in at just over 2 pounds, it’s a couch potato’s dream machine. Pepper claims the device will be available later this year, but you can pre-order it now from Amazon. It’s sure to be a success with hardware hackers, especially when the price creeps lower. Keep your eyes peeled for “interesting” uses later this year.

Monkey Makes Merry Mayhem

Just because the Pets.com puppet stars in the latest installment of “The Surreal Life,” don’t think that the Web’s getting boring. Google Video lets you search television programs and Backpack lets you organize your life with a few clicks of the mouse. But nothing tops Greasemonkey (http://greasemonkey.mozdev.org), a Firefox extension that lets you create scripts to modify the look, feel, and features of a web page or an entire web site.
For instance, one Greasemonkey hack script changes the appearance of Slashdot. Another removes pesky online ads from the Dilbert site. And yet another lets you peruse the cookies associated with any web page.
Greasemonkey scripts should be easy to write if you’re already familiar with web programming or scripting. To grease your wheels, you can crib from existing scripts or read developer Mark Pilgrim’s recently published, free, and authoritative book Dive into Greasemonkey, available online at http://www.diveintogreasemonkey.org/.
Grab the Greasemonket and your web will never be the same!

… And You Are?

If you’re an avid web surfer, you probably login to tens of site per day: your blog, special interest message boards, online stores, your company intranet, host consoles, and on and on. Unfortunately, few if any sites share your username and password — your online identity. Instead, you have to remember hordes of disparate usernames and passwords and login separately into each and every site.
Identity management systems aim to eliminate such password proliferation by providing one login and a centralized authentication scheme to confirm your identity across many web sites. The problem is, nobody wants one company — say, Microsoft or SixApart — in charge of such a valuable system and all that personal information.

Enter the OpenID Project (http://www.danga.com/openid). Hosted by Danga Interactive, the makers of LiveJournal and memcached, OpenID hopes to build an independent identity management system that’s (truly) decentralized, free, and easy-to-use. The OpenID concept — that your identity is just a URL and authentication is performed by your very own machine — is intriguing and novel.
By any measure, OpenID is an ambitious project. An initial design is available, so it’s a great time to get involved and contribute. Join the mailing list, add to the Wiki, or create credentials for yourself at http://www.livejournal.com.

Wireless Over the Wire

Looking to impress your geek friends (again)? Build your own wireless Voice Over IP (VoIP) telephone system using two open source favorites, the Linksys WRT54G router and Asterisk (http://www.asterisk.org/).
Start with OpenWrt (http://www.openwrt.org/), a Linux distribution for the WRT54G; next, download and install a customized version of Asterisk (see http://www.voip-info.org/wiki-Asterisk+ Linksys+ WRT54G for instructions); tweak the configuration a little; and you should be good to go!
Sure, it’s not as fun as cracking Kryptos, but you can finish this project in a weekend.

Welcome to the Linux Theater

You’ve probably heard of MythTV and Freevo, two open source digital video recorders (DVRs). No doubt you’ve probably also heard how challenging those packages can be to configure, not to mention expensive. But times, they are a changing. Two excellent tutorials can help get your Linux theater off the ground.
Extremetech (http://www.extremetech.com) has an excellent article (http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0, 1558,1814902,00.asp or search for “KnoppMyth”) that walks you step by step through building a KnoppMyth DVR, and IBM’s developerWorks (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/) has a great piece (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/power/library/pa-madmac1/?ca= dgr-lnxw09MadMacP1) on installing Linux onto an Apple Mini, a great machine for multimedia.
After you complete your wireless VoIP phone system, get started on a penguin-powered home theater. It’s going to be a busy month.

Have you seen something cool? Send email to Matt Tanase at class="emailaddress">tanase@qaddisin.com.

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