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A DIY Cell Phone

Posted November 13, 2013 10:19 AM by HUSH

I hate cell phones.

Though I'm young enough where one could assume I'm part of the crowd where each meal has a photo shoot, my dog has her own Facebook page, and I have a dozen apps to order Chinese food, the reality is that I do not. My phone has three purposes: phone calls, text messages, and sports scores. The occasional web surfing occurs when I'm waiting for an oil change or a dentist appointment. In a way, it's awkward that it's called a phone, because the thing it's least proficient at: being a phone. And if I could get my fantasy football stats via smoke signal? Well then that smoke would turn an acrid black because my phone would be the next item in the flames.

If anything, a phone is another burden. People expect to be able to reach you 24/7. They're exceptionally vulnerable to droplets of water and the force of gravity will shatter the screen. It's a pain to leave a voicemail, and it's an equal hassle to retrieve a voicemail. It's another piece of mail requesting money, for a service that is never quite up-to-par. Hey, don't text and drive!

I've long realized I can never get rid of my cell phone. It's an impossibility in the 21st century; it's like asking George Jetson to give up his flying car, so to speak. But a reinvigorated approach to an old mobile phone concept may turn me into a mindless consumer just yet. This phone would be tailored to suit my interests and phone needs, and might even be cheaper than current mobile phone options.

Phonebloks is the brainchild of two Dutch designers, Dave Hakkens and Gawin Dapper. While attending university, Hakkens was dismayed at the number of cell phones his fellow students were going through. If the phones weren't damaged, they were otherwise obsolete and replaced in just a year or two. What makes high-end cell phones especially popular is their ability to download all sorts of software so a user can customize their communications experience. However, the overall hardware of the phone was always the same: screen, battery, antenna, various integrated circuits, CPU, camera, RAM, etc. And this was hardware that, though functional in many instances, was destined for the scrap heap.

Phonebloks are a series of phone components which assemble very-much like Legos. Foremost, this allows an owner to update his or her phone's RAM when it becomes obsolete or full. If the screen breaks? Buy another, press-and-fit into the phone, and keep the rest of the pieces together. People will be able to trade blocks, sell them, and review them. Phones can come preassembled, but if your interests are photography and craft beers, then upgrade the camera and install the blok which has a 5.0 MP camera, as well as the blok with a fold-out mechanical bottle opener. It's a much more common-sense approach to individualizing cell phones; no more sequence iPhone covers are necessary. Phonebloks envisions a future with tables and personal computers with modular capabilities.

Most notable is that, despite attempts to purchase or invest in Phonebloks, the company is remaining independent. After a crowd-speaking platform (not crowdsourcing), Hakkens was able to secure the collaboration of Motorola. Motorola has agreed that Phonebloks will remain open-source, allowing savvy users to tailor Phonebloks to their needs without the development kit and permission of a corporation.

Of course, some technical individuals and engineers are speculative that Phonebloks is as development-ready as Motorola believes. Phones today are compact with no space wasted, but Phonebloks may require large blok sizes. This is because circuits in a phone do not communicate on a single bus, but each one is compatible with specific processor pins. This also restricts where the hardware in a phone can be placed. Alternative interconnects, such as the currently- researched optical interconnects, are a few years away from market and will be wildly expensive. Oh, and by the time Phonebloks could be a reality, the cell phone as we know it may have changed. Have you seen Google Glass? If phone and tech designs continue to trend in this direction, Phonebloks might be dead in the water.

For now, I'm stuck with my unimaginative and wasteful phone. I've had it about 15 months, so it should be dying on me any minute now. My personal Phoneblok would be: perfect 4G so I can get crisp sports highlights; a Swiss army knife blok; enhanced speakers so I can crank my music; and the phone Phoneblok, so I can finally get reception in the basement.

Resources

Motorola Teams Up with Phoneblok for Project, Policy Me

Phonebloks

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#1

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/13/2013 12:17 PM

Phones have always been intrusive.

Back in the 70's and 80's they said that the telephone is the most intrusive article that man ever came up with.

What other thing, that when it rings, it makes you drop whatever you are doing to address it (Answer it) not knowing who is on the other line. Whether your outside, eating dinner, or in the lavatory.

And the Cell Phone compounded this to where people tend to answer it no matter where they are, to a point they are creating laws on when it can be used or restricted.

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#2
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/13/2013 1:47 PM

I am the odd man out here apparently. The phone is the last concern of mine. It can be within arms reach and if I am doing something else (anything else except listening to my wife about how the aliens are coming to help) I will not answer it.

It can ring until it falls off the wall of the battery goes dead and I will not care.

It's there for my convenience and nothing else.

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#3
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/13/2013 1:49 PM

I treat my as though its my landline........ and actually pick a time of day to listen to my messages...... Because I have it on silent.

On occasion I do look whose calling,....... if I am expected an important call.

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#4
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/13/2013 2:32 PM

Caller ID is my favorite thing! If I get a call around 4:30 PM M - F I look to see if its my wife.

If so I put extra effort into not answering because I know that she is calling because she either locked her keys in her car or left the lights on after she got to work and now her battery is dead again.

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#15
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 10:38 AM

Or ran out of gas on the lawnmower.

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#5
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/13/2013 2:58 PM

"What other thing, that when it rings, it makes you drop whatever you are doing…"

Actually, I just curse at it. It usually is a robo-call anyway.

The most useful telephone invention is the Caller ID.

My cell phone almost always sits at home and usually is discharged. I only use it for specific purposes or trips.

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#17
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 11:21 AM

"phones have always been intrusive."

Yes they are. It's very rude when you are talking to someone and they get a phone call and you are no longer important. I was once at a pizza place in line to order. The phone kept ringing and the line had to wait (the phone had top priority). I noticed that the phone was plugged in on the wall next to me. As soon as the conversation ended I inplugged the phone. We got served a lot faster and had a quiet meal. When we were finished I plugged the phone back in. It rang almost immediately, and the break was over for the workers there!

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#18
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 12:22 PM

I worked at a company (Machine Shop) with 100+ PEOPLE, All the office employees and Crew leaders had Cell phones, (only land land was main phone and fax)

Most had the ear buds, screwed into their ear. I refused, because these people will stop by you cubicle and be looking at you and talking........ I would ask, "can I help you?" or "What are you talking about?" But I was thinking wtf are you talking about and they would give you a dirty look as though I already knew they were on the phone.

Not going to touch the ones standing in front of you in a line and be "multi-tasking" with their phone as they are be also being served by ______ you fill in the blank, casher, bank teller,....etc.....

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#6

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/13/2013 3:09 PM

I don't have a cell phone. I use my home phone to make calls; people leave messages on my answering machine, and I call them back if I feel like it.

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#7

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/13/2013 3:17 PM

I like this idea! No 5,000,000 useless apps. Too bad I just got a new phone. Oh well, in 2 years this should be a fairly mature product.

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#8

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/13/2013 10:45 PM

I'm obviously a rarity because I love my cell phone.

Since I became self employed my phone has become my office computer which I can carry in my pocket. My laptop gets very little use anymore.

On my home-screen are my email accounts, voice-mail, calculator, flashlight (for seeing inside machines), AutoCAD viewer, navigation, text messaging, NHL Gamecenter and guitar tuner. I can also swipe credit cards, take notes, snap pictures and videos, and even make phone calls. When I'm idle I can read Fox News and look at weather radar. Robo calls are mostly rejected and when the phone rings, all I hear is the sound of money!

All these things have become essential to my existence!

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#9

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 12:31 AM

Green, green, Yellow?, black black black, pink!

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#10

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 5:41 AM

For me cell phone came very handy when I go struck up in elevator before going for my morning walk. My neighbor came handy when I contacted him on his cell phone, he rescued me. It took only 5 minutes.

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#11

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 7:36 AM

The most use I get from my cell phone the past 9 years is its GPS app

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#12

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 8:24 AM

They can come up with all the cell phone innovations they want. My cell is for my convenience and stays in airplane mode 99% of the time as I hate the daily recharge. If someone wants to talk to me via phone they can email me and I'll let them know when (if) it's convenient.

I also have a magicjack home phone that nobody knows the number to.

Hooker

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#14
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 10:36 AM

"I also have a magicjack home phone that nobody knows the number to."

Don't worry, just wait for one of those Robo-callers to call, then simply ask them what number they dialed.

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#16
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 11:01 AM

Interestingly enough, I've never had a robo call or any sales call on my magicjack line in the two years I've had it.

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#13

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 10:32 AM

I'm not sure I like this idea. Here's why:

1 - Phones are not legos.

2 - Fragmentation is enough of a problem as it is between hardware and software as it stands currently with phones being whole pieces. Android, for example, is fragmented beyond belief. Imagine an open OS (which would probably end up being the case here) fragmented not only between thousands of phones, but thousands of thousands of pieces of phones. Getting up to date software on an android is difficult enough as it is between its own fragmentation, Verizon's hands in the pot, and usually the OEMs hands in there too. Getting new software versions to all the users out there with their exponential possibilities of combinations of blocks would be incredibly slow.

3 - The plug-and-play drivers would be a nightmare for programming and any prospective developers.

4 - These phones would be huuuuuuge. Phones today are as small as they are because everything can be crammed onto a single pcb.

5 - Clock speed. What happens when you decide you want to upgrade your 1.8 GHz CPU 'block' with a 2.0GHz block and the OEM decides "hey we changed the clock speeds lol. by the way, none of your blocks work anymore!!"

6 - Even if all of the above were somehow managed - the idea of getting away with a single upgrade at a time is impracticle. Do you honestly think you can expect to upgrade the CPU and or RAM 'blocks' and your current battery block will be good enough to handle these with the same or close enough battery life as when it was on the previous blocks? So if you need to upgrade your battery while you upgrade your CPU/RAM, what exactly are you accomplishing here?

Dumb idea hosted by a weak company, especially when it comes to smartphones, Motorola. "Hey, these guys have the same idea we've supposedly been working on for a while, 'partner' with them and they'll give us some cheap publicity as they pine for kickstarter support!"

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#19
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 5:51 PM

I love your rant, except for the Motorola crack. Everyone gives me a hard time, because I still use an old Razr phone. I've had this thing since 2008 or 9 (the last Razr, model V9X). It looks okay from 5 feet away, then you see the cracked glass, broken plastic and peeled paint. It has internet capability, but I don't know how to use it. I use the phone as a phone. I also text and sometimes I'll even use the camera. The battery lasts 2 days with normal use and can go a week if I don't use it much.

We have an iPhone 5 for the boss. She gets to play her Candy Crush, Facebook, Nextdoor and use it as a GPS - though it isn't very good. She also has pages of apps that she rarely uses, but she thinks they're cool to have. And of course, she always has to have her charging cable, since this thing eats batteries. She keeps pushing me to get one and I've held my ground for years. Hey, my Razr fits in my pocket, I can use it as a phone and I don't have to worry about charging it all the time ... and these things are cell phones, right?

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#20
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/14/2013 6:17 PM

I loved my razor,..... until my girl friend at the time ran it through the wash......

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#21
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/15/2013 12:03 PM

I wouldn't give you a hard time for using a Razr. Motorola falls short in the smartphone world, whereas in the 'feature phone' world, they made quite a durable product back in the day.

"and use it as a GPS - though it isn't very good." - What problems are you/"the boss" having? Apple maps is not as good as Google Maps. So if you haven't already, I would suggest downloading Google Maps from the App Store.

The multiple pages of apps can be taken care of by organizing them into folders.

I also have an iPhone 5 and I've found it to have the best battery life of any smartphone I've ever had. The biggest drainer of battery is usually GPS, so if you pick up a cheap car charger, you should be good. Otherwise, if the battery is not lasting at least a full day, I'd take it back to Apple and get it exchanged as it is probably a bad battery/handset.

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#22
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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/15/2013 12:21 PM

That was the time, they refine Six σ quality program......, I have heard on the assembly line that they had such a low reject rate it was basically zero. And the end result was a great product........ but they fell behind in technology

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Re: A DIY Cell Phone

11/15/2013 1:54 PM

We use the Apple GPS, which seems to be 50/50. Sometimes it takes us the right way, while other times it takes us miles out of the way (even the wrong freeway). I'd rather use the in car navi (if we're in that car) or I use my Garmin portable unit. I actually prefer the Garmin over all the others, since it has real time traffic (though not perfect, it's better than none) and the POI search is better than the in car unit. Also, I can put in a destination while driving vs not possible with the in car unit.

Her battery life is better than the old 3GS. If we use as a smart phone, it lasts a little over a half day. She takes and sends photos, uses the GPS, always on the Bluetooth, etc. She also does use the car charger, which helps, but one of our cars has a dead power port (not due to a fuse and I haven't had time to fix it). I also got her one of those back up battery units. Not sure how she's doing with it, but I have a feeling it's not going well, because she still asks the waiter if he can plug in her phone for her. Yes, she actually does this!

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#24

Re: A DIY Cell Phone

12/06/2013 12:10 PM

I have a cheap cell phone for emergencies -- mainly car. So I only use a land-line.

One thing the proliferation of phones and their mobility has done is what tcmtech mentioned about the phone serving them and not the other way around. That attitude is more prevalent than one would imagine, despite many who have their "devices" in their hands constantly.

How many times have you tried to reach someone by phone in a business and end up getting their voice-mail? And how frustrated did you get? It happens so often in my experience that I do get frustrated. I think a personal phone should be at the beck and call of the owner, but business contacts can be time critical and not reaching someone can cascade into several people waiting for that one person to give a response. Maybe I'm jaded, but I think too many people treat their business phone like their personal phone and only return calls at a specific time each day. Seems efficient, but when several people in a chain are waiting for a response from the person who just lets their voice-mail handle their calls until they're "ready" to return them, it can be a real pain in the butt and therefore frustrating.

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