Author Archives: Atif Mumtaz

Open Source Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

It is the holiday season and a time to share and exchange presents. And what better way to share some love this holiday season than by giving your loved ones an open source gift. After meticulously going through all that is to offer, we have chosen the following open source gift recommendations.

Our judges panel assured us that one can never go wrong with these gifts. They are all sure winners. So lets see. We also reviewed what our users like to read on XenStreet and therefore were more inclined towards the gifts that you like. For example, our coverage of Linux Distros and Raspberry Pi were more popular than other posts. Hence, our inclination to find something around them.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Krita – Open Source Software for Digital Painting

If you ever wanted to be a digital painter, comic illustrator, animator, or just plain curious and could not afford to buy expensive painting softwares, then Krita software application is for you. It’s a professional grade, free, open source software and available on all major platforms including Mac, Windows and Linux.

The application has been around for quite sometime and has been slowly evolving. One key feature that differentiates this software from others is the fact that it is designed by artists for artists. In recent times they also ran KickStarter campaign to raise funds for additional features for the artists.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Wekan – Open Source Alternative to Trello

Wekan is an open source collaborative project management tool similar to Trello like boards. It offers some of the Kanban functionalities and features as well.

On Wekan one can easily create boards, on which cards can be created (e.g.for assigning tasks to someone etc) and managed between a number of columns (e.g. state of work in a flow). Colored labels can be assigned for grouping and filtering. There is no limit to how many people you add which makes it really easy for collaboration.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

The Zero Terminal – Pocket Computer that works!

The real joy of tinkering with Raspberry Pi is to build something nifty and fun. To hack a really whacky and crazy idea into a working prototype. That we all love and feel passionate about. Recently, we came across this amazing hand-held Linux Terminal called, The Zero Terminal, is built by the hacker codenamed NODE. His pocket sized computer actually works!

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

State of Future Index PK-SOFI Launched in Islamabad

I got a chance to attend the launch of the Pakistan State of the Future Index (PK-SOFI), this weekend in Islamabad. The PK-SOFI Index is a 10-year future index which indicates if the future of the country, relative to other countries in the study, is getting better or worse. And the future seems bright for Pakistan. The PK-SOFI index indicates significant improvement in the future for the people of Pakistan.

The objective, as stated by its founders, “is to create and foster an ecology of foresight perspectives in Pakistan. And enable decision-makers to opt for appropriate policy choices and establish strategic narrative in support”. Quite ambitious, but definitely the right step for an emerging economy of over 200 million population like Pakistan.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

OpenAg – Open Source Food Computer

MIT Open Agriculture (OpenAg) is a wonderful execution of an open source initiative for controlled-environment agriculture platform referred to as “Food Computer”. All hardware, software and even data is open sourced so that it becomes an open standard for agriculture research.

OpenAg is the brainchild of Caleb Harper as a joint initiative of the MIT Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Intel Edison bites the dust – No more in IoT space

Has Intel finally thrown in the towel in the IoT space? Earlier this year, Intel announced that it will discontinue their IoT platforms namely, Galileo, Joule, and Edison. We wrote about Edison when it came out with the promise of really taking on the IoT space head on. However, it failed to create the momentum that was needed to take off. Alas, it never happened and Intel Edison bites the dust.

Raspberry Pi IoT devices have been imitated by others and numerous clones exist in the market. But many of these imitators do not seem to last long. Like Intel, they bite the dust when they lose momentum. We recently covered CHIP computer, which too is suffering from inability to build and ship their US$10 computer on a board to customers. Many such stories abound.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

C.H.I.P. and Pi Zero W – US$10 dollar Computers

We love the little C.H.I.P. Single-board computer. And it boasts some really powerful specs for only US$9. Yes, only US$9. While Raspberry Pi is not far behind in competition with their own Pi Zero W, but we still love the little C.H.I.P. Both CHIP and Pi Zero are available for US$10 with eerily similar specs.

These somewhat really minuscule computers are even more powerful than the original Raspberry Pi that came out five years ago.

CHIP and Pi Zero W offer an opportunity for hobbyists to build even cooler gadgets with really cheap computers as compared to high end raspberry Pis. CHIP offers some wonderful products, including PocketCHIP, which is a fully portable computer in your pocket. It comes standard with battery, screen and a working keyboard for around US$70. Perfect for hackers, gamers or hobbyist to carry something around.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Three Raspberry Pi Powered Creative Learning Kits

Raspberry Pi is currently one of the hottest devices to build your own creative IoTs, computers and learning kits. But one of the biggest selling points of these kits is the price. Cheap, open source and easy-to-learn, creative kits make it great fun with kids and family alike.

The popularity of Raspberry Pi has made it possible for many other startups to use it as the basis for their commercial products. MyCroft, is one such creative device that we reviewed earlier that builds an Alexa like AI assistant on top of a Pi.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Book Review – Fermat’s Enigma by Simon Singh

“I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain.” Pierre de Fermat (1637 A.C.)

And so began the epic quest to solve a mathematical riddle. Famously referred to as Fermat’s Last Theorem. And in Simon Singh’s book, Fermat’s Enigma, we get to glimpse this exciting journey closely.

The somewhat innocuous statement by Fermat, kept the mathematicians around the globe hacking away at a possible solution. But none was forthcoming for the next 350 years. All attempts to solve were in futile.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.