Presenting – Kite, Open Hardware Android Smartphone!


I have been away for a long while. Looking back, I can see that my last post corresponds to the last elections. I had developed a writer's block... which seems to be now wearing off - writing stuff on HACKADAY.IO has woken up the writer in me again!

Here I am announcing Kite, World's first & only Open Hardware Android Smartphone! Kite is a kit of parts with which you can put together your own smartphone. The case/enclosure is 3D printed, giving you a lot of creative control & possibilities.

Unlike a regular smartphone, Kite gives you a lot of choices: you can add electronics, change batteries, modify the casing and even the use your own antennas!

It is great for startups, hobbyists, folks who want to imagine the future, creative chaps, students. Kite celebrates freedom !

Kite is my quest of the last three years. I am raising funds to get it to everyone through Kickstarter! Watch this video now:

Now the ask: $1 (~70 rs) for thanks, $5 (~270 rs) for name, $25 (~1650) for learning and $274+shipping for enlightenment. Back my campaign on Kickstarter now: "Kite: Make your own Smartphone"

I seek your help to make this a reality. Do back this project. You can also help by sharing it with your friends in social media!

Filed under: DoItYourself 1 Comment

Polling Day Voter List Search Service!

The whole of Karnataka (actually a little more than half) voted on the 17th. So did I.

Chetana (my wife) and me have always voted in different polling booths. This time, these were in different schools. The voter turn-out was expected to be higher this time. So we were keen to cast our votes as early as possible.

I dropped off Chetana at her assigned polling booth. Looked like a lot of people waiting there. So I immediately rushed to the school where I was supposed to vote. There were a lot of people 100 meters away from the polling booth. Surprise -- very few queued up outside the polling booth itself ! A middle aged lady & her daughter were struggling to figure out where they were supposed to vote. With my mobile, and their voter ids, I quickly figured out that they were supposed to vote in the next polling booth.

Walking back to my car, I noticed that the number of people waiting to lookup their names in the voters list had increased. Political parties typically put up benches 100 meters away from polling booth. Party workers are stationed here with voter lists. By searching the voter lists, volunteers figure out which booth they need to go to vote. These serve as a last ditch campaign effort, in the name of service. Apparently, this service is also used to track who voted in a lot of areas, many a time resulting in bogus voting.

Searching the list is a cumbersome manual process. One improvement this time was the presence of laptop toting folks with an internet connection. These guys would use the election commission's website to search for the details. The website provided search option with an "EPIC number", as well as by name. The EPIC number is printed on the voter id card. Searching by name sucks; I haven't seen it yield any result till now. If one were lucky, the search would finish in a few seconds. More often than not, the website just wouldn't work ! The website must have been overloaded. The bottlenecks for the search turned out to be the internet connection, as well as the election comission's website. The number of people waiting to search the list kept growing. Chetana and me helped a few people with our mobiles. But this was clearly not enough.


Blog update deferred

Hi from Khajuraho! We reached here yesterday evening.

I am writing this to let you, my dear readers, know that I am having trouble updating this blog.  The reason is not a lack of bandwidth, but a lack of time. The way I write my blog is as follows : I first write the days story in my diary, then I type it out into the WordPress app. Then I publish online.  As you can see, this is a time consuming activity. Even more if you add in time to select photos, upload them, etc.

Now, the problem is that I am unable to set aside this much time everyday. I had thought this was possible, but I find the hard way that it is not. I have just about found enough time to write everyday experiences in my diary - and that too, just.  I have tried for the last two days, hoping that updates are possible. But to no avail.

Due to these reasons, I have to defer updates to the blog till I return. After that, I plan to publish all stories, one day at a time. Thanks for reading and hope you will check back soon after the new year celebrations !

Filed under: Travel, Updates 5 Comments

We are on our way

Just a quick update. We started off from Jhansi yesterday morning. We visited the fort at the Jhansi, and then rode to Orchha. Orchha is home to a historic fort and palaces, and the massive Chaturbhuj mandir. The buildings exhibit interesting architecture , combining the dome with Hindu architectural elements.

Right now, we are staying overnight at a town called "Mau Ranipur". We are on our way to Khajuraho. I am writing the full story in my notebook. Will push it online when I get time and internet connectivity, and yes photos too !

Filed under: Travel, Updates 1 Comment

Off to Madhya Pradesh

Hello again ! I am off on another journey. KP(remember the tour of North-East?) and me will be touring parts of Madhya Pradesh starting TOMORROW. Reason for the : capitals, can't contain my excitement.

We will be on tour from 16th to 30th - 14 days. I am writing this sitting inside the Sampark Kranti express; we are on our way to Jhansi. Our cycles are in the luggage compartment. Starting from Jhansi, we will pedal our way to Orccha, and then to Khajuraho. Post Khajuraho, our plans are somewhat fluid. We will most likely take a bus to Indore from there. The second leg of the journey will take us to Mandy, Maheshwar, Omkareshwar, Pachmarhi, and Bhimbetka. Our return train leaves Bhopal on the 30th. We expect to ride somewhere in the range of a thousand kilometers during the tour.

No tents this time. We are carrying sleeping bags, though. So expect to stay overnight in lodges, and the odd home, and anywhere else.

So, what's different in this trip ?


Rajasthan Tour Cancelled

I had hoped it wouldn't come to this - but well, that's life. For the first time ever (i.e. in about 10 years), I have no choice but to cancel a cycling tour. The tour of Rajasthan has to wait; there are more important things to tackle. Need to say a big thank you for all the wishes from the readers of this blog. Hopefully, I'll carry them over for my next trip (when that happens!)

I had scheduled this trip to align carefully with several things : work at office, preparations for my sister's wedding, property purchase (and loan processing), and pleasant weather in Rajasthan. Clearly I had taken on too many things. The saying in Kannada goes, "ಮನೆ ಕಟ್ಟಿ ನೋಡು, ಮಾಡುವೆ ಮಾಡಿ ನೋಡು" (meaning: try constructing a house & arranging a marriage). It was no doubt coined well before the days of contractors & builders of all hues. But yet, they pose significant challenges. My simplistic mind had failed to appreciate the complexities of taking on both of them together, and then doing a juggling act with complexities of leading a software project and the rising heat of Rajasthan (as summer starts). As it turns out, the weather of Rajasthan was the deciding factor.

I am content to cancel this tour rather than be baked in the desert heat. I find that this decision has freed up my mind. I was trying to hard to meet all requirements. My mind was a mess. No longer.

The wanderer in me is not satisfied with this decision, of course. I haven't been to Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab & Haryana, Himachal, UP & Uttarakhand. All these are looking fair game now. Who knows where I'll end up after May. In any case, better late than never...

Filed under: Travel, Updates 10 Comments

Tour postponed by two weeks

Obviously, the stars weren't right when I titled my last post "A fortnight in Rajasthan". The tour was in trouble the moment I booked the flight tickets. Work at office requires me to travel to Taiwan for a week. To be on the safer side, I am postponing my trip by two weeks. I will now be in Rajasthan from Feb 29 to March 15.

I had earlier planned to ride from Jaipur to Jaisalmer, and then take a train back to Jaipur. Due to the change in dates, I now have to account for changes in weather as well. I am told that it would be best to start from Jaisalmer now - apparently Jaisalmer can get pretty hot by mid March. So, I am not going to fly to Jaipur, and then catch a train to Jaisalmer. After that, I ride back to Jaipur.

Have I gained anything due to this schedule change ? I sneaked in a couple of extra days. Also important, I can now attend my friend Santosh Kamath's wedding and put on the much needed extra calories to burn in the desert !

Filed under: Travel, Updates 4 Comments

Upcoming Tour : A Fortnight in Rajasthan

Unlike my other trips, I am posting well in advance this time. This is a good opportunity to show what goes on in the mind of a 'tour'ist!

Rajasthan needs no introduction as a state. Magnificent forts abound the land of the Rajputs. So do culture and craft. And then the great desert. A riot of colour, should I say ?

This trip will start and end in Jaipur. Jaipur was chosen for the convenient direct flight from Bangalore.  My tour runs Feb 15 to Feb 28, inclusive of to and fro travel. I get about 12 days of cycling. This will be a relatively relaxed trip - averaging about 80 kms a day. Rajasthan is a large state. A trip around Rajasthan can exceed 1600 kms easily. To account for my time constraints, I will take a train from Jaisalmer to Jaipur.

This will be a down-to-earth kind of trip. I am doing everything to look ordinary. I will be wearing regular shirts(no jerseys), track pants(torn at the bottom for effect!), chappals(no shoes) and a cap(no helmet) to protect me from the sun. My fancy sunglasses will perhaps be the only thing sticking out. No laptop, no GPS. Ordinary looking water bottles. My smartphone will let me blog. The new Sony NEX5-N will capture the moments of the trip. This is a camera capable of shooting dSLR quality pics, sans the looks to match. The overall aim is for the locals to think 'here comes the college student'. I have been mistaken for an army man; that won't happen this time.With my belly, chances of anyone mistaking me to be from the armed forces are rather slim.

Why all the effort to portray an ordinary look? I will be trying to stay mostly in villages, and with some care in temples. Less gadgets mean less distraction for the local folk. Less worries for me, and more time spent talking about everyday topics!

Avoiding highways will be priority, and to certain extent avoiding lodges too. How would I charge my batteries if I avoid lodges ? Solar charging via a 5 watt panel. The solar panel should be a limited crowd puller; it also gives me a readymade 'cause' for the trip.

Thats it for now. Updates as I find things to write about. If have any questions, just ask!


Spam ?

It has been over an year since my last post. Meanwhile, some folks have mailed me complaining about spam emails originating from my website.

This website runs off WordPress. I had fallen back on updates. I have updated the software now & checked some parts of my website. Hopefully, this should fix the situation! Thanks to folks for bringing this to my attention.

Meanwhile, I have been suffering from some kind of a writing block. Hopefully, will get out of this and start writing soon...

Filed under: Updates 2 Comments

e-Triking across India

Picture these together: a trike (tri-cycle) and a long journey. A journey from the southern most tip of India to the Himalayas in the north. To this mix, add a 52 year old Indian farmer with limited means. This is Govind Bhat's journey; he also blogs about his efforts.

Govind on his Trike

Govind on his trike

Govind is no stranger to adventure. He has travelled good parts of the world on a bicycle in 1985-86. A hand glider accident in 1992 left him with a damaged spine. To get around this, he has equipped his trike with a power assist. Rechargeable batteries will add to his manual efforts. With 140 units of "borrowed" electricity, he hopes to reach the Kashmir border. Govind emphasizes on the importance of renewable energy sources, most importantly solar energy. He believes powered trikes can be viable mode of transport.

Please read an intro about him, his journey, motivations and equipment at this link.

This will be a fairly unique journey by many standards. Govind has been taking out his trike and putting it to test as much as the rains allow him. I was extremely surprised to know that he does not even know Hindi ! Govind intends to start off in a few days time. I would like to wish him all the very best for this journey !

To get a view of how things look from his trike, watch this video on youtube. Govind is quite tech-savvy, and is planning to tweet (twitter feed), record videos and blog about his experiences.

Govind has been planning this journey with a passion that I can only admire. I know this has stretched him financially as well. For an endeavour like this, I am sure he can use all the help he can get ! If you would like to support his efforts (and I hope you would), then please free to contact him via email at bhat59 AT gmail.com.

Filed under: Info 3 Comments