Android app scans barcodes, downloads torrents

AndroidAndMe is running a bounty program for Android applications. Users can request a specific application and pledge money to be awarded to the developer who delivers the functional app. [Alec Holmes] just fulfilled the first request by creating Torrent Droid. You can use the app to scan media barcodes and then download the related torrent. It uses the phone’s camera to capture the product’s UPC barcode (similar to Compare Everywhere‘s price lookup) and then searches major torrent sites like The Pirate Bay to find a copy that can be downloaded. After getting the .torrent file, the app can submit it to uTorrent‘s web interface for remote downloading. The app will be released later this month and you can see a screenshot tour of it on Alec’s blog. It’s doubtful that an application like this would ever clear Apple’s App Store approval process.

[via TorrentFreak]

Distributed computing in JavaScript


We’ve heard about the idea of using browsers as distributed computing nodes for a couple years now. It’s only recently, with the race towards faster JavaScript engines in browsers like Chrome that this idea seems useful. [Antimatter15] did a proof of concept JavaScript implementation for reversing hashes. Plura Processing uses a Java applet to do distributed processing. Today, [Ilya Grigorik] posted an example using MapReduce in JavaScript. Google’s MapReduce is designed to support large dataset processing across computing clusters. It’s well suited for situations where computing nodes could go offline randomly (i.e. a browser navigates away from your site). He included a JavaScript snippet and a job server in Ruby. It will be interesting to see if someone comes up with a good use for this; you still need to convince people to keep your page open in the browser though. We’re just saying: try to act surprised when you realize Hack a Day is inexplicably making your processor spike…

[via Slashdot]

WiFi and Bluetooth tethering on Android


Many G1/ADP1 owners have been using the app Tetherbot to get internet access on their laptop via USB to the phone’s data connection. The app relied on the Android Debug Bridge to forward ports. It worked, but people wanted a solution better than a SOCKS proxy. The community figured out a way to create a properly NAT’d connection using iptables and then [moussam] rolled them up into easy to use applications. There’s one for setting up a PAN device on Bluetooth and another for adhoc WiFi networking. It requires you to have root on your phone, but hopefully you’ve achieved that and are already running the latest community firmware.

[photo: tnkgrl]

Forknife, Android G1 controlled robot


When we first saw [Jeffrey Nelson]’s G1 based robot we immediately wondered what the transport for the controls was. The G1‘s hardware supports USB On-The-Go, but it’s not implemented in Android yet. It turns out he’s actually sending commands by using DTMF tones through the headphone adapter. The audio jack is connected to a DTMF decoder that sends signals to the bot’s Arduino. He wrote client/server code in Java to issue commands to the robot. You can find that code plus a simple schematic on his site. A video of the bot is embedded below.

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Debian on the G1 once again


[ghostwalker] dropped in on our previous Debian Android post to let us know that he had streamlined the install process. The first time around, it quickly became difficult to complete the process because firmware updates had taken away root access. Hackers have since figured out how to downgrade from RC30 and install BusyBox. All you need to do to put Debian on your phone is download the package from [ghostwalker] and then run the installer script. This isn’t technically a port since Debian already has ARM EABI support. What would you run on your phone if you had access to the entire Debian package tree? A video of Debian starting up is embedded below.

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Multitouch patched into Android


[Luke Hutchison] has come up with a rather clever hack to get multitouch support on the G1. He wrote a patch against the Synaptics touchscreen driver. When two fingers are placed, the driver reports the x/y of the midpoint and a radius for the size field. If only one finger is used, the size is reported as zero. The nice thing about this approach is that it’s backwards compatible; the extra data will be ignored by current apps. Unfortunately, Google’s Android team says that if multitouch is ever added, it would identify individual fingers and definitely not using this method.

[via ABN]

[photo: tnkgrl]

Hackit: What did you get?


It’s the season of gift giving. Did you get anything interesting/hackable? What will you work on next?

We gave ourselves an Android Dev Phone 1 (ADP1). We hadn’t really considered getting a G1 until the ADP1 was announced… It’s actually a lot of fun to use as our primary phone. Our favorite app so far is connectbot, the SSH client. The interface is really smart, way better than all of the iPhone clients.

What did you get?