My Payphone Runs Linux

For the 20th anniversary of the Movie “Hackers” [Jamie Zawinski], owner of DNA Lounge in San Francisco, threw an epic party – screening the movie, setting up skating ramps and all that jazz. One of the props he put up was an old payphone, but he didn’t have time to bring it alive. The one thing he didn’t want this phone to do was to be able to make calls. A couple of weeks later, he threw another party, this time screening “Tank Girl” instead. For this gathering he had enough time to put a Linux computer inside the old payphone. When the handset is picked up, it “dials” a number which brings up a voice mail system that announces the schedule of events and other interactive stuff. As usual, this project looked simple enough to start with, but turned out way more complicated than he anticipated. Thankfully for us, he broke down his build in to bite sized chunks to make it easy for us to follow what he did.

This build is a thing of beauty, so let’s drill down into what the project involved:

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Get Phone Calls Answered with the Moshi Moshi

Moshi Moshi

Have a significant other that isn’t the best at picking up the phone? [Aaron] was having a hard time reaching his wife, so he hacked up a solution. The Moshi Moshi detects calls from [Aaron], and plays music to get her attention.

A remote server running Asterisk picks up the call and uses a Ruby script to log the call. Every ten seconds, an Arduino Due with an Ethernet shield polls a Sinatra web server to see if a call has arrived. If a new call has come in, a music loop is played. Getting the Due to loop audio was a bit of a challenge, but the end result sounds good.

Quite a bit of tech is brought together to make the Moshi Moshi, and all the code is provided in the write up. This could be helpful to anyone looking to combine hardware with the Asterisk PBX. After the break, [Aaron] shows us how the system works.

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Gizmodo’s guide to smartphone OSes

Gizmodo’s in-depth look at smartphone OSes provides you with the pros and cons of each, allowing you to make an educated decision, if you’re in the market for a phone that also has email, a web browser, a calendar, and a decent contacts manager. If you’re attracted to the open source Linux-based Android by Google, you’ll also have to keep in mind that there aren’t that many business features. Other contenders include the Blackberry by RIM, which is great for email, but is completely closed and proprietary. The Apple iPhone is very pretty but lacks some basic features. They cover Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Palm Garnet too. It’s certainly a handy guide since most people haven’t used all six.