Fry Up: 5 tech things to do this weekend

Call, design, sue, drive, watch

There is something special about today; it is Friday. And, without meaning to sound too office-hour centric, this means that coming up are two delicious days of no work.

But how to fill those unstructured hours ... Fry Up has five weekend suggestions:

1. Call everyone in your local phone directory and say 'Hi' – it’s still free.

Yes, it appears that sacred cow 'free local calling' (that is the fixed line monthly phone rental for local calling that is available to all New Zealand residents regardless of where they live for the same standard charge) has not been slaughtered.

The last-minute Supplementary Order Paper (SOP 247) added to the latest Telecommunications Amendment Bill will scrap the Kiwishare.

But free local calling is safe because it's part of the Telecommunications Service Obligation – who knew!

Start dialling people, or maybe don’t ... there’s another law about phone harassment which you should probably be aware of.

End of free calling?

2. Lie on the sofa and design a prototype digital system

That’s what Mike Field did. A UNIX/Linux engineer by day - a digital hardware designer in his spare time.

“My current after-hours passion is digital hardware design, specifically with FPGAs (Field-programmable Gate Array),” he tells Fry Up.

“For a minimal outlay I can now design any prototyping digital system. Not just a little micro-controller or Arduino, but custom-build hardware doing something significant – processor design, DSP, data capture."

One of his hobby projects has a greater performance than a low-end PC - half a million logic gates performing a billion calculations per second.

So good it made it onto Hack-a-Day.

Here's the screenshot from his FPGA Mandelbrot fractal engine:

And the whole thing invented by Mike while he was lying on the sofa watching television.

3. Get with the in-crowd and contemplate a lawsuit - it is very hip in tech right now.

HP sues Oracle over dropped Itanium support

Apple, Nokia settle patent dispute with licensing agreement

US Supreme Court rules against Microsoft in i4i patent case

Enable Networks wins trademark hearing

XML patent saga ends with Microsoft withdrawing application

4. Drive around town downloading videos from the internet and posting photos onto your Facebook page from your smart phone.

It will cost a fortune but at least you’ll be in a position to answer that pressing question: Are the best mobile networks for bulk download and upload of data also the best for browsing?

Best mobile broadband performers in Wellington named

5. Wanna watch a show but can’t be bothering leaving the house?

No need to leave the couch to experience Broadway. Pay an online visit to You Tube and start with this introduction to the Tony Awards.

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