Our neighbor’s cat, Albert, likes to drop by periodically. Since we aren’t always near our patio door, we could miss some of his visits, as he is too gentlemanly to meow loudly in this circumstance. (He is named after Al’s Formal Wear, being a “tuxedo” cat.)
Since we already have X10 home automation, I rigged up a doorbell for him by duct-taping a motion detector to a half-brick.
When he walks onto our deck, the motion detector sends a radio signal to the transceiver plugged into the wall. The transceiver converts the radio signal into the equivalent X10 over-the-house-wiring signal. A chime module “hears” it, then sounds, so we can go out and pet him or usher him in, as he wishes.
Last week, my mom said that she wanted a smartphone so she could take good pictures and be able to talk on the phone, too. Upon cross-examination by me and my brother, it was determined that she did not wish to post the photos on Facebook, just show them to her friends on a relatively large screen.
A new smartphone is going to cost a fair amount out of pocket, then you have a phone plan starting at $25/month absolute minimum. That’s a lot to pay for a glorified camera.
I had a money-saving idea for her: buy an Android 7″ tablet for about $50. It has a built-in camera and a larger screen than any smartphone on the market. Then she could get a tiny pay-as-you-go phone for about $7/month, like the one I recently ordered from Tracfone.
She reiterated that she really wanted to have just one device to take pictures and talk and text, but didn’t want to pay a smartphone price. Maybe by now you can guess the brilliant (IMO) suggestion I made:
Buy the tablet and the cheap phone. Then duct-tape the phone to the back of the tablet, and you’re good.
To read about other constructions of equal quality and taste, read this classic page, Redneck Neighbor.