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Twitter for your plants
By Nick Burklow

While I consider myself "green," I don't have a green thumb. In fact, I think I have killed just about every plant I have ever had, including my poor cactus.

During the Christmas season my landlord left a poinsettia out for each of his residents. Nice guy, eh? Well, I decided that this time I was going to do my best to keep this one alive, and I think I found just what I need. The DIY Botanicalls Twitter kit.

 What? You don't know what Twitter is? Well, Twitter is a Web site that allows you to stay connected to friends and family by posting mini-blogs that answer the question: What are you doing? You can post your short messages as well as follow your friends' posts. Be warned, it can become very addictive. Visit www.twitter.com and check it out for yourself.

Now, you might ask yourself, what does Twitter have to do with my plant? Well, thanks to the ingenuity of the folks over at Botanicalls (yes, the name is a pun), you can now communicate with your plant via Twitter. If you have tried talking to your plants in the past and never had any luck, well, maybe it's time to let the plant do the talking. The DIY kit comes with a cool looking, leaf-shaped circuit board, soil moisture sensor, power supply, Ethernet jack and cable, and an Arduino-based microcontroller. You will have to supply a soldering iron and solder, small snips, needle-nose pliers, flat head screw driver, masking tape, and of course, the beautiful plant.

 As you may have inferred, some minor soldering needs to be done during the assembly of this kit. Don't panic! No soldering experience is needed. Plus, Bontanicalls has very detailed step-by-step instructions, including large detailed photos, on its Web site, www.botanicalls.com.

Once you have assembled the kit, you will want to follow the instructions on testing it out. If everything checks out, it's time to install your new creation into your favorite plant. Next you will need to go to www.Twitter.com and create a profile for your plant. Make sure to upload a flattering photo - the plant will know. You can now check in on your plant at http://twitter.com/yourplantsID/. You can even set Twitter to send you mobile updates on your plant's status if you so desire.

 Messages posted to Twitter are called Tweets. Some sample Tweets are:  "URGENT! Water me!" or "Current moisture: 83%." Nothing too personal, but what did you expect from old green leaf? Still, it's a good way to grow the bond between plant and human. Just as long as you don't get a Tweet saying "Feed me, Seymour, feed me!" everything should be all right.

 The DIY Botanicalls Twitter Kit can be had for $99 at www.ThinkGeek.com. For more information be sure to check out www.botanicalls.com.


Nick's pick:

Altec Lansing Expression Bass 2.0 Speakers

I have always been fascinated by sound reproduction. The speaker is one of my all-time favorite inventions. Altec Lansing does a great job making speakers that not only sound good, but look good, too. If you are into modern styling and killer sound, check out the Expression Bass 2.0 speaker set from Altec Lansing. Each speaker houses a 1.5" full-range driver, along with a down-facing 4" long throw subwoofer. There is a standard 3.5" input jack to connect your computer, mp3 player, or anything else you desire. The set is compact and gorgeous,coming in your choice of black or white. It will enhance both your desk and your music. The aural enhancement will set you back $129.95 at Best Buy. Oh, and if you are minimalist, check out Altec Lansing's other offering, the expressionist CLASSIC for $79.95.




Story published Friday, March 6, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 2 )

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