The $10 Solar Powered Wikipedia Phone eReader MP3 player GPS Unit

How useful is an old cellphone? How about one which is solar powered?

The reality is that solar powered cellphones are pretty darn useless. I have a bunch of different types of solar panels, and the best of the portable ones would still need your phone plugged in for hours a day, in direct sunlight, outside (no UV proof glass in the way) in order to get a full charge. 

A solar panel on the back of your cellphone? Well, how much time does your cellphone spend outside, on it's face, on sunny days? My guess would be none, until it drops out your pocket on the way to the beach (quick tip - get rid of those hipster short shorts). 

That is unless it's not your cellphone. Just "a" cell phone. Specifically the Samsung Replenish - the only cellphone which comes with an optional solar-charger back. Namely one I bought for $4.55 (including shipping!) on eBay and then added a new in box Samsung battery cover. And an old used 8gb microSD card I had lying around. 

Total Cost: $11.45 - but I bet you could get it down if you bought a used solar cover. 


So what is it used for? Well, my plan for this is to use it entirely away from an internet connection. The reason for this is the same as the solar power - I plan on using this mostly on my boat or hiking in areas where while I may have a cell connection, I don't have grid power. 

The phone itself? A pretty nice keyboard with a relatively small and crappy screen - 2.8in and 320x240 pixels. An old 600mHz processor and a pretty small battery round it out. Solar charging works well for me - about 5-20% boost per hour in airplane mode depending on light conditions (and this is outside in directly sunlight).

So what can you use it for? A lot - mostly redundant with your main cellphone - but without caring if the battery goes flat in the middle of nowhere:

Step 1: Wikipedia
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.bitmagic.wiki.offline&hl=en
This app works perfectly for me. I have the free version which uses about 4gb of my 8gb card, and gives the top 2 million articles - so I don't think you'll run out any time soon...

Step 2: Music
With about 4gigs to play with I loaded up quite a few of my favorites. The cellphone speaker is no better or worse than most, and perfectly fine for the campfire or hanging out on the boat. 

Step 3: Books
eBooks take up about as much space as Obama's foreign policy victories. I loaded up 30-40 of my favorites. I'll probably never read them on this screen when I could use my kindle instead, but again - they take up no space... so why not. 

Step 4: GPS
No internet? You still have a GPS chip and everything that entails. For my boat I use Polaris navigation - where I can see Lat/Lon, speed and heading:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.discipleskies.android.polarisnavigation&hl=en
This works pretty well and is a great backup to a primary system. There are lots of similar apps available which give your GPS info with minimal battery draw. 

Step 5: Delete Crap
This phone will be off-the-internet so delete everything related to it being a phone. All Google apps, and really pretty much everything except the above apps. 

Step 6: All set!


For Profit Arresting? Right now - it's standard practice

Should cops make money by arresting you? While you might think you stumbled into some kind of anarcho-capitalist nightmare, you'd be wrong. This is currently standard practice in the US and severely impacts how police make arrests - namely that they will for example arrest drug runners coming out of the city with cash, rather than going into the city with drugs... great.

Confiscating 'Criminals’' Property Is a Cop Racket

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Cops are more likely to pull over drug suspects on their way out of cities than on their way in.DEA/HANDOUT/REUTERS

Until last week, police in all 50 states had the power to take your property—cash, cars, houses, or anything else—based purely on their assertion that theproperty was “guilty” of a crime.
This means that police and prosecutors can confiscate your stuff, sell it and pocket the money without even charging you with a crime, as long as they say that the property was connected in some way to illicit activity. The burden is then on the owner to hire lawyers to prove, not that they are innocent, which would be horrific enough, but that their property is.
This shakedown scheme is called civil forfeiture, and it’s how you get cases with titles like United States v. $124,700 and 1958 Plymouth Sedan v. Pennsylvania. It’s also how police departments line their pockets: In many cities and states, cash and property seized under civil forfeiture go directly back to the departments themselves, incentivizing more and more seizures.
But on Friday, New Mexico became the first state to abolish this reprehensible, unconstitutional practice. The legislature voted unanimously to replace civil forfeiture with criminal forfeiture, requiring the government to first prove beyond a reasonable doubt, to a jury of their peers, that people are actually guilty of a crime before taking their property.
Forfeiture laws started from a reasonable-sounding premise, that criminals should not be able to keep proceeds of their illegal activity, and that by “taking the profit out of crime,” cops could both discourage criminals as well as help to better equip law enforcement to catch them. The good guys get stronger as the bad guys get weaker, or so the theory went.
The problem was that by trying to take the profit out of crime, civil forfeiture laws put it in policing. Because of forfeiture, cops are more likely to pull overdrug suspects on their way out of cities than on their way in: mules bring drugs in, but they carry cash out. Cops seize the cash, buy more cruisers, pull over more drivers, and seize more cash—even if they can’t prove cash had anything to do with drugs.
Citizens who want to fight it face big costs and enormous obstacles in a confusing and byzantine legal process where the slightest misstep means they lose their homes, money, or vehicles for good. Police and prosecutors often seize property on the thinnest pretext and then bully owners into settling with them for a fraction of its value—money that then goes to pay the salaries of the prosecutors who took it.
This vicious logic is how we got from the reasonable-sounding premise to the city attorney for Las Cruces, New Mexico, gleefully telling a room full of cops, “Think about it, this is a gold mine. A gold mine. You could seize a house, not a vehicle.… Just think what you could do as the legal department. We could be czars. We could own the city.”
Not anymore. At least not in one state.
New Mexico is small, but this move is significant because it shows the breakdown of a decades-old national political consensus between law enforcement bureaucracies and “law and order” politicians, a Bootlegger-and-Baptist coalition that helped create and sustain the civil forfeiture regime.
Combined with former Attorney General Eric Holder’s modest reform of a federal program that allowed police to do an end-run around state laws limiting forfeiture, there is hope that the moral cover for this deeply corrosive practice is being stripped away, and the public will finally see it for what it is: a racket.
Daniel Bier is the editor of the Anything Peaceful blog at the Foundation for Economic Education, which is where this first appeared.