Post Tagged with: "open source"

Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

NPR reports:

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They’re releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new “open source pledge” that’s intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely. [...]

These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you’re not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year.

Even university breeders operate under these rules. When Goldwin creates a new variety of onions, carrots or table beets, a technology-transfer arm of the university licenses it to seed companies.

Full Story: NPR: Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

As the article notes, seed companies also often sell hybrid seeds, which don’t produce identical offspring — think of it as a biological “DRM” system for seeds. It’s sad that “open source” isn’t the norm in agriculture.

April 17, 2014 Comments are Disabled
The First Totally Open Source Laptop Is Almost Real

The First Totally Open Source Laptop Is Almost Real

Novena open source laptop

I wrote about Novena, an DIY open source laptop project for Wired:

“The motherboard, battery board, and display adapter board are designs from whole cloth,” Huang says of the machine. “Every trace on those PCBs was placed by my hand.” They also designed the case, which includes several components that you can print from a 3-D printer. And instead of proprietary firmware, they used the open source Das U-Boot.

It’s not the fastest or the most portable of laptops. Equipped with 4GB of RAM and an ARM processor you’re more likely to find in a cell phone, it offers the power of the average netbook, but it’s the size and weight of a budget laptop from the middle aughts. “It’s no feather,” Huang says.

But what the Novena lacks in modernity it makes up for in transparency. “If you see something suspicious in the hardware, you have the opportunity to look it up in the reference schematics and see if it really is a cause for concern,” Huang explains. In other words: you can check for NSA backdoors.

Full Story: Wired: The First Totally Open Source Laptop Is Almost Real

The specs are here.

Previously: My Smart Phone Freedom Trilogy

January 17, 2014 1 comment
Open Source, 3D Printable Brain Scanner, Brought to You by DARPA

Open Source, 3D Printable Brain Scanner, Brought to You by DARPA

Open BCI, an Open Source, 3D Printable Brain Scanner

My colleague Bob McMillan reports:

Conor Russomanno and Joel Murphy have a dream: They want to create an open-source brain scanner that you can print out at home, strap onto your head, and hook straight into your brainwaves.

This past week, they printed their first headset prototype on a 3-D printer, and WIRED has the first photos.

Bootstrapped with a little funding help from DARPA — the research arm of the Department of Defense — the device is known as OpenBCI . It includes sensors and a mini-computer that plugs into sensors on a black skull-grabbing piece of plastic called the “Spider Claw 3000,” which you print out on a 3-D printer. Put it all together, and it operates as a low-cost electroencephalography (EEG) brainwave scanner that connects to your PC.

Full Story: Wired: These Guys Are Creating a Brain Scanner You Can Print Out at Home

January 15, 2014 0 comments
Cyberpunk Builds Bitcoin Wallet That Even Apple Can’t Ban

Cyberpunk Builds Bitcoin Wallet That Even Apple Can’t Ban

kyle_drake-660x440

From my latest “Out in the Open” column for Wired:

Kyle Drake calls himself a professional cyberpunk. He spends his days on the net, writing computer code and trying to stick it to the man. His latest target: the global banking industry.

But he’s not aiming to take down the financial sector with some sort of illegal hack attack. He wants to beat them at their own game with a little help from the world’s most popular digital currency, Bitcoin — a burgeoning system that runs on thousands of servers across the globe without answering to any central authority. “I think Bitcoin is the most important thing I’m going to work on in my life,” Drake says.

His current project is Coinpunk, an open source Bitcoin wallet that he believes will help free the world from both big banks and powerful payment processors like MasterCard and Visa.

Full Story: Wired: Out in the Open: Cyberpunk Builds Bitcoin Wallet That Even Apple Can’t Ban

And in other Bitcoin news Bitcoins in Space: Hacker to Fire Digital Currency Into Orbit. The plan is to use a nanosat to run a Bitcoin server in space:

The notion may seen excessive, but for Garzik — a self-confessed space fan whose dad helped build missiles at the White Sands Missile Range — it has always been an obvious next step for the digital currency. “When Bitcoin came around, it seemed natural to me that you’d want some sort of redundancy out in space,” he says, explaining that this could not only help the peer-to-peer network fend off attack, but give it a lifeline if machines are unavailable on earth.

Garzik, like many Bitcoiners, is an idealist. “If you’re out in a field in Africa or if you’re a researcher in Antarctica, you should be able to have just as much access to Bitcoin as someone in the better-wired portion of the world,” he says.

Photo by Aaron Parecki / CC

December 16, 2013 0 comments
My Smart Phone Freedom Trilogy

My Smart Phone Freedom Trilogy

neo900-660x4011

I did a few articles for Wired that sort of form a trilogy. The last, which was published today, actually works best as the starting point:

The Place Where Android Thrives Outside of Google’s Control

The Quest to Build a Truly Free Version of Android

The German Plot to Give You Complete Control of Your Phone

See also: Meet the Hackers Who Want to Jailbreak the Internet

December 2, 2013 0 comments
Technoccult Interview: Open Source Buddhism with Al Jigong Billings

Technoccult Interview: Open Source Buddhism with Al Jigong Billings

Al Billings

Many Technoccult readers have probably seen Hermetic.com. Maybe you even got your first taste of Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare or Hakim Bey there. What you might not know is that the site’s founder, Al Jigong Billings has given up the site to focus on what he calls “Open Source Buddhism.” I recently talked with Al about what Open Source Buddhism is, how it differs from other contemporary the Pragmatic Dharma movement and the secular mindfulness movement, and how he gravitated from Neopaganism to Buddhism.

July 25, 2012 3 comments
Samsung Releases Source Code for Eye Controlled Mouse Pointer

Samsung Releases Source Code for Eye Controlled Mouse Pointer

The Verge on the eyeWriter inspired EyeCan from Samsung:

While controlling a mouse pointer with your eye isn’t brand-new technology, Samsung’s taking steps to get it in the hands of as many people as possible by open-sourcing its eyeCan technology. EyeCan was developed by five members of Samsung’s Creativity Lab, and was built with the purpose of helping those who are paralyzed from a disease like ALS control a computer through eye tracking. They’ve been testing it and posting videos of it in use on YouTube over the last few months (not surprisingly, one of those videos showed off a game of Angry Birds) and now the team is ready to release the software and documentation behind it for anyone to develop their own solution.

The Verge: Samsung releases source code for eyeCan, an eye-controlled mouse for the disabled

See also:

A Brain–Computer Interface Allows Paralyzed Patients to Play Music with Brainpower Alone

February 23, 2012 0 comments
3 Perspectives on #OccupyWallStreet

3 Perspectives on #OccupyWallStreet

Local 40 Iron Worker at #OccupyWallStreet

(Photo via @Newyorkist)

John Robb on #OccupyWallStreet as an open source protest:

*A promise. A simple goal/idea that nearly everyone can get behind. Adbusters did pretty good with “occupy wall street.” Why? Nearly everyone hates the pervasive corruption of banks and Wall Street. It’s an easy target.

*A plausible promise. Prove that the promise can work. They did. They actually occupied Wall Street and set up camp. They then got the message out.

*A big tent and an open invitation. It doesn’t matter what your reason for protesting is as long as you hate/dislike Wall Street. The big tent is already in place (notice the diversity of the signage). Saw something similar from the Tea Party before it was mainstreamed/diminished.

Douglas Rushkoff:

Anyone who says he has no idea what these folks are protesting is not being truthful. Whether we agree with them or not, we all know what they are upset about, and we all know that there are investment bankers working on Wall Street getting richer while things for most of the rest of us are getting tougher. What upsets banking’s defenders and politicians alike is the refusal of this movement to state its terms or set its goals in the traditional language of campaigns.

That’s because, unlike a political campaign designed to get some person in office and then close up shop (as in the election of Obama), this is not a movement with a traditional narrative arc. As the product of the decentralized networked-era culture, it is less about victory than sustainability. It is not about one-pointedness, but inclusion and groping toward consensus. It is not like a book; it is like the Internet.

Justin Boland:

There’s a lot being written right now about what the #Occupy movement must do. What it should be, where it all needs to go. Yet somehow, everything that looked like a mistake at first has unfurled into an advantage. All any single #Occupy cell needs to do is hold their ground for another night, and plan to make tomorrow bigger and better. It’s easy to write a sneering caricature of a Tea Party rally, but it’s interesting to note how many reporters wrote mocking hit pieces on the Wall Street crowd that all wound up being completely different. It’s hard to get a bead on where the consensus is — but the occupation itself is the whole message. Nobody on Wall Street is confused about what it means, at least.

October 5, 2011 2 comments
More on Decentralizing the Web: My Interview with Unhosted’s Michiel de Jong

More on Decentralizing the Web: My Interview with Unhosted’s Michiel de Jong

Unhosted

I’ve followed up my interview at ReadWriteWeb with CouchOne‘s J Chris Anderson with an interview with Unhosted‘s Michiel de Jong.

de Jong takes Richard Stallman’s critiques of cloud computing seriously. But, he says, “People want to use websites instead of desktop apps. Why do they want that? I don’t think it’s up to us developers to tell users what to want. We should try to understand what they want, and give it to them.”

de Jong acknowledges the many advantages to running applications in the cloud: you can access your applications and data from any computer without installing software or transferring files. You can access your files from multiple devices without syncing. And web applications have better cross-platform support.

So how can you give users web applications while keeping them in control of their data?

The basic idea is this: an Unhosted app lives on a web server and contains only source code. That source code is executed on a user’s computer and encrypts and stores data on another server. That data never passes through the app server. Therefore, the app provider doesn’t have a monopoly on your data. And since that data is encrypted, it can’t be exploited by the data host either (or at least, it probably can’t).

The data can be hosted anywhere. “It could be in your house, it could be at your ISP or it could be at your university or workplace,” says de Jong.

“We had some hurdles to implement this, one being that the app cannot remember where your data lives, because the app only consists of source code,” he says. “Also your computer can’t remember it for you, because presumably you’re logging on to a computer you never used before.”

The Unhosted team solved the problem by putting the data location into usernames. Unhosted usernames look a lot like e-mail addresses, for example: willy@server.org. Willy is the username, server.org is location where the data is stored.

ReadWriteWeb: Unhosted: Breaking the SaaS Monopoly

December 27, 2010 1 comment
Faster Times blurs the line between citizen and professional journalism

Faster Times blurs the line between citizen and professional journalism

The Faster Times

The Faster Times, an online newspaper launched in July 2009 (tagline: “A new type of newspaper for a new type of world”), has introduced a new kind of investigative model for that new world. The initiative allows readers to vote on one of three topics they want to see taken up by a staff reporter, and then help shape the investigation itself. [...]

After the readers select the topic, Apple aims for an open-source investigation unfettered by newsroom walls that, while it will not necessarily compel contributors to post their findings publicly if they’d rather e-mail the tips in privately, the fact that the investigation itself is ongoing will obviously not be top-secret. By making their reporting visible along the way, they hope to attract more reader-contributors.

Online Journalism Review: You Pick It, You Report It

April 27, 2010 0 comments