I loved Nexus, Ramez Naam's 2012 debut novel about biohackers who produce a nano-based party drug that installs a networked computer inside your brain, and quickly turns into a war-on-drugs bioethics thriller about the free/open transhumanists and mirthless, ruthless drug enforcement agents.
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Tristan sez, "Open Tech Forever is an open hardware cooperative starting up in Colorado. We're building a micro-factory to produce products, run workshops, and produce comprehensive documentation on 40 acres of permaculture land 10 minutes North of Denver.
This video shows the start of our transformation from run-down barn to open source micro-factory.
To keep updated on our progress, please follow @OpenTechForever.."
, the version Firefox done with blink . Farewell, friend. will missed.
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Mailpile is an Iceland-based free/open source email service that's privacy oriented, integrating easy-to-use encryption and scalable searching. The idea is to produce something that'll run well as a cloud-based service or on your own desktop. They want to ship their first milestone in January 2014, and are looking to raise $100K on Indi-egogo to pay for the developer hours to see the project through. With the Mozilla foundation abandoning support for my beloved (but creaky) Thunderbird, I'm very interested in seeing what they come up with, and I've put my money where my mouth is, with a $128 donation. I'm especially impressed by their determination to integrate easy-to-use mail crypto -- the holy grail of email for decades now.
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The Free Software Foundation is fundraising for Replicant, its fully free and open version of the Android operating system, in which all the restrictively licensed elements have been replaced with functionally equivalent components made from free software. I've just donated -- I love the idea of fully free OSes; they are frequently the best of breed, and even when they lag, they represent huge competitive pressure on proprietary and semi-proprietary vendors to be more free and open.
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Bill Porter modded an open source hardware design for an LED tie and in one day created the LED Tetris Tie, grabbing pieces of free/open code and designs from around the Web to make his vision a reality. His documentation of the project is an inspiring look at the power and freedom of open. Shown above, v.2, which incorporates gameplay AI.
The tie is made out of 80 WS2811 based RGB LED pixels and is driven by a DigiSpark microcontroller. I pulled in this library written in assembly to drive the display and modified this tetris engine heavily to suit my needs. With limited RAM I had to strip out unneeded features and optimize the code that runs the game similar to Tetris to make it work, I also converted it to support color values as it was originally monochrome only. The code is a definite WIP but posted on here on Github as I play with it in the future. Game moves are random and I plan to attempt some puzzle solving algorithms soon. I had all parts on hand and total project cost comes in around $50.
It’s powered by 2 18650 Li-Ion battery cells in a battery box I used for my Wedding Suit and had lying around. They are installed in a 3D printed battery box with switch.
LED Tetris Tie « The Mind of Bill Porter
Canonical, the company that leads and maintains Ubuntu (the free operating system I use for everything), is looking to raise $32M on Ind-yGoGo in order to build a phone called the Ubuntu Edge, which will be "a phone that’s designed from the ground up to be a PC as well." It's a beautiful looking device, and I've got confidence that Ubuntu can do unique and important things with mobile phone operating systems (it will dual-boot Ubuntu and Android). The phone is meant to be powerful enough to serve as your desktop PC -- just plug it into a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Crafted from cool, textured amorphous metal, the Edge has a distinctive, precise look but its rakishly chamfered edges are shaped to fit naturally in the palm -- our design prototype already has a wonderfully solid feel. It’s the right size, too. Edge gestures are the next big thing in mobile, and our testing has found that a 4.5in screen is ideal for comfortable control of all four edges with one hand.
We also believe the race for ever higher resolution has become a distraction. Beyond 300ppi you’re adding overhead rather than improving display clarity. We think colour, brightness and dynamic range are now the edge of invention so we’ll choose a display for its balance of resolution, dynamic range and colour accuracy.
We’ll protect that gorgeous display with something vastly tougher than glass: pure sapphire crystal, a material so hard only diamond could scratch it. For a phone to run a full desktop OS, it must have the raw power of a PC. We’ll choose the fastest available multi-core processor, at least 4GB of RAM and a massive 128GB of storage. The battery will use silicon-anode technology, so we can squeeze more energy into the same dimensions.
The rewards are pretty steeply pitched: $20 gets you a good feeling and $600 gets you a phone, with nothing inbetween. But $600 sounds like a deal for a phone that doubles as a laptop. As with all crowdfunded projects, you need to be aware that they may raise a lot of money and produce no hardware, though Canonical has a good reputation for shipping on time.
Yesterday, Microsoft announced a $900 million writedown triggered by the failure of their Surface tablets. According to David Gilbert at the International Business Times, this means there are about six million unsold tablets
in inventory, shortly to flood the market at deep discounts. What should we do with these? Jailbreak 'em, install a free/open operating system, and use them as control systems for projects too complex for Raspberry Pi or Arduino? (via /.
Anil Dash's "10 Rules of Internet" veers from the funny ("Given enough time, any object which can generate musical notes will be used to play the Super Mario Brothers theme on YouTube") to the serious ("When a company or industry is facing changes to its business due to technology, it will argue against the need for change based on the moral importance of its work, rather than trying to understand the social underpinnings") and is full of smart. My favorites:
Judging by their response, the meanest thing you can do to people on the Internet is to give them really good software for free.
Any new form of electronic communication will first be dismissed as trivial and worthless until it produces a profound result, after which it will be described as obvious and boring.
People will move mountains to earn a gold star by their name on the Internet.
10 Rules of Internet
Bozardeux, a recent French graduate and Instructables user, has undertaken a project to make an open, 3D printed
DSLR camera. All the parts and designs are licensed CC Attibution-ShareAlike.
3D Printed Camera : OpenReflex
The OpenReflex is an Open-Source analog camera with a mirror Viewfinder and an awesome finger activated mechanic shutter (running ~ 1/60°s). What's more, it's compatible with any photographic lens with custom mount ring.
All the pieces easily printable on any recent RepRap-like ABS 3D-printer without using support material ! Everything should print in less than 15h and anyone should be able to assemble it within 1h.
All parts are separate ( Film receiver, Shutter and Viewfinder ) to simplify builds and modifications.
The source files are available under the CreativeCommon By-Sa license, fell free to modify them if you want a new feature, and don't forget to share your improvements on the web ;)
LibraryBox is a library-oriented version of the PirateBox project -- a little, self-contained wireless router with on-board storage that you fill up with freely usable library materials and bring with you so that wherever you go, you can share with the people you meet. Jason Griffey, the librarian who created it, is Kickstarting a version 2.0 that is much easier to set up and run. A $150 contribution gets you a fully assembled unit. Jason was kind enough to give me a box this weekend with all my books on it, to bring with me to talks and such.
The Internet Hall of Fame inducted its 2013 cohort today
, including Aaron Swartz, Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, John Perry Barlow, Karen Banks, Richard Stallman, Kanchana Kanchanasut, Jimmy Wales -- 32 in all
. Congratulations to all those honored, and to Aaron Swartz's family and loved ones.
Levskaya's Eschersketch is a GitHub-hosted web-toy that produces Escher style tessellated drawings that are very good fun to make and elaborate upon.
Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin, two celebrated art profs and dead media specialists, have launched a fantastically successful kickstarter to recreate the Camera Lucida, a gadget much favored by the Old Masters. It uses an optical trick to superimpose the scene in front of you on a sheet of paper that you can trace in order to produce highly realistic drawings. They're producing a limited one-time run of them (a $35 pledge gets you one) (assuming, as with all Kickstarters, that this actually gets made -- caveat emptor!), and then the designs will be released as open source hardware for anyone to make.
The NeoLucida is designed to fit in a purse or bag, and the creators want to create a gallery of art made with it -- each one comes with a postage-paid card for you to send in one of your drawings
NeoLucida - A Portable Camera Lucida for the 21st Century
(via Beyond the Beyond)
DroneShield is an indieGOGO project from a DC aerospace engineer that aims to build a tiny, net-connected drone-detector/identifier. Based on a Raspberry Pi gumstick computer, it uses a mic to detect the audio signature of nearby drones, and then communicates about its findings over the Internet. The project promises free/open hardware and software specs on its main site. Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar spoke to Chris Kyriakakis, a USC electrical engineering prof, who suggests the project is feasible, but believes it will need an array of mics for accurate identification. But John Franklin, who's running the effort, says the device will produce useful -- if imperfect -- output even with one mic.
The fully assembled drone detector costs at least $69 as a pre-order (as with all crowdfunded project, it's important to remember that you may never get your device). The project goal is to get them down to $20. For my part, I wonder how this would perform against active countermeasures: it's one thing to detect drones that aren't making any effort to remain hidden or fool detectors about which drone they are, but what about a drone that uses some technology (from playing a recording of a different drone to full-on modifications of its engines and blades) to sound different?
In any event, I expect that this is an intermediate step on the way to this thing disappearing into our phones and becoming an app that would make use of its open database of drone acoustic signatures. I can easily imagine a Drone Foursquare made by volunteers who upload drone "sightings" to realtime maps as they move around the world.
Meet Drone Shield, an ambitious idea for a $70 drone detection system