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A Closer Look at Voice-Assisted Speakers

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U.S. consumers are expected to drop a bundle this Black Friday on smart speakers and home hubs. A Nov. 15 Canalys report estimates that shipments of voice-assisted speakers grew 137 percent in Q3 2018 year-to-year and are on the way to 75 million-unit sales in 2018. At the recent Embedded Linux Conference and Open IoT Summit in Edinburgh, embedded Linux developer and Raspberry Pi HAT creator Leon Anavi of the Konsulko Group reported on the latest smart speaker trends.

As Anavi noted in his “Comparison of Voice Assistant SDKs for Embedded Linux Devices” talk, conversing with computers became a staple of science fiction over half a century ago. Voice technology is interesting “because it combines AI, big data, IoT, and application development,” said Anavi.

In Q3 2017, Amazon and Google owned the industry with 74.7 percent and 24.6 percent, respectively, said Canalys. A year later, the percentages were down to 31.9 and 29.8. China-based Alibaba and Xiaomi almost equally split another 21.8 percent share, followed by 17.4 percent for “others,” which mostly use Amazon Alexis, and increasingly, Google Assistant.

Despite the success of the mostly Linux-driven smart speaker market, Linux application developers have not jumped into voice app development in the numbers one might expect. In part, this is due to reservations about Google and Amazon privacy safeguards, as well as the proprietary nature of the hardware and cloud software.

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OSS: Wendy's, BERT, RISC OS, FUD and Sony's Open Devices Program

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  • Where's the beef? Wendy's chooses an open source WCMS sells 1.5 million burgers a day via its website and app. At that scale, when it came time to update the back-end software supporting it, choosing a WCMS wasn't as simple as running the Frosty machine.

    Earlier this year, the fast-food giant sought a simpler design but far more complex data tracking for personalization, said Michael Mancuso, the company's head of digital analytics who also heads up In this Pipeline podcast episode, he discusses the process for choosing a WCMS.

    Spoiler alert: Wendy's didn't weigh technology analyst reports that rank the market leaders. Acquia, the open source WCMS platform vendor, eventually beat out 24 other prospective vendors. (The vendor actually ranks well in such industry reports.)

  • Google Open-Sources BERT: A Natural Language Processing Training Technique

    In a recent blog post, Google announced they have open-sourced BERT, their state-of-the-art training technique for natural language processing (NLP) applications. Google has decided to do this, in part, due to a lack of public data sets that are available to developers. BERT also includes a new bidirectional technique which improves its effectiveness in NLP. To reduce the amount of time required for developers and researchers to train their NLP models, Google has made optimizations in Cloud Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) which reduces the amount of time it takes to train a model to 30 minutes vs a few hours using a single GPU.


    In addition to new techniques included in BERT, Google has made enhancements to Cloud TPUs which allow developers and researchers to quickly experiment, debug and tweak models. These investments allowed Google to exceed the capabilities of existing pre-training models.

  • ARM’s original operating system goes open source

    In today’s increasingly digital world, learning to code has become an integral part of STEM curriculums. Schools are using Raspberry Pi and other ARM-based hardware as a low-cost means of introducing students to coding.

    Following the recent news that RISC OS, the original ARM operating system, is going open source, TechRadar Pro sat down with the Director of RISC OS Developments, Richard Brown to learn more about how the operating system is being used in schools and other hardware projects.

  • Will Cloud Computing Kill Open Source Development? [Ed: Stupid headline, stupid article. There is no such thing as cloud, it's just servers and most of these run FOSS, so they're not competition to or incompatible with FOSS. The article is actually about a company going proprietary.]

    Redis changed the licensing of some of their enterprise modules to be licensed under the Apache 2.0+ Common Clause. These modules cannot be used as stand-alone commercial SAAS. This was specifically aimed at cloud providers.

    The surrounding controversy has raised an issue that has been lurking in the open source community for a while. The best case for open source has been with software infrastructure, rather than software application projects. If cloud computing companies become the infrastructure providers for software, their market control might allow them to take over open-source projects, and sell those software services at a lower price point than companies who market open source services.

    If this scenario comes to pass, is there any future for open source companies?

  • Open Source at 20: What's Next? [Ed: FOSS is 35 years old, not 20. Stop setting to clock to when Free software came under attack.]

    As the open source movement reaches the two-decade milestone, thoughts turn to the movement's achievements and future goals.

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2018. To mark the occasion, cloud infrastructure provider DigitalOcean surveyed over 4,300 developers on the movement's health, as well as on how enterprises and employees are approaching and using open source technologies.


    Open source is continuing to move toward increased corporate stewardship, advised Chris Kelly, director of engineering marketing and engagement at Salesforce. "We’ll continue to see more production-critical projects from companies being released as open source as a way to build industry consensus, accelerate hiring and [create] a gateway to their products," he predicted.

  • Sony has added the Xperia XZ2 and XZ3 to its Open Devices program
  • Sony's Open Devices program now supports the Xperia XZ2 and XZ3

The best holiday gifts for open source enthusiasts

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Even the most hard-core open source users must spend their hard-earned dukets on computers, internet connectivity, and (on the occasion) software. So you don't have to worry about being relegated to only giving them gifts released under the GPL (wrapping said gifts in pages torn from The Cathedral And The Bazaar).

But what gifts should you give? Here are a few ideas that cover a wide spectrum of taste and price range for open source enthusiasts.

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10 ways to give thanks to open source and free software maintainers

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Every day, I use high-quality software that is developed and maintained by people who do not ask for payment, who respect my freedoms, and who are generous with their time and energy.

In this season of giving thanks, I encourage those of you who also use and appreciate the work of open source and free software maintainers to express your gratitude. Here are ten ways to do that...

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OSS Funding: Buying Companies, MicroBlocks Joins Conservancy, and Conservancy Asking for Money

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  • Software Composition Analysis Startups: Investors Are Looking For These Three Qualities

    It is clear that enterprises and investors are looking for ways to be heavily integrated into the open-source ecosystem because that is where the developers are. It is up to you to show that your company can appeal to the developers who use open source as the core of their work, gaining significant adoption that can turn into sizable market share. Investors want to know that they are getting into business with a company who has the pulse of the open-source community, providing services that will make working with open-source components easier.

  • MicroBlocks Joins Conservancy

    We're proud to announce that we're bringing MicroBlocks into the Conservancy as our newest member project. MicroBlocks provides a quick way for new programmers to jump right in using "blocks" to make toys or tools. People have been proclaiming that IoT is the future for almost a decade, so we're very pleased to be able to support a human-friendly project that makes it really easy to get started building embedded stuff. Curious? Check out a few of the neat things people have already built with MicroBlocks.

    MicroBlocks is the next in a long line of open projects for beginners or "casual programmers" lead by John Maloney, one of the creators of Squeak (also a Conservancy project!) and a longtime Scratch contributor. MicroBlocks is a new programming language that runs right inside microcontroller boards such as the micro:bit, the NodeMCU and many Arduino boards. The versatility and interactivity of MicroBlocks helps users build their own custom tools for everything from wearables to model rockets or custom measuring devices and funky synthesizers.

  • $90K Year-end Match to Fund an Ambitious Year for Conservancy

How machine learning is supercharging content management

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Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are some of the hottest buzzwords around, especially in the open source community. It seems that every month brings a new machine learning system, each focused on a different application.

The good news is that since academics developed many of these frameworks, they are often open source by default. Even Google's own neural network software library, TensorFlow, is (at least for now) open source.

The bad news is that many of these frameworks are designed for high-end applications and require a lot of experience to deploy effectively. If you want to spend years building image recognition software from scratch, for instance, and want to stick to open source software, there are plenty of options available. Good luck with that PhD.

For the rest of us, taking advantage of recent advances in machine learning and AI requires that they come in an easy-to-use package and have real-world applications.

Luckily, there is at least one area where open source machine learning and AI systems are making a real impact: content management systems (CMSes), the software that sits behind websites and manages the content on them.

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OSS Leftovers

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  • 5 Best Chrome Extensions For Reading News In 2019

    The internet is the major source of news for many of us, and we spend a lot of time reading articles to stay updated. There are many news sources available that offer various categories of news. However, it is a time-consuming task to open each of those websites.

  • 6 Essential Tips for Safe Online Shopping

    The turkey sandwiches are in the fridge, and you didn’t argue with your uncle. It’s time to knock out that gift list, and if you’re like millions of Americans, you’re probably shopping online.

  • Elementary Bugs

    Mozilla is a well-known open-source organization, and thus draws a lot of interested contributors. But Mozilla is huge, and even the more limited scope of Firefox development is a wilderness to a newcomer. We have developed various tools to address this, one of which was an Outreachy project by Fienny Angelina called Codetribute.

    The site aggregates bugs that experienced developers have identified as good for new contributors (“good first bugs”, although often they are features or tasks) across Bugzilla and Github. It’s useful both for self-motivated contributors and for those looking for starting point for a deeper engagement with Mozilla (an internship or even a full-time job).

    However, it’s been tricky to help developers identify good-first-bugs.

  • Open Source Cloudify 4.5 Extends its Cloud Native Orchestration to the Network - from Core to Edge [Ed: Another example of proprietary and "Community" edition for openwashing purposes]
  • Why some open-source companies are considering a more closed approach

    “I would put it in a very blunt way: for many years we were suckers, and let them take what we developed and make tons of money on this.”

    Redis Labs CEO Ofer Bengal doesn’t mince words. His company, known for its open-source in-memory database, has been around for eight years, an eternity in the fast-changing world of modern enterprise software.

    Cloud computing was very much underway in 2011, but it was still a tool for early adopters or startups that couldn’t afford to bet millions on servers to incubate a promising but unproven idea. Most established companies were still building their own tech infrastructure the old-fashioned way, but they were increasingly realizing that open-source software would allow them to build that infrastructure with open-source components in ways that were much more flexible and cheaper than proprietary packages from traditional enterprise software companies.

  • Rob Port: Audit: North Dakota’s use of open source textbooks has saved North Dakota students a lot of money

    For generations now the cost of higher education has been out of control. This isn’t exactly news to you, I’m sure, but it may surprise you to know that the cost of textbooks has grown even faster than the rapid increase in tuition costs.

  • Envoy and gRPC-Web: a fresh new alternative to REST

    Personally, I’d been intrigued by gRPC-Web since I first read about it in a blog post on the Improbable engineering blog. I’ve always loved gRPC’s performance, scalability, and IDL-driven approach to service interaction and have longed for a way to eliminate REST from the service path if possible. I’m excited that gRPC-Web is ready for prime time because I think it opens up some extremely promising horizons in web development.

  • 2018 LLVM Developers' Meeting Videos Now Online

    For those wishing to learn more about the LLVM compiler stack and open-source compiler toolchains in general, the videos from October's LLVM Developers' Meeting 2018 in San Jose are now online.

  • OpenBSD in Stereo with Linux VFIO

    Now, after some extensive reverse engineering and debugging with the help of VFIO on Linux, I finally have audio playing out of both speakers on OpenBSD.

  • RcppMsgPack 0.2.3

    Another maintenance release of RcppMsgPack got onto CRAN today. Two new helper functions were added and not unlike the previous 0.2.2 release in, some additional changes are internal and should allow compilation on all CRAN systems.

    MessagePack itself is an efficient binary serialization format. It lets you exchange data among multiple languages like JSON. But it is faster and smaller. Small integers are encoded into a single byte, and typical short strings require only one extra byte in addition to the strings themselves. RcppMsgPack brings both the C++ headers of MessagePack as well as clever code (in both R and C++) Travers wrote to access MsgPack-encoded objects directly from R.

Server: FOSS at the Back End of 'Cloud'

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  • Google, Amazon and Facebook Embrace Open Source Software As Future

    Open source coding lets users collaborate on software code, giving them the ability to store and edit code independently. It is designed to make projects built with its software publicly accessible, and has been the key to success for companies like Airbnb and Uber, which have made their fortunes by offering services, rather than the software itself.

    “The previous generation of developers grew up in a world where there was a battle between closed and open source,” said GitHub's Ben Balter, a researcher with the web-based hosting service for source code and open source software projects. “Today, that is no longer true.”

  • AWS Developing New Services Amid Open-Source Tensions

    Companies that manage open-source software have a message for cloud computing providers like Amazon: pay up, share your code or stop using our technology for free.

  • AWS develops new services amid open-source pushback

    Last month, MongoDB changed its licensing to put the Community Server software under a SSPL license, which lets cloud providers offer MongoDB as a service but only if they open source all of the related code or create a commercial agreement.

  • Urvika Gola: Attending ReactConf’18 in Henderson, Nevada

    Day 2 of React Conf, started with talking about how performance is integral to UX. Code Splitting, a concept were instead of sending the whole code in the initial payload, we send what’s needed to render the first screen and later, lazily loading the rest based on subsequent navigation. A most common problem while implementing code splitting can be ‘what do you display to the user if the view hasn’t finished loading?’ Maybe a spinner, loader, placeholder…?? But lot of these degrades the UX. Then came Concurrent React into the picture, Concurrent React can work on multiple tasks at a time and switch between them according to priority. Concurrent React can partially render a tree without committing the result and does not block the main thread.

  • OpenStack Rebranding Infrastructure Team as OpenDev

    OpenStack is one of the largest open source efforts in the world, with a large infrastructure that is used to build, develop and test the cloud platform. The infrastructure effort is now being rebranded as OpenDev as OpenStack continues to evolve.

    In a session, at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin, Germany last week, Clark Boylan team lead for the OpenStack Infrastructure team outlined how things are set to change as OpenStack moves beyond its core project to embrace a broader group of Open Infrastructure efforts.

    "We basically act as beta testers for the infrastructure and make sure things work," Boylan. "If it works for us, it'll probably work for you too."

Open Source 2018: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

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Recently, IBM announced that it would be acquiring Red Hat for $34 billion, a more-than-60-percent premium over Red Hat’s market cap, and a nearly 12x multiple on revenues. In many ways, this was a clear sign that 2018 was the year commercial open source has arrived, if there was ever previously a question about it before.

Indeed, the Red Hat transaction is just the latest in a long line of multi-billion dollar outcomes this year. To date, more than $50 billion dollars have been exchanged in open source IPOs and mergers and acquisitions (M&A); and all of the M&A deals are considered “mega deals" -- those valued over $5 billion.

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7 command-line tools for writers

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For most people (especially non-techies), the act of writing means tapping out words using LibreOffice Writer or another GUI word processing application. But there are many other options available to help anyone communicate their message in writing, especially for the growing number of writers embracing plaintext.

There's also room in a GUI writer's world for command line tools that can help them write, check their writing, and more—regardless of whether they're banging out an article, blog post, or story; writing a README; or prepping technical documentation.

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More in Tux Machines

GNU Compiler and Bison 3.2.2 Release

  • Intel Cascade Lake Support Posted For The GCC Compiler
    Intel developers have submitted their GCC compiler enablement patch for the Cascade Lake 14nm CPUs due out starting in early 2019. The GNU Compiler Collection patch adds support for the -march=cascadelake target for generating optimized code for these upcoming server and enthusiast class processors.
  • Bison 3.2.2 released [stable]
    Bison 3.2 brought massive improvements to the deterministic C++ skeleton, When variants are enabled and the compiler supports C++11 or better, move-only types can now be used for semantic values. C++98 support is not deprecated. Please see the NEWS below for more details. Many thanks to Frank Heckenbach for paving the way for this release with his implementation of a skeleton in C++17, and to Nelson H. F. Beebe for testing exhaustively portability issues.

Industrial dev board builds on Raspberry Pi CM3

Kontron announced an industrial-focused “Passepartout” development kit built around a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 Light and equipped with a dual Ethernet, HDMI, CAN, 1-Wire, RPi 40-pin connectors. Kontron announced its first Raspberry Pi based product. The Passepartout — which is French for “goes everywhere” and the name of Phileas Fogg’s valet in Jules Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days” — builds upon the Linux-driven Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 Light (CM3L). The Light version lacks the 4GB of eMMC flash of the standard CM3 module but still supports eMMC or microSD storage. The CM3L is otherwise identical, with features including a quad-core, 1.2GHz Broadcom BCM2837 and 1GB of LPDDR2 RAM. Read more

Patches For The Better Spectre STIBP Approach Revised - Version 7 Under Review

Version 7 of the task property based options to enable Spectre V2 userspace-userspace protection patches, a.k.a. the work offering improved / less regressing approach for STIBP, is now available for testing and code review. Tim Chen of Intel sent out the seventh revision to these patches on Tuesday night. Besides the Spectre V2 app-to-app protection modes, these patches include the work for disabling STIBP (Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors) when enhanced IBRS (Indirect Branch Restricted Speculation) is supported/used, and allowing for STIBP to be enabled manually and just by default for non-dumpable tasks. Read more

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