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Sci/Tech

UNIX: Building The Most Important OS in the World

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OS
Sci/Tech

If you’ve ever used a smartphone, lost track of time browsing through website after website, or played a video game on a Next-Gen console, you have used the Unix operating system or one of its derivatives.

Linux is the spiritual successor to the original Unix system and Mac OSX is built off of Unix. Unix-based or derived systems are used in gigantic server farms, processing nearly all of the world’s Internet traffic. The Internet of Things and other embedded systems use Unix or its successors and Unix-based Linux has even been used in the International Space Station to run essential equipment.

All of this is possible because Kenneth Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and their colleagues couldn’t watch a beloved project fall victim to corporate cost-cutting.

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9 Best Free Linux Fractal Tools

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Software
Sci/Tech

A fractal is a geometric shape or quantity which displays self-similarity and non-integer dimension. The property of self-similarity applies where a self-similar object is exactly or approximately similar to a part of itself. If you zoom in on any part of a fractal, you find the same amount of detail as before. It does not simplify.

There are many mathematical structures that are fractals including the Koch snowflake, Peano curve, Sierpinski triangle, Lorenz attractor, and the Mandelbrot set. Fractals also describe many real-world objects, such as crystals, mountain ranges, clouds, river networks, blood vessels, turbulence, and coastlines, that do not correspond to simple geometric shapes.

Fractals are rooted in chaos theory, and because of their nature they are perfect for organic looking artwork and landscapes.

Fractal-generating software is any computer program that generates images of fractals. Linux has a great selection of fractal software to choose from.

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Boosting Open Science Hardware in an academic context: opportunities and challenges

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Hardware
OSS
Sci/Tech

Experimental science is typically dependent on hardware: equipment, sensors and machines. Open Science Hardware means sharing designs for this equipment that anyone can reuse, replicate, build upon or sell so long as they attribute the developers on whose shoulders they stand. Hardware can also be expanded to encompass other non-digital input to research such as chemicals, cell lines and materials and a growing number of open science initiatives are actively sharing these with few or no restrictions on use.

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Also: The Entire Hardlight VR project is now Open Source

Awards for UNIX and for Security Protocols (Mozilla)

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OS
Moz/FF
OSS
Security
Sci/Tech
  • The National Inventors Hall of Fame Announces Its 2019 Inductees

    Posthumously honored inventors include Lee; UNIX co-creator Dennis Ritchie; thiazide diuretic pioneers John Baer, Karl H. Beyer Jr., Frederick Novello and James Sprague; hand-held electric drill inventors Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker of the popular Black & Decker power tool company; Andrew Higgins, the mastermind behind the Higgins Boats used by American troops landing at Normandy on D-Day; and Joseph Muhler and William Nebergall, creators of the cavity-preventing stannous fluoride toothpaste better known today by the brand name Crest.

  • National Inventors Hall of Fame honors creators of Unix, power drills and more
  • Eric Rescorla Wins the Levchin Prize at the 2019 Real-World Crypto Conference

    The Levchin Prize awards two entrepreneurs every year for significant contributions to solving global, real-world cryptography issues that make the internet safer at scale. This year, we’re proud to announce that our very own Firefox CTO, Eric Rescorla, was awarded one of these prizes for his involvement in spearheading the latest version of Transport Layer Security (TLS). TLS 1.3 incorporates significant improvements in both security and speed, was completed in August and already secures 10% of sites.

    Eric has contributed extensively to many of the core security protocols used in the Internet, including TLS, DTLS, WebRTC, ACME, and the in development IETF QUIC protocol.  Most recently, he was editor of TLS 1.3, which already secures 10% of websites despite having been finished for less than six months. He also co-founded Let’s Encrypt, a free and automated certificate authority that now issues more than a million certificates a day, in order to remove barriers to online encryption and helped HTTPS grow from around 30% of the web to around 75%. Previously, he served on the California Secretary of State’s Top To Bottom Review where he was part of a team that found severe vulnerabilities in multiple electronic voting devices.

  • Great, you've moved your website or app to HTTPS. How do you test it? Here's a tool to make local TLS certs painless

    A Google cyrptoboffin is close to releasing a tool that will hopefully make all of us more secure online.

    Now that most web traffic travels over HTTPS and browser features increasingly expect security, developers really should be creating and testing apps in an HTTPS environment.

    Doing so requires installing a TLS/SSL certificate locally, but the process isn't as easy as it might be. With a bit of effort, devs can generate their own certificate, self-signed or signed by the local root, and install it. Various online tutorials offers ways to do so. There are also projects like minica that aim to ease the pain.

    But it could be easier still, along the lines of Let's Encrypt, a tool that lets websites handle HTTPS traffic through automated certificate issuance and installation.

Taking machine learning to the birds

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OSS
Sci/Tech

The Cacophony Project's broad vision is to bring back New Zealand's native birds using the latest technology to monitor bird populations and humanely eliminate the introduced predators that are endangering them.

The project started in our founder's backyard to measure the effectiveness of his efforts to protect the birds on his property. From this simple beginning, the project has quickly grown into a system that includes two edge devices, a cloud server, and automatic identification of animals using machine learning. The project has been completely open source from the beginning and sees regular contributions from a wide variety of volunteers.

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Cantor 18.12 – KDE way of doing mathematics

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KDE
Sci/Tech

Curious to read about Cantor on LabPlot’s homepage? This is easy to explain. Cantor has got quite a lot of development in the last couple of months, also with great contribution from LabPlot developers. There is a close collaboration between these two KDE projects which we hope to intensify even further in future and to make better use of the common code and human resources in order to provide a strong computational and visualization platform for scientific purposes.

In this blog post we want to highlight the more striking new features in Cantor 18.12 that was recently released. Since Cantor can run embedded in LabPlot (see the LabPlot 2.3 release announcement for couple of examples), all the features described below are of course also available for users using Cantor from within LabPlot.

We invested quite a lot into improving the overall usability of Cantor’s worksheet. First improvement we want to mention is the handling of long running and waiting commands. In the past, when executing multiple commands at the same time, there was no feedback for the user which command is being calculated right now and which commands are waiting. In the current release we highlight the currently calculated command entry with a small animation of the prompt. The pending (meaning, queued but not being calculated yet) command entries are also highlighted so the user has the full picture of the processing status.

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How I Quit Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon

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Hardware
OSS
Sci/Tech

It was just before closing time at a Verizon store in Bushwick, New York last May when I burst through the door, sweaty and exasperated. I had just sprinted—okay I walked, but briskly—from another Verizon outlet a few blocks away in the hopes I’d make it before they closed shop for the night. I was looking for a SIM card that would fit a refurbished 2012 Samsung Galaxy S3 that I had recently purchased on eBay, but the previous three Verizon stores I visited didn’t have any chips that would fit such an old model.

When I explained my predicament to the salesperson, he laughed in my face.

“You want to switch from you current phone to an... S3?” he asked incredulously.

I explained my situation. I was about to embark on a month without intentionally using any services or products produced by the so-called “Big Five” tech companies: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. At that point I had found adequate, open source replacements for most of the services offered by these companies, but ditching the Android OS, which is developed by Google, was proving difficult.

Most of the tech I use on a day-to-day basis is pretty utilitarian. At the time I was using a cheap ASUS laptop at work and a homebrew PC at my apartment. My phone was a Verizon-specific version of the Samsung Galaxy J3, a 2016 model that cost a little over $100 new. They weren't fancy, but they’ve reliably met most of my needs for years.

For the past week and a half I had spent most of my evenings trying to port an independent mobile OS called Sailfish onto my phone without any luck. As it turned out, Verizon had locked the bootloader on my phone model, which is so obscure that no one in the vibrant Android hacking community had dedicated much time to figuring out a workaround. If I wanted to use Sailfish, I was going to have to get a different phone.

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Innovating Nanotechnology with Open Science and AI

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Sci/Tech

Read how Open Source techniques are driving innovation in Nanotechnology by looking into several aspects through Open Science and AI.
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What Does "Ethical" AI Mean for Open Source?

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OSS
Sci/Tech

It would be an understatement to say that artificial intelligence (AI) is much in the news these days. It's widely viewed as likely to usher in the next big step-change in computing, but a recent interesting development in the field has particular implications for open source. It concerns the rise of "ethical" AI.

In October 2016, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs and, in the UK, the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee, all released reports on how to prepare for the future of AI, with ethical issues being an important component of those reports. At the beginning of last year, the Asilomar AI Principles were published, followed by the Montreal Declaration for a Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence, announced in November 2017.

Abstract discussions of what ethical AI might or should mean became very real in March 2018. It was revealed then that Google had won a share of the contract for the Pentagon's Project Maven, which uses artificial intelligence to interpret huge quantities of video images collected by aerial drones in order to improve the targeting of subsequent drone strikes. When this became known, it caused a firestorm at Google. Thousands of people there signed an internal petition addressed to the company's CEO, Sundar Pichai, asking him to cancel the project. Hundreds of researchers and academics sent an open letter supporting them, and some Google employees resigned in protest.

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Programming: ProjectQ and Rust

Filed under
Development
Moz/FF
Sci/Tech
  • Open-Source Software Framework Makes Quantum Computing More Accessible

    To help further this field, Häner and a team at ETH Zurich created ProjectQ, a free, open-source software framework for quantum computing that allows users to implement their quantum programs in the high-level programming language Python using a powerful and intuitive syntax. ProjectQ can then translate these programs to any type of back-end, either a simulator run on a classical computer or an actual quantum chip.

  • This Week in Rust 245

    Always wanted to contribute to open-source projects but didn't know where to start? Every week we highlight some tasks from the Rust community for you to pick and get started!

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PCLinuxOS 2019.09 updated installation media release

The KDE versions both full and the minimalistic Darkstar contain kernel 5.2.15 plus a fully updated KDE Plasma desktop. Plasma desktop 5.16.5, Plasma Applications 19.08.1 and Plasma Frameworks 5.62. The Mate Desktop was refreshed with kernel 5.2.15 and the applications and libraries were updated to their most recent stable versions from the previous release. The Xfce Desktop was tweaked and now uses the Whisker menu by default. A login sound was added and the applications were updated along with some minor bug fixes. In addition all ISOs now include the Nvidia 430.50 driver and will be used instead of the nouveau driver if your video card supports it. Hardware detection scripts were updated to provide better support for video cards that can use the Nvidia 430.50 driver. Pulseaudio has been updated to the stable 13.0 release. The Simple Update Notifier was reworked and now works for keeping you notified of system updates and the ability to update from the applet using apt-get. Small improvements were made to the Live media boot scripts. Vbox test media is also included on the installation media. This program allows you to quickly test an ISO on the fly or usbstick with various options without having to create a permanent VM in Virtualbox. Requires a valid Virtualbox installation. Thanks to the people involved for their contributions to this program. Read more

Android Leftovers

OSGeoLive 13.0 Released, which Brings Some New Applications

Astrid Emde has announced the new release of OSGeoLive 13.0 on Sep 12, 2019. This release has improved the Python experience a lot by adding an additional Python modules like Fiona, rasterio, cartopy, pandas, geopandas, mappyfile. Also, added the following new applications MapCache, GeoExt, t-rex, actinia. Many packages have been updated to the latest version. [...] It is featuring a large collection of open-source geospatial software and free world maps. It provides bootable ISO-Images and Virtual Machines which allow users to try out fully-operational versions of popular Free Geospatial Software without the need to install a thing. Read more