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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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+ - Longer video shows How Incredibly Close Falcon Stage Came to Successful Landing->

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "In the video here, the Falcon 9 first stage is shown landing with a tilt, and then a thruster keeps the rocket vertical on the barge for a few seconds before it quits, followed by Kabooom with obvious significant damage to the barge. It looks like this attempt was incredibly close to success. Given fixes, a successful first-stage recovery seems likely."
Link to Original Source

+ - Developers Disclose Schematics for 50-1000 MHz Software-Defined Transceiver->

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "Chris Testa KD2BMH and I have been working for years on a software-defined transceiver that would be FCC-legal and could communicate using essentially any mode and protocol up to 1 MHz wide on frequencies between 50 and 1000 MHz. It's been discussed here before, most recently when Chris taught gate-array programming in Python. We are about to submit the third generation of the design for PCB fabrication, and hope that this version will be salable as a "developer board" and later as a packaged walkie-talkie, mobile, and base station. This radio is unique in that it uses your smartphone for the GUI, uses apps to provide communication modes, contains an on-board FLASH-based gate-array and a ucLinux system. We intend to go for FSF "Respects Your Freedom" certification for the device. My slide show contains 20 pages of schematics and is full of ham jargon ("HT" means "handi-talkie", an old Motorola product name and the hams word for "walkie talkie") but many non-hams should be able to parse it with some help from search engines. Bruce Perens K6BP"
Link to Original Source

+ - U.S. Senator Opposes Requirement for Food Service Employees to Wash Hands

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "Republican Senator Thom Tillis said, during a widely reported appearance, that businesses should be allowed to opt-out of requirements that food-service employees wash their hands after using the rest-room.

Tillis was obviously attempting to out-do Rand Paul and Chris Christie, Republicans who have both recently voiced opposition to vaccination requirements."

+ - Learn Gate-Array Programming in Python and Software-Defined Radio 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "Chris Testa KB2BMH taught a class on gate-array programming the SmartFusion chip, a Linux system and programmable gate-array on a single chip, using MyHDL, the Python Hardware Design Language to implement a software-defined radio transceiver. Watch all 4 sessions: 1, 2, 3, 4. And get the slides and code. Chris's Whitebox hardware design implementing an FCC-legal 50-1000 MHz software-defined transceiver in Open Hardware and Open Source, will be available in a few months. Here's an Overview of Whitebox and HT of the Future. Slashdot readers funded this video and videos of the entire TAPR conference. Thanks!"

+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

+ - Open Hardware and Digital Communications conference on free video, if you help->

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "The TAPR Digital Communications Conference has been covered twice here and is a great meeting on leading-edge wireless technology, mostly done as Open Hardware and Open Source software. Free videos of the September 2014 presentations will be made available if you help via Kickstarter. For an idea of what's in them, see the Dayton Hamvention interviews covering Whitebox, our Open Hardware handheld software-defined radio transceiver, and Michael Ossman's HackRF, a programmable Open Hardware transceiver for wireless security exploration and other wireless research. Last year's TAPR DCC presentations are at the Ham Radio Now channel on Youtube."
Link to Original Source

+ - Three Videos on Codec2 and Open Hardware

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "Codec2 is the Open Source ultra-low-bandwidth speech codec capable of encoding voice in 1200 Baud. FreeDV (freedv .org) is an HF (global-range radio) implementation that uses half the bandwidth of SSB, and without the noise. Here are three speeches about where it's going:
  • David Rowe: Embedding Codec2: Open Source speech coding on a low-cost microprocessor, at Linux.conf.au 2014. YouTube, downloadable MP4.
  • Bruce Perens: FreeDV, Codec2, and HT of the Future (how we're building a software-defined walkie-talkie that's smarter than a smartphone), at the TAPR/ARRL Digital Communications Conference 2013. Blip.tv, YouTube
  • Chris Testa on the .Whitebox handheld software-defined radio design that is the RF portion of HT of the Future, which was also shown at the TAPR conference.
"

+ - FCC Considering Proposal for Encrypted Ham Radio->

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "FCC is currently processing a request for rule-making, RM-11699, that would allow the use of Amateur frequencies in the U.S. for private, digitally-encrypted messages.

Encryption is a potential disaster for ham radio because it defeats its self-policing nature. If hams can't decode messages, they can't identify if the communication even belongs on ham radio. A potentially worse problem is that encryption destroys the harmless nature of Amateur radio.There's no reason for governments to believe that encrypted communications are harmless.

See http://hams.com/encryption/ for more information."

Link to Original Source
Government

+ - Codec2 Project asks FCC to Modernize Regulations->

Submitted by
Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens writes "The Codec2 project has developed FreeDV, a program to encode digital voice on two-way radio in only 1.125 KHz of bandwidth. But FCC regulations aren't up-to-speed with the challenges of software-defined radio and Open Source. A 24 page FCC filing created by Bruce Perens proposes that FCC allow all digital modulations and published digital codes on ham radio and switch to bandwidth-based regulation."
Link to Original Source

+ - The Day I Blundered Into The Nuclear Facility-> 1

Submitted by
Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens writes "I found myself alone in a room, in front of a deep square or rectangular pool of impressively clear, still water. There was a pile of material at the bottom of the pool, and a blue glow of Cherenkov radiation in the water around it. To this day, I can't explain how an unsupervised kid could ever have gotten in there."
Link to Original Source

+ - The Ada Initiative Needs Your Help->

Submitted by
Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens writes "The Ada Initiative has a vision: a world in which women are equal and welcome participants in open source software, open data, and open culture. They want women writing free software, women editing Wikipedia, women creating the Internet and women shaping the future of global society. They need your help.

At their donation site, you can become a sustaining sponsor, for $16/month or $32/month. I participated as one of 100 seed funders a while back, so I've put my money where my mouth is.

It's really clear, if you walk around any software conference or a ham radio conference, that there just aren't very many women there. I don't consider a one-gender environment to be a socially healthy one. Some of it is just what people like to do. But there is a pretty good case that there are social pressures against women's participation in the technologies, ranging from below-consciousness subtle to egregiously offensive. That's what the Ada Initiative works upon.

What I like about the Ada Initiative is that they have worked real positive change, they're not anti-male, they don't shoot themselves in the foot and they stay on message. Thus, I appreciate their leadership.

The most visible change they've wrought is that they have convinced many technical conferences to enact anti-harassment policies. And the policies they promote are fair, where earlier proposals were so obviously wrong.

It's inexpensive and just takes a minute to get going. Go over there and give them a hand."

Link to Original Source
Hardware

+ - Open Hardware Journal->

Submitted by
Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens writes "Open Hardware Journal is a new technical journal on designs for physical or electronic objects that are shared as if they were Open Source software. It's an open journal under a Creative Commons license. This issue contains articles on Producing Lenses With 3D Printers, Teaching with Open Hardware Submarines, An Open Hardware Platform for USB Firmware Updates and General USB Development, and more."
Link to Original Source

+ - The Covenant - A New Open Source Strategy-> 1

Submitted by
Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens writes "Lexis Nexis has Open Sourced HPCC, the parallel software that they use for handling extremely large data. Databases that, for example, hold records for every consumer in the U.S. can be processed with this software and its task-specific language. As Strategic Consultant for the company while they decided to participate in Open Source, Open Source co-founder Bruce Perens designed a new Covenant between Lexis Nexis and the Open Source community that makes dual-licensing more fair to the Open Source developer."
Link to Original Source

"Pascal is Pascal is Pascal is dog meat." -- M. Devine and P. Larson, Computer Science 340

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