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Submission + - Tesla Fatal Autopilot Accident Shows Superiority of Google's Approach (

Bruce Perens writes: Tesla has announced the first known fatality while using autopilot. Neither Autopilot nor the driver saw a white trailer side against a brightly-lit sky as a trailer turned into the path of the Tesla on a divided highway. Due to the trailer's wheel height, the Tesla hit the trailer windshield-first.

The interesting thing about this is that it would probably not have happened with a Google car, because Google makes use of radar that can see above the base of the windshield (probably critical in this case), and can identify pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles even through foliage and beyond the usual eyepoints of a human driver.

My impression is that Elon Musk has rejected a google-style radar as impractical mainly based upon it's appearance (it's a spinning cylinder atop the roof of the car). It might be time for Musk and Tesla to re-assess the practical sensor kit required for autopilot.

Tesla makes the point that this is only an investigation, and that the known death toll of Autopilot so far is lower than that for conventional automobiles.

Submission + - FCC's WiFi Rule-Making: Making it Fair for both Open Source and Proprietary (

Bruce Perens writes: FCC wants to be sure that WiFi drivers don't cause interference with airport weather radars, but their proposal, to lock down WiFi firmware, won't fly. Many commenters in the proceeding have made it clear that Open Source firmware for WiFi devices must remain legal. While an "alternative" proposal to FCC that would require that all WiFi routers be Open Source is getting most of the publicity today, I have proposed another alternative that would be fair for both Open Source and proprietary software. It requires approval of the source code of a WiFi driver by a person with a technical license from FCC, the GROL+Radar, if that driver is to be mass-distributed in binary form for use by RF-naïve users by either the manufacturer or Open Source. The license assures that the responsible person actually understands how to protect radar systems in a WiFi driver. It's pretty easy for someone competent in radio engineering to pass the license test, and many thousands of people hold the license today. Vendors and Open Source are treated the same. It doesn't place restrictions on testing and development, or conversion of WiFi equipment to other radio services. And it includes an explanation of the problem, for those of you who don't know what the uproar is about.

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

Bruce Perens 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

Submission + - The Covenant - A New Open Source Strategy ( 1

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."

Submission + - A Cyber-Attack on an American City (

Bruce Perens writes: "Just after midnight on Thursday, April 9, unidentified attackers climbed down four manholes in the Northern California city of Morgan Hill and cut eight fiber cables in what appears to have been an organized attack on the electronic infrastructure of an American city. Its implications, though startling, have gone almost un-reported. So I decided to change that."
Operating Systems

Submission + - Is Open Source Capitalist or Communist? (

jammag writes: "The open source ecosystem is the very definition of a mixed bag, with idealistic developers mixing with corporate profiteers, with Richard Stallman acolytes dealing with business bean counters. Yet as Bruce Perens notes in this snapshot of the current state of open source these disparate elements don't work against one another. Instead, contrary to those who would neatly divide open source into its capitalists and Communists, the community is one whole (if chaotic) ecosystem, which thrives precisely because of its odd bedfellow. Bottom line: can't we all just get along?"
GNU is Not Unix

Submission + - How Many Open Source Licenses Do You Need? ( 1

jammag writes: "Bruce Perens, who wrote the original licensing rules for Open Source software in 1997, notes that there a sprawling 73 open source licenses that now exist. But he identifies an essential 4 — well, actually just 2 — that developers, companies, and individuals need. In essence, he cuts through the morass and shows developers, in particular, how to protect their work. (And yes, he favors GPL3 over GPL2). For his own coding work, he's fond of the "sharing with rules" license, which stays true to the Open Source ethos of shared code yet also enables him to get paid by companies who use it in their commercial products. Consider this the essential guide."

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