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Comment Understanding OpenRelief (Score 2) 30

Hi all, and thanks for reading about OpenRelief. We are now in a six-month cycle of testing and improving the robot plane and related sensors, and aim to have a durable set of solutions published as schematics and code by December. The idea is to allow anyone, anywhere to make OpenRelief solutions using readily available technology.

I thought it might be useful to share a little more information with you via this page. With that in mind please find some overview information below.

A video overview of OpenRelief and the robot plane:

An interview with a deep-dive into why OpenRelief was established and where it is going:

A copy of the slides we just presented at LinuxCon Japan to launch the project (warning: PDF):


Co-Founder, OpenRelief

Comment Re:Everyday use? (Score 1) 30

Using the robot plane for this type of thing should be relatively trivial. You would probably have to train the camera a little to improve fidelity of recognizing dirt roads, but especially after integration with OpenStreetMap, the basic functionality fits right what this OpenRelief technology can do.

Comment Re:Everyday use? (Score 2) 30

It's a good question. OpenRelief is designing and testing technology to create a really good airframe solution with broad capabilities. It will be pretty cheap for anyone to source components at retail for around 1,000 USD and build their own unit. If a company decides to start production, it can set up a channel and build the technology at a much lower price due to supply chain savings. We are happy to have both types of stakeholder in our community.

While OpenRelief is focused on disaster relief, you can also use the robot plane platform for other things. As one other poster mentioned, it can work for scouting roads ahead for sports or similar, and it can make a great test-bed for your own UAV development.

Comment Re:Under 1000$ (Score 2) 30

First of all, OpenRelief is a design project where people donate their time, experience and money to help create open disaster relief solutions, and we make our designs available to everyone for free. We do this to try and solve serious problems with gathering information in disaster situations. The reasons vary between the project contributors, but they are all pretty clear cut. For example, I was involved in the Japanese disaster relief effort last year, and the problems encountered there directly motivated me to work with Karl Lattimer to create OpenRelief.

Second of all, the 1,000 USD cost refers to the expected cost to source and build the drones around the world. In other words, it is the target Bill of Materials for retail purchasing of the various technologies needed to assemble the drone. For obvious reasons that does not involve taking a "100 RC plane, sticking about 150$ worth of hardware in it" and hoping for the best. Perhaps it would be informative to take a moment and price the retail Ardupilot with airspeed sensor from Udrones, which is currently 324.95 USD plus shipping. The OpenRelief plane also requires good optics, good servos, motor, battery and a computer. As another commentator said, this is about balancing cost and reliability, with the requirement that this equipment can be built or shipped anywhere in the world and provide utility for a reasonable time.

While it is easy to make vague comments based on opinion, there is a significant gap between that and actually building, testing and refining a solutions with a specific use-case in mind. To avoid waste, it would be more useful if energy instead went towards increasing functionality and lowers costs in projects like OpenRelief, so that better solutions can be created and shared with others.


Submission + - Interesting New Tool That Helps With Database Encryption For Web Applications (

shanecoughlan writes: "An interesting article about the Web Encryption Extension, a tool designed to keep data online safe without "leaving the key under the doormat" (storing the password online too). As the article explains, "there is a method of encrypting data that does not need such a secret, we have double key boxes today. We can use public keys to encrypt information before it is stored in a database, there is no secret required to do that. Any sensitive information can be protected that way before it enters the database [...] secret information is only necessary when a person needs to use the information that is stored encrypted in the database. Let's take the obvious example of financial account information. [...] the moment a staff member needs this information to carry out a money transfer, it is possible to recover the financial information by decrypting the database entry. The staff member has a brain to store the individual secret needed for decryption, and he has a reason to use the database entry now. The financial information can remain encrypted in the database [and] you won't find the key under the doormat, ever.""

Submission + - iPhone/SpyPhone--The Music Video! (

stonemirror writes: "As a final installment to this saga, I put together yet another modified version of Peter Warden's iPhoneTrack application, and used it to produce a video showing the locations the phone gathered, in order, over a ten-month period. The soundtrack is David Byrne's "My Fair Lady", used under a Creative Commons license.

The video is on YouTube, and a higher-quality version can be downloaded from my site, along with a pre-built version of my modified iPhoneTracker, the modifications to the source code, and "The Wired CD", a Creative Commons-licensed CD of tunes from some excellent artists, including Mr. Byrne. Enjoy!"

User Journal

Submission + - FOSS law journal is open to receive submissions (

shanecoughlan writes: The International Free and Open Source Software Law Review is seeking submissions for publication in 2010 and beyond. IFOSSLR is a collaborative legal publication aiming to increase knowledge and understanding among lawyers about Free and Open Source Software issues. It is the first publication to focus specifically on this field, and its independent Editorial Committee is seeking submissions from qualified authors in a variety of research areas. Potential contributors can review the author guidelines, download article templates in ODT or RTF format, and submit papers on the journal site.

Submission + - IFOSS L. Rev. releases second issue (

shanecoughlan writes: The second issue of the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review has just been published online. It contains new articles from FOSS legal experts like Karen F. Copenhaver (Linux Foundation), Tiki Dare (Sun) and Harvey Anderson (Mozilla). The press release contains endorsements by William Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel, Google and Eben Moglen, Software Freedom Law Centre. This is the first legal publication to focus specifically on issues facing Free and Open Source Software,. The first issue was launched in July 2009.

Submission + - Three new tools for project governance released (

shanecoughlan writes: Three new resources for Free and Open Source Software project governance were released into beta today (and they are all free, as in beer). The first is a library of links covering everything from process development through to politics. The second is a tool to help people explore licensing options when starting their own project. The third is a tool to help people locate experts around the world. These all come from Opendawn, a small company run in Japan by Shane Coughlan, which recently announced that it has become an Associate Partner of FOSSbazaar.

Submission + - FOSS compliance engineering in the embedded indust (

shanecoughlan writes: "Long-time and FSFE contributors Armijn Hemel and Shane Coughlan continue their compliance series on by examining how to find license issues: "This article will focus on explaining some of the tools and skills required to undertake due diligence activities related to licensing and binary code in the embedded industry. It is based on the GPL Compliance Engineering Guide, which in turn is based on the experience of engineers contributing to the project."

Submission + - FOSS compliance engineering in the embedded indust (

shanecoughlan writes: "Long-time and FSFE contributors Armijn Hemel and Shane Coughlan continue their compliance series on by examining how to find license issues: "This article will focus on explaining some of the tools and skills required to undertake due diligence activities related to licensing and binary code in the embedded industry. It is based on the GPL Compliance Engineering Guide, which in turn is based on the experience of engineers contributing to the project.""

Comment Re:It all depends... (Score 5, Insightful) 339

The thing that really bites about the article, and the reason I disagree with it, is attitude. The open source world (by and large) is about sharing intellectual horsepower. We make something, we share it. Some guy can make it better. We can all get the added value of development. Coherent groups create open source software products (yes, I said products) like Firefox or OpenOffice, and individuals go and toy with the code.

The Microsoft presentation says something very different.

"Matusow said opening up software can add value, "but you need to understand why you want to open certain software. We are building intellectual property into software and trying to sell it. We throw code over the wall for the community to build on it.""

They throw code over the wall?

It's very patronizing. Instead of regarding the people out there as brainpower with a positive contribution, they regard their internal direction as higher than external voices. I guess this is why ultimately Microsoft is dropping the ball. They just don't listen. You NEED to listen. The world has changed since Win95, or even WinXP. We need more, we need it faster, and we need it to work with the Mac laptop and Linux server.

Basically, the surge in open source is driven by the fact that it's answering so many of the productivity, communication and search questions of the marketplace. Even Apple realize that, and this is why their baby (MacOS X) is largely available as Darwin (open OS code).

Just my two cents.

Shane Coughlan
Project Leader

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