Weekly wrap-up: DARPA's open source project, Valve announces Linux-powered Steam Machine, and more

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open source news and highlights


Open source news this week: September 23 - 27, 2013

What other open source-related news stories did you read about this week? Share them with us in the comments section. Follow us on Twitter where we share these stories in real time.


  • Did I hear that right? "You rarely hear 'DARPA' and 'open source' in the same sentence," Jeff Bier recently quipped. Bier is the founder of Embedded Vision Alliance and is explaining how the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to release the source code for the vision system development tools its working on. EE Times has the details on the DARPA program called "Visual Media Reasoning," which is part of the agency’s research into computer vision. The EE Times writer notes that: "DARPA going open source with these vision tools is certainly a novelty to a lot of people. More important, there will be a lot of eager developers lining up to get their hands on them, Bier predicts." The article has more of the technical details if you’re one of those developers looking to learn more.
  • A lean, mean Steam Machine. As predicted, Valve officially announced plans this week for the "Steam Machine," new gaming hardware for the living room that will run on the previously-announced SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system. And there won’t just be one kind of Steam Machine, Valve says it is working with several manufactuers to develop machines with different specifications, price, and performance. Can’t wait till 2014 to get your hands on one? Valve plans to send 300 extremely lucky Steam users a version of the machine to beta test. Details on the announcement and how to try to get in the beta tester pool are available on Steam’s website.
  • Hug him, love him, and call him Jimmie. Intel’s futurist is making your dreams of having your own human-like robot come true. That’s assuming you’ve ever dreamed of having your own little robot, and that’s also assuming you have the maker chops to build it. Brian David Johnson, director of future casting at Intel, shared more of his plans for a 3D-printed robot at Maker Faire in New York City this week. The robot will be completely open source, reports Gizmag, and can be created from a kit and 3D printer. The only catch is you’ll have to be pretty maker savvy to put the robot together. In addition to needing a 3D printer, you’ll also need electromechanical and software skills to enhance the robot, currently being called Jimmie. I know some of our readers are up for the challenge.
  • These are the voyages of the ArduLab. If you’ve ever dreamed of sending your own science experience to space, ArduLab is making it easier than ever. Popular Mechanics has a feature on ArduLab, an open source science platform for experiments headed to the International Space Station (ISS). Basically, ArduLab is "a rectangular, polycarbonate chassis with a microcontroller it uses to communicate with NASA computers and Infinity Aerospace's servers." The first ArduLab launched this week, and is on its way to the ISS. Among the tests that are possible are fluid mixing and plant growth analysis, reports Popular Mechanics.
  • Make your own toaster or coffee pot. As rapid-prototyping machines like CNC mills and 3D printers become more easily accessible, designer Jesse Howard had an idea. Why not make it easier for makers to create their own household appliances like coffee pots and toasters? Wired.com has the story of Howard’s quest to understand the mechanics behind the everyday household items and his goal of making schematics and materials list available for DIYers. Definitely check out the photos of the appliances Howard has already created, as they are bare-bone machines that are beautiful in their own simplicity.


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Ginny Hamilton was a community manager for EnterprisersProject.com, an online publication and community focused on how CIOs and IT leaders create business value through information technology. A former journalist, Ginny is passionate about local politics, journalism, technology, and social media.


"Hug him, love him, and call him Jimmie." One of your best, Skalski.

I'm sure Jimmie is nifty, but I've seen and read enough sci-fi to know that homemade robots are a <a href="http://www.robotuprising.com/home.htm">really, really bad idea</a>... ;-)

Also, <a href="http://www.gnu.org/gnu/initial-announcement.html">HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO GNU</a>!

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