Stephen Hawking's speech system, White House playbook, and more

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open source news and highlights

In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at open source speech system from Stephen Hawking, Docker getting a competitor called Rocket, the White House playbook, and more!

Open source news for your reading pleasure.

November 29 - December 5, 2014

Stephen Hawking's new speech system is open source

Professor Stephen Hawking, who has a motor neurone disease, depends on a speech system to communicate. Intel has helped build a new system, in collaboration with Hawking, over the last few years. This system will be released under an open source license in January 2015. With three million people around the world affected by motor neurone disease, this system being open source "could potentially be adapted to suit many of them." Wired also had an exclusive on this topic.

"My old system was over 20 years old, and I was finding it very difficult to communicate effectively. This new system is life-changing for me, and I hope will serve me well for the next 20 years." —Stephen Hawking

Docker has a new competitor: Rocket

CoreOS, a San Francisco startup, has unveiled an open source software project called Rocket. Docker was to build a simple re-usable container component. According to a blog post by CoreOS, this is no longer the case. CoreOS still believes in "the original premise of containers that Docker introduced," so it launched Rocket. For all information on Rocket that is currently available, read the CoreOS announcement. Docker shared their initial thoughts on the Rocket announcement too.

Open source tool to support resilience-building

In a blog post, the United Nations announced a new open source tool that will support community resilience building. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Programme (FAO) is teaming up with other agencies to develop this open source data tool. The tool is built to help national governments, development, and relief organizations prevent and respond to crises such as animal diseases, plant pests, and conflict. The tool Index for Risk Management (InfoRM) provides an index, visualizing risk by bringing together 50 different indicators, measuring three dimensions.

White House crowdsources open government playbook

Led by the General Services Administration's SocialGov community, the U.S. Public Participation Playbook was released. A working group of over 40 government agencies is now asking for public help, crowdsourcing the playbook. The playbook is the first open guide for the department, and it is "dedicated to sharing best practices and performance metrics on how agencies can effectively deploy programs and increase public participation." The playbook can be found at, a collaborative document platform. Read the full news item at FedScoop.

"The U.S. Public Participation Playbook is not just a priority for furthering open government for the country, it’s a priority for improving all our programs." —Justin Herman, General Services Administration

A laptop that protects your digital rights

Blogger Simon Phipps, president of the Open Source Initiative, writes at InfoWorld about the crowdfunded laptop from Purism which will protect your digital rights in many ways. The laptop should be almost entirely open source, with pre-installed open source software, chips that use open source drivers, privacy protection software, and more. The prototype, called Librem 15, has a MacBook like look, with sleek and metal body protection. It's based on an Intel graphics chip integrated with the CPU and a separate Nvidia graphics chip for 3D, with a fully open source driver. The crowdfunding campaign is aiming for an ambitious $250,000 funding goal.

In other news

Thanks, as always, to staff members and moderators for their help this week. Make sure to check out our event calendar, to see what's happening next week in open source.

Former and Open Organization moderator/ambassador.

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