Open source news roundup: April 25 - May 1, 2015

Help map Nepal, OpenMRS for Ebola, Apache Mesos for Apple, and more open source news

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In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at helping earthquake victims in Nepal, OpenMRS and the fight against Ebola, Apple's Siri to leverage Apache Mesos, and more.

Open source news for your reading pleasure.

April 25 to May 1, 2015

Helping earthquake victims in Nepal

It's been almost a week since a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. Thousands are dead, countless people are homeless, and relief teams are having a hard time getting to affected areas. Nepal needs help. Even if you aren't a rescue professional, even if you can't donate money to the relief effort, you can still help. How? According to report at Gizmodo, "you’ve got a keen eye and a bit of patience, consider aiding the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team in their effort to trace disaster relief routes."

OpenStreetMaps and its partner organization in Nepal, Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL), have set up a wiki where you critical mapping tasks, including editing maps and classifying roads. According one mapper with KLL, “You would be looking at satellite images of the region and labeling whether a particular item is a path, road, house, or anything else."

There's even a step-by-step guide to help get you started.

OpenMRS joins the fight against Ebola

Ebola is one of the greatest public health crises of the 21st century. Tracking and monitoring cases of Ebola is proving difficult because care centres in west Africa lack the infrastructure and staff to keep accurate records. That could be changing, thanks to the OpenMRS project getting involved.

OpenMRS is an open source medical records system that has a considerable footprint in Africa. According to the article at MedicalXpress, engineers from organizations, including Google and Doctors Without Borders, worked with the OpenMRS community tailor the software to run on the tablets used by medical teams.

What OpenMRS and its partners came up with went beyond hardware and software. The teams "standardized terminology related to Ebola, order entry for medications and intravenous fluids, lab test ordering and reporting, tracking lab samples from the community and alerting clinicians to the results."

Apple's Siri to leverage Apache Mesos

Although Apple doesn't trumpet the fact, the company uses quite a bit of open source. And they're ready to use a bit more with the next generation of its Siri voice control system. SlashGear reports that Apache Mesos will soon power Siri.

Mesos "provides applications with APIs for resource management and scheduling across entire datacenter and cloud environments." By mating it with Siri, Apple can handle a greater volume of requests and queries. The SlashGear article speculates that "Apple is going to really start investing in Siri’s availability outside of their own tight ecosystem." That could include home and vehicle automation.

HashiCorp launches Vault

How does a company protect sensitive keys to APIs, services, and applications? By putting them in a vault. At least, that's what datacenter software provider HashiCorp wants them to do according to TechCrunch.

HashiCorp released an open source tool called Vault, which keeps those secrets by encrypting and storing those keys. Vault can also generate keys as they're needed. HashiCorp's co-founder Mitchell Hashimoto said that Vault is "basically an encrypted source mechanism. You write stuff in securely [such as passwords] and you get stuff out securely." Vault also provides an audit trail of transactions.

This is an early release of Vault, so it's lacking a number of features and authentication methods. HashiCorp insists that upcoming versions of the software will be beefier. Until then, you can browse the source code at Vault's GitHub repository.

In other news

A big thanks, as always, to the Opensource.com moderators and staff for their help this week.

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That idiot Scott Nesbitt ...
Scott Nesbitt - I'm a long-time user of free/open source software, and write various things for both fun and profit. I don't take myself all that seriously and I do all of my own stunts. You can find me at these fine establishments on the web: The Plain Text Project, Open Source Musings, The...