Weekly wrap-up: Groklaw says goodnight, Unix pioneers share memories, and more

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Open source news this week: August 19 - 23, 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.

  • Groklaw says goodnight. Whether you were a Groklaw reader or not, it's difficult not to mourn the loss of the popular intellectual property law blog, which shuttered Tuesday when editor Pamela Jones aka "PJ" announced she no longer trusted email privacy. In her passionate final post, Jones explains that she tried to come to terms with recent National Security Agency surveillance revelations but that she values hers and her readers' privacy too much to continue blogging. Jones deliberately turned off comments on her final post, which I feel was wise given the trolls that lurk on the web. For more background on Groklaw and Jones, check out her interview with Opensource.com on the day editorial control was passed to Mark Webbink.
  • Unix pioneers share memories. Infoworld.com has a compilation of anecdotes from the pioneers behind the Unix operating system. In the article, readers get an inside look into at the Unix infancy. Among the snippets: Unix co-developer Ken Thompson shares a clever prank he pulled while working at Bell Labs that likely left his colleagues wondering if they were losing their hearing. Other anecdotes from the article include the dispute over who coined the name "unics" after one of the developers joked the "original version of Ken's system [was] a castrated one-user Multics (Eunuchs)." Ultimately, the Bell Labs PR team moved for it to be changed to "Unix," potentially to avoid the pun. The article is a fun look back on the early days.
  • A year of open data in Philly. It's been a little over a year since Philadelphia's open data policy went into effect, and already the city has seen some changes, reports the Sunlight Foundation. The city has hired a chief data officer who has helped increase the amount of information released in open formats to the public. In this well-produced video, the Sunlight Foundation talks to the city’s new chief data officer and local civic hackers and journalists about how the policy is helping them. Among the projects underway include an app showing how to get to grocery stores using public transportation and a map that displays Philly crime incidents. Watch the video to learn more:



  • Open source webmail client surpasses fundraising goals. Web services designed to promote software are getting a boost in the wake of the National Security Agency mass surveillance revelations. One of the latest privacy-driven projects is Mailpile, which passed its $100,000 fundraising goal on Indiegogo this week. Mailpile is "an open source webmail client designed to be run on the user’s own computer so they can retain control of their email data," Techcrunch reports in an in-depth article that also looks at the challenges facing email privacy these days. As Techcrunch writes, it's somewhat rare for software projects to surpass crowdfunding goals, so it wil be interesting to see just how much more money Mailpile can collect in the 18 days that remain in its Indiegogo campaign.
  • Open source approach leads to medical breakthrough. If you or anyone you know has ever suffered from heart failure, you know that treatment it isn't easy. Lifestyle and diet changes can help, and so can some drugs. Even still, about half the people diagnosed with heart failure die within five years, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So it's pretty darn exciting that Cleveland cardiologist Saptarsi Haldar appears to be on the heels of treating it with a new drug—one that was discovered through an open source approach that isn’t very common when it comes to drug research. Reporter Brie Zeltner of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has a well-written article about what led to this open source discovery.
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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.


I love reading about the history of the things we take for granted today and the white noise prank was very clever

Craig, that prank was quite clever. The fact that he just turned it up a notch each week, slowly getting people used to it, was pretty hilarious. These days something like that would probably get you in hot water at work.


It's Ken Thompson, not Ken Thomas.

Thanks for the links.

Thank you for pointing out this typo. I corrected it above.

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