Weekly wrap-up: First open-source satellite goes to space, 3D-printed keys and more

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open source news and highlights


Open source news this week: August 5 - 9, 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.


  • Satellite dreams come true. If you’ve ever dreamed of having access to satellites in space, your dream is about to become a reality. San Francisco-based NanoSatisfi is launching the world’s first open source satellites (called "CubeSats") into space this week, reports New Scientist. Those who helped fund the project on Kickstarter will be among the first to run experiments on the satellites, which run Arduino. There may be other time slots available for programming and experimenting.
  • Open inside out, upside down and all around. A year ago hardware engineer Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang embarked on a journey to build a laptop made entirely of open source components. You may have been among the one million unique viewers who hit his blog when he first wrote about the project. Well, ZDNet reports a year later that Andrew has made quite a bit of progress on the laptop, which he calls Novena. Although, building an open laptop hasn’t been easy. Among the challenges? Finding a wifi card "that was acceptable to some of the guys from the Debian user group." Learn more about Andrew’s quest on ZDNet.
  • Not-so-easy-nonprofit. Wired.com has an in-depth look at the hoops the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation had to jump through to secure nonprofit status from the IRS. You may recall back in June it was reported that the IRS was flagging nonprofit applications from open source software groups. This article explores the effect the application slowdown had on the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation, which missed out on grants and cash donations while it was in limbo. While the IRS refused comment for the Wired article, it’s still an interesting look into why open source software groups may be facing extra scrutiny from the IRS. More on why the IRS should release this data in bulk as a free database immediately from Beth Noveck on our site.
  • 3D Printing unlocks new doors—literally. Forbes.com has an article about 3D-printing high-security keys that is as interesting as it is worrisome. Two MIT students announced at Def Con that they plan to "release a piece of code that will allow anyone to create a 3D-printable software model of any Primus key, despite the company’s attempts to prevent the duplication of those carefully-controlled shapes." The article then goes on to describe how easy it is for anyone with the know-how to duplicate keys such as the New York City fire elevator master keys, thanks in part to a photo of key set that leaked on the Internet and the power of 3D printing.
  • Take the Open Economics Principles pledge. A group dedicated to making economic data open and accessible has released formal principles that it hopes will help promote transparency and accountability in economics. The group has been working with the Open Knowledge Foundation, and for the past 18 months it has been working to become an educational hub for those interested in economic data. Read the Open Economic Principles and, if you so like, you can pledge to endorse them.
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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.

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