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Two Crowd Supply projects worth supporting

24 Mar

Crowd Supply is a crowdfunding website that does things differently. Projects hosted on it are usually directed at hackers, and they promote businesses that try to do things differently (I would describe it as “progressive” in a sense). Products can also keep being purchased after the funding target is reached, which also makes it a kind of online shop for cool hardware.

I wanted to tell you about two projects that I consider are worth supporting, mainly because of their links to the Free Software movement (both of them expect to be certified by the stringent FSF label “Respects Your Freedom“, or RYF), but also because they are great projects.

GnuBee: Personal Cloud 1

GnuBee is a personal cloud NAS device that is currently being funded.

From the project page:

The GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 (GB-PC1) is a network-attached storage (NAS) device specifically engineered to run free, libre, open source software (FLOSS). The GB-PC1 has all the functionality of any commercial, proprietary NAS, but at a much lower cost and with the transparency, reliability, and accessibility advantages that come with using FLOSS.

[…]

We designed the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 with the Free Software Foundation’s Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification in mind and have already initiated the application process with FSF.

In short, we expect the units shipped to backers to be 100% free of binary blobs. Below is a longer explanation.

In the current prototype, there is exactly one binary blob, but we have a clear path to removing it and plan to remove it before shipping the first production units. In particular, the binary blob is for the ASM1061 PCI-to-SATA bridge. As it turns out, a libre kernel driver for this particular chip was mainlined since our original board design, so it should simply be a matter of removing the associated SPI NOR flash chip and using the kernel driver directly to control the PCI-to-SATA bridge.

Even though we think we’d still qualify for RYF certification if we left the design as is (there’s an exception for secondary embedded processors), we nonetheless fully intend to remove this blob and the associated SPI NOR flash chip.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford this one currently, but I would not have hesitated in different circumstances.

Earth-friendly EOMA68 Computing Devices

EOMA68 has already reached its target, but you can currently purchase products.

The goal of this project is to introduce the idea of being ethically responsible about both the ecological and the financial resources required to design, manufacture, acquire and maintain our personal computing devices. This campaign therefore introduces the world’s first devices built around the EOMA68 standard, a freely-accessible royalty-free, unencumbered hardware standard formulated and tested over the last five years around the ultra-simple philosophy of “just plug it in: it will work.”

  • Truly Free: Everything is freely licensed
  • Modular: Use the same Computer Card across many devices
  • Money-saving: Upgrade by replacing Computer Cards, not the whole device
  • Long-lived: Designed to be relevant and useful for at least a decade, if not longer
  • Ecologically Responsible: Keeps parts out of landfill by repurposing them

The campaign offers a number of products, including different cards sporting different distros (the Libre Tea card being the one aiming at getting the RYF certification), a micro desktop housing, a printable laptop housing, and more parts for tinkering.

I supported this one by buying myself a Libre Tea card and a micro desktop housing, which I am really excited about. And to tell you the truth, I am already happy with my contribution because even just the updates are truly fascinating reads. I am very far from understanding all of the technical jargon, but the way they are written, the anecdotes that are part of the whole development and production process, and the amazing transparency that Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton offers make it a very enjoyable story to follow.

Use a Kyocera FS1118-MFP’s scan-to-email via iiNet

2 Feb

I am writing this as a note for future reference, but hopefully it will help others. I imagine this works the same for a number of other Kyocera devices. This is not very linked to Free Software, but I want to post things about using older hardware for obvious environmental reasons, and this was tested using a computer running KXStudio 14.04 and Firefox 44.0 – not that it makes any difference :)

After repeatedly asking Kyocera for Linux scanner drivers (or even just the code from the original Windows/Mac ones in order to adapt it) for the old printer/scanner I own (Kyocera FS1118-MFP Ecosys to be precise), I ended up giving the scan-to-email function another go. I did not manage to use Gmail’s SMTP server for some reason (I really did try…), and ended up using my ISP’s (iiNet).

In short, here are the steps to make it work:

  • Follow the steps in this Kyocera document to connect the printer to your router. I found it helpful to have the printer’s DHCP function turned on in order to see it pop up in my router configuration page (for my BobLite 4, I navigate to http://10.1.1.1, log into it, go to Status/Diagnostic > DHCP List) and have it’s IP address handy.
  • In your Internet browser, navigate to the printer’s IP address once connected. You will get to the Kyocera Command Center, where you can set up the SMTP server settings in Advanced > SMTP > General. Use the following settings:
    • SMTP Protocol: on
    • Port number: 25
    • Server name: mail.iinet.net.au
    • Authentication protocol: On
    • Authenticate as: Other
    • Login user name: your full iiNet email address
    • Login password: your iiNet account password
    • Sender address: whatever address you want error reports to be sent to
  • You can press the Test button to see if this works. It should return “OK”.
  • Click the Submit button tosave the settings.
  • Changes take effect straight away, so you can try scanning a document with the printer’s function Send, and adding your recipients’ email addresses in the Address Book.

Errors that you might encounter along the way:

  • Error 2102 – probably a problem with your local network of printer configuration
  • Error 3101 – probably a problem with the SMTP server

Note that these settings were used because we need a server that does not require SSL or TLS, which are not supported by this printer model. If your printer supports those protocols, you probably want to use a different port and server – refer to this Google Support page if you have an account with them; for iiNet, refer to this page to pick the right one.

Happy 10th birthday, OpenStreetMap!

20 Aug

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a open data project focused on mapping our entire physical world. Just a few days ago, the project turned ten.

The wiki introduces the project as follows:

Welcome to OpenStreetMap, the project that creates and distributes free geographic data for the world. We started it because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways.

The Wikipedia article describes the project as “a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world.”  It adds that “two major driving forces behind the establishment and growth of OSM have been restrictions on use or availability of map information across much of the world and the advent of inexpensive portable satellite navigation devices.”

OSM started on the 1st of July 2004. I started helping out as a simple local contributor almost three years ago, and I have closed more than 200 changesets. It isn’t much, but I feel like I am doing my bit for an amazing project. I sort of moved from Wikipedia to OSM as the open knowledge project I contribute the most to, although I never really stopped editing Wikipedia. I might even focus on it again later on, who knows!

For the tenth birthday of this project I really love, here are a few random examples of the great thing that the freely available data OSM offers lets people do and create, just in the two last years. Another example would be OpenBeerMap, a project I wrote about recently. I gathered them (with their captions) from the great selection of images offered by the Featured Images page on the wiki. Click on the pictures for more details.

3D-printed models

File:Gorbals 3d.jpg

3D printed model of the Gorbals, Glasgow, location of the Commonwealth games 2014. Created using osm2world to convert from .osm to 3D and SRTM elevation data. Printed using a Ultimaker 2.

Some information from Gary Martin:

“Duncan Bain documented the data extract process nicely in his blog post http://duncanbain.com/research/blog/state-of-the-map-scotland-2013/ I followed the same process, but also added elevation data from SRTM when using OSM2World; Blender was for the 3d clean-up work; Cura for slicing the 3d model to gcode; and an Ultimaker 2 for the final 7 hour PLA print.”

HOT is a humanitarian mapping project

File:HOT changesets west africa 2014-04-05.png

HOT (Humanitarian OSM Team) is coordinating mapping efforts for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The map shows all changesets with #HOT in and around Guinea. The tool visualises changesets of the last seven days with a certain comment.

HOT coordinates humanitarian mapping projects depending on what happens around the world, and often helps others do a better job at delivering aid on site after major natural disasters of health issues.

File:Three large poster maps of Tacloban, Guiuan and Ormoc.jpg

Large OSM-based poster maps of Tacloban, Guiuan and Ormoc printed and delivered by International Organization on Migration in DSWD Operations Center in Tacloban Airport. The maps will be used to coordinate the relief and rescue efforts for the victims/survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

User-friendly open-source mapping tools

File:Nfgusedautoparts gps 1000x664.jpg

A car dashboard kitted out with gadgets. This is just one of a wide variety of mapping techniques. Visible here (left to right): A smartphone running OsmAnd (information and map display) and a tablet computer set up with OSMtracker (POI recording).

Interdisciplinary workshops

File:2014 Cochabamba workshop.jpg

1st “OpenStreetMap Workshop from scratch” – a free and open event that brought together artists, cartographers, marketing companies and territorial planning/computer science students as part of the activities of the HackLabCocha in Cochabamba, Bolivia. View the full set of photos.

GIS integration

File:QGIS tram lines black.png

Viewing OpenStreetMap buildings and tram data within the open source QGIS software.

Rendering data for events

File:Sochi Olympics Krasnaya Polyana Mountain Cluster.png

The 2014 Olympics ski venues in the Krasnaya Polyana (Sochi) mountain cluster. This spontaneous mashup using Leaflet shows OpenSnowMap’s ski pistes and lifts on OpenTopoMap as baselayer on a slippy map.

Base for displaying meteorological information

File:OpenWeatherMap for Leaflet 2013-10-28 15-03-01.jpg

Wind speeds and directions of storm Christian at 28th October 2013 in Northwest Germany overlaid on an OSM base map. The leaflet-openweathermap JavaScript library shows free OpenWeatherMap data in a slippy map.

Cool-looking things

File:Lille toile.jpg

A colourful artistic map of Lille (France) with its characteristic star-shaped citadel, made using OpenStreetMap data and QGIS as described in the tutorial here.

File:20130223 DSC1072 Looking at Buildings.jpg

OSM contributor Hawkeye admiring his laser-etched acrylic map (bounding box at OSM.org) of OpenStreetMap buildings in central Glasgow, made at the MAKLab in The Lighthouse, Glasgow.

File:Softcities map leggings.jpg

OpenStreetMap leggings. A prototype on show at State Of The Map U.S. 2012 of a new product from softcities.net.

 

File:IMG 20120428 164740.jpg

Maps copied onto shoes (by tracing over a projector image).

Crowd-sourced mapping activity visualisation

File:OSM-node-density-map-HD-crop-2013.png

No volcanic eruptions, no wildfires, but burning passion of OpenStreetMap volunteers – represented by a map showing the colourised node density of OpenStreetMap data. Alternative views: full world as slippy map, full world as single image (67 Mpx, 1 MiB); full world scaled down, more info how this was created.

Empower websites

File:LeMondeMapBox.png

Le Monde, one of the largest French newspapers, relaunched their online paid edition with interactive French maps powered by OpenStreetMap. Read more on the MapBox blog.

File:School-phys-sci.png

The University of Cambridge’s new online map was made live at http://map.cam.ac.uk in late September 2012 (and also linked from the University’s home page). This prestigious, year-long project has contributed lots of data to OSM and uses OSM data for its street index and custom renderings.

Video games

File:STK Rostock compare.jpg

Supertuxkart is a free, open-source racing game. Using 3D data from OpenStreetMap we can race around real-world street layouts, such as this suburb of Rostock.

Fun data visualisation

File:Taginfo-tag-cloud.png

Taginfo shows what tags are used in the OSM database. Here, the size is correlated to the number of times the tags are use.

File:Data tiles with 32MB of OpenStreetMap data.png

This curious map of the world, shows the result of dividing the OpenStreetMap dataset into quarters until each of these vector tiles is less than 32MB in size. An experiment by Eric Fischer (details).

Decision-making in urbanism

File:Glasgow park access network.png

Map showing distance from parks in Glasgow, using openstreetmap data and GRASS/QGIS network analysis. Dark red means further away from a park.

File:Surging seas climate change New York 10ft.png

The “Surging Seas” map blends OpenStreetMap and aerial imagery to interactively simulate sea level rise due to climate change. Here we see New York after a 10ft rise, the maximum setting. The storm surge of Hurricane Sandy brought a rise of up to 13ft.

Education

File:HermeskeilOSMTraining.jpg

Students from Azores Islands, Portugal, visiting Germany on a training course in JOSM and QA Editor as part of the Life Long Learning Mapping Project.

File:T garmin.jpg

“Life Long Learning Mapping Project : Şeyma, Kader, Neslihan,(teachers: Manfred, Miray) Simge, Özge, Our project aims to tackle the issue of gender-stereotyping. Students from Karacabey, Turkey, learning how to use a tracking device (Garmin) to improve OSM in Turkey.”

File:UCAD team Dakar.JPG

Team from the Université Cheikh Anta Diop after a five day training course in AUF Dakar. 23 students and researchers focussed on mapping the Medina municipality of Dakar, Senegal. See the HOT blog write-up by Augustin Doury.

File:Cubbon Park OSM Map.png

Pedestrian Map for Cubbon park, Bangalore, created as part of a class project at NID. Students developed a system of navigation and wayfinding for visitors to the park. Data was collected using Walking Papers, added to OpenStreetMap, and then exported and processed in Adobe Illustrator for the final output.

File:BBSSaarburg.jpg

Students and teachers from five countries meet in Saarburg, Germany to learn how to gather data, use mapping devices, feed in and maintain the OSM data. Meetings in Portugal, Slovenia, Romania and Turkey will follow as part of this two year EU funded Comenius project.

Routing

File:Android-osmand-routing.png

One of the many apps available for navigation purposes, this is a screenshot of OSMAnd on an Android phone.

Want to help?

Obviously, there are many more great things to be said about this project and the data’s many uses. If you want to help make this this great project grow, feel free to have a look at the beginner’s guide on the wiki and navigate the rest of the pages to learn more. You can also ask questions on OSM help. (With more than 7000 questions, it is likely yours is already answered!) But you can also go straight to the main website, create an account and click “edit” to contribute your local knowledge to you area’s map!

Fix the frequent rebooting / start screen cycle issue on your Fairphone

22 Jul Fairphone lock screen

TL;DR: remove the lock screen Gmail widget.

I thought I would write a post about this issue as it is not always straight forward to find an answer that helps in the community support page on the Fairphone website. Furthermore, the Fairphone team thought the 1.3 Fairphone OS update would fix this issue, but it did not do the trick (at least in my experience). Knowing that there also is a second batch of thousands of Fairphones on the way, which are likely to stock the same OS version, this post might end up being useful for people DuckDuckGoing the issue.

If your phone systematically resets / reboots / restarts itself going through the blue Fairphone start screen most times you try to use it, it might be because of a lock screen widget you have added.

I tested removing widgets, and I found the culprit was the Gmail widget. As soon as I removed it from the lock screen, everything would come back to normal. I tested removing other widgets to no avail, and figured out that the number of widgets wasn’t the issue either.

Just so you know, the stock Email widget works fine, so make sure you use this one instead of the Gmail one.

You can find the discussions related to this issue on the Community support page, where you can find my answer (and upvote it if you are keen):

5 open project fundraisers worth contributing to

12 Apr

I will today present five projects that are currently looking for funds to keep doing their awesome work, for everyone to enjoy.

If you have some spare money, please consider helping them out! Most of those fundraisers finish in just a handful of days, so make sure you have a look at them right away.

MediaGoblin

MediaGoblin is a free software media publishing platform. This is a very important project that will offer an open and decentralised alternative to video (e.g. Youtube) and audio (e.g. Soundcloud) streaming websites, as well as document publishing services.

It is part of the GNU project. The first milestone, “Gavroche”, has been already been reached at $35,000

⇒ Fundraiser

Loomio

Loomio is a user-friendly tool for collaborative decision-making: not majority-rules polling, but actually coming up with solutions that work for everyone.

Loomio is open source and is used by other projects like Diaspora*.

⇒ Fundraiser

Gooseberry Project

The Gooseberry Project is the latest project started by the Blender Foundation. It is an animation movie project that aims at involving a number of studios around the world to produce an open license quality feature-length animation movie.

⇒ Fundraiser

Pitivi

Pitivi is an open source video editor. The project is seeking funds to finish version 1.0. We recently heard of a successful crowdfunding for OpenShot, another well-known non-linear video editor of the Linux world. People used to complain quite a bit about the quality of video editing on Linux – we have now at least two very active and powerful pieces of software for that.

⇒ Fundraiser

Open Source Beehives

Open Source Beehives is the only open source hardware project presented here. It aims at making it easy for everyone to build their own beehive with the plans they make available. You can even build one without any glue, nails or screws!

This fundraiser is hosted on Indiegogo.

⇒ Fundraiser