Interviews: Ask Dr. Tarek Loubani About Creating Ultra-Low Cost Medical Devices 54

Tarek Loubani is an emergency medicine physician who works as a consultant doctor in the emergency departments in London, Canada and Shifa Hospital in Gaza. He is also an assistant professor at the Department of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario. Tarek has been working in Gaza for the past 5 years, where he made news recently by creating a 3D-printable, 30-cent stethoscope that is better than the world's best $200 equivalent. The need to develop free and open medical devices due to the lack of medical supplies resulting from the blockade, inspired Loubani who hopes the stethoscope is just the beginning of replacing expensive proprietary medical tools. Tarek has agreed to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Video WearDuino Uses Arduinos to Make Wearable Medical Sensors (Video) 14

WearDuino, now being developed by PDX Wearable Health Lab, is the brainchild of Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD; "an experimenter, maker, mentor and consultant in wearable health technologies, drawing on his lifelong experience in the fields of engineering and medicine." The WearDuino, he says, "is an open source wearable wireless sensor." The prototype fits in a FitBit case because, according to Dr. Leavitt, there are millions of unused ones out there, both surplussed by people who bought Fitbits and then stopped using them, and in the form of aftermarket cases sold to make your Fitbit cuter than when it came from the factory. In any case, WearDuino is still in the prototype stage. Dr. Leavitt plans to look for funding through Crowd Supply, but isn't "there" yet, so if you want to get on board with this health wearables project, you'll want to sign up for their Google Group or follow them on Twitter. You might also want to check out Quantified Self (tag line: "self knowledge through numbers"), and even if you vastly prefer videos to text articles, check out the text transcript ("Show/Hide Transcript") attached to this article, because it contains nearly twice as much information as the video, and goes a little deeper than the video into Dr. Leavitt's reasons for building the WearDuino -- none of which are financial gain, believe it or not.

Interviews: Ask Engineer and L5 Society Cofounder Keith Henson a Question 111

Keith Henson is an electrical engineer and writer on space engineering, space law, cryonics, and evolutionary psychology. He co-founded the L5 society in 1975, which sought to promote space colonization. In addition to being an outspoken critic and target of the Church of Scientology, Keith has recently been working on the design of an orbiting power satellite (video here). The proposed satellite would collect solar energy, send it to Earth via microwaves, and Henson has a plan on how to launch it cheaply. Keith has agreed to give us some of his time and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Video 'My Name is C.H.I.P. and I'll Be Your $9 Computer Today' (Video) 111

Think of C.H.I.P as a tablet computer that runs Linux instead of Android, "without the tablet bits," says interviewee Dave, who gave a talk -- which was mostly live demos -- at OSCON 2015. 50,000 C.H.I.P.s have already sold for $9 through their successful Kickstarter campaign, and Next Thing Co. plans to stick with the $9 price for the foreseeable future -- plus add-on boards (that they call "shields") they hope to sell you, but that won't flatten any but the skinniest wallets; given the projected price scale, you'll have trouble spending as much as $50 for a fully-accessorized C.H.I.P. unit.

"But," you may ask, "is C.H.I.P. Open Source?" You bet! No hedging here, just flat-out Open Source, from the bottom to the top, with all software (and hardware specs) freely available via GitHub. And lastly, the "I'll Be Your $9 Computer Today' statement in the headline above is allegorical, not factual. We've seen projected shipping dates for C.H.I.P ranging from "by the end of 2015" to a simple "2016." Either way, we're waiting with bated breath.
Classic Games (Games)

Interviews: Game Designer Steve Jackson Answers Your Questions 38

A while ago you had the chance to ask Steve Jackson, founder and editor-in-chief of Steve Jackson Games, about the numerous games he's created, his efforts to digitize those games, and what to do when the Secret Service shows up at your office. Below you will find his answers to your questions.

Video Tim O'Reilly and the 'WTF?!' Economy (Video) 111

This is a conversation Tim Lord had with Tim O'Reilly at OSCON. Tim O'Reilly wrote an article titled "The WTF Economy,", which started with these words: "WTF?! In San Francisco, Uber has 3x the revenue of the entire prior taxi and limousine industry." He talks about Uber and AirbnB and how, with real-time measurement of customer demand, "The algorithm is the new shift boss." And then there is this question: "What is the future when more and more work can be done by intelligent machines instead of people, or only done by people in partnership with those machines?"

My (late) father was an engineer. Politically, you could have called him a TechnoUtopian. He believed -- along with most of his engineer, ham radio, and science fiction writer and reader friends -- that as machines took over the humdrum tasks, humans would work less and create more. O'Reilly seems to have similar beliefs, even though (unlike my father) he's seen the beginnings of an economy with self-driving cars and trucks, factory machines that don't need humans to run them, and many other changes the 1950s and 1960s futurists didn't expect to see until we had flying cars and could buy tickets on Pan Am flights to the moon. Listening to these conversations, I remember my father's dreams, but O'Reilly isn't as optimistic as a full-blown TechnoUtopian. He takes a "Something's happening here; what it is ain't exactly clear" view of how work (and pay for work) will change in the near future. Please note that Tim O'Reilly has been called "The Oracle of Silicon Valley," so he's totally worth watching -- or reading, if that's your preferred method of taking in new information.

NOTE: Today we have a "main video," plus a "bonus video" that is viewable only with Flash. But we have a transcript that covers both of them. Enjoy!
Open Source

Video Marvell's Kinoma Create Keeps On Creating (Video) 14

Marvell is the parent company. Kinoma is the company Marvell bought in 2011 that "provides an open-source, cross-platform ECMAScript stack aimed at developing software for Internet of Things products and other embedded devices." They'll sell you a little hardware, too, which makes sense when you realize that parent company Marvell is big-time in the hardware business and will happily help you produce your IoT product -- for a fee, of course. Slashdot interviewed Peter Hoddie at last year's OSCON, so please consider this video an update. And before you ask: Peter says Kinoma is open source, from the bottom to the top -- to which we reply, "we like it like that."

Video REMzen Claims They Can Help You Sleep Better (Video) 21

Meet Jeremiah Scott, Co-Founder & CEO of Portland, OR, based Remzen. Their first product -- crowdfunded, of course -- is supposed to ship this October. It's an "intelligent sleep mask that collect sleep lab-type data but it also wakes you with light rather than sound, which Jeremiah says is more natural and better for you. Remzen started as a student project at Portland State University, but it is obviously moving toward the big time. Open Source? You'd think so, since Timothy met Jeremiah at OSCON. But there's apparently a financial backer or two who still need to be convinced that this project should be 100% open source instead of only halfway there.

Note: The transcript contains more material than the video. Even if you prefer video to text, you may want to read it.

Video Urthecast Brings You Earth Images and Videos from the ISS (Video) 16

Most of us probably won't ever visit the International Space Station (ISS) and look down at the Earth (motto: "The only planet we know has beer, so let's not ruin it"). Looking at pictures and videos made by cameras mounted on the ISS is about as close as we're going to get. There's already an ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment on Ustream, but Urthecast is putting out higher-definition images than what you see on Ustream, and has plans to put out even clearer images and video before long. While Urthecast is likely to accumulate plenty of "oohs" and "aahhs" as it rolls along, according to CEO Scott Larson their real objective is to sell imagery -- and not necessarily just from the visible light band of the overall spectrum -- to industrial and government users. People like us are still invited to look at (and marvel at) lovely images of our planetary home.

NOTE: Today's video is about 4:30 long. If you want to watch and listen to more of Mr. Larson, we have a second "bonus" (Flash) video for you. Or you can read the transcript, which covers both videos.
GNU is Not Unix

Video Purism Offers Free (as in Freedom) Laptops (Video) 77

Purism uses its own OS, PureOS, which is a Debian derivative by way of Ubuntu and other members of the Debian-derivative family, but with no taint of proprietary code. Now imagine all the binaries stripped out of the Linux kernel, making it closer to the FSF ideal of a 100% free operating system than the Linux kernel in use almost everywhere else.

They're still using a proprietary BIOS, but have people working on a Free one. The main thing, though, is that Purism is working to give you all the privacy and freedom they can -- with more coming as they keep working to replace proprietary bits of the OS, BIOS, and hardware drivers with Free Software. Best of all, even if you don't need a new laptop right now, you can download PureOS and run it on any compatible hardware you already own.
GNU is Not Unix

Interviews: Ask Richard Stallman a Question 359

RMS founded the GNU Project, the Free Software Foundation, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. He now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital restrictions management, and software patents. RMS has agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, how GNU relates to Linux the kernel, free software, why he disagrees with the idea of open source, and other issues of public concern. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Video Veteran IT Journalist Worries That Online Privacy May Not Exist (Video) 44

Tom Henderson is a long-time observer of the IT scene, complete with scowl and grey goatee. And cynicism. Tom is a world-class cynic, no doubt about it. Why? Cover enterprise IT security and other computing topics long enough for big-time industry publications like ITWorld and its IDG brethren, and you too may start to think that no matter what you do, your systems will always have (virtual) welcome mats in front of them, inviting crackers to come in and have a high old time with your data.

Note: Alert readers have probably noticed that we talked with Tom about cloud security back in March. Another good interview, worth seeing (or reading).
Hardware Hacking

Video You3dit is Working to Help Crowdsource 3D Design and Printing (Video) 12

The example you3dit (You 3D It) person Chris McCoy uses in this video is a prosthetic hand they wanted to make because one of their people lost fingers in a construction accident. Instead of drawing up plans for a new hand, they searched online -- and found, which is all about making 3-D printed prosthetic hands. Using a predesigned hand was obviously much simpler than starting from scratch, and was totally in line with the Open Source "Why reinvent the wheel?" philosophy.

So you3dit helps make 3-D printed items of one sort or another, and can either print them for you at their place or help you find someone local to help with the printing, assuming you can't do it yourself. As you might expect, they did a Kickstarter project. It was for a product called Raver Rings. Unlike many Kickstarter projects we mention on Slashdot, this one didn't fly. In fact, it only got $2,275 in pledges against a $10,000 goal. No matter. There are many other useful things the you3dit community can make -- or help you make -- without Kickstarter.