An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired:
Amid unrelenting chaos and violence, scientists and doctors in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been running a clinical trial of new drugs to try to combat a year-long Ebola outbreak. On Monday, the trial's cosponsors at the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health announced that two of the experimental treatments appear to dramatically boost survival rates. Starting last November, patients in four treatment centers in the country's east, where the outbreak is at its worst, were randomly assigned to receive one of four investigational therapies -- either an antiviral drug called remdesivir or one of three drugs that use monoclonal antibodies. Scientists concocted these big, Y-shaped proteins to recognize the specific shapes of invading bacteria and viruses and then recruit immune cells to attack those pathogens. One of these, a drug called ZMapp, is currently considered the standard of care during Ebola outbreaks. It had been tested and used during the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, and the goal was to see if those other drugs could outperform it. But preliminary data from the first 681 patients (out of a planned 725) showed such strong results that the trial has now been stopped.
Patients receiving Zmapp in the four trial centers experienced an overall mortality rate of 49 percent, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (Mortality rates are in excess of 75 percent for infected individuals who don't seek any form of treatment.) The monoclonal antibody cocktail produced by a company called Regeneron Pharmaceuticals had the biggest impact on lowering death rates, down to 29 percent, while NIAID's monoclonal antibody, called mAb114, had a mortality rate of 34 percent. The results were most striking for patients who received treatments soon after becoming sick, when their viral loads were still low -- death rates dropped to 11 percent with mAb114 and just 6 percent with Regeneron's drug, compared with 24 percent with ZMapp and 33 percent with Remdesivir.
Tesla Owner Implants RFID Chip From Her Model 3's Keycard Into Her Arm
A Tesla driver
figured out a way to implant the RFID tag from her Model 3's keycard into her forearm. Now, all she needs to do to unlock and turn on her car is to hold her forearm near the console -- no physical key fob or smartphone required. The Verge reports:
Amie DD is a software engineer and self-described "maker of things." In a video, she explained that she had implanted an RFID tag in her arm years ago, which she had used to open her home's front door and to send a smartphone's browser to her personal website. When she preordered her Model 3, she realized that she could probably do something similar with the keycard. She didn't have any luck transferring the software to her existing chip, so she decided to extract the card's chip and implant that into her arm. To do that, she dissolved the card using acetone, and had it encased in a biopolymer. From there, she went to a body-modification studio to have the chip (about the size of a Lego mini-figure) implanted into her forearm. In another video (warning, there's some blood), she shows off the implantation. She also documented her process on Hackaday. She told The Verge that the chip does work, but the range from her arm to the console "isn't the greatest." It's only about an inch, but she's hoping that it'll improve as the swelling of her arm goes down.
Study Blames Rise In Teens Who Need Glasses On Excessive Screen Time
pgmrdlm shares a report from StudyFinds:
So many people, especially young people and teenagers, spend a significant period of time each day staring at a screen of some kind, whether that be a computer, smartphone, tablet, or the regular old TV. Now, a new study is warning parents that all that screen time may be behind a stunning rise in children who need prescription glasses. According to the report released by United Kingdom-based eye care company Scrivens Opticians, the percentage of 13-16 year olds in the U.K. who need glasses has nearly doubled over the past seven years -- from 20% in 2012 to 35% in 2018. Two-thirds of those teens were diagnosed as being myopic, or short-sighted. Researchers theorize that this significant increase in eye problems among young people is likely linked to excessive time spent staring at screens, which can lead to eye strain, shortsightedness, and blurred vision. In fact, the study also found that the average 13-16 year old spends around 26 hours per week staring at a smartphone, playing video games, or watching TV.
Russia Says New Weapon Blew Up In Nuclear Accident Last Week
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg:
The failed missile test that ended in an explosion killing five atomic scientists last week on Russia's White Sea involved a small nuclear power source, according to a top official at the institute where they worked. The men "tragically died while testing a new special device," Alexei Likhachev, the chief executive officer of state nuclear monopoly Rosatom, said at their funeral Monday in Sarov, a high-security city devoted to atomic research less than 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow where the institute is based. The part of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center that employed them is developing small-scale power sources that use "radioactive materials, including fissile and radioisotope materials" for the Defense Ministry and civilian uses, Vyacheslav Soloviev, scientific director of the institute, said in a video shown by local TV.
The blast occurred Aug. 8 during a test of a missile engine that used "isotope power sources" on an offshore platform in the Arkhangelsk region, close to the Arctic Circle, Rosatom said over the weekend. The Defense Ministry initially reported two were killed in the accident, which it said involved testing of a liquid-fueled missile engine. The ministry didn't mention the nuclear element. It caused a brief spike in radiation in the nearby port city of Severodvinsk, according to a statement on the local administration's website that was later removed. A Sarov institute official on the video posted Sunday said radiation levels jumped to double normal levels for less than an hour and no lasting contamination was detected. The Russian military said radiation levels were normal but disclosed few details about the incident. There's speculation that the weapon being tested was the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, known in Russia as the Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered cruise missile that President Vladimir Putin introduced last year.
Ring Told People To Snitch On Their Neighbors In Exchange For Free Stuff
popcornfan679 shares a report from Motherboard:
Ring, Amazon's home security company, has encouraged people to form their own "Digital Neighborhood Watch" groups that report crime in exchange for free or discounted Ring products, according to an internal company slide presentation obtained by Motherboard. The slide presentation -- which is titled "Digital Neighborhood Watch" and was created in 2017, according to Ring -- tells people that if they set up these groups, report all suspicious activity to police, and post endorsements of Ring products on social media, then they can get discount codes for Ring products and unspecified Ring "swag." A Ring spokesperson said the program described in the slide presentation was rolled out in 2017, before Ring was
acquired by Amazon. They said it was discontinued that same year.
"This particular idea was not rolled out widely and was discontinued in 2017," Ring said. "We will continue to invent, iterate, and innovate on behalf of our neighbors while aligning with our three pillars of customer privacy, security, and user control." "Some of these ideas become official programs, and many others never make it past the testing phase," Ring continued, adding that the company "is always exploring new ideas and initiatives."
Many of the 'Oldest' People in the World May Not Be as Old as We Think
We've long been obsessed with the super-elderly. How do some people make it to 100 or even 110 years old? Why do some regions -- say, Sardinia, Italy, or Okinawa, Japan -- produce dozens of these "supercentenarians" while other regions produce none? Is it genetics? Diet? Environmental factors? Long walks at dawn? From a report:
A new working paper released on bioRxiv, the open access site for prepublication biology papers, appears to have cleared up the mystery once and for all: It's none of the above. Instead, it looks like the majority of the supercentenarians (people who've reached the age of 110) in the United States are engaged in -- intentional or unintentional -- exaggeration. The paper, by Saul Justin Newman of the Biological Data Science Institute at Australian National University, looked at something we often don't give a second thought to: the state of official record-keeping. Across the United States, the state recording of vital information -- that is, reliable, accurate state record-keeping surrounding new births -- was introduced in different states at different times. A century ago, many states didn't have very good record-keeping in place. But that changed gradually over time in different places.
Newman looks at the introduction of birth certificates in various states and finds that "the state-specific introduction of birth certificates is associated with a 69-82% fall in the number of supercentenarian records." In other words, as soon as a state starts keeping good records of when people are born, there's a 69 to 82 percent fall in the number of people who live to the age of 110. That suggests that of every 10 supposed supercentenarians, seven or eight of them are actually younger than that, but we just don't know it because of poor record-keeping.
ByteDance Launches New Search Engine in China
ByteDance, the owner of short-video app TikTok, has
launched a new search engine in China, entering a sector currently dominated by Baidu. From a report:
Beijing-based ByteDance is moving beyond its core businesses in news and video and into work-place messaging and music streaming, competing with Tencent and other Chinese tech firms. The domain for the new search engine, Toutiao Search, sits within the company's flagship product - Chinese news aggregator Jinri Toutiao. ByteDance, which according to sources familiar with the matter was valued at $78 billion in its last financing round in 2018, declined to comment. The company said on social media last month it was looking to hire people to work with its search engine team, and had hired technical experts from Google, Baidu and Bing. It said the search engine would offer content from ByteDance-owned apps, including Jinri Toutiao and the Chinese version of TikTok, as well as the wider web.
Uber Imposes Engineer Hiring Freeze as Losses Mount
Uber isn't letting tech workers join the ride, at least for now. From a report:
The ride-hailing giant canceled scheduled on-site interviews for tech roles last week, and job applicants have been told positions are being put on hold due to a hiring freeze in engineering teams in the U.S. and Canada, according to multiple people who received the communications. In emails sent to job interviewees, Uber recruiters explained "there have been some changes" and the opportunity has been "put on hold for now," according to emails reviewed by Yahoo Finance. The hiring freeze comes after 400 layoffs in its marketing department earlier this month, which raised concerns and fears company-wide. During a recent all-hands meeting, a question about potential layoffs in the engineering department was also raised, but executives didn't provide any timelines. The number of hiring posts for software engineer roles at Uber peaked in March, according to data tracking firm Thinknum. The move highlights the challenges that Uber faces as it scrambles to prove to Wall Street, since its IPO in May, that it's on the right track to achieve profitability. The company, with 100 million monthly active users, reported $5.23 billion in losses for the second quarter last week.
Almost Half of Employees Have Access To More Data Than They Need
A new study of over 700 full-time US employees reveals that that 48 percent of employees
have access to more company data than they need to perform their jobs, while 12 percent of employees say they have access to all company data. From a report:
The survey by business app marketplace GetApp also asked employees what classifications of data protection are in place at their company. No more than a third of businesses were found to use any one individual data classification. The lowest in use are Proprietary (15 percent) and Highly Confidential (18 percent). The most commonly used are Confidential -- 33 percent of businesses use this classification, Internal -- 30 percent, Public -- 29 percent and Restricted/Sensitive -- 25 percent.
Verizon To Sell Tumblr To WordPress Owner
According to The Wall Street Journal, Verizon has
agreed to sell its blogging website Tumblr to the owner of popular online-publishing tool WordPress. Tumblr
was acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion in 2013, and was later included in
Verizon's $4.5 billion purchase of Yahoo's web assets in 2017. Bloomberg reports:
Automattic Inc. will buy Tumblr for an undisclosed sum and take on about 200 staffers, the companies said. Tumblr is a free service that hosts millions of blogs where users can upload photos, music and art, but it has been dwarfed by Facebook, Reddit and other services. The Tumblr acquisition is the largest ever in terms of price and head count for Automattic, the company's Chief Executive Matt Mullenweg said in an interview. The San Francisco company has a stable of brands focused on online publishing, including longform site Longreads, comment-filtering service Akismet, and avatar-managing service Gravatar.
Mr. Mullenweg said his company intends to maintain the existing policy that bans adult content. He said he has long been a Tumblr user and sees the site as complementary to WordPress.com. "It's just fun," he said of Tumblr. "We're not going to change any of that." Tumblr has a strong mobile interface and dashboard where users follow other blogs, he said. Executives will look for ways WordPress.com and Tumblr can share services and functionality.
US Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act
The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the
nation's bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle
[Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction. From a report:
The changes will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, would allow economic assessments to be conducted when making determinations. The rules also make it easier to remove a species from the endangered species list and weaken protections for threatened species, a designation that means they are at risk of becoming endangered. Overall, the new rules would very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the changes would modernize the Endangered Species Act and increase transparency in its application. "The act's effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation," he said in a statement Monday. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement the revisions "fit squarely within the president's mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species' protection and recovery goals." The new rules are expected to appear in the Federal Register this week and will go into effect 30 days after that.
Epic Hit With Class-Action Suit Over Hacked Fortnite Accounts
Epic Games is being
sued over security breaches that allowed hackers to access the personal information of Epic Games accounts. From a report:
The class-action lawsuit, filed by Franklin D. Azar & Associates in U.S. District Court in North Carolina, alleges Epic's "failure to maintain adequate security measures and notify users of the security breach in a timely manner." The lawsuit states that "there are more than 100 class members." In January, Epic acknowledged that a bug in Fortnite may have exposed personal information for millions of user accounts.
Getting Cool Vanity License Plate 'NULL' Is Not Really a Cool Idea, Infosec Researcher Discovers
Choosing NULL as your license plate might seem like a funny idea. But as an infosec researcher discovered recently, the cool-looking NULL vanity plate comes with its own consequences. Researcher Droogie, that's his handle, who presented at this year's DEF CON in Las Vegas, said he has been on the
receiving end of thousands of dollars worth of tickets that aren't his. From a report:
Droogie registered a vanity California license plate consisting solely of the word "NULL" -- which in programming is a term for no specific value -- for fun. And, he admitted to laughs, on the off chance it would confuse automatic license plate readers and the DMV's ticketing system. "I was like, 'I'm the shit,'" he joked to the crowd. "'I'm gonna be invisible.' Instead, I got all the tickets." Things didn't go south immediately. As Droogie explained, he's a cautious driver and didn't get any tickets for the first year he owned the vanity plate. Then he went to reregister his tags online, and, when prompted to input his license plate, broke the DMV webpage. It seemed the DMV site didn't recognize the plate "NULL" as an actual input.
That was the first sign that something was amiss. The next sign was, well, a little more serious: After receiving a legitimate parking ticket, thousands of dollars in random tickets starting arriving in the mail at his house, addressed to him. It seemed that a privately operated citation processing center had a database of outstanding tickets, and, for some reason -- possibly due to incomplete data on their end -- many of those tickets were assigned to the license plate "NULL." In other words, the processing center was likely trying to tell its systems it didn't know the plates of the offending cars. Instead, with Droogie's vanity plate now in play, it pegged all those outstanding tickets on him. Specifically, over $12,000 worth of outstanding tickets. Long story short, Droogie went on the painstaking process to explain the situation to the DMV and the LAPD, both of whom advised him to change his plate. At any rate, the DMV reached out to the private vendor and sorted the issue.
Unroll.me Settles FTC Allegations That It Deceived Consumers About How it Accesses and Uses Emails
Unroll.me, a firm that helps people manage their email list subscriptions but
also sells users' data for profit, has settled with the FTC after allegations of deceiving consumers,
the agency said. In a press release, the agency wrote:
In a complaint, the FTC alleges that Unrollme , falsely told consumers that it would not "touch" their personal emails, when in fact it was sharing the users' email receipts (e-receipts) with its parent company, Slice Technologies. E-receipts are emails sent to consumers following a completed transaction and can include, among other things, the user's name, billing and shipping addresses, and information about products or services purchased by the consumer. Slice uses anonymous purchase information from Unrollme users' e-receipts in the market research analytics products it sells. Unrollme helps users unsubscribe from unwanted subscription emails and consolidates wanted email subscriptions into one daily email called the Rollup. The service requires users to provide Unrollme with access to their email accounts.
Google Will Now Let Android Users Log In To Some Services Without A Password
If you're an Android user, you
can now sign into some of Google's services using your fingerprint, rather than having to type in a password. "The feature is available starting today for some Android phones, and it will be rolling out to all phones running Android 7 or later 'over the next few days,'" reports The Verge. "According to a
Google help page, the feature also allows you to log in using whichever method you have set up to unlock your phone, which can include pins and pattern unlock." From the report:
Android phones already let you use your fingerprint to authenticate Google Pay purchases and log in to apps. What's new here is being able to use that same fingerprint to log in to one of Google's web services within the Chrome browser. At the moment, you can use the functionality to view and edit the passwords that Google has saved for you at passwords.google.com, but Google says it plans to add the functionality to more Google and Google Cloud services in the future.
If you have a compatible Android handset, then you can try the functionality out now by heading over to passwords.google.com using the Chrome app on your phone. This service lets you manage all of the passwords that Chrome has saved for you. If you tap on any one of these saved passwords, then Google will prompt you to "Verify that it's you," at which point, you can authenticate using your fingerprint or any other method you'd usually use to unlock your phone. You'll need to already have your personal Google Account added to your Android device for this to work.
GM, Volkswagen Say Goodbye To Hybrid Vehicles
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal:
Auto makers for two decades have leaned on hybrid vehicles to help them comply with regulations on fuel consumption and give customers greener options in the showroom. Now, two of the world's largest car manufacturers say they see no future for them in their U.S. lineups. General Motors and Volkswagen are shifting the bulk of their future investment into fully electric cars (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), seeing hybrids, which save fuel by combining a gasoline engine with an electric motor, as only a stopgap to ultimately meeting tougher tailpipe-emissions requirements, particularly in China and Europe.
GM plans to launch 20 fully electric vehicles world-wide in the next four years, including plug-in models in the U.S. for the Chevy and Cadillac brands. Volkswagen also has committed billions to producing more battery-powered models, including introducing a small plug-in SUV in the U.S. next year and an electric version of its minibus around 2022. VW and GM are focused on all-electric cars largely because of China, where new regulations require car companies to sell a minimum number of zero-emissions vehicles to avoid financial penalties. VW plans to use its electric-car expansion in China to build scale and drive down prices faster in the U.S., said Scott Keogh, VW's U.S. chief. "If I had a dollar more to invest, would I spend it on a hybrid? Or would I spend it on the answer that we all know is going to happen, and get there faster and better than anybody else?" GM President Mark Reuss said in an interview.
Samsung Just Made a 108MP Camera for Phones
Samsung has announced a new image sensor for phones that breaks records. Built-in partnership with Xiaomi, the new Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX is the
world's first mobile image sensor that goes beyond 100 million pixels. From a report:
At 108MP, the new sensor allows for higher quality pictures in different light conditions. The resolution, which Samsung says is equivalent to DSLR cameras, allows for "extremely sharp photographs rich in detail," according to the firm. It's the first mobile image sensor to adopt a large lens size of 1/1.33-inch that allows the lens to absorb more light, leading to better quality pictures in low-light conditions. There's also an intelligent Tetracell technology that uses a pixel-merging method to "imitate" big-pixel sensors, allowing phones to produce brighter 27MP images. [...] The image sensor is built to tackle video recording as well, with Samsung claiming no losses in field-of-view when recording videos at resolutions up to 6K at 30fps.
Microsoft Inks 10-Year Deal With Top Indian Telecom Network Reliance Jio To Court 'Millions' of Small and Medium Businesses
Microsoft on Monday announced a long-term partnership with India's top telecom network Reliance Jio to
reach "millions" of small and medium businesses clients in the key overseas market. From a report:
The 10-year alliance between the two will see them launch new cloud data-centers in India to ensure "more of Jio's customers can access the tools and platforms they need to build their own digital capability," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a video appearance Monday. Three-year-old Reliance Jio has amassed more than 340 million subscribers in the country. "At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Core to this mission is deep partnerships, like the one we are announcing today with Reliance Jio. Our ambition is to help millions of organizations across India thrive and grow in the era of rapid technological change. Together, we will offer a comprehensive technology solution, from compute to storage, to connectivity and productivity for small and medium-sized businesses everywhere in the country," he added.
As part of the partnership, Nadella said, Jio and Microsoft will jointly offer Azure, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft AI platforms to more organizations in India, and also bring Azure Cognitive Services to more devices and in 13 Indian languages to businesses in the country. The solutions will be âoeaccessibleâ to reach as many people and organizations in India as possible, he added. The cloud services will be offered to businesses for as little as Rs 1,500 ($21) per month. The first two data-centers will be set up in Gujarat and Maharashtra by next year. Jio will migrate all of its non-networking apps to Microsoft Azure platform and promote its adoption among its ecosystem of startups, the two said in a joint statement.
The US Navy Will Replace Its Touchscreen Controls With Mechanical Ones On Its Destroyers
The US Navy will
replace the touchscreen throttle and helm controls currently installed in its destroyers with mechanical ones starting in 2020. From a report:
The move comes after the National Transportation Safety Board released an accident report from a 2017 collision, which cites the design of the ship's controls as a factor in the accident. On August 21st, 2017, the USS John S. McCain collided with the Alnic MC, a Liberian oil tanker, off the coast of Singapore. The report provides a detailed overview of the actions that led to the collision: when crew members tried to split throttle and steering control between consoles, they lost control of the ship, putting it into the path of the tanker. The crash killed 10 sailors and injured 48 aboard the McCain. The report says that while fatigue and lack of training played a role in the accident, the design of the ship's control console were also contributing factors. Located in the middle of the McCain's bridge, the Ship's Control Console (SCC) features a pair of touch-screens on both the Helm and Lee Helm stations, through which the crew could steer and propel the ship. Investigators found that the crew had placed it in "backup manual mode," which removed computer-assisted help, because it allowed for "more direct form of communication between steering and the SSC."
Samsung is Spamming Galaxy Phones With Multiple Note10 Ads
An anonymous reader shares a report:
In case you were living under a rock this past week, it was hard to miss Samsung's big reveal for the Galaxy Note10. It was all over social media, news sites, televisions, and... notification trays. That's right, Samsung is once again spamming Galaxy phones with advertisements, this time for the Note10. This time around, push notifications advertising the Note10 are being sent out by at least three pre-installed applications -- Samsung Pay, Bixby, and the Samsung Push Service. Bixby wants you to ask it about the Note10, Samsung Pay is offering points when you look at the phone's product page, and Samsung Push Service just gives you a banner ad with no indication of where it came from. I received the Bixby ad on my international Galaxy S10e, but I haven't personally seen the others. To make matters even worse, Samsung has blocked disabling these alerts by holding down on them, at least for the Bixby app (again, I can't verify the other types of alerts). To disable the Bixby notifications, you have to open Bixby, tap the menu icon at the top-right, select Settings, and set 'Marketing notifications' to off.
A Wearable Robotic Tail Could Improve Your Balance
Long-time Slashdot reader
Ken McE shared a video of
a new working prototype for a wearable tail.
There are lots of companies who make wearable tails for humans, but they're usually for cosplay or other entertainment pursuits. Researchers at Keio University in Japan have created a wearable animated tail that promises to genuinely augment the wearer's capabilities -- not just appearance -- by improving their balance and agility.
The easiest way to understand what inspired this creation is to watch a video of monkeys effortlessly leaping from tree to tree. Their tails not only serve as an additional limb for grasping branches but also help them reposition their bodies mid-flight for a safe landing by shifting the monkey's center of balance as it moves. The Arque tail, as it's been named, does essentially the same thing for humans, although leaping from the highest branches of a tree isn't recommended just yet.... Inside the tail are a set of four artificial muscles powered by compressed air that contract and expand in different combinations to move and curl the tail in any direction.
Though the researchers have built a prototype, their video describes it as a "proposed tail" -- specifically,
an artificial biomimicry-inspired anthropomorphic one. So how exactly would the tail controlled externally? The video describes its ability "to passively provide forces to the user's body based on the estimated center of gravity of his posture in order to correct his body balance." So basically, the tail would have a mind of its own, like the arms of Doctor Octopus?
"We also demonstrated a different approach for using the tail other than equilibrium maintenance, which is to change the center of mass of the user to off-balance his posture."
Was 2007 the 'Golden Age of Open Source'?
Just a few months ago, the editor of the
Linux Journal wrote that in many ways
the golden age of Linux and FOSS was 2007. "Linux was now mainstream in corporate IT, and it was much rarer to meet much resistance when you wanted to set up Linux servers, unless your company was a 100% Windows shop... FOSS companies were making a lot of money, and developers were being paid to work on Linux and FOSS full time."
He also wrote that when Linux Journal later folded (
the first time), "It became clearer than ever to me that while Linux and FOSS had won the battle over the tech giants a decade before, new ones had taken their place in the meantime, and we were letting them win."
And he offered this final assessment in April:
Today, Linux has wide hardware support, and a number of vendors offer hardware with Linux pre-installed and supported. The internet itself is full of FOSS projects, and one of the first things people do when they are about to start on a software project is to look on GitHub to see if anything that meets their needs already exists. Linux absolutely dominates the cloud in terms of numbers of VMs that run it, and much cloud infrastructure also runs FOSS services. Linux also is in many people's pockets and home appliances. Linux and FOSS are more ubiquitous than ever.
Linux and FOSS also are more hidden than ever. So many of those FOSS projects on GitHub ultimately are used as building blocks for proprietary software. So many companies that seem to champion FOSS by helping upstream projects they rely on also choose to keep the projects they write themselves proprietary. Although Linux dominates the cloud, more and more developers and system administrators who use the cloud do so via proprietary APIs and proprietary services. New developers and sysadmins get less exposure to Linux servers and FOSS services if they use the cloud how the providers intended. And, while Linux runs in your pocket and in your home, it's hidden underneath a huge layer of proprietary applications.
For the most part, the FOSS philosophy that defined Linux in its early days is hidden as well. Many people in the community tout FOSS only in terms of the ability to see code or as a way to avoid writing code themselves. It has become rarer for people to tout the importance of the freedoms that come along with FOSS and the problems that come from proprietary software. Indeed, most Linux application development in the cloud these days is done on Mac or Windows machines -- something that would have been considered unthinkable in the early days of Linux... I encourage everyone from all corners of the community not to take FOSS and Linux for granted. The world of readily available code and mostly open protocols you enjoy today isn't a given. If current trends continue, we could be back to a world of proprietary software, vendor lock-in and closed protocols like the world before 1994.
This new battle we find ourselves in is much more insidious. The ways that proprietary software and protocols have spread, in particular on mobile devices, has made it much more challenging for FOSS to win compared to in the past. If we want to win this battle, we need the whole community to work together toward a common goal.
Are We In 'The Golden Age of Open Source'?
InfoWorld's Matt Asay argues we're in (or near) "the golden age of open source."
Here and there an open source company might struggle to make a buck, but as a community of communities, open source has never been healthier. There are a few good indicators for this.
The first is that the clouds -- yes, all of them -- are open sourcing essential building blocks that expose their operations. Google rightly gets credit for moving first on this with projects like Kubernetes and TensorFlow, but the others have followed suit. For example, Microsoft Azure released Azure Functions, which "extends the existing Azure application platform with capabilities to implement code triggered by events occurring in virtually any Azure or third-party service as well as on-premises systems...." More recently, AWS released Firecracker, a lightweight, open source virtualization technology for running multi-tenant container workloads that emerged from AWS' serverless products (Lambda and Fargate). In a textbook example of how open source is supposed to work, Firecracker was derived from the Google-spawned crosvm but then spawned its own upgrade in the form of Weave Ignite, which made Firecracker much easier to manage.
These are just a few examples of the interesting open source projects emerging from the public clouds. (Across the ocean, Alibaba has been open sourcing its chip architecture, among other things.) More remains to be done, but these offer hope that the public clouds come not to bury open source, but rather to raise it...
it's not hard to believe that the more companies get serious about becoming software companies, the more they're going to encourage their developers to get involved in the open source communities upon which they depend... [I]t's not just the upstarts. Old-school enterprises like Home Depot host code on GitHub, while financial services companies like Capital One go even further, sponsoring open source events to help foster community around their proliferating projects.... So, again, not everybody is doing it. Not yet. But far more organizations are involved in open source today than were back in 2008... Such involvement is happening both at the elite level (public clouds) and in more mainstream ways, ushering in a golden era of open source.