The Download: July 3rd, 2015

The world of technology generates so many great stories, it’s hard to keep up during the weekly grind. Each Friday, we compile some of the stories that caught our eye. 

Here at Rackspace, the world of open source has a special place in our hearts. It’s how we developed OpenStack, the open source cloud-computing platform we rolled out with NASA in 2010, and as an overarching philosophy, open source software speaks to our own culture of openness and transparency. But an often-overlooked corner of the open source world is robotics, where, it turns out, it’s fueling everything from the creation of humanoid disaster bots to high-flying drones. This week, ZDNet’s Greg Nichols sat down with Open Source Robotics Foundation CEO Brian Gerkey to bring us up to speed:

The 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) wrapped up last month, and while teams from Korea and the U.S. took away $3.5M in prize money, the real winner was the open source robotics movement.

Of the 23 teams competing in the DRC, 18 utilized the open-source Robotic Operating System (ROS) and 14 used Gazebo, an open-source robot simulator that allows developers to test concepts in robust virtual environments without risking valuable hardware.

Meanwhile, in the world of startups, the sharing economy is spreading peace and love and wonderful access to the outdoors, through a new venture called “HipCamp,” which is sort of like AirBnB for nature lovers:

A company called Hipcamp now offers “land sharing,” a sharing economy term for campsites on private land. Listings include a swimming hole in the pines, a pondside space in Mendocino, Calif., and a yurt supposedly ideal for practicing Tai-Chi. Many more such sites are planned.

“There are a lot of people seeking privacy in great spaces,” said Alyssa Ravasio, Hipcamp’s founder and chief executive. “How cool to have your own waterfall for a weekend?”

In Rackspace news, ten new members of the Technical Career Track were recently inducted to the prestigious group, at a ceremony here at the Castle, Rackspace’s Headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. The TCT is a great opportunity for Rackspace employees who want to continue furthering their technical careers, but don’t necessarily desire a role in management:

It’s for the smartest, most technically-skilled Rackers who’ve also demonstrated strong leaderships skills — but don’t want to follow the traditional management path to the top.

“It’s not just ‘a career track for technical Rackers,’” said Casey Andrews, who serves as chief of staff to the office of the chief technology officer and co-manages the TCT program with Vice-President and General Counsel Van Lindberg. “Most Rackers are technical. This is a program for those with the combination of the highest technical expertise and the ability to influence and impact.”

And finally, the leap second, which we mentioned in the June 19th edition of the Download, has come and gone and we’re all still here. WHEW. While most of us didn’t notice any disruption at all, it did cause some hiccups. Wired breaks down the damage here:

Yesterday’s leap second caused “sporadic outages” in more than 2,000 networks that link machines across the Internet, according to a company that tracks the performance of online services.

Doug Madory, the director of internet analysis at the New Hampshire-based Dyn Inc., says the outages occurred just after midnight Coordinated Universal Time, when the leap second was added (see graph below). Because no single Internet service provider was responsible for the outage, Madory says, the leap second was almost certainly the culprit. “This is pretty unusual,” he says.

See something noteworthy you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section or send it directly to blog@rackspace.com. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

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