Poppy Project: Time lapse of Poppy’s assembly

The Poppy project aims at building an open source humanoid robot and an interdisciplinary community to promote Science, Art and Education.
This video was shot during the assembly of our last Poppy. The actual duration of this assembly was around 7 hours.

The final choreography has been done during the “Êtres et numérique” residency. The code which makes move the robot is available on Github:
You can watch the performance video on; more information is available on our forum (

More info on

Music crédit:
Four Tet - Moma :
Buy it on itunes ( or amazon (


Michigan Tech course to build your own 3D printer 

“Last fall, Michigan Tech offered a new course: Open Source 3D Printing. Students pay an additional $500 course fee for the components and tools necessary to build their own MOST Delta RepRap 3D printer, which they then use for the course. At the end of the semester, each student keeps the printer they built and modified. The 50 seats for the class filled immediately.


The course essentially distilled the RepRap ethos and formalized it as an introduction to distributed additive manufacturing. We used “Open Source Lab: How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Costs” as the textbook to cover the material from an engineering scientist perspective. The course covered the hardware, firmware, slicing, and printer controller software for operating and maintaining the device—all of which are free and open source.


Next, we got into the nitty-gritty of the class: designing hyper-expensive 3D printable scientific equipment. We used the methods outlined in the textbook. As previously covered on, labs can save enormous sums of money by 3D printing equipment. Students formed teams with at least one graduate student per team so that they had access to campus labs. Then they did a commissioned assignment for another professor, designing everything from vortex mixers to shadow masks for semiconductor research. We used the NIH 3D printable repository and GitHub (as NIH only supported publishing the STL but not the source). Again, the abilities students demonstrated when they were given the freedom to innovate in open source space was impressive. You can see their work and many more examples here. Consider, for example, this customizable face plate designed in OpenSCAD, which a student group designed for an electrical engineering professor. The students designed all of them, and now even novices can choose their ports, position, and rotate them into place.”


For anarchists, though, free software is attractive not because of the legal provisions of its production process, but primarily because it contains gratis, high- quality alternatives to the proprietary and monopolist software economy. The latter, already on an early critique, represents “a special form of the commodification of knowledge…the special properties of knowledge (its lack of material substance; the ease with which it can be copied and transmitted) mean that it can only acquire exchange value where institutional arrangements confer a degree of monopoly power on its owner” (Morris-Suzuki 1984) — i.e. intellectual property rights. One may add that these are more than mere “institutional arrangements”, since they can be encoded into the technology itself as access-codes for software packages or online content. On such an optic, the collaborative development of free software like the Linux operating system and applications such as OpenOffice clearly approximate an informational anarchist communism. Moreover, for anarchists it is precisely the logic of expropriation and electronic piracy that enables a radical political extension of the cultural ideals of the free manipulation, circulation and use of information associated with the “hacker ethic” (Himanen 2001). The space of illegality created by P2P (peer- to-peer) file-sharing opens up the possibility, not only of the open circulation of freely- given information and software as it is on the Internet today, but also of conscious copyright violation. The Internet, then, enables not only communist relations around information, but also the militant contamination and erosion of non-communist regimes of knowledge — a technological “weapon” to equalize access to information, eating away at intellectual property rights by rendering them unenforceable.
Farm Management SaaS on Azure + Open Source

Agrivi is a farm management software as a service based on Microsoft and open source technologies for tracking, analyzing and improving agricultural results. The company needed a highly scalable, reliable and cost-efficient infrastructure as a service to run a solution built as a blend of Microsoft and open source technologies. Microsoft Azure fulfilled all the technology requirements and offered the best cost-benefit ratio.

The food production is a major global concern. One of the problems is lack of knowledge among farmers all around the world on how to make their production effective and sustainable. Agrivi, a Croatian company with its headquarters in London, UK, believes the knowledge must be available to all agriculture producers and with help of intelligent but affordable technology, they can make significant change and improve their production.

The service

Agrivi is an agricultural technology company that builds powerful knowledge-based farm management software that helps to make farms more resource-efficient, profitable and sustainable. This short [1:33 minute] film will quickly explain a bit the idea of the service:

The customers are owners of farms of all sizes from around the world. Agrivi offers a standard SaaS solution for small and medium farmers but also has an enterprise solution for large growers and agricultural cooperatives. It needs to have a simple-to-use interface that all farmers know how to use and that is available on all devices through web and mobile apps. Agrivi is also the winner of World Startup Competition 2014. For more information see this site.

How does it work?

The farmers send data about their crops, irrigation, pesticides, machines etc. The system also collects data from automated sensors, for example soil moisture sensors, irrigation systems and local weather stations. Using this data, Agirivi is creating the biggest agricultural knowledge base in the world: they started with 80 crops and now they use real data to identify patterns and improve the knowledge base. Although there are geographical differences, the timing and quantities are different, but agricultural processes all over the world are the same. So the company can serve farmers from every part of the world.

“As it is an extremely fast growing market and system collects and computes large amounts of data, we needed a highly scalable, reliable and cost-efficient infrastructure. The choice was obvious: cloud computing”

- says Matija Zulj, CEO of Agrivi.

“Moreover, we are building our solution using a blend of Microsoft and open source technologies. So we needed an infrastructure that can handle it smoothly”

- adds Matija Zulj.

Agrivi evaluated several cloud infrastructure providers (Amazon and Rackspace among others) and their analysis showed that the best cost-benefit ratio was offered by Microsoft Azure.


The core of the solution is Agrivi farm management software that was built with Microsoft .NET MVC 4 framework. The company uses MySQL for database and Wordpress for public web, help and other content. It runs on 15 Windows (application servers) and Linux (database and web servers) virtual machines on Microsoft Azure platform. All the data is on Microsoft Azure storage. Android and iOS mobile applications that communicate with the system using API are also part of the solution.

“Our solution, which is a blend of Microsoft and open source technologies, works smoothly on Microsoft Azure platform. Everything is fully compatible and we have no problems with it”

- says Matija Zulj.

Agrivi uses Microsoft Azure traffic manager service for load balancing and failover. It allows administrators to handle all the traffic between users and the servers so there is no - planned or unplanned - downtime.

The company also use Microsoft Azure machine learning service as an experiment. It allows the company to better analyze data and optimize agricultural knowledge base. For example, advanced Microsoft Azure Big data algorithms help detect patterns in data collected from the farmers and suggest the best time for applying pesticide or irrigation.


“Microsoft Azure offers everything we need. It gives us confidence in scalability to ensure performance and uptime for quality of service, which for us is the most important aspect we expect from an infrastructure provider”

says Matija Zulj. It provides Agrivi computing power that can dynamically scale up as company grows. Since the commercial start of Agrivi services the company have acquired 3 thousand customers from 120 countries. And there are 1 billion people in agriculture industry in the global scale, so Agrivi can expect a huge growth.

It also allows company to freely use open source software along with Microsoft technologies to develop the solution without any compromises. Microsoft Azure platform guarantees that this blend of commercial and open source technologies will run reliably without any downtime.

“We cannot afford any downtime. The farmers want to input data on the field, as soon as possible. If it is not possible, it can be too time consuming and does not make sense for them. So we have to provide them access all the time. And I mean all the time through all the time zones in the world. Microsoft Azure provides us with that.”

- says Matija Zulj.

CEO of Agrivi praises easy to use Microsoft Azure management portal. It is fully functional, gives a good control over and insight into the entire infrastructure, but at the same time it allows making very quick adjustments.

“With Microsoft Azure management portal it is easy to add new nodes to load balancing set. When we upgrade the system, we remove a node and later we put it back so the service runs smoothly. It is not that we have something that we couldn’t do in any way before, but Microsoft Azure offers us easier management of the entire infrastructure and that saves us time and money.”

- says Matija Zulj.

Last but not least, the TCO for Microsoft Azure platform is 15% lower than Agrivi’s previous infrastructure provider. “The cost-benefit ratio of Microsoft Azure services can hardly be beaten” - sums up Matija Zulj.

Note: This customer story was is based on this blog post on the Microsoft Customer Stories website.

Working In Public From Day 1

By Eric Mill

In the wide world of software, maybe you’ve heard someone say this, or maybe you’ve said it yourself: “I’ll open source it after I clean up the code; it’s a mess right now.”

Or: “I think there are some passwords in there; I’ll get around to cleaning it out at some point.”

Or simply: “No way, it’s just too embarrassing.”

These feelings are totally natural, but keep a lot of good work closed that could easily have been open. The trick to avoiding this is simple: open source your code from day 1. Don’t wait for a milestone, don’t wait for it to be stable — do it from the first commit.

Here are a few reasons why you should feel good about working in the open from the moment your shovel goes in the ground:

No one’s going to read your code. Your code is almost certainly boring. Most code is. Instead, people will evaluate your work based on how they’d interact with it. Is it easy to learn how to use it from the README? Is development active? Have many GitHub users starred it? And none of that will matter until your project is far enough along that it’s useful. You will not be in the spotlight until you deserve to be.

You will make better decisions. At the most basic level, you will be vastly less likely to accidentally commit a password to an open source project than a closed one. But more than that: even though no one is reading your code, you’ll still feel a bit of natural pressure to make better decisions. You’ll hardcode less, and move more into configuration files. You’ll make things slightly more modular. You’ll comment more. You’ll catch security holes more quickly. That’s a healthy pressure.

It will not waste your time. It may feel like some of those “better decisions” take more time. But even if you’re the only person who will ever work on this project, you have to live there. You’ll greatly and immediately appreciate having made those decisions the minute you return to your own code after taking a month off. And when making better decisions becomes routine, they stop taking more time — and you become a better coder.

You might just help people. And people might just help you! The internet is a big place and a small world, and GitHub has a way of making unexpected connections. If your work is even a little bit useful to someone else, there’s a good chance they’ll find their way to your door, start poking around, and find a way to be useful right back. Even if you’re working on what you think is the most niche project that no one else would ever use: leave the door open for providence.

Once you get used to beginning your work in public, it stops feeling like performance art and starts feeling like breathing. It’s a healthy routine that produces better work and personal growth, and opens the door to spontaneous contribution and engagement. When your default is open, everyone wins.

18F: An Open Source Team

By Raphael Majma and Eric Mill

At 18F, we place a premium on developing digital tools and services in the open. This means contributing our source code back to the community, actively repurposing our code across projects, and contributing back to the open source tools we use. For a variety of reasons, we believe that doing so improves the final product we create. It is because of this that our policy is to:

  1. Use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in our projects and to contribute back to the open source community;
  2. Create an environment where any project can be developed in the open; and
  3. Publish all source code created or modified by 18F publicly.

FOSS is software that does not charge users a purchase or licensing fee for modifying or redistributing the source code. There are many benefits to using FOSS, including allowing for product customization and better interoperability between products. Citizen and consumer needs can change rapidly. FOSS allows us to modify software iteratively and to quickly change or experiment as needed.

Similarly, openly publishing our code creates cost-savings for the American people by producing a more secure, reusable product. Code that is available online for the public to inspect is open to a more rigorous review process that can assist in identifying flaws in the source code. Developing in the open, when appropriate, opens the project up to that review process earlier and allows for discussions to guide the direction of a products development. This creates a distinct advantage over proprietary software that undergoes a less diverse review and provides 18F with an opportunity to engage our stakeholders in ways that strengthen our work.

The use of open source software is not new in the Federal Government. Agencies have been using open source software for many years to great effect. What fewer agencies do is publish developed source code or develop in the open. When the Food and Drug Administration built out openFDA, an API that lets you query adverse drug events, they did so in the open. Because the source code was being published online to the public, a volunteer was able to review the code and find an issue. The volunteer not only identified the issue, but provided a solution to the team that was accepted as a part of the final product. Our policy hopes to recreate these kinds of public interactions and we look forward to other offices within the Federal Government joining us in working on FOSS projects.

In the next few days, we’re excited to publish a contributor’s guide about reuse and sharing of our code and some advice on working in the open from day one.


AKER is an open source, modular urban agriculture system. We share tools that help build ecologically resilient, healthy communities.

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