Mozilla Nederland LogoDe Nederlandse

Mozilla v FCC: Mozilla Re-files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

Mozilla Blog - do, 22/02/2018 - 14:54

This morning, the Federal Communications Commission officially published its order overturning net neutrality rules in the Federal Register. We had originally filed suit early while simultaneously urging the court that the correct date was after this publication. We did this in an abundance of caution because we’re not taking any chances with an issue of this importance. That is why today, immediately after the order was published, Mozilla re-filed our suit challenging the FCC net neutrality order. We won’t waste a minute in our fight to protect net neutrality because it’s our mission to ensure the internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. An internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent.

As we’ve said before, the FCC’s decision to overturn the 2015 rules violates both federal law as well as harms internet users and innovators. The decision does not simply “roll back” to an unregulated internet, instead, it removes affirmative protections for the public despite the fact that many people in the U.S. suffer from a lack of choice in broadband high speed internet access. To make matters worse, the FCC didn’t adequately consider the impact such a removal would have on small businesses that rely on the open internet to sell their products and services and the free expression rights of internet users. In fact, the decision really only benefits large Internet Service Providers.

We will continue to work against the FCC’s decision to destroy net neutrality in the courts, in Congress, and with our allies and internet users.

Want to help? You can call your elected officials and urge them to support net neutrality and an open internet. Net neutrality is not a partisan or U.S. issue and the decision to remove protections for net neutrality is the result of broken processes, broken politics, and broken policies. We need politicians to decide to protect users and innovation online rather than increase the power of a few large ISPs.

The post Mozilla v FCC: Mozilla Re-files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Snips Uses Rust to Build an Embedded Voice Assistant

Mozilla Blog - wo, 21/02/2018 - 21:34

The team at Paris-based Snips has created a voice assistant that can be embedded in a single device or used in a home network to control lights, thermostat, music, and more. You can build a home hub on a Raspberry Pi and ask it for a weather report, to play your favorite song, or to brew up a double espresso. Manufacturers like Keecker are adding Snips’ technology to products like multimedia home robots. And Snips works closely with leaders across the value chain, like NVIDIA, EBV, and Analog Devices, in order to voice-enable an increasingly wider range of device types, from speakers to home automation systems to cars.

Snips’ solution is different from other voice assistants, in that it runs its entire code base on a single device and can work without an Internet connection. Snips’ software stack includes its wake word (“Hey Snips”), application logic, speech recognition engine, and language understanding module.

By comparison, products like Amazon Echo and Google Home just run code for the wake word, and they are dependent on the cloud to process queries and generate responses. That approach opens the door for companies to potentially collect users’ speech data, raising privacy concerns.

How can Snips embed all the code for a voice assistant onto a single device? They wrote it using the Rust systems programming language.

Rust is a highly efficient programming language that was developed in an open source project and is sponsored by Mozilla. The first stable release of Rust was in May 2015. Now, the Rust community is seeing companies adopt Rust to build commercial software, often at the cutting edge of their fields.

Rust is compelling because it combines attributes from different kinds of languages, so it can offer high performance and low memory overhead as well as memory safety and cross-compilation to different platforms. That made it a great fit for Snips’ use case: embedding code into a range of device types with limited memory and processing power.

Why Rust?

Snips Principal Engineer Mathieu Poumeyrol had used Rust at a previous job, writing multi-platform code. Instead of having to write and then rewrite for each platform, he used Rust’s cross-compilation capability. That let him write once and translate his code so it could run well on different machines, without days or weeks of hand-coding rework.

Poumeyrol pushed hard for Snips to consider adopting Rust. It had the traits Snips needed – efficiency, portability, and safety – and it had the performance characteristics to be able to run wicked fast, even on small devices.

“Snips was already using very modern languages for both mobile development and the back end, like Swift, Kotlin, and Scala,” Poumeyrol said. “That played a big part in convincing our engineers to try Rust.”

After more investigation, the Snips technical team was convinced that Rust was the right way to go. “We went all-in on Rust in 2016,” said Snips CTO Joseph Dureau. “And we are very happy with that decision.”

Performance and Portability

The primary challenge for Snips’ engineering team was this: How can we embed a voice assistant so it runs efficiently and safely on all of our clients’ connected devices, regardless of the operating system and architecture they use?

Rust was the answer to that challenge. The language offered a combination of virtues: the performance of a low-level language like C/C++, the capability to port code to new platforms, and memory safety features designed to enhance security, even when code is running on connected devices that are relatively exposed. (See how crockpots were hacked in 2016.)

Performance: Rust code is fast and efficient. It can run on resource-constrained devices with no degradation in performance. The language manages zero-cost abstraction in the same spirit as C++, Poumeyrol said, while maintaining the same safety level as a language with garbage collection. Rust delivers high-level features without a runtime performance penalty, which was exactly what Snips needed.

Portability: Rust’s first-class compiler, rustc, allows Snips’ engineers to write code once and port it to new devices. This is critical, because the company adds new device platforms to its solution every few weeks. Under the hood, rustc is implemented on top of LLVM, a solid, proven compiler framework. LLVM enables programmers to cross-compile code to most any modern hardware architecture, from mobile devices to desktops and servers.

“We must be able to code once and run our code on many platforms in an optimal and secure way,” Dureau said. “Everything we write for the embedded voice assistant, we write in Rust.”

Safety: Rust has a unique ownership model that makes its code, once compiled, safer than C/C++ and easier to maintain over time. The language uses concepts of ownership, moves, and borrows to keep track of memory resources and make sure they are being used appropriately.

Here’s how Rust’s memory safety features work. After programmers write new code, they run it through a compiler. The rustc compiler checks the code for errors. If it finds code that does not handle memory resources correctly, the compile step will not complete. That makes it more difficult to put memory-unsafe code into a production environment. The compiler helps in another way: It gives some feedback about the error alerts, and when possible, suggests fixes. This feedback saves a lot of time and lets new programmers learn by doing, with a lowered risk of introducing security vulnerabilities.

Poumeyrol is a fan of the Rust compiler. “At compilation time, it can make sure the resource management is done correctly, so we have no surprises at runtime,” he said.

One Fast Development Cycle

Working in Rust, the Snips technical team was able to complete its voice platform in record time: It took Snips less than a year to complete the coding work in Rust and put its voice assistant into production.

Memory safety played a large role in accelerating Snips’ development process. The developers could find and fix bugs using feedback from the Rust compiler. Those early corrections made the development cycle much shorter, because it’s simpler to fix bugs early, rather than waiting until runtime. It also speeded up the QA (quality assurance) phase of the process, so Snips was able to move new features into production more quickly.

Snips’ solution currently supports a dozen different device platforms, including the Raspberry Pi 3, DragonBoard, Sagemcom, Jetson TX2, IMX.8M, and others. Rust has made it simpler for the team to extend support to new boards, because they can reuse the same code base rather than writing custom implementations for each architecture.

Learning Rust

Today, all Snips’ embedded code is written in Rust. Over time, Poumeyrol has trained the embedded software engineers to code in Rust, as well as a significant number of the company’s Machine Learning scientists. As they all got more familiar with the language, the team’s go-to reference was the second edition of The Rust Programming Language Book, published online by the open source Rust Project.

The whole training process was fairly quick and organic, Poumeyrol said. The engineers he trained in turn shared their expertise with others, until the entire embedded software engineering team was actively learning the language.

“Rust is a language of its time,” Poumeyrol said. “Once one has a taste for these modern languages, it can be very frustrating to come back to C or C++ when you suddenly need portability and efficiency.” Poumeyrol has seen broad adoption of Rust in the larger industry as well, as software engineers and machine learning scientists see it as a useful tool that can solve persistent coding problems.

The post Snips Uses Rust to Build an Embedded Voice Assistant appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

20 Big Ideas to Connect the Unconnected

Mozilla Blog - di, 20/02/2018 - 15:00
The National Science Foundation and Mozilla are supporting projects that keep the web accessible, decentralized, and resilient


Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mozilla announced the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) challenges: $2 million in prizes for big ideas to connect the unconnected across the U.S.

Today, we’re announcing our first set of winners: 20 bright ideas from Detroit, Cleveland, Albuquerque, New York City, and beyond. The winners are building mesh networks, solar-powered Wi-Fi, and network infrastructure that fits inside a single backpack. Winning projects were developed by veteran researchers, enterprising college students, and everyone in-between.

What do all these projects have in common? They’re affordable, scalable, open-source, and secure.

“Some 34 million Americans — many of them located in rural communities and on tribal lands — lack high-quality Internet access,” says Jim Kurose, Assistant Director of NSF for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). “By supporting ideas like the ones that have surfaced through the WINS challenges, Internet access could be expanded to potentially millions of Americans, enabling many social and economic opportunities that come with connectivity.”

“As the value of being connected to the Internet steadily increases, Americans without affordable access to the net are increasingly excluded from a world of social, educational, and economic possibility,” adds Mozilla Fellow and WINS judge Steve Song. “The 20 projects short-listed are evidence of the potential that now exists for thoughtful, committed citizens to build affordable, scalable, secure communication infrastructure wherever it is needed.”

The 20 Stage 1 winners presented rigorously-researched design concepts and will receive between $10,000 and $60,000 each. Winners were selected by a panel of judges from organizations like Nokia, Columbia University, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Up next: All winning teams — along with more than 100 other WINS submissions — are now invited to build working prototypes as part of the second stage of the competition. In August, these finalists will provide live demonstrations of their prototypes at an event in Mountain View, CA. Final awards, ranging from $50,000 to $400,000, will be announced in the fall of 2018.



When disasters strike, communications networks are among the first pieces of critical infrastructure to overload or fail. These 10 creative ideas being recognized with design prizes leverage both the internet’s decentralized design and current wireless technology to keep people connected to each other — and to vital messaging and mapping services — in the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters.

A schematic of Project Lantern | courtesy of Paper & Equator

[1] Project Lantern | First Place ($60,000) A Lantern is a keychain-sized device that hosts decentralized web apps with local maps, supply locations, and more. These apps are pushed to Lanterns via long-range radio and Wi-Fi, and then saved offline to browsers for continued use. Lanterns can be distributed by emergency responders and are accessed by citizens through a special-purpose Wi-Fi network supported by the Lanterns. Project by Paper & Equator in New York, NY in collaboration with the Shared Reality Lab at McGill University; learn more.

Hardware components for HERMES | courtesy of Rhizomatica

[2] HERMES | Second Place ($40,000) HERMES (High­-frequency Emergency and Rural Multimedia Exchange System) is autonomous network infrastructure. It enables local calling, SMS, and basic OTT messaging, all via equipment that can fit inside two suitcases, using GSM, Software Defined Radio and High-Frequency radio technologies. Project by Rhizomatica.

[3] Emergency LTE | Third Place ($30,000) Emergency LTE is an open-source, solar- and battery-powered cellular base station that functions like an autonomous LTE network. The under-50-pound unit features a local web server with apps that allow emergency broadcasts, maps, messaging, and more. Project lead: Dr. Spencer Sevilla in Seattle, WA.

[4] The Next­-Generation, Disaster Relief Mobile Phone Mesh Network | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project provides a phone­-to-­phone mesh network that’s always on, even if all other systems are offline. A goTenna Mesh device unlocks connectivity using ISM radio bands, then pairs with Android and iOS phones to provide messaging and mapping, as well as back-haul connectivity when available. Project by goTenna in Brooklyn, NY; see the network map here & learn more.

[5] G.W.N. | Honorable Mention ($10,000) G.W.N. (Gridless Wireless Network) leverages ISM radio bands, Wi-Fi modules, and antennae to provide connectivity. When users connect to these durable 10-pound nodes, they can locate nearby shelters or alert emergency responders. Project lead: Dr. Alan Mickelson in Boulder, CO; learn more.

[6] Wind: Off­-Grid Services for Everyday People | Honorable Mention ($10,000) Wind uses Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct, and physical infrastructure nodes built from common routers to create a peer-to-peer network. The project also features a decentralized software and content distribution system. By Guardian Project in New York; learn more.

[7] Baculus | Honorable Mention ($10,000) Baculus features a telescoping antennae/flag, a Wi-Fi access point, small computer, GPS transceiver, software defined radio, and battery, all housed inside a rolling backpack. The project provides applications like maps and message boards over an ad-hoc, self-repairing Wi-Fi network. Project Lead: Jonathan Dahan in New York; Design Lead: Ariel Cotton; learn more.

[8] Portable Cell Initiative | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project deploys a “microcell,” or temporary cell tower, in the aftermath of a disaster. The project uses software defined radio (SDR) and a satellite modem to enable voice calls, SMS, and data services. It also networks with nearby microcells. Project lead: Arpad Kovesdy in Los Angeles, CA; learn more.

[9] Othernet Relief Ecosystem | Honorable Mention ($10,000) Othernet Relief Ecosystem (O.R.E.) is an extension of Dhruv’s Othernet installations in Brooklyn, NY. These installations stem from a long tradition of mesh networking wherein the OpenWRT firmware alongside the B.A.T.M.A.N. protocol run on Ubiquiti hardware to form large-­scale local area networks. Each island of connectivity can be connected to each other using point-to-point antennas. A toolset of lightweight applications can live on these networks. Project lead: Dhruv Mehrotra in New York, NY; learn more.

[10] RAVE | Honorable Mention ($10,000) RAVE (Radio­-Aware Voice Engine) a push-to-talk mobile application providing high-fidelity audio communication via a peer-to-peer Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. Multiple RAVE devices form a multi-hop network capable of extending communication over longer distances. RAVE’s range can be extended via a network of relay nodes. These inexpensive, battery-powered devices automatically set up a mesh network that extends real-time voice and internet access throughout a whole community, and text communication over several miles. Project by Throneless in Washington, D.C.; learn more.



Many communities across the U.S. lack reliable internet access. Sometimes commercial providers don’t supply affordable access; sometimes a particular community is too isolated; sometimes the speed and quality of access is too slow. These 10 creative ideas being recognized with design prizes aim to leverage existing infrastructure — physical or network — to provide high-quality wireless connectivity to communities in need.

An EII installation | courtesy of the Detroit Community Technology Project

[11] Equitable Internet Initiative (EII) | First Place ($60,000) EII uses a system of relays to beam wireless broadband from a local ISP to vulnerable neighborhoods. The system includes solar-powered batteries, an intranet with apps, and training so local users can build and maintain the network. By the Detroit Community Technology Project, sponsored by Allied Media Projects in Detroit, MI; learn more.


[12] NoogaNet | Second Place ($40,000) NoogaNet provides wireless access within a defined neighborhood by leveraging utility pole-­mounted Wi-Fi nodes, point­-to-­multipoint millimeter wave, and mesh technologies. The project also includes user training for installing, utilizing, and managing a wireless mesh node. Project by the Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, TN; learn more.

[13] Southern Connected Communities Network | Third Place ($30,000) This project entails a broadband tower — and eventually, series of towers — that can deliver 1-Gbps speeds wirelessly to anyone in a 25-mile radius via public spectrums. The towers will be controlled by community members in rural Appalachia and the South who are currently underserved by major ISPs. Project by the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, TN.

[14] Solar Mesh | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project integrates mesh Wi-Fi access points into solar-powered light poles in order to provide connectivity to low-income households. The bandwidth is provided by T­Mobile. Project by the San Antonio Housing Authority in TX.

[15] Connect the Unconnected | Honorable Mention ($10,000) Using a fixed wireless backbone network, this project provides public housing and homeless shelter residents in a two-­square-mile radius with connectivity at speeds up to 35 Mb/s using point-to-point and point-to-multipoint millimeter wave technology. Residents also receive digital literacy training on refurbished devices that they are permitted to keep upon graduation. Project by DigitalC in Cleveland, OH.

[16] Repairable Community Cellular Networks­ | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project equips residents with sensors and software to carry out basic repairs and precautionary measures on OpenCellular base stations. The goal: decrease the likelihood and duration of service interruptions. Project by University of Washington in Seattle; learn more.

[17] People’s Open Network | Honorable Mention ($10,000) The People’s Open Network uses off-­the-­shelf multi­band Wi-Fi hardware and custom open-source software to connect and automatically route internet traffic from apartment to apartment and house to house in a decentralized manner. Project by sudomesh in Oakland, CA; learn more.

[18] BarelasGig | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project uses modern millimeter wave (mmW) technology to provide wireless gigabit backhaul and last-mile connectivity at a fraction of the cost of full fiber deployment. Project lead: Michael Sanchez in Albuquerque, NM.

[19] NYC Mesh Community Network | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project uses high-­bandwidth sector antennas, internet exchange points, mesh protocols, and solar batteries to create a community-owned, decentralized network. Project by NYC Mesh in New York City, NY; learn more.

[20] Telehub 2.0 ­- DuBois MAN | Honorable Mention ($10,000) This project provides wireless connectivity to underserved neighborhoods and school districts through radio infrastructure mounted on light poles. The project also features educational-technology initiatives to improve academic performance. Project by W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center in Kansas City, MO; learn more.

The post 20 Big Ideas to Connect the Unconnected appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet