Who's New in Google Summer of Code 2012: Part 1

Friday, August 10, 2012

As the 8th Google Summer of Code comes to a close we wanted to introduce some of the 45 new organizations that are participating in this year’s program. Three of the organizations give a brief description of their projects below.
Benetech creates innovative technology for social change in literacy, human rights and environmental conservation.  Within our literacy program, our most prominent project is Bookshare® - a global leader in providing copyrighted, digital accessible books to people with print disabilities (e.g. those who are blind or have visual impairments, a learning disability like severe dyslexia, or a physical disability like cerebral palsy).  This is our first year participating in Google Summer of Code and we're excited to talk about what our students have been working on.
Accessible smartphones and tablets are creating lower cost and richer reading experiences for people with print disabilities. Our Google Summer of Code students were tasked with expanding the capabilities of Go Read - our open source Android Bookshare reading app. 
Our first student, Trevor Barron, is entering his sophomore year at Colorado College and is currently competing in Race Walking at the 2012 Olympics in London.  He is the second youngest Olympian to compete in the sport and just completed with the fastest time ever run by an American at an Olympic event.  Trevor is working on making MathML, a markup language for mathematical expressions supported in the HTML5 spec, accessible to blind students.  Specifically, he is extending the open source MathJax JavaScript library to not only visually render MathML in browsers that lack native MathML support, but to also enable expressions to be aurally delivered via Text-To-Speech based on the MathSpeak grammar rules.   
Next, Thushan Ganegedara, a third year undergraduate from University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka, has added access to periodicals from NFB Newsline to Go Read, a feature Bookshare members have frequently requested.  He completed his proposed work quickly and went further by developing functionality to automatically download new issues of users' favorite periodicals.  This will dramatically make it easier for people with print disabilities to stay up-to-date with news and other information.  Thushan also implemented the ability to share your favorite Bookshare books via social networks. 
Finally, Kapil Dontula, a third year undergraduate from IIIT Hyderabad in India, is expanding the target audience of Go Read to include people with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.  Research has shown that dyslexics benefit from multi-modal presentation of books and textbooks via text-to-speech voicing synchronized with word-level highlighting.  The native Android TTS APIs do not provide word-level callbacks to support this synchronization, thus Kapil is modifying and porting a version of the open source Flite TTS engine that will provide this support as a library to Go Read. This is not a project for the faint of heart, as it has required both C and Java Android development and understanding the Flite TTS codebase.   
On behalf of the 200K+ members of Bookshare and millions of people with print disabilities around the world, we would like to thank Google and our Google Summer of Code students for furthering the role of open source software to help people with print disabilities.    
By Gerardo Capiel, Benetech Organization Administrator 
The Statistics Online Computational Resource (SOCR) designs, validates and freely disseminates knowledge. SOCR provides portable online aids for probability and statistics education, technology-based instruction, statistical computing and multivariate data visualization.  
For Google Summer of Code 2012, SOCR student projects include:
  • SOCR HTML5 Resampling, Randomization and Simulation  
  • SOCR HTML5 Motion Charts that are platform- and browser-independent 
Google Summer of Code students working on 2012 SOCR projects came from Europe and Asia and are mentored by researchers at UCLA, California, USA.  A number of scientific, technical, logistical and organizational challenges had to be overcome in the first 2-4 weeks of the 2012 Google Summer of Code. However, the students and mentors were extremely satisfied with the collaborative development efforts, hands-on training and progress made on these projects. 
By Ivo Dinov, SOCR Organization Administrator 
The Metalink project works at improving downloads by automatically using mirrors and detecting/repairing errors. All sorts of apps use Metalink, from system updaters (like yum and Appupdater) to browsers, p2p, FTP, download managers, and command line transfer utilities like curl and aria2. We are thrilled to be involved in our first Google Summer of Code in 2012. We have four amazing students directly, and another indirectly via GNU.
  • Hamza Zia is working on a web client interface for aria2 that uses HTML5 and WebSockets. He's also working on adding Metalink/HTTP (RFC 6249) support to DownThemAll!, a popular Firefox extension with advanced download capabilities. 
  • Aish Raj Dahal is working on Metalink/HTTP support in KDE's KGet. He is the first person from his university and the fourth from his country to participate in the program. 
  • Sundaram Ananthanarayanan has already created the first download manager as a Chrome extension and has also added Metalink support to Google Chrome. 
  • Jack Bates, a Canadian volunteering a year at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, has been working on Apache Traffic Server cache hits for download mirrors via Metalink. 
  • İlim Uğur is adding Metalink support to wget via GNU Project. 
By Anthony Bryan, Metalink Organization Administrator
The above organizations are just a small sampling of the 180 participating projects in Google Summer of Code 2012.  Stay tuned next Friday for highlights from more of the new organizations.

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs