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Building IoT London: Call for Papers ends in fortnight

German IT news website heise and our old friends The Register are joint sponsors of the Building IoT London event to be held in March 2017.

Building IoT London logoThe former reported at the end of last week that software developers doing professional work on the Internet of Things have until 7th October to suggest proposals for presentations and workshops.

The inaugural Building IoT London conference is taking place from 27th to 29th March 2017 in London. The conference, which is being organised by El Reg and heise Developer is devoted to the implementation of the fundamentals required for IoT projects, security concerns and other technical matters. Furthermore, experts from the field of networked projects will have the opportunity to share their experiences with others and gain new incentives for their own work from interacting with like-minded people.

Software developers and project managers working on products on the context of the IoT are therefore invited to send proposals for presentations (either 45 or 75 minutes) and whole-day workshops (7 hours) by 7th October. Possible topics would include protocols and standards, the connection between Big Data and IoT, architecture and tests for complex IoT systems, connectivity and prototyping, as well as the potential vulnerabilities of IoT products. In addition, reports of experiences are being sought from current projects, on the use of IoT cloud platforms, the interaction of tools in the various processes or the conversion of conventional products into networked devices.

People who are interested in the progress of the conference’s organisation can following the organisers on Twitter or sign up to their newsletter.

New Northampton business fibre broadband offer

image of optical fibre cableEarlier this week the Northampton Chronicle reported that businesses in the town could be line for faster broadband.

In the early noughties, Yorkshire-based Kingston Communications (formerly the city of Hull’s Telephone Department – the only non-nationalised part of the UK telephone network – and now renamed the KCOM Group. Ed.) laid several kilometres of fibre-optic cable around Northampton.

London-based City Fibre has now acquired the dormant 45 km network and wants to roll 1 Gbps speed broadband out to local businesses.

Local firm BDFB will be acting as the scheme’s service provider. DBFB’s chief executive Simon Pickering, said: “This is transformational technology for businesses in Northampton… From our point of view we are bringing big city technology to Northampton.”

City Fibre has already launched similar schemes in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Milton Keynes and elsewhere.

Wales: “digital skills are as important as learning to read or write”

Welsh government logoThe Welsh Government in Cardiff Bay has announced new plans to improve children’s IT skills, today’s Wales Online reports.

All aspects of the curriculum for Welsh schoolchildren will include digital skills for the first time this term to prepare pupils better for life, with such skills not being confined solely to information and communications technology (ICT) or computer science classes.

Following 2 independent reviews whose recommendation was the improved delivery of key skills, the Welsh Government’s Digital Competence Framework (DCF) is now available to all schools. The DCF is designed for all children, including those with additional learning needs.

Ahead of the DCF’s launch today at a Cardiff school, Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “This radical new approach is about embedding digital skills and knowledge in everything our pupils do as they progress through school. Our teachers will increasingly be using digital skills into their lessons, alongside literacy and numeracy, as they are now fundamental to the modern world.”

Echoing the minister’s remarks, Owen Hathway, policy officer for the NUT Cymru trade union, said ensuring pupils leave school with proficient digital skills was critical.

Education in Wales in a devolved matter and is not controlled from Whitehall.

Introducing Taddypole

A free, innovative educational app to teach children about the lifecycle and habitats of tadpoles has been developed and launched by computer science students the University of Bristol reports.

Taddypole screenshot

TaddyPole is an interactive, cross-platform application created for Tadpoles.org.uk to help teach children all about tadpoles and where they live. The app was created as part of the second year software project engineering unit in collaboration with Professor Alan Roberts of the School of Biological Sciences.

Under the team name Winter Is Compiling, four students, Hal Jones, Bhavish Jogeeah, Matthew Plumeridge and Alex Dalton from Bristol University’s Computer Science Department, worked for six months to design, implement and launch the app across mobile devices and produce an online version.

Dr Dan Schien, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Computer Science and the unit’s academic lead, said: “We were very impressed with the level of talent and commitment shown by the students. Working alongside Professor Alan Roberts as their client, the students have shown what can be achieved in such a short period of time. Their game is a fantastic example of how project work can help with the learning of software engineering in an enormously inspiring way.”

Taddypole is also featured on a website built as part of a Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) research grant awarded to biological scientists Dr. Steve Soffe and Professor Alan Roberts. Tadpoles.org.uk aims to inform a wider audience about tadpole biology and explain how Bristol’s cutting-edge research on tadpoles can help scientists understand how nervous systems control movements such as swimming.

Taddypole is available for iOS, Android and Windows and can also be played online. To download or play the game, visit: https://winteriscompiling.uk/taddypole

Get online at J3

Your ‘umble scribe has today received an email from Kurt James, Neighbourhood Partnership Co-ordinator at Bristol City Council, announcing an event next month in east Bristol.

get online with Bristol Libraries and your local Neighbourhood Partnership

Bristol Libraries is organising a free (as in beer. Ed. 😀 ) digital skills workshop next month in collaboration with the Ashton, Easton and Lawrence Hill Neighbourhood Partnership and local volunteers to help local residents who haven’t already done so get online.

The event will be held at Junction 3 Library, Baptist Mills Court, Easton, Bristol, BS5 0FJ (map).

The date and time: Tuesday 11th October, 1.30 p.m. – 3.30 p.m.

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Get online for the first time;
  • Shop and bank online;
  • Access government services online;
  • Use social media.

Those interested can book a space at the workshop by contacting the library by telephoning 0117 9223001. Call that number too if you want more information on the workshop.

Bristol academic to chair augmented reality conference

A Bristol academic is to chair a major augmented reality conference, the University of Bristol reports.

IEEE ISMAR conference graphic

Professor Walterio Mayol-CuevasProfessor Walterio Mayol-Cuevas of Bristol University’s Department of Computer Science is to chair the 2016 ISMAR conference, the most prominent academic conference on augmented and mixed reality, which is being held from 19th-23rd September in Mérida, Mexico.

Augmented and mixed reality are part of a continuum ranging from purely virtual worlds to the mixing of real objects and scenes with virtual information. At its centre are core problems such as spatial mapping, visualisation and mobile hardware architectures, as well as the human factors of perception and usability.

ISMAR, which is sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), attracts hundreds of participants from academia and industry. It has been fundamental in the development of technologies that have had an effect in other areas, including real-time Visual Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (VSLAM) which enables spatial representations of the surroundings and allows virtual information to be put in context immediately. Real-time VSLAM has had applications in areas such as robotics and is now an established area in computer vision.

Professor Mayol-Cuevas’ work with colleagues on VSLAM has been showcased at ISMAR since 2003. His areas of research comprise robotics, computer vision and wearable computing.

Protests planned for W3C meeting in Lisbon

no DRM logoNext week, demonstrators will gather at a meeting of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in Lisbon, Portugal to make the same demand as was made at the last major W3C meeting in March: stop streaming companies from inserting DRM into the HTML standard on which the Web is based.

The protest is being organised by two Portuguese organizations, ANSOL
(Associação Nacional para o Software Livre)
and AEL (Associação
Ensino Livre)
, which are active in the fields of free software and technological literacy. Those living near Lisbon and wanting to join the protest, can find details and contact information in the
organisers’ press release.

The Defective by Design campaign organised a similar protest at the W3C’s last meeting at MIT in March. In the week before that protest, Dutch activists held their own demonstration at the Amsterdam W3C office and a Brazilian Web expert met staff at the W3C office in São Paulo. The night of the MIT protest the W3C’s leadership released a factsheet to justify its involvement with DRM despite all the criticism.

Besides preventing people from sharing media, DRM often causes security vulnerabilities or files to disappear or become inaccessible. Users are treated as adversaries. Few outside the entertainment business like DRM and many agree it is ethically wrong. However, the W3C, which sets official Web standards, has allowed streaming video companies to work on a new, universal DRM system together with its blessing. The new system is called EME – Encrypted Media Extensions. Now Netflix, Microsoft, Google, and Apple want to hang their new EME on the existing infrastructure of the HTML standard, making it cheaper and easier to impose restrictions on users.

Although support for EME is limited to a few powerful companies, opposition is widespread. Defective by Design hopes that the W3C recognises this and accepts feedback from the actual people that use the Web, otherwise Defective by Design believes it has no right to claim it is setting Web standards in the public interest.

Commission wants to deploy thousands of wifi hotspots

As part of the strategy to create a single European digital market, the European Commission is preparing to invest €120 mn. to promote access to wireless connectivity in public places under the heading of Wifi4EU.

According to Le Monde Informatique, this could see up to 6,000 publicly accessible wifi access points deployed, whilst the Commission’s factsheet (PDF) reveals that the upper limit for deployments is 8,000 and the hardware provided will enable 40-50 million connections per day.

Who will benefit?

wifi4euWifi4EU access points aim to benefit both EU citizens and visitors to the Member States.

Other beneficiaries will include public administrations, hospitals, libraries and other bodies
with a public mission. The EU will fund the equipment and installation costs with vouchers, whilst public bodies will be responsible for paying the monthly subscription costs and keep the equipment in good order. These bodies will be able take advantage of the access points to develop and promote their own new digital services, such as e-government, e-health or e-tourism.

Who can apply?

Local communities will need to show that they commit to providing very high speed internet via Wifi4EU and show under state aid rules that they are not competing with a similar, existing private or public wifi provision since the initiative will help cover areas which otherwise would not offer such connectivity.

Furthermore, these free wifi hotspots are not the only levers of the Commission’s plan to increase the number of Europeans connected to the internet. In its project to reform telecommunications regulations, it is also planning to make high speed internet access a universal service obligation for telecommunications providers. It will be up to the governments of the Member States to ensure that people on low incomes or with special needs can access these services, perhaps by offering vouchers to cover the cost or requiring providers to give them a special rate.

The Wifi4EU scheme is intended to run until 2019.

Will Brexit vote hamper UK’s inclusion?

The European Commission’s office in London has been approached asking whether public bodies in the UK will be eligible to apply for this scheme in the wake of all the uncertainty following the UK’s advisory vote to leave the EU in the recent referendum. Any response will be published when it is received.

Update:The following reply to our queries about Wifi4EU and the definition of what constitutes a “public mission” has been received.

This initiative is a proposal for legislation, which has to go through the EU decision-making process before any funding/projects can be launched. It is not possible to say how long the process will take to formally adopt this initiative. As long as the UK remains a Member State of the EU eligibility to participate in EU programmes should remain possible.

The full text of the proposal can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/proposed-regulation-promotion-internet-connectivity-local-communities-and-public-spaces-wifi4eu

The proposal does not specifically define “public mission” , but the preamble states:

Support of this kind should encourage entities with a public mission such as public authorities and providers of public services to offer free local wireless connectivity as an ancillary service to their public mission….

Our colleagues responsible for Digital Single Market issues may be able give further details. The contact form can be found here:
https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/contact?ref=https%3A//ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/contact%3Fref%3Dhttps%253A//ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/proposed-regulation-promotion-internet-connectivity-local-communities-and-public-spaces-wifi4eu

OpenOffice recruits new developers

Speculation about the demise of Apache OpenOffice may be premature (news passim).

German IT news site heise reports that a mailing list for new developers has been set up.

By establishing this new list, the OpenOffice team wants to make entry to the open source project easier for programmers.

OpenOffice 4.0 menu
OpenOffice 4.0. Maybe it won’t be the end of the line.

After recent discussion of a possible end for the free and open source OpenOffice productivity suite, more developers who are interested in helping with future development have approached the project. The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has now established a recruitment mailing list to facilitate their access to the source code. Via the list, newcomers will receive answers to questions and suggestions about their next steps from more experienced developers.

Under a month to CiviCon London 2016

CiviCRM logoBilled asEurope’s biggest event for the leading third sector CRM“, it’s now less than a month until CiviCRM’s Civicon 2016 in London, which is being held on 6th and 7th October.

CiviCRM is the leading open source CRM for the voluntary and community sectors. CiviCon is now in its sixth year and the event is going from strength to strength as the community around it grows and finds new ways to help raise funds, communicate and manage organisations.

Alongside this year’s conference, the organisers are also arranging training sessions and a code sprint.

CiviCon, the training and the sprint are designed to welcome new people to the community, to bring them together to share, learn and work.

The conference itself will run from Thursday 6th October to Friday 7th October 2016, the training from Tuesday 4th October to Wednesday 5th October 2016 and the code sprint from Monday 10th October to Friday 14th October 2016 and registration is required.

The conference venue is Resource for London at 356 Holloway Road, London N7 6PA (map).

Finally, here’s some feedback from last year’s conference.