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CRM summit in London soon

CiviCRM logoOur friends at Circle Interactive report that on 7th June LASA will be hosting a head-to-head comparison of 3 database software systems, featuring an in-depth analysis of the facilities of each.

The Circle article continues:

This is an ideal opportunity for any organisation, who [sic] is considering investing in a complete CRM system, to compare and contrast the solutions on trial, including CiviCRM.

The event is free and is being hosted at the Charity Technology Trust (CTT), CAN Mezzanine near Old Street in London on Tuesday 7th June from 1400.

Please visit the LASA website for full details and to book your place and search #crmsummit on Twitter to keep up with the latest details.

Barncamp – a reminder

Yesterday adelayde wrote to the Hacktionlab mailing list with a reminder about the forthcoming Barncamp 2011 (news passim).

BarnCamp 2011 flyer
BarnCamp 2011 flyer

Hi 2010 Barncamper!

You’re probably already aware that we are running BarnCamp again this year, in three weeks time, but as I wasn’t sure everyone was on the mailing list, I’ve decided to send this out the my list of people that came last year. So do excuse the spam if it is!

HacktionLab’s back again with BarnCamp 2011, which this year is over three days, rather than just two:

You can book online at:

If you’re intending to come please get on over there and book as soon as possible to secure your place. There are limited places this year as there were last year.

The cost this year is £30, rising to £35 on the gate. Please pay in advance as it helps to pay for all the stuff we have to buy up front. More details about how to do this on the registration page and also on
the wiki at:

And please pass the message on to any groups or friends you think might be interested in coming. It’s great to get new people involved and to widen the awareness of what we’re trying to do with it.

There’s a lovely poster you can print out and post up in your window at:

And flyers that you can print and hand out to folks at:

Or email:

Any questions about booking and payment this year, please email barncamp2011(at)

And if you’re not on the mailing list, well get on it at:

Hope to see you there.


Just after your correspondent had published yesterday’s LTSP round-up post (news passim), Acesabe got busy with his Twitter client, tweeting:

#LTSP 4.2 & 5 running as #vserver clients on host laptop, old lappers get to live another day!

He also posted the picture below online at Twitpic.

LTSP clients

The hands on the keyboard on the far right of the picture belong to BenG, who is at the controls of the server laptop.

The pizza box laptop

Bristol Wireless are advocates of green ICT and constantly urge people to refurbish and re-use hardware where possible before recycling or buying new kit.

Nevertheless, we were most intrigued to come across the laptop in a pizza box illustrated below – a fine example of recycling both consumer electronics and disposable food packaging.

Linux laptop in a pizza box - no anchovies please!

Eagle-eyed Linux users will no doubt spot the GRUB boot menu on the display.

Hat tip: The Daily What Geek

LTSP round-up

Earlier this week our 2 LTSP gurus, BenG and Acesabe, were busy configuring and preparing a new LTSP suite comprising some donated redundant Rock Clevo T200C laptops as the thin clients. These run on 12 volts and are being made ready for a trip to the forthcoming Barncamp 2011 up in Wye valley (news passim).

This news is a good occasion to go rummaging round the archives and give a fresh airing to the visual record of a previous al fresco excursion of an earlier incarnation of our mobile suite, in this instance to Hesfest (for home educated kids) held back in 2005 at Charmouth in Dorset (can you spot the youthful-looking members of our co-op? Ed.)

(I love the bit where the clients are described as “ancient bricks”. When do we donate them to Bletchley Park, lads? Ed.) 😉

If your organisation would be interested in a visit or seeing a demonstration of a Bristol Wireless LTSP suite, please get in touch.

Online chat with Plod tonight for Southville residents

The Bristol Evening Post reports that residents of Southville, Bristol, will have a chance to talk to PC Nigel Ingram, their local beat manager in the Southville area, tonight between 7pm and 8.30pm in an online webchat this evening.

To discuss any local policing issues and concerns with PC Ingram visit

Digital doings down the Counts Louse

Coat of arms - Bristol City CouncilBristol is a city with a long history, part of which is reflected in its civic institutions. One of these is the office of mayor. Bristol first had a mayor as long ago as 1216. In 1899 the plain old vanilla mayor was replaced by the grander sounding one of Lord Mayor, which the city has had ever since.

Anyway, as of recently the new Lord Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Geoffrey Gollop, not only has to contend with tricorn hat, scarlet robes and chain of office, he’s got a blog to look after too. The first post, entitled ‘I’ll soon be blogging’ is already up on and states:

The 2011-12 Lord Mayor of Bristol will be using social media in order to better promote his charitable activities, events and to allow this traditional office to reach out and engage with more people.

But that’s not all. His Worship the Lord Mayor has a Twitter account too: you can follow him on!/brislordmayor (do I detect the influence of Connecting Bristol behind these moves? Ed.).

This afternoon (Tuesday 17th May) the council meeting – including the Mayor making ceremony – will be webcast live from the council chamber down the Counts Louse, so you’ll be able to watch the fun whether you’re in Bart Nil or Bangkok, provided you have a network connection.

By the way, should Cllr Gallop need any assistance with using either WordPress or Twitter, the chief scribe would be happy to provide some tuition, subject to the usual contribution to Bristol Wireless funds. 🙂

Ukgov talks the talk, but can it walk the walk?

George OsborneToday the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, is speaking at Google Zeitgeist 2011. As a matter of fact, he’s not just giving any old speech, but the event’s keynote address.

HM Treasury has very kindly released the Chancellor’s speech in advance and it does make very interesting reading indeed.

Perusing the speech, your correspondent was struck by the following passage:

We want to remain at the cutting edge of open source policy making.

So I’m pleased to be able to tell you that we have just recruited Beth Noveck, who used to work at the White House running President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, to help us take this agenda forward.

That’s a great bit of recruitment news, but incredulity surfaced in respect of the UK as the cutting edge of open source policy making. The chief scribe nearly destroyed a keyboard with a warm coffee aerosol when reading those words.

When it comes to open source, the UK is in most instances years behind most of its EU partners in the adoption of even simple measures, like the adoption of Open Document Format for public documents, let alone such ambitious steps as adopting open source desktops as standard. Even developing countries are leaving the UK behind.

If George wants the UK to be, let alone remain, “at the cutting edge of open source“, he and the rest of Whitehall had better start running – and fast.

Support ending for Ubuntu 8.04

Ubuntu logoThe H Open reports today that the desktop version of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS has now officially reached its end of life. From 12 May 2011 (yesterday), no new updates, including security updates and critical fixes, will be available. The server edition of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS will continue to be supported until May 2013. Users of Ubuntu 8.04 – codenamed ‘Hardy Heron’ – are advised to upgrade to a later release to continue receiving updates.

Read the full story.

Bristol Wireless uses Ubuntu on the refurbished machines it sells.

A heartening open source story

Yesterday the chief scribe was scrolling through his Twitter feed when up popped the following tweet from Mark Taylor, CEO of Sirius IT:

Our newest recruit, Linda, in Admin and Finance, had never used an Open Source desktop before yesterday. She’s not noticed a difference yet.

A further tweet from Mark revealed that Linda assumed it was just a cool new version of Windows! (How great is that? Ed.)

Mark went on subsequently to disclose that Sirius uses Debian for its desktops, but with a few tweaks of their own, plus integrated with OSS backend.

This our minds, this just shows that lots of the reasons given for not adopting free and open source software are not reasons at all, but excuses – and some of them quite pathetic too (e.g. “our staff will need retraining to move from MS Office to OpenOffice”). Your opinion may differ: if so, comments are open below. 🙂

A tale of 2 hard drives

Two weeks ago, your correspondent made one of his regular trips to Stoke on Trent to do a routine back-up of his 79 year-old mother’s computer, which happens to be running Windows XP. The back-up went smoothly: I took a copy of her personal files to a spare hard drive of my own in a USB hard drive caddy for off-site storage. As an additional measure, I’ve also recently started doing a second back-up to the spare internal hard drive of her PC. However, as I was doing this second back-up, problems started: up came the dreaded Windows Blue Screen of Death and the machine just froze. I had no alternative than to turn off and reboot. Upon reboot, we noticed that the back-up drive was no longer there on the system. It had just died. No warning or anything.

Now, let’s contrast the behaviour of Windows with that of Ubuntu, the Linux operating system we install on the refurbished computers we sell.

Earlier this week, a caller came into the Bristol Wireless lab with a laptop with a suspected failing hard drive. BW volunteer Jim duly fired up the laptop off a bootable Ubuntu USB key. Ubuntu had no trouble in detecting the hard drive was failing, displayed an appropriate warning message to the effect that the hard drive was on its last legs and wouldn’t be serviceable for much longer. Not only that, Ubuntu also offered a to map the bad sectors of the hard drive as a temporary fix (wasn’t that helpful? Ed. 😀 ), which Jim duly did.

I’ll leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions as to the user-friendliness of open source and proprietary operating systems, but will end by saying that I’ve provided my mum with a replacement hard drive for the one that failed.

The Bento Box laptop

Don’t ever let anyone convince you that techies survive on pizza, coffee and various flavours of ethyl alcohol. Here at Bristol Wireless, some of us are also great aficionados of Japanese food. Hence we were very interested by the announcement of the Bento Box laptop.

bento book design concept

To quote from Yanko Design’s original post…

Bento is quite an exceptional and forward thinking concept by René Woo-Ram Lee. It’s quite a plausible scenario that most of use/own a tablet, a PC, external hard drives and a smartphone. Now combine the power of these to have fully customizable Bento Laptop! The Box accommodates all the gear to work as one whole unit or individually; as you see fit.


  • Laptop with 15″ OLED screen
  • 11″ tablet and 4″ phone sit in shallow depressions
  • Solar powered lithium-ion battery
  • 1TB SSD drive

Doesn’t that sound delicious? Read the original Yanko Design post.

Hat tip: Jack Schofield

Ubuntu Open Week – another IRC teach-in

Your ‘umble scribe picked his title ih haste, as it’s actually a series of teach-ins. 😉

Ubuntu Open Week is currently underway from Mon 2 May – Fri 6 May on IRC in #ubuntu-classroom and #ubuntu-classroom-chat between 14.00 and 18.00 hrs UTC.

In just 7 years, Ubuntu has become one of the world’s most popular Linux distributions and a thriving community. If you’re curious to find out how this has been achieved, this is where you can find out. Ubuntu Open Week is a week of IRC tuition and Q+A sessions all about getting involved in the rock-and-roll world that is the Ubuntu community. We organise this week for the beginning of a new release cycle to help new contributors get involved.

One of the highlights of the week will be on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, when Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of the Ubuntu Project, will host the “Ask Mark” open Q and A session at starting at 14:00 UTC.

More details are available on the Ubuntu wiki.

Debian Women & OpenHatch package rebuilding tutorials on IRC

Debian Women project logoAre you enthusiastic about Debian and thinking about contributing? If yes, then the Debian Women project and the OpenHatch project want to teach you the basics.

They’ll be will be holding an IRC event on Saturday 7th May to help people that want to compile their first Debian package from source, and apply their first patch.

Debian Women and OpenHatch are convinced that there are a lot of people out there who want to get involved with free software but don’t know where to start. For Debian, the most common task you’ll do as a contributor is rebuilding a package.

Turning to the event itself, two tutorial sessions will be held on Saturday 7th May on the #debian-women channel on to help people rebuild a package for the first time.

The earlier session, which is suggested for those that live in Oceania, Asia, Africa and Europe, will be held at 11:00 UTC. The later session, suggested for those that live in the Americas, will be held at 22:00 UTC. If you’re unsure of your time zone, you can find out the exact time in your time zone by using the time zone converter.

There will be people available to answer questions and generally help out with any difficulties that might arise all along the day.

Open Hatch logoThis event is aimed to anyone who wants to rebuild a Debian package for the first time; this is a simple task that doesn’t require any previous knowledge, just a working installation of Debian (or Ubuntu, or other Debian-based system). Debian Women and OpenHatch particularly want to encourage women who want to get involved and take their first steps in contributing to free software, but everybody is welcome.

Click here to see the announcement in other languages (Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese).

Hat tip: Llanos

GNOME Outreach Programme for Women Attracts Many New Contributors

Yesterday the Gnome Project announced that the GNOME 3.0 release (as used in the latest Ubuntu release, now imminent, codenamed ‘Natty Narwhal’. Ed.) has attracted far more contributions from women than any previous GNOME release. This results largely from the hard work of the first round of the Outreach Programme for Women interns, who took part in the programme from 15th December 2010 to 15th March 2011. All 8 participants had their work included in the main branches of their projects and therefore included in GNOME 3.0.

The accomplishments of the first round participants included:

  • Luciana Fujii Pontello made Cheese webcam application capabilities available to other applications as a stand-alone library, and Laura Elisa Lucas Alday added support for SVG overlay effects and made a number of usability improvements. On completing her internship, Luciana Fujii Pontello became the maintainer of the Cheese project.
  • Tiffany Antopolski and Natalia Ruz wrote a large amount of GNOME 3 user help and participated in the User Help Hackfest in Toronto in March.
  • Chandni Verma made numerous improvements to the multi-user chat in Empathy, participated in the GNOME 3.0 Hackfest, and delivered a well-received talk about her work at the GNOME.Asia Summit in Bangalore in April.
  • Hellyna Ng implemented multiple features for notifications in GNOME Shell.
  • Eugenia Gabrielova made major improvements to searching in the Anjuta IDE, and Nanci de Brito Bonfim improved debugger integration.

On the back of this success, the GNOME Project has now announced the participants of a new round of the Outreach Programme for Women internships. With 15 female interns accepted for the Outreach Programme for Women and Google Summer of Code, GNOME will be in a good position to beat its previous record.

Read more in the original GNOME press release.

Book your place for BarnCamp 2011

BarnCamp 2011 flyer
BarnCamp 2011 flyer

Yesterday, adelayde posted the following email to the Hacktionlab mailing list.

Hi all,

Am very pleased to announce that the booking system is now on-line at:

If you’re intending to come please get on over there and book as soon as possible to secure your place. There are limited places this year as there were last year.

The cost this year is £30, rising to £35 on the gate. Please pay in advance as it helps to pay for all the stuff we have to buy up front. More details about how to do this on the registration page and also on the wiki at:

And do pass the message on to any groups or friend you think might be interested in coming. The main page is at:

And there’s a lovely flyer you can print out and post up in your window at:

Any questions about booking and payment this year, please email barncamp2011 (at)

It’s not cricket, it’s #twicket!

The Lancashire village of Wray (population approx. 500) became a true global village on Easter Monday with a world first – the live streaming of video and audio coverage of a village cricket match over the internet.

The protagonists were Wray CC* vs the Rest of the World. The result: Wray won by 1 run, although they lost the subsequent tug-of-war, which was also streamed.

Screenshot of Wray CC vs. Rest of the World, plus live Twitter feed
Screenshot of Wray CC vs. Rest of the World, plus live Twitter feed

At its peak the online audience totalled some 2,700 people spread around the world from north of Aberdeen to the Antipodes, who were not only watching but providing feedback to the production team in Wray via Twitter using the #twicket hashtag.

The cricket match itself featured a couple of unusual moments: a pitch invasion by a 15ft tall ‘Aunt Sally’ scarecrow and an incoming batsman and the scarecrow both given a yellow card apiece by the umpire. however, the star of the show was local lady Brenda Mickle, who provided the commentary on the video stream between sips of Pimms and was an instant hit with the online audience (Aggers and the TMS team had better watch out! Ed.).

How was the streaming possible? Wray has a 30 Mbps symmetric wireless broadband network maintained by Lancaster University, with meshing to give villagers and visitors wireless access to the internet. It’s one of only 3 villages in the UK to boast a symmetric network.

In addition to the video stream, a separate audio commentary was streamed by Radio Youthology, who used a combination of iPhone and Android smartphone apps.

The video stream itself came from 3 cameras provided by Aquila TV, plus boundary and commentary microphones.

All told, it was a wonderful way to spend an Easter Monday and full credit is due to the main protagonists, Cyberdoyle and John Popham, who this weekend gave a good practical demonstration of how good (particularly symmetric) connectivity anywhere can help people become contributors rather than mere consumers. Indeed, your correspondent was engaged in such a discussion with a friend online as the cricket reached its climax.

The media from yesterday are being archived on the Twicket site, for those of you who were unable to experience it live.

* = We’re reliably informed that Wray CC only play 2 matches a year, one of them on Easter Monday.

Of mice and networks…

BulletLast week BW volunteers Rich and Acesabe paid a visit to the Rosevear sheltered housing scheme in Newtown to see if their link to our network could be restored. One of the last things they expected to find there was wildlife interfering with our infrastructure…

Rich takes up the tale below.

“As I was unscrewing the end of the Bullet, I noticed it was rattling and wondered what the hell was causing it. When I got the end off, a bunch of stones, which Acesabe identified as cherry stones, dropped out: there were also some bits of grass and some droppings; and no sign of the Bullet’s waterproof seal”.

This state of affairs prompted intense debate over drinks at Bristol Wireless’ unregistered office as to the identity of the culprit(s). At first we thought it might be either a grey squirrel or an avian interloper (that was before Rich remembered to mention the droppings; and why you cannot just describe it as a bird is beyond me. Ed.) using the end of our kit as a food store, but that didn’t quite ring true. The most likely culprit – a mouse – was decided upon after talking to our forester mate Tor. Her evidence was compelling: mice can get into the smallest spaces, in addition to which we’ve had a cold winter and networking kit can give off a fair bit of heat (including enough to keep interloping rodents warm in winter. Ed.).

Are we correct in our assumptions? Tell us what you think below.

You can also use the comments to tell us of other networking problems involving other operators; wildlife involvement is not compulsory, mind.

Finally apologies to John Steinbeck and Rabbie Burns for subverting their better literary efforts for the title. 🙂

Volunteer at Trinity Community Arts

Trinity Community Arts logoOur friend Emma Harvey (a fine exponent of singing the ‘Free Software Song‘. Ed.) at Trinity Community Arts has sent out an email today to let people know Trinity is looking for volunteers to assist in developing its work.

Amongst the types of volunteers wanted, we noticed the following:

IT Assistant to help us build our online and network systems and support Centre users with their IT use.

Like ourselves, Trinity is an organisation that uses Linux and open source software exclusively (good on ’em. Ed.).

More details of current volunteering opportunities with Trinity can be found on Trinity’s website.