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Open Knowledge Foundation defines open

Open Knowledge Foundation logoThe Open Knowledge Foundation is doing marvellous work in the fields of open data and open content.

The Foundation has just published version 2 of its Open Definition. This definition is released under a Creative Commons Attribution licence and is reproduced verbatim below (complete with US spellings and punctuation throughout. Ed.).

Open Definition

Version 2.0

The Open Definition makes precise the meaning of “open” with respect to knowledge, promoting a robust commons in which anyone may participate, and interoperability is maximized.

Summary: Knowledge is open if anyone is free to access, use, modify, and share it — subject, at most, to measures that preserve provenance and openness.

This essential meaning matches that of “open” with respect to software as in the Open Source Definition and is synonymous with “free” or “libre” as in the Definition of Free Cultural Works. The Open Definition was initially derived from the Open Source Definition, which in turn was derived from the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

The term work will be used to denote the item or piece of knowledge being transferred.

The term license refers to the legal conditions under which the work is made available. Where no license has been offered this should be interpreted as referring to default legal conditions governing use of the work (for example, copyright or public domain).

1. Open Works

An open work must satisfy the following requirements in its distribution:

1.1 Open License

The work must be available under an open license (as defined in Section 2). Any additional terms accompanying the work (such as a terms of use, or patents held by the licensor) must not contradict the terms of the license.

1.2 Access

The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable one-time reproduction cost, preferably downloadable via the Internet without charge. Any additional information necessary for license compliance (such as names of contributors required for compliance with attribution requirements) must also accompany the work.

1.3 Open Format

The work must be provided in a convenient and modifiable form such that there are no unnecessary technological obstacles to the performance of the licensed rights. Specifically, data should be machine-readable, available in bulk, and provided in an open format (i.e., a format with a freely available published specification which places no restrictions, monetary or otherwise, upon its use) or, at the very least, can be processed with at least one free/libre/open-source software tool.

2. Open Licenses

A license is open if its terms satisfy the following conditions:

2.1 Required Permissions

The license must irrevocably permit (or allow) the following:

2.1.1 Use

The license must allow free use of the licensed work.

2.1.2 Redistribution

The license must allow redistribution of the licensed work, including sale, whether on its own or as part of a collection made from works from different sources.

2.1.3 Modification

The license must allow the creation of derivatives of the licensed work and allow the distribution of such derivatives under the same terms of the original licensed work.

2.1.4 Separation

The license must allow any part of the work to be freely used, distributed, or modified separately from any other part of the work or from any collection of works in which it was originally distributed. All parties who receive any distribution of any part of a work within the terms of the original license should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original work.

2.1.5 Compilation

The license must allow the licensed work to be distributed along
with other distinct works without placing restrictions on these other works.

2.1.6 Non-discrimination

The license must not discriminate against any person or group.

2.1.7 Propagation

The rights attached to the work must apply to all to whom it is redistributed without the need to agree to any additional legal terms.

2.1.8 Application to Any Purpose

The license must allow use, redistribution, modification, and compilation for any purpose. The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the work in a specific field of endeavor.

2.1.9 No Charge

The license must not impose any fee arrangement, royalty, or other compensation or monetary remuneration as part of its conditions.

2.2 Acceptable Conditions

The license shall not limit, make uncertain, or otherwise diminish the permissions
required in Section 2.1 except by the following allowable conditions:

2.2.1 Attribution

The license may require distributions of the work to include attribution of contributors, rights holders, sponsors and creators as long as any such prescriptions are not onerous.

2.2.2 Integrity

The license may require that modified versions of a licensed work carry a different name or version number from the original work or otherwise indicate what changes have been made.

2.2.3 Share-alike

The license may require copies or derivatives of a licensed work to remain under a license the same as or similar to the original.

2.2.4 Notice

The license may require retention of copyright notices and identification of the license.

2.2.5 Source

The license may require modified works to be made available in a form preferred for further modification.

2.2.6 Technical Restriction Prohibition

The license may prohibit distribution of the work in a manner where technical measures impose restrictions on the exercise of otherwise allowed rights.


The license may require modifiers to grant the public additional permissions (for example, patent licenses) as required for exercise of the rights allowed by the license. The license may also condition permissions on not aggressing against licensees with respect to exercising any allowed right (again, for example, patent litigation).

Reposted from the author’s blog.

Campaigners cut ties with Connecting Shropshire

switchThe taxpayer-subsidised scheme to provide better broadband in the United Kingdom has run into some difficulty in Shropshire.

The Shropshire and Marches Campaign for Better Rural Broadband has severed its ties with the Connecting Shropshire scheme led by Shropshire Council, according to yesterday’s Shropshire Star.

The campaign had been working with the council and BT to try and bring high-speed broadband to the county’s more isolated rural parts and attempt to secure a government grant of £11.38 mn. with matched funding from the council.

Campaigners had hoped initially that areas with poor coverage would be prioritised and there would be a universal commitment to more than the minimum 2Mb/s guarantee. It now appears this is not the case.

Campaign spokesman Patrick Cosgrove is quoted by the Star as saying:

After much thought, the Shropshire and Marches Campaign for Better Rural Broadband has concluded that there is little useful purpose in continuing with its membership of Connecting Shropshire’s rural broadband group.

To begin with there were high hopes that the thoughts of the members might help devise ways of identifying the matched funding for the £11.38m BDUK grant, and engage communities and other interest groups in imaginative ways of bringing faster broadband to rural communities.

We have been disappointed. Attendance at the group has been patchy, agendas pre-set, and conditions of confidentiality too inhibiting for our campaign to express its views freely.

We fear that publicity from the present broadband project will increasingly be used for political purposes.

Get online at North Somerset libraries

computers in a libraryLibraries in North Somerset are taking part in national ‘Get Online Week‘ next week between 13th and 17th October, according to a council press release.

Get Online Week is now in its eighth year and this national campaign aims to inspire people to get online and see what the internet can do for them.

At the local level, North Somerset Council will be giving people the opportunity to improve their computer and internet skills.

The events happening in North Somerset’s libraries next week are as follows:

  • Monday 13th October – Yatton Library, High Street, Yatton, 10am-noon. Come and find out how to use to research your family history from the library. Free coffee/tea and biscuits provided. To register your interest email or telephone 01934 426 100.
  • Monday 13th to Wednesday 15th October – Campus Library, Locking Castle, Weston-super-Mare, 10am-noon. Learn how to get online using the ‘Learn my way’ website. Free of charge, booking essential. Email or ring 01934 427 427. Training provided by North Somerset Community Learning team.
  • Tuesday 14th October – Worle Library, The Maltings, High Street, Worle, 10am-1pm. Find out about support available to get online in Worle Library and sign up for training sessions. Training provided by volunteers from Knightstone Housing.
  • Wednesday 15th October – For All Healthy Living Centre Library, Lonsdale Avenue, Weston-super-Mare, 1pm-4pm. Have you been given a gadget or device recently and want to learn more about it? Or are you interested in getting a device and would like to see what’s available? To reserve a time at this free event with a volunteer from Westonworks contact 01934 426 260.
  • Wednesday 15th October – Congresbury Library, Station Road, Congresbury, 10.30am-12.30pm. Come and find out how you can use to research your family history from the library. Free coffee/tea and biscuits provided. To register your interest email or telephone 01934 426 200.
  • Thursday 16th October – Yatton Library, High Street, Yatton, 10am-noon. Come and find out about getting online using the ‘Learn my way’ website. Free coffee/tea and biscuits provided. To register your interest email or ring 01934 426 100.
  • Friday 17th October – Weston Library, Town Hall, Weston-super-Mare, 2pm-3.30pm. Find out about free eMagazines available with your library card. No booking required, just turn up.

Parties fight it out on rural broadband

image of fibre-optic cableRural broadband is a really hot issue in South Gloucestershire (news passim), so much so that two local political parties – the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives – are currently vying in the local press as to who provided the biggest gains to residents.

Yesterday, S. Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats claimed in the Bristol Post that

Liberal Democrat councillors serving on South Gloucestershire’s Resources Committee have secured extra commitments to help improve internet access for rural residents.

The piece – written by party activists themselves – also quotes Westerleigh councillor Claire Young as saying: “while some in South Gloucestershire are now enjoying access to superfast broadband, many rural residents are stuck in the slow-lane and lucky to have access to 2 MB* per second.

Meanwhile in today’s Bristol Post, South Gloucestershire’s Tories have provided their own version (once again unmoderated. Ed.) of the same meeting, also claiming significant gains:

Conservatives voted that if certain rural communities were not serviced by Phase One of BT’s superfast fibreoptic broadband rollout plan, that they be included in Phase Two as priority. Whilst this doesn’t guarantee every house and business in each of these rural communities will get access to superfast broadband, it is a step in the right direction and shows that the Conservative rural broadband campaign has had a real impact.

Whilst both accounts apparently seem to deal with the same meeting, your correspondent is rather bemused by one fact, i.e. that the Conservatives went to a meeting of the Resources Sub-Committee, the Lib Dems went to a meeting of the Resources Committee.

Perhaps some kind, politically neutral officer from South Gloucestershire would care to enlighten us and our readers via the comments below as to whether the body in question is a full committee or a sub-committee.

Finally, a brief note to Claire Young and S. Glucestershire Liberal Democrats’ publicity team: network connections are measured in megabits (Mb), not megabytes (MB). 🙂

China’s Inspur forms partnership with Red Hat

RedHat logoA strategic deal has been announced between Chinese technology manufacturer Inspur and the open sourcerers of Red Hat to combine the latter’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 operating system with Inspur’s x86 platform products, according to the China Tech News website.

Inspur and Red Hat will become OEM partners under the agreement.

As the first step in their collaboration, Red Hat will provide full technical and service support for Inspur’s nine kinds of X86 computing products, whilst Inspur will preferentially recommend Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 operating system to its users in return. Both parties will co-operate in cloud computing, big data, storage and virtualisation services in the future.

Last year Inspur had 19% market share of the server market, ranking first in China and fifth in the global market. With an annual increase of 288%, Inspur was reportedly the fastest-growing manufacturer in the world. Red Hat has been leading the open source sector and its Red Hat Enterprise Linux has been a leading enterprise operating system since its launch more than 10 years ago.

From GNOME to Chrome

Asus have kindly lent Bristol Wireless a ChromeBox for evaluation and I’ve had a chance to put it through its paces.

ChromeBox front viewOn opening the box I was surprised by its compact form; it’s about the size of a CD case and an inch high. The boot time’s impressive, taking only a few seconds to launch the desktop. This particular model is the CN60 (now renamed M004U. Ed.), an entry level device, there are two others the i3 and the i7. That said this is still a fairly powerful tool, it has a Celeron 1.4 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB flash hard drive and 100 GB of cloud storage free for one year, after which the space will cost you £5.00/month.

My expectation was that it would be like an Android device, with which it has some similarities, such as the inclusion of the Play Store and all the Google stable of software like Maps, Hangouts, Google Plus as well as all the usual social media and other apps. I installed an RSS reader, Inoreader, that runs in the browser. The video editing software I installed also ran in the browser. Rather than installing and running standalone applications, Chrome is an application platform, although some, such as my IRC client (Circ) and my terminal, do work outside Chrome. In all, the system is more than adequate for media-rich web content. The graphics are great; scrolling through web pages and watching video are seamless.

ChromeBox back viewHaving spent the last 11 years sat at a client/server-based system (LTSP), I’ve never really been responsible for the maintenance, update and general upkeep of my work environment: that responsibility falls to the sysadmins. On the other hand, the ChromeBox updates itself automatically (the ChromeBox’s sysadmin apparently lives in the cloud!) and I found I could install the applications I needed myself instead of having to rely on anyone else. The settings are simple enough; you choose the way the browser behaves, the toolbar options, the wireless settings and the printer. What more could you need?

At one point I needed a terminal to investigate a minor problem. I found Koding, installed a VMWare (virtual machine) interface, created an account and added some tools I needed. I wondered if this device has the ability to to do more than absorbing web content and found Caret. This is a text editor for coding, so I’d say the ChromeBox potentially has creative abilities too, although these have yet to be tested in full.

Using the ChromeBox involved a shift in mindset that’s taken me a day or two to get used to. This ChromeBox system relies on cloud environments, such as Dropbox. This obviously limits its capabilities when using the machine in rural Somerset where the so-called ‘broadband’ is little more than 1990s modem speeds. In such locations the ChromeBox would be a joy to use with proper broadband.

I spend some of my time visiting businesses fixing a variety of network problems. In one office I came across a ChromeBook in use, so took the opportunity to have a chat about what it’s like using the device professionally, particularly when used with inadequate rural ‘broadband’. This particular user said: “I love it; I can’t fault it”. When working in the project’s cloud environment, the ChromeBook saves the work locally and re-syncs as soon as the network comes back up when the connection goes down.

I’ve since demonstrated the ChromeBox’s functionality to a glass blower whose workshop and shop are miles apart. He wanted a device that would access the stock spreadsheet and invoices to keep his business records in one place. Most importantly, he wanted a simple device with zero maintenance. The ChromeBox has Google Docs, Google Spreadsheet and Google drive with which many businesses are already familiar, so the transition should be simple. It remains to be seen if this device is right for his organisation but he seems confident it’ll do the job.

To sum up, I think the ChromeBox is just the job for a home entertainment centre, with a fast, rock solid internet connection you’d be hard pushed to find a better device for personal/family use, although it could also prove useful for voluntary/community projects or even a small business.

South Gloucestershire round-up

It seems that South Gloucestershire shows no signs of slowing down as a source of broadband stories at the moment.

Firstly, regular readers will remember the item on a public meeting being called in Horton to discuss abysmal broadband speeds in rural S. Gloucestershire (news passim).

The press report of the meeting appeared in Friday’s Bristol Post under the title “Fury at ‘rural broadband scandal’“. The meeting was attended by both BT and the local MP, Steve Webb. Mr Webb accused BT of being too secretive and is quoted as stating the following in the meeting (any BT agents reading this, should look away now! Ed.):

I sat in my office in Yate with a man from the council and a man from BT and asked the question [about roll-out plans and actual post-works broadband speeds] – and the man from BT phoned his head office and the message came back that he was not allowed to tell me.

image of optical fibre cableSecondly, South Gloucestershire Council is currently holding a public consultation on the deployment of so-called ‘superfast’ broadband in its area and more specifically is inviting comments from the public to define the intervention areas (i.e. where they’re actually going to roll it out, giving better than 1990s modem speeds. Ed.).

The consultation itself closes on 3rd October 2014, so you’d better hurry if you want to comment. Further details are available on the South Gloucestershire Council website.

Finally, still in South Gloucestershire, and more specifically in the Oldbury-on-Severn area, today’s Bristol Post carries a report published by S. Gloucestershire Conservatives about the efforts of Councillor Matthew Riddle to get Cabinet 23 on the junction of The Naite and Oldbury Lane in Oldbury included in the programme. We wish you every success, councillor!

Bath Ruby Conference 2015 announced

Bath Ruby logoBath Ruby Conference 2015 has been announced. It will be taking place on Friday, 13th March next year.

To quote from the Bath Ruby Conference website:

Join us in the beautiful city of Bath for a day of entertaining, informative and inspirational talks from some of the Ruby community’s favourite speakers.

Details are fairly sparse at present, but if you’re interested you can give the organisers your email address for updates (signing up will also entitle you to a 10% discount on your tickets when they go on sale! Ed.) or follow Bath Ruby on Twitter.

“We have to go into Bristol to use the internet”

Residents and businesses in rural parts of South Gloucestershire are campaigning for high-speed broadband to be installed in their areas, according to today’s Bristol Post.

The villages of Horton and Elberton seem to be particularly badly affected by poor connection speeds and a public meeting is being organised tomorrow at Horton Village Hall which will will see local council officers and BT face local residents and businesses and explain why rural areas have seen no improvement in broadband speeds after BT has trousered millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money.

Richard and Henry Williams, the owners of one high-class car dealership in Horton, are quoted by the Post as saying the following:

Here in Horton, our upload speed is 0.13mb, which is ridiculous. We have to go into Bristol to use the internet, and if we didn’t have that capability, we would lose business. BT has pulled a fast one. The Government has given £1.2 billion, and BT knew it would not do what the initial intention of the Government and the councils was – to bring fast broadband to rural areas.

Bristol 24/7 on broadband connection vouchers

image of optical fibre cableLocal news site Bristol 24/7 carried a post today on the Super Connected Cities’ broadband connection vouchers scheme. The scheme covers 22 UK towns and cities, including Bristol

Under the scheme, companies, sole traders and charities can apply for up £3,000 to gain access to high speed broadband.

However, author Rob Buckland omitted one small detail in his piece: of the approximately 200 companies offering connections in Bristol, only one is based in the city itself, namely Bristol Wireless. This omission was corrected by Jules, our treasurer, in the post’s comments section.

For details of our involvement in the connection vouchers scheme, please see our dedicated connection vouchers page.

The connection vouchers scheme was recently extended to SMEs, sole traders and charities up to 5 miles outside Bristol’s administrative boundaries (news passim).

Aztec West is home to world’s first cyber crime fighting training centre

image of screen with magnifying glass & word 'password' highlightedToday the Bristol Post reports that the world’s first cyber crime fighting training centre has opened with the aim to help businesses, government agencies and even police forces keep ahead of this allegedly growing threat.

The £5 mn. centre, at Aztec West on the outskirts of the city in South Gloucestershire, was officially opened by the Home Office’s Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime Karen Bradley, and is run by Protection Group International.

The centre already employs some 50 persons recruited from specialist fields and its customers include large companies, local councils, police forces and overseas governments.

During the opening, attendees were entertained by a “live hacking demonstration” (whatever that is. Ed.), according to the Post.

Quantum computing comes a step closer

A new way to run a quantum algorithm using much simpler methods than previously thought has been discovered by a team of researchers at the University of Bristol, according to a university press release. These findings could dramatically bring forward the development of a ‘quantum computer’ capable of beating a conventional computer.

Theories show how computing devices that operate according to quantum mechanics can solve problems that conventional computers, including super computers, can never solve. These theories have been experimentally tested for small-scale quantum systems, but the world is waiting for the first definitive demonstration of a quantum device that beats a classical computer.

Now, researchers from Bristol University’s Centre for Quantum Photonics (CQP), together with colleagues from the University of Queensland (UQ) and Imperial College London have increased the likelihood of such a demonstration in the near term by discovering a new way to run a quantum algorithm with much simpler methods than previously thought.

The first definitive defeat for a classical computer could be achieved with a quantum device that runs an algorithm known as Boson Sampling, recently developed by researchers at MIT (PDF).

Boson Sampling uses single photons of light and optical circuits to take samples from an exponentially large probability distribution, which has been proven to be extremely difficult for classical computers.

Unlike other quantum algorithms, Boson Sampling has the benefit of being practical for near-term implementations, with the only experimental drawback being the difficulty of generating the dozens of single photons required for the important quantum victory.

However, the Bristol-UQ-Imperial researchers have found that the Boson Sampling algorithm can still be proven to be hard for classical computers when using standard probabilistic methods to generate single photons.

Dr Anthony Laing, who led the CQP elements of the research, said: “We realised we could chain together many standard two-photon sources in such a way as to give a dramatic boost to the number of photons generated.”

The research was published last week in Physical Review Letters under the title ‘Boson Sampling from a Gaussian State‘.

Less than a week to SFD 2014

Software Freedom Day 2014 bannerIt’s under a week to Software Freedom Day (SFD) 2014, which is being held this year on Saturday, 20th September.

SFD is a worldwide celebration of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). The organisers’ goal in this celebration is to educate the public all over the world about the benefits of using high quality FOSS in education, government, in business and at home – in short, everywhere!

Software Freedom International a non-profit organisation, coordinates SFD at a global level, providing support, give-aways and a point of collaboration, but volunteer teams around the world organise the local SFD events to involve their own communities.

For anyone wishing to organise a local event, there’s a handy start guide on the SFD wiki, as well as promotional materials.

If you do organise an event, don’t forget to register your event and team so the event can be added to the 2014 events map.

Software Freedom Day was established in 2004 and first observed on 28th August of that year.

Bristol’s Bitcoin machine handles £38K per month

bitcoin logoThe Bristol Post is not renowned locally for its in-depth coverage of technology, let alone such exotic areas as crytocurrencies, but today proved an exception as it reported on the fortunes of Bristol’s only Bitcoin cash machine, which is located in Superfoods in St Stephen’s Street (review here) in the centre.

a Bitcoin ATM similar to the one in Bristol

SatoshiPoint, the machine’s owners have hailed it a success after the machine processed 250 transactions and the equivalent of £38,000 in Bitcoins in the month of August alone.

SatoshiPoint’s Hassan Khoshtaghaza said: “Bristol is doing very well, in fact better than our London ATMs because there are now six of them in London so the use gets spread out. We are getting users from as far as Cardiff and Bath coming to use the machine in Bristol and our volume is increasing each month on buy and sell transactions.”

The company recently installed a Bitcoin machine in Brighton and further cities under consideration are Cardiff, Manchester and Edinburgh, plus Newcastle Airport, according to Khoshtaghaza.

SatoshiPoint’s Bitcoin machines accept £10 and £20 notes, but not debit or credit cards and users can buy anything from £10 to £1,500 worth of Bitcoins a day, at the live price plus 7% commission.

Broadband voucher scheme extended beyond Bristol

image of fibre optic cableIn a press release issued in the middle of last week, Bristol City Council announced that Bristol’s £5 mn. fund to provide better business broadband is set to move beyond borders the Connection Vouchers scheme is expanded.

The change to the scheme means that around 2,300 small and medium-sized businesses (including registered charities, social enterprises or sole traders) located within five miles of Bristol City Council’s administrative boundaries will be eligible to apply for vouchers worth up to £3,000 each to improve their internet connection. The expansion opens up opportunities for businesses in neighbouring local authority areas of North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset; this will mean businesses based in, for example, Portishead, Keynsham, Kingswood, Winterbourne and Filton will become eligible for the scheme.

The scheme, which is backed by funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, has been running within Bristol’s since May this year.

Cllr Mark Bradshaw, Bristol’s Assistant Mayor for Place including Digital Infrastructure, said: “The scheme has been well received in Bristol and we’re extremely pleased to be expanding it across traditional borders having sought permission from the Government to do so.

“It’s widely recognised that our local economy operates as part of a larger city region, with a great deal [sic] of businesses, charities and local attractions which contribute to our economic success. It always seemed a little unfair to limit this great offer based on an administrative boundary, so I’m delighted that we’ve now been given permission to expand.

“The connection vouchers offer big benefits but they are being issued on a first-come, first-served basis, so I’d encourage anyone who’s eligible to get online and apply as soon as possible. We particularly want to encourage applications from SME and start-up businesses, including those sharing workspaces.”

The vouchers are part of Superconnected Cities, a government scheme to provide high-speed business internet connectivity in 22 UK cities. Bristol was one of the successful bidders for the £150 mn. funding pot and has until February 2015 to allocate nearly £5 mn. of vouchers to local businesses. The vouchers cover the capital cost of improving connections, such as buying new hardware or upgrading cabling connections to properties, but cannot be used for revenue costs like monthly line rental, subscription fees or VAT.

Applications can be made online at, where additional advice about the scheme is also available.

3 Bristol youngsters beat national competition

A Bristol University press release from the end of last week reports that 3 young people from Bristol overcame competition from across the country and have been recognised at the Young Rewired State Festival of Code 2014.

Chris Chapman and brothers Rhys and Owen Marsh won the ‘Code a Better Country’ category at the event with their app CityRadar.

They were supported and mentored by Bristol University student Tom Mortensson to produce their app, which they presented at Plymouth University.

The event marked the end of a week of experimentation where the young competitors were challenged to make websites and apps that address real-world issues.

CityRadar allows people to report issues in their community, such as graffiti or fly tipping, quickly using their mobile phones. The app is programmed to send a report to the local council (Hmmm. Sounds rather like the My Council app. Ed.).

Chris, Rhys and Owen developed the app at Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) over just four days, before heading to Plymouth with Tom.

During the festival the Bristol University and the Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) collaborate with KWMC, while staff, students and volunteers provide mentoring.

The Young Rewired State Festival of Code inspires young people to explore new skills, ideas, and careers.

Caroline Higgins, Outreach Manager from the University’s Faculty of Engineering, said: “At a time when many schools feel under-resourced and lacking in computing expertise, activities like Young Rewired State and Digimakers are playing an increasingly important role in inspiring the next generation of engineers and technical innovators.

“Since the launch of our outreach programme, we have seen a huge demand for this kind of informal learning activity. Working with our partners KWMC and BCS allows us to pool resources and have more impact, particularly in areas of Bristol that need it most.”

Does that mean you’ll be bringing your outreach programme to Barton Hill, Easton, Southmead and Lockleaze, Caroline? After all, those areas probably have undiscovered lurking geniuses too! 😉

Welcome LibreItalia!

Earlier today the foundation was announced of LibreItalia, which has been founded by Italian members of The Document Foundation and has the objective of bringing together all the Italian users of the free and open source LibreOffice productivity suite to speed up the adoption and promotion of the suite that is meant to be a free individual productivity and office automation tool capable of reducing the digital divide and breaking down the barriers to access to information technology for the poorest sections of the population.

LibreItalia logo

In addition, LibreItalia will promote the ODF/Open Document Format (ISO/IEC 26300) standard for official documents, which was recently adopted by the UK government (posts passim) as a template for all content, together with PDF/A.

The initial Board of Directors, which will be in post for two years, consists of seven members, five of whom are directly involved in the LibreUmbria project (which was originally established to promote the use of LibreOffice in public sector organisations in the Umbria region. Ed.): Sonia Montegiove, Chair; Marina Latini, Vice-Chair and Chief Technical Officer; Giordano Alborghetti, Treasurer; and Andrea Castellani, Alfredo Parisi, Gabriele Ponzo and Italo Vignoli, directors.

All the new association’s news about LibreOffice is featured on the LibreItalia website. To become a member of LibreItalia, you’ll need to fill in an application using the relevant form after reading the site’s About us and Articles of Association pages. The membership fee for ordinary members is a mere €10.00 (reduced to €5.00 for students) and entitles members to a mailbox.

Becoming a member of LibreItalia means supporting the values of transparency, sharing and working together, the same values which characterise the original LibreUmbria project.

China to launch a sovereign OS to counter Windows

According to the official Xinhua news agency, China is hoping to launch a sovereign operating system in October in order to “wean” itself off operating systems developed abroad such as Windows, Le Monde Informatique reports. The Chinese OS, which still has no official name according to Xinhua, will be offered initially for desktop PCs, before being rolled out subsequently for smartphones. It will probably be a Linux distribution that has been revised and fixed by the Chinese security agencies and will be named China Operating System (COS). Xinhua quoted a report by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technologies (MIIT), the organisation entrusted inter alia with the regulation and development of the software sector in China. “We are hoping to launch a desktop PC operating system in October to support [local] app stores,” said Ni Guangnan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Mr Ni heads up the alliance for the development of the official operating system created last March in the People’s Republic of China.

China OS publicity graphic

According to the MIIT, Mr Ni cites the end of support for Windows XP and the ban on Windows 8 on Chinese government computers as an opportunity for the launch of a domestic OS. Earlier this year the Chinese authorities banned the use of Windows 8 on government computers, a move triggered following the end of support for Windows XP in April. Prior to that the authorities denounced Microsoft regarding the ending of security updates for the 13 year-old operating system. China was historically a bastion of Windows XP, largely due to the large-scale pirating of Microsoft software. Another reason for China’s discontent is thought to be the revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

China has long disagreed with foreign technology companies, particularly Microsoft and Google – but also sometimes with Apple – as regards their impact and influence in the country. However, the animosity increased considerably last month when the Chinese anti-trust authorities raided several Microsoft offices, seizing computers and documents within the scope of their investigation. This investigation was launched following complaints made in July 2013 into the manner in which Microsoft Windows and Office are linked and the compatibility between Windows and Office.

A Red Flag base for the sovereign Chinese OS?

screenshot of Red Flag Linux
Screenshot of Red Flag Linux. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
China has been working on its own operating system for nearly fifteen years. Launched in August 1999, the Red Flag Linux distribution was partly financed by the government’s Information Ministry. The same year Red Flag was recommended as the replacement for Windows 2000 on all government PCs. The tensions at that time between the Chinese government and Microsoft were the origin for this directive. However, this local Linux distribution never took off and Red Flag Software, the company behind this local Chinese OS, closed down this year. However, the Red Flag OS is going to be revived.

A report published by the MIIT on 20th August states that the assets of Red Flag Software have been acquired by Penta Wan Jing Information Technology Industry Group for RMB 38.62 mn. This sudden new development was also officially recorded by Mr Ni, who approved Penta Wan Jing’s acquisition and stated that a revitalised Red Flag distribution could contribute to the project to create a sovereign operating system.

This post originally appeared on the author’s personal website.

Netherlands: PSV Eindhoven introduces wifi at stadium; fans protest

glassy wifi symbolPSV Eindhoven supporters launched a vehement protest against the introduction of wifi at the their Philips Stadion ground during their side’s 6-1 home victory over NAC Breda in their opening game of the season, according to today’s Guardian.

Fans displayed one banner reading: “F*ck Wi-Fi, support the team”. Placards with crosses running through the wifi signal were also held aloft before the match. Supporters’ groups believe the introduction of wifi is just the latest of a series of decisions by the club intended to gentrify the crowd at home matches.

However, the club’s website has a slightly different take on the introduction of wifi. The game against NAC Breda marked the test phase of the ‘Connected Stadium’ project. All visitors had free access to the internet, social media and email via the ‘PSV’ network. This is the first time in the Netherlands that a stadium has been equipped with a wifi network. The club is also asking users for feedback.

Eiffel Tower: now with wifi

Le Monde Informatique reported on Wednesday this week that, at the end of 2013, the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) decided to provide a high bandwidth wireless connection for both its employees and visitors to the Eiffel Tower and more particularly for customers using the Salon Gustave Eiffel for private events. Two sites therefore had to be equipped – the public and non-public parts of the Tower itself and the company’s headquarters. Users also had to be able to move between the two sites retaining the same wifi connection.

image of the Eiffel TowerTo achieve these objectives, SETE turned to BSO Network Solutions. The infrastructure installed enables a 100 Mb/s connection with a firewall cluster managed by BSO Network Solutions. This supplier monitors all of the infrastructure from its Network Operation Centre.

The project comprises 25 wifi access points, 13 of which have already been deployed. The outstanding part of the project mainly concerns areas of the monument not open to the public in order to assist maintenance operations by engineers. The project’s overall cost has not been disclosed.

Reposted from the chief scribe’s personal blog.