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Swiss judicial authorities take flak for developing open source software

Whilst an ever increasing number of countries is deciding to give free software priority in public sector projects, an open source courts package is currently taking flak in Switzerland according to Germany’s Linux-Magazin. Some years ago the Swiss Federal Court developed a program called Open Justitia which assists in inquiries into court decisions. As a consequence the Federal judiciary is now having being accused of being commercially active.

According to a press release from the Digital Sustainability Parliamentary Group, Swiss judicial authorities are being unjustly criticised of “partial reporting” in the country’s main media. At the weekend, the Schweizer Tagesschau and Sonntagszeitung newspapers made the allegation (wrongly in the Parliamentary Group’s opinion) that “with the freely available software, the Federal Court is illegally conducting a business as a state institution and is forcing private suppliers out of the market with a 100% subsidised product”, the Digital Sustainability Parliamentary Group wrote on its website. At the same time it announced it will be submitting a motion which would explicitly permit public sector organisations to release software they have developed themselves as open source.

“No advanced algorithms were available on the market”

The Federal Court developed the software since there was alternative of a comparable quality for searching for court decisions. No suitable “advanced” search algorithm was available on the market, so the court “was forced to develop its own solution”. The allegation that the Federal Court is offering commercial services around the open source Open Justitia package is false.

And finally the Group writes that development under free licences is underway in Europe and results in savings if public sector organisations are involved, mentioning cantons which are saving six figure sums thanks to the software. Commercial service providers are charging CHF 15,000 upwards for integration of .

Open Justitia

Open Justitia consists of several components (Norm, Doc, Bib, Ldoc, Anom and Spider),ranging from document management and search to the anonymisation of court rulings and the integration of external legal data sources. In 2012 the project won the Enterprise & IT Architecture Excellence Award and the Swiss Open Source Award. Open Source Award jury chairman Matthias Günter wrote as follows in its statement of reasons: “In the field of federal administration, the Federal Court has long been a trailblazer for open source, even if most public sector organisations are consciously or unconsciously using ever more open source. The next logical step is the release of complete solutions, by means of which new ecosystems arise in which the authorities, like the private sector, benefit from lower costs, increased interoperability and more sustainable solutions. A department which takes such a step needs courage; dealing with existing market participants, as well as the development of a new community need endurance and conviction.”

Read the original German new piece in Linux-Magazin.

“Open source is good for Namibia”

It’s always encouraging to see some good open source advocacy and Namibia’s Elizabeth Asino-Joseph doesn’t disappoint with a recent piece on Namibia’s New Era news website.

There’s a great justification in the opening paragraph, which reads:

Namibia has limited resources to carry out government programs such as computerizing schools, providing universal access to information technology and the list goes on… On the other hand, Namibian institutions are loaded with proprietary software such Microsoft products most of which they do not utilize. The excessive amount of money used to purchase the proprietary software would be better utilized to improve computer usage in Namibia if only we could give Open Source Software (OSS) a chance.

The advantages of open source are then listed – enhanced security, quality, skills development and freedom.

Elizabeth Asino-Joseph’s piece ends with challenge to readers too (and sounds like it’s based on personal experience. Ed.), as well as a promise of more to come.

These are some of the reasons why you, dear reader, should switch to Open Source Software. I challenge you to start right away! Download Open Office ( and start using. You will find that it has relevant functionality and it is super easy to use.

Next week I will continue to enumerate the advantages of Open Source Software.

We recommend reading the original post in full and are looking forward to reading Elizabeth’s next piece with interest.

Hat tip: Mark Taylor of Sirius

Ridding Ubuntu 12.10 of Amazon

Ubuntu logoBefore we start, let’s be honest. All operating systems have their annoyances. Linux is no exception to this. However, given the foibles of the suppliers of all the Linux distributions, available, the annoyances are likely to vary from distro to distro.

Last Thursday Canonical launched the latest version (numbered 12.10) of its popular Ubuntu distribution.

This new version come with a new feature or annoyance (it annoyed the chief scribe. Ed.), depending on your point of view: integration of Amazon results into a desktop search. Given the noises coming out of Canonical, this is likely to be a permanent feature in future Ubuntu releases as the company seeks to increase its earnings from its distro.

Besides switching distros, what can one do to remove this unwanted feature?

Luckily, over the weekend Ubuntu guru Bruno Girin told the chief scribe that there 2 options for disabling the Amazon search, as follows:

  • Option 1: turning it off – system settings -> privacy -> include online search results = off;
  • Option 2: removing the package – sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping, although those unused to or shy of the command line can also remove the package via the Ubuntu Software Center.

Sirius open sources Welsh school

Open source services provider Sirius Corporation has revealed today it has been working with Powys County Council to introduce a combination of Open Source and proprietary software at the newly refurbished Ysgol Maesydderwen secondary school in Ystradgynlais, near Swansea.

The project, which has been funded by the council, involved the installation of a complete infrastructure and included the installation of brand new desktops and laptops for both the staff and pupils, plus a hundred new tablets for pupils to use in class activities and projects.

Nick Talbot, Strategic IT advisor to Powys CC’s Schools Service commented: “We approached Sirius for an innovative solution to our school ICT requirements for the major redevelopment of Ysgol Maesydderwen. We were delighted with Sirius’ proposed solution drawing from the best elements of Open Source and proprietary software. We commissioned them to make this vision real, which they did against challenging deadlines and this work has significantly increased the school’s ICT confidence and capabilities”.

The software supplied covers many uses from email to document sharing, plus specialist desktop applications for tasks such as CAD.

In addition, a reliable back-end infrastructure has been put in place with built in redundancy, allowing the school to continue working should either of the server rooms be taken offline. Active Directory was deployed for authentication and management of desktops and laptops, with files being served from Samba running on Debian GNU/Linux. Other services such as inventory management have been deployed as virtual machines running on Linux KVM. Google Apps was selected in consultation with the school to provide email, productivity and remote file services. This is appreciably more powerful than the school’s previous solution, as well as saving costs since it’s free for education use.

Richard Lashley, Ysgol Maesydderwen’s Deputy Head said: “The Sirius team were quick to identify our priorities by immersing themselves into school life and listening to learners, staff and governors”. He continued, “Any glitches encountered were dealt with professionally to enable the school to have a state of the art system that we continue to refine for the improvement of teaching and learning and we are extremely excited about the future possibilities”.

Isn’t it great to have a public sector open source success story from the UK for once, readers? 🙂

Congratulations, Bails

News has just arrived in the lab via our IRC channel that Bails, one of our long-standing volunteers and his partner Nurçan have had a baby girl weighing in at 3.12 kg (or 6 lbs 14 oz in old money. Ed.). This happy event was announced by us on Twitter as follows:

We’d like to wish Bails and Nurçan all the best and will be wetting the baby’s head tonight! 🙂

It’s Ada Lovelace Day

image of Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace
Today, 16th October is Ada Lovelace Day, which is a worldwide event about sharing stories of women — whether engineers, scientists, technologists or mathematicians and has the aim is to create new role models for girls and women in these male-dominated fields by raising the profile of other women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

As part of the celebrations, Flossie (news passim), the organisation promoting women’s involvement in free, libre and open source software, are organising a special event at Bletchley Park, the former wartime codebreaking centre and computing museum.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (b. 10 December 1815, d. 27 November 1852), who was born Augusta Ada Byron and is now commonly known as Ada Lovelace, was an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage‘s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine. Her notes on Babbage’s engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine; thanks to this, she is sometimes considered the world’s first computer programmer.

However, it would appear that there’s a long way to go to encourage women in science, technology engineering and mathematics. According to statistics from the UK’s Joint Council for Qualifications, only 302 girls took Computing A-level (7.5% of the total entry) in 2011, compared to 3,700 boys (92.5%). The figures show Computer Science as the worst of all STEM subjects for the gender gap, – ICT 61% male /39% female; Mathematics 60%/40%; Physics 79%/21%; Chemistry 53%/47%).

Here in Bristol Wireless, we know for ourselves just how large the gender gap can be: we can count the numbers of female members/volunteers over our 10 years of existence on the fingers of one hand and of those, only 2 (Rachel and Llanos) are professionally employed in the fields of science, technology, engineering or maths.

However, perhaps things are looking up if we turn to the generation below that of the majority of our volunteers. Looking at our volunteers’ own families, we’re pleased to note that Rich’s niece is currently studying to be an astrophysicist, whilst in the chief scribe’s family, 2 younger members are currently studying STEM subjects: one niece is now reading mathematics at Imperial College, London and another is reading IT in Leeds.

GNOME + Beers = GBeers

Gnome Project logo
Free software – now available with a beer!
Although the favourite tipple (outside working hours of course! Ed.) of our regular volunteers is cider, we do have a couple – notably Messrs Treasurer and Secretary – who are fond of beer and real ale in particular.

Consequently we were intrigued when Phoronix reported that beer and open source are being combined in GBeers (GNOME + Beers = GBeers), a world-wide initiative for GNOME meet-ups with lightning talk presentations taking place while drinking beer. Madrid in Spain recently hosted the very first GBeers event. Other GNOME users and developers are being encouraged by the GNOME project to arrange GBeers events in their own towns and cities.

The proposed format of GBeers events is 1 hour of lightning talks, with each talk lasting 5-10 minutes, on unrestricted topics every month, with the talks possibly being recorded for internet distribution. A further possibility is arranging virtual GBeers through Skype or Google hang-outs.

GBeers have so far been organised in Madrid, Las Palmas, A Coruña, Seville (all Spain), Chicago (USA) and Lima (Peru). Further information about this initiative can be found on the GNOME Live Wiki.

By the way, if anyone is thinking of organising a GBEERS event in Bristol or roundabout, Mr Secretary has a lightning talk on how open source can help a small voluntary organisation and if anyone needs a longer talk (up to 1 hour), Mr Treasurer does a good line in pirate radio (news passim). 😉

Hat tip: Roy Schestowitz.

This is a revised version of a post originally published on the author’s personal blog.

Open source worth some €450 bn./p.a. in EU

The contribution of open source to the economies of EU Member States is estimated to be worth some € 450 bn. annually according to a report of the first Open Forum Academy conference, which took place in Brussels on 24 September. This figure is made up of some €374 bn. in savings from the re-use of code, plus other savings of some €114 bn.

This quotes a paper presented by Carlo Daffara of Bristol-based CloudWeavers. In order to assess open source’s contribution to the economy of the EU Member States, Daffara combines code re-use data with macro-economic estimates, reckoning that some 35% of the software used in the past 5 years is directly or indirectly derived from open source. To translate this into savings, Daffara draws on estimates for the total value of the IT sector, which are estimated to be between €374 bn. and €399 bn.

Below is the conclusion of Daffara’s paper.

The data collected up to now indicates that Open Source does have at least an immediate economic effect through code reuse and effort reduction; a lower bound of such effects can be estimated to be at least 114B€/year, through direct savings, reduction in project failure and improvements in code maintenance costs – equivalent to 30% of the entire software and services market. Also, the effect of reinvestment of such savings into internal IT provides an additional second order effect in terms of productivity and increased efficiency of at least 342B€/year – a decidedly not marginal contribution to the European Economy.

Download Daffara’s paper and the other conference proceedings (PDF).

Snooper’s Charter – 19,000 emails against

Some time ago we wrote to our local MP, Dawn Primarolo, about the Government’s proposed Draft Communications Bill, aka Snooper’s Charter (news passim), and we’re still awaiting the courtesy of a reply (or even an acknowledgement), Dawn!

However, that’s by the by and there are other matters of greater import to report on the Snooper’s Charter.

Glyn Moody has just reported on the latest developments. The Joint Parliamentary Committee dealing with the proposed Draft Communications Bill, has announced that it has received nearly 19,000 emails on the subject. Of these not a single one was in favour of it or even agreed with the Bill’s premise.

We strongly recommend reading Glyn’s original report.

12 years of open source use

Coat of arms of Vieira do MinhoThe Portuguese local authority of Vieira do Minho in the far north of the country would appear to be an exemplar for the use of open source software for small local authorities everywhere, according to a report posted yesterday on the EU’s open source news website, Joinup.

Vieira do Minho has been using open source on its servers for years. It uses Postgres for its database management system, on top of which the municipality’s IT department has built many Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Web, email, file and print services are all provided using the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. For telephony, the municipality relies on Asterisk.

“These IT solutions are flexible, easy to study, test and switch”, says António Rebelo, head of Vieira do Minho’s IT department. “It keeps us free from IT vendors and, because of the lower costs, results in a more sustainable IT infrastructure”.

Earlier this year in March, the municipality decided it would also start using open source software on its desktops as well as its servers and 147 PCs in the council’s offices are now running LibreOffice instead of Redmond’s bloatware ubiquitous offering. Only 1 machine is still running MS Office in the council’s offices and is used for “a few complex documents”.

Rebelo states that the change to LibreOffice went smoothly: “LibreOffice is very similar to the proprietary office suite we used previously. The most recent version of LibreOffice also substantially improves document compatibility and reduces the number of interoperability errors.”

Besides LibreOffice, the municipality’s staff are now using the following open source packages for their work: Thunderbird (e-mail), Sunbird (calendar), Firefox (browser) (that’s one big vote of confidence in Mozilla products. Ed.🙂 ), Gimp (image editing), Audacity (audio editing) and PDF Split and Merge. Geographic tools include Qantum GIS, Grass and PostGis. Staff design diagrams using DIA and all Java software development is done using Netbeans.

Leipzig on course with free office package

City of Leipzig coat of armsThe Münchner IT-Blog, the IT blog of Munich city council in Germany, reports that its fellow council in Leipzig started a migration to the free open source office suite OpenOffice earlier this year.

OpenOffice has since been installed on 3,900 of Leipzig’s 4,200 PC workstations and is now used as the standard office program within the council. A working group is currently busy linking Leipzig’s specialist procedures to OpenOffice.

Hannes Kästner, Leipzig city council’s IT-coordinator, says: “The switch in the office package is the first major open source project of Leipzig city council. Its aim is to reduce the dependency on proprietary software”.

Last day to register for LibreOffice Conference 2012

Today, Monday 8th October, is the last day for registration for the LibreOffice Conference 2012, which, following a public poll, will be held in Berlin from 17th – 19th October 2012.

The conference venue will be the Conference Centre of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

The conference programme reflects the broad engagement and diversity of the LibreOffice community and will include talks and workshops from various areas of the project.

For updated information, you can subscribe to the conference mailing list.

Prior to the conference itself, Community Meetings will be held on Tuesday 16th October 2012 at the same venue.

How Linux is built

While Linux is running your phone (if it’s an Android. Ed.), tweets, financial trades, cash machines and much, much more, most people don’t know how it’s actually built. This short video from the Linux Foundation takes you inside the process by which the largest collaborative development project in the history of computing is organised. It’s based on the annual report, “Who Writes Linux,” and tells the story of how Linux has become a community-driven phenomenon.

Hat tip: Uganda Linux User Group

Election news – the open source angle 2: questions for the Bristol mayor

After looking over the Channel at the forthcoming Belgian local authority and provincial elections (news passim), we’re coming a bit closer to home.

It cannot have escaped the attention of any Bristolian who hasn’t been in a coma for many months that an election will take place in November to select an elected mayor for Bristol.

Needless to say, we open source advocates would also be interested to hear what the 13 candidates declared to date say about matters of concern to us.

We would therefore like to ask the candidates the following questions:

  1. Re free and open source software: the city council currently exports lots of taxpayers’ money abroad by spending it on proprietary operating systems and software. Will you commit to reducing this expenditure during your term of office by moving the council increasingly towards the use of free and open source software?
  2. Re open data: the city council currently releases certain data (e.g. expenditure data) free for re-use by others. However, much of the material produced by the council is still covered by copyright. Will you give a commitment to release as much council material as possible for free use under an open licensing scheme, such as Creative Commons?
  3. Re free/open internet: free internet access is available at many city council buildings and locations around the city. Are you committed to extending and improving free internet coverage for the benefit of Bristolians?

Candidates are free to give their answers in the comments below.

Election news – the open source angle 1

On 14th October, Belgium goes to the polls for local council and provincial elections.

Joinup, the EU’s open source news website, reports that 278 election candidates have so far pledged their support for free and open source software.

The pledges were garnered in a grass roots campaign comprising just 2 people who have been contacting election candidates.”So far, 3 political parties – the Socialist Party, Ecolo and Mouvement Réformateur – have promised me their general support”, says Nicolas Pettiaux, one of two volunteers involved. Nevertheless, Pettiaux admits that several hundred more candidates remain to be contacted and declares that he would appreciate some more voluntary help.

The most recent political candidates to have signed the pact are Rudy Demotte (Socialist Party for the municipality of Hainaut), Antoine Tanzilli (Centre Démocrate Humaniste, in the city of Charleroi) and Gwénaëlle Grovonius (Socialist Party for the municipality of Namur).

Until now, most of the support for this campaign comes from the Ecolo party and the Centre Démocrate Humaniste, both with 97 signatures, followed by the Socialist Party, with 44 signatories.

The current Belgian campaign is similar to the ‘Free Software Pact’ campaign organised around the recent elections in France by April, a French advocacy organisation. In Belgium, the candidates are being asked to sign either or all of three pacts on free data, on a free internet and free software.

As in France, Petiaux and his companion are using the free and open source Grassroot Platform Technology (GPA) package to maintain lists of those candidates that have signed up.

Italy: region of Umbria adopts LibreOffice

image of Umbria flag
Flag of Umbria region. Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
EU open source news website Joinup reports that the Administration the Italian region of Umbria has started a project to migrate an initial group of 5,000 users to LibreOffice. Osvaldo Gervasi, president of Umbria’s Open Source Competence Centre – CCOS – states that getting rid of IT vendor lock-in is one of the main motives for the migration.

As part of the move, the region will also be adopting LibreOffice’s default Open Document Format as an open document standard.

The legal basis for the migration is a 2006 regional law promoting the use of free and open source software by the public sector in Umbria.

According to the Libre Umbria blog, the project involves the Provinces of Perugia and Terni, Local Health Unit no. 2 and the Region of Umbria, and is being co-ordinated by the Consortium of Umbrian Authorities (Consorzio SIR Umbria) and CCOS Umbria.

The story is also covered by La Stampa (in Italian).

Note: this is a revised version of a post that first appeared on the chief scribe’s site.

Nominet consults on shorter .uk domain

If you own or are thinking of getting a domain name ending in .uk, this consultation could be of interest to you.

Nominet, the organisation that controls the .uk domain, is holding a three month consultation about the potential introduction of a new service known as, which would be specifically designed for businesses which are or want to get online, with a new shorter domain name of rather than

Proposed key features include;

  • verification to check a registrant has a UK address;
  • daily monitoring for malicious software and viruses; and
  • a digital signature to minimise the risks of a domain name being hijacked.

These measures would be supported by a trustmark to give consumers a clear sign that it was a verified domain name.

According to Nominet, the potential additional features incorporated in this proposed new product could help to create an even more secure online home for British businesses. In addition, Nominet believes they would help to guard against cybercrime, which costs the UK approximately £27 bn. per year.

Nominet is proposing that this would be a new and different service will would sit alongside existing domain name registrations under, and

Nominet states that this proposal is obviously significant for anyone involved in the .uk namespace, which is why it is consulting to ensure all views are taken into account.

Interested parties can respond to the consultation either by completing an online form, by downloading the consultation (PDF) and emailing their comments to or by requesting a hard copy of the consultation from

FUD watch: Microsoft calls FOSS “non-copyrighted”

Earlier this month, the government of Kenya announced that in the next three years it will move its IT operations to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), a move that will reduce its IT costs by more than 50%, according to a report on the Kenyan news website Standard Digital.

Needless to say, the announcement hasn’t gone down too well with the major supplier of the present IT systems used by Kenya’s government and as a consequence, Paul Roy Owino, technology advisor, Microsoft East and Southern Africa, has launched a campaign of misinformation, aka FUD, against it.

Firstly , he alleges FOSS is more insecure: “The Government stands to lose to hackers, freedom to third party modification coming with Free and Open Source Software it plans to adopt increases chances of Internet attacks. I do not think the Government has competent expertise to handle the challenges that comes with the free and Open Source Software.

Secondly and more importantly, Mr Roy believes FOSS isn’t covered by copyright: “Just like other players in the copyrighted software, we are accountable when our software is hacked, the case is different with the non-copyrighted software”.

Mr Roy clearly doesn’t understand FOSS licences such as the GPL. The software is subject to copyright, just like the proprietary products peddled by his employer. The major difference is the licences under which FOSS is provided assign certain rights (e.g. copying, redistribution and so on) to the end user. Interestingly Mr Roy seems to intimate that customers can sue Microsoft if they suffer losses due to ‘hacking’. However, any damages for which Microsoft may be held liable are specifically limited are limited to a refund of the amount paid for any of its software, as exemplified the Windows 7 EULA:

26. LIMITATION ON AND EXCLUSION OF DAMAGES. You can recover from Microsoft and its suppliers only direct damages up to the amount you paid for the software. You cannot recover any other damages, including consequential, lost profits, special, indirect or incidental damages.

This limitation applies to

  • anything related to the software, services, content (including code) on third party Internet sites,
    or third party programs; and
  • claims for breach of contract, breach of warranty, guarantee or condition, strict liability, negligence, or other tort to the extent permitted by applicable law.

It also applies even if

  • repair, replacement or a refund for the software does not fully compensate you for any losses; or
  • Microsoft knew or should have known about the possibility of the damages.

Some states do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitation or exclusion may not apply to you. They also may not apply to you because your country may not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental, consequential or other damages.

One can only hope Kenya will be happier and better off with software suppliers with more integrity.

Hat tip: Roy Schestowitz

Why buy software when you can share and reuse?

One of the greatest benefits of using free and open source software is that it can be shared with others and reused by them. In these cash-strapped, austere times this is one aspect which public sector IT departments are discovering – in some places anyway.

One hundred and fifty local authorities in the Walloon (French-speaking) region of Belgium are currently sharing and reusing the open source code that they use to build their e-government services. They now no longer need to turn to procurement from proprietary suppliers, but are instead sharing software development and maintenance costs, according to a piece on Joinup, the EU’s open source news site.

The e-government services are built on top of the Zope open source application server and run on the closely related Plone content management system. A network of small and medium-sized enterprises can be tapped for support.

The local authorities have become members of the Intercommunal Mutualisation of Computing and Organisation. IMIO, which was founded on 1 January 2012 by the Walloon Ministry of Local Authorities, is a merger of two projects involving many of Wallonia’s local authorities. One of these, CommunesPlone, concentrated on Zope and Plone-based open source solution, whilst the other, GIE Qualicité, worked on pooling the procurement of solutions based on legacy proprietary software.

IMIO Director Joël Lambillotte said: “Previously, local authorities spent a lot of energy procuring IT solutions, but municipalities have similar needs and they easily trust each other, allowing for the pooling of the software development.”

IMIO is working with a pool of open source SMEs who offer support on everything from tailoring Linux to training in the OpenOffice productivity suite.

The new organisation is also trying to develop business applications across national borders. “It is difficult to build solutions that work across different legal systems. But we’re currently building an application for the Belgian local authorities that borrows a lot of code from an application used by French local authorities. The costs savings are significant”, said Lambillotte.

I was working in the lab late one night…

It’s been a busy time at Bristol Wireless lately. Our Jim was here till nearly 9 pm a couple of nights ago recovering some data for a customer from a dead laptop’s hard drive for transfer to a refurbished machine.

In addition, Jim has also been attending to a sick Windows box infected by viruses that he was cleaning off the hard drive using a Linux live CD called Trinity Rescue Kit (or TRK. Ed.) TRK is aimed specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines, but is equally usable for Linux recovery jobs. TRK can recover and reset passwords, remove viruses, recover and undelete files, recover lost partitions and so on.

Still on the repair front, your ‘umble scribe had to rescue an Easypeasy Linux netbook whose hard drive was full and therefore wouldn’t allow logins. The repair entailed booting off a USB key, dropping into a terminal and then using chroot and dpkg to create some space on the machine, followed by creating more space by removing the default OpenOffice productivity suite and replacing it with the lighter Abiword package. This was the first time yours truly had used chroot.

We’ve also been providing some guidance and tuition on the WordPress blogging platform to The Severn Project, a scheme that helps those with drug, alcohol and mental health problems to reintegrate into society by providing training in horticulture.

Anyway, it’s time to get back to the Monster Mash… 🙂