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Put an Oneiric Ocelot on your computer

Whilst the venerable Debian distro names its releases after characters in the Toy Story film, the popular Ubuntu distro – a spin-off from Debian – uses a formula of an adjective plus wildlife name to characterise its twice-yearly releases.

Ubuntu logo

Mark Shuttleworth, an early space tourist in a previous life and now the leading light behind Ubuntu Linux, announced yesterday on his blog that the next release of Ubuntu will be called ‘Oneiric Ocelot’.

Oneiric means related to or suggestive of dreams, whilst Wikipedia will tell you all about the ocelot. 🙂

Bristol Wikimedia Academy

When: Saturday 19 March 2011. Arrive at 9.40 a.m. for a 10.00 start, continuing until 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided.
Where: Room 1.06, Merchant Venturers School of Engineering, Woodland Road, University of Bristol, BS8 1UB (map)
What: A non-technical event for individuals and organisations interested in working with Wikipedia and its related projects.

Explore the future direction for Wikimedia and your role in it

Hosted by experienced Wikipedia editors and run in partnership with the University of Bristol, the Bristol Wiki Academy is a chance to explore how Wikipedia and its sister projects can work in partnership with groups and individuals interested in freeing up the world’s knowledge. The event will share specific ideas on how you or your organisation can contribute to, and get the most out of, the Wikimedia projects. No wiki editing or other technical experience is required, but training will be available on the day for those who would like it.

Consider bringing with you something you think should be “on” Wikipedia. It might be a book with an some interesting information, a photograph, a document or a physical object to be photographed. If suitable, we will try and get it online during the day.


The day will feature a mix of short presentations and discussion, addressing topics such as:

  • The Wikipedia philosophy: how Wikipedia works as a community
  • Sharing images
  • Wikipedia as an educational tool
  • Transforming public spaces with Wikipedia

For details of booking, please contact Dr. Martin Poulter (m.l.poulter (at) or Steve Virgin (steve (at) to register your interest.

Listen to our Ben

Regular readers will know that last week, Ben – one of our long-serving volunteers – was invited to take part in an Innovation Academy event entitled ‘Imagine a City where…’ (news passim).

Ben at the Innovation Academy.
Ben Green on the platform at the Innovation Academy. Picture courtesy of Sam Downie.

Sam Downie has now uploaded Part 1 of the audio for the event, which features the following guest speakers:

Listen to the podcast here or download the mp3 for listening at your leisure.

Sam’s also uploaded Part 2 of the event, the open discussion session, which can be heard here or downloaded (mp3).

New LibreOffice website

LibreOffice, the free, power-packed Open Source personal productivity suite for Linux, Macintosh and Windows that forked from OpenOffice following the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle in January 2010, has now got a new website. So reset your bookmarks to

LibreOffice is community-driven and developed software and the project comes under the wings of the not-for-profit organisation, The Document Foundation.

UK speaking dates for rms

JH writes to the Hacktionlab list:

Richard Stallman is doing 5 talks at various locations around the country in early March. It seems his main current activity is around raising awareness against anti-downloading legislation, corporations imposing Digital Rights Management and cracking down on copyright infringements – so it’s not the standard rant from him about free software. For this tour I attempted to set up some dates where he could speak in social centres and attract the sorts who might engage in activism around these topics – which is what he wants – but the people organising/paying for the tour didn’t see it that way, and have kept it to campus lecture theatres. As it is I think they are tense because pre-registration numbers are lowish. All events are free (obviously) and you’re absolutely forbidden from networking these dates through Facebook!

For details of the rest of the tour see

Richard Stallman
Richard Stallman - the consicence of the free software movement

The UK talks are listed below.

CAMBRIDGE – 1st March, 6pm – starting 6.30pm
Free Software and Your Freedom

The Free Software Movement campaigns for computer users’ freedom to cooperate and control their own computing. The Free Software Movement developed the GNU operating system, typically used together with the kernel Linux, specifically to make these freedoms possible.

Venue: Cambridge University Computer Laboratory (CUCL), William Gates Building, 15 JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0FD (Directions here)

Please pre-register here.

PRESTON – 2nd March – reception 5.30pm, lecture 6.30pm
A Free Digital Society

Activities directed at “including” more people in the use of digital technology are predicated on the assumption that such inclusion is invariably a good thing. It appears so, when judged solely by immediate practical convenience. However, if we also judge in terms of human rights, whether digital inclusion is good or bad depends on what kind of digital world we are to be included in. If we wish to work towards digital inclusion as a goal, it behoves us to make sure it is the good kind. The lecture will also cover hot topics, such as the impact of recent projects such as Wikileaks, on the global digital world and wider audiences.

Venue: Darwin Lecture Theatre, UCLan, Preston (Directions here – PDF)

Registration is mandatory – see here.

SHEFFIELD – 5th March 9.45am-1pm
Copyright vs. Community in the Age of Computer Networks

Copyright developed in the age of the printing press and was designed to fit with the system of centralized copying imposed by this technology. But, the copyright system does not fit well with computer networks, and only Draconian punishments can enforce it. The global corporations that profit from copyright are lobbying for Draconian punishments, and to increase their copyright powers, while suppressing public access to technology. But if we seriously hope to serve the only legitimate purpose of copyright, to promote progress for the benefit of the public, then we must make changes in the other direction.

Venue: University of Sheffield Auditorium, Sheffield University Union of Students, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN (map).

LONDON – March 7th 5.30pm-9.30pm
A Free Digital Society

Activities directed at “including” more people in the use of digital technology are predicated on the assumption that such inclusion is invariably a good thing. It appears so, when judged solely by immediate practical convenience. However, if we also judge in terms of human rights, whether digital inclusion is good or bad depends on what kind of digital world we are to be included in. If we wish to work towards digital inclusion as a goal, it behoves us to make sure it is the good kind.

Venue: Savoy Place, London (directions here)

Register online here.

BRIGHTON – March 8th, 7pm
Copyright vs. Community in the Age of Computer Networks

Copyright developed in the age of the printing press, and was designed to fit with the system of centralized copying imposed by the printing press. But the copyright system does not fit well with computer networks, and only draconian punishments can enforce it. The global corporations that profit from copyright are lobbying for draconian punishments, and to increase their copyright powers, while suppressing public access to technology. But if we seriously hope to serve the only legitimate purpose of copyright – to promote progress, for the benefit of the public – then we must make changes in the other direction. This talk will also cover the unjust goals of the Digital Economy Act and what the UK ought to do instead.

Venue: Chichester Lecture Theatre, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RH (map)

Bristol Wireless website goes mobile

Android logoOver the past couple of days we’ve gone and updated our WordPress install and, as part of the update, we’ve also added the WPTouch plug-in to enable customisation of the site’s theme especially for folk with smartphones.

Apparently it delivers a fast, user-friendly and stylish version of your site to touch mobile visitors, without modifying a single bit of code (or affecting) your regular desktop theme.

According to the WordPress blurb, this is what the plug-in does:

“WPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects, when viewed from an Apple iPhone / iPod touch, Google Android, Blackberry Storm and Torch, Palm Pre and other touch-based smartphones.”

WPTouch is produced by BraveNewCode, Inc.

Anyway, smartphone users, let us know how you get on below.

Come to Bristol for an introduction to CiviCRM

CiviCRM logoOn 16 March Bristol’s Circle Interactive is hosting a one-day Introduction to CiviCRM with tutor Sean Kenny. Earlier this month, Circle held a CiviCRM user group meeting (news passim).

The course will give an overview of CiviCRM use in small to medium-sized organisations and the first session will offer hands-on training in everyday tasks, such as:

  • Recording and managing contact information
  • Extending records by collecting custom data
  • Scheduling, performing and logging activities

In the afternoon there’ll be an opportunity to take a good look at 2 key modules – CiviMail and CiviEvent – that extend CiviCRM’s functionality and make it a drop-in replacement for proprietary direct mailing and event management software.

More details are available from Circle Interactive.

Kerala opens ICFOSS

Kerala IT News reports that the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) was inaugurated on 24th February by Kerala’s Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan in Thiruvananthapuram. ICFOSS will focus on providing technical assistance for using FOSS to implement various government projects in Kerala in an endeavour to promote open source software.

In his inaugural speech the Chief Minister said, “As per the IT policy of the Government we will support the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in all projects, especially those for governance and education. Kerala was one of the first states in the country to adapt to free software. Today, other states are following our footsteps and we should ensure that we maintain the leadership position. ICFOSS is a step in this direction.”

Read the original article in full.

Bristol to host 2012 RoboWorld Cup

a generic robotFrom Bristol24-7 comes news that will gladden the hearts of Dorkbotters, the Bristol Hackspace crew, anyone else interested in doing strange things with electricity and technology, plus football fans with a bent for the cybernetic: next year Bristol will play host to the world’s most advanced autonomous robots competing against each other and the expertise of their creators being pitted against one another at the FIRA RoboWorld Cup 2012 (the 2011 event is being held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Ed.).

The competition will take place from August 20-25, 2012 at the Bristol Robotics Lab, a collaborative research partnership between the city’s 2 higher education institutions, the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England.

Read the full story on Bristol24-7.

Bristol’s open data broadcast around the world

b-open logoI was going to start this post with the words ‘In the wee small hours I was listening to the wireless and a man came on doing Stephen Hilton impressions’, but, after some consideration, thought better of it. 😉

This week’s broadcast of the BBC World Service’s Digital Planet programme featured reporter Tracey Logan in Bristol looking at Bristol City Council’s B-Open initiative to make the council’s data available to the local community.

Auntie’s piece started with the sound of wheels rattling on cobbles, a fine introduction to a great example of local use of open data from the council, in this instance the highways department. Up to the microphone steps Overlay Media to introduce us to Hills are Evil, which uses both council data & user feedback to help people in wheelchairs navigate round the city, avoid knackering obstacles such as cobbles and its numerous hills (like the notorious Vale Street, Totterdown. Ed) and still have some energy left at the end of day.

The B-Open initiative is managed for the council by Stephen Hilton. Tracey Logan asked him about the benefits to the council from giving data away. Stephen replied that the pluses for the council were the creative ideas that the use of open data inspired. Moreover, he stressed the council’s desire to support local digital and creative businesses, thus strengthening the local economy. Thus the city as a whole – and by association its council – gains by many multiples of what has been given away (aka the ‘freemium’ principle. Ed.).

The programme is available as an mp3 from the Digital Planet podcast page and is also on the iPlayer. The Bristol piece starts approx. 20:50 in.

In other Bristol City Council digital news, yesterday’s council budget debate webcast from the Count’s Louse attracted an audience of nearly 2,000 and there was lively discussion of the proceedings on Twitter too.

Jimmy Wales in Bristol – the edited highlights

Following on from the recent visit to Bristol and talk by Jimmy Wales for Wikipedia’s 10th birthday, Sam Downie has now announced the release an edited 6 minute version of Jimmy’s public talk at the Victoria Rooms (news passim).

The event hosted by, and with the co-operation of Wikimedia UK, the University of Bristol, Bristol Festival of Ideas, BBC Anchor Project, Connecting Bristol, Bristol City Council, The Watershed and Bristol Cathedral Choir School.

The footage was edited at the Digital Village, BBC Broadcasting House in Bristol and is in the public domain.

Imagine a City where…with our Ben

Next Thursday up at Auntie Beeb’s place on Whiteladies Road, Bristol (map), Bristol Wireless’ Ben Green will be taking part in a panel session entitled ‘Innovation Academy: Digital Bristol – Imagine a City where…” from 1.45 to 3.00 pm.

The event’s publicity blurb states:

Imagine a city where you could tap into the gigs, films, events, games, traffic jams, skate options. There is a welter of knowledge, experiences and fun within the city, but how can digital media transform the experience of living here? What role do open data and open standards play? Who facilitates, who moderates, who benefits?

(It’s grand to see open data and open standards mentioned, but what about open source? Just saying. Ed.)

Besides our Ben, the panel, which will be chaired by Paul Appleby, will consist of:

More information and booking details can be found at Bristol Media.

Estonian Ministry saves money with open source

OpenOffice logoThe Estonian Ministry of the Environment has saved millions of Euro over the past 10 years by using OpenOffice, the open source office suite, according to Meelis Merilo, the head of the Ministry’s IT department, in a news item posted on OSOR.

Using the open source package has cost the Ministry no more than €64,000 over the past ten years; and this was solely the annual budget for training users. Had the Ministry continued to use a proprietary office suite, the costs for purchasing or renting proprietary software licences and user training would have ranged between €1.4 and €2.8 million Euro, Merilo showed in a presentation at the Latvian Open Technology Association (LATA) on 18 January in Latvia’s capital, Riga.

Read the original article.

Thank you, Mr Anonymous!

A couple of days ago, we received a generous donation of an Acer laptop from an anonymous caller at the Lab (thank you kindly, sir! We did ask him if he wanted any kind of thanks, but he resisted all our blandishments. Ed.). He only asked that we wipe the data off the hard drive, which we’ll be doing using the open source DBAN data destruction live CD (news passim).

After that we’ll be refurbishing the laptop (the most common problems with laptops are power adapter and battery faults/failures) and installing Ubuntu on it.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for a refurbished machine, please see our PCs for sale page to find out what we offer.

CiviCRM at Circle

CiviCRM logoAs announced a few weeks ago, a meet-up for CiviCRM users and developers was held on Thursday 10th February last at Bristol’s CREATE Centre (news passim), ably led by Circle Interactive‘s Dave Morton, who was being assisted by our old friend Sean Kenny.

The main aims of the get-together were to discuss how the CiviCRM community gets together and communicates.

A brief run round the room revealed that most users had implemented CiviCRM as Drupal users. It can also be integrated with Joomla, although Joomla was felt to be more restrictive (the latest version of Joomla offers more scope. Ed.), whilst Drupal integration was more flexible. We’re promised the next version of CiviCRM will be better for Joomla.

One point that was raised was integration with WordPress, the popular blogging platform. This provided an opportunity to introduce Make It Happen, where users could vote for and make donations for various ideas on the wish list and other ways of contributing to the project.

At some time in the 2-hour session, the subject of user training was raised. This was not felt to be a problem, or even necessary. In Sean’s words: “If you can use eBay, you can use Civi”. (Nuff said. Ed.) However, one user believed that training is required on number of Civi’s features that are needed and how to tailor it to the individual organisation, as well as training materials that can be readily accessed.

What impressed your correspondent was the wide variety of uses to which other people in the room put or were planning to put CiviCRM – case management for criminal lawyers (no snide remarks about lawyers, please! Ed. 😉 ), church administration, schools and my own particular favourite: Bristol Wireless’ old mate John Palfrey has plans to use CiviCRM for tracking drilling kit around the country/world. Dave Morton summarised this succinctly: “It’s so customisable it can be used in innumerable ways”.

CiviCRM’s open source aspect was a great plus for users, particularly in the light of the restrictive licensing arrangements and high cost of proprietary alternative CRM packages. Points raised included the moral aspect of using open source, whilst John Palfrey encapsulated the discussion perfectly, stating, “We need to make people aware of open source alternatives and tell people not to fall for marketing hype”.

Some examples of Civi use were highlighted. For instance, both major US political parties – the Democrats and Republicans – use CiviCRM for campaigning. The largest roll-out to date is believed to be by the Senate of the state of New York with 63 offices. Over this side of the pond, the Green Party nationally is a CiviCRM user, as are some constituency parties of the other political parties.

As regards promotion, it was felt that this was needed amongst Drupal users and developers and the idea of a CiviCRM stall at Drupal conferences was raised. Could one be seen at London’s Drupalcon in September?

After the formal end of the session, the majority (all but 2. Ed.) of the approx. 20 participants adjourned to the nearby Nova Scotia Hotel to continue discussions over pints of brown, foaming liquid. 🙂

NHS – your health may be safe, but their wifi isn’t

Computer World UK reports that a survey of wifi networks around NHS Trust hospitals in the United Kingdom has found that fewer than 1 in 5 secure data connections using encryption.

Worse than that, over half have not changed the manufacturer’s default wifi access point settings, potentially making them easy targets for anyone with malicious intentions who knows how to do something as simple as type (for some models of AP) ‘admin’ and ‘password’.

The lack of encryption means that anyone using internet tools could monitor sensitive traffic. In some cases the lack of security might be explained by hospitals offering wifi to the public, but even then such connections still pose a risk.

Read the original article.

London Stock Exchange goes live with Linux

H-Online reports that the main exchange of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) is now live trading with a Novell SUSE Linux based system, following final step set-up procedures on Saturday 5 February.

The system has been trialled for several months and the LSE’s move to Linux continues what appears to be a trend for stock exchanges as it was recently announced that the LSE and Canada’s TMX, already a Linux-based exchange, would merge their trading systems, and that the Johannesburg Stock Exchange would also move to Linux.

Will the capitalists of the LSE fall in love with Linux? Why was St Valentine’s Day chosen for the launch? Is this a romance made in heaven? If you can answer any of these questions, leave a comment below.

Read H-Online’s report here.

We love free software

Why not make this February 14th a very special Valentine’s Day? On Valentine’s Day, FSFE calls on Free Software users everywhere to show their love for Free Software . It is the perfect occasion to show our love for Free Software and the possibility to use computers in freedom.

On its campaign page , FSFE suggests what users can do to show that they appreciate Free Software. Simply sending a developer a mail to say “Thank you”, taking a picture illustrating one’s love for Free Software, declaring your love by microblog (that’s Twitter and to you. Ed.) with the tag #ilovefs or donating to a Free Software project are all among the options.

Behind every Free Software initiative and organisation are real, passionate hard-working people. Just for one day, on Valentine’s Day, FSFE invites all Free Software advocates around the world to send a thank you message to the people that work to make Free Software happen.

“Without Free Software, there would be no KDE. Free Software gives KDE life. KDE loves Free Software” declared Cornelius Schumacher, President of the KDE e.V.

“No Free Culture project would be able to enjoy the full freedoms without the infrastructure created by Free Software projects. To everyone engaged in supporting this infrastructure: thank you! We love you!”, adds Jonas Öberg of the Swedish Society for Free Culture and Software (Föreningen fri kultur och programvara).

In conclusion, all that needs to be said is that Bristol Wireless loves free software and couldn’t work without it; indeed our infrastructure depends on free software to operate. Thank you all free software developers; you’re doing a grand job!

Lab report

It’s a busy day in the lab today…

Michael, our volunteer co-ordinator, and Rich have been having a meeting for the last hour or so with Volunteering Bristol to examine ways in which we can improve and enhance our use of our existing volunteers and new ones (we always welcome new blood. Ed. See news passim).

Adelayde has been tweaking our updated WordPress install and making sure the chief scribe is content with the results; if you were unlucky enough to experience some weirdness with the site an hour or so ago, that’s the reason.

Jim’s handling our sales of spare hardware, as we’re having a bit of a clear-out of old components at present to make a bit more room in the lab, as well as provide some cash to bring a smile to Mr Treasurer’s face.

Meanwhile Mr Treasurer himself is doing his usual sterling job with the co-op’s funds and in an hour or so, Rich, Adelayde and yours truly are off to a CiviCrm user group meeting being organised by Circle Interactive.