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CiviCRM 4.7 to be released later this month

CiviCRM logoBristol Wireless has been using the free and open source CiviCRM customer relationship management software to manage its contacts for years. So we were very pleased to hear that CiviCRM’s Core Team is pleased to announce that CiviCRM version 4.7 will be released on 27th January.

According to the developers, version 4.7 is packed with both fixes and new improvements, representing the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication from the community. If anyone’s planning to upgrade to 4.7, the developers suggest testing a beta version on a copy of your organisation’s data to ensure that it’s bug-free for you. If it’s not, your testing can help the community squash any remaining 4.7 bugs!

More details on beta-testing CiviCRM.

Email encryption talk in Bristol

As part of Alternative Bristol’s Breaking the Frame series of talks, an email encryption talk for beginners will be taking place at Hydra Books in Old Market Street, Bristol (map) from 7.30-9.30 p.m. on Friday 22nd January.

graphic illustrating public key encryption
How public key encryption works

According to the organisers, an ordinary e-mail is like a postcard without an envelope: anybody who can put their hands on it can read it. Unlike a postcard an email is copied (rather than moved) to many different computers on its travels. All of these computers’ owners we can’t possibly trust and know. This makes them feel uncomfortable and is not necessary with simple email

After this short (one hour!) workshop attendees will be able to email anyone else who makes it to the workshop without the email being intercepted by a third party.

Certain organisations (e.g. journalists, unions, activists, etc.) have a responsibility to transmit sensitive messages securely and currently do not always do this. Don’t think what does this one email say about me? (or its recipient), think rather when examined en masse over time (most emails are stored indefinitely these days) what does this reveal about the way you live?

It would save time if prospective attendees had Thunderbird set up and receiving your emails. If you have Ubuntu or another Linux distribution, it would help if you installed both Thunderbird and GPG before attending the talk. If you already use email encryption and want to help or share your key please come by too. No experience necessary, but if you have a laptop and USB stick please bring them with you.

More details available via Facebook.

HTTP status code proposed to report legal obstacles

IETF logoThe Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has as its mission “to make the internet work better by producing high quality, relevant technical documents that influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet“.

As part of this work, the IETF develops and promotes voluntary Internet standards, in particular the standards that comprise the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP).

These standards include HTTP status codes, which are derived from both IETF internet standards, IETF RFCs other specifications and some additional commonly used codes.

The IETF’s HTTP Working Group has recently published a draft RFC proposing a new HTTP status code – status code 451 – for use when resource access is denied as a consequence of legal demands.

The draft’s introduction gives the rationale for the proposal:

This document specifies a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) status code for use when a server operator has received a legal demand to deny access to a resource or to a set of resources which includes the requested resource.

This status code can be used to provide transparency in circumstances where issues of law or public policy affect server operations. This transparency may be beneficial both to these operators and to end users.

Getting into detail, the draft states that responses using this status code should include an explanation in the response body of the details of the legal demand, i.e. the party making it, the applicable legislation or regulation and the classes of person and resource to which it applies.

The use of the 451 status code implies neither the existence nor non-existence of the resource named in the request. That is to say, it is possible that if the legal demands were removed, a request for the resource still might not succeed.

The draft also gives an example of status code 451 in action.

HTTP/1.1 451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons
Link: <>; rel=”blocked-by”
Content-Type: text/html

<head><title>Unavailable For Legal Reasons</title></head>
<h1>Unavailable For Legal Reasons</h1>
<p>This request may not be serviced in the Roman Province
of Judea due to the Lex Julia Majestatis, which disallows
access to resources hosted on servers deemed to be
operated by the People’s Front of Judea.</p>

For those unfamiliar with the People’s Front of Judea, here’s some background information. 🙂

One of the reasons behind the proposal is that existing status code 403 (Forbidden) was not really suitable for situations where legal demands mean access to resources is denied.

Comments on the draft will be received until 13th May 2016.

The numbering of the status code pays homage to science fiction author Ray Bradbury‘s 1953 dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451.

French public sector free software list approved for 2016

The inter-ministerial free software list – known in France by its acronym SILL – has had its 2016 version approved and now includes the Android ecosystem, LeMagIT reports.

The Android operating system and the LibreOffice 5 office suite are included in the 2016 version of the SILL which was officially approved on 11th December by the Inter-ministerial Information Systems and Communication Committee.

SILL is an overall reference document (PDF) listing free software packages solutions approved for use by French public sector organisations. Initially confined to desktop tools, SILL was extended to other information system sectors in 2014, such as development tools and databases. Since then SILL has been embracing desktops, equipment management, server operation, databases and development environments. SILL places each item of software in a table (see below) classified by use and distinguished by versions, licences and tool formats, as well their recommendation level (recommended, under observation or end of life).

Part of front page of SILL 2016. Click on image for the full-sized version.
Part of front page of SILL 2016. Click on image for the full-sized version.

This list is also the outcome of many inter-ministerial working groups working in very specific areas, such as MiMo (Mutualisation InterMinistérielle pour un environnement de travail Ouvert – Inter-ministerial Pool for an open desktop environment) which covers the workstation and had already certified one version of the LibreOffice suite for the approval of its use in government ministries; version 5 has now been added to SILL 2016, as previously mentioned.

Although the 2016 version has few notable changes from its predecessor, the Android ecosystem has been added alongside Linux and Windows for mobile device use.

Taiwan replaces UK at top of open data league table

According to information released by the Open Knowledge Foundation, Taiwan has surprisingly topped the Open Data countries league for 2015, displacing the United Kingdom which has dropped to 2nd place.

The Top 10 open data countries are shown below.

Open Data top ten countries in 2015
Open Data top ten countries in 2015. Click on image for full-sized version.

Taiwan’s ascent and replacement of the UK in the top position is down to a number of accompanying factors, such as the high level of press freedom, with both the public and private sectors forming part of the broader “reuse” groups of public sector information. In addition, Taiwan staggeringly claims the world’s highest penetration of Facebook users to overall population. This has also contributed to a fast cycle of feedback loops on public discourse of any datasets released from dozens of data portals.

From the government perspective, another major contributing factor has been Taiwan’s establishment of a formalised public consultation mechanism in the form of dedicated committees in all ministries. A total of over 30 were established in first half of 2015 and this has assisted in raising awareness of Open Knowledge.

As regards other countries, “progress remains slow for most governments, who are still not providing key information in an accessible format to be used, without restriction, by their citizens, civil societies, journalists and businesses”, although the index shows some improvements.

EU Member States’ Open Data performance

Reporting on EU Member States in the 2015 Open Data survey, Joinup states the following:

Some EU countries performed well in the 2015 index, such as the Netherlands (up to 8th place, from 17th in 2014), Romania (up to 13th from 16th in 2014), Bulgaria (up to 16th from 51st in 2014), Spain (up to 17th from 31st in 2014), Italy (up to 17th from 25th in 2014), Ireland (up to 31st from 36th in 2014), Belgium (up to 35th from 53rd in 2014) and Greece (up to 42nd from 54th in 2014). But like the UK, France fell significantly in the ranking, from 3rd to 10th place, and Germany, which fell from 9th to 26th place in 2015.

Can technology help with the UK’s rising healthcare costs?

Professor Ian CraddockProfessor Ian Craddock, the Director of SPHERE (which is based in Bristol University’s Faculty of Engineering) and Managing Director of Toshiba’s Telecommunications Research Laboratory, was invited to give a keynote talk yesterday [Tuesday 15th December] about how the Internet of Things (IoT) will transform health.

The rising cost of healthcare is being driven by long-term health conditions in people of all ages. To tackle this issue will require new models of care, underpinned by new “Internet of Things” technologies that enable the clinical environment not just to be extended to the community, but also to the home, the workplace and everywhere that the “patient” goes.

Professor Craddock talked about the implications for the engineers and scientists that are developing these new technologies. Is security of the technology important or is ease of use paramount; and is there a trade-off between those requirements? He also examined the implications of multi-morbidity, in which most patients with one long-term condition have another condition as well.

Using Bristol’s SPHERE project as an example, he discussed some of the challenges that engineers face working in relatively unfamiliar health and social care domains, as they seek to build the multi-disciplinary teams that are needed to produce technology that is not only useful, but also acceptable to the patient.

Professor Craddock said: “My keynote talk will explore why health providers, funders and corporates alike see IoT as a critical element in future health delivery. I will also discuss some of the most likely and compelling application scenarios and will consider the research that is needed to turn current IoT technologies into the game-changers for health that society so desperately needs.”

One of Professor Craddock’s fellow keynote speakers at this special Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) IoT event will include Vint Cerf – one of the three “fathers of the internet”. The speakers will look at how the internet of the future will transform health, industry, transport and our cities.

Collabora & ownCloud announce partnership & release CODE for LibreOffice Online developers

Collabora, the architects of LibreOffice Online, have announced a the formation of a partnership and the release of CODE (Collabora Online Development Edition), a distribution of LibreOffice Online and ownCloud Server. The purpose of CODE is to give interested developers from any field an easy way to get early access to the very latest untested feature additions and updates to LibreOffice Online, in order to enable them to develop, test and contribute. ownCloud is the company behind ownCloud Server, the world’s most popular open source enterprise file synchronisation and share (EFSS) software. The partnership will deliver a combined commercial solution during 2016, based on an integration of Collabora CloudSuite – a trio of Online, Mobile and Desktop office productivity – with ownCloud Server.

code screenshot

“We’re delighted to partner with ownCloud to strengthen our go-to-market posture as we look forward to fulfilling the considerable market demand for an Open Source cloud document suite,” said Michael Meeks, Collabora Productivity’s General Manager. “This initial release of CODE is our first step in this exciting journey. By design, Collabora Online does not include essential cloud functionality such as identity management or storage. CODE gives a showcase of how filling this gap with a complementary integration with ownCloud gives a taste of the final deployment experience.”

code screenshot

“Collabora is a great open source contributor and a great partner for ownCloud to deliver a full LibreOffice Online experience integrated with ownCloud to the ownCloud Community. Developers and Users will be able to easily view and edit documents while storing them in ownCloud,” said Frank Karlitschek, ownCloud founder and project leader. “This integration proves the power of integration between leading Projects and allows full support for all major document, spreadsheet and presentation file formats.”

CODE (Collabora Online Development Edition) allows prototype editing of richly formatted documents from a web browser. It has good support for key file formats , including text documents (docx, doc, odt, pdf, etc.), spreadsheets (xlsx, xls, ods, etc.) and presentations (pptx, ppt, odp, etc.). All files are processed in the cloud and rendered locally. This initial version allows basic editing. Collaborative and rich editing are planned. Interested developers can download CODE as an easily deployable virtual machine base image, bundled with ownCloud Server, and start contributing to both projects right away.

Reposted from the author’s blog.

Xiaomi is building a Linux laptop

image of laptopIt’s a rumour that’s been growing: Beijing-based electronics company Xiaomi would be prepared to enter the laptop market. Its first model would be a laptop running Linux sold for less than €450, French IT news site Le Monde Informatique reports.

Xiaomi is a jack of all trades. After shaking up the telephony and TV markets, the Chinese manufacturer managed by Lei Jun is getting reading to market its first laptop. The information which was already circulating on Twitter and in forums has been confirmed by Digitimes quoting internal company sources.

Xiaomi’s product design was inspired by Apple. This is a habit for the manufacturer which is doing likewise for its smartphones. Looking like a Macbook, the aluminium bodied will be powered by an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, a Nvdia GeForce GTX 760M graphics card a 2 TB hard drive. Details of the screen size vary between sources; some say 12.5″, others 15.6″. On the other hand, all sources agree that the machine will be running Linux.

Xiaomi is as usual intending to be distinguished by price: its first laptop should retail at RMB 2,999, i.e. less that €450. Any users wishing to install Windows 10 on it will have to pay the equivalent of €135 for the family edition and €279 for the professional version of Microsoft latest privacy-invading operating system. By way of price comparison, Dell is currently marketing a 3000 series Inspiron 15 at the equivalent of €420.

Mozilla to fund open source projects

Firefox logoThe Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organisation that exists to support and collectively lead the open source Mozilla project (the purveyors of the Firefox web browser. Ed.), is supporting a series of open source projects to the tune of US $0.5 mn., German IT news site heise reports.

The Mozilla Foundation announced a promotional programme for free software in October. In its MOSS Programme the Foundation wants to award US $1 mn. to open source projects whose work is in any way relevant to Mozilla. The first projects, which together will receive a good half million dollars between them, have now been chosen.

the largest amounts are US $200,000 for the Bro network monitor, which forms the core of Mozilla’s network intrusion detection system, and US $150,000 for the Django web toolkit, with which many Mozilla websites have been built. Further awards go to the Mercurial distributed code management system, the Read The Docs website, the Discourse forum software, the CodeMirror Javacript editor and the Buildbot continuous integration tool.

Wifi from wee

Bristol boffins have developed a pair of socks embedded with miniaturised microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and fuelled with urine pumped by the wearer’s footsteps that have powered a wireless transmitter to send a signal to a PC. This is the first self-sufficient system powered by a wearable energy generator based on microbial fuel cell technology, the University of the West of England (UWE) reports.

microbial fuel cell socks
Microbial fuel cell socks

This world first feat is described in the scientific paper, ‘Self-sufficient Wireless Transmitter Powered by Foot-pumped Urine Operating Wearable MFC’ published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

diagram of fuel cell, wifi transmitter and PC
How the complete set-up works

This paper describes a lab-based experiment led by Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, of the Bristol BioEnergy Centre at the UWE. The Bristol BioEnergy Centre is based in Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a collaborative partnership between the UWE and the University of Bristol.

Soft MFCs embedded within a pair of socks were supplied with fresh urine, which was then circulated by the human operator walking. Normally, continuous-flow MFCs would rely on a mains powered pump to circulate the urine over the microbial fuel cells, but this experiment relied solely on human activity. The manual pump was based on a simple fish circulatory system and the action of walking caused the urine to pass over the MFCs and generate energy. Soft tubes, placed under the heels, ensured frequent fluid push–pull by walking. The wearable MFC system successfully ran a wireless transmission board, which was able to send a message every two minutes to the PC-controlled receiver module.

Professor Ieropoulos says, “Having already powered a mobile phone with MFCs using urine as fuel, we wanted to see if we could replicate this success in wearable technology. We also wanted the system to be entirely self-sufficient, running only on human power – using urine as fuel and the action of the foot as the pump.”

“This work opens up possibilities of using waste for powering portable and wearable electronics. For example, recent research shows it should be possible to develop a system based on wearable MFC technology to transmit a person’s coordinates in an emergency situation. At the same time this would indicate proof of life since the device will only work if the operator’s urine fuels the MFCs.”

MFCs use bacteria to generate electricity from waste fluids. They tap into the biochemical energy used for microbial growth and convert it directly into electricity. This technology can use any form of organic waste and turn it into useful energy without reliance on fossil fuels, making this a valuable green technology.

Moggy brings down Trusty Tahr

Ubuntu logoLinux distribution bug reports are not a place one expects to find stuff to make one smile: they’re normally places where the faults and failings of software are described in normally boring detail.

However, today proved an exception to the rule, courtesy of one filed a short while ago for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, codenamed “Trusty Tahr, which has just come to prominence.

14.04, locked screen to go to lunch, upon return from lunch cat was sitting on keyboard, login screen was frozen & unresponsive.

To replicate: In unity hit ctrl-alt-l, place keyboard on chair. Sit on keyboard.

Resolution: Switched to virtual terminal, restarted lightdm, lost all open windows in X session.

What should have happened: lightdm not becoming unresponsive.

Ubuntu fans are now trying to reproduce this bug, including some who want to try and reproduce it with other pets, as per the latest comment on the bug report page reproduced below.

will it also work with a small dog, please some one with a small size dogs test it!

LightDM is the display manager running in Ubuntu. According to the Ubuntu Wiki, it starts the X servers, user sessions and greeter (login screen).

What’s a tahr? Wikipedia informs us that tahrs form a family of three species of large Asian ungulates related to the wild goat. The three species are the Himalayan tahr, Nilgiri tahr and Arabian tahr.

Finally, there are millions of pictures of cats and kittens all over the internet. Indeed, there’s even a Firefox add-on called Kitten Block that steps in whenever the user who has it installed attempts to access the right-wing Daily Mail and Daily Express websites. However, there are far fewer pictures of tahrs. Let’s remedy that with a fine picture of a male Himalayan tahr courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

photo of Himalayan thar

Hat tip: Softpedia

First posted on the author’s personal blog.

City of Bern wants to be rid of dependency on Microsoft

Bern coat of armsReporting on proposed changes to IT policy at Bern city council, Switzerland’s Der Bund stated last week that using Microsoft products has both alleged benefits and disadvantages. The major disadvantage is the licence fees that are due on each workstation. In addition, the choice of equipment and the the company providing maintenance are also often linked.

Most members of the city council decided a week ago last Thursday that this dependency was objectionable and that the city would be best free from it. Liberal councillor Dannie Jost painted the market might of the US giant in dark colours. Only Swiss People’s Party (SVP) councillor Friedli thought that depending on one supplier’s products wasn’t really a problem as long as systems were working properly.

Evangelical People’s Party (EVP) councillor Matthias Stürmer (EVP), who is a computer scientist and thus the council’s IT guru, outlined the project. From 2017 the city council will procure 750 new desktops and 250 laptops. All will be connected to a server that will serve up all programs and data. This will reduce Microsoft’s dominant position. The new equipment is to be procured so that other operating systems such as Linux and other programs from various suppliers can be run. Licence fees will therefore be reduced and the most cost-effective products can be chosen. Existing examples, such as the city of Munich, which have successfully completed this migration process, have been ignored or downplayed, said Stürmer.

Free Democratic Party (FDP) councillor Alexandre Schmidt asserted the council was heading towards open source and would not stick with Microsoft in any way. However, it should not be forgotten that the current Microsoft systems were working stably – and that was a not unimportant point for the council.

Green councillor Regula Tschanz was concerned that the council was only paying lip service to open source solutions.

After long debate, the council approved the new IT expenditure. It approved the budget allocation of some CHF. 6.4 mn. for renewing office IT systems. At the same time it approved a budget allocation of CHF 2.4 mn. for continuing the contracts with Microsoft for software maintenance.

The council also approved an additional cross-party resolution demanding a replacement strategy. By 2017 the city administration must set out in detail how it wants to reduce its dependency upon existing suppliers.

Jurassic connectivity for new Jurassic Coast museum

According to the project leaders, a new museum being built as a showcase for Dorset’s Jurassic Coast – a World Heritage site – and its abundant fossil record of Earth’s ancient past will be lumbered with internet connectivity with speeds slower than a nerve signal transmitted from the end of a brontosaurus’ tail to its brain.

Kimmeridge, Dorset, looking towards the coast. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday’s Western Daily Press reports that the UK government has notified project leaders for The Etches Collection Museum in Kimmeridge (est. population 100) that it is not prepared to fund any kind of broadband internet connections or mobile phone reception for the museum or its visitors.

The museum will provide a permanent home for the world-class collection of fossils discovered by collector Steve Etches.

The museum is being built by The Kimmeridge Trust – a registered charity – which has secured lottery funds of £2.5 mn. towards the project. However, their aspirations of a ‘totally immersive’ museum with high-tech displays seem to be in doubt since the Trust cannot afford the thousands of pounds required to put a proper broadband connection into the village, which currently has to endure speeds of around 250Kbps.

Furthermore, the government has told the Trust that it cannot use any of the lottery funds to improve connectivity as the village is on a list of remote Dorset villages that would be part of the alleged ‘superfast’ broadband roll out being funded by the state.

Quasi-monopoly provider BT is prepared to install fibre broadband at a cost of around £150,000, whilst another option from Wessex Internet comes in at £60,000.

Orly airport brought to standstill by Windows NT 3.1 software crash

Last Saturday, Orly airport‘s air traffic was severely disrupted, leaving thousands of passengers stranded on the ground, Le Monde Informatique reports. The cause: a computer failure of the weather data management system running on Microsoft’s antediluvian Windows NT 3.1 operating system.

Orly AirportComputer system failures in the aeronautical world are nothing exceptional, but always have a far-reaching effect, stranding thousands of passengers on the ground. This is exactly what happened last Saturday at Orly which had to halt of all its inbound and outbound air traffic for more than half an hour. Besides the inconvenience caused, it’s above all the origin of the failure that is somewhat surprising. According to the French satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné, it was a failure linked to the Decor (Diffusion des données d’Environnement de Contrôle d’Orly et de Roissy = Orly & Roissy Environmental Control data distribution) system managing data provided by Météo France that was the culprit.

The surprising fact was this software is running on the Windows NT 3.1 operating system released by Microsoft 22 years ago, i.e. an operating system no longer supported at all by Redmond, with all the risks this involves in security terms, especially as it is connected to Météo France’s computer systems.

“The traffic was not particularly heavy on Saturday morning. But imagine during the Paris Climate Change Conference, the manoeuvring of heads of state disrupted by a piece of software dating from prehistoric times. What will that look like?”, stated an engineer quoted by Le Canard Enchaîné. When contacted by the satirical paper, the Transport Ministry gave an assurance that “equipment modernisation is planned for 2017” (no need to rush, then! Ed.).

Reposted from the author’s blog.

Dutch MP: “Open source can liberate local authorities being held to ransom”

Open source software is a good option for local authorities who are dissatisfied with the price and quality of their software, says Dutch Labour MP Astrid Oosenbrug. This former sysadmin believes open source and open standards can liberate local authorities from their current suppliers, who she maintains can have too much power over their customers. 

Situation “has been going on for years”

It recently became apparent from an investigation by NRC and Reporter Radio that many local authorities feel they are being held hostage by their software suppliers who are making the most of a dysfunctional market with price increases. According to Oosenbrug, the situation “has been going on for years”. She has been campaigning for a long time for open standards and open source solutions, her greatest success being a parliamentary motion passed in April according to which the government would be obliged to give preference to open source in invitations to tender. 

More opportunity for open source

From their dissatisfaction, Oosenbrug perceives that local authorities are seeking alternatives to their current software. Oosenbrug states: “The opportunities for open source are increasing and definitely now the government is giving it preference. Amongst local authorities we do find those where the councillors won’t interfere (with procurement choices. Ed.), but I’ve also sat in the council chamber myself. Not every intervention from The Hague is in itself bad or negative, but is on the contrary supportive.

Open source good option for local authorities

photo of Astrid Oosenbrug“In open source software the software’s source code is published and freely available to the public. The software can therefore be freely copied, adapted and distributed. Software standards between applications that work, services, systems and networks that work with each other can be inspected with open standards.”

Oosenbrug views open source and open standards as a good choice for local authorities. “Software companies have a hold on them with their products. If there’s no agreement with price rises, they stop providing the services and local authorities get into quite a bit of trouble. With open source local authorities can be freed from the stranglehold. With open source, anyone can examine the software used and inspect the source code. In this way security holes and clumsy coding are quickly traced.” Users with expertise are also looking everywhere, on account of which the software remains up to date and inexpensive solutions can often be found,” declares Oosenbrug. “There is a safe environment in which ethical hackers for example can play a major role.”

Open standards

Local authority websites are regularly attacked and are sometimes as leaky as a sieve. Consequently, Oosenbrug is also advocating open standards in addition to open source. “Of the 360 local authorities, only thirty comply with accessibility standards. You can overcome these sorts of problems with open source and open standards.” Oosenbrug believes there should be a template for websites with which local authorities can comply with all standards. “The remainder of a website can then be completed according to the local authority’s own preferences.”

Investment repays itself

Open source and open standards mean a considerable investment, but Oosenbrug believes it’s one that is repaid. “The bid that works best wins invitations to tender. Everything is checked for price and quality by the users themselves. Local authorities are currently in the land of the blind where the one-eyed man is king and they must always pay more. Software is becoming safer and cheaper with open source. The government must not view open source as a punishment, but as an opportunity.”

Municipality of Ede

Several local authorities have made progress with open source. In this way the Municipality of Ede has been able to make appreciable savings. After the changeover, it has been spending ten times less for software licences than comparable local authorities. On account of this, total ICT expenditure has been one quarter less than previous years.

Original Dutch source article:

World Technology Award finalists include 2 Bristol dons

The University of Bristol reports today that two of its staff have been named as finalists for the World Technology Award by the World Technology Network (WTN).

The WTN is a global community comprising the most innovative people and organisations at the forefront of science and technology and related fields.

photo of Dimitra SimeonidouThe first of the Bristol academics named as finalists is Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, Director of the Smart Internet Lab and Head of the High Performance Networks (HPN) Group.

The High Performance Networks Group (HPN) specialises in the application of advanced hardware and software technologies. The group addresses the demands of the future optical networks and high-performance network-based services in both fundamental academic research and industrial applications. The group has world-class facilities, including state of the art optical transmission testbeds and software-defined network experimental platforms.

The group has a strong tradition in co-operating with industry, as well as being an international leader in the following fields:

  • Next generation optical transmission networks;
  • Optical packet and burst switching
  • Optical data centre solutions and architecture;
  • Grid and cloud networking;
  • Software-defined optical networking (SDN) and network virtualisation;
  • Hybrid network domains orchestration and service management.

In recent years the group has made significant breakthroughs and now focuses on the application of Software Defined Networking and programmable optical networks.

The group is currently addressing topics such as the Bristol smart city ICT solutions, the Internet of Things (IoT), ultra-high performance media, distributed optical data centre architecture and technologies. This researches will support the development of the future internet and the impending big data era.

The HPN lab also forms part of the UK National Dark Fibre Infrastructure Service (NDFIS). This network infrastructure has enabled close collaboration with leading research institutions and industry in ​the UK, ​USA, Brazil, Japan and across Europe.

The other academic named as a finalist is Professor Mark Thompson, Director of the Quantum Engineering Centre for Doctoral Training and Director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics.

Both have been nominated for the award in the Communications Technology category.

Award winners will be announced at the WTN’s 14th annual World Technology Summit & Awards event to be held next week [19th-20th November] in New York, USA.

The World Technology Summit & Awards is a global gathering bringing together many of the world’s leading technologists, scientists, futurists, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and forward-thinkers for two days of talks, panel discussions and demonstrations that explore what’s ground-breaking, imminent, possible and could change society in emerging technologies.

Bristol Data Dome launches next week

The Bristol Data Dome, which is housed inside At-Bristol‘s Planetarium, will be launched on Wednesday 18th November as part of the Festival of the Future City, the University of Bristol announces.

Data dome image
Picture credit: Lee Pullen of At-Bristol
Connected to a dedicated high-performance computer at the University of Bristol, the Data Dome is a pioneering development on Bristol’s digital scene with the potential of visualising real-time data in a truly distinctive environment.

At-Bristol’s Planetarium is the UK’s only 3D space capable of showing crisp 4K resolution and audiences will have the opportunity to see a variety of content from earth sciences and open data to sociological mapping. There’s also the possibility of experimental gaming in the dome.

Ticket prices for the launch are £7.00 online, £8.00 on the day and £6.00 for concessions. Booking fees will be applicable too.

Tickets for the 8.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m. launch shows on 18th November are available from At-Bristol.

The shows will demonstrate how new technologies can be used to visualise the city and how the Data Dome could lead the way towards innovation in gaming, learning and active citizenship.

The Data Dome will also be available for hire.

A world without Linux – episode 3: no social connections

Although you may not realise it, Linux is the world’s largest collaborative project in the history of computing. It runs most of the world’s technology infrastructure and is supported by more developers and companies than any other operating system. In addition, it’s ubiquitous; it can be found in your phone, car and office. Besides that, it also powers the internet, the cloud, stock exchanges, supercomputers, embedded devices and more.

The latest episode of the series tries to show us how hard it is to have social connections is a universe without Linux.

Three more episodes of this Linux Foundation series are planned, with the final video featuring Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds himself, according to Softpedia.

First posted on the author’s own blog.

Wikipedia wins prestigious Spanish prize

Wikipedia logoWikipedia, the free, collaborative encyclopaedia has been awarded Spain’s Princess of the Asturias Prize for international co-operation. The award was presented by the Spanish king and queen, the Tribune de Genève reported earlier this week.

As a whole, Wikipedia comprises 37 million articles in 288 languages.

“We are rewarding a brilliant and generous idea, a way of working that’s a universal symbol for team working and more than a mere collection of data”, King Felipe VI stated in the presence of Jimmy Wales, who founded Wikipedia in 2001.

Wikipedia is the world’s sixth-largest website in terms of visitors. It is managed by the charitable Wikimedia Foundation, employs some 200 persons and is supported wholly by donations.

The prestigious Princess of the Asturias awards have been bestowed each year since 1981 by a foundation of the same name, recognising people or institutions for their work on an international scale in various categories such as the arts, sciences and sport.

GUADEC 2016 will be in Karlsruhe

Gnome logoGUADEC – the GNOME User and Developer European Conference – 2016 will be held in Karlsruhe in Germany, the GNOME Foundation has announced.

GUADEC brings together hundreds of users and developers every year to further the GNOME project. It is anticipated that GUADEC 2016 will take place around July-August and the definitive dates will be finalised over the next few months.

Karlsruhe is Germany’s sunniest city and has excellent transport links. In addition, Karlsruhe combines a strong sense of science and technology with a penchant for creativity and design. The city hosts four higher education institutions that offer degrees related to computer science, so efforts will be made by GUADEC’s organisers to reach out to the local student population.