Monthly Archives: October 2014

  • Cloud & Open Source event in Brighton (Hove actually!)

    Omnis Systems in Brighton is organising an event – Open Source, the Cloud and your Business – at Sussex County Cricket Club, Hove, BN3 3AN (map) on Tuesday 18th November.

    banner for event

    Many organisations in the private, public, voluntary and community sectors are now starting to look seriously or are in part using “the Cloud” and Open Source technology. However, there is still some as to the business benefits that can be realised by using these tools.

    Those who worry are not alone. Very often even IT resellers and consultants find it difficult to understand if they are offering the best solutions to their customers as they have limited visibility on what is available apart from the offerings from their standard vendors.

    This seminar will be examining what Cloud and Open source technology actually are, how public and private sector organisations are using them and what business opportunities they offer. The seminar will also explore a few of the common myths that surround those technologies and get into some real life case studies on how organisations can benefit.

    Time Description Speakers
    09:00 / 09:30 Registration & event presentation  
    09:30 / 10:00 Cloud, Open Source or both? Understanding what “Cloud” really is. The definition, the services, the good, the bad and the ugly. There are very useful aspects of the Cloud to consider but there are also some issues that have security, economical and ethical impacts you may have not considered. Paolo Vecchi
    Omnis Systems
    10:00 / 10:30 How you could help the Public Sector in being more efficient by offering your services through G-Cloud and how we can help you getting there faster. Chris Farthing
    Advice Cloud
    10:30 / 11:00

    Providing “Cloud” services since before it was cool. Moving bits for UK businesses.

    Joe Kerr
    11:00 / 11:30 Coffee break & time for networking/questions  
    11:30 / 12:00 Securing your Cloud identity with Single Sign-On and strong authentication Giuseppe Paternò
    12:00 / 12:30 Local government representative from London talking about their experience with Open Source and Open Alliances that could be formed between organisations to share code and experiences (Awaiting confirmation and full speech description)  TBA
    12:30 / 13:30 Lunch break and networking  
    13:30 / 14:00 Technology Choices for Business Strategy

    Businesses compete fiercely in an ever faster changing market. Public bodies too must deliver better for less. Their strategic response is to focus on users, iterate products, drive down costs, design for easy change, share knowledge and experience, and widen access to more kinds of suppliers and innovation. Find out how your technology choices can support business aims.

    Tariq Rashid, speaking in a personal capacity, previously leading on open source for the Cabinet Office.

    Tariq Rashid
    14:00 / 14:30

    Open what? Does Open Source matter to my business? It may matter as, like it or not, you are using a lot of it but your suppliers don’t want to tell you.

    We will also look at examples of how IT resellers let down their customers by selling them the wrong solutions for the job and how Councils spend (badly?) our money…

    … and at a few tools, including Collax V-Cube & Business Server, that businesses can adopt to consolidate their IT infrastructure, simplify its management and reduce costs.

    Paolo Vecchi
    Omnis Systems
    14:30 / 15:00

    Zarafa Communication Platform a safer & cost-effective way to communicate

    Zarafa has always been the best drop-in replacement for Microsoft Exchange but now is taking its ambitions further. With the inclusion of telephony, video conferencing, file & document sharing and many other features Zarafa is now ready to take on Office365 and GoogleApps. What’s the point? You can control your data & your privacy, integrate your applications and at the same time spend even less than by using general purpose Cloud applications.

    Zarafa Communication Platform can be installed on Linux distributions like RedHat, Ubuntu and Debian. In this presentation it will be shown running on Univention Corporate Server which allows you to manage your Linux based infrastructure using a professionally designed web interface.

    Marco Welter
    15:00 / 15:30 LibreOffice-from-Collabora provides an enterprise hardened and supported build of the world’s most popular Open Source ‘Office’ software LibreOffice. Large Corporate and Public Sector organisations now have a secure and long term supported alternative to proprietary Office software. Tim Eyles
    15:30 / 16:00 Coffee break, networking, QA  
    16:00 / 16:30 Reducing costs and complexity. Open Source based solutions for Windows and Linux desktop virtualisation Mike Trevor
    Cutter Project
    16:30 / 17:00

    Entando, the most agile way to share informations and connect to the “Internet of Things”

    Rinaldo Bonazzo
    17:00 / 17:30 How Linux and Open Source platforms allow us manage millions of emails and contacts on our mailing and CRM solutions Andrew Mann
    17:30 / 18:30 QA, networking, beers, wine.  

    Full and up-to-date details are available on the Omnis Systems website.

    Register for the event via Eventbrite.

  • Thank You!

    A week ago I was honoured to attend the annual Thank You awards organised by Easton & Lawrence Hill Neighbourhood Management to provide coverage of the event via Twitter.

    These awards are presented every year to people who make a difference in the part of East Bristol where I live. Nominations all come from the local community, i.e. friends and neighbours.

    This year the awards were presented by local MP Stephen Williams, whilst the event was compèred by local broadcasting husband and wife team Pat Hart and Sherie Eugene Hart. Those honoured ranged in age from people still at school to pensioners.

    The biggest cheer of the night was for Lil Stiddard, who received a standing ovation. Lili’s citation read:

    It was 32 years ago that Lil and her husband became involved in setting up a club for older people in the community. Before Easton Community Centre was built, they met at the Chelsea Road Old Co-op. The floor collapsed with all the dancing the first time they used a temporary venue. At the age of 97, Lil is still active in the club, setting out the tables and chairs, bringing the tea and assisting the treasurer. “We are all human beings,” she says, “and need to learn to pull together.”

    All the winners were photographed together at the end of the presentation.

    group photo

    Here’s a short film of vox pops shot at the awards.

    I happened to be nominated too…

    image of Thank You award

  • Male? Welsh? Problems with your love life? Try Tesco!

    If you are male, speak Welsh and have problems with your love life, particularly those related to erectile dysfunction, then maybe the new Aberystwyth store opened by Tesco (motto: every little helps) can come to your rescue.

    The Daily Post reports that the cash machine installed at Tesco’s new outlet in Aberystwyth is offering a “free erection” (codiad am ddim) to Welsh speakers whilst Anglophones have to be content with withdrawing cash free of charge.

    shot of cash machine at Aberystwyth Tesco
    Sexual favours for Welsh speakers?

    According to the Post, a Tesco spokesperson is reported to have said: “We’ve taken down the sign and will replace it with the correct translation. We appreciate this is a sensitive area.”

    Here’s a little help for Tesco: next time use a professional translator! 😉

    Hat tip: M J Lee.

  • Skip Bins of Easton – the video

    A couple of years ago, after a less than ideal consultation by Bristol City Council (my own street was omitted from the process! Ed.), communal bins – called skip bins by some – were imposed on residents.

    They are not popular with locals since they attract abuse – fly-tipping by traders, dumping of recyclable materials by the uncaring and so on – and are unappealing to have outside one’s front door. They may be a good idea for block of flats if adequately screened, used properly and regularly emptied, but not for residential areas or shopping streets. Even in my own road where the communal bins never suffer the levels of abuse or levels of filling that they do in on busier streets, they are not popular with residents.

    A local Stapleton Road resident has now produced a short video to draw attention to the problems they engender and her evident frustration with the council’s attitude to Easton.

    As regards abuse of the communal bins, recent analysis of 2 bins on Stapleton Road by the city council revealed that their contents were roughly:

    • one-third waste for landfill;
    • one-third recyclable materials; and
    • one-third illegally dumped trade waste.

    That analysis shows there is clearly a lot that needs to be done both as regards educating residents on what materials can be recycled, as well as enforcement, cracking down on traders who are not complying with their obligations in respect of proper disposal of the waste from their businesses.

    When it comes to trade waste, the council has 2 options when it comes to enforcement action. It can impose a fixed penalty of £300 or taking offenders to court, where a maximum fine of £50,000 and/or up to five years imprisonment.

    As regards the siting of communal bins, the idiocy evident in the video is not an isolated instance. Walton Street in Easton, which is some 300 metres in length, has one communal bin, whilst adjoining Northcote Street – a third of the length of Walton Street – has three!

    If having to put out the rubbish on a cold, rainy night, I’d prefer to live in Northcote Street. Wouldn’t you?

    Furthermore, it’s not just the major thoroughfares that have problems with fly-tipping, trade waste and the like, as this blog has previously highlighted with Jane Street (posts passim) on the borders of Redfield and Lawrence Hill districts.

    Next month a residents’ rubbish summit will be held at Felix Road Adventure Playground as part of the #tidyBS5 initiative. Details will be posted here when they are finalised.

  • Google invents amphibious delivery truck

    Readers who have been reading the IT press for some time will be familiar with Google’s invention of the ‘flying car’ just after the inception of Google Earth in January 2006 that was reported at the time by The Register.

    News now arrives that Google has followed this up with the invention of the amphibious, sea-going delivery truck, as shown on another Google product, Google Maps.

    image showing delivery truck out at sea

    Judging by the scale of the map and the predicted time of delivery, it would appear the amphibious delivery truck can also manage speeds of some 400 km/h. 😀

    Hat tip: Angharad Stone.

  • Overshare: Chambers word of the year

    speech bubble with speechLanguage is dynamic, constantly mutating and changing. One sign of this dynamism is the appearance of neologisms, i.e. newly coined word, or phrases or familiar words used in a new sense.

    There are plenty of neologisms in evidence in this year’s Chambers Dictionary annual search for its word of the year, many prompted by or associated with information technology.

    Chambers has this week announced that overshare is its word of the year for 2014, The Guardian reports.

    “Overshare” topped a shortlist compiled by the Chambers editorial board, which included “bashtag”, defined as “a hashtag used for critical or abusive comments”, and “digital native” – “a person who has learned to use computers as a child”.

    And the meaning of overshare? To reveal an inappropriate amount of detail about one’s personal life.

  • Target for signed PDFs in LibreOffice reached in 3 days

    Wilhelm Tux logoEU open source news site Joinup reports that the crowdfunding appeal launched by Wilhelm Tux for the incorporation of signed PDF functionality in LibreOffice (posts passim) has reached its target of CHF8,000 (about €10,000) in just three days.

    To date 90 organisations, companies and individuals have contributed to the Wilhelm Tux crowdfunding campaign, including Swiss Post Solutions, a division of the Swiss Post Office (isn’t it great to see the public sector supporting free and open source? Ed.).

    Once implemented, LibreOffice will be able to:

    • Create PDF documents with legally accepted digital signatures accompanied by a timestamp;
    • Conform to PDF/A signature standards;
    • Use either Mozilla Firefox or Thunderbird to manage certificates using a simple interface.

    Implementation of the project has been awarded to Collabora, an open source IT service provider, and the work is expected to be completed by April 2015.

    Collabora, which is based in Cambridge, has issued a statement in connection with the Wilhelm Tux crowdfunding campaign, which declares:

    The success of their campaign shows that Swiss businesses want LibreOffice, want digital signing, and, given the opportunity, are happy to pay for it. It also demonstrates the freedom that the LibreOffice ecosystem provides to businesses. Independently of The Document Foundation who steward and steer LibreOffice development, and independently of the many businesses who have stakes in the future of the application, organisations of any size can organise the addition of new features. When their needs are shared, they need not even bear the exclusive burden of cost.

    Work on adding digital signature functionality to this popular free and open source office suite was initially started in 2012, but then stagnated.

  • Hamburg’s Greens want to be rid of Microsoft

    Tux holding Hamburg coat of armsHamburg’s Green want to wean the city council off its Microsoft dependency and are pointing to Munich city council’s use of Linux and free and open source software, German IT news website heise reports today.

    Farid MüllerOn the occasion of the impending 2014 Open IT Summit Hamburg’s Greens demanded the liberation of the city council from dependency on Microsoft. For Green Party Hamburg Parliament member Farid Müller (pictured left) it’s a matter of examining “if and how Hamburg can disengage itself from the US giant Microsoft”. The city must become independent of Microsoft the monopolist. By doing so it could also save millions in licensing costs. In this context Müller refers to the LiMux project in Munich, where the city council’s use of Linux and free and open source software is currently under discussion.

    The 2014 Open IT Summit, whose emphasis is on open source and data security, is taking place today (Tuesday) as an alternative event to the IT summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel taking place in Hamburg. The range of topics extends from the Heartbleed bug via cloud computing up to a Microsoft exit strategy for Hamburg. a podium discussion will sound out whether a migration to free software is realistic for Hamburg.

  • Nominations open for Women in Open Source award

    RedHat reports that Linux purveyor Red Hat is now accepting nominations for the Women in Open Source Award. Created to highlight the achievements women making major contributions to an open source project, to the open source community or through the use of open source methodology, this award is the first of its kind.

    The award celebrates all different kinds of contributions to open source, including:

    • Code and programming;
    • Quality assurance, bug triage and other quality-related contributions;
    • Involvement in open hardware;
    • System administration and infrastructure contributions;
    • Design, artwork, user experience (UX) and marketing;
    • Documentation, tutorials and other forms of communication;
    • Translation and other internationalisation contributions;
    • Open content;
    • Community advocacy and management;
    • Intellectual property advocacy and legal reform;
    • Open source methodology.

    Nominees can qualify for one of two tracks:

    • Academic award: open to women enrolled in college or university; and
    • Community award: open to all other women.

      The Women in Open Source Academic Award winner will receive:

    • $2,500 stipend, with a suggested use of supporting an open source project or efforts; and
    • A feature article on

    The Women in Open Source Community Award winner will receive:

    • Ticket, flight and hotel accommodation for the Red Hat Summit to be held in Boston, Massachusetts on 23rd-26th June 2015;
    • $2,500 stipend, with a suggested use of supporting an open source project or efforts;
    • A feature article on; and
    • Speaking opportunity at a future Red Hat Women’s Leadership Community event.

    Nominations are open until 21st November. Judges from Red Hat will whittle down the nominees to a subset of finalists for both the Academic and Community awards, from whom the public will decide the winners. The winners will be announced in June during an awards ceremony at the 2015 Red Hat Summit in Boston, Massachusetts.

    Originally posted on Bristol Wireless.

  • Introducing the anonabox

    Crowdfunding site Kickstarter has announced that August Germar is currently raising funds for anonabox, a Tor hardware router that will re-route data through the Tor network for security and anonymity.

    The anonabox is an open source internet networking device designed to run alongside a current home router or modem. Small enough to fit in a jacket or trouser pocket, the device directs all of a user’s internet traffic via wifi or an Ethernet cable to Tor, where his or her original IP address is hidden from prying eyes, an important privacy consideration since Edward Snowden revealed the scope of surveillance routinely carried out by the NSA in the USA and GCHQ in the UK.

    August was originally seeking a total of $7,000 to take the project further, but has already raised 10 times that amount, according to Computerworld. At the time of writing the total had risen to $501,872 and the appeal for funds still had 27 days to run.

    August has produced a small video to introduce the anonabox and how it works.

    Kickstarter backers can reportedly secure an Anonabox for $45, a few dollars cheaper than what it will allegedly be sold for.

    Reposted from Bristol Wireless.

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