Monthly Archives: March 2015

  • PI4J launches manifesto at election time

    PI4J logoProfessional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J) is an umbrella group an umbrella group representing over 2,000 interpreters on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) and 300 British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters.

    It has been campaigning since the Ministry of Justice signed an agreement with ALS (later Capita Translation & Interpreting) for the provision of interpreting services for courts and tribunals on the basis that reliable communication provided by qualified professional interpreters and translators is an essential resource which ensures that justice and human rights are upheld for non-English speakers and deaf people. This is put at risk if standards are dropped and quality is sacrificed for profit.

    To highlight the threats to justice and human rights by cost-cutting on the provision of interpreters in the justice system and against the background of the forthcoming general election, PI4J has published a 7 point manifesto (PDF), as follows:

    • The use of qualified interpreters: Only qualified and experienced Public Service Interpreters to be
      used within the current MoJ Languages Services Framework Agreement and in any future arrangements.
    • Full consultation with the interpreting profession: Future arrangements cannot succeed without the
      support of professional interpreters.
    • Sustainable terms and conditions to be offered to interpreters: to ensure the success of any future
      arrangements and quality of service.
    • Independent auditing of quality and performance: Credible scrutiny of contract management and
      adherence to its provisions is essential, and should be part of the role of an independent Quality
      Assurance and Quality Management body.
    • Independent regulators: Regulation and the maintenance of registers should not be in the hands of
      private providers. In line with government guidance, since 1 April 2011 the NRPSI has been a fully
      independent regulator of the profession, paid for by the interpreters and run solely in the public
      interest. PI4J is of the view that the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deaf Blind People (NRCPD) should also be independent.
    • Minimum levels of interpreter qualification: Interpreter training as well as language fluency with a minimum level of entry-level qualification must be required with skills maintained and developed
      through a programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Provision should be put in place to encourage the supply of Rare Language interpreters.
    • Statutory protection of title: A working group must be set up to examine the feasibility of the
      introduction of statutory protection for the title of Public Service Interpreter.
  • Big turnout for the Big Clean

    Saturday 28th March dawned grey and drizzly for the TidyBS5 Big Clean organised by Up Our Street and local residents.

    For your correspondent it dawned even earlier; the alarm clock was set for 6.00 a.m. to ensure he was sufficiently awake to be interviewed down the line about TidyBS5 and the event on BBC Radio Bristol by their Saturday breakfast show presenter Ali Vowles.

    However, the rain did not put off an amazing 33 people – including one PCSO from Trinity Road Police Station – turning up at Lawrence Hill roundabout at 11.00 a.m. to help remove litter from the area for a couple of hours. Indeed, such a number of participants was so unprecedented that more litter pick equipment had to be ferried down from the Up Our Street Office.

    Big Clean group photo
    Photo courtesy of Lorena Alvarez

    Also amongst the hardy souls who turned up was a contingent from the Good Gym, which takes exercise out of the gym. Members runs to a venue, help a local community project and then run back. Your ‘umble scribe is very pleased we attracted their support.

    Good Gym leaping about after collecting rubbish
    Photo courtesy of Lorena Alvarez

    Local councillor Marg Hickman also attended to show her support. Wouldn’t it be good if we could get Bristol Mayor George Ferguson to turn out for the next one and put some physical effort into Bristol’s year as European Green Capital? 😉

    After receiving safety instructions (avoid picking up broken glass, no needles, etc. Ed.) we then scattered to various sites around the area to get work.

    litter pickers between Big Russell and Lidl
    Photo courtesy of Anthea Sweeney

    Areas cleaned included:

    • The grassed island in then centre of Lawrence Hill roundabout;
    • The grassed area fronting Lawrence Hill at the end of Payne Drive;
    • Public open space along Croydon Street;
    • The old course of the River Frome beneath the railway adjacent to the Coach House off Stapleton Road; and
    • The area of grass and shrubbery alongside the former Earl Russell pub (the ‘Big Russell’. Ed.) and Lidl on Lawrence Hill.

    A fantastic amount of rubbish was removed and collected later in the weekend by Bristol City Council.

    collected rubbish awaiting removal by Bristol City Council
    Photo courtesy of Lorena Alvarez

    Well done and many thanks to all who took part.

  • Godwin 0, Vandals 1

    Early this morning the demolition crews finally starting their assault on the 1860s school in Marybush Lane, Bristol (posts passim).

    Within a couple of hours the demolition contractors had all but flattened the Pennant sandstone and Bath stone structure built by eminent Victorian architect and Aesthetic Movement member, E.W. Godwin, as shown in the photos below.

    views of the demolition of Marybush Lane school from two angles
    More of East Bristol’s heritage turned to dust

    One less of Godwin’s works now survives for people to appreciate. In Bristol his only remaining works are – to the best of my knowledge – the grade II*-listed Carriageworks on Stokes Croft dating from 1862 and his refurbishment of St. Philip & St. Jacob Church, which lies just across Tower Hill from Marybush Lane and was contemporaneous with the building of the school.

    The efforts of The Victorian Society and local campaigners to save the school from demolition by the vandals from the site’s owners, the Homes & Communities Agency, have therefore been in vain. When objections were first raised to its demolition, the HCA displayed both ignorance and arrogance. Firstly, it denied that the school had been designed by Godwin. When presented with incontrovertible evidence by opponents, it then had the arrogance to deny its initial ignorance.

    I shall shed a tear into my beer tonight for this loss of yet another part of East Bristol’s history and heritage. The east side of Bristol, traditionally its poorer side, has long been treated with contempt and disregarded by both the city’s great and good and outsiders; and this latest vandalism just confirms that.

    During the 1930s the city’s unemployed, in the form of the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM) used to hold their meetings at the school.

    If a future walk by Bristol Radical History Group is ever done on the unemployed, a halt in Marybush Lane – no doubt in front of some cheap and nasty residential development, will be prefaced by the words, “On this site used to stand…”, a growing phenomenon in a city where only the heritage of the great and good seems to be valued.

    So in conclusion well done Mayor George Ferguson and Bristol City Council for failing to lift a finger to save Godwin’s school and well done HCA for an act of heritage vandalism committed without compunction.

  • World’s less spoken languages get a boost with Openwords

    Over half of the world’s people, i.e. those that speak a language with less than 100 million native speakers, do not have a language learning mobile app suited for their language or needs, according to

    Most of these languages are disregarded by mobile app developers, but Openwords is a start-up that aims to address this problem.

    Openwords can mine massive, existing public data resources such as Wiktionary or the Apertium open machine translator and will thus be able to provide content quickly for populations without language learning apps. Other companies would need to build this content themselves, but Openwords uses pre-existing open data.

    Openwords has already proved this concept can work by collating content for more than 1,000 languages and will be running a campaign to raise funds to complete the Openwords app that will provide a language learning platform for this open content collection.

    Emphasis on freedom

    The Openwords app will emphasise freedom. Whereas many existing apps do not allow learners to decide what they will learn, whereas Openwords will give learners this freedom while also allowing them to follow a default curriculum. It will also be free (gratis) for learners.

    Most importantly, Openwords’ content is in the public domain. This means all Openwords’ educational content is copyleft and owned by the public. This is the major philosophical difference between Openwords and proprietary language learning apps. The Openwords app will function as a reader of open content. Whenever Openwords content is added or improved, contributors will be building something for everyone’s benefit.

    Openwords aims to provide:

    • Free, open domain, educational material.
    • Diverse education material for populations without electronic foreign language learning content.

    Openwords is asking the open source community for guidance on how to fulfill all obligations to the open source community successfully. Openwords has made a lot of progress in making the Openwords database available and has constructed an HTTP API available through, which hosts the Openwords word and language problem database.

  • EU Commission updates its open source strategy

    EU flagThe European Commission has announced the updating its strategy for internal use of open source software. The Commission, which is already using open source for many of its key IT services and software solutions, will further increase the internal role of this type of software. The renewed strategy puts a special emphasis on procurement, contribution to open source software projects and releasing more of the software developed within the Commission as open source.


    The specific objectives of the renewed strategy are:

    Equal treatment in procurement

    The Commission will ensure a level playing field when procuring new software. This means that open source and proprietary software will be assessed on an equal basis, being both evaluated on the basis of total cost of ownership, including exit costs.

    Contribution to communities

    The Commission services will increasingly participate in open source software communities to build on the open source elements used in the Commission’s software.

    Clarification of legal aspects

    To enable easy collaboration with the open source communities, Commission developers will benefit from appropriate legal coaching and advice on how to deal with the intellectual property aspects of open source software.

    Open source and interoperable software developed by the Commission

    Software produced by the Commission departments, and particularly software produced for use outside the Commission, will be released as open source under the European Union Public License (EUPL) and published on the Joinup platform. The software produced should aim to be interoperable and use open technical specifications.

    Transparency and better communication

    The updated strategy emphasises improved governance, an increasing use of open source in the field of security and this strategy’s alignment with the EC’s ISA Programme, enabling the modernisation of cross-border and cross-sector eGovernment services.

    Reposted from Bristol Wireless.

  • Trade insults BS5

    Bristol City Council’s streetscene enforcement officers (the local authority’s litter and fly-tipping police. Ed.) are currently active in the Stapleton Road area of Bristol 5.

    One of the major problems with which they’ve been getting to grips is that of traders fly-tipping in the streets and dumping their waste in the communal bins intended for household waste only.

    image of trade waste - in this case lots of flattened cardboard packaging - fly-tipped by communal bin in Pennywell Road, Easton
    Trade waste – in this case lots of flattened cardboard packaging – fly-tipped by a communal bin in Pennywell Road, Easton

    Tidy BS5 campaigners are actively assisting the enforcement officers in the efforts by identifying suspected offenders and directing officers to regular sites for the fly-tipping of trade waste.

    Traders are supposed to pay for their own waste disposal. By abusing the facilities provided for residents, they may be saving themselves money on their waste contracts, but are also insulting the community whose members constitute their customers; and that has to stop.

    So far, the council has handed out 5 fixed penalty notices of £300 each to local traders for waste matters and more are clearly needed before their work is done, if it ever will be.

    In the meantime, if you’ve got time free on Saturday, don’t forget to turn out for the Tidy BS5 Big Clean community litter pick, meeting at 11 a.m. at Lawrence Hill roundabout. Yours truly will be rising slightly earlier as BBC Radio Bristol wishes to interview me on its breakfast show.

    Big Clean publicity poster

    Last but not least, yet another reminder about signing the TidyBS5 e-petition!

  • A motherly touch?

    Today’s Bristol Post carries a piece by Gavin Thompson about the activities of property developers in Bedminster that has a novel twist – a maternal blueprint – as shown by the screenshot below.

    headline reads Firm behind tower block scheme to create mater plan for Bedminster regeneration

    Bedminster has so far escaped the worst attentions of property developers who’ve been allowed a very free hand by Bristol City Council to wreck the city’s outstanding heritage with cheap and nasty modern developments, as is happening currently on the site of the Ebenezer Chapel in Midland Road in St Philips (posts passim).

  • LibreOffice to take to the cloud

    LibreOffice, the best free and open source office suite produced, is set to become the cornerstone of the world’s first global personal productivity solution – LibreOffice Online – following an announcement by IceWarp and Collabora of a joint development effort, The Document Foundation blog reports today. LibreOffice is available as a native application for every desktop operating system and is currently under development for Android. Furthermore, it is available on virtual platforms for Chrome OS, Firefox OS and iOS.

    LibreOffice banner

    “LibreOffice was born with the objective of leveraging the OpenOffice historic heritage to build a solid ecosystem capable of attracting those investments which are key for the further development of free software,” says Eliane Domingos de Sousa, Director of The Document Foundation. “Thanks to the increasing number of companies which are investing on the development of LibreOffice, we are on track to make it available on every platform, including the cloud. We are grateful to IceWarp for providing the resources for a further development of LibreOffice Online.”

    Development of LibreOffice Online started back in 2011 with the availability of a proof of concept of the client front end, based on HTML5 technology. That proof of concept will be developed into a state of the art cloud application, which will become the free alternative to proprietary solutions such as Google Docs and Office 365. It will also be the first to offer native support for the Open Document Format (ODF) standard.

    “It is wonderful to marry IceWarp’s vision and investment with our passion and skills for LibreOffice development. It is always satisfying to work on something that, as a company, we have a need for ourselves,” says Michael Meeks, Vice-President of Collabora Productivity, who developed the proof of concept back in 2011 and will oversee the development of LibreOffice Online.

    The launch of LibreOffice Online will be announced at a future date.

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