Monthly Archives: September 2015

  • Community pick litter in Barton Hill

    There have been some unkind words on social media that all Tidy BS5 campaigners do is moan about the cleanliness of Bristol’s Easton and Lawrence Hill wards on social media.

    Yesterday those words were once again proved to be a lie (posts passim).

    A photo call break during the pick.
    A photo call break during the pick. Picture courtesy of Up Our Street.

    In brilliant sunshine a dozen or so volunteers turned up in Barton Hill Urban Park to clear away litter and rubbish. Those volunteers included local residents who saw what was going on and joined in. Others of all ages from those in primary school to pensioners expressed their support.

    Bags for collecting the litter were kindly provided by Keep Bristol Tidy, the accumulated litter removed over the weekend by Bristol City Council, whilst the event itself was co-ordinated by Up Our Street.

    Amongst those volunteers were local ward councillors Marg Hickman and Afzal Shah, both of whom have been invaluable supporters of the Tidy BS5 campaign.

    Barton Hill Urban Park is just in Lawrence Hill ward, with its boundary abutting the dividing line with Easton ward.

    The next community litter pick to be organised locally will be held on Saturday, 7th November between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm, with the assembly point being the car park of Masala Bazaar, 382-386, Stapleton Road, Easton, BS5 6NQ (map).

  • LibreOffice 5.0.2 announced at LibreOffice Conference

    To underline the importance of the event for the community, The Document Foundation (TDF) has today announced the release of LibreOffice 5.0.2 during the opening session of the 2015 LibreOffice Conference in Aarhus, which runs until Friday 25th September.

    LibreOffice 5.0.2 is the second minor release of the LibreOffice 5.0 family, with a large number of fixes over the first minor (5.0.1) release announced in August. Based on feedback from the marketplace, the LibreOffice 5.0 family has so far proved the most popular LibreOffice release ever.

    LibreOffice 5

    LibreOffice 5.02 will offer OpenGL rendering by default on Windows for the first time for those with the very latest Windows drivers. In the event of problems, this functionality is easy to disable by accessing Tools > Options.

    LibreOffice 5.0.2 is aimed at technology enthusiasts, early adopters and power users. For more conservative users and for enterprise deployments, TDF recommends the “still” version: LibreOffice 4.4.5. For commercial deployments, The Document Foundation recommends the backing of professional support by certified people.

    People interested in technical details about the release can access the change logs via the following links: bugs fixed in RC1 and bugs fixed in RC2.

    LibreOffice 5.0.2 is available for immediate download from

  • FSFE elects new top officials

    FSFE logoMatthias Kirschner and Alessandro Rubini are the new President and Vice-President respectively of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). They were elected last week in Bucharest during FSFE’s General Assembly, while Reinhard Müller was re-elected as Financial Officer. They will serve FSFE in those capacities for the next 2 years.

    Matthias Kirschner has been an FSFE employee since 2009. He started using GNU/Linux in 1999 and realised that software is deeply involved in all aspects of our lives. Matthias is convinced that this technology has to empower society rather than restrict it. While studying Political and Administrative Science, he convinced the FSFE to accept him as its first intern in 2004. Since then he has been helping other organisations, companies and governments to understand how they can benefit from Free Software and how those rights help to support freedom of speech, freedom of the press and privacy.

    Alessandro Rubini is an electronic engineer and holds a Ph.D. in computer science. He was an early Linux adopter, installing Linux 0.99.14, is an active Free Software user and developer, and author of the book “Linux Device Drivers”. After his doctorate, he left the university as he did not want to just write academic papers and now works as an independent consultant in the industrial use of GNU/Linux, mainly on device drivers and embedded system as well as on micro-controllers and PCB design. Recently he has been working with CERN within the White Rabbit project, aimed at sub-nanosecond synchronisation of I/O cards. One reason he enjoys working with CERN is the organisation’s policy of releasing all their work as Free Software and Free Hardware.

    Alessandro was previously a member of the Free Software Foundation Europe from 2001 to 2006 and recently rejoined. He felt that FSFE is the right place for positive and constructive discussions about Free Software.

    “I am happy to welcome both Matthias and Alessandro to their new roles,” says Executive Director Jonas Öberg, “both have been instrumental in shaping the organisation into its current form and I look forward to the expertise they will bring as we go about empowering users to control technology.”

    Reposted from Bristol Wireless.

  • Dump the Mayor

    It would appear that the communities of South Bristol are also getting fed up with fly-tipping too and want the long-promised Hartcliffe recycling centre opened as they believe it could help cure this local environmental blight.

    Local campaigners have now made a video to assist their efforts in securing this much-needed facility (at present Bristol has 2 main council-run recycling facilities, both north of the River Avon and miles away from Hartcliffe. Ed.)

    However, there is one obstacle in their way: the opposition of Mayor George Ferguson.

    One would have thought that with the amount of waste produced by the city increasing and recycling rates declining, Bristol’s most senior elected official would leap at any chance of reversing this during Bristol’s year as the alleged European Green Capital, but it seems like he refuses to do anything at all to help improve the city’s poor, deprived and blighted communities.

  • Dutch public sector to adopt ODF as standard?

    ODF file iconThe Dutch Standardisation Board would like to see the mandatory use of Open Document Format (ODF) for the country’s public sector organisations, according to a report on Joinup giving details of a presentation made by Nico Westpalm van Hoorn to the recent ODF Plugfest held in The Hague.

    Van Hoorn stated that over 450,000 documents are transferred each day between the Dutch central
    government and citizens or companies.

    His presentation contained 3 main messages:

    • The only way reuse of document content is achievable for open data is by using the ODF format;
    • The only way to ensure sustainable access is by using the ODF format; and
    • “This format cannot be opened,” as a remark by a public servant is not acceptable when somebody sends an ODF document.

    Within the Dutch government, ODF is used as the default format for editable documents that are posted online. Documents are by default shared as HTML, PDF (for archiving) and as ODF. Furthermore, all central government workstations are capable of working with ODF, suggesting that civil servants who cannot open the format need some IT training.

    Speaking at the same event, Steven Luitjes, director of Logius – an agency assisting government organisations in building e-government services, admitted that ODF is often ignored by public sector organisations and that a failure to standardise on formats is increasing the cost of public sector IT.

    If the Dutch government does adopt ODF as a standard, this would follow on from the recent announcement of the standard’s adoption by the Italian Ministry of Defence (posts passim) and the UK government’s publication of guidance for the introduction of ODF.

  • Community litter pick in Barton Hill on Saturday 26th

    litterThe last email newsletter from Up Our Street that arrived earlier this week announced that a another community litter pick will be taking place in the very near future.

    It will be held on Saturday 26 September from 11am to 1pm and the venue will be Barton Hill’s Urban Park, Strawbridge Road, Bristol, BS5 9XE (map).

    The meet-up point will be the grassy area in front of the park.

    If the event follows the usual pattern, protective gloves and litter-pickers will be provided.

    The news that it will be held in Barton Hill will no doubt go down well in many quarters as Barton Hill is one of those forgotten corners of east Bristol.

  • Tomorrow is Software Freedom Day 2015

    Besides being International Talk Like a Pirate Day, 19th September 2015 is also a date for the diaries of people advocating free and open source software; it’s Software Freedom Day 2015.

    Software Freedom Day 2015 bannerThe idea of Software Freedom Day (SFD) is for everyone without a vested interest in proprietary software to unite and educate the world about the ideals of Software Freedom and the practical benefits of Free Software. August 28th 2004 was the first ever Software Freedom Day and was initiated group of FOSS believers – Matt Oquist, Henrik Omma and Phil Harper – with the idea of distributing The OpenCD – a collection of free and open source software for Windows – to everyone.

    SFD has since extended around the world with events being organised on every continent.

    Why is software freedom important?

    The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a set of basic human rights that most people would agree would be a bare minimum. Not often are our basic rights thought of in the context of technology, but as more and more our lives are dependent on technology, it is a rapidly growing concern. Technologies that matter to our freedom are used in our voting systems, our leisure, our work, education, art and our communication. What does this mean to you? It means that the basic human freedoms you take for granted are only as free as the technologies you use.

    Transparent and sustainable technologies are vital to ensuring we can protect our freedoms.

    Think about any software you use everyday that is proprietary and the consider that you can’t be sure what it is actually doing. Does your email system send copies of your mail to a third party? Is your web browser, logging and automatically sending your browsing history to someone?

    As more and more of the world’s population starts using technology, getting online and developing the next major life-changing event of the future (such as the internet was for many of us), ensuring open, transparent and sustainable approaches are considered best practice is important; i.e. important to a future where technology empowers everyone equally, where knowledge is forever and where our basic human freedoms are strengthened, not hampered, by technology.

    Reposted, with some edits, from Bristol Wireless.

  • LibreOffice & ODF to be adopted by Italian military

    The Italian military is moving to LibreOffice and Open Document Format (ODF), according to Joinup, the EU’s public sector open source news website. This will be Europe’s second largest migration to a free and open source office suite and open standards since the Italian Defence Ministry will be installing LibreOffice on 150,000 machines.


    The migration will begin in October 2015 and is expected to be completed at the end of 2016.

    The deployment of LibreOffice will be jointly managed by Libreitalia and the Italian Defence Ministry, with the former providing trainers and the Ministry devising course materials, which will later be released under a Creative Commons licence.

    An agreement between the Ministry and LibreItalia was signed on 15th September in Rome by Rear Admiral Ruggiero Di Biase, General Manager of the Italian Ministry of Defence’s Information Systems and LibreItalia president Sonia Montegiove.

    Sonia Montegiove and Rear Admiral Ruggiero Di Biase

    The Ministry of Defence is the first Italian central government organisation to migrate to open source software for office productivity. On the other hand, many regional public sector organisations have already made this move, such as the Emilia-Romagna region, the provinces of Perugia, Cremona, Macerata, Bolzano and Trento, the cities of Bologna, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia, the Galliera Hospital in Genoa and healthcare ASL 5 in Veneto, to name but a few.

    The Italian Defence Ministry project is also one of Europe’s largest migrations to date to a free and open source office suite. The largest European public sector organisation using free software office suites is currently the French Interior Ministry with some 240,000 desktops. Many French ministries use open source office suites including the Tax Agency, the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture. LibreOffice is deployed on some 72,000 PCs within the French Gendarmerie, which also uses Ubuntu Linux as its operating system of choice.

    In June 2014, the autonomous regional government of Extremadura (Spain) confirmed that 10,000 PCs in its healthcare organisation are running open source office applications and that the same is planned for its own 22,000 PCs. In Germany the city of Munich runs also runs LibreOffice on over 17,000 Linux workstations.

  • Fouling FoI

    no fouling road signOne topic which all newly elected local councillors anywhere in the country will encounter in their correspondence is dog fouling, especially as the UK’s dog population was estimated to be 9 million in 2014.

    All those dogs have to eat and dispose of the subsequent waste products estimated by Keep Britain Tidy (PDF) to weigh in at a 1,000 tonnes per day.

    Local authorities and town and parish councils have a variety of powers called Dog Control Orders to control the handling and behaviour of dogs on areas of land within their jurisdiction; these include an offence of failing to remove dog faeces.

    The maximum penalty for committing an offence under a Dog Control Order is £1,000 in a Magistrates Court. However council officers may alternatively issue a Fixed Penalty Notice, usually set at £75.

    Dear Bristol City Council,

    This is a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Kindly disclose the number of:

    a) fixed penalty notices issued
    b) prosecutions brought

    in the last 5 years for dog fouling

    1. within the entire local authority area
    2. specifically within Easton & Lawrence Hill wards

    Yours, etc.

    The answer was received earlier this week.

    You sent us a Freedom of Information request on 12/08/2015

    Your request number is CRN00017902

    Our reply to your request is:

    This response should answer your request in full.

    a) fixed penalty notices issued in the last 5 years for dog fouling

    1. within the entire local authority area – 79
    2. specifically within Easton & Lawrence Hill wards – 20

    b) prosecutions brought in the last 5 years

    1. within the entire local authority area – 32
    2. specifically within Easton & Lawrence Hill wards – 4

    One striking thing is just how low the overall figures for both fixed penalty notices and prosecutions are for a city of some 430,000 inhabitants, but then again the city council has a very small number of enforcement officers (posts passim) who also have to deal with fly-posting, fly-tipping, litter and other environmental crimes besides dog fouling.

    As can also be seen from the statistics, the city’s Easton and Lawrence Hill wards – the areas in which Tidy BS5 campaigners are active – account for about one quarter of fixed penalty notices issued for dog fouling throughout the entire city. Given the city council’s low levels of enforcement in other Easton and Lawrence Hill for enforcement officers’ other areas of responsibility, this figure is quite astounding. This figure could have been influenced by the dog fouling campaign carried out in both wards 2 years ago by Up Our Street.

    Dog fouling in Bristol can be reported online to the city council.

    In addition, for elsewhere in the UK, the website has a handy dog fouling reporting page.

  • Robins named stand after folker Fred

    image of Fred WedlockThere’s an astonishing revelation in today’s Bristol Post, the city’s most unreliable source of news: the late Fred Wedlock (pictured right), the local folk singer best known for his UK hit single “The Oldest Swinger In Town”, has had a stand named after him at Bristol City‘s ground at Ashton Gate.

    This emerges from a report written by Ian Onions, the Post’s political editor, over a lifelong Robins fan’s wait for the club to honour its pledge over its 1990s ‘Buy-a-Brick’ campaign.

    A screenshot of the article is also shown as confirmation of the existence of the Fred Wedlock Stand.

    screenshot featuring wording Fred Wedlock Stand

    photo of Billy WedlockIan may be a knowledgeable chap when it comes to politics and the skulduggery down at the Counts Louse (Bristolian for “City Hall” © Mayor George Ferguson. Ed.), but when it comes to the beautiful game, he really doesn’t know his onions, since it was dear old Fred’s grandfather Billy (pictured left) who played for and captained the Robins, as well as playing for the England squad and it is after him that the stand is named.

    Ashton Gate also has a Williams stand. I wonder if Post reporters believe this was named after Andy of that surname rather than a former player. 😉

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