Monthly Archives: August 2006

International Software Freedom Day on 16th of September

On 16th of September the use of free libre open software will be marked in over 150 countries, celebrating it as far away as Nepal, India and Africa.

International Software Freedom Day was born in January 2004, when the initiator Matt Oquist drove past a retail store with piles of AOL CDs lying around, and considered that a CD filled with free software such as Open Office, Firefox, and the GIMP would be of vastly greater value to the public.

Matt concluded that “Free Software had improved to the point of being suitable for public use?”, and that “public ignorance would be one of the primary roadblocks to public acceptance?”. He gathered some friends and initiated the first Software Freedom Day to spread awareness about the free libre open source alternative.

This year free software is not only celebrated in Scotland, but by 189 teams world-wide, from as far away as Nepal, India, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Moscow, Australia and Zimbabwe.

“Our goal in this celebration is to educate the worldwide public about the benefits of using FREE and Open Source Software in education, in government, at home, and in business — in short, everywhere!”, states Steve Marlow from Team Scotland of the Software Freedom Day.
“We’ll have a Demonstrations of the Software, Internet Access and much more, everything is FREE and we would like to encourage everyone to come along to find out more. As a bonus this year we hope to link up LIVE and chat with other teams around the world.”

So what is free software?

As Richard Stallman described in his talk at the Edinurgh University in May 2004:

“Free software” = is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.”

Artist Simon Yuill and initiator of free libre open surce software workshops (FLOSS) at the CCA in Glasgow explains:

“As an artist, Linux and Free Software enable me to work creatively with the computer in a way that is simply not possible with commercial software. It genuinely turns the computer into a medium for personal expression rather than a commodity or office tool. It is also makes the computer a far more social thing, because once you are working with Free Software you start to become involved in a whole variety of communities of people who share similar interests and are willing to share their skills and experience. Free Software puts the emphasis on what people do, what they can contribute, rather than on packaging or marketing.”

In Edinburgh, local Linux fans will meet at the Drylaw community centre in North Edinburgh to exchange experiences, give away CDs, socialise and demonstrate the use of the GNU/Linux based computer software, which empowers the user to take control of the computers.
Free software encourages the users to share, modify and share modification of the programmes source codes. The exchange of knowledge and information is encouraged, with the software programmers developing openness, accountability and equality towards the users.

At its core an inclusive community is created around the software development, with unconditional access to help and advice when problems arise and an emphasis on experimenting and playing with technical gadgets, both new, old and even ancient hardware.

Simon Yuill, on the way to the Wizards of OS (Open Source) conference in Berlin, states:

“In continuing to support older computer hardware, Free Software also encourages recycling and using existing equipment rather than people being forced to buy a new machine every two years because the software manufactues have decided to make their software only run on the newest machines.So Free Software is more creative, more social, more cost effective, and more environmentally aware than any commercial software.”

Because the source code is openly available, many software programmes are free of charge, although commercial packages which offer professional support are available. Thus Linux is one of the few remaining rivals threatening the Microsoft monopoly, and the average user can thank the libertarian and social programming community for many free or low costs programmes and applications, even though some might be proprietary, essentially many have been persuaded to do so because of the pressure by rivaling community based software.

But Software Freedom is nothing to be taken for granted. After the efforts of the EU parliament to patent ideas used in software programs could be narrowly avoided during a several years long battle, the accuracy of the electronic voting machines was also disputed and the last World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in November in Tunis, saw efforts to withdraw the authority of the Domain Name Registration from the non-profit group ICANN to a commercial provider.

To get involved locally in your free libre open source community, contact the
EDINBURGH LINUX USER GROUP (EDLUG)
http://www.edlug.ed.ac.uk
Informal meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month at 7:30pm in The Holyrood Tavern.

SCOTTISH LINUX USER GROUP (SCOTLUG)
http://www.scotlug.org.uk/
ScotLUG meets at 19:30 every last Thursday of the month at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, then moves at roughly 21:00 to the Counting House just west of George Square

ABERDEEN LINUX USER GROUP (ABERLUG)
http://www.aberlug.org.uk/

DUNDEE & TAYSIDE USER GROUP (TAYSIDELUG)
http://www.dundee.lug.org.uk/

FIFE LINUX USER GROUP
http://www.fifelug.org.uk/

Chateau Institute for Technology Hacklab,
Glasgow,
http://www.chateau.org.uk/chit

Infoseed Hacklab, Computing Coop Repair Service and Indypendent Media Centre Scotland merger,
Edinburgh
http://infoseed.org.uk/

Electron Club at the CCA, Glasgow
http://www.electronclub.org/news
The Electron Club is a space where people interested in things like free open source software, circuit bending, hardware hacking, computer recycling, streaming, audio and video editing, green technologies, and amateur radio can meet, use equipment, and share and disseminate their skills and ideas.

‘spring_alpha:diggers’ Exhibition:
11th September- ends 15th December, Hannah MacClure Centre Gallery in Dundee. relates FLOSS, the Free Libre Open Source Software and hacking to things like the allotments movement and guerilla gardening.
www.spring-alpha.org

Software Freedom Day Radio Stream
Live webstream reporting from International Software Freedom Day around the World.
www.localfoss.org

Professor James Hendler
Department of Computer Science University of Maryland, USA
4 pm, Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Swann Lecture Theatre,
Michael Swann Building,
The King’s Buildings,
Edinburgh University

Jim Hendler is one of the prime movers and shakers behind the “Semantic Web“, the next generation of the Web according to its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, and the World Wide Web Consortium.


5 Days

5 Days -“The Prisoners Dilemma�

is a documentary film by Yoav Shamir which chronicles the events during the 5 days withdrawal and forceful occupation of Israeli settlers from Gaza in August 2005. It is introduced with a strong narrative of the film maker. The film shows the unique psychological and physical conflict of the Israeli Defense Force set against their own, deeply religious and conservative people; 40 000 soldiers evacuating 8000 settlers.
“There is no glory here. There are no winners in this battle. There is no victory!� says General Commander Dan Harel of the Southern Israeli Forces.
The lack of policemen and the soft approach of the soldiers towards the Jewish settlers is startling compared with the usual repression of protesters.
Especially one scene with Palestinian kids, who are nearly being shot at from a distance of several hundred metres, is sharply contrasting.
“Should I shoot at the wall or at their legs?� asks the Israeli soldier in the watchtower, whilst making clear he prefers the later.
The view of the Palestinians is missing, as is any reference of the withdrawal from Gaza being important to a Middle East peace process and an overall conflict resolution.
The film exposes the policy of placing settlers in Palestinian regions as a military strategy and tactic, with the settlers extremism now having overtaken the government and the army in its battle of ideologies.
“The guilt trip has to stop.â€? states the General Commander whilst the army discipline breaks down on the second day and the protesters greet the Israeli  army with everything as bizarre as “soldiers, policemen, I love you!â€? to verbal “Nazis, Nazisâ€? abuse.
It raises questions on how the military is being used to control its own people, and shows an apparent lack of discussion and understanding in Israeli society.
“This is not a life threatening mission. We can only be humiliated.�
The quality of the film production is quite high: the access to General Commander Dan Harel is unprecedented and the Israeli soldiers are for once portrayed as being human, and the General is impressive in its analytical, calm and decisive way.
“The hard times are theirs not ours. It’s a game that both sides play.�
An undercover army person – informs on the settlers plans and takes the orders from the General Commander back whilst trying to influence the settlers barricading themselves in the synagogue.

The night pictures are of an amazingly high quality, and the film teams seem to be everywhere at any time, with seven different teams filming simultaneously in different locations. It is a bit like 24 going docu.
But as soon as the shudders of excitement appear to tickle up and down the spine, the perspective changes again and the viewer is being pulled back into the point of view of the observing outsider.

The structure of the film is clearly marked, and the film crew tries its best to clarify the location and times of the events, with maps and animation.

Day 1:
Setting up the rules

Day 2:
Rules are broken

Day 3:
Who blinks first?

Day 4:
17th of August
Both sides take off their gloves

Day5:
The Day of Reckoning

The narrative summarises at the end:
“No series casualities reported. No jewish blood was shed.”
which naturally leaves the question of why the importance of jewish is pointed and stressed so much.

The conclusion from Dan Harel when entering the last settlement to evict on the final day.
“It’s completely bizarre. All the weirdos of Israel are gathered here.�
Which could be a quite relevant statement regarding the settlement policy and structure overall.
Interesting the response of Capitalism as such:
“The stock market reached an unprecedented high thanks to the evacuation.�

You Tube

I am totally stressed out this week. My parents are coming to visit me, the flat is a mess, the allotment a chaos and I am so far behind with everything I need to and want to do.

I got a press pass to the Edinburgh International Film festival, but unfortunately could not really use it that much so far, as all the press screenings are during the day. I am at the moment doing some work experience, and am expected to be there most of the time from 9-6, which i am not really used to anymore. I am looking forward to uni starting again, so I can destress a little bit from all the crazy summer.

I got a visitor from Philadelphia the other week, who was the most carefull and curtious visitor I ever had staying. My boyfriend’s dad visited us as well and has repaired and upgraded one of my bicycles: now it has 15 gears, and the back tyre actually doesn’t wobble anymore. It is a pleasure to use now.

Our local college has moved now into a new building, and I am thinking about doing a digital photography course alongside a traditional b&w portfolio one.

I am probably very late in spotting any teenager trends, but Micah has just found some funny videos on You Tube, which is apparantly popular with teenagers using their webcam to start videologs, but some have started now to edit their videos, use music, rewrite lyric and take the piss. My favourite so far is “Emmelina” and “Call me L-dizzle”. But “Lazydork is better than you” is also great.

The Bourne Trilogy

Some weeks ago, I got a cheap video on special offer: The Bourne Supremacy. Anyways, as it was a thriller I got quite hooked after seeing it this week. The DVD of the first in series: The Bourne Identity, was on special offer, so I got it, too. But as it was published as a book by Robert Ludlum before, I went into the library and borrowed as many of the series I could find.

But the book and the films have hardly any resemblance to each other! Whilst the books are set sometime in the 70ies or even 80ies, in the cold war and have the hero rooting in the Vietnam war and fighting Chinese and Russian super terrorists and assassins, the films offer no explanations whatsoever and the plot is totally different.

The next in series the Bourne Ultimatum, is set to be filmed start of 2007 in Berlin, and I wonder what the plot and action will be like. It is so different from the book, that it would not make sense, and if the knowledge of the series would be based on the film, there are too many gaps and too many variations to make sense at all. The film series has been propelled forward in the future, as otherwise the hero would need to be at least about 60, 70 years old, and has added technology, such as computers, mobile phones and similar and the wife or relationship is very different as well. Actually the book paints its character a bit too simplistic and the film series is a bit too superficial to make sense, but it is both quite good entertainment as thrilling, but actually, I am not convinced it is worth the time.

Somehow, it is interesting though to read these old thrillers and relive the crazy nonsense ideological fear of East and West and the weird manipulations. As some of the incidents and persons in the book seem to be researched at least a little bit, the plot constantly plays with the imagination and history.