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[News] Modern Liberty Discussed in UK Amid Erosion of Freedom

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Tomorrow is Britain's nationwide "Convention on Modern Liberty"

,----[ Quote ]
| Tomorrow marks the first ever British Convention on Modern Liberty, 
| co-sponsored by The Guardian, OpenDemocracy, and Liberty. It's a daylong, 
| nationwide forum on the erosion of liberty, privacy and civil rights in 
| Britain. Boing Boing is a proud sponsor of the event, and I'll be speaking at 
| the closing plenary with Billy Bragg tomorrow afternoon in London.    


British 'careless' with liberties



The great British open-source arms race

,----[ Quote ]
| Politicians of all stripes seem to be espousing open source, but that bluster
| must be turned into action — and soon, says Mark Taylor.
| First, shadow chancellor George Osborne advocates open source. Now minister
| for digital engagement Tom Watson promises to use more open-source software,
| if circumstances permit. The UK public sector just got interesting again.


Geekfun: Recovery.gov May Be Just The Beginning for Open Source in Federal IT

,----[ Quote ]
| Techmeme wasn’t exactly buzzing with the news that the new Recovery.gov
| website, which provides information on federal recovery programs, was built
| using the open source Drupal community content management system.  It made
| it on to Techmeme, but just barely; only one of the linked sites noted the
| Drupal connection, the others, including some prominent tech news sites, were
| only covering the launch of the site.



Newham has a cow over Microsoft MOU

,----[ Quote
| However, Newham has supplied the INQUIRER with internal studies that it says
| do demonstrate that its decision to commit to Microsoft was justified. The
| studies were performed by Socitm, a private public sector consulting firm of
| which Newham COI Steele is a vice president. the INQUIRER will report on
| these findings in due course.    
| Meanwhile, the original MOU is enlightening. As well as claiming the deal
| would enable Newham to achieve high rankings in Audit Commission assessments,
| it committed Newham to moving all "competitive technology" to Microsoft,
| regardless of the feasibility of such a move.  
| It also required Steele to promote Microsoft software.
| See attached file: Memorandum of Understanding.doc


Is This the Season of Porcine Aerobatics?

,----[ Quote ]
| Two of the darkest moments for open source in the UK involved the loss of
| major public projects. The first was Newham Borough Council, which ran a
| high-profile trial of open source only to ditch it at the last moment, after
| magically receiving an offer it couldn't refuse from Microsoft – which cynics
| suggested was the main motivation for the open source exercise in the first
| place.    
| This was bad news for free software, because it enabled Microsoft to do two
| things. First, it could claim that an independent body had tried open source
| and found it wanting, and secondly, it was able to use Newham as a showcase
| for its public sector technology.  
| In some ways, the second defeat was even worse. It involved a massive
| contract with the NHS that was far-reaching in scope...


Government faces crunch on Microsoft mega-deal

,----[ Quote ]
| Rumour has it that Microsoft hasn't been feeling appreciated in the public
| sector, thinking its customers don't know what a good deal they've been
| getting since the MOU was first negotiated in 2002. BECTA, the procurement
| quango for the education sector, has recommended schools don't upgrade to
| Microsoft Vista and Office 2007.    
| [...]
| "There's a big anti-Microsoft lobby growing on the green agenda" he said,
| especially among local councils who were beginning to realise that PC's were
| power hungry and expensive to maintain. They were taking interest in
| think-client computers instead.  


UK: Major cost reduction result of Bristol's switch to Open Standards

,----[ Quote ]
| Bristol City Council's switch to StarOffice in 2005 has led to a major
| reduction of IT costs, says Gavin Beckett, the council's ICT Strategy
| manager.  
| StarOffice is Sun Microsystems' proprietary suite of office applications,
| which is based on the Open Source OpenOffice. In 2006 Bristol took the
| further step of adopting the ISO-approved Open Document Format (ODF).  
| Speaking at a conference on ODF in the Netherlands last month, Beckett said
| that implementing StarOffice for 5,500 desktops in Bristol saved 1.1 million
| GBP (1.4 million euro) in comparison to the total cost of implementing
| Microsoft Office. "The licences for StarOffice cost us 186,000 GBP (243,000
| euro), in comparison to 1.4 million GBP (1.8 million euro) for MS Office."    
| These major savings were offset slightly by extra time needed for
| implementing StarOffice. Implementation cost the city council 484,000 GBP
| (632,000 euro), double the estimate for MS Office. This was due to document
| conversion and training, said the IT Strategy manager. Explaining and
| troubleshooting the new office applications took several months more than
| planned.    


Is Becta loosening Microsoft's grip on UK schools?

,----[ Quote ]
| Capita-SIMS, the powerful and dominant schools database provider, has been
| instructed by Becta to comply with the new interoperability framework. This
| move potentially opens up a large and growing market to solutions based on
| Open Source databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL.  
| [...]
| Moving away from Microsoft SQL
| The school database market has been a closed shop for many years. Products
| from Capita and Serco, both based on MS-SQL, account for well over 90% of
| market share. In the case of Capita-SIMS.net, not only does it use Microsoft
| SQL , requires schools to use MS Office 2003 and has a MS IIS web server but
| it also has a non-interoperable API.    


Interview: Tim Pearson, CEO at RM plc on interoperability and software patents

,----[ Quote ]
| John Spencer talks to Tim Pearson Chief Executive of RM. RM is the largest
| most successful supplier of ICT to the UK education market and, for good
| measure, is British too. Tim has been there from the start and so is really
| now Mr RM. This autumn he gave the school ICT world a jolt when RM announced
| its Asus miniBook. It retails to schools for only £169 and runs Open Source
| software throughout. The miniBook has preceded an avalanche of new products
| and new thinking.      
| [...]
| More seriously, it's been hard to forecast when we have no real experience
| selling at this price point before, neither have we ever sold a machine with
| a Linux-based client OS before.  


Lawmaker blasts U.K. government on Microsoft policy

,----[ Quote ]
| "A member of Parliament of the United Kingdom has launched a stinging
| attack on the U.K. government's IT strategy, saying that it has given
| Microsoft too much control.
| John Pugh, who is a member of Parliament, or MP, for Southport and a
| member of the Public Accounts Committee, was speaking in an
| adjournment debate on Tuesday that he had called. The aim of the
| debate, he said, was to explore the alternatives to using Microsoft
| software, including open source."
| [...]


Interview with Richard M. Stallman

,----[ Quote ]
| It is important to know this because we will always face pressure, from those
| who are powerful and would like to take away our freedom, to surrender our
| freedom—and they frequently offer us something attractive in exchange. For
| instance, B’liar wanted to abolish the Rights of Englishmen, and to serve his
| American master, Bush, faithfully; so he offered Britons “protection” from
| this or that, plus the imagined idea that he influences his master on their
| behalf through the “special relationship”.      

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