Category Archives: Blog

Do you still need to understand why software should be open source? Part 4

We’re grateful to “The Register” for drawing attention to the latest licensing information regarding (non) transferability of Microsoft Office licences.

We think it’s worth reading in conjunction with:

not to suggest a narrative thread but as part of a broader canvas. After all there are documents from HMRC we can’t read, among other problems.

Continue reading Do you still need to understand why software should be open source? Part 4

Open Data Institute – try reading Coase’s Penguin

One of the roles any government professing liberal democratic values takes upon itself is to implement measures it considers will lead to a thriving market economy. While there are areas of modern life that some/many will consider cannot be met by relying on the market there does not appear to be a significant movement calling for a return to a planned economy.

Except, it would seem to the casual observer, when we are discussing the knowledge or information economy in which it is necessary to consider “thought-through market mechanics”.

Continue reading Open Data Institute – try reading Coase’s Penguin

Do you still need to understand why software should be open source? Part 3

In an interesting piece of newspeak we are told that new versions of Microsoft Outlook won’t allow access to older format documents:

As much as we love adding new features to Outlook, for the maintainability of our product we sometimes need to remove those that are out of date and aren’t utilized by a large number of users. This allows us to focus on improving the Outlook features that most of you, our customers, rely on.

Continue reading Do you still need to understand why software should be open source? Part 3

A short history of government digital strategies

Since 1996 which saw the publication of the Green Paper “Government Direct” the Government has published a new digital strategy almost annually, often supplemented.

“Government Direct” not easy to find now but a contemporaneous analysis explains that the three purposes of the strategy were:

  • provide better and more efficient services to business and citizens
  • improve the efficiency and openness of government administration
  • secure substantial cost savings for taxpayers

Sounds familiar? It should do.

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Strange world of patents

Apparently two wrongs do make a right

The London School of Economics has just published some interesting research on patent litigation: Trolls at the High Court? (pdf)

In the abstract we can read:

Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), often referred to as ‘patent trolls’[…] account for less than 6% of all patent cases. We suggest two reasons why the PHC does not provide a welcome venue for PAE litigation. Firstly, the majority of patent cases which reach a judgment in the UK result in a ruling invalidating the patent. Secondly, the costs regime in the legal system of England and Wales requires that the losing party pay the costs of the other side.

In summary they usually lose and its expensive

Hurrah for the UK legal system and yah-boo to patent trolls you might think? No, there’s another viewpoint.

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MIT agrees with us

Open Data: MIT (Press) agrees with us

Next week, so we have been told, Cabinet Office will publish a government definition of what it considers to be an open standard and policy regarding its use in government IT.

Over a year ago Cabinet Office its consultation on open data.

In our response we argued:

Having considered the underpinning process, apparently relevant related government policies and other potentially relevant but seemingly unaddressed material in our response we expressed concern that the consultation is fundamentally flawed from the outset.

We considered the definition of open data to be deficient as it depended upon a non-existent no government definition of an open standard.

We’re in good company

Continue reading MIT agrees with us

Do you still need to understand why software should be open source?

So, apparently, Sibelius is being put into deep freeze. That’s this one, the composing software not this one, the composer, who’s been beyond the deep freeze for a few years now.

Apparently composers really like it and there’s a deep sense of regret. As seems to be the fashion there are calls for a petition and a plan to pester the board of the parent software company. I remember it running on the Archimedes computer as a complete system with midi this and midi that costing several thousands of pounds but now it’s for sale it runs on general purpose PCs for the relatively modest price of £99.95. However, it’s closed source and don’t lose the registration key.

Good luck to those hoping to change the decision but as the proverb has it “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”

Continue reading Do you still need to understand why software should be open source?

ECJ Microsoft judgment: grist for royalty free open standards

A helpful summary draws out the key issues from the final round of the European competition law case against Microsoft that has been rumbling on since forever but which finally seems to have ground to a halt with the penalty broadly unchanged.

There is, of course one saga that has been running longer than this, and it’s the development of a definition of an open standard by the UK government for online services. This began in 2002 (pdf) if not earlier and is still ongoing.

The European Court of Justice has delivered a remarkably helpful contribution to the open standards consultation in this judgment.

Continue reading ECJ Microsoft judgment: grist for royalty free open standards