Category Archives: Blog

Open Data Institute – what could go wrong with that?

I have a uneasy feeling about Silicon Roundabout. It seems like the Californian gold rush, where huge profits could be made:

selling picks, shovels and blue jeans

A recent BBC Radio programme seems to indicate parallels:

Peter Day weighs up the evidence, talking to some of London’s most promising social networking companies, and the venture capitalists and business groups supporting them

And even Rory Cellan-Jones is a little underwhelmed. However, the place continues to get a lot of government love including the decision to site the shiny new Open Data Institute there.

Great announcement but what does it amount to?

Continue reading Open Data Institute – what could go wrong with that?


LSE study for UK Gov… OSS has lower TCO (who knew?), will it pass the “so what? test

Today two interesting items have been published. The London School of Economics has published a report Total cost of ownership of open source software (pdf) detailing all the ways open source is a good idea and then there’s Mark Ballard’s HMRC rethinks £8.5bn megadeal as large suppliers resist flagship IT reforms.

The LSE study is a good piece of work unfortunately the Ballard article points to its likely effect: not much.

Continue reading LSE study for UK Gov… OSS has lower TCO (who knew?), will it pass the “so what? test

While we wait (cont p.94) the French Govt gets on with it

With thanks to Bristol Wireless we find yet another government other than the UK Government is failing to find reasons not to use open source software (oss).

It would seem that the French government is stimulating competition (sic) and apparently without any concerns about “how easily oss could be hacked” (perhaps because they agree with the US Govt regarding OS security but use the one of the better agile techniques…

Continue reading While we wait (cont p.94) the French Govt gets on with it

ZOMG! Yet another Govt IT Action Plan….

When I read that Cabinet Office is about to publish yet another action plan I find myself wondering if I either fail to understand the meaning of tthe word “action” or there is a joke I am missing.

Possibly this plan is the output of Cabinet Office work: “to horizon scan and improve capability to identify risks and exploit new technologies” whatever that means.

Continue reading ZOMG! Yet another Govt IT Action Plan….

Want control of your next PC? Don’t wait, complain now.

All over the tech press we can read articles about proposals for the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. A couple of days ago in The Register we saw:

Microsoft wants firmware to only start authorised OSes

If the draft for UEFI is adopted without modification, then any system that ships with only OEM and Microsoft keys will not boot a generic copy of Linux.

Today we can read a statement by a Microsoft spokesman, Tony Mangefeste:

Secure boot is a UEFI protocol, rather than a specific Windows 8 feature, and “Microsoft does not mandate or control the settings on PC firmware that control or enable secured boot from any operating system other than Windows

OEMs have the ability to customize their firmware to meet the needs of their customers by customizing the level of certificate and policy management on their platform

which doesn’t really address the issue, as any end-user that uses “customer power” to contact an OEM will find out pretty slowly.

What to do?

Continue reading Want control of your next PC? Don’t wait, complain now.

Cybercrime, note to BBC: other operating systems are available

So, I’ve started the week by (obviously…) listening to BBC Radio 4’s “Start The Week” in which Andrew Marr:

talks to the journalist Misha Glenny about the murky world of internet crime, as the cybercops pit their wits against the cyberthieves and hackers

In a curious coincidence the programme took place just after this year’s Software Freedom Day which is:

a worldwide celebration of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Our goal in this celebration is to educate the worldwide public about the benefits of using high quality FOSS in education, in government, at home, and in business — in short, everywhere!

FOSS is free to obtain and as the New South Wales Police told their Parliament in 2009 regarding using the internet for a commercial transaction, one should use a Linux boot up disk.

So what advice did we hear today?

Continue reading Cybercrime, note to BBC: other operating systems are available

The “Microsoft” govt gateway: It’s deja-vu all over again

For those of you new to all this, we need to go back to the era of the Office of the e-envoy (source of the apparently forgotten first iteration of the government opensource action plan way back in 2002)

In 2001 they introduced the government gateway which does something or other, or as the help page puts it:

    The Government Gateway is the website you use to register for online government services. It is an important part of the government’s strategy of delivering ‘joined up’ government, enabling people to communicate and make transactions with government from a single point of entry

Registration with it is required before you could use certain online servces, e.g., taxes. However government is not so joined up that the most used online service Vehicle Excise Duty requires you to register (but see Institute for Government “System + Error” for an alternative perspective on all of that….)

Not so now, but at the time the government gateway was introduced you needed MS Windows in order to register.

Let’s fast forward to 2011…

Continue reading The “Microsoft” govt gateway: It’s deja-vu all over again

Is a govt FRAND standard a steath tax?

Government and Open Standards are back in the news where we were quoted:

    The Cabinet Office is supposed to be the strategic arm of government, but it needs an overarching strategy on open standards if open source is to work. If this can be done then the benefits are clear, interoperability will save money over time.
    The government has produced studies in interoperability, and it is clear that it works throughout the economy in general in helping drive prices down. But it has shyed away from explicitly referring to the IT sector.
    This has meant that there has been no compulsion for those not already interested in open standards to allow for them.”

Last week we learned at TransferSummit that the government is working on a new definition of open standards and hopes to publish it by the end of the year.

What I don’t understand is what was wrong with the old one, even though it only lasted three months.

In January 2011, only nine years after the government first indicated might need such a definition more detail here (registration required) the government published a policy procurement note which for all its lack of teeth contained as good a definition of open standards as one might hope for, looking for all the world as if had been copied from the FSFE website

If the government adopts any policy that opens the door to royalties for standards then it would be interesting to know whether they have considered that this could constitute the imposition of a new tax.

Continue reading Is a govt FRAND standard a steath tax?