Older blog entries for slef (starting at number 864)

SPI Feb 2012

Software in the Public Interest, the mass-membership association that supports some great Free and Open Source Software projects, will hold a public board of directors meeting today, Thursday 9th February 2012 at 21:00 UTC. The day and time of SPI meetings has changed recently, so maybe different people can get to them now.

They’re held online, on irc.spi-inc.org (the OFTC network). The agenda for the meeting is open and available at http://www.spi-inc.org/meetings/agendas/2012/2012-02-09/ and there’s been a bit of discussion of back office support on the SPI email list.

I’ll link to a meeting summary from the comments in this blog post after it happens.

Syndicated 2012-02-09 01:47:32 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Stop ACTA Marches Map

Further to last week’s blog post that mentioned this Saturday’s (11 Feb) London Stop ACTA march, there’s a map of anti-ACTA marches on Google’s website (thanks to Martin Houston for the link).

There’s also been a new Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement factsheet from European Digital RIghts (EDRI), as apparently there are a lot of misconceptions about ACTA. I don’t feel that has been helped by some spectacular misdirection from the European Commission in its latest “10 Myths” paper (linked from the EDRI factsheet) which is almost as interesting for what it doesn’t mention (like sneaking ACTA through the parliament fisheries committee), what it misunderstands (like the near-uselessness of a non-commercial exemption to Free and Open Source Software or Creative Commons users), and the way it fails to rebut the final point that ACTA was done this way to avoid the oversight of the World Trade Organisation! I mean, if they can’t even get it past the usually very pro-enforcement WTO, surely that should tell you something?

If you can, would you please go along and join your nearest march? Recent marchers seem to have been wearing stylised Guy Fawkes masks, but how would that be viewed in London?

Syndicated 2012-02-07 00:11:21 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Two Campaigns, One Spot

Sometimes two campaigns that I care about a lot pick the same day to hold an awareness-raising drive. It happened again on Tuesday.

The one I took part in was advertising the Stop ACTA London Protest on Sat 11 Feb. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (#ACTA) is a plurilateral international agreement on enforcement of so-called “intellectual property rights” – copyrights, trademarks and so on. It’ll have major implications for freedom of expression, access to culture and privacy. It will also harm international trade and stifle cooperation. (More background at EDRI or a fairly large AJE page – thanks to Occupy Bristol for the AJE link.)

So the one I didn’t support at the time was the Move Your Money UK launch day. That’s a great idea too, suggesting that if we, the 99%, are actually unhappy with the big banks and their titled leaders, we should move as much as possible out of those banks and into financial institutions that we control. As you might expect for someone whose first memory of mutuals is a trust account at the local building society, I support that too. I still have building society accounts, as well as banking with the co-op bank and recently joining my local credit union. I’ve moved my money. Why don’t you?

I didn’t try to support both campaigns simultaneously on social networks because I thought it would reduce the number of people who saw my message. I backed the ACTA protest because a lot of my networks were already discussing Move Your Money and I thought Stop ACTA would benefit more. Was that the right decision? Who can tell? What would you have done?

Syndicated 2012-02-02 20:08:24 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Phones, Privacy and Co-ops

And now a slightly longer than usual rant: The problem with the o2 network disclosing mobile browsers’ phone numbers that I repeated 2 days ago (and it appeared on our co-op website) snowballed yesterday to the point that it was on the short bulletins from ITN, BBC, IRN… and probably many more. And then o2 fixed it. Good!

The reply claims that it’s only since 10th January which is rather at odds with other claims that it has been happening since at least March 2010 in some situations.

I started buying from o2 in December. I was using Three, but their network where I stay in Norfolk isn’t reliable and you can’t just buy a device in a shop for The Phone Co-op. The dongle from o2 is a recent Huawei USB device that just worked in debian and was fairly easy for me to get working in Ubuntu. There’s space in it for a memory card, so maybe I could boot from it… but that’s an idea for later.

The o2 deal is OK but not great, and the included wifi is nowhere near as good as it looked: when it says it includes “BT Openzone” that doesn’t include any of the “BT Openzone-H” hotspots that are much more common. You’re only allowed to register one device for wifi, so no using your phone, tablet and laptop at different times!

I can’t believe it’s legal to advertise that as “unlimited wifi”, but o2 is still a better offer than access to “BT Openzone-H” hotspots at £39/month (yes, that’s the price for wifi-only…).

Ultimately, I think the problem is that there’s a rubbish choice of mobile (wifi or 3G) internet access providers in the UK. It’s a completely and utterly failed market, so you need to use Virtual Private Networks and similar tricks to protect yourself from the dysfunctional networks. My VPN meant my mobile number was safe: how about yours?

As luck would have it, I had already proposed a resolution about protecting customer privacy to The Phone Co-op (affiliate link) for our AGM on Saturday 4 February (if you’re a member, let me know). We were trying to find a compromise wording and I don’t think this little o2 scandal has hurt my proposal at all!

At least the phone co-op’s mobile service is based on Orange’s network, which wasn’t affected. How does your network perform? There’s an Internet Service Provider evilness test which might tell you.

Syndicated 2012-01-26 05:26:25 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

The New UK Co-op Bill: In Praise Of Diversity

I’ve given my reaction to yesterday’s announcement by the prime minister in my blog on the Co-operatives UK website. If you want to comment and can’t do so there, comments can be left on this article too.

Syndicated 2012-01-20 16:00:19 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

SOPA: Lash Out is better than Black Out

Once again, lawmakers are considering a stupid protectionist measure and this time it’s the US, so it has some effects outside the US too.

Once again, some websites have taken themselves offline and caused great inconvenience to their supporters.

This is really annoying. Protesting about threats to take websites offline by taking websites offline is as stupid as protesting against a ban on kissing by not kissing. It just demonstrates that you can do without your websites/kisses if you must.

I feel it’s much better to use websites to distribute information and call people to action, like this epetition for UK citizens and residents, or by asking your associations and suppliers to oppose these measures and their supporters.

Wikipedia is probably a bit to blame. Although it called its action a blackout, it wasn’t one and there were still many ways to access its information. In fact, if you use NoScript, the banner didn’t even display and there’s only a line on the front page to say anything is happening.

The one that really annoyed me was identi.ca, which even turned off its API so clients just started spewing errors everywhere (I returned to my desk to a stack of retry questions). That stopped some of my websites from distributing a link to the anti-SOPA epetition because they read from my identi.ca stream – how much other anti-SOPA activism was hindered?

I’ve been told that Evan held a vote, but I didn’t see it, so I didn’t vote and I don’t know the turnout or anything. How many people voted for the blackout because they use other sites like twitter more anyway?

Banners: yes; Blackouts: no.

Syndicated 2012-01-18 19:21:58 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Growing Your Co-operative, Bristol

Photo of Eli Sarre

Eli Sarre from Essential Trading speaking at C-SW Annual Conference

Last Friday (11 November 2011), I was at the Cooperatives-SW annual conference at the Cube Cinema in Bristol, titled “Growing Your Co-operative” and sponsored by the Co-operative Membership South and West. It was another sold-out event, featuring headline talks from Co-op Party member and Labour MP Kerry McCarthy, Eli Sarre of Essential Trading worker co-op (pictured), Carole Theyer of Sparks Inc and Jim Pettipher from Co-operative Futures.

There were also some great workshops – I went to a finance workshop led by Ian Rothwell from Co-operative and Community Finance and a regulations one with Paul Martin of Kabin (details may appear on their event page) – and a brilliant lunch from Runcible Spoon (and those of you who know me will know I have been livid with some co-op event lunches!) with some time to chat and network, although I also went to a fringe meeting about the RISE problems.

The event concluded with the formal AGM of Co-operatives SW (electing a new chairperson and approving transfer to a new co-op corporation) as well as a bit more chat afterwards. I felt it was a great event and well worth my time being there. I’m glad that some people from outside the co-op movement, from community businesses like the Strawberry Line Cafe and a few people considering joining or forming co-ops, were there and I hope it was good for them too.

Syndicated 2011-11-14 15:44:22 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

RISE Faces Demutualisation Threat at EGM

Photo of UWE Bristol

UWE Frenchay, Bristol: Venue of the RISE EGM

The RISE co-op is the sole shareholder in the Social Enterprise Mark CIC and its members have been called to an Extraordinary General Meeting during the lunch break of next Tuesday’s “Knowing and Growing” conference at UWE Bristol. The RISE board has proposed Four Special Resolutions that would dissolve the co-op and transfer all assets to the SEM CIC and a trust, ignoring RISE Ltd’s Memorandum of Association. software.coop is calling on other RISE members to attend the EGM and oppose this demutualisation attempt.

RISE is constituted as a common ownership co-op and its Memorandum of Association contains a pre-CIC type of asset lock, which directs the assets to be transferred to another common ownership social enterprise organisation if the co-operative is dissolved. However, unlike the CIC asset lock, there is no independent regulator enforcing it, so an EGM could possibly remove that lock. Also, unlike in many co-ops, there has been no requirement for new members to pledge to obey the RISE asset lock at an individual level and there has been no member education about common ownership in the last three years.

This demutualisation is the wrong solution for RISE because:

  • there are social enterprises which do comply with the asset lock that could really benefit from the legacy at this time of budget cuts;
  • the EGM is the day after the global launch of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, which is about promoting mutualism around the world and the RISE co-operative should support this;
  • many RISE members are mutuals, including the world’s largest consumer co-operative and demutualisation would be embarassing to them;
  • demutualisation should be discussed seriously, through a proper democratic process before the regular Annual General Meeting, not sprung from the board to members in a short meeting during the lunch break of another event;
  • the proposal has not been published on RISE’s website or email newsletter;
  • appointing the former directors of a dissolved co-op as trustees without member oversight seems unlikely to secure the assets in the long term.

software.coop will vote against the demutualisation, in favour of social enterprise, and calls on other RISE members to show solidarity with the co-operative and common ownership social enterprise movements.

Syndicated 2011-10-27 11:58:25 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Stand up for your freedom to install free software

It’s been busy at our co-op but I’m never too busy to support calls for the freedom to install debian (or any other Free and Open Source Software Operating System) so I’ve signed the FSF-led public statement on so-called “Secure Boot”.

“This could be a feature deserving of the name, as long as the user is able to authorize the programs she wants to use, so she can run free software written and modified by herself or people she trusts. However, we are concerned that Microsoft and hardware manufacturers will implement these boot restrictions in a way that will prevent users from booting anything other than Windows.”

So please, read the full thing and consider signing it yourself. If you want to watch for further news on this topic, Matthew Garrett’s Journal seems to be the bomb.

Right, well, it’s another busy week this week, so it might be the weekend before I find time to blog again, but posts will be a bit more frequent next week: watch this space!

Syndicated 2011-10-24 18:11:19 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Help Bring KohaCon to Edinburgh

Our co-op has put in a bid to bring KohaCon to Edinburgh in 2012. Edinburgh is a great Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) conference city, with libraries of national and international importance, a huge choice of hotels, restaurants and entertainments and good international transport links.

2012 is also a great time for our co-op to host, because it’ll be the International Year of Co-operatives and our co-op’s tenth anniversary.

So please, if you’d like a library FOSS conference here next year, head over to KohaCon2012 voting straight away. I’ll announce the result after the vote closes on Saturday 1st October.

Syndicated 2011-09-28 04:39:47 from Software Cooperative News

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