I don't know how many of you saw this blog, about a letter left by a retiring hedge fund manager, with the delicious title of "Goodbye and F--- You". It is a interesting read in a number of ways. Of particular interest to this community is his suggestion that a worldwide forum, based on the structures used by the Free Software movement, be set up to construct a new system of government.
Garry Saddington is ICT co-ordinator at Skegness Grammar School. It is a specialist sports college and a specialist maths and computing college with nearly 800 pupils, and has a boarding provision for around 60. Alistair Crust is responsible for serving the technology needs of the Skegness Grammar School community. All the school's 180 curriculum computers run GNU/Linux. These run as thin-clients using the Linux Terminal Server Project, which uses low power clients with most of the processing being done on fewer, more powerful, servers.
A report by the Standish Group indicates that adoption of 'open source' has caused a drop in revenue to the proprietary software industry by about $60 billion per year. That's not a huge amount of money compared to what has been lost though the misselling of mortgages, but it is still a lot. The report identifies the value of these 'open source' products to be about 6% of the world market for software.
Early in May Becta, the UK government agency charged with helping schools in their use of ICT, released a tender to support 'open source' adoption in UK schools. Several organisations decided to tender, and of the four short-listed, three covered a very large part of the communities and companies that have been involved in the field to date. On Thursday Becta announced that it had awarded the contract the the fourth bidder.
This book concentrates mainly on making websites accessible, particularly to the visually impaired. These techniques are then used, more briefly, to explain how to make Joomla! sites accessible. The book's author, Joshue O Connor, is clearly an expert on accessibility and has covered these areas well.
Thin client solutions bring together the display features of a personal computer and the low support requirements of dumb terminals. The client machine handles the user interface, while the servers provide the processing power for the applications. Thin clients offer considerable savings in staffing and capital costs. GNU/Linux lends itself to thin clients for reasons that are explored in this book. The book's author, David Richards, clearly has experience of explaining and implementing thin client solutions.
During Clinton's successful 1992 campaign James Carville hung a sign in their headquarters with the following three points:
- Change vs. more of the same
- The economy, stupid
- Don't forget health care.
He was attempting to counter Clinton's inclination to offer solutions to any and every topic he encountered. I know I have a similar tendency, and it comes into play when I attempt free software advocacy. As a result I've been working on my own version. My sign looks like this:
- Change vs. more of the same
- The data, stupid
- Don't forget the excluded.
Think, for a moment, about what the free software community looks like from the external gaze. "Bloody Communists" - I've never actually had a businessman say this to me when I've been explaining free software, but I'm sure they've thought it. I suppose the smarter ones might have thought "anarcho-syndicalists". Choosing to use free software may be simply economic, but contributing to any such project is surely a political statement.
So what is this statement? I'm not the person to write your statement, but I can offer mine.