When the coalition UK government was formed following the last general election there was some guarded optimism among those who support open standards (many of whom also support the ideals of free software). This was based on pre-election rhetoric from the two parties that formed the coalition in 2010. Less than a year later stories hit the headlines of a new open standards procurement policy.
Sometime back I gave a pretty strong pan review of a couple of "toys" that were not compatible with GNU/Linux -- with open standards really, since the community ensures that free software is compliant -- and were therefore nothing more than a disappointment to my kids. Recently, I fully expected to repeat this depressing experience when my brother-in-law gave my son a "Flip" digital video camera, but I was pleasantly surprised: it works exactly as it should. That seemed worth a column in itself.
Have you ever felt that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that your code is error-free and complies with the latest standards? In terms of programming skill, web authors are too-often seen as the bottom of the barrel (you will notice I didn't call them 'web programmers') due to the apparent forgiveness and limitations of the platform. However, they are required to cover a large array of programming expertise and, even worse, they must ensure that their code runs the same on various platforms–something "real" programmers consider a challenge.
The "bottom of the barrel" indeed!
Free software has much to offer non-profit organizations (NGOs). If you are reading this, you are probably a member or participant of an NGO, and I hope I can show you why free software and open standards are important for your organisation. Or maybe you are a free software supporter who’d like to see a change in a social organisation near you. In any case, I will try to give you a few arguments in favour of free software, along with some practical information on how to successfully face a migration process from proprietary software.
Microsoft have published an open letter entitled "Interoperability,Choice and Open XML". I often like to think that I am neversurprised by the exaggerations, obfuscations and general untruths thatcome out of Microsoft: this letter shows their capacity of doing justthat.
Freedom of choice is an ideal. It’s also increasingly obvious that it’s almost always the most pragmatic approach, whether involving economic issues that affect billions of people or comparison shopping for a pair of jeans. Unfortunately, the people who voluntarily give up their own are the ones who can least afford to do so.