Taxi for Galloway

The Guardian have a good article on George Galloway’s ejection from the Big Brother house last night, which made me laugh on the bus in to work this morning. Sadly, the online version of the related article about the Telegraph losing their libel appeal yesterday doesn’t have the photo of the fantastic “Taxi for Galloway” placard that appears on page 9 of today’s paper. This made me laugh even more.

As the article points out, Galloway’s interview with Davina last night was indeed very painful to watch. Throughout, he looked dumbstruck whilst he struggled to answer the questions that the lovely Davina (“…whose on-screen persona is that of a largely well-meaning friend who cannot quite conceal the fact that she thinks you are ridiculous.”) kept on hurling at him.

His answer to Davina’s question over why he thought he’d been evicted demonstrated particularly well how oblivious he seemed to the public’s mood (“Maybe people wanted me back out and on the road, travelling the country”). If he wants to stand any chance of keeping his seat now that he’s out, I think the only road he should be out travelling on is Bethnal Green Road. The Telegraph may have lost out, but there’s plenty of other vultures circling.

RBS go open source

ZDNet have a story today about a pretty big deployment of Zope that’s going to be happenning at RBS. The article discusses how open source is slowly moving up into the application layer, previously a place filled with mostly proprietary apps.

I’ve personally tried to use Zope before, but only the once. Maybe I was looking for the wrong thing, but I ended up disappointed and didn’t use it again. Obviously there’s a few people out there who have different views.

What Zope does seem to have is a large base of developers and contributors around it, which has given RBS somewhere to recruit a number of specialists from (I can personally testify that most recruitment agents don’t know a lot about the open source industry). So could the characteristics of the group of developers around a product actually be a factor for an organisation looking to deploy an open source platform?

Pump Room Gardens

Pump Room Gardens

I never liked that block of flats by the river, but somehow they almost seem to fit in with the rest of the picture.

I’m still pretty tired from my trip up to Leam at the weekend but I’m glad I decided to go. Hope the phone’s OK, Matt! 🙁

We have lift off

Consider this a “I’ve just set up my blog!” token post, that however old and experienced I get I can never resist writing, despite the fact that these kind of entries rarely contain any useful information at all.

Setting up WordPress was less straightforward than I’d imaged (or hoped), although I suspect this was mainly due to MySQL not liking two character user names. Shame it didn’t tell me that.

Other random installation notes:

  • WordPress doesn’t let you specify your name during the install, so unless you want all your subsequent blog posts to be posted by ‘admin’ then you have to create a new user straight away. This takes more clicks than necessary.
  • Version 2.0 is still a bit buggy, it seems. As it suggested, I deleted the existing ‘Hello World’ post that had been created as part of the installation without any problems. Then I came to delete the orphaned comment that seemed to have left behind, but it seemed it just hadn’t bothered updating the screen. I got a really nasty error about there not being a post with that ID and had to click the back button. Gah.

Wrapping WordPress in a PHP container that can automatically create new blogs and populate them with sensibly-named users, etc. is definitely something that needs doing. That should make the installation process at least less painful. Or we can wait for version three :-).

The New Year Hunt

Today I officially entered week two of the flat hunt, with a second Saturday spent tramping round Ealing looking for somewhere to live. The more time I spend wandering around the area, the more I [heart] Ealing, although that doesn’t necessarily help me find somewhere to live there.

So nowhere concrete yet, but there’s a couple of promising places, and more leads to follow up on next week.

Walpole Park

The Park was nice, even if today in general was disgustingly wet and miserable. Enough to dent the enthusiam of even the most determined of flathunters. But not too much.

Just say no

Fortunately, it’s been a while since I felt the need to rant about software patents, the EU not yet having tried to resurrect that dead duck of a piece of legislation over the patentability of computer implemented inventions that it ended up having to drop last year.

I’d presumed that this was just a temporary setback to the thundering IP juggernaut, but perhaps the tide is beginning to turn. As well as Microsoft and IBM – possibly the two most active patent-ers in the IT industy – standing up to demand reform of the US patent system, an appeals court judge back on this side of the Atlantic has this week openly questioned the need for the patenting of computer programs in a seminar for the Society for Computers and Law in London.

The interesting irony in this story is that ZDNet’s article on this has a link to an MP3 of Jacob’s talk on the topic. For anyone not in the know, MP3 is that offshoot of the work carried out by the Motion Pictures Expert Group back in the nineties and a format so encumbered by patents that you need a licence to distribute any codecs that allow you to play a file encoded in the format. Fine perhaps for firms like Microsoft and Apple who can easily afford the licences, but not so good for Linux distros like Fedora and Ubuntu which can’t currently include these in their operating systems (although some clever people over at Fluendo – who are also doing some interesting work with the BBC on their new royalty-free Dirac codec – seem to have now come up with a solution to this problem).

Wikipedia’s article on the MP3 format has a bit more on the licencing and patent issues around it.

Thomson Consumer Electronics controls licensing of the MPEG-1/2 Layer 3 patents in countries that recognize software patents, including the United States and Japan, but not EU countries. Thomson has been actively enforcing these patents. Thomson has been granted software patents in EU countries, but it is unclear whether or not they would be enforced by courts there. See Software patents under the European Patent Convention.

I don’t think the connection occurred to the author of the article, but this seems like a great example of how software patents harm technological innovation by creating legal uncertainties and other such evil means. Let’s just hope we never have to worry about it too much at least in Europe, anyway. Say no to software patents!