Disappointments in the desktop

I just read an article by a long term Windows user about his disappointment in Vista. I found it particularly interesting because there seems to be a wave of discontent spreading about Windows and a lot of people trying Linux. I think one of the most powerful things FOSS is achieving is getting people to realise the power of choice and the power of a high expectation from the consumer. I also find such articles interesting because I don’t really use Windows at all anymore, and it reminds me that I need to understand the issues facing Windows users in order to help them see the direct benefits to them of FOSS.

World IP Day

Yes you read it right. Holy crap! So on April the 26th, two days from now it will be World IP Day, a day where WIPO and the many IP guard dogs of the world (such as IP Australia) “encourage people to think about the role played by intellectual property in everyday life”. I too would like to encourage this. I think we all need to think about how IP affects us in every day life. I personally think the idea of intellectual property is one that can be argued from both sides, however I think it has gone too far in the best interests of profit and too far away from the interests of the public good and from a free and competitive market.

I can certainly understand how rewarding someone for an idea and granting them a temporary monopoly is a way to encourage them, however currently when we grant such a monopoly, it is for that idea across every possible implementation and every market, which locks the ideas out from places where the IP owner is not interested or able to take them. The monopoly terms are getting longer which means a longer period of time for generic drugs to be available to the masses, a longer time for new technologies to be affordable, and a longer time for inventions that can help us, sustain us, cure us, and make our lives easier to actually get into our hands. My other major concern with this “IP” system is that the few countries who defined this system and have a majority share in their system, have basically created an economy where other countries pay them for their ideas, which is loads and loads of money every year that leaves countries like Australia and goes straight to countries like the US. Even if we have a great invention, our ability to protect that “IP” is lacking because the IP system is owned and controlled by large overseas players.

As the Director General of WIPO says:

Ideas shape our world. They are the raw materials on which our future prosperity and heritage depend.

The Director General uses this as a rationale for why ideas and inventions should be protected and locked down so that people are encouraged to have them, whereas I see this as the very reason why we need to maintain a healthy balance between protecting such ideas for short term financial gain, and getting those ideas into the public domain as soon as is reasonable (and 25 or 50 years is not reasonable). The longer such great ideas are locked away from the free market and from the average person, the more we delay such future prosperity that WIPO themselves acknowledge is the result of such ideas.

So this is a shout out to the entire Open Source world to think about how IP is shaping your lives, how fair the system is, how much it actually protects inventors as opposed to granting large companies bigger weapons of mass obstruction. World IP Day is a good reminder to us all that we need to rethink some of these systems. Systems that were initially designed to encourage inventions, but nowadays are about encouraging payment of licencing fees.

Who will you talk to about it? This stuff affects our schoolkids (access to ideas), our aging population (access to affordable drugs), our security and elections (access to transparent and trustworthy applications), our national economies (access to a free and competitive market) and more. We face constant threats to national sovereignty (crappy bilateral “Free” trade agreements) and of course to the Free Software movement (patents, anti-circumvention and trademark issues). Politicians, school teachers, lawyers and many more people are starting to realise this isn’t quite right. In a funny way, we have Sony, Apple and CAL to thank for the average person starting to think about IP. So happy World IP Day for the 26th everyone! Let’s make sure we don’t become too lazy in this issue, after all, the biggest threat to freedom is a happy slave.

Note: If you want some great reading on this from someone who has studied it extensively from many different perspectives, check out the writings of Professor Peter Drahos.

伍伴徒 (Ubuntu) in China!

And now for something completely different…

An awesome job by Amy Jiang on this poster depicting the recent Canonical visit to China. I knew Amy from the Beijing Linux User Group (你好!) when I was in Beijing in 2004, and she is one of the coolest people I’ve met 🙂 I put her in contact with Canonical when I heard about the Asia tour, as she is a great translator, FOSS person, and the IT manager for the UNDP project in Beijing! That is Amy on Mark’s right (your left). Also in the picture is Malcolm (far left), Hande (far right) and Sarah (second from right) from Canonical.

I’m looking forward to going back to spend some time in China to continue my Mandarin studies. Rock on Amy and a nice translation 🙂

“United the Workers, the Farmers and the Army, Keep Working on Ubuntu Till Success!”

United the Workers, the Farmers and the Army, Keep Working on Ubuntu Till Success!

PS – Hi to everyone else in Beijing LUG – Simon, Richard, Jenny, Beorn, Michael and everyone else!

FOSS call to action!

I would like to call upon the FOSS community to not bring their society stipulated issues to our world. We are in a very powerful position at the moment where we have defined a society bound by common values of freedom, personal empowerment, transparent and accountable governance, and most importantly, recognition based on what you contribute to the community as opposed to your money, position, sex, age, beliefs or whatever else. We have created an environment where great people can be great, whereas in their own societies perhaps they would be limited or self limit due to various ridiculous status quos or cultural assumptions.
I believe we have something so powerful that we can change our societies all over the world for the better. I am personally frustrated every time I see someone who doesn’t pull their weight get ahead in Australian business or Government, but in the Free Software community, how people contribute is usually quite transparent, and thus if they don’t do the right thing by their community, they simply don’t get ahead. Similarly, if they suddenly do the wrong thing, the community can see and react accordingly.
I would like to call on all FOSS contributors whether you be coders, advocates, sysadmins, translators or whatever to embrace fully what we have, and not bring into our community things that can tear it apart. We make a choice to bring those issues in, and from my perspective, we should be aiming higher than that.
So what can you do today to help? Encourage a diverse range of people to participate. If you see a racist, sexist, or any other negatively biased comment/joke, slap it down. If someone tries to gain favour by who they are rather than what they’ve done, ask them to prove themselves. Together as a community we can continue to flourish as a global community that crosses national, cultural, religious, gender, age and all other boundaries, bringing people together to do great stuff without all the bullshit 🙂

Tasmania – penguins and more!

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in the inaugural Open Source Tasmania FOSS forum, which saw about 190 people attend as well as a good industry/Government focus session the night before. It was a great event, and I’m really pleased to see the Tasmanian Government understanding the value or FOSS, largely due to the FOSS businesses who came up with OST and started talking to the Government about how FOSS can drive the local economy. Very good work to the OST team, in particular Carole who coordinated the conference and Sen who came up with OST.

Also, the TasLUG team are preparing an lca bid which is fantastic! Having lca in Tasmania would be very pretty, and it is somewhere not many speakers have travelled too.

On that note, the initial lca2007 website is up 🙂

I’m unfortunately not going to Brazil next week, and so will have to save up my love of the country and people till next year, when I will certainly be returning there. It is a great pity, but sometimes circumstances work against you. It is probably a good thing as I have been running very busy over the last few months without a break, and without the time to focus on my new business which is coming along well 🙂

Getting the message across to businesses

I was really happy to see today that Dahna McConnachie from Linuxworld covered my short presentation on building a FOSS strategy for business at Linuxworld last week. I was a little nervous and wasn’t sure if I got my points across ok, but going on how Dahna reported it, I did pretty well at getting my points across 🙂

“Balancing commercial interest with community interest is important for businesses looking at open source, said open source consultant Pia Waugh”

Very happy with that story. We managed to get a lot of positive press around Linuxworld Australia and I’m looking forward to participating next year. In the meantime I am also on the committee for linux.conf.au 2007 and we are starting to ramp up our organising, even though that event isn’t till January. It is certainly lining up to be a very busy year!

Peter Quinn – the “sandals and ponytail” man :)

So it was great to have Peter Quinn at Linuxworld, he is a sweet guy and really understands FOSS. Unfortunately his tongue in cheek comments about sandals and ponytails was taken quite over the top, so we arranged this little photo to show the guy is a great ally of FOSS and that he has a sense of humour 🙂 Thanks for playing along with us Peter!

Peter Quinn - The

Linuxworld rocking :)

So The last two days have been the business day sessions of Linuxworld have been great. Over 2000 people registered for the trade show which has been buzzing everytime I’ve visited. The Linux Australia stand has also been consistently busy so it has been great!

The conference itself hasn’t had quite the crowds we had hoped for, but like any conference, it has to build a reputation, and for the first Linuxworld locally, we did quite well. The content has been great, I’ve been the MC and the timing has been fine (apart from one minor glitch, sorry Sophos!) and people are pretty happy with the results. Government Day is tomorrow which will be fantastic. I have Peter Quinn from Massachusetts speaking, Sunil Abraham from the IOSN, Dr Yusseri Yusoff from the Malaysian Government, and Edwin Bruce from the New Zealand Government. Plus the local state and federal Government people including Patrick Callioni from AGIMO, Elizabeth Gordon-Werner from NSW Dept of Commerce, Michael Carden from National Archives of Australia and Kevin Russell from Opensource WA. All have awesome stories and were great presentations. It’ll be great!

Anyway, maybe I’ll get a few more hours sleep tonight, but I have had a good time, and I hope everyone else has too 🙂 To be fair, it needs to be made clear Linuxworld is a business and Government conference and not a tech conference, but hopefully it’ll fill the void in Australia for such information and get our business and Government communities more educated about this space, and also about the Open Source community.

So I’m turning on comments for this blog post, and would love peoples feedback about Linuxworld. Obviously people that were actually there would be really useful (at the trade show or conference or both 🙂