‘freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose’

Wow. I was in a doctors waiting room and picked up a Readers Digest (they aren’t half bad for 30 minutes of distraction) and I read an article about Randy Pausch, who amongst other achievements is the developer behind Alice 3D (an awesome animation/programming tool for learning). It was quite bizarre to be reading about him in this random mainstream magazine, and to have the article talk about how the project was Open Source (a little).

Randy has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he gave an amazing “Last Lecture” talk from which the title of this blog derives, as well as many other amazing jewels of strength, optimism and a firm resolve to live happy and well. It is a funny and inspiring speech that has been translated all around the world, so I wanted to help get it out there 🙂 It is available on his website.

It reminded me about how we need to treasure every moment and really live in the now such that we actually experience what we are here to experience. It is so easy to get caught up in what is happening next week, how I should have done blah at work, or what is the point of it all, and in the meantime precious silken moments slip away from us without a thought. The wonder around us is somewhat obscured by a need to be busy, or clever or successful, and we forget it is only ever as real as we want it to be. I try to capture the moment, even though I also (unfortunately) surround myself with busy-ness, and that moment, that beautiful centre of it all is a quick reminder to not take this all for granted.

Back to Randy, who is still going strong and inspiring people everywhere! You totally rock and hopefully people will be inspired to embrace such humour, optimism and pure tenacity to their own lives 🙂 He has plenty of wisdom for a happier and more rich existence. Thank you Randy!

So my next piece of advice is, you just have to decide if you’re a Tigger or and Eeyore. I think I’m clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate. Never lose the childlike wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us. Help others.

FOSS in Tassie

I’m in Tasmania all this week on a mini holiday, actually I’m going to be doing Shaolin Gung Fu training with a master I used to study with 10 years ago. It was certainly fun transporting my weapons by plane 😉 Hooray! I’m staying in St Helen’s and travelling through Launceston to get here and back.

Anyway, back to FOSS. I have a smallish hard disk in my laptop (40GB) which has pretty much filled up. I bought a new 160GB hard disk ($85, bargain!) but didn’t bring any bits to do the transfer to Tassie with me. St Helen’s is a very small town. About 7,000 people (only a little bigger than my hometown). Anyway, I thought I’d try my luck and see if there was a local computer shop. Bingo! I went in and they had the parts I needed and then came the hard part:

“Do you have any Linux CDs”

The man looked at me a little confused at said “I don’t think there is a difference between CDs that work on Linux and ones that work on Windows”. My heart fell but I persevered with “no, I mean a CD with a Linux operating system, preferably bootable”. He had a spark of recognition and referred me onto one of his workmates who, lo and behold, had many versions of Linux on hand! Rock! We then had a great chat about FOSS, I mentioned that linux.conf.au is in Hobart in January, and why they should _all_ go along. I also invited them to a talk I’m giving at Launceston to TasLUG folks about FOSS, the Census and the OLPC project. They were very interested which was cool, and I think I convinced them about the value and fun of participating in the community 🙂 Hopefully we’ll have a few more enter the fold, mua ha ha!

Get involved at the first OLPC Australia TechFest

The first OLPC Australia TechFest will be held on June 1st in Sydney. It will include demonstrations, workshops about the OLPC hardware and software, developer tutorials and more! Everyone is welcome, though the event is mainly designed to help potential technical contributors get involved.

The TechFest will be led by Pia Waugh (OLPC Australia), Joel Stanley (OLPC “XO” laptop guru) and Martin Langhoff (OLPC “XS” server project lead). Thanks very much to Joel and Martin for providing their insights into the project and volunteering their time for us!

Details on the OLPC Australia TechFest webpage, including full agenda and RSVP.

Foundations of Open 2020 submissions are up

I was really proud to be involved in Senator Lundy’s Foundations of Open Summit and wanted to follow up with some more resources. There are videos from all talks available, Donna just did a great blog post about it as did Brianna from Wikipedia.

It is important to recognise the initiative and interest of Senator Kate Lundy in openness, and I greatly thank her for her efforts in getting openness on the political agenda.

The submissions from the day (which all participants were open to contribute) are also online which all contribute to the 2020 Summit discussions are awesome. Some tidbits:

The rise of the use of FOSS in the IT industry is without doubt a revolutionary force that will have a huge impact on the way that society interacts with computers into the future. The question that I would like addressed by the Australia 2020 summit is what can be done to ensure that Australia can benefit to the maximum degree possible from this change in the IT world.

Andrew Tridgell – Freedom Fighter 🙂

It is widely acknowledged that open access to Crown copyright material is important not only as an element of open democracy, but is “a key driver of social, cultural and economic development”. With the emergence of digital technologies that enable dissemination of government material at low cost, copyright law is now the last significant barrier to truly open government.

Jessica Coates – Creative Commons

Establish a national mechanism for discoverability of spatial data. Discoverability is necessary to effectively deliver spatial data when and where it is needed, especially in emergencies but increasingly for general use, and would unlock enormous opportunities for innovation and creativity with the use of these data.

David Hocking, CEO ASIBA

Australia’s infrastructure will face even more difficult challenges unless we take advantage of IPv6, particularly for water and energy. For instance, critical energy and resource conservation measures will require large increases in the scope of control systems. There is an urgent need for greater national IP capability to use in reducing our global footprint in this way, but the capacity of our
current IP system is nearly exhausted.

Tony Hill – Internet Society of Australia

Amend the Broadcast Act to clearly define the fair use of broadcast material nationally for all educational institutions. Amend the role of Screen Rights to measure/clear international sources.

Clarify that educational organisations have clearance to use any free- to-air live broadcast services and to share them nationally within the academic realm for purposes of study, archive and analysis. As part of their participation in Australian society, any broadcaster supplying free-to-air (unencrypted) services anywhere within our shores would be bound to allow national open access to their material for educational use.

George Bray

Physical Infra-structure and facilities be made available for the schools sector to improve network speeds and bandwidth traffic loads.

Kevin Karp, StudentNet

Open information and knowledge – allow information produced by the public sector to be easily accessible and freely available to citizens and businesses for reuse, including commercialisation with appropriate exceptions such as law enforcement, security and privacy. Placing government produced IP in the public domain, such as maps and data, can unlock public and private value – U.S. property appraisal data makes www.zillow.com a more innovative service for home buyers than www.suburbview.com

Patrick McCormick, The Nous Group

Open Source is no longer an emerging technology. It is here now. OSIA[2] believes it’s in Australia’s best interest to not only adopt Open Source software, but actively contribute to the Open Source economy of ideas and innovation. Each of the 10 areas of focus for the 2020 Summit depend on the new reality of a global interconnected information economy. Google and Wikipedia were built with Open Source Software because it was the only way it could be done. Open Source Software enables us to compete, connect and communicate.

Donna Benjamin – Director – Open Source Industry Australia

If the potentially major transformative benefits to be derived from “Open” both from the technological and digital knowledge perspectives are to be fully realised then it is essential to establish or identify internationally credible standards and specifications etc. which support the desired outcomes. The real value and potential of PSI is realised only through its extensive re-use. Open will overcome the present major impediments which prevent this full potential from being realised.

Neale Hooper – Principal Lawyer, Whole of Government Licensing Project, Office of Economic and Statistical Research, Queensland Treasury

The availability of high speed broadband across Australia has the potential to reduce many problems of resourcing and access to information faced in Australia due to our dispersed population. Students and researchers in remote areas could be provided with equal access to quality resources and texts that students in metropolitan centres have. If every student has access to a computer and high speed broadband, then all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, can have access to knowledge.

However, the ADA is concerned that overly complex and restrictive provisions in the Copyright Act 1968 continue to impede this potential. […] In short, the ADA sees great potential in the digital education revolution, however, without significant copyright reform the ADA believes that students will have access to high speed broadband, but will not have the access to knowledge that should flow from this.
Laura Simes, Australian Digital Alliance

Laura Simes, Australian Digital Alliance

We have The Internet technology and we have the need. Many more activities need to be open and accessible, so that together we might advance the world instead of letting it slide into catastrophe.

Nick Sharp

Openness as a default position for ICT innovation and development provides many clear opportunities and advantages. Clear leadership and assistance is necessary from the Australian Government so individuals and organisations from all sectors can make informed decisions how openness can benefit them.

Me 🙂

Another news article about the event was in the Canberra Times, which had Jeff and I as the photo. Unexpected and a little odd 🙂

Foundations of Open in Canberra Times

Who’s going to the 2020 Summit?

Many people know that the 2020 Summit participants list was put online a little while ago. I’ve had a chance to have a skim of the names and see who was accepted. Unfortunately I didn’t get in, but there are some great people involved.

I am quite concerned about the lack of technology and ICT people represented. There are a few great people represented, like Terry Cutler and Lisa Harvey but there is a serious lack of saavy ICT people. It was interesting to see Microsoft represented by Steve Vamos, and I truly hope that there has been some level of balance and foresight in the selection of ICT representatives to ensure multiple perspectives are presented.

I was surprised to see Sheryle Moon wasn’t there, and I don’t believe any of the Open Source community or industry nominations were accepted. I rang the office to express my concern that technology seems rather underrepresented, and that within the technology sector represented there is no clear representation from the Open Source industry or community (that I can see), which is arguably one of Australia’s greatest ICT assets when it comes to future directions and socio-economic opportunities.

Luckily, we have a great chance to have our say through the Foundations of Open local summit being run by the inspiring and well informed Senator Kate Lundy. She recently spoke at the Sdyney Document Freedom Day event, which apparently was brilliant (I was unfortunately out of the state). She also did a great speech at the 2005 Sydney Software Freedom Day event.

Foundations of Open: Technology and Digital Knowledge

Senator Kate Lundy is hosting a fantastic event called the Foundations of Open: Technology and Digital Knowledge. It will include Open Source, Open Standards, Creative Commons, geospatial systems and open data, and IPV6 amongst other things.

The idea is to bring some great people together in a room and to have an open event which anyone can participate in over the web. The outcome of this event will be an input to the main 2020 Summit a couple of weeks later. There are a bunch of really great presenters and I know there will be several Open Source people there on the day (including Tridge, Rusty and us).

I’ll be speaking about specific things we could bring up for the 2020 Summit, including input from the Linux Australia report to the new Federal Treasurer, and ideas from other conversations with Government, the community and industry.

The Senator is using Moodle, streaming video on the day, and of course it is published on her Joomla website. Awesome! Great to see such rocking use of technology by a Senator! 🙂 Great work by Tom Worthington on the Moodle and he’ll be dealing with the streaming video on the day.

Census launch event!

Finally the time has come for the Australian Open Source Industry & Community Census Report launch! The event itself will be on April the 1st in Sydney city. All details are on the event page here. Please RSVP to come along and hear from special guests and about the report which will be available as a free downloadable pdf after the launch. Drinks and canapes will be available.

We’re really pleased because we’ve already had some really good media coverage of the Census. Five articles so far 🙂