Bloom Clock Project


The Bloom Clock Project is an attempt to create a language for discussing the bloom times of wildflowers and other plants that is neutral in respect to climate, region, and hemisphere. Bloom clocks are kept by gardeners, ecologists, and others to record the time of year different plants are in bloom.

Bloom Clocks are really useful to many people, including garden designers and people with allergies: knowing when wind-pollinated plants bloom can help those with allergies (and the doctors that treat them) helping to predict when pollen will be a problem.

Bloom times can be used as indicators for monitoring changes of local and regional climate, and can provide phenological cues which tell the farmer or gardener when to look out for a certain pest.

If you would like to participate then click here.

If you are looking for someone in the know then SB Johnny seems to be the man to talk to about the project, hes a Wikiversity custodian and an organic farmer and horticulturist by profession.

ACTA threatens free software

ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a proposed enforcement treaty between United States, the European Community, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Mexico and New Zealand, with Canada set to join in the near future.

Although the proposed treaty’s title suggests that the agreement deals only with counterfeit physical goods (such as medicines), what little information has been made available publicly by negotiating governments about the content of the treaty makes it clear that it will have a far broader scope, and in particular, will deal with new tools targeting “Internet distribution and information technology”. www.fsf.org/campaigns/acta

This agreement makes it more difficult to distribute free software. Without file sharing and P2P technologies like BitTorrent, distributing large amounts of free software becomes much harder, and more expensive. BitTorrent is a grassroots protocol that allows everyone to contribute to legally distributing free software.

It will make it harder for users of free operating systems to play media. Consumers will no longer be able to buy media without DRM — and DRMed media cannot be played with free software.

To date, disturbingly little information has been released about the actual content of the agreement. However, despite that, it is clearly on a fast track; treaty proponents want it completed by the end of 2008.

Many civil rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation oppose ACTA, calling for more public spotlight on the proposed treaty. A British study found that iPods owned by persons 14-24 today contain an average of more than 840 tracks downloaded on file-sharing networks, nearly fifty percent of all music possessed by this segment. The same study also found that 95% of individuals falling under this category have copied music in some way. Some critics argue that the ACTA directly incriminates the ordinary consumer activity.

I found an excellent article on the Knowledge Ecology Studies website written by Aaron Shaw. Its all about ACTA and what we can do about it.

ACTA would create unduly harsh legal standards that do not reflect contemporary principles of democratic government, free market exchange, or civil liberties. Even though the precise terms of ACTA remain undecided, the negotiants’ preliminary documents reveal many troubling aspects of the proposed agreement. For example, ACTA advocates intend to further criminalize non-commercial copyright and trademark infringements. They also aim to reinforce so-called “Digital Rights Management” (DRM) technologies that currently prevent the personal, legal reproduction of optical discs like DVDs and trample on “fair use” rights. In addition, rights owner lobby groups want the agreement to undermine legal safeguards that protect Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from liability for the actions of their subscribers. It would also facilitate privacy violations by trademark and copyright holders against private citizens suspected of infringement activities without any sort of legal due process.

All of these provisions threaten to reach far beyond existing U.S. and E.U. legal norms without any mandate from the appropriate, elected legislative bodies that govern them. As such, the trade officials involved in ACTA negotiations demonstrate a surprising disregard for their own countries’ democratic political processes and public welfare. They also threaten to overturn the existing balance of rights and regulations established through global governance institutions.

disc drm copyrightlock

co-ment : Web-based text annotation

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Most people know that stet was the first Web2.0 application, its the software that was built to facilitate public consultation during the Version 3 draft process of the GNU General Public License.

I’ve been meaning to write something about Bradley Kuhn and the AGPL but keep getting sidetracked. Here’s his article about identi.ca: Like Twitter, but with Freedom Inside.

Ive tried on many occasions to get stet up and running with no success, then I saw a post on the stet mailing list pointing to co-ment. Check it out, it looks excellent and is licensed under AGPL, Hopefully I can get this up and running.

It is to our knowledge one of the first instances of distribution of the full code base of a large Web 2.0 application service

I’ve embedded a text below, click on it and try to add some comments. the width of the column on this theme wont be that nice for this but still give it a go. Heh, I havent even finished this post and PhilippeAigrain commented on the text. Its not based on any code from stet. well you can read the comment yourself. It may be easier to tinker with this text on the co-ment site itself. Wow another comment offering advice on how o get help installing it. What a wonderful community. Its bed time for me, some nights I find it so easy to sleep.

FSF Helps Launch Autonomo.us To Focus On Freedom In Network Services

From Slashdot:

mako writes “The FSF just announced the results of a meeting it held on software freedom and network services. They are hailing the launch of a new group called Autonomo.us to follow up on these issues and the publication of the Franklin Street Statement on Freedom and Network Services which lays out a set of recommendations and guidelines for protecting freedom for software as a service.”

More from Mako on his blog:Autonomo.us and the Franklin Street Statement.

Though I first saw info about this on Evan Prodromou’s journal when he was talking about his work on identica.

Evan Profromou

Wonder if this WordIdentica wordpress plugin will work.

Really enjoying identica 😀

laconica superuser theme released

I’ve decided to release this theme as a learning exercise for some people more than anything else.

This isn’t the recommended way to theme laconica and I’m sure theres a laconica developer out there somewhere that wants to hurt me. lol.

Make sure you visit identi.ca and signup. Here’s my identi.ca user page. Also check out the list of servers, there might be something that you like and with the beauty of remote subscriptions, you can subscribe without signing up on all those sites 😀

laconica_superuser_theme.png

Download

Follow the readme in the tarball.
[download#1#size]

Free Software Foundation-5 reasons to avoid iPhone 3G

Iphone

The 5 real reasons to avoid iPhone 3G:

  • iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can’t be on everyone’s phones.
  • iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
  • iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
  • iPhone won’t play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.
  • iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don’t spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software — like the Freerunner.

The FSF believe that the iPhone is an attack on very old and fundamental values — the value of people having control over their stuff rather than their stuff having control over them, the right to freely communicate and share with others, and the importance of privacy.

The important difference between the iPhone and prior general-purpose computers: The iPhone is broken, on purpose. It is in theory capable of running many different kinds of programs, but software applications and media will be limited via Apple’s ironically named Digital Restrictions Management technology — “FairPlay”.

FoulPlay

Apple’s DRM system monitors your activities and tells you what you are and are not allowed to do. What you are not allowed to do is install any software that Apple doesn’t like. This restriction prevents you from installing free software — software whose authors want you to freely share, copy and modify their work.

This system is not Apple’s only FoulPlay. iPhones can now also only be activated in stores — despite the fact that in the U.S., the Register of Copyrights ruled that consumers have the right to unlock their phones and switch to a different carrier.

Fortunately, we will soon be able to have all the convenience of a mobile computer that also makes phone calls without selling our freedom to Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, or anyone else. The Neo FreeRunner is a promising free-software phone, being developed in cooperation with the same worldwide community responsible for the GNU/Linux operating system. These are creators who want to share their work and who want you and others to be able to do what they did — build on the work of people who came before them to make new, empowering devices.

Neo Freerunner

Migrate to Linux instead of Vista

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PC World has this week published an article encouraging small businesses to shift from Windows Vista to Linux:

Since Windows XP remains available only as a “downgrade” from Vista, at additional cost, businesses that want to replace obsolescent PCs or need to add staff are compelled to buy Windows Vista and then pay extra if they want to stay with Windows XP. In order to avoid the cost of “downgrading” to XP by migrating all desktops to Vista, they’re faced with the added cost of all new Vista licences, plus high hardware replacement costs because Vista requires new PCs kitted out with at least 2GHz CPUs and 2GB of memory in order to run acceptably. Then there’s also the fact that Windows Vista performs poorly, even after SP1.

Businesses that cannot bear such a large hit to their IT budgets should consider migrating to Linux instead. All of the Linux distributions are available either entirely free of charge or at relatively low cost. Linux runs well even on older PC hardware, which means businesses can avoid having to purchase all new desktop PCs (if you need Linux or PC repairs or support in Brisbane click here for Superuser’s help). All of the major Linux distributions include free file and print servers, website and email servers and clients, office productivity applications, development toolsets and utilities.

If you’re already doing without dedicated support staff for Windows, one year may be all the paid support you need for Linux. Ubuntu users joke that simply googling for technical support usually results in the exact answer you’re looking for on Canonical’s forums. Linux is different from Windows, but it isn’t an alien life form.

The human investment you make in transitioning away from expensive Windows and Office licenses may pay for itself quickly. More important, you’ll be free to run the desktop and server software of your choice, on hardware you can afford.

says Scott Spanbauer, a contributing editor for PC World.
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Asus Eee PC sales

Asus had planned to ship at least two million of the Eee PCs which has a Linux OS, between January and June, but that figure was not met, and now stands at 1.7 million. The slowing economy and growing competition has probably had a knock on effect. I think that a sales figure of 1.7 million in a six month period should not be sniffed at, considering that the level of marketing for the PC was fairly low.

Asustek are now planning to extend the range with two new Eee PCs which will have an 8.9-inch screen. Models 904 and 905 will be based on Intel’s Atom processor and combine a smaller screen with a bigger keyboard, according to a report by Digitimes.

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Chip may speed up internet 100 times

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I have just read an exciting article posted in the The Sydney Morning Herald about a technological breakthrough by University of Sydney scientists. It could potentially lead to people downloading the latest movie in a few seconds or chatting with small, cheap, video systems. The physicists have developed a revolutionary optical chip that could improve internet speeds to up to 100 times faster than Australia’s networks

“The most exciting thing is that it is just a piece of scratched glass. It is very simple, so it is potentially cheap,” said Ben Eggleton, the director of the university’s Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems, CUDOS.

However the article goes on to say that consumers in Australia would have to wait longer for any commercial product. Mr Eggleton has said “It won’t be deployed in Australia first”. The thumbnail-sized device could be commercialised within five years and used in countries such as Japan, which is “way ahead of Australia” in installing high speed fibre networks.

Microsoft gags UK schools

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According to a UK website The Inquirer Microsoft lawyers have stopped Becta, the UK’s technology quango for schools, from publishing the details of the three-year megadeal it agreed with Microsoft in April. It would appear that Becta refused to satisfy a Freedom of Information request made by the Inquirer for details of the latest Microsoft schools megadeal, “after consultation with Microsoft.”

“The documents are predominantly based on confidential material provided by Microsoft which was provided on the clear understanding that it would remain confidential,” said Becta.

According to the report, a UK analyst who asked not to be named, said it was possible to guestimate that UK schools spent about £55m a year on Microsoft software, based on a rare disclosure of a deal the NHS signed with Microsoft in 2004.

There has been growing concern in the public sector in the UK and Europe about the ways in which Microsoft might try to protect the monopoly it has in desktop software, for example, keeping its prices artificially high, which absorbs public money that could be spent elsewhere, and at the same time suppressing innovative competitors from breaking through. Yet open source software suppliers, which are the only credible competitors to Microsoft, give their software to schools for free.

Becta have launched a programme to get UK schools to adopt open source software, it is one which will allow one supplier, selected by tender, two years to build a community of schools which uses and develops its own open source alternatives to Microsoft software. So it would seem the UK government is at last opening its eyes to the benefits of Foss.