Microsoft’s deal with New Zealand comes to an end

Microsoft’s nine-year software licencing deal with the New Zealand government has apparently collapsed according to the Inquirer today.

In a statement, the State Services Commission (SSC) said that negotiations for another three-year extension of the agreement failed when it “became apparent during discussions that a formal agreement with Microsoft is no longer appropriate.”

SSC spokesperson Marian Mortensen said the government looked for value for money, fitness for purpose along with strategic benefit in its negotiations. “We didn’t feel we got the appropriate levels of benefit from the negotiations,” she said. Don Christie, chair of the New Zealand Open Source Society, said that failure of the SSC’s negotiations with Microsoft could provide new opportunities for more use of open source software in government.

Don Christie, chair of the New Zealand Open Source Society criticised the goverment IT managers for not having explored open source software alternatives previously.

New Zealand’s SSC has pioneered the use of open standards and open source software within Kiwi government, winning an open source award last year. The organisation said it will be “supporting agencies to explore how they can maximise their ICT investment and achieve greater value for money.”

UK ISPs fight back over licensing of legal content

The UK creative industries have demanded that ISPs start disconnecting users accused of repeated online copyright infringement. Ars Technica spoke to the ISPA earlier this week:

the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) said that it agreed with creative industry calls for “the safe and secure delivery of legal content.” Getting access to this content remains difficult, though, and ISPA notes that “Internet companies remain extremely frustrated by the ongoing difficulties in securing licensing that is needed to offer consumers legal alternatives through new models of online content distribution. It is our view that legislation on enforcement should only be introduced on the condition that the rights holder industry commits to significant licensing reform.”

The ISPA sends a clear message that the rights holders should do a better job of licensing legal content, instead of expecting them to act as police for the music and film industry.

GCompris, the best suite of free educational software for children

GCompris is amazing, its fun and kids love it. Over the years I’ve distributed a lot of educational freedom respecting software and GCompris is popular. Lets look at some info from the GCompris Wikipedia article:

It is available for Linux, Mac OS X and other systems. Binaries compiled for Microsoft Windows version are distributed as crippleware with a restricted number of activities; it is possible to access all the activities in Windows for a fee.

GCompris has more than 100 activities related to:

* Computer discovery: keyboard, mouse, different mouse gestures
* Algebra: table memory, enumeration, double entry table, mirror images
* Science: the canal lock, the water cycle, the submarine, electric simulations
* Geography: place the country on the map
* Games: chess, memory, connect 4, oware, sudoku
* Reading: reading practice
* Other: learn to tell time, puzzle of famous paintings, vector drawing, cartoon making

The name GCompris is a French pun impossible to translate. It comes from the French “J’ai compris” [?e kompri], which is French for “I have understood”, and is pronounced the same way as the name of the program would be by a French speaker.

Another interesting thing is that it is translated in more than 40 languages, perhaps that should be added to the Wikipedia article.

Here’s a short video on youtube that gives us a brief look at it. “Online Tutorial: GCompris Educational Software“.

I have fond memories of using GCompris with adults and children so make sure you check it out.

“The most essential resource of any society is not a physical resource, it’s a psycho-social resource. It’s the spirit of good will; the spirit of helping your neighbour.” — Richard Stallman