[backstage] Mapping the World of Piracy

2009-02-09 Thread Mr I Forrester
Via NewTeeVee -
http://newteevee.com/2009/02/05/mapping-the-world-of-piracy/ - Enjoy!


The folks at the Pirate Bay released a Google Maps mash-up Wednesday
that illustrates its worldwide user base, with exact percentages by
country. It’s a pretty fascinating project in that it helps to dispel
certain myths about BitTorrent, namely that while piracy may be a global
phenomenon, swapping movies via the Pirate Bay definitely isn’t. For
example, did you know there are roughly as many BitTorrent users in
Portugal as there are in all of the African countries put together? And
that downloaders in Spain are neck-in-neck with those of the U.S. for
the No. 2 slot?

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[backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Mr I Forrester
Seen this in my mailbox a few times today, sure you will all find this
interesting...

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make the primary
operating system used in state schools free and open source

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nonMSschools/

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Re: [backstage] Press Association API?

2009-02-09 Thread Martin Deutsch
Just dug this out to have a quick look at it, and it seems that
api.welcomebackstage.com doesn't exist - any clues about where we could find
the data?
Thanks,
 Martin

On Mon, Nov 3, 2008 at 5:05 PM, Ian Forrester ian.forres...@bbc.co.ukwrote:

 Ok ok,

 It does exist, the delay has mainly been on our behalf due to wanting to
 launch most of this stuff all together.

 I can announce the documentation for the API -
 http://ideas.welcomebackstage.com/node/2

 But right now, the API is being tested on another server. At some point in
 the next few weeks, we'll move the end point to api.welcomebackstage.com.

 Ian Forrester

 This e-mail is: [x] private; [] ask first; [] bloggable

 Senior Producer, BBC Backstage
 Room 1044, BBC Manchester BH, Oxford Road, M60 1SJ
 email: ian.forres...@bbc.co.uk
 work: +44 (0)2080083965
 mob: +44 (0)7711913293
 -Original Message-
 From: owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk [mailto:
 owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk] On Behalf Of Tom Scott
 Sent: 02 November 2008 13:18
 To: backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk
 Subject: [backstage] Press Association API?

 Hi all,

 I'm trying to track down the Press Association API, which was announced as
 imminent months ago (http://snurl.com/4xlfr) - does it exist yet? And if
 not, does anyone know when it'll happen? It'd come in very handy for a
 project idea I've got...

 Cheers,

 Tom
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Richard Lockwood
Mm.  Very interesting.  If something as simple as a petition will make
Windows free and open source, why has no-one thought of it before?

Why do the idiots who start these petitions never have any kind of
grasp of grammar?  Or proof reading?

Would you take anyone seriously who turned up on your doorstep
dribbling from the mouth, telling you it's all bout the lu1z?

No.  Nothing to see here - move along now...

Cheers,

Rich.

On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 2:24 PM, Mr I Forrester mail...@cubicgarden.com wrote:
 Seen this in my mailbox a few times today, sure you will all find this
 interesting...

 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make the primary
 operating system used in state schools free and open source

 http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nonMSschools/

 -
 Sent via the backstage.bbc.co.uk discussion group.  To unsubscribe, please 
 visit http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/archives/2005/01/mailing_list.html.  
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RE: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Christopher Woods
 Seen this in my mailbox a few times today, sure you will all 
 find this interesting...
 
 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make the 
 primary operating system used in state schools free and open source
 
 http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nonMSschools/


I find this idea appealing but fundamentally flawed. Let me explain why this
concept is a non-starter for all but a few schools.


I went through this country's education system and am currently in my final
year at University, so it wasn't such a long time ago ;) It so happens that
my Dad was the deputy head at the school I went to and he was also the only
person who managed the school's entire IT infrastructure for a very long
time. Yes, the school did eventually become a Technology College (thanks in
part due to his hard work over the time he was there), and with that
Technology College status they got a lot more money - they eventually got
one, then two, then several members of dedicated IT staff - but for the most
part it was him steering the boat as such. He did the lion's share of the
administrative IT work as well, installing and maintaining SIMS, all the
staff machines, equipment, etc. The bloke working in the Reprographics
department managed the offset litho printer (yes, they had one!) and the
photocopiers I think, but that was about it.


So, during the best part of 14 years he was there for, my Dad oversaw and
managed installations of, in order, an Acorn network with matching Econet
system (remember the DINs and T-bars? :D), a gradual move from Acorn to 95
machines, then to 98 with more and more intricate networking infrastructure.
He had little money and worked with what he had available to him within
budgetary constraints him local and national suppliers. This meant that, by
the time the school got proper wedges of funding for IT, the school already
had a firmly established userbase of Windows 9x machines, gradually making
the move to 2000 then to XP as time went on.


Site licenses for educational software are costly, and I would put money on
the fact that just about all educational software is still written solely
for the Windows OS. Chicken and the egg scenario here, but if you want
definitive figures just go to BETT and do some empirical research to find
out. (I bet I'm right). Also, historical investment in infrastructure cannot
be ignored, and quite often you have scenarios where you build up
relationships with suppliers and distributors and so can secure good deals
for all sorts of things. When you have limited manpower and man hours to
maintain a network used all day every day by hundreds of students and staff
alike, you can't afford to have 'exotic particles' introduced into even a
closed loop system. Plus, there are so many other outside influences and
requirements (right down to the cacheing systems many schools used back when
ISDN was the only reality for connectivity, before the Grids for Learning
were properly established) that you could not expect to have a system being
migrated over to some bizarre and funky FOSS alternative OS.


Aside from the fact that the suite of *de facto* software the students would
use day in and day would need to be the same, in some cases the bloody
curriculum demanded that particular software be used, so your hands were
tied. Other times, it was a cost/benefit analysis. Sure, FOSS alternatives
to CAD/CAM were available, I'm sure, but did they work as well as CAD/CAM,
play nice with all the hardware the graphics and control tech departments
had, AND fully support all the old work and files students had created? You
can't just rip and replace in an educational scenario.



Given that many schools' IT infrastructure development was so organic and
self-funded throughout the 90s, they are now in the situation where it is
almost completely impractical to start from scratch with a FOSS OS and FOSS
software, making sure that interdependencies aren't broken, networking works
as well (or as expected) as prior to the switch, and students - and staff
alike - aren't 'de-familiarised' with the setup. With any major transition
such as an OS move, there's a lot of retraining needed for staff and
students. When you run to such a tight timeline as most schools do, there
just aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish this.

The cost in terms of 1) setting it all up 2) testing it 3) supporting it 4)
fixing stuff that doesn't work like it should 5) dealing with problems
related to the transition can just become extortionate, and I would also
wager that most school IT departments have their hands full enough just
keeping existing infrastructure going. The only schools that could possibly
get away with FOSS from the outset are the entirely new builds, because
there's no legacy there in terms of hardware and software requirements.



Having said all of this, I am fully supportive of FOSS - and so is my Dad.
He's currently the IT advisor for education for the county council where he
now lives, and has 

Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Phil Whitehouse
He isn't advocating making Windows open source, the petition states that
the primary OS used in schools should be a free and open source
alternative to windows.

Not idiotic at all. I've signed up.

Phil

On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 4:05 PM, Richard Lockwood richard.lockw...@gmail.com
 wrote:

 Mm.  Very interesting.  If something as simple as a petition will make
 Windows free and open source, why has no-one thought of it before?

 Why do the idiots who start these petitions never have any kind of
 grasp of grammar?  Or proof reading?

 Would you take anyone seriously who turned up on your doorstep
 dribbling from the mouth, telling you it's all bout the lu1z?

 No.  Nothing to see here - move along now...

 Cheers,

 Rich.

 On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 2:24 PM, Mr I Forrester mail...@cubicgarden.com
 wrote:
  Seen this in my mailbox a few times today, sure you will all find this
  interesting...
 
  We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make the primary
  operating system used in state schools free and open source
 
  http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nonMSschools/
 
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-- 
http://philwhitehouse.blogspot.com


Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Ant Miller
Chris, your points are very interesting, and I wonder if you've been in
touch with the team who are behind Open Labs: Learning?
http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/openlearning/

a

On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 4:12 PM, Christopher Woods
chris...@infinitus.co.ukwrote:

  Seen this in my mailbox a few times today, sure you will all
  find this interesting...
 
  We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make the
  primary operating system used in state schools free and open source
 
  http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nonMSschools/


 I find this idea appealing but fundamentally flawed. Let me explain why
 this
 concept is a non-starter for all but a few schools.


 I went through this country's education system and am currently in my final
 year at University, so it wasn't such a long time ago ;) It so happens that
 my Dad was the deputy head at the school I went to and he was also the only
 person who managed the school's entire IT infrastructure for a very long
 time. Yes, the school did eventually become a Technology College (thanks in
 part due to his hard work over the time he was there), and with that
 Technology College status they got a lot more money - they eventually got
 one, then two, then several members of dedicated IT staff - but for the
 most
 part it was him steering the boat as such. He did the lion's share of the
 administrative IT work as well, installing and maintaining SIMS, all the
 staff machines, equipment, etc. The bloke working in the Reprographics
 department managed the offset litho printer (yes, they had one!) and the
 photocopiers I think, but that was about it.


 So, during the best part of 14 years he was there for, my Dad oversaw and
 managed installations of, in order, an Acorn network with matching Econet
 system (remember the DINs and T-bars? :D), a gradual move from Acorn to 95
 machines, then to 98 with more and more intricate networking
 infrastructure.
 He had little money and worked with what he had available to him within
 budgetary constraints him local and national suppliers. This meant that, by
 the time the school got proper wedges of funding for IT, the school already
 had a firmly established userbase of Windows 9x machines, gradually making
 the move to 2000 then to XP as time went on.


 Site licenses for educational software are costly, and I would put money on
 the fact that just about all educational software is still written solely
 for the Windows OS. Chicken and the egg scenario here, but if you want
 definitive figures just go to BETT and do some empirical research to find
 out. (I bet I'm right). Also, historical investment in infrastructure
 cannot
 be ignored, and quite often you have scenarios where you build up
 relationships with suppliers and distributors and so can secure good deals
 for all sorts of things. When you have limited manpower and man hours to
 maintain a network used all day every day by hundreds of students and staff
 alike, you can't afford to have 'exotic particles' introduced into even a
 closed loop system. Plus, there are so many other outside influences and
 requirements (right down to the cacheing systems many schools used back
 when
 ISDN was the only reality for connectivity, before the Grids for Learning
 were properly established) that you could not expect to have a system being
 migrated over to some bizarre and funky FOSS alternative OS.


 Aside from the fact that the suite of *de facto* software the students
 would
 use day in and day would need to be the same, in some cases the bloody
 curriculum demanded that particular software be used, so your hands were
 tied. Other times, it was a cost/benefit analysis. Sure, FOSS alternatives
 to CAD/CAM were available, I'm sure, but did they work as well as
 CAD/CAM,
 play nice with all the hardware the graphics and control tech departments
 had, AND fully support all the old work and files students had created? You
 can't just rip and replace in an educational scenario.



 Given that many schools' IT infrastructure development was so organic and
 self-funded throughout the 90s, they are now in the situation where it is
 almost completely impractical to start from scratch with a FOSS OS and FOSS
 software, making sure that interdependencies aren't broken, networking
 works
 as well (or as expected) as prior to the switch, and students - and staff
 alike - aren't 'de-familiarised' with the setup. With any major transition
 such as an OS move, there's a lot of retraining needed for staff and
 students. When you run to such a tight timeline as most schools do, there
 just aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish this.

 The cost in terms of 1) setting it all up 2) testing it 3) supporting it 4)
 fixing stuff that doesn't work like it should 5) dealing with problems
 related to the transition can just become extortionate, and I would also
 wager that most school IT departments have their hands full enough just
 keeping existing infrastructure going. The only schools that could 

Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Dave Crossland
2009/2/9 Richard Lockwood richard.lockw...@gmail.com:

 If something as simple as a petition will make
 Windows free and open source, why has no-one thought of it before?

That is not what the petition is about! :-)
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Ant Miller
Interesting that OLPC has just gone OS!
Also,:

www.opensourceschools.org.uk
http://www.osor.eu/news/uk-open-source-is-core-to-education
 http://www.141.co.uk/?p=164


On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 4:17 PM, Dave Crossland d...@lab6.com wrote:

 2009/2/9 Richard Lockwood richard.lockw...@gmail.com:
 
  If something as simple as a petition will make
  Windows free and open source, why has no-one thought of it before?

 That is not what the petition is about! :-)
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-- 
Ant Miller

tel: 07709 265961
email: ant.mil...@gmail.com


Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Rob Myers
On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 4:12 PM, Christopher Woods chris...@infinitus.co.uk

 Transforming a Windows school to an Ubuntu school is nigh on impossible to
 achieve unless you provide a year's warning, gradually phase out use of all
 Windows-only software over the course of the year, implement the massive
 overhaul and platform transition during the holidays and then spend the next
 six months to a year supporting users when stuff goes wrong. Most schools
 simply cannot afford to provision those kinds of resources, so they stay put
 with what they have, and that's why FOSS will never make significant inroads
 into those establishments. It would take something like Governmental
 intervention to impose FOSS and OSes on schools as a mandatory element of
 their funding in order for them to make the change, but it would be so
 disruptive that it would probably be ignored or sidelined by many schools.

And yet they will end up on a newer Microsoft operating system at some
point. ;-)

 I am not trying to scaremonger or FUD here, it is just my view as someone
 who has gone through the system and grown up alongside the maturation of a
 typical educational IT setup, and who also had the advantage of talking to
 the person who helped to implement a lot of it (and still talks to the
 person who now helps implement policy and infrastructure for an entire
 county's worth of education!) Although perhaps flawed or coloured, I feel
 it's a pragmatic, realistic view.

It's very informative. Thanks. I've encountered similar stories from
people working with charities for example.

One thing I'd say is that nothing will stimulate companies that can
support schools (and other institutions) using GNU/Linux like the
prospect of there being a sudden increase in the number of schools
using GNU/Linux to support. ;-)

- Rob.
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RE: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Andrew Bowden
 Transforming a Windows school to an Ubuntu school is nigh on 
 impossible to achieve unless you provide a year's warning, 
 gradually phase out use of all Windows-only software over the 
 course of the year, implement the massive overhaul and 
 platform transition during the holidays and then spend the 
 next six months to a year supporting users when stuff goes 
 wrong. Most schools simply cannot afford to provision those 
 kinds of resources, so they stay put with what they have, and 
 that's why FOSS will never make significant inroads into 
 those establishments. It would take something like 
 Governmental intervention to impose FOSS and OSes on schools 
 as a mandatory element of their funding in order for them to 
 make the change, but it would be so disruptive that it would 
 probably be ignored or sidelined by many schools.

I can still remember my secondary school getting 386s - one room had the
ICL PCs, the other two still had BBC Masters!  It was like that for a
while, despite the school getting some pioneering grants.

All school migrations on equipment and software is inevitably going to
be a slow process as equipment comes online.

It's not impossible, but you can't do it quickly.

 
I think it's more doable at the primary school level.  You start small
and slowly.  There's a lot of very good educational software out there,
and distributions like Edubuntu.  Old PCs which would need to be
replaced otherwise, could be brought into service to try them out.
Software needs at that level (I presume!) are a lot less constrained on
what you need - and there's the added benefit that such software can be
installed for free too ;)

It just needs people who know what they're doing, but then, doesn't
Windows?!

There's been some interesting articles on education and Linux in Linux
Format and there are some states and countries which are pressing quite
heavily into removing Windows from their school.  However the consensus
appeared to be that the UK hasn't been geared up to providing the
assistance that schools need to make the move.

One of the articles I read said that some schools are using open source
software - from servers to software like Gcompris - thanks to people
with enthusiasm and a desire to try new things.  They're small scale -
obviously.  And to get it extended you really need some big push to make
it happen.

It could happen.  

(Yeah.  And monkeys might fly out of my butt :) )


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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Phil Whitehouse
Maybe I'm a poor deluded misguided fool who needs showing the error of my
ways?

Lorks, far from it! I think we'd need a lot of people like you if the
government does try and introduce open source into schools. These are really
important problems that mustn't be overlooked.

I'll assume for the purpose of brevity that the readers of this list
understand the benefits of open source. We're training our kids to give
money to vendors for their entire lives. Windows is an expensive, inherently
closed system which, in 2009, offers very little benefit over and above open
source alternatives. This gap is closing fast.

So let's look at the negatives to see if they can be mitigated and overcome.

I definitely recognise the problems you've outlined, but I believe they're
not insurmountable. Introducing open source solutions to all schools in a
'big bang' fashion would be a total disaster, no doubt about it. But I can
imagine a world where a gentle introduction (pilot projects in a limited
number of capable schools) could help define what a subsequent, gradual
rollout might look like.

Several key issues would need to be addressed. The lack of available
software is a big problem, but I believe this can be addressed at the
government level by insisting that all commissioned software runs
cross-domain. Having recently spent time walking around a primary school (my
daughter started there in January) I didn't see any materials that couldn't
have been designed to display in a browser. And there were plenty of
PowerPoint slides that could run in OpenOffice. So if we start making this a
condition of all new software NOW, then in a few years time we'd have a lot
less propriertary software to worry about, and there's nothing to lose in
the meantime.

Support is another key issue, but one which I expect to fall away in 2009.
Ubuntu isn't quite there yet, granted, but they're investing huge amounts of
money in this area:

http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/162

I believe that support issues (especially re 3rd party devices) will be
level with Windows in the next 2 years. Maybe sooner.

Just looking back over your list:

1) setting it all up - keep it small to start with, then roll into normal
upgrade cycle, there's no hurry!
2) testing it - this should be part of the procurement process, push the
onus of (cross browser?) testing onto the vendor
3) supporting it - getting easier, and heaven knows Windows has its own
problems here, especially re: virii, malware, etc.
4) fixing stuff that doesn't work like it should - same problems at present
i.e. no obvious downside, again the browser is the key. If it works in
Firefox it'll work everywhere.
5) dealing with problems related to the transition - again, by making it
gradual and rolling it into the current upgrade cycle we mitigate the risk

All this needs to be judged against the HUGE upside. More time, energy and
money invested in open source makes it better for everyone. I'm not a
microsoft hater by any means, but spending £millions of public money on
vendor lock-in seems daft to me. Time to start planning a gradual and
controlled move over to open source. Hey, it could take 5-10 years but the
benefits seem worthwhile. And then we'd have an army of youngsters
ready-equiped to operate in a world where open source will definitely be a
big player.

Just my $0.02!

Phil


On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 4:12 PM, Christopher Woods
chris...@infinitus.co.ukwrote:

  Seen this in my mailbox a few times today, sure you will all
  find this interesting...
 
  We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make the
  primary operating system used in state schools free and open source
 
  http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nonMSschools/


 I find this idea appealing but fundamentally flawed. Let me explain why
 this
 concept is a non-starter for all but a few schools.


 I went through this country's education system and am currently in my final
 year at University, so it wasn't such a long time ago ;) It so happens that
 my Dad was the deputy head at the school I went to and he was also the only
 person who managed the school's entire IT infrastructure for a very long
 time. Yes, the school did eventually become a Technology College (thanks in
 part due to his hard work over the time he was there), and with that
 Technology College status they got a lot more money - they eventually got
 one, then two, then several members of dedicated IT staff - but for the
 most
 part it was him steering the boat as such. He did the lion's share of the
 administrative IT work as well, installing and maintaining SIMS, all the
 staff machines, equipment, etc. The bloke working in the Reprographics
 department managed the offset litho printer (yes, they had one!) and the
 photocopiers I think, but that was about it.


 So, during the best part of 14 years he was there for, my Dad oversaw and
 managed installations of, in order, an Acorn network with matching Econet
 system (remember the DINs and T-bars? :D), a 

Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Dave Crossland
2009/2/9 Phil Whitehouse phil.whiteho...@gmail.com:

Maybe I'm a poor deluded misguided fool who needs showing the error of my
 ways?

 We're training our kids to give money to vendors for their entire lives.

And, more importantly IMO, to not consider the value of freedom in
relation to the parts of there lives that are computer-mediated, which
is an accelerating part of all our lives.

Sadly, since schools routinely spy on the use of computers and
discipline students for using them for hobbies instead of only using
them for school-approved learning, students learn lessons about
freedom and privacy in relation to computers the hard way.

Cheers,
Dave
(personal opinion only.)
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RE: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Christopher Woods
  And yet they will end up on a newer Microsoft operating 
 system at some 
  point. ;-)
 
 Right - if they really stayed put with what they have, then 
 they'd still be using Acorns. Which probably taught kids more 
 about computer science than the XP machines in use today ;-)
 
 So, rather than spending on the Windows 7 upgrade, better to 
 invest in the switch to software freedom. WINE will take care 
 of legacy proprietary educational applications for the short 
 period where they get re-implemented as free software.


If only it were that assured... Wine's hardware 3D support is, from what
friends who use it tell me, still quite potholed - and I don't even think it
has fully fledged hardware TL support. Hell, VMWare doesn't have full
hardware TL support yet, and that's far more widely used. For that reason
alone, it won't be adopted to run graphics editing apps, graphics department
software, cad software...


The main sticking point for most schools is the can we help students if...
question. Hypothetical scenario: a student who's never used Edubuntu before
comes to the teacher in charge of the class and says, miss/sir, I know how
to do zyx in microsoft Word because we have it at home, but I've not used
OpenOffice before and I don't know how to figure it out. Can you help me?

The teacher says, erm, yes kid no problem, let me just go Google for the
answer because I don't know myself.


Dingdingding we have a winner! The class loses respect for the teacher
because they cannot lead and instantly assist the pupil, the teacher feels
demoralised because they don't have all the knowledge they need to lead the
class, and the whole scenario quickly descends into anarchy, as unguided
classes often do. Most teachers, IT teachers aside because by their nature
they are ahead of the curve, will have a working knowledge - not a technical
knowledge, just a working knowledge - in the basic suite of DTP and
productivity tools, plus Internet Explorer and maybe Firefox and whatever
other hand-picked apps the school has on their systems.

To retrain an entire school of teachers so that they are up to speed with
the foibles and intricacies of a whole new suite of apps is unrealistic to
say the least, at the most entirely impossible especially if you have supply
teachers, part-time or percentage teachers, or people who just aren't
technologically minded. My mum is one of the latter; she can just about use
a system if it's common everywhere, but a lot of what she does by her own
admission is learnt by rote and reinforced through use both at school and at
home. She is perhaps at more of a disadvantage than the current generation
of schoolkids - she cannot think laterally to solve computing problems, she
either has to be shown or be instructed. Kids on the other hand pick stuff
up far more easily (there's the old family story of how at 18 months old, I
figured out how to turn on an Apple ][e, its printer and its external SCSI
hard drive one morning just by watching my Dad the day before... Appparently
I was sitting there using Paint 8)

The point behind that (true!) story was that kids seem to be able to pick
new stuff up far more quickly than the adults who are supposedly teaching
them! And that's the massive problem facing any school that even wants to
consider migrating the vast majority of its computers away from an
established, well understood platform and OS, be they proprietary or not.



... I hope that some of these new build schools sieze the opportunity and
set their systems up with a good chunk of FOSS though!

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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Neil Aberdeen
Although this rant is impassioned and detailed it's almost comically 
misinformed. What's happening in education IT(C) is the imposition of a 
£45bn corporate cash cow called Building Schools for the Future (BSF) - 
through which the government is shamefully entering into yet more PFI 
relationships. The scorched earth Christopher suggests is impossible is 
already happening as more than 20 local authorities have struck deals 
with managed IT service suppliers such as RM under BSF. As a consequence 
local control, flexibility and in-school knowledge about IT services is 
evaporating. BSF schools will have what the supplier supports 
(essentially Microsoft) at prices determined by long-term monopoly 
contracts. The issue of Open Source remains important - Btw it is not 
true that OS is unknown in education - Moodle.org moodle.org/is a good 
example


Christopher Woods wrote:
Seen this in my mailbox a few times today, sure you will all 
find this interesting...


We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make the 
primary operating system used in state schools free and open source


http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nonMSschools/




I find this idea appealing but fundamentally flawed. Let me explain why this
concept is a non-starter for all but a few schools.


I went through this country's education system and am currently in my final
year at University, so it wasn't such a long time ago ;) It so happens that
my Dad was the deputy head at the school I went to and he was also the only
person who managed the school's entire IT infrastructure for a very long
time. Yes, the school did eventually become a Technology College (thanks in
part due to his hard work over the time he was there), and with that
Technology College status they got a lot more money - they eventually got
one, then two, then several members of dedicated IT staff - but for the most
part it was him steering the boat as such. He did the lion's share of the
administrative IT work as well, installing and maintaining SIMS, all the
staff machines, equipment, etc. The bloke working in the Reprographics
department managed the offset litho printer (yes, they had one!) and the
photocopiers I think, but that was about it.


So, during the best part of 14 years he was there for, my Dad oversaw and
managed installations of, in order, an Acorn network with matching Econet
system (remember the DINs and T-bars? :D), a gradual move from Acorn to 95
machines, then to 98 with more and more intricate networking infrastructure.
He had little money and worked with what he had available to him within
budgetary constraints him local and national suppliers. This meant that, by
the time the school got proper wedges of funding for IT, the school already
had a firmly established userbase of Windows 9x machines, gradually making
the move to 2000 then to XP as time went on.


Site licenses for educational software are costly, and I would put money on
the fact that just about all educational software is still written solely
for the Windows OS. Chicken and the egg scenario here, but if you want
definitive figures just go to BETT and do some empirical research to find
out. (I bet I'm right). Also, historical investment in infrastructure cannot
be ignored, and quite often you have scenarios where you build up
relationships with suppliers and distributors and so can secure good deals
for all sorts of things. When you have limited manpower and man hours to
maintain a network used all day every day by hundreds of students and staff
alike, you can't afford to have 'exotic particles' introduced into even a
closed loop system. Plus, there are so many other outside influences and
requirements (right down to the cacheing systems many schools used back when
ISDN was the only reality for connectivity, before the Grids for Learning
were properly established) that you could not expect to have a system being
migrated over to some bizarre and funky FOSS alternative OS.


Aside from the fact that the suite of *de facto* software the students would
use day in and day would need to be the same, in some cases the bloody
curriculum demanded that particular software be used, so your hands were
tied. Other times, it was a cost/benefit analysis. Sure, FOSS alternatives
to CAD/CAM were available, I'm sure, but did they work as well as CAD/CAM,
play nice with all the hardware the graphics and control tech departments
had, AND fully support all the old work and files students had created? You
can't just rip and replace in an educational scenario.



Given that many schools' IT infrastructure development was so organic and
self-funded throughout the 90s, they are now in the situation where it is
almost completely impractical to start from scratch with a FOSS OS and FOSS
software, making sure that interdependencies aren't broken, networking works
as well (or as expected) as prior to the switch, and students - and staff
alike - aren't 'de-familiarised' with the setup. With any major 

[backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Frank Wales
Apparently, there are complaints about how much air time
twitter is being given by the BBC:
  
http://thenextweb.com/2009/02/09/bbc-radio-listeners-kick-fuss-twitter-time-bbc-create-microblogging-service/
-- 
Frank Wales [fr...@limov.com]
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Michael
On Monday 09 February 2009 17:32:58 Christopher Woods wrote:
 The main sticking point for most schools is the can we help students
 if... question.

This is part of the issue that some people forget when they put their personal 
politics before the needs of children at school. If a tool undermines the 
teaching then it moves from a force for good into a force for bad. This goes 
as much for proprietary systems as it does for open systems.

ie the reasons for change should be pedagogical rather than political.


Michael.
-- 
(personal views only)
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread backstage
On Mon, Feb 09, 2009 at 04:12:09PM -, Christopher Woods wrote:
 Aside from the fact that the suite of *de facto* software the students would
 use day in and day would need to be the same, in some cases the bloody
 curriculum demanded that particular software be used, so your hands were
 tied. 

At my school we had Acorns for general use (DTP etc), an ST for music 
composition, and a Beeb for handling the input from our radiotelescopes.
I was happy with each of them (and did not have a computer at home
to compare or learn on). There was no problem in using different 
computers for different purposes, each was the right tool for the job.

So what's wrong with providing certain software where the curriculum
prescribes it, perhaps on computers in the room or lab where that 
subject is taught, but the main suites could be running entirely
open source solutions? And then if schools start to turn to open
source, maybe the software prescribed by the curriculum will change 
as well.

Schools should be preparing kids to go into the world. And open
source is out there on desktops now. We should be looking forward
to that, not back because that's how it's always been.
-- 
Flash Bristow -Web Design  Mastery -07939 579090
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Work: www.wdam.co.uk  Personal: www.gorge.org
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Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Rob Myers
Frank Wales wrote:
 Apparently, there are complaints about how much air time
 twitter is being given by the BBC:
   
 http://thenextweb.com/2009/02/09/bbc-radio-listeners-kick-fuss-twitter-time-bbc-create-microblogging-service/

Yeah, all the cool kids are on identi.ca now. ;-)

- Rob.



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RE: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Christopher Woods
Although this rant is impassioned and detailed it's almost comically
misinformed. What's happening in education IT(C) is the imposition of a
£45bn corporate cash cow called Building Schools for the Future (BSF) -
through which the government is shamefully entering into yet more PFI
relationships. The scorched earth Christopher suggests is impossible is
already happening as more than 20 local authorities have struck deals with
managed IT service suppliers such as RM under BSF. As a consequence local
control, flexibility and in-school knowledge about IT services is
evaporating. BSF schools will have what the supplier supports (essentially
Microsoft) at prices determined by long-term monopoly contracts. The issue
of Open Source remains important - Btw it is not true that OS is unknown in
education - Moodle.org is a good example

Moodle is an unusual exception to the rule, and I think it's been as popular
as it has become mostly due to the fact that it's web-based. People are
already familiar with Intranets, and no two school intranets will be the
same. FOSS is the king of web-based solutions for sure at the moment,
especially when you have LEAs hacking it apart, hosting entire collections
of resources on it and making it work very well for their own (vil!
;) ends. And moodling is a nice verb to slip into common parlance :)



I wish there were more varieties of platforms in schools - my Uni currently
has way more Macs than PCs, but that's another angry discussion I'm raring
to have with the first person who foolishly puts their head above the
parapet - but the sheer volume of computers that most schools have today
almost requires that the common denominator is OS and platform. If you have
400-500 PCs, just keeping them all running smoothly is a sheer nightmare.
This number can rise significantly if a school has more than 1,000 students
and is well funded for ICT (most Technology College accredited schools will
likely have at least 1 computer to every 3 people, my old school has almost
1 for every 2).

When I was at primary school, our IT room had BBC Master systems, Acorns of
all shapes and sizes (my own A3000 is still tucked away in the loft) and
some IBM PCs. Every kid wanted to use the PCs because they had the best
games on them (The Incredible Machine!) Of course, they weren't networked,
secured or anything like school computers have to be these days, because
those pesky kids will always sniff about trying to find holes in the system
to get through. Given the added demands of policing the network at all times
and a disparate set of platforms becomes a nightmare. Sure, you can get VNC
for all major and minor platforms, and no doubt there are FOSS monitoring
solutions out there - but most proprietary monitoring systems (that sit on
the desktops and monitor keystrokes, take screengrabs etc) are for Windows,
and the best-supported ones will be proprietary. My sixth form (at a
different school) had that kind of monitoring software which also looked for
keywords entered and disabled your username if you exceeded a threshold!
That was a pain (the sysadmin knew me by how I knocked on the IT Support
door after a few months).


Oh, and I almost forgot... Once you've sorted everything else out, you then
have to add in UK.gov policies, including its most recent creation, RIPA,
dictating strict rules and policies for educational establishments to adhere
to - and woe betide if you cross them and Mr. investigating officer doesn't
like the cut of your jib or how you've handled the enquiry. So, compliant
monitoring, data retention and archival becomes almost as key as providing a
stable base for students and teachers. Although I don't have intimate
knowledge of each and every solution I certainly get the feeling from what
I've read and seen that most solutions either have to be completely bespoke
or an off-the-shelf, proprietary solution... Which quite often will work on
a proprietary OS.



Reiterating the point I made earlier, and Michael picked up on, until all
teachers are as au fait with every kind of platform and software as the kids
are (or may be), there's no point forcing a move to FOSS, because the kids
will be doing stuff the teachers can't even understand and it'll just waste
everybody's time and money plus lower the quality of teaching. Who cares if
MS is de facto in the school setting if it serves its purpose? Even if on
the face of it FOSS could replace it, all that existing knowledge is gone
because people have to relearn how to work the computers to a standard they
were at before. A phased migration is the only workable solution, and even
that becomes harder and harder when you have outsourced service and support
from third parties as Neil mentioned.


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RE: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-09 Thread Richard Smedley
On Mon, 2009-02-09 at 16:12 +, Christopher Woods wrote:
 Given that many schools' IT infrastructure development was so organic and
 self-funded throughout the 90s, they are now in the situation where it is
 almost completely impractical to start from scratch with a FOSS OS and FOSS
 software, making sure that interdependencies aren't broken, networking
works
 as well (or as expected) as prior to the switch, and students - and staff
 alike - aren't 'de-familiarised' with the setup. With any major transition
 such as an OS move, there's a lot of retraining needed for staff and
 students. When you run to such a tight timeline as most schools do, there
 just aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish this.

You seem to be saying that although the status quo is not good (indeed, it
is delivering a second-cless education), there's no easy way out, so let's
leave things as they are. If I have mis-characterised your argument, I
apologise, but let's sidestep that. After all, you're barking up the wrong
tree.

The model of maintaining individually-installed apps over several discrete
PCs was all very well in the 80s, and possibly the 90s, but how long
before schools catch up with the rest of the world. PCs in schools are
mandated to teach curriculum areas - this can easily be delivered through
500 - 600 web apps. The whole curriculum.  A small investment from
government (less than 1% of the UK's annual school IT spend) would get all
of these apps written. Released under the GNU GPL, they would be tweaked
and improved by thousands of teachers and students.

Given web apps, designed to work with standards-compliant browsers, it
becomes irrelevant which platform is used to view them, save on grounds of
cost and maintainability. The obvious choice then is LTSP.

 I believe the sad fact is that much FOSS isn't as well or reliably
supported
 where it matters because there just isn't as much money in it. Again,
 chicken and the egg.

Schools are a difficult market for a support company. Maintaining
two or three is easy enough for anyone. Beyond that it won't
scale well until you're covering all of an LEA :-(

 How as a FOSS company are you going to maintain a
 well-staffed callout team and helpdesk if the software you are providing is
 essentially free?

Why is that a problem? My companies have never had a problem
charging for support for Free Software. All software needs
support.

 You can't justify far higher support contract charges for
 that reason alone, and schools will either bring the required talent
 in-house

Schools don't pay enough to attract good suport staff :-(

 or source it locally - and bingo, just like that, your company is
 out of business.

So think local. How many schols are there within
40 miles of you?

 - Richard

-- 
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Technical Director, www.M6-IT.org
M6-IT CIC+44 (0)779 456 07 14

Sustainable Third Sector IT solutions. PRINCE2[TM] Project Management
Web services * Back-ups * Support * Training  Certification * E-Mail


M6-IT is a Community Interest Company, limited by guarantee.
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RE: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Christopher Woods
Sorry for those who can't quite figure out what I'm quoting and what I'm
saying myself in my previous email, when I converted to plaintext I forgot
to add in the appropriate quote marks.

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RE: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Ian Forrester
The really cool kids are on both right? 

Surely it's the same as when Radio presenters couldn't help but chat about 
there Myspace pages all the time? Every bar I go into now a days, there's talk 
about Youtube, Facebook and sometimes Twitter anyway. 

Cheers,

Ian Forrester

This e-mail is: [x] private; [] ask first; [] bloggable

Senior Producer, BBC Backstage
Room 1044, BBC Manchester BH, Oxford Road, M60 1SJ
email: ian.forres...@bbc.co.uk
work: +44 (0)2080083965
mob: +44 (0)7711913293 
-Original Message-
From: owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk [mailto:owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk] 
On Behalf Of Rob Myers
Sent: 09 February 2009 18:04
To: backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk
Subject: Re: [backstage] Twittering on

Frank Wales wrote:
 Apparently, there are complaints about how much air time twitter is 
 being given by the BBC:
   
 http://thenextweb.com/2009/02/09/bbc-radio-listeners-kick-fuss-twitter
 -time-bbc-create-microblogging-service/

Yeah, all the cool kids are on identi.ca now. ;-)

- Rob.


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RE: [backstage] Press Association API?

2009-02-09 Thread Ian Forrester
We're changing the urls of a lot of things and expect to have it launched this 
month.
 
Sorry for the delay

Ian Forrester

This e-mail is: [x] private; [] ask first; [] bloggable

Senior Producer, BBC Backstage
Room 1044, BBC Manchester BH, Oxford Road, M60 1SJ
email: ian.forres...@bbc.co.uk
work: +44 (0)2080083965
mob: +44 (0)7711913293 

 




From: owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk 
[mailto:owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk] On Behalf Of Martin Deutsch
Sent: 09 February 2009 16:03
To: backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk
Subject: Re: [backstage] Press Association API?


Just dug this out to have a quick look at it, and it seems that 
api.welcomebackstage.com doesn't exist - any clues about where we could find 
the data? 

Thanks,
 Martin


On Mon, Nov 3, 2008 at 5:05 PM, Ian Forrester ian.forres...@bbc.co.uk 
wrote:


Ok ok,

It does exist, the delay has mainly been on our behalf due to 
wanting to launch most of this stuff all together.

I can announce the documentation for the API - 
http://ideas.welcomebackstage.com/node/2

But right now, the API is being tested on another server. At 
some point in the next few weeks, we'll move the end point to 
api.welcomebackstage.com.

Ian Forrester

This e-mail is: [x] private; [] ask first; [] bloggable

Senior Producer, BBC Backstage
Room 1044, BBC Manchester BH, Oxford Road, M60 1SJ
email: ian.forres...@bbc.co.uk
work: +44 (0)2080083965
mob: +44 (0)7711913293

-Original Message-
From: owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk 
[mailto:owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk] On Behalf Of Tom Scott
Sent: 02 November 2008 13:18
To: backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk
Subject: [backstage] Press Association API?

Hi all,

I'm trying to track down the Press Association API, which was 
announced as imminent months ago (http://snurl.com/4xlfr) - does it exist yet? 
And if not, does anyone know when it'll happen? It'd come in very handy for a 
project idea I've got...

Cheers,

Tom
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Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Dave Crossland
2009/2/9 Ian Forrester ian.forres...@bbc.co.uk:
 The really cool kids are on both right?

Given that identi.ca can now supply Twitter and Facebook with messages
automatically itself - just pop in your login details - this isn't as
cool as it sounds. ;p
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Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Rob Myers
Ian Forrester wrote:
 The really cool kids are on both right? 

I refer the honourable gentleman to the smiley I appended at the
conclusion of my previous statement. ;-) I think Twitter has the more
famous people on it.

 Surely it's the same as when Radio presenters couldn't help but chat about 
 there Myspace pages all the time? Every bar I go into now a days, there's 
 talk about Youtube, Facebook and sometimes Twitter anyway. 

Twitter is breaking through to the mainstream. It's a big enough
phenomenon that ignoring it would be the extraordinary thing.

- Rob.



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Re: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-09 Thread Dave Crossland
2009/2/9 Richard Smedley r...@m6-it.org:

 curriculum areas - this can easily be delivered through
 500 - 600 web apps. The whole curriculum.  A small investment from
 government (less than 1% of the UK's annual school IT spend) would get all
 of these apps written. Released under the GNU GPL,

Affero GPL ought to be used for new web-apps :-)

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl.html

Cheers,
Dave
(Personal views only)
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-09 Thread Richard Smedley
On Mon, 2009-02-09 at 19:15 +, Dave Crossland wrote:
2009/2/9 Richard Smedley r...@m6-it.org:
  curriculum areas - this can easily be delivered through
  500 - 600 web apps. The whole curriculum.  A small investment from
  government (less than 1% of the UK's annual school IT spend) would get
all
  of these apps written. Released under the GNU GPL,

 Affero GPL ought to be used for new web-apps :-)

Good point. Although I had in mind putting the apps on the school's
intranet server, in which case GPL would be adequate. However there would
doubtless be a market for remote delivery.

 - Richard

-- 
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Rob Myers
  Who cares if
 MS is de facto in the school setting if it serves its purpose?=20

Its purpose (as someone else pointed out quite eloquently) is to teach
kids. I don't know how well MS software teaches anything other than how
to use the previous version of MS software, a skill that at best
devalued by the time you get into the workplace.

 Even if on
 the face of it FOSS could replace it, all that existing knowledge is go=
ne
 because people have to relearn how to work the computers to a standard =
they
 were at before.=20

For the average computer user this is their experience of upgrades to
new versions of MS software.

There is a bogus upgrade bait and switch cycle that keeps people
upgrading their intel hardware, MS OS, and MS software to prevent them
losing their investment in each when the next one is declared outmoded
by the company that sells it. GNU/Linux can break the OS part of this
cycle, and Dave has mentioned WINE.

 A phased migration is the only workable solution, and even
 that becomes harder and harder when you have outsourced service and sup=
port
 from third parties as Neil mentioned.

These third parties must remain competitive if they wish to continue to
receive tax money. I allege that the advantages of switching to Free
Software *can* outweigh the costs (sic) of support, teaching, and third
party staff upgrading their skills to more open, flexible and studiable
systems. ;-)

- Rob.



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Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Soulla Stylianou
Actually a lot of tweeters complain about the likes of Chris Moyles et al
moving into twitter!

Soulla :)

2009/2/9 Rob Myers r...@robmyers.org

 Ian Forrester wrote:
  The really cool kids are on both right?

 I refer the honourable gentleman to the smiley I appended at the
 conclusion of my previous statement. ;-) I think Twitter has the more
 famous people on it.

  Surely it's the same as when Radio presenters couldn't help but chat
 about there Myspace pages all the time? Every bar I go into now a days,
 there's talk about Youtube, Facebook and sometimes Twitter anyway.

 Twitter is breaking through to the mainstream. It's a big enough
 phenomenon that ignoring it would be the extraordinary thing.

 - Rob.




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Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Duncan Barclay
I have to admit that I generally don't see the point of twitter.  Having
said that though, this recent spell of cold weather has actually made me
like it, mostly because the university I go to have been updating us on
whether the uni is closed via twitter (http://twitter.com/UniofBath), and
also the local bus company have been doing the same (
http://twitter.com/bathcsc).  Much easier and nicer than constantly going
back to a web page with the service status on (or going out and waiting for
an hour for a bus that never turns up).

Personally I think it is things like that which will bring twitter to the
mainstream, especially when combined with it's ease of use on mobile
devices.

Duncan

2009/2/9 Rob Myers r...@robmyers.org

 Ian Forrester wrote:
  The really cool kids are on both right?

 I refer the honourable gentleman to the smiley I appended at the
 conclusion of my previous statement. ;-) I think Twitter has the more
 famous people on it.

  Surely it's the same as when Radio presenters couldn't help but chat
 about there Myspace pages all the time? Every bar I go into now a days,
 there's talk about Youtube, Facebook and sometimes Twitter anyway.

 Twitter is breaking through to the mainstream. It's a big enough
 phenomenon that ignoring it would be the extraordinary thing.

 - Rob.




Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Rob Myers
Duncan Barclay wrote:
 I have to admit that I generally don't see the point of twitter. 

You could have fitted that into a twitter message and reached a much
wider audience. ;-)

- Rob.



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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Richard Lockwood
 I allege that the advantages of switching to Free
 Software *can* outweigh the costs (sic) of support, teaching, and third
 party staff upgrading their skills to more open, flexible and studiable
 systems. ;-)

I like the use of the word allege.  Can you demonstrate it?

Cheers,

Rich.
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-09 Thread Dave Crossland
2009/2/9 Richard Smedley r...@m6-it.org:

 Good point. Although I had in mind putting the apps on the school's
 intranet server, in which case GPL would be adequate. However there would
 doubtless be a market for remote delivery.

Affero is still important for intranets; The plain GPL does not
protect the rights of users of a program, only those of the systems
administrators who install it on the server.
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Rob Myers
Richard Lockwood wrote:
 I allege that the advantages of switching to Free
 Software *can* outweigh the costs (sic) of support, teaching, and third
 party staff upgrading their skills to more open, flexible and studiable
 systems. ;-)
 
 I like the use of the word allege.  Can you demonstrate it?

Sure. Give me control of the state budget for school IT... ;-)

- Rob.



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RE: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in stateschools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Rupert Watson
It goes deeper than this; currently there is no place in the national
curriculum to teach kids to touch type. So even though they will most
likely spend a large part of their time on a keyboard no one thinks it
appropriate to teach them an effective way to do that.

Rupert Watson 
+44 7787554801
www.root6.com


-Original Message-
From: owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk
[mailto:owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk] On Behalf Of
backst...@gorge.org
Sent: 09 February 2009 17:47
To: backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk
Subject: Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in
stateschools free and open source

On Mon, Feb 09, 2009 at 04:12:09PM -, Christopher Woods wrote:
 Aside from the fact that the suite of *de facto* software the students
would
 use day in and day would need to be the same, in some cases the bloody
 curriculum demanded that particular software be used, so your hands
were
 tied. 

At my school we had Acorns for general use (DTP etc), an ST for music 
composition, and a Beeb for handling the input from our radiotelescopes.
I was happy with each of them (and did not have a computer at home
to compare or learn on). There was no problem in using different 
computers for different purposes, each was the right tool for the job.

So what's wrong with providing certain software where the curriculum
prescribes it, perhaps on computers in the room or lab where that 
subject is taught, but the main suites could be running entirely
open source solutions? And then if schools start to turn to open
source, maybe the software prescribed by the curriculum will change 
as well.

Schools should be preparing kids to go into the world. And open
source is out there on desktops now. We should be looking forward
to that, not back because that's how it's always been.
-- 
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Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Soulla Stylianou
for me I have made some excellent connections via twitter both for work
purposes and for personal. I now have a modest number of followers and I
follower an equal number of people. I have connected on a social level with
Greeks/Cypriots around the globe who are interested in Web 2.0, twitterers
in my region and people who are interested in our Second Life work. In fact
on a better scale than linked in.

I also, I have to admit, follow the likes of Stephen Fry and @wossy. I even
followed Russell Brand just to see how quickly his number of followers would
rise over the hour, two hours and 24hrs etc.

I'm now connected to a wider audience of people which reflect my interests
and my local community and have in turn met some of them either in Second
Life and in Real Life.

As a result of a twitter we found out that we'd been mentioned in dispatches
by a presenter at an Ideas Performance event, I twittered back who then
asked me to write a blog post. As fortune would have it I was meeting the
client for a coffee and between the two of us we responded
http://ideaperformance.com/2009/01/27/birmingham-and-second-life/ all within
an hour of the first tweet.

Now thats what I call magic!

Soulla :)

2009/2/9 Rob Myers r...@robmyers.org

 Duncan Barclay wrote:
  I have to admit that I generally don't see the point of twitter.

 You could have fitted that into a twitter message and reached a much
 wider audience. ;-)

 - Rob.




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RL Client Director
DADEN LIMITED

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RE: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-09 Thread Christopher Woods
  How as a FOSS company are you going to maintain a 
 well-staffed callout 
  team and helpdesk if the software you are providing is essentially 
  free?
 
 Why is that a problem? My companies have never had a problem 
 charging for support for Free Software. All software needs support.
 
  You can't justify far higher support contract charges for 
 that reason 
  alone, and schools will either bring the required talent in-house
 
 Schools don't pay enough to attract good suport staff :-(
 
  or source it locally - and bingo, just like that, your 
 company is out 
  of business.
 
 So think local. How many schols are there within 40 miles of you?=


(by the way Richard, I believe we may have conversed before this evening,
offline :) Thistle, last year?)

Oh, there are many schools in my area. There's one about a third of a mile
away from my doorstep!

 You seem to be saying that although the status quo is not 
 good (indeed, it is delivering a second-cless education), 
 there's no easy way out, so let's leave things as they are. 
 If I have mis-characterised your argument, I apologise, but 
 let's sidestep that. After all, you're barking up the wrong tree.

You're somewhat on target; my final comment on this for the time being is
that I think the current situation is far from ideal, but I freely admit
that I have no fantastical solution which will make everything better. (the
educational goldmine?)

I know that M6-IT is somewhat unique in how it operates, including recycling
legacy gear and giving it a new lease of life with quality FOSS to provide
custom solutions that fit in where other proprietary solutions may not have
worked as efficiently (it's a great thing!) - but M6 is also slightly
different in its model, aiming itself as it does as a social enterprise for
the voluntary and educational sectors. How many schools do you serve in your
locality? (just curious...) Your model obviously works exceptionally well
for what you do, but I wonder how big your client base is versus how big it
could potentially be if you supported every school in the area - you could
get very big, very fast, or the ground could open up for competition and
aside from lower costs to the end users, there might be an even greater
disparity in levels of support or the kinds of solutions delivered.

I suppose the one sad fact about the current MS incumbency is that there can
be some predictable level of consistency throughout the LEA. I'm fed up to
the back teeth as much as anyone at some counties (including where my
parents live) where the council has a massive arrangement with Dell - for
the kind of service they get, they must literally parachute bags of money
into Dell's UK HQ, and I think it's good money mostly wasted.

 The model of maintaining individually-installed apps over 
 several discrete PCs was all very well in the 80s, and 
 possibly the 90s, but how long before schools catch up with 
 the rest of the world. PCs in schools are mandated to teach 
 curriculum areas - this can easily be delivered through 500 - 
 600 web apps. The whole curriculum.  A small investment from 
 government (less than 1% of the UK's annual school IT spend) 
 would get all of these apps written. Released under the GNU 
 GPL, they would be tweaked and improved by thousands of 
 teachers and students.


 Given web apps, designed to work with standards-compliant 
 browsers, it becomes irrelevant which platform is used to 
 view them, save on grounds of cost and maintainability. The 
 obvious choice then is LTSP.


Personal opinion: 95% of web apps just don't cut it. If you're talking about
SaaS, the problems highlighted by Salesforce.com's recent downtime are
testament to that - and as I'm sure you're well aware, school timetables and
the National Curriculum have even less margin for troubleshooting IT than
even the business sector. If I was a teacher I would hate it hate it hate it
if I couldn't teach a class because the main host server was bogged down
with too many intensive tasks, or it fell over or lagged out or needed to be
failed over for some reason.


There's a new build school in Bucks which is currently under construction;
unfortunately it looks like not enough forethought was paid to the IT
infrastructure so it becomes horrendously unfeasible, perhaps even
impossible, to implement the kind of high quality, high bandwidth and low
latency network a totally thin-client based network would require. (right
down to simple things such as impossible corners for bundles of fibre to go
round, poorly chosen rooms for network nodes in context of rooms where
computers will be installed, and architectural features that can't have
ducting run along them as it would spoil the visual presentation! So the
fibre has to take a massively long route all the way around instead, hugely
increasing the cost.) Of course, not every school is (hopefully) going to be
designed like this, but it's not great... I think a lot of educational ICT
systems have these kinds 

Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-09 Thread Adam

Richard Lockwood wrote:

I allege that the advantages of switching to Free
Software *can* outweigh the costs (sic) of support, teaching, and third
party staff upgrading their skills to more open, flexible and studiable
systems. ;-)



I like the use of the word allege.  Can you demonstrate it?
  
There is number of problems that prevent the wide use of Linux, Open 
Office and other open source applications.  These are:


   * Microsoft offers the OS and Office at extremely competitive prices
 to schools.  I have heard it quoted as being around £5 per license
 for Office.
   * Parents have an expectation that MS Office will be taught in the
 classroom as it is what they know and use in their work place.
   * The majority of schools have limited IT resources and might have
 limited experience of using and securing Linux and other open
 source software.  They could be substantial costs in retraining staff.

I totally agree that opensource has a great to offer schools with 
applications like Moodle, Audacity and many others, but currently I 
don't think many schools are ready for Linux/Ubuntu and OpenOffice.


Its a shame BBC Jam was killed. That could have really improved the 
educational software market.


Adam


RE: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-09 Thread Christopher Woods
 bits and bobs snipped

 Note I'm not affiliated with these groups, nor am I a 
 teacher, just showing that working, LEA-or-bigger SaaS *is* 
 being delivered because of that better resourcing.

It warms the cockles of my very being to hear that some organisations can
get it right :) I wonder how much of it is mainly down to clueful people at
the reins?

BathNES seems to have come a long way... But then we in Wiltshire were
always the poor relation to upper middle class BaNES ;) (lived in Wiltshire
for 14 years when I were but a nipper :)

BucksCC with the SEGfL is currently in the process of implementing a few
gigs of storage (think it's 10?) + hosted email + docs + VLE + workspace for
every single primary and secondary pupil in the county, with several years'
retention and remote access, all the other gubbins... A truly titanic
investment and development of infrastructure, which central Government /is/
paying for, handily. Every so often I ask about how it's progressing and I
just get a weary look in my direction! I think in the end a proprietary
solution /was/ chosen over the alternatives because it was just faster,
easier and more beneficial to implement, having on balance the best
interoperability with the other existing infrastructure and all the other
essentials. I must ask the old man for some more information because I know
things have changed since we last talked about it too.

What is BathNES using for its base infrastructure?


 School network reliability aside, many Universities across 
 the UK are deploying thin clients as we speak, my current 
 employer (the University of Bath) has rolled out something 
 like 400 in the past 12 months, without any significant 
 problems. A number of other universities have had similar 
 experiences. Bath are rolling out Sun Ray machines, as are, 
 again, some of the other universities.
 
 All the components you mention above are probably equally as important
 - if the AD server goes down for a day and no-one can log in? Wuh oh.
 If the proxy is down and a teacher can't show the class the 
 youtube video of a science experiment or get them to do some 
 research for a project? Wuh oh.

Yes, very true, my analogy works both ways. However, there's always the fact
that unless something catastrophic happens to the authentication server (of
which hopefully there's more than one if it's a large network) there's that
much more of an incentive to get it fixed! In the meantime, if people are
already logged on, hopefully the system will let them stay logged on because
they already have validated credentials for that session. Thin client server
goes down... Caput.

I've witnessed my fair share of cockups and poor adminning at a network
level as a luser in some of the schools I've been in (including some
hair-tearingly frustrating ones... Classfuls of roaming profiles loading
over a 100mbps network at the start of each lesson anyone?) but a
catastrophic failure of some element of the network in a regular
'standalone' machine infrastructure won't be *quite* as catastrophic to the
people who are currently using the system as if they were on thin clients...

... That said, do the Sun machines have some kind of stateful 'stasis' mode
where the full state of each person's session is restored after a reboot of
the host server?

Of course if uptime is the #1 essential then you're going to have multiple
host servers, but then you still need all the other bits and pieces AND you
need multiple huge, sweaty beasts of machines to power the entire school's
computing needs. And then you end up with compartmentalised networks,
multiple host servers to look after in physically different locations... I
can quickly see it becoming as much of an administrative nightmare as a
sprawling standalone network.

Pros and cons I suppose... I look forward to the time when thin clients
become usable enough to fully replace desktops in some scenarios, because
then we'll all get more desk space :D


 As a side note, I can guarantee Dave that educational 
 software from five years ago that is essential in the 
 classroom today does not run under Wine even now :)

Can I put a fiver on that?

 
  I have a feeling that most schools
  would carry on using their existing setups regardless 
 because it's too 
  much hassle to change.
 
 Oops, forgot you did actually say that :)

I forget I say stuff too, happens all the time. :/

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Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Mr I Forrester
Feel strongly that the BBC should use something else instead of Twitter,
how about voting or offering your support here.

http://ideas.welcomebackstage.com/ideatorrent/idea/16/

Cheers,

Ian

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Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Dave Cross
Dave Crossland wrote:
 2009/2/9 Ian Forrester ian.forres...@bbc.co.uk:
 The really cool kids are on both right?
 
 Given that identi.ca can now supply Twitter and Facebook with messages
 automatically itself - just pop in your login details - this isn't as
 cool as it sounds. ;p

Yeah. Because giving your login details to another completely unrelated
site is completely cool.

It astonishes me how many supposedly clued-up IT people are happy to
break this basic security rule.

Dave...

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Re: [backstage] Twittering on

2009-02-09 Thread Soulla Stylianou
I must admit I took one look at identi.ca and came straight out again. It
just looks messy compared to twitter. Perhaps I should take a second glance.
Saying that my twitter feeds my facebook page and I generally don't go into
facebook anymore although when I do I get a number of messages from people
who have responded to a comment I've made on twitter not on facebook! :)

PS Morning all. Snowing up here - again! :(

2009/2/10 Dave Cross d...@dave.org.uk

 Dave Crossland wrote:
  2009/2/9 Ian Forrester ian.forres...@bbc.co.uk:
  The really cool kids are on both right?
 
  Given that identi.ca can now supply Twitter and Facebook with messages
  automatically itself - just pop in your login details - this isn't as
  cool as it sounds. ;p

 Yeah. Because giving your login details to another completely unrelated
 site is completely cool.

 It astonishes me how many supposedly clued-up IT people are happy to
 break this basic security rule.

 Dave...

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Worlds/Second Life development agency.

Creators of Daden Navigator - the first Web Browser for Second Life (
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