☝ Is WebOS Android’s Stalking Horse?

Read about my discussion of WebOS with HP’s open source officer at OSCON, over on ComputerWorldUK now.

☞ Smart Build

  • A new operating system distribution emerges from the OpenSolaris/Illumos legacy. An excellent piece of work technically, bringing all the strengths that Solaris bequeathed to Illumos into union with the strength of KVM and pragmatically binding them together with BSD packaging. The real questions will be around licensing since this package blends all three licensing styles with just a grin.
  • Delightfully comprehensive instructions on how to build LibreOffice.

☞ Control Points

  • By introducing remote control points we risk more and more of this. Since the holders of the control point usually have little incentive to treat your case as a priority, the outcome is frustrating, slow and indefinite. Strongly federated identity anchored in an organisation that has a duty to be accountable to you personally is the answer, but I don’t see that anywhere in the cloud yet.
  • Very interesting and provocative article asserting that the problem with the US economy is that control is now in too few hands, both government regulators and the corporations to which they funnel control or by which they undergo regulatory capture.
  • Open source alternative to Prezi. Yes please!

☞ Anti-Social Media Policy

♫ Artist Sampler Is A Masterpiece

If you enjoy listening to good singer-songwriter music, chances are that you’ll love the sampler that Amazon.Com is giving away free this week (sadly the same sampler is £7.11 from Amazon.co.uk although it’s worth paying for in my view).  The earlier sampler from the same label (with many of the same artists) was great too, by the way. As well as a track from Peter Bradley Adams (who I’ve previously recommended), the other artists – especially Barnaby Bright and Kate Maslich Bode – are also excellent. Very much recommended.

☞ Monopolist-in-waiting

  • It’s not enough to be the richest company in the world. Everyone else has to fail as well.
  • Reading around this subject, it is really hard to imagine a tablet computer design that would not fall foul of Apple’s over-broad definitions here. If you’ve used an Android tablet, you’ll know that the experience of doing so is very different from using an iPad. By taking these unreasonable and anti-competitive actions, Apple is actually asking us to consider the iPad and the family of Android tablets as peers – a very odd behaviour from a company who in the past have encouraged people to look beyond similar appearance to superior behaviour. Given I actually prefer my Android tablet to an iPad (yes, I have used both) maybe the deep truth here is Apple knows their product will prove inferior to the rapidly-evolving Android tablet really soon unless they can use dirty tactics to stifle it?
  • “We need to face the facts, patent law is killing job creation. If the current administration wants to improve job creation, change patent law and watch jobs among small technology companies develop instantly”

    — Mark Cuban

☝ Amazon Escapes The App Trap

As I predicted in June, Amazon has quietly launched read.amazon.com, a full-featured HTML 5 version of the Kindle that runs perfectly on the iPad, looks for all the world like a native application after it’s been added to the iPad home screen as an icon and can even store books to read offline. Goodbye, Apple app store. Read my thoughts on why they have done this over on ComputerWorldUK.

☆ OggCamp Approaching

If you’re in the south of England (or want to travel here) don’t forget that OggCamp is being held this weekend.

OggCamp 11 is a free two-day unconference (unscheduled conference) for anyone who loves anything related to technology, data, culture, community, open source…and more!

It’s in Farnham, just off the M3, and you’ll want to arrive early on Saturday to be more likely to gain admission as all the advance tickets appear to have sold out.

It’s a hybrid event with a planned track (on which I am speaking Saturday morning) and with an audienced-planned unconference along side. It is sure to be lively and interesting, not least because of the organisers who are from two of the more colourful software freedom podcasts!

See you there!

☞ … and in other news …

☆ Responding to the Bling Riots

Cathedral of sand faces the tideFirst, let me say I think the inexplicable thuggery that’s going on in London (and elsewhere) is indefensible and the people doing it without respect for people or property are despicable. They deserve everything they have coming to them. But if we want to stop more of them emerging, we need to realise that a thug with no job and no hope of a job isn’t intimidated by the thought of a criminal record. A crackdown on crime and kids without a thought for the context will fail.

The context is the example these thugs are emulating. Consider a guy who sees the police treating him as a suspect by default because of his age or attitude, who is considered a lazy parasite because he’s never been able to get a real job.

  • The example from his parents has been to treat others with disrespect while demanding it for himself.
  • The example he saw at school was that qualifications matter more than common sense, yet people with qualifications still end up unemployed.
  • The example of those in authority is to exploit every loophole to get rich and to suck up to the powerful and ignore their abuse of power.
  • The example he’s absorbed from media stars is to want more, more, more and blame the little guy for “piracy” when it doesn’t happen.
  • The example he’s seen of the law is that people who destroy the economy and society get paid off while everyone else ends up in court if they’re caught.
  • The norm he’s heard constantly is that bling is best and getting it on credit you can’t afford is OK.

He’s no money to spare, he’s one of thousands, and he sees no consequences to his actions if he can stay in the crowd and avoid the cameras. And he probably can.

Given the context, it’s no surprise a guy like this would run along with a crowd he hardly knows and in which he can be safely anonymous, using up energy in acts of destructive defiance and maybe stealing stuff he can’t afford and can show off to his mates. He’ll get a special delight from the fact the police have no idea who he is or where the crowd is heading, and the more fuss they make the more he’ll do to annoy them. No surprise at all, no matter how despicable it is.

To stop it happening we don’t need more laws, or more reasons to fear authority, or more surveillance to dehumanise people, or more austerity measures that cut the quality of education and the availability of jobs. I am sure we will hear calls for all these things, especially from people who’ve already been demanding them and for whom this is just an opportunity to use a crisis to excuse profitable change. But the truth is, these things will just make the problem worse, and the inevitable calls for controls on social media won’t help either.

We can’t bludgeon this problem from society without losing our own freedom and identity in the process. More bad law combined with less privacy and respect just plunges us deeper into authoritarian servitude. It’s time for a change of direction.  Time to correct the examples we’re setting for the next generations. Time to dismantle the surveillance society, to invest in apprenticeship and job-based training, to sponsor community-focussed volunteering around properly-funded local initiatives, to spend effort visibly punishing the hedge fund traders and bankers who’ve spent decades leeching the economy, to ignore political parties who won’t work together and unions that forget society. Time to work locally with national backing.

The sub-human behaviour of these thugs can be the trigger for the change we really need. But only if we speak out against the other kind of change.

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