Saturday, September 15, 2007

Happy Software Freedom Day Today

Hope you have enjoyed a GREAT day as it is Software Freedom Day.

We need more open source models within our governmental solutions. If elected, we'll celebrate this day to a higher degree. Plus, I'll do everything possible to leverage open source and free software in all public and governmental efforts. For example, the security cameras that the mayor wants to put all around town should be 'open sourced.' Furthermore, the voting machines should be open source.

To celebrate the day, or the week, or the new era, go get and install and use, a replacement to Microsoft Office.

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) can run on top of Windows providing extra user choice. The Firefox web browser and Open Office suite are popular examples. Firefox has over a quarter of the desktop browser market alone, to which other browsers such as Apple's add to make big competition for Microsoft's Internet Explorer. But the playing field is not level, hence the need for Software Freedom Day, user support, and publicity.

"The main issue is standards," says Richard Tindall, Software Freedom Day's Christchurch team leader. "Monopoly tactics in the PC software market undermine user choice by breaking standards," he says. "The end result is information blockage through proprietary formats and vendor lock-in." Working around these obstacles requires assistance, for less technical users. That kind of work is done on Software Freedom Day.

"But the situation is improving," says Tindall. He cites the New Zealand Government Web Standards and Recommendations of March 2007. These require crown and public agency adherence to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiatives, from 1 January 2008. "The FOSS user community is eager for inclusion via information presentation standards and browser compatibility," Tindall says.

A good example of the service neglect FOSS users suffer is to be found locally, at Environment Canterbury (Ecan). Ecan's online Metro Real Time Bus Info is not readable without MS Explorer. This means bus stop numbers cannot be extracted and therefore the bus locations can remain hidden to FOSS users, without their going to view the stops.

From signs

"Shutting out such a big proportion of potential bus use is no help to the environment," says Tindall. "The problem is sourced to Adobe not sticking to its own standard, for Scalable Vector Graphics" (SVG). "Adobe is discontinuing SVG support from 1 January 2008 too, coincidentally. So Ecan has a major upgrade of its web service ahead. We do recommend Ecan explore standards compliant software, and they could start by accepting this invitation to visit Software Freedom Day this weekend," Tindall concludes.

October 14th is World Standards Day, and New Zealand participation in that too is expected. Pittsburgh should be a leader in hosting efforts that call attention to World Standards Day too!


Anonymous said...

The Annual Conference (OOoCon) opens this week in

Although over one thousand people have registered for OOoCon, there are
many more who will be following the proceedings on-line (for full
details, keep watching the OOoCon website Copies of the speakers'
presentations will be made available on-line just before OOoCon opens.

We would also like to extend to everyone the opportunity to take part in
the Community Council "Question and Answer" session on Thursday morning.
If you have a question you would like the Community Council to answer,
please email it to as soon as

Details of the Community Council may be found here

We would like to thank all our OOoCon sponsors
Without their generosity OOoCon could not take place.

John McCreesh
Marketing Project Lead

web standards said...

OpenOffice is great, but some people, I'm sure, might feel oddly uncomfortable using software like this.