Category Archives: General

British Canoeing Event Safety Workshop

I went to the British Canoeing Event Safety Workship last night run by Dave Rosseter and the SCA.  Here’s some notes for my own interest and memory.

Events runs by SCA affiliated clubs are covered for liability by the Perkins & Slade Insurance so if someone dies at an event the insurance covers you being sued.  Following some incidents the insurance company asked for this workshop to happen so clubs at least have an idea how to check the events they run are safe.

An event is defined as an activity run by the club involving non-club members and outwith the BCU terms of reference. (Or run by an SCA committee.)

When running an event we have a duty of care to look after those involved.

We discussed a chain of responsibility which typically has an event organiser in the middle and club committee and SCA above them and volunteers below them.

We discussed the need to get authorisation of events, at a club that might be by the committee or at an AGM.

We discussed risk assessments which for each risk should include likelihood and seriousness as well as mitigation and whether that mitigation is proportionate.

We look at the 5 stages of an event

  • Decision to run – why do you want to run it?
  • Application and Authority – internal (club committee, safety officer) and external (property owners etc)
  • Pre-event considerations (roles needing filled, equipment needed, briefing volunteers, facilities needed, training needed)
  • Day of event (people in the right place, what happens when something unexpected occurred)
  • Post event (review afterwards and where that review needs to be sent)

There was a slide about checklists for events but not much details.  I found one on the HSE website: checklist for village and community halls.

The acronym CALM was covered which are principles involved in dynamic risk assessment (and are similar to leadership principles of CLAP):

  • Commuinication
  • Avoidance
  • Line of Site
  • Management

There was a slide on people’s roles and span of control but not much detail on this.

There’s a load of resources that are due to come out to us. Useful stuff is on the HSE website and the website such as the guide to organising community events.

It was an interesting enough workshop but I’m not convinced I learnt much, we already do all this in our club and many of the topics weren’t gone into in much detail.

Interesting to see British Canoeing use a photo from the FCC website in their slides, I wonder who authorised that and what their span of control was.


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SQL CRUD: what’s good and what’s crud?

I maintain a membership database for my canoe club and I implemented the database years ago using a PHP library called Phormation which let me make an index page with simple code like:

query = “SELECT * FROM member WHERE year=2015″
show_table(column1, column2)

and an entry editing page with something like this:

query = “SELECT * FROM member WHERE id=$id”
widgets.append([column1, “name”, Textfield])
widgets.append([column2, “joined”, Date])

and voila I had a basic UI to edit the database.

Now I want to move to a new server but it seems PHP has made a backwards incompatible change between 5.0 and 5.5 and Phormation no longer runs and it’s no longer maintained.

So lazyweb, what’s the best way to make a basic web database editor where you can add some basic widgets for different field types and there’s two tables with a 1:many relationship which both need edited?


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Muon in Need of a Maintainer

Muon, the Apt package installer UI is in need of a maintainer.  It has been split out from Discover and Updater which are application focused and to some extent work with multiple backends.  Muon is package focused and covers the surprisingly important use case of technical users who care about libraries and package versions but don’t want to use a command line.  It’ll probably move to unmaintained unless anyone wants to keep an eye on it so speak up now if you want to help out.

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KDE at FOSDEM 2016

FOSDEM is the biggest free software conference and KDE will have a stall and help organise the Desktop devroom for talks.  If you have something interesting to talk about the call for talks in the devroom is open now.  We should have a stall to promote KDE, the world best free and open source community.  I’m organising the KDE party on the Saturday.  And there are thousands of talks going on.  Sign up on the wiki page now if you’re coming and want to hang around or help with KDE stuff.

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Tenement Repairs and Thanklessness

A decade ago someone from Edinburgh Council’s Statutory Repairs body looked at the back wall of the tenement flat I live in and pointed out a bunch of repairs to the stonework that needed fixed.  They wouldn’t fix them because it wasn’t a danger to the public, instead they did the equivalent repairs to the front which cost about £15000.

Earlier this year one of my more useful neighbours had got some repairs done to the roof and the scaffold meant we could do these repairs easily.  So I got the quote and got a majority of neighbours to agree to it and the repairs were done.  It was a patch-up job with cement rather than whole new stones so the cost was less than £3000.  Do I get thanks and prompt payment from all the owners who’s property I have fixed and in many cases who have taken on the job of maintaining the property? Let’s count, out of my 10 neighbours I had:

3 who paid and said thanks

3 who silently paid at the last minute after sending grumpy sounding e-mails

1 who spent a month saying his agent would pay while his agent spent a month saying they hadn’t heard from him and who eventually paid late

2 who paid late after I had to call a meeting with them at which they complained about everything they could think of but nothing relevant to payment of these repairs

1 who paid silently at the last minute just before I was about to take him to court

This last chap is Robert Fyfe who came to me before he bought the flat from property shark Charles Lovatt who sold his flat off quick while blocking the repairs that needed doing so he didn’t have to pay.  I told Robert about all the repairs that needed done and he bought the flat anyway.  Companies House shows a string of failed businesses of his and he seems to have moved into being yet another property shark and is now renting out this flat.  To rent it out you would need to do a property survey before the start of the rental to ensure the building complied with the Repairing Standard so assuming he’s complying with the law he will be more than aware of what repairs needed doing.  On sending the bill he complained that I had “taken the lead” in this, which is true enough and that he would be speaking to his lawyer (which is just his sister).  When no payment arrived I spoke to his tenant and got a grumpy e-mail from Robert saying that I shouldn’t ever speak to his tenant, I replied that I would speak to my neighbours whenever I liked.  I tracked him down at another property he was selling and asked why he hadn’t paid, he just said it was “in the hands of my lawyer”.  I gave him two weeks to pay before I would fill in court papers and sure enough today I checked and he has paid without thanking or informing me and without the interest that is due on late payments.

I’m exhausted.  We live in a society where we can’t even look after the buildings we own and share.  Those who do get hassled and left out of pocket for it.

The law needs changed to make owners responsible to their neighbours for maintenance and to make landlords policed by the council as part of their registration.  The sense of self entitlement is too big for neighbourly repairs to work otherwise.


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Resolving Tension

A post on the Fridge today claims “both councils collaborated and resolved any tensions together”.  The Ubuntu Community Council bullied me for asking questions that made Canonical feel uncomfortable and this is the only response to that.  That bullying someone until they leave a project is the UCC way of resolving tensions leaves me speachless.  That nobody else has commented in the Ubuntu project in public (I’ve had people in private tell me they’re wanting to leave Ubuntu and/or Canonical) confirms to me the project has a culture of fear.

Canonical still claims restrictions on Ubuntu software which do not exist and which are against Ubuntu policy.


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BC UKCC Polo Support Module

I went on a coach’s polo support module training day kindly organised and subsidided by the SCA. It was delivered by Zoe who came up from Wales for the day to 10 people who were mostly experienced polo players but at least 1 was new to the discipline. The idea being to train up coaches in how to coach polo so coaches will go a teach other people.  Here’s some notes about what happened for my own memory and anyone else who cares.

We started with introduction bingo, Zoe had written some features in a square such as “has paddled on the sea” or “has paddled internationally” and we introduced ourselves by finding people to put names to for each box.

We looked at warm ups on the land.  2 people standing back to back passing the paddle over the head and down to feet, then passing it round the side in a mock bow rudder movement. We stood in a line one infront of the other and passed the ball over head, through legs then both alternatively.  We played paper, scissors & stone with warm up forfeits.  Then the two lines faced each other and we passed the ball to the front of the other line then ran to the end of that line.  We passed the ball between two people facing each other being mindful to throw with a loose wrist following the ball and catch by slowing the ball down during the catch.

Always warm up slowly especially when passing, it’s very tempting to throw the ball as far as possible which will over-exert the muscles.

On the water we did more passing concentrating on accuracy with finger pointing at end of throw and catching 1 handed taking the speed off the ball.

Tig, in an area, catcher with ball has to hit the opposition’s boat, can be defended with paddles and body, if the player gets hit then they join the catcher team.

Two lines facing each other of paddlers side-by-side then 1 person paddles down middle passing in zig zag to each boat.

Passing on the move paddling side-by-side to hands.

We used the static 2&2 formation with 1 goal keeper, 2 defenders in a ^ shape infront and 2 more infront of that.  The attacks against this are “overload” where several players attack all from 1 side, “split” where 2 attackers try to get into the middle and move the defenders apart and “star” where each attacker goes to 1 defender to draw them out and they pass it round in a circle between them.

We did ball control, you can bring the ball towards you by putting the blade on the ball then pushing down on your paddle to roll the ball towards you and up the shaft. You can also pick up the ball with your paddle blade.  We did the exercise of moving the ball around the boat, first without going over the deck and then with going over the deck.

We looked at shooting, blocking and tackling.  Shooting we all faced the goal with 1 keeper and took turns to shoot.  Follow through with hand, aim at a square in the net (not the keeper’s paddle). We tried to shoot in sequence each corner and the centre of the net.  We did shooting when receiving the ball from the feeder who was sitting at the side.  For blocking we did passes to the side of players who then blocked it with their paddle, as with catching try to slow the ball down so it drops by your side.  We also did this with a piggy-in-the-middle style game passing around the middle player who would try to block. We didn’t have time to look at much tackling but there are various ways to keep the opposition off you.

We had a go at making our own training sessions and trying it out.

And we had some slides to show us the basics of the rules and the structure of polo.

There was a lot in this but also a lot missed out.  I would have appreciated some training in how to do a flat-3 formation which we don’t often get to do on our narrow pitch on the canal.

A great day’s learning, I recommend it to anyone.



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Jonathan Riddell™ IP Policy

This is the Jonathan Riddell™ IP Policy.  It applies to all Jonathan’s intellectual property in Ubuntu archives.  Jonathan is one of the top 5 uploaders, usually the top 1 uploader, to Ubuntu compiling hundreds of packages in the Ubuntu archive.  Further Jonathan reviews new and updated packages in the archive.  Further Jonathan selects compiler defaults and settings for KDE and Qt and other packages in the Ubuntu archive.  Further Jonathan builds and runs tests for Ubuntu packages in the archives.  Further Jonathan Riddell™ is a trademark of Jonathan Riddell™in Scotland, Catalunya and other countries; a trademark which is included in all packages edited by Jonathan Riddell™.  Further Jonathan is the author of numberous works in the Ubuntu archive.  Further Jonathan is the main contributor to the selection of software in Kubuntu. Therefore Jonathan has IP in the Ubuntu archive possibly including but not limited to copyright, patents, trademarks, sales marks, geographical indicators, database rights, compilation copyright, designs, personality rights and plant breeders rights.  To deal with, distribute, modify, look at or smell Jonathan’s IP you must comply with this policy.

Policy: give Jonathan a hug before using his IP.

If you want a licence for Jonathan’s IP besides this one you must contact Jonathan first and agree one in writing.

Nothing in this policy shall be taken to override or conflict with free software licences already put on relevant works.


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Ubuntu Archive Still Free Software

Ubuntu is entirely committed to the principles of free software development; we encourage people to use free and open source software, improve it and pass it on.” is what used to be printed on the front page of This is still true but recently has come under attack when the project’s main sponsor, Canonical, put up an IP policy which broke the GPL and free software licences generally by claiming packages need to be recompiled. Rather than apologising for this in the modern sense of the word by saying sorry, various staff members have apologised in an older sense of the word meaning to excuse. But everything in Ubuntu is free to share, copy and modify (or just free to share and copy in the case of restricted/multiverse). The archive admins wills only let in packages which comply to this and anyone saying otherwise is incorrect.

In this twitter post Michael Hall says “If a derivative distro uses PPAs it needs an additional license.” But he doesn’t say what there is that needs an additional licence, the packages already have copyright licences all, of them free software.

It should be very obvious that Canonical doesn’t control the world and a licence is only needed if there is some law that allows them to restrict what others want to do. There’s been a few claims on what that law might be but nothing that makes sense when you look at it. It’s worth examining their claims because people will fall for them and that will destroy Ubuntu as a community project. Community projects depend on everyone having the freedom to do whatever they want with the code else nobody will give their time to a project that someone else will then control.

In this blog post Dustin Kirkland again doesn’t say what needs a licence but says one is needed based on Geographical Indication. It’s hard to say if he’s being serious. A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin and are then assessed before being registered. There is no Geographical Indication registration in Ubuntu and it’s completely irrelevant to everything. So lets move on.

A more dangerous claim you can see on this reddit post where Michael Hall claims “for permissively licensed code where you did not build the binary, there is no pre-existing right to redistribution of that binary”.    This is incorrect, everything in Ubuntu has a free software licence with an explicit right to redistribution. (Or a few bits are public domain where no licence is needed at all.)  Let’s take the libX11 as a random example, it gets shipped with a copyright file containing this licence:

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”),  to deal in the Software without restriction

so we do have permission.  Shame on those who say otherwise.  This applies to the source of course and so it applied to any derived work such as the binaries, which is why it’s shipped with the binaries.  It even says you can’t remove remove the licence:
“The above copyright notice and this permission notice (including the next paragraph) shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.”
So it’s free software and the licence requires it to remain free software.  It’s not copyleft, so if you combine it with another work which is not free software then the result is proprietary, but we don’t do that in Ubuntu.  The copyright owner could put extra restrictions on but nobody else can because it’s a free world and you can’t make me do stuff just because you say so, you have to have some legal way to restrict me first.
One of the items allowed by this X11 licence is the ability to “sublicense” which is just putting another licence on it, but you can’t remove the original licence as it says in the part of the licence I quoted above.  Once I have a copy of the work I can copy it all I want under the X11 licence and ignore your sublicence.
This is even true of works under the public domain or a WTFPL style licence, once I’ve got a copy of the work it’s still public domain so I can still copy, share and modify it freely.  You can’t claim it’s your copyright because, well, it’s not.

In Matthew Garrett’s recent blog post he reports that “Canonical assert that the act of compilation creates copyright over the binaries”.  Fortunately this is untrue and can be ignored.  Copyright requires some creative input, it’s not enough to run a work through a computer program.  In the very unlikely case a court did decide that compiling a programme added some copyright then they would not decide that copyright was owned by the owners of the computer it ran on but on the copyright owners of the compiler, which is the Free Software Foundation and the copyright would be GPL.

In conclusion there is nothing which restricts people making derivatives of Ubuntu except the trademark, and removing branding is easy. (Even that is unnecessary unless you’re trading which most derivatives don’t, but it’s a sign of good faith to remove it anyway.)

Which is why Mark Shuttleworth says “you are fully entitled and encouraged to redistribute .debs and .iso’s”. Lovely.


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Plasma Mobile Images by Kubuntu

Yesterday we revealed the project we’ve been working on for the last few months, Plasma Mobile and images of it on Kubuntu.

KDE has been trying for years to get Plasma working on different form factors with mixed success, so when I first started on this I was pretty intimidated.  But we looked around for how to build this and it turns out there is software for it just lying around on the internet ready to be put together.  Incredible.

It got very stressful when we couldn’t get anything showing on the screen for a few weeks but the incredible Martin G got Wayland working with it in KWin, so now KDE has not just the first open mobile project but also one of the first systems running with Wayland.

And with Shashlik in the pipeline we are due to be able to run Android applications on it too giving us one of the largest application ecosystems out there.

The question is will there be traction from the community?  You can join us in the normal Plasma ways, #plasma on Freenode and plasma-devel mailing list and #kubuntu-devel to chat about making images for other devices.  I’m very excited to see what will happen in the next year.

Plasma Mobile announcement.


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Ubuntu Policy Complies With GPL But Fails To Address Other Important Software Freedom Issues

Today Canonical published an update to their IP Policy by adding in a “trump clause” paragraph saying that “where any other licence grants rights, this policy does not modify or reduce those rights under those licences”.

I’ve been going on about this IP Policy (which is Canonical’s but confusingly appears on the Ubuntu website) and how it was incompatible with the Ubuntu policy for years.  I’ve been given a lot of grief for querying it having been called a fucking idiot, aggressiveswearer of oaths and disingenuous, dishonest, untrustworthy and unappreciative.  It really shows Ubuntu at its worst, and is really amazing that such insults should come from the body which should be there to prevent them. And I’ve heard from numerous other people who have left the project over the years because of similar treatment.  So it’s nice to see both the FSF and the SFC put out statements today saying there were indeed problems, but sad to see they say there still are.

Canonical, Ltd.’s original policy required that redistributors needed to recompile the source code to create [their] own binaries” says SFC, and “the FSF, after receiving numerous complaints from the free software community, brought serious problems with the policy to Canonical’s attention“.  Adding the trump clause makes any danger of outright violation go away. 

But as they both say there’s still dangers of it being non free by restricting non-GPL code and using patents and trademarks.  The good news is that doesn’t happen, the Ubuntu policy forbids it and there’s a team of crack archive admins to make sure everything in the archive can be freely shared, copied and modified.  But the worry still exists for people who trust corporate sayings over community policy.  It’s why the SFC still says “Therefore, Conservancy encourages Canonical, Ltd. to make the many changes and improvements to their policy recommended during the FSF-led negotiations with them” and the FSF say “we hope they will further revise the policy so that users, to the greatest extent possible, know their rights in advance rather than having to inquire about them or negotiate them“.  Well we can but hope but if it took two years and a lot of insults to get a simple clarifying paragraph added and stuff like this happen “After a few months working on this matter, Conservancy discovered that the FSF was also working on the issue” (did nobody think to tell them?), I don’t see much progress happening in future.

Meanwhile the Ubuntu Developer Membership Board wonders why nobody wants to become a developer any more and refuses to put two and two together.  I hope Ubuntu can re-find it’s community focus again, but from today’s announcement all I can take from it is that the issues I spoke about were real concerns, even if no more than that, and they haven’t gone away.

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Compilation Copyright Irrelevant for Kubuntu

Joel Leclerc’s recent post The importance of freedom in software reminds us that the reason we contribute to projects like Ubuntu is that they it is made for sharing. Use it, modify it, improve it, share it. Anywhere, any time and with any number of people all over the world. No licence required.  Take that away and you take away the reason for people to contribute.

Recent comments by a CC member that our ability to modify, improve and share it might be restricted by compilation copyright are a dangerous threat to our community.  It’s the sort of thing the Community Council should be there do take a stand against, but alas no.

Compilation Copyright?

Compilation copyright is an idea exclusive to the US (or North America anyway).  It restricts collections of items which otherwise have unrelated copyright restrictions.  A classic example is a book collection of poetry where the poems are all out of copyright but the selection and ordering of poems is new and has copyright owned by whoever did it.

It’s completely irrelevant outside the US where most of the world is located but we like to look after everyone so what’s the situation for people in the US?

Kubuntu images are made from lists of packages in seed files which get made into meta packages.  You could indeed argue that this meta package is subject to compilation copyright, I couldn’t find any case law on it so I suspect it’s entirely undefined.  The good news is the meta package has always been GPL 2 licenced so voila, no copyright restrictions beyond the norms of free software.

The seed respoitory has curiously lacked a licence until I added the GPL the other day.  It has a number of copyright holders primarily me (from before and after I worked for Canonical) and Canonical (from when I did).  Anything on Launchpad has to be free software so we could say the same applies here but more reliably the seed isn’t what’s distributed on the images, the meta package is.

And of course it’s easy to replicate, the list of packages is just those that come from KDE for the most part so you can argue any compilation copyright is KDE’s, which in the case of Plasma is me again as release dude.  And I pick GPL.

And in case anyone is getting confused, this has nothing to do with GCC style compilers, running some code through a compiler makes no difference whatsoever to what copyrights apply to it and nobody has ever seriously said anything different unless they’re trying to muddy the waters.  I recently had Mark Shuttleworth say that of course you could copy individual binaries from Ubuntu.

But but… you’re not a lawyer

It’s too complex for you…you’re too small and too wee and you need those weapons of mass destruction to prevent terrorism… was the self-deprecating argument the unionist politicians came up with for voting no to Scottish independence.  It worked too, for now, amazing.

Similarly I’m amazed at how otherwise very intelligent free software geeks look down on their ability to understand copyright and other laws.  If we took this attitude to coding I’d never have started contributing to KDE and I’d never learn what real coding is like.  If you want to know about an area of law it’s the same as coding, you read some textbooks, read some acts of parliament, read some EU directives, read some case law and come up with a decision.  It’s exactly what judges do when they make a decision, no different.

Based on the above I have maintained the KDE licence policy and reviewed thousands of packages into the Ubuntu archives. So I feel equally competent to make the obvious declaration that compilation copyright has no relevant to Kubuntu because we freely licence the meta package.  Remember geeks you are strong and free, don’t let anyone talk you down with unspecified scaremongering like “things get even more complicated” if they can’t say what makes it complicated then you can safely ignore it.


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