Plasma Vision

The Plasma Vision got written a couple years ago, a short text saying what Plasma is and hopes to create and defines our approach to making a useful and productive work environment for your computer.  Because of creative differences it was never promoted or used properly but in my quest to make KDE look as up to date in its presence on the web as it does on the desktop I’ve got the Plasma sprinters who are meeting in Valencia this week to agree to adding it to the KDE Plasma webpage.

 

The 2016 Referendum on EU Membership Was Not Democratic

Even though the UK leaving the EU would result in democratic unaccountability (because we would inevitably end up being subject to EU rules without a democratic say) and economic decline (basic free market economics says when you put up barriers the economic activity will reduce) or collapse (cliff edge Brexit means much economic activity will simple cease) many people have told me that it should still be carried about because there was a democratic referendum in 2016 where a majority of the people voted to leave.

This is incorrect for a number of reasons, but it is worth stating the reasons again as they seem to have passed many people by:

  • Restricted franchise.   The franchise used by the UK parliament is grossly undemocratic with many UK residents unable to vote because they happen to hold the wrong passport.  For a referendum on EU membership it is extremely important residents who are EU citizens but not UK citizens get a vote.  But they did not.  That 16 and 17 year olds did not get to vote either just shows how obsolete the UK level of government is compared to modern democracies.  If either of these had been fixed the vote would have gone the other way.
  • No manifesto from the Vote Leave campaign.  This official campaign from Dominic Cummings, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson et al never once said what they expected the relationship to be between the UK and the EU.  The Electoral Reform Society called the campaign “dire”.  They have still not explained what the relationship is to be between the UK and the EU.  They have run down the government of Theresa May with their illogic.  They will shotrly be running the government from the top.
  • Lies from the Vote Leave campaign.  The figure used on the bus was a lie as an amount of money but more importantly it was a lie because it suggested that the money spent by the EU level of government was spent on something other than services for the population and it would not need to be spent if the UK was no longer in the EU, this is obviously nonsense the same money will need to be spent on much the same stuff just in a far more inefficient way.  It wasn’t just the suggestion that it could go to ‘the’ NHS instead which was a lie but the misrepresentation of the money in a weekly unit.  We never talk of government spending in weekly units, we talk of it in yearly units. Giving an incorrect large figure out of context suggesting the spending would no longer be needed was a lie on many levels and I’ve never seen anyone point out all those problems.  Boris Johnson was taken to court over this lie, a misuse of public office  but so far the English courts have refused, good luck to the puruer on the appeal.
  • Stolen data.  This is organised crime by technology companies thinking, and knowing, they can get away with crimes to make money from targetted advertising.  Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to steal our data and make money from it.  The campaigns were happy to use that crime to their advantage.
  • Targetted secret contradictory Facebook adverts.  Facebook is quite open about how they can be used to persuade people of political opinions through advertising.  We ban political advertising on television because it is too easy to persuade people to a cause through the emotive effect rather than rational arguments.  But that law doesn’t exist for online advertising.  On top of this the online advertising allows targeting people with individualised messages.  Whereas a poster campaign for a political cause will receive some amount of scrutiny from the public at large that is not possible with the secret adverts done on Facebook.  The Leave.eu campaign used this to their advantage.  They still do.
  • Dark money through the DUP. Political campaigning costs money and the more you have the more successful your campaign will be.  That is why politics in the US is often won by whoever can collect the most donations.  In the UK we have spending limits during election and referendum campaigns to limit this problem.  But those rules are only for the 6 weeks before a vote and there are ways around them.  Nobody knows where the money came from.  It could have been benevelent millionairs like Aaron Banks but it could also be disinformation campaigns from the Russian government, we simply don’t know.  The DUP got £435,000 in donations from Richard Cook who got it from unknown sources.  That was spent in Great Britain where the DUP has no pretense so someone deliberately gave a donation through a route it knew could not be tracked.  The worse part is the law allows for a change in the rules so it can be tracked but Theresa May’s government chose not to.
  • Dark money through Leave.eu.  The non-official campaign got an £8m donation from insurance company owner Aaron Banks.  This is the largest donation to any political cause in the UK ever.  The money came through tax havens.  We do not allow money to come from outside the UK for political causes in the UK because it should be up to the residents of the UK to decide our politics.  It’s not clear at all whether the £8million was earned by Aaron Banks in the UK or whether it was donated by,  say, a Russian government disinformation campaign.   The Electoral Commission worries it might be the latter and passed it onto the police.  The police have refused to investigate, maybe they are corrupt or maybe just incompetant and scared.  Good luck to the MPs who are taking them to court to force the case.
  • Illegally Coordinated campaigns. The Vote Leave campaign got large donations which took them beyond the spending limit.  But this is a free country and anyone can start a campaign for the referendum and spend money on promoting the same cause.  So they gave money to someone called Darren Grimes who had made some videos promoting leave.  They then coordinated with Grimes to spend the money on the exact same stuff anyway, which was mostly Cambridge Analytica adverts on Facebook using stolen data.  This is criminal and lead to illegal overspending.

I’ve heard people argue there was bad practice on both sides.  And indeed on the remain side Lib Dems and Open Britain didn’t keep track of its paperwork

But the bad bookkeeping by the remain campaigns is nothing compared to the scale of criminality of the leave campaigns.  The main problem with the remain campaigns is they were crap, they made no good arguments for the cause, did not work with the existing groups and parties and did nothing to inspire people like me who wanted to be politically active.

So both sides were crap.  One side was massively criminal.  That was not a valid exercise in democracy.

The Tory party has since had entryism from radicalised former UKIP members and they will shortly be selecting Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.  He claims to want no deal which will mean social and economic collapse come November.   Labour is led by someone who wants to break the rules of functional economies in a false argument about it being in the interests of the people so he is also happy to leave the EU and will block attempts to do otherwise. Hopefully parliament can have a vote of no confidence in the new PM and block that but it’s very uncertain.   We live in dangerous times.

 

 

KDE.org Description Update

The KDE Applications website was a minimal possible change to move it from an unmaintained and incomplete site to a self-maintaining and complete site.  It’s been fun to see it get picked up in places like Ubuntu Weekly News, Late Night Linux and chatting to people in real life they have seen it get an update. So clearly it’s important to keep our websites maintained.  Alas the social and technical barriers are too high in KDE.  My current hope is that the Promo team will take over the kde-www stuff giving it communication channels and transparancy that doesn’t currently exist.  There is plenty more work to be done on kde.org/applications website to make it useful, do give me a ping if you want to help out.

In the mean time I’ve updated the kde.org front page text box where there is a brief description of KDE.  I remember a keynote from Aaron around 2010 at Akademy where he slagged off the description that was used on kde.org.  Since then we have had Visions and Missions and Goals and whatnot defined but nobody has thought to put them on the website.  So here’s the new way of presenting KDE to the world:

Thanks to Carl and others for review.

 

Go WTO! A Dangerous Recipe for Economic Collapse.

There is a dangerous radicalised movement in the UK that wants to bring economic and social destruction to it citizens.  It is the politicians who want a no deal Brexit.  There are maybe 100 MPs in parliament who want this to happen.  Most of the contenders for the leader of the Conservative party claim to want it to happen.  The Brexit party, who came first in the European elections in England, wants it to happen.

A no deal Brexit means that goods and services and money and people which could previously cross over a line on a map will now not be able to.  Very basic free market economics means this will result in less economic activity in the long term and in the short term means chaos.  “Chaos” is the term used by Theresa May’s government to describe it, she started by saying that no deal was better than a bad deal but when the reality dawned on her she couldn’t go through with it.   She ended up turning on her own MPs and parliament in a desperate attempt to win the people over but this was never going to work when it was the paliament she had to win over. She has now stepped down from leading that political party and will soon step down from leading that government.

There is not enough parliamentary time to get half the legislation needed to make this happen in a manor which is vaguely controlled.  When it was due to happen earlier this year hundreds of millions of pounds maybe even billions of pounds were spent trying to mitigate against the effects.  It is next scheduled to happen on 1 November and the political pressure to allow it to happen is growing. The civil servants who worked on the mitigation have gone back to their regular jobs but they will be asked to move into no deal Brexit preparations again later in the Summer.  Many will have left the civil service then knowing what will happen.  Expecting to mitigate against economic collapse after a couple months in the job is not an achievable task.

There are calls to force the UK parliament to shut down to ensure it happens.  When the contenders for prime minister are calling for social and economic collapse and to shut down parliament to ensure that happens we are living through a democracy that is collapsing.

There is not even enough time to allow for trading under WTO terms, the UK has no registered list of tariffs for the thousands of items that needs to applied and the 180odd member states who need to vote on that schedule have voted against what the UK has proposed so far. So the hard border these politicians want around the UK will become an unbalanced one, other countries will charge whatever they like for customs knowing the UK can do nothing in retaliation.

The SNP won the European election in Scotland by a landslide.  Sinn Féin won the first preference votes in Northern Ireland.  But a UK in economic collapse is not a good starting place to win an independence or reunification referendum.  People will cling to what they know and for some reason people do insist in clinging to the idea of Britain.

What will happen is a mugs game.  The Tory party will select a new leader at the end of July.  As far as anyone understands how the UK parliament works that means our monarch Betty will appoint them Prime Minister .  The new PM might play constitutional games and shut down parliament which would again involve calling in Betty to do his or her dirty work.  But assuming parliament resists that, a motion of no confidence will likely be proposed by Jeremy Corbyn and because the is no majority for the Tories they will either need to give the DUP another large bung or they will fail, they might fail regardless as some Tories are sensible enough not to want a no deal Brexit.  That gives 14 days for the government to resign and find another PM or call a general election.  The election then would be at the start of September which allows for about two weeks of parliament time to work out who the hell will be PM next.  That election will be so unpredictable that the Lib Dems might win it for all we know, the Brexit party might make a breakthrough, the SNP will possibly take all the seats in Scotland, really nobody can say.  There is then a three week break for political party conferences giving only three weeks until no deal Brexit happens.

We live in interesting times.  But I wish we didn’t.

 

UK Open Source Awards 2019 Shortlists

The UK Open Source Awards is an event in Edinburgh next Wednesday (June 12 2019) to celebrate and recognise freedom and collaborative software. If you’ve not got your ticket book on now.  Keynote speaker is Frank Karlitschek the former KDE e.V. board member, then there’s quality selection of other speakers and panelists before the award ceremony to close the day.

I’m the head judge and together with Allison Randal and Dawn Foster we have picked a short list of 4 names for each of the awards.

Individual – for outstanding contributions to open source

  • Mandy ChessellMandy Chessell CBE FREng is a computer scientist and a Distinguished Engineer at IBM. Mandy became involved in open source through her efforts with Linux Foundation’s ODPi organization and her work on Egeria, the Industry’s First Open Metadata Standard, designed to help organizations better understand, manage and gain value from data.
  • Simon McVittieSimon’s one of the key players behind some of the most important steps of desktop linux. As well as being the head of DBus, a key part of the linux stack, Simon is the one of the core people on freedesktop.org
  • James MorganJames Morgan has successfully led the OpenEyes community (https://openeyes.org.uk) to release a best in class open source Opthalmology Electronic Patient Record solution OpenEyes,
  • Tracy Miranda Tracy Miranda is currently the Director of Open Source at Cloudbees and a long time supporter of open source. She has served on the board of directors at the Eclipse Foundation and recently was responsible for helping form the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF)

Company – for outstanding contribution to open source either through product development or contributions to projects

  • Cloudsoft CorpThe company behind the open source Apache Brooklyn project.
  • Open Healthcare Builds open source digital tools that help clinicians to deliver better care.
  • AB EHRWorking predominantly with open source software and delivery methods they provide solutions that will enable improved patient care and service standards.
  • Outlier VenturesOutlier Ventures contributes to the community at large, open sourcing all major internal projects, and contributing technical expertise to all of the projects we partner with, fuelling open source adoption.

Public Sector and Third Sector – for an outstanding open source project in the UK public sector or third sector.

  • Ripple FoundationThe Ripple Foundation is a clinically led foundation that has led on the development of a number of key open source projects in support of improving and making easier to develop digital applications in the NHS.
  • The Apperta Foundation The Apperta Foundation is a clinically led, not-for-profit organisation that acts as a custodian for a number of clinical and non-clinical digital solutions for Health and Care, ensuring they are available not only open source, but developed using an open approach.
  • Inside Outcomes CIC Inside Outcomes CIC supports businesses working in the public health, social care and third sectors with their open source risk management software .
  • NHS DigitalLaunch of the NHS Digital Service Manual in January 2019; including open standards for content, health literacy, design principles and integrating the open source NHS.

Student – a cash prize of £1,500 for an outstanding contribution to open source from currently matriculated UK students

  • Antreas Antoniou (University of Edinburgh – School of Informatics) – Antreas built a meta-learning framework, with a large variety of researcher-oriented tooling and just the right abstraction to allow very quick modifications of the model for research purposes, or altogether extensions and overhauls. Finally, the framework includes a data-provider designed to receive a folder of data-points and with no other changes, train such a model for ML-enthusiasts and industry applications. All code and paper are publically available.
  • Andrew Brock (University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt – Edinburgh Centre For Robotics) – Andrew Brock’s work on machine learning has led to three major conference papers and two workshop papers, all of which are accompanied by open source code for replication. His latest project, BigGAN, represents the state-of-the-art in neural network image generation, and (through open source releases of trained networks and training code) forms the basis for a variety of projects built atop it.
  • Nathan Hughes – (Aberystwyth University) – During his undergraduate degree he worked at the national plant phenomics centre in Wales, UK. There he made all of my work open source. Currently working on his PhD (at the John Innes Centre) where he will go on to produce open source software for analysing biological problems in plant science.
  • Yiannis Simillides – (Imperial College London) –While studying for an MSc in Scientific Computing at UCL, Yiannis wrote the library called FEniCS.jl, the julia-version of a popular open-source finite element package, receiving funding from the Google Open-source programme (GSoC).

Who will we pick as winners?  Come along on the day to find out 🙂

With thanks to these lovely sponsors and helpers.

KDE Applications Website

The new KDE Applications website is now up

The old one was a manual task of keeping the metadata up to date while this one scans builds from build.kde.org and Git in search of appstream appdata.xml files and converts them into the required info.

Technical info on the website wiki pages.

If you see mistakes, go and fix them by updating the appstream files. These files are also used in distro packages and appstores and new container packages so a fix there goes a long way.  Appstream in KDE guide.

Icons come from Breeze. If you see an issue with an icon I’m sure the Breeze folks would be happy for a fix on the bug report.

Future work is to make the content more pretty and relevant. Adding in non app projects in some way. Adding in version numbers and release notes and other features supported by Appstream. Workboard at Phabricator.

But at last you can browse all of KDE’s applications. KDE needs to up its game for the support it provides for our applications, here’s to a great future for them 🙂

Why Did You Vote Leave?

Why would anyone vote to leave the EU?  I’ve spent weeks campaigning on the streets of Edinburgh for remain and most people walk past uninterested, some are also concerned about the consequences and stop to thank us or have a moan about how insane it is, some are angry leave voters who shout angry things and very very occasionally there is a leave voter who stops to chat.  So what are their reasons?

Worried Leave Voter

The first conversation I had was with a lady who had got off the bus to chat because she didn’t know what to think.  She had voted leave, she said because she saw Germany had started two world wars and she didn’t want her children involved in that.  She didn’t want to be part of this beurocratic undemocratic setup.  I explain that one of the purposes of the EU was to stop wars by increasing interdependence.  I explained that the EU spends around 6% of its budget on staff of around 43,000 (split between Commission, Parliament and Council) [reference].  This allows a massive reduction in bureaucracy by allowing freedoms and common rules.  It’s a bit more staff than the BBC and less than a third of NHS Scotland (covers for a population 100 times the size) [reference]. She finished up wondering what she could do to help us stay in the EU.

Remain Voter Who Educated Himself

This was the most scary conversation I’ve had.  That was a person who said he had voted remain but had then educated himself on websites and YouTube videos.  He said that the head man in the EU is unelected.  I explained that there are three presidential positions for the three parts of the EU and each one selects a president by a different democratic method, in the case of the government (the Commission) it’s the spritzenkandidaten nominated by the parliament, but anyway a president in the EU is a chair position not an all powerful head of administration such as in the US.  He moved on saying how “our” culture is democratic and “their” culture is not, asking what he ment by these terms he said it was islamic culture which was not.  He said the Quran was scary and promoted violence and Islamic culture is very different from our own.  I agreed there was a lot I didn’t like about hardline and fundamentalist Islam and there was plenty I disliked about the attitudes of my local mosque Imam to society but the same could be said about hardline Christian culture including the violence that gets justified in its name in places such as Northern Ireland, I pointed out this topic was unrelated to the EU but somehow in his mind it was related.  I said it was better to visit a mosque to chat about the issues than to build walls.  Which brought him onto Israel and why they should be able to build walls.  At which point I lost interest.  He wasn’t angry but he was very radicalised by angry websites.

Someone Who Wants Indy Scot but not EU

One man wanted to know why I wanted to break up the UK but remain in the EU, if I believed in independence and sovereignty then surely I shouldn’t want a layer of government above Scottish?  This is a trap the independence movement falls into saying they want sovereignty but shared with other independent nations.  I hold no interest in either side of the argument, sovereignty is a medaeval idea to justify absolute power in a monarch and for some reason we insist on keeping the idea around, but it should be done away with.  National borders are a case of finding the best organisation for the population who lives within them. Changing national borders should be as easily done as changing local council borders, not done every day but if it becomes clear there’s a more efficient and democratic way to draw some lines on a map then it should be done.  It makes perfect sense for nations to work together in common government to make their borders as uninteresting as possible while working on common rules for issues like pollution and fish that don’t care about lines on a map.  He wasn’t very interested in my answer.

Oxford Cricket Leave Voter

On a cricket lawn in England a gentleman in a suit introduced himself as Scottish.  He’d grown up and lived in England however but he had been born in Scotland so surely that was what counts.  He thought that British law which is based on common law and used in the US and Australia was better than the Continental system of law which was based on Roman law.  I explained that he was mistaking Britain for England, Scotland has a legal system is based on Roman law.  It is unrelated to England’s system which is unrelated to France’s system.  Legal systems are organised at a national level so EU or indeed UK has no say in how these work and this wasn’t relevant to either.  He said imperial measurements were based on easily understandable units like a foot or a thumb or an arm and these were superior to the metric system.  I said I quite liked the ease of decimal but again he could use whatever measurements he wanted so the topic was unrelated to EU membership.  He quaffed some Champaign and wandered off.

No Good Reasons

I have never heard a single good reason to leave the EU except from Craig Murray who considers its democratic structures help justify and enforce the borders of the nation state.  When Catalunya had a democratic vote for independence (Catalunya is a nation in the Spanish constitution and the UN charter says that a People’s have a right to self determination so it’s a basic part of human rights and international law) nobody in the EU stood up for them, which is to the shame of the EU.  But then nobody in any other layer of government stood up for them, even the Scottish government didn’t support them much.  And he still wants to be in EFTA which would just mean all the same EU processes but without our people being part of the democracy, so that doesn’t help much.

Next time I meet a leave voter I’ll not bother to ask why they voted leave as they never have any sane answers.  Instead I’ll ask what their preferred setup is for the UK to EU relationship.  I doubt this will make any sense either but at least it’ll show the limitations of their opinions quicker.

 

 

Who Just Won Your Election?

The world’s second largest democracy has chosen a parliament.  A fantastic showing of our democratic right to decide who governs us.

2014 Parliament:

The 2014 parliament saw the pro-euro tory group EPP and the labourist S&D group have over 400 members, an easy majority, so when they agreed on a decision it would pass.  All of the presidents were from the EPP, president of the council Donald Tusk, the president of the commission (the government) Jean Claud Junkier were from the EPP and president of the parliament Antonio Tajani.

In the parliament just elected the picture is not vastly different but there is a significant shift of power.  Keep in mind that the groupings may change once the parliament comes to sit but assuming the parties keep the groupings they said they did we now have EPP + S&D down to about 300 members meaning to get something passed they need to talk to either the enlarged Liberals (in Britain that’s the Lib Dems) or Greens/EFA (in Britain that’s SNP, Scottish Greens, English Greens and the surprise winners Plaid Cymru).  This means we have no idea who will become president of the Commission, it might be the Ska Keller from the Greens or Oriol Junqueras the Catalan MEP in jail in Madrid both of which which would be a fun change in the status quo.  Of course these presidential positions are not like a US President incharge of all policy they are more chairs who set agendas but still have to allow the full trialogue system to work through but they will have some effect.  This is a great result and it’s a nice balance of powers in the parliament.

Of course it’s the Westminster government that let the side down by not running the elections properly.  Dirty money funded the Brexit Party and promoted by the BBC (where you will see none of the above information covered) means they took over from UKIP and took the grumpy leave voters from Conservatives and Labour with them to make some gains, but not much.  Over the last month I’ve seen how disenfranchised EU citizens were not knowing how to register to vote and on the day even those who had were often turned away because the relevant council bodies had not processed their forms.  If there is to be another referendum on EU membership the rules and bodies and media who oversee our democracy need fixed first.

Thanks to https://europeelects.eu/ep2019/ for coverage and graphics.

Who Did You Just Vote For? The Spitzenkandidaten

When you vote in an election to the Scottish Parliament or UK parliament or even Edinburgh Council you do so with a balance of the candidate you’re voting for, the party they represent and the person they will vote for in parliament or council for First Minister, Prime Minister or Leader of the council.

The same is true at an EU election, you vote for a list balancing the candidates on that list, the parties they represent but also the group in the EU parliament their party works with an a Europe level and who they will vote for as President of the EU Commission (The Commission is the name of the government of the EU).  The candidates for President of the EU Commission are called the Spitzenkandidaten which is German for lead candidate.

So just voted for SNP and Alyn Smith?  You have just voted for Oriel Junqueras as President of the EU Commission.  Oriel is in jail in Spain for being a member of the Catalan government which organised a referendum on independence.  Thanks for supporting the cause.

Tree hugging Green voter?  You voted for two candidates.  These are also the candidates that the SNP votes will fall back on once Oriel is out the way as the Greens and the SNP work together in the EU parliament in a Green/Europe Free Alliance pact.

Maybe you’re a unionist but pro-Europe and voted for the Lib Dems.  That means you voted to sit on the fence and have a whole load of potential President candidates as part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE)

  • Guy Verhofstadt (President of the ALDE group, MEP and former Prime Minister of Belgium
  • Margrethe Vestager (Commissioner for Competition, previous Danish Minister for Economy and Interior)
  • Nicola Beer, national spitzenkandidat of ALDE party in Germany FDP
  • Katalin Cseh, national spitzenkandidat of ALDE party in Hungary Momentum
  • Luis Garicano, Vice President of the ALDE Party
  • Emma Bonino (Former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs)
  • Violeta Bulc (Commissioner for Transport, former Deputy Prime Minister of Slovenia)

Or maybe you want to split the Unionist pro-Europe vote and went with new group Change UK.  Despite being made up of mostly former Labour MPs they are actually aligned with the tory grouping EPP.  The EPP currently is the largest group in parliament and has their man in the current president position (Jean Claud Junkier).

If you’re for some reason sticking with Labour because you want to leave the EU and destroy your society you just voted for Frans Timmerman who may well win the job.

Of course the Scottish tory party isn’t part of the EPP tory grouping because that would make them pro-EU so they quit and made their own socially right wing group full of nutters like themselves.

There’s a left wing candidate too but we can’t vote for her in Scotland as we have no left wing parties around any more and Colin Fox seems to have given up.

Results come in tonight but it’s the sabbath so in Scotland we don’t count them until tomorrow.

More info on Europe Elects website.

 

Leave Options

At Europe vigils over the last couple of months I’ve had many nice people thank us and fewer but still too many angry people throw variant levels of abuse.  On 4 occasions I’ve been able to have conversations with leave voters and in none of those do they have any sensible reasons for voting leave, just incorrect populist ideas.  Alas engaging with nonsense ideas doesn’t get you much thanks or understanding even when plain wrong.  Two vital parts of education have completely bypassed the public in this dangerous game: how does the EU level of democracy work and what would be the options for leaving.  I’ve never seen it explained what the options for leaving are in terms of the relationship between the UK and the EU and when I do get to ask a leave voter what they would prefer they immediately stop engaging.

Let me review:

a) EU membership.  This is the Germany plus option.  The UK gets to have a seat on the EU Council, members in the EU Parliament, appoint someone to the EU Commission as well as a judge in the ECJ.  Payments to the EU budget are reduced due to a rebase that Margaret Thatcher negotiated based on unfairness in the formula for the payments.  In return the UK gets freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital.

b) EEA EFTA membership. The Iceland option.  No democratic input but following pretty much all the rules except CAP and CFP.  Fish quotas still need to be agreed with the EU to be allowed to trade fish and food still needs to compete with EU food so in practice they are followed too.  Membership costs pretty much full price.  EFTA Court and EFTA Surveilance authority keep things in line with ECJ rulings.  All good for freedom for people, goods, services and capital.

c) In the Single Market but out the Customs Union.  The Norway option.  Can make trade deals with third countries.  This is where the technological solutions the Brexity types are keen on come in as cameras watch lorries on the Norway/Sweden border incase they contain goods from outwith Norway which have yet to pay EU duties.  Otherwise freedom for people, goods, services and capital.

d) In the Customs Union but outside the Single Market.  The Turkey option.  Requires a hard border around the UK.  This is preferred by Jeremy Corbyn and the media happily spread the lie it could avoid a hard border around the UK.  It could not.  Flows of goods, services, people and capital all likely cut to a fraction of current capacity or stopped.  People will die.

e) WTO rules.  Not an option any sane country has.  Hard border around the UK.  Import capacity between UK and EU cut to a fraction.  People will die.  The law requires this from 1 November currently.

And that’s it.  I’ve yet to hear anyone say what option they would like and be able to defend it.

Watching Game of Thrones tonight is a bit too close to the real world while Westminster continues to destroy the last scraps of functional democracy in that broken layer of government we have.

Election results midday on Monday will be interesting.

 

I want to Leave the EU Because of What they Did to Greece

I came across an interesting argument when running a learning meeting about the EU and this week’s elections.  It was the thought that one would want to leave the EU because of a disagreement to what they did to Greece.

To summarise Greece went bust in 2008 like some other countries but to keep within the monetary union guidelines, the government of Greece for many years simply misreported economic statistics. [wikipedia]. The European Commission (EC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) on 25 June 2015 offered a bailout with conditions on the Greek national budget. That was rejected in a quickly held referendum on 5 July 2015.  The Greek government then made a “drastic turnaround” regarding “pension cuts, tax increases and other austerity measures.”[3] The total amount of loans requested in the Greek proposal is €53.5 billion. The Greek parliament approved the Prime Minister’s request on Friday, 10 July, and the completed package was forwarded to the eurogroup in advance of Sunday’s meeting.[62] On Monday, 13 July, the Syriza-led government of Greece accepted a bailout package that contains larger pension cuts and tax increases than the one rejected by Greek voters in the referendum.

So Greece needed bailing out, the EU and IMF did that in return for reduced government spending.  How much the government spending should be reduced is a political choice made as a decision by politicians with input from economists. There’s arguments to say Greek spending should be reduced a lot so they can pay back some amount of the bailout and arguments to say this will reduce the economy and stop any chance of recovery.  Because the largest group in the EU Parliament is EPP (right wing economic tory parties) and EU Council (Theresa May and other heads of state) are mostly right wing tories that means the the government of the EU, the Commission, has a had a president elected who is also a tory, Jean-Claude Juncker from the EPP group.  So of course they will go with an economic right wing solution of reduced Greek spending.

If you think not requiring such reduced government spending from Greece is a better solution to the problem, the answer seems to me to be to promote and vote for parties which are economically more left wing such as Labour (Socialist group) or SNP/Greens (Greens/EFA group) or even Lib Dem (Alliance of Liberals group) and not right ring parties such as Conservatives (European Conservatives and Reformists), Change UK (EPP) or obviously the populist ones.  Leaving the EU would be a terrible solution as it just means other people will have a vote to take the decision and you do not.

But it’s worth understanding where the thought comes from.  It comes from never ever having any media coverage to explain the political make up of the EU trialogue of democratic institutions (Commission, Parliament and Council).  Or even having any explanation of those democratic institutions at all.  People just see the EU as a black box and if decisions come out of it which they disagree with the only solution they can see is to leave it.  Our democracy is broken.  Please vote on Thursday and vote for a remain party and then watch and understand the results.  I recommend the Scottish Green party.

European Elections 2019 Scotland Review

On Thursday 23 May 2019 there will be elections for the European Parliament.  750-ish MEPs selected across the continent to act as a revising and reviewing chamber for the activities of the European government, the Commission, and for the EU Council, the 28 governments of the member states.  The MEPs will also vote on and elect an EU Commission president who will chair the government.  There have been two head-to-head debates for the Commission president  https://www.maastrichtdebate.eu/ and EU parliament debate. Deciding who to vote for is a balance between national interests and parties, significantly Brexit and Scottish independence, the party policies for EU legislation and the commission president they want to elect.

So what do the party manifestos say?

Conservative and Unionist party doesn’t have a manifesto.  They don’t mention the elections anywhere on their website.  The party of government of the UK can not be bothered with these elections.  This is democracy at its most broken and they should be ashamed.

The Brexit Party has no manifesto.  UKIP has no manifesto. These parties will win lots of votes based on populism and racism.  This is democracy at its most broken.

New party Change UK has an 8 page manifesto. Their candidate at the hustings organised by my friends in Edinburgh4Europe and the European Movement in Scotland seemed competent and knowledgeable.  Surprisingly they even have a few policies in the manifesto but nothing too radical. They want to be part of the EPP I think which makes them the new tory party assuming they manage to become a cohesive force.  It’s not at all clear where their funding is coming from but they have quite a lot of Facebook adverts which can’t be cheap.

Lib Dems have made EU membership their cause celebre and they were the first with a manifesto.  The Scottish manifesto seems an edited down version of the same. It’s full of good stuff.  They are part of the Alliance of Liberals at Europe level.

The SNP are the party of government here and they published a 20 page manifesto which is just a love letter to the EU.  That’s great but I don’t see any policies in it.  What a let down.

Scottish Labour haven’t bothered but British Labour have a 15 page manifesto which doesn’t really mention their position on EU membership because of course they don’t have one.  It’s full of irrelevant stuff like ‘Labour would urgently recruit 10,000 more police officers in England and Wales alone, and rebuild community policing, ‘ and ‘And we will bring our railways, water, energy and mail into public ownership – run for public service not private profit’ all very nice but they are policies for a UK election, I wouldn’t trust a party who don’t understand what this election is for.

Scottish Greens by contrast have done a stormer.  Pro EU membership and Scottish independence of course but mostly they care about EU policy issues which is what the election is about.  ‘Call for a European-wide net-zero emissions target to be set as early as possible. Push for continuing improvements to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Campaign to end subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear energy and redirect them to renewables’.  Or ‘Stop Brexit and secure Scotland’s place at the heart of Europe. Create millions of jobs across Europe with a Green New Deal. Choose hope over hate, creating a welcoming Scotland in a welcoming Europe.’ As ever they are the only party to mention digital rights: ‘Continue to urge the EU to stand up for digital rights and avoid concentrating online power in the hands of a few corporations. Protect net neutrality rules and oppose unfair copyright reforms that would entrench corporate control.  Campaign for easy, affordable access to all results of publicly-funded research to maximise scientific, cultural and economic progress.’

So I happily give my vote to the Green party who will join the European Green Group and maybe vote in Ska Keller as EU Commission president.

More info on Europe Elects website.

 

libqaccessibilityclient 0.4.1

libqaccessibilityclient 0.4.1 is out now
https://download.kde.org/stable/libqaccessibilityclient/
http://embra.edinburghlinux.co.uk/~jr/tmp/pkgdiff_reports/libqaccessibilityclient/0.4.0_to_0.4.1/changes_report.html
Signed by Jonathan Riddell
https://sks-keyservers.net/pks/lookup?op=vindex&search=0xEC94D18F7F05997E
  • version 0.4.1
  • Use only undeprecated KDEInstallDirs variables
  • KDECMakeSettings already cares for CMAKE_AUTOMOC & BUILD_TESTING
  • Fix use in cross compilation
  • Q_ENUMS -> Q_ENUM
  • more complete release instructions

 

Why do We Pay Money to the EU?

I’ve seen it said that the EU costs us £350 million a week and also that this is a lie and after the rebate (a negotiated lowering of budget contributions by Maggie T based on perception of an unfair funding formula) it costs £290 million a week but that regardless we are a net contributor so we are paying for other countries.

Regardless this is all lies because a) government income is not a cost that could be done away with by removing that layer of government and b) we never ever ever budget costs as per-week so the figure is meaningless.

Edinburgh council costs us £38 million pounds a week (http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/11418/audited_annual_accounts_2017-2018.pdf), should we do away with the Edinburgh council? Glasgow council by contrast with a similar population (remember many Glaswegians live in Dunbartonshire or Lanarkshire or other council areas) costs us £51million a week (https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=42909&p=0). So Edinburgh is subsidising Glasgow massively! We should withdraw Glasgow’s membership of Scotland!

The UK is the third largest contributor to the EU behind Germany and France (https://fullfact.org/europe/uk-one-biggest-contributors-eu-budget/). This is because of our large population and high GDP. This is a good thing. The EU is a layer of government which gives us freedom to do whatever we want to do and common rules on the boring stuff like wattage of vacuum cleaners. Removing ourselves from the EU will kill off our economy and freedoms. This is a bad thing. It’s very normal in any functioning government system that poorer areas will get a top up from richer areas, that reduces inequality which helps everyone and it means the poorer areas can catch up and become rich. It’s why Scotland subsidies England massively from our revenue from our natural resources, talent and good looks. And that will continue as long as we are all part of a union. By far the more sensible union there is the EU, but if England wants to remove itself from that then likely Scotland will terminate the UK union as no longer functional and that is very much England’s loss as well as our own.

Don’t let the populists win with criminal behavior and lies. Vote remain on May 23rd.

KDE’s Snap Packages

The Linux world has always worked with a develop and deploy model where software gets written by projects such as KDE and then distro projects pick that up, polish it and give it to the user.  No other computer environment works like this and it goes against the fashion of DevOps concepts where the people who code are empowered to deploy to the end user going through QA as appropriate.  We changed that with KDE neon where we brought the packaging into KDE making .deb packages. That integration allows for blockages and imperfections which get identified to be solved easily through the most efficient channels.  Kipi Plugins is a good example of this, KDE dropped the ball here by stopping releases. Nobody noticed until as a packager I wondered where it had gone, realised it was no longer being released and, because I work directly in the project responsible, could easily fix that in the right place.  With new containerised formats Linux is changing, and projects like KDE can now package software and send it direct to the user.  I’ll discuss this more in a future blog post but for now lets look at Snaps where last week, for the first time, KDE Applications was released with 50-odd apps available directly for all to enjoy direct from the Snap Store.

Give it a Try

First you need to install snapd which comes as default with KDE neon and Ubuntu distros but others will probably need to enable it manually.  See the Snap set up guide.

For Plasma Discover integration you should also install the Plasma Discover backend snap package, it is called ‘plasma-discover-backend-snap’  in Debian/Ubuntu/neon but the naming convention in your distro may vary.

You can now install Snap packages directly from the store which uses snap:// URLs to start Discover and install them.  You can also install snaps from the command line.

If you look at the KDE page on the Snap Store you can see the 50+ packages we have available today.  Most of the packages are fairly simple apps such as games and education apps, future work is to do many more KDE apps.

Snap Store? Channels? Who controls this?

Snaps follow a similar model to other large providers like Android, iPhone, Windows, Steam, etc with a centralised store, in this case run by our friends at Canonical.

There is a KDE publisher account on the Snap Store which is currently controlled by your friendly KDE neon team.  Anyone can make their own publisher account, and there’s a nifty feature to mark it as a collaboration between several accounts. For example Kdenlive is made by the Kdenlive Jean-Baptiste but the KDE account also has access.

The Snap Store features channels intended for software in different stages  of their development cycle, this mirrors quite closely what we do in KDE neon for our .deb archives.  Most users will only care about the Stable channel offering thoroughly tested software.

There is also the Candidate channel for testing builds of released software. The Edge channel is for Git master builds same as Unstable in KDE neon and the Beta channel is for Git beta branch builds same as Beta edition in neon. By default Snap will only install stuff from Stable and you have to ask explicitly for other channels but this is a great way to be testing pre-release software.

When uploading to the Snap Store for the first time there is a manual review package by archive admins which is similar to uploading new stuff to Ubuntu or many other distros, you also need manual review when you first upload a Snap package which asks for special permissions such as talking to DBus. The reviewers are nice people inside Canonical who you can ping on the Snap forums if you need to.

You might notice the KDE publisher page on the Snap store is missing a load of icons and other met data such as screenshots. These should come from AppStream files but AppStream support is still working its way into the Store backend and build tool snapcraft so not all the icons are there yet. It seems we need to work out how to use a newer snapcraft on KDE neon servers to get all these magic features sorted.

Snapd runs on your system and takes care of downloading and installing the packages. It will update Snap packages automatically so you can be confident you’ve got the latest and greatest provided by the publisher.

How’s it Built?

Snap packages are built with a snapcraft.yaml file to define how and what needs to be built by a tool called snapcraft.

In KDE neon, we have a load of Git repos for our .deb packagingm and we have reused these for our Snap packages. The neon repos are documented on the KDE wiki, and asa KDE project, all KDE dev account holders have full access. For example, KAtomic has a snapcraft.yaml file , a metadata icon and .desktop file.

Here at KDE neon tower, we have a team of guinea pigs building our .deb packages. , We have repurposed the same guinea pigs to build these snap packages. , The build jobs get created on KDE neon Jenkins servers and when someone triggers them (any KDE dev has access), the build is made on the floating cloud of guinea pigs. If successful, it is uploaded to the Snap Store.

KDE neon Tower
KDE neon Tower

This is nice, but is still not as integrated as it should be. Newly released sources are built and uploaded to the Candidate channel on the Snap Store, which then needs manual review before moving to the Stable channel. Thist should get automated using openQA.

And there’s not really any need for any of it to reside on the KDE neon servers, everything should be even more tightly integrated with the rest of KDE and built as part of the new invent.kde.org CI system, and then uploaded from there. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of KDE neon team to make these, it should be done as part of the app development process.  So jump on board and enter a new world for empowered, rapidly released software!

To find out more about the Snap format follow the tutorials, read the docs and browse the notes on KDE paticular stuff.

Kipi Plugins 5.9.1 Released

Kipi Plugins is a set of app plugins for manipulating images.  They use libkipi which is released as part of KDE Applications.  It used to get standalone releases and was then moved to be part of Digikam releases.  Since Digikam 6 they have been deprecated by Digikam in favour of their new plugin framework DPlugins.  While in KDE Frameworks the Purpose Framework is another newer project covering similar features.

However Kipi Plugins are still supported by KDE apps KPhotoAlbum, Gwenview, Spectacle so they shouldn’t disappear yet.

I’ve made a new release available for download now.

https://download.kde.org/stable/kipi-plugins/

Versioned 5.9.1 because it is little changed from the previous release done inside Digikam which was 5.9.0.

Tagged commit b1352149b5e475e0fbffb28a7b5fe13503f24dfe

Sha256 Sum: 04b3d31ac042b901216ad8ba67dafc46b58c8a285b5162b51189833f6d015542

Signed by me Jonathan Riddell <jr@jriddell.org>

This will become part of KDE Applications in its next release scheduled for August and will follow the KDE Applications version numbers.

 

British Canoeing Advanced White Water Safety and Rescue

I’m doing my Advanced White Water Leader award some nine years after I last tried it but stopped due to not enough experience on higher grade water.  I did the training last December and now I’ve redone the safety and rescue training which I last did in 2010.  This is a two day course I did with Sean of Wildriver on the upper Tees at Low Force in Englandshire.  It’s a scrapy river but served fine for the purposes of this course.

20190408_105028

Starts with knots and ropes on land.  We looked at using trees as an anchor with a straight tie around using overhand knot and tape knot.  Then 3 wraps, tie 1, hook 2.  We looked at adding a line to pull on either direct, or at 90 degrees (less friction), adding an italian hitch to make it more controllable then making 2 to 1 pully, 3 to 1 pully, 4 to 1 pully, 3 to 1 with prussiks, adding a pully wheel to make it smoother, 4 to 1 with a pig rig.

In England you don’t need to do a warm up before you get on the water, it is built into the activity as you run across the farmer’s field before he shoots you for trespassing.

We moved onto the river and used the above to help move boats up and down a steep bank.  We also looked at ways to control a person decending down a steep bank with a line down then angel wings (holding line under both arms), south aftrican (holding line around legs) or attached to the chest harness and let out from above.

We went off syllabus and looked at paddle length and grip.  I have a very very short paddle (185cm) because it gives the high cadence and agility needed for freestyle but a more normal white water paddler will use a longer paddle (190 to 210cm) for more power on the stroke as well as being able to reach maybe a boof which needs to be lower down.  A WW or flat water racer will use a longer one still but that’s far too tiring for general WW boats.

We looked at swimming over a current, this just needs a powerful front crawl.  Any corkscrew is only if you don’t have the power to get over an eddy line. We moved to a faster rapid where the best technique to get across was a jump then swim.  This depends on being able to know you’re not jumping into any rocks.  The syllabus says you need to cover your face and crotch but it’s best to look like superman cos that’s cool.

We looked at picking people up with a throwline.  It is often easier to try to bring them in direct towards you than to pendulum them downstream of you as that exerts greater force on your line.  We looked at live bait too where one person is attached to the throw line by their harness and jumps in to catch someone else, this needs some coordination such as who is holding the extra line to be released on jumping.  For extra speed consider just walking or running away from the river when pulling someone/thing.  We looked at picking up kit from the river including lots of live bait jumping.

On day 2 we made a synch for picking people out the river, two throwlines attached in a circle.  One way is both bags on either side, another way is both bags on one side. It’s faffy and the casualty will not make it easy because they’ll be panicking and it only works over a short distance.  But it might be useful.

We looked at in river rescues placing a person in the river using two throwlines on each bank and the person attached from the harness to both lines on a pendulum, Y and X formation.  It’s hard work and needs coordination.

We did a scenario with walking wounded helping them cross a river on a dual rope pendulum setup and moving them across rocky terrain.  It’s hard work.

The idea that you should hold a throwline with a grip of thumbs towards you is probably nonsense, use the best grip possible.

To take my WW river paddling to a decent next level I need to get a new dry suit (current one is 3.5 years old and reliably leaks all over), a new paddle (current one too short) and a new boat (currently I borrow broken club ones). When Brexit happens and the pound collapses I will be able to afford all this.

 

 

Add Appstream Release Data to your App Releases

Appstream is a metadata standard for your software releases which gets used by package managers and app stores as well as web sites such as kde.org (one day at least).

If you are incharge of making releases of an application from KDE mind and make sure it has an appstream appdata file.  You should also include a screenshot preferably in the product-screenshots git repo.

You should also add release data to your appstream files.  See the docs for the full details.  Not all the data will be very practical to add before the release time but it is useful to at least have a version number and maybe a release date added in.

I’ve added this to the Releasing Software wiki page now. And I’ve written a wee script appstream-metainfo-release-update to update the XML with a simple command which I’ve now added to the Plasma release process.

Nominations Open for UK Open Source Awards

The UK Open Source Awards will be a day of celebration of all things Free and open with software.  Open Source is now essential in how the world works.  It creates freedom (that’s the Free Software side), helps education (I only learnt how to program from reading source code to KDE apps), allows cooperation across industries, gives a competitive advantage, encourages sharing and reuse, improves security and builds community.  So it’s worth a day of celebration and recognition.

This is the sixth UK Open Source Awards and it takes place in Edinburgh on Wednesday 12 June 2019.  There will be talks, a panel, a keynote from Frank Karlitscheck and then the award ceremony.

Nominations are now open for the awards, please consider which people or organisations based in the UK deserve special recognition.  The categories are:

Individual Award

A person who has helped improve the world through contributions to free and open source software

Company

For a commercial business which has created a successful business while contributing to open source projects, leading open source projects and spreading freedom and empowerment for users.

Public Sector and Third Sector

For a public sector or charitable organisation which has developed its software in an open source method or made innovative use of open source software or opened up data

Student

A university, college, school student or modern apprentice who has created beautiful and novel software as part of their course (dissertation, thesis etc) which is licensed as free and open source software and has curated participation in an open collaborative manner.

This award comes with a bursary of £1,500 which is to be spent on furthering the recipients education and contributions to open source for example buying a new laptop or expenses for attending conferences.

Diversity

For an open source project which has successfully encouraged contributions from people in under-represented groups, or a university, organisation or business which has broken the mould in bringing minorities to participate in open source.

I’m heading a panel of judges with Allison Randal and Dawn Foster and we’ll be looking for incredible work being done in the name of freedom, innovation and impressiveness.

Please do come along on the day, it’s free to attend and all are welcome, I hope to see you there.

 

No Deal Brexit

No deal Brexit will mean shutting off most of the supply capacity from the EU to Great Britain, as the government says this will be chaotic. Many of the effects are unknown but in the days and weeks that follow food supplies and medicine supplies will start to fail. The rules on moving money about and even making a phone call will be largely undefined. International travel will get unknown new bureaucracies. EU and WTO law means there also needs to be a hard border in Ireland again, restarting terrorist warfare. Inflation will kick in, unemployment will sky rocket and people will die.

Although the UK government has dropped the dangerous saying of “no deal is better than a bad deal” it is astonishing they were allowed to get away with saying that for so long without challenge. There are still many members of the UK government who are perfectly happy with a chaotic no deal Brexit and the Prime Minister, unwilling to change any tactics, is using more and more Populist language to say how everyone should support her and threaten the whole UK society in the greatest game of chicken since the cold war. It would be trivial to revoke the Article 50 process but unless that is chosen a no deal Brexit will happen.

The political process is broken and has been for many years on this topic, there is no campaign from the normal groups I would expect to have one that I can join. The SNP, Greens and Quakers are not doing what they would usually do and enabling their members to have a voice. Religions in general exist to look after their members in times of crisis but so far nobody in Quakers that I’ve spoken to has any interest in many any practical mitigation steps.

Most people in Britain still think it’ll never happen as the politicians will see sense and back down, but they are wrong because the politicians are not acting rationally they are acting very irrationally and all it takes for no deal Brexit to happen is for no other decision to be taken.

So I find myself waving an European flag in Edinburgh each evening for the People’s Vote campaign, a London based campaign with a load of problems but the only one going. I’ll go to London this weekend to take part in the giant protest there.

Please come along if you live in the UK.  Please also sign the petition to revoke article 50.  Wish us luck.