Do you know a person, project or organisation doing great work in open tech in the UK? We want to hear about it. We are looking for nominations for people and projects working on open source software, hardware and data. We are looking for companies or orgnisations working in fintech with open, helping achieve the objectives of any of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Nominations are open for projects, organisations and individuals that demonstrate outstanding contribution and impact for the Diversity and Inclusion ecosystem. This includes solving unique challenges, emphasis transparency of opportunities, mentorship, coaching and nurturing the creation of diverse, inclusive and neurodiverse communities. And individuals who you admire either under 25 or of any age.
Self nominations are welcome and encouraged. You can also nominate in more than one category.
Nominations may be submitted until 11.59pm on 13 June 2021.
It’s election time in Scotland and one aspect of recent elections from the populist parties such as the Johnson Tory party is to use emotive social media to create Fear Unnerving and Doubt (FUD) around cultural issues. I took a quick look at the two main ones which people bring up, knowing that I write from a position of privilage as a white straight middle aged well off landed voter.
The Hate Crime and Public Order bill was recently passed by parliament and supported by all the non-Tory parties.
This creates the idea of aggravated offences where if you’ve broken the law it’s even more broken if you do it based on the victim’s membership of a group:
And it create a new offence for threatening or abusing someone or communication threatening of abusive material to someone to stir up hatred against a group.
All of this seems very sensible, it doesn’t crimialise people for making flippant remarks, doesn’t criminalise anything except what a reasonable person would consider to be abusive, the next parts of the legislation set a high standard of proof, and it’s followed by a load of defenses around human rights and of freedom of speech and religion.
In normal leadership the Tories would want to be seen as the party of law and order and fully support this, but under Johnson they just want to support threatening and abusive behaviour.
The other issue is the Gender Recognition Reform proposed bill which never did make it through parliament, but may come back in the next session. I’ve never seen anyone explain this properly, not even SNP ministers, but it’s all set out in the government notes.
It de-medicalises legal gender recognition for transgender people. This is the same as being gay has been de-medicalised for many years, being gay isn’t a psychological problem that should be dealt with by doctors and it was degrading back when it was treated as such. The current law is degrading by forcing transgender people to be medicalised when there’s no need and should be tidied up.
But nothing in the proposed law affects equal rights, nor could it. Those are governed by the Equalities Act 2010 and reserved to the UK government. Single sex services such as toilets or refuges against domestic abuse can exclude trans people as needed in line with a risk assessment. This has worked well for over a decade and it’s very puzzling that the SNP leadership don’t just point that out.
There’s also an article by Joanne Rowling (https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/) where she similarly wrongly conflates gender recognition with the unrelated, reserved and decade old Equalities Act “When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.” This is a lie, as the Equalities Act doesn’t require surgery or hormones for transgender inclusion. Rather the Equalities Act has a much wider definition of transgender protection which doesn’t involve the Recognition which the SNP are proposing to de-medicalise:
“ A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.” Equalities Act 2010.
It’s easy to blame this on social media, it is perfectly made for incomplete arguments to be thrown around and raise emotions rather than truth, but I guess it was no better back in the section 28/clause 2a days when equally the media seemed incapable of reporting normally on the topic and politicians were scared to defend it properly. It’s creating quite the toxic politics, I had to remove a trans-phobic sticker from a lamp post recently. There are real issues around that need dealt with in this election: why is England the worst country in the world for Covid deaths, with Scotland not far behind? why is the UK government taking away freedoms and breaking international agreements? would a goods border with England be worth the gains of independence?
In summary: Hate Crime Bill limits abusive behaviour but only when unreasonable and does not affect free speech or religion. Gender Recognition Reform de-medicalises being trans gender but does not affect Equalities legislation which is reserved to Westminster and a decade old.
KDE Gear is the new name for the app (and libraries and plugins) bundle of project that want the release faff taken off their hands. It was once called just KDE, then KDE SC, then KDE Applications, then the unbranded release service and now we’re banding it again as KDE Gear.
We’re working on an announcement now for 21.04 so if you have a project being released as part of KDE Gear send us your new features on this merge request.
Sign up to our letter by sharing it on social media with the #OpenUKBelonging? OpenUK seeks Belonging Partners – not for profit organisations who encourage a range diversity and inclusion through their activities – to be a part of our ecosystem to advance belonging in Open Technology together and sign up to this letter by sharing it on social media. We will launch these partnerships on International Women’s Day on 8 March and will support each of the partners throughout the year.
Now that both halves of the Brexit Deal (Withdrawal Agreement and Trade Deal) have been written the UK is finally in a position to spend some months having a discourse about their merits before having a referendum on whether to go with it or go with the status quo. Alas the broken democratic setup won’t allow that as there was a referendum over 4 years ago without the basics needed for discussion. One lesson that needs to be learnt, but I haven’t seen anyone propose, is to require referendums to have pre-written legislation or international agreement text on what is being implemented.
This on top of the occasionally discussed fixes needed to democracy around transparency of campaigning funds, proper fines when they steal data, banning or limiting online advertising, transparency around advertising and proper fines for campaigns that over-spend.
The new GB <-> UK setup will of course remove freedoms and add vast amounts of new bureaucracy. It might get three of the UK’s countries out of the properly run court of the ECJ but for what end? To be replaced with endless committees discussing the exact same points and the threat of tariffs when standards diverge. Making predictions in this game is daft but I’m pretty sure the UK will push the boundaries on when labour or environmental standards it can reduce soon, probably starting with the working time directive. What export tariffs or quotas will be introduced once that is changed?
The trade deal is incomplete of course and there will be endless future negotiations about services and data transfer and the like. This is only the start of the Brexit process and politicians who claim this is the end are, as we have become used, talking lies. The worries of no-deal Brexit have lessened but the new customs checks going out of GB and the ones to come in future months coming into GB will cause some shortages, prices to rise, businesses to struggle, service companies and the jobs they hold to move abroad. The rise in business related fraud will be a hidden but very real cost.
Johnson deliberately ran down the clock to wait until the final days before making the trade deal. It’s a disgusting tactic which removes the very small democratic oversight that could be expected (the UK parliament having long since had the power removed to approve or deny any such deal). Again I’ve not read anyone pointing out this deliberate tactic which caused much stress on businesses and individuals by playing up the chances of a cliff edge Brexit but it must have been the plan all along. It means he’ll get applauded in the right wing press for limiting democracy, and nobody will be any the wiser.
There is a new bureaucratic border from Scotland and Wales to Northern Ireland with lorry parks and checks for goods. What I haven’t seen any coverage of is increased checks for people crossing. The police have always had the power to check IDs when people crossed into or out of Northern Ireland but that’s not much used since the violence subsided. Now that free movement remains in Ireland but is removed from Great Britain (making Northern Ireland a bit of a no-mans land I suppose) those checks must surely be upgraded to stop foreigners coming over here doing whatever it is the racists moaned about. This will be a new front of low level human rights abuses that will need to be watched, I wonder if anyone is doing so.
With the new setup comes new political campaigning. The election next May will again vote in a Scottish government on a pledge to hold an independence referendum but of course it’ll be blocked by Johnson and delegitimised by the unionists. The Scottish cringe (“too small, too poor”) was a strong factor in the 2014 referendum to make people vote No and it’ll come into play in a new force this time. Firstly with whether any referendum is legitimate. The Catalan referendum of 2014 was accompanied by a massive propaganda campaign by the Spanish Tories (the PP) with huge adverts saying it was illegal and therefor illegitimate. The same thing will happen here. Unlike in Spain there’s a small chance the legal route will be open, UK parliament says there is a Claim of Right for Scots to choose their own form of government so there must be some legal method for that to express itself. I doubt the Court of Session and certainly not the UK Supreme Court will magically give the Scottish Parliament the power to hold a decisive referendum, but maybe thay’ll allow a not-quite-decisive one (which will be deligitimised all it can be by unionists) or maybe they’ll require the UK parliament to hold one (which will be rigged if it ever happens). But there’s every chance the courts will agree that we’ve had our referendum and we need to eat our cereal. In which case it’s hard to see what to do, many Scots won’t accept the Catalan method of just holding one with out agreement and there is a strong need to carry the popular will when holding a referendum. And while I’m a supporter of the Catalan method, one has to admit that it hasn’t worked, there’s been no international support for their self determination right as unfair and illogical as that is.
There will be new concerns in the new referendum. The new border from Scotland to Northern Ireland (and everywhere else that has flight connections to the EU) is made concrete. We can reasonably assume the new bureaucracy there will be moved Scotland to England after independence. Massive new lorry parks and customs checks might be needed. Freedom of movement will remain with the common travel area but might the English want to impose ID checks like you get going between Scotland and Northern Ireland? While I care about my freedoms Europe wide there border from Scotland to England holds a stronger emotional impact for all. When I first wrote to a newspaper to say the border should be closed for Covid controls that was then taken up by the Scottish Governement and many people protested. It’s now law and even the Tories support it on health grounds (except Mundell) but it will be heart breaking to see it happen for customs as well and it’ll be a strong issue in the debate to come.
Edinburgh tenements have stair lighting which used to be provided by the council but a few years ago they stopped doing replacements on it and now owners need to replace broken bulbs and lights themselves. Of course most landlords are self entitled people who couldn’t change a light bulb if it was their job (which it is) so chances are they won’t know how.
You need a 2 prong coughtrie screwdriver for the “security” screws (that’s security through obscurity).
OpenUK is looking for two charismatic and diligent individuals to be judges in the 2021 OpenUK Awards. After a successful first edition in 2020, OpenUK are looking to find two judges from the Community to judge the Awards with Katie Gamanji, our head Judge for 2021.
To be considered as an OpenUK judge:
You will be someone who knows at least one of the Open Source Software, Open Data or Open Hardware spaces well, enjoys engaging with the communities and wants to see good projects, people and organisations recognised, and
You will be willing to spend some time reviewing circa 100 applications and to make a fair assessment of the applications, be able to present your decision to your fellow judges and then to present during the Awards ceremony charismatically.
The Judges’ work requires a dive deep into the nominations and diligent investigation of all of the applications to come to a well informed and balanced decision.
Nomination form is open now if you’d like to help or you can think of someone who would be suitable.
The KDE release service will make another bundle of releases next month on Dec 10th. If you have an app in KDE released as part of this please add in new feature on this wiki page so we can make an announcement
The Linux App Summit runs this Thursday to Saturday. Like Akademy it’s scheduled on a Hispanic friendly time which gives sessions in the European morning (08:00UTC) good for out eastern friends and sessions in the European afternoons (15:30UTC) good for our western friends.
Tomorrow European morning you can learn about QML, Debugging or speed up dev workflows. In the evening a choice of QML, Multithreading and Implicit Bias training.
Saturday morning the talks start with a Keynote at 09:00UTC and then I’m up talking about the All About the Apps Goal. There’s an overview of the Wayland and Consistency goals too plus we have a panel to discuss them.
On Sunday European morning I’m scared but excited to learn more elite C++ from Ivan, but I hear Linux is being rewritten in Rust so that’s worth learning about next. And it doesn’t get much more exciting than the Wag Company tails.
In the afternoon those of us who care about licences will enjoy Open Source Compliance and an early win for Kubuntu was switching to System Settings so it’ll be good to get an update Behind the Scene.
The Scotland Open Source Podcast by Ashley Nicolson of Scotland OSUM is a new listen available on all the Podcast services which interviews devs and contributors in Scotland. It’s had hacker spaces in Aberdeen with FreeBSD spod Tom Jones, Ensuring longevity after unfortunate circumstances in OSS Projects with Chocolatey dude Gary Ewan Park, Greg Sutcluiffe of Red Hat and Ansible on Education and PR and most recently me chatting about Quaker geek collectives.
Add it to your subscribed podcasts for more coming soon.
We last heard from Fineholm and Geoffrey Mckay in a grumpy blog post from 2018 when I wrote about the incomplete unauthorised repair their had done to our communal tenement. In the last 12 months we’ve had the exact same issue with the exact same problems. I got an e-mail last year saying they were doing repairs and we’d be sent the bill. No indication of what the repairs were or any attempt to follow the correct process of meeting with neighbours and discussing and having a vote to approve. I asked for more details and eventually got some description but no indication they had been to look at the property or attempted to meet with anyone else. When I went to look at the property there were still leaks in the roof and more work needing done. Fortunately a contractor sent by Fineholm turned up at the same time so we could look together along with another owner and discuss.
I did run a vote of owners along with a full description and photos of the works needed and the works were approved and done once lockdown allowed. In completing the task that Fineholm and Geoffrey Mckay chose not to do I didn’t hear anything from them. Once the works were done and we’d had a chance to look and everyone had paid up except this owner I did get an e-mail from Geoffrey saying he hadn’t paid me because not everyone had paid him for his unilateral, incomplete, undocumented, unverified works done earlier. When I said I’d take him to court in a week he left it another week and paid some of the money I was due but not all.
The culture here is self entitled people running a business who do not understand they are running a business and doing a job. There is no enforcement and no regulation so they know they can get away with just ignoring their neighbours, not communicating, working illegally, not visiting the property and leaving people annoyed and out of pocket.
The solution is simple enough, if landlords (and I’m one of them now) can’t show they have visited their property and had a look around including attic and roof every six months and discussed it with their neighbours they shouldn’t be allowed on the Scottish Landlord Register and they should be blocked from running a business they are incapable of doing. This goes for agents too, Fineholm shouldn’t be allowed to agent for rented property if they are not able to visit the property and discuss works. It probably doesn’t need new legislation, just the council to use the powers they have.
“That is why we continue to look for a deal with, at its core, a free trade agreement similar to the one the EU already has with Canada – that is, an agreement based on existing precedents. We remain unclear why this is so difficult for the EU, but we will continue to negotiate with this in mind.”
So gone is the talk of a custom “red white and blue” Brexit and in is the talk of copying CETA. This means vast new bureaucracy and taking away our freedoms, something the UK gov is openly paying money and boasting about.
CETA is the EU and Canada trade deal. It has quotss on how much goods can be traded, tariffs on many of the goods and does sod all for services. It’s more generous than basic WTO rules but it’s no single market. It’s not what the political declaration says which as agreed by the UK gov along with the transition withdrawal agreement last year.
Our media (either from London or Scotland) doesn’t usually cover the EU side when politicians put out statements, but the EU one is here and of course it lists the problems which the UK one dismisses.
On two important subjects, transport and energy, we had intense and useful discussions. However, the UK continued to request single market-like benefits.
In addition, there is still no progress on two essential topics of our economic partnership.
First, there must be robust guarantees for a level playing field – including on State aid and standards – to ensure open and fair competition among our businesses, also over time. This is a core interest for all 27 Member States – and in my view also for the UK.
Second, we have to agree on a balanced, sustainable and long-term solution for fisheries, with the interests of all Member States concerned in mind, and not least the many men and women whose livelihoods depend on it on both sides.
So it’s a lie to say they want the same as CETA, they want single market style access despite having left the single market.
None of this was ever mentioned during the EU referendum by the leave campaigns who just lied when is was suggested there would be massive bureaucratic lorry parks costing billions.
The only change is that the UK gov says they won’t impose any import taxes for the first six months. This going against WTO agreements but they are slow to pick up so will allowed to be waved for six months. Presumably the EU will impose taxes on imports of course, putting UK business at a massive disadvantage. But at least we shouldn’t be short of food or medicine or other stuff we need to import for six months, it’ll just cost more.
Join Yes for EU to help the campaign to support an independent Scotland rejoining the EU to be a normal international country without bureaucracy.
“It’s pretty neat, It shows the breadth of applications in the KDE universe, tonnes of stuff in here”
“A big green button to install the thing”
“KDE applications are broad and useful”
“They publish a tonne of applications in the Snap store and they are hugely popular”
“Valuable software that people want to install and use irrespective of the desktop they are on”
“They make high quality and useful applications”
“Well done KDE, always very mindful of user experience”
They did suggest adding a featured app, which is a task we also want to do for Discover which has featured apps but they don’t currently change. That feels like an interesting wee task for anyone who wants to help out KDE.
But more easy would be the task of going over all the apps and checking the info on them is up to date, including going over the various app stores we publish on like the Microsoft Store and making sure those links are in the Appstream meta-data files.
Finally, the main task of All About the Apps is getting the apps onto the stores so we need people who can get the apps running on Windows etc and put them on the relevant Stores. I did an interview asking for this for Flathub in the most recent monthly apps update.
KDE is All About the Apps as I hope everyone knows, we have top quality apps that we are pushing out to all channels to spread freedom and goodness.
As part of promoting our apps we updated the kde.org/applications pages so folks can find out what we make. Today we’ve added some important new features:
Here on the KMyMoney page you can see the lovely new release that they made recently along with the source download link.
The “Install on Linux” link has been there for a while and uses the Appstream ID to open Discover which will offer you the install based on any installation source known to Discover: Packagekit, Snap or Flatpak.
Here in the Krita page you can see it now offers downloads from the Microsoft Store and from Google Play.
Or if you prefer a direct download it links to AppImages, macOS and Windows installs.
And here’s the KDE connect page where you can see they are true Freedom Lovers and have it on the F-Droid store.
All of this needs some attention from people who do the releases. The KDE Appstream Guidelines has the info on how to add this metadata. Remember it needs added to master branch as that is what the website scans.
Help needed! If you spot out of date info on the site do let me or another Web team spod know. Future work includes getting more apps on more stores and also making the release service scripts do more automated additions of this metadata. And some sort of system that scans the download site or maybe uses debian watch files to check for the latest release and notify someone if it’s not in the Appstream file would be super.
Thanks to Carl for much of the work on the website, formidable!
What the hell is the point in shutting down your society and economy due to a virus if you then just open it back up again without improving or solving the situation.
This virus can be eradicated from a territory. Small countries like Isle of Man and Faeroes have done it fine. Scotland is not a small country and only irresponsible people like Jack McConnell would base Scotland’s whole PR campaign on claiming it was. McConnell now wants schools to go back to functioning normally but without saying what needs to be done to get there.
Scotland is an average sized country comparable to New Zealand, Australia and Ireland. New Zealand have as good as eradicated the disease, Australia made good progress and Ireland have done better than us by any metric. Even much larger populated countries like Vietnam and South Korea have done well and any outbreak there is localised and headline news and can be controlled.
England had the disastrous policy of herd immunity in March which Scotland effectively followed. The two countries then changed tactics and locked down at the same time. We don’t know many of the figures for England because the government there just lies but based on UK figures they have made no progress in the three months of lock down.
The 7-day moving average of deaths in the UK on March 23 at lock down was 42. It peaked at 940 and is now 130. New cases 739 at lockdown, now 1205 a day. Crisis has been averted, but England is not even back to where it was at the start of lock down, nothing has been improved.
219 new cases in R of Ireland when UK went into lockdown on March 23 now down to single figures.
We know what is needed to eradicate the virus. The First Minister is now using the word. We need to stay at home, test test test and trace and isolate and only allow very limited number of people from outside Scotland into the country. There’s deadlines here. We want the schools to go back in August and the UK gov will end job support schemes in October.
Scotland now needs to make a policy of eradication. Close the border with England. Yes it’s not nice, yes it’s not easy to contemplate. But it is needed with England being so reckless and giving up attempts to control the virus. The Scottish parliament has powers of health and powers to impose road blocks. Make flights from abroad really quarantined, keep people in local hotels so they can not leave. There should not be protests with gatherings, this needs strong centrally led government control. We have seen New Zealand and others do it, we have seen them make mistakes, we know what needs to be done. Scotland needs to do it and do it now.