Some trailers I've seen recently, and my thoughts on them. (Links are to youtube. Opinions are thoroughly personal.)
There are various modes and the Alta HR can be set to record heart rate automatically or manually and to background sync etc. The different options will affect battery life, which is about 7 days on a full charge.
The Alta HR will track steps (and a run if you're inclined that way), distance travelled (but it's calculated as there's no GPS), calories and sleep (if you wear it to bed). If you do wear it to bed it will also calculate your resting heart rate as well as show your type of sleep (light, deep, REM and awake).
Though splash proof, it's not waterproof so no swimming or showering. When you remove the unit it should stop trying to read your heart rate, but sometimes it seems to continue to try to read it (the LEDs flicker) for quite some time.
The smarts is in the Fitbit companion app (Apple Health compatible on iOS) and that where most of the information is displayed.
There are a variety of standard bands that can be bought in different colours. They're made of a fairly chunky silicon that 'feels' pretty solid and use a standard pin/hole clasp to close so can easily be adjusted for size.
Fitbit are now selling premium leather bands and even metal bands which turn the Alta HR into bracelet, though they're pretty expensive and as they're solid, heart rate tracking may not work (as the unit may not be snug on your skin).
Fitbit make other trackers that are more functional, but the Alta HR is definitely the prettiest, but it's reasonably expensive at £129 or more for the premium versions. It's a lot compared to something like the Mi Band2 which can be had for about £16 (it's not as pretty) for almost identical functionality and the battery life on the Mi is over a month.
There has been some fuss recently about Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat party leader, and his views on sin. I am finding I am having to answer the same questions and rebut the same half-truths over and over again, so I put together a quick handy guide. The progression of points in here is typically how the debate unfolds but my style tends to be quite dry. Those who want a slightly more emotional response to the issue, which can best be summarised by “FFS, not this again”, should read Jennie Rigg’s post. Jennie is also chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats.
For those new to this blog, I should clarify that I’m a bisexual transwoman in a polyamourous relationship.
I have avoided criticism of other politicians in this post, but I would like to note that there is more than enough of the brown stuff to go around if we want to get into a mud slinging contest. Some people might want to go there, but that’s not something I’m doing in this post.
Edit: Since I wrote this post, Tim has answered a direct question on this in parliament. His reply to “Do you believe that homosexuality is a sin” was “I do not”. You can see the clip on BBC iPlayer at about 13:46. It remains to be seen if he has opened Pandora’s Box or not…
But why won’t Tim Farron say gay sex is not a sin?
I don’t think he can, because the question is a trap. It’s not a new trap, and back in 2003 Tony Blair was stopped from answering questions on religion by his spin doctors with the now-infamous line “We don’t do God“.
For political leaders, religion is a Pandora’s Box and should stay closed. Cathy Newman, when she asked him the question, no doubt had followup questions for him to try to back him into a corner – she’s an accomplished political journalist and anyone of that calibre will not ask a question without follow up questions in mind. With enough questioning, any politician is going to find themselves forced either into a row with religious leaders (Just look at what happened with Cadbury’s and the National Trust) or with their own party. Neither of those are vote-winning choices.
Unfortunately, Tim did fluff a 2015 interview with Cathy Newman on Channel 4 by starting to talk about theology before he had realising it was a bad idea in his new role as party leader. This original error is why the issue has become a story. For those who might have missed the initial interview, what he actually said was “We’re all sinners”. Yes, it is theologically accurat, but it is unhelpful for a party leader to say. Nevertheless, he has definitely never said he thinks gay sex is a sin.
I do recognise that some people won’t be happy unless he says “No” to the question, and that not everyone will agree with me here, but I believe that Tim’s statement that he is not going to make theological pronouncements is probably the right approach. Although Cathy Newman has so far failed to ask any other political leadership figures the same question, you can bet that the likes of May, Khan and so on now all have their own soundbite-sized version of “We don’t do God” prepared.
But he abstained on Same-Sex Marriage!
There were six votes, and Tim abstained on one of those due to issues surrounding the spousal veto. “They Work For You” have more on this, just click the linked image on the right to see the detail. If you think that trying to fix the spousal veto during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was a bad thing, then that’s far from evidence that Tim is homophobic and I must respectfully disagree with you on parliamentary tactics. One of my regrets that is that trans politicians didn’t rock the boat more at the time and try to persuade people to vote against the bill due to it’s transphobic content. Sadly, we did not as a group have the influence then that we have now.
Seriously? That wasn’t even close to Tim’s usual tweeting style and he’s hardly likely to wade into random twitter debates on LGBT issues with the British Humanists Association. He’s not the only party leader to have his twitter hacked either.
He’s only suddenly become LGBT+ friendly since he became party leader!
This is where I get to point out that Tim has a long track record of positive action on LGBT+ issues. Tim doesn’t – or didn’t, I suspect the school of hard knocks may affect this – do vapid soundbite politics. Those of us in bi/queer/trans circles often get marginalised by soundbite politics, with “Equal Marriage” being a prime example. (Top tip: We do not have Equal Marriage in the UK. We have Same-Sex Marriage, and you only have to look at the injustices perpetrated by the spousal veto, pension laws and so on to realise this) What he had done is learnt about the detail and spoken in favour of many positive Liberal Democrat policies that are often overlooked.
There’s plenty more press coverage since he became leader, and Pink News have a pretty good list of his pro-LGBT work once you scroll past the headline and attacks on him. Most recently, Tim was front of the queue condemning the homophobic atrocities in Chechnya, when I don’t think we’ve heard anything at all from Corbyn or May. However there are whole host of other things linked to from that article. Please do go and have a look.
The older stuff has less coverage as party presidents don’t usually get the limelight, but the photo at the top of this article was at an LGBT+ Liberal Democrats event he spoke at in 2012. From memory, that was the event where several of us spoke to him on the concerns trans people had about accreditation at party conference and which he helped us lobby on in his role as party president. The photo on the right was taken in February 2015, when Nick Clegg was still leader and Tim was out campaigning in my ward. Anyone local to Cambridge may recognise this as being outside the primary school on Coronation Street. Apologies for the poor photo, we didn’t realise this was going to be a “thing” at the time.
You’re only defending him because you’re a Liberal Democrat!
Hardly, and I was quite willing to be critical of Clegg when he messed up.
There are a number of loud bisexual/poly/queer/trans voices in the party defending Tim – Jennie Rigg, whose blog post I linked to above for example. A number of us get Righteously Annoyed when people attack Tim on LGBT+ issues, because he has been solid on the BT+ parts of the debate for many years when other political leaders have left us out in the cold for not being vote-worthy enough. Seeing people, and sometimes even the same people who sold us down the river over Same-Sex Marriage, attack him for not being word-perfect and repeating the same damaging soundbites as other leaders (“Equal” Marriage) is predictably going to rile us up.
As I said on Twitter, we’re the Awkward Squad. We don’t DO “Loyal party drone”. But I do have a nice photo of two of us with Tim Farron in Bournemouth that I’d like to share.
Having run through the history of trans politicians in the UK in three parts – pre-2000, 2001-2009 and post-2010, it’s back to the usual routine and time to report who is standing in next month’s elections.
As a recap, we currently have four openly trans people elected to local government – many people will be aware of the first three, and news emerged last year of a fourth councillor, for UKIP, in Thanet. This is, as far as we are aware, a record high in trans representation in local government – but to put it into context, there are 20,830 seats on principal councils in the UK so the four of us represent just 0.02% of the total number of councillors. For comparison, figures for the number of trans people in the UK usually result in a number an order of magnitude higher, at around 0.1-0.2%.
Here’s the current, complete, list:
Cambridge City Council, Trumpington Ward
|Elected 2015 with 29.9% of the vote, 2.6% majority.|
Bolton City Council, Westhoughton North and Chew Moor Ward
|Elected 2015 with 41.3% of the vote, 2.7% majority.|
Thanet District Council, Eastcliff Ward
|Elected 2015 with 33.5% of the vote, 4.3% majority.|
Wolverhampton, East Park Ward
|Elected 2016 with 43.4% of the vote, 12.8% majority.|
There is also one election result to report – Ellen Murry stood again as the Green Party’s candidate in the sudden Northern Ireland Assembly election earlier this year:
West Belfast (Party list)
|Not elected. Round one result: 0.6%, change: -0.3%|
And now onto the main feature: candidates in 2017. It is slim pickings this year, with only
twothree candidates known of so far. I often receive news of more after the initial list is posted and anyone I hear of will be added here. At this point in the four-year local council electoral cycle, it is mostly county councils up for grabs. The job of a county councillor is typically more time consuming than at city/district level, and although I have not seen any evidence on the topic it does seem to favour those who are retired, self-employed and doing well or otherwise better off – which will tend to work against trans people in general. With an increasing number of trans people also holding office and Helen Belcher being the LibDem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Chippenham, there is also a smaller pool of people willing to stand for election!
Cambridgeshire, St Ives North & Wyton
Derbyshire, Ripley East and Codnor
And finally, one honorary mention. Lily, co-founder of Britain Elects, should have been the candidate for Uplands, Swansea next month. Sadly, she died late last year.
2005 historical epistolary mystery, second of Shaw's series. In 1892, a young woman's much older husband has been murdered; her mother brings in Vanessa Duncan to try to get the answers and avoid scandal before the police arrest the widow.
2001 tartan noir. What's the connection between new teacher and new father Ray Ash, and international terrorist-for-hire The Black Spirit? Rather more than one might suspect.
1948 classic English detective fiction; thirteenth of Allingham's novels of Albert Campion. The decaying Palinodes are lodging in what used to be the family house, but one of them seems to have been poisoned; what is the neighbouring undertaker up to; and why is a delirious crook terrified of "going up Apron Street"?
1972 Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning science fiction. The Electron Pump has brought limitless free energy to Earth, by exchanging matter with a parallel universe where the physical laws differ. But one or two people think there might be a worm in this apple.
UKNOF37 takes place in just 2 weeks on Thursday 20 April at Manchester Central Convention Centre. The agenda will be coming soon, however we are pleased to announce a full programme with the full set of submitted presentations now approved.
Confirmed speakers and their presentations are listed at:
Although we webcast and record the presentations, we do sometimes receive requests not to record or webcast a particular presentation. If you are interested in all the presentations at UKNOF37, then please attend in person.
We currently have 226 delegates from seven different countries registered to attend, so if you would like to join them, please register early. Today (until 11.59pm BST) is the final day to register for free under Early Bird.
All registrations after Early Bird are on a paid basis.
If any of your colleagues/customers would be interested in attending UKNOF37, please refer them to this article.
UKNOF meetings are generally free to attend, thanks mainly to our sponsors.
For UKNOF37, we would like to thank the following current sponsors:
Premium: Corero, ThousandEyes, Zen Internet Associate: Laser 2000, ProLabs, The Loop Contributor: Pulsant, RIPE NCC
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We are still seeking much needed sponsors for UKNOF37, and future meetings in 2017 (UKNOF38). If you are interested in supporting us, please take a look at the Sponsor Document at the link below and email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
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UKNOF is all about collaboration and we are pleased to mention the following event taking place in Manchester before UKNOF37
IX Manchester 8 – LINX Regional Meeting
Takes place on Wednesday 19 April, 2017 at the same venue as UKNOF37 – Manchester Central Convention Centre. Further details and registration at:
You may subscribe to our low volume discussion mailing list and various social media channels.
UKNOF38 - September 2017. Date and venue to be confirmed. UKNOF39 - Thursday 18 January 2018, etc Venues 155 Bishopsgate, London UKNOF40 - Friday 27 April 2018, Manchester Central Convention Centre, Manchester
Looking forward to seeing you in Manchester at UKNOF37 in two weeks from now.
1944 mystery; eighth of Daly's books of Henry Gamadge, book expert and amateur investigator. Mr Crenshaw arrived in New York, settled his affairs and died of leukemia, with no relatives to be informed; but a casual acquaintance didn't like the look of his servant, and asks Gamadge to dig into the matter.
Engie comes in 2 parts, an app that can be downloaded from an App Store (both iOS and Android versions are available) and the device that plugs into the OBD port (the Android and iOS devices differ). It's possible to download the app for free and set-up an account and order a device through the app (which sends you to the website) or just order the device from the site directly.
Once the device is plugged into the OBD port and the engine turned on, launch the app, search for the device and then connect. The app will then show how the car is performing. There's various modes which can show things like engine temperature, actual trip costs (using real petrol pricing that you have entered), however the real USP of the app is that if there is a fault, Engie will tell you what it is and can then send you to a local garage - the app knows where you are and has a large garage database.
The only downside is that if your car doesn't have any faults, then there's no real advantage to using Engie compared to other OBD devices and other free software that's out there.
The Android device is £14.99 and the iOS device is £19.99 available directly from Engie (it arrives quickly once ordered).
Happy Local Election Nomination Deadline Day! If you are planning on standing for election on May 4th, you have until 4pm today to get your nomination papers in. As I expect to be posting the 2017 candidate list in the next few days, it is an appropriate day to post the final part of the series on openly trans politicians in the UK, which started as part of LGBT History Month. (For earlier years, see part one covering 1986-1999 and part two, 2000-2010) LGBT History Month is now long past, but as a result of the first two parts I received a number of new leads to chase down on candidates who stood – most turned out to be people who didn’t come out until after they had left office, but many thanks to those who sent them in.
2010 was, in mainstream political terms, when it all kicked off for openly trans representation in the UK – going from one elected councillor in May 2010 up to a record three elected councillors and 9 other candidates in May 2016. It’s notable enough that a trans person standing for election might warrant a short and usually positive human interest piece in the local press, but at least for local election candidates it no longer generates the kind of mock-outrage by tabloid commentators that was previously common. The sheer number of people standing makes it difficult to write a biography for everyone, so only brief details are given on those elected.
The emphasis above is on “openly” above, as there are a number of trans politicians in the UK at local election level who are not out. At least some of the recent increase in numbers can be attributed not just to the increased number of trans candidates standing, but also the increased likelihood of people being out. Records prior to about 2010 are also sketchy, and it is likely some earlier candidates have been missed.
There are two known out Candidates who are now out, but are not listed below as it has not been able to confirm were out at the time of election: Sarah Larkins (UKIP, 2015) and Lee-Anne Lawrance. (Green, 2016)
If you have not been included in this list and believe you should be, please drop me a line. If I know you and have not included you here, it is because I believe you are not out.
Sarah Brown (Liberal Democrats)
2010-2014: Cambridge, Petersfield
Appeared on the Independent on Sunday “Pink List” (later called the “Rainbow List”) of top 100 most influential LGBT people in the UK from 2011 to 2015. Cambridge City Council’s Executive Councillor for Community Services 2013-2014.
Herbert, Ian. The IoS Pink List 2011 Independent on Sunday. 22nd October 2011
Barkham, Patrick. ‘Why three in a bed isn’t a crowd’ – the polyamorous trio The Guardian. 20th April 2013
Cambridge Local Elections – Candidates A – B
Sarah Brown (politician) Wikipedia
Councillor details – Councillor Sarah Brown Cambridge City Council
Unsuccessful City/Borough Council Candidates: Zoe O’Connell (Liberal Democrats)
Unsuccessful City/Borough Council Candidates: Zoe O’Connell (Liberal Democrats)
No known candidates
Unsuccessful European Parliament Candidates: Nikki Sinclaire (We Demand a Referendum)
Unsuccessful City/Borough Council Candidates: Anna May Booth (Labour), Sarah Brown (Liberal Democrats), Alice Chapman (Liberal Democrats), Zoe Kirk-Robinson (Conservatives), Charlie Kiss (Green), Anwen Muston (Labour), Zoe O’Connell (Liberal Democrats)
Zoë O’Connell (Liberal Democrats)
Cambridge, Trumpington (Term expires 2019)
Deputy Leader of the opposition on Cambridge City Council since 2016, Vice-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference Committee and the author of this blog.
Barkham, Patrick. ‘Why three in a bed isn’t a crowd’ – the polyamorous trio The Guardian. 20th April 2013
Cambridge Local Elections – Candidates L – O
Councillor details – Councillor Zoe O’Connell Cambridge City Council
Zoe Kirk-Robinson (Conservatives)
Bolton, Westhoughton North and Chew Moor (Term expires 2019)
Unsuccessful Westminster Candidates: Emily Brothers (Labour), Stella Gardiner (Green), Charlie Kiss (Green), Zoe O’Connell (Liberal Democrats)
Unsuccessful City/Borough Council Candidates: Kirsten Ruth Bayes (Liberal Democrats), Anna May Booth (Labour), Alice Chapman (Liberal Democrats), Rachel Lawson (Green), Anwen Muston (Labour)
Anwen Muston (Labour)
Wolverhampton, Eask Park (Term expires 2020)
Councillor details – Anwen Muston
Unsuccessful Regional/Metro Assembly Candidates: Brothers (Labour, London Assembly), Crow (Green, Scottish Parliament), Murray (Green, NI Assembly)
Unsuccessful City/Borough Council Candidates: Kirsten Ruth Bayes (Liberal Democrats), Helen Belcher (Liberal Democrats), Aimee Challenor (Green), Jane Fae (Liberal Democrats), Henry Foulds (Liberal Democrats), Jennifer Kirk (Conservatives), Maria Munir (Liberal Democrats)
1947 classic English detective fiction; fourteenth of Marsh's novels of Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Agatha Troy is commissioned to paint a portrait of Sir Henry Ancred, famed Shakespearian actor; the house is full of his variously ghastly family, including the chorus-girl he's taken up with.
The actual tracker unit is about 4cm long (a bit like a flat capsule) and it fits into a silicon strap. The top is a monochrome OLED display with a single capacitive button on it which allows various modes to be displayed. Underneath is the optical heart rate sensor. Once removed form the strap, it can be charged using the supplied USB charging cable which it pushes into.
There's an accompanying app (both iOS and Android) that sets the Band up (and upgrades the firmware if necessary). The app isn't the best in the world but it shows the number of steps etc. The band is also configured through the app i.e. what's displayed on the band and what notifications it gets. The app can also record activities (running).
The band will autodetect and track sleep, though there are two modes - one uses more battery life and is more accurate as it measures heart rate more often though the basic mode seems to work well too and battery life is very good, so far the band is on 82% charge after a week and a half of wearing so should get a month out of a charge.
Though not recommended for swimming it is IP67 splash resistant so can be used in the shower.
Considering the competition the price should be over £100, however it's available off Alibaba for around £16 including shipping to the UK.
Although we almost never saw any of them in Europe, there were later models in the Z80 family.
The first successors, the Z8000 (1985, 16-bit) and its later successor the Z80000 (1986, 32-bit) were not Z80-compatible. They did not do well.
Zilog did learn, though, and the contemporaneous Z800, which was Z80 compatible, was renamed the Z280 and relaunched in 1987. 16-bit, onboard cache, very complex instruction set, could handle 16MB RAM.
Hitachi did the HD64180 (1985), a faster Z80 with an onboard MMU that could handle 512 kB of RAM. This was licensed back to Zilog as the Z61480.
Then Zilog did the Z180, an enhancement of that, which could handle 1MB RAM & up to 33MHz.
That was enhanced into the Z380 (1994) -- 16/32-bit, 20MHz, but not derived from and incompatible with the Z280.
Then came the EZ80, at up to 50MHz. No MMU but 24-bit registers for 16MB of RAM.
Probably the most logical successor was the ASCII Corp R800 (1990), an extended 16-bit Z800-based design, mostly Z80 compatible but double-clocked on a ~8MHz bus for ~16MHz operation.
So, yes, lots of successor models -- but the problem is, too many, too much confusion, and no clear successors. Zilog, in other words, had the same failure as its licensees: it didn't trade on the advantages of its previous products. It did realise this and re-align itself, and it's still around today, but it did so too late.
The 68000 wasn't powerful enough to emulate previous-generation 8-bit processors. Possibly one reason why Acorn went its own way with the ARM, which was fast enough to do so -- the Acorn ARM machines came equipped with an emulator to run 6502 code. It emulated a 6502 "Tube" processor -- i.e. in an expansion box, with no I/O of its own. If your code was clean enough to run on that, you could run it on RISC OS out of the box.
Atari, Commodore, Sinclair and Acorn all abandoned their 8-bit heritage and did all-new, proprietary machines. Acorn even did its own CPU, giving it way more CPU power than its rivals, allowing emulation of the old machines -- not an option for the others, who bought in their CPUs.
Amstrad threw in the towel and switched to PC compatibles. A wise move, in the long view.
The only line that sort of transitioned was MSX.
MSX 1 machines (1983) were so-so, decent but unremarkable 8-bits.
MSX 2 (1985) were very nice 8-bitters indeed, with bank-switching for up to 4MB RAM, a primitive GPU for good graphics by Z80 standards. Floppy drives and 128 kB RAM were common as standard.
MSX 2+ (1988) were gorgeous. Some could handle ~6MHz, and the GPU has at least 128 kB VRAM, so they had serious video capabilities for 8-bit machines -- e.g. 19K colours.
MSX Turbo R (1990) were remarkable. Effectively a ~30MHz 16-bit CPU, 96 kB ROM, 256 kB RAM (some battery-backed), a GPU with its own 128 kB RAM, and stereo sound via multiple sound chips plus MIDI.
As a former Sinclair fan, I'd love to see what a Spectrum built using MSX Turbo R technology could do.
Two 6502 lines did transition, kinda sortof.
Apple did the Apple ][GS (1986), with a WD65C816 16-bit processor. Its speed was tragically throttled and the machine was killed off very young so as not to compete with the still-new Macintosh line.
Acorn's Communicator (1985) also had a 65C816, with a ported 16-bit version of Acorn's MOS operating system, BBC BASIC, the View wordprocessor, ViewSheet spreadsheet, Prestel terminal emulator and other components. Also a dead end.
The 65C816 was also available as an add-on for several models in the Commodore 64 family, and there was the GEOS GUI-based desktop to run on it, complete with various apps. Commodore itself never used the chip, though.
Twitter (or, at least, my particular Twitter bubble) has been busy this last 24 hours pouring scorn on the Home Secretary’s apparent admission in the Andrew Marr show on BBC1 (and later, in conversation with Sophy Ridge on Sky News) that she would consider legislating to force communication suppliers, such as WhatsApp, to break their encryption systems so as to permit governments to access messages.
I’m not going to rehash all the reasons why breaking or weakening encryption is wrong. Plenty of people more knowledgeable about it than me have already done that. I’m more interested in how she ended up making such a statement in the first place.
First, some background. The idea of forcing communication suppliers to add “backdoors” into their systems has been floating around for a long time, particularly in policing circles, as it would clearly be beneficial in some cases to be able to get at the content of every electronic message. So this is a proposal that tends to bubble up every time there is a major terrorist or criminal incident.
Such proposals have never actually come to anything, though, partly because they don’t stand up to technical scrutiny but also because they would be firmly resisted by many large and influential corporations – like banks and other financial institutions – as well as other government agencies which themselves rely on encrypted communications.
So, how did it crop up again this time, and why was the Home Secretary so willing to countenance it?
It’s important here to see the whole thing in context. If you haven’t already watched the full interview with Andrew Marr, then do so now on iPlayer before it expires. Because it’s clear that the first person to say something stupid in that exchange wasn’t Amber Rudd, but Marr. He introduced the topic of end to end encryption, made a complete hash of explaining it, and then invited Rudd to agree with him that it is “completely unacceptable” that the government can’t access terrorists’ messages on it.
This is intellectually unsustainable, but political dynamite. Rudd could not, realistically, disagree with him – imagine the tabloid headlines if she had dared to suggest that it is acceptable for criminals to be able to communicate in secret – but neither could she agree without falling straight into the trap that Marr had laid for her.
It was clear from that exchange that Rudd is not only uninformed about how encryption works, but was uncomfortable discussing it. It’s easy to mock her misguided use of terminology, but when she tried to divert the conversation into an area of safer ground, Marr dragged it back. It was, essentially, two people talking about something neither of them really understands, but both agree that it’s a bad thing.
Having fallen headlong into Marr’s elephant trap, though, Rudd couldn’t easily crawl out of it. This was more of an issue later on Sky News, on Ridge on Sunday. Unlike Marr, Sophy Ridge had done her homework, and was able to point out the glaring inconsistency between Rudd’s assertion that she fully backed strong encryption with the threat to legislate against it. But it was too late for Rudd to row back on the statements she had made to Marr, so instead she had to resort to the usual political trick of speaking firmly, keeping a straight face and refusing to acknowledge the contradiction in the hope that viewers would hear what they wanted to hear.
The real question this raises is: why was Rudd so poorly briefed in the first place? Given that it had already been publicised that Adrian Elms had used WhatsApp shortly before murdering four people, why was it not anticipated that the question of accessing it would crop up? Why couldn’t Rudd have defused Marr’s line of questioning by pointing out to him that he didn’t understand how it worked?
I can only speculate here, but it seems to me that this is an issue with the Home Office which goes back a long way – it was clearly visible during Theresa May’s time as Home Secretary, and even before before that under the last Labour administration. The hiving off of Home Office functions into the newly created Ministry of Justice was one attempt to deal with a department that former Home Secretary John Reid once described as “Not fit for purpose”. But this has seemingly resulted in not one, but two dysfunctional ministries.
The particular problem with the Home Office has been a long standing disregard of personal liberty, combined with an ill-concealed contempt for the tech sector. Apart from legislation drafted by the Home Office which combines illiberality with technical infeasibility, this has repeatedly manifested itself in a lack of desire to engage with reasonable and informed criticism. Ministers are left unbriefed, and in danger of looking stupid (as both Rudd, May and their Labour predecessors did, regularly, when talking about Internet-related issues), because there is a perception that the general public, and the tabloid media, doesn’t care about the details. Only nerds care, and nerds don’t matter.
I don’t believe that the government will legislate to force companies to break encryption. There would be too much opposition, both internally and from industry, for that to happen. But we will carry on getting these kites being flown every time there is a terrorist incident, until this anti-tech and anti-freedom factor within the Home Office is rooted out. Ministers could make a start by insisting on being properly briefed in future, and hiring a few SpAds who understand the issue and can offer unbiased advice.
While I’m on the subject (and apologies if this is turning into too much of a long read), consider for a moment why WhatsApp is in the news. As I said at the top of this article, it is known that Adrian Elms used WhatsApp only a few minutes before embarking on his murderous spree. But how do we know that?
Given that WhatsApp is end to end encrypted, and only the sender and recipients of a message can read it – or even know that it is sent – the only way to know this is to have access to either the sender or recipient’s phone.
In this case, media reports say that the police know Elms used WhatsApp because they found a message from him on a phone seized from a known acquaintance in Birmingham. But they don’t know who else he may have communicated with, because his phone is locked and they are unable to access it.
But if they can get that, though, then they have a history of the WhatsApp messages that Elms sent and received. They were not secret to him, and neither are they to anyone who successfully accesses his phone. End to end encryption protects messages from being viewed in transit by third parties; it doesn’t protect them from being viewed on either of the devices they were sent from or to.
In fact, if you read the media reports carefully, the idea that the police are being stymied by lack of access to WhatsApp isn’t coming from the police. They may be happy with that particular misbelief being spread around, because it may help minimise the prospect of accomplices deliberately deleting messages that may be relevant (although, in practice, it does now seem that Elms really was a “lone wolf” and had no accomplices). But the idea that WhatsApp is deliberately hindering the investigation is a suggestion that’s being fed by the media, supported by off the record comments from Home Office insiders (again, not explicitly, but with hints dropped in headlines that aren’t borne out in the text of the article).
The police’s problem is simply that they can’t unlock Elms’s phone. Or, at least, aren’t admitting to being able to, at least not yet. And if they do get into it, there are probably far more interesting things they can discover from it than who he was messaging.
There’s a subtext here that’s worth exploring. Google, Facebook, Twitter and other tech companies are in the firing line at the moment because of their seeming reluctance to remove extremist material. Some of these criticisms are justified, others less so – the tech companies do actually have a good record of addressing explicitly illegal material, as indeed Amber Rudd tried to point out before being interrupted by Andrew Marr; the real issue comes with the stuff that isn’t necessarily illegal but may be offensive or inappropriate. The fact that adverts from well known brands have been appearing on YouTube videos posted by Daesh and their sympathisers has been in the news a lot recently, particularly in the context that these adverts earn money for the videos’ creators.
This is a valid concern, and Google et al could certainly do more to ensure that advertisers have more control over the material that their adverts appear alongside. There are also perfectly legitimate concerns about where the line is drawn regarding offensive, rather than specifically illegal, content.
However, there’s an undercurrent to this which needs to be borne in mind. Google and Facebook, in particular, are very much in the business of attracting advertising expenditure away from the traditional media. The newspapers which complain about Google showing ads on jihadist videos are not neutral; they have skin in the game.
The traditional media also resent the way that search engines and social media have become the gatekeepers to their own content. There is a strong perception in the media that the tech industry is leeching away their traditional source of revenue, and offering nothing in return.
To some extent, that perception is true, although it’s also arguable that it’s not a problem – changes in technology and society’s behaviour always benefits some and not others. Airlines put the ocean liners out of business, steamships spelled the end for the tea clippers and the printing press rendered scribes redundant. The traditional print media can’t really complain if they are now on the downward slope of a hill they were once ascending.
What this means, though, is that there has, for some weeks, been a media campaign in progress against Google, Twitter and Facebook – a campaign driven as much by self-interest as any real public concern. This wasn’t helped by a particularly inept response by Facebook to an investigation by the BBC into sexualised images of children. The Westminster attack has simply played into this narrative, by allowing the media to say “I told you so”. It also gives impetus to their anti-Google and anti-Facebook campaign (and remember that WhatsApp is owned by Facebook).
The traditional print media and broadcast media would love nothing more than to see the tech giants taken down a peg or two. And their reporting reflects that. It is not unbiased. Andrew Marr’s carefully laid trap for the Home Secretary has to be seen in that context, too.
Edited to reflect media reports that the police know about Elms’s WhatsApp use from one of his acquaintances, rather than his own phone.
In case you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a new GNOME release – 3.24! The release is the result of 6 months’ work by the GNOME community.
The new release is a major step forward for us, with new features and improvements, and some exciting developments in how we build applications. You can read more about it in the announcement and release notes.
As always, this release was made possible partially thanks to the Friends of GNOME project. In particular, it helped us provide a Core apps hackfest in Berlin last November, which had a direct impact on this release.
I’ve just come back from the GTK+ hackfest in London – thanks to RedHat and Endless for sponsoring the venues! It was great to meet a load of people who are involved with GNOME and GTK, and some great discussions were had about Flatpak and the creation of a “FlatHub” – somewhere that people can get all their latest Flatpaks from.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a train going to Heathrow, for my flight to LibrePlanet 2017! If you’re going to be there, come and say hi. I’ve a load of new stickers that have been produced as well so these can brighten up your laptop.
Maybe this blog post should have an alternative title… “NPT thread? BSP thread? ARGH!” or maybe “Why can’t I stop that bl**dy leak?!?”.
So, I’ve got this brand new 15 (US) Gallon SS Brewtech Kettle, from The Malt Miller. It’s very shiny…
Installing the supplied ball valve, bulkhead & the recirculation plugs are a doddle – You just need to grab some PTFE tape and follow the nice little instruction guide that comes with the kettle.
Next up was the installation of the optional Whirlpool fittings, additional ball valve tap and the camlocks. This is where my problems started… As this kettle is designed by Americans, the default thread on the fittings is NTP. The default thread type in the UK is BSP, they’re almost but not quite the same. In my quest to get everything “perfect” and right first time, I was determined get hold of some NPT thread camlock fittings & ball valve. This proved harder than expected! I eventually found a Chinese supplier of both on Amazon & eBay and waited a couple of weeks for them to arrive.
Then the “fun” started…
Attempt 1: I fitted the camlocks to the ball valves, the new ball valve & whirlpool fittings. An initial leak test looked promising, until after about 15 minutes water started leaking from the body of the new ball valve! Ok, it was a very slow leak, I could probably take the ball valve apart, reseat everything and seal it all back up. So, I decided to do a quick test of the pump connected to the new camlocks and get the whirlpool going. Except, the NPT camlocks I bought wouldn’t fit inside the camlock coupler on the pipes. The not-so-cheap Chinese camlocks were a few mm too long! ARGH!
Armed with some forum posts that reassured me that 1/2″ NPT & BSP fittings will screw into each other and seal ok, I grabbed a new BSP ball valve & camlocks fittings from BrewBuilder…
Attempt 2: New ball valve & fittings hooked up, but now the kettle leaks from where the ball valve meets the kettle. It appears either the internal plastic washer or the external silicone o-ring is warping under pressure. Multiple attempts to adjust & retry fail…
Attempt 3: From a seller on eBay I grabbed some silicone washers to replace the existing washer & o-ring and tried again. SUCCESS! No leaks!
And now, a video!
The best part of Purition in my opinion is that the flavours are real – that’s such an important point to make. Often when you try a protein shake you can taste the flavour is due to chemicals – however when drinking Purition it’s clear that flavours are coming form real food. There are small chunks of nuts in some, and all of them have a subtle and pleasant taste of coconut.
I am not great at recognising flavours, so I thought I’d test someone to see how well they could identify the tastes. I offered a Macadamia and Vanilla flavour to her, and instantly she could tell there as vanilla, and fatty nuts present.
To quote Purition’s own website:
HOW IS PURITION DIFFERENT FROM MEAL REPLACEMENTS ON THE MARKET?
That’s simple – REAL FOOD. Much more than just a meal replacement, it’s a real food meal in a glass. There is a big difference. Traditional “meal replacements” contain lots of sugar, water, milk powder, thickeners and flavourings and some cheap chemically synthesized vitamins and minerals. They contain very few calories and the reason for this is because they contain no real food.
As you can see on the right, Purition is very low on carbs, and high in fat and protein. Depending on your goals this could be seen as a great thing. Using Purition in a recipe for over night oats (as below) will of course add plenty of carbohydrates to the mix if that’s what you’re after. I personally prefer this for pre-workout meals.
Nutritional profile: Macadamia and Vanilla
|NUTRIENTS – Typical values
Purition is incredibly tasty, but comes at a higher price tag than some meal-replacement shakes. This is justified by the use of quality real, wholefood ingredients – you can certainly taste the difference.
Personally due to the low carb content I wouldn’t advise living off Purition 24/7, but that is not a goal of the product. It’s meant to replace just one or two meals a day as part of a balanced diet.
Overnight oats make a fantastic breakfast, largely due to how quickly you can make them and how little mess it makes! You can prepare a weeks worth in advance, and simply add the milk the night before and throw it into the fridge!
Weight out your oats. I use a a jar, it fits easily in the fridge and is a pleasure to eat out of, it sure beats eating out of a plastic container.
Then simply add chia seeds, and 40g of purition.
Add milk – I use whole milk but any milk or milk substitute will work just fine.
Put in the fridge over night. It’s fine for at least 12 hours, probably longer.
The quantities above make plenty to snack on all morning, and keep you feeling full for ages!
Now the immediate post-album launch haze has died down and I’ve got the bug back, I’ve returned to the studio for a couple of projects.
First-off, I’ve been continuing my work with poet Ralph Dartford on our project Swoon! Telling the story of Waterloo Sunset‘s Terry and Julie, it’s a project which explores love, addiction, escape and reconciliation through spoken word and music to ‘dance, reflect, laugh and fall in love with’.
I’ve worked with Ralph before – he’s part of the Ossett crowd behind Flock To Ossett, 1000 Snowflakes, and various other arts-scene things which I photographed over the years. More recently his was the voice on my Bleeding Obvious track I, Human on the debut album. Ralph presented me with 16 pieces of spoken word, pieces he’d performed solo for some time and which fans felt invested in – dangerous territory, maybe. I worked for a couple of months illustrating them with music, soundtracking them; at some points it felt like I was painting the pictures he’d sketched out, but to my interpretation of the colours. I think we’ve come up with something special as a result.
(Yeah I’m being artsy wanky, I’ll stop that now.)
So anyway, that’s Swoon! and we’ve been performing it live at spoken word nights and in support of other artists, which has been tremendous fun to do.
The other thing is my followup album – you know, the tricky second one. I did promise my son that I’d write a happy album next and got a few songs into it before discovering… well, everything was so bloody vacuous. So I took the songs which I’d thrown to the wayside and they’ve become a new work provisionally titled Rainbow Heart. It’s a celebration of diversity encompassing the whole LGBTQ spectrum, and I’ve already signed up quite a few collaborations for it. If you want to listen to something in progress, I’ve made public a demo of Gender Babylon which I performed live at a gig the other weekend and went down reasonably well – it’s a true story, y’know.
So, I’m performing live quite frequently – trying new things, doing everything from the occasional open mic to a full gig with a big rig, swallowing my pride when things don’t go according to plan, and hauling flightcases all over the shop. Oh also, I did an interview with SnT mag. You need to scroll down for it past the blurb but they’ve not done a bad job. Read it here. G’wan.
One final honourable mention goes to my new stage piano, an ex-demo Korg SV1-88 affectionately known as Stevie (Wonder or Nicks? Nobody knows) and which has to be the best thing I’ve played in years – bit of a bugger to haul around though. And it’s got a valve – and as everyone knows, valves are cool.
Today is the 15th of March, the nearest equivalent in our calendar to the Roman Ides of March, the date on which – as we all know from our Shakespeare – Julius Caesar was assassinated. Everybody knows to beware the Ides of March. It’s even been reported that one of the reasons for not sending Britain’s Article 50 letter to the EU today is to avoid any association with the Ides of March.
The thing is, Shakespeare emphasised the Ides of March as the date Caesar was assassinated deliberately for the sake of contrast, because to the Romans that was a joyous day – it was a day of new year celebrations and religious festivals. It would be like a contemporary book setting an assassination of a president on Christmas or Easter day. Or even some other date that has a generally positive feeling about it – “Beware the Spring Bank Holiday”.
I think we should start a campaign to rehabilitate the Ides of March. I’ve just been out in the garden, where the birds are singing, the sun is shining, the Magnolia and ornamental cherry are beginning to blossom and the leaves are returning to deciduous trees. I think the Romans had it right when they made March the first month of the year. Early spring is when the year feels new, it’s when optimism starts to return after the dark days of winter. We should celebrate it, just as the Romans did.
Happy Ides of March, and a happy new circle of the seasons!
I’ve got a new 40L Buffalo hot water boiler to use as a HLT in my new setup. I need to remove the plastic tap and replace it with new 1/2″ Ball Valve, nipple, lock nut, washer and Camlock fittings.
Remove the tap and save the plastic washer to use with the new fittings. You’ll notice the tap hole isnt round, so you’ll need to round it out and slightly enlarge it for the 1/2 nipple to fit.
At this point I got carried away and forgot to take photos! Wrap PFTE tape around the nipple and fit it into the ball valve. Wrap more PFTE tape around the nipple where the back nut will attach. Put the original plastic washer onto the nipple and insert it into the boiler. Stick the rubber washer onto the nipple and then the back nut. Tighten! Lots!
Fill with water, heat it up and check for leaks. I was lucky, no leaks at all on the first attempt!
After months of trying, I've finally got my hands on a Nintendo NES Classic Mini. It's everything I wish retropie was: simple, reliable, plug-and-play gaming. I didn't have a NES at the time, so the games are all mostly new to me (although I'm familiar with things like Super Mario Brothers).
The two main complaints about the NES classic are the very short controller cable and the need to press the "reset" button on the main unit to dip in and out of games. Both are addressed by the excellent 8bitdo Retro Receiver for NES Classic bundle. You get a bluetooth dongle that plugs into the classic and a separate wireless controller. The controller is a replica of the original NES controller. However, they've added another two buttons on the right-hand side alongside the original "A" and "B", and two discrete shoulder buttons which serve as turbo-repeat versions of "A" and "B". The extra red buttons make it look less authentic which is a bit of a shame, and are not immediately useful on the NES classic (but more on that in a minute).
With the 8bitdo controller, you can remotely activate the Reset button by pressing "Down" and "Select" at the same time. Therefore the whole thing can be played from the comfort of my sofa.
That's basically enough for me, for now, but in the future if I want to expand the functionality of the classic, it's possible to mod it. A hack called "Hakchi2" lets you install additional NES ROMs; install retroarch-based emulator cores and thus play SNES, Megadrive, N64 (etc. etc.) games; as well as other hacks like adding "down+select" Reset support to the wired controller. If you were playing non-NES games on the classic, then the extra buttons on the 8bitdo become useful.
KERV actually started life on Kickstarter - quite a while back - and there's been a few issues moving the project forward. But it's now possible to actually go on-line and order a ring in a variety of colours (white or black exteriors with varying interior colours).
The ring can be used anywhere that a MasterCard contactless card can be used as it behaves a an M/Chip contactless payment device.
The ring is made from a ceramic called Zirconia, so it's pretty tough (the only things that should be able to scratch it are sapphire and diamond) so it should last a while. When using the ring it needs to be held parallel to the reader (not placed on top with your finger flat i.e. bend your finger and the top of the ring should be parallel with the reader).
The website is available to users which allows activating the ring (a unique 'visual' code is distributed with the ring which is then used to activate it on the site). Users can also activate a virtual MasterCard (you get to print out a copy) which can be used for on-line/over the phone purchases. It's actually pre-paid MasterCard so it needs to be topped up. The ring can then be linked to the card too so only one top up is needed for both.Top-ups can be done using another card or by transferring money into the Kerv bank account with a unique reference generated by Kerv.
Being contactless it also means it can be used on the London Underground just by putting your finger near the reader and 'tapping in'.
The ring currently costs £99.99 from the KERV store if you use code ETN10 you'll get a 10% discount until the end of March.
It should be worn as below: -
After quite a bit of work, we finally have the sponsorship brochure produced for GUADEC and GNOME.Asia. Huge thanks to everyone who helped, I’m really pleased with the result. Again, if you or your company are interested in sponsoring us, please drop a mail to email@example.com!
I like food, and I like games. So this week there was a couple of awesome sneak previews on the upcoming GNOME 3.24 release. Matthias Clasen posted about GNOME Recipes the 1.0 release – tasty snacks are now available directly on the desktop, which means I can also view them when I’m at the back of the house in the kitchen, where the wifi connection is somewhat spotty. Adrien Plazas also posted about GNOME Games – now I can get my retro gaming fix easily.
I was sent a package in the post, with lots of blank stickers and a couple of pens. I’ve now signed a load of stickers, and my hand hurts. More details about exactly what this is about soon :)
Windows NT was allegedly partly developed on OS/2. Many MSers loved OS/2 at the time -- they had co-developed it, after all. But there was more to it than that.
Windows NT was partly based on OS/2. There were 3 branches of the OS/2 codebase:
[a] OS/2 1.x – at IBM’s insistence, for the 80286. The mistake that doomed OS/2 and IBM’s presence in the PC industry, the industry it had created.
[b] OS/2 2.x – IBM went it alone with the 80386-specific version.
[c] OS/2 3.x – Portable OS/2, planned to be ported to multiple different CPUs.
After the “divorce”, MS inherited Portable OS/2. It was a skeleton and a plan. Dave Cutler was hired from DEC, which refused to allow him to pursue his PRISM project for a modern CPU and successor to VMS. Cutler got the Portable OS/2 project to complete. He did, fleshing it out with concepts and plans derived from his experience with VMS and plans for PRISM.
It was developed on the Intel i860 CPU, codenamed N-Ten, on in-house made MS motherboards. Obviously MS wasn’t going to call it OS/2 anything – that was the failed IBM project, the future was Windows.
So it became Windows for N-Ten. “Windows NT,” later retconned “New Technology”.
The first version, NT 3.1, appeared in 1993 – the number derived from the then-current DOS-based version, and also due, I think, to a licensing deal with Novell allowing MS to use Novell developer info (e.g. to develop a Netware client) but only in Windows up to 3.1.
But until NT, OS/2 2.x was the most advanced PC OS for 386s. No mucking around with upper memory blocks, XMS, EMS and all that nonsense. DOS apps, Windows 3 apps, and a native 32-bit OS with no memory constraints. A new filesystem with long filenames (derived straight from OS/2 1.x and therefore 16-bit code). An advanced, if clunky, “object oriented” GUI.
OS/2 2 was impressive stuff. Linux was skeletal, pre-alpha, back then. PC versions of BSD was a bit better but the vaguely usable versions were commercial. Commercial Unix was either horribly expensive (e.g. Interactive) or horribly limited (e.g. Coherent). And by and large there wasn’t anything else at all.
Oddly, what made me move from OS/2 wasn’t NT. NT was lovely, but expensive and required expensive high-end kit, with a small Hardware Compatibility List. Forget using it on an old “bitsa” PC built from scrap.
OS/2 2 worked on that, with effort. Stacker, bodged-on SCSI storage, PC speaker sound or crappy parallel-port sound cards, crazy mice with numeric keypads: they worked.
Not on NT, they didn’t.
But on the beta of Windows 95, they did, like a dream, easier, faster, and with a better UI. Less stable, but better DOS and Win32 compatibility. You could run NT apps! (All right, yes, both of them.)
OS/2 was great. NT 3.x was theoretically better, if you had a £5000 PC. But Windows 95, while conceptually worse in design terms, actually did what you needed, was easier to get working, had a better UI and let you use the apps you needed and your legacy stuff too.
Sad but true. I switched.
I did look back. OS/2 Warp 3 didn’t work well on my old PC – it needed new drivers for various bits. (And you had to buy OS/2 device drivers for some kit.) It really needed higher-end kit. Windows 95B brought improvements I actually benefited from, like FAT32, and ones I could see being useful in future, like USB support. At work, NT 3.51 looked ugly but it worked well. The hardware had caught up and there were 32-bit apps.
OS/2 Warp 4 caught up in some ways, but it was too late. NT 4 came out the same year.
NT4 was far preferable to OS/2 Warp 4. No 1000+ line CONFIG.SYS files, decent driver support, a more modern filesystem. No USB, true. Lousy power management, lousy plug-and-play. Good for a work desktop with unchanging hardware. Poor on a laptop. But if you wanted toys or games, Win98 followed soon after.
And NT Server made a great server for Win9x, as well as NT desktops. It had some great, rarely-considered features: roaming profiles, for instance. Proxy servers were very easy, far easier than on Netware. (Novell was off chasing big-business multi-site multi-server networks with Netware 4, and took its eyes off the ball: small business with a shared Internet connection.)
A bundled email client on the client end, and cheap off-the-shelf email servers for the server (before the behemoth Exchange crushed them all). IBM didn’t bother stuff like that, because it had Lotus Notes.
OS/2 was good in its day. If IBM hadn’t insisted on 80286 support, it would have triumphed. But then we wouldn’t have got Win9x or NT, both honestly really good products which advanced the state of the PC art.
By the same token, if GNU had embraced the BSD kernel in 1988 or so, we might never have got Linux, and there would have been a good free PC Unix at the beginning of the 1990s, maybe significantly changing the perspective of the whole industry. It nearly happened.
Or if Quarterdeck had released DESQview/X earlier, before Windows 3.0, there would have been an alternative, bridging the worlds of MS-DOS and Unix: DOS with multitasking, TCP/IP and an X.11 GUI. It nearly happened, too.
I recently saw a post on the “N.E. Home Brew Network” Facebook Group regarding a bargain buy from Tesco for a 52 litre cooler box for £20 – Ideal for converting into a mash tun.
After a few good brews based on Malt Extract, I’ve worked out I could be saving between £10 & £20 per brew if I was brewing “All-Grain” batches. It seemed like a no brainer! I placed my order and picked one up the next day.
I scoured eBay and bought a mash tun conversion kit. The kit is basically a 1/2″ 2-part ball valve, hose barb, 1/2″ nipple, a 12″ bazooka filter and a couple of washers and nuts.
The stuff’s been sat in my garage for just over a month, but today I finally had chance to have a go at the conversion!…
Measure the internal depth of the box, and make a mark of that depth on the outside. Take the nut you’ll use to attach the tap, and mark where the hole should go – As close to the bottom of the inside as possible. Little helper optional
Check the tap + nipple fits, remove and wrap LOTS of PTFE tape around the thread. The tape should wrap tightly around the thread in the same direction the nut will tighten!
Fit the washer, nut and tighten. Lots.
At this point I filled with about 20 litres of hot (65C) water from the tap to test for leaks and check how long it can hold temperature for. Unfortunately, after a few minutes I noticed a very slow leak appearing to come from the join between the outside nut & the wall of the cooler box. I quickly emptied the box, re-wrapped the nipple with a lot more PTFE tape and tested again. It worked!
I refilled the box with another 20L of 65C water and left it for an hour, during which it only lost 3C! Results.
Coming soon – The new HLT, the new boiler, pumps and stuff!
I woke this morning to Thorsten claiming the new GitHub Terms of Service could require the removal of Free software projects from it. This was followed by joeyh removing everything from github. I hadn’t actually been paying attention, so I went looking for some sort of summary of whether I should be worried and ended up reading the actual ToS instead. TL;DR version: No, I’m not worried and I don’t think you should be either.
First, a disclaimer. I’m not a lawyer. I have some legal training, but none of what I’m about to say is legal advice. If you’re really worried about the changes then you should engage the services of a professional.
The gist of the concerns around GitHub’s changes are that they potentially circumvent any license you have applied to your code, either converting GPL licensed software to BSD style (and thus permitting redistribution of binary forms without source) or making it illegal to host software under certain Free software licenses on GitHub due to being unable to meet the requirements of those licenses as a result of GitHub’s ToS.
My reading of the GitHub changes is that they are driven by a desire to ensure that GitHub are legally covered for the things they need to do with your code in order to run their service. There are sadly too many people who upload code there without a license, meaning that technically no one can do anything with it. Don’t do this people; make sure that any project you put on GitHub has some sort of license attached to it (don’t write your own - it’s highly likely one of Apache/BSD/GPL will suit your needs) so people know whether they can make use of it or not. “I don’t care” is not a valid reason not to do this.
Section D, relating to user generated content, is the one causing the problems. It’s possibly easiest to walk through each subsection in order.
D1 says GitHub don’t take any responsibility for your content; you make it, you’re responsible for it, they’re not accepting any blame for harm your content does nor for anything any member of the public might do with content you’ve put on GitHub. This seems uncontentious.
D2 reaffirms your ownership of any content you create, and requires you to only post 3rd party content to GitHub that you have appropriate rights to. So I can’t, for example, upload a copy of ‘Friday’ by Rebecca Black.
Thorsten has some problems with D3, where GitHub reserve the right to remove content that violates their terms or policies. He argues this could cause issues with licenses that require unmodified source code. This seems to be alarmist, and also applies to any random software mirror. The intent of such licenses is in general to ensure that the pristine source code is clearly separate from 3rd party modifications. Removal of content that infringes GitHub’s T&Cs is not going to cause an issue.
D4 is a license grant to GitHub, and I think forms part of joeyh’s problems with the changes. It affirms the content belongs to the user, but grants rights to GitHub to store and display the content, as well as make copies such as necessary to provide the GitHub service. They explicitly state that no right is granted to sell the content at all or to distribute the content outside of providing the GitHub service.
This term would seem to be the minimum necessary for GitHub to ensure they are allowed to provide code uploaded to them for download, and provide their web interface. If you’ve actually put a Free license on your code then this isn’t necessary, but from GitHub’s point of view I can understand wanting to make it explicit that they need these rights to be granted. I don’t believe it provides a method of subverting the licensing intent of Free software authors.
D5 provides more concern to Thorsten. It seems he believes that the ability to fork code on GitHub provides a mechanism to circumvent copyleft licenses. I don’t agree. The second paragraph of this subsection limits the license granted to the user to be the ability to reproduce the content on GitHub - it does not grant them additional rights to reproduce outside of GitHub. These rights, to my eye, enable the forking and viewing of content within GitHub but say nothing about my rights to check code out and ignore the author’s upstream license.
D6 clarifies that if you submit content to a GitHub repo that features a license you are licensing your contribution under these terms, assuming you have no other agreement in place. This looks to be something that benefits projects on GitHub receiving contributions from users there; it’s an explicit statement that such contributions are under the project license.
D7 confirms the retention of moral rights by the content owner, but states they are waived purely for the purposes of enabling GitHub to provide service, as stated under D4. In particular this right is revocable so in the event they do something you don’t like you can instantly remove all of their rights. Thorsten is more worried about the ability to remove attribution and thus breach CC-BY or some BSD licenses, but GitHub’s whole model is providing attribution for changesets and tracking such changes over time, so it’s hard to understand exactly where the service falls down on ensuring the provenance of content is clear.
There are reasons to be wary of GitHub (they’ve taken a decentralised revision control system and made a business model around being a centralised implementation of it, and they store additional metadata such as PRs that aren’t as easily extracted), but I don’t see any indication that the most recent changes to their Terms of Service are something to worry about. The intent is clearly to provide GitHub with the legal basis they need to provide their service, rather than to provide a means for them to subvert the license intent of any Free software uploaded.
As mentioned in my previous post, I’ll be posting regularly with an update on what I’ve been up to as the GNOME Executive Director, and highlighting some cool stuff around the project!
If you find this dull, they’re tagged with [update-post] so hopefully, you can filter them out. And dear planet.debian.org folk – if this annoys you too much I can turn the feed category to turn this off it’s not interesting enough :) However, if you like these or have any suggestions for things you’d like to see here, let me know.
One of the areas we’ve been working on is the sponsorship brochure for GUADEC and GNOME.Asia. Big thanks to Allan Day and the Engagement team for helping out here – and I’m pleased to say it’s almost finished! In the meantime, if you or your company are interested in sponsoring us, please drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org!
A fairly lengthy and wide-ranging interview with myself has been published at cio.com. It covers a bit of my background (although mistakenly says I worked for Collabora Productivity, rather than Collabora Limited!), and looks at a few different areas on where I see GNOME and how it sits within the greater GNU/Linux movement – I cover “some uncomfortable subjects around desktop Linux”. It’s well worth a read.
The GNOME 3.24 release is happening soon! As such, the release team announced the string freeze. If you want to help out with how much has been translated into your language, then https://wiki.gnome.org/TranslationProject/JoiningTranslation is a good place to start. I’d like to give a shout out to the translation teams in particular too. Sometimes people don’t realise how much work goes into this, and it’s fantastic that we’re able to reach so many more users with our software.
GNOME is now announced as a mentoring organisation for Google Summer of Code! There are some great ideas for Summer (Well, in the Northern hemisphere anyway) projects, so if you want to spend your time coding on Free Software, and get paid for it, why not sign up as a student?
One of the products I have done some work on at Red Hat has recently been released to customers and there have been a few things written about it:
For those who haven’t heard, I’ve been appointed as the new Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation, and I started last week on the 15th February.
It’s been an interesting week so far, mainly meeting lots of people and trying to get up to speed with what looks like an enormous job! However, I’m thoroughly excited by the opportunity and am very grateful for everyone’s warm words of welcome so far.
One of the main things I’m here to do is to try and help. GNOME is strong because of its community. It’s because of all of you that GNOME can produce world leading technologies and a desktop that is intuitive, clean and functional. So, if you’re stuck with something, or if there’s a way that either myself or the Foundation can help, then please speak up!
Additionally, I intend on making this blog a much more frequently updated one – letting people know what I’m doing, and highlighting cool things that are happening around the project. In that vein, this week I’ve also started contacting all our fantastic Advisory Board members. I’m also looking at finding sponsors for GUADEC and GNOME.Asia, so if you know of anyone, let me know! I also booked my travel to the GTK+ hackfest and to LibrePlanet – if you’re going to either of those, make sure you come and introduce yourself :)
Finally, a small advertisement for Friends of GNOME. Your generosity really does help the Foundation support development of GNOME. Join up today!
I've begun to listen to BBC4's "More Or Less" Podcast. They recently had an episode covering the life and work of Hans Rosling, the inspirational swedish statistician, who has sadly died of pancreatic cancer. It was very moving. Some of Professor Rosling's videos are available to view online. I've heard that they are very much worth watching.
Over the last few months I have also been listening to regular updates by BBC broadcaster Steve Hewlett on his own journey as a cancer sufferer. These were remarkably frank discussions of the ins and outs of his diagnosis, treatment, and the practical consequences on his everyday life. I was very sad to tune in on Monday evening and hear a series of repeated clips from his previous appearances on the PM show, as the implications were clear. And indeed, Steve Hewlett died from oesophagal cancer on Monday. Here's an obituary in the Guardian.