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December 16th 2013 FOSS, IP, IXLeeds and much more

Posted on December 18, 2013
( 4 minute read )

Without a programme for the evening but with plenty of cakes, we started with some questions from Will about MS Office. The major obstacle for enterprises wanting to move from MS Office to FOSS is the lack of support for VB macros; all the other elements are available. However, as the City of Munich and the French police point out, the real cost of moving whether to a new MS version or to FOSS is in training which costs around twice the cost of any MS licences for the move.

Today the City of Munich had signed off its Open Source project.

John H raised the possibility of putting on ‘After XP’ sessions for people in various locations.

David S drew attention to the activities of the newly established Intellectual Property Crime Unit hosted by the City of London Police on behalf of the government which is sending out threatening letters to people and expecting Internet registrars to shut down websites without any due process. A Canadian registrar has explained why he has refused to comply with the request.

Alice introduced us to IXLeeds which handles around a third of the Internet traffic in the UK by showing a picture of the bridge in Leeds which carries its cabling; its members include aql, Bytemark, Exa Networks and JANET (which started as a University network in 1982). It links to other IXs in London, Manchester and Amsterdam.

David S then put up File Extensions. Go on! Have a look; there is an explanation at [Explainskcd.]

Alice showed us some of the traffic hijacking that could be the result of ‘man in the middle’ attacks while

David S pointed us to a weakness in Gravatar and the ignorance of Howard Shiplee who has been brought in by the Department of Work and Pensions to sort out the IT work on the Universal Credit and is using open source for the next attempt. ‘When asked why that approach was not taken in the original plans for Universal Credit…, Shiplee said, “Technology is moving ahead very rapidly. Such things were not available two-and-a-half years ago.”’ His background is in construction, not IT!

David also mentioned The Bradfordian which only prints good news stories and does not print corrections if they turn out not to be so good.

Then he pointed out that the British Library has put up a million images on flickr while the Norwegian Library plans to digitise all Norwegian books and put them on line.

John H rounded off the evening with a geeky quiz:

  1. In which file might you find auto, user, defaults?

  2. Who invented the compiler?

  3. In which sort of file might you find a legend, a figure and some details?

  4. Who invented the Unix pipe?

  5. In which file might you find alert, warning and notice?

  6. Who coined the terms mill, store and cycle to describe aspects of computing?

  7. In which sort of file might you find chocolate, lavender and plum?

  8. On which well-known operating system does the Common Unix Printing System not work?

  9. In which program might you use the option –i-am-a-dummy?

  10. After whom is Awk named?

The answers, for those who were not present, will be posted after Christmas. Several can be found in posts or PDFs on the website.