Hanging on the telephone.

UnNews updates.



Inspirations welcome. I'm still not sure what to do with "Britney 'addicted to rehab'" or indeed most of this.

Wikimedia UK.

I spent Thursday evening and the weekend on Wikimedia UK stuff.

  • Alison Wheeler, the chair, tendered her resignation on Thursday, in the hope of unsticking things. We had an emergency general meeting that evening where we declined the resignation and passed a vote of confidence in her.
  • The old treasurer, Jon Garrett, has been removed for inactivity (we don't even have a bank account right now) and uncontactability.
  • Arkady Rose has been drafted to the board and tagged as treasurer for the crime of flagrant cluefulness in public places. (Note also that Alison and James Forrester did the drafting, not me … though them drafting my girlfriend enhances the cabalism nicely.)
  • James got the address and paperwork updates submitted to Company House.

Now to start doing stuff with it again … particularly pushing the charity registration through. And starting the bank account process again. TRA LA LA LA LA! Minutes should be posted real soon, won't they, James.

Open Wiki Blog Planet grows apace, and the official Planet Wikimedia is open for feeds.

PlanetPlanetPlanet and video.

Why have one when you can have three?

Short radio interview on Chris Evans' BBC2 show yesterday, 5:25-5:30pm. No idea what inspired it, it was utterly generic. I know the researchers love Wikipedia as the universal backgrounding resource, as journalists do. Wikipedia gets basically good press because we save journalistic arse on a daily basis. Update: Gary Kirk has the link.

Nice chat with someone from FourDocs yesterday, about freeing content or at least making it a useful resource for our projects. "We'd love our stuff on Wikipedia. It's all Creative Commons!" They've released a pile of documentaries under CC by-nc-nd, which is about as paralysingly unfree as you can get and still tag it CC. We talked about really-free-content licences — where you can take something and reuse and remix it, and even make money off the result, without prior permission — and how scary they are to those who've spent years learning the ridiculous twists and turns needed to clear a piece of footage for a single with-permission use.

That FourDocs could even manage CC-by-nc-nd with streaming only (not downloadable files) was remarkable given the state of movie copyright. Even the BBC, which is all about the content, has about half the staff keen to release everything freely and widely and the other half horrified at the idea.

Today's question: what the hell can we do to come up with something big content producers will feel able to release under an actually free licence? Something they can feel safe to relax control on? If we can get one, we can get more. What can we do to get that first one?

(Thanks for not much to Creative Commons for making some versions of CC by-sa 3.0 — not all, just some — not actually free licenses, with onerous codification of moral rights that are default anyway in the countries affected. Well done. And then you have wikis using licenses that are nonsensical in a wiki context — thinking a No Derivatives license doesn't contradict the whole idea of text anyone can edit, because it's Creative Commons. Stallman was right again.)

The Ubuntu Feisty alpha-testing experience.

I’ve been on Ubuntu since Hoary. And I don’t even like Linux — I far prefer FreeBSD, which is actually nice to run. Administering Linux (the kernel) gives me a raging headache. But the Ubuntu environment on top is so nice it’s worth it.

Kubuntu Feisty is an enjoyable system with the latest of everything to just get on with doing your stuff if you don’t mind the fifty meg of updates a day and the occasional stupid breakage. (The latest version of x11-common has a broken script in the .deb. And no, I’m not going to open the .deb and fix it by hand — I run Ubuntu so I don’t have to be a sysadmin just because I can.)

The question is what Feisty’s major disaster will be. Edgy’s was that distupgrade from Dapper didn’t actually, uh, work. I think Feisty’s will be that network-manager is still, with one month to release, utterly broken. I have to run a little script for each possible network card to get wifi to behave.

I freely recommend Ubuntu to people who aren’t computer geeks, but are sick of Windows being flaky crap and want something that’ll at least be stable. The way it brings new life to old machines is pretty cool as well. (I eagerly await Beryl stabilising to the point of being a reasonable default window manager.) But you might want to start with Dapper (6.06), the stable version.

(I might add that one powerful force against Linux on the corporate desktop is that too many people remember the really bad old days and how Microsoft Windows everywhere is still a vast improvement on that. See this, in which hairyears talks about why Vista is not going anywhere near the financial districts for this year at least: "I’ve worked with Windows all my working life and, despite what you may hear, it has been a blessing to us all: without it we would still be running Wang word processors on Wang hardware that saved documents in a Wang file format that can only be read by other Wang applications and printed on Wang Printers. Or HP, Or IBM, or Toshiba: whatever. It took a Big Bad Corporation to build a big enough operating system that everyone uses it, and every other software vendor works with it rather than against it, each other, and the user population. I fully expect the Big Bad Corporation to make a handsome profit from their systems and I am certain that Microsoft have behaved far, far better than IBM would’ve done if their DOS and their visual interface had established the natural monopoly that emerges from a widely-used operating system.")

(Inspired by Eloquence.)