Goodbye uncle Bill

As Bill Gates finally bows out of Microsoft to pursue his charity interests, BBC looks at some of the hits and misses of the software company he founded.

BBC NEWS | Technology | The hits and misses of Microsoft

Uncle Bill left a Microsoft not having beaten the Free Software movement and fighting to conquer new markets, like the mobile devices, where it is not a leader. I’ve played for a few hours with a Windows Mobile phone at Funambol and I remain skeptical about that OS. Anyway, it will be interesting to watch Ray Ozzie at work and see how he will play.

Moodle ripped off, should switch to Affero GPLv3

Roberto reports about the Lazio e-Citizen project chose Moodle to deliver courses to educate elderly citizens (age 60 and more) to use computers and Internet, but they don’t say that openly.’  I found it offensive, that AICA and all the other groups involved in the project failed not only to give credit to the Moodle project, but they also created artificial requirements for the solution’  making it look like the training lessons need Windows 2000 or later versions and for the browser: Internet Explorer 6.0 or superior.’  Goodbye browser interoperability, farewell Moodle’s effort to be platform independent.

It’s annoying to realize that Moodle was exploited so radically, it feels like a rip off. To give credit to the developers of the Free Software you use to deliver your services is the least you can and should do.’  You should also contribute back your changes and learn to be a good citizen in the digital world, where freedom must be preserved.’  I think the Affero GPLv3 is a better license for Moodle and other web based software as the best way to protect their asset from such rip off. Funambol wisely chose it immediately and more projects are using it, too.’  Credibility and reputation are between the most important assets for Free Software developers and they should be guarded properly.

Probably, even if Moodle used the AGPLv3, it may have not prevented the Lazio eCitizen project from hiding it under the hood but at least it may have forced them to release back their changes. I suspect we will see more of these misguided/misinformed uses of Free Software in the future. We should get the best legal protection and get ready to educate people to behave correctly.

Back from Shanghai

I’m back from the ‘Doing business in China’ MBA classes at Shanghai Tongji University. The classes were very interesting and helped me get a better understanding of this huge country. Food was good and incredibly cheap, while the landscape in Shanghai is simply stunning with huge contradictions. The Chinese cell phone market seems very very promising (as any market there, I guess) with already 800 million users. I think we’ll have to translate relevant parts of the Funambol Forge to Mandarin soon 🙂

Of course I couldn’t resist taking the magnetic levitation train to the airport from Shanghai. Here is the video (the train goes only at 300km/h because it was too early. Later fares travel at 457Km/h).

Freedom and privacy in hosted applications

I’m not a big believer of hosted applications mainly because they fail to deliver the ‘run everywhere there is a connection to the internet’ promise. Nonetheless, I’m using hosted apps very often, especially for school papers where I have to collaborate with other people on one document. In these cases I would like to have more freedom and more privacy. That’s what I like in Marco ‘Clipperz‘ Barulli’s call for action for a suite of web applications built following the zero-knowledge methodology:

The basic idea was to deliver a no trust needed service, where users had the ability to inspect and verify anything running in their browser. We had to drift the attention away from trusting us and let users focus on trusting the application.

Add the Affero GPLv3 on top of this methodology and you can have a suite of online applications that respect freedom and privacy.’  Not a bad thing to have, not at all.