The OpenSure Free Press 7th November 2011

Welcome to the first proper autumn edition of the Free Press. Join us to kick through the leaves of the last fortnight’s tech news and reviews.

Government IT
This article begins with the quote:

The vast majority of GovIT is “outrageously expensive” says Chris Chant.

Chris Chant is very experienced in government IT and shared experiences both positive and negative at a recent event hosted by the Institute for Government in London. He felt it was time to be honest about the less desirable aspects of government IT, and made many points, just the first three of which were:

–   That “80% of Government IT is controlled by five corporations”.

–  That “some organisations outsource their IT strategy in Government”.

–  That “to change one line of code in one application can cost up to £50,000”.

Shocking, but a very familiar proprietary story. Chris Chant talks a great deal of sense and gives a quite jaw-dropping glimpse into the waste, ignorance and entrapment that goes on. The article is untechnical and easy to read, well worth it if you’d like to see how the government is wasting your tax, especially in these harsh economic times. I leave you with this, which says it all about proprietary vs open source:

“I cannot tell you how many times I have had the discussion that says: we need to get away from that but we cannot because of the complexity of getting out from where we are: all the things hanging on to that particular service that we cannot disentangle ourself from.”

“Researchers have demonstrated a new technique capable of stealing personal information from Facebook.”

Comforting. This latest method uses the somewhat cuddly-sounding ‘socialbot’, a program available to buy online for less than 20 quid. Botnets – this is a variant – are nothing new, but what makes this one so scary is “that it is able to pass itself off as a real Facebook user”. Read more about it here.

In the interests of balance, we should bring to your attention this article about Facebook’s Finnish data centre. Finland has been chosen because of its access to renewable energy and the cold climate, so effective in keeping servers cool. Here are a few statistics:

The centre will be the largest of its kind in Europe, and the northernmost of this magnitude on earth. It will handle all data processing from Europe, the Middle East and Africa and serve millions of the site’s 800 million users. It will cover 30,000 square metres – about the size of 11 football pitches – and be fully packed with data servers.

Is the PC dead?
Or as the BBC asks in its article, does the PC have a future? The thrust of the article is that with so many devices at our fingertips, PCs are being forgotten. People are reluctant to replace or upgrade old PCs, preferring instead to buy a different type of gadget, and with ever fewer games being developed exclusively for PCs, they are becoming less and less attractive.

I have to agree. I use a laptop and a phone far more than my desktop PC as I have greater flexibility of when and where I work with portable gadgets. Using my desktop PC means being closeted away in the office, which constitutes the minority of my time. What about you? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

The Battle for Wayne Rooney
Or the great .uk saga, as told by the BBC. This is about domain ownership disputes, over 10,000 of which have been handled by Nominet in its decade-long history. Brand name owners tend to be victorious, but both Mastercard and Lockheed Martin have come unstuck. Starbucks though won its case against a family using the name for its newsletter (in itself a heinous crime) and Ryan Air managed to win its case against a detractor. The article makes for an interesting read and I do love the Nominet quote in the Lockheed Martin case:

“The appeal panel said a sense of humour might have been appropriate.”

Green Expo
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to pull out of the Green Expo this Thursday, 10th November. However, Heather will be at the Leominster Women in Business evening tomorrow, November 8th, learning to change a tyre.

In other news…

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