Thursday, 24 December 2009

The last Blog of 2009- My thoughts on this year

Merry Christmas Everyone!

As the last snow clears on the roads outside I find myself thinking on the past 12 months and wondering about 2010. This year has been a very mixed bag for me and my Family, there has been a fair share of disappointments and set backs as well as near disasters!

I wanted to write a blog that was a little more happy given the time of year, however that would not be true to life so Sod It!
2009 has been a very poor show for me, what with me being close to a disaster when I was diagnosed with DVT's(Blood Clot's) and then the operation which turned out to be TWO operations...
There has also been some personal struggles that have affected us quite badly, to put it another way 2009 has not been a year that I can say we have enjoyed. That said, we have learned a great deal from the stresses and strains and with that new found knowledge we will advance through 2010 with a confidence that this will be our year!


As for those of you who have played any part in this past year of our life - A Thank you, you know who you are - those of you who have sent messages of support, cards, telephone calls and emails. They are the words and advice I will treasure from 2009 without which the journey would of been more difficult.
I have ended this year on an absolute high - I am a very lucky man to have the friends and family around me that support and encourage me.

Merry Christmas to you all - Whoever you are...
I genuinely hope that you find whatever it is you search or wish for in 2010...

Best Wishes


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Open Source - The future

As someone who works with OSS on a near daily basis with my company, it is no surprise that I have a passion for promoting it whenever I can. Whilst i am sure that there is always an OS way around problems, I do not doubt that it is not always the chosen route for whatever reason.
The one place I have absolutely no question about its effectiveness is within educational institutions. It has been proven time and again by ICT managers within these establishments.

One of the main bottlenecks that I have found when talking with educational institutes is trying to 'educate' the ICT Manager/Co-coordinator who can be too focused on proprietary software. They may be qualified or certified in this area and find it difficult to be responsive to the needs of the school and its pupils. Making decisions to the best interest of the school could mean taking these people out of their comfort zone which instantly puts up barriers. The whole idea of how IT is procured needs to be looked at to enable the objective to be: systems in place that meet the needs of the staff and pupils and not to fit comfortably with the ICT Manager/Co-coordinator.

OSS in schools works, just take a look at the Case Studies that have been published. I am not naive enough to think that the OSS route is an easy one, it is not! But like everything in life change is necessary and inevitable. Its just a matter of time...

Richard Stallman wrote an excellent article on "Why schools should use open source software", the full article can be found here but for now I have taken a couple of paragraphs which are quite powerful.

There are general reasons why all computer users should insist on free software. It gives users the freedom to control their own computers—with proprietary software, the computer does what the software owner wants it to do, not what the software user wants it to do. Free software also gives users the freedom to cooperate with each other, to lead an upright life. These reasons apply to schools as they do to everyone.

First, free software can save the schools money. Even in the richest countries, schools are short of money. Free software gives schools, like other users, the freedom to copy and redistribute the software, so the school system can make copies for all the computers they have. In poor countries, this can help close the digital divide.

School should teach students ways of life that will benefit society as a whole. They should promote the use of free software just as they promote recycling. If schools teach students free software, then the students will use free software after they graduate. This will help society as a whole escape from being dominated (and gouged) by megacorporations.

My hope for the future is that more ICT manager within educational facilities open up to open source, allowing the school or college to have the system that they can confidently grow with and help their students become the best at what they do. There is an immense amount of support out there for those willing to ask for it.