Some Updates

Education, Free Software, Jonathan 3 Comments »

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  • Had flu the last month or so, finally been getting over it this week, starting to feel human again. I thought I had H1N1, but I had it checked and it turns out it was just a nasty flu. My concentration was just gone the last month so I ended up watching a lot of old Star Trek Voyager and Third Rock From the Sun episodes.
  • Kind of bummed that the rest of the world gets to see District 9 already, and in South Africa, where the story actually plays off, we only get to see it in a week from now on the 28th of August.
  • Attended the Obstreperous Olive Geekdinner at the Pasta Factory. Staff was very friendly, food could have been better for the price. Talks were a bit too markety and “done”, as a result I’m volunteering for a more geeky talk next month. Overall it was very good and I got to catch up with a few people I haven’t seen in way too long.
  • I got my first few packages in Ubuntu, I’ve been working on LTSP cluster (packages.ubuntu.com seems to have some trouble currently) packaging and 5 out of the 6 packages are currently in the archives. ltsp-cluster-pxeconfig is next, it’s in REVU at the moment, it should make it in before feature freeze next week. Thank you to St├ęphane Graber who has been mentoring me on this, he’s also the upstream for LTSP Cluster and sponsoring my packages. Also thanks to Jordan, Oliver and Anthony for reviewing my packages on REVU.
  • Ubuntu-ZA is having monthly meetings now, I was kind of dazed at the last one due to flu and medicine, but it’s refreshing to see the energy and enthusiasm, we’ll have the first of our monthly reports ready within the next week or so.
  • Edubuntu is in a bit of a squeeze. The good news is that a DVD install disc and enabling universe packages for the builds have been approved, unfortunately the Edubuntu seeds need work and need to be finalised within the next week or so, and our two core-devs have had other urgent issues to tend to. If there’s a core-dev available to give some guidance and sponsorship over the next week, it would be much appreciated.
  • Some other nice things in my feed reader from the Ubuntu world:
    • 100 Paper cuts is at round 7, I think David Siegel is really cool for taking it on and sticking in there with it.
    • Daniel Holbach blogged about the Ubuntu Global Jam, some of us in CLUG considered doing a package jam for a CLUG talk, but due to time limitations and the recent threads on the CLUG lists where users are requesting more intro-level talks, I’m wondering whether we should have a kind of tips-and-tricks jam, where a bunch of us show how we use Ubuntu to be more productive.
    • Ubuntu Developer Week is kicking off in a bit more than a week, be sure to be there if you’re interested in contributing to Ubuntu!
  • botonbrown
  • Free Ubuntu Books for approved loco teams, also a copy of Art of Community. Ubuntu-ZA applied for the first 2 books that will be hosted at AIMS in Cape Town and available for anyone who wants to drop by and read it. We’ll probably keep the Art of Community book in Johannesburg somewhere under a similar arrangement.
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SA Elections 2009

Free Software, Jonathan, Politics 3 Comments »

The Contenders

Today is the national and provincial elections in South Africa. I just made my vote, and it’s the first time I ever voted. It was supposed to be the second time I voted. I didn’t vote last time, not because of apathy so much as that I knew it wouldn’t have made so much of a difference who I voted for.

This year it’s quite different, the ruling ANC party has a break-away faction called COPE, and it’s quite possible that the ANC might not get a majority (2/3rds) vote. The DA has also gained lots of momentum since the last elections, and it’s quite possible that they may win the provincial elections in the Western Cape province. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m not a fan of the ANC. While they have done a lot for our country that I will always be grateful for, I am also disgusted at what it has become and how it is run. Their leader, who will most probably be our president, is immoral and corrupt, and I won’t support him or his party. The question I’ve been wondering about the last 6 months or so is who will I vote for? Our parties are mostly lame and petty. The reasons they give in their campaigns to vote for them are things like “Vote for us so that we can win!” and “Vote for us so that the other parties won’t win!” or “A brighter future for all!”. All vague and boring, they mostly haven’t really provided any good reasons to vote for them.

My Choice

I considered voting COPE for a while, being fresh and new and being low baggage. The problem is that I couldn’t really find enough supporting reasons to vote for them, so I looked at the ID. ID actually looks ok, and I like Patricia de Lille (even though she can be a bit of a freedom hater at times). I like her passion and she seems to really care for the poor people in our country. The problem is that it more or less ends there, the ID’s mission seems mostly to give free shit like medicine and schooling to poor people. Not bad at all, but we need a bigger plan than that for our country. I ended up not voting for them, but if they do some more work and planning into what they’ll do for our country (whether elected or not), I might end up voting for them in the future. I came across the NOPE website which isn’t really a political party, but if they were I’d probably vote for them. I didn’t want to vote for the DA because there’s this general stigma that if you’re black you vote ANC and if you’re white you vote DA. I also can’t relate to Helen Zille much at all, I think she needs to do more to reach out to the youth. I’m also apposed to all the religious parties, religion and politics shouldn’t be mixed.

I did end up voting DA for the following reasons:

  • They promise not to form a coalition with the ANC or other ANC coalitions, so when you vote DA, you know your vote stays there
  • Hellen Zille (the leader of the D.A) have been running Cape Town very well, and I think the DA will do a much better job of running the Western Cape province if they win the provincial elections.
  • The DA is pretty much the only party that has a chance of beating the ANC in the Western Cape, I absolutely HATE the notion of voting for someone just because they have the best chance of winning, but in this case I do think that it makes sense to do so

CLUG Discussions

On the CLUG IRC channel and last night at the commitee meeting we’ve been talking about what the different parties run as web servers, content management systems, etc. I thought I’d post a summary, according to what Netcraft says.

Most parties also require you to add a www. to their subdomain, someone should point them to no-www.

ANC

  • Web Server: Apache/2.2.9 (Ubuntu) PHP/5.2.6-2ubuntu4.1 with Suhosin-Patch mod_ssl/2.2.9 OpenSSL/0.9.8g.
  • CMS: Custom/static PHP.
  • Requires WWW: Yes.

COPE

  • Web Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
  • CMS: Custom/static ASP.
  • Requries WWW: Yes.

DA

  • Web Server: Apache/1.3.34 (Debian) mod_auth_pam/1.1.1 mod_gzip/1.3.26.1a PHP/4.4.4-8+etch6 mod_ssl/2.8.25 OpenSSL/0.9.8c mod_perl/1.29 mod_jk/1.2.18 AuthMySQL/4.3.9-2 FrontPage/5.0.2.2635
  • CMS: Custom/static HTML.
  • Requries WWW:No, but it redirects you to the www. subdomain.

ID

  • Web Server: Zope/(Zope 2.9.7-final, python 2.4.4, linux2) ZServer/1.1
  • CMS: Plone
  • Requries WWW:No.

Stefano pointed out last night that most of the parties are outsourcing their web work. I still think it’s interesting to see what they are running. If it counted for anything then the ID would probably win.

Leaving the Country?

Some people have said that they’re leaving the country if Zuma becomes president and if the ANC wins in the Western Cape and if the ANC gains majority rule. I think South Africa is a great country, and I don’t have plans to leave any time soon. You do have to ask yourself at some point though “How bad to things need to get before I should leave?”. I’ve been spending lots of time in Gauteng over the last year. If things get as bad in the Western Cape as it is in Gauteng at the moment, then I will consider leaving. Not a clue where too though, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather want to live.

Starting a political party?

I’ve been thinking of starting a political party for years now (since I was 17 or so). Back then I thought of going into politics when I’m 50 years old or older. When the last elections came and gone, I started thinking of starting my own political party a bit earlier, maybe closer to 30. I’ll be doing some research and if I actually do decide to start something for the next elections, I’ll start doing something about it in the first 6 months of next year. I was talking to an old friend at the voting stations this morning and he was asking me how I’d pay for the start-up and compaign fees. Previous years I thought that I’d save up the money and pay for as much of it as I can, but now I think that if I can’t even gather enough people to raise some funds for running the campaign, then I probably shouldn’t go into politics in the first place.

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Aslam Rafee leaves DST

Free Software 1 Comment »

I heard it about 2 weeks ago via the grapevine, but just read it on Tectonic, Aslam Raffee is leaving the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to go work for Sun Microsystems.

He did a great job at promoting open source within the DST and in the South African government, and I’m sure he’ll be sorely missed by many. One of his most notable achievements was the creation of the Minimal InterOpability Standard (MIOS) which set the government standards for working in a cross-platform friendly way.

Good luck to Aslam and I hope we’ll hear much more from him in the future.

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It’s our turn now

Jonathan, Politics No Comments »

The US elections is now history, it’s over, a president has been elected and sworn in.

Next up, is probably the most important democratic election in South Africa since the very first democratic elections in 1994. We’ll have many new parties to choose from in this election, by some reports more than a 100. One of the most important new-commers of course, is the COPE party, a breakaway faction of the current ruling ANC.

I haven’t decided who I’m going to vote for yet, although I know who I’m definitely not voting for, but that’s another post on it’s own.

What I want to emphasise now is that you should go register to vote, if you haven’t done so. The last opportunity to register is on the 7th and 8th of February.

Please do the following:

  • Ask your friends if they have registered
  • Offer to go to their houses and wake them up on registration weekend and to take them to a registration office
  • I’ve slammed together a really quick register-to-vote banner that I’m putting on my blog, feel free to do the same. You can get an svg version here.

register

    All around the world, the youth are becomming more interested in politics and taking action in improving the state of their country and their future. It’s now our turn, the youth of South Africa, to show the world what we’re made of.

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    Political Tendencies

    Free Software, Jonathan, Politics, Project Mayhem 12 Comments »

    The Stereotype

    Recently, Jordan Mantha blogged about being excited about Palin joining McCain’s campaign. Some of the comments were quite harsh, some even suggesting that it’s wrong to support the Republicans, being a free software developer and affiated with the Ubuntu project. I will admit that I was quite surprised to see his support for the McCain myself- from the vast majority of posts I’ve seen on Planet Ubuntu, Planet Debian and Planet Gnome so far, most free software supporters seem to support Obama and the Democratic party. Being a supporter of free software (or Ubuntu) shouldn’t imply what kind of political tendencies you have. Statistics might show that most free software supporters might choose something, that doesn’t mean that everyone has to.

    The Political Compass

    In CLUG, many of the people in our IRC channel participated in the Political Compass test. It asks you a series of questions and then gives you co-ordinates on where you stand politically. Michael Gorven put together a Python script that takes the results from Spinach (our channel bot) and plots it on a graph using Gnuplot:

    In the graph above, it’s clear that everyone in our LUG that participated landed in the Libertarian quadrants, and not a single person in the Authoritarian quadrants. Most people are in the Left-wing Libertarian quadrant, with quite a few in the Right-wing Libertarian quadrant. In this case, the graph supports the stereotype that free software supporters may be more inclined to be left-wing libertarians. There are other things that this graph doesn’t bring into account though. Everyone in our IRC channel are also South Africans. Could that perhaps have an effect on our choices and tendencies? We also discuss *everything* on our IRC channel, and we mostly read each other’s blogs. Could it also be that we shape each other’s political views, if only we sway it by the tiniest bit on a continuous basis?

    I think it’s natural of humans to make assumptions about other people and the world around them. I think it’s wrong of people to take offence when these assumptions and generalisations do not fit into their little view of the world. While we’re not all unique little snowflakes, we are all different, and tolerance and acceptance goes a long, long way.

    See also:

    Other Cluggers who have blogged on the political compass:

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    To sanction or not to sanction

    Politics, Project Mayhem 4 Comments »

    Jeremy Thurgood recently stated a question regarding the sanctions against Zimbabwe:

    Have a look at the following BBC news article:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7503135.stm

    Now consider this. South Africa had sanctions imposed (and rightly so) because a legally elected government was oppressing part of its population. Zimbabwe doesn’t have sanctions imposed because an illegal government is oppressing all of its population?

    This whole thing makes me sick and is a reminder of why I should stay as far from politics as I possibly can.

    I tentatively think that not apposing sanctions against Zimbabwe was the right thing to do. Saying it tentatively may appear a bit cowardly, but I can’t really say that I have enough insight into the situation to make a clear decision, for example, I can’t really find information on exactly which kind of sanctions have been proposed. What leads me to this view is, in South Africa, in the Apartheid era, it was a minority that oppressed a very large group of people. Even though the government at the time was legally voted, according to our laws at the time, it doesn’t meant that it was moral. I don’t think the issue of whether the government was legally elected or not is really the issue here. I think the issue here is that the people in Zimbabwe have no real freedom, they are suffering under a cruel dictatorship.

    I think the real issue here is who it would hurt if sanctions would be ruled against the country. First of all, who would it hurt most if sanctions would be placed? I think it will put the people of Zimbabwe in a horrible situation. They may lose access to medical equipment and services, food, educational content and more. I doubt that the Zimbabwean government cares much if their people will be deprived of day-to-day necessaties (judging by their activities in recent years), so sanctions would just be a terrible idea in my opinion. In the South African context, the sanctions mostly hurt the elite and rich oppressors. It sent a strong international message, I agree that it was indeed necessary at the time. I don’t think it’s the wisest thing for Zimbabwe right now though. I respect the opinions of people who feel otherwise, but if it was my vote, I would also vote against the sanctions.

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    Zimbabweans are our Neighbours

    Project Mayhem 1 Comment »

    The crisis in Zimbabwe saddens me immensely. I’ve felt terrible for the Zimbabweans for a very long time now. I’ve also been disgusted in the South Africans for not doing more to help them. They are just humans, who really don’t have much control over the situation they find themselves in, and I think, as South Africans, we should do more to help rehabilitate Zimbabweans and make them productive citizens and help them to make a living here in South Africa. I suppose people will be quick to point out that we don’t even have adequate resources to take care of our own people, but when I see things like this, I certainly don’t feel proud to be South African:

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