1x53: They've Got A Flamethrower

Jeremy Garcia, Jono Bacon, Bryan Lunduke, and Stuart Langridge bring you Bad Voltage, in which Jeremy is unwell and yet battles on heroically, everyone is cynical about politicians and yet battle on heroically, and:

  • 00:02:14 The rise of inexpensive open source computers: the PocketChip and DragonBox Pyra are examples of new cheap open source computing devices, and everyone knows about the Raspberry Pi. Are these things cool for people who aren't the Bad Voltage team? What good are they? Isn't it great that these exist?
  • 00:12:22 "Vigilante malware" as a concept is in the news again; this time, there's a real example, Linux.Wifatch, a network worm which infects Linux-based routers and embedded devices and then... turns off insecure options and makes sure they're up to date with patches. It's malware, but on the side of good. Maybe this is the way forward? Question mark?
  • 00:27:55 We've been asked about Owncloud quite a lot, and brought it up for discussion frequently: now we speak to project founder Frank Karlitschek about what Owncloud's up to now and why it might be a good idea
  • 00:44:37 Why don't the open source community continually introduce laws saying things like "all router firmware must be open source" so the enemy has to spend resources and time battling these things, much like they keep introducing laws saying "everyone must use DOCX" and we have to battle them? Why not fight fire with fire?

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I am a little surprised that none of you suggest a virus that infect windows XP computers and install Linux. :wink:

I have tried Owncloud a few years ago and ran into a lot of bugs but they seems to have been fixed since. Maybe I’ll give it another try.

I wish they had more designers, I really feel the gap between Google, Dropbox and Owncloud.

Sam Hewitt (one of the elementary OS designers) made a proposal for a new logo but it seems that they weren’t interested. Just imagine for a minute how awesome it could be if the guys from elementary redesign Owncloud :heart_eyes:

Also I am wondering why they don’t propose hosting. They seems to have the competences for it and I would be totaly ready to pay for it. When you see company like Discourse and Ghost being successfull this way, it might be a good way to finance the project.

There are a bunch of owncloud hosting providers: see https://owncloud.org/providers/ for details. I have to say that the core owncloud design is quite a bit better than it used to be; installable apps do not necessarily mesh with the design, and if it were me I’d block apps that don’t share the design values, but most people who are using owncloud don’t feel like that.

I have tried Zaclys but it wasn’t awesome.
Also it might sound really stupid but when I look at most of the offers I feel like “naaah, I am gonna find a server and host it myself” but it would feel ok if I was directly supporting an open source project.
For instance I have a Ghost Pro account ($10 per month), but I wouldn’t take a $5 plan anywhere else.

You guys have to warn me when you’re about to mention Indiana. I nearly fell out of my seat.

Just trying to spread the love. :smile:

Has occurred to me that if you gave me a map of the US and five guesses I don’t think I could actually say where Indiana is, mind. Must check that.

Even if you could, would you want to?

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It looks like the UK has adopted Open Standards y’all:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/open-document-format-odf-guidance

Your discussion of “vigilante malware” reminds me of this:

re: 00:44:37 Why don’t the open source community continually introduce laws
saying things like “all router firmware must be open source”

You guys have it really wrong… The US is the last place for this to happen. Most profit for closed source software go to American companies. In my perspective the EU, Japan and China is where this needs to happen and of those three - really the most important is the EU.

The problem, at least in the US, is that individuals generally don’t have the ability submit bills or propositions like these through government. The reason companies and trade association can do it is that they’ve spent absurd amounts of money on lobbying congressmen, or other elected officials. So either we need to find or elect sympathetic reps to do this for us, or find some big bags of money to leave on the right door steps.

On the state/local level theres an alternate path. Rather than going after elected reps you can try to push for a voter initiative to be included on the next elections ballot. Thats only possible in about 24~ states though. If you live in one of those states you basically draft up the crazy law you want and then have to get a certain % of the voting population to sign saying they believe your idea should be on the ballot. In California for example you need signatures from 8% of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election. Thats a lot of signatures, and so as a result you generally again need a big bag of money to attempt this. Assuming it gets on the ballot you then need to mount a campaign to explain why someone should bother to show up to the polls and vote in favor of your idea.

Now don’t forget that even if we do get an elected rep to vote open, or get an initiative on the ballot the opposition will surely show up. For example back in 2009, Mark Leno proposed that the state of California should only work in open file formats. MSFT showed up with their bags of cash, lobbyists and FUD and basically went nuclear on that entire discussion.

TLDR I as an individual have no real way to get my “the world should be open” law in front of anyone, unless I’ve got huge sums of money to burn.

The opposition showing up is expected. My thought was: I bet they won’t show up for everything. And every time they miss one, we win.

But… It has been made abundantly clear that one needs infinite money to enact this plan. Colour me sad.

Ya, we’re all plenty sad about it. This is at least in part what Lessig was hoping to combat when he launched MayDay PAC and his now unfortunately aborted presidential bid.

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I like the idea of proposing loads of laws at a local level. There are a lot of people interested in free software around the world, so if only a tiny proportion of these people can get a proposed law before their local government, that’s still a lot of laws. Of course, the proprietary lobby will turn up with their bags of cash, and probably get the law rejected. Basically, I see two outcomes here:

  1. (unlikely) the law get passed, we win
  2. the law gets rejected, but at the cost of proprietary software lobbyist’s time and money, both of which are finite resources and the more of these resources are tied up in stopping pro-free software laws getting through, the less resources they have to try and push through anti-free software laws. We win (albeit a less of a win).

This was basically my theory, indeed. However, it misses a point, which is that we (you, me, people reading this) can’t propose laws, even at local level. Elected people can do that. But, to a first approximation, an elected person will only do that if you hand them a big bag full of money, and we don’t have loads of big bags full of money.

I’m not so cynical about local politics. True, national politics is basically the domain of thieves and bastards, but at a local level there’s less greed in it and, in general, it’s less lead by large corporate needs (maybe I just wear rose-tinted glasses). Anywhere outside of silicon valley could probably make the argument that going the free software route would be beneficial to local tech businesses / consultants / etc. That, and a few noisy people in public forums could well be enough to get a law considered.

Consider this local law for example:

‘Bristol City Council can only buy software that can be modified and maintained by Bristol firms, such as open source software or software produced within Bristol’

That’s not explicitly free software, but the end result of it is likely to be, and it’s an attractive law for a a local councillor looking to get re-elected on a ‘providing jobs’ mandate.

Oh, certainly, and I agree that local politics is not quite as venial and bribe-happy as national politics (and it does sound rather like the USA is worse than others in this, although that might be a misperception). But… one couldn’t get a given Bristol politician to create lots of these laws. (Unless they were already on-side for open source.) I suppose there is value in having one politician in each of lots of different towns do it, so any one given politician doesn’t have to go all out for free software, but the proprietary people have to fight in Bristol and Birmingham and Brighton and Newcastle. Would this work, do we think? Might be worth sitting down for a pint with a few decent local politicians in various places and talking it over…

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