FOSS Week in Review
While New York State contemplates offering a tax break to open source projects and Massachusetts prepares for LibrePlanet 2016, Opera adds built-in ad blocking to its browser.
It may be a digital world, but the weather is still analog.
Around my parts, this is the time of year when the weather can’t seem to decide whether to act like winter or spring. In other words, it’s a couple of days of tee shirts and shorts followed by a couple of days of dressing in layers and running the heat. Last week it was in the 80s, but next week they’re saying to expect frost and maybe freezing rain. I’m not complaining. This is still better than the dog days of summer.
We’ve already covered quite a bit of the FOSS news this week. Here’s some items left uncovered:
Whenever a company announces it’s looking for a place to build a new warehouse or plant — actually nobody builds plants in this country anymore, they’re all in China or Vietnam — local governments far and wide line up in a competition to see who’s going to offer the largest tax break. Offering tax breaks as incentives to a company to move to an area to make a lot of money and get rich off the sweat of local taxpaying citizens always seemed a little backwards to me, but as my old buddy Brad Keagle used to say, I don’t make the rules. I only live by them.
This week we heard news of a tax incentive program I can get behind: How about a tax break for the developers of open source software? It seems that a couple of state senators from the Empire State want to do exactly that. Senate Bill S161, sponsored by Senator Daniel Squadron (D-26th) and co-sponsored by Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-36th), provides a maximum $200 tax credit for taxpayer expenses associated with the development of open source and free software licensed programs. Right now the bill is in committee, and according to the nifty how-our-government-works chart on the New York Senate website, if it clears that hurdle it’ll go on to be added to the calendar for a vote. After that, assuming it passes, it’ll go across the hall, downstairs or wherever the Assembly resides for another vote, before being sent to the governor’s mansion (or his double wide or whatever) to be signed into law.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that this isn’t the first attempt by New York lawmakers to pass such a bill. This time, however, lawmakers are getting some guidance from The Open Source Initiative. Sometimes politicians must have things explained to them, I reckon.
It’s LibrePlanet time. It seems like only yesterday — actually, it was only yesterday — that they folded the tents and put the elephants on the trains after a successful run for Great Wide Open down in Atlanta. Now, on the opposite end of the U.S. East Coast, way yonder up north as we say around here, they’re getting ready for the FOSS fest to end all FOSS fests — that being the Free Software Foundation’s LibrePlanet 2016, which opens for a two day run right next door to Bean Town in Cambridge.
If I might be excused for letting my 1960s freak flag fly for a moment, this years event seems like it’ll be pretty cool and groovy. The theme of this years show is “Fork the System,” which come to think of it does have sort of a sixties ring to it, no? Edward Snowden will be on hand to give the Saturday morning keynote — well, he won’t actually be there, there’s something about an old traffic ticket that never got paid or something — but he’ll make a showing via some kind of free and non-proprietary computer hookup. Snowden will be aided by Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a technologist with the ACLU.
As you might expect from a FSF sponsored event, Richard Stallman will be on hand. He’ll be giving a talk after the Free Software Awards are handed out on Saturday at 5 p.m. called “Current Threats and Opportunities for the Free Software Movement.” Covered in the talk will be “new ideas for fixing the mobile phone situation, and the worsening problem of schools forcing nonfree software on students.”
Up next on the FOSS Force calendar will be LinuxFest Northwest 2016, a two day event that begins April 23 in Bellingham, Wash.
Quote of the Week: This weeks quote comes from one of those often funny and always descriptive headlines on Techdirt to an article by Michael Ho: “Horsepower? Why Are We Measuring Anything With Horse-Based Units?”
Hmmm…never thought to question that before.
Quick takes: As we’re an ad supported website I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but the folks who bring you the proprietary Opera browser have added built-in ad blocking, which by default works on a per site basis. According to the browser company’s research, blocking ads decreases load times for most sites by 45 percent. As the Chick-fil-A cows would say, “Eat mor chikin”…. On Monday, Glyn Moody reported on Techdirt that the Popcorn-Time.no domain name has been seized by the police in Norway who are worried about copyright issues. Now, is that any way to run a socialist country? … Anyone who uses any sort of messaging program or device absolutely must check out the Secure Messaging Scorecard on the EFF website. Generally speaking, the big players in the field aren’t very secure, but there are some excellent choices that bear looking into.
Parting shot: The FOSS Force 2016 Fundraising Campaign is now one for the record books. On the negative side, we missed our target goal of $3,700 by $1,215, raising only 67 percent of the total. Accenting the positive, you wonderful people contributed $2,485 to keep FOSS Force strong. Thank you. We’ll use it wisely; we promise. More good news: Our ad revenues continue to grow. If Opera doesn’t blow it for us with its ad blocking browser, we’re projecting that April will be the first profitable month in our history. Help make it possible by whitelisting us if you use ad blocking software.
That’s it for this week. Until next time, may the FOSS be with you…