Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bank Guarantees and the Dangerous Dogs Act

Call me a pessimist, but I can foresee the current plans for guaranteeing investors money up to £100k to be about as well planned and executed as the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Why do I expect this? The first reason is that the legislation - well probably executive decision - will be rushed through without proper consideration, scrutiny or debate. The other reason is that the current business ethics are so low that their will be a number of people who look to exploit it.
Time will tell...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I have got to stop driving

Given the nature of the business we are running I have to do a lot of driving. I run a twenty year old Volvo estate, converted to LPG. This costs about 10.5p per mile in fuel - but the conversion cost £1,500. Oh, and I love driving.

BUT

This just can't go on. The world cannot support all of these people driving around the country. Maybe in a few decades we'll have worked out how to do it sensibly, but for now it has to stop.

My ambition is that inside 10 years, preferably 5, I reduce my travelling from the approximately 20,000 miles a year* I've been doing for the last 25 years to 5,000 miles. How will I do this? My thoughts are:
  • longer sessions in each place;
  • more telecommuting;
  • less work in general.
Watch this space!

* this is my guess based on car, train and plane miles.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Accosting People on New Street


Well, good to my promise I spent a couple of hours handing out CDs and talking about Free Software in Birmingham.

It was an interesting experience, and might be summarised as:
  • A surprising (worrying?) number of people claimed to never use a computer;
  • Many people were interested in the OpenCD and took copies;
  • Quite a few people know about Linux, though Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt clearly played their parts in stopping some people adopting it.
The image is of Ciaran clearly making some one's day!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Software Freedom Day

Tomorrow I'm going to spend a couple of hours on the streets of Birmingham trying to give away software. I hope that the conversations I will manage with the passers-by will restore my somewhat jaded faith in the common-sense of humanity.

The software I use - free and open for most things I do - is superb. It is reliable, efficient and interesting. Whenever I have to use proprietary software, as I do occasionally for my work, I feels like wading through treacle.

If you haven't tried Free Software, then I invite you to try FireFox or OpenOffice - and if you want to really liberate your computer, try Puppy Linux!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Risk averse - it isn't just the Police force

Listening to the radio, I'm hearing reports about the police becoming increasingly risk averse. Trust me, it's not just the police force. I work with schools, local government officers and voluntary organisations. People from these organisations are just plain scared of anything that hasn't been done 100 times before.

Just look at it - can you really tell any difference between schools - do you know of any that don't use uniforms? The last non-uniform school I worked at was Bedales - a leading fee paying school. How many schools have rethought the timetable? I know of one school in Kent that's looking at it.

We have set up a community interest company for our business, in an attempt to break away from this. We are happy to take the odd risk. So far we're managing to draw a salary from it - which is good.

We try to encourage community and voluntary organisations to use Free Software - with the well documented cost savings (no please don't start that argument here). These people are just plain scared of change or risk.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Free as in thought

Working with organisations and individuals has brought me to realise that 'free' as in beer is sometimes bad news. People seem to make more demands of free ($£) services, that they wouldn't make of charged services.

I know this goes against my normal attitudes, in that free ($%) and free (thought) are both good. Maybe is you go out and seek something that is free (£%) then its different!

If this sounds confused, it's because I am!