Category Archives: Open standards

Highly connected nodes

It’s the leit motiv of my life these days…

fun mesh

  • I’m a member of GPUL, so I’m a free software activist -> I collaborated with ESF-Galicia (Engineers Without Borders) in their migration to free software and open standards.
  • I’m a social volunteer of OCV in Portiño->OCV funds some cooperation projects of ESF in Honduras.
  • GPUL promotes free software -> GPUL has a project of a computer classroom in Portiño
  • Lucía, is another volunteer of OCV in  Portiño-> She got a scholarship to travel and work in a cooperation project of ESF in Honduras.
  • I’m a worker of CartoLab-> CartoLab, ESF and OCV signed an agreement to develop a custom gvSIG to ESF projects in Honduras->I’ll a developer in that project-> Lucía will process the data she’ll take with the free software tool in which I work.

So, I everyday dive in a dense mesh of same names and organizations…

More than W*S

The last days at the Conference were intense, so I’ll write about them at home again.

The second day began with RMS’s speech about patents. We arrived a bit late, but I can certify it was a very good speech again. After it, Richard sold by (benefic) auction his book “Free Software, Free Society” and a cuddly GNU. Gonzalo had a moment of foolness, and now that GNU is now called “the CartoÑu”. Tomorrow will be introduced in society :-)

CartoLab and SitGa teams

After a coffee, I began to jump from a session to another again, looking for the most interesting papers to my work. Barranco and Alvarez from CEDEX showed the power of GRASS in hydrology investigation. Gomariz, Moreno, Cánovas and Alonso from University of Mucia explained the architecture they built to create a GIS to investigate hydric resources. They where the free software radicals in the conference, I think :-) the only (LaTeX) beamer I saw in the three days. I was happy to have concurred in technologic decisions for several solutions in CartoLab with them.

The last speeches for me in the morning where about the wonderful world of  OGC services: David Jonglez from Camptocamp France SAS talked about MapFish; Fonts and Vidal related the evolution of Vissir2, the web visor of the Institut Cartográfic de Catalunya.

After having lunch Gonzalo gave a great speech standing out the importance of developing general free GIS clients to specific pourposes in order to reduce the time of cartographic works. Victor Olaya made the CartoLab in protagonist again with the announce of Nacho going to be part of the
Sextante developing team.

The rest hours to the night were my approach to OSGeo foundation and its Spanish-American chapter. I’ll write about it later. I only can say by now it was really exciting :-)

Great part of attendants went home that night. Gonzalo, Nacho and me ended the night soon at the Camelot Irish pub with Victor Olaya and more people of the conference.

We changed the stage on Friday. The workshops where developed in the Facultat de Lletres of Universitat de Girona. It’s a restored Gothic monastery. I think they could be done a better integrated work, but it’s still a pretty environment.

Carlos Dávila developed a good workshop on Quantum GIS, a GIS client based on GRASS. I never had worked with a GIS program in such depth. Gonzalo runned out to the train station because he must flight to Asturias the same day. In the other side, the rest of CartoLab team had lunch in the central court of the building, under cypresses shadow.

The culmination for me arrived afternoon with Lorenzo Becchi driving a workshop on OpenLayers. I was tired, of course. But I would resist four hours more learning about that wonderful libraries.

That night Nacho and me had dinner at König and we returned to La Lola pub to celebrate those days :-D(I think Catalonians go to bed too soon, but that night we were too tired to worry about it ;-))

Maybe the III Jornadas SIG Libre had the geek level I would like. But it was in fact the cause of it sucess: everybody felt confortable and everybody could find interesting things for their business. I remembered sometimes GPUL’s CTSL’05

Today I’m analysing some documentation I received into the official bag of the conference. I found a very interesting book: “Complete migration to open source software in the Valencian Regional Ministry of Infraestructure and Transport”. It’s a example to follow, as far I could read by now.

It seems next year there won’t be the 4th edition. Why? Because FOSS4G 2010 will celebrate in Barcelona. It is the greatest event about geospatial free software in the world, and Irene Compte,  Lluis Vicens and Lorenzo Becci will work in it. So, I’m sure it’ll be a new sucess, and I
wish to be there :-)

Via Augusta

It’s 4 a.m. I’m trying to write slowly in the darkness because Gonzalo it’s trying to sleep. He will read his paper tomorrow.

Today started the Conference. It seems the usual professional Conference in a four-star hotel, but there is a bit of unformality air. It’s not a geek conference at all (otherwise somebody would burn with gas because the wireless net continuous problems), there are people from different disciplines and organistations (government, university, enterprise, non-profit foundations, even lone developers).

In the opening we could hear some philosophical conferences (web 3.0 gaaaaaa!!!!)  and the launching of some projects related to the GIS world (Simon Jirka on 52º North about  Sensor Web Enablement, and Chris Holmes on OpenGeo about geospatial web services).

After lunch the most technical speeches began. Nacho opened the fire in his session with the releasing of SDIAnalyzer. He beared the network problems too, so he sadly couldn’t improve his speech with a fair demo. Then a pair of speeches followed about Catalonian and Andalusian governments apps around web geospatial services to their citizens.

There was an interesting discussion after the coffe about free (as in freedom) (spatial) data. Once again, governments and non-profit initiatives like OSM exposed their different points of view.

After sunset we went out for a walk with a tourist guide. We could admire how a city was built since the Roman Empire (Via Augusta crosses the city drawing the cardus) to nowadays. It was a pity the cathedral was closed. It’s the Gothic cathedral with the longest span in width nave in the world. We could read in those old stones some history about intolerance of Catholics against Jewish (modern era) and Communist and Anarchists against Catholics (Spanish II Republic and Civil War).

Finally we went to have dinner to a nice restaurant where we eat some typical  dishes. After it, around 100 GISers crossed in the night the city to find an opened pub. We found a pretty pub where two guitarists played a gypsy concert. I got a bit sad during a moment because I lost my session at the Portiño, but we really got fun dancing :-)

(Of course I’m uploading some photos in my gallery.)

And… in four hours… we’ll sing “Join us now and share the software…”

Little steps to opening the world

In these last days I have been ‘unplugged’ two very interesting news jumped me from worry to happiness.

One is the ISO stopping Microsoft with the OOXML defective by design standard (via OSNews). If ISO had aproved OOXML maybe it would keep the slavery we bear in communications with administrations.

The other news come from the graphics world. It’s, of course, the new policy by ATI releasing GPU specs without restrictions. It will be an important leap for the manufactures and, of course, for the free software world. Now we are waiting for NVidia ;)

Looking for an unicorn

Near two years ago I wrote a post about CAD file formats. I defended the DGN format against DWG or DXF. Then I thought the Open Design Alliance was a good idea.
But since that post to now I began to investigate in order to write a translator from DGN V8 for Blender. My first step was towards the Open Design Alliance, but there I couldn’t find free libs nor DGN V8 specs. ODA has an interesting point of beginning (if your file formats are not free you can’t own your works). But they are not interested en free (as in freedom) software.

So I aimed to Bentley’s OpenDGN Initiative. All my attempts finished in a ‘forbidden’ web page. Then I exchanged a pair of mails with the person at the charge, finally I couldn’t got the DGN V8 specs. He stopped to answer my emails. I found similar experiencies of people looking for this document.

As it seems it is impossible to find the DGN V8 specifications as I can find the DGN V7/ISFF, I conclude OpenDGN is not so open as Bentley pretends. So it is a bad idea to found any project in DGN V8 (closed specs), DWG (closed specs, heavy drm-zed format) and DXF (poor format, not standard at all).

Via Martín who writes in gpul’s blog I discovered a recent project which target is to design a really open CAD file format. It seems there are interesting discussions about it.

Maybe you think a CAD format is a too specific field to work. But you must think in the roads you drive on, the buildings you live and work, the engines that move you, the networks you connect to. Think about it, and you will see a world to free.

Why we love LaTeX

Have you suffered the random whims of Word? Do you have a 5-years old document and you can’t read properly because the version or the word processor missed? Ok, here is an interesting document about why do you must learn to process with LaTeX your documents (especially if you write lots of mathematical formulas): Word processors: stupid and inefficient, by Allin Cotrell.
The document translated in Spanish. Via Barrapunto.

DRM obsession

Sure many people believes that RMS is fool and FSF is losing the way in campaigns like Defective by Design. I was a little skeptic the first time I read “The right to read” near a decade ago. But today I’m a believer, I don’t need to read this very interesting Peter Gutmann’s paper on Windows Vista efforts to convert a general pourpose machine (a PC) in a f*ck*ng branch of music and cinema enterprises.

So I only wish news like the lawsuit of Autodesk against (slashdot) the Open Design Alliance, with the TrustedDWG in the background, will help to my colleagues engineers to open eyes and drop Autodesk products and closed formats in favour of open (and better) formats like DGN.

GPUL’s I Jornadas sobre Tecnologías Web y Software Libre (I Conference on Web Technologies and Free Software)

I couldn’t have rest after the June tests. GPUL planned to middle July this year for first time a web technologies conference, the I Jornada sobre Tecnologías Web y Software Libre, on 12th, and the traditional cryptography workshop: III Taller de Criptografía, Seguridad y Privacidad, on 13th.

The work was hard for all organizers. We have several speakers who travelled to La Coruña, and Visperas and Benji via ekiga :-)

The Web Conference began with Martín Álvarez Espinar, from the Spanish Office of the W3C, who explained us the structure of the W3C, their investigations and developments, and the importance of standards in the universal access to the web. In the same line, David Cabrero Souto spoke about differents aspects of accesibility in the web. The stinky example, the main web of our University :-P.

After “theory” then we have “implementation” speechs. Ph. D.Fernando Bellas Permuy showed the architecture and explained the decisions in the future academic management of USC and UDC consortium, which will be built with free software on open standards. Asís García Chao and David Barral Precedo of Trabe Soluciones gave us an introduction to AJAX. This speech filled up the classroom, AJAX is getting importance because so-called Web 2.0 (I think we should first make work Web 1.0 ok, but I love gmail and meebo too ;-)).

The culminating moment of the day was the Allan Beaufour’s speech. We were honoured by his visit, he travelled from Copenhagen only to give this speech. He talked about the past, present and future of Mozilla Firefox, then he centered in XML technologies and the implementation of the XForms standard in Firefox. I discovered an amazing technology (and how can my English speaking stink, but this is another history).

And finally our Ana Sáiz García gave a CSS introduction. I couldn’t saw the videoconference, but she helped me sometimes with CSS so I know she did a good work explaining how important and easy is detaching contents and appearance :-)

The photos of the event by Fid (with my camera) in my gallery.

Past to future: Tim Berners-Lee’s blog

Via Slashdot, we know we must welcome to the blogsphere to Tim Berners-Lee, the Wide World Web first developer. We can read in his first post at MIT’s Descentraliced Information Group Tim explains briefly about his ideas fifteen years ago: use of browser-editor, on-line edition of web pages. So, we can bypass from that times to now: current trends aim to use wikis, blogs… and we think these are new ideas!

I won’t make grow the over 450 comments to his first post, so, from here, Sir Tim, thanks for made it possible!

dgn rules, dwg and dxf suck

Engeneers near free software desire a powerful CAD program to their GNU/Linux stations, and, when they read news like this in slashdot about little steps to open source by Autodesk they immediately think it’s possible in nearly future. Projects like qcad are too young, varkon is a good project, it’s used by SAAB Aircraft, but it hasn’t specific features to civil engeneering. By now, we must patiently wait.

About this, there is some confusion about file formats. I can read in Beowulf’s blog his post about Autodesk. Beowulf is civil engeneer and he’s Debian developer, so he can see both sides of problem. But I think he’s in a mistake: he’s interested in .dxf to be an open standard. Actually it is an open standard, but Autodesk includes privative extensions. As it’s explained in white papers of Open Design Alliance, .dxf is a poor format. ODA started its actions in order to achieve an open format compatible with .dwg

In 2003 ODA signed an important agreement with Bentley. The Bentley OpenDGN Initiative was born. So, everybody with his work in .dgn (it usually happen in road databases and maps in Spain and several GIS support it) they have complete control over it. Experts think dgn is better format than dwg, too (i.e. dgn supports serious units management).

Then I think the next step is a great free CAD project based in .dgn, not in .dxf nor .dwg

Dealing with wikis

In this my new home in the Paradise I decided to build my homepage. I was trying to do it some time ago (actually three years ago, when I began Linuxbeat with Bille), but I nerver had time to do it.

I saw Jacobo Tarrío’s home page, he took Mediawiki, the Wikipedia engine, and customized it. “It was perfect”, I thought, “I can translate my math expressions with LaTeX”.

I tried to copy the idea, but I couldn’t do it. I have no php knowledgement nor time to waste. I could make my own web writing the html, but I have no sftp connection to the server when I am at the Campus. I was too looking for an easy way to create web pages to my neighbour Belén, to avoid her using the stinky frontpage :-P.

So I began to look for another wiki engines. I started with this interesting article about comparison of wiki engines in the Wikipedia. I tried with phpWiki but I have some problems with my hosting (I’m not the root). Then I tested MoinMoin, I liked it because it didn’t need a database, but it was to big to my disk quota and I couldn’t overcome some configuration problems.

Finally I found WikkaWiki, and I saw opened Heaven: small, easy to install and use, good security, customizable by CSS and very important XHML 1.0 compliant. Then I got it. You can verify it at Tsao in the Paradise home page (in spanish).

Inaccesibility blacklisted

I’ve just begun my protest against unaccesible web pages in Internet. I’m raging against web that doesn’t follow neither the Wide World Web Consortium standards nor accesibility guidelines of WAI. I’m tired of meeting web pages that I can only read “Macromedia Flash plugin required” or so, they are barriers to individuals with disabilities in the www.

You can read the list in Lista Negra in my personal homepage
You can contribute to the list with an e-mail to tsao _at_ enelparaiso_dot_ org

Breaking standards

We have a lot of work today with our work to the Territory and Town Planning subject. My friends Silvia and Rocío and myself are in the same group, we must investigate the growing of the city centres in our area.
We use ours School maps, but we wanted to use another resources in Internet. We had very unpleasant experience. Let’s see this links:

  • GIS service of CESGA(Galician Supercomputation Center): I couldn’t see anything because it requires the Flash plugin (obviously it sucks a lot)
  • SigPac, dependent on Agriculture, Fishing and Food Office: it requires flash too but finally I downloaded the stinky plugin because I began to receive killing look of my friends. I could find no more information than Google Maps (and this doesn’t use flash and it’s faster)
  • Urbanistic Planning of Xunta de Galicia and Official Association of Architects: this is the worst site I ever saw! The site were I must read the urbanistic law of the whole Galicia spits out me a message: “Microsoft Internet Explorer required” and don’t give us any information more!

Why we pay taxes to the govern :-P?

(We could find a decent web page, the Virtual Land Registry, it is fast, give the right information, and doesn’t require no plugins, congratulations to the authors)

Update: SitGa: several maps servers of Xunta de Galicia: I installed the f*ck*ng flash plugin, the propietary and *bad documented* svg plugin of Adobe. It didn’t work, I only could get a web that says “IE 6.0 recommended” :-P