Measuring Software Quality in Open Source Software
Saturday October 21st 2006, 7:48h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Research

This is one of the handicaps in our research paper about Debian GNU/Linux, that next to many interesting organizational properties we couldn’t measure the quality of the software components itself. It would be interesting to know if such attributes could lead to a higher R2 than ours of about 20% at the moment. Maybe, soon, there will be some great quality measurement tools available. Found on heise open, the 2.5m EU-funded research project “SQO-OSS” has exact that aim, to measure quality of open source software and enhance research tools for quality measurement:

Education - The SQO-OSS project is committed to a large body of research leading into the final implementation of the SQO-OSS tool. SQO-OSS shall be contributing novel techniques for evaluating software quality based on various metrics for process, code etc. Moreover, SQO-OSS shall be investigating how other data sources, such as mailing lists, can be used as source for software quality data.

What You Should Know - The final SQO-OSS tool shall be rigourous and produce scientific results based upon the new metrics developed within the project. These results will be of interest to other researchers working in the field of software quality
How You Will Find Out More - The SQO-OSS project shall be presenting its findings in a variety of major international conferences (and affilliated workshops) in fields such as Open Source, software maintenance and data mining.

What Are The Benefits? - SQO-OSS project results may be of benefit to all taking part in related research. It is hoped that collaboration between SQO-OSS and other researchers will allow for result verification and product improvement.

40′000 Fairtrade Business Cards Ready to Be Spread Out
Friday October 20th 2006, 23:26h
Filed under: Fairtrade

Ever wanted to change world economy? So our campaign Fairteilen gives you the possibility to express your demand for more fairtrade products by handing in business card-sized slogans to shop or restaurant owners. Sets of 20 cards can be ordered for free on the StopArmut website. Last Sunday we released the statements and winners of the contest and enhanced the event with the screening of WE FEED THE WORLD and a presentation about fairtrade (report with lots of photos).

So now we’re preparing for the official start of this guerilla fairtrade marketing campaign on October 31st in Bern and other cities in Switzerland. You’re warmly welcome to join the street event at 11h at Nägeligasse 11 in Bern, together with EVP parliamentarian Heiner Studer. Or in Zürich with Pfarrer Sieber.

PS: Thanks to the approbation of my colleagues at ETHZ we’re now drinking fairtrade coffee Óromo from gebana ag at our office - and even coffee expert Stefan likes it!

Study on Economic Impact of OSS in the EU
Thursday October 19th 2006, 9:07h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Politics, Research

The study “Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU” was presented in September in Brussels by Rishab Aiyer Ghosh of UNU-MERIT. Recently, it was heavily critized by Microsoft’s Initiative for Software Choice (ISC) (there is also a German article) for its - in my opinion - great…:

Policy recommendations, based on detailed policy strategies described:

  • Avoid penalising FLOSS in innovation and R&D incentives, public R&D funding and public software procurement that is currently often anti-competitive
  • Support FLOSS in pre-competitive research and standardisation
  • Avoid lifelong vendor lock-in in educational systems by teaching students skills, not specific applications; encourage participation in FLOSS-like communities
  • Encourage partnerships between large firms, SMEs and the FLOSS community
  • Provide equitable tax treatment for FLOSS creators: FLOSS software contributions can be treated as charitable donations for tax purposes. Where this is already possible, spread awareness among firms, contributors and authorities. - an great open translation alternative to slow Leo
Wednesday October 18th 2006, 13:14h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, FLOSS

Using Leo for a couple of years already I’ve probably looked up a thousand words for English-German translation and synomyn consulting. Recently however, the service is getting slower due to its huge traffic. Also I’ve found words not very well explained at Leo. So I looked for a better alternative of this service and, happily, found one: - It’s really a fascinating project, organized following the open content paradigm already successfully running Wikipedia. Originally financed through donations, the translation service is now completely self-sustaining through Google web ads. And in its context it’s a huge project: already comprises almost half a million translated words and expressions, adding over 8000 monthly - at an increasing growing rate! Also the lookup rate of now over 700′000 a day is growing steadily, except during summer vacations ;) So for the following reasons I believe it’s even better than Leo:

    1. As I said, I experienced doing faster lookups than Leo (at least at certain times a day)
    2. Often more synonyms, e.g. “impediment” in and in Leo leads to diverging results, which is also supported by the number of translated words: currently 467′145 in vs. 425′808 in Leo
    3. Wikipedia style open content paradigm including community voting and credit mechanism
    4. Offline Java version of the dictionary with downloadable text file (although somehow only about half of the words are included) and open source application elcombri (found at - unfortunately no offline PDA version is available yet
    5. Offering alternative lookups of words in Leo, Wikipedia, Google etc.
    6. Web Ads can be turned off

    So far, initiator Paul Hemetsberger hasn’t started yet French and Spanish translations such as in Leo, however, he’s planning it as soon he’s confident of the working English-German translation part. Looking at the numbers at least I’m convinced he can do it.

TYPO3 v4 German Editor Documentation as Free PDF Download
Wednesday October 18th 2006, 8:55h
Filed under: FLOSS

Looking for user documentation of TYPO3 for some of my clients I visited the website and searched in their long list of documentation. However, I only found obsolete stuff, most of the PDFs are dated of 2004 and before. Finally by googling around little bit I encountered a great 61-pages German editor manual of TYPO3 version 4 - dating June 2006! - of the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna (in German: Universität für Bodenkultur - what an obvious place to look for CMS documentation ;)

Research meeting with EPFL Team of Dominique Foray
Tuesday October 10th 2006, 19:19h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Research

Today’s research meeting with the team of Dominique Foray of EPFL was a great experience for me. I always wondered how scientists start a joint research project - now I know it. Arriving this morning at ETHZ, Dominique and his team joint our team for a one-day research workshop where they presented their current work and we did ours. The main goal was to find shared research questions in the area of user innovation as we are both part of the SNF grant on this subject. While not being directly involved into user innovation I still presented today our HICSS paper on sampling in OSS research. I intended to do this with the platform-independent presenting script KeyJnote, however the smooth transition didn’t work very well so I stayed with old-fashioned Impress. Maybe the KeyJnote command is still useful to someone else:

keyjnote -g 1280×1024 -t Crossfade -s -T 2000 ethz_Presentation_2006-10-09_SamplingInOSSDevelopment.pdf

God and Bad News from Public Administrations
Monday October 09th 2006, 1:13h
Filed under: FLOSS, Politics

On the one side, last week there was good news from France suggesting the Open Document Format as the future standard in office file formats for public administration:

In his report, “On Equal Terms,” National Assembly Deputy Bernard Carayon calls for a law making it compulsory for French government departments to use ODF when they create or distribute documents, and suggests that France ask its European partners to do likewise when exchanging documents at a European level. […] In the report, Carayon also recommended the government fund a research center dedicated to open-source software security, and set up a system to help national and local government agencies exchange information about best practice in the use of open-source software.

Unfortunately, Swiss government IT seems to be rather subordinated to Microsoft’s sales forces as reported by Inside-IT (Christoph Hugenschmidt) and being verified by the Swiss radio magazin Echo der Zeit on Friday by the report “Kantone wehren sich gegen zu teure Software:

Die Computer in den Verwaltungen der Kantone und des Bundes werden mit Programmen von Microsoft betrieben. Beim Einkauf der Software stützen sich Bund und Kantone auf einen gemeinsamen Rahmenvertrag ab, der dieses Jahr erneuert werden musste. Microsoft diktierte dabei die Regeln, und das kommt die öffentliche Hand nun teuer zu stehen. Pikant dabei: Der Bund stellte sich auf die Seite von Microsoft.

PS: I cut out the mp3 report on OSS and Microsoft from the DRS podcast using cutmp3 -i echoderzeit_20061006.mp3 -a 17:05 -b 21:10 -o OSSInBundesverwaltung.mp3

A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash
Wednesday October 04th 2006, 9:00h
Filed under: Politics, Private

Yesterday, Peter and I went to the Zürcher Filmfestival and watched the Swiss premiere of the documentary “A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash” (watch the trailer of the movie on YouTube). It draws a very shocking picture on the current impact and the future of our energy consumption - like Syriana, but this time it’s real, no Hollywood. And unfortunately, the sources seem quite reliable as former representatives of OPEC, oil giant consultants and even U.S. republican politicians are interviewed extensively. Interestingly, also Daniele Ganser, former researcher at ETH Zürich, makes some statements in this Swiss film. So yesterday, after the screening of the documentary, the directors Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack as well as Daniele answered questions of the audience giving some backstage informations on the movie. My opinion: It’s definitively a great way to get public awareness on peak oil, even giving us a chance to do something about it by joining the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO). And the documentary is again another perfect example of how films can affect people directly, inspiring me to think more on how to do such documentary on fairtrade, social justice and world economy… (anyone interested in doing such a project, please contact me ;)

Vineyard Vacation in Poggio Ubertini
Sunday October 01st 2006, 14:42h
Filed under: Private

In the middle of vineyards and olive groves we spent a recreative week of vacation in Poggio Ubertini, close to Florence, together with our church we go to, the Vineyard Bern (a well-fitting name for this sort of event, indeed). Here also some pictures, sorry for doing a little bit a Lionel-centric review… (below two carnivores I had to live with in the same room)