Black Gold - Wake up and Smell the Coffee
Thursday September 27th 2007, 2:54h
Filed under: Fairtrade

Coffee: A multi-billion industry, revived from commodity to highly differentiated products, with thousands of farmers depending on one market price. The only hope for a graceful life: fairtrade, including fair production. But do the consumers want it? We do, in our office, for over a year now, with lots of interesting conversations ;) And now, Transfair, the German association for fairtrade, has made a great 8min video clip which explains how fairtrade really works. Not emotionally struck yet? Then, may I present, the coffee movie, basically unknown in Switzerland, but popular in Britain’s theaters, the movie I’m waiting for since a year, coming out on DVD on October 22nd, 2007:


Update 2007-10-04: I just found a screening of the Black Gold in Switzerland. It’s organized by the students organization project21 of ETH Zürich and takes place on December 10th, 2007 at StuZ2. The screening is part of a series of movies treating economic issues and globalization. The other movie I want to see is China Blue.

Swiss Politics and Development Cooperation
Tuesday September 25th 2007, 21:26h
Filed under: Development Cooperation, Politics

Soon Swiss citizens may elect their parliament for the next four years. So what do the major parties say about development cooperation, millennium goals, trading barriers and banking secrecy? A lot - except SVP which declined to answer. The campaign StopArmut 2015 sent a questionnaire to all major parties and compiled all the answers in a short report. What is interesting: EVP, the left-wing Christian party, aligns exactly with the opinion of the Green party of Switzerland and supports all claims of StopArmut where as EDU, the right-wing Christian party, completely objects all the demands for worldwide social justice. So once again it depends a lot which party Swiss Christians vote for. Therefore let’s hope EVP finally gets its five seats in the parliament in order to build an independent parliamentary group and position itself more clearly.

Vote for EVP!

Freedom Pays - Save CHF 125 if You Don’t Buy Vista
Monday September 24th 2007, 11:49h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Education, Linux

Today the ETH laptop selling program called Neptun opened its sales of Lenovo, HP and Apple computers. Next to really cool configurations they offer the option of not buying Windows Vista and thus saving CHF 125 of licensing costs. Thanks to advocacy efforts from The Alternative aca Marcus Dapp the Neptun team decided to request ‘naked’ machines from Pathworks, the equipments reseller (a move supported by the EU commission). Since Neptun has grown enormously since its start in 2001 and sells about 11′000 laptops per year, the impact of the ‘Windows Tax’ renouncement might be huge. Let’s get the figures from Immo as soon they close the orders.

Get Windows-free laptops!

xorg.conf for Dual Monitor with i810 Driver
Sunday September 16th 2007, 16:04h
Filed under: FLOSS, Linux, Ubuntu

Preparing for OpenExpo I was looking for a solution to connect a beamer video projector to our Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook S7010D presentation laptop. Since I had troubles with an external monitor for this machine with Ubuntu Feisty Fawn before (the screen is either flimmering or only on the external or internal monitor) I mailed some Linux friends for support. Luckily Sven Herzberg of GNOME had spent some days of googling before and found the solution. Thanks a lot for your great help!

Section "Device"
    Identifier "Intel Corporation 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device"
    Driver "i810"
    Option "MonitorLayout" "CRT,LFP"
    Option "Clone" "true"
    BusID "PCI:0:2:0"

The complete xorg.conf file

I Love Awards as Incentives for Innovation
Friday September 14th 2007, 14:33h
Filed under: Development Cooperation, ETH Zürich, Fairtrade, Linux, Research

Awards for innovations are a great thing. First of all, you may win. Competition is fun and provides energy to accomplish more than you’d do if there are no rivals. Second, even if you don’t win, you still have done something cool. Because next to the extrinsic motivation of a prize you need also intrinsic motivation to participate in a competition so you feel happy when you’ve reached your personal goal even if you don’t scoop in. And third, if it’s a reward for something good (however this is defined…) then public benefits as well. It benefits from the innovation achieved by the winner as well as the progress accomplished by the entire industry or community.

Two examples: Today the Swiss Development Agency DEZA awards five prizes for the best development projects of young people. About 100 groups participated, among them a students team from University of Bern shipping Linux computers to Africa and another initiative supporting Mexican Fairtrade farmers won CHF 5000. Another example is the just announced Google Lunar X Prize giving USD 30 million to private enterprises reaching and crusing the moon with robots.

What would be other great things that should be awarded? I dream of an Open Source Award for different kinds of groups: developers starting a new, wanted OSS project, firms releasing previously proprietary code as OSS, pioneering government agencies choosing OSS solutions, schools that teach on Linux computers etc. Secondly, I’d love to see more adoption for Fairtrade products: restaurants or cafeterias which switch to Fairtrade coffee, retailers and manufacturers which certify their products on Fairtrade labels such as Max Havelaar, housewifes or -husbands who buy Fairtrade products rather than M-Budget (Swiss low cost product line) etc.

Certainly it’s necessary to find out more about what type of incentives work and which don’t, how such reward systems have to be designed etc. I’ve done some desk research about crowding-out effects, much more will be presented at the upcoming reward management conference.

The Sad End of the Swiss Story
Tuesday September 11th 2007, 13:44h
Filed under: FLOSS

As the Swiss decision concerning OOXML has ended up to be positive for Microsoft the thing left to do is to complain about the outcome and criticize the flawed process. That’s what did the WOZ in its follow-up article and that’s what I did in the current issue of Computerworld.

Update 2007-11-16: Recently, an article by Christian Mihatsch in the Basler Zeitung reported about the OOXML standardization process.

Wikipedia Day in Bern
Wednesday September 05th 2007, 8:15h
Filed under: ETH Zürich, Education, FLOSS

It’s really a pity I’m going to miss this great event in Bern, co-organized by my friend Daniel Boos from ETHZ MTEC resp. Digitalen Allmend:

Wikipedia Day in Bern
Samstag, 29. September 2007, Aula, Gertrud Wokerstr. 5, Bern (Eintritt kostenlos)

10:00 Eröffnung
10:15 Irmgard Wiesner: Arbeit in umstrittenen Wikipedia-Artikeln
11:00 Delphine Ménard: The promotion of free knowledge: the cultural challenge
11:45 Mittagspause
13:15 Dr. Peter Haber und Jan Hodel: Erfahrungen der Geschichtswissenschaft mit der Wikipedia
14:00 Dr. Emanuel Meyer: Wikipedia und Urheberrecht - Was ist erlaubt? Was muss beachtet werden?
14:45 Michail Jungierek: Potential von Wikisource für Wissensarbeitende
15:30 Pause
16:00 Dr. Marco Jorio: Das Historische Lexikon der Schweiz - zwischen Printmedium und freier elektronischer Publikation
16:45 Dr. Donat Agosti: - Freier Zugang als Grundlage für die Wissenschaft
17:30 Podiumsdiskussion “Freier Zugang zu …” moderiert von Wolf Ludwig. Teilnehmer: Dr. Donat Agosti, Dr. Marco Jorio, Michail Jungierek, Delphine Ménard
18:30 Veranstaltungsende

Workshops (PC-Poolraum U101, Muesmattstr. 29, Bern)
Parallel zum Hauptprogramm finden Workshops zur Wikipedia und zu Wikisource statt:

10:15 Michail Jungierek: Alte Schriften - neu erschlossen
11:00 Christian Seidl: Wie funktioniert die Wikipedia?
13:15 Michail Jungierek: Alte Schriften - neu erschlossen
14:00 Christian Seidl: Wie funktioniert die Wikipedia?