NSW education downgrades Microsoft

via Jeff Waugh’s Be the signal. The Australian Financial Review reports NSW education downgrades Microsoft.

“The NSW Department of Education has put Microsoft on notice after it agreed to extend its software licensing agreement for just one year instead of renegotiating a new three-year contract.” — Prepares to deploy OpenOffice.org on 41000 PCs by end of 2008

Very interesting, I am big supported of the use of open source and open standards in education. The purpose of education should not be to teacher kids particular commercial software, it should be to teach kids how to use technology to empower them to learn. I look forward to further developments.

note: I am a casual employee of the NSW DET, my comments do not represent my employers, past. present or future.

Google’s Photovoltaic System

This is kind of a follow up to my previous post on Green Computing. IT Conversations has posted a talk by Anthony Ravitz, Project Coordinator, Real Estate & Workplace Services, Google, about Google’s installation of photovoltaic cells on the roof of the Googleplex. Google’s significant size and wealth would allow them to be a leader and implement this type of project based purely environmental/ethical grounds, in the near future I hope to see many organisation around the world implementing similar projects and environmental, ethical and economic grounds.

Negroponte on why OLPC needed to be non-profit

The Science Show (Radio National, ABC Australia) recently broadcast Nicholas Negroponte’s address to the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston. He spoke about the OLPC, One Laptop Per Child, being interested in both education and technology I have followed the OLPC project for some time, but this talk made me appreciate the project more from an educational and social perceptive rather than just a technological one. In my view then most important point of the whole talks concerned the economics of OLCP.

Negroponte:

“Then the biggest decision in retrospect that we made was to do it as a non-profit and everybody advised me the opposite.”

I see this as an example of how in a purely capitalist system some great things will never eventuate, I can see parallels with FLOSS here. Negroponte also speaks of how on the OLPC they used the rapid pace of technology advancement not to make a product with more feature but one at a lower price.

A transcript and mp3 (for a limited time) of the talk are available from the Science Show site, I highly recommend reading/listening. It is people who work on things like OLPC who change the world for the better.

Green Computing

From IT Conversations Phil Windley’s interview with Jeremy Faludi about Green Computing. I highly recommend listening to this. They address the environmental aspects of computing from the massive amount of power used by data centers to the chemicals used in the production of computing equipment.

Jeremy Faludi has written a 4 part article on green computing

The show was also the first time I had heard of The Green500 that ranks systems by MFLOPS/Watt. I am interested in both environment and tech issues so I have found the issues of Green Computing very interesting. Tech is so much part of the world, the impact this tech has on the environment is going to become more and more important in to the future.

Google celebrates Australia Day

Today is Australia Day and as is often the case on days of significances, Google (AU) has a special header for the day.

au_doodle4google071.gif

This is the result of Doodle 4 Google My Australia a competition for school students.

What if there was a Double Dissolutions?

I ended my previously post with the possibility that Rudd could call a Double Dissolutions election in his first term. I decided to do the numbers, based on the incomplete counts from the recent senate election I calculated the outcome had it been a full senate election:

ALP Lib/Nat Greens X FF CCC
NSW 5 5 1 0 0 1
Vic 5 5 2 0 0 0
QLD 5 5 1 0 1 0
SA 4 4 1 2 1 0
WA 5 6 1 0 0 0
Tas 5 5 2 0 0 0
ACT 1 1 0 0 0 0
NT 1 1 0 0 0 0
Total 31 32 8 2 2 1

After I did this calculations did I discover that Senator Andrew Bartlett also did the same calculations. We agreed on the outcome which was a relief as I had made a number of assumptions in my calculations.

After June ’08 the Senate numbers will be 32-37-5-1-1-0 (ALP-Lib/Nat-Greens-X-FF) if we compare this to the numbers above from the hypothetical Double Dissolutions 31-32-8-2-2-1 we see that the ALP would lose a seat, Lib/Nats lose 5 seats and the Greens gain 3. Even though the ALP loss one seat this would be a more friendly Senate for them, as they would only need the support of the Greens, rather than the Greens, Nick Xenophon and Family First, to pass legislation.

Of course if a Double Dissolutions were held the numbers would not exactly match these, but it seems that they would be more ALP friendly than the post June ’08. This is unless the act of the ALP calling a Double Dissolutions was very unpopular and they loss a significant percentage of the vote. At a Double Dissolutions it would seen almost certain the the Greens would increase their number of seat, winning one in every mainland state, two in Tasmania and may be a second seat in one or two mainland state or even the ACT.

Some other thoughts and comments

  • Without a Double Dissolution, Family First will lose their seat at the ’10 election.
  • At a Double Dissolution the Christian Democratic Party may win a seat. On my calculation they came close to winning the 12th seat in WA and NSW (at the expense of the Climate Change Coalition).
  • A Double Dissolution is the only way I can see Andrew Bartlett’s party, the Australian Democrats, being in the Senate again any time soon.

.. and now it is time to turn out attention to the Senate

The ALP has a majority in the new House of Representatives, so Kevin Rudd is the new PM of Australia, but what about the Australia’s upper house, the Senate. For people on the left of Australian politics the Senate results are not nearly as good as the House of Representatives results.

The ABC is feeding the progressive Senate numbers into Antony Green’s Senate Calculator. Based on the calculations the numbers after Jul ’08 will be:

ALP

Lib/Nat

Greens

Other

NSW

3

3

0

0

Vic

3

3

0

0

QLD

3

3

0

0

SA

2

2

1

1#

WA

2

3

1

0

Tas

3

2

1

0

ACT

1

1

0

0

NT

1

1

0

0

Total

18

18

3

1

cont.

14

19

2

1*

after Jul ’08

32

37

5

2

# Nick Xenophon  * Family First

To get legislation passed the Senate the Rudd government will require the support of all the Greens, Nick Xenophon and Family First (or a Lib/Nat Senator must cross the floor, may be Barnaby Joyce)

Could we see Double Dissolutions?