We did it! NZ is (very nearly almost) free of software patents!
"We recommend amending clause 15 to include computer programs among inventions that may not be patented. We received many submissions concerning the patentability of computer programs. Under the Patents Act 1953 computer programs can be patented in New Zealand provided they produce a commercially useful effect. Open source, or free, software has grown in popularity since the 1980s. Protecting software by patenting it is inconsistent with the open source model, and its proponents oppose it. A number of submitters argued that there is no “inventive step” in software development, as “new” software invariably builds on existing software. They felt that computer software should be excluded from patent protection as software patents can stifle innovation and competition, and can be granted for trivial or existing techniques. In general we accept this position.
While I support and agree with the commerce committee's conclusion and recommendations, I do not agree that the increasing popularity of open source software has anything to do with it, and I regret their use of the term "open source" and emphasis on open source software as the reasoning. Software patents are almost as impactful on proprietary software as they are on open source software. The main difference for open source software is simply that proprietary software license sales are centralised and the central enterprise is more likely to be able to play the patent game. Playing the patent game is usually an impossibility for open source software vendors. By contrast, open source software vendors are usually distributed and each generally generates revenue for itself by selling services – not licenses on behalf of a central enterprise.
Many people worked very hard to help NZ's members of parliament understand why software should be excluded from patentability. Including; NZOSS, InternetNZ, Guy Burgess, EndSoftwarePatents.org's wiki on software patents in New Zealand (supported by the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center), Egressive, Bevan Rudge (myself) and numerous other companies and software developers.
Others worked hard to preserve software patentability. There were two types of enterprises arguing the other side of the debate, with obvious motives that are inconsistent with the interests of New Zealanders and the people and companies NZ patent law is intended to protect;
As for my own efforts Dave Lane, Jonathan Hunt and I met with Lianne Dalziel, Chairperson of the Commerce Committee and Labour Party MP and had a very productive discussion about the issue. We followed up with written and oral submissions. (Though I could not make the oral submission myself).
I also did a lot of research for, and maintenance of, the EndSoftwarePatents.org wiki on New Zealand and helped co-ordinate others' efforts through the NZOSS; particularly for written and oral submissions, and also meeting with MPs, what to write, what message to send and where to. Though a lot of that work has now been deprecated and is in the history archive for that wiki article.
But wait! The game is not quite over yet. There is still a (small) chance of parliament doing a "Tizard" on us. This is when parliament overrules the committee's recommended law and makes last-minute changes to the final draft of the written law and executes it, without time being made available for public comment. This is now referred to as "Tizard" in New Zealand's technology and intellectual property circles after Judith Tizard's controversial actions in early 2009, that rendered draconian section 92a copyright laws effective after they had already been removed.
We need to keep an eye out for this to prevent it, and react quickly and loudly if it happens. Keep an eye on TheyWorkForYou.co.nz, Legislation.govt.nz and the SWPat.org wiki article on NZ for updates.
Today is a new beginning. Today is my first day at Palantir.net. I am now a "Palantiri"! (That's Palantiri-speak for someone who works at Palantir.net. ;)
Palantir.net is a high-end Drupal consulting & services company based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Palantir.net has a great team of Drupal developers and contributors, including some friends and past colleagues from CivicActions and NowPublic. And I am excited to be a part of that team!
This means that I will be traveling back to North America again in June already, for a one-week long Palantir on-site, DrupalCamp Chicago and one-week working in-house in Palantir's offices.
My title at Palantir.net is "Senior Front End Developer" (aka "themer", or "FED").
To new beginnings...
In January 2009 I wrote and released jQuery.dashboard() plugin, which extends jQuery to quickly and easily create dashboard UIs like iGoogle. A handful of people have using it for a while, but in December 2009, it was announced that CiviCRM 3.1 would include a dashboard feature utilising jQuery.dashboard() plugin! CiviCRM 3.1 was released late January 2010. (So this blog post is a little late!)
It is great to see that people are finding value in code I wrote and it is encouraging that it is so widely used!
From my original post;
"Drupal's template files (
*.tpl.php) are not really templates. This is what my DrupalCon core developer summit submission is about. The slides briefly explain why tpl.phps are not real templates, what real templates are, why this is a problem for the Drupal project and community, and mentions some possible solutions to the problem. It also provides some basic guidelines as a starting point for tpl.php standards, should that be pursued."
Drupal's template files (
*.tpl.php) are not really templates. This is what my DrupalCon core developer summit submission is about. The slides briefly explain why tpl.phps are not real templates, what real templates are, why this is a problem for the Drupal project and community, and mentions some possible solutions to the problem. It also provides some basic guidelines as a starting point for tpl.php standards, should that be pursued.
|Drupal tpl.phps are not templates.pdf||294.24 KB|
The new year (this post is a little late!) has brought me new opportunities and some new roles;
At NowPublic I work on front end theming and customizations for NowPublic.com and Scan — a realtime twitter and social media tracker for NowPublic.com, Examiner.com, WashingtonExaminer.com, SFexaminer.com and The Vancouver Sun.
One of the most exciting things about this job is that I am able to work with an amazing team of developers including some other CivicActions alumni, whom I respect and seek to learn from. Such as chx, kkaefer, douggreen and Morbus Iff and many others.
The new job at NowPublic saw me relocate to Vancouver for two and a half months, from just after DrupalSouth Wellington
at the end of January, until DrupalCon San Francisco, this week.
Vancouver has been astounding! Some highlights of my first trip ever to Canada and my stay in Vancouver include;
This Friday 16 April I depart Vancouver for San Francisco, where I will stay with the Clarity Digital Group developer team at Westin Hotel Market street for 8 days, for the Drupal core developer summit, DrupalCon SF, code sprints, meetings, social events, and a Drupal Association retreat.
Finally, on April 26 (after losing April 25 to the date line) I will arrive home to Christchurch NZ to stay indefinitely. It will be exactly 8 months since my wife and I departed Christchurch for DrupalCon Paris and a journey across 5 continents. I am looking forward to having a home (when we find and rent one!) and our bed back.
Being elected onto the Drupal Association's General Assembly was largely unexpected and came as a surprise to me. I have been a core part of the DrupalCon Asia-Pacific Organisers (DCAPO) group on groups.drupal.org since it started in September 2009 and collaborated a little with Cary Gordon (Drupal Association Board, Director of Events) over that time. Cary asked me to join the Drupal Association to help centralise international DrupalCon coordination efforts (as per the events plan) and provide the association with a more internationalised perspective.
It is still early days at the association, but my goal (as per my application) at the Drupal Association is to empower a team to organise and run a DrupalCon somewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, hopefully around 2011. There are some ideas and projects at the association to do with scholarships and mini-conferences — but I will save that for another time, when it is ready.
jQuery for Designers and Themers is a fun interactive session at DrupalCon San francisco on getting started with jQuery. It is targeted at designers and themers but is suitable for anyone with a decent understanding of HTML and CSS — no programming experience is necessary. It doesn't include any PHP, and only basic programming concepts are introduced.
Some other related or similar sessions include;
NZ government is negotiating a trade act that will impact your civil liberties. And they are doing it behind our backs — in secret!
"ACTA is a controversial international treaty that impacts digital rights and is being negotiated in secret meetings. ACTA is proposed as a plurilateral trade agreement for establishing international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement. It is being negotiated between the US, Canada, Japan, the European Union, South Korea, Mexico, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. Unfortunately, the negotiations have extended beyond trade and physical counterfeiting to potentially cover non-commercial infringement of copyright material by ordinary citizens and issues of digital rights management." — PublicACTA.org.nz
As well as the violating our democratic principles, and the deceitful name of the treaty, ACTA aims to bring back the "draconian" (to quote prime minister John Keys) S92a laws we fought hard against last year with the NZ Internet Blackout.