David Nutter

Google Calendar and the OSSG blog

A user reported that the iCal feed provided by the OSSG blog caused Google Calendar to repeatedly send event reminders for old events. After some digging I am still not sure why Google Calendar behaves in this way; I think the timestamps on the feed items may change under some circumstances, making Google Calendar think the events are “new” and thus send and email.

In an attempt to resolve this issue I have upgraded the software that provides the iCal feed and restricted the posts shown by default in the feed to those after a date 1 month in the past. Hopefully the software upgrade will prevent the issue occurring in the future, if you still experience problems please let me know. I’ve subscribed my own Google Calendar to the OSSG feed now, so I shall share the pain if there is an issue

I’ve also changed the default feed type on the blog from the venerable vCal type to iCal and introduced a CAPTCHA and confirmation step for user registrations. This will hopefully reduce the incidence of spam-bot registration.

3rd International Workshop on Foundations and Techniques for Open Source Software Certification

Over the past decade, the Open Source Software (OSS) phenomenon has had a global
impact on the way software systems and and software-based services are developed,
distributed and deployed. Widely acknowledged benefits of OSS include reliability,
low development and maintenance costs, as well as rapid code turnover. Linux distributions,
Apache and MySQL serve, among many other examples, as a testimony
to its success and resilience.

However, state-of-the-art OSS, by the very nature of its open, unconventional, distributed
development model, make software quality assessment, let alone full certification,
particularly hard to achieve and raises important challenges both from the
technical/methodological and the managerial points of view.

This makes the use of OSS, and, in particular, its integration within complex
industrial-strength applications, with stringent security requirements, a risk. And,
simultaneously an opportunity and a challenge for rigourous, mathematically based,
methods in software analysis and engineering.

In such a context, the aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers from
academia and industry who are broadly interested in the quality assessment of open
source software projects, ultimately leading to the establishment of coherent certification
processes, at different levels.

Following the success of the two previous editions (collocated to ETAPS’07, in
Braga, and OSS’08, at IFIP WCC, in Milan, respectively), the workshop will focus
on formal methods and model-based techniques that appear promising to facilitate
OSS certification. Both foundational, methodological and pragmatic issues will be
addressed, through both standard technical communications and reports on concrete
case-studies and experimental data.

Contributions are expected to foster a broad debate on OSS assessment and certification,
integrating techniques and elements from areas as different as

  • product and process certification
  • certification standards
  • formal modelling and verification (model checking and theorem proving)
  • software quality and reverse engineering
  • static analysis, testing and inspection
  • safety and security certification
  • language design and evolving systems
Workshop format and certification
The one-day workshop will feature invited talks, a pannel discussion and contributed
paper presentations. All contibutions, in the form of either full technical papers
or short position papers, will undergo a peer-review process. All papers should be
written in English and not exceed 10 pages.
Accepted papers will be published in Electronic Communications of the EASST. Publication of selected papers in a journal is currently under negotiation.
Important dates
Submission deadline: 9 January, 2009
Acceptance notification: 6 February, 2009
Where and when
York, UK – 28 March 2009 –
Satellite Event of ETAPS 2009
See also
http://opencert.iist.unu.edu/ for further details, including organising committee, review panel and all updated information

Holland Open Software Conference June 11-12 in Amsterdam

Members may be interested in the following:

Amsterdam, June 11 and 12. With a pre-conference (mapping-party) and the
side-conference: 4 years after the ?motie Vendrik? (plea for
governmental use of open standards and open source software) in
collaboration with the open source taskforce of the Dutch political
Party GroenLinks. Location: the beautiful Aula of the University of
Amsterdam (at the ?Spui?), Singel 411, Amsterdam.

This year?s speakers include yet again some renowned experts in the
fields of open source software, open standards and open content including speakers from Vodafone, Yahoo,
Wikimedia, IBM, Google Earth, University of Leuven, European Schoolnet,
OpenStreetmap, European Union, Dutch government, Dutch schools and many

For the latest information on the conference please see www.hosc.nl.

OATS Meeting Aftermath 1

On the 8th of August 2006 the BCS Open Source Specialist Group and the BCS Disability Specialist Group welcomed Simon Judge to present the work of the Open Source Assistive Technology Software project (OATSOFT).

Simon discussed the aims of assistive technology in general and demonstrated the state of the art using illustrative videos demonstrating some of the assistive technology devices that he helps to deploy in his work. The OATS project was then introduced and the various facilities offered by the project including the Forge, the academic resources, discussion forums and most importantly the list of Open Source assistive technology systems.

Much of the floor discussion during the presentation revolved around the input problems experienced by users of assistive technology systems. Though innovative systems are available, they are often not widely adopted due to issues such as the initial learning curve, the availablity of support and the cost of any specialist hardware required.

The floor were also interested in the possibilities offered by using commodity hardware such as old mice and commodity computing devices in place of expensive dedicated devices. Coupled with the Open Source assistive technology components offered by OATS, this could provide a new route to better assistive technology.


OATS: Using the Open Source development model to innovate and improve software for people with disabilities. 1

We present a talk by Simon Judge of OATS (Open Source Assistive Technology Software). Please email your name to the event coordinator to book a place at this event.


This presentation will present the OATS project – the world’s first site dedicated to Open Source Assistive Technology Software. OATS – Open Source Assistive Technology Software – is a pilot project to promote the availability and development of freely available software for users of Assistive Technology (AT).

Assistive Technology enables people with disabilities to overcome barriers – for example how can you efficiently access a computer if you cannot use a mouse or keyboard? Assisitve Technology is an increasingly important field, given, for example, the ageing of the population. There is also a massive cross over between Assistive Technology human-computer interaction, usability, accessibility and simply good design. There will always be a need for customised and/or specialist software for the population for whom existing software is not appropriate and catering for these needs has the potential to improve design and usability for the mainstream population.

Software (combined with increasingly powerful and mobile computing) offers a very effective means of meeting a wide range of Assistive Technology needs and these will be outlined and examples given and demonstrated (including existing open source Assistive Technology software).

Open Source software is now a well-established development model, however it has not been fully utilised within the Assistive Technology world. The project participants believe that Open Source is, naturally, an excellent development model for Assistive Technology – since it encourages standardisation, innovation and brings users and developers closer together.

The project has developed a website, www.oatsoft.org, to host a repository of freely available AT software and a forge to promote the development of new software. Fundamental to the project is the concept of a ‘community’ bringing together users of assistive technology and software developers. In designing the website particular attention has been given to the needs and abilities of these two groups of users. Accessibility and usability have been uppermost considerations.

The website is based on PLONE – the open source content management system – this was chosen because of the good inherent accessibility features, the software development tools already available and the active PLONE community. Software development tools, accessible through the forge, include ‘bug tracking’, code versioning and extensive documentation capabilities. The site will be demonstrated and the issues surrounding it’s implementation discussed.

Although undoubtedly capable of further development, the OATS website is fully functional and has attracted considerable interest from both users of assistive technology and software developers. This project was a pilot project and the proposed route to move beyond this successful pilot will be presented and the opinions and feedback of the audience sought on this.

Biography of Simon Judge

Simon works as a Clinical Scientist at Access to Communication and Technology (ACT), Birmingham. ACT1 is a specialist NHS service providing Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT) to people with communication problems and/or physical difficulties that might be helped by technology. As part of his day-to-day job Simon meets and works with a large number of people of all ages with often profound disabilities. Providing Assistive Technology equipment to these clients allows a unique insight into the extremes of accessibility and usability.

Working within the Assistive Technology field since 1999 Simon previously worked for a not-for-profit organisation (MERU2) where he jointly set up and ran a service providing custom made EAT controls to children with disabilities.

Simon has an MEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from Imperial College, London. He has a particular interest in Human Computer Interaction with relation to the use of ‘restricted’ interfaces and also the potential impact of Open Source Software on the Assistive Technology market.

The use of the Open Source software development model for Assistive Technology has been a passionate belief since entering the field. The OATS3 project is the culmination of many years of developing and evolving work in encouraging FLOSS within the field. It was inspired by interaction with some brilliant software engineers and Assistive Technology professionals and seeded from a meeting with Richard Stilgoe, founder of the Orpheus Centre4.

Further information can be found at www.sjinterface.co.uk.

08-08-2006 @ 18:00 (presentation begins at 18:30)
BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA
Contact Name
Paul Adams
Contact Email
Contact Phone

A printable flyer is available for this event

Conference on Free/Libre Open Source Software In Education

The theme of this year’s Conference on Free/Libre Open Source Software
in Education (FLOSSIE) is “Using FLOSS for sustainable and inclusive
educational technologies”.

For details see

Conference and Exhibition
2006-07-20 -2006-07-21
Bolton Technology Innovation Centre
Contact Name
Julie Astbury
Contact Email
Contact Phone
01204 372204

Open Source Software and the Business Context – a survey

Please contribute to a better understanding of the professional use of open source software, through a straightforward, online questionnaire.

The questionnaire will feed into a Westminster University research project, and can be be completed at http://www.oss-survey.org/ – thank you in advance!

NB. This survey has also been advertised in the eBCS bulletin dated 12 July 2006, under the title of Open source software – hype or reality? .