Despite existence of open source products, many still use pirated software: CICT secretary

THE Philippines still lacks awareness of and support for free and open source software (FOSS), Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) Secretary Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III said yesterday.

Chua, in his speech during the opening of the Philippine Open Source Summit at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) early today, said that despite the existence of FOSS products, many Filipinos still use pirated software.

Philippine Open Source Summit OPEN SOURCE SUMMIT. The Philippine Open Source Summit at the Cebu International Convention Center. Click on photo to enlarge image.

“Regrettably, however, the more common option for many users is the purchase of pirated copies of proprietary software. There is, therefore, a need to bring open source to the awareness of users as a legitimate option and to provide the required support for its implementation,” Chua said.

Open source software are those released under a license that legalizes sharing of the application and building up on it. It got its name from the requirement of making the source code available with the software.

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MUNISIPYO WI-FI. A man browses the Internet at the Argao town plaza. The Municipal Government turned the Spanish-era pueblo into a free wireless Internet zone last year. Click on photo to enlarge.

Munisipyo Wi-Fi

I spent a day in Argao recently and was pleasantly surprised to find several dependable and free Wi-Fi hotspots. I was surprised because in Cebu City, free Wi-Fi access isn’t as widespread as they say it is in places such as Davao City.

Many shops, at least the last time I went warbiking or going around on a motorcycle to check for free Wi-Fi hotspots, just depend on the services of Globe and Airborne Access for their customers’ wireless Internet access.

MUNISIPYO WI-FI. A man browses the Internet at the Argao town plaza. The Municipal Government turned the Spanish-era pueblo into a free wireless Internet zone last year. Click on photo to enlarge.

MUNISIPYO WI-FI. A man browses the Internet at the Argao town plaza. The Municipal Government turned the Spanish-era pueblo into a free wireless Internet zone last year. 

But not Argao.

The municipal government has turned it’s beautiful plaza into a free Wi-Fi zone. There you are—surrounded by Spanish-era buildings, three cannons once used to fight pirates, beautiful masonry, and music that comes from cleverly-hidden speakers—and you have free high-speed wireless Internet access.

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Read this and weep

Here’s a quiz for you. Look at the photo below (don’t read the caption yet). Which is more expensive? Is it 1.) the street lamp on this road in Mandaue City in Cebu or 2.) the motorcycle and the bag that contains a laptop, digital camera, and various other gadgets of my trade?

Here’s a hint: the lamp is part of the batch bought by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Cebu.

That hint was a giveaway, wasn’t it? That single lamppost, if you believe government officials, costs P224,600. The motorcycle costs, at a discounted cash purchase, P51,000. The laptop, again at a discounted purchase, costs P43,000.

mandaue lamppost STAGGERING PRICE. This lamppost on a street in Mandaue City, Cebu costs P224,600 per unit. More than double the cost of the parked motorcycle and the bag that contains a laptop, digital camera, voice recorder, and various other digital accessories. Click on photo to enlarge.

Even if you include the digital camera, micro tape recorder, USB stick, and various laptop accessories in the bag, it still wouldn’t add up to half of the purchase price of that single lamppost.

That single lamppost costs more than a second-hand car. And that lamppost is not even the most expensive model. Anti-graft investigators at the Ombudsman-Visayas found models, installed in Mandaue City, costing more than P300,000 each.

Multiply this cost by the hundreds of units DPWH bought and the amount is staggering. It would have been enough to turn some of the posts into Wi-Fi access points and then roll out a municipal Wi-Fi system for Metro Cebu. That would have been a massive boost for Cebu tourism and commerce.

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Open source Valentine

It’s a hot date before the big day. Bayan Muna has scheduled a round table on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 13, at the Rajah Park Hotel function room in Fuente Osmeña to discuss free and open source software.

Organizers are still finalizing details but I was told it’s open to anyone interested to discuss free and open source software, one of the advocacies of Bayan Muna, particularly Rep. Teddy Casiño.

Casiño is the author of House Bill 5769 or the Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Act of 2006. The measure, according to Casiño’s explanatory notes, “mandates the use of FOSS in all government agencies and encourages the use and development of FOSS in the private and public sectors.”

The bill is still with the House committee on information communications technology. There is no chance it will be passed by this Congress but I was told they will reintroduce the bill in the next Congress.

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The glass cannot be half-full

Either there is press freedom or not, according to Sun.Stars pooled editorial.

The editorial points out the danger of making police the evaluators of media.

Why do cops make poor evaluators? They dont know the craft and its nuances. Their mind-set is that of victims, whipped frequently by media for lapses and offenses.

The paper (disclosure: I work for Sun.Star Cebu) says “The Government cannot claim to be free and democratic when it gags media by threats of takeover or shutdown.”

Proclamation 1017 declaring a state of emergency in the country has been described as a harmless weapon that should not instill fear among the law-abiding.

We disagree. It is a lethal weapon in the hands of those who exceed or abuse the power–out of ignorance, spite, or meanness.

Read the full article here.

Bumps on the information superhighway

The Cebu Yearbook 2006 is out. Here’s part of the unedited article I submitted for publication:

One municipal government’s website in Visayas is being maintained by its meat inspector.

Frederick Amores, Visayas group head of the National Computer Center (NCC) Field Operations Office, could barely contain his laughter as he said this in an interview. The NCC was conducting a seminar for IT workers of local government units (LGUs) and Amores was checking the background of the participants when he saw the meat inspector’s bio-data.

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Neighboring areas complain against ‘Imperial Cebu’

Cebu, according to Dumaguete City Mayor Agustin Perdices, is “becoming like Imperial Manila.” Perdices and Siquijor Gov. Orlando Fua complained in yesterday’s Regional Development Council meeting that Cebu is cornering most of the projects approved for Central Visayas.

Here’s Sun.Star’s story on the issue:

DUMAGUETE CITY – Tired of hearing about so many infrastructure projects for Cebu, government officials from Siquijor and Oriental Negros griped about the lack of attention to their provinces’ needs.

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Prove Cebu City is not Murder City

Mayor Tomas Osmea isnt worried by the rash of killings of suspected criminals in Cebu City. “It’s worse for the city’s image if there are many criminals,” he said in a press conference.

So the recent killings of “criminals”-of previous convicts-don’t give an impression that Cebu City has many criminals?

Mayor Osmea had admitted he may have created “some sort of influence” when he said in one of his news conferences “to hunt them (criminals) down. All of a sudden, many of them died.”

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Google bombing of President Arroyo, Cabinet secretaries succeeds

Start sending your e-mails now: the campaign by activists to google bomb President Arroyo’s website with the search term “pekeng pangulo” or fake president has succeeded. Check it out. Go to www.google.com enter pekeng pangulo in the search field and click on I’m Feeling Lucky or Sinuswerte Ako.

The Young Radicals blog, which initiated the campaign, posted the update yesterday. Try the following keywords using the same procedure: sira ulo, bugaw and sinungaling. Google bombing is the practice of influencing Google search results by linking target keywords (pekeng pangulo, sira ulo etc.) with the target websites. The most prominent victim of google bombing is President Bush, whose White House website was google bombed with the search terms “failure” and “miserable failure.”

Bush supporters fought back and tried linking the phrase to filmmaker Michael Moore’s site. Will we see a similar answer by Arroyo men or will they just ignore this?

Here are my earlier posts on the issue:
They’re staging a google bomb
Protests in the time of Friendster and Google bombing

Pinoy politics in RSS feeds

With the number of blogs discussing Philippine politics, how does one monitor postings without getting tied up in blog-hopping for hours? With an RSS reader, of course. I recommend Google Reader even if it suffers short (less than a minute) downtimes once every few days. Bloglines, the reader I used before I transferred to Google Reader, is also a good online RSS reader. I still use Bloglines as backup, though. You can share feeds between different RSS readers by exporting and importing your subscriptions.

If you already have an account, add the feeds listed below. In Google Reader, I label them as pinoypolitics. This isnt an exhaustive list, if you spot feeds that should be listed here, just leave the address in the comments section.

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