Archive for April 2006

Upcoming Workshop on Open Access

April 29, 2006

The European Association of Science Editors is organizing a Workshop on Open Access: Two roads to Open Access. The Workshop will take place at Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland on June 19, 2006. The workshop will discuss Best Practices in technical, legal, organizational and economic terms, from around the world, in pursuing open access. Among the Speakers, we have:

  1. Bill Hubbard, SHERPA Manager, University of Nottingham, UK
  2. Alice Keefer, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
  3. John Willinsky, University of British Columbia, Canada

The registration to the event is completely free but it closes on April 30, 2006. If you are planning to attend, you should register ASAP

For more information, please, visit the Workshop website at



Re-drafting of Information Technology Bill in Venezuela (Day 3)

April 28, 2006

Day 3 of re-drafting the Information Technology Bill was on Wednesday (there was no meeting on yesterday). The discussions continue to be lengthy and it looks like they are not going to complete the redrafting of the 75 Articles in the scheduled two weeks period. The day before yesterday, they worked on Articles 12 to 16. The issues that caused the most discussions were, surprisingly, related to terminology more than to the essence of the Bill. For instance, the group is divided regarding the following issues:

Keeping or deleting any reference to the term “Technological Neutrality”

Keeping or deleting any reference to the terms “Free Software” or “Free Applications” outside the Article 75 (that indicates that the Public Administration would use, preferably, Free and Open Source Software).


I really hope they start focusing more in what really matters and start being more productive.


If you want to know more about what is happening, you can check Luigino Bracci’s Blog



Making a living out of free and open source software for open science

April 27, 2006

I was reading a series of posts about Making Money from Open Source Science Software at The Open Science Project Blog. The articles were well written and provided some insight as to what options are available for the people who wanted to make a living out of opening their scientific software.

In the initial post, the author mentioned the following ways of making money:

  1. Sell hardware
  2. Sell services
  3. Dual-license your software
  4. Use the academic community
  5. Differentiate between single run and high-throughput versions

So far, the author has explained options 1 and 2. The author also mentioned that neither one would be sustainable as a business model. We will have to wait for what the author has to say about the remaining three options.

I am posting here the comments I made in that Blog to let you know what I think about this important topic.


An excellent set of articles. I am looking forward to the upcoming articles. In particular, because I wan to make a living out of developing and releasing free and open source scientific software.

About how to make money from open source scientific software, I think that any company wishing to make a living by opening scientific software has to embrace several options at once, i.e. a combination of the options that you mentioned in the first post of this series. I will put Kitware as an example. From their about page, we have that:

“Kitware's mission is to provide state of the art visualization, graphics, and image processing software solutions. This includes developing turn-key, end user applications; creating customized applications for clients; porting our open-source tools such as VTK, ITK, and CMake to custom hardware; supporting these open-source software tools with documentation and tools; providing professional consulting services; and offering on-site and off-site training.”

So, how is Kitware making money?

  1. By working under contract with the U.S. National Library of Medicine to develop and provide support to the Insight Toolkit (ITK) a set of open source libraries for medical image processing, analysis, and registration;
  2. By selling licenses of a proprietary software application for medical image registration and segmentation (VolView) that is based on the open source software libraries VTK and ITK;
  3. By providing training courses at a price;
  4. By providing several levels of support and consulting services at a price; and
  5. By selling books about their products.

Point 1 fits into contract work category (I did not see that category in your first post)

Point 2 fits into the dual licensing category

Point 3 fits into training and certification category (I did not see that category in your first post)

Point 4 fits into the selling services category

Point 5 fits into the selling related products category (I did not see that category in your first post)

By the way, I have been using ITK for three years. That is how I learnt about Kitware.

Again, I am looking forward to the upcoming posts


Re-drafting of Information Technology Bill in Venezuela (Day 2)

April 26, 2006

Yesterday was the second day of redrafting an Information Technology Bill in Venezuela. The proposed Law is said to go a long way in promoting the use of Free and Open Source Software in the Venezuelan Government.

First, I will give you some insight on how the process works:

  1. Representatives of different interested parties (Government Organizations, Business Organizations, Universities, the Free Software Movement, and Microsoft) meet to redraft the Bill.
  2. The group is divided into sub-groups that analyze the current Bill and propose changes if appropriate.
  3. If there is consensus, the proposal is kept. Otherwise, they are asked to produce two contrasting proposals.
  4. At the end of the discussions, all the proposals are taken to the National Assembly (the equivalent to the Canadian Parliament) where the proposals are approved, modified, or deleted.
  5. The Bill becomes Law

Back to yesterday's meeting, the group met to discuss starting on the Article 7. They were able to discuss up to Article 12 (by yesterday, they were supposed to have covered up to Article 29 of a 89 Articles law. So, they are getting really behind schedule). The Article 12 created a long discussion. This Article deals with the type of technology the Public Administration can use. The current proposal says that:

“The Public Administration could use any type of information technology to achieve their goals in conformity to what is established in this law”

For the people supporting Free and Open Source Software, this article open the doors to an extensive use of proprietary software. Therefore, they recommended for it to be modified or deleted.

Another group considered the article to be OK because they said it guarantees the Freedom of Choice of the Government.

After more than 3 hours of discussion, they did not agree on what to do with Article 12. Today, they are going to present two proposals for that Article. The two of them will be taken to the Parliament as I explained above. In addition, today, they are going to start the discussion on the Features of the Government's Information Technology Infrastructure.

Again, I will keep you posted on how everything progresses.


Microsoft’s academic search engine: is it a threat to Google Scholar?

April 25, 2006

I just tried Windows Live Academic , the new Microsoft’s academic search engine, on my Ubuntu 5.10 Box using the Mozilla Firefox Browser. The search engine looks promising. However, it is not optimized to work under Linux as I can certify.

I decided to run a small comparison between the Microsoft’s search engine and its direct competitor, Google Scholar . Here are the results:




Literature included Journal and conference articles Same as MS + self archived material
Sorting by
Date, author, journal, relevance
Google’s criteria?
Interface’s look Academic Google

Because the search engines are said to be directed to academic researchers, I would say that the Microsoft interface seems to be more appealing. We would have to wait for Microsoft to release their software and see what changes Google would incorporate in response.

Before their software release, I think that Microsoft should work on the following issues:

  1. Improving the way their software works under Linux and with the FireFox browser
  2. Adding the number of citations for each article

Finally, answering the question in the title of this post, if Google wants to keep the Academic market, they should create an Advanced Search Option making it possible to discriminate between self-archive materials and material published in Journals and Conference Proceedings.


Re-drafting of Information Technology Bill in Venezuela (First Day)

April 25, 2006

From Luigino Bracci’s Blog, we have news about the first day of re-drafting of the Information Technology Bill in Venezuela.

Among the things that are in discussion are:

  1. Making mandatory the use of free and open source software in schools;
  2. encouraging the use of free and open source software in the public administration;
  3. the promotion of the use of free and open source software to help cooperatives and small and medium size businesses; and
  4. the use of open standards by all the parties interested in doing business with the Venezuelan Government

On day one of discussions, there were 45 people in attendance. The group included:

  1. One Member of the Parliament from the Science and Technology Council
  2. Three representatives of the Free Software Community: Felipe Perez Marti, Carlos Reyes, and Jorge Baralt
  3. Representatives of three Venezuelan Universities (UCV , UCAB , and UNERG)
  4. Representatives of Business Groups (Cavedatos and Cavecom-e)
  5. Representatives of organisms of the Venezuelan Public Administration (among the presents were PDVSA, CONATEL, MCT, and the CNTI)
  6. Only one corporation: Microsoft

They met from 7p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and re-drafted articles 1 through 7 of the Bill even though they were supposed to re-draft up to article 16. The discussions continue today starting with article 8 (who is affected by this Law)

I will be providing daily updates on the progress of the discussions


Calgary Linux Fest 2006

April 24, 2006

Calgary Linux Fest 2006 is a one-day conference and expo promoting the use of Free and Open Source Software. The event will take place on May 06, 2006 at the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Building on the University of Calgary campus. If you are in the Calgary area that day, the Linux Fest is an event that you should not miss.

By the way, I am giving a talk titled: Linux – The Latin America Experience. In this talk, I will be talking about the recent developments in Venezuela and Latin America that could be shaping the future of Free and Open Source Software.

See you there,