slef is currently certified at Master level.

Name: MJ Ray
Member since: 2001-02-11 21:55:32
Last Login: 2009-01-18 23:36:02

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See my website for the full current details and my email address.

Current Projects: Partner in a Free Software programming, training, web development and publishing workers' co-op, helping with LUG communications, teaching a bit, revising my book for publication and trying to make helpful and encouraging suggestions about various projects. That and 1001 other things.

Past Projects: Sapphire WM,, writing good lecture courses, IceWM-related websites, FMPorts, some DOS programs.


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Request for West Norfolk to Complete the PCC Consultation

Please excuse the intrusion to your usual software and co-op news items but vine seems broken and as part of my community and democratic interests, I’d like to share this short clip quoting Norfolk’s Deputy Police Commissioner Jenny McKibben about why Commissioner Stephen Bett believes it’s important to get views from the west of the county about next year’s police budget:

Personally, with a King’s Lynn + West Norfolk Bike Users Group hat on, I’d like it if people supported a 2% (£4/year average) tax increase to reduce the police’s funding cut (the grant from is being cut by 4%) so that we’re less likely to have future cuts to traffic policing. The consultation details and response form are on the PCC website.

Syndicated 2014-01-09 13:19:39 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

About Co-ops & Governance

There have been some dark days for UK coops recently – the crystal Methodist and all that – and I have not been able to talk about it much because of the amount of work that I want to do before the end of the year.

Happily good colleagues have been writing about it and here’s another good article from Kate Whittle that links to Ed Mayo and Ian Snaith who are the other two that I’d suggest.

I should be back in a few days to summarise the event I attended last week.

Syndicated 2013-12-09 13:53:13 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

The 2012 Update to the Worker Co-op Code

We like guidelines. In our work, things like the Debian Free Software Guidelines, pep8 and Koha Coding Guidelines are quite useful. I follow guidelines for how I work, too. In addition to the financial reports required by government, our co-op produces an annual social report which we share with our members and other key stakeholders. Since 2007, the backbone of it is The Worker Co‑operative Code of Governance published by our national federation.

In 2012, the Worker Co-op Council updated the code. I don’t remember why an update was felt necessary, but as a side-effect of producing of our 2013 social report, I’ve made a list of the changes:

  1. Principle 1 is reordered, with information becoming the first point and membership offered to all becoming the last item.
  2. Principle 2 sees democratic processes drop down the order, plus it loses the item on long-term planning.
  3. Principle 3 has the point about reserves clarified and gains a last item about distributing surplus fairly.
  4. Principle 4 loses its first item about regular reviews, the skills assessment point moves to principle 5 and it gains a “build capability” point.
  5. Principle 5 gains items on replacing key members and skills assessment (from the previous section), while most points seem rephrased.
  6. Principle 6 is reordered, active co-operation is split into distinct points about referring and collaborating and the point about actively sharing good practice is deleted.
  7. Principle 7 is unchanged.

Are these good changes? Much of it seems like tinkering and maybe shifting emphasis – the reorderings add little and make it harder to spot the changes – while the lost points on long-term planning and sharing good practice are surprising. I would have preferred to see the items that seem mainly to promote the code itself and its publisher Co-operatives UK deleted instead. The additions and clarifications about surplus are good, though, and there’s nothing new that I think should stop us adopting it.

What do you think? Should all business behave this way?

Syndicated 2013-10-03 04:35:15 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Send updates to live cycling news reports to the speech synth

The BBC coverage of the UCI Women Road Race World Championship wasn’t starting until 3pm, BBC Radio 5 Live had football and Sports Extra was playing an advert loop (really BBC?), Eurosport wasn’t covering the race at all, RAI Sport 2 had coverage which was fine while I was watching the TV, but my Italian isn’t good enough to follow the commentary and I wanted to get some other stuff done.

So the obvious thing is to have the computer watch for changes to the great ticker and read them out, right? Well, it was to me. Here’s the script I used:

# Send updates to live cycling news reports to the speech synth

# initialise
if (~ $1 *:*) {

while (true) {
    # download the update and strip html - if you don't have html2text try
    # sed -e '1,/<ol/d;s/<br[^>]*>/n/g;s/<[^>]*>//g;s/ / /g;s/[[:space:]]*$//'
    next=``(){curl -s $url | html2text -width 9999 | sed -e 's/^ *[0-9]*. //' }
    # look for some added lines in the update section - timezone will need changing for non-European races
    say=``(){diff -u <{echo $last} <{echo $next} 
      | sed -ne '/^+/!d;s///;s/**//g;/ CES*T/,/^ *$/p' | head -9 }
    # feed them to the speech synth in reverse order
    echo $say '
      Race Update' | tac | spd-say -e
    # update variables, pause and loop
    # set this to a prime number over 60, like 61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83, 89
    sleep 67

Any questions, comments or improvements? I could have done more, like not saying “Race Update” even when there was no update, but I wanted to start listening as soon as possible!

Syndicated 2013-09-29 04:28:51 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Upgrading to Debian 7 wheezy

So I have upgraded my main workstation at last, but there are a few things I wanted to figure out. Some of these I found an answer to, but others I haven’t and some answers open more questions:

Where did go and why doesn’t lxlauncher have the Debian menu by default anyway? Answer: It seems this is a combination of debian bug 333848 and bug 722563 which I reported yesterday in that lxlauncher doesn’t use the debian menus. Workaround for now: install menu-xdg and hack the lxlauncher menu file.

Why don’t my xterm shells load .profile any more? Did I bodge that before without making a note?

How do I stop kernel or initrd or whatever it is configuring the network with the dhcp settings at boot time instead of the better wicd ones that are available once the system is up?

Continuing with networking, how did network-manager (which doesn’t cope with my network configuration) get installed again? Answer: debian bug 645656 explains that debian is simply following a silly decision taken upstream and refers to attempts to make network-manager optional as “the Crusade”. Workaround: remove gnome and install its dependencies like gnome-core directly instead. Drawback: any new dependencies of gnome will have to be installed manually.

Why is the audio capture volume at 10% by default and what’s the best way to change that? I suspect this might be 682731 but that bug is untouched in over a year. I’m tempted to remove pulseaudio, but “gnome-core Depends pulseaudio” so this is yet more hardware-breaking caused by gnome dependency changes and the only way out of this one would be to remove gnome-core and install its dependencies. Or maybe I should just give up and finally remove gnome because its packages have jumped the shark. I installed gnome to make the system easier to use and it’s broken it in at least two ways now.

One question that makes me hesitate is: why is gdm3 faster to start than lightdm?

Syndicated 2013-09-13 04:10:12 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

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