London lootings and the Unhappiest Advertising Executives of the year

The London lootings are those you’ve surely heard about these days. The Unhappiest Advertising Executives of 2011 are, almost surely, those of the italian advertising agency Armando Testa. Just a few months ago, they launched the new version of the Lancia Ypsilon compact car with a series of TV spots in which actor Vincent Cassel defiantly declares and explains that “Il Lusso è un Diritto”. The literal translation of that slogan in English is “Luxury is a Right”, that is exactly the same concept (*) firmly planted in the mind of those London looters who focused on big screen TVs, smartphones, trendy clothes and other absolutely primary, indispensable goods.

Sales of Lancia Ypsilon had started well when it arrived in italian dealerships last April. It will be interesting now to see if they’ll continue at the same rate or how long that spot (and all the others that shout the very same slogan with the same attitude, even if they don’t spell it out explicitly).

(*) of course, who is guilty and why if such a concept fills the minds of those people is a whole different discussion.

If Arab public opinion were to influence policy…

If [Arab] public opinion were to influence policy, the U.S. not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it, along with its allies, undermining fundamental principles of global dominance. The U.S. and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world.

So says Noam Chomsky in a piece I just discovered and recommend as useful food for thought: Is the World Too Big to Fail? – The Contours of Global Order

and here is another worthwhile quote to stimulate you to read the same piece:

As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.

The Free Technology Academy comes to Greece

The Free Technology Academy (FTA) is an advanced virtual campus with various course modules, which can be followed entirely on-line and seeks to educate and promote the adoption of Free Software and other Free Technologies. I explained in detail what the FTA is last year. This week the Association of Greek Users and Friends of Free/Open Source Software has joined the FTA’s International Associate Partner Network.

Constantine Mousafiris, Special Registar of GREEKLUG, explained that:

"This cooperation will fit nicely into an international partner-network with all involved parties motivated by the same principles: passion for Free Software, for unrestricted access to knowledge, desire to encourage further spreading of use of Open Standards and a determination to offer outstanding quality of educational courses in the subject of Free Software. It will be priority to highlight the benefits of adoption of Free Software, both in the Public Administration and in the corporate and private world. We aim to raise awareness and contribute to the building of a critical mass for the use of Free Software and Open Standards. This partnership offers us both the expertise and the right platform, so that we can offer excellent opportunities to the Greek public to study all possible aspects of Free Technology, from the most basic to the most advanced level of technical knowledge."

Details of the Partnership

  1. Contribution in terms of translation in Greek of various FTA books and other educational material;
  2. Contribution aiming towards either improving the existing educational material (i.e. through providing book reviews, etc) or contributing towards the creation of new material for the FTA courses;
  3. Sharing with FTA partners various activities that can be organised jointly and with the specific aim to promote Free Software and Open Standards.

Anyone interested can join the FTA Virtual Campus freely by registering online or enroll in any of the available courses.

Guelph University gets file formats right!

File formats are the alphabets of the digital age. Some Universities, or at least some Faculties of some Universities still are so culturally retarded to not deal with this fact. They more or less implicitly require students to use only proprietary file formats to study and graduate. A recent, real world example from Italy is here. Luckily, not all Universities are like that.

I found out with great pleasure that the University of Guelph got its requirements for Electronic Thesis formats straight. The list of recommended formats includes OpenDocument and explicitly recommends to not store documents “in any of the Microsoft Office formats (e.g. DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX)”. Kudos to the University of Guelph. Here are some articles on open formats that may help you to understand why this is a good thing and all Universities worldwide should adopt the same practices.