Wednesday, 30 November 2005

Florian declined becoming "European Campaigner of the Year"

Yesterday was the day that the European of the Year award was published in Brussels. Florian was awarded the European Campaigner of the Year title. European Voice reports:


Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is the European of the Year

Brussels 29 November 2005: The Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker was declared "European of the Year" at an awards ceremony in Brussels hosted by European Voice this evening. Juncker, nominated for bucking the trend on the European Constitution, secured a yes-vote from his citizens after voters in France and the Netherlands had rejected the treaty.

European Voice, published by The Economist Group, is the leading European weekly newspaper. A distinguished panel of opinion leaders from across the EU - including three former Heads of State - selected the 50 nominees. The winners were chosen by the general public in an on-line poll and via paper ballot forms in the European Voice. Polls closed on 11 November.

Michel Rocard, MEP and ex-Prime Minister of France, won the award “MEP of the Year” for leading the charge against the software patents directive. Calling it a struggle for the “freedom of invention”, Rocard turned the discussions into a debate about the future of technological innovation.

Another key player in the fight against the software patents directive was campaigner Florian Müller, who won “Campaigner of the Year” for his instrumental efforts in killing off the whole proposal.


But Florian declined his award. In an email, he writes:


On Tuesday evening (29 November 2005), the EU-focused newspaper European Voice (www.european-voice.com) presented the "EV50 Europeans of the Year" awards in Brussels.

The EV50 awards (www.ev50.com) comprise nine category awards and the grand prize for the overall "European of the Year". A jury selected 50 nominees. After the announcement of the nominees on 22 September, the worldwide public was asked to submit votes in an Internet poll until 11 November. Additionally, the European Voice published a paper ballot for those of its readers who preferred to submit their votes non-electronically.

I was proclaimed as the winner of the "EU Campaigner of the Year" category award for my work on the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign. In that category, I was competing with five other nominees, including U2 frontman Bono and another rock star, Bob Geldof. The rules were such that the overall winner could not simultaneously win the category. Initially, I accepted the category award, not enthusiastically but because I did not want to cause any impression of an emotional overreaction by immediately declining it. I awaited the presentation of the remaining awards. After the overall "European of the Year" award had been given to Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, the organizers wanted to take a picture of all ten winners with their trophies. Before the photograph, I gave the award trophy back to Mr. Dennis Landsbert-Noon, the publisher of the European Voice, and left.

I told Mr. Landsbert-Noon that I had, after serious consideration, "decided not to accept the award", and that I will issue further statements after obtaining legal advice.

Obviously it was a difficult decision to decline a category award that has been won by famous people, most notably the late Pope John Paul II in the year 2002. I was fully aware of the fact that this action would potentially affect decisions by other award juries in the future as well as my relationship with the organizers and sponsors of the EV50.

My greatest concern was that by declining the EU Campaigner of the Year award, I would disappoint the many who have voted for me and those who have supported our tremendously impactful Internet campaign for votes.

However, it was in my opinion the only appropriate action, and I will soon explain the reasons to do so. In the meantime, please understand that I will not be able to answer further questions on this subject.

I also have an anecdote to tell that many will find amusing. Mr. Michel Rocard, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) and former prime minister of France, received the "MEP of the Year" award for his work on the software patent directive. In his acceptance speech, he mentioned Microsoft's sponsorship of the EV50 awards several times. While Microsoft supported the proposed directive, Mr. Rocard wanted to very clearly exclude software from the scope of patentability. Mr. Rocard had a special message for Microsoft and EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy: "You will discover that we were right."

Mr. Rocard could additionally have mentioned that Burson-Marsteller, a PR and lobbying firm with offices in many cities including Brussels, counts Microsoft (as well as other corporations with a similar position on software patents) among its clients. Burson-Marsteller was involved in the organization of the EV50.

Note that the 50 nominees were chosen by an independent jury, which through its choices demonstrated its independence.

For general information on the EV50, journalists are recommended to contact the organizers. A number of presidents, prime ministers, parliamentarians and EU commissioners were personally present at the EV50 dinner.

Best regards,

Florian

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Worried about the FFII

In an article, Heise.de (one of Germany's most reputable IT websites) pinpoints some internal trouble in the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure FFII ("Association of SWPAT opponents stands before a Palace Coup"). The FFII threatens to split into several factions, with current president Hartmut Pilch being challenged by "the comparatively young programmer" (in Heise's words) Jonas Maebe from Belgium in next week's presidential election in Brussels.

I am worried.

First of all, the FFII was instrumental to the defensive victory against SWPATs this summer in the EU. MySQL AB was a prime sponsor and backer of the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, but without FFII, we would never have won.

So whatever happens with FFII in their elections in Brussels is important, to say the least.

As such, it's a bit surprising that the "winníng side" from this summer's European Parliament battle are experiencing this kind of organisatorial upheaval. I'd be less surprised if the EICTAs of the world would have palace coups, considering the amount of lobbying money their membership put in without getting anything in return.

But back to FFII. In the best interest of those of us working against software patents would be


  • unanimity in FFII

  • good strategic thinking by FFII

  • lots of good, visible press work by FFII

  • good channels to companies willing to fund FFII

  • representation in the EP by FFII




but it seems we at least won't be getting unanimity, and some of the other items are also at risk.

Personally, I haven't interacted with Jonas, so I have little to say about him (except that, should he be elected, I hope to establish a good working relationship with him). As for Hartmut, MySQL AB has had good experiences inviting him and sponsoring his travel when he spoke with MySQL CEO MÃ¥rten Mickos and Red Hat's Michael Tiemann on SWPATs at OSCON in the US last summer. Our discussions have also always been productive, whenever exchanging information and pursuing ideas.

On top of this, what worries me with the FFII is the meagre PR work coming out at this point in time. If I google for news item on FFII, I get one (1) item. If I do the equivalent search on "Florian Müller", I get forty-eight (48) items. This is out of proportion.

I am a member of the FFII (now counting 90.000 members), but I am not in a position to come to Brussels on 29 Nov 2005 (*), so I won't be able to influence the decision -- as the over 89.000 members who cannot go there won't be able to vote.

(*) The place and date I hope Florian Müller will be elected "European of the Year"

Concentrating on internal fights is seldom productive. Especially when there is an external threat, in this case SWPATs.

Will OS DBs oust Oracle & Co.?

In an interesting survey on COMPUTERWOCHE.de, the readership of this German IDG business periodical (141.000 decision makers every week!) is being asked "Will Open Source Databases oust Oracle & Co.?". Right now, they've still only got 354 respondents, of which 42 % say Ja and 56 % say Nein. Interesting!

Sunday, 13 November 2005

WANTED: North American MySQL Community Relations Manager

Do you know a potential MySQL evangelist with a lot of passion for Open Source? Able to talk to key Open Source projects, understanding both technology and people issues? An outstanding track record in written skills -- published articles in print and on the web, and perhaps even published a book or two? Excellent oral presentation skills, able to go to conferences, give talks and come back with a network even larger and more well-connected than before?

We describe the job in more detail in Jobs at MySQL AB.

Our current Community Relations team consists of (in chronological order of recruitment to the team) Arjen Lentz in Brisbane, Australia, Lenz Grimmer in Hamburg, Germany, myself in Grankulla, Finland and our newest member Colin Charles who shares his time between Melbourne, Australia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

As you can see, we dearly need somebody in North America, who can meet physically with the many interesting Open Source startups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the US.

If you know somebody, talk to me!

Saturday, 12 November 2005

Open Source Database Consortium

The database market is experiencing some changes. All major database players now have either a no-cost database, or even an Open Source database. A month ago, that was still not the case.

Personally, I think it's a good thing when there are new, lower-cost database alternatives offered to customers. However, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is about much more than "cheap". Market research (such as Evans Data) so far indicates that "lite" versions haven't gained much traction. I believe the reason is that most users are looking for a full-featured database product, not a handicapped trial version.

As a footnote related to the power of OS DBs, Business Week reports about the Evans Data survey as follows, 21 October 2005:



Mainstream database software companies that have been watching open-source upstart MySQL in their rearview mirrors must be having some uncomfortable thoughts right about now. According to a user survey released Oct. 20 by market researcher Evans Data Corp., open-source database deployments in corporations are up 20% in the past six months, and use of MySQL is up 25%. Forty-four percent of corporate software developers surveyed said they use MySQL software. In the coming months, MySQL's growth rate could hockeystick.




The Open Source Database Conference in Frankfurt earlier this week provided me with an excellent opportunity to interact with other providers of FOSS databases. More precisely, with the help of Georg Richter and Zak Greant, I had invited a number of FOSS DB developers to a dinner last Tuesday 8 November 2005 opposite the NH Mörfelden hotel in Frankfurt (where the OS DB conference was being arranged) to test the hypothesis whether the ground is fertile to establish an Open Source Database Consortium as a (formal or informal) vehicle of exchanging information between FOSS DB providers, and as a body for the OS DB industry.

So we met, in alphabetical order (sorry if I missed someone; just tell me and I'll correct it):


  1. Brian Aker / MySQL

  2. Kaj Arnö / MySQL

  3. Patrik Backman / MySQL (indirectly representing Jörg Hoffmeister / MaxDB, who had to leave just before)

  4. Josh Berkus / PostgreSQL

  5. Marcus Boerger / PHP

  6. Gregory Burd / Sleepycat (BDB)

  7. Daniel John Debrunner / Derby

  8. Peter Eisentraut / PostgreSQL

  9. Zak Greant / SQLite (as proxy for Richard Hipp)

  10. Lenz Grimmer / MySQL

  11. Øystein Grøvlen / Sun

  12. Jutta Horstmann

  13. Anders Karlsson / MySQL

  14. Holger Klemt / Firebird (with Ann Harrison and Paul Beach invited but not able to come)

  15. Arjen Lentz / MySQL

  16. Mauricio Longo / Firebird

  17. Georg Richter / MySQL

  18. Gavin Sherry / PostgreSQL

  19. Lukas Kahwe Smith / PHP

  20. Fred Toussi / HSQLDB



Meeting participants

The discussion was lively and any open animosity between the representers of competing OS DBs, if there ever was any, disappeared after the first sip of wine, Weissbier, or whatever we had. A lot of technology information on cool projects, such as PostgreSQL's Slony-II replication, flowed as freely as Open Source information flows.

In an at least partially successful attempt to impose something vaguely resembling an agenda on the group heading almost 20 people, I encouraged smaller groups auto-forming in the various parts of the table to structure their OS DB Consortium thoughts into three phases:

  1. Brainstorming: What are the things we could do together? What are our common interests? From what type of cooperation amongst us could our users benefit?

  2. Evaluate: Which ideas are worth considering?

  3. Low-hanging fruit: Which ideas can we implement easily?



As an additional item we discussed our legal status: Should we have a web site? A legal organisation, with by-laws?

1. The brainstormed ideas were plentiful:

  1. Joint benchmarks to make it easier to compare OS DBs

  2. An external advocacy mailing list

  3. A private mailing list for emergencies, security issues (such as zlib)

  4. Joint development: standards (such as PDBC) and APIs, research, conformance test suite, performance test suite

  5. Joint marketing: announcements, advocacy of FOSS licenses over closed source licenses, approaches to universities

  6. Joint PlanetXxx.org blog aggregation

  7. Joint legal research and statements on SWPATs, other IP issues, licenses



2. When evaluating ideas, we noticed that:

  1. we have different stances on SWPATs, ranging from the clear, strong and open support (and even financing) of NoSoftwarePatents.com, to concerns of the wisdom of a clear NoSoftwarePatents.com support when being financed by some of the world's largest SWPAT holders; although it was hard to find SWPAT proponents around the table, we could deduce that NoSWPAT advocacy is not a common denominator

  2. although it may be desirable, it is hard to define a fair common benchmark (but the one c't is using, the Dell DVD shop, comes close)



3. The low-hanging fruits were suggested to be:

  1. The establishment of a common website, OSDBConsortium.org or something (thanks Gavin for already implementing this!)

  2. An internal mailing list for our own discussions on our future ideas



4. As for the legal organisation,

  1. we could have individual members, or corporate members, or both

  2. we could see the Apache Software Foundation as a model

  3. we could leave the legal organisation until later



If you were present, or you're just interested in being in this consortium, leave a comment in this blog article!

Not on Acropolis

This is the Saturday afternoon that I am not spending discussing MySQL with the Greek MySQL community, strolling on the Acropolis.

See, MySQL AB has had a developer meeting in Athens. The Dev-MTX has met, i.e. the eXtended Development Management Team. Wednesday morning, I had already checked in to the Frankfurt-Athens flight (coming from the OS DB Conference). As I came to the airport, the flight was cancelled due to an airport strike and I had to return back home to Finland instead.

In the meantime, David Axmark, Michael Schiff and Serg Golubchik cleared out the situation in Athens, by

  • hosting a small user meeting at our hotel in Athens on Thursday

  • presenting at the University of Piraeus today Saturday



In general, there are a lot of MySQL User Groups all across the world, from New York to Tiruchchirappalli, from Silicon Valley to Melbourne, from Stuttgart to Tulsa. Whenever MySQLers are travelling, we try to meet with the MySQL Meetups and User Groups. As we write on our User's Group page:



MySQL User Groups organize face-to-face meetings in hundreds of cities around the world, providing an excellent environment to share your experience with fellow users. Some meetings are informal, with a chat over a coffee or a beer. Other meetings have a more formal nature, with presentations or tutorials. Some groups do both, alternating.

MySQL AB, as part of its Community efforts, encourages and supports MySQL User Groups and other local groups and activities. MySQL AB developers and other experts often visit local user groups!

This page lists the MySQL User Groups which we know are active, organised per continent, country and state. If there is no user group yet in your area, please consider starting one!

To start your local MySQL group, you can use mysql.meetup.com. MySQL AB has an agreement in place with meetup.com to cover the organizer fees. Simply click at the link at the top of the meetup.com page to request your electronic voucher so you can become organizer.


For Athens, we owe a big thank you to the local hosts and organisers from the Hellenic Linux Users Group www.hellug.gr, especially Spiros Bolis, Dimitris Glynos studying at the University of Piraeus, and Professor Yannis Theodoridis who allowed us to use their big 300 people auditorium. Efharisto!

Sunday, 6 November 2005

Users Conference CfP closing

One more day until 7 November 2005, which is the deadline for submissions to the MySQL Users Conference 24-27 April 2006 themed "Discover. Connect. Succeed. Scale Your Business with MySQL.". We have well over a hundred quality proposals already, and more are being submitted all the time. Tomorrow Monday is the last day!