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Comment Re:Not clear if this is really totally open source (Score 1) 117

(Disclosure: IBMer working in Power Systems, opinions my own)

For the BMC, it appears that they're looking to use OpenBMC, a project started by Facebook and now being continued by IBM.

They're also going to use the OpenPOWER firmware stack - Hostboot for system initialisation, Skiboot for runtime firmware/BIOS and the OCC firmware for on-chip thermal and power management. All of this is Apache-licensed.

POWER8 processors do require an external CPU to boot them - either an IBM Flexible Service Processor or a third-party BMC. This is the case with all current Power Architecture server chips, though not with Power embedded (Book 3E) chips. Booting a POWER8 chip is a bit more complex than comparable Intel CPUs in this regard, but as far as I'm aware it's primarily a design choice to put the initialisation complexity in firmware rather than hardware.

Can't comment about the other components of the system - I imagine it'd be fairly challenging to find a hard drive with open source firmware, but I wish them luck... FSF will still certify them as Respects Your Freedom nonetheless, I imagine. I'm still quite excited by this machine, as POWER8 is definitely the best choice for a high-performance libre system.

Comment Re:ADA? (Score 1) 267

I'm a bit sad that Ada is on the way out, though it's not entirely dead - a friend of mine who is currently in his 3rd year of a CS degree was just hired as a part-time developer at a local Ada startup - possibly the only time I've ever seen a job ad for an Ada web developer who also knows JavaScript...

Comment Re:Ada? (Score 1) 387

I'm currently studying for my bachelor's in CS, and I've taken two courses taught in Ada. Quite an alright language, IMHO. I'm also aware of at least two private-sector companies in my relatively-small city who are starting new projects in Ada (in addition to all the established defence contractors around here). So it's not completely dead! Mostly, but not completely!

Comment Re:THANKS!!! (Score 1) 121

While on that topic, Debian also should be commended for joining OSI and embracing Open Source as well as their own FSG.

Well, the OSI's Open Source Definition was actually based off the DFSG, just with the Debian-specific references removed.

Comment Doesn't help public sector transparency (Score 2) 288

As much as this may be beneficial to scientists, I feel that in the case of publicly-funded institutions, it would set a bad precedent for the overall cause of public sector transparency. It has been a long, hard fight for increased transparency in government (FOI laws and such) and I think creating an exception for scientific agencies doesn't send the right message.

Comment And in Australia... (Score 3, Insightful) 500

In Australia, for most purposes we still use paper ballots. (There are a few exceptions - ACT territory elections have *optional* computer-based voting, and NSW state elections have an *optional* online voting system for some absentee or disabled voters.)

On election night, officials at every polling place - who are required to sign a declaration, under penalty, that they are not politically active - do an initial hand count of first-preference votes (yes, we have IRV and STV ballots here) and the votes for the top two front runners. These are the numbers that make their way to the internet in a matter of minutes and are used for the election night media coverage - but they actually have no legal significance at all, they're basically purely for the media coverage.

The real counting happens the week after election day, when all ballots are transported to the local electoral office for counting. For elections that use IRV ballots (e.g. the federal House of Representatives), the ballots are all hand counted. For STV ballots (e.g. the federal Senate), they do use computer based counting, however the paper ballots are retained and a hand count can be done if necessary. If there are any issues that arise, the Returning Officer has the discretion to order a recount as necessary, without necessarily needing court orders or anything like that.

The *entire process* - opening the polls, conducting the polling, closing the polls, the first count, the second count, and any recounts - takes place in front of candidate-appointed scrutineers (not quite as good as being public, but it's close enough). Every candidate can appoint scrutineers to witness the whole process and make objections.

And this is how Australia has elections that are virtually unchallengeable - for a typical federal election, there will usually be at most one serious dispute, and only in districts with the tiniest of margins where they need a judge to make the final decision. Heck, we're experimenting with computer-based and internet-based voting systems, and no-one's raising concerns because the Electoral Commission has such a high reputation for integrity and accuracy.

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