Month: November 2007

One more Open Source software at ULg

ExamsAfter the promotion of Open Access (see Bernard Rentier’s blog) and a history of publications in Open Access journals (see this last article from the Cyclotron Research Center in PLoS), the University of Liege is slowly slowly publishing Open Source software too.

The last free software published is exams, an assessment management system (for on-line exams, …). They chose the GNU GPL 2, apparently without the possibility to upgrade to version 3 (I don’t know if it’s deliberate or not). And you can download the source code here.

What is even more interesting is that they provide a demonstration website if you want to test it in a nearly real setup (as examiners or students ; only in French). And the demonstration system is hosted by a commercial hosting company (OVH), indicating that it could be possible to use this system on very common platforms (only PHP/MySQL are required).

Now, we can dream of other software from the ULg released as free software, a subversion repository and a users/developers community around exams

P.S.: of course, we already did all that 😉 since we published Gemvid in an Open Access journal (the Journal of Circadian Rhythms) and published it along with a lot of other tools as free software. But I don’t count this as an institutional push towards free software since it was mainly my decision and the development didn’t involved other people.

Vertical badge

vertical number of days without Belgian governmentI was writing the next version of my badge counting the number of days without Belgian government when Laurent added his comment requesting for a vertical version. You can see it on the right.

Since the original release, I also added translation of the sentence in Dutch and German (after all, Belgians are speaking 3 official languages). And I approximately centered the text on the vertical version (I personally prefer the text on the right for the horizontal version but you can easily modify this by yourself).

As usual, here is the HTML code to include this vertical version in your page, blog, etc.:

<img src= "" alt="belgov counter on" />

And here is the source code (for both version): belgov-0.3.tar.gz (20kb).

How many days without governement?

Now it’s not a secret anymore: more than 148 days passed since we, Belgians, went to vote (it was on the 10th of June 2007) and we still don’t have any government!

If you want to count the numbers of days without Belgian government, it’s easy: just have a look at Belgian newspapers. Or … have a look at the counter below (in French, Vlaams or German) 😉

belgov counter on

And if you want the same on your website or blog, it’s very easy, just copy/paste the HTML code below:

<img src="" alt="belgov counter on" />


P.S. For those who could be interested, here is the source code: belgov-0.2.tar.gz (6kb). It’s written in PHP and under the GNU GPL (so it’s free!). Each small animal (Lion of Flanders or Rooster of Wallonia) represents 2 days without government. On the last line, there is a small gradation of transparency.

P.P.S. If you want to specifically support the unity of Belgium (because quite a number of politicians and citizens want to split Belgium), Pilok has a “I love Belgium” banner. Here I just wrote a counter of days without government, whatever your opinion is about Belgium.

Edit on Nov. 7th: I added translations in Vlaams and German for the line on the bottom.

OpenSocial, a step further towards a "society of social networks"

Since Thursday, Google Code is hosting the OpenSocial project, a group of APIs allowing the development of common software for a certain number of “social networking” websites (e.g. LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Orkut, …).

Before Thursday, every programmer wanting to develop a software for social networks had to learn an API, how to write code and sometimes a new language for each of these networks (when these ones exposed a public API!). Now, OpenSocial gives access to the most common functions of all the participating networks. Currently, the API gives access to:

  • the users profile information
  • the networks and friends information
  • events in the network

One advantage of OpenSocial is that it’s based on existing languages (Javascript, HTML and Flash) where other APIs (the Facebook one, to be clear) impose a new language like FBML. Source code for examples is under a free license as well as all the documentation. OpenSocial promises to open the API source code soon (see the FAQ).

Finally, one slowly achieves a true social networks society (federation) where, whatever website/network you are registered, you’ll be able to use the same applications (who spoke of standardization?). Web 2.0, software are coming!

Now, some questions remain unanswered …

  • One day, one can be registered in a network and access other networks without being registered with them (a bit like gateways allow people using one type of IM can chat with friends using another type of IM).
  • What about security, access to data (from outside) and the public perception about this? (see Bruce Schneier’s opinion on Facebook and data control)

I initially wrote this news in French for LinuxFr (see here).