VPTC Virtual Candidate’s Forum Published

Colin writes: The Virginia Piedmont Technology Council has published its Virtual Candidate’s Forum for the upcoming Charlottesville city council election. Unfortunately, despite a two week allotment for response and a weeks extension, only two candidates provided responses. Any responses that are received past this publication will be posted as an addendum. The document and any addendums can be found here: http://leg.vptc.org/article.php?sid=69

Democratic Mayor Blake Caravati and Republican Rob Schilling were the two who replied.

29 Responses to “VPTC Virtual Candidate’s Forum Published”


  • What if they gave an election … and no one voted?

  • I thought that’s pretty much how it was nowadays, anyway… Anyone have some numbers about the apathy of young voters?

  • Alexandria Searls’ responses are in and posted at http://leg.vptc.org/article.php?sid=69

  • I am very busy ranting against the establishment. I have to get back to you.

    ciao

  • It’d be nice to see a bigger push to use open source software in the city departments. Schilling mentions this in his response:

    “Finally, as a city, we should also consider the inclusion of open source tools in the technology mix. It is my understanding that many businesses have saved a considerable amount of money by making such a switch.”

    Not only that, but he’s a Mac user. You KNOW Caravati is still using Win95. ;)

  • Open source is not the solution… spending wisely is. You don’t build a house simply because you like the brand of hammer and the brand of nails. You build the house to fulfill a purpose, then you buy the best tools for the job. Depending on the needs (especially the long-term needs), you spend accordingly.

    There are too many failed implementations of all technologies (M$, Linux/Open Source, Oracle) just in this one town that it should be extremely obvious that you develop the best plan, then implement the plan with the best resources you can afford/prioritize.

    Open source is not the band-aid that cures all. Intelligent systems architecture is far more important.

  • “Open source is not the band-aid that cures all. Intelligent systems architecture is far more important.

    I absolutely agree. However, an intelligent systems architecture that doesn’t require bazillions in licensing fees to Microsoft would be even better.

    You fail to take into account, however, the fact that open source software has been credited with feeding starving children, curing cancer, and canceling Ally McBeal.

  • It’d be nice to see a bigger push to use open source software in the city departments.

    I couldn’t agree more. Governor Warner recently called for increased use of open source on a state level, and I think it’s quite reasonable that we follow suit on a municipal level. There are cost savings to be had here. Let’s go get ‘em.

  • The fault is not with Microsoft for forcing the school system to pay for their software… this is like faulting the power company for actually charging for the electricity that the school uses. If they are late on their bills, regardless of being a school or not, they get the juice turned off. If this was Apple, would everyone get their knickers in such a bunch? Of course not. Bottom line: you have to pay your friggin’ bills, school system or not.

    The bigger (and more important) issue with the school system is that incompetent governments have rammed “technology in the schools” down every school system’s throat and then denied them the funds to hire/train staff to maintain these systems.

    Here’s what would happen with an open source implementation in that same school system: a whole lot of broken, unusable computers. Why? Because the school system has been forced to buy the computers but has not been given the money for staff to maintain them. Open source, M$, or Apple, it doesn’t matter: the school systems are screwed until the government wises up and hires the staff to maintain and properly implement technology.

    Besides… why should Linux be on the student’s desktop when it’s not on the home desktop or the office desktop? As much as Windows pisses me off, I’d rather my children learn something that is used in 95% of all office environments and 95% of all home computers.

  • The fault is not with Microsoft for forcing the school system to pay for their software… this is like faulting the power company for actually charging for the electricity that the school uses.

    You’re close, but not quite there. This would be like faulting the power company for demanding an appliance-by-appliance audit of every electrical device in the schools, and requiring that that audit be completed within 60 days or else the school district’s power will be cut off. Oh, and timing that audit with the notoriously-busy end of the school year.

  • I concede the point that the audit is a bit too rigidly enforced and ill-timed. However, it doesn’t change the fact that at some point the school system has to pay for their licenses or make the switch to something else (Linux, Mac, etc.).

  • However, it doesn’t change the fact that at some point the school system has to pay for their licenses or make the switch to something else (Linux, Mac, etc.).

    From what I’ve read, it doesn’t appear that they’re suspected of failing to pay licensing fees. (Though I must admit that I haven’t read much thus far.) No matter what, yes, they must pay whatever they have to pay or try something else.

    A buddy of mine is head of IT for a county school system up in Connecticut, and they’re starting to make the switch to Linux. They’re beginning with the servers (Samba instead of SMB, Apache instead of IIS, MySQL instead of MSQL, Sendmail instead of…um…whatever Windows has) and gradually moving to the desktop level. At least, that’s the plan. The cost savings overall have been quite impressive, particularly given that they’ve only switched a few machines.

    Best of all, they’ve found that buying a tech support license from Red Hat costs way less than a similar level of support from Microsoft. It seems like a good situation all around, at least in that particularly district.

    Speaking of school, it’s time for me to leave for math class. :)

  • I guess I should be more clear in saying that my above comment is meant to indicate that Charlottesville city council elections are slightly less impacting on reality and daily afairs than, say, the World’s Strongest Man competition. Why don’t you just declare Mo Cox Supreme Negro for Life and get it over with?

  • Noticed stratton did not see fit to respond. Since I remember his rabid supporters in here before blabing on and on, perhaps he’d dignify us with his presence and give even a short statement in response to this very nice effort on behalf of the VPTC.

  • From what I’ve read, it doesn’t appear that they’re suspected of failing to pay licensing fees. (Though I must admit that I haven’t read much thus far.) No matter what, yes, they must pay whatever they have to pay or try something else.

    The audit is usually done to prove that you have a paid license for every installed copy of a Windows OS or Office suite (or server licenses and their corresponding client access licenses). The point here is that as a business, you can go ahead and install Windows 98/2000 on as many machines as possible without paying for licenses; however, if an audit team comes a-knocking, you have to show proof of your paid licenses; otherwise, they tally up a bill and charge you. The funny thing is that the most common reason for an organization to get audited is because a disgruntled employee rats out their former employer and tells them that they haven’t been paying for licenses. So the audit is usually “prove that you aren’t guilty.”

    A buddy of mine is head of IT for a county school system up in Connecticut, and they’re starting to make the switch to Linux. They’re beginning with the servers (Samba instead of SMB, Apache instead of IIS, MySQL instead of MSQL, Sendmail instead of…um…whatever Windows has) and gradually moving to the desktop level. At least, that’s the plan. The cost savings overall have been quite impressive, particularly given that they’ve only switched a few machines.

    Servers are where you can make the most savings in a switchover, from a raw cost perspective. However, many organizations never take into account the long-term ramifications of switching over your computing platforms: you have to hire/train all of your support staff on the new platform, and you have to accept that platform’s limitations (with Windows, it’s keeping up with security patches and disabling all the crap that is enabled by default; with Linux, it’s the lack of integration between applications or the lack of features that are found in M$ products).

    One example of a poor substitute from M$ to Linux is with database servers. MySQL is only just now rolling out transaction support (and that might only be in a pay-only distribution) and still lacks stored procedure support, which (in my experience) is the most secure and architecturally sound way of interacting with a database. MySQL is a fine backend database for sites like this, but for serious computing environments it is still a good year or two behind.

    Sendmail (as a replacement for M$ Exchange) is a good choice only when you specifically don’t want the group scheduling/group folder/organization-wide directory services that Exchange can deliver (when combined with an Outlook client). However, if your organization has come to rely on those features, then it’s a poor decision to switch, especially when it will affect the end user’s productivity (teachers scheduling meetings with each other, reserving rooms/labs, etc.). Now, if Sendmail (or another open-source messaging server) can get the same features implemented, and work with Ximian’s Evolution, then you have a M$-killer.

    However, at the desktop level, especially with the students… do you really want your kids to learn the Gnome/KDE interface all through K-12, and then get into college/real world and be behind because they don’t know Windows? Until Windows isn’t so ubiquitous in the average business environment, then the schools should stick with Windows. (With the exception of computer science classes… exposing budding programmers to multiple platforms will definitely help them as they move into college and/or the job market.)

    Regarding tech support licenses: as long as the IT staff is trained in Linux (and Apache/MySQL/Samba/Sendmail) then cost is the next important matter. However, the better trained your IT staff, the less you need tech support licenses, regardless of which vendor you go with.

  • Additionally, it’s certainly worth noting that Searls apparently wasn’t able to meet either the original or extended deadlines.

  • Blake Caravati and Rob Schilling were both late with their responses, but they at least followed through (better late than never).

    Kinda shows how the tech community is getting the cold shoulder now that the dot-com boom is over. Which is funny because even now that the hype is over, local gov’t. needs tech improvements now more than ever to pull them out of the budget problems associated with the recession.

  • I think Mr. Jake Mooney would be better suited for that position. Bitch betta have my money!

  • However, at the desktop level, especially with the students… do you really want your kids to learn the Gnome/KDE interface all through K-12, and then get into college/real world and be behind because they don’t know Windows? Until Windows isn’t so ubiquitous in the average business environment, then the schools should stick with Windows.

    I’ve never bought this argument because, in my experience, it doesn’t stick. Both KDE and Gnome support GUI styles that are strikingly similar to Windows, although the default look shouldn’t be baffling to many users. The application interface is pretty much the same. I’ve sat no shortage of people down at my home and office Linux machines that want to browse the web/send e-mail/edit a document/download a file, and they almost always figure it out in very little time, regardless of their experience.

    Apple has fought this for years — the argument that kids shouldn’t have Macs in school because in “the real world” they’ll have to use Windows. But interface testing shows that it takes mere minutes for most people to adapt to the minor differences between Windows and Apple GUIs, and I think that it’s fair to extend that conclusion to Linux.

  • To be perfectly honest, City government needs us about as much as it needs a dry cleaning establishment, which is to say, that the reason the tech community is important – and the extent to which it is important – is the number of jobs a tech company supplies, the services its able to provide to the Charlottesville community, and the amount of tax income it supplies to the city: just like any other business.

    As a member of the tech community, I must say that I feel we tend to be a bit overly riteous about our contribution to the city. I don’t think we’re getting the cold shoulder – I think that Statton (for whatever reason) decided not to respond (as was noted, Alexandria did respond, and her late response was due to having to deal with a computer virus on her system – ah the irony). Three out of four ain’t bad.

    Plus, I’m voting for Stratton anyway, because I don’t really care at all about the VPTC.

  • …was such a fabulous movie. It’s all about the goldfish in the shoes.

  • So long as city officials are able to their jobs behind the scenes with the OS and software at hand, I have no objections. But if the city is serious about attracting high-tech workers and investment, the face it shows the world should reflect that. The city’s website http://www.charlottesville.org runs Microsoft IIS/5.0 on Windows 2000 (according to netcraft.com). This is an old version of one of the most exploitable servers running on a buggy OS. That’s a bad combination, but not a terrible problem if the latest security patches are applied regularly. This is my doubt… if the server is an old version, and links are broken and never fixed (anybody else tried to browse with lynx or some other Javascript-disabled browser?), what is the probability that patches will be applied in a timely fashion?

    My vote: RedHat Linux (which offers support contracts) with the latest Apache httpd, and if paying bills online is supported, encryption with httpsd. One more wish for my list: intuitive links, no more of those long alphanumeric strings.

  • because I don’t really care at all about the VPTC

    Why?

  • One word: resume. Joe Human Resources will see that the line “Windows/MS Office” is missing from your resume and will pass you over for the person with that line.

  • One word: resume.

    Good point!

  • One more wish for my list: intuitive links, no more of those long alphanumeric strings.

    Whoo-hoo…that’s a can of worms right there. :)

  • Thanks. In a less-monopolized computing world, the right tool for the right job would be interoperable with the other tools through open standards. I, for one, would love to have the flexibility and configurability of Linux but still be able to run MS Word/Excel to be compatible with the rest of the company, and then run Outlook (or Evolution) and maintain full scheduling/messaging capability regardless of the OS I choose.

    Unfortunately, the government hasn’t had the backbone to slap Microsoft down and make them separate the OS from all the other crap (there is no way in hell a media player and a browser should be “part of the OS”). Here’s hoping that the current trial will succeed where others have failed…

  • Plus, I’m voting for Stratton anyway, because I don’t really care at all about the VPTC.

    The people that complain the loudest about VPTC are the ones who either a) aren’t even members or b) pay dues but don’t participate. VPTC is a not-for-profit community that needs participants to make it work; you don’t just pay your dues and then expect every one else to do all the work.

    Hope life is nice and cushy back there from the armchair.

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