Since I've been skeptic in the past, I should provide an update. Germany's Truck Maut system will pick up work in January 2005. Fourteen months later than promised and with a stripped down feature set, but I guess that's not too unusual for a project of this size and budget.

path: /en/Germany/maut | #

It's that time of the year again. All over Germany kids are making lanterns and (re-)learn the songs of the season. Mine are no exception.

This year's lantern form of choice involves balloons, colored transparent paper and paste, lots of paste. This here comes close, but my kids use smaller snippets of paper, several different colors and probably more paste. I'm not sure what they enjoy more - the sticky fingers or the part of the build process that involves a needle and ends with a bang.

We are booked for at least three if not five lantern parades over the next few weeks, so cold feet and wet noses are to be expected.

path: /en/Germany/culture | #

Tagesschau is the most successful news show in German television. Its market share is big enough that any attempts of competing TV channels to broadcast movies during the time of the main evening show have failed - non-news TV starts at a quarter past eight because of the Tagesschau in Germany.

The online version of it now has three of their American reporters start a blog about the US elections, starting coverage with the DNC. This is the first German mainstream news portal using the form of a blog that I was aware of. Still they need to find out about RSS/Atom feeds.

I wonder what they'll do with the URL once the election is over.

Update: I should have looked closer, at least the main site has a feed:

Update 2: Seems as if Matthew's email worked,

path: /en/Germany | #

Matthew thinks about a German version of BoggerCon. Nice idea and the Nixdorf Museum would certainly be worth a visit.

This blog is hosted on so it seems I should reach quite a few people with a pointer to Matthew's post. I'll check with the guy behind this effort to find out which forum would be appropriate.

path: /en/Germany | #

Betrand points to a publication of the Swiss government detailing their open source strategy.

This reminded me that I wanted to blog about a speech I attended during OOP 2004. It was a keynote by an IT director of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior talking about the German eGovernment strategy.

By the end of 2005 Germany wants to provide internet-access to all federal services where this is possible - and a lot of it is already done. Of 400 services on the list, more than 240 are already online according to the "Fortschrittsanzeiger".

What I found to be the most interesting part was that an agency of the Federation and the German states has been created (not interesting in itself) and they have delivered a number of documents and components.

The first - and probably most important for eGovernment - document is SAGA. "Standards and Architectures for e-Government Applications". This contains detailed recommendations on the development process, software architecture and platform as well as data descriptions to use. XML is everywhere. In the middleware field J2EE wins with .NET being "under observation". PHP is the recommended technology for services "without middleware". Adhering to SAGA is not mandatory, but you better don't expect public funding if you don't follow it.

The other interesting document is a Migration Guide for services that are going to migrate to the recommended architecture. This also includes migration of desktop systems in public offices. The introduction goes a long way to explain that it wasn't a single-sided pro-open-source guide. For a lot of areas it shows a (mostly Microsoft based) proprietary "now" and lists some migration alternatives. Sometimes there is only one alternative. For almost all areas - one exception is "middleware", since J2EE can, but doesn't have to be open source - there is at least one open source migration alternative.

This migration guide is quite detailed and obviously applies outside of German government offices as well. Central pieces of the open source architectures are Linux, Samba, OpenLDAP and Apache HTTPD 2.x. In some areas there is no clear decision between open source alternatives (like with RDBMSes and office applications) and the document contains various interesting comparisons of the alternatives.

The other interesting aspect is how those documents have been assembled. There are public online discussion boards and everybody can contribute.

The German government's position on open source software seems to be quite a bit more positive than the Swiss'. Several government agencies sponsor open source projects. An example is Ägypten that incorporates support for electronic signatures according to the German "Signaturgesetz" into various open source MUAs.

path: /en/Germany | #