maelorin: (free beer)

OOXML vs ODF: where next for interoperability?

Tim Anderson, at The Register

'a diversion from the real end game – the taking of the Internet'

Gary Edwards of the Open Document Foundation has a fascinating post on the important of Microsoft Office compatibility to the success of the ISO-approved Open Document formats.

It is in places a rare voice of sanity:

People continue to insist that if only Microsoft would implement ODF natively in MSOffice, we could all hop on down the yellow brick road, hand in hand, singing kumbaya to beat the band. Sadly, life doesn’t work that way. Wish it did.

Sure, Microsoft could implement ODF - but only with the addition of application specific extensions to the current ODF specification … Sun has already made it clear at the OASIS ODF TC that they are not going to compromise (or degrade) the new and innovative features and implementation model of OpenOffice just to be compatible with the existing 550 million MSOffice desktops.


The simple truth is that ODF was not designed to be compatible – interoperable with existing Microsoft documents, applications and processes. Nor was it designed for grand convergence. And as we found out in our five years participation at the OASIS ODF TC, there is an across the boards resistance to extending ODF to be compatible with Microsoft documents, applications and processes.

Summary: in Edwards’ opinion, there are technical and political reasons why seamless ODF interop cannot be baked into Microsoft Office. Therefore the Foundation is now working on interop with the W3C’s Compound Document Format, about which I know little.

Surprisingly, Edwards also says that ODF will fail in the market:

If we can't convert existing MS documents, applications and processes to ODF, then the market has no other choice but to transition to MS-OOXML.

Edwards is thoroughly spooked by the success of Sharepoint in conjunction with Exchange, and overstates his case:

If we can't neutralize and re purpose MSOffice, the future will belong to MS-OOXML and the MS Stack. Note the MS Stack noticeably replaces W3C Open Web technologies with Microsoft's own embraced “enhancements”. Starting with MS-OOXML/Smart Tags as a replacement for HTML-XHTML-RDF Metadata. HTML and the Open Web are the targets here. ODF is being used as a diversion from the real end game – the taking of the Internet.

I find this implausible. At the same time, I agree about the importance of interoperability with Microsoft Office.

I would also like clarification on what are the limitations of OOXML / ODF conversion. Here's a technique that does a reasonable job. Open OOXML in Microsoft Office, save to binary Office format. Open binary Office format in Open Office, save as ODF. The same works in reverse. Not perfect perhaps, but a whole lot better than the Microsoft-sponsored add-in that works through XSLT. Could this existing Open Office code be made into a Microsoft Office plug-in, and if so, what proportion of existing documents would not be satisfactorily converted?

Note that Sun's ODF converter seems to be exactly this, except that it does not yet work with Office 2007. It could presumably be used with Office 2003 and the OOXML add-in, to provide a way to convert OOXML to ODF in a single application. Some further notes on Sun’s converter here.

A freelance writer since 1992, Tim Anderson specialises in programming and Internet development topics. He is a contributor to lots of publications, including Register Developer. You can find his blog here.

i am still mulling over this article, and edward's blog post (this post has itself been sitting open in semagic over the weekend, and i'm still procrastinating :p)

document standards are the good. not just for interoperability, but for future access to the documents themselves. hands up anyone who's tried to read an old word document recently? or needed to? ... how did that go for you?

i'm thinking about interoperability, and data standards, from the perspective of identifier and biometric data that's currently being produced, stored and disseminated at a rapid pace at the moment because of the usa's joy for the wot [war on t'error].

data standards are important.
Mood:: 'thoughtful' thoughtful
location: cis cwe
maelorin: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] maelorin at 08:11pm on 26/07/2006 under , , ,
YouTube 'can sell videos it hosts'
Louisa Hearn (July 24, 2006 - 10:45AM)

The YouTube video sharing site has been much celebrated as a free ride to virtual stardom for the uninhibited masses, but a recent redraft of the small-print terms and conditions has added a slightly sour note into the mix.

Although most users of the US-based free video hosting site founded last year might be oblivious to recent changes in its terms, a number of US blogs and news sites have seized on the issue, claiming that the new conditions give YouTube the freedom to sell any creative content that it hosts to any format or channel.

Although those who have posted clips to satisfy exhibitionist urges rather than serious commercial aspirations might think the issue does not apply to them, comments posted to the Boing Boing blog point out that, under the new terms, they might one day see their unique interpretation of the duck dance being used in a television advert without either their consent or knowledge.

While some watchers say YouTube has created the conditions only to protect itself from the re-use by external sources of any material posted there, others believe it could pave the way for new commercial revenue streams, particularly if the company were taken over by a large media group.

Terms of Use are pretty important. We never read them, but they can be very important. This, however, is not the first, and will not be the last, of this kind of upheaval regarding Internet and legal stuff.
Music:: eureka s01e02
Mood:: 'contemplative' contemplative
maelorin: (no happy ever after)
AT&T rewrites rules: Your data isn't yours
David Lazarus
Wednesday, June 21, 2006

AT&T has issued an updated privacy policy that takes effect Friday. The changes are significant because they appear to give the telecom giant more latitude when it comes to sharing customers' personal data with government officials.

The new policy says that AT&T -- not customers -- owns customers' confidential info and can use it "to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process."

The policy also indicates that AT&T will track the viewing habits of customers of its new video service -- something that cable and satellite providers are prohibited from doing.

Moreover, AT&T (formerly known as SBC) is requiring customers to agree to its updated privacy policy as a condition for service -- a new move that legal experts say will reduce customers' recourse for any future data sharing with government authorities or others.

... read on for more joy.

On the face of the new AT&T "privacy" statement, AT&T 'customers' no longer have any privacy. Nor can they prevent AT&T making commercial use of the customer's personal - or commercial - data.

The statement is scary in ways that make me almost speechless. Almost.

They're playing semantic games, and may well get away with it until US Congress does something. This game is going to be a battle of the deep-pocket special interest groups.

EDIT: UserFriendly chips in ...
Mood:: 'nauseated' nauseated
Music:: Massive Attack - What Your Soul Sings
maelorin: (talk to me)
posted by [personal profile] maelorin at 10:20pm on 01/07/2006 under , , , TECH
China to tighten internet controls
June 30, 2006 - 11:07AM

China's internet minders have vowed to step up controls of internet content, especially in the most active areas of blogs, bulletin boards and search engines, state media have said.

"As more and more illegal and unhealthy information spread through blogs and search engines, we will take effective measures to put the BBS (bulletin board service), blogs and search engines under control," Xinhua news agency quoted Cai Wu, a government spokesman as saying Thursday.

China was taking steps to make registration mandatory on millions of blog sites and BBSs, or sites where internet users can converse online, Cai said.

According to a report by Tsinghua University, quoted by Xinhua, China currently has up to 36.8 million blog sites, a figure that could grow to 60 million by the end of the year.

The number of search engine users had reached 97 million, or about 87 percent of all Internet users, the report said.

"We will speed up the technology development to safeguard the network management and do more research on the Internet security issues triggered by the new technologies in blogs and search engines," the report quoted Wang Xudong, Minister of Information Industry, as saying.

China has for years been waging an online battle to censor the internet of pornographic and violent content, while also stifling political and religious material that it believes could spark social unrest.

Two years ago all Chinese web portals were required to register with the government, while they also signed on to government issued regulations to self-police their sites for "unhealthy content".

Rules at the time also required all Chinese internet cafes to register web surfers and not allow them to download or upload any content onto or from personal devices.

Human and media rights groups say China's leaders are tightening their control over the internet and traditional press amid increasing social unrest and regularly jail journalists and Internet commentators who post anti-government material on the Web.


At some point the sheer number/volume of individual entities that have to be monitored may break this.
Mood:: 'gloomy' gloomy
Music:: Various - Missy Higgins / Stuff and Nonsense
maelorin: (news)
via slashdot:

June 27, 2006
Spain outlaws P2P filesharing
(Daily Variety Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)

A Spanish intellectual property law has finally banned unauthorized peer-to-peer file-sharing in Spain, making it a civil offense even to download content for personal use.

The legislation, approved by Congress on Thursday, toughens previous provisions. An early May circular from Spain's fiscal general del estado, or chief prosecutor, allowed downloads for purely personal use.

Now Spaniards caught grabbing content from, say, eMule, will have to reimburse rights holders for losses --- although such losses will be difficult for authorities to track.

But the government is going after Internet service providers; it's a criminal offense for ISPs to facilitate unauthorized downloading.

The law also introduces a small tax to be levied on all blank media --- from a blank CD to mobile phones and even a memory stick. Computer hard disks and ADSL lines have been left out of the legislation despite their widespread use for illegally copying music and films. The money collected will be paid back to the owner of the copyright.

Spain's greater antipiracy clarity received a thumbs-up from the Motion Picture Assn.

"Compared to some European countries, Spain has some way to go in enforcement," said Duncan Hudson, the MPA's Brussels-based VP and director of operations for antipiracy, even though Spanish police closed 17 illegal Web sites in a nationwide raid April 8.

"But the new intellectual property law is a definite step forward, placing obligations for instance on ISPs to provide information. Hopefully, it will help us to get some injunctions," he added.

Spain's telco giant Telefonica reports 90% of usage on its broadband lines is Internet traffic, up from 15% five years ago. Of that 90%, a massive 71% is P2P traffic.

This comes after Microsoft announced in May that it had a deal with Spain's Terra Networks for distribution via P2P.

The tax on 'blank' media - including mobile phones - is an interesting development.
location: !Spain
Mood:: 'moody' moody
Music:: MC Lars - Download This Song
maelorin: (mistake)
posted by [personal profile] maelorin at 01:25am on 26/06/2006 under , , , , , ,
Having embarked upon this idea of a PhD for 2007-2009/10 for serious, I have begun doing some background reading and suchlike.

What's with all these people writing stuff, eh? I just wanted to to a bit of background browsing, and here I am drowning in references. Not even got EndNote installed yet and I have, oh, a few hundred damn things to check through. Waah!

On the upside, I just might get to do the topic I've begun to suspect I very much want to do. A few people have trampled theses all over censorship, content regulation - even damn obvious feminist excoriations on Internet pornography laws. A few seem to have trampled on the topic space covered in recent discussions with possibleSupervisors™ ... to be sure I'll be drawing on InterLibraryLoans.

Looks like I have some interesting, and plenty of tedious, reading ahead. Yay! (After all, what else would I want to be doing with my time?)
Music:: Katie Melua - Lilac Wine
location: Adelaide, Australia
Mood:: 'drunk' drunk
maelorin: (fable)
posted by [personal profile] maelorin at 08:24pm on 31/05/2006 under , , , , , ,

Monday, May 29, 2006
Gonzales pressing data retention in fight against child porn
Tom Henry at 7:55 AM ET

[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] and FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profile] held a private meeting with representatives from major internet service providers late last week urging them to retain customer internet activities to combat child pornography. The meeting, reported by CNET, follows a speech [text; JURIST report] by Gonzales last month at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, during which he called on ISPs to retain records for a "reasonable amount of time". At Friday's meeting he advocated a more concrete period of two years.

Although the US Department of Justice is currently framing the data retention issue in terms of its fight against child porn, data retention is also potentially important to counter-terrorism efforts. Earlier this year European Union justice and interior ministers meeting in Brussels
approved [European Council proceedings, PDF; JURIST report] a controversial data retention directive [DOC] passed by the European Parliament [JURIST report] in December 2005 designed to track down terrorists, paedophiles, and criminal gangs and calling for EU member states to store citizens' phone call and internet service data for 6 to 24 months without stipulating a maximum time period.

CNET has

If you work for a company that sells large hard drives and/or blu-ray or HD-DVD drives, you have job security now.
Music:: The Daily Show
Mood:: 'predatory' predatory
location: Adelaide, Australia
maelorin: (Default)
maelorin: (Default)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
FCC official says agency can regulate net neutrality under current law
Joshua Pantesco at 9:12 AM ET

[JURIST] Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] Commissioner Michael Copps [official profile] has said the FCC is authorized under Title 1 of the Communications Act of 1934 [text] to create agency rules to combat breaches of net neutrality. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Copps suggested that the FCC would be protecting the public interest by writing and enforcing clear agency rules designed to prevent broadband service providers from accepting money from content providers in exchange for preferential bandwidth treatment, or from interfering with the content of competitors. In contrast to the approach advocated by Copps, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in August 2005 succeeded in passing a set of broad net neutrality principles for service providers to abide by, favoring a more deregulatory approach than Copps.

It is a tad concerning that the very organisation in question is split at such a high level regarding it's approach to any issue - let alone something as sensitive and potentially protracted as this one.

Chairman prefers principles and deregulation, Commissioner favours more formal rules.

Legal precedent suggests that the FCC may have the authority to draft strict net neutrality regulations. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing in 2004 for the majority in National Cable & Telecommunications Association vs. Brand X Internet Services [opinion text; Duke law case backgrounder], said that Internet service providers can be subjected to FCC-imposed "special regulatory duties" under Title 1.

This will certainly be tested.

The House Judiciary Committee is currently marking up the Network Neutrality Act of 2006 [PDF text], sponsored by committee chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner R-WI), that would apply federal antitrust law to alleged neutrality violations. A sister bill, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act [PDF text] is currently in the Senate Commerce Committee. That proposal, sponsored by Olympia Snowe R-ME), Byron Dorgan D-ND) and Daniel Inouye D-HI), would amend the Communication Act of 1934 to obligate internet service providers to not "block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair or degrade" access to any internet content, or from bargaining with content providers to provide faster service.

Damn. Now I have more reading for the weeks ahead.
Multichannel News has more.

I am by far not the only person interested in this net neutrality stuff. [ profile] literalgirl has recently
posted on this issue in her LJ.

There are movements on both side of this now. Those who argue for net neutrality and the consumer) and those who are lobbying for the big telcos.

Now, I just might have a PhD topic to play with - Internet regulation. There's certainly a lot here that pisses me off.

location: Adelaide, Australia
Mood:: 'contemplative' contemplative
Music:: Heroes of Might & Magic V
maelorin: (no happy ever after)
There's a paper in this, I just know it ...
Senseless censorship gets a hippy hippy shake down
March 28, 2006
Who's policing the web's thought police, asks Graeme Philipson.

Read more... )
Mood:: 'pessimistic' pessimistic
Music:: Shakira - Ojos Asi


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