· · Standards
Cloud Interop Session
· I spent Tuesday at the Cloud Interop event organized by Steve O’Grady and David Berlind. Scientists say that even a negative result is useful in advancing knowledge; I’d go further and say that a wait-and-see attitude in the heat of a hype cycle is often optimal. By those criteria, this was successful. My attendee count peaked at 51 ... [3 comments]
My Tinfoil Hat
· Alex Brown, in ODF – OASIS and JTC 1 Get It Together, refers to those like me, who have been vocal in our disapproval of ISO’s handling of office-document standards, as the “tinfoil brigade” with a “crazed oppositional narrative”. He even provides an illustration of the use of a shiny silver fashion statement. Is this fair? ... [22 comments]
· There has been much rejoicing recently at the process whereby, apparently, an ISO committee takes full control of OOXML. But you know, that story is entirely irrelevant. It will have no effect on what implementors of OOXML, including Microsoft, should or will actually do. The story’s ending will I think be mostly tawdry. Oh, and I have some OOXML news that I think is important, but that I don’t think anyone else has reported ... [16 comments]
USB and Atom
· The last little while, I’ve been doing a lot of infrastructure shifting, and I’ve realized that in the world of computers, USB is maybe the greatest standard ever. I’ve heard kernel engineers sneering and scoffing, but here’s the highest compliment I can pay, speaking as a fairly hard-core computer tech type: I have no idea how USB works, and I don’t think I’ll ever have to learn. If the plug fits into the socket, whatever I’m plugging in will do whatever I’m expecting it to do. I think syndication ought to be like that, which is why Eric Garrido (via Bill de hÓra) is right: please stop announcing multiple syndication-file versions, because nobody cares. Pick one and run with it. I’d say pick one that’s standardized and stable and debugged and modern, but whatever. [7 comments]
· I know a lot of people are interested in the OOXML process. As a guide for spectators, here are the facts about voting, to help you in making your own useless predictions ... [3 comments]
· I hadn’t really planned to become well-informed about OOXML, but I have. So I thought I’d build my own personal list of reasons for and against OOXML becoming an ISO standard ... [23 comments]
· I’m sorry to my readers, 80% of whom probably don’t care about OOXML standards politics, but I’m having a hard time de-obsessing. For those who share my unfortunate condition, please go read Some clarifications on the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting, a fantastic write-up by Antonis Christofides of the Greek delegation. I think it illustrates the big picture better than anything else I’ve read, including my own coverage. [4 comments]
· I thought I was sufficiently jaded and cynical that not much in this business could surprise me. Even given that, I’m flabbergasted at the degree of spin, no, make that bald-faced lying, in coverage of the just-finished BRM. The contempt for truth is sickening, and some people ought to be ashamed of themselves. Check it out if you’ve got a strong stomach. [13 comments]
· Now that the BRM is over, I feel I can write about it a bit more; there are some restrictions, but I’ll lay them out. Summary: A lot of good work was done, but the process is irretrievably broken ... [16 comments]
Inside the BRM
· Well, we’re not supposed to write about the substance of the BRM, but that still leaves lots of room for flavor. I’m posting this (gasp!) from inside the in-progress BRM ... [8 comments]
Upcoming Gig: ISO OOXML BRM
· I’ve been invited to join the Canadian delegation to the DIS 29500 Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva in February. This is a consequence of having joined the expert group supporting the Canadian National Standards Body; I haven’t quite figured out the forest of acronyms and organizations yet, or how things fit together. Given the white heat of politics and verbiage around this process, I’m going to accede to the request of a couple of Very Smart People who’ve asked me to hold off on real-time blogging. Which I’m comfy with, since I’m an ISO newbie and don’t know the process or the culture. I will say, though, that I am not representing Sun officially, the Canadian Standards people contacted me and I checked with our corporate Standards group and said that I wanted to go and would only go if I were free to offer my own technical opinions on technical issues; they were OK with that. I’ve been stuffing my brain with the OOXML comments and proposed resolutions, and the picture is interesting; I’ll write at length once I figure out how to do so without breaking anything.
The OOXML News
· I was really wrong about the OOXML/ISO story; told everyone “It’ll sail through ISO, don’t bother with the process.” Boy, was I wrong. At the moment that process is hurtling toward the mildly-historic “Ballot Resolution Meeting” in Geneva in February (read about it here and here). Anyhow, all those tens of thousands of comments on the first draft, which were previously invisible behind some ISO veil, are now out there for all to view, tag, hyperlink, annotate, and enhance, at the unofficial but excellent DIS29500 Comments site (tagline: “Help the OOXML BRM concentrate on issues of substance”). The person behind it seems to be Alan Bell, whom I don’t think I know, but the world owes him a vote of thanks. Obviously, this whole thing does retain a grimy side; see the excellent Martin Bryan’s fairly-despondent Report on WG1 activity for December 2007 Meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34/WG1 in Kyoto. Sigh. Nobody ever said history was clean.
ISO OOXML Craziness
· I’ve generally been ignoring all the fuss & bother about OOXML’s well-greased path to ISO anointment. I’d assumed that after ECMA had applied rigorous and impartial scrutiny to all six thousand pages, ensuring that this was straightforwardly implementable by all interested parties, then the ISO rubber stamp wouldn’t be long in following, giving us an International Standard no less, plus fresh insight into the level of respect such things deserve; and we could all get on with life. Now, the ISO process seems to be turning into the most entertaining kind of standards mosh-pit, with loud accusations of corruption and malpractice. Canadians in the crowd will be reminded of the flavor of a Liberal Party nomination meeting. Groklaw’s coverage is predictably overamped, but still fun; here’s news from France, Sweden, and Norway. That’s just one day’s worth. [Update: Hey, Denmark too!] ... [9 comments]
· Read the excellent play-by-play from Andy Updegrove: Update on the US Vote on OOXML (and What Happens Next). He seems to have all the public facts, but speaking as one who’s been through a few of those processes, I thought I should highlight something that’s going on right now, but won’t be talked about much. The problem of figuring out the US vote is in the hands of the 16 members of the INCITS committee. So does that mean that everyone’s sitting still waiting for them to make up their minds? Nope. What’s happening right now is that the big players with skin in the game are applying executive-to-executive pressure, behind the scenes, to the committee members’ bosses’ bosses’ bosses. In a few cases it’ll work, and the members will be issued here’s-your-vote marching orders. I’ve seen it happen. In fact, when the intensity level gets up there, I’ve never seen it not happen. Nobody will ever know the whole story on what’s happening right now under the covers. I really don’t envy the committee members. [3 comments]
How We Learn
· Here’s the bald truth: the state of the art in Information Technology is being advanced, first, in releases of open-source technology (which speak louder than words) and, insofar as words go, primarily in online site-to-site conversations. You can watch it happen. Michi Henning hauled our body of knowledge one small but important step up the endless mountainside with his The Rise and Fall of CORBA, in the always-excellent ACM Queue. Bruce Eckel, in Are Web Services Real? Part II, focuses on the obvious process parallels between CORBA and WS-* (reliable laugh line: “WS-* is becoming CORBA, only with angle brackets to make it slower”). Finally, Steve Loughran’s On Corba, DCOM, ICE, and distributed objects in general really goes deep, wondering whether distributed objects are an inherently broken idea. His closing words: “REST handles it best by freezing the set of verbs to a low number, only allowing one way links, but at a price, the price of no easy mapping between REST resources and native classes, no two-way links and (currently) not very easy APIs. The question is, when will the Enterpriseys notice that this is the only thing that has been shown to work.” I don’t think the “Enterprisey” epithet has been a very useful addition to our discourse; but aside from that, well, yeah.
Copyright Submission Madness
· The U.S. Library of Congress Copyright Office is asking a question: “whether persons filing the electronic-only preregistration form prescribed by the Copyright Office will experience difficulties if it is necessary to use Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser in order to preregister a work”. No, I’m not making this up. Comments are called for, and have to be sent (five copies!) by snail mail; the address is behind the link above. Thanks to Beth Macknik for the heads-up.
60th IETF Notes
· Herewith a newbie’s first impressions from a couple of days in the IETF maelstrom ...
By Tim Bray
I am an employee
of Amazon.com, but
the opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.
A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.