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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 ...
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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? ...
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OOXML: Everything’s Just Fine · Or at least that’s what ISO’s Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al says. [I had hoped to stop writ­ing about this sub­jec­t, sigh]. There are mul­ti­ple ap­peals against OOXML; let’s try to read the tea-leaves with­out too many gut­tural snick­er­s ...
[9 comments]  
ISO Fantasy · 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 ...
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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.
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Scoring OOXML · 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 ...
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On OOXML · 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]  
BRM Truth · 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.
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Spin! · 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.
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BRM Narrative · 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 ...
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Geneva · Wel­l, here I am ...
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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!] ...
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Color Commentary · 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.
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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.
 
The Atom End-Game · I re­cent­ly pro­posed to the IETF Atom Work­ing Group that we might be near­ly fin­ished. Some peo­ple think that’s a mis­take be­cause, as they point out, Atom doesn’t have much more in the way of fea­tures than RSS. Here’s why I dis­agree ...
 
60th IETF Notes · Here­with a newbie’s first im­pres­sions from a cou­ple of days in the IETF mael­strom ...
 
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