When
· Naughties
· · 2006
· · · October
· · · · 16 (2 entries)

OOXML Hoo-Hah · Bob Sutor and Rob Weir (both of IBM) have been been whacking away at the standards lipstick being painted on the Microsoft Office Internal Data Structure XML Dump pig. Oops, officially, that’s “ECMA Office Open XML”. In A Leap Back Rob describes Excel’s well-known date-representation bug being encoded in an alleged International Standard. Then again in A bit about the bit with the bits, he talks about bitmasks and offal (really). But it’s Bob’s point, in Is Open XML a one way specification for most people?, that’s central: this is just a six-thousand-page data dump describing a particular XML serialization of a particular commercial application’s object model, completely oblivious to the universe of publishing-related standards that have been hammered out and put to work while MSOffice was being tended in Redmond. You can write “STANDARD” on it in letters as big as you want, but there will only ever be one full implementation, and if you standardize on this standard you’ve locked yourself in. Shame, shame on the other companies on the committee, helping Microsoft perpetuate this travesty. There’s just no excuse.
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The Greatest Show on Earth · Here in Canada, American politics is a spectator sport; and this year our southern neighbors are putting on a terrific show. The Washington machinations get further and further into you-couldn’t-make-this-up territory. My favorite this week: apparently Republican supremo Ken Mehlman did sleazemeister Jack Abramoff a favor by getting a government lawyer fired for labor-policy reform efforts that were bothering Abramoff’s clients. Now, while this is an outstandingly clear instance of corruption and evil in action at the highest levels, it’s really nothing new; humanity is prone to corruption, large organizations (both public and private sector) are where it’s most profitable, and there will always be a certain amount going on. What pushed my weirdness-meter into overload on this one is that while the quid pro quo was mostly at a strategic level around large-scale campaign funding, in this particular case Abramoff also scored Mehlman a couple of U2 concert tickets. There’s just something about U2 tickets being used to bribe officials to resist labor-law reform that resonates in all the wrong places. And, for those who like to watch the show, I’m happy to report that Andy Tanenbaum’s Electoral Vote Predictor is back; its cheerily obsessive tracking of every credible poll in every state of the union will add some entertainment value to your daily feed scans.
[3 comments]  
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