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Monday, July 13th, 2015 @ 05:51 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 3,063

Once upon a time, if you asked a standards setting organization (SSO) what its intellectual property policy rights (IPR) policy was, you’d get a simple answer: “We own the copyright in everything we produce.”  Today, if an SSO that develops standards in the technology arena were to give an answer like that, it would find that its members were heading for the exits.

What’s changed, of course, is that information technology has infiltrated almost every aspect of our existence, and that includes standards development as well. For example, an SSO that used to limit its attention to setting construction standards relating to heating and ventilation installations will now also host working groups developing standards for sophisticated building control systems.

Sunday, July 12th, 2015 @ 04:45 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 4,194

If you haven't delved into the work of independent (i.e., self-published) authors yet, you're missing something. Freed from the formulaic constraints of what a traditional publisher thinks will sell, self-published authors are producing astonishingly original works of fiction. I reviewed a book that epitomizes that trend last month.

Titled Skin Cage it's written in the first person from a most unusual perspective. The choice of that viewpoint, as well as the degree to which the author succeeded in accomplishing what can only be described as a challenging task, left me more than usually interested in conducting an interview. Happily, Nico Laeser said yes.

Thursday, July 9th, 2015 @ 08:48 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 5,544

Courtesy of Chris93 and Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.Now that’s an intriguing question, isn’t it? Just about every other computerized process has proven to be vulnerable, and as voting becomes even more technology based, it becomes increasingly vulnerable as well. Computer systems are generic processing hosts, and to a computing platform, data is simply data. The fact that certain information tallies votes rather than credit card transactions does not make it any harder to hack. Moreover, the U.S. has a long history of documented voting fraud, so there’s no reason to assume that politicians, and their backers, have suddenly become paragons of virtue. Indeed, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.

When you come down to it, the only thing that’s different today is that altering votes might be easier, and that those motivated so do so may be harder to catch. So why aren’t we hearing more about that risk?

Another good question. But before we explore it, let’s add a few more observations to the pile.

Sunday, July 5th, 2015 @ 08:11 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 9,481

Unicode marks the most significant advance in writing systems since the Phoenicians
          James J. O'Donnell, Provost, Georgetown University

What is 11 1/8" x 8 3/4" x 2 1/4" and weighs 7.89 pounds? Among other things, the hardbound copy of the Unicode Standard 4.0, the Oxford English Dictionary of computerized language characters, numbers and symbols, contemporary and archaic, mainstream and obscure. The home of Khmer Lunar codes, Ogham alphabets and Cyrillic supplements. An alphanumeric expression of the means of human communication.
          Me, October 26, 2003, Savoring the Unicode

Two weeks ago, I got a call from a reporter who had stumbled on two pieces I wrote in praise of new releases of the Unicode, the first in 2003 (on the occasion of the release of Unicode 4.0, referred to above), and the second in 2006, two releases later. The reason for the call was the release of Unicode version 8.0 by its stewards, the Unicode Consortium.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 @ 05:37 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 1,330

Well, it really is a great feeling to push that final “submit” button after you’ve uploaded the cover, the file, and all of the metadata and other information that Amazon asks for. And behold – only an hour later, my second book, titled The Lafayette Campaign, a Tale of Deception and Elections, magically appeared on line. What a great feeling.

Now, don't everyone just run out and order it at the same time. Well, ahem, on the other hand, who's stopping you?

Friday, June 19th, 2015 @ 10:53 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 3,024

For some years now, I've been a Fellow of a European think tank called the OpenForum Academy, which focuses on all things open: open standards, open source, open data, open research, and so on. It's an affiliate of a non-profit called OpenForum Europe, which advocates for same causes bofore the legislature and agencies of the European Union and those of its constituent states. The EU Parliament as well as governemtal agencies and legislatures in the U.K. and elsewhere have been actively engaged on these topics, and have welcomed this input.

OFE Academy is made up principally of an invited group of academics, journalists, technical experts and others that are recognized for their leadership and expertise in the area of openness (you can find a list of them here). Recently, the Academy launched a Fellow interivew series, and this week the interviewee happens to be me. Below I've pasted in a few outtakes from the much longer interview, which you can find here.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 @ 03:59 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 3,698

Courtesy of Bitjungle/Wikimedia Commons -  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.Once upon a time, standards were standards and open source software was open source software (OSS), and the only thing people worried about was whether the copyright and patent rules relating to the standards would prevent them from being implemented in OSS. Actually, that was complicated enough, but it seems simple in comparison now that OSS is being included in the standards themselves. Now what?

If this sounds unusual and exotic, it isn’t. In fact, code has been creeping into standards for years, often without the keepers of the intellectual property rights (IPR) Policies governing the standards even being aware of it.

Monday, June 8th, 2015 @ 01:20 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 4,908

 Courtesy of Hofres/Wikimedia Commons -  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.Last July, the UK Cabinet Office adopted a rule requiring government purchasers to limit their technology acquisitions to products that implement an established list of “open standards.” Last week, Sweden took another step down the same road as it further refined a list of information and communications technology (ICT) standards. That list currently comprises sixteen standards. A posting at the European Commission EU Joinup Web site reports that other standards are to be added this year.

Thursday, June 4th, 2015 @ 02:45 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 4,668

It takes something truly ridiculous to make me write an out and out rant. Still, every now and then I read something that I can’t avoid responding to, because of the degree to which it misrepresents reality in an area I both care about and am knowledgeable in. Yesterday I had that experience when I read an article contending that proprietary eBook formats are good rather than bad, and that while “someday” we may have a truly interoperable eBook format, for now we should just sit back and appreciate proprietary formats in this area.

What rubbish.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015 @ 02:47 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 2,740

Courtesy of Matt Wade/Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 UnportedMost engineers are aware that patent owners can sue those that infringe their patents. It may surprise them, however to know that a patent owner can also sue someone for only “inducing” another to infringe their patent. Luckily, in both cases, the patent owner only has a right to sue if the other party acted “knowingly.”

As you might expect, the circumstances and facts that are deemed to prove knowledge are the subject of much litigation and many legal opinions. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court added another decision to the pile, and a distinction that the court drew on this question may surprise you. It should also particularly concern open source software developers, for reasons I’ll return to below.