The Standards Blog


Monday, December 12th, 2011 @ 12:01 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 43

Welcome to the sequel to The Alexandria Project, a cybersecurity thriller.  If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here.


It was only an hour after the helicopter’s departure, but Frank was on the move, driving carefully down the jeep track through the wind-whipped, driving rain, periodically blinded by vivid flashes of lightning. This wasn’t the usual afternoon thunderstorm, where few raindrops survived the long descent through dry desert air without evaporating before reaching the ground. This was the product of a full monsoon front sweeping up from the Gulf, the kind the ranchers relied on to refill their stockponds and green up the grass again for their cattle.

Now that he had signed on with whoever it was that he would be reporting to, Frank was anxious to get started, and he wanted a change of scenery to go along with the new objective. It hadn’t taken long to pack up. But by then the storm was breaking over him.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 @ 12:02 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 25

Welcome to the sequel to The Alexandria Project, a cybersecurity thriller.  If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here.

Charlie Neibergall, courtesy of WikiCommons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.A wide, Nevada valley stretched before Frank Adversego - stretched as far as he could see.  Something about this particular vista, though, pricked at his memory.  Something about the way the mountains converged in the hazy perspective of the distance. 

Ah - that was it.  This was the road he’d traveled in ghostly moonlight a year ago, wrestling with various demons, both past and present.  Happily, they had now all been laid to rest.  And who knew what might lie ahead?

Monday, October 17th, 2011 @ 06:23 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 3,222

Since 2005, I see that I have written over 227 blog entries about ODF (I say more than, because the very earliest got lost in an earlier platform migration).  Throughout the greatest part of this six year period, OpenOffice was the poster child ODF implementation - the one with the most users, the most press attention, the most corporate support - tens of millions of dollars of it, from Sun Microsystems.  Of course, there were other impressive implementations, both open source and proprietary alike.  OpenOffice, though, was always the default ODF implementation referenced by the press.

Thursday, October 6th, 2011 @ 06:05 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 3,217

It's impossible for anyone who has witnessed the personal computer and personal technology age from its beginning to separate Steve Jobs from that incredible odyssey.  From the start, he envisioned, created, and defined new platforms and categories of media experience. 

Sometimes he was not the first to invent, as with the mouse, the MP3 Player, the smartphone and the slate computer.  But when he turned his exceptional perceptions, sense of style and insistence on perfection to each of these tools, he exposed the limited vision of those who had first introduced these tools by reenvisioning, recreating, and redefining what those tools could be. 

Each time, his vision almost instantly prevailed. 

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 @ 03:09 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 15

Anyone paying attention to technology news lately knows that the Titans are clashing for control, or at least a share of the monetary rewards, of the mobile marketplace.  When technology historians look back on this era, they'll likely see this as a time when the tectonic plates suddenly shifted, wrenching apart corporate monopolies and rearranging the terrain upon which the next great age of technical innovation and adoption will play out.  These sudden shifts have predictably sent tremors reverberating across the competitive landscape.

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 @ 08:04 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 10,607

By anyone’s measure, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been one of the most important and influential standards development organizations of the information technology age. Without its efforts, the Web would literally not exist as we know it. But times change, and with change, even venerable – indeed, especially venerable – institutions must change with it. 

Yesterday the W3C announced the launch of a light-weight way for non-members as well as members to initiate new development projects. It allows participants to take advantage of streamlined, off the shelf tools and policies to support their efforts, as well as the intellectual support of the W3C staff and member community. Where appropriate, a project can graduate to the formal W3C development process as well. The new programs are the result of extensive discussion and consensus building that began in two ad hoc working groups in which I was pleased to be invited to participate.  
Friday, July 15th, 2011 @ 10:09 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 13,011

Poor OpenOffice. It’s been open source for so long, and yet its adoption and market importance has always lagged far behind that of peer software like Linux – despite the fact that it’s free and implements a standard (ODF) aggressively promoted by some of the most powerful technology countries in the world. Can this ever change?

If yesterday’s announcement by IBM is any indication, the answer is “not likely,” despite the fact that Big Blue’s latest commitment to OpenOffice, on its surface, sounds like good news. The reason? It’s too little, and too late. Here’s why.  

Friday, June 24th, 2011 @ 04:20 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 13

Depending on your point of view, the daily news delivers up a glass either half empty or half full. In the short term, the negative impression can be particularly powerful, with disasters both natural and man-made arising with distressing regularity. But the glass can also be viewed as half full, and that can lead to a false sense of security.

The viewpoint to which I refer would lead us to believe that most, if not all, man-made disasters in the making will fall to new technological innovations, allowing us to continue in our consumptive and polluting ways without concern for tomorrow. As with the cat with nine lives, the disasters predicted by the prognosticators of doom, from Thomas Malthus in the 18th century to Paul Ehrlich in the 20th, have always failed to materialize.

Monday, June 13th, 2011 @ 11:21 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 15

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Courtesy of Therealbs2002, CCA-SA3.0Some time back, I wrote a blog entry called "The Wikipedia and the Death of Archaeology."  The thesis of the piece was this: archaeologists study periods as recent as a hundred years ago, because even with newspapers, magazines and photographs, a substantial percentage of everyday reality still slips through the historical cracks.  If that sounds bogus, consider the fact that several times in your life (at least if you're an American), you've read an account of someone sealing or opening up a "time capsule" intended to preserve everyday objects for about the same time frame. 

The humbling lesson is that much of our life is made up of trivial things - office supplies, flower pots, talk shows, you name it - that don't become the stuff of newspapers or novels.  It follows that if you lose the trivia, then you lose much of the texture and context that makes everyday life real and understandable, if not always exactly inspiring.  That's why archaeologists (or at least archaeologist lacking travel budgets) are wont to dig up such recent garbage - to recapture our trivia, in order to backfill our knowledge of who we were after the conscious memory has been lost.  But, as I pointed out in my earlier entry, understanding the realities of the past by counting peach pits in privies at best allows you to make guesses about a single home owner, and not about society writ large.

Thursday, June 9th, 2011 @ 03:56 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 8,186

Cloud computing is all the rage today, with everyone from the U.S. Federal government to Apple herding us into a brave new world of remotely hosted data and services.  There are, of course, many advantages to the cloud concept.  But as usual, this new IT architecture has some inherent and serious risks that cloud proponents hope potential customers will not dwell on.

There's nothing new about that, of course - except for the stakes.  Innovation usually outruns caution and comprehensive consideration of concerns like safety and unintended consequences.  But if we want to put all of our computing resources and data into one bucket, we had better make damn sure that it's got a pretty strong bottom.

Here's a nightmare scenario of what could happen otherwise.  And it's not pretty.