This morning brought the significant - and decade overdue – announcement of the launch of an independent foundation to host development of the open source, ODF-compliant OpenOffice productivity suite. The good news of that lost decade is that under Sun’s ownership and control, the OpenOffice suite became the most successful and widely implemented alternative to Microsoft’s Office, providing at least some degree of competition in a product niche where it had been missing for far too long.
The bad news is that in the same time period the OpenOffice suite could have become so much more. As with other single-company controlled efforts in the past (e.g., the Eclipse Foundation, before IBM spun it out into an independent organization), other companies that could have, and would have, made significant contributions of personnel, funding and promotion stood aside.
Page through a major newspaper (remember newspapers?) today like the New York Times, and you’re likely to run into two enormous ads, one by Google (almost two full pages) and one by AOL (a full two pages). Leaving aside the irony of Google advertising in a form of media that it has almost competed out of existence, there’s something potentially transformative going on here that’s worth exploring.
Five years ago I dedicated an issue of Standards Today (then called the Consortium Standards Bulletin) to the future of the Semantic Web. The centerpiece was a very detailed interview (over 5,700 words) with the inventor of both the Web and the Semantic Web, Tim Berners-Lee.
That issue had two foci: the importance of Berners-Lee’s vision of the Semantic Web becoming a reality, and the very substantial impediments to that happening. In my interview, I returned again and again to the latter issue.
What were those impediments? Back in June of 2005, simply understanding what the Semantic Web was all about was a real problem; proponents found it hard to articulate its operations and uses in a way that people could get their minds around. More seriously, though, was the amount of effort that implementing the W3C’s core Semantic Web standards would take, conjoined with the absence of clear examples of what kind of rewards would follow for those that took up this burden. In effect, there was not only a chicken and egg issue, but an absence of people interested in buying either the bird or the egg.
Father’s realize certain things as they get older: unless you are a fireman or a high school teacher, your grandparents may never really understand what you do for a living. Few children ever appreciate the degree of skill you bring to your trade or profession, and needless to say, your average spouse is likely to wonder whether anyone that speaks kindly of her husband is really talking about the same person that sometimes forgets to take out the garbage.
That was never a problem in my family, or at least perhaps less so than is often the case. One of my earliest memories is being asked one question over and over again: “whether I was going to be a doctor, just like my father and grandfather.” If the person asking the question was old enough, they might add, “and your great-grandfather, too. He delivered me, you know.”
As most of the technology world knows by now, Oracle has brought a suit for patent infringement against Google, asserting that the Java elements incorporated into Google’s Android operating system infringe patents that Oracle acquired when it took over Sun Microsystems. The basic facts are here, and the complaint can be found here. What no one yet knows for sure yet is why?
My crystal ball isn’t any clearer than the next guy’s but here are a few thoughts to consider.
Last summer, a new organization was announced with the goal of promoting the uptake of open source software by the U.S. federal government. It's mission was described as follows:
The mission of OSA is to educate decision makers in the U.S. Federal government about the advantages of using free and open source software; to encourage the Federal agencies to give equal priority to procuring free and open source software in all of their procurement decisions; and generally provide an effective voice to the U.S. Federal government on behalf of the open source software community, private industry, academia, and other non-profits.
Now that organization has completed its first quite successful year of operations, and it's decided to celebrate that event by announcing an awards program to recognize those that have been most influential in advancing its goals.
At any given time I'm helping to set up two or three new consortia and open source foundations, and it's always a pleasure to see one of announce their public launch. Yesterday it was the turn of Open AXIS Group, the latest in a seemingly endless string of initiatives formed to recruit the versatile magic of XML to address a global need.
In this case, that need is dealing intelligently and efficiently with the growing number of services that an airline can sell or assist with (e.g., exit row or aisle seating, extra bags, and so on) in addition to booking the seat that you rent for a few hours. That will all work more smoothly if not only every airline, but also every travel agent, travel site, and others all input information in the same, interoperable way.
That goal can, of course, best be accomplished through XML, and in this case, by using an already developed XML schema that will serve as the starting point for Open AXIS Group's ongoing development and promotional work.
“ORDERED that SCO's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or, in the Alternative, for a New Trial is DENIED.” So ends the ruling of District Judge Ted Stewart. And so also, perhaps, ends the seemingly endless quest of SCO to tax or kill Linux.
Given SCO’s well-demonstrated tenacity and unwillingness to face reality, it may seem unwise to assume we have indeed seen the end of the road. But, as with the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, once someone who has lost touch with reality loses their last limb, it’s easy to just walk away and leave them alone with their delusions. Presumably, that’s what SCO’s trustee in bankruptcy will now do, forbidding any funds to be spent pursuing SCO’s suit against IBM, or anyone else.
Assuming that’s the case, this isn’t a bad time to ask the question, “What did it all mean?”
When news of Oracle's intended acquisition of Sun Microsystems broke long ago, many people wondered what that would mean for OpenOffice, the most widely adopted full desktop implementation of ODF. But Oracle immediately imposed a company-wide "no comment" policy on that topic, so everyone has been wondering what the answer might be ever since.
So like many others, I expect, I’m trying to get my brain around Oracle’s reasoning in deciding to charge $90 for a formerly free ODF conversion plug-in developed by Sun Microsystems. That downloadable plug-in was intended for Microsoft Office users who wanted to import ODF-compliant documents created, most obviously, by users of the free, open source OpenOffice.org (OOo) version, or of Sun’s StarOffice, the for-sale, supported productivity suite based on the free OOo code.
Moreover, it’s not just $90 you’ll need to fork over – the plug-in is only available in packages of 100.
In reviewing my RSS feed this morning, I found this interesting blog entry by Alex Brown, titled Microsoft Fails the Standards Test. In it, Alex makes a number of statements, and reaches a number of conclusions, that are likely to startle those that followed the ODF-OOXML saga. The bottom line? Alex thinks that Microsoft has failed to fulfill crucial promises upon which the approval of OOXML was based. He concludes that unless Microsoft reverses course promptly, “the entire OOXML project is now surely heading for failure.”
Quote of the Day
“We could see the technology arrive in many form factors, like arm chairs”
-WPC Air Charge Chair Ryan Sanderson, commenting on Ikea's implementation of the Qi wireless charging standard in its furniture
The Audio Engineering Society Publishes Groundbreaking New Standard for 3D Audio Press Release AES.org March 27, 2015 - The Audio Engineering Society is pleased to announce the recent publication of the AES69-2015 standard, which provides an important framework for the growing binaural and 3D personal audio industries. The standard, which describes the format and exchange of spatial acoustics files, is the product of the AES Standards Committee,...
The AES69-2015 standard is seen as a boon to the evolving 3D audio field. Binaural listening is growing due to increased usage of smartphones, tablets and other individual entertainment systems that primarily present audio using headphones. An understanding of the way that the listener experiences binaural sound, expressed as head-related transfer functions (HRTF), opens the way to 3D personal audio. The lack of a standard for the exchange of HRTF data makes it difficult for developers to exchange binaural capture and rendering algorithms effectively. While 3D audio continues to gain popularity among end users, binaural listening could be the very first 3D audio vector with sufficient fidelity of HRTF.
The new AES69-2015 standard defines a file format to exchange space-related acoustic data in various forms. These include HRTF, as well as directional room impulse responses (DRIR). The format is designed to be scalable to match the available rendering process and is designed to be sufficiently flexible to include source materials from different databases.... ...Full Story
ANSI Releases Schedule of Events for World Standards Week 2015 ANSI.org March 26, 2015 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has announced the full schedule of events for World Standards Week (WSW) 2015, which will be held September 28–October 2 in Washington, DC. WSW is an annual event where members of the standards and conformity assessment community come together in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration.... ...Full Story
ITU and ETSI agree method to assess energy efficiency of mobile networks Press Release ITU/ETSI March 26, 2015 - ITU and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) have agreed a new standard to measure the energy efficiency of mobile radio access networks (RANs), the wireless networks that connect end-user equipment to the core network.
The standard is the first to define energy-efficiency metrics and measurement methods for live RANs, providing a common reference to evaluate their performance. Its application will build uniformity in the methodologies employed by such evaluations, in parallel establishing a common basis for the interpretation of the results.... ...Full Story
Open networks will be the key to meeting future requirements. Mike Marshall Lightwave March 25, 2015 - The fundamental nature of data-center computing is rapidly changing. Conventional data centers built to support traditional client-server applications are giving way to virtual IT environments that enable dynamic workloads, mobile applications, and on-demand services. Enterprises are leveraging server virtualization and cloud provider services to boost IT agility; support Big Data, high performance computing, and analytics; and improve data-center economics....
With game-changing applications that include cloud computing, mobility, video, and Big Data requiring support of non-stop - and costly - bandwidth demands, cloud and service providers are driving toward a new business model. They seek to reduce skyrocketing operational costs and become more efficient, while continuing to ensure real time response and customer loyalty. To accomplish this new model, cloud providers are migrating to open networks, inside and outside the data center.
Open networks sharply contrast with "vendor lock-in" or proprietary approaches. Predictable, flexible, high performance cloud connectivity is critical to delivering a superior user experience and maintaining a competitive advantage. Open networks enable providers to leverage new open-source technologies and innovations as well as drive new initiatives such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) to add programmability, automation, and service agility with new levels of control and orchestration.
Yet defining an open network isn't easy; it can take many forms.... ...Full Story
OpenSSL to undergo massive security audit Latest News Rob Marvin SD times March 25, 2015 - Now that its codebase is finally viewed as stable, OpenSSL is getting a good top-to-bottom once-over in the form of a sweeping audit.
It’s been close to a year since the Heartbleed bug sent the Internet into a frenzy over security. It spurred the software industry to rally behind OpenSSL—sending in more developers, revamping the security protocol, and laying out a revised road map for the ailing encryption protocol underlying much of the Web.
As part of the Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), the foundation and the Open Crypto Audit Project (OCAP) are sponsoring and organizing what may arguably be the highest-profile audit of a piece of open-source software in history. The audit itself will be conducted by the information assurance organization NCC Group, and its security research arm, Cryptography Services, will carry out the code review.... ...Full Story
Z-Wave Alliance Launches IoT Competition to Reward Start-Ups for Their Innovation in the Smart Home Press Release Z-Wave Alliance March 24, 2015 - The Z-Wave Alliance, an open consortium of leading global companies deploying Z-Wave, the world's largest ecosystem of wireless control products and services, is announcing a brand new competition to support and incentivize innovation on the Z-Wave platform. The yearlong Z-Wave Labs Program will accept applications from start-up companies and entrepreneurs looking to bring Z-Wave products to market.
In order to accelerate innovation on the Z-Wave platform and lower the barrier of entry for new companies to develop IoT products, the program will reward one selected individual/company each month starting in May 2015 with a 12-month membership to the Z-Wave Alliance as well as one of the newly available IoT-ready 500 Series Z-Wave Developer Kits from Sigma Designs.... ...Full Story
Dell Targets Network Bottleneck with Switch Interface George Leopold Enterprise Tech March 24, 2015 - In an attempt to move software-defined networking off the drawing board and into the datacenter, Dell’s networking unit is rolling out a switch interface as a standard API that attempts to abstract software between various network operating systems and silicon residing on a physical switch.
Dell Networking’s Switch Abstraction Interface was submitted on Tuesday (March 10) to the Open Compute Project (OCP) for review. Dell said it expects early adoption of the open switch interface by the industry group, which was formed to develop new server, storage, networking and other hyper-scale datacenter components.... ...Full Story
GTSO Opens Talks to Set New Standards for Cannabis Edibles Industry Press Release GTSO March 20, 2015 - Alongside its joint venture partner, Elevated Industries, Green Technology Solutions, Inc. is now engaged in talks to form a new industry association to provide certification, regulation and overall credibility to the rapidly rising cannabis edibles industry in North America.
Elevated Industries is a Canada-based company that owns unique formulations for frozen confections infused with cannabis extracts. GTSO formed a joint venture with Elevated Industries late last year to market and develop innovative new edibles products for the booming medical and adult-use cannabis markets sprouting up across the continent.... ...Full Story
Shake Up of Centuries Old System of Credit in Scholarly Communication: Project CRediT Laura Wheeler Digital Science March 19, 2015 - We are pleased to announce some news that plans to shake up the old system of credit in scholarly communication!
Today, The Wellcome Trust and Digital Science introduce a new Contributor Role Taxonomy to provide a high-level classification of the diverse roles performed by individuals in the work leading to published academic research. The purpose of the CRediT Taxonomy is to provide transparency in contributions to scholarly published work. Attribution and credit will be able to be assigned to researchers undertaking a wide range of roles such as data curation, visualization and software programming.
Furthermore, the taxonomy will be published to the Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information (CASRAI) Data Dictionary and will lay the foundation for appropriate credit where it is due, fewer author disputes, and fewer disincentives to collaboration and the sharing of data and code....Digital Science and the Wellcome Trust partnered with two information industry standards organizations, CASRAI and the US-based National Information Standards Organization (NISO), to achieve broad community consultation in drafting the taxonomy and testing its fit with a range of scientific fields.... ...Full Story
ANSI Announces Accreditations under Pilot Programs for Eco-Labeling, Environmental Declarations ANSI Weekly News March 18, 2015 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), coordinator of the U.S. voluntary standardization system, is pleased to announce the first six accreditations under two pilot programs that ANSI launched in 2014 to address eco-labeling and environmental declarations.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed standards that define different types of environmental labels: Type I, Type II, and Type III. One ANSI pilot program has focused on Type I environmental labeling scheme owners and the competence of eco-labeling certification bodies. The other ANSI pilot program has focused on program operators for Type III environmental labels and declarations, and the competence of certification bodies that verify/validate Environmental Product Declarations (EPD).... ...Full Story