If you haven't heard the words "smart grid" before, that's likely to change soon. That's especially so if you live in the U.S., where billions of dollars in incentive spending is pouring into making the smart grid a reality. As you might expect, since I'm talking about it here, the smart grid will rely on standards to become real. A whole lot of standards, in fact, and that's a problem
Those of you who are subscribers to my free standards eJournal Standards Today know that I've dedicated each of the last several issues to one of the many multi-billion dollar initiatives that the Obama Administration has launched that are heavily dependent on standards - which in many cases do not yet exist. Each initiative is also of great complexity, and will need to rely on a level of cooperation and collaboration that does not natively exist in the marketplace. That's certainly the case with the Smart Grid challenge, and that's what the latest issue of Standards Today is all about.
Throughout the 20th century, the U.S. electric power delivery infrastructure served our nation well,… This once state-of-the-art system brought a level of prosperity to the United States unmatched by any other nation in the world. But a 21st-century U.S. economy cannot be built on a 20th-century electric grid. A Vision for the Modern Grid, National Energy Technology Laboratory, for the DOE, March 2007
For decades utility companies and environmentalists alike have known that more dramatic and economical advances in energy policy could be achieved through energy conservation than by any other means. By utilizing techniques as simple as buying more efficient appliances and better insulating our homes we can lower our dependence on foreign oil, release fewer greenhouse gases, and savemoney as well, all at the same time. For almost as long, utilities have promoted the concept of “demand side management,” and sought to enlist the aid of consumers and businesses to shift electricity usage to low-demand times of the day, with the potential benefit of avoiding the need to build expensive new power plants.
I am an avid, lifelong, reader of newspapers in general, and of the New York Times in particular. And I'm a staunch believer in the essential role of an independent press in a modern democracy. I’m also the owner of a Web site that serves over a million page views a month, some of which display short extracts of news articles, with links back to the full text. On occasion those links lead back to stories appearing at the Web site of the Times.
So why am I trying to kill my beloved Times and its worthy brethren?
Before Linux.com went dark late last year, it was one of the most visited open source news aggregation and discussion sites. As you may recall, word got this March that the Linux Foundation had taken Linux.com over, and was committed to making it bigger, better and richer than before. Further to that goal, it set up "Ideaforge," to tap the developer and user communities to learn what they in an on-line resource to make the Linux ecosystem more successful and satisfying for all involved.
After months of effort behind the scenes, and some pretty impressive Web design, the Linux Foundation delivered on that promise last night. What you'll find there is something that's different from anything that's ever existed before - an interactive, growing, feature and content rich resource that can help you hone your skills, find a job, assemble a Linux-based system, and, of course, access the most up to date news, blogs and ideas about open source software in general, and Linux in particular. What it's all about can be summed up in just six words: For the community, by the community. And if you read this blog, that includes you.
It was an interesting trip, in all, providing a cascade of often starkly diverse images. How varied a range? On the natural grandeur list, I would add spectacular sunsets, wildernesses of soaring, broken redrock, and broad vistas of pristine desert.
And at the opposite end of the spectrum, I might begin with the sights that greeted me when I crossed the Colorado early in the trip, and threaded my way through the 27th Annual Laughlin River Run, a meet that draws over 40,000 leather-clad, mostly aging bikers to what Motorcycle-usa.com calls, “one of the more popular events on the West Coast rally scene, packing bikini contests, custom bike shows, demo rides, poker runs, freak shows and tattoo contests into four-days of 24/7 fun.” I can attest to the fact that it also packs in what is presumably one of the largest assemblages of multi-story, inflatable Jim Beam bottle and Budweiser can replicas to be found anywhere in one place.
The southwestern landscape hosts a variety of signature geologic forms, some of which have become iconic as the backdrops for countless western movies. If you should find yourself channel surfing late tonight, a single frame of a mesa, butte, spire or hoodoo will instantly lock you on to the genre, even before the dusty characters ride into view.
The desert rock garden is a less well known type, but it will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time knocking about the southwest, and around Arizona in particular. Unlike the angular, striated spires and hoodoos that erode out of sedimentary formations, rock gardens are more often volcanic in origin than not, usually granitic, and rounded in form, characteristically resembling enormous blowups of the sand dribbles that a child makes at the beach by allowing a slurry of water and sand to slip through her fingers.
Long-time readers will know that whenever I can, I disappear into the desert for as long as I can. Often, the opportunity arises to cadge a lift out west on the back of a business trip, and so it is that I write this in northwestern Arizona a couple days after spending a day in a conference room buried deep within the bowels of the raucus, random, blaring, unworldly nonsense that is otherwise known as the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Some of the nonsense worked to my favor, or at least amusement, as my $143.95 room was somehow traded up into a penthouse suite on the 62nd floor of the hotel – a suite that was bigger than the first floor of my admittedly small house, with 18 foot ceilings, a wall of glass behind motorized drapes, bar, living room, two bathrooms (one palatial), four flat screen TV sets (more than I have owned of any type in my entire life), and no coffee maker.
The service the lawyer renders is his professional knowledge and skill, but the commodity he sells is time — Reginald Heber Smith, inventor of the billable hour
Both reviled and ubiquitous, the billable hour is the roach of the legal world — Douglas McCollam, writing in the American Lawyer
Let's imagine that you would like to have your dilapidated, wood-sided house painted. The southern exposure is peeling, the soffits sport dark Rorschach patterns of mildew, and more than a few window sills have that uncomfortably punky feel to the touch that whispers "we're rotting — you must help us." You know that you can't put off facing the music any longer, and hope that the impact on your wallet will be no more painful than absolutely necessary.
So you do what any rational homeowner would — you get some referrals from people you trust, call the folks they recommend, and tell each of them that you'll be soliciting several bids. While you're at it, you also call the painter who, as luck would have it, had dropped a flyer in your mailbox that very afternoon.
Over the next week each housepainter stops by after work, walks around your house, scribbles a few notes, and promises to get back to you with a quote. Within a week, most of them actually do. Like any homeowner would, you select the cheapest, failing to note that it came from the painter you found through the flyer. Soon, the job is done, and he drops by to collect the agreed upon amount. Pleased, you pay him on the spot.
What a nice, logical system, especially for the buyer. You know just what you'll have to pay before you commit to pay it, and gain the benefit of competitive bidding as well. You'd be crazy to take on such a large financial commitment any other way, wouldn't you?
Any old standards hand forced to choose the single most disputed issue in standard setting over the past decade would likely respond with a deceivingly simple question: "What does it mean to be an 'open standard?'" A similar debate rages in the open source community between those that believe that some licenses (e.g., the BSD, MIT and Apache licenses) are "open enough," while others would respond with an emphatic Hell No! (or less printable words to similar effect).
That's not too surprising, because the question of what "open" means subsumes almost every other categorical question that information and communications technology (ICT) standards and open source folk are likely to disagree over, whether they be economic (should a vendor be able to be implement a standard free of charge, or in free and open source software (FOSS) licensed under a version of the General Public License (GPL)); systemic (are standards adopted by ISO/IEC JTC 1 "better" than those that are not); or procedural (must the economic and other terms upon which a necessary patent claim can be licensed be disclosed early in the development process)?
The reason why this background level of disagreement is relevant today is because the Obama Administration has pledged to use technology to bring an "unprecedented" level of transparency and interaction in governmentto the people. If that's going to happen, though, it means that the platforms that the new administration adopts to provide open government will have to be open as well. Which brings us at last to the question of just what, exactly, "open" should mean, when it comes to "open government."
It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I guess being the kind of organization that people love to leak news about might be the next. That seems to be the case with the Linux Foundation, which for the second time in a matter of weeks has seen an enterprising reporter scoop the opposition (and our own internal planning) by releasing a story ahead of our planned schedule. Who knew that an open source foundation could attract paparazzi?
Last time, it was Steven Vaughn-Nichols announcing our acquisition of the Linux.com site, and this time it's the New York Times (no less) announcing a day ahead of time the fact that the Linux Foundation has taken over stewardship of Intel's Linux-based Moblin mobile operating system. If you've been following the mobile space for awhile, this is news worth noting, on which more below.
Quote of the Day
“Announcements about standards committees tend to rank just above earnings calls and chipset specs on the excitement scale”
Are you a member of GoodReads If so, then I'm running a giveaway of 10 signed copies there right now. Below is the latest review (40 reviews, 4.9 stars average)http://bit.ly/1gft8Ix
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thinking Person's Cyber-Thriller Amazon Reader Reviews March 7, 2014 - This review is from: The Alexandria Project: A Tale of Treachery and Technology (Kindle Edition)
If you think a mystery novel containing elements of international espionage, politics, finance, cryptography, law, Internet technology and inter-governmental agency turf battles might appeal to you, I highly recommend this novel. It contains all this, plus much more (did I mention the Mother Of All Hacker Attacks and plot twists that will have you calling your chiropractor)? It will make you think twice (thrice?) about U.S. data security almost every time you read the international headlines. And the protagonist -- Frank Adversego -- may become your new anti-terrorist fictional hero. Highly recommended. ...Full Story
President Xi's Central Cybersecurity and Informatization Leading Group Approves Work Plan USITO.org Weekly March 7, 2014 - China's Central Cybersecurity and Informatization Leading Group (CCILG) approved its work plan and priorities in an inaugural meeting on February 27th, according to a report on the State Council website. The leading group is led by China President Xi Jinping and two deputy heads, Premier Li Keqiang and party propaganda department head Liu Yunshan, and is comprised of ministerial leaders. The leading group will play a central leading role in coordination of China's cybersecurity and informatization strategies, plans and policies.
At the meeting, Xi emphasized that cybersecurity and informatization play a strategic role in China's national security, economic development, and the daily life of the people. Xi said that China's development as a cyber power would require a focus on the overall landscape, ministerial coordination and innovative development....[Announcement is in Chinese] ...Full Story
As smart as it gets STR Team/Business Standard AFAQS March 6, 2014 - In January this year at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), which aims to bridge that gap by plugging cars - and their amazing capabilities - into the same mobile ecosystem that powers your Android smartphone, tablet and television.
At Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, Google announced the Open Auto Alliance, a partnership with Audi, GM, Honda and Hyundai to bring Android to the dashboards of these car manufacturers. Apple is working with both BMW and Mercedes to bring its iOS into the cars. Then there is Ford's Sync, a platform developed by Ford and Microsoft, which provides real time information on traffic, directions among other things. What do 'smart dashboards' mean for the consumer and what opportunities do they open up for brands?.... ...Full Story
OECD Crafts Global Standard for Sharing Tax Information Joe Mont ComplianceWeek March 5, 2014 - Stepping up efforts to curb international tax evasion, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a global economic policy forum with 34 member government, has unveiled a new data-sharing initiative aimed at exposing the practice.
Responding to a mandate from G20 leaders to reinforce action against tax avoidance and evasion, OECD developed a new global standard for the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities worldwide.The standard calls for information from financial institutions to be automatically shared with other countries on an annual basis. The protocol details the account information to be exchanged, the financial institutions that need to report, the different types of accounts and taxpayers covered, and common due diligence procedures to be followed by financial institutions.... ...Full Story
Significant changes to public procurement rules: Recently, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposed changes to the rules that govern not only participation by agency personnel in standards development, but also all procurement by government agencies as well. These changes are far-ranging, and some could have a significant negative impact on consortium-developed standards unless the proposed changes are modified. Public comments will be accepted through May 14.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which seeks to facilitate all standards development activities in the U.S., will be holding a Webinar tomorrow which outlines the proposed amendments. The Webinar is free, and open to non-members as well as members of ANSI. As I will be filing comments with OMB, please contact me if you would like to participate in those comments.
ANSI to Host OMB A-119 Revision Webinar for Members on March 6 ANSI.org March 4, 2014 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) will hold a free, members-only webinar discussing proposed revisions to White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119, "Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities,” from 2:00 pm to 3:45 pm on Thursday, March 6, 2014....
The circular...was last updated in 1998 and is being revised again to reflect notable changes that have occurred in the ensuing years in connection with voluntary consensus standards, conformity assessment activities, and government regulatory work. A draft of the proposed update has been published online.
The March 6 webinar will look at the proposed revisions to OMB Circular A-119 in connection with intellectual property rights (IPR), incorporation by reference (IBR), standards development organization (SDO) process issues, and conformity assessment, among other topics....
All individuals interesting in taking part in the webinar must register in advance....Given the importance of the proposed revision, ANSI will develop a consensus response on behalf of the standardization community. Stakeholders are encouraged to review the draft revision – which is available online – and to submit input on the proposed changes to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 21, 2014. ANSI also encourages organizations to submit their own comments in direct response to OMB’s Federal Register notice.... ...Full Story
Now comes the acid test for the government's open standards policy bryang Bryan Glick ComputerWeekly.com March 4, 2014 - The UK government's consultation on the use of open document formats has closed, and we now wait for the acid test of the Cabinet Office commitment to open standards.
The outcome of this process will determine the government's ability to break its lock-in to proprietary software for years to come....The responses are overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed use of ODF as the standard for documents - a format support by Microsoft Office, and by plenty of other non-Microsoft applications.
The controversy arises from the omission of OOXML - the standard proposed and designed by Microsoft, used (in one of its forms) as the default for Office, and by, well, not very many others....So, what happens next?
The government has only two options - to stick with its proposal and exclude OOXML, or accede to Microsoft's wishes and allow both ODF and OOXML.
If they choose the latter, the Cabinet Office will stand accused of crumbling in the face of the big supplier power it has said so often it wishes to break away from. The open standards policy would be in tatters.
If they stick to their preferred option, then it must be likely that Microsoft will formally challenge the outcome of the consultation process, leaving it mired in legalities for ages - and possibly until a change of government in 2015 decides it's not worth the hassle.... ...Full Story
China Establishes Central Cybersecurity and Informatization Leading Group USITO.org Weekly March 4, 2014 - On Feb. 21st, Mr. WU Hequan, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, stated at the ICT In-depth Observation Conference 2014 hosted by the China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR) that the Central Cybersecurity and Informatization Leading Group has been established, as reported by a website under the Shanghai Information Security Association.
Domestic media, including Aastock, a well known stock market media organization, previously reported on January 23rd that China was drafting a National Information Security Strategy and would release it following the establishment of a Central Cybersecurity and Informatization Leading Group. ...Full Story
97% of SaaS Vendors Backing SAML-based Single Sign-on Press Release Cloud Security Alliance March 4, 2014 - OneLogin...and the Cloud Security Alliance today announced findings from their OneLogin 2014 State of SaaS Identity Management survey, which was conducted to better understand the maturity of SaaS vendors in their implementation of identity management solutions, security standards and assurance certifications....Most notably, the survey results point to the widespread adoption of SAML standards by SaaS vendors for single sign-on identity management, in response to customer demands for fast, simple and secure employee, customer and partner access to applications in their environments.
By eliminating all passwords and instead using digital signatures for authentication and authorization of data access, SAML has become the Gold Standard for single sign-on into cloud applications. SAML-enabled SaaS applications are easier and quicker to user provision in complex enterprise environments, are more secure and help simplify identity management across large and diverse user communities.... ...Full Story
UK Gov garners 400 comments on ODF proposal, extends deadline EC Joinup March 3, 2014 - ...more than 400 comments have been submitted to the UK government, in response to its proposal to use the Open Document Format and HTML standards for sharing and editing electronic documents....the proposal and comments will be evaluated by a panel of experts. The panel will advise the Open Standards Board, which in turn will make a recommendation to the government's Chief Technology Officer....comments were submitted by a range of stakeholders, including representatives from UK government agencies, the proprietary software vendor of a ubiquitous office suite, developers of free and open source office alternatives, and advocacy groups such as OpenForum Europe and the Free Software Foundation Europe.
Many participants commend the UK government for proposing to adopt the Open Document Format (ODF) as the standard.... ...Full Story