They're expected to deal with every new topic that comes down the pike, from regulating securitized credit swaps to beefing up cybersecurity, whether they've had any previous experience with it or not. Of course, there's never a shortage of people who want to educate them, but the "educators" with the greatest access are likely to be lobbyists. And when one paid advocate is promoting one action, political physics dictates that another highly paid individual in somebody else's pocket will be promoting an equal and opposite action. Soon, all potential solutions become obscured by a fog of business propaganda.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a critical analysis of the governance structure of the CodePlex Foundation, a new open source-focused foundation launched by Microsoft.
But what about the business premise for the Foundation itself? Let’s say that Microsoft does restructure CodePlex in such a way as to create a trusted, safe place for work to be done to support the open source software development model. Is there really a need for such an organization, and if so, what needs could such an organization meet?
As with my last piece, I’ll use the Q&A approach to make my points.
Well, it’s been a busy week in Lake Wobegon, hasn’t it? First, the Wall Street Journal broke the story that Microsoft had unwittingly sold 22 patents, not to the Allied Security Trust (which might have resold them to patent trolls), but to the Open Inventions Network. A few days later, perhaps sooner than planned, Microsoft announced the formation of a new non-profit organization, the CodePlex Foundation, with the mission of “enabling the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities.”
Not surprisingly, more articles were written about the apparent snookering of Microsoft by AST and OIN than about the new Foundation. But while the tale of the 22 patents is now largely over, the CodePlex story is just beginning. Microsoft says that its goal for the new Foundation is to create an open and neutral environment, and that the formation documents posted and governance structure described at the CodePlex Foundation site can provide a foundation for such an organization. The CodePlex site also makes clear that the Bylaws you can find there are just a starter set, stating, “Our governance documents are deliberately sparse, because we expect them to change.”
That’s good to hear, because I’ve reviewed all of the material at the CodePlex site, and I think that quite a bit of the governance structure will need to change before CodePlex can expect to attract broad participation.
Steve Jobs is a genius of design and marketing, but his track record on calling the right balance between utilizing proprietary arts and public resources (like open source and open standards) is more questionable. Two news items caught my eye today that illustrate the delicacy of making choices involving openness for the iPhone platform - both geopolitically as well as technically.
The first item can be found in today's issue of the London Sunday Times, and the second appears at the MacNewsWorld.com Web site. The intersecting points of the two articles are the iPhone and, less obviously, openness. But the types of openness at issue in the two articles are at once both different, and strangely similar.
The Sunday Times piece recounts the (unsuccessful) efforts of Andre Torrez, the chief technology officer at Federated Media in San Francisco, to switch from the iPhone to an Android-based G1 handset, because he objects to the closed environment that the iPhone represents. But after just a week, Torrez reverts to the better app-provisioned iPhone. The Sunday Times author concludes in part as follows:
Modern society harbors many bad habits. One is its penchant for enthusiastically embracing the benefits of new technologies before considering their less desirable side effects. Whether we look at the development of automobiles (first) and safety features (much later), or industrialization (first) and environmental protection (much, much later), the story is always much the same: we reach for the candy before we grasp the reality of the cavities. Only after the problems become too great to ignore do we investigate the unintended consequences, realize how difficult and expensive they are to address, and grudgingly start to rein in our appetites and exercise a bit of prudent self-discipline.
Perhaps we should not be surprised, then, that the U.S. government is only now becoming alarmed over the vulnerability to which we have become exposed as a result of our whole-hearted embrace of the Internet. With the operations of government, defense, finance, commerce, power distribution, communications, transportation, and just about everything else now dependent on the healthy operation of the Internet, that alarm is well-justified. And with the creation and storage now of virtually all data in digital, rather than physical form, exposure of our financial as well as our most intimate personal and health information is only a hack away as well.
Man's ability to affect the land is all too evident in these times of climate change, pollution and habitat destruction. Happily, the landscape can change man as well.
The weather finally broke last night, dropping 30 degrees by dawn, and thanks be for that. The night before I had camped in the Sheyenne National Grasslands, heavy with heat and humidity. But the next day it was pleasantly cool (upper 60s), albeit overcast rather than sunny.
Nor was this the only change. It took over 2400 driving miles to finally leave the Eastern, and then Midwestern terrain behind, but today I reached the beginnings of what I think of as the West. More than anything else, in my mind that means “dry.” For the last 800 miles, the landscape had been primarily flat, lush - and transitionally post-glacial. That last factor means an area where the great ice sheets completed their periodic southward pulses, dumping rich, black earth born of thousands of miles of ice grinding down stone, some deposited by glacial steams, and other as windblown “loess” – very fine mineral particles.
Mea Culpa. I am uncharacteristically late in commenting on the XML Wars of August, 2009, which have already received so much attention in the press and in the blogs of the technology world. The wars to which I refer, of course, broke out with the announcement early in the month that Microsoft had been granted an XML-related patent. The opening of that front gave rise to contentions that patenting anything to do with XML was, in effect, an anti-community effort to carve a piece out of a public commons and claim it as one's own.
The second front opened when a small Canadian company, named i4i, won a stunning and unexpected remedy (note that I specifically said "remedy" and not "victory," on which more below) in an ongoing case before a judge in Texas, a jurisdiction beloved of patent owners for its staunch, Red State dedication to protecting property rights - including those of the intangible, intellectual kind.
So if this is war, why have I been so derelict in offering my comments, as quite a few people have emailed me to tell me they are waiting to hear? Here's why.
Cybersecurity is an increasingly frequent topic in the news, and this week brought word of the indictment of someone who must be the leading contender for the title, Master Cybercriminal of All Time (Payment Card Fraud Division): Albert Gonzalez. More recent press reports point to additional conspirators who Gonzalez's attorney contends were there real masterminds. Top honors aside, government prosecutors contend that the team are responsible for all of the most high profile data breaches publicized to date: Heartland, Hannaford, TJX, and more - gaining access to information relating to an astonishing 130 million credit and debit cards or more.
With so many breaches in the news, you might understandably be wondering how safe your own financial information is, and whether anyone is doing anything to protect you. Happily, the answer is "yes," and as it happens, the organization that has been tackling this problem is a client of mine, PCI Security Standards Council, which creates and enables a global, end to end ecosystem of standards, certifications, auditors and more to secure payment card data from the moment that your card gets swiped on a reader to the time it reaches its ultimate destination.
In 2001, I took a one month solo cross country trip, driving from Massachusetts across the Northeast, the Midwest, and then the prairie states, until I reached what we generally think of as “the West” – the land of canyons and buttes, deserts and mesas. Once there, I spent the rest of the time backpacking in the canyonlands of Utah, and then meandering North on dirt roads until I reached Glacier National Park, in the Northwest corner of Montana. After that, I zigzagged back East until I reached the Mississippi. Then, it was just a straight highway shot till I arrived back home once again. It was during that trip that I began writing in earnest, although I haven’t (yet) posted anything from that journey to the Web.
Last week, Microsoft and the European Commission each announced that Microsoft had proposed certain concessions in response to a "Statement of Objections" sent to Microsoft by the EC on January 15 of this year relating to Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. If you've been reading the reams of articles that have been written since then, you may have noticed that the vast majority of the virtual ink spent on the story has been directed at the terms relating to browser choice. Typically, and as an afterthought, most of these stories have added a brief mention that Microsoft also proposed commitments relating to "another" dispute, this one relating to interoperability.
While the browser question is certainly important, in many ways it is far less important than the interoperability issue. After all - the primary benefit for consumers under the browser settlement is that they can choose their favorite browser when they first boot up their new computer, as compared to investing a few extra clicks to download it from the site of its developer - as they can already do now. Interoperability, of course, goes far deeper. There's no way that you can make one program work the way you really want it to with another unless it comes out of the box that way, or unless you have not only the ability, but also the proprietary information, to hack it yourself. And if both programs don't support the same standards, well, good luck with that.
So what exactly did Microsoft promise to the EC, regarding interoperability? Let's use ODF as a reference point and see.
Quote of the Day
“At the end of the day, fragmentation only hurts all of us”
-AllSeen Alliance Chair Liat Ben-Zur, commenting on the proliferation of IoT standards efforts
CIOs debate cloud, open source transformation AsiaCloudForum December 26, 2014 - Cloud computing is no longer an issue of “if” for enterprises anymore, clearly all businesses will adopt or are adopting cloud in some shape or form as the basis for transforming their IT infrastructures into more agile and flexible organizations....IDC research found that 72% of enterprises identified open source and open standards as being a key factor when it comes to evaluating cloud software options.... ...Full Story
Three Nagging Questions about Thread Group, the Wannabe Home Automation Standard Julie Jackson CEPro December 24, 2014 - ...Thread is based on 6LoWPAN, which delivers IPv6 packets over 802.15.4 radios – the same radios used for ZigBee. Thread adds mesh networking, security, battery optimization and a few other goodies to the implementation.
Although Nest doesn’t come out and say it, Thread is primarily a Nest invention and the Thread Group is a Nest initiative.
That is the answer to one of the questions I received yesterday: “Is this just a Nest thing?”
The fact that it is indeed a Nest-inspired thing doesn’t necessarily undermine the effort. Plenty of proprietary technologies developed by a single company have gone on to become industry-wide standards (whether sanctioned by official standards bodies or not).... ...Full Story
Thread Group IoT Consortium Grows to 50-Plus Members Jeffrey Burt eWeek December 24, 2014 - The Thread Group, one of a number of industry consortiums that is developing a connectivity standard for the Internet of things, has a lineup of more than 50 members and will see the first Thread-enabled products hit the market in 2015....the number of members has grown rapidly since the consortium—which was launched in July by ARM, Freescale, Samsung and Google's Nest Laboratories business, among others—opened up to new members in October....the Thread Group is now working with UL to manage the process of certifying Thread-based products and Granite River Labs to develop hardware test services,...The protocol is one of a number of IoT communications platforms being developed. The year-old AllSeen Alliance, which has about 100 members and is a project under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, is promoting the AllJoyn-based software framework as a way of enabling devices to connect and communicate with each other. The AllJoyn code was originally developed by Qualcomm researchers. Other groups include the Open Interconnect Consortium, the Industrial Internet Consortium and the ZigBee Alliance, a 10-year-old organization that last month announced the ZigBee 3.0 standard to drive communication and interoperability between IoT devices....A common communications platform will be crucial to driving interoperability among the disparate IoT devices. However, too many specification efforts make it more challenging.... ...Full Story
EC and USB-IF Collaboration Supports Next-Generation Data Delivery and Device Charging Applications ANSI Weekly News December 23, 2014 - The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced that they have expanded international standards cooperation to include the latest USB-IF specifications for high-speed data delivery and enhanced usages for device charging. In particular, the USB-IF has submitted to the IEC the USB Power Delivery (Rev. 2.0, v1.0), USB 3.1 (SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps), and USB Type-C Cable and Connector specifications.
USB Power Delivery was developed with a vision of delivering universal charging to extend ease of use for consumers and reduce electronic waste by offering an alternative to proprietary, platform specific chargers.... ...Full Story
ICT products conforming to ITU standards listed in public database ITU-T December 23, 2014 - ITU has launched the ‘ICT product conformity database’ to provide industry with a means to publicize the conformance of ICT products and services with ITU-T’s international standards. E-Health products covering 23 classes of technology have been volunteered for inclusion in the database at its launch, with the intention of assisting buyers in their efforts to select standards-compliant products.
The new database showcases ICT products and services found to comply with ITU-T standards by conformance tests carried out by third-party test labs. The e-Health devices populating the database were tested for compliance with the specifications of Recommendation ITU-T H.810 “Interoperability design guidelines for personal health systems”, a key standard approved in December 2013, which contains the Continua Design Guidelines. The recently issued Continua 2014 Design Guidelines are adopted to ITU specifications and feature interface between personal area network (PAN), local area network (LAN) and touch area network (TAN) health devices and application hosting devices (AHDs) including NFC (near-field communication), USB and Bluetooth Smart Technology (Low Energy); and consent enforcement via wide area network (WAN) and Health Record Network (HRN) health devices.... ...Full Story
NIST Study 'Makes the Case' for RFID Forensic Evidence Management NIST Techbeat December 23, 2014 - Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags—devices that can transmit data over short distances to identify objects, animals or people—have become increasingly popular for tracking everything from automobiles being manufactured on an assembly line to zoo animals in transit to their new homes. Now, thanks to a new NIST report, the next beneficiaries of RFID technology may soon be law enforcement agencies responsible for the management of forensic evidence....While some law enforcement agencies have used barcodes to improve their forensic evidence tracking, storage and retrieval processes, very few have implemented RFID because of concerns about startup costs, the reliability of the technology and the current lack of relevant RFID standards for property and evidence handling. To help agencies better understand these issues and properly assess the pros and cons of RFID evidence management, NIST recently published RFID Technology in Forensic Evidence Management, An Assessment of Barriers, Benefits, and Costs.... ...Full Story
Uganda Adopts Free And Open Source Software For E-Governance Hillary Muheebwa ip-watch.org December 22, 2014 - The population in Uganda has been growing rapidly. The country now has 35 million people. In order to provide quality services to its citizens and to improve the national competitiveness through administration innovation, the government has adopted free and open source software as the preferred mode of operation for electronic government (e-government) services and platforms. In July 2011, the Uganda cabinet approved the National E-government Policy Framework with the overall objective of improving public service delivery through a systematic transformation from manual to electronic-based systems and practices....In order to achieve solid economic and developmental benefits, the government of Uganda has resolved to adopt free and open source software, as the preferred mode of operation for e-government services and platforms....the adoption of FOSS is expected to achieve main objectives that include promotion of innovation, development of customised e-services, and saving in costs.... ...Full Story
2014: The Open Source Tipping Point jzemlin's picture Jim Zemlin Linux Foundation December 22, 2014 - For the last ten years open source has expanded into more and more segments of the computing industry. But as we review 2014, a new story emerges: software development has fundamentally shifted toward an open source model. Especially for the infrastructure software used for scale-out computing, open source is the de facto choice; in fact, it’s virtually impossible to find examples of scale-out infrastructure that is not open source....The economics of creating a new suite of infrastructure to power distributed computing requires shared development and shared investment. While one company could certainly create a new database or operating system or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), why would they? Instead they build atop the shared research & development (R&D) investment of an entire industry. 2014 saw us reach a tipping point where open source development is now the de facto choice, instead of just a choice....On every layer of the stack a major open source project is defining the segment: Big Data (Hadoop), OS (Linux), IoT (Allseen), SDN (OpenDaylight), IaaS (OpenStack), PaaS (CloudFoundry), database (Mongo, MySQL, etc.), containers (Docker), etc.... ...Full Story
Google's surprise: ODF support launches ahead of schedule Simon Phipps InfoWorld December 22, 2014 - Following the comments by Google's head of open source, Chris DiBona, last week in London, Google has today announced that support for ODF (OpenDocument Format) has now been added to its Google Drive suite of apps. In a post on Google+, the team announced immediate support of ODT (ODF text documents), ODS (spreadsheets) and ODP (presentations), which can now all be imported into Google Docs.Google faces significant pressure securing government business in many countries around the world, especially the U.K. -- including in the health and education sectors -- now that ODF is a requirement in so many procurement policies. Until now, the support for ODF in Google's products has been weak and uneven, with no support at all for presentations....Google, like Microsoft, does not make it easy to use ODF as part of a workflow. Change tracking information, annotations, and other metadata gets lost in the import process and doesn't get exported, so for both companies, ODF is seen as a migration format rather than as a working format....Google wants to sell Drive and Chromebooks into government-controlled markets, and ODF is becoming a gating factor. Perhaps as a result, Google will continue to improve its ODF support as it pushes ahead to capture future business. ...Full Story
California Federal Court Holds that, in Order to Allege Market Power in a Deception Case, Plaintiffs Must Allege that the SSO Would Have Adopted an Alternative Standard ABA IPI Committee tidBITS December 19, 2014 - A California federal court dismissed, with leave to amend, Cisco’s and HP’s antitrust counterclaims against ChriMar, which were based on allegations that ChriMar knowingly failed to disclose essential patents to the IEEE standard-setting organization (SSO) with the intent to deceive, and then filed a patent infringement suit against Cisco and HP after the standard was adopted. Significantly, the court concluded that (1) Cisco and HP failed to sufficiently allege market power because they failed to clearly allege that IEEE would have adopted an alternative standard had it known about ChriMar’s patents, and (2) the heightened pleading requirements under Rule 9(b) for fraud applies to antitrust claims based on failure to disclose.... ...Full Story