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.
It would be an understatement to observe that Microsoft's patent suit against Dutch GPS vendor company TomTom has been closely watched. Why? Because Microsoft alleges that several of the patents at issue are infringed by TomTom's implementation of the Linux kernel. In this first month of the dispute, the most urgent question has been this: will TomTom fight or fold? Now we have the answer: TomTom has decided to fight - and perhaps fight hard. Yesterday, it brought its own suit against Microsoft in a Virginia court, alleging that Microsoft is guilty of infringing several of TomTom's own patents.
The question that many Linux supporters are now asking is this: is this good news for Linux, or bad? Here are my thoughts on that important question.
This morning I got an email from a regular Standards Blog reader with some unwelcome news - he informed me that the RSS, Atom and other feeds at my blog were dead, and that he hadn't gotten a new posting notice in a month. Sigh. Not the type of email you like to get, so I'm hoping that this posting reaches everyone that it's supposed to.
The reason for the problem is that the developer that supports ConsortiumInfo.org has been upgrading the version of Geeklog upon which this site is based. Unfortunately, it hasn't been going well at all, in part because the developer isn't familiar with Geeklog, and in part, frankly, because they aren't checking the things that they should as they make changes (like syndication feeds). Complicating things is the fact that this is a "second generation" blog, which began as home-grown software. Later, it was migrated to Geeklog when I wanted to make it more sophisticated than the original setup could support (e.g., by adding the News Picks to the right). Along the way, a few weirdnesses were built in, all of which (naturally) are undocumented. So it's been a challenge to the guy who has tried to figure it all out.
I chose Geeklog in part because it's a really powerful tool, but also because it's the product of a FOSS project application. Given that I write a lot about FOSS, I thought I ought to b e using FOSS to support this blog (that "walk the talk" thing). That's had some downsides, though, because Geeklog is a developer's tool, and not a mass-market application. Consequently, so far as I'm aware, the type of "Geeklog for Idiots" user manual that would be very useful to someone like me just doesn't exist. On the other hand, the Geeklog community has been great about answering the questions my developer has posted at the Geeklog site.
As a result, if anyone out there is a Geeklog ace and would be willing to answer my questions from time to time, that would be great, and would save me a lot of grief, as it would help me become a more efficient and productive Geeklog user, without having to run up my developer tab. It would also save me a lot of heartache.
Economic downturns have a tendency to accelerate emerging technologies, boost the adoption of effective solutions, and punish solutions that are not cost competitive or that are out of synch with industry trends.
So begins a new white paper from research analyst IDC. History supports the logic of the statement, but applying the same logic to predict the future is a dangerous game. Having good starting data can help considerably in that regard, though, and that's what makes this report interesting. Its title is Linux Adoption in a Global Recession, and it marshals some impressive data to predict that Linux will be a significant gainer, while others are punished by the current global meltdown.
The report bases that conclusion in part on its finding that: "Linux users are clearly satisfied about their choice to deploy Linux, and during trying economic times, the potential for those same customers to ramp up their deployment of Linux is strong." In other words, unlike the last recession, in which the free OS had to establish itself in environments where it had never been deployed before (its market share increased dramatically anyway), this time it need only increase its beachhead among existing users in order to post impressive gains. But IDC predicts that it will also do quite well with new, missionary sales as well, promising that this time around, its competitive position should strengthen as well as broaden - including on the desktop.
The headline act, if you will, was announced this morning for the third annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, and it promises to be an interesting show: the Foundation's Jim Zemlin, Microsoft's Sam Ramji, and Sun's Ian Murdock, each giving their predictions on the future of operating system they represent - and, I expect, the others' as well. Jim will moderate the exchange, which will be held on the first day (May 8) of this year's Summit, which will be held in San Francisco. As with previous Collaboration Summits, there is no fee to attend, but attendance is by confirmation only, as the size is limited to a few hundred to maximize the interactivity of this annual gathering of the elite of the Linux clan.
While the OS debate provides the most provocative portion of the program, the rest will provide a great deal of substance - and, who knows, perhaps a few surprises as well.
Quote of the Day
“For the first time ever there is a default open format for Government documents”
-OpenForum Europe U.K. chapter celebrating the annointment of ODF by the U.K. Cabinet Office
“The document format world has just been turned upside down”
Deepening Reform of Standards Requires Overall Planning and Breakthroughs USITO.org Weekly July 31, 2014 - On July 17, the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) held a meeting to discuss the further reform of the standardization system. During the meeting, SAC director general Tian Shihong (also a member of the Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine Administration (AQSIQ) leading group) summarized previous achievements and reviewed the overall reform process.
According to Mr. Tian, standardization system reform has made positive progress on technical standard system construction, consortia standards development, enterprise standardization management, social credit code system reform, standardization system planning and standardization law amendments. He identified a number of areas requiring further progress in 2014, including technical standard system construction, social credit code system reform, social group standard development, and enterprise standard filing-for-record system reform. ...Full Story
Bernard F. Collins II, Senior Advisor with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Speaks about the Value of Standardization and How Standards Boost Business ANSI Weekly News July 31, 2014 - Standards and conformity assessment activities impact almost every aspect of life in the U.S., they are inseparably linked to all facets of our national economy, and are vital to the continued global competitiveness of the U.S. In fact, they influence an estimated 80% of global merchandise trade – or about $14 trillion.
Bernard F. Collins II, senior advisor for the Director of Science and Technology in the Acquisition, Technology and Facilities Directorate for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, recently spoke with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) about his work evaluating the space industrial base and improving satellite acquisition through the use of standardization....The following is part one of a three part interview.... ...Full Story
W3C Launches Push for Social Web Application Interoperability W3C.org July 30, 2014 - W3C today launched a new Social Activity to develop standards
to make it easier to build and integrate social applications
with the Open Web Platform. Future standards — including
vocabularies for social applications, activity streams,
embedded experiences and in-context actions, and protocols to
federate social information such as status updates — will
address use cases that range from social business applications,
to cross-organization federation, to greater user control over
W3C chartered two groups today to carry out these activities:
* The Social Web Working Group will define the technical
standards and APIs to facilitate access to social
functionality as part of the Open Web Platform. These
include a common JSON-based syntax for social data, a
client-side API, and a Web protocol for federating social
information such as status updates.
* The Social Interest Group will co-ordinate messaging around
social at the W3C and formulate a broad strategy to enable
social business and federation. It will harvest use-cases
and review specifications produced by technical working
groups in the light of those use-cases.
The Social Web Working Group’s first face-to-face meeting will
take place the last week of October, as part of TPAC 2014,
W3C’s annual gathering of Working Groups. ...Full Story
Polish NGOs join to open up government Submitted Gijs Hillenius EU Joinup July 30, 2014 - Polands free software advocacy group FWIOO (Fundacja Wolnego i Otwartego Oprogramowania) has joined twelve other Polish NGOs in the 'Coalition for Open Government', pushing the country's public administrations towards greater transparency and electronic participation. Public administrations using free and open source software solutions help close the digital gap, ease sharing and re-use, and enable citizens to participate electronically with their government....The Coalition for Open Government wants the Polish government to join the Open Government Partnership. This international network aims to get governments to commit to transparency, empowering citizens, fighting corruption, and harnessing new technologies to strengthen governance.
One of FWIOO's aims is to get Poland's public administrations' to use of open document formats. This will reduce the threat of public authorities losing access to digital resources, a risk tied to the use of proprietary document formats.
Together with FWIOO, the Coalition for Open Government will be pushing for open technologies in the field of open data, and for removing technological barriers that hinder public participation and grant applications. ...Full Story
IEEE forms group to address 25 Gb/s Ethernet standard for cloud datacentres Staff Business Cloud News July 29, 2014 - The IEEE has formed a working group to explore the market opportunities and needs for a single-lane 25 Gb/s speed for server interconnects for Ethernet. The formation of the 25 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group comes shortly after Google, Arista, and Microsoft, operating as part of the recently formed 25G Ethernet Consortium released a specification enabling single-lane 25 Gb/s Ethernet and dual-lane 50 Gbps Ethernet links.
Echoing the 25G Ethernet Consortium, which is composed mainly of networking technology developers and cloud service providers, the IEEE said the reuse of serial lane 25 Gb/s signaling technology, developed to support 100 Gb/s Ethernet, optimises the cost of traffic per GB in datacentres built primarily for cloud – allowing these providers to send more data over the same links.... ...Full Story
Moving to LibreOffice saves Toulouse 1 million Submitted Gijs Hillenius EU Joinup July 29, 2014 - Toulouse, France's fourth largest city, has saved 1 million euro by migrating all its desktops to LibreOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools. "Free software and open source in general is now an established part of the city’s comprehensive digital policy, and the open model promotes economic development and employment in the region", according to a study published by the Open Source Observatory and Repository today....Currently several thousand people out of the 10,000 who work for the city and Toulouse Métropole use LibreOffice daily. The migration started in 2012, following the political decision in 2011. The switch took a year and a half, and 90 per cent of the desktops now run LibreOffice...."Software licenses for productivity suites cost Toulouse 1.8 million euro every three years. Migration cost us about 800,000 euro, due partly to some development. One million euro has actually been saved in the first three years. It is a compelling proof in the actual context of local public finance",... ...Full Story
What the UK Government’s adoption of ODF really means Charles-H Schultz Moved by Freedom- Powered by Standards July 28, 2014 - On Tuesday the news that the UK Government had decided to use ODF as its official and default file format started to spread....This decision is a landmark for several reasons. First, it is not every day that you see an entire government migrate to a standardized file format. You may hear about government branches using this or that solution, but nothing that is so “abstract” than a file format. This time the UK Government has made the conscious decision to define a coherent policy in handling its digital documents, from the stage where they are created, edited and circulated all the way to the archival phase....
Most of the migrations from one office suite to another tend to happen without any coherent document management policy. Many organizations moving from, say, Microsoft Office to LibreOffice do not necessarily adopt ODF as their default format and will carry on supporting whatever version of the MS Office file format internally. This usually leads to frustrations and compatibility problems. This time, the UK Government decision takes a different approach. By deciding about the formats first, the UK creates the conditions necessary to have real choices for its government and its citizens, thus setting a level playing field for everyone....While reading among the tea leaves is not my favourite past time, it is relevant to assume that this decision may change a few things around the IT industry as well. By way of an example, I have always been amazed at Apple’s clean support of ODF inside Mac OS X but its constant absence across the iWork editions. Perhaps Apple will feel compelled to introduce ODF files in iWork now? Only time will tell. Cloud solutions will also have to improve or implement ODF and in some cases PDF support in a proper way.
The decision might also have consequences for other European countries and perhaps for the European institutions themselves, as the UK will now be an actual example of a country that has migrated to ODF, and not just one of the countries that made the choice of Free and Open Source Software.... But the whole point is that in 2014, trying to extract revenue by creating lock-in on office files is no longer acceptable. That, I think, is what the UK Government decision really means. And if I’m right, it’s only the beginning.... ...Full Story
Report: US needs to adopt minimal national security standard for cybersecurity Dibya Sarkar Fierce Homeland Security July 28, 2014 - The United States cannot allow cyber insecurity in information systems to reach a point where weaknesses would result in leaders "unwilling to make a decision or unable to act on a decision fundamental to our national security," said a new think tank report, suggesting a new national security standard for what's important to protect in cyberspace....Danzig said that because IT dependency and accompanying insecurities have come so rapidly evolved, the U.S. doesn't really understand what is acceptable and unacceptable risk let alone what the government's and the private sector's roles are in this area....He also said that the U.S. may need to adopt a strategy that "self-consciously" gives up some cyber benefits in exchange for greater security on key systems.
This might involve "stripping down systems so they do less but have fewer vulnerabilities" and less reliance on digital systems and more on humans, among other recommendations.
Another interesting initiative is to "map the adversarial ecosystem of cyberspace in anthropological detail" as a way to better understand enemies, our own incentives and operational methods, he wrote.... ...Full Story
The Document Foundation congratulates the UK government for their revolutionary and historical choice of open document standards Press Release The Document Foundation July 25, 0214 - The Document Foundation (TDF) congratulates the UK government for the selection of the Open Document Format (ODF), in addition to Portable Document Format (PDF), to meet user needs. LibreOffice, the free office suite developed by TDF, supports both ODF – the native document format – and PDF (including PDF/A)....“TDF has always been a strong supporter of ODF, and a believer in open document standards”, says Thorsten Behrens, TDF Chairman. “July 22 will be a date to remember, as the culmination of a dream inaugurated when ODF become a ISO standard on November 30, 2006. By standardizing on ODF and PDF, the UK government is showing the world that it is entirely possible to find a way out of proprietary formats to enhance user freedom”....Complementing ODF, LibreOffice manages Hybrid PDF files, which combine the advantages of PDF and ODF by embedding a fully editable ODF document into a PDF without breaking any of the standard characteristics of both formats. ...Full Story
We're living in a post-open source world Matt Asay InfoWorld July 25, 0214 - After years of bitter feuds between free software and open source advocates, open source won. But it was a temporary victory. While proponents of Apache-style licensing had a brief period to gloat, the GitHub generation seems determined to take open source to its logical conclusion: releasing most software under no license at all.
Are developers simply too careless to bother with a license, or is something bigger under way?... ...Full Story