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”
Huge Win for ODF in UK: Let's Not Mess it up Glyn Moody ComputerWorld.uk July 23, 0214 - Back in January, I alerted people to a hugely-significant consultation being run by the Cabinet Office on the subject of document standards. This was so critical, that I banged on about several times more, urging readers to submit their comments. I must confess that I was not optimistic: we have been through this exercise so many times, and been so close to obtaining support for open formats, only to be thwarted by machinations, that I assumed the same would happen here....Yesterday's news is truly a unique opportunity to show the power of open standards, to promote the benefits of open source, and to bring about its wider dissemination both in government, and among home users. The price of failure here would be extremely high: yet more years in the wilderness, as happened after the Massachusetts ODF fiasco a decade ago. So let's not mess it up. ...Full Story
Microsoft questions UK Government's ODF adoption pledge News Caroline Donnelly IT Pro July 23, 0214 - Francis Maude has confirmed government departments will adopt ODF, but Microsoft claims the benefits to UK citizens are "unclear"....In a statement to IT Pro, a Microsoft spokesperson played down the significance of the ruling by pointing out that both its business productivity offerings - Office 2013 and Office 365 - already support ODF.
“Microsoft believes it is unproven and unclear how UK citizens will benefit from the government’s decision,” the spokesperson said.
“We actively support a broad range of open standards, which is why (like Adobe has with the PDF file format) we now collaborate with many contributors to maintain the Open XML file format through independent and international standards bodies....The government’s stated and laudable strategy to be cloud-first in the provision of its services to citizens depends on nurturing, not constraining such innovation,” the spokesperson added. ...Full Story
UK makes ODF its official documents format standard Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols ZDNet.com July 23, 0214 - In 2006 and 2007, there was an enormous documents standards war between Microsoft, with its OpenXML documents format, and the open-source community with its Open Document Format (ODF).
In the end, Microsoft, while eventually supporting ODF, won. ODF, while still supported by such popular open-source office suites as LibreOffice and OpenOffice, became something of an after-thought. Until, the UK government announced on Tuesday, that it will now require all official office suites to support ODF.
The document format world has just been turned upside down....One thing is clear from this decision. All office-suite programs, which do not support ODF, such as Google Docs, must add support for the standard. Without it, they will find themselves unable to compete for UK government business now. And, in the future, they may find themselves unable to compete for other office contracts that will require ODF. ...Full Story
uk government announcement - open document formats selected to meet user needs OpenForum Europe July 22, 0214 - For the first time ever there is a default open format for Government documents.
The implications of a successful implementation will be widespread. The potential is there to catalyse change well beyond central government. The Cabinet Office deserves every credit for a thorough and informed approach to being an intelligent adopter of standards. This policy can deliver simpler user centric ICT decisions, more cost effective archiving, easier e-inclusion programmes and improved collaboration between government departments and between departments and the outside world. If ever there was an organisation that runs on documents, it is the machinery of government. An open foundation to the digital workings of government should be applauded.... ...Full Story
Open document formats selected to meet user needs Press Release U.K. Cabinet Office July 22, 0214 - The open standards selected for sharing and viewing government documents have been announced by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.
The standards set out the document file formats that are expected to be used across all government bodies. Government will begin using open formats that will ensure that citizens and people working in government can use the applications that best meet their needs when they are viewing or working on documents together.
When departments have adopted these open standards:
- citizens, businesses and voluntary organisations will no longer need specialist software to open or work with government documents
- people working in government will be able to share and work with documents in the same format, reducing problems when they move between formats
- government organisations will be able to choose the most suitable and cost effective applications, knowing their documents will work for people inside and outside of government
The selected standards, which are compatible with commonly used document applications, are:
- PDF/A or HTML for viewing government documents
- Open Document Format (ODF) for sharing or collaborating on government documents
The move supports the government’s policy to create a level playing field for suppliers of all sizes, with its digital by default agenda on track to make cumulative savings of £1.2 billion in this Parliament for citizens, businesses and taxpayers.... ...Full Story
No Steering Wheel, No Problem: Standards Support the Future of Driverless Cars ANSI Weekly News July 22, 0214 - ...Google Inc. recently announced that it has begun work on plans to construct 100 self-driving electric cars as part of an ongoing program to support innovative intelligent transport systems (ITS). The new fleet of cars will be built without a steering wheel, gear shift, or gas and brake pedals, and vehicles will be given instructions through a specialized smartphone app....ensuring that the car’s piloting system is getting accurate information about the location of the vehicle and best routes to that destination is of the upmost importance. ISO 14825:2011, Intelligent transport systems - Geographic Data Files (GDF) - GDF5.0, provides specifications for the conceptual and logical data model and physical encoding formats for geographic databases used by ITS.... ...Full Story
Google, Freescale Backing Yet Another Internet-of-Things Standard Effort Ina Fried Re/Code July 18, 0214 - If you thought the only problem with two competing Internet-of-Things standards was that two rivals weren’t enough, you are in luck.
Google’s Nest unit, along with chipmaker Freescale and a handful of others, is announcing Thread — an effort to build support for future devices to connect to one another using a mesh network sending standard Internet packets over an existing low-power radio technology, a protocol known as 6LowPAN.
The Thread project joins Qualcomm-backed AllSeen Alliance and the Intel-backed Open Interconnect Consortium in offering alternate attempts at a standard for the connectible devices of the future....Of course, having all these different standards efforts practically ensures one thing: There’s no way all of these devices will actually be able to all talk to each other until all this gets settled with either victory or a truce....
But until that happy day, we have the positioning and chest-thumping and placing of stakes in the ground. ...Full Story
ONVIF Announces New Standard For Video Storage And Recording Cheryl Knigh Business Solutions July 18, 0214 - The Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) has released Profile G, a new standard for video storage and recording. According to the organization, the specification encompasses on-board video storage, searching retrieval capabilities, and media playback. This follows the 2013 Release Candidate for Profile G. A Release Candidate is the beta version of a product that is ready to release unless any significant bugs emerge during a six-month final implementation review.... ...Full Story
Intel, Qualcomm execs both say IoT will benefit from one standard Sue Marek Fierce Wireless July 17, 0214 - Despite spearheading disparate Internet of Things alliances, executives from Qualcomm and Intel say that the IoT ecosystem would benefit from having one standard and one platform.
At the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference here, Intel President Renee James said that even though the Open Interconnect Consortium, (OIC), which launched last week by Intel, Samsung Electronics, Broadcom and other firms, has the same goal as Qualcomm's AllSeen Alliance, the two groups are approaching IoT differently. "We come from different points of view but we need to make it work, " James said.
While Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm Interactive Platforms and senior vice president of Qualcomm Technologies, was not on stage with James, he was prompted to respond to her remarks. "I hope at some point we can merge the two alliances. I don't think it's great for the industry to have multiple approaches," he said.... ...Full Story
Internet of Things network protocol debuts with Thread launch Anna Vega E&T Magazine July 17, 0214 - The Thread Group, an Internet of Things (IoT) alliance, has been announced by its founders, which include Google's Nest Labs, Samsung and ARM.
Thread’s focus is on enabling mesh networking among IoT devices around the home, by providing a new wireless networking protocol for interoperability between smart devices.
Other Thread members include Freescale, Big Ass Fans, Silicon Labs and Yale Security....Thread Group views itself as a market educator, similar to the Wi-Fi Alliance in that it aims to test products for compliance and interoperability and certify those that pass the tests with the Thread logo. The Thread protocol is already embedded in products from Nest, like connected thermostats, and smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms.... ...Full Story