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Saturday, March 28 2015 @ 09:21 AM CDT

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Let's All Get Together

Open Source/Open Standards

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Regular readers of Standards Today will be aware that hundreds of organizations that develop and promote standards have been formed using a legal and governance model that leads them to be referred to as "consortia." But think for a moment and tell me if you know what kind of model would be wise to use to set up an organization to support any other type of largely virtual activity?

That's interesting, isn't it? Silence would have answered the same question in the standards development community thirty years ago, too. But then a few pioneer consortia were formed, and the word spread. As it did, the structures used to form and govern consortia became more refined, and best practices evolved and became better known by word of mouth. The same phenomenon is happening today in the world of open source development.

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Elliott Associates and Novell: All About a Game of Cat and Mouse

General News

Have you discovered the Alexandria Project?

By now you've probably read endless takes on the news that Elliott Associates, one of the oldest hedge funds, with over US $16 billion under management, has made an unsolicited offer for Novell.  Almost all of these articles have focused on whether Elliott means business, what they'll do to Novell if they are successful, and whether another (and perhaps ultimately successful) bidder will enter the scene. 

I haven't seen any article yet, though,  that describes in detail how the high stakes game of tender offers is played, and how the usual process maps (and doesn't) to a high tech company like Novell.  So I thought I'd provide an overview for those that haven't had occasion to follow a tender offer in the past, and also my thoughts on what may happen over the next several months in this particular game of cat and mouse.

So here goes.

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A Big Victory for F/OSS: Jacobsen v. Katzer is Settled

Intellectual property Rights

Have you discovered the Alexandria Project?

A long running case of great significance to the legal underpinnings of free and open source/open source software (F/OSS) has just settled on terms favorable to the F/OSS developer.  The settlement follows a recent ruling by a U.S. Federal District Court judge that affirmed several key rights of F/OSS developers under existing law.

That case is Jacobsen v. Katzer, and the settlement documents were filed in court just after 9:00 AM this morning.  Links to each of them can be found later in this blog entry.  The brief background of the case, the legal issues at stake, and the settlement details are as follows.

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Please Welcome MeeGo

Wireless

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

I don't usually post twice a day, but today was opening day in Barcelona of the Mobile World Congress, the biggest mobile show of the year, and the announcements were popping thick and fast.  One of those announcements unveiled a new mobile platform called MeeGo - a new open source contender in the race to power the broad array of devices that are rapidly proliferating in the mobile marketplace.  And, I'm happy to say, MeeGo will be hosted by The Linux Foundation. 

We've been working for some time on this,  and we're very pleased that the project has now gone public. The LF press release can be found here, and the Intel version of the joint Intel-Nokia release is here.  As usual, both are also pasted in below for archival  purposes.  I think you'd also find LF Executive Director Jim Zemlin's blog entry worth a read, and I'll quote from it below.

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Let your inner Video Director loose: "We're Linux" Video Contest 2010

General News

As you may recall, the Linux Foundation last year ran a video contest that drew a lot of entries, many of which were not only entertaining, but had surprisingly high production values as well.  Last year's invitation was to use the popular "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ad series as an inspiration, and you can see the winning videos here (all of last year's entries can be found here).

Well, it's that time again, and LF has just annnounced this year's contest theme, rules and deadline.  The announcement is here, and also pasted in at the end of this blog entry.  This year, the invitation is to submit what a Super Bowl ad for Linux might be like, if there was ever to be such a thing.

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CodePlex Foundation Picks Paula Hunter as Executive Director

Open Source/Open Standards

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

UnitedLinux logoAs you may recall, the CodePlex Foundation indicated in January that it expected to name a permanent Executive Director within a few weeks' time.  That has now happened, and in the "small world" department, the new ED happens to be Paula Hunter - someone I've known for years, and worked with several times in the past.  The full press release is below.  Paula is someone I like and respect a lot, and a great choice for CodePlex.

As you'll see from the announcement, one of Paula's prior jobs was as the Executive Director of UnitedLinux.  UL was a client of mine, and that's where I first met Paula.  And if you've never heard the saga of UL, it's a rather fascinating story.

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Tagging the Noosphere

Standards and Society

The last issue of Standards Today focused on XML - the underpinning of ODF and hundreds of other standards - and one of the most important standards ever developed.  Here is the editorial from that issue.

One of the many intriguing concepts mooted by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and Jesuit priest with polymathic insights (his academic explorations range from paleontology to the meaning of the Cosmos) is the "noosphere." In de Chardin's vision, the reality of the world encompassed not just the geosphere (inanimate matter) and biosphere (all forms of life), but an ever expanding nimbus of knowledge representing the fusion of the minds and knowledge of all humans.

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Introducing The Alexandria Project

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

Read Chapter One of The Alexandria Project here  

Those that know me know that I firmly believe that there is a Monty Python vignette, or at least a catchphrase, for every occasion.  On this occasion, that catchphrase is, “And now for something completely different!”

How completely different, might you ask, as if on cue?  Glad you asked.  Quite completely different.  More specifically, what you will find here is a cybersecurity mystery novel called The Alexandria Project, originally shared here in serial form, in the grand tradition of yesteryear, when authors like Charles Dickens presented their latest works in weekly or monthly (often cliff hanging) chapters.   

Except in this case, there were a few twists.
 
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Here We Go Again: Video Standards War 2010

Intellectual property Rights

Think of the words "standards war," and unless you're a standards wonk like m...oh, never mind...you're likely to think of the battle between the Betamax and VHS video tape formats.  That's because videos are consumer products that just about everyone uses, and therefore the bloodshed in that standards war was not only shed in public view, but the some of the blood that was shed was shed by the public (i.e., those that bought video players supporting Betamax, the losing, but arguably superior, format).  Fast forward (pun intended) to the present, and the trademarks "HD DVD and "Blu-ray" may ring a bell - and that's no coincidence.

Why?  Because different industries have different business models and strategies that involve standards, and these often perpetuate over time - decades, in this case.  In the case of the consumer electronics sector, that culture has too often been one of a patent-based, winner take all effort to cash in big time while your competitors take it on the chin.  And it's not just media formats, either.  As I noted in a blog entry a few weeks ago, we're seeing the same type of behavior in eBook readers.  Since there's only one market, and the market demands one format to win in the end, that means that the camp that owns the bundle of patents underlying the winning format standard wins a bonanza. 

Why? because the losers must pay through the nose for the license rights to build the players that implement the format standard that wins.  The winners, on the other time win twice: once, by receiving the royalties, and again, because their own players have a lower cost to produce, because they don't have to pay royalties to themselves.

So guess what?  Here we go again, but with a bit of a twist this time.

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CodePlex Foundation Reports on 100 Day Goals

Open Source/Open Standards

Earlier this week, I noted the fact that the 100 day mark for the CodePlex Foundation had passed (on December 19) without any comment from the Foundation on how they had fared against their aggressive goals for that time period, including the replacement of the founding, interim Board of Directors, with a permanent board. 

That blog entry sparked a call from the Foundation's PR firm, and an opportunity for me to spend an hour on the phone with Sam Ramji, the interim President of the Foundation, and Foundation Deputy Director Mark Stone during which we covered a lot of ground, including what's been accomplished so far, what the Foundation has learned so far, how that has affected its planning, and what we can expect to be announced in the short term and long term future.  They also informed me that a press release covering some of the same topics would be issued today.  That announcement was posted to the Foundation Web site at Noon, and you can find it here (as usual, it's also pasted in at the end of this blog entry).

With that as prelude, here's what we talked about, and here's what I learned.