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Monday, October 24 2016 @ 12:12 AM CDT

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That was Then and This is Now: SPARC International and OpenSPARC.net

General News

In what must have seemed to many as a bold move, Sun Microsystems last week announced that it would released the source code for its UltraSparc T1 processor under the GPL, supported by a new organization that it calls OpenSPARC.net.  But to those that have been around for a while, the announcement had an eerily familiar sound to it, and that sound was the echo of an organization called SPARC International.  Formed 18 years ago to license the SPARC chip design to multiple vendors to ensure second sourcing for the hardware vendors that Sun hoped would adopt it, SPARC International seemed to be every bit as revolutionary for its time as Sun's new initiative does today.

Back then, RISC chips were brand new, and several companies opted to use the new architecture as the basis for their newest and hottest chips, including Motorola, which launched its 88000 processor as a successor to its vastly successful 68000 line (the heart of the Apple machines of that era), and an upstart chip company then called MIPS Computer Systems.  Central to the appeal of the new architectural design was the "reduced instruction set computer" concept that permitted a more simplified, faster design, and which lent its introductory initials to provide the RISC name. 

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Where (if anywhere) are the Boundaries of the Open Source Concept?

Open Source/Open Standards

In the last several days there have been several stories in the news that highlight the increasing tension between ownership of intellectual property rights (IPR) and the opportunities that become available when broader, free access to those rights is made available.  The three articles that struck me as best proving this point were the announcement by Sun Microsystems that it had released the design for its new UltraSPARC processor under the GNU GPL, a speech by Tim Berners-Lee to an Oxford University audience in which he challenged the British government to make Ordinance Survey mapping data available at no cost for Web use, and reports that a Dutch court had upheld the validity of the Creative Commons license.  Each of these stories demonstrates a breach in traditional thinking about the balance of value to an IPR owner between licensing those rights for profit, or making those same rights freely and publicly available.

In the case of the Sun announcement, that breach is expansion of the open source methodology form software to silicon - a genetic leap, if you will, from one species of technology to another.  Tim Berners-Lee's challenge, on the other hand, is an example of the increasingly popular concept that "data wants to be free," and that the greatest societal benefit may result from allowing it to be so.  And the Creative Commons victory demonstrates that traditional legal concepts can be adapted to successfully accommodate such new realities.

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The ISO Process and Schedule for ODF Comment Reconciliation

OpenDocument and OOXML

Since I posted yesterday's blog entry about Microsoft joining the ISO voting comments reconciliation subcommittee, I've received some questions about how that process works, and how long it will take. For the answers, I turned once again to Patrick Durusau, the Chairman of the subcommittee, and the Project Editor for the OpenDocument Format submission. And once again he was kind enough to supply the answer, which I reproduce here in full (thanks, Patrick).

 I have been asked about the current status of ODF in the ISO process and the calendar for action on that submission.

ODF was submitted by OASIS to ISO JTC 1 under what is known as a PAS submission. Such submissions are governed by a specific set of rules and procedures.

It was duly balloted and notices were sent to the appropriate National Bodies.

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Another Day, Another Episode (or two): Microsoft Joins the ODF/ISO Reconciliation Committee

OpenDocument and OOXMLA few days ago, I got an email from someone with news of an interesting development in the ongoing ODF saga. The essence of the tip was this: a few days ago, Microsoft joined a very small subcommittee called "V1 Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface." And it just so happens that this small subcommittee (six companies — including Microsoft) is the entity charged with reconciling the votes that are being cast in the ISO vote to adopt the OASIS OpenDocument Format.
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And Now It's Microsoft's Turn Again

OpenDocument and OOXMLEver since the surprise announcement by the Massachusetts Information Technology Division last August that it planned to adopt the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and not the Microsoft XML Reference Schema (XMLRS), it's been a tennis tournament between those that support ODF and those that are fans of XMLRS.
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A New French Revolution?

Intellectual property RightsIf you follow technology news or music news (or both), you doubtless know of an amendment to a French on-line copyright bill that would make it legal to thwart the digital rights protection (DRM) software of the fabulously successful Apple iTunes/iPod system. The vote to adopt that legislation takes place in Paris today, and Apple has stated that if it passes, it may no longer offer French customers the ability to purchase music from its iTunes site.
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What's Up With the ODF Alliance?

OpenDocument and OOXMLAs you may recall, the ODF Alliance was formed on March 3, 2006. Given that they've already had, oh, two and a half weeks to change the world, I thought I'd check out the Alliance Website to see whether they had achieved their manifest destiny yet.
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What Have We (Not) Learned?

General NewsThe following entry sets forth the opinions of the author alone, and is not meant to represent the views of any other member of Gesmer Updegrove LLP, the sponsor of this site

Not quite two years ago I wrote an essay called Is Iraq "Another Vietnam?". By then, it had become apparent that our military venture into the Middle East would not prove to be of as limited duration as had initially been hoped. Instead, the disturbing specter of the Viet Nam experience was beginning to rise in the public consciousness — as it should have before war was declared. And many began to ask the question: "Will Iraq be "Another Viet Nam?"

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John Bonifaz, ODF and the 2006 Election

OpenDocument and OOXMLIt has frequently been observed that the clock of administration support for ODF may be ticking down in Massachusetts. After all, Governor Mitt Romney, who recommitted decisively to continue support for ODF following the resignation of State CIO Peter Quinn, announced that he will not seek reelection in November of this year. On the other hand, Secretary of State William Francis Galvin, an announced opponent of ODF, has stated that he will run for reelection - and believes that he should have a strong say on the subject of IT policy as it relates to document retention.
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ISO Says "No" to WAPI, China is Not Amused, and Intel is "Mute"

ChinaAs noted in my post of a few days ago, it was expected that last week's ISO vote on whether to adopt the IEEE WiFi specification or the Chinese WAPI submission would come out in favor of WiFi. As early as Sunday, word began to leak that the vote had in fact favored the IEEE alternative — and decisively so (with 86% in favor of WiFi and only 22% for WAPI). Later in the week, this result was confirmed, and China state forcefully that it would not take the vote as the last word.