The Standards Blog


Saturday, March 29th, 2014 @ 12:01 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 5,153

 New to the Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and a guide to the characters here, and the earlier chapters here.  You can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

  CNBC MadMoney's Jim CramerWhile CIA Agent Carl Cummings was being taught to heel, Frank was sitting at his kitchen table, tapping away at the cramped keyboard of a cheap netbook connected to a neighbor’s unsecured WiFi network. Even this was risky, he reminded himself, so this brief session would have to be his last until he moved on.   A few taps more and he had logged on to the bank account of the Pangloss Game Company. Mentally crossing his fingers, he clicked on the link for an account that simply read “iBallZapper.” When the new view displayed, the number that immediately caught his eye was in the balance column, and that number was $247,396.78. A slow smile of victory spread across Frank’s face as he hit the refresh button. The number jumped upward by another $1,238.42. It seemed that his plan was unfolding nicely.   
Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 @ 10:04 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 4,371

If the question posed in the title to this entry puzzles you, consider the following: yes, it’s reasonable to assume that you will be able to open a document tomorrow that you create today. But how about opening that same document ten years from now?  Here’s a hint: have you tried to open one you created ten years ago?  Maybe that didn’t work so well.  Twenty years ago?  Not a chance. 

Get the idea?

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 @ 12:01 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 5,058

 New to the Alexandria Project?  Find the first and later chapters here.  You can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

Alexandra Day's cover illustration for her classic children's board book, "Good Dog, Carl"“Oh, good morning Agent Cummings! Mr. Marchand would like to speak to you.” The normally sullen receptionist smiled brightly at the handsome young agent.   “That’s nice. I’ll get around to it.”    “Oh, but he said right away – just as soon as you arrive. He’s in the conference room right there.” Mary pointed to the door at her right.   Carl gave a nonchalant smile and walked on. Who was George to be telling him what to do?   Ten minutes later, coffee cup in hand, he strolled past Mary again, rewarded her with a smile, and opened the conference room door without knocking.   To his surprise, he saw his CIA boss sitting next to George, and next to him, the head of the CIA’s cybersecurity division, Michael Armstrong. He got a much bigger surprise when he heard Armstrong call George “Sir.”   Carl slipped quietly into an empty chair and decided it was high time he started listening more carefully to what George had to say. 
Saturday, March 15th, 2014 @ 12:01 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 5,077

 Our story so far:  Now under surveillance, Frank begins to plan his escape.  Read the first chapters here, and you can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

Arriving at work on Monday, Frank found a Post-it® note on his monitor with three words:  See me – George.  It looked like the week was about to get off to an interesting start.  The question was how?

When Frank arrived at George’s office, his boss motioned him to sit down.  Then he slid a single sheet of paper to the edge of his desk.

“This arrived in the mail on Saturday.  Be sure not to touch it.  I don’t want your fingerprints on it.”

Frank recognized the logo at the top of the letter immediately: a tall, ancient looking building that might be a lighthouse.  Startled, he looked up at George.

"Read it."

Frank pulled his chair up to the desk, leaned over, and did as he was told.

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 @ 12:01 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 5,444

Our story so far:  Now under surveillance, Frank begins to plan his escape.  Read the first chapters here, and you can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

To Frank’s disgust, it was love at first sight for Lilly when Carl Cummings arrived to collect Frank’s passport.  But Frank’s distaste turned to glee when he realized that the CIA agent hated dogs.  Frank stepped back to better appreciate Carl’s futile efforts to fend off the obese corgi’s surprisingly energetic advances.

Predictably, Mrs. Foomjoy  popped just then like a jack-in-the-box out of her door across the hall.  Frank thought she looked magnificent in her full regalia of housedress, fuzzy slippers and curlers, as she fiercely admonished Cummings for his lack of appreciation for canine perfection.  With an effort, she pushed past him and snatched Lily up, lighting into the startled Cummings with a vengeance all the while.  And then, as suddenly as she had appeared, Frank’s apparition of a neighbor disappeared with Lilly behind her energetically slammed door.

The agent turned to Frank, a helpless look on his face.  But Frank simply smiled and tucked his passport in the agent’s pocket.  “Sorry for my bad manners, Carl.  Next time I’ll introduce you.”   He closed the door gently in the bewildered agent’s face.

Saturday, March 1st, 2014 @ 02:26 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 9

GoodReads%20w-shelf%20140.jpgOne of the frustrating things about learning your around the self-publishing landscape is that there’s a flood of data but no way to qualify it. Given that for every possible category of interest (print on demand publishers, community sites, promoters, and on and on) there are many, and in some cases even hundreds, or alternatives, that’s a real problem.

As a result, when I started down this path I engaged in the time honored custom of throwing mud against the proverbial wall to see what might stick. The problem is not only that this is indiscriminate and time consuming, but most of the time there’s no way to tell which mud might actually be clinging and which not, since there’s usually no way to track positive results back to the source.

Saturday, March 1st, 2014 @ 12:01 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 12

Our story so far:  At the end of an “interview” with a CIA agent, Frank realizes he may have become the prime suspect in the investigation of the ongoing hacking of Library of Congress.  Now what?  Read the first chapters here, and you can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

Decision Tree - public domain -  Thanks to PolyextremophileFrank struggled to organize his thoughts as he left the fiasco of an “interview” he’d just endured at the hands of CIA agent Carl Cummings.  Time to be logical, he thought, not emotional.  If he didn’t start getting a hold of himself, at this rate he’d find himself in jail. 

So what should be at the top of the decision tree, he asked as he walked back to his cubicle.  Well, the first gate appeared to be whether Cummings really thought Frank was the culprit.  If no, then Frank could relax, but if yes, then Frank could be in real trouble.  Frank weighed the possibility that Carl was just jerking everyone around, to feel self-important.  Negative, Frank decided.  Everyone else thought the disappearing documents were part of a test, not a real exploit, and Carl would have wanted to keep it that way. 

So that means I’m in trouble, Frank told himself.  See?  I'm making progress already.

Monday, February 24th, 2014 @ 04:46 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 7,535

Updated: The deadline for filing comments has been extended to 1700 GMT on Friday, February 28

ODFLogo%20010.pngLast week I highlighted the fact that Microsoft was urging its business partners to comment at the British Cabinet Office's Standards Hub on a standards-related proposal. That proposal would limit government procurement to office software that complied with the ISO ODF standard, but makes no mention of the ISO OOXML standard promoted by Microsoft. I also noted that anyone could comment on the proposal, and that the deadline for comments would close on February 26, Greenwich time. I closed by urging readers to let their opinions on the subject be heard.

Having so urged, I could hardly forego offering my own comments as well, and now I have done exactly that. What follows is the text I uploaded there, and perhaps it will help motivate you to contribute as well if you have not already done so.

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 @ 12:01 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 6

Our story so far: Our hero, Frank Adversego is trying to catch a hacker threatening the Library of Congress, whose motives remain obscure. But the pursuer is about to become the pursued. Read the first chapter here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

While Frank was enjoying himself spear phishing venture capitalists, back at the Library of Congress files were flashing out of virtual view like fireflies on a summer’s eve. One by one, documents important and banal, short and long, drifted silently off in the digital darkness to points unknown, leaving only Alexandria Project contribution screen code behind.

Thus it was that at 10 on Friday morning, Frank’s office phone buzzed, and he heard the receptionist say, “Your turn, Frank. Conference room two.”

Frank logged off his computer and stood up with a thoughtful look on his face. Just enough time for a little self-coaching as he walked down the hallway. Stay cool, he thought. Be calm. You don’t have anything to worry about, so just tell the news.

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 @ 04:55 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 89

Updated: The deadline for filing comments has been extended to 1700 GMT on Friday, February 28

As you may be aware, the UK Cabinet Office has been engaged in the long and careful development of an updated open standards policy to guide government procurement of ICT goods and services. A few weeks ago, a senior government minister received great attention when he announced that the Cabinet Office hoped to give preference in the future to purchasing open source office suite software implementing the OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard.

This intention, however, is not a done deal. Rather, the rules that would establish this preference are currently only in the proposal stage, and all elements of that proposal can be changed or deleted, based upon comments posted at the Cabinet Office’s public Standards Hub Web site by businesses, citizens and others. And the deadline for commenting on those proposals is fast approaching: February 26.