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Archive for May, 2008

ODF less work for M$ than OOXML. Hilarious.

OOXML backwards compatibility led Microsoft to ODF | Tech News on ZDNet

In Microsoft’s announcement, the company said it was adding native support for ODF due to increasing pressure from customers “and because we want to get involved in the maintenance of ODF”. The company now says OOXML support would require substantially more work.

Microsoft pushed OOXML through as a fast-track International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard, and OOXML became IS29500 in April. However, Microsoft on Thursday told that the changes OOXML had gone through in the ISO ratification process had made it more difficult to support OOXML than ODF in Office 2007.

Green EMP stands up for open source.

Green Euro MP supports call for better access to open source software

Open source software (1) should be more widely available in order to help reduce the ‘digital divide’, according to Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for the South East.

Dr Lucas has added her signature to a written declaration in the European Parliament – like an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons – recognising the growing disparities in access to information and communication technologies throughout the European Union, and calling for increased use of open source technology.

She said: “The establishment of a digital divide is a new cause of social disparity which risks further excluding populations that are already vulnerable.

“New digital technologies have become an essential tool in all areas of life, including employment, education, and in personal leisure activities.

“European citizens have the right to freely access documents and information from the institutions which represent them, and it is about time that the use of open source software became more widespread.

Embrace, extend, and extinguish?

An Antic Disposition: Spreadsheet file format performance

The astute engineer will agree with the above, but will also feel some discomfort at the numbers. There is more here than can be explained simply by the use of translators versus import filters. That choice might explain a 2x difference in performance. A particularly poor implementation might explain a 5x difference. But none of this explains why MS Office is almost 40x slower in processing ODF files. Being that much slower is hard to do accidentally. Other forces must be at play.

Embrace, extend, and extinguish. (Warning, the neutrality of this Wikipedia article has been disputed.)

Open Document Format Prevails For Now – Microsoft Office 2007 to Support ODF – and not OOXML

OpenDocument and OOXMLMicrosoft today announced that it would update Office 2007 to natively support ODF 1.1, but not to implement its own OOXML format. Moreover, it would also join both the OASIS working group as well as the ISO/IEC JTC1 working group that has control of the ISO/IEC version of ODF. Implementation of DIS 29500, the ISO/IEC JTC 1 version of OOXML that has still not been publicly released will await the release of Office 14, the ship date of which remains unannounced.

The same announcement reveals that Office 2007 will also support PDF 1.1, PDF/A and Microsoft’s competing fixed-text format, called XML Paper Specification. XML Paper Specification is currently being prepared by Ecma for submission to ISO/IEC under the same “Fast-Track” process by which OOXML had been submitted for consideration and approval.

A little good news never hurts now and then.

Harmonization of patent law? That’s a new one.

Press releases/McCreevy wants to legalise Software Patents via a US-EU patent treaty – FFII

Brussels, 13 May 2008 — European Commissioner McCreevy is pushing for a bilateral patent treaty with the United States. This Tuesday 13 May in Brussels, White House and European representatives will try to adopt a tight roadmap for the signature of a EU-US patent treaty by the end of the year. Parts of the proposed treaty will contain provision on software patents, and could legalise them on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Talks in the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) are the current push for software patents. The US want to eliminate the higher standards of the European Patent Convention. The bilateral agenda is dictated by multinationals gathered in the Transatlantic Economic Business Dialogue (TABD). When you have a look who is in the Executive Board of the TABD, you find not a single European SME in there”, says Benjamin Henrion, a Brussels based patent policy specialist.

TEC which comprises EU and US high level representatives put a substantive harmonisation of patent law on its agenda. Substantive patent law covers what is patentable or not. The attempt to impose the low US standards on Europe via the Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) process utterly failed at the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Also progress in the WIPO B subgroup (without developing nations) could not be reached. Now the TEC is used as a new forum to push forward with lowering patentability standards through the back door. The TEC is a closed process, and sits outside the WIPO multilateral treaty talks. Since WIPO participants Brazil, India, and China began to fight EU-US proposals for ever more aggressive patents, the EU and US have begun their own bilateral talks.

The main difference is that the TEC is a trade process. The use of free trade talks to change patent laws has precedence. In the GATT negotiations the United States diverted a Free Trade process to blackmail trade partners to accept the TRIPs treaty that limited flexibilities of their national patent law.

MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare

OpenCourseWare is an idea – and an ideal – developed by the MIT faculty who share the Institute’s mission to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship to best serve the world. In 1999, the Faculty considered how to use the Internet in pursuit of this goal, and in 2000 proposed OCW. MIT published the first proof-of-concept site in 2002, containing 50 courses. By November 2007, MIT completed the initial publication of virtually the entire curriculum, over 1,800 courses in 33 academic disciplines. Going forward, the OCW team is updating existing courses and adding new content and services to the site.

Internet Archive defeats ‘National Security Letter,’ Makes it public

FBI Targets Internet Archive With Secret ‘National Security Letter’, Loses | Threat Level from

The Internet Archive, a project to create a digital library of the web for posterity, successfully fought a secret government Patriot Act order for records about one of its patrons and won the right to make the order public, civil liberties groups announced Wednesday morning.

On November 26, 2007, the FBI served a controversial National Security Letter .pdf on the Internet Archive’s founder Brewster Kahle, asking for records about one of the library’s registered users, asking for the user’s name, address and activity on the site.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet Archive’s lawyers, fought the NSL, challenging its constitutionality in a December 14 complaint .pdf to a federal court in San Francisco. The FBI agreed on April 21 to withdraw the letter and unseal the court case, making some of the documents available to the public.

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