Archive for February 2008

A Savage Journey …

February 26, 2008

‘Erupting from my vivid nightmares into the retro 80s faded luxury of a five-star hotel in Geneva, the pictures of the first victim reappeared on the wall.  The head of the Brazilian delegation-it’s only a matter of time now.

My mind thrashes to disentangle the thrown spaghetti threads of blurred reasoning; who’s next, is it just the heads of delegation they are after, any NB member, P-members only?

The fog lifts and it’s worse.  Who is behind this, them or us?  We outnumber them, but maybe their plan is more devious.  Must find Bonky Bob, he’ll know what to do.’

Enough levity for now.  The BRM has held few surprises, other than the rather galling situation where I was forced to publicly toe the INCITS line by the temporary head of delegation, a Microsoft employee, against my better judgement.

The assembled luminaries also enjoyed some dazzling dialogue from various right-minded colleagues, until being cruelly cut off by the likes of Alex Brown and Rick Microjellife-Soft.

The OFE event has not been quite as successful as we had envisaged, so we reverted to the tried and tested technique of using attractive women proffering libations to entice the recalcitrant BRM participants.  I’m sure that the organisers can move up the “DEFCON” levels as and when appropriate.

Fast Track or PAS (or ECMA vs OASIS)

February 22, 2008

I recently explained the difference between the Fast Track and PAS processes in agonizing detail.  It might, however, be illuminating to see how ECMA differs from OASIS.

As I mentioned previously, OASIS is much more amenable to large organizations taking control of specifications by allowing a one “employee”, one member, one vote system. 

ECMA has to charge higher membership fees, since it is unfortunately a one organization, one member, one vote system.  

 The problem with that, of course, is that it is more difficult to arrange a cartel than the sort of dictatorship that can be achieved in OASIS.  This is especially true now that our friend Sun seems to be straying from the path.  Not content with having the chair of the OASIS board, Sun are now bankrolling the ODF 1.2 editor

In any case, as was proven by Sun, ECMA has been proven to be too diligent in trying to wrest control from submitters, so they won’t be getting our business.

In reflecting on the two organizations, it did irk me somewhat that OASIS lacks the ability of ECMA in terms of fast track.  Perhaps the checkered history of OASIS has made ISO wary.

It is certainly galling that our standards lapdog is not one of the “monarchs of JTC1”, outdone by the mighty, world renowned institutions such as the ‘European Workshop on Industrial Computer Systems Reliability, Safety and Security’ or the ‘International Information Centre for Terminology’.  

But all this is moot, as according to our internal ‘Standards Masterclass’, focus groups have indicated that “fast tracking” should be avoided, due to the negative connotations of that term for the submitter.  Shame on you Microsoft, for making this amateurish faux pas.

“Publically available specification” has the wonderful aroma of openness, just the sort of thing to get the Stallmanites and Slashdot sheep on side and give a general warm and fuzzy tone to the proceedings. (This is especially true given the OASIS history outlined above.)

As I pointed out in my previous post, the difference in time of the two methods is negligible, so go for the more low-key and politically correct PAS every time.  If any of you thought the Microsoft developer evangelism playbook was brutal, it is as “Guess how much I love you” is to “American Psycho“, when compared to our Masterclass.

I am now looking forward to the cut and thrust of debate in Geneva, taking on these dullards with my rapier-esque wit.  I was slightly disappointed to see my colleague Bob Sutor denying free speech recently, I must give him my course on rhetoric and debating excellence, so he does not feel quite so inadequate in these situations in future. 

One interesting truism came from Alex Brown, the BRM convenor on Bob’s blog –

“I don’t see how a delegate (or even NB) who is “opposed” to OOXML can contribute in good faith to a meeting whose stated purpose is to produce an improved quality text, if their “opposition” means that they are wanting to take steps to prevent the DIS being passed (no matter what)…”

Ursus, Merda, Silva.

Another fact for the Burton Group

February 13, 2008

I mentioned that the Burton Group had been remiss in not stating the implicit “equally true mathematical fact that IBM plus independent members also control 70% of the votes”

Here is another fact (Sun take note).

There is no mandated limit to the size of the ODF TC and votes are on a per member, not per organization basis.

After accepting a few new members from IBM (we already have 11, compared to Sun’s 7 and Novell’s 3), who then attend 2 consecutive meetings (required to gain voting rights), the voting members could look like this, if a few non-IBM people unexpectedly did not attend 2 consecutive meetings and lost their voting rights :

IBM 355,000

Sun 1 (Co-Chair)

Others 0 

If Sun decided to play hardball, they would be outnumbered by 10:1.

We could easily outvote Sun, Microsoft and Novell combined.

Now that’s control.

The other side of Rob – an apology

February 12, 2008

I thought I would just apologise on behalf of Ed Brill.

As someone focused more on pecuniary matters, such as targets, bonuses and things of that ilk, he is wont to get highly emotional when anything occurs that could impede remuneration.

I am sure that he wasn’t implying that free speech was a vexing technicality that should only be applied to anyone he agrees with and denied to anyone on “the other side”.

As you know, I take a far more cerebral approach to these things.  In addition, I am very fond of comedy, as readers of this blog will know.  I found Ed not to be quite as receptive to the medium of komodia as I had hoped, as I discovered to my cost after he initiated an investigation by the department of homeland security after I sent him this link.

Maybe Ed can be softened up by watching a few less controversial episodes of the Daily Show first.  In any case, he should be weaned off those Michael Savage podcasts.

I also have to disagree with Ed when he mentions someone has far too much time on their hands.  Considering the verbiosity of my own blog (and Ed’s), I am sure it is quite possible to rush off some well written and considered posts in a matter of minutes, then move on swiftly to the important matters at hand. 

The alacrity with which the ISO ratification of 1.x ODF is progressing is a testament to this.

 (Footnote: I can forgive Ed a little after discovering his little contretemps with Fake Steve Jobs and a brit journalist)

In such a hurry to junket …

February 9, 2008

I hear from my learned friends at OpenForum that many of the NB members are really looking forward to coming to Geneva.  I inquired whether it was for the intellectual discourse, pretending to consider the details on the ox-ML dispositions or the pleasure of casting the pre-agreed NO vote.

As a self-confessed intellectual colossus, I am ashamed to say that the answer was no.

The real draw in Geneva that weekend is the special “BRM a-Go-Go”, NBs only invitational bash.  With the wheels unctuously oiled by some of the richest companies on the planet, the stalwart custodians of international standards will be cruelly focused on more base matters.

However, a tip for those involved in this event; note that IBM have generously agreed to provide all the name badges for both the BRM and the OpenForum event.  Anyone who went to Lotusphere will get my drift.

So be warned, there is more to be accomplished in Geneva than picking up nice little trinkets and maritime debauchery.  I have convinced myself to persuade influence encourage NBs to vote NO based on “technical merit”, but others may use more unconventional methods.

On the positive side, I was pleased to see that IBM have employed some photographers that have worked extensively with the National Society of Astronomers.  It’s not an association I am familiar with, strangely, with astronomy being very close to my heart. 

I happened to interrupt a meeting with the rather motley crowd of these practictioners of photos-graphein and some colleagues.  One of the photographers was saying how much work he had performed for the NSA.  On asking what the acronym stood for, I was somewhat hurriedly informed by a florid faced colleague about this august body of astronomers. 

I will have to look into joining.

The house inspector

February 7, 2008

In a recent post, I pondered about the value of professionals involved in buying a house and establishing the necessary information for the transaction to take place.

One slight wrinkle with the process did occur.  In my deep fascination with issues such as the title, surveying and the other minutiae, I forgot to actually engage a house inspector.

I had taken a cursory look around the house myself and it seemed completely shipshape.  As all the the other legal issues were so engrossing, I must admit that I lost focus on what I was actually doing, which was obtaining a house to live in.

So, after the joy of finalising the transaction and getting the requisite paperwork, I moved in.

That’s where the problems started.

I had not noticed that there seemed to be no shower, or even a place to put one.  There was a bathroom, but it was too small to put in a shower.  What a dreadful omission, I thought.  Well, there was nothing else for it other than to start building an extension for the shower. ( I was not to realise at the time how many years it would take!)

The next problem was the plumbing.  The seller had assured me that it was using all standard gauge plumbing, but it appeared that some of the fittings were, but others weren’t.

The other strange thing is that it used a non-standard electrical system, which although elegant, meant that I would not be able to use any of my existing appliances, since it had been engineered in such a way as to avoid any kind of interoperability with the normal electricity supply, even with a transformer.

I consoled myself with the fact that although the house was all but inhabitable, it was indubitably mine.

A truism is unearthed …

February 6, 2008

Microsoft’s Gray Knowlton spends more than a few hours discovering an earth-shattering truism.