Yearly Archives: 2007

The Deprecated “Smoke Screen” of MS Office Open XML (OOXML)

BSI British Standards states: “… a standard is an agreed, repeatable way of doing something. It is a published document that contains a technical specification or other precise criteria designed to be used consistently as a rule, guideline, or definition. Standards help to make life simpler and to increase the reliability and the effectiveness of many goods and services we use. They are intended to be aspirational – a summary of good and best practice rather than general practice. Standards are created by bringing together the experience and expertise of all interested parties such as the producers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators of a particular material, product, process or service.”

In an effort to win quick converts to its bid to have Microsoft Office Open XML (MOOXML) accepted as an ISO standard, Microsoft is deprecating parts of its widely-criticized MOOXML. But whatever the new Microsoft OOXML file format with deprecated parts will eventually look like (if such a format ever appears in an actual application), these cosmetic changes don’t really make a difference for Microsoft or the world. Neither Microsoft Office 2007 or the version after that will ever likely produce a standards-compliant format. Besides, OpenDocument has been around now for a few years and is becoming widely supported in industry. However, there has been no meaningful movement from MS towards support. Actions speak louder than words.

What is described in the ECMA OOXML specification is not what is currently implemented in MS Office 2007. The actual specification: says ECMA OOXML is a format that Microsoft Office 2007 can *read*. Note, however, that it is not the format that Microsoft Office 2007 is actually *writing* for example: The Scripts, macros, passwords, Sharepoint tagshooks, DRM and other tie-ins used by MS Office 2007 are not part of the ECMA OOXML specification. If you try encrypting a document in Office 2007, it is no longer even a zip file + XML at that point. There is no editor reference application for Office Open XML, so an application can send Office Open files to Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Office can open those files, but any edits are saved in a different format!
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Colour Lovers Unite

Wood Nymph at ColourLovers

The pattern shown at left is “wood nymph” by misat.

If you love color, but if you have trouble understand what works well together, then you have a friend in ColourLovers. This site offers all sorts of articles, tools, and guidelines for the color-illiterate. But, individuals who have color snapped can also benefit from this site. Some of the color and design portfolios at this site are out of this world.

Post It Notes

One of my favorite articles is on how people use Post-it notes to create works of art. This routine piece of paper – most often used to keep track of important ‘to-do’ items – has been used to paper walls in designs that are whimsical like the one shown here, or in patterns that create human faces and other recognizable objects.

While some might view this use of paper as an ecological waste, it’s better than using lead-based paints! And it’s a much, much better way to express creativity than through any LED-lit fur coat!

National Boards to vote NO for OOXML (Office Open Xml) at ISO (Update 1x)


(Update) ISO has alsways moved the goalposts in the middle of the match, not only at the BRM, but when it became clear MS didn’t have enough votes in first round of balloting, MS rented NBs who had never before participated in IT standardization, and even after that couldn’t get enough votes, read more (PDF)

There will be no Finalized Text from the BRM for National Bodies to vote on. The results of the BRM only emits editorial changes. The National Bodies’ final decision will be based on the BRM editors instructions (which contains complex and big structural changes), 2300 page ECMA proposed disposition (which may or may not have been approved by the paper vote) and the original 6000 page document. National Bodies are expected to approve’ a large body of text which doesn’t exist. This is irresponsible.

What you can do and say No to OOXML: Contact your national body. Here is a list of National Bodies by Countries

There will be a BRM (Ballot resolution meeting) in Geneva on 25-29 February 2008 to answer the comments by National Standard Boards on OOXML and to resolve issues.

Microsoft has set up a situation where many of the shortcomings and thousands of comments which need to be resolved at the BRN will not be addressed. They have closed this process as much as possible and have delayed National Boards from having adequate time to review proposed changes. They are setting themselves as heads of the National Boards in Portugal and Ireland. Many National Boards are still loaded and influenced by Microsoft Certified Partners and over a dozen counties have been lobbied by MS for the sole purpose of advancing Microsoft’s interests alone, as opposed to advancing the broader global community which ISO serves.

In the instances cited above, National Boards have become de facto agents of Microsoft’s interests. For example, the following would constitute a country that is acting effectively as a Microsoft agent rather than a member that acts in good faith:

  • If a country that has never before participated in JTC1 activities joins JTC1 as a P-member just two days before the OOXML ballot concludes
  • If that country then votes an unqualified YES without comments on a 6,000 page standard
  • If that country is without an industry or public consult
  • If that country then goes on to ignore every other ballot that comes before JTC1

When the above happens 20 times, then it is committee stuffing and the process is damaged.

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Save Land. Save It Now – The Open Space Institute

I’m lucky, because I have the best of both worlds. I live in an area which feels like it’s in the heart of the country, but I can be in Manhattan, NYC in less than 1 hour. I reside right next to Glenclyffe, a 93-acre parcel of land on the Hudson River in the Highlands, in the Hudson Section of land preserved through the efforts of OSI and its partners.

The OSI gives me daily inspiration for my pursuits of advocating Free Open Source software, especially free software developed by volunteers collaborating as a community for the benefit of freedom and open standards. Open Standards gives the ability for anyone to implement easily, innovate on and expand on with no restrictions. The OSI, FOSS and open standards have parallel philosophies and a similar mission. they both about humanity, all allow freedom.
Here is more on the OSI taken from thier Mission Page:

The Open Space Institute (OSI) protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats, and sustain community character. OSI achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, regional loan programs, fiscal sponsorship, creative partnerships, and analytical research. OSI has protected more than 100,000 acres through the New York Land Program, through direct acquisition and conservation easements in the State of New York. Through the Conservation Finance Program, which provides low-cost bridge loans, OSI has assisted in the protection of an additional 1.7 million acres across the East Coast. The Conservation Institute influences land use policy and practice through research, communication and training.

All of OSI’s work is directed by a consistent overall conservation strategy that emphasizes permanent protection on a landscape-level scale. Each discrete transaction, whether buying a conservation easement on a small family farm in the Hudson River Valley or helping fund the purchase of 100,000 acres in Maine, represents an effort to align the pieces of the landscape puzzle, and prevents fragmentation, which disrupts key wildlife corridors, impairs water and air quality, and diminishes the beauty and scenery of natural areas. Visit the Open Space Institute.