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12.12.07

Some Unanswered Questions on OOXML

Posted in ECMA, GNOME, GNU/Linux, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 8:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following questions are merely open questions and they are not necessarily a request for answers. They hopefully explain our cause for concern. We chose not to speak about the “GNOME Foundation” (i.e. community as as a whole) because the Foundation itself remains divided on this issue.

The questions are not directed at anybody in particular, but those who support GNOME’s current stance ought to take notice.

Question 1: Why do you not just come out completely against OOXML and unite the group which favours standards and software freedom? The specification is going through all types of changes and even more to come, according to the outcome of BRM. In that case, you might be wasting time now. In any case, GNOME is suffering for now reason. Some say that a “Black and White” approach is not a good stance for a community, and that it should not be Black. Please think how OOXML as an ISO is fair competition for ODF.

”Are you aware of the fact that Microsoft bloggers have used GNOME Gnumeric as an example of support for OOXML?“Question 2: Has it crossed the minds of those in position of authority to perhaps contact someone working in the community on ODF development or a standards expert before you just decided to participate in ECMA? That would have been a wise thing for authorities in an important FOSS Foundation to do.

Question 3: Are you aware of the fact that Microsoft bloggers have used GNOME Gnumeric as an example of support for OOXML?

Question 4: Jody Goldberg was working on implementing OOXML for Novell at ECMA and had already improved the specification. Then he wanted to join ECMA to just to get documents for GNOME. That does not make sense, does it?

Question 5: Knowing the ISO process, OOXML will go through many more changes before it is even approved, if ever. One does not even know what the final specification will look like or even if Microsoft will actually use it. Does that not seem like a waste of time for little or no advantage to GNOME?

I know, I know… Jeff Waugh will ask me why I posted these questions in public because they are not a comfortable thing to face, but let’s just thrive in transparency rather than intercept messages (a ‘knife the baby’ attitude).

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25 Comments

  1. Jeff Waugh said,

    December 12, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Gravatar

    Completely fine for you to post questions in public, because they’re not uncomfortable to face in the least. But if you had actually emailed me for research purposes, you could’ve published an interview instead of a bunch of ineffectual questions.

    Woops. See what happens when you don’t listen and do the right thing, Roy?

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 12, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Gravatar

    These questions are statements as much as they are questions. They are just structured in the form of questions.

    This Web site present a view, an interpretation. It is not a news site that presents a story where the author just an irrelevant party.

  3. Jeff Waugh said,

    December 12, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Gravatar

    These questions are statements as much as they are questions.

    Ha ha ha ha ha. Of course, Roy. At some point, you’ll figure out your problem and feel like a bit of a dick about it.

    Until then, carry on being divisive and making all these insinuations about good people and organisations, spreading ill-informed, inexpert tripe from someone who has never actually made a positive, useful contribution to Software Freedom. At least it’ll keep you entertained, occupied and out of our way.

    I’ve tried to help you fix your problem here, but you’re obviously beyond repair. Enjoy paranoia, negativity and ineffectual complaining while it lasts.

    Meanwhile, those of us actually doing the good work of taking Software Freedom to the world will get on with the job.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 12, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Gravatar

    So far you’ve escaped unanswered questions, refused to answer Jim’s questions directly, assaulted my credibility and did damage to Free software (and competition) as far as I can see. Don’t think you’re fooling anyone. As long as you continue to escape the issues, they will be re-raised.

    We’re not creating issues. We raise them so that they can be resolved.

  5. Jeff Waugh said,

    December 12, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Gravatar

    Oh, don’t worry, I’m not fooling anyone. Most of the answers to those questions are either already public or available to anyone who is capable of doing primary research. When those questions are raised in a responsible manner, they can be answered. Neither I or the GNOME Foundation have anything to fear from public clarification of our position. We’re very comfortable with it. :-)

    Good try, though.

  6. Victor Soliz said,

    December 12, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes, I also read the text in which you state that it is not really your intention to aid optionally-open XML but you are just making sure that if it gets standardized GNOME will have an advantage over other projects for having worked so hard on it before the standardization.

    Which actually worries me more than an intended support for MS’ format, it looks as you are aiding MS in getting their little anti competitive format approved and all is unintentional, makes me wonder what other kinds of things you are going to do unintentionally later.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 12, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Gravatar

    Victor Soliz,

    Can you find a citation supporting this (for future reference)? This sounds like the “Big Mike protection” analogy from Bruce Perens, whch akin to the Microsoft-Novell, Microsoft-Xandros, etc. relationships.

    Thanks in advance.

  8. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    December 13, 2007 at 4:47 am

    Gravatar

    Those questions are for the Gnome guys, but I’ll give my take on Gnumeric/OOXML.

    First of all, it has to be reminded (apparently) that Gnumeric was not designed to clone Excel at all. It was supposed to make it possible to provide a efficient plugin-based mechanism to an Excel-like spreadsheet calculation program used in finance and other sectors.

    If Gnumeric is going out of his way to import whatever file format, it’s because someone is doing hard work for a reason that is irrelevant to the goal of Gnumeric. I don’t want to throw FUD, but it indeed sounds as if someone wants to give Microsoft the opportunity to make great PR at a very strategic time : we have Microsoft telling the world that an open-source program provides rich support (their words exactly, not that it means anything relevant for a technical person) to OOXML.

    It goes without saying, the timing is interesting. Why isn’t Gnumeric concentrating on adding better support for the quickly moving ODF 1.1 and ODF 1.2 instead of giving Microsoft exactly what they want, when they want? Isn’t Gnumeric supposed to favor open source over proprietary stuff, especially when this is new bleeding edge stuff?

    That is a question for those guys to answer.

    The goal of Gnumeric has also something interesting to remind. By definition, it can’t support any of the binary stuff that is stored in Excel files, such as VBA macros. (this stuff contains IP by the way). It is without surprise that you never read Jody Goldberg and other guys talk about VBA macros. It’s because it’s out of their sight. So whenever the Gnome guys say that Jody Goldberg is keeping Microsoft clean at ECMA, they got it wrong because a number of proprietary stuff are not even discussed just because Gnumeric does not care about it. Again, Microsoft could not find a better ally. I’m surprised that some rookie sourceforger hasn’t showed up with some trivial spreadsheet source code, and Microsoft going out of their way explaining how this is evidence that OOXML is compatible with open source.

    As for Gnumeric/OOXML, market forces imply that Microsoft file formats will have a huge presence sometimes in the future, and that there is nothing we can do against that no matter how ISO ends up reviewing it. It will simply become a “defacto standard” just because of the numbers of people saving their documents without changing the default file format (even though right now, people tend to use old file formats only to make sure the recipients can open the documents in full fidelity). Whether Gnumeric intends to support a file format that is massively used on the market is a given, no question about it. But then, if it intends to favor alternative formats, read: non-Microsoft file formats, what it ought to do is to IMPORT Microsoft file formats, and not EXPORT. There lies the opportunity to hold Microsoft file formats into a bigger basket, ideally the memory structure of ODF 1.x + extensions, otherwise Gnumeric will only become (or remain) a clone of Excel 2007.

    If Gnumeric intends to be something else than a bad clone of Excel 2007, then it won’t be long before it has to be support the new chart engine, the new diagram engine, the new theming, the new font layout rendering, the Custom XML parts, not to mention application level features. Years of work just to follow Microsoft. At this point, one has to ask, what can we say about an open-source project spending 95% of its activities reproducing Microsoft features? Can we still call it an open source project? I would call that Redmond project outsourcing.

    Hope we can at least repeat that Gnumeric is no replacement for Excel 2007. I would hate to learn that one of the reasons the Gnome guys are so much working in tandem with Microsoft these days is because Microsoft understood the message that Excel 2007 was the only implementation of OOXML (and therefore evidence that OOXML was not open), and that’s the reason why they are using Gnumeric as their bitch now to try to tell people outside that Gnumeric is the second implementation.
    In fact, Microsoft is doing on a couple of fronts in parallel. Haven’t we seen them do a PR about Corel supposed coming support of OOXML (with no actual details on what it means) ? Isn’t Microsoft known to be an investor in Corel?

  9. eet said,

    December 13, 2007 at 5:23 am

    Gravatar

    How can anyone so consequently ignore reality in favor of ideology? Have you by any chance ever used the .doc, .xls or .ppt format? And don’t tell me ‘no, I have declined opening such files by principle’…

    1) In case you didn’t realze, these formats aren’t standardized but that doesn’t stop them from dominating the market. OOXML will do the same because MS Office dominates the market, simple as that. Standardization is just a boot in the door of public agencies. Users will have to deal with them anyway, so Free Software must implement it, full stop.

    2) You don’t stop something you don’t like by abstaining the vote. Roy has influenced the vote of his country to a ‘No’ by being involved in the process; he has made A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE. What have you done?

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  10. fsdfsEfgEfgdTvfg said,

    December 13, 2007 at 5:28 am

    Gravatar

    How can anyone so consequently ignore reality in favor of ideology? Have you by any chance ever used the .doc, .xls or .ppt format? And don’t tell me ‘no, I have declined opening such files by principle’…

    1) In case you didn’t realze, these formats aren’t standardized but that doesn’t stop them from dominating the market. OOXML will do the same because MS Office dominates the market, simple as that. Standardization is just a boot in the door of public agencies. Users will have to deal with them anyway, so Free Software must implement it, full stop.

    2) You don’t stop something you don’t like by abstaining the vote. Roy has influenced the vote of his country to a ‘No’ by being involved in the process; he has made A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE. What have you done?

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a known (eet), pseudonymous, nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 13, 2007 at 6:34 am

    Gravatar

    Stephane, Corel announced OOXML support about a year ago, but the background is very interesting. I prefer not to repeat old stories poorly, so let me cite previous items that we wrote about it while connecting them contextually to what we have with Novell and OOXML, among other things.

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/10/05/corel-serves-microsoft/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/09/03/attack-group-novell-corel/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/09/03/novell-corel-wordperfect/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2006/12/05/is-the-open-document-format-odf-now-dead/

    The links within the links are the path to a broader selection of sources, including peripheral ones and antitrust exhibits.

  12. fsdfsEfgEfgdTvfg said,

    December 13, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Gravatar

    … Heck, I didn’t mean Roy has done something positive but Jeff, of course. But I guess you understood that from the context.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a known (eet), pseudonymous, nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  13. fsdfsEfgEfgdTvfg said,

    December 13, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Gravatar

    BTW, you don’t need to speculate about Gnumeric, just LISTEN TO ITS DEVELOPERS:
    http://msevior.livejournal.com/19233.html

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a known (eet), pseudonymous, nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  14. Fernando said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Gravatar

    Actually, there was a project a number of years back to support the VBA macros afaik. The project was called GNOME Basic, you can see the site here:

    http://www.gnome.org/projects/gb/

    Looks like it is now dead, apparently the developers of it are now working on the VB.NET stuff in Mono.

    Is Microsoft’s Office software moving toward VB.NET scripting in their office suite? If so, then they [GNOME] may in fact still working toward VB scripting support in their office applications.

    P.S. From a quick search on the web, it seems the newer Microsoft Office suites are moving to VB.NET for scripting rather than VBA, starting with Office 2003. By the next release (2008 for Mac), they will be dropping VBA support. Office up through 2007 still supports VBA, though.

  15. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:39 am

    Gravatar

    Fernando said “Is Microsoft’s Office software moving toward VB.NET scripting in their office suite?”

    The answer is no. Microsoft has failed so far to provide a compelling alternative to VBA. VB.NET is no replacement : 1) assemblies live outside documents which is a big deal compared to VBA 2) different security model 3) different object life cycle 4) many incompatibilities.

    As for Microsoft dropping support for VBA in Mac Office 2008, the reason is entirely related to Microsoft strategy about Apple, now that Mac OSX is compelling. In other words : Microsoft wants to make the lives of Mac Office workers as miserable as they can.

  16. Victor Soliz said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    Gravatar

    1) In case you didn’t realze, these formats aren’t standardized but that doesn’t stop them from dominating the market. OOXML will do the same because MS Office dominates the market, simple as that. Standardization is just a boot in the door of public agencies. Users will have to deal with them anyway, so Free Software must implement it, full stop.

    Yes, as always some apologist will come with the “We already lost” argument. IMHO it doesn’t make any sense.

    OOXML is not the market dominator right now, we have xls, doc and ppt , in fact, even MS has doubts about implementing it.

    Implementing it, working on it, aiding it, right now, is just counterproductive for free software, we will not get more users for that but we will just help MS advertise their anti-competitive products.

    If Optionally-open XML becomes the market dominator one day, I won’t oppose working on it, but it is not the dominator now, all what working on it and supporting it is gonna do is allow MS sell the idea it is an open standard and garbage like that – Worse case scenario it gets approved as an standard by ISO… Two standards mean no standard so this is just gonna purge all our hopes and work for ODF and seriously harm free software and competitiveness, now let’s go back to 2007, was it really worth to aid OOXML just “in case” ?

    Roy: The link appeared on slashdot when the discussion about KDE saying no to OOXML was in, I am trying to find the link.

    ..
    The priority right now should not be to support OOXML to get more windows users, mostly because OOXML right now is far (and I mean very far) from beating xls, doc, ppt in their business, right now it sounds infeasible to send a docx or ppsx document and expect the other person to open it , no matter they use Linux or windows XP.

    We don’t want OOXML to become an ISO , and the priority for every free software person or anyone concerned about fair competition should be to oppose it. Why? Because , regardless of its potential to become a defacto standard, if OOXML became officially an “open standard” by name, would just block every hope we have right now. Countries requiring open standards for documentation would be able to use OOXML (and will just after some MS manipulation).

    And OOXML is not an open standard , if anything it counts as “optionally-open” MS just made the parts that are “necessary” patent-risk-free , well, news flash, office is most likely going to be great at encouraging users to implement the non-open parts on their documents, just like .net IDES aid you to use windows.forms . That’s how microsoft works…

  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 14, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Gravatar

    OOXML is not the market dominator right now, we have xls, doc and ppt , in fact, even MS has doubts about implementing it.

    Case of point:

    Whither OOXML?

    Strangely, however, Microsoft appears to be soft-pedaling its own standard. At GOSCON last week there was a panel on document formats, with reps from IBM, Sun, Adobe, and Microsoft present. Each of the company representatives got to speak for five minutes and present his company’s perspective on document formats.

    In his presentation, Matusow appeared to be backing away from OOXML as a key technology. If you look at the slide he presented…

    …you can see that the positioning now is that the tool is key, and the document format secondary, which, to my mind, is a bizarre assertion, although it’s one that aligns with a positioning that, above all, must keep Microsoft’s tools in a predominate position.

    It appears to me that, having realized that the force-feeding of OOXML into an international standards body is problematic, Microsoft is now trying to present a soft TCO story which emphasizes sunk costs and pre-existing product versions as a reason to stay on the Microsoft path, along with an incomprehensible assertion that two document standards would be a good thing (this last is the most oddball position of all; how can anyone state with a straight face that the world would be well-served by having two incompatible editable file formats?).

    To the rescue: Novell, GNOME Foundation, Apple (they last made a deal with Microsoft some months ago), Corel, and so forth.

  18. jjjdppfsjkfajk said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:01 am

    Gravatar

    @Victor Soliz: “IF Optionally-open XML becomes the market dominator one day, I won’t oppose working on it, but it is not the dominator now…”

    IF. IF??? Victor, have you looked at Linux vs. Windows market shares lately? We have 9% Vista users out there already; after just a year and the worst press possible! Linux still commands a meager 1% of the market and you are in earnest fuelling a battle among that 1%-community about the ‘future perspectives’ of OOXM?!? Sorry, but whatever protests us Linux users might voice, it has absolutely no effect on these perspectives. It’s like ants fighting about the direction the elephant they’re crawling on should take.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  19. jjjdppfsjkfajk said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:10 am

    Gravatar

    @Victor Soliz: “IF Optionally-open XML becomes the market dominator one day, I won’t oppose working on it, but it is not the dominator now…”

    IF. IF??? Victor, have you looked at Linux vs. Windows market shares lately? We have 9% Vista users out there already; after just a year and the worst press possible! Linux still commands a meager 1% of the market and you are in earnest fuelling a battle among that 1%-community about the ‘future perspectives’ of OOXM?!? Sorry, but whatever protests us Linux users might voice, it has absolutely no effect on these perspectives. It’s like ants fighting about the direction the elephant they’re crawling on should take…

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  20. jjjdppfsjkfajk said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:11 am

    Gravatar

    @Victor Soliz: “IF Optionally-open XML becomes the market dominator one day, I won’t oppose working on it, but it is not the dominator now…”

    IF. IF??? Victor, have you looked at Linux vs. Windows market shares lately? We have 9% Vista users out there already; after just a year and the worst press possible! Linux still commands a meager 1% of the market and you are in earnest fueling a battle among that 1%-community about the ‘future perspectives’ of OOXML?!? Sorry, but whatever protests us Linux users might voice, it has absolutely no effect on these perspectives. It’s like ants fighting about the direction the elephant they’re crawling on should take…

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  21. jj7dppfsjkfajk said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:12 am

    Gravatar

    @Victor Soliz: “IF Optionally-open XML becomes the market dominator one day, I won’t oppose working on it, but it is not the dominator now…”

    IF. IF??? Victor, have you looked at Linux vs. Windows market shares lately? We have 9% Vista users out there already; after just a year and the worst press possible! Linux still commands a meager 1% of the market and you are in earnest fuelling a battle among that 1%-community about the ‘future perspectives’ of OOXM?!? Sorry, but whatever protests us Linux users might voice, it has absolutely no effect on these perspectives. It’s like ants fighting about the direction the elephant they’re crawling on should take.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  22. jj7dppfsjkfajk said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:13 am

    Gravatar

    @Victor Soliz: “IF Optionally-open XML becomes the market dominator one day, I won’t oppose working on it, but it is not the dominator now…”

    IF. IF??? Victor, have you looked at Linux vs. Windows market shares lately? We have 9% Vista users out there already; after just a year and the worst press possible! Linux still commands a meager 1% of the market and you are in earnest fuelling a battle among that 1%-community about the ‘future perspectives’ of OOXM?!? Sorry, but whatever protests us Linux users might voice, it has absolutely no effect on these perspectives. It’s like ants fighting about the direction the elephant they’re crawling on should take…

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  23. jj7dppfsjkfajkuzbttttttttttzbreubeb said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:14 am

    Gravatar

    @Victor Soliz: “IF Optionally-open XML becomes the market dominator one day, I won’t oppose working on it, but it is not the dominator now…”

    IF. IF??? Victor, have you looked at Linux vs. Windows market shares lately? We have 9% Vista users out there already; after just a year and the worst press possible! Linux still commands a meager 1% of the market and you are in earnest fuelling a battle among that 1%-community about the ‘future perspectives’ of OOXM?!? Sorry, but whatever protests us Linux users might voice, it has absolutely no effect on these perspectives. It’s like ants fighting about the direction the elephant they’re crawling on should take.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  24. jj7dppfsjkfajkuzbttttttttttzbreubeb said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:35 am

    Gravatar

    @Victor Soliz: “IF Optionally-open XML becomes the market dominator one day, I won’t oppose working on it, but it is not the dominator now…”

    IF. IF??? Victor, have you looked at Linux vs. Windows market shares lately? We have 9% Vista users out there already; after just a year and the worst press possible! Linux still commands a meager 1% of the market and you are in earnest fuelling a battle among that 1%-community about the ‘future perspectives’ of OOXM?!? Sorry, but whatever protests us Linux users might voice, it has absolutely no effect on these perspectives. It’s like ants fighting about the direction the elephant they’re crawling on should take…

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  25. 5665 said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:36 am

    Gravatar

    @Victor Soliz: “IF Optionally-open XML becomes the market dominator one day, I won’t oppose working on it, but it is not the dominator now…”

    IF. IF??? Victor, have you looked at Linux vs. Windows market shares lately? We have 9% Vista users out there already; after just a year and the worst press possible! Linux still commands a meager 1% of the market and you are in earnest fuelling a battle among that 1%-community about the ‘future perspectives’ of OOXM?!? Sorry, but whatever protests us Linux users might voice, it has absolutely no effect on these perspectives. It’s like ants fighting about the direction the elephant they’re crawling on should take..

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a known (eet), pseudonymous, nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

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    Assuming that he was informed, then it seems fair to say that Battistell’s little “joke” at the expense of the Boards was in very bad taste



  24. EPO Noise Machine Turned On as Haar Hearing Kicks Off, Patrick Corcoran Defamed Again

    The EPO does not want people to hear about Haar; it just wants people to hear about how wonderful the EPO is and there are some who have just decided to slander Patrick Corcoran again



  25. Microsoft is 'Doing Kamikaze' (神風) on Linux

    An analogy for what the Linux (only in name!) Foundation and Microsoft mean to Linux — or by extension to GNU/Linux and Free software whose largest repository Microsoft took control of



  26. The 'New' Linux.com Sometimes Feels Like a Microsoft Promotion Site

    Anything that the ‘Linux’ Foundation touches seems to turn into its proprietors’ agenda; one of those proprietors is Microsoft, which has a "Jihad" against Linux



  27. IBM is a Threat to the Internet, Not Just to Software Development (Due to Software Patents Aggression)

    IBM continues its aggression against technology — a fact that’s even more distressing now that IBM calls the shots at Red Hat



  28. EPO Looney Tunes - Part 1: Is D-Day Approaching for Battistelli’s “Difficult Legacy”?

    European patent justice isn’t working within the premises of EPOnia; a bunch of ‘show trials’ may in fact turn out to be just that — a show



  29. Links 16/7/2019: LXD 3.15, Q4OS 3.8 and D9VK 0.13f

    Links for the day



  30. Links 15/7/2019: Vulkan 1.1.115 and Facebook Openwashing

    Links for the day


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