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03.24.08

Sticking Fingers in Pies (or: “How Microsoft Controls Patrick Durusau’s Committee”)

Posted in America, Asia, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 11:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keeping enemies closer paying off?

It gets increasingly hard to trust those who claim independence. We mentioned Patrick Durusau a couple of weeks ago. His role and his words are sometimes misused and taken out of context, respectively. Here are some of the latest accounts: The first one comes from Malaysia, which presents this in a rather comical way.

I thanked Mr Cheong, for bringing up this important letter from Mr Patrick Durusau. His case just highlights the strange situation we are in today. If you know the background history of Mr Durusau, you will understand why he may have to write a letter like this.

You see, Mr Durusau is the Editor of ODF, but more importantly he is also the Chair of the US Technical Committee V1, which is equivalent to Malaysia’s TC4 here. What is interesting, is that because of this OOXML issue, his committee has been stacked. Now it’s OK for them in the US to stack their committees because that’s how their system works, so they grew from a committee of 7 members before OOXML to 26 members after it started. Fortunately, in Malaysia, ISC-G prevented this from happening at TC4.

[...]

So in essence, V1 has been taken over by Microsofties, and Mr Durusau is in a tight situation. If he were to be negative towards OOXML, his stacked V1 will retaliate and bar the progress of his normal work: work on ODF 1.2.

The best and most logical option for Mr Durusau is of course to “agree” with his captors ‘demands, and hopefuly they would be merciful later on. So its a strange political play which he has to act out.

Then there’s the story about the trip to Seattle. But in any case, some of Durusau’s words are highlighted very selectively and enthusiastically, the evidence being things like these. To quote a portion that concludes:

The bottom line is that Durusau is either illoyal to the ISO standard ODF which he edits or he is held hostage by the fact that Microsoft totally controls the committees that will be crucial for ODF 1.2

This concurs with the observations from Malaysia. Just what Microsoft is doing, who knows? With stories like these [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14], everything is possible. It’s not as though any trust was ever earned as the whole process became more of a laughing stock. The next post will present yet another new example of this.

“Since when has the world of computer software design been about what people want? This is a simple question of evolution. The day is quickly coming when every knee will bow down to a silicon fist, and you will all beg your binary gods for mercy.”

Bill Gates

OOXML: Fail?

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 11:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We have already witnessed a failure at the BRM in Geneva. Might we be seeing an even bigger one soon? OpenMalaysia looks at the situation, which it presents in table form.

Here are the results, as live as they get, of the countries voting for DIS 29500 (more popularly known as Microsoft OOXML). This is the last lap of DIS 29500 (Microsoft OOXML) and we can expect things to get heated. This list is based on verifiable information and I am taking necessary precautions to not include speculative votes. iso-vote.com has a pretty pictorial view of the votes and you even toggle the countries to see the overall outcome.

[...]

Voting In Progress:

* Criteria 1: 17/32 = 53.13% (FAIL)
* Criteria 2: 18/87 = 20.69% (PASS)
* Overall Result: FAIL

We shall find out the final outcome within days, but coming shortly are some more stories of irregularity. What else can be expected as the deadline draws near?

Links 24/03/2008: KDE Developments, Lina, OSBC Starts Tomorrow

Posted in News Roundup at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

For those with a day off work, here is Revolution OS. Enjoy.

Links 24/03/2008: Linux as a Common Platform (Win32, Amiga)

Posted in News Roundup at 3:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Amiga UNIX

Summary of Mono’s Danger to GNU/Linux and the Free Desktop

Posted in Debian, Formats, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, Patents, RAND, Red Hat, Samba, Ubuntu at 3:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A look back at evidence may be more compelling a proof than yet another explanation

We have received some mail recently from developers who are concerned about issues that are covered here, including OOXML and Mono. One person, for example, was concerned about pressure on KDE to implement support for OOXML (a big no-no). Coming from Debian, a concerned developer spoke about the problems surrounding Mono. Together, we ought to at least try to inform. Maybe we can help in pushing Debian to reduce its dependency on Mono, which is already present there. (correction/clarification: Mono is not there by default)

Let us quickly accumulate pointers to posts which summarise the problem and use this page as somewhat an index that makes it easy to understand for those unfamiliar with it. The list below is chronological, so better understanding has been formed by the time later posts were published, which makes them more accurate.

The presence of Mono alone should not be the key issue to address. There are legal issues. Upon attempts to demonstrate just loss of identity we were told that it would not be an issue as serious as patent-encumbered (and truly proprietary) elements like OOXML, WMV, etc.

That is indeed an issue. It also makes them more widespread, for all to suffer from.

Further throughout this discussion, the OOXML issue came up. The reader told us:


…what’s your opinion on OOXML support being added to OOo 3? Do you think rubbing it with the GPLv3 [1, 2] might yield some interesting results?


The reply is quoted verbatim:

It works badly for Novell, which is already building ‘Microsoft OpenOffice’ in a sense [1, 2, 3, 4]. Novell hates it when people use the “F” word in this context (“fork”), but it’s becoming more of a reality.

Microsoft hates the GPLv3. In fact, it turns out that GPLv3 got thrown out of Microsoft’s CodePlex. All of Microsoft’s smear campaigns against GPLv3 (through proxies in disguise, such as paid academics) show that Microsoft’s lawyers understand the ramifications.

“They, along with biased journalists who deceive, are totally falling for it.”The company works quite secretly, but understanding the strategy is not hard. Getting the word out and warning developers is another issue (PyCon, Ubuntu, OSI). They, along with biased journalists who deceive, are totally falling for it. It’s like a Big Lie campaign.

Many people are conveniently naive and it was frustrating to find that Michael T agrees with Matt Asay as far as the stance on Bruce Perens goes. He has posted about this to the OSI’s Web site. In other words, they see nothing wrong with Microsoft in the OSI, despite the fact that Ballmer sort of stuttered in an interview last month where he was going to name ‘open source’ as his number one threat. He eventually said “Open.. Linux”. He hesitated and changed his mind as he spoke. He knows that they have to pretend to like Open Source, as long as they can replace and subvert the licences to make them work Microsoft’s way (see notes above about Mono licence). Folks like Walli might already be doing a lot of legwork for Microsoft, trying to convince developers to embrace the Microsoft way, restrict openness, ownership, maybe even apply for software patents, etc.

Just say no to Mono

ISO’s Major Failure with OOXML Revisited

Posted in ECMA, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 1:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Broken beyond repair, just like OOXML

ISO standardISO will not be getting a break for its miserable failure to handle itself and ensure proper behaviour is maintained. Whether ISO gets horribly manipulated is a separate matter and if that’s the case, then it ought to immediately halt whole the process and complain to regulatory bodies. At least one of them is already investigating this, for it believes that antitrust laws were breached. Permitting the process to proceed uninterrupted is ISO’s suicide or, as Tim Bray put it, “ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen.”

Here comes a shot from IEEE, whose reputation has not been rubbished like that of ISO.

Harish Pillay is annoyed by the ISO OOXML process and thinks the conduct infringes upon his professional code of ethics. But his rules just don’t apply.

[...]

An ISO technocrat would probably stress now that ISO/IEC does not apply these IEEE principles and wash his hands. Admitted. I thought, I had the view ISO/IEC process participants would naturally apply principles like these in standardization. I was naive. The mere existence of a Code of Ethics is an indication that the ethics seems to contravene the common practice. Of course, no doubt, ISO is not bound by IEEE ethics.

Watch what Frank Farance and Andrew Updegrove had to say:

“Eighty percent of the changes weren’t discussed,” said Frank Farance, an IT consultant who led the U.S. delegation to the ballot resolution meeting. “It’s like if you had a massive software project and 80 percent of it wasn’t run through [quality assurance]. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been doing this for 25 years.”

“People here are disgusted,” said Andrew Updegrove, a technology attorney and an outspoken critic of Open XML who was in Geneva but didn’t take part in the meeting. “The absurdity of trying to [ratify Open XML] by a ‘fast track’ process became quite apparent.”

Now, come to reconsider ECMA again. Tim Bray described them as a “toxic leech”. Days ago we found an ECMA connection to an aggressive Microsoft lobbying arm. And their vain behaviour projects this. As new examples of technical incompetence:

1. Ecma’s proposed dispositions are poor in quality
2. Resolutions made in the BRM may not address the concerns of NBs who have raised issues
3. Ecma is resistant to change which would break Ecma 376
4. Resolutions may not have had the time to harmonize amongst themselves (in this case Finland labeling which method is transitive and strict)
5. Two ways of doing things in a spec means that two conforming documents may not be compatible
6. BRM was too short a time for a thorough review
7. OOXML is becoming more of a Frankenstein than it already was

These remarks come from Malaysia, which has been forthcoming about the abuses. ISO too was abused, but it’s allowing this to go on. For inability to suspend amidst abuses, ISO could and should be slammed.

“This was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen. Their reputation, in my eyes, is in tatters. My opinion of ECMA was already very negative; this hasn’t improved it, and if ISO doesn’t figure out away to detach this toxic leech, this kind of abuse is going to happen again and again.”

Tim Bray

Quote of the Day: What Microsoft Did in Malaysia

Posted in Asia, Bill Gates, Deception, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 1:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s quite shocking, especially if you haven’t been following this for a while. Have a look at this summary:

1. Waste NBs time in reviewing monstrous draft specifications
2. Claim that these specs can do everything for anyone by standardising marketing material
3. If you don’t get your way at a certain level, lobby the superior above. Dont stop! Go all the way to the head of the nation if you think you can!
4. Leak press stories to journalists to pressure Ministries to make a decision. Quick!
5. Try to shut down TCs if actual technical work is done revealing issues with your plan
6. Question Question Question everything (process, fairness, the system, members) when things dont go your way
7. Otherwise create another TC with friendly experts
8. If the NB allows new members just by paying membership fees, encourage your business partners to join with marketing funds. Stack-stack-stack it high!
9. Stalk decision makers, even if it means traveling around the globe with them
10. Refuse changes in the spec especially if it breaks your product which you released prior
11. Have private interviews with TC members in the guise of funding for their new projects/research grants/interoperability initiatives and conveniently talk about their position on your spec.
12. Get your Business Partners to write in form letters. Some don’t even bother to change the templates
13. Attend TC meetings uninvited by fabricating business cards
14. Send Lawyers in to Technical Committee meetings who prefer not to engage in “high-school” debates
15. Make rude and inaccurate statements against TC members in public

So, what have we here? Smear campaigns, blackmail, libel, stalking, stacking and so forth.

Is the European Commission watching this? Is Malaysia beyond its scope? In not, Neelie Kroes et al have a real treasure trove of evidence right there.

One of the points above also applies to India.

“Even though only one member per organisation is allowed, Microsoft not only allowed 4 members but also members who were foreign nationals to discuss India’s position. It’s not understandable why lawyers should be brought to technical meetings,” an ODF-backer pointed out.

Remember what we wrote about those who voted “Yes”. It was a first-class disaster, but hardly a surprise.

Quite some time ago, in several countries including Malaysia, it was pointed out that Microsoft sends non-technical representatives on purpose. This way, Microsoft’s attendants can pretend to be naive and careless when legitimates technical issues are raised. It’s must be the company’s strategy.

To add another example which relates to Malaysia’s story, people have not gotten over the New Zealand kerkuffle (a smear campaign). It’s still being talked about. How far will Microsoft go?

“There won’t be anything we won’t say to people to try and convince them that our way is the way to go.”

Bill Gates (Microsoft’s CEO at the time)

The Patent Question Could be the Cost of GNU/Linux

Posted in Database, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, SUN at 1:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

While it’s probably a case of stating the obvious, the fight here is not solely a fight against Novell, but a case against ‘Novellification’ (or “Novellisation”) of GNU/Linux. Everyone ought to be aware by now that buying SUSE is a case of paying Microsoft. Microsoft does not get paid for writing code or for marketing. Microsoft gets paid for merely claiming that certain abstract methods of achieving something are its own private properly. Not physical property. Not even copyrighted code that could be printed out. Here was talk about ideas. Technical ideas. Maths. Logic. Algorithms. Recipes.

A site that was hardly seen before, called MilkingTheGnu.org, draws the correlation between software patents and Free software. It is an issue whose importance continues to escape many people’s attention — people who may be distracted by the smaller problems (think about Lessig fighting over copyrights before realising that it’s political corruption that stood in his way all along). Watch this new blog item: [via Digital Majority]

Don’t wanna pay for Linux? Beware of software patents

Do you really want to wake up one morning and pay Microsoft or SUN royalties to have the right to use Linux on each of your boxes? Probably not. However, if companies continue playing the little game of open source vs. software patenting, that time might come much sooner than you think.

Take Microsoft for instance, they have a great code repository called CodePlex, one of their show-rooms for open source development advocacy. Except that in the last months, developers have lost their ability to license their code under the GPLv3. As we’ve shown earlier, Microsoft don’t like the GPLv3 because it provides protection against software patenting.

The latest victim to date is MySQL who has always had a very strong stance against software patent. But like Icarus flying too closely from the sun, MySQL burned its wings: their anti-patent manifesto has abruptly disappeared from their site. (The complete story here).

The patent storm is not a storm in a teacup. It’s very real and it draws in many complaints, leading to overworked and underpaid development of products. Just looking at new headlines you find:

Apple sued for visual voicemail patent infringement – again

It is the second time Klausner has had a bash at the suit, after it updated its original complaint from December. The outfit claims both Apple and AT&T infringed its patent of a “Telephone Answering Device Linking Displayed Data with Recorded Audio Message”.

iPhone Visual Voicemail Patent in Question

The lawsuit calls for a preliminary injunction to stop Apple from infringing on the patent. Klausner is also asking for monetary damages and court costs.

Watch what is happening in Wisconsin at the moment. It’s not just Texas courts anymore, so culprits multiply.

New Patent Rocket Docket Rises in Wisconsin

Patent case filings are climbing in the district based in Madison, including cases involving companies headquartered outside the area. Lawyers say they’re attracted by the district’s educated jury pool, which reflects the work force and populace connected to the University of Wisconsin and the thriving local high-technology sector.

Two stem cell patents upheld for Wis. research

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has upheld a second and a third University of Wisconsin-Madison patent covering embryonic stem cell research at the school.

Digital Majority has this good new paper with further commentary.

Should standardisation and interoperability be ,,blocked” by computer-related patents?

There is nothing inherently ethical about patents. In the case of software patents, it’s a step way too far. But as long as someone benefits from misuse and abuse of the system, there will be selfish resistance to change. If nobody stands up, there will be no change.

Say No to Novell

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