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maelorin


Learn from the mistakes of others

You can't live long enough to make them all yourself


an article on document standards and interoperability
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maelorin

OOXML vs ODF: where next for interoperability?

Tim Anderson, at The Register

'a diversion from the real end game – the taking of the Internet'

Gary Edwards of the Open Document Foundation has a fascinating post on the important of Microsoft Office compatibility to the success of the ISO-approved Open Document formats.

It is in places a rare voice of sanity:

People continue to insist that if only Microsoft would implement ODF natively in MSOffice, we could all hop on down the yellow brick road, hand in hand, singing kumbaya to beat the band. Sadly, life doesn’t work that way. Wish it did.

Sure, Microsoft could implement ODF - but only with the addition of application specific extensions to the current ODF specification … Sun has already made it clear at the OASIS ODF TC that they are not going to compromise (or degrade) the new and innovative features and implementation model of OpenOffice just to be compatible with the existing 550 million MSOffice desktops.

More:

The simple truth is that ODF was not designed to be compatible – interoperable with existing Microsoft documents, applications and processes. Nor was it designed for grand convergence. And as we found out in our five years participation at the OASIS ODF TC, there is an across the boards resistance to extending ODF to be compatible with Microsoft documents, applications and processes.

Summary: in Edwards’ opinion, there are technical and political reasons why seamless ODF interop cannot be baked into Microsoft Office. Therefore the Foundation is now working on interop with the W3C’s Compound Document Format, about which I know little.

Surprisingly, Edwards also says that ODF will fail in the market:

If we can't convert existing MS documents, applications and processes to ODF, then the market has no other choice but to transition to MS-OOXML.

Edwards is thoroughly spooked by the success of Sharepoint in conjunction with Exchange, and overstates his case:

If we can't neutralize and re purpose MSOffice, the future will belong to MS-OOXML and the MS Stack. Note the MS Stack noticeably replaces W3C Open Web technologies with Microsoft's own embraced “enhancements”. Starting with MS-OOXML/Smart Tags as a replacement for HTML-XHTML-RDF Metadata. HTML and the Open Web are the targets here. ODF is being used as a diversion from the real end game – the taking of the Internet.

I find this implausible. At the same time, I agree about the importance of interoperability with Microsoft Office.

I would also like clarification on what are the limitations of OOXML / ODF conversion. Here's a technique that does a reasonable job. Open OOXML in Microsoft Office, save to binary Office format. Open binary Office format in Open Office, save as ODF. The same works in reverse. Not perfect perhaps, but a whole lot better than the Microsoft-sponsored add-in that works through XSLT. Could this existing Open Office code be made into a Microsoft Office plug-in, and if so, what proportion of existing documents would not be satisfactorily converted?

Note that Sun's ODF converter seems to be exactly this, except that it does not yet work with Office 2007. It could presumably be used with Office 2003 and the OOXML add-in, to provide a way to convert OOXML to ODF in a single application. Some further notes on Sun’s converter here.

A freelance writer since 1992, Tim Anderson specialises in programming and Internet development topics. He is a contributor to lots of publications, including Register Developer. You can find his blog here.

i am still mulling over this article, and edward's blog post (this post has itself been sitting open in semagic over the weekend, and i'm still procrastinating :p)

document standards are the good. not just for interoperability, but for future access to the documents themselves. hands up anyone who's tried to read an old word document recently? or needed to? ... how did that go for you?

i'm thinking about interoperability, and data standards, from the perspective of identifier and biometric data that's currently being produced, stored and disseminated at a rapid pace at the moment because of the usa's joy for the wot [war on t'error].

data standards are important.

and so they vote against indigenous rights at the un
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maelorin
http://nic.suzor.com/20070917-IndigenousRights-AustraliaVotesNo

Is it ironic, or just shameful, that our Government makes decisions like this without regard for public opinion, while accusing the very institutions that keep check on the use and abuse of power that keeps us a democracy of doing just that?

rights are a nuisance, according to our government
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maelorin
Bills of rights do not protect freedoms
http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/bills-of-rights-do-not-protect-freedoms/2007/08/30/1188067275092.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1
Philip Ruddock
August 31, 2007
Ruddock's article, edited and commentedCollapse )</p>

Philip Ruddock is the federal Attorney-General.

</div> Nic Suzor has written a pithy post in response: http://nic.suzor.com/20070831-ruddock-independent-judiciary. He concludes:

This is another facet of a systematic attack on the judiciary from a government which is terrified of having its policies and actions scrutinised. From immigration to copyright to industrial relations to prisoners’ right to vote, the Howard Government has complained about the power of the courts to regulate and limit their power.

The real threat to democracy is not judicial intervention. To claim that a judge who takes a literal and conservative approach to the text of the law is not acting politically is mere legal fetishism.

The real threat to democracy here is the sustained attack on judicial independence that we have witnessed from a government which refuses to have its policies reviewed, either by the legislature before they become law, or by the judiciary afterwards.


In short, Ruddock is continuing to espouse the Howard Government's "Waaah! Woe is us! The Law (our own laws even) are getting used 'against' us! Waaah!" line. Time and again we are told that they are obstructed in their 'duty' to 'protect' us.

But we can see under the curtain ...

short story (why are you here?)
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Why Are You Here?

Read more...Collapse )

please do be offering critiques, and so forth.

solar plexus (a rough draft of an idea)
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solar plexus
The door opened. The sun shone in. Everyone was dead. "So much for the heroic rescue," he muttered. Shutting the door, we walked away.

Let me begin by saying that this is not one of those stupid stories where you're introduced to the main characters at some crucial, formative moment - and we're certainly not going to do any kind of 'three days ago' rubbish.

We were pissed off. We had come a long way, risked ridicule and bad roadhouse food to get here. Everyone said we were mad, nutters. Perhaps we were. But we were right. Unfortunately, not only were we dead right, we were alone, tired, and - did I mention alone? Half a thousand klicks from just about anywhere worthy of naming, let alone stopping at.

Right now, I can't remember what day it is, or the last time either of us showered. Ate is easy - yesterday evening. And he won't let me forget that I was the one who forgot to close the esky. How was I to know goannas don't give a rats arse if there are people about. Unlike dingos, a goanna will go after anything food-like - even if it's nailed down.

At least the whiskey's intact, or he'd never shut up.

Anyway. Now we've got our vindication. But that's not making either of us feel particularly great. There were some thirty kids in that tin shed. Probably about as many families who won't get to see their Jimmy smiling at his mate's wedding, or their little Penny, knocked-up, standing beside him winking as the celebrant reads off the card.

So. Having tried the radio, we're now driving back the way we came. If the radio doesn't pick up something first, we'll try that sun-blasted wreck of a service station we passed on our way in here. Neither of us are keen to discuss who's going to make the call, or indeed much of anything.

.........

He's definitely pissed off now. A few terse words on the phone, and the frown has transformed into a scowl. Joy. Only another five or six hours to go. He's bound to want to drive most of that time, leaving me with shit all to do but watch the road. We didn't exactly pack for light entertainment. The way out was a series of bursts: drive, ask for directions, drive, refuel (vehicle and bellies), drive, check our bearings, stop and check every abandoned building, piece of tin, and pile of whatever.

Now it's just him scowling at the road, and me staring out the window ...

.........

I should have known that I'd nod off. Sod all else to do. Now I've got to figure out where we are. He's so wrapped up in what he's doing, I doubt he'd hear me if I asked.

I get the maps out, and play with then for a while. The sun's going down, and we're heading towards it, so we'd better stop soon. Driving into a setting sun is just crazy out here. Can't see anything, and with so little out here, you could be off the road and not know it. Lost is not a survival strategy.

Checking the time, I've been asleep for almost four hours. So we could be getting close to the big truck stop. I could do with a cold drink, a stretch and a piss.

Then I notice the wrapper on the dash. The bastard's let me sleep through a stop somewhere while he filled up and grabbed a bite to eat. Now I'm angry enough to break his reverie. I lean forward to speak - just as we suddenly slow down and turns to tell me it's my turn to drive. The truck stop's up ahead. I can't see a thing.

.........

Often the best that can be said for the food at truck stops out here is that it's probably hot. At the better stops it's also edible. Occasionally, it has flavour. None of which applies at "Mel's Truck Stop and Motel".

Still, after a half hour break filled out with soggy potatoes in salt, miscellaneous veggies deep fried in bright yellow casings of something crunchy, and a large bottle of universal cola I took us back out on the road. And then proceeded to drive for the next five hours. How much fun is this job, hey. Just like in the brochures.

.........

Six hours and twenty seven minutes and oh, thirty seconds or so, after we opened the door, we were Home. The best thing about that being we have real beds to sleep in, with mattresses and everything. First time in nine days we could have a shower. Maybe in the morning. Right now, it's a few small tasks then sleep.

.........

Morning. And now we get to do what we came all the way back Home to do. While everyone else is being flown out there, and everything, we get to tell the families. Fucking excellent. How do we explain to these people why we're not back there, doing the decent thing. Why it took us so long to get out there, to find them. Why we rushed back here to destroy their lives ...

"Hi Martha, I know we've only just met, but I have to inform you that little Penny isn't coming home. I'm sorry for your loss."

A solid kick in the solar plexus, for all of us. About thirty times ... the heroic rescue would have been much, much easier.

more draft sentences.
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maelorin
short stories this time.

again, guess the genre. perhaps guess what happens next.

the raven's last cry

Elisa looked out the window. No matter how hard she looked, it was just snow. She couldn't see anything fascinating about it at all. Truth be told, it frightened her. All that cold, white beauty - savage and merciless - without a soul.

why in the world

they came swooping down across the face of the mountains, slipping behind the peaks only to appear just as suddenly between the crags.

she eats stars for breakfast

No, he decided. Not today. Whatever happened, it would not be today. And with that, he grabbed his pack, loaded up and headed out. He'd be damned before he gave them the satisfaction. If he had to die, it would be facing his fears and his enemies - looking them in the eyes and daring them to look back.

if i've told you once, i've told you a hundred times

What the hell was it he had to do here? All those hours of toil and now that he'd made it, he couldn't recall why he'd come. Looking back didn't help. If anything, it only heightened his sense of futility, his frustration.

i love you, so why won't you die?

She was reputed to be the fastest of her kind. Easy enough when she's probably the last of them as well. But she even looked fast. Sitting alone, surrounded by even older, more decrepit hulks. Fluid lines catching fleeting flecks of sunlight as the afternoon express rattled by on the overhead rails. Even now, in her twilight years, she was a thing of beauty. A beautiful siren who'd claimed so many lives.


whiteadelphi, fault is yours. enjoy.
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maelorin

If you happen to be working on some creative writing project, fanfiction or NaNoWriMo or what have you, post one sentence (or more)from each of your current work(s) in progress in your journal. It should probably be your favourite or most intriguing sentence so far, but what you choose is entirely your discretion. Mention the title (and genre) if you like, but don't mention anything else -- this is merely to whet the general appetite for your forthcoming work(s).

solar plexus

The door opened. The sun shone in. Everyone was dead. "So much for the heroic rescue," he muttered. Shutting the door, we walked away.
The Harvest
The funeral would be a long one. All afternoon, at least.
Threshold
Welcome to Hell,” a woman’s voice called out in French. “And welcome to the blank part of the map.”


yes, i have been working on a novel or two in my spare time. just wish i didn't suck at dialogue.

guess the genre's.
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contact lenses
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maelorin
i'm trying contacts again.

man the world is weird in real size ... and hurtings ... as i lumber about the place crashing into stuffs.

so, why am i posting at 1:50 am?
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maelorin
fucked if i know.

there was this sleep thing i was looking forward to, but it's just not happening. there is only so much listening to rain in the distance i can do before i need to do something else.

i have been re-evaluating my phd proposal of late, and a few changes are in order. it seems that i can do pretty much anything i like and it'll be new and exciting and lost in uncharted waters. yippie!

which, of course, means that once i get going proper-like, i'll be on my own a lot with this. so i'm building some bridges and trying to pull together a team/collection of bods and whatnot whom i can talk with.

i've been umming and ahhing about whether and how political my thesis ought to be. for a few moments, i even managed to utter the words "it will be neutral" with a straight face ... *headdesk*

now i'm toying with the idea of using foucault as my starting point, and analysing the power relationships inherent in the design of the laws and the technologies of our loverly government's proposed national id card, erm, the access card. i'm reminded of an essay i wrote in year 12 english: "symbols of power: rings and the use and abuse of power in fantasy fiction" where i had a rather naive stab at the lord of the rings, the thomas covenant double trilogy, and some other chunky fantasy trilogy with magical rings in it.

coz i always do things the easy way ...

anyway, the point here is that the use and abuse of power has interested me for a long time. that and vertebrate palaeontology kept me busy reading in primary school.

so, i'm digging about to start on corruption and identity management in respect of pervasive/ubiquitous computing - in particular, evaluating the design of the legal and socio-technical architecture of identity cards in australia and perhaps the uk for comparison (and overseas travel opportunities). identify and evaluate the power relationships constructed by the laws and the technologies proposed/selected/implemented by our magnanimous servants in parliament and the public service.

fuck it. i might as well go all out, and analyse the underlying ideological framework and critique it's role in perpetuating capitalist hegemony while i'm down there ...

that'll get the girls lining up. *thud* zzzzzzz
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The Firm - Star Trekkin'
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-> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCARADb9asE
--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlTMXiqbDZU
---> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trekkin'
--> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Firm_(Star_Trekkin')
-> http://www.angelfire.com/fl/sapringer/STARTREKKIN.html (stonetrek version)
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