a 'mooh' point

clearly an IBM drone

Three monkeys - one was Håkon Lie

(corrected quote of Håkon Lie) 

After the demonstration in Oslo yesterday (damn I wish I had been there) the CTO of Opera Software, Håkon Wium Lie was interviewed by Norwegian newspaper VG. The interview is in Norwegian but let me translate a bit for you:

Håkon Lie: What might happen if Microsoft gets this [OOXML ISO-approval] [OOXML added to the list of approved mandatory document formats in Norway, JLS addition ] through is that Norwegian authorities may be forced to use it, and this means that if you receive an email with an attachment and you don't have a program to read this attachment - it could be a message from a teacher of your child that attends a Norwegian school - when you cannot open this attachment, you will have to buy software from Microsoft. So this is really a "Microsoft-tax" that may be the consequence if Microsoft wins here. We are against this.

Dear Håkon, I love the software you guys make - I use it every day on my cell-phone ... but are you out of your mind? I would expect those kinds of arguments from the typical Tux-f**kers (or in reverse, from the usual Microsoft fan-boys whose coding-skills evolve around point-and-click in Visual Studio Web Developer). I would not expect this from the CTI of the third-largest browser-producer in the world and your argument here makes it all so much clearer for me why Standard Norge discarded your arguments.

I am sure Gene Amdahl would be proud of you.



We shall gather at the riiiiiiiveeeer!

Today it happened ... the world lost its perspective.


Have You Read at Least 1 Page?


(I suppose this is as good a time as any to post this)


OOXML is now IS 29500

Long awaited, the votes on the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 have been counted and verified. The unofficial result began circulating between the national bodies yesterday but the result was not made public until today, Wednesday April 2nd 2008.

The results are pretty clear: OOXML has now been approved as an ISO/IEC international standard.

Result of voting

P-Members voting: 24 in favour out of 32 = 75 % (requirement >= 66.66%)

(P-Members having abstained are not counted in this vote.)

Member bodies voting: 10 negative votes out of 71 = 14 % (requirement <= 25%)


I think this pretty much summarizes it.

It's been a good one - thanks to all I have worked with throughout this process the last year or so - it's been great getting to know you. Also thanks to everyone contributing their valuable input to this process.

Crucial days in Denmark - behind the curtains

Wow - this week has been truly 1800-UNBELIEVABLE (to use the phrasing of Andrew Dice Clay). Almost a week ago we sat down in the Danish National Comittee to try to reach consensus about a guidance to Dansk Standard to help them decide the Danish vote of DIS 29500. As reported by Dansk Standard in their press-release, we failed to do so.

Dansk Standard: After the Ballot Resolution Group meeting the committee was unable to reach consensus as to whether it was decided to incorporate all Danish comments into the final standard. Another point of disagreement was the state of maturity of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML as an ISO/IEC standard.

The meeting took the better part of 8 hours and was, at least to me, extremely tough and exhausting. I am sure we all know the feeling and energy-level after pulling an all-nighter at work, and as the sun rises in the morning, the team decides to go home, catch a few hours of sleep and meet again for lunch. The feeling you have when you step out of the building in the cold morning air - this was exactly how I felt when the meeting was done. Add to this the sensation that "I'm not sure we're gonna make it after all". It was not good. This was Wednesday evening. On Thursday evening the mood was remarkably better since during the day, we had come to the conclusion that is was not that bad after all and that we had done everything we could - given the circumstances at the meeting.

The only thing regarding consensus we could agree on was this (my translation):

The committee requests that Dansk Standard, as best as they possibly can, honors the technical work that the committee has done. The committee asks that Dansk Standard takes note of the fact that the committee did not reach a consensus regarding if Denmark should change its vote on March 29th 2008.

Friday - damn! I had actually expected the anti-OOXML-mob to perform a DOS-attack on the process during the last 14 days before the ISO/IEC deadline. Surprisingly, this did not happen. Well, in Denmark it happened on Friday morning. Dansk Standard had promised to notify the committee by email before making their decision public - but they had said nothing about when. So Friday was quite an anxitious day. It began with an interview with Morten Messerschmidt (Dansk Folkeparti), where he basically told Dansk Standard to maintain the original "Dissaprove"-vote if no consensus could be reached. The debate on the two primary IT-websites in Denmark increased during the morning hours and information from the meeting began to leak to the media. Countless emails were exchanged between delegates from the BRM to figure out what was happening on a global scale. At 12.10 the email arrived in my mailbox.

The rest, you could say, is history.

Almost immediately the conspiracy-theories started to flow and the influx of leaked (and sometimes false information) information increased. Even before the announcement it was obvious to me, that the anti-OOXML-lobby, in case they lost, would attack the process and I was sadly correct. Within minutes after the announcement, they started attacking Dansk Standard. Friday afternoon the vice director of Dansk Standard, Jesper Jerlang, was interviewed and he denied any allegations that the process was not carried out in a proper manner. He commented on a couple of things in the interview. First he commented on the basis of changing the Danish vote:

Background-inf: Denmark had 168 comments that we went to Geneva to fight for. All these comments were approved (with one, small, outstanding issue) and will become part of the IS 29500, if it is accepted.

Jesper Jerlang: So even though there is no consensus as to whether the 168 suggestions have been fully implemented, we believe that we are so well on the way that the demands for an approval have been met

He also commented on the process, saying that (my translation):

Jesper Jerlang: So even though there is no consensus that all 168 comments have been fully implemented, we believe that we have come so far, that the conditions for an approval has been met

One of the flanks of criticisme has been whether undue influence by major companies had taken place, and he had the following to say about this (my translation)

Jesper Jerlang: There has been a lot of political focus on the process, but the process was carried out completely by the rules, so there has been no deviations. Vi have naturally taken care of that the discussion was focused on the content and not the process, but it is clear, that there is commercial politics in this matter, and it is also the reason that the committee, at the final hour, does not reach consensus - but we knew this from the beginning: That at this point, there would be to sides that would each one fight for their views. This is why we have made a great effort to manage the process by the rules, so that we have been complety comfortable saying, that on the basis of the process we have been through, we have been able to decide how we best take care of the Danish interests, as they are written in the list of comments from the committee

So what do we do now? Well, first we await the final tally from ISO/IEC and then, regardless of the out-come, we all get back to work. In Dansk Standard we continue with the next subjects at hand, most prominently ODF v1.2, should OASIS decide to do this in ISO.

Oooh - and the blame-game will likely continue for a couple of weeks.


Post-decision after-math

Today the Danish NSB (Dansk Standard) changed their vote from ”Disagree” to ”Approve”. I will be honest and note that I did not see that coming. The process and the debate in Denmark have been extremely complicated and tough and especially after the final meeting in the Danish sub-committee, where we failed to reach a consensus on a recommendation to Dansk Standard, I was very pessimistic. Luckily I was proved wrong when I got the email with the new vote of Denmark.

It is difficult to conclude much without breaking the confidentiality rules of the committee work, but let me share a couple thoughts and feelings running my brain right now.

I think that we can conclude nothing but that our strategy proved to be the right one. We have consistently focused on the technicalities of the debates and we have insisted that the discussions taken place should be about the technical merits and basis of OOXML – not the commercial- nor software-political angle that some wanted to impose on us. We have insistently argued that claims about “lack of interoperability” and “impossible to implement by anyone other than Microsoft” should be backed by technical arguments. We have insistently demanded that the technical work in the Danish mirror-committee should be – technical – and not a discussion of who has the bigger one.

So not alone am I glad that Dansk Standard listened to us and changed their vote and I am proud to have been a part of the process. I am also proud that Denmark has confirmed, that “yes”, it is important to us that Denmark has a formal influence on the development and maintenance of the file format of the Microsoft Office productivity suite; a productivity suite that handles most of the electronic documents in the Danish public sector. We have that influence in ISO – it would be gone in ECMA (and OASIS for that matters). This is to me not a small thing.

Let me close by thanking all the companies and organizations that took part in the work in Denmark. It has been a pleasure to work with all of them (well, some more than others), and I would like to especially thank IBM for all their hard work on improving the specification. I sincerely believe that we all owe them a great amount of thanks for the state and quality of OOXML today. I would also like to thank Dansk Standard for their work. Much like Alex Brown they were faced with an impossible task at hand – but they managed to make sure that the opinion of everyone at the table was heard and accounted for. They really stepped up to the task.

(and now I hear the music start to play …)

I’ll see you all in the blog-sphere … and keep your fingers crossed that Denmark was not the only country to change its vote. It’s not over ‘till the fat lady sings …

This just in: Denmark votes Yes!

I will update shortly, but the press release is available at http://www.ds.dk/4225 .

Censored by Big Blue-hoo?

Today I posted a comment on Arnaud Lehors'  blog - I wanted to share my thoughts on his article about what JTC1's Fast-Track process was designed for. Arnaud moderated his blog and he has been critized for moderating his blog too rigid and not allowing posts that dissagree with him (check out the comment section of my previous article about IBM's trench war) and Doug Mahugs article Similar accusations have been made at the other two of "the three stooges", Bob Sutor and Rob Weir.

I don't know where Arnaud lives (presumably in US), so he might have been at sleep when I posted my comment, but it took a few hours before my comment appeared on his blog. In the mean time I couldn't help thinking about whether or not I had been moderated to death as well ... or if it was all a storm in a tea-cup.

So on my way home from work I thought I'd help out a little with straightning out the confusion. I don't moderate my blog (and never will) so I hereby put forward, as a service to you all, the option of using the comment section of this entry as a "Big Blue Comment censorship archive".

So if you are about to post a comment on one of IBM's blogs, feel free to also post it here with a link to the blog post you would expect it to appear in.

I think this would be a win/win situation for us all. It will provide means to say and claim, that IBM is really censoring their blogs ... and if IBM stops moderating so aggressively, they will be able to claim that we were all wrong.

I will cast the first stone.


Committee-stuffing (the anti-OOXML-way)

I just wanted to give everyone a heads up on some information I recently got on our cold (but warm at heart) friends way up in the most Northern part of Europe - the Norwegians.

It seems that Google and IBM have just within recent days joined the Norwegian NSB (National Standardisation Body). So much for critizising supporters of OOXML if they were late joiners in various countries, claiming abuse of the standardisation process by undue influence.

If I know the FOSS-community right, they will now be tripping over each other's feet for a shot at "first post" being pissed about Google and IBM's actions - demanding that they withdraw completely from the process.

(or maybe not) 

Now if you ask me, it's not that big of a deal that some companies arrive late.

Matthew 20:16 - So the last shall be first, and the first last.

What is a big deal is that people should naturally contribute to the work in the NSBs if they join ... but simply focusing on the admission-date is really stupid. Contributing in the work is about taking part in the debate and discussions in the NSB. It's about doing homework between meetings and knowing what the hell is being talked about. Basically, it's doing almost anything but simply attending the meetings, sipping in the free coffee. One could argue, though, that when paying DKK 20.000 for an annual membership, it doesn't really make sense to talk about "free coffee", but I am sure you catch my drift ...

Granted, being late does make it difficult to achieve other influence than raising your hand when voting ... but having been a member of a committe for several years does not in itself ensure that you have participated. There are members of the Danish committee that I have never heard speak and there are members of the Danish committee that alter the attending employee for each new meeting. They may not speak at the meeting - but they have certainly raised their hands when voting.

What is also important to me is that the rules in the specific NSB are not broken. If the Danish NSB decides that members can join the day before a vote (they can) - it's probably because the Danish NSB felt that it was OK to do so. If the Danish NSB decides that a member cannot vote until after a month of membership - it's probably because the Danish NSB felt that it was OK. Different countries have different rules and it is up to each NSB to manage these rules and make sure members obey them.

So what can you do? well, how about rules that say:

  • You must have attended at least two meetings before eligible to vote.
  • You must be actively participating in the meetings by actively participating in the discussions.
  • Every two months point two above is evaluated and be simply majority it is decided who gets kicked out ot the committee.
Is it a bit extreme? Welll maybe ... but it is also a bit extreme to judge solely on the basis of the admission date.

IBM is now fighting from the trenches

After the BRM it seems to be more the rule than the exception to be denied "speech" on the blogs of the front-runners of the IBM bloggers. First it happened to me on Robs blog (where I commented on his patronizing tone towards a Czech delegate at the BRM and now it happened to me on Bob Sutors blog as well. Actually I thought it was just my point of view that was really stupid (so that Bob was essentially doing me a favour in not approving my comment), but today in the newsgroup comp.os.linux.advocacy I heard that Bob had completely disabled comments to this particular post and a post routing more of the, ahem, "balanced" views of the ODF Alliance. It seems to me that IBM has given up debating the issues at hand and are now using their blogs as mere portals with no user-interaction ... at least not interaction of the people opposing their views.

Well, to the amusement of you all - here is what I wrote:

Hi Bob,

I am a bit confused to why the lawyers of the Software Freedom Law Center has not compared the OSP of Microsoft to IBMs Interoperability Specifications Pledge at http://www-03.ibm.com/linux/opensource/isplist.shtml .

They seem to focus on two sentences from the OSP, but similar ones are present in IBMs ISP:

New versions of previously covered specifications will be separately considered for addition to the list.

IBM will evaluate new versions or additional specifications for inclusion based on their consistency with the objectives of this pledge which is to support widespread adoption of open specifications that enable software interoperability for our customers, and may, from time to time, make additional pledges.

The OSP does not apply to any work that you do beyond the scope of the covered specification(s).

IBM irrevocably covenants to you that it will not assert any Necessary Claims against you for your making, using, importing, selling, or offering for sale  Covered Implementations [...]. Covered Implementations" are those specific portions of a product (hardware, software, services or combinations thereof) that implement and comply with a Covered Specification and are included in a fully compliant implementation of that Covered Specification.

By decuction, shouldn't OSS-developers avoid ODF too?

I won't repeat Bobs response to me, since it was in a private email, but Bob, please feel free to comment here.