Lodahl's blog: 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008

30 January 2008

Comment on Linux.com

Russell Ossendryver on January 26, 2008
Commentary: ISO should kick OOXML off the standards bus
http://www.linux.com/feature/125630

This commentary is discussing whether OOXML is qualified for ISO in the first place.

I will add a discussion about the Fast Track Path. Normally it takes several years to get a new standard through an ISO approval. ISO has this special Fast Track method in case a standard has already been qualified in another similar organization. Of cause this is to avoid double work.

But was the Microsoft format qualified at the time of submission ?

NO !

No, because the Fast Track Route was invented for standards that is already made ready before submission to ISO and with more that 3.500 objections in the process, the format wasn't qualified. Obvious faults needed to be fixed (e.g. several errors in the date-time specification) in the ISO process.

29 January 2008

OpenOffice.org Community Innovation Award Program

On 7 December 2007, Sun Microsystems Inc. announced a new million-dollar fund to foster innovation in six of the open-source projects it sponsors and contributes to http://www.sun.com/software/opensource/awards/index.jsp . We are pleased to report that OpenOffice.org was included. The contest, which we have titled the OpenOffice.org Community Innovation Program, commences tomorrow, 30 January, and we invite OpenOffice.org Community members to participate.

What do you have to do to enter?
To win a prize?
Our rules, which will be posted later on today and linked to the OpenOffice.org homepage (www.openoffice.org), explain these and many other details, and you must read them carefully.

What are we looking for? In general terms, we are looking for superlative work that is useful to the Community; work that is challenging, that is non-trivial, and that furthers the Community as much as the software. You can enter alone or in a team; and if you are eligible, you could win a lot of money. But we explain all this in the rules, the link to which you will be able to find on the OpenOffice.org homepage.

Note: The Program ends 23 June 2008 and begins 30 January 2008.

OpenOffice.org

The goal of the OpenOffice.org Community Innovation Award Program is to foster community development and innovation. All projects must be able to be subsequently worked on by the community and all work must be abide by OpenOffice.org's license scheme. There are six categories for this program: Technical, Community, Tools, OpenDocument Format (ODF), Documentation and Special. The OpenOffice.org Community Council is the final judge of the program and coordination of the judging will be done by a committee made up of some of its members. The Community Awards Program Committee includes: Louis Suárez-Potts (Sun), Pavel Janík (independent), John McCreesh (independent) and Stefan Taxhet (Sun). For program details: http://development.openoffice.org/community_innovation_program.html

28 January 2008

Top five open source applications

The Danish on-line newspaper Verison2 has an artivle today about the best open source applications. I guess it's from an end users perspective.
The article http://www.version2.dk/artikel/6015 is not based on a survey or anything, but it's seen from the journalists perspective. The list is:

  1. Mozilla Firefox
  2. OpenOffice.org
  3. InfraRecorder
  4. PDFCreator
  5. Scribus
The article claims that 1.692 articles on Version2 is the prove, that OpenOffice.org is very capable. All articles is written with OpenOffice.org Writer.

The only problems is the messy user interface and the poor spell checker. According to the article.

I have asked Version2 if we can get our hands on these 1.692 documents. That would absolutely be a great contribution to a better spell checker.

27 January 2008

Monthly newsletter in Danish

The monthly newsletter has been on the street for some more than a year now. The amount of receivers is increasing month by month. This issue is send to 975 people.

You can read the February edition as pdf here: http://doc.oooforum.dk/Nyhed/2008Februar.pdf

26 January 2008

22 January 2008

Annual report from the Danish NLC community

This is my first year as lead and therefore also my first annual status report. Trough out the past year I have tried to keep you all up to date on my blog: http://lodahl.blogspot.com. In periods I wrote blog posts every day. I'll try to continue this in the future, though in a lower frequency.

What happened in the passed year ?

First of all, my English is getting much better. I hope you can all agree with me on that.

I started as coordinator for the Danish localization project on March 1th., but in fact I have been the project leader from about January 1th. I had no idea of how tough it would be and no body could know how things should develop in Denmark and in the rest of the World.

I started out trying to get the project organized by handing out some of the most important daily tasks. I knew that I couldn't do it all by my self. We organized our selves with a webmaster, a QA-master and I also tried to get a new person to take up the documentation. This was what I used to do before.

Unfortunately it didn't work out the way I had hoped. Very few people from the Danish community was ready to take direct responsibilities. But at the same time we have seen a few new names on the mailing lists this year and I'm very happy about that. We are twenty people on the list of active volounteers.

The Danish community deliberately has no funds at all. That way we avoid discussions about how to spend the money. But on the other hand, it would be nice if we had a million.

One of our goals for 2007 was to use Bouncer for handling the downloads. We need that for two purposes:
1) activation of automatic update
2) download statistics. Unfortunately we didn't succeed on this issue because no one has been able to tell us how it works.

We are translating new versions (almost) on time.

One of the most important sub projects was the new Danish spell checker (we call it 'Stavekontrolden'). We didn't have control of the words in the old one and we didn't believe that we could develop the old list fast and firm as we would like to. So we established a brand new list and new affix definitions from scratch based on hunspell. After only twelve months, it was possible for us to announce the first release. We made a comparison of our new spell checker against the old list and it showed that we had reached a break-even on quality. Since then the quality has increased day by day. The resulting spell checker will be integrated in OpenOffice.org 2.4.

Another achievment is that we have managed to organize a monthly newsletter from the community. The list of recievers has increased from 600 to nearly 1.000 people over the year and I find that a success. We are continously trying to improve the content of the newsletter. The newsletter is in Danish, but you can see an example here http://doc.oooforum.dk/Nyhed/2008Januar.pdf

Another thing in year 2007 was the political situation in Denmark. The Danish Parliament was about to agree on implementing open standards in most public authorities but unfortunately the Parliament was accepting both ODF and EOOXML file formats. I and several other people from FOSS communities was fighting and it ended up with a compromise: Microsoft is accepted for now, but must prove their openness in the development process. The Danish Competition Authority has been by the Parliament to monitor the process. My major domestic contribution to the process in the Parliament, was when I was granted a meeting (in the parliament in a sub committee).

During the year, I have tried to get a good relationship with the press. This is one thing I'm still working on. I have good contact with a marketing bureau that helps us when we need to get in touch with the press. The press coverage is usualy positive but I find it very difficult to catch the journalists interest.

Some of the Danish participants made CDs with OpenOffice.org and gave them away to all Members of Parliament and all municipal IT-managers. The CDs to the MP's raised some debate in the media, because the the MP's was not allowed to install OpenOffice.org on their computers in the Parliament. We hope to solve this problem in the coming year. In 2008 we expect to produce CD for all public libraries in Denmark.

In the late summer we worked together with several other FOSS communities in the process in 'Danish Standards' to make sure that Denmark would disapprove EOOXML at ISO. Denmark voted No.

During the year I have tried to keep the international community up-to-date with information by writing on my blog. 173 posts in 2007. I will continue that work in the future, but not that many posts I think. I find blogging a very useful communication channel.

One of the Danish IT newsletters are making an annual questionaire among their readers. This year about 60% of the answering readers says that they have a positive impression of OpenOffice.org. Just a few years ago only 20% knew what OpenOffice.org was. Today OpenOffice.org is considered a serious alternative to Microsoft Office and we meet new references all the time. One of the most important new references on the list is the University of Southern Denmark. The battle for open document standards was on 4th. place of most important issues in IT in 2007.

What can we expect in 2008 ?
I expect that a few Danish authorities will use OpenOffice.org and that several municipals will use OpenOffice.org. Right now I'm working on a case where public schools are saving lots of money by avoiding expensive software. I expect that lots of schools will switch to OpenOffice.org in this year.

A wish for 2008 ?
I wish that one or two of the public authorities will contribute to the project. I think thats what we need the most in Denmark right now: Public acknowledgment.
It's my hope that 2008 will bring us a little closer to an explanation on hos Bouncer works and how we (the Danish community) can take advantage of it.

Best regards, and happy new year to you all


Leif Lodahl
Native-Language coordinator DA.OpenOffice.org
Mail: lodahl-at-openoffice.org
Blog: http://lodahl.blogspot.com/

18 January 2008

Minutes

NEW: Danish version here: http://www.oooforum.dk/viewtopic.php?p=7975

I just went to a meeting with Microsoft. I was invited as representative of the Danish OpenOffice.org Community. I thought a lot about whether to accept the invitation or not, but I decided to go there. If I don't accept an invitation like this, I can't claim that Microsoft isn't open enough.

Why is Microsoft inviting to this kind of a meeting ?
Well of cause they want our (my) sympathy and then they want to claim that they are 'open'. These meetings will probably be used as arguments for openness in the future. But inviting to a meeting is not at all enough to claim to be open.

At the meeting was five representatives from Microsoft. Chris Capossela and a guy called David Scult or something from head quarters. From Denmark, the Country general Manager in Denmark, Jørgen Bardenfleth and 'Office evangelist, Bo Drejer with some other people. - Chris was doing most of the talking.

I and one other invited guest from the FOSS community was the only non-Microsoft present.

The meeting was not at all formal and the discussions was held in a friendly and honest tone. We never claimed to be best friends and I started (while presenting my self) to say that I was there as a Microsoft opponent.

I will not refer word by word from the meeting.

Chris was asked about when Microsoft decided to go with 'open standards'. Chris explained that this decision was made about when Office 2003 was developed. Through the discussion it turned up, that the word 'open' again became the problem. Because what Chris was actually talking about was the use of XML. In his mind XML itself makes the file format open.

Chris Capossela was eager to explain that they would very much like the processes in both ECMA and ISO to be more open, that the fact is. I responded that it was a Microsoft choice to go that way. Chris could nothing but agree.

We discussed the openness and Chris explained that the reason for choosing the name Office Open XML was to signal a new era by using the word 'open'. We discussed and agreed that we interpret the word open in different ways. Chris agreed that OOXML 'is not open in all means'. It's only open in the fact that the format is not binary, the spec is available and (because of the OSP (Open Specification Promise), free of charge. We didn't discuss why the OSP isn't enough but Chris did a lot of work criticizing Andy Updegrove for his articles against Microsoft. Well, in another audience that might work.

I criticized Microsoft of taking the fast track route when it was later discovered that the specification was not at all qualified for that route. A document is not ready for a fast track, when so many faults and errors can be found. ECMA didn't do their job. Chris some kind of agreed (!) with me and said that the route was chosen after recommendation from ECMA.

Chris explained that the customers asked for a file format that could 'ensure backward compatibility'. And to 'ensure competition' Microsoft is trying to make it a standard. I told him, that backward compatibility should be handled in the application, not the format. The rules in ISO should prevent dual standards but Chris still think that two standards (not two applications) is ensuring competition. Hmmm. I gave up. I don't think his mind was open for that today.

Chris asked me what I thought he (Microsoft) should do. I told him that what the customers need is buildt-in support for the 'other' file format. Microsoft Office should have a 'save as odf' button and OpenOffice.org should have a similar 'save as OOXML'.

I don't think that the meeting moved anything, really. On the other hand, I don't think that Microsoft thought they could move me or anybody else. We exchanged opinions and business cards, and thats that. Microsoft is not more or less open after this meeting. Even that they tried to explain that.

I am beginning to understand why Microsoft is still claiming to be open. Basically it's a matter of how we interpret the one word open. Microsoft think that XML alone makes the standard open. I use another definition. The process has to be open and transparent and the organization must be protected from being hijacked by a singe vendor. I don't think he agreed or even commented on that.

This is a very fast writing. Sorry about misspellings ;-)

Btw: Thanks to all who gave me good and valuable advise before the meeting. Thank.

Interesting meeting this afternoon

A have been asked to meet Chris Capossela, Vice president at Microsoft Office.

It seems that he is 'on tour' in Europe at the moment.

The invitation says "Lets meet to have an open dialog regarding open document standards". Let's see what shows up today. I'll refer from the meeting later. Stay tuned.

17 January 2008

15 January 2008

OpenProj 1.0 is now available

In August last year the company Projity (http://www.projity.com/) announced the second beta version of the desktop application OpenProj (http://www.openproj.org). Today Projity released the first 'real' version of the same application.

It is very nice to see a serious competitor to Microsoft Projects and I am looking forward to look closer to the details in the application functionality one of the comming days. According to the website I can expect to find Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams (PERT Charts), WBS and RBS charts, Earned Value costing and even more.

For now I will just note a few details:
The application is open source, and this is of cause positive, because it gives us users the safty we need, because we can download the source code and find how the file format is designed. But the application uses a binary fileformat (.pod) for storing the project information. It is possible to export the project information in Microsoft Project 2003 (XML) file format. It would be nice if the native file format was xml based and perhaps based on some kind of standard file format.

The application is based on Java code and is not depending on a single software platform or operating system. It has been released for Linux, Unix, Mac and Windows.

The open source license is a so called Common Public Attribution License Version 1.0 (CPAL) witch is approved by OSI https://www.eu.socialtext.net/open/index.cgi?cpal.

All together I find this initiative very nice, but I don't think this is the great revolution for now. If the company can establish a solid user community that can take some of the mising details, I think this could grow over time. I would like some more user documentation and mayby a few example projects to download.

Office in schools

British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) has released a report http://publications.becta.org.uk/download.cfm?resID=35275 that recommends schools in Great Britain not to consider upgrading to Microsoft Vista and Office 2007 unless they can upgrade all computers at once and has a direct benefit of such upgrade.

The report from Becta has been referred to in the Danish media over the last few days. (http://www.version2.dk/artikel/5884 and http://www.computerworld.dk/art/43644)

A journalist from the Danish computer magazine Computerworld.dk has asked about such report in Denmark. Vice President Per Thorbøll of UNI-C http://www.uni-c.dk/generelt/english/index.html explains that they don't have money nor authority to do a similar report in Denmark, but as he says:

The conclusion is of cause from Becta, but the computers are the same and the Windows versions are the same. So I think that the situation in Denmark is quite close to the British.

This is as close as he can get to a confirmation without confirming.

UNI-C is the Danish IT Centre for Education and Research and hosts and supports IT for almost all the Danish schools and universities.

14 January 2008

Another financial report from Ramböll Management

The Norwegian newspaper TU (http://www.tu.no) claims that the Norwegian adoption of open standards and open source software will be very expensive. The article (Norwegian): http://www.tu.no/it/article129909.ece. The conclusion comes from a report done by Ramböll Management based on calculations of the amount of documents that has to be converted.

Ramboll Management - Don't we recognize that company name ?

Yes we do. This is the exact same company that made two similar reports in Denmark last year. Here they also claimed, that the costs will be huge and the benefits will be small. Also then (last year in Denmark), Ramböll Management could only come to a negative conclusion because they think that the authorities will continue to use (and buy) Microsoft software. Basically Ramböll takes only the costs and claims that the benefits will never come.

How about asking someone else next time. To me, this sounds like a fotocopy of the Danish report of last year.

13 January 2008

Rob Weir writes about the upcomming BRM

Rob Weir writes...

You are Here

Within the next 24-hours, Microsoft will submit to JTC1 a set of proposals for addressing the 3,522 comments that accompanied OOXML's failed ballot last September. We'll no doubt hear a lot of yip-yip-yahooing on their end. Expect a major media campaign. I don't want to take away the surprise, but I'm hearing that journalists are being flown into Redmond next week from around the world for briefings on OOXML. So, for their benefit, and yours, let's review where we are in the JTC1 process.Read his complete post here: http://www.robweir.com/blog/2008/01/you-are-here.html

12 January 2008

Don't let this boy near the airport

Sometimes you find funny news on the internet. Funny, but at the same time serious and dramatic. Now take this one about a 14 years old school boy from Poland ( http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_2675715.html ).
He hacked into the local tram system and played with the trains like it was his private toys. I specially like the part about the remote control. Can you imagine this biy standing in the corner of the central square with this little device - laughing.

Shame in you.

But how should the adults punish him ?

Of cause he must be punished. He have hurt several passengers and four trams were derailed. I suggest that he is ordered to work at the hospital or the local care center for elderly citizens for 10 days or so. Then he will see the consequences of his work. Furthermore he should be punished with at least four years in university. This guy clearly has perspective. I have a son aged twelve and of cause he couldn't do this. But what I think is, that a boy at this age can never be responsible for a thing like this. The responsible is the people responsible for the tram system. They should be punished hard.

Now comes the funny part. Imagine the above incident with this article ( http://blogs.zdnet.com/projectfailures/?p=562 ) about Boeing 787 at risk of in-flight hacking.

Imagine the boy with his remote control in the airport.

11 January 2008

Shame

I'm ashamed that the Danish democracy (The Parliament; Folketinget) can appear so little creditable, that the country is at laugh to our neighbors (http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2007/12/12/danes-set-open-standards-trial). A decision in the Parliament has within a year and a half been reduced to nothing. It's not worth the ink.

It started so well in 1996, the parliament agreed (with no votes against it) to support a definition of open standards: It must be real open!

The next year it appeared that one or two local IT-managers couldn't live up to the "Readiness for changes" mentioned in his resume. The MP's got cold feet because they were afraid of criticism. All the good and innovative thoughts was completely killed by low practical questions and fear of the unknown.

Originally it was agreed that the final solution (end 2009) should be based on evaluations regarding influence on the competition and innovation and not (only) from practical decisions regarding interoperability (even that is important).

Before the election for Parliament last year, there was no limits to the promises from the political parties. Almost all political parties was agreeing on one and only one standard. ODF. But of cause I am naive.

The political parties behind the original proposal B 103 is bragging about how Denmark is ahead of other countries regarding the use of open standards.This is absolutely not the truth. We Danes (the parliament) made a decision in 2006; and if that decision is implemented as it was decided; yes we would be ahead. But unfortunately the implementation does not live up to the original word nor spirit. Please have a look at this report from the ODF Alliance, listing several countries and their opinion on open standards and how it's being implemented. http://www.odfalliance.org/resources/AnnualReport2007.pdf

10 January 2008

Meeting in the Parliament today

Apparently there has been a meeting in the Parliament today about dual standards. The discussion was among other topics about how to determine the result of the test period next year. The Minister of IT- and Science Helge Sander proposed to ask an independent external consultant to make the conclusions. This proposal was *not* approved by the Parliament.

They agreed on a loose approach to announce a group of independant experts supported by an external consultant.

The group shall evaluate the interoperability between ODF and OOXML and further more evaluate if there shall be only one document format in the future.

The 'Conservatives' wants only one format. They have no idea about what standard that should be.

The 'Labour' is awaiting answers from the experts before they make up their minds. As they say: "We will ask the experts about that".

The 'Liberal' sees no problems in making a single format choice. They also awaits answers from this group of experts.

The final decision is expected next summer.

Source: http://www.computerworld.dk/art/43612

This is quite mysterious because a few months ago, the Parliament agreed to ask the The Danish Competition Authority to be the leader of such investigation on behalf of the Parliament. And during the election last year, almost all political parties (all except the liberals) was pro single standard and ODF as the one.

07 January 2008

Have a party - and die

Join this campaign on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6720713873 called

Folk der går med kniv er idioter!

...in English it's something like "Folks who bring knives to the party are idiots!"

The background is very serious. Over the last few years there has been a lot of assaults in the nightlife in Copenhagen and other cities in Denmark. This Christmas wasn't different. A young man was killed just because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time (http://www.bt.dk/article/20080106/krimi/80106024/).

05 January 2008

Certification for OpenOffice.org

I joined a new project lately. We are working on a certification program for OpenOffice.org.

I hope that you will be able to call you self Authorized OpenOffice.org user or Authorized OpenOffice.org Specialist some day. Wouldn't that look great on your business card and in your CV ?

Over the last few days I have been reviewing the syllabus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllabus) for Writer and Calc. It's hard work and it takes a lot of time. So far we have been using plain text documents. Today I tried to use MindMapping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindmap) with FreeMind http://sourceforge.net/projects/freemind/ and that has makes the syllabus much easier to overview.

We are not trying to make the training material as it should look. We are only working on the certification, but I expect that learning material will be developed with our syllabus as the outline.

We need people to help us in this work. Teachers and experts. Any one who knows about teaching, certification and people who knows everything about OpenOffice.org.

The original issue still contain much of the work:
http://www.openoffice.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=56980

The Spanish native project made a syllabus some time ago. This has been great inspiration to us:
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/OOo_Certification_Syllabus

We use the mailling list (under the documentation project):
http://documentation.openoffice.org/servlets/SummarizeList?listName=certification

I just created a few pages on the Wiki (Not much content yet):
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Certification

01 January 2008

OpenSourceDays

For the last ten years, the LinuxForum has been the annual event for all Danish (and other Scandinavian) people with interest in open source. The conference has been growing over the years and the team behind it has decided to change the name and scope. This is what they explain:

The highly successful open source conference "Linuxforum", which has already celebrated it's 10th anniversary is now changing name to Open Source Days in order to better reflect that Linux by no means is the only topic of the conference.
The name Open Source Days indicates that during the confererence a vast selection of technical and business open source topics will be covered by the best selection of speakers in a mix between Danish and English.
Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, OpenSolaris and other open operating systems - and all of the applications running of these operating systems will be in focus during Open Source Days 2008.

Read more here: http://www.opensourcedays.org/2008/

The conference will be held October 3th. and 4th. http://www.opensourcedays.org/2008/about/

To better support the continuously growing event, the coordinators has decided to establish a foundation. The formal establishment meeting will take place on January 8th. at Niels Bohr Institutet in Copenhagen. Read more about the meeting here: http://friends.opensourcedays.org/

Show up and join.

Official message from Norway

This is the official (in English) message from the Norwegian government:
http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/fad/pressesenter/pressemeldinger/2007/Open-document-standards-to-be-obligatory.html?id=494810

The Government's decision is as follows:

HTML will be the primary format for publishing public information on the Internet.
PDF (PDF 1.4 and later or PDF/A ISO 19005-1) is obligatory when there is a wish to keep a document's original appearance.
ODF (ISO/IEC 26300) is to be used to publish documents to which the user should be able to make changes after downloading, e.g. public forms to be filled out by the user. This format is also made obligatory.