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Category: Libervis .blogs :
Author: charles (12:10 pm)
Taken from J. Schwartz's blog, this link is a must-see.
The story is a bit long and requires macromedia Flash, but it's worth a look.
Now, if you have had a look at it, you know how I feel. "Somebody forgot Linux? Somedy said Free Software?"
But their point is good. Media and information matters the most. Who cares about the underlying software and hardware platform as long as it's a commodity?
What is frustrating is not so much the future of the world medias as it is described in the animation, as it's not even bad or good per se, it is the underlying mediocrity of what the system has become. It is just as if the world had missed one big opportunity to free itself, and to rise up to new goals. What this is is a global society waiting for some dictatorship to come and rule. Heck, it doesn't even need a dictator...
But let's wake up from that vision; the good part of the story is this: Microsoft will perish, and Free Software will survive. Even in that vision of such a mediocre Noosphere, we will still be able to think and code freely.
Have a good week-end!
Category: Libervis .blogs :
Author: charles (2:36 pm)
This blog will be a bit short. I was talking with Branko Tanovic these days. Branko is the lead of the Serbian Native-Language community: http://sr.openoffice.org .
The bottomline: The Serbian project needs translators. They have only one programmer (Branko). Branko wants to release a Serbian version of OpenOffice.org 2.0 (the next version) that would be both in Cyrillic and in Western Alphabet.
I don't know if there are any Serbian people among you readers. I know there are some Croatian though , and that doesn't mean that Croatian speak Serbian or would like to help the Serbian project, but maybe you know people who know people who would like to help....
Here is Branko Tanovic 's email: tanovic at bitsyu dot net .
Thanks for helping an happy new year,
Author: charles (3:11 pm)
Browsing through the news recently you may have heard about several mergers and buy outs in the IT industry. Symantec and Oracle will devour their siblings Veritas and Peoplesoft for more than 10 billion dollars, and Microsoft acquires an antispyware firm.
But what came out in an almost more overwhelming fashion along with these news was the indifference and the seemingly disinterest of what is called the Consolidation of the entreprise computing market.
2 to 5 years ago these news would have made the front lines for two weeks. Today, they didn't even stand for two days. Why is that so?
Journalists will all have a good answer for this, but in my opinion, this phenomenom is the sign of a new era in the IT market.
These companies are heavyweight in their own fields, yet, their mergers are likely to fail, as we know that only 1 merger over 3 leads to a real success (Success in coordinating and merging their HR and organizational structures). But we live in times where great and big companies see their days counted. These corporate behemoths are heavy, difficult to manoeuver, and these mergers will frustrate their customers. The only sad being is that FOSS doesn't have similar offers yet; but it's only a matter of time before these companies will be irrelevant to their own market, letting room for FOSS to take its stand.
Oracle, Symantec develop and sell proprietary software that will become irrelevant in the entreprise market as it moves from a pricey and rarity-based model to a commodity-based model.
Just like Microsoft, they are driven and protected by their proprietary model, but unlike the Redmond giant, they aren't monopolies, nor do they have the power to pressure their customers. Hence, their fall will be quick and inconsequential.... just like their mergers. This why, at least in my humble opinion, these news do interest only a few and potentially affected customers. They belong to another age, the nineties, the age of windows 98.
And to paraphrase a famous ad:
"Free Software is everywhere.... Can you see it?"
I can. You can. Can Oracle and Symantec see it? I don't think so.
Author: charles (10:48 am)
It's been a long time I haven't written here. One of the reasons for this is that I'm busy and lazy, but these last days were hectic, especially inside OpenOffice.org's community.
We're having a surge right now of new burgeoning communities willing to localize the FOSS office suite or just wanting to build their communities online. Interestingly, I wanted to share with you how OpenOffice.org is spreading throughout the Balkans and Eastern Europe quicker than Wienerschnitzels.
The two oldest communites in that area are the Slovenian and the Greek communities, found here: http://sl.openoffice.org & http://el.openoffice.org
We started with them 1 year and half ago, and these communites have been performing well. The Slovenian community has been releasing a book on OOo, while maintaining a good, albeit small, community. The Greek community is bigger, and has strong ties with local companies selling services on FOSS and OOo.
Not far to the North, one of the greatest communities is the Czech community (http://cs.openoffice.org), led by the great, godlike and adorable Pavel Janik, who is also in charge of the Localization project for all the OOo languages (but judging from what Pavel does, he's much more than that. Recently, the Czech community even opened a new site, www.openoffice.cz.
It is one of the strongest community we ever had, along its sister community, the Slovak native-lang project: http://sk.openoffice.org.
Then, we had the Serbian project, http://sr.openoffice.org. Today it is a project that desesperately needs help. It didn't really move a lot from the time it was opened, one year ago.
In the mean time, the Croatian native-lang project was opened (http://hr.openoffice.org) and is also working on the Gnome and KDE localization.
But much more is under way. As other projects were opening not very far from there (http://hu.openoffice.org , http://ro.openoffice.org) , the Bulgarian project, http://bg.openoffice.org opened, while the Albanian and Bosnian communities were
opening a few days ago (note: Bosnian project is still inactive).
Now, where does it lead us? It leads us to the point where the grass-root marketing efforts of all these communities and their lobbying power added to their localization efforts is able to slowly, but surely fight against proprieatary software.
In commercial terms, these community efforts are litterally opening new markets. In political terms, we have seeded international communities of volunteers able to move altogether, and that is what companies like Microsoft hate the most. Add to this the fact that in countries like India (to name just this region), we are covering a small but significant fraction of the spoken languages: Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, and today Telugu, account for several hundreds of million people who never had the chance to use a computer in their languages...
This is a global wave, and a tidal wave with that. Europe (in its geographical sense) is now covered with the notable exception of Swedish and Polish (that is, Polish is available but not officially) and you can realize now our progress in less than 4 years: we're everywhere. And the next answer we should make to Microsoft will be this one: "Dude, we've got you covered!"
Author: charles (6:09 am)
You're going to love this one: Microsoft recently released a screenshot of its MSN Search beta being displayed by.... FireFox.
More details can be found here: http://www.nrg.co.il/online/10/ART/825/507.html
Now, even funnier, Microsoft may start to work on a new release of its world-acclaimed, best of all web browser Internet Explorer. After months of making statements explaining why Microsoft customers were so happy with IE, and why Microsoft did not see FireFox as a threat, Microsoft may start to work on a new stand alone release of its browser, probably named 6.5
Microsoft is right, after all. When I look to the screenshot, I know now that Microsoft doesn't fear FireFox at all. Microsoft even uses it...
Author: charles (11:19 am)
Everybody seems to be thinking that outside MSN Search, Google is the only game in town. Well, sorry, there is Yahoo too.
These last months the majority of e-zines were full of stories about Google; Google's IPO, Google developping a new browser, Google releasing its desktop search (the OOo file formats may get included inside the tool, by the way), Google and its Gmail, Google becomes President, Google whatever.
Google is, to date, the fastest search engine on the internet.
Microsoft has been trying for ages to become the number one, and now it seems that it's farther from that position than ever.
Despite its 100 million dollars investment in its search technologies, Microsoft didn't manage to come close to Google's performance and worse, it isn't likely to change, despite what the folks of Redmond say.
I do use Google myself, but I can't say that I don't use other search engines. I've even used MSN search, recently, just to see how it scored. As I said above, it didn't perform well. Actually, I would even say that it was a rather painful XPrience.
I was surprized, however, to see that there are some very cool search engines that (re-) gained my favor these days.
Let's take altavista. AltaVista was the Stock exchange puppet during the dotcom years and also the first commercial search engine. It scored great for that time but quickly became a victim of its own success, and the entire altavista service (including free email, where I had my very first email) was shutdown around 2001. Only the search engine survived, and it was then bought by a company called by HMCI or something before being acquired by the famous Overture/Yahoo behemoth.
The very good point for these services is that they weren't simply sucked out by Yahoo.com search engine. Their technologies were also integrated inside Overture and Yahoo, and this is how two great search technologies, namely AltaVista and All the Web (FAST technologies) seemingly disappeared from the net, only to strengthen the almighty-in-second Yahoo! search engine.
I'm a web romantic, however. I do like to use the Overture search services, but not just by browing up to yahoo.com .
I do go to altavista.com , alltheweb.com (bet you didn't know that one), hotbot.com, go.com, and even the rather recent and very active gigablast.com ...
Are you as nuts as I am ? Do you go to now defunct commercial online ventures? And do you use altavista search engine exclusively? Please, drop me a line!
Author: charles (8:41 am)
Today, we have them both:
I'll start with the bad news. MS and the UNESCO have agreed to work together in order to bridge the digital divide.
A common initiative will "help" people in the third world countries getting trained to Microsoft products.
The only good part in that is that it is not an exclusive agreement, which means that open source initatives, wether they are ongoing or to come are of course possible.
This point was mentionned in the official UNESCO press release.
The good news is that today, Poland rejected the upcoming legislation on the EU software patents, which means that the EU commission will have to re-work and redraft another project, if it does so.
All this shows that even though we are playing well, the game is tight and is definitely not over...
Have a good week-end!
Author: charles (11:31 am)
Today the IDA, an administration of the European Union, published the answers of his inquiry on the office suite productivity, and especially, the file formats.
European Union through the IDA, does support the use of open file formats and namely the Open Office file format designed by the Open Office technical committee of the OASIS industry standards body and firstly implemented by OpenOffice.org / StarOffice.
After having talked to Sun, Microsoft and IBM, as well as other organizations, the European Union wants to bring all this one step further and recommends that the Open Office file format get approved and certified by the ISO standards body.
You may find the official answers here:
Bottomline: Sun scored a nice one today, thanks to some very talented and discrete peopleinside it, and thanks to the Valoris consulting group.
IBM joins the ball. Heh, it's never too late...
And what about MS? well, after they've acknowledged that their file formats were "a bit proprietary", they're now left alone in the morning sun.
It's a major victory for OpenOffice.org and a great day for FOSS today.
Author: charles (8:39 am)
One of the newest articles on Newsforge comes from Richard M. Stallman.
I really do appreciate when Mr. Stallman takes the time to write an article, especially such a cunning one, that sheds some light on what "intellectual property" is, or, in this case, is not.
I'm not going to rephrase it, as it would be pointless. What I would like to add though, is that this article shows how the intellectual property increasingly becomes a hoax more than a set of rights meant to protect authors.
I believe that we really should stand from an historical point of view on this issue.
Intellectual property, copyrights, patents, have never been obvious notions throughout history, and is still a concept difficult to grasp in many parts of the world.
In ancient China, an author was honored when his books were not just commented, but also modified by other scholars who helped spreading the work while always adding more content to it. One of the consequence of this is that today many renowned Chinese scholars are not clearly identified to the point where one can state with clarity that such or such book was written by the scholar.
But let me just cite some renowned books who were exempt from copyright...
The masterpieces of Lao-Zi, founder of Taoism, the Art of War, by Sun Tzu, an many others. Oh, and I forgot to say that one doesn't even need to go that far to see a masterpiece that was not copyrighted:
The Jewish Talmud. Put briefly, the Talmud is the Ancient Testament, plus some early commentaries written by mere humans (for those who are faithful), plus some other commentaries, plus other extra commentaries, and commentaries on the commentaries of the commentaries.... This book has no end, until today. Can we think of one of these men putting a copyright notice on his commentaries?
Well, apparently, the Talmud, the Tao-Te-King from Lao-Zi, and many masterpieces considered as treasures of humanity are copyleft....
And what if God Himself used Copyleft?
Have a great day.
Author: charles (11:23 am)
OpenOffice.org is a rather complex project, when you come to think of it.
W have an astonishing 170 000 registered members, a rather complex and even not-easily human readable structure and political body, and somewhere around 100 projects up and running inside our central site.
And, oh, we have that IssuZilla too, our own Bugzilla engine.
For those of you who thought they knew everything about OpenOffice.org, let me tell you this: you know only a tiny part of the Iceberg... And for those of you who don't even know how we deliver our world-famous office suite, here's what will make you think:
Starting with the upcoming 2.0 version (released around the first 2005 quarter) , we will modify our file formats, the familiar *.sxw, *.sxc, *.sxi, *.sxd, etc....
...Yes, I already can hear some voices in the background: "this wasn't supposed to change!, what an outrage! they're being Microsoftized! "
No, we're not. Let me explain you what we'll be painfully trying to tell everybody even before 2005: we are consistent with our strategy when it comes to the Open Office File format.
What is the Open Office file format today:
It's a pre-specification: the native file formats of OpenOffice.org have been the basis of a collective work hosted by the OASIS consortium
, an organization formed by large companies and administrations, establishing industry standards. Early in the OpenOffice.org history, Sun, Boeing, and a few other companies agreed to form a Technical committee inside OASIS in order to establish the universal file format for document exchange and sharing, called the Open Office file format. The technical basis of this work was the early, and present file format used by OpenOffice.org today.
Now, here's the good (and supposedly) bad news. The aformentioned Technical Committee (TC) has completed its first full specification, and released the spec called Open Office file format, 1.0.
This new format, tightly based on the file format of OpenOffice.org that we know and use today, will be the default format in OpenOffice.org 2.0 You can laready get a glimpse of it if you use the snapshot developpers'build of OOo available for download on the OpenOffice.org's site.
Why is the new Open Office format better:
The new file format includes a better set of specs and details, and has a more versatile way of describing and containing data.
But it is also the first truly open and public file format for office suite, as it can be used and embedded in virtually any office suites and applications. As a result, KOffice will use it as its default file format. We'd love to see more office suites use it. The main point here being that this file format is truly standards-compliant, interoperable, and software-agnostic.
We, at OpenOffice.org truly hope that our users will enjoy using it, and that their transitition towards this new file format will be easy (it should, according to what we do for the 2.0) .
BTW, for those of you who are interested in knowing what changes and new features will be implemented in OpenOffice.org 2.0, try
this link , and feel free to join and participate.
Until next time,