Final stages of the office documents standards war

If you close your eyes and stay in silence for a few minutes you will hear the echo of the fight engaged by Microsoft against Google and IBM (with many more smaller allies) to dominate the future of office documents. I’m now following from the distance and there is so much dust it’s impossible to see who is winning.

It’s clear though who is losing: ISO, the once glorious International Standards Organization lost. Its image of highly respected organization is devastated by the abuse of the inevitable cracks in its regulament that led to many irregularities. It’s easy to blame Microsoft this time: their OOXML proposal is not ready, they’re late in its development and it’s so bloated it’s impossible to implement. On the contrary ISO approved ODF (ISO 26300) is good enough, stable and widely used already.

It’s a sad, sad story, however it will end.

If you’re interested to discuss the issues of open standards and you’re in Milano on April 2nd, I’ll be at OMAT360 to listen to the round table about the implications of file format standards in the society. It’s going to be interesting, with speakers from Microsoft, Adobe, OO.org, public administration and others.

The power of interoperability (and geo-information)

I love geo-information.’  I still work on GIS, every now and then (I’ve just finished a project to map damages in Venetian buildings together with Politecnico di Milano and others) and it’s so much fun.’ ’  It’s great when you can integrate data from different sources and make sense of different phenomenons. The Venice application maps damages in buildings and it allows to integrate also data from marine flows, traffic in the canals (and their waves), winds and so on, in search of cause-effect correlation. Integration is a powerful tool and you need interoperability for that.

Fabrizio integrated Dash with with myFUNAMBOL,

which now pushes to the device my calendar events. That is, if I put an appointment on my Outlook and I add the location in it, it shows up in the car. I mean, I get in the car and I have all my appointments there. One click and I get routed to the place (with the fastest route, avoiding traffic jams).

This new gadget sounds so cool, I almost want to finally buy a car (I never had one, I prefer carsharing), get a Dash and move to California.’  For now I’ll stay in Milano, keep the scooter and participate to OpenStreetMap in Milano next Sunday.

Celebrating Document Freedom Day 2008

A group of free software organizations and companies declared today the Document Freedom Day, a day dedicated to the promotion of Free Document Formats and Open Standards in general. Data lock-in is a very serious issue for knowledge based economy and knowledge workers. All we do is collect data to elaborate information and create knowledge. When we store this knowledge on our computers we better make sure that we will be able to retrieve them any time with ease.

Open standards are the only way to start securing the future of society. Unfortunately greed of companies promoting proprietary standards together with ill advised governments can put our future in joepardy.

Today I join FSFE, Funambol and the rest of the crowd celebrating document freedom with a wider perspective than the just the ‘office documents’ we’re used to. When I think of a document on my computer I think of every file I store in there, every database, every map, every picture, every email message, every bookmark, every calendar entry. That’s my life, my work, my being today and my future, my knowledge, the product of my life. And that’s on my computer as well as on my cell phone and in web-based applications. I want to celebrate open standards, not just ODF, because only with open standard I can still dream of a different computer system where files don’t exist and all the knowledge I need comes to me at the right time, instead of me hunting it. Happy DFD2008.

Everybody loves iPhone

To confirm that Jobs got everything (not!) right, Sybase jumps on the iPhone bandwagon for enterprise users.

Sybase on Tuesday said it’s adding Apple iPhone support to its suite of mobile middleware, making it possible to access IBM Lotus Domino or Microsoft Exchange e-mail servers through a secure environment.

May I just add that Funambol can already be used to connect Domino and Exchange servers to iPhone?’  There is also an open Code sniper bounty’  to develop a plugin to connect only to Lotus Notes client.

* Of course I pity Jobs for not respecting user’s freedoms.

Business schools should teach micro-management

I had a laugh today reading an article about Steve Jobs management style from Leander Kahney.

As a business school student the article made me think of all the different management styles existing. Jobs is a control freak, a micro-manager, almost a maniac. Will Eisner praised micro-management too at last World Business Forum in Milan. Micro-management from Richard Stallman was a also running joke at FSF. Is there a pattern here? 🙂 I wonder what my colleagues students think.

How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong

Evento: Copyleft, Open Source, innovazione e creatività  alla Sapienza

Domani, 18 Marzo alla Facoltà  di Scienze della Comunicazione della Sapienza di Roma ci sarà  un incontro sul tema della creatività  nell’era di Internet che affronterà  le tematiche del software libero e delle licenze libere per i contenuti creativi.

Durante l’incontro verrà  presentato il film* “La Repubblica del Software”, Free, Open Source Software nella Pubblica Amministrazione italiana con interviste a Richard Stallman, Bruce Perens, Renzo Davoli, Salvatore Tucci, Wikimedia, Pietro Folena, Vincenzo Vita, Flavia Marzano, Hacklab Cosenza, Erica Litrenta, Vittorio Pagani.

Verranno inoltre presentate le iniziative:

– Co.Pi.Da., l’osservatorio della Facoltà  di Sc. della Comunicazione sul diritto d’autore e le nuove tecnologie

– Liberius, lo sportello legale gratuito della Facoltà  di Sc. della Comunicazione di assistenza alla creatività  digitale < http://liberius.org>

Maggiori informazioni sul blog di Arturo Di Corinto.

Give the GNU GPL an ‘A’, as in Affero

The GNU Affero General Public License v3 is now officially an ‘open source’ license, approved by the Open Source Initiative.

Funambol started the approval process of the best license available to protect copyleft, and business based on it, from predatory practices. Fabrizio (Funambol’s CEO) celebrates the sweet victory on his blog mentioning the ‘strange’ coincidence of Google caring only for GPL. For Google the ASP loophole is the key to their business, while they don’t like the A of Affero.

It’s a good day for all the companies that use the AGPLv3. I found some like Wavemaker, OSSDiscovery, Colosa and I wish Palamida started tracking AGPLv3 adoption too (Update: Blackduck Software already tracks AGPLv3 adoption). Here Funambol’s full press release with quote from Wavemaker’s CEO and Eben Moglen.

Update (thanks to Andi Zink):’  Doug Levin’s post contains more software licensed under AGPL.

Il Comune di Milano regala Microsoft

Come funziona sta cosa? Il Comune di Milano “regala” a tutti i suoi cittadini residenti i prodotti non interoperabili di un monopolista?

Il servizio è sperimentale, gratuito e ti permetterà  di utilizzare tutti i servizi di Windows Live tra cui: account di posta, messaggistica istantanea, avvisi, calendario ed eventi, spazio di condivisione e collaborazione…

Mi pare strano che’  il Comune demandi il trattamento dei dati personali a Microsoft, mentre il servizio è offerto dal Comune (almeno così pare). Per l’iscrizione vengono chiesti dati importanti, oltre a nome e cognome anche codice fiscale e numero della carta di identità . E non è affatto chiaro chi custodirà  i dati personali come gli scambi di email, IM ecc.’  A queste condizioni non faccio neanche la prova per vedere.

Incomprensibile: perché il Comune si fa veicolo di pubblicità  per Microsoft senza avere niente in cambio?’  Si sono resi conto gli alti dirigenti del Comune che la maggior parte di quei servizi sono già  offerti da Microsoft (e da Yahoo e Google e Tiscali ecc ecc)’  gratuitamente?’  Che valore sperano di offrire così ai cittadini?

Microsoft is changing focus, will it change attitude?

I’ve placed a bet that Microsoft will change radically its business model when Gates will leave his chair to Ray Ozzie, so I was trying to get a clue from Ozzie’s speech at the MIX last week. I wasn’t too impressed by his keynote, though, it was too much in the old known ‘corporate style’, too much junk talking about the old products (still talking about zune? Office Live? Come on, that’s so old stuff). And about old strategies.

Even in the GigaOM Interview Ozzie reveals anything new. His comment:

The OS that we’re using today is kind of in the model of a ’70s or ’80s vintage workstation. It was designed for a LAN, it’s got this great display, and a mouse, and all this stuff, but it’s not inherently designed for the Internet.

repeats that Microsoft will focus on the web. And on social interaction through the web. Just like Google. There is nothing new: Microsoft is playing again being the second mover in the online market. With its financial power will try to crush the competition. Disappointing: there is nothing really new coming from there. I still hope that Ozzie will at least introduce respect for open standards.

Now I better put my hope for a revolutionary product in some nice startup, to have some fun.