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Microsoft

Submission + - Office Open XML out of Microsoft's hands--official (adjb.net)

bibekpaudel writes: "A couple of weeks ago, ISO members voted, not without its share of controversy, to make Microsoft's Office Open XML format an official standard. While the EU investigation [0] into Open XML vote is still ongoing, ISO has now taken official control [1] of the format and has put it under the aegis of the same Joint Technical Committee responsible for the OpenDocument Format. Over the next six months, an ad hoc working group will draw up a plan on how to best maintain the OOXML format. A second working group will continue to stay on top of the OpenDocument Format used by OpenOffice.org and a number of other applications, while a third will begin work on OOXML-ODF interoperability.

One of the first tasks of the working group will be to catalog OOXML's current shortcomings. Microsoft is no longer the sole arbiter of how OOXML develops, and the company may well find itself in the position of making ISO-mandated changes to Microsoft Office as a result of the ISO's deliberations. ISO governance of the OOXML format may also serve as something of a litmus test for Microsoft's newfound explicit commitment to interoperability and open standards.

[0] http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9909499-7.html?tag=newsmap
[1] http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080414-office-open-xml-out-of-microsofts-handsofficially.html"

Space

Submission + - 13 year old corrects NASA's asteroid figures. (physorg.com)

Doug52392 writes: A physics website is running this story that reports that a 13 year old German schoolboy corrected NASA's estimate on when an asteroid could hit Earth.

Nico Marquardt used telescopic findings from the Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP) to calculate that there was a 1 in 450 chance that the Apophis asteroid will collide with Earth, the Potsdamer Neuerster Nachrichten reported.

NASA had previously estimated the chances at only 1 in 45,000 but told its sister organization, the European Space Agency (ESA), that the young whizzkid had got it right.

The 13-year old made his discovery as part of a regional science competition for which he submitted a project entitled: "Apophis — The Killer Astroid."

Security

Submission + - EvE Online responds to source leak.

Nobo writes: As seen in the CCP Announcements RDF feed, CCP has formally responded to the (alleged) source leak. In summary: The code is not a leak, but rather is decompiled python client code. The server is designed to distrust clients and sanity-check data to and from the client with the intent of ensuring no exploitability, even in light of known client source. The official client is digitally signed. And finally, despite widespread rumors, no mass banning has occurred as punishment for possession or downloading of the 'leaked' source.
Robotics

Submission + - i-Snake, a new robotic surgeon

Roland Piquepaille writes: "Several newspapers in the UK have published today very short articles about the i-Snake, a new surgical robot which will be developed at the Imperial College London (ICL). For example, The Times of London writes that the ICL team has won a £2.1 million grant (2.84 million or US$4.2 million) to design this surgical robot over the next four or five years. This highly flexible robot 'could allow coronary bypass operations to be performed without the need for open-heart surgery.' And it would help heal your heart after travelling through blood vessels. The research team thinks that the i-Snake could also be used as a diagnosis tool replacing the eyes of a surgeon when looking inside us. But read more for many additional details."
Microsoft

Submission + - Office 2003SP3: Old file formats, now unavailable! 3

time961 writes: "In Service Pack 3 for Office 2003, Microsoft has disabled support for many older file formats, so if you have old Word, Excel, 1-2-3, Quattro, or Corel Draw documents, watch out! They did this because the old formats are "less secure", which actually makes some sense, but only if you got the files from some untrustworthy source.

Naturally, they did this by default, and then documented a mind-bogglingly complex workaround (KB 938810) rather than providing a user interface for adjusting it, or even a set of awkward "Do you really want to do this?" dialog boxes to click through. And, of course, because these are, after all, old file formats, many users will encounter the problem only months or years after the software change, while groping around in dusty and now-inaccessible archives.

One of the better aspects of Office is its extensive compatibility mechanisms for old file formats. At least the support isn't completely gone—it's just really hard to use. Security is important, but there are better ways to fulfill this goal.

This was also covered by the Windows Secrets newsletter, although I can't find a story URL for it."

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