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Submission + - How to Crush Dissent: A Thought Experiment (

An anonymous reader writes:

Through the 20th century there were many attempts to reduce capabilities to express dissent, from outlawing of opposition political parties, to shuttering independent newspapers, to mandatory registration of typewriters. These all made dissent more difficult and riskier, but they did not remove the capability. It was still possible, for one person, or a group of people, to organize in secret and get their message out. They did it illegally, and at their own peril.

My sad observation is that we are quickly reaching the point, perhaps for the first time in history, where governments will have the means to eliminate even the capability for illegal dissent. I believe this is a destabilizing threshold to cross.

Consider the following thought experiment. Imagine we are back in 1985, back in the DDR, but instead of typewriters, you have all the 21st century technological facilities, the internet, Twitter, Youtube, etc. You are a dissident and I am the government.

Comment Re:Great! Now we can call it something else! (Score 2, Interesting) 175

Say what you will about NASCAR and the NFL, because they're admittedly not true global sports - but the quality of the broadcasts is fantastic (picture quality, camera angles, closeups, slow-mo, high-tech infographic video overlays). I know there are purists who would rather see the broadcast be more like what you experience sitting in the stadium, but it's impressive technically if nothing else.

F1 doesn't even air on US network TV, it's cable/satellite only. And even then the commentators are constantly making inane comparisons to NASCAR.


Submission + - BRM Addressed No More Than 1.5% of OOXML's Flaws (

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes: "IBM's Rob Weir has done a study on how many flaws were addressed by the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting. So far, using a random sampling technique, he has yet to find a flaw that was addressed, making the upper bound a paltry 1.5%. Even so, he's found a number of new flaws, including a security vulnerability: OOXML stores passwords in database connection strings in plain text. At least there were no mistakes on five of the first twenty five random pages he reviewed."

Submission + - Microsoft's View of Standards as Tools of War (

christian.einfeldt writes: "Tech media maven Roy Schestowitz and Pamela Jones of Groklaw have unearthed 1997 documents from the Iowa anti-trust case of 'Comes v. Microsoft,' in which Microsoft Technical Evangelist James Plamondon talks about the importance of stacking seemingly 'neutral' panels to assure that Microsoft platforms are adopted as de facto standards. In a 'Highly Confidential' document entitled 'Evangelism is War', Plamondon justifies his step-by-step strategy for stacking 'neutral' panels as a necessary act of 'war.' He suggests ways to enhance the apparent popularity of Microsoft platforms as standards for the purpose of convincing 'enemies' that adoption of the Microsoft platform as a standard is inevitable, and 'surrender' is the only option. Groklaw's Pamela Jones draws a parallel to the current-day work of Technical Evangelist Rick Jelliffe, who says that he has been hired by Microsoft to act as a 'Devil's Advocate' for the National Board of Australia in Microsoft's upcoming bid to have Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) accepted as a second international electronic document format ISO standard. Recent efforts by Microsoft to change the composition of the ISO national panels have resulted in some controversy and have spawned a new EU probe into potential anti-trust claims based on the way that Microsoft influenced the composition of some of the national boards to vote in the upcoming ISO ballot."

IBM Slams Microsoft, Calls OOXML "Inferior" 238

cristarol sends word that Microsoft's accusation, that IBM has sabotaged Redmond's attempts to have the Office OpenXML format approved by the ISO, has drawn a heated response from IBM. Ars Technica has the story. "'IBM believes that there is a revolution occurring in the IT industry, and that smart people around the world are demanding truly open standards developed in a collaborative, democratic way for the betterment of all,' IBM VP of standards and OSS Bob Sutor told Ars. 'If "business as usual" means trying to foist a rushed, technically inferior and product-specific piece of work like OOXML on the IT industry, we're proud to stand with the tens of countries and thousands of individuals who are willing to fight against such bad behavior.'"

Submission + - OOXML 2.0 -- We All Float Down Here (

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes: "OOXML is about to have a Ballot Resolution Meeting which is where the problems with it would be discussed and fixed. Unfortunately, we now know that many of the important issues won't be discussed at all, thanks to comments being merged with "similar" comments that aren't really similar, but are much easier to answer. IBM's Rob Weir compares it to building a bridge and insisting that you can certify it by inspecting all the welds without ever addressing how the whole design of it is flawed."

Saving in OOXML Format Now Probably A Bad Idea 150

orlando writes "Much drama is unfolding prior to the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva, currently schedule for the end of February. After that there's a subsequent 30 day period while countries can still change their vote. As a result, Bob Sutor is recommending that saving your documents in OOXML format right now is probably about the riskiest thing you can do, if you are concerned with long term interoperability. At this point nobody has the vaguest idea what OOXML will look like in February, or even whether it will be in any sort of stable condition by the end of March. 'While we are talking about interoperability, who else do you think is going to provide long term complete support for this already-dead OOXML format that Microsoft Office 2007 uses today? Interoperability means that other applications can process the files fully and not just products from Microsoft. I would even go so far as to go back to those few OOXML files you have already created and create .doc, .ppt, and .xls versions of them for future use, if you want to make sure you can read them and you don't want to commit yourself to Microsoft's products for the rest of their lives.'"

Submission + - ODFAlliance Refutes the Burton Group Report on ODF (

An anonymous reader writes: Groklaw reports: 'The Open Document Format Alliance has released a paper[PDF] refuting the recent Burton Group's Report on ODF and MSOOXML. I asked for and received permission to publish it here on Groklaw. The ODF Alliance response takes 18 points from the Burton Group's Report and answers them point by point. I think you will enjoy it. And I have a few impressions of my own to share with you, and then you can tell me what you think of it all. ... You know what I hope? I hope someone shows the Burton Report to the EU Commission investigating Microsoft's behavior with respect to MSOOXML and interoperability. Why? Because as I read it, it seems to be at least implying that people should use MSOOXML because Microsoft is a monopoly, one which doesn't share its proprietary extensions, and so no one can render their documents as well as Microsoft can. Is that not the exact focus of the EU investigation?'

Submission + - Rodriguez slaughters Open XML

Elektroschock writes: "Stephane Rodriguez, a reengineering specialist who became popular for his article on MS-Office 2007 binary data, slaughters Microsoft's new Open XML format. With small case studies he demonstrates the disadvantages for third party developers. His conclusion: It is 'defective by design'. Next week members of the International Standard Organisation are likely to approve the format as a second official ISO standard for office documents. However, most nations submitted comments. Rodriguez claims to be "not affiliated to any pro-MS or anti-MS party/org/ass"."

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