Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Great outcome from Election (Score 1) 222

The coalition may choose to side with Labor on a conservative policy, because it pleases the conservative part of the electorate. I have no doubt the policy came from the Australian Christian Lobby, and other lobby groups like it, that have sway with _both_ the major parties. They are considered an important part of the electorate. As much as a government who wants to be seen as a "progressive" government (i.e. Rudd Labor or Julia Labor) may want to not be associated with such groups, they will always be influenced by them.

The Coalition played interesting politics during the last election - their leader, Abbott (who is himself from the conservative side of the Liberals), didn't have much to say about the filter. The only statement of opposition to it was made by Hockey - who is a true small-letter-L liberal. He truly believes the filter is a bad idea, however I would bet $43 billion that Abbott actually personally believes a filter would be a good thing. Abbott probably reserves the right in his own mind to backflip on the policy, should he become PM. People will moan and b*tch about it when he does, but it won't stop them from being elected the following election.

It would be one of those policies that's not important enough to stand up for, they simply get as much political mileage out of it while they can - opposing it - then when they have a clear majority, implement it anyway.

Labor's Internet Filter policies, as much as we here on slashdot might not like it, do not really resonate with the electorate as a whole. It was really a non-issue during the election.

Comment Re:DEMERITS?!? (Score 1) 450

Yes - it means cash is not the sole incentive for avoiding doing stupid things on the road. Demerit points mean that everyone is treated equally regardless of how big their pay packet is.

The demerit points apply to the license for using public funded roads. Here is how it works in the state of Victoria: Demerit points : VicRoads

Comment In Local Government (Score 1) 243

I work in a local government in Australia. Our Information Services department (about 20 of a total ~800 staff) sits in the same Directorate as Finance. The rationale being that unlike most other areas in Council, our directorate essentially provides services to the rest of the staff, and not usually to external customers.

Finance and IS largely service other departments, whether it be to fix a broken computer or putting together the budget for the new financial year. Other areas work directly with the community - e.g. the Urban Planning dept or the Family and Children Services dept.

Comment Re:The question is (Score 1) 595

Perhaps the market feels there is 30 years of "innovation collateral" left in Apple, whereas your company only has 3?

To assume that market analysts only base their numbers on physical inventory is a blinkered view. "Human capital" - as in, how smart the people are who work at a company - probably plays some role in analysts' valuation of a company. It would appear Apple have that in spades, based on the product success of the past 5 to 10 years.

Comment Excellent book to read: "Emotional Intelligence" (Score 1) 659

... by Daniel Goleman. It talks about how lacking empathy creates negative situations - and describes it from the ground-up. From the way the brain is structured and how empathy and emotion are linked, to the way it affects communication with co-workers, spouses, and possible disagreements that follow. It details examples of the extremes, where armed robbers, sociopaths, and child molesters are the epitomy of those that lack empathy and emotion, and how that is the pre-cursor to their behaviour. It also talks about how a parent may interact with their child, and that lacking empathy in the early stages of life can lead to issues later.

I'm half-way through and its definitely worth a read. Ironically, it could be classed as one of those books from the apparently "evil" self-help movement.

Comment Re:This is not true (Score 1) 264

I don't agree with your comparison with PDF renderers. The key difference here is most PDF software is just what you mentioned - rendering. Adobe don't need to worry (much) about creating PDFs, because most people use Word processors to do that. All they need to worry about is a bit of translation (sometimes from another spec they own - PostScript), and the rendering side. This makes for a far easier world to keep everyone ticking along with new functionality. To me, PDFs are a secondary document spec - great for rendering, but of no value to the creation and development of documents, and this is reflected by the number of word processors you see out there that actively store documents natively as PDF.

I also believe, in contrast to your assertion, that Office document specs are transitory. They have an (albeit, slower) evolution process due to the evolution of the Office productivity tools used to maintain them.

As an example, if you take a look at the user interface changes implemented in Office 2007, regardless of what you think about the ribbon, you'll notice a proportionally higher emphasis (quantified by screen real estate) on tools that define documents.

Prior to Office 2007, and in fact in most competing, current, 'mainstream' versions of word processing tools (e.g. Open Office), UIs pushed people towards creating non semantic documents. You want more emphasis on a heading? Up the font-size, and bold the font-face. With MS Office 2007, the UI not only gives you a whole bunch of styles, but shows you what they look like so you are more likely to choose them to obtain the effect that you want. This - to me - was a real coup for Office.

The document format they use has evolved with the product. Do a bit of research, here on slashdot even, and you'll find out / be reminded that the .DOC format is legacy from the old Word 6 days, where changes to documents were actually appended to the bottom of the file in some case, so that time to render documents ready for editing was kept efficient (this was back when 486's running Windows 3.1 was the norm). Microsoft made a huge leap that began in Office 2003 and culminated to something really helpful in Office 2007.

I'm from a web development background, and I understand the need to create semantic-rich documents regardless of the medium in which they're published. With 2007, the docs suddenly become far easier to maintain in the long-run.

I saw the change Microsoft made with this particular component of Office's UI as being a genuinely good thing for the future of document management. And its my belief that until other office products come up to speed with this, they'll continue to remain where they are in terms of marketshare, or possibly go backwards.

What Microsoft did with Word 2007 is update the document standard profoundly. Now you can argue against their non-Free attitude all you like. But, purely from a non-political, technical standing, the OOXML spec is much more Open than their previous document formats (e.g. .DOC), and they are much better than where they were.

With the example of a system that may take the contents of a document, and re-purpose that content for the web, I'd be much more comfortable with Word 2007 than any other word processing products, for the two aforementioned reasons: their UI pushes users to create well defined documents, and their underlying format is far more readable, and closer to HTML, than previous Microsoft formats.

This is how Office productivity software has changed. The time scale of this change is far greater than web standards, and that is because the user base is far less open to change. It's still quite common for users to be on Office 2003, and they blame the UI for not upgrading, which, from a wholistic point of view, is exactly why I think they should upgrade.

I think you're right - Office documents "shouldn't be" transient and fluid. Perhaps I'm being optimistic, but it's my belief that they won't be needing as fundamental change in the future, now that we have the OOXML format. The only fundamental change I'd be happy about perhaps would be to bring ODF into Office 2007 natively, however I don't think Microsoft are going to back-down on their positioning with the OOXML format now.

I don't astroturf for Microsoft - in actual fact I produce and present a tech oriented radio show on a local community radio station, and I'm often critical of Microsoft on said show. One of my co-hosts is a developer evangelist for Microsoft, and while I'm diplomatic when I have him on, the conversation can be considered sometimes "terse" to say the least. And yet he keeps coming back :)

In technology, particularly when it comes to Microsoft, I tend to be a pragmatist. I find Microsoft's previous tactics in numerous circumstances to be abhorrent - particularly the browser wars. I also think they make some good software - namely Office 2007. I don't think they make good OS's, although Win7 was an big improvement.

Comment Re:This is not true (Score 1) 264

Nice flamebait in your final sentence. So, I'll bite, just not on that.

To claim my point on HTML is a distraction, is disingenuous at best. What's ironic is you're using the point I made on HTML and re-applying the exact same logic to your argument on MS Word generated content. No two web browsers will render HTML the same way. And its as open a spec as it can be. You've said exactly the same of two word processors.

Perhaps just TRY what I suggested. Rename a .docx Word document to .zip, open it up in your favourite unzipping app, and take a look through the XML files inside, and look for the one that's got the document content in it. Wowsers! You might find inside is a condensed form of markup that signifies such things as "bold", "underlining", and, oh I don't know, "paragraphs".

I'd like to know what utopian world you believe we're in where you can find two pieces of software written in complete isolation, with the same spec available to each, where they'll both come up with exactly the same result. It doesn't happen with web browsers, it would never happen with word processors. The reason has nothing to do with whether its plain text markup or not, but one part of the answer in the case of word processors would probably have something to do with the complexity of code required to write a modern day word processor. When compared to - for the sake of this example - a web browser, a word processor not only has to render the content, it also needs to provide an easy to use UI for any Joe to write the content.

Specs are just documents. They are there to be interpreted, that's their purpose. People (programmers) interpret specs differently (see web browser as previously mentioned for further reference material).

In my experience of working with the OOXML spec (ZOMG - YES I work with it, I must be paid by MS to write this!!) I've never once had to refer to any previous DOC format. This is perhaps the edge case that I was originally referring to. And, I hazard a guess Microsoft included such references for backwards compatibility.

Slashdot zealotry at its finest!

Comment Re:Is it safe? (Score 2, Insightful) 264

Have you looked at the OOXML standard? Have you ever opened up Word 2007, saved a document, renamed it to .zip, and had a look at its contents? I would hope you have considering the inference that you work in document management.

"If, however, these documents were stored in plain text markup..." - that's exactly what OOXML format is.

May I suggest, particularly for the .DOC files, you could recommend to your client to start building a process to convert them to .DOCX files using perhaps the Word 2007 user interface, or maybe the APIs. That way the majority of content is plaintext readable, and the markup can be made sense of except for most extreme layout nuances.

And tell me, while you're at it - what do you need to do to get Word 2007 or 2010 to store all of a document's content as binary blobs? Are you referring to image data? Image data which can be stored in a .docx file in its original format i.e. PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP etc etc?

While we're at it, lets look at an alternative. HTML, I'm sure you'll agree, is a plain text markup (XML-like) standard which is open, and as formal and workable a specification as there can be. Do you think, in 25 years time, there will be a web browser that will be able to render a page from today's web in perfect form. Hell, can you show me a web browser TODAY that renders the most complicated web page markup perfectly? It all depends on how complicated the layout of the document is, and how complex the markup is.

In 25 years time, assuming there's a ZIP library of some description around, I will be able to open my OOXML .docx files and happilly read the content inside. I'll be able to develop something that could come pretty close to rendering those documents except for a few edge case layouts.

You need to get on-topic, this is a discussion on OOXML, not the previous .DOC file formats.

Comment Re:when you complain about the men (Score 2, Insightful) 311

It's funny that you have accused a number of replies to your post of not actually addressing your point, when you are guilty of doing exactly the same.

Re-read PopeRatzo's post and you will note that he is not necessarily against the activity of war - his point was related to volunteer vs. conscripted military service. Your interpretation was that he is against all war.

He simply put forth an interpretation of the beliefs of American founding fathers to support his view regarding voluntary vs. conscripted service. You responded to this single sentence with a rant that would apparently be based on demons within your own head.

And now you no doubt feel validated since at least 5 people with mod points appear to agree with you.

Take your own strawman down, asshole

Comment Re:The sad thing is... (Score 1) 255

To use a phrase from the Liberal party itself, they are a "broad church" of views - I think if you dig a little bit, you'll find they're actually an odd mix of ultra conservatives, and truly "liberal" (note lack of capitalisation) believers in free market.

Religion is rooted in both of the major parties in politics. You only need to see the recent episode of Q&A hosted by Tony Jones where they discussed the role of atheism in Australia. It had Richard Dawkins on the panel along with Julie Bishop (Lib), Tony Burke (Lab), and Steve Fielding (family first), and you will see that the Labor representation in this particular instance had a stronger view against atheism than Liberal.

The difference between the two parties is a large part of policy on the Liberal side has on the past been overtly based on religious belief, whereas the Labor party are being quite careful in how they advertise their policies so as not to show any link to religious groups. I think what's happening is Rudd, like Howard previously, has an open door to religious groups of all persuasions. This probably played a role in him winning the last election in fact. It is political expedience here in Australia; as much as I think it's abhorrent to be the case - particularly because the concept of separating state from religion collapses with this - it is part of the political make-up of our country.

The Liberals are probably represented by more people, who on fundamental principles, are against this filter than those who are in the Labor party. That's because of those who are truly liberty, small government, free-market loving types. To simplify this, let's say Tony Abbott represents the conservatives, and previous Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull represents the free market types. By last count (their internal vote on whether Turnbull or Abbott should lead) the split was essentially 50/50 save for one vote.

Slightly off topic, but probably a positive in general for the future death of this Internet censorship policy, Malcolm Turnbull - who previously announced he would quit politics - has this morning announced that he will stay. This is excellent news, as I think he is the only remaining potential leader in Australian politics who has strong enough views that contradict the implementation of this filter. He has the ear of his colleagues, the ear of the media, and he is a forward-thinking man.

For the record, I normally put Labor and Liberal low on my preference votes - the greens are my minor party of choice. I also have friends who work for Liberal MPs at various levels of government - some of their stories are very intriguing indeed.

Comment Re:Overreach. (Score 1) 272

I had this exact conversation just one week ago, with a friend who was playing devil's advocate - the answer to your questions (specifically on iTunes) is that iTunes performs specific functionality.

What Microsoft did with their web browser is effectively force out the competition with anti-competitive behaviour. They took marketshare from Netscape by imposing Internet Explorer on users of their OS.

Monopolies are allowed in a capatilist society - they are required, however, to not ABUSE their monopoly status. Microsoft did this, as an effective monopoly on the OS market, they abused their position in that market by forcing everyone via various mechanisms to use their web browser (the broswer market is not the same as the OS market).

Apple have what could be called a monopoly on media players with iPods and iPhones, but they do not abuse this monopoly by forcing you to use something else in a different market. iTunes facilitates core functionality for the market in which they operate / have a monopoly in.

To apply it to your car analogy: Microsoft put a standard stereo system into their car (which in itself, is OK), but they also didn't allow you to remove their standard stereo unit in favour of another one. Furthermore, even if you as the consumer installed an additional third party unit - and installed it in front of the standard unit, every now and then you would be forced to use the standard unit anyway, because that's just how they wired it up behind the scenes.

The fact that they're a monopoly is not the problem in the eyes of the law, it's the fact that they abused their monpoly in one market to dominate another. The EU is now attempting to remedy this.

Comment Re:Nice (Score 1) 491

Re security, perhaps take a look at other fast trains around the world. Europe and Japan both have such transport and - at least from personal experience in Japan, and stories I read / hear from Europe, security is not a big deal at all. You go through a barrier that checks your ticket, you pass a number of attendants both throughout the station and on the platform, but never do you need to pass any security clearance.

I think it an odd nuance of human nature - pile us on to a tin can and send us flying through the air, and we need to be checked for explosives etc. Do the same where the tin can hurtles along the ground on a fixed path and we don't. Perhaps this is because trains are on rails and therefore more controlled, but I'm not so sure.

Comment Re:Oh no... (Score 5, Informative) 319


SharePoint was more open that the PST format was prior to this announcement. The (well documented) SharePoint API enables access to all content - it would be relatively trivial to write software that could walk your entire SharePoint content dbs and indeed farm to extract all data out in a way that could easily be implemented in alternative products. I'm sure its been done. Hell, there's software that does the reverse (and I know this being a SharePoint guy) - that use the very same API to insert data into a SharePoint environment from say a Lotus Notes environment. And trust me, you have as much access to write as you do to read data.

Repeat after me - SharePoint does not lock your data up. It implements a reasonably good document management, content management, workflow, "intranet in a box" site - it aint no drupal when looking specifically at CMS, but that's one of the many tools on this swiss army knife. Sure, corporations will be 'locked in' to SharePoint, but that is because the alternatives that come close to doing what it does are woeful (*cough* Lotus Notes). They're locked in to its functionality, which - correct me if I'm wrong - is ultimately what you choose one software product over another on.

Comment Re:Not Surprised (Score 1) 225

I'm posting this from one of the sessions at this year's MS SharePoint conference in Las Vegas. I'm a ASP.NET developer turned SharePoint developer with commercial experience in Java and PHP (just in those who read this hate me for my Microsoft centricness).

According to simply how many have attended this conference, sold out at 7400 people here, SharePoint definitely has mindshare.

I think the thing devs need to realise out there is corporates want to have stuff pre-built. They want to have a major company like Microsoft or IBM to turn to that do all the cruddy dev tasks first. SharePoint has, in no particular order, the following things already built in - in the "free" version: Authentication, Security Access framework, document management (doc libraries), basic table-like data storage (custom lists).

Those four things would take a good developer a week or two to get up and running if they started from scratch, and they're for free. Corporates don't want to hire a developer, they want to hire people who can implement solutions with immediate business benefits. These people (in SharePoint's case, anyway) just happen to also be developers.

I don't want to sound like a SharePoint sales man, but SharePoint 2010 has got much more out of the box, also in the free version, e.g. a consistent UI in the Office ribbon.That stuff, if you wanted to develop it from scratch, would take at least another week and a good designer to put the buttons together.

SharePoint is very customisable - you just need to know what you're doing. In fact, with most things in SharePoint, you just need to know what you're doing - including the installation procedure. And I think that's why so many people here think its a pile of poo. They don't know (or perhaps, WANT to know) where to look to find how cool it can actually be.

I'm no Microsoft junkie. I frequently bag microsoft on a weekly community radio show I present. But I would much rather be working in SharePoint than say, the IBM (Lotus) equivalent!

Slashdot Top Deals

The power to destroy a planet is insignificant when compared to the power of the Force. - Darth Vader