Thursday, September 22, 2005

CAGW - Corporations Amplifying Government Waste

Thanks to Leon Brooks via Alec Couros.

So in 2001, when CAGW (Citizens Against Government Waste) campaigned in support of Microsoft during a famous antitrust lawsuit, did they do it out of concern for the citizenry? After writing up identical "support" letters with different signatures, letters somehow originating from dead people, and letters from nonexistent places such as "Tuscon, Utah", did CAGW feel this deception was justified "for the people"? That is, was their action based solely on the intent of protecting the people or was their action rooted in the fact that an undisclosed amount of funding is received from Microsoft?

Hey, I'm all in favor of citizenry gathering together to point out inefficiency and waste in government policy. But we now have CAGW publicly stating that the Massachusetts 2007 switch to the OpenDocument standard will be a mistake. It doesn't take long to see that Tom Schatz - CAGW president - is either a flack or completely uninformed when he states -
"It is bad procurement policy for any state to unilaterally lock itself into one set of technologies"
But you see Tom, that's what a proprietary format is. Due to the network effect, that is the current state of things. A lock-in is not something Massachusetts is moving toward. It is something Massachusetts is moving away from. The OpenDocument standard is an open standard - usable by any software maker - that allows competition by providing end-users an opportunity to choose whatever office suite they like. That is, they can choose an office suite based upon its ability to do the needed job - not based upon its monopolistic stranglehold created by a proprietary and closed file format scheme.

But Mr. Schatz, you might object - "Microsoft Office doesn't have support for OpenDocument - so how can you, Peter Rock, say we are free to choose whatever office suite we like?" Well yes, that's somewhat a twisted truth. But the reason why Microsoft Office doesn't support OpenDocument is because Microsoft chooses not to in order to protect their monopoly. So if this is an issue for you, take it up with the corporation that currently funds your "citizen action" organization - not with those creating a level playing field for all office suite software makers. Microsoft is more than welcome to use OpenDocument. They may even keep their proprietary formats alongside OpenDocument if they wish.

And one last question Tom - it's well known that they do, but just how much money is Microsoft giving CAGW? Must be enough to prompt a statement clearly in contradiction with your organization's mission.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Google Grok

Not that I believe understanding can be achieved through mere statistics. In fact, I always encourage people to first explore the facts using a variety of sources and then use their own reasoning and common sense to draw out the correct conclusion. But I found these quantified results rather interesting...

Google Phrase Search #1

Google Phrase Search #2

Monday, September 12, 2005

That's Just Plain DoMB

Sun employee Tim Bray has posted an insightful retort to the propaganda commonly held by those who (wish to) see Massachusetts moving to the OpenDocument format as "costly and unnecessary".

Naturally, the big players who make the big profit are now scrambling to save their outdated cash cow. However, they simply don't have a leg to stand on. Even I - a fairly simple-minded fool when it comes to the understanding of XML and document formats - was able to spot the most egregious of offending statements. It has been "argued" that -
"limiting the document formats to the OpenOffice format is unnecessary, unfair and gives preferential treatment for specific vendor products, and prohibits others."
Umm, "OpenOffice" is a program that opens and saves documents in various formats. OpenDocument is one of several formats used by this program but its implementation by other programs is not prohibited at all. In fact, anyone is free to use it when creating an Office-like suite of programs. Yes, even Microsoft is free to implement it in Office 12 - which they have chosen not to.

Although the talking points are weak, they are smooth - designed to throw the uninitiated for a loop. Tim does a great job of exposing the DoMBness of approximately a half-dozen "talking points" here.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Call 1-800-621-FEMA...

...if you use free software and would like to file for hurricane Katrina aid online.

Even if you use Mac, pick up the phone. Hell, even if you use Windows but run the open source browser Mozilla instead of Internet Explorer 6, you better get dialing.

That's right. If your machine is not 100% owned by the Microsoft Corporation, you cannot file for aid online.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Chink in the Corporate Armor?

Microsoft Corporation has just over a year to stop a major coup from taking place in Massachusetts.

Sticking to the corporate directive of padding the bottom line, Ballmer and Gates have directed their minions to turn their nose up at the OpenDocument format. Instead of supporting a format built for cooperation and collaboration - Microsoft has decided not to support OpenDocument in its upcoming release of Office 12. Even though the adding of support would be a simple measure, cooperation and interoperability among office software suites is not what Microsoft wants.

But don't hold your breath.

A "donation" here or there to the right political organizations - followed by other incentives such as no or low cost Office licenses may keep Massachusetts divided and conquered by everyone's favorite corporate entity.

Let's check back in 2007.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Inside the Ballmer Brain