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How the MA ODF Meeting Went - Updated
Monday, October 31 2005 @ 09:29 PM EST

Andy Updegrove took notes at the MA meeting, and here they are. His overview is followed by real-time notes he took. I know you are dying to know how it went. I'd say there was a decided tilt, but a lot of the problem sounds like misunderstanding ODT. Here's Andy's impression:
Senator Pacheco doesn't understand the difference between open source and open standards (and certainly doesn't understand the difference between OpenDocument and OpenOffice). More than once, he indicated that he thought that the policy would require the Executive Agencies to use OpenOffice, not realizing that there are other compliant alternatives. He also thought that this would act to the detriment of Massachusetts software vendors, who (he thinks) would be excluded from doing business with the Commonwealth.

Honest misunderstandings can be cleared up with more information, so that's the good news. The bad is that no questions from the audience were allowed, and every speaker invited to speak today was against ODT, except for Peter Quinn and Linda Hamel. If the issue is fairness, it sounds like no one in charge was noticibly concerned about that today. More coming. But I know you want to get started. Dan Bricklin says he thinks he got a good tape of the event, and it will hopefully be ready later tonight, so swing on back by.


Dan Bricklin has his notes up on his website, and the audiotape is ready too, and you can find it on his podcast page. It is in three parts, running a total of almost three and a half hours, and Dan says the sound quality on the first 8 minutes of the first section isn't as good as the rest, so don't let that discourage you.

Dan had a conversation with Senator Pacheco after the hearing, and he says the Senator has some concerns, some misunderstandings about the GPL. He worries that if you build something on OpenOffice, which he mistakenly thinks is the only application to support ODF so far, the GPL's reciprocity requirements will be a problem. He thinks is licensed under the GPL. However, as you can see from this license page, is not licensed under the GPL. It's under the LGPL, so he can rest easy. Here's the LGPL FAQ. It's the same license the JBoss uses, and they explain why here:

The majority of JBoss Inc. software is licensed under the LGPL or Gnu Lesser General Public License. The LGPL is the most business-friendly license for enterprise IT organizations, independent software vendors, and the open source community itself. It promotes software freedom without affecting the proprietary software that sits alongside or on top of it. The LGPL also ensures stability and consistency by disallowing proprietary forks to the the core software.

Here's their white paper [PDF] on it. JBoss just announced they are working with Microsoft "to enhance interoperability between JEMS and Microsoft Windows Server products," so that should calm everyone down a bit in Massachusetts, one hopes. If Microsoft sees no danger in a partnership with JBoss, why should anyone see a problem with OpenOffice, which uses the same license, "the most business-friendly license"?


How the MA ODF Meeting Went - Updated | 146 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
How the MA ODF Meeting Went
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 10:04 PM EST
PJ thanks for keeping us up to date!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the MA ODF Meeting Went
Authored by: John Hasler on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 10:05 PM EST
> Senator Pacheco doesn't understand the difference between
> open source and open standards (and certainly doesn't
> understand the difference between OpenDocument and
> OpenOffice). More than once, he indicated that he thought
> that the policy would require the Executive Agencies to use
> OpenOffice, not realizing that there are other compliant
> alternatives.

Hopefully, some of his constituents are reading this and will educate him.

> He also thought that this would act to the detriment of
> Massachusetts software vendors, who (he thinks) would be
> excluded from doing business with the Commonwealth.

Then he needs to hear from some Massachusetts software vendors who are now
excluded but won't be under the new rules.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT here
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 10:13 PM EST
Please post links in HTML.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Here!
Authored by: chris_bloke on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 10:27 PM EST
Correnctions, spelling mistooks and typoes here please!

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Corrections Here! - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 09:37 AM EST
From Updegrove blog, major handicap response
Authored by: bbaston on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 10:27 PM EST
A major development which will negate the handicap access issue:
Quinn: Let me talk about the disability community issue. The disability community has been denied access in many ways for many years, and we are committed to making sure that they get the consideration they need. Now I have had someone spending a significant amount of time since September 1 reaching out, and also working with the w3C, and we are just a few weeks away from announcing that we will have an answer to create accessibility. I have committee three times, first, to create a memo on the subject, two, have priority, and three [couldn't catch it]. Sun, IBM and others are working to create global accessibility standards. The structure has already been built into StarOffice, Mozilla, other products. We are a couple of weeks away from being able to put this in front of the disability community and the state. Hamil: Microsoft has been a great business partner, and that's why we'd like to continue to work with them. They've been good at solving disability issues, and we look forward to working with them."
Emphasis is mine.

Ben, Groklawian in training
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold
Have you donated to Groklaw this month?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Only in America
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 10:40 PM EST
How can one have an enquiry if people who have relevant information are not
permitted to speak, and the enquirer has fundamental misunderstandings of the

[ Reply to This | # ]

Who set the list of speakers?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 10:41 PM EST
Interesting that comments/questions weren't allowed from the audience and that
the list of speakers appeared to be pre-set with heavy anti-ODF bias.

How come we didn't hear about the limited list of speakers last week?

These people literally cannot prevail in a fair and open forum. Just like with
the European Commission earlier this year, they have to change the rules and
sneak things through at the last minute.

Pretty disgusting, if you ask me.

However, this is what we're up against.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the MA ODF Meeting Went
Authored by: blacklight on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 10:54 PM EST
Pacheco is both corrupt and an ignoramus. The meeting was a staged affair
designed to give an appearance of fairness rather than being fair. The fact that
no one in the audience was allowed to speak or ask questions is a caricature of
openness rather than the real thing. However, the cat is out of the bag: the MA
decision process has left an indelible trail that any other US state, US or
foreign government can take advantage of.

Pacheco and his compadres can keep pushing their luck, but there will be a

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the MA ODF Meeting Went
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 10:55 PM EST
Mr. Pacheco seems have been the author of a law that disallows privitization in

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Office not ready for the handicapped desktop
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 11:01 PM EST
Mr. Berrier now gives a demonstration of using a screenreader, using MS Office... Training is required, but it is not difficult. It opens up a whole new world; I can look up a word in a dictionay, or order groceries, or do many other things. I'm not a Microsoft flunky, but I'm not a Microsoft basher, either. Its simply the best of what's out there today.

[technical difficulties curtail the demonstration]


I have to say it again: If technical difficulties interfere with a special or unusual application of a Unix or Linux system, I can fix the problem, or hire my choice of talent. If technical difficulties interfere with a special or unusual application of a Microsoft system, my client and I am hosed.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Standard MO - Delay
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 11:05 PM EST
The overriding theme is the desire to create delay. With the not so hidden threat of legal delay.

Sound familiar?

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the MA ODF Meeting Went
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 11:14 PM EST
Sounds like a load of hogwash to me. Anti ODT? Yes. How many of the speakers
are Microsoft bribed, oops, I mean funded lackeys? How much of Microsoft's
shadiness has to be show to the world before governments act and punish them?
How many corrupt politicians will we see before the people scream "we have
had enough!" and revolt?

The politicians need to be reminded that they serve the people, not the
business. Business shoud have NO right to even become involved in anything like
this. If I was a constituent of Massachussetts, and had a valid complaint
against the ODT selection process, would the senator have heard my complaints
and pulled a meeting such as this? I doubt not, I doubt enough to bet my life
on it. That's how sure I am.


[ Reply to This | # ]

A more positive note from the meeting
Authored by: chris_bloke on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 11:15 PM EST

Here's something that I found interesting from Andy's real-time notes that no-one else seems to have mentioned:

the new policy applies only to the Executive Agencies. It does not apply to the Judiciary, although the Judiciary is actually way ahead of us, with over 2000 desktops already ODF enabled.

So whilst the current situation is of concern it looks like there are other parts of MA that are even further ahead.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Recording Available
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 11:21 PM EST
I have some comments about the meeting after speaking to the senator directly. I have also posted an audio recording of the entire meeting (it's quite long, in three parts). See my blog: 005_09_07.htm#senateodf.

- Dan Bricklin

[ Reply to This | # ]

Oh, the Irony!
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Monday, October 31 2005 @ 11:26 PM EST
Next, I call Gerry Berrier - Bay State Council for the Blind and John Winske - Disability Policy Counsel 4.

Statement of Mr. Berrier: I have used many technologies over the years, and today I am pleased to say that there are many programs that the blind can use. And we oppose this policy until we are assured that this will not work to the disadvantage of State workers with disabilities. We've had many situations in the past where we were told "let's just put this in place and see what happens." Its like building the house first, and being promised that the wheelchair ramp will come later. Sometimes accessibility can't be provided later, and when it can, it is always more expensive. Accessibility planning needs to be done advance.

One of the most problematic programs, as a matter of fact, has been PDF. In order for it to be accessiblt with a screen viewer, it must be created with the latest standards, and I think that most people don't even know that these standards exist. I've learned that the Labor Department has recently moved away form ODF, because of a lack of technical support for the ODF platform. They believe, and I do too, that open source is still in its infancy, and that the support is not there yet.

If we want to have accessibiltiy, we're going to need a full-time office in the Commonwealth that works to achieve accessibility. We've been through many technology swinigs, and we want to make sure that this is not another bad experience for those with disabilities. Its a matter of our civil rights.

Pacheco: Thank you for your testimony. It would be helpful if we could get your comments in a way that we can share them with others. If you can get us a copy of your testimoney that would be helpful.

A: Do you have a particular format in mind?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Disabled issue.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 01:37 AM EST
One thing that really bothered me while reading the meeting notes was the
implication that all users of assistive technology (one speaker estimated 19% of
all state workers are disabled in some way) would be affected by the move to
ODF. That's just plain wrong. It's true that the top end screen reader
programs currently only "support" MS Office and this is a real issue
however the fact is that screen readers are only one of many assistive
technologies and not even the most popular. Many of these disabled workers are
undoubtedly people with non visual disabilities. Some may be in wheel chairs or
have hearing problems etc. but that has nothing to do with either screen readers
or choice of office suites. In many cases "assistive technology" just
means a special keyboard or pointing device. In other cases it means a
projector or OCR program to help with paper documents. Even for those who are
visually impared, they don't all want or use high end full screen readers. In
many cases it's enough to give them a large screen and carefuly choose font and
background colors that are less tiring for them to deal with. Sometimes they
use screen magnifier tools or use much simpler screen readers only for the text
of long documents (and which normally don't care what program the text came
from). I'm not saying that those users who actually need to use MS Office
shouldn't be taken care of but it's not the sort of pervasive issue that it
sounded like at the meeting.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the MA ODF Meeting Went - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 03:30 AM EST
The big misconceptions I see are

1. ODF means not using m$ office, in the very near term this might not be the
case. This might indeed be a necessary step since this is the only thing i hear

over and over again in the three hours (if can't us m$ office i cant [x,y,z] )

2. ODF = Open Office, a big misconception.
3. OpenSource = Linux, only getting better.
4. OpenStandard = nothing that Microsoft does.

Overall i get the feeling there is alot of deep ignorance and some power
grabbing. if you can get past that it seems that most of these people are open
to change as long as they get theirs.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linda Hamel for President !!
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 03:53 AM EST
at about minute 30 in this file,

She lays it down, go Linda go !!

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the MA ODF Meeting Went - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 07:33 AM EST
seems like to mean that this was a whole GPL is communists thing.

He gave Microsoft's view of the GPL - I hope he takes the time to understand and
read the GPL - I would of hope he would of already have before the meeting but
it doesn't sound like it to me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

2-word summary: Microsoft wins
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 08:01 AM EST

Microsoft has won this one.

The really scary thing is that nobody in the free-software community seems to know exactly how they won. If you can't see how your opponent is beating you, there's no hope for fixing the problem.

The most worrying thing is that people, even very bright people like Bricklin, seem to think that Senator Pacheco "doesn't understand" the issues. They underestimate Pacheco's intelligence and capability for duplicity; and they overestimate his integrity.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the MA ODF Meeting Went - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 09:12 AM EST
I was also present at the meeting and while I had to leave an hour early, there
is a major issue which has nothing to do with the technology which I have not
seen properly discussed yet.

Most of the issues around OpenDocument, OpenOffice and the GPL can be cleared up
with by giving the senators (Including Senator Moor who was also present), and
they both seemed open to being corrected. Reluctant but open. In the beginning
Senator Pacheco seemed to have a strict agenda and wanted to get on record Mr.
Quinn and the IDT General council stating some facts which he believed to be
true. They did not seem to understand where we was going with his questioning,
and he seemed to not care about their responces at one point clearly not paying
attention to those responces. What he was interested in was where the IDT gets
its power and wether they were following the directions of an Advisory comittee
he helped create. He seems to believe the advisory committee, under the
legislation he helped draft was supposed to have more power over the IDT
decision making process than either Quinn or the IDT general council believes.

One major stumbling block are the statutes which give the IDT its power. The IDT
feels that they have unilateral power to make decisions for standards for the
Executive branch of the Mass govt. Mr. Quinn and the IDT General Council (sorry
I can't find the proper spelling of her name), believe that the oversite
committee/advisory group only had to be involved with the process if the
decisions affect more than one branch of government. The general Council
continualy refered to a 1970 Mass Suprime Court decision which states that a
group consisting of members from multiple branches can not advise or control
decisions for a single branch, only all branches. Senator Pacheco believes that
legislation which he helped enact in 2003 trumps this and that the IDT was to
strictly follow recomendations made by this oversite committee, one of which was
to talk to them. This is legal speak and a 'recomendation' doesn't mean what we
would normally think it does. The senator also pointed out almost in passing
that the IDT does not have the power to question the Constitutionality of this
legislature (i.e. we as citizens can do such, and so can an oversite committee,
but there are other statutes which forbid the IDT from doing such. I do not know
if this is true, but will be looking into it.)

After Mr Quin and the general Council were excused, Mr. Allen Cote, Supervisor
of public records was called to speek. He stated that he does not believe in the
Standard nor the the resolution and spoke to the IDT General Councel stating
that it did not have approval from his office and should not go forward (but he
did not speek directly to Mr Quinn.) He also stated that he believes the IDT
falls under his jurisdiction and does not have the power to act unilaterally. He
felt that the IDT was only granted power for dealing with electronic
transactions (which might have been true at the time but is laughable under the
current workings of the IDT). He stated that he personally controls the paper
and electronic document retention pollicy and that the vast majority of
documents are only kept for 7 years and the rest are sent to archival which
converts the documents to many electronic and non-electronic forms for long term
archival. He did not believe the IDT standards to acomplish anything but harm as
policies for dealing with long term storage are already in place and working
just fine. The Senator was suprized by his frank and terse commentary.

This will be the bigest stumbling block to getting this standard implemented.
There are powers in play which do not want it implemented (for whatever
reasons), and they feel they have the power to stop it as a mater of law.

As a pure spectation it seems that the IDT made some political mistakes. They
pissed off the Senator who geve them the mandate in the first place. They pissed
off their 'boss' by usurping his power specificly stating the archival purposes
of the proposal. They forgot to talk with the dissabilities intrest groups,
something Mr. Quinn tried to take personal responcibility for but the Senator
perfered to blame the process.

Ths dissabilities issue is ealily solvable and the IDT is making an
unprecidented effort to solve the needs of the blind, hearing impaired, and
other dissability groups which is seperate from anything to do with OpenDoc,
OpenOffice, or anything that will result from this hearing, and thus is not much
of an issue.

At issue here is who can make these standards decisions and wether standards on
this level are really referendums of statitory requirement. I do not understand
the distinction myself but Senator Moor did point this out one of the few times
he spoke. Should an unelected group have this level of unilateral control which
is also clearly mandated under the Secratary of State or should the Secratary's
office have control? Can the IDT ignore public elected officials who do not like
their decisions and go ahead with standards which they feel strongly about? It
seems the IDT has made decisions like this many times before and never been
called on it as for the most part, no one really cares, and they do a fantastic
job. Unfortunatly there are some powerful political current here.

As a citizen I believe that this decision should have some (but not complete)
control from the elected office. The fact that I strongly disagree with the
current officials position is sadly immaterial.

While I do not find it suprizing, I am sad to see so many comments here and
elsewhere writing off Senator Pacheco as being evil, vindictive, a MS shill or
other derogitory remarks. While I do not agree with many of his stances, he is a
good man who is trying to do his job, and to be honest, this is something he
should be looking into. If he did not look into this we would be deralict in his
duties. The Secratary of States office is complaining that one of its
subordinate groups is not following orders. That is a major issue an any
organization, be it government or be it private buisness.

[ Reply to This | # ]

On partnerships...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 10:01 AM EST

I would be quite surprised to find Microsoft worrying about any of its partnerships. I would bet my next paycheck that they don't enter into any partnership unless they know are the controlling entity. If there's any danger involved with the partnership between Microsoft and JBoss, it'll be keeping Fleury awake at night. Gates and Ballmer aren't having any bad dreams with regard to JBoss.

Ever notice that it's small companies with dollar signs in their eyes and dreams of riding Microsoft's coattails to riches that enter into partnerships with them? (IMHO, that's because Microsoft knows better than to partner with a large company that can put up a big fight when they eventually screw them over.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Where's Stallman?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 10:06 AM EST
Richard, we need your help!

The state house is close enough to ride your bike from MIT...just don't get

Yea!!! I used an exclamation point on each sentence!

Anonymous Dork

[ Reply to This | # ]

Peter Quinn and Linda Hammel did a great job!
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 10:13 AM EST
I must say I'm very impressed with how Peter Quinn and Linda Hammel handled this
enquiry. The questions they faced were very pointed and they answered clearly
and articulately. They were grilled by the commitee and they stood their
ground. If I was a citizen of Massachusetts I would be very happy to know that
they're running the IT side of things and have my best interests in mind.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the MA ODF Meeting Went - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 11:18 AM EST
After reading a fair bit of the transcript from this hearing, it seems blatantly
obvious to me that Senator Pacheco is a mouth piece for M$. It puzzles me that
he can get away with it without being crucified by the media.
I think his confusion of facts so incredibly convinient for M$ that it should
eliminate all doubt whether he is a crooked mouthpiece for them or not.
I can not imagine living in a society that has become so entangled in spin and
blatant disregard for the truth, that this would not be political suicide. You
americans have my deepest sympathy. I sure hope that the scrutiny and vigilance
of the internet as a whole and sites like Groklaw in particular will expose
crooked politicians like Senator Pacheco for what they are, when you can not
rely on conventional media to do so.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Political lies - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 11:34 AM EST
Do not ignore the Secretary of State
Authored by: rich on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 12:19 PM EST

The Secretary of State of Massachusetts is a major player in this standards issue. He has very good relations with the legislature, and can comunicate well with the judiciary. He is the person that persons interested in open standards should contact -- in a respectful and rational manner. If he is not satisfied, he can make the open standards process very problematic.

On the other hand the Massachusetts Secretary of State is also quite smart and probably understands that Massachusetts 1) is a hotbed of open source activity; 2) that open source people are very interested in open standards; and 3) that quashing open standards could severely hurt a growing Massachusetts technology industry. The bottom line is that open standards will help workers in Massachusetts, quashing open standards will not.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is great but whats the result?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 12:55 PM EST
Ooookay, so this is all good and warm and fuzzy, but what was the end-result?

What was the final conclusion?

or if not one, what's next?

I can't stand the suspense...

[ Reply to This | # ]

The "misunderstandings" are deliberate
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 01:19 PM EST
There is no clearing up with additional facts for people when people actually
understand what the issue is, but choose to portray the issue in a less than
truthful light, in order to spin the issue the way their client wants.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft sycophants
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 01:41 PM EST
Alan Cody sez...

A rigid process, such as the one before you, that bars a vendor and introduces rigidity will not serve the Commonwealth's best interests.

The process did not bar a vendor. The process determined a definition of openness which is already supported by many vendors. Are these Senators and government officials just natural, unpaid sycophants or are they on the payroll?

[ Reply to This | # ]

I know why there is misconception - we have been doing things the Microsoft way for a LONG TIME
Authored by: clark_kent on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 04:54 PM EST
We either forgot what it was like to share information on a Bulliten Board
System way back before the Internet was known to exist by the general public, or
it was because Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates (and a few others) had the notion
that all EVERYBODY had to do, was support the one-and-only-true standard,
Microsoft, because (it appeared to the general public that had no experience
with the early 80s computer revolution,) nothing else existed! Remember, it was
Apple, Atari, Commodore/Amiga, Radio Shack, TI, and a few others that brought
computing to the masses. BUT, Microsoft knew the weaknesses, played on them, and
STOLE (pretty much) THE WHOLE SHOW and has had the limelight for A LONG TIME.
Now when people think of computer presentation, they think of
"Powerpoint," a Microsoft word kind of like when people used to think
of copiers, they think, "oh I will Xerox the article for you."
Microsoft first went after business, talked business talk, stole the show, and
moved into the consumer market, locking up LONG TERM ESTABLISHED revenue in
exclusive OS pre-load agreements that last forever. Instead of word processing
on WordPerfect, Pocket-Writer, WordStar, and spreadsheets on Lotus 1-2-3, and in
the mid-ninties, browsing the Internet with Netscape, because of this 90
penetration monopolized market through the exclusive pre-load licensing deals,
we generally all tend to use Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Internet
Explorer because it has been the only choice we have had for a long time, not
because the conumser said, "Oh, I don't like x-y-z, but I like Microsoft
Word, Excel, IE." No, Microsoft manipulated the industry through industry
channels, not the people. They fooled the people! And the people thought the
government was going to proctect them from past Rockerfeller types? Bull-loney.
The government got bought out! Our rights and choices as consumers, were sold!
How? Not at one instance, but because nobody in power saw this coming or cared
if it did, as long as they got theirs. This doesn't just happen in the computer
market. THIS happens in oil, in retail, in automotive (especially automotive!),
in wartime, everywhere. Some of it is attributed to bad human behavior. Other
parts of it is attributed to being misinformed and uneducated about something.
And what politican REALLY KNOWS something about the RAWNESS of computer
technology to be able to discern when Bill and Steve are doing good business,
and when they are pulling a fast one. The computer geeks saw the coming of the
wrath of Bill Gates. But nobody up high was listening or maybe even cared
because they were not busy serving the public, but they were busy serving

I have known, seen, and discerned standards manipulation ever since Microsoft
MS-DOS hit the streets, ever since the time of my Commodore 64. This is not new
news. This is VERY OLD NEWS. Microsoft is simply playing a VERY OLD GAME and
passing it off as the latest thing.

We, as developers, as people, as good citizens of the U.S., must educate, be
active particapants, and keep accountable our governments, and our businesses
and it's practices. We can not rely on our government (patents, Better Business
Bureau, Federal Trade Commision, Departmnt of Justice) to fully protect our
freedoms. People of position can be bought. Remember PAC money? It is still

This ongoing fight with ODF and Microsoft should be expected. Microsoft has paid
MANY HIGH PRICES to specific enities to get where they are today. And with their
past history, you expect them to just simply give up and say, "oh, we were
wrong. Here you go. I'm sorry." Maybe if Microsoft was contained in an
Elementry school, maybe. But they are a part of our wonderful real world.

Be Patient, be persistant, be consistent, and above all else, stand for truth,
justice, and True Love. You will destroy the darkness with light. Let us shine a
lot of light on this. Open Source, true open standards, the GPL are all
relatively new compared to what we have been living with for quite a long time.
The time of change is at hand, and true equality and freedom in the marketplace
will come if we are strong enough and desire it enough, and live it enough, for
it to come. Do we put money first, and people second, or do we put people (all
citizens, not just a few) first, and money second. Whom do we give the power to?
It is your choice. Really. Empower yourself. Don't let anyone else do it for
you. Opensource and Open Standard provide the structure to encourage that
philosophy. Microsoft closed standards and encumberred licensing agreements do

[ Reply to This | # ]

The ITD is Taking the Wrong Approach on the Disability Issue
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 04:56 PM EST
I think it is a mistake on the ITD's part to simply take a defensive position on
the disability issue.

First of all, I think there is little that needs defending. They put the
proposed decision out for comment, the "access by the disabled" issue
was raised, and they immediately started addressing it.

[One wonders (not really) why the issue was never raised when the earlier
Microsoft XML standard was proposed. After all, it would have broken just as
many access tools, as well as blocking access by disabled users of non-Microsoft

Instead of being defensive, I think the ITD should be taking the offensive on
this issue. Why? Because the truth is on their side!

First, in the long term, the choice of open document standards will provide
GREAT BENEFITS for the disabled.

Among these benefits are:

1. The access software can be written by _anyone_, versus the current situation,
where the disabled are left to the whim of a single company, i.e. Microsoft.

2. Pursuant to the first point, the access software can be written by
organizations specifically focussed on the disabled. In fact, since they will
have access to all the information on the file formats, the software can be
written by the disabled themselves (e.g. blind programmers), thus providing
employment, along with the software. It is the difference between a monopoly,
which benefits one company at everyone else's expense, and an open market, which
benefits everyone.

3. An "access for the disabled" solution that is based on open
standards will NOT get broken every time there is a new software release. Right
now, whenever Microsoft puts out a new version of Office, there is a delay while
other software makers try to catch up (assuming they ever succeed in divining
the new file formats).

4. And so on.

For evidence of these benefits, just point to the Internet, and the high level
of access the disabled receive due to the use of open standards, such as HTML,
and CSS. Compare that to the flaky, on-and-off, you-have-to-beg-Microsoft,
support that they get for MS Office file formats.

As I said, I think the ITD should go on the offensive...

I think the ITD should be explaining the benefits to the disability groups, and
everyone else.

I think the ITD should be asking the Senator why he would want to delay a
decision that will provide so many benefits for the disabled.

I think the ITD should be pointing out the harm that Microsoft is doing to the
disabled, with their (Micsosoft's) lies, and their lack of support for open

[Regarding Microsoft, as usual, they are being dispicable, in this case causing
concious harm to _blind_ people, in order to maintain their monopoly. I really
hate that company, though I suspect that the members of the disability groups
would be even more upset than I am, if they knew the truth.]

Lastly, instead of meekly apologizing, the ITD needs to take an active role in
correcting the misconceptions. Notice how many of the Microsoft-spread
misconceptions were repeated by the two disability-group representatives at the
hearing. Apologies aren't going to change their minds. They (the disabled) need
to know the true facts about the benefits that ODF provides for them, if the
decision is to gain their support.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Responding to One of the Misconceptions
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 05:41 PM EST
There were many misconceptions voiced during the hearing, but my favorite came
at 19:00 in Part "C" of Dan Bricklin's recordings, where one of the
disability spokespersons was talking about how difficult it is to add
accessability after the fact, instead of designing it in from the beginning.

He was apparently oblivious to the irony, in that the process he describes is
exactly how access for the disabled was added to Windows, and MS Office. That's
why it works so badly.

Conversely, he seems to be unaware of the benefits that ODF's pure,
fully-documented XML file formats provide when building access for the

In fact, by his arguments, the benefits are all on the side of ODF, and other
open standards, not to mention Unix and Linux.

When you use open standards, combined with the modular, building-block approach
common to Unix, it means that the access for the disabled can be provided where
it should be, at the user-data level.

Thus, by building access directly, at the text or data-format level, with
protocols such as ODF, HTML, CSS, the Unix command-line, the X-Window interface,
and so on, you can provide solutions for the disabled that work well, across the

With Windows, on the other hand, the solutions are often tacked onto
purposely-obfuscated file formats (such as those for MS Office), or even on top
of a graphical user-interface.

I also find irony in how two-faced this latest Microsoft FUD is. A few years ago
they attacked Linux with the false claim that it was always command-line-based,
i.e. you had to use text instead of a GUI. Now they're claiming that, with ODF
and Linux, you have to use a GUI, and can't access the plain text. Ah well, just
as that earlier FUD died, I have no doubt that the improving Open Source tools
for the disabled are going to quickly put a stop to this new FUD.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How the MA ODF Meeting Went - Updated
Authored by: dateman on Tuesday, November 01 2005 @ 06:31 PM EST
Microsoft can't win on technical merit and so have resorted to political
force...nothing new here, they have done it before and will do it again after
they win this round.

The ITD of MA deserve credit for the right decision and holding out this long,
but once you get politicians involved then its all over for the little people.

Democrazy at work....


[ Reply to This | # ]

Could Galvin/Pachero/Cody be referred to DOJ
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 02 2005 @ 10:49 AM EST
I wonder if politicians who enact anti-competitive laws or
practices as Galvin/Pachero seem to be doing, can be
challenged in the courts by members of the public or
competing vendors for breaking anti-trust law.

By trying to put in place a system where one vendor
(Microsoft) controls the data formats in Massachusetts and
the public access to it, if this is what they are doing,
Galvin, Pachero and Cody are breaking anti-trust law.

It should be noted that unlike previous MS Office formats,
Microsoft's MS-XML is protected by patents and so can't be
legally reverse engineered. If Massachusetts mandates
MS-XML, then they are mandating control by one supplier,
and forcing it on the public. This, unlike ODF which is
fully and publically documented, controlled by joint
stewardship, and not bound by patent encumberances which
one party can use to the disadvantage of others. ODF is
therefore an open standard which everyone can use on a
fair and equal basis. Mandating ODF is therefore not be an
anti-competitive practice, whereas mandating Microsoft
MS-XML is.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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