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Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 02:21 PM EST

Does it get any uglier than what we are witnessing in Massachusetts? Serial killers are worse, I grant you. But watching the politicos in Massachusetts try to kill off OpenDocument Format is surely Top Ten ugly.

Guess what they are now trying? I'll refer you to Andy Updegrove's blog, where he gives us the latest icky chapter. It seems opponents of ODF have come up with a new amendment to a new bill, since they couldn't get S 2256 passed this session, and ODF has become a political football in an old-fashioned power play. Think Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Let's follow the bouncing ball.


That brings us up to today, when a new amendment was introduced by Senator Michael W. Morrissey in lieu of the amendment he had earlier submitted. I am told by what I believe to be a reliable source that the swap was at the suggestion of Secretary Galvin, because the first version was "slanted too heavily in favor of the Governor." And the new amendment? It shifts power dramatically, and I bet you can guess in whose direction it shifts.

Here's a summary of what the new amendment would do in contrast to the original:

1) Reduces the number of appointees given to the Governor from 4 to 2

2) Designates the CIO of ITD as a permanent appointee to the Task Force

3) Eliminates the appointees by the State Treasurer and State Auditor

4) Mandates that the Supervisor of Public Records (who reports to the Secretary of State) serve as Chair of the Task Force; previous version had the Chair elected by the appointees

5) Mandates that the State Archivist (also reports to the Secretary of State) serve as Secretary of the Task Force

6) Emphasizes that no agency, department or municipality shall adopt technology policy, practices or standards without a majority vote of the Task Force; previous version listed only executive branch agencies or departments as subject to the decisions of the Task Force
[You can find the full text of the new amendment at the end of this post]

As you can see, with the exception of making the state CIO a permanent member of a 7-person task force, all other changes solidly increase the power of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and even expand the power of the task force beyond that originally contemplated by the ITD's proposal.

In fact, the new amendment enables exactly the type of situation that the anti-ODF FUDists had claimed Quinn was out to require, but in fact was not: requiring that citizens of the Commonwealth could only interrelate with their own government if they owned software that supported a standard mandated by public officials.

Can you guess what these movers and shakers expect that standard should be? After reading the transcript of the hearing, I believe I can. Can they get away with it and kill off ODF? I can't see how. Maybe in a movie about the Mob. But this is the Internet age. Back-room deals end up headlines, and that tends to undermine effectiveness. About all I can see that Microsoft can get out of these machinations is a black eye. The overarching message is that if you don't want to use their software, you'll be sat on by goons or the political equivalent. Frankly, that doesn't make me want to use their software. This is America, is it not?

Meanwhile, on the disabilities front, do read David Berlind's blog on his interaction with Curtis Chong, president of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, who ends up saying he'd be happy to support ODF if his needs are met. That is the headline. Chong thinks the 2007 deadline is unrealistic, but if there is one thing I feel I can say with confidence from all I know and am hearing, it's that the deadline will be met. But even if it wasn't, when Massachusetts announced their choice of ODF, they stated that if the disabled needed to stay with Microsoft products because of third-party solutions designed for accessibility, they could until a better solution was available. So what is the issue? Just politics, really.

Not that Microsoft is lifting a finger to help the disabled, by the way. Let's be real. They could solve the issue for the disabled by just announcing that Microsoft will support ODF. ODF is a standard, so proprietary software can and does support it. It's not just Open Source that can support it.

Because Microsoft isn't willing to support ODF, or haven't to date, it's clear to me they don't care a bit about the disabled, and are happy to use them for their own business advantage.

They don't, as Berlind points out in his letter to Chong, write disability software like JAWS, and in fact they hinder its functionality. Berlind pointedly asks Chong why no representative for the disabled at the hearing mentioned the problems the disabled have with Microsoft's software:

A few of your points would have been very relevant and I'm certain that those who spoke at the hearing were aware of them. For example, the point you [are] making about the precarious balance that exists between the specialized accessibility software and Microsoft Office was never mentioned. Nor was the fact that every time Microsoft upgrades it's software, the accessibility software must be completely re-engineered to keep up. I'm sure that each time the cat catches its tail, only to have the tail eventually slip away, that it's the work of a few heroic people that catch the tail again. But isn't there a point at which the tail catchers realize that this is a futile effort that stands in the way of true innovation in accessibility? I've been a technology journalist for 15 years now. In that time, it didn't matter who the vendor was: if a vendor came out with a product that wasn't backwards compatible with the ones before it, they were hammered out of the market. The fact that Microsoft keeps breaking backward compatibility and forcing heroic developers to creatively exploit both documented and undocumented interfaces suggests to me that the company hasn't looked at continuity in accessibility as a problem that it's responsible for solving.

What I don't think the disabled have clued in on yet is that with ODF, they can just hire someone to code what they need. No. Really. That's the beauty of it. You don't need to beg Microsoft or third-party companies to please write what you need. You can hire a programmer and do it yourself. In this case, they don't even need to. Some of the most powerful sofware companies in the world have dedicated resources to the task. But the power of open standards and Open Source (note they are not the same thing, but they are both desirable) is that you are never stuck or dependent on any vendor. Think about it.

Another development: Linda Hamel, General Counsel for ITD, has sent the Senate a brief [PDF], answering the legal questions Senator Marc Pacheco asked at the hearing on October 31. Here's the summary from the brief.


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a 23 billion dollar enterprise that relies increasingly on the creation and use of electronic records. The majority of employees of that enterprise work in the Executive Department. ITD is the central agency assigned authority over the Executive Department’s use and acquisition of information technology. ITD issued the latest version of its Information Technology architecture plan, known as the “Enterprise Technical Reference Model Version 3.5” or “ETRM 3.5”, on September 21, 2005. ETRM 3.5 contained a requirement that as of a certain date all documents created within the Executive Department be created in a version of the reference schema for Extensible Markup Language (XML) known as the Open Document Format 1.0, an industry standard created through an open process and licensed under minimally restrictive terms. The standard, which has been adopted by the Library of Congress for electronic record preservation, and is being used by the National Archive and Records Administration in their Electronic Records Archive project, was adopted after a lengthy process conducted by ITD involving legal research, discussions with information technology experts, and an informal notice and comment process involving all three branches of state government and every Executive Department agency.

In adopting the ODF standard, ITD acted within its legal authority because:

In adopting the ODF Standard, ITD did not violate any state or Federal disability law, although ITD’s implementation of the standard must be conducted in a manner consistent with those laws;

ITD was not required by law to use the formal notice and comment process set forth in the Commonwealth’s Administrative Procedures Act in connection with the issuance of the ODF standard;

ITD did not violate any law pertaining to the Commonwealth’s Information Technology Advisory Board in connection with the adoption of the ODF standard; Under its enabling legislation, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 7 section 4A(d), and under the Commonwealth’s Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 110G section 17, ITD has clear authority to adopt standards pertaining to the formats of electronic documents created in the Executive Department; and

Adoption of the ODF standard did not create an illegal procurement preference.

I find it hard to understand why Galvin wants more control over electronic records. His archiving has remained in the stone age for quite some time. Perhaps he is not the one best qualified to speak about electronic archiving standards, since he has chosen to rely to a large extent on paper instead, something I learned from the brief:

In an ideal world, the Commonwealth’s state Archive would have a digital archive for the storage of this second category of electronic documents. ITD has repeatedly encouraged the Secretary of the Commonwealth, who maintains the state Archive and to whom the Supervisor of Public Records reports, to seek IT bond funding for the creation of a digital archive. Today the Commonwealth’s state Archive is primarily a paper-only facility. Because there is no state digital archive, only a small proportion of agencies have transferred electronic records destined for short and long term retention under the Records in Common Schedule to the Secretary’s custody. The electronic records of those relatively few agencies that have taken this path have been shipped to private sector document storage facilities where they are not accessible online. The Archive itself may store some paper records that have been migrated to non-digital electronic formats like microfiche and optical character recognition media.

Say, that sounds like a great system for storage in the Internet Age. Not. And the disabled are able to access those records precisely how, Secretary of the Commonwealth Galvin? Secretary Galvin is, according to Updegrove, the sponsor of the new amendment and its beneficiary. Is this the man best qualified to decide what standard is best for digital records? I'd make a joke about the blind leading the blind, but it would be tasteless.


Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly | 375 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 02:33 PM EST
Time for some patriots to dump a few tons of Office CDs into the bay...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: MathFox on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 02:33 PM EST
Typos, etc. You know the drill.

When people start to comment on the form of a message, it is a sign that they
have problems to accept the truth of the message.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic thread
Authored by: MathFox on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 02:37 PM EST
The thread for non MA, non ODF, Open Source and legal issues.

If you post a link, use HTML mode and give us a few lines that describe what the
link is about.

When people start to comment on the form of a message, it is a sign that they
have problems to accept the truth of the message.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eweek: Massachusetts Governor Calls for More Tech Innovation
Authored by: MathFox on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 02:45 PM EST
In this eweek article the Governor on Massachusets voices his support for the move to ODF:
He also voiced support for the state's policy to insist that state documents be stored in the OpenDocument format so that they might be accessible indefinitely at no charge to taxpayers.

When people start to comment on the form of a message, it is a sign that they have problems to accept the truth of the message.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The disability issue
Authored by: Nick_UK on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 02:52 PM EST
As an aside, I said using this as an excuse not to adopt
an open standard is really getting low - low enough to be
in gutter.

Anyway, I wonder how many disabled people are hackers?
Quite a few I expect. Now look at what FOSS/OSS opens up
- a person with a certain disability can FIX and ENHANCE
exactly what he/she needs for functionality in an
application. If they can't code, at least there is a
channel for the users to say what is required (hey, I need
a bigger type face here! etc. etc.) - and from my
experience with all open source, it happens fast as 100's,
if not 1000's of people are listening.

Now think about it if proprietary formats are supported
only? Never in a million years will the disabled Customer
get exactly what they need from the proprietary companies
- they are stuck with a 'perception' of what the
proprietary company thinks they should have.

It's about time some intelligent person told all these
people that an open standard ISN'T the application you use
to access it...

OK, I am getting mad now.


[ Reply to This | # ]

ODF loses battle, wins war
Authored by: mnuttall on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 02:53 PM EST
In the sweepstake (winners declared Jan 1st 2010), my ticket has ODF losing in
Mass in 2006, but showing strong uptake in Indian beauracracy, pilots or
medium-scale deployments in China and the Czech Republic and pilot projects in
at least half the EU. The Mass team did the hard-thinking about the long term
interest of the people but forgot to factor the short-term financial interest of
certain elected officials and politicians.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 03:03 PM EST
Remember, this is BG fighting with more $ than
than you can realize. He'll go to ANY length
to stop this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Doesn't matter
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 03:04 PM EST
The genie is out: this is a high-profile story and the issues are not hard to
follow. The more political and dirty the opposition gets, the stronger it makes
the case for open standards. Even if this gets throttled in MA, the courageous
efforts of Mr. Quinn and his department have made a huge advance against the
monopoly mindshare. Lots of governments are watching.


[ Reply to This | # ]

The ODF naysayers have a point...
Authored by: josmith42 on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 03:11 PM EST

I mean really, if the main reason to move to ODF is because it's an open standard, then there's no point. Why? Because MS Word Format is an open standard.

Word Format is based on XML.
XML is an open standard.
Therefore, Word Format is an open standard. QED.

Actually, come to think of it, MS Office is an open standard too!

MS Office is written in C++.
C++ is an open standard.
Therefore, MS Office is an open standard. QED

Ha! You open source hippies can't argue with cold, hard logic, now can you!

This comment was typed using the Dvorak keyboard layout. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: overshoot on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 03:39 PM EST
Can you guess what these movers and shakers expect that standard should be?

They aren't that foolish. What they're shooting for is exactly what Microsoft asked for in their letter: no data format specifications at all. They want office software purchased like an electric typewriter, piecemeal, preferably in small quantities that sneak below the open-bidding thresholds.

The reason is that they can't openly specify Microsoft formats:

  • If they copy the content of Microsoft's specifications, they run the risk of someone (think IBM) challenging an MS purchase because MS demonstrably doesn't meet their own documentation.
  • If they delegate the spec to MS ("all bidders must meet Microsoft's specifications as set forth at ..., with compliance determined by Microsoft") they'll be overturned by a judge within hours.
  • If the Legislature has to revise the open-bidding laws to make an exception for Microsoft, they'll be crucified in the Press. Some things are just too blatant even for MA politicos.

No, what they're going to shoot for is just making it impossible to have a properly-specified enterprise architecture. Every contracted program will have to negotiate interchange formats with every other potential connected program, with vendors using mutual incompatibility to give themselves advantages over competitors.

It'll be a nightmare to administer and the cost overruns will be a replay of the infamous IRS software overhaul -- with similar results: scrap the mess and live with code from the 60s.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 03:46 PM EST
here is some interesting stuff just doing a search on google

and here is an article that is interesting
I wonder if it the same william galvin - if it is that would very interesting

and another one

just a few to put out there. I wonder if Galvin was the former defense

[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 03:52 PM EST
What I find hard to understand is how the legislative
branch thinks it can pass a law telling the executive
branch how it is to run. If it passes I would expect the
governor to file a suit in court.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The disabled community and doing your own accessibility
Authored by: dyfet on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 04:01 PM EST
What I don't think the disabled have clued in on yet is that with ODF, they can just hire someone to code what they need.

There is a certain mentality among some in the accessibility community that since very often when such things have happened in the past, they did so as a result of some corporate donation, that they should not rock the boat or do anything that may in the future disade such corporate a doner in the future, even if it means waiting for someone else to do something rather than doing something themselves. This is unfortunate but true.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Welcome to Massachusetts Politics
Authored by: ricerocket on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 04:14 PM EST
Anyone from around here would not be surprised by these kinds of tactics. They
don't call it the Hackarama here for nothing.

Just look at our Turnpike Authority and The Big Dig(TM) Fine examples of Mass
government in action.

The thing that irks me most about this state, is that no-one here seems to care
what these so called 'legislators' try and sneak past everyone, though I am sure
it's not just our state that's like this.

Most people on would practically lynch the head of Exxon or Enron if they saw
them walking down the street, but anyone in government gets a big pass because
they are "working for the people"..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Paper's better. Period.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 04:15 PM EST
While I'm fully in favour of ODF, and can't see any real reasons not to use it,
there is no digital storage in existence that even comes close to providing the
longevity of paper documents. It doesn't matter if we're in the Internet age or
not - digital just can't keep up yet, so that argument's pretty much a dead

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wait, and you will find out
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 04:31 PM EST
Can they get away with it and kill off ODF? I can't see how

Just wait a little while, and you will find out how.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • No, you forgot ISO - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 05:03 PM EST
    • No, you forgot ISO - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 06:34 PM EST
    • Wrong - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 08:26 AM EST
That's twice in a row ...
Authored by: Jude on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 04:34 PM EST
... that they've tried the old "attach it to some otherwise completely
unrelated bill" trick. This suggests to me that one or both of the
following may be the case:

1) Master Billy is desperate, and has commanded the flunkies to act with all
possible haste. There isn't time to create a new bill just for this and satisfy
Master Billy.

2) The flunkies know this couldn't pass if was in its own legislation, so
they're trying to sneak it by as part of something that other legislators are
unlikely to vote down. This is one of the most cowardly, and most popular,
tactics in dirty politics. However, it depends on the other legislators letting
it go by, which might not happen, It may also be vulnerable to the governor's
veto if they don't pass it by a sufficient majority.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 04:34 PM EST
Before you get too critical about the state Archive process, you need to
distinguish between a Repository and an Archive. A digital repository is a good
thing. It makes information easily available, and makes searching for
information a fast process. That is the power of the WEB. However a digital
"Archive" is a misnomer. We do not have a digital "archive"
process. Digital file formats, digital media, and the hardware to read digital
media have a very short life span, measured in 10s of years. For example, try
finding hardware to read an 8 inch floppy. An archive is concerned with time
spans of hundreds of years. An archive does not have a goal of making
information easily accessible. Its goal is to make sure that it is still
available when it no longer is easily accessible.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Woman With Intestinal Fortitude
Authored by: iceworm on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 04:53 PM EST

Linda Hamel, General Counsel for ITD

Go Linda!


[ Reply to This | # ]

... The ODF Battle Gets Ugly ...
Authored by: tanstaafl on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 06:26 PM EST
... but this IS politics as usual! And I'm CERTAIN that the creeps will win,
because as Citizens, we exist to fulfull the needs of the State! No, wait, that
was another system ...

Unfortunately, the U.S. has a long history of politics being a filthy arena.
Most of the time, were one allowed to dig deep enough, money would be found at
the root of whatever issue was being corrupted (if not money, then power, which
is essentially the same thing). There is a simple reason for this: Americans
come from all over the world, and politics is played this way all over the

Although my first instinct is to strike out, our first response should be a
calm, measured approach to Secretary Galvin. He obviously deals with paper
documents exclusively, and should be given the benefit of the doubt (hey, this
is a lot like being in Court!). If Mr. Galvin has unrealistic fears due to lack
of knowledge, let us attempt to englighten him. If he is one of the creeps, or
on the take, let him reject our polite attempts at education before we ridicule
his position. Remember, the SCOs of the world like nothing better than to point
out one of their victims, frothing at the mouth with anger at being attacked, as
being one of `those Linux bananas.'

[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 06:43 PM EST
Many on Groklaw have stated that the ODF is not about M$ Office vs other office
produtivity applications. When in fact M$ is attempting to squash applications
and organizations that use/develop the ODF standard to insure that M$ Office
remains the the defacto office productivity format in order to maintain their
monopoly on the government/corporate desktop. How much money is M$ throwing
around to defeat the ODF standard and to whom is this money going to? Why has
not anyone investigated M$'s anticompetitive actions, surely Novell should be
interested. State legislators should have more to legislate than what file
format is used by the people of Massachusetts unless they have some type of
vested interest/incentive to insure that a particular file format remains the
State's standard.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 07:13 PM EST
Time for some citizens to find and call these politicians out! Do they have
connections with Microsoft? If so, how close? Trace the connection back and
let the known world know!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 08:24 PM EST
"Among Microsoft's many achievements, they have convinced people with the barest of technical knowledge that Exchange should be their choice in messaging. This has to stand as one of the greatest feats of manipulating perception in modern times. One might even suggest that penetrating the enterprise must rank with Microsoft's garnering the PC market by selling IBM on DOS, fifteen years earlier."

The quote above came from here.

Clearly, MS is going after the most uninformed decision makers to pay their way into procurement. How do we know this? Galvin is stuck in the paper age, according to Hamel.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 08:29 PM EST
M$ will win in Mass., because they have the finest politicians money can buy.

And don't think you can find a financial trail; individual donations, y'know,
and not all the money comes directly; the friend of my friend; and don't listen
to him, he's not one of us.

Tell me about democracy again, daddy; you know, that marvellous system where the
will of the people prevails.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts Helped MS with disability support
Authored by: star-dot-h on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 09:21 PM EST
It was pointed out during the recent senate show trial that in the 1990's
Massachusetts helped MS with disability support to ensure MS complied with
legislation. The comment was made there is no reason why the Commonwealth should
not do the same again.

Quite so, and why was MS favoured in the 90s? Was it to the exclusion of other
document formats?


Free software on every PC on every desk

[ Reply to This | # ]

State politics and government are nothing to admire here
Authored by: fgoldstein on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 09:22 PM EST
While Massachusetts is well-known for its (mostly private) educational
institutions and knowledge-based industries, its governmental system is an
embarassment. This isn't because it's a one-party state, but it's because of a
long-standing set of traditions.

One key issue is that public-sector jobs are not looked upon as finding the best
people to do the work for everyone else. Rather, it's employment for those in
the right political class. The legislature specifies specific jobs and
salaries, giving department heads, even cabinet members, little leeway. Salaries
are usually well below private sector levels. Civil service hiring gives
veterans an absolute priority: A veteran who is barely qualified and barely
passes the test will outrank someone who gets a perfect score and is far more
suitable to the job. When times are good, many of the best employees take
private-sector jobs, if they can get them.

Elective offices tend to be handed off among insiders, again mostly with some
outside connections. It can be quite tribal. People back members of their
tribe regardless of qualification. These politicians will sometimes engage in
grandstanding, typically aiming at the less-educated or less-astute among their
constituency. So the whole political discussion is conducted at a level of
people who had academic trouble getting through high school, but who have lots
of family ties.

The techie community is largely composed of outsiders who moved here to take
jobs. Thus we're not part of local tribes, and have no connection to the pols.
The construction unions, contractors, liquor distributors, and other local
interests are much better connected.

Billy Galvin, whose nickname is "The Prince of Darkness", is a very
skillful tribal manipulator. 20-odd years ago, when phone companies started
charging for 411 calls, he made his mark as a state rep by putting through a
bill requiring that all 411 calls be free of charge. It sounded very
pro-consumer, though it was unrealistic. Mostly it got his name in the papers.
He's that kind of guy. He wants to be governor, and needs a big war chest to do
it. MS has big money, and other proprietary software companies in the state
also fear open source, so he could be angling for money among them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is Microsoft Word 2003 XML format the Open Document Format?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 09:24 PM EST
" Extensible Markup Language (XML) known as the Open Document Format 1.0,
an industry standard created through an open process and licensed under
minimally restrictive terms".

I am confused. I use Linux Mandrake and OpenOffice 2.0. When I wanted to save a
document in .xml format (I guess the Open Document Format), I saw that it is
labelled as "Microsoft Word 2003 XML (.xml)". So, Are we talking about
the same thing? How come Microsoft does not support XML format since it is
"their" format, don't they? And why OpenOffice 2.0 is not labeling it
as Open Document Format? Please explain me. Thanks.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Time for a Tea Party?
Authored by: Kosh Nanarek on Thursday, November 17 2005 @ 10:18 PM EST
Why don't we try to organize a tea party in the habor? Imagine the publicity if
could get even a thousand people to show up and dump M$ software into the
water? Well, maybe not into the water itself, since that would cause a mess and

we certainly don't want M$ software contaminating our water. But maybe we
could set up some of those CD shredders and have people line up to destroy
their M$ software discs or something. Film at six and ten o'clock!!!

Maybe we could throw in some Sony music CDs for good measure, too.

"And so, it begins."

[ Reply to This | # ]

"challenge to Microsoft"
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 01:49 AM EST
Andy Updegrove wrote something else, which deserves a lot more attention than it has received.

"Computerworld, incidentally, has been doing what many media outlets have been doing: covering ODF solely as a "challenge to Microsoft" issue rather than addressing the independent virtues of an open standard format that becomes more and more useful the more it becomes supported."

Removing the story from the world of technical merits which can be compared and evalued, and of acts and costs which affect us all personally. Recasting it as some sort of wrestling match between hyper-myalgic pre-verbal strangers. Perhaps a passing distraction, but nothing that matters.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: findlay on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 03:01 AM EST
Welcome to politics, PJ. There is a saying that you should never see the making
of three things: laws, sausage, and proprietary software. I've seen two of them
made and studiously avoid the third all the more for having been sufficiently in
the world to witness the two.

Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tax break?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 09:16 AM EST
If I lived in Mass, I wonder if I could write off $400 to cover MS office
expense in order to read government documents.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is the Atlantic Coast
Authored by: jplatt39 on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 09:57 AM EST
Think Tammany Hall, the New York Mafia...

I'm sorry, PJ, but I'm quite serious. When we were younger TV news and so on
were quite respected, as they are not now, and they were actually quite good at
getting information and pictures out. Not only has this been going on for a
long time but it has been going on for a long time in public. I do not share
your optimism about the ability of the open source community to beat back this
or other equally crude power plays.

When I think about it, I'm not entitled to say any more about why I feel this
way, but from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire, at least, you can expect this sort
of thing (though New Hampshire is a strange case, unrelated to the traditional
feuds and machines further south).

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Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 11:16 AM EST
I agree with Andy's statement:

"Making rules that affected the archive without gaining the Secretary's
approval did not go unnoticed, or unappreciated (in the negative sense)."

Mandating anything is a difficult and often self-defeating process. What many
folks here attribute to MS purchasing politicians and what not is IMHO simply
another example of human nature in action.

Someone said "Thou shalt do ODF", someone else responded "Who the
heck are you to tell me what to do?"

No conspiracy theories required beyond this point...tell a human that they need
to do something, even if its in their interests to do so and more often than not
you get push back.

Let the marketplace decide without such mandates. If the IT departments wishes
to influence the outcome they can stipulate that they support only X technology
(say ODF). For any other technology the individual departments are on their own
and have to support those with their own budgets.


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More confused: XML or SXW? Microsoft or OpenDocumentFormat?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 12:06 PM EST
I am sorry but your explanations are confusing me more.

According to some of you, OpenDocumentformat is the XML format but Open Office
2.0 says xml belongs to Microsoft. Then others say that the true Open Document
Format is not XML but SXW. This contradicts the whole page of Groklaw!
Accordingly, you should do the changes because it seems to me everyone is using
the term XML to mean TWO different things. Please explain. Not everyone knows
all. Thanks.

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Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 12:30 PM EST
I can't help but wonder if M$ also collects "dirt"
besides also "offering" financial incentives.

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Secretary up for election in 2006
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 01:56 PM EST
Candidates are now lining up for the 2006 election for state secretary in Massachusetts. There are links to candidate sites here. It looks like most of the sites aren't yet tuned for the election, and basically talk about what they've been doing in the current jobs, most of which doesn't sound to me particularly relevant to the responsibilities of a state secretary. It seems like a candidate who claimed that Galvin lacked document-management skills or was impeding plans to make documents flow efficiently through the government could steal a lot of votes on the issue, even if the office of the state secretary isn't really much like an office secretary.

We've seen a certain amount of turnover of officials lately due to the people disagreeing with their politics (including a number of legislators getting kicked out for opposing same-sex marriage). I could see Galvin getting kicked out over being too much in favor of Microsoft.

I'm actually really confused by Tom Reilly; first he fights tooth and nail against the Microsoft monopoly, long after all of the other state attorneys general have given up, and then he makes giving Microsoft a stronger monopoly a plank in his campaign for governor.

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Massachusetts: The ODF Battle Gets Ugly
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 02:24 PM EST
Looks like they're just trying to reduce the number of people they'll need to
bribe, incidentally increasing the size of the average bribe.

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A Look from the Future: Massachusetts - ODF
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 07:12 PM EST

* Massachusetts ITD does exceptional work to standardize on ODF formats (2005)

* The Commonwealth of Massachusetts stands poised to go down in the history of
Information Technology as one of the world's leaders in moving open standards to

* Microsoft encourages various groups to fight on its behalf to not have a
standard, open format for document storage

* Politics ensures, Microsoft "wins"

* Over the next several months, worldwide, sanity regarding using open standard
formats prevails

* Many national, state and local governments mandate open standards for document
storage, based on OpenDocument format (led by European, South American and Asian

* Somewhat later, the whole world moves to open standards based on ODF

* Healthy competition in the office document processing software ensures,
innovative software is brought to the market that uses open standards for
document storage

* Massachusetts is forced to adopt open standards because everyone else uses it,
without necessarily creating a specific policy

* Harvard Business School creates a case study called "How Not to Snatch
Defeat from the Jaws of Victory - Massachusetts ODF" for educating future
leaders on foresight and fairness in government policy making, describing how a
"no brainer" decision can be clouded by agendas and politics



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Any artists out there?
Authored by: darkonc on Friday, November 18 2005 @ 07:57 PM EST
I'd love to get a political cartoon entitled "Microsoft's Approach to Disabled People's Needs", showing a blind person, folded into a football, and about to be booted by a Bill Gates boot'.

Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

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