CyberTech Rambler

January 25, 2007

MS wikipedia edit blocked

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:35 pm

Wikipedia has responsed to Microsoft hiring third parties to edit articles. They banned
it.  Good job wikipedia.

Guess Microsoft got a bit more PR than they expected, CNN picked up the news. It is accusing those articles of being written by IBM staffs. If so, it should file a formal complain to Wikipedia and Wikipedia has the duty of care to investigate whether the contributors were indeed from IBM staffs. If so, Wikipedia must apply the same standard to IBM staffs.

So I guess Microsoft is also going to say the collection of anti OOXML articles in groklaw.net is also written by IBM. A lot of stuff on the internet about problems with OOXML, including facts quoted on the groklaw’s article, can trace its origin back to research done by at IBM. The important point is the authors are not affiliated to IBM, nor independent third parties paid by IBM. There will be authors out there out to get Microsoft, or believe anything from IBM is Gospel truth but the point is, IBM did not tried to influence them beyond publishing their research. The groklaw’s article is worth mentioning because volunteers had spent their time collection and discussing those information before publishing it.

If Microsoft finds that it has to put off the fire then it is welcome to voice its opinion. Microsoft’s Brian Jones, for example, has been the focal point in defending Microsoft’s position.  Jones had attacked ODF as well. May be I am biased, but Jone’s arguement is less persuasive then Rob Weir of IBM. It is partly due to the fact that Jones failed to quote from the relevent ODF standard, thus giving me the impression that he did not read it which seriously undermine his credibility.

January 24, 2007

Microsoft DR-DOS tactics hurts users

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:39 pm

Well, I am a late-bloomer. I took me a few years to realise that MS DR-DOS “incompatibility” trick hurts not only DR-DOS, but the end users as well.

The simplest way to see it is to say end users had to fork out for MS-DOS unnecessarily. That will be missing the big picture. Users lose out because this unethical practice makes them favour MS-DOS over DR-DOS and inevitably, help MS achieve its monopoly status today.

Its true that MS settle the DR-DOS saga to DR-DOS’s satisfactory, but users had not been compensated. Hopefully, the current Iowa Class Action Suite will correct this a bit.

MS-Walmart deal

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:21 pm

Initially, when I heard of the MS-Walmart deal of SuSE support vouchers, I thought that is a good example in Microsoft favour. Let’s face it, when MS first paraded three financial institutions accepting SuSE vouchers, we sceptics can say oh well, MS must have given them a deal. With Walmart added into the mix, this arguement is getting thinner and thinner. This time, it appears that Walmart is a RedHat customers, most of  the independent accounts I see mention this, giving me the impression that RedHat is being jilted. It is important as it is one of the key indicator of the success of Microsoft-Novell deal is how many extra customers SuSE snatch from its competitor.

I was also dismissing the role of one Kelvin Turner of Microsoft in the deal. So he was with Walmart before joining Microsoft, what is the big deal? A lot of deals are dependent on relationships, especially big one.

That was, until Mary Jo Foley pointed out things Microsoft’s Press Release failed to mention, i.e., the SuSE servers planned is to supplement RedHat servers, not replacing it. That is a very big deal. Not dumping RedHat means I cannot say this is a strong indicator of the success of Microsoft-Novell deal.

Then, about the point that Microsoft-Noell “agrees to disagree”, i.e. Intellectual Property issue. Microsoft’s Press Release is full of it, but quriously, it is simply Microsoft so-and-so says that it is important. The first link in this blog post presents it as important from Walmart point-of-view. This disjoint is interesting because surely Microsoft will want to show off that other companies, and there will be at least a few, buy into their arguement?

The final interesting point is, why is it that it is Microsoft, not Novell, who is beating the drum for SuSE Linux. One would expects Novell to chime in on the press releases, but they are so far kept their mouth shut.

January 23, 2007

Well, at least IBM did it openly

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:23 am

I mention that in the previous post (Who has more to lose?), that both sides in the ODF/OOXML debate is guity of bashing the other side, especially at critical times. For IBM, it is its current increase in activity on their staff’s personal blog, especially Rob Weir’s, as ISO is considering whether to fast-track OOXML. Microsoft is allegedly behind the campaign against ODF when Massachusett throws OOXML predecessor out of its ETRM. I hinted it is Microsoft policy to use proxies to attack ODF and as if proof is needed, we have Rick Jelliff saying he got an offer from Microsoft who wants to contract someone to correct so-called disinformation on Wikipedia on ODF/OOXML debate.

While I am in no doubt that if Jelliff takes up the offer,  all that Jelliff does is to correct errors and not writing propaganda for OOXML and the fact that Jelliff disclose this when he did not have to support my case. It is sad to see that Microsoft would not do the corrections using its own name. The examples Jelliff use it his blog post about legacy document support in OOXML critism are controversial points about OOXML. Although the benefit-of-doubt must be given to Microsoft, it is difficult t0 see how a third party application can achieve the aim of OOXML, i.e., faithfully recreates legacy Microsoft Office document, without treating those contentious items as compulsory, rather than optional. This point is important as it is one of the stated aim of the OOXML standard. Rather than remove that section all together, I feel a clarification of the criticism, and presentation of Jelliff’s view point, should go side-by-side. The truth is, unless you and I are in the Office Productivity Application business, or contributes to Office Prodcutiveity Application such as OpenOffice.org/KOffice, all discussion we have are not grounded in experience, but simply opinions. This actually means our opinions must be taken with a pinch of salt by our audience.

The point I will like to make here is that Microsoft should come out and edit the documents themselves openly, not hire a proxy to do it for them. They may have the best of intention, a balance view, when  they decide to hire proxy. Unfortunately, past behaviour means my opinion is biased against them. At least IBM did its opposition to OOXML openly. This is more gutsy than to hide behind third parties, especially paid third parties.

January 22, 2007

Who has more to lose?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 5:58 pm

ODF vs OOXML war heats up… and it is getting personal.

It seems to had started after ECMA submits OOXML to ISO for fast-track process. Personally, and without scientific basis, I did notice that Rob Weir’s blog (my main source of pro-ODF information) seems to have increased in activity. Apparently, Brian Jones of Microsoft (my main source of pro-OOXML information) noticed this, and since Dec 07, seems to be very upset that IBM voted against OOXML in ECMA and IBM staff had been putting out information against OOXML on their blogs. Normally Jones does not directly mention IBM in his blog post. However, recently, this three letter word appears more and more frequently on his blog.

Is Microsoft right in complaining about IBM’s propaganda war? Yes and No, of course. Yes, because the gentleman way of dealing with something one has an alternative to and don’t like is not to undermine it, but simply ignore it. That is why I was surprised that IBM voted No at ECMA. IBM’s reason, that nobody except Microsoft can fully implement OOXML, is a very strong point and to me, is a good enough reason to vote No. Still, may be IBM should had abstained. How about the propaganda war? Given that a lot of anti-ODF literatures (news/opinions) and actions when Massachusetts reject OOXML were extremely likely been funded by Microsoft in the background, I will say it is fair game. At least IBM came out and say I don’t like this because of this and this and that, not like Microsoft employing puppets to do its dirty laundry.

Jone’s latest post says that “IBM has a lot of money in the game banking on ODF, and my guess is that there is a lot of fear on their side that if there are alternatives to ODF they will lose.” This attracted reply from Rob and Wal Hucks. Jones obviously believe that IBM has a lot riding on ODF, and Hucks believes Microsoft has more to lose if OOXML did not succeed.

The truth is, none of them had bet their company on ODF or OOXML. If OOXML succeeds at the expense of ODF, IBM can easily rewrite their applications to make OOXML the default file format. I cannot see IBM being so stubborn that they wrote their applications to use nothing but ODF. Nor are they big enough, or stupid enough, to employ Microsoft’s trick of mingling code in such a way that ODF cannot be separated from the application. In fact, I expect IBM to have their OOXML->ODF->OOXML converters whether or not ISO accredit OOXML. IBM will be at a slight disadvantage when it comes to selling document manipulating software compared to Microsoft’s Share Point/Project servers, but not much. IBM has the business expertise that MS would love to have.

If ODF succeeds at the expense of OOXML, Microsoft will see its monopoly rent on Office Application decline. It will not disappear overnight but will be eroded over a few years until Microsoft will, eventually, not be able to collect monopoly rent anymore. Note that this does not mean Microsoft Office will not make a profit, just not as much as it would. Microsoft Windows market will be affected, but not as bad as most analysts predicts because Windows is in a separate market, and using Windows has advantages that other operating system don’t. Yes, Microsoft will no longer call the shots but that is just brused ego, nothing more. Other money losing Microsoft’s divisions will have lost their sugardaddy and have to start pulling their weight. The decline in monopoly rent can be relatively fast, say over a 6 years period, but it leave sufficient time for Microsoft to transform itself and Microsoft will be transformed, but it will still be prosperous, not limping along. Will Microsoft then support ODF natively in MS Office? It will not have a choice. In fact, it can save face by declaring that there is sufficient demand to implement ODF in MS Office. Will it be a big problem for Office to support ODF? I don’t know, but I will say it will not be a big problem as Microsoft is trying to imply now.

Who has more to lose? We just don’t know. Rolling a dice would be as good as any prediction. Companies can transform themselves according to business needs. IBM is transforming, so is Microsoft.

January 17, 2007

Steve Job: “Nobody use Java anymore…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 3:43 pm

Of course, I designed the headline to shock. To put in context, Job is said to have said this when asked to comment on whether Java will be on Apple’s iPhone. He meant Java is dead on the mobile phone platform. Ed Burnnette finds it necessary to lecture Job about the advantages of supporting Java on iPhone. I myself do not find it necessary. As Burnnette pointed out, Job intend iPhone to be a closed platform. Thou shalt not install anything not approved by Steve Job on thou’s iPhone. Period. There is all the reason in the world to think that iPhone would go the way of the iPod: Nobody can touch the iPod’s innerds except Apple, but feel free to fight for the other scraps (iPod accessaries market) that Apple throws out.

Steve Job is not going to open up the iPhone to third party, hence, there is no need for Java. He picks the programming team(s) to work with, and can therefore control every single aspect of the software development on the iPhone. The advantages of Java quoted by Burnnette is useful if it is an open platform, which requires a different management strategy from a closed, tightly controlled platform.

In short, Job believe that Java has no place in his iPhone. And “Nobody use Java anymore” comments needs to be qualified. He probably meant “Nobody use Java anymore for a closed mobile phone platform”.

January 11, 2007

If you are in a hole, STOP DIGGING

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:19 pm

Novell, whether it likes it or not, is in a hole w.r.t. open source community at large as a results of its Novell-Microsoft deal. Judging from its official activities surrounding the deal, it had been trying to get itself out of the hole since.

The problem with high profile stuff like this deal is everything is examined in even more minute details, and the latest news, about the deal being welcomed by the business community as judged from downloads, turn out to be untrue because the statistics quoted is about the number of hits on a open SuSE download page hosted on a website, which, while is an indicator of buzz around the open SuSE, does not track the actual downloads. Actual downloads are better indicator of whether people is really interested, as it means they take the time and trouble to get it. It is still an indicator because there is no guarantee the downloads where used to run the application.

The secondary problem is, it is simply too early to say whether there is a jump in interest on running open SuSE. For this, we need to see actual deployment. Deal  was announced in November, thus we only have two months data. Seeing the buzz around  open SuSE attract flies who simply want to have a look at what openSuSE is and not deploying it. We need to see a sustained increase in deployment of open SuSE to conclude that any increase in open SuSE adoption is real, not a mirage. Two months is too short to make the call, especially with Christmas holiday in the period.

All in all, Novell’s PR department should had checked, double check and triple check the facts before releasing it. Right now it digs a deeper hole for itself.

Binary drivers again…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:09 pm

Why is all the articles I see about binary drivers such as this one  is about “educating users on the evils of binary drivers”?

We need to go beyond this. Lets discuss it with the users instead. Education implies one-way street. Developers lecture, users accept. Works with kids but not adults.

I believe both sides must be realistics and supports each other. Vendors of binary drivers will also need time to react to any decision developers makes. May be a phase-out of binary drivers is the answer.

January 10, 2007

How to get a Windows Refund

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:58 am

There is a good article on how to get a Windows refund in Linux.com. The message is be polite and persistent. The value in the article is how to respond to hurdles put in front of you by customer services. There is just one thing I will like to add, if you vendors give you a telephone number that charge you more than the rate you expects for a phone call to their customer services, try to get the equivalent landline number. In UK, try this fantastic website, it saved me a lot of money, especially when I have to call on a mobile phone as it allows me to take advantage free minutes.

Beware that the most likely reason you get a refund is you demonstrate that you are a pain such that it is cheaper to “pay you off” than to put more hurdles in your path. Don’t be sorry though, you are exercising your legal rights. This means the hurdles they placed in your path is their fault, not yours.

Dave Mitchell, the person who done it in UK says in a BBC interview that he find it annoying that it is Dell, not Microsoft that picks up the tab. He hopes others does the same and the avalanche effect may cause Dell to rethink its Microsoft product policy. To me, this is the avalanche effect I am aiming for. Dell will not listen to small fries unless there are sufficient small fries that speaks up. Don’t believe me? Look at Dell’s server offering and see whether can you get a “Naked Server”, to paraphase Microsoft’s favourite terms for computers that ships without operating system.

January 9, 2007

Small victory for anti DRM campaign

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:17 pm

EMI had decided not to use DRMs in CD, at least in Netherlands. Small victory for anti-DRM campaign. Congratulations for dragging one record company kicking-and-screaming to your point of view!

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