CyberTech Rambler

July 26, 2007

Mud slinging, and beware of throwing accusation at others (that might come back and hurt you) (Updated 20070831)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:52 am

By way of Jason Matusow webpost, I see we now have the viewpoint from Microsoft on two issues currently burning brightly in OOXML vs ODF debate.

First, from Stephen McGibbon, who replied to Rui Seabra recollection of what happened during the coffee break in the infamous coffee break meeting. This post is difficult to read because one do have to read beyond the attacks McGibbon leveled at others, including calling groklaw croklaw and an attack on Seabra’s conduct at the said Portuguese meeting. Those were unnecessary and if anything, can be interpreted as McGibbon is angry about it, or worse, cannot tolerate negative comments. My initial reading of Seabra recollection of the “coffee break” moment was “nothing new” and “nothing worth any attention”. Since McGibbon kick up a fuss on it, I reread it and still conclude the same way. I cannot understand why he indirectly call Seabra a hypocrite and why he believe Seabra was speaking “for the community” (As in Free Software community). He is speaking for community and it is ANSOL, the body he is representing in the meeting.

On the subject of Portugese meeting, it still leave the question on why the chairperson choose to exclude Sun and IBM. unexplained. Let’s make it clear that McGibbon, being simply an invitee to the meeting, rightly did not comment of the conduct of the chairperson. However, that is probably one of the biggest issue that needs explaining for the meeting.

There are two more things that I choose to connect with a relationship to in McGibbon’s posting. I will do it in reverse order the way it was presented. First, he claims Sun supports OOXML. I do not believe so. He based his response on Sun’s email clarifying Sun’s position on V1 voting in the state. Please read the whole email before forming your own opinion. I believe Sun’s response of “Conditional Approval (Disapprove with Comments)” are simply technical speak where approval does not really mean approval in the box-standard English, and for that matter, neither is Disapprove for that matter. To me, the two operative paragraphs are:

"This change is important to Sun in ensuring that our position is
correctly represented.  We wish to make it completely clear that
we support DIS 29500 becoming an ISO Standard and are in complete
agreement with its stated purposes of enabling interoperability
among different implementations and providing interoperable access
to the legacy of Microsoft Office documents.

Sun voted No on Approval because it is our expert finding, based
on the analysis so far accomplished in V1, that DIS 29500 as
presently written is technically incapable of achieving those
goals, not because we disagree with the goals or are opposed to an
ISO Standard that would enable them.  Sun voted Yes on Conditional
approval (disapproval with comments) because this is the only one
of the options we were given that would guarantee that the
specific changes already agreed upon by consensus in V1 would
actually be implemented."

Omitting the second paragraph, the way McGibbon do, does not paint the full picture. Opening him to accusation of selecting the truth. (Update 20070831: I belatedly found this pdf from Sun’s Bosak clarifying SUN’s position)

I am linking this to McGibbon’s claim of what Gary Edward said about Sun earlier in the post. I do not have any way to verify that Gary Edward’s original post is what McGibbon says it is. Hence, I have to evaluate the claim based on other circumstantial evidence. Reading the “updated post” does show Edward was rather unfriendly and a bit angry at Sun for something. This lend credibility to McGibbon’s claim. Unfortunately, given that McGibbon omitted the second paragraph above, I have to reevaluate the credibility issue.

And when you throw mud at people, make sure you know what you do. Accusing IBM of not supporting ODF as the default native format on ODF is Lotus Notes 8 is one thing, not realizing the default file format is actually the precursor of ODF and which is the file ODF is build on is another.

Second, Doug McHugh article on “Spinning the ISO process in the US“. When accusing Andy Updegrove of spin, the post give the impression that he attended the meeting. Which, on interrogation by Updegrove in the comments section, turns out to be not true. Mud boomeranged again.



  1. Thank you for posting this — it highlighted Mr. McGibbon’s blog for me (I don’t check it frequently) and an error he had about my own product in his posting.

    Comment by Ed Brill — July 26, 2007 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

  2. Let me try to answer some of the questions you raise …

    1. Until now (my understanding of) Sun’s position has been that there should be *only one* standard for office documents, and since ODF exists, it should be ODF. Jon’s comments clearly represent a change in that position – Sun’s official position now seems to be “[Sun] support DIS 29500 becoming an ISO Standard and [Sun] are in complete agreement with its stated purposes of enabling interoperability among different implementations and providing interoperable access
    to the legacy of Microsoft Office documents.” Jon’s second paragraph doesn’t (in my opinion) substantially change the principle – in fact I think they only reinforce it, as he’s explaining that a No vote was in the spirit of a Yes vote (because he doesn’t think the spec as is is sufficient to achieve the agreed objective). To paraphrase Churchill, the principle is established, now we’re haggling over the details.

    2. As for why I clarified what *I said* at the Portuguese meeting – Rui’s notes were/are inaccurate and I thought it would be useful to be clear on what I did say. Most especially because Rui was ascribing to me something I knew to be materially untrue, that Microsoft had been thrown out of an ODF meeting, which was never the case.

    3a. I think Gary Edwards’ recent comments about the OASIS ODF committee are entirely germane to the debate don’t you?

    3b. As to whether you can rely on the text I provided for Gary’s pre-revision comments, well you can write to Gary I guess, or just search, or here’s a screenshot from google’s cache

    As to what you call “the question on why the chairperson choose to exclude Sun and IBM. unexplained.” … “that is probably one of the biggest issue that needs explaining for the meeting.”, Rui has clarified on Ed Brill’s blog that this didn’t happen.



    Comment by Stephen McGibbon — July 30, 2007 @ 10:35 am | Reply

  3. Dear Stephen,

    On Sun’s position, we have to agree to defer and let our readers decide for themselves. I will concede that I was never involved in any standardization process and might have misinterpreted the real, plain English meaning of voting choices.

    On Rui’s Note, especially on the part where he ascribe you wrongly, I thank you for the clarification. I never take one’s recollection of the meeting as “facts” but rather “allegations”. I appreciate that there are a lot of people might take that as a fact.

    Edward’s comment about OASIS ODF is germane, especially in the light of pro-ODF people’s comment about ECMA TC45 process. This topic is very passionately felt on both parties. There is a lot of passionate articles and opinions voiced by both parties. My impression of Gary Edward’s post was he wrote it because he was angry, not passionate. When I am angry I call my best friend’s names that I would not repeat when I am not. I do think we have to take his temperament into account. But it does give insights into the ODF committee at OASIS.

    On the Edward’s pre-revision comments: No offense, but my problem is my search of Google cache turn up nothing. I am sure that you did not fabricate it but the allegation is very strong and I do need independent confirmation. As for writing to Gary, I will wait for him to clarify, should he choose to. If he don’t, then that is confirmation that he did indeed wrote it.

    On “why the chairperson choose to exclude Sun and IBM, unexplained”, thanks for the heads up. [For interested reader, it is on this Ed Brill’s post ( See the comments section. I encourage readers to read all the comments about this issue there, rather than reading piecemeal comments, to get the bigger picture on the nature of this arguments. You need to see both side of the argument.]

    Thank you for your comment

    Best regards,

    Comment by ctrambler — July 30, 2007 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: