[SASAG] Proprietary Formats on Public Mailing Lists -- Was: Re: System Admin Job opportunity

Jim Hogan jim.hogan at gmail.com
Sat Sep 1 19:48:55 PDT 2007


On 9/1/07, Michael T. Halligan <michael at halligan.org> wrote:
> On Sep 1, 2007, at 12:37 AM, Jim Hogan wrote:

>> [snip...]
> > But if you *like* having a single company control your IT destiny, I'm
> > not sure that anything I could say would matter.
> If the market fails to gain enough adoption over Microsoft's
> proprietary format, then is it Microsoft's fault that they succeeded
> while others failed?

A purely free market assessment of the adoption of Microsoft's
next-generation DOC format would not seem sufficient.  They are
starting from an acknowledged monopoly position vis-a-vis desktop
computing among other things.

Have you followed MSFT'd shenanigans in Massachusetts, Sweden and
elsewhere?  What do you think of those, level playing field-wise?

For fun, I contemplate Standard Oil paying state legislators to adopt
"safer" square gas tank fittings (that would only mate up with
Standard Oil gas pumps).  I don't think that would have gone over very

> Beyond a few thousand geeks who don't like
> Microsoft,

I don't think I am smart enough -- geeky enough -- to merit a "geek"
badge.  I am just an IT guy.

I would like to like MSFT more. They are a day-to-day reality for me.
But they make it hard.  What is it: "Hate the sin, love the sinner"?
I don't lose any sleep over MSFT -- toss and turn -- but I think their
business practices need help.

> does anybody really care?

Yes.  Please refer to my "one laptop per sibling" parable in a
previous email.  My sister thought that she could not have Internet
access and email without IE and Outlook.  And, in here own domain, she
is a pretty smart cookie.  So, the fact that some folks despair of
using computing power because it is too complicated or too messed up
tells me that other folks have voted (cared) with their feet.

> As we sit in our ivory towers of
> technical knowledge, we forget that we are not the norm. I doubt the
> average person really wants to mess around with new file formats,

I would agree that most folks don't want to care.  So, in many
respects, I see myself (and you, and other members of this list) as a
custodian of those people's interests.  People need not even be
terribly aware that they are messing around with new file formats.
Imagine if MS-Office just opened ODF files natively.  Those folks
might never know.

> when the one they've been using for over a decade works just fine for
> them.

Oh, but if only that were the case.  As example I offer my sister who
gave up on computers thanks to the overall frailty of her
Windows/IE/Outlook/Office house of cards.

In addition, I have folks who have been told by serious peer-reviewed
journals that they can only submit in MS Word format but who (some
working on Macs) are having a heck of a time making things like
embedded formulas and tables work.

Ten years later, I still see faults (inexplicable font changes and
pagination changes) that were annoyances in Word in 1997 and which
have not been fixed to date.

> RMS is not god, he's just some loudmouthed hippy who could
> learn some manners and improve his hygiene.

Hey, I treasure gcc, but where did you get the idea that injecting the
notion that "RMS is not god" is relevant?  Who suggested that RMS was
a deity?

(If ever I have been called out for a straw man.... boy, oh, boy.)

And I *really* would like to overlook your unwarranted hygiene
comments, but I can not.  You have spent time with RMS, I take it?
Perhaps you asked him about his hygiene and how it compared to other
controversial figures in history?  I wonder about the personal hygiene
of George Washington, Ghandi, Oppenheimer?

Michael: RMS will, with abundant justification, make it into many
historical texts; the overall assessment of his role will be positive.
 You and I?  We won't be mentioned.


-*-  Jim Hogan
     Seattle, WA

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