Archive for Business

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

This is something that everyone should read about the publishing industry:

With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.

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A printing press in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Image via Wikipedia

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No, not OOXML again!

I’m sure this is a bit monotone to a few readers, but these two commentaries speak much better to the issues than I can. The 2nd particularly points to a fundamental issue: the independent process of standardisation is being pushed aside by the politics of business.

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I checked out OrangeHRM from the Sourceforge top ten list over the weekend and it looks quite useful.

Here is a quick review. Some of the functionality looks very useful.

The third major facility of OrangeHRM is a comprehensive leave management module. This provides entire workflow for an employee to request leave, with any number of approvers being able to review the request. Approved leave is recorded in a company calendar. At each stage, the appropriate people are notified of the status of the request and any actions he or she must take. This alone is of great benefit to many companies whether small or large saving both paper and time, as well as showing at a glance who will be away on any given day or week.

I use ipayroll to deal with most of the hassle of accounting for paye and doing payment batches, but the other side of organising when leave can be allocated over a couple branches can be a pita. Self-service might make this much easier.

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OpenXML again

It is painful reading the comments at Rod Drury > Open XML Crunch Time.

Robert O’Callahan has a useful comparison to the HTML standard.

Ignore the usually stupid naming call on both sides. Over and over, we have the same:

  1. Business case – Many billion documents in the old format.
  2. Business case – Cost to move away from Office
  3. Technical case – What happens to innovation?


  1. Business case – The future is not dependent on the past in this situation.
  2. Business case – Why should a ISO standard justify _your_ potential OOXML business model?
  3. Techical case – What happened to making it work?

Some of it seems to be what hear about at global whaling conference.

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More on document standards

I’m not sure why there is the constant it’s already a standard, so “let’s make it official” party line for OOXML.

In fact currently there are more ODF documents than OOXML.

The current discussion is about what is coming next and not about what we have at the moment. Certainly older Microsoft formats are pretty much a mob enforced standard, but were does that get us? A future likelihood of a community generating the situation where we are forced to buy Office 2007 just so we can send OOXML documents for a government tender, business contracts, legal letters, etc, etc, etc. Badly directed standards have a way of doing this.

Why should a new standard justify a commercial status-quo or monopoly?

I think it is also disingenuous to claim there is a business cost in failing to standardise OOXML. If a worldwide ISO standard existed (oh right it does) then Microsoft like everyone else has the choice to implement a migration path. If this standard was built into Office Now+1, then the business cost of OOXML and ODF would be the same.

After all we are not talking about the past, but looking to the future.

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Stack protection

Migrating an accounting system from an old Xen 2.0 domain to XenEnterprise means it is also time to upgrade from sarge. Due to changes in available libraries, this required recompiling Leading to issues dealing with a new gcc 4.1 feature:

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Standards New Zealand meeting on Office Open XML

Standards New Zealand to run workshop on Office Open XML:

Standards New Zealand will facilitate a two day industry meeting to assess stakeholder views on the suitability of a document on Office Open XML for publication as an International Standard.

Standards New Zealand, as New Zealand’s national Standards body holds the responsibility to cast this vote on behalf of New Zealand.

‘The aim of the meeting is to assess and understand New Zealand stakeholder views to allow Standards New Zealand to make an informed vote on behalf of New Zealand. This meeting will be independently chaired by Ms Alison Holt, the New Zealand delegate to the international committee JTC1 SC7 Software Engineering’ said Grant Thomas, Chief Operating Officer, Standards New Zealand.

The meeting will be held over the 23 and 24 August 2007 in Wellington.

I will have to find out how to make a postal or email submission. We have maybe 10,000+ Openoffice documents. I’ve fixed OO documents with zip and emacs. Two official ISO office document standards, is asking for pain. Especially when it flavors one company, no matter how important they are. That HTML as an example, probably would have been no Web 2.0 if Microsoft had managed to fork HTML.

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Unified document format standard – call to action

Mark Shuttleworth call to action Emerging consensus in favour of a unified document format standard?

The way the ISO works is interesting. There are about 150 member countries who can vote on any particular proposal. Usually, about 40 countries actually vote. In order to pass, a proposal needs to get a 75% “yes” vote. Countries can vote yes, no, or “abstain”. So normally, 10 “no” or “abstain” votes would be sufficient to send the proposal back for further consideration. In this case, however, Microsoft has been working very hard, and spending a lot of money, to convince many countries that don’t normally vote to support their proposed format.

So there is something concrete you can do, right now, today, this week! Find out which body in your country is responsible for your national representation on ISO. In SA is the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and in the US I believe it is ANSI. Your country will likely have such a body. There is a list of some of them here but it may not be complete so don’t stop if your country isn’t listed there!

Mark has a good discussion on this issue. Read it and then go ask some questions.

NZ’s rep to the ISO is Standards New Zealand. Check out the council member list and give them a call.

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Alfresco vs KnowledgeTree – first look

In the OSS document management (DMS) space there are two primary choices: Alfresco and KnowledgeTree (KT). Other systems that do content management, like Plone or Drupal, are often suggested as DMSs, but in my opinion while they maybe great for managing websites they aren’t really designed for a business DMS.

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Official Office 2.0 Setup

Quite a useful list of Office 2.0 applications that are being used at the Office 2.0 Conference.

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