Syringe.Net.Nz
Irregular Injection of Opinion
RSS 2.0|Atom 1.0|CDF

 Saturday, 28 March 2009
The “Open” Cloud Manifesto

So I’ve been head down and arse up this week; I’ve barely had enough time to get on top of my email inbox let alone my unread blog entries. Finally made some progress this evening at YVR and now on NZ83 en route YVR-AKL.

So while I was underwater a stink kicked up around a thing called the ‘Cloud Manifesto’. Meant to be being released Monday, it was leaked here (all 6 pages of it) a few days early. From my reading between the lines of the thinly veiled blog post by Steve Martin from Microsoft it looks like the document has been written, by an as yet undisclosed group, and is being farmed around a bunch of companies for them to ‘sign up’. There is a posting on the Cloud Computing Interop Forum (on Google Groups) by Reuven Cohen (who I’ve never heard of) who is the ‘Creator of the Enomalism Elastic Computing Platform’ (which I have to admit I’ve never heard of either). Reuven is also involved in Cloud Camp (which I have heard of). I tell you all this and encourage you to go and have a sniff around some of the links above and some of the press coverage so far so that you have some context before continuing.

http://www.techcrunchit.com/2009/03/26/out-of-order-20/ Steve Gillmor from TechCrunch

http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=15341 – Amazon expressing their antipathy towards the whole thing

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Cloud-Computing/Microsoft-Calls-for-Open-Cloud-Standards-538212/ Darryl Taft

I provide the above to give some background. Now for some of my thoughts.

The Emperors New Clothes*

So reading the document itself most of it feels so obvious it barely warrants saying- it’s PR puffery really. I’m going to cherry pick a few statements from the document to discuss.

“We believe that these core principles are rooted in the belief that cloud computing should be as open as all other IT technologies.  “

I hate to break it, but, other IT technologies aren’t that open. As I’ll set out below I’m a big believer that in most cases openness and interoperability are emergent aspects of technology and not something you should really set out to engineer.

“To reassure their customers, cloud providers must offer a high degree of transparency into their operations.”

So I just don’t know how realistic this is. Certainly Microsoft and even more so Google are highly protective of their data center operation details. A measure of security through obscurity is important here still I think. I would also disagree with the authors that moving data into a shared infrastructure necessarily exposes one to more potential for unauthorized exposure.

“Cloud providers must use and adopt existing standards wherever appropriate.  The IT industry has invested heavily in existing standards and standards organizations; there is no need to duplicate or reinvent them. “

So this is bang on target and to be honest the biggest thing that the Cloud Providers can do to ensure *useful* openness is to ensure they use existing standards wherever possible. But do we need this sort of industry bickering to state the bleeding obvious?

“Any community effort around the open cloud should be driven by customer needs, not merely the technical needs of cloud providers, and should be tested or verified against real customer requirements.  “

Would be interesting to know what level of customer involvement there was in the Manifesto document? Were folks like SmugMug (who are my favourite example of a great Cloud operated business) or enterprise customers (I know there is at least one airline using EC2 for some of their stuff) involved? It all feels like a bit much of a simplistic puff piece at the moment- though according to the CCIP group post ‘major players’ have been involved.

“Cloud computing standards organizations, advocacy groups, and communities should work together and stay coordinated, making sure that efforts do not conflict or overlap. “

Haven’t really gotten off to the best start in this regard to be honest.

This document is meant to begin the conversation, not define it.

I’m afraid I agree with a number of the commentators (both vested interests and ‘independent’ voices) at the top of this post. It was a pretty shitty way to ‘begin the conversation’.

Who’s Actually Behind It All

So a big question in my mind is who is actually driving this thing?

To be honest if it were just a group of bit players stroking and stoking their egos then I don’t actually think it would have generated the level of interest and posturing (from MS and Amazon to date) that we’ve seen.

Gillmor looks at the obvious candidates, IBM and Google (Amazon having declared they’re outside the tent). It seems inconceivable that Microsoft and Amazon would not be invited to be involved in this at the earliest opportunity. Even if it were the ‘Anything But Microsoft Brigade’ you’d still expect Amazon to be seated at the table- hell their model of a high scale application operator selling their dog food to others embodies for me much of what the cloud is about.

I have no idea how Cohen can, with a straight face, say:

“Given the nature of this document we have attempted to be
as inclusive as possible inviting most of the major names in technology to
participate in the initial draft.”

Given that this Manifesto appears to be largely driven by East Coast companies I can’t help but think that IBM have got their finger in this somehow. It’ll be somewhat ironic if this the case, as a key proponent of the standardization of Office Open XML (now ISO29500) I’ve had first hand knowledge of IBM’s ‘do as we say’; might this be their ‘not as we do’ moment?

I guess all will be revealed come Monday.

On The Substantive Matter- Or Why I Only Kind Of Give a Crap About Interop in the Cloud

Standards stifle innovation. There, I said it. Friends of mine will probably bitch at me for being so blunt, but, I genuinely believe that standardizing technologies is, in most cases, best left until they have reached a reasonable level of maturity.

Once something is standardized pace becomes glacially slow and the ability for innovators to recover a return on intellectual property becomes nigh on impossible. There are, of course, some business whom this model is de rigueur- I guess we’ve got to wait until Moday to find out more.

For the most part we’ll be building our applications using the same protocols and technologies that we’ve always done. At least for the stuff that spins my wheels, high scale applications, there’s not a lot that’s new in the cloud; it’s really just an interesting new way to deploy and dynamically scale the same architectures I’ve been working on since I was building SaaS apps in the Dot Bomb days.

The new stuff really comes down to the cloud fabric^ and the management thereof and frankly I think it’s too early to think about standards. Amazon scales at the unit of a virtual machine, Microsoft does the same but with sugar on the top to hide the fact that it’s really Windows at all. Let’s see what sort of models shake out best for customers before we try and anoint one king.

I Guess We Wait Until Monday

As someone looking to ship a pretty significant Cloud delivered app later this year what I really want is;

  • For my Cloud provider of choice to ship their bits!
  • For my travel schedule to slow down a bit- my Tripit stats are truly horrendous and I’m flying to Bangalore Monday morning.
  • For the Manifesto authors, whoever and wherever they might be to read a little Hayek.

Let’s see was happens Monday.

*So worth nothing this wasn’t my turn of phrase. Used here first but I liked it so much I pinched it!
^Call it what you will, this is the term I use when talking about Windows Azure at least.

PoliTechLaw | Rants | Windows Azure|Saturday, 28 March 2009 19:53:37 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 23 February 2009
Copyright Amendment Delayed – And a Treatise On Singapore Airlines

So back online afterthe Blackout.. and whaddayaknow… they delayed it

Internet copyright law delayed

So I’m finally on the homeward stretch of a tour around Asia presenting on Microsoft CRM technology- currently sitting at the airport at Singapore waiting to get on my flight to Sydney. Will be my first flight on an A380 so I pretty buzzed!

I just posted a comment over on Cactus’ site where she’s having a whinge about Air New Zealand.
I’m sorry but I’ve tried a bunch of the *A carriers and while NZ is not perfect it’s the best of the bunch I think. As for calling out Singapore Airlines as a shining light- I’m sorry but until they fix the following that aren’t playing the game in my book

    • Checking in *A Gold card holders at their business counters @ Changi T2 and T3- instead of having a special area to hide them away in.
      479187665_fTMz5-L[1]
      In your place from the moment you step through those big glass doors.
      479186919_ZCwGp-L[1]
      The ‘Special’ Gold Card Holder check in area.
      Note the tape fences to keep the Economy Class flying ‘swine’ in check!
      479187654_zPJfB-M[1]
      Reserved for Proper Premium Service passengers only. No cattle here.

    •  
    • Allowing *A gold card holders to use their business class lounge at Changi T2 and T3 the same way that every other bloody Star Alliance airline does for their frequent flyers. Instead *A Gold members get a ‘special’ lounge without showers and the other niceties one might expect. Back in the days before T3 they used to claim it was due to ‘space requirements’ but with the move to T3 this ‘excuse’ is categorically a complete load of bollocks- It’s peak time in the lounge right now with all the long haul flights leaving over the next couple of hours and the place is empty.
      image
    • Updating their priority boarding policy and priority boarding signs to make it clear that they actually give a shit about being part of a global alliance rather than just paying it lip service.
      479185910_wYB4r-XL[1]
      Star Alliance?!? What’s that?

For my next post, you’ll get my feelings on the behaviour of another behemoth of the Alliance, the perpetually bankrupt, United Airlines.

Deep down I really just want to fly on Spice Jet!

476171516_4BPEW-L[1]

I hope the inflight service is as Spicy as it sounds! Though without the naked Cacti as I’m sure they’re sans a J cabin that would be up to standard.

PoliTechLaw | Travel|Monday, 23 February 2009 10:12:10 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 22 February 2009
Blacked Out for Monday

While I have posted before that I don’t agree entirely with the approach taken by the Creative Freedom people. I do, like almost every blogger, from almost every political persuasion, think that this is a poor piece of legislation.

This Saturday, February 28th, Section 92A of the Copyright Act is due to come into force. This website has voluntarily been taken down in protest against this law, which will be used to disconnect New Zealanders from the internet based on accusations of copyright infringement, without a trial and without evidence held up to court scrutiny. May we be very clear: we do not support or condone copyright infringement or illegal downloads. But this blatant disregard towards the basic human right to a fair trial is completely unjust and unworkable and it has the potential to punish New Zealand businesses and individuals where in fact no laws have been broken. Similar laws have been rejected in the EU as being against

PoliTechLaw|Sunday, 22 February 2009 21:30:01 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Saturday, 24 January 2009
Creative Freedom.

The last Labour government passed a particularly insidious piece of legislation (well actually they passed a few).

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. CreativeFreedom.org.nz is against this unjust law - help us

While I don’t support all their approaches, and while I have in the past found the organisers a little legally naive I'm right behind getting this piece of legislation killed. PoliTechLaw|Saturday, 24 January 2009 08:04:18 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Dumb and Dumber – How the $%^&$%*& do you download a browser, without a browser

So I’ve been using the internet for a long time. I remember when Windows 3.1 never used to come with a browser. In most cases I’d use a copy of the browser from a 3.5” floppy disk and I’d install it with that. Sometimes I’d install a command line FTP client or Cute FTP from my floppy disk and use that.

Eventually Microsoft and the OEMs started shipping Windows with a browser. This meant that no matter what browser I actually wanted to use… I didn’t have to find my floppy disks because I could just boot up the browser and browse to Netscape.com and download my preferred browser. This was a marvellous advance.

The DUMB folks at Opera think this was some sort of retrograde step. The even DUMBER folks at the European Union are listening to them. Microsoft may have to ship a special European version, especially crippled to not have a browser.

Maybe DUMB and DUMBER haven’t thought about it yet… but, how the $%*&! do you download a competitors browser if you don’t have a browser to download it with in the first place! How many of the ‘late comers’ to the web have any idea where to find a browser DVD/CD/Floppy disk. How many have the foggiest flue how to login to their ISPs FTP server to download it? They expect to buy their PC from the department store (noticed how few ‘computer stores’ are left) and they expect to take it home and it just plugs into ADSL and works.

This is the most completely stupid idea I have ever heard of!

I hate Competition law at the best of times. It’s a nasty retrospective “don’t know you’ve broken the the law until you’re actually prosecuted because we changed what it meant half way along the way” piece of shit public policy. But, I hate DUMB and DUMBER even more.

PoliTechLaw|Wednesday, 21 January 2009 03:03:59 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Thursday, 18 December 2008
Creative Freedom and the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008

 

 

It’s funny where people pop up. One of the people I was on the Standards New Zealand Office Open XML Advisory Group with, Matthew Holloway, has just launched a site at http://creativefreedom.org.nz/. It relates, among other things to the recently passed Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act.

I’ve been aware of this Act as it passed through the parliamentary process and have maintained a bit of a watching brief on it given my interests in PoliTechLaw stuff. Anyway, the new site that Matthew has launched today gives me a chance to jot down some of my thoughts on the Act (and the other things Matthew mentions). I’m not going to discuss the process by which the Act was passed, that’s water under a shabbily constructed bridge.

So if you like a quick summary of my views here it is:

  1. I find s92 of the Copyright Act 1994 (as amended) to be abhorrent however;
  2. I wonder if some of the people similarly opposing these recent amendments actually live on planet earth… ISPs unilaterally turning off the internet at hospitals and schools!?! I mean honestly, less rhetoric and more solid argument is required.
  3. While I support the concept that patent rights are provided for by way of an explicit social contract i am les inclined to apply the same logic to Copyright.
  4. I see no problem in the use of DRM and other technological protection measures and;
  5. I see fair dealing rights as a defence to an action in Copyright infringement and not as a right that can be exercised in a positive fashion (i.e. you must disable the TPM in this DVD so I can have Fair Dealing access to the content) however;
  6. I do not agree with any form of legislation that restricts/prevents/prohibits tools and discussion for the avoidance or removal of technical protection measures.
  7. I actually support DRM because I believe that it will encourage rights owners to deploy new business models that benefit me as a consumer.

Section 92 of the Copyright Act 1994 as amended and why I don’t like it.

But First A Little Help with the Law

As an aside before we get cracking on this the Creative Freedoms site is wrong when it talks about ‘The proposed Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act’. Firstly a proposed piece of legislation is a Bill, a passed statute (post the GGs Royal Ascent) on the books (as this is) is an Act of Parliament. Secondly, and more importantly, s92 of the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 1998 actually reads:

92 Rights and remedies in respect of apparatus, etc, for unauthorised reception of transmissions

  • Section 228(1)(b) is amended by omitting “broadcasting service or cable programme service” and substituting “communication work”.

I think that what the authors are actually talking about is Section 53 of the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 1998 which inserts a New heading and new sections in the Copyright Act 1994. Those new sections are inserted after s92, hence the confusion. But, important to clear up I think.

s92 of the Copyright Act 1994, the substantive discussion

I’m all for the law throwing the book at Copyright infringement. I support strong criminal penalties and robust civil damage awards. However, I think that we tread a VERY slippery slope with s92 of the Copyright Act.

To interfere, by force, in the voluntary contractual arrangements of two private citizens is something that a Government should do reluctantly if ever. The strongly held view leads me to disagree with such tings and Employment law, but, we shall leave that more anarcho-capitalist set of discussions for another time. For the purposes of this discussions I’m happy to frame my non-interference views in more relaxed terms.

If the Government wishes to injunct the relationship between an ISP and it’s customers then they should do so before a court of law. That court may choose to apply such burden of proof as it deems appropriate given the nature of the situation. I am comfortable, as is the case with things like search warrants, with such applications being made ex parte, but, this is a matter for the Courts.

I can’t actually think of any similar intrusion into the rights of freely contracting parties on our law books. We certainly do have quite intrusive laws, the example that jumps to mind are Compulsory Treatment Orders, but, they are always guarded by the Judiciary and not for the government to exercise by fiat- they are most certainly not for the Government to abrogate to other citizens for enforcement.

I think this section of the Act is a nasty little piece of work and unlike the NBR I cannot be so pleasant as to ascribe it to the absent mindedness  of technological neophytes.

The Reality that doesn’t match the Rhetoric

So, having set out my strong opposition to this Section I will also have a go at some of the silly paranoia that’s being published. The CreativeFreedom site at http://creativefreedom.org.nz/s92.html opens with:

Copyright infringement is wrong, but should people, schools, and hospitals have their internet connections and websites cut off due to accusations of copyright infringement?

111 calls, schools, businesses and artists rely on Internet Connections so it's not unreasonable to say that "Internet access is a basic human right"…”

I’m all for opposing this piece of law, but, saying things like the above is just silly. Flawed as the Act is, telecommunications companies will have robust processes for implementing it’s requirements. Just look at the brouhaha that went down after the Muliaga case (though don’t get me started on that one either!). Schools and hospitals will not be having their internet arbitrarily cut off and to these people to say so it utterly disingenuous, though not entirely unexpected. 

111 calls should not rely non the Internet. Consumer grade internet (and I include in that most businesses) is not a Telco level service. It breaks some times. Shit happens. Buy a cellphone.

As for Internet as a human right comment…

Patent Rights vs Copyright – IP as a social contract

On their What is Copyright page the CreativeFreedom folks wheel out the somewhat veiled Copyright as a Social Contract argument. Rousseau of course argued that even our concept of ‘Real Property’ is grounded in a Social Contract (see J-J Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourses Chapter 9) and I’d love to have a more detailed philosophical argument with some of my more Marxist readers about property rights some, but now is not that time.

I tend to agree with the social contract theory as it applies to Patent Rights. My reasoning for this is that Patent Rights are enforceable as against someone who has developed a patented invention completely independent of the patent owner- thus this second inventor may be deprived the opportunity to recoup the fruits of his creativity. As a society, we have decided to implement the social contract of Patent Rights as we believe that the costs (as noted above) are outweighed by the incentives that Patent Rights provide to creativity. This puts me at odds with the majority of libertarian thinkers on this topic (e.g. Rand, Branden, Greenspan).

On the flip side I do agree with them on the matter of Copyright deriving from a mans right to the product of his mind. I encourage you to read Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, a collection of essays by Rand, Branden and Hessen. If yu’re in WLG let me know and you can borrow my very tatty copy.

Treating Copyright as a social contract in the way that people like Lessig does is convenient in that it allows them to justify on moral grounds a much broader degree of free and unfettered access to the work of others. I have no doubt that this is what the authors at CreativeFreedom are getting at. It’s something I completely disagree with.

I want my.. I want my… DRM

People bitch and moan about DRM- if you don’t want it, don’t like it then don’t by it- we’ll talk about the ‘I should be able to enforce my fair dealing rights as against the copyright holder’ argument below.

So I actually think DRM brings with it some interesting new opportunities for innovative business models. I won’t go into this in great detail but things that appeal to me about DRM. It makes it easier for the license to use a Copyrighted work to be separated from the physical incarnation of that work. So for example I might be able to purchase a right to BT – Ima and exercise that right to access the content in a bunch of different ways- e.g. I could use the CD I own, I could get it via on-demand satellite in my car, if I lose/scratch/trash the CD I can get another copy, I can ‘lend’ my rights to a friend for a period.

This sort of innovation is unpalatable to rights owners without DRM and there it just won’t happen. I’m all for innovation in the IP space- DRM is one avenue of that innovation.

Fair dealing is a defence and not a right

Fair Dealing (Fair use under US Copyright law is a similar concept) provides for a defence to an action in copyright if an individual makes a copy for certain reasons or uses. It is CRUCIAL that you understand that this is a Defence and not a Right. To make it quite clear, let me describe with a couple of little examples each peppered with a little self-aggrandizing.

I’ve taken a lovely photograph- with my nice new Canon 5D Mk II camera- yup one of the first few to get one in NZ and many jealous friends still waiting… but anyway I digress… So, I’ve taken this picture and I come over to your hose and let you take a look at it. You hold it up to the light in your hands and tilt to see the marvelousness of my artistic creativity. You ask if you can borrow it and I say sure. While you are borrowing it you take a colour photocopy of it for inclusion in your PhD on amazing NZ photographers. This dear reader would be Fair Dealing. Were I to return, annoyed as hell at you having copied my photograph, you would have a defence were I to bring either a civil or criminal action in Copyright infringement.

The second scenario is similar but different.

I’ve taken a lovely photograph- with my nice new Canon 5D Mk II camera. So, I’ve taken this picture and I come over to your hose and let you take a look at it. You hold it up to the light in your hands and tilt to see the marvelousness of my artistic creativity. You ask if you can copy it to include in your upcoming PhD on amazing NZ photographers. I say no, I don’t want it copied. You call the Government and have them compel me to provide you with a copy so that you can ‘exercise your Fair Dealing rights to make a copy for academic purposes’. This dear reader would be the case if you had a Fair Use Right. It’s not as silly as it sounds- there are a large portion of the new Zealand populace who have a ‘right’ to a significant portion of my income each month. The Government comes around and enforces their right as against me.

I know it’s a bit of a contrived example, but, I think it makes clear my point as to the difference between the defence of Fair Dealing and a ‘Right to Copy for Fair Use’.

This means that I do not believe that there should be ANY requirement on rights holders to make their works available for copying or for fair use. If you are able to make a copy for Fair Dealing purposes then you will have a defence, but, you are not able to compel me to allow you to make a copy- for example by disabling a Technical Protection Measure such as DRM.

Let the Copyright Wars Rage

Having said what I have above about Fair Dealing, I do not think that Technical Protection Measures should have the protection of the law. The reason for this is they may prevent someone from making a copy that may be covered by a Fair Dealing defence. While there is no obligation that you can enforce against the rights holder to compel them to provide a circumvention of the TPM, there should likewise be no law preventing a rights user from attempting to circumvent that technical protection measure.

I quite like the Libertarian Commentary on the DMCA found here. I wrote a pretty decent (if I do say so myself) research paper on this topic for my 400 level advanced IP course at Uni…. I’ll try and dig it out.

Anyway… better get back and do some work. Interested in any comments or views of others.

PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 18 December 2008 22:10:28 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 06 November 2008
International ‘What The Fuck’ Day

So the New Zealand companies office is advertising on their front page an Open Source CMS system called Plone.

image

What on earth is up with that?

It’s great that thy have enough self awareness to know what CMS system they use, but, is this really the sort of thing a Government department should be doing?

Maybe if they were using a New Zealand developed tool like from the guys at kick ass Wellington firm Silverstripe then at a REAL push this might be excusable behaviour, but, Plone is some foreign developed tool. To be honest no matter who or what the tool or vendor I think this is totally inappropriate.

Was this signed off by the MED PR folks?
Was this done by their internal IT team?
Was it a vendor that did it?
Is this appropriate for a Government department?

PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 06 November 2008 02:58:34 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Friday, 16 May 2008
Guest Opinion: Office Open XML Q&A

So got an email from Brett Roberts @ Microsoft this evening saying he wanted to stick an op-ed piece he did for Computerworld up on the web but he didn't have anywhere to put it. Now usuall I'd be a snarky little bastard and remind Brett that his company has a blogging platform (Live Spaces) which they must have invested oodles into and maybe he should start blogging..... but instead I volunteered to post his piece up here. So herewith the piece that Brett did for Computerworld alongside Don Christie from the NZOSS. The opinions below are not mine (except where I am quoted) but I do share some similar sentiments and I was on the 'Yes please' side of the ledger in the whole OOXML process.

Computerworld Q&A

Brett Roberts, Microsoft New Zealand Director of Innovation

 

1.       Why should we care about global standards, or in this case the debate around Open XML?

The Office Open XML format is gaining momentum. There are literally thousands of developers already building applications which utilise or interoperate with the current Ecma 376 standard across a variety of platforms including Linux, Windows, Mac OS and Palm OS. These span the industry from big players like Apple, IBM and Novell to innovative companies in New Zealand like Intergen.

In the past, document formats have been closed and this has caused problems for developers but it’s also been an issue for companies and government organisations who need to retain long-term access to information stored in those documents. Opening up the document formats via a published and freely-available specification is a great step forward. Placing that specification under the stewardship of the International Organisation for Standardization - ISO – is even more significant for the broad IT community because it means the standard is permanently in the public domain and subject to the strict controls and processes of the independent International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

 

2.       What are the benefits or otherwise of Open XML to New Zealand businesses and the New Zealand public?

The Open XML specification empowers developers to create a host of new innovations for customers.  Chris Auld, Intergen’s Director of Strategy and Innovation says, “having an internationally documented standard such as Office Open XML allows innovative New Zealand companies such as Intergen to reach a global audience.

Demonstrating this, Intergen has announced it groundbreaking new software product TextGlow. A world-first, TextGlow allows users to view Office Open XML Word documents without having to download them, irrespective of whether or not they have Microsoft Word or any other Microsoft Office application installed.

“TextGlow is a unique product combining Office Open XML and Silverlight for the first time,” says Auld. “Microsoft Office documents have traditionally required software to be installed on the local machine. The new XML- based file format, coupled with Silverlight, has allowed us to make documents viewable directly through users’ web browsers. We are already cross platform on Windows and Macintosh and hope to be supporting Linux in the next couple of months.” 

With many organisations storing documents in web based document management systems such as SharePoint products and technologies, a quick preview of documents within the browser will boost productivity significantly.

In addition, a recent blog by Jan van den Beld, former Secretary General of Ecma International in Geneva, http://janvandenbeld.blogspot.com/2008/02/six-benefits-you-can-get-from-isoiec.html  highlights six  key benefits to Open XML. In brief:

1. Transfer of control

2. Transfer stewardship

3. Chance for industry and implementers:

4. Evolution of the standard

5. Interoperability

6. Conformance and interoperability testing

3.       Why is a standard for legacy documents required in light of the fact that Microsoft has just published the specs for those documents?

The rigorous technical review associated with the standards process is making it possible for Open XML to support an ever broadening set of requirements.

OpenXML is built around a small number of really important design goals. Top of the list is the goal of being able to represent existing binary documents in an XML based mark-up. To achieve this you have to have a document standard that fully represents all of the elements that are in those existing binary documents. OpenXML is the only document standard capable of doing this. Other document standards would have to be extended beyond their design goals to provide this capability.

The publishing of the binary file formats is an additional piece of the jigsaw puzzle that ensures the availability of all Microsoft Office documents for generations to come. Providing the capability for developers today to fully understand the Microsoft Office binary files will encourage both a rich array of tools to convert files to the new OpenXML format, and create additional opportunities for a limited subset of customers to just archive existing documents in their current format. This is especially  important to some customer groups, the legal community for example.

To ensure that documents are protected for generations to come organisations like the British Library and the US National Library of Congress have stepped up to act as digital archivists of the binary file format specifications. Sitting side by side with OpenXML as an ISO standard we now have an environment where documents are truly open and access to them can be guaranteed in perpetuity.

 

4.       If Open XML is rejected as a global standard, what will it mean for businesses and the public?

I don’t think we’ll know initially but over time strong opponents of Office Open XML will lobby governments in particular, to adopt technology procurement preferences which favour ODF-based solutions.

 

As a taxpayer, I’m not convinced that removing choice will increase innovation, increase competition and therefore lower costs. I suspect the opposite will happen. More concerning is the fact that there are tens of thousands of highly-skilled programmers in New Zealand who build innovative technology solutions and are quickly becoming known in the global marketplace. We should be offering them more opportunities to win export dollars– not less.

 

5.       Why not just one standard for all?

There are many reasons. Firstly, Office Open XML and ODF were built with very different design goals in mind. The argument that we only need one ISO standard document format makes as much sense as saying we only need one ISO standard programming language.

The “one standard for all” concept makes the assumption that the first standard “out of the starting blocks” will encompass current and future needs. It’s a tenuous argument.

And a report published by the Burton Group in January of this year agrees, stating that ODF is insufficient for complex real-world enterprise requirements...and...libraries and large businesses, faced with storing and using years of Microsoft Office legacy documents, will prefer OOXML, as OOXML can more faithfully recreate the look and metadata (such as spreadsheet formulas) stored in Microsoft’s binary file formats.

6.       Why does open XML not include macros, scripting, OLE serialisation, and leave so much to be "application-defined"?

Competition between Office Automation suites has always been an important factor in driving much of the innovation that we enjoy in the industry and as users today. The process to standardise OpenXML is a process to standardise the data format, not an application. Standardising the full application would remove the ability for different office applications to compete with each other and slow that pace of innovation.

 

Macros are a great example of this point. They’re an application behaviour that is unique to Microsoft Office. Macros provide the user with a way of telling the Office Suite what to do with information once it is loaded into memory. Standardising the macro language from Microsoft Office as part of the OpenXML process would force any future applications that implemented the data format to also implement the same macro language. In reality other applications may choose to implement a wide array of other macro or development languages that are more relevant to their own target users. 

 

7.       Should governments adopt OOXML as a document standard?

 Absolutely. Government use the older binary formats today along with Office Open XML, PDF, HTML, RTF and TXT files. Government, like all customers, choose the best tool for the job and Office Open XML offers them another option. Government is also dealing on a daily basis with Office Open XML documents being sent to them by individuals and businesses and it seems to me that adopting it as a standard makes sense from a purely pragmatic perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Friday, 16 May 2008 08:03:03 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 01 April 2008
PoliTechLaw|Tuesday, 01 April 2008 17:08:48 UTC|Comments [1]|    

OOXML Approved By A Good Margin

So it's not official yet, but, things seem to be leaking like a sieve.

Undy Updegrove has details of what looks to be the final vote. http://consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20080401033558908

I'm looking forward to moving our products to support OOXML and to continuing to participate in the development of this standard.

Result of voting


P-Members voting: 24 in favour out of 32 = 75 % (requirement >= 66.66%)


(P-Members having abstained are not counted in this vote.)


Member bodies voting: 10 negative votes out of 71 = 14 % (requirement <= 25%)


Approved

 Friday, 28 March 2008
OOXML Political Involvement in UK
The Register is reporting on the political involvement of John Pugh in the UK
http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2008/03/28/ooxml_iso_osp/

"Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh has tabled a parliamentary question expressing his disappointment at the BSI's apparent change of heart:

"I am deeply concerned that some national bodies have considered approving DIS29500 'in their national interest'. It is not in the interest of the UK or any other country for DIS 29500 to be published as an international standard in its present form as there are a significant number of unresolved issues, including incompatible licensing conditions, single vendor interest and control as well as those other factors uncovered since the original comment period closed."

He concludes by urging the BSI not to change its stance on OOXML."

Of course that's kind of the thing one would expect from Mr Pugh, he's hardly into letting people choose for themselves. Let's hope BSI remains indepent and it's also worth noting that NZL has been without political interference to date (at least that I've been aware of).

PoliTechLaw|Friday, 28 March 2008 18:31:03 UTC|Comments [2]|    

Watching the OOXML Vote Live- well sorta live
I'm finding the http://vote-iso.com put together by Matthew Holloway to be really useful for tracking the vote progress.
The OpenMalaysia blog site also has a reasonable list of breaking news http://www.openmalaysiablog.com/2008/03/the-last-lap.html

It's gonna ride on the P votes.... so far so good with Denmark, Norway, South Korea, Finland, Czech Republic all on board and it's pleasing to see many moving from No to Yes.

PoliTechLaw|Friday, 28 March 2008 18:21:30 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 16 March 2008
Representation vs interpretation vs bare faced reverse engineering
The guys @ DIN (the German standards body for you non-skiiers) have done a bunch of work on a guide for translating between OOXML and ODF. They're seeing some of the same issues that we have come across in terms of ODF being 'lightly' specified.

"2.2 Representation vs. interpretation
Both standards OpenDocument and Office Open XML focus on specifying the syntax or representation. However, to be able to define a mapping between the two standards a knowledge about the underlying interpretation or semantic of the different XML token and attribute is important. For illustration consider the following example: Both OpenDocument and Office Open XML allow the definition of tab stops for a paragraph. In OpenDocument this is done by the <style:tab-stop> element. The position of a tab stop is defined by the style:position attribute. Its documentation reads: ―The style:position attribute specifies the position of a tab stop.‖ In Office Open XML the tab stop is defined by the <w:tab> element and the position is specified by the w:pos attribute: ―Specifies the position of the current custom tab stop with respect to the current page margins.‖. The problem here is that OpenDocument does not specify whether the tab-stop position is relative to the margin or relative to the paragraph indent. (Please note that OpenDocument differentiates between tab-stops relative to margin or paragraph indent in the table of contents - but is silent about general tab stops. Also note that e.g. OpenOffice.org Writer treats style:position to be relative to the paragraph indent.). These kinds of ―unspecified behavior‖ make a precise mapping definition hard."

It's like the whole "it's unspecified but OpenOffice does it loike xxx" thing all over again.

PoliTechLaw|Sunday, 16 March 2008 22:54:35 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 13 March 2008
Who Is Telling Porkies?
The Software Freedom Law Center have posted a Resource on the Microsoft Open Specificaton Promise.

It states, among other things:

"There has been much discussion in the free software community and in the press about the inadequacy of Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) as a standard, including good analysis of some of the shortcomings of Microsoft's Open Specification Promise (OSP), a promise that is supposed to protect projects from patent risk. Nonetheless, following the close of the ISO-BRM meeting in Geneva, SFLC's clients and colleagues have continued to express uncertainty as to whether the OSP would adequately apply to implementations licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). In response to these requests for clarification, we publicly conclude that the OSP provides no assurance to GPL developers and that it is unsafe to rely upon the OSP for any free software implementation, whether under the GPL or another free software license."

Lawrence Rosen says it's compatible with free and open source licenses. So do number of other prominent OSS legal minds.

The OSP has actually been around for a decent length of time. For those who aren't aware it's the approach taken to cover the IPR in relation to the Web Services specifications work MSFT is involved in with OASIS (Yes OASIS as in manages ODF). So for example Apache has implemented SOAP- released under the Apace open source license. THe guys from Sugar CRM have also succesfully released their SOAP based web services under GPL v3.

So either Rosen is wrong and Apache/SugarCRM are risking IP breach, or, someone is telling porkies.

Maybe Larry and Larry (Lessig, one of the Directors of the SFLC) could get together for a bit of a chat (the are former collegues @ Stanford Law) and work out who is right, or who is wrong, or why we seem to have two TOTALLY disparate answers out there?




PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 13 March 2008 04:56:00 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 28 February 2008
Non GPL Implementation of ODF Not Very Feasible At All

Feel free to take a look at the comments to the last post as this is a followup. You may want to ignore the snipey content devoid comments from our friend in the NZOSS community.

Herewith a follow up post that hopefully addresses the substantive questions that were actually raised (thanks Stu)

Sorry for the delay. I've been busy trying to get a high quality specification progressed through the ISO standards process. Oh and I've also managed to get outside to do some skiing in the Montana backcountry.

The issue is that the GPL aims to enforce the distribution of any derived work under the GPL also.

I do not want to release my applications under the GPL and inparticular I do not want to release any Open Source code I write under the GPL as I do not believe in the 'Copyleft' philosophy to which it subscribes.

Now that's fine. As a general rule I avoid GPL code like the plague (we do use LGPL code in some of our products). In fact our contracts at Kognition included a clause requireing neither party to the agreement to provide GPL code to the other.

So the question then comes to can I implement ODF without having to derive my work from any GPL based code.
My feeling is that even looking at the code for say OpenOffice will get me into trouble.
Likewise decompiling the code will be problematic.

I am actually comfortable reverse engineering by observation for features like 'blink', I do not believe that is going to breach copyright in the work.

But the question is, will reverse engineering by observation be sufficient. And to be honest I just don't know the answer to that question. I don't really see myself spending that much time working with ODF as I tend to agree with The Burton Report as to its likely levels of adoption and indeed the likely market segments to adopt it- selling software to people who are philosophically opposed to paying for software is unlikely to be a sustainable business. That said I did find a very interesting bit of commentary on the web about just this problem quite recently.

http://www.gnome.org/projects/gnumeric/announcements/1.8/gnumeric-1.8.shtml

"The Gnumeric team does not envision using the OpenDocument Format as its native format.

The spreadsheet part of ODF, in its current form, is ill defined and has many, many problems. For example: (1) there is no meaningful discussion of what functions a spreadsheet should support and what they should do. Without that, there is little point in trying to move a spreadsheet from one program to another; (2) there is no provision for sharing formulas between cells; (3) there is no implementation -- writing an ODF exporter consists of reverse-engineering OpenOffice to see what parts of the standard it can handle. (Note: the preceding comments relate to the spreadsheet part of ODF only; we do not have an informed opinion on ODF for word processing documents, for example.)

We may revisit this decision in the future, should the situation improve. In the meantime, we will strive to maintain a reasonable importer and exporter."

Those guys look to have actually broached the problem and to be honest that kinda answers my question. If I can't realisitically use ODF without reverse-engineering OpenOffice then I'm pretty much stuffed in terms of writing a GPL free implementation.

.NET | Adventure Sports | PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 28 February 2008 22:56:12 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Wednesday, 29 August 2007
A Question on ODF.....

The Standards Meeting last week decended quite quickly into OOXML vs ODF.... a KEY argument from the ODF side was that OOXML was too long- had too much detail.

So here is a question. Is ODF under-specified?

Do any of the implementations of ODF to date implement it *without* including proprietary extensions? As Stephen McGibbon posits- “implementations effectively have no option but to implement proprietary extensions”.

PoliTechLaw|Wednesday, 29 August 2007 00:44:21 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Former ECMA Cheif on OOXML standardisation

Computerworld (US) have a great article on the whole OOXML standardization row.

This article makes great reading with the following useful points from Jan Van Den Beld.

  • Any standard is going to have flaws in it.
    Certainly ODF will have flaws (the inability to represent the billions of historic documents acurately being one of them). Can you imaging the furore had Microsoft and Apple and the legions of Microsoft developers around the world waged war on ODF as it went through the process?
  • A long standard isn't necessarily bad- Java was over 8000 pages when Sun submitted it to ECMA. IBM are still a member of ECMA and one is OBLIGED to ask why they didn't kick up such a stink around OOXML as it went theough the ECMA Technical Comittee?
  • ECMA and ISO have fast tracked technically similar standards before- the example he gives are DVD formats.
    Multiple, similar standards, while "not a good result, are, because of patent wars, often an inevitable result," he said.
    Of course the war here is not around patents- but if you think that there is any hope of harmonizing OOXML and ODF then just look at the comments from Gary Edwards (he's the Editor of the original ODF standard). “The current memebership of the OASIS ODF TC is clearly and uequivocably on record as opposed to the interoperability the marketplace is screaming for.“

 

 

PoliTechLaw|Wednesday, 29 August 2007 00:11:05 UTC|Comments [1]|    

 Saturday, 25 August 2007
OOXML Votes

Germany yes with comments

US yes with comments. Voting here. IBM, Oracle, Farance against. IEEE abstaining.

Brazil no with comments. News item on ZDNet. A friend who was at the meeting tells me that this was a decision passed/pushed down from government circles.

PoliTechLaw|Saturday, 25 August 2007 06:42:38 UTC|Comments [3]|    

A Response To Don Christie re OOXML and Jim from Fronde

I would have simply posted this as a response on the NZ Open Source Society blog. But the requirement for me to register kinda put me off so here goes. This is a direct response to some of the comments in this post from Don Christie. For the record I was at the ENTIRE Standards New Zealand ECMA 376 meeting.

“The tone of this comment was unexpected, and perhaps even libelous to those that participated the two day Standards NZ workshop on OOXML this week.”

As I said to Ken from IBM on Friday..... ‘Is that a legal opinion Don?’. I found the commentary by the NZOSS the most valuable of all the objectors. They had actually done some of their own research and brought along their own expertise. Contrast this with Ken from IBM who basically just read out the same old IBM crap that has been parroted at pretty much every meeting around the world and, of course, having told all that he was not a lawyer Ken then proceeded to proffer an opinion on the intellectual property issues.

I’m pretty comfortable that the comments by Jim and particularly Doug Casement were targeted not at Kiwi folk like the NZOSS or myself.... but rather were targeted at the obvious corporate interests in the room seeking to further their commercial ends. I speak here of course about Microsoft, IBM and Google NZ (if you can call a contract lobbyist ‘Google NZ’).

“Of course the technical debate was rigorous and sometimes very detailed, but it was also valuable as the Mircosoft expert from Redmond, Gray Knowlton, asserted. That was also the direct feedback I received from all members of the SNZ committee present. Indeed, they seemed pleased that the meeting hadn't descended into name calling and zealotry that people like yourself and Rod Drury had been predicting.”

I would agree with Don that the meeting was remarkably well behaved and really didn’t descend into the sort of Black and White bigotry that one might have expected given the participants. I do however continue to note my concern at the obvious hopes of some participants (Don included) that the process might be used as a means to effect competitive change in the market- such matters are not an interest of the ISO standardisation process and I have placed such concerns on the record. I actually felt that the technical conversations didn’t add all that much value over actually just sitting and reading the documentation. In particular I found the IBM technical comments, the ECMA response document and the NZOSS white paper particularly useful. Have read a LARGE amount of documentation on the issue over the past few months I am confident that there were no new major technical issues raised here in New Zealand that have not already been aired elsewhere- I also note that ECMA has publicly committed to resolving these technical issues at the Ballot Resolution meeting stage and that a number of other standards bodies (German and USA on Friday) have voted Yes with Comments on this basis.

“The fact that all the NZ government agencies took the time to consult, run workshops and, come to a common conclusion and to send four representatives to the SNZ workshops is an indication of the importance of this issue, Microsoft and software in general to our country.”

I MUST add a little more detail here. The ‘New Zealand Government Agencies’ were a very interesting bunch. They were certainly well prepared though lacked technical depth and seemed to have a bee in their bonnet around screen readers. They slipped a couple of times (though corrected) into saying they represented the views of the New Zealand Government- something that they clearly did not. The point I want to pick up on here however is that at the end they felt the need to respond to comments by Microsoft that only a small section of Government was represented- said response was by way of reading out some of the agencies involved in their consultation from a list they had carried with them. When I asked the SIMPLE question that this list be added into the Standards NZ record they refused. Their reason? ‘Participation in the workshop by government agencies was confidential’. As such I hardly think that the statement sets out the fact of the matter-certainly the four people at the table reflected the views of ‘some’ of the Government agencies, BUT, the actual extent of their mandate shall remain unknown. I do wonder if an Official Information Act Request might reveal more details. I was, quite frankly, ASTOUNDED at their response to my request to put the participants on the record.

PoliTechLaw|Saturday, 25 August 2007 06:21:36 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Standards New Zealand Meeting on Office Open XML

I shall not restate the issue here- If you need to get some context around what I’m about to rant about take a look at this post from Rod and the comments around it.

I was one of the 20 or so attendees at a standards New Zealand meeting to discuss the vote by New Zealand to JTC1 on the ratification of ECMA 376 as an ISO standard.

I’m going to try and quickly remember who was there.

Pat Rossiter from Hyperion Management Services

Tom Robinson from Kowhai Computing

Colin Jackson from Google New Zealand (it.gen.nz is Colin’s personal site, he was there either as a contractor or volunteer for Google. I think he was also one of the Technical Advisors to the Government Agencies working group)

Lars Rasmussen from Google Australia

Richard Donaldson and Liz (last name forgotten) from the New Zealand Computer Society

Three people from IBM (one from Canada, two from NZ)

Three people from Microsoft (one from NZ, one from US, one from Singapore)

Matthew Cruickshank, Don Christie and one other person (who I don’t think said anything the entire time- he was in charge of stopping Matthew’s laptop going into power save mode while he gave a  presentation though which was useful) from the NZ Open Source Society

Four people from The ‘New Zealand Government Agencies’.

Myself J representing Intergen

Peter Lambrechsten from Novell (although Peter told me on Friday that he wasn’t actually representing Novell views but rather his own... not quite sure what all that was about really...)

There were also plenty of people there from Standards NZ.

The meeting was very well behaved and really not the sort of OSS vs Microsoft death match that you’d think it might have turned into.

It started out with some introductions from the COO of Standards and then an introduction to the whole ISO/IEC JTC1 structure by Nelson Proctor of standards. I asked Nelson if he could explain the relationship between ECMA and JTC1 and he ended up going on a bit of a diatribe about how ECMA is not a ‘real’ standards body.... which wasn’t particularly useful. What I was really trying to have explained was the details around the ECMA liaison with JTC1 and thus the Fast Track process. I probably should have pushed back a bit harder but it was the first question of the day.....

We then kicked of proceedings proper with a discussion of 5 questions (3 on Thu and 2 on Fri) + a ‘What is good for NZ Inc’ session on Friday afternoon.

The questions were those from the Free Software Foundation here (my Foxit PDF Reader is failing on cut and paste so I can’t paste the actual Standards NZ ones). Basically of the Free Software Foundation questions we covered verbatim #1, #2, #3, #4, #6. The question of Dual Standards, #5, was covered several times through the other questions.

The process for each question was basically Microsoft and IBM got to have a say and then it was basically a roundtable of questions and comments. This ranged from detailed discussion around technical points to simply reading out a prepared statement.

Ken Matheson presented for IBM and Gray Knowlton for Microsoft.

I’m going to post on each of the questions separately as I get time over the next couple of days- I’m feeling a bit crook with a cold and cut my days skiing at Cadrona very short @ about 1:30pm because I was feeling very broken.

PoliTechLaw|Saturday, 25 August 2007 06:18:56 UTC|Comments [1]|    

 Thursday, 07 June 2007
... Blocked by The Great Firewal of China

This site is proudly blocked by the Great Firewall of China....

I guess I'm jst a little too subversive for them.

Test your own site here:

http://www.greatfirewallofchina.org/test/

PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 07 June 2007 20:08:00 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 06 December 2006
New Zealand Published as Census Category

Well done to those who eschewed the ethnicity brackets in this years Census.

New Zealander has been reported as a seperate category.

http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411749/916391 it got 11%

PoliTechLaw|Wednesday, 06 December 2006 01:30:23 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 13 November 2006
The MSFT and Novell Deal

Another post on Intellectual Property for y'all.

So recently Microsoft and Novell did a deal whereby they will collaborate and cooperate to make SUSE Linux and Windows work better together. Importantly it also provides for patent indemnity for users of SUSE Linux and non-commercial contributors to SUSE (and by proxy other Linux distros).

So you'd think this would be a good thing, right?

Well it seems that the chunk of the open source community have their knickers in a twist over it.

I guess, to a degree, it all comes down to whether you support software patents or not. Now this is indeed a highly controversial area, but, as a talented software developer I fail to see why innovation in our field should be any less deserving of patent protection than say engineering or biotechnology.

Yet that's what the folks on the Samba team seem to be suggesting. Their opinion isn't just that open source software and patent rights do not go together, for the MS/Novell deal shows that they quite happily do. Instead they are quite vehemently opposed to software patents altogether.

Now I'm not always a huge fan of those enforcing their so called rights (see here on trademarks and parallel importing for example) and we should certainly be discussing and criticising the bredth of some of the patents that have been awarded by IP offices around the world- software and business process patents being the worst examples in many cases. But, a few bad apples or a bad interpretation of scope does not render software patents bad, per se.

We have patents for a reason, to encourage and reward innovation. They are a VERY powerful right to be able to enforce and as such we should be careful when awarding them, but, I really struggle to see why software should be any different to any other technological pursuit- people should be rewarded for genuine innovation. 

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 13 November 2006 20:41:56 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 08 November 2006
Interested in the Law Around Parallel Importing

I'm having some interesting discussions here:

http://www.vorb.org.nz/ftopicp-1055971.html

about the laws surrounding parallel importing. Specifically as they relate to the territorial exhaustion of trade marks. May be interesting for some of you PoliTechLaw-ites

PoliTechLaw|Wednesday, 08 November 2006 19:23:41 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 08 October 2006
google Introduces CodeSearch

Google now has a Code specific searching mechanism...

Syntax and Examples (more about regexp syntax)
regexp Search for a regular expression
go{2}gle  hello,\ world  ^int printk
"exact string" Search for exact string
"compiler happy"
file:regexp Search only in files or directories matching regexp
file:\.js$ XMLHttpRequest  file:include/ ioctl
file:/usr/sys/ken/slp.c "You are not expected to understand this."
package:regexp Search packages with names matching regexp.
(A package's name is its URL or CVS server information.)
package:perl Frodo  package:linux-2.6 int\ printk
lang:regexp Search only for programs written in languages matching regexp
lang:lisp xml  lang:"c++" sprintf.*%s
license:regexp Search only for files with licenses matching regexp.
license:bsd int\ printf   -license:gpl heapsort
 
“”

.NET | PoliTechLaw|Sunday, 08 October 2006 19:59:03 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 25 May 2006
Who Cares About Search Really Anyway....

Dare has posted a PR about MSN Spaces now being the largest blogging system on the net.

This kinda got me thinking.

There's all this MSFT vs Google stuff at the moment. MSN Search (or whatever the %*&%$ they are calling it this week) vs Google. Wil Google become the next Microsoft... blah blah blah....

And it's all got me thinking. Who cares about search really anyway.

I mean search is now such a fundamentally ubquitous internet feature that it's almost becoming genericized beyond commercialisation. What I mean to say is that I think it's going to become harder and harder to make search make money.

How many of you actually ever click a Google Ad Link on Googles site?

I find that really the only time I click em is on other peoples real estate. And I think that's quite important. The battle for the years ahead is not around search but rather it's around controlling the channel by which others deliver their content. To this end Yahoo, MySpace and even MSN have a big jump on Google in my opinion.

.NET | PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 25 May 2006 21:09:43 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 18 May 2006
Unleash The Fury

Peter Jones of sometimes Dot Net User Group has launched a new more politically oriented Blog site.

Vent

“Vent is here to help.  Use it to have a random rant.  Blow off some steam and get it out of your system.  Send a warning to others.  Enlist an army to take on the ‘system’.  Let people know where you have had bad service, seen a crappy over-hyped movie, witnessed some road rage… whatever you like.   Things may not change but you’ll feel a lot better for it.”

Looks like it's gonna be a hoot.

PoliTechLaw | Politics | Rants | Taxpayer Ripoffs|Thursday, 18 May 2006 22:10:37 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 11 May 2006
How to get owned....

Ever seen a REALLY nasty SQL Injection attack in action.

Check this out.

http://www.rockyh.net/Posts/Post.aspx?postId=7a7542fd-f95b-40c6-b464-c30e560dd90d

Includes a demonstration of how to script an SQL injection attack to do a bitwise determination of any field in the vulnerable database too.

This is MUST WATCH material.

.NET | PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 11 May 2006 04:03:10 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Saturday, 06 May 2006
Why unbundling is a really stupid idea.

So the govt. has announced that they will unbundle the local loop. For those non techies among you what this means is that organizations other than Telecom NZ will be able to place equipment in Telecom's phone exchanges and plug the copper wires that run to your house into their own equipment.

The argument for doing this is that it will encourage more investment in broadband in New Zealand- that it will, but, it will be utterly the wrong type of investment.

I really fail to see how having 3rd parties spend millions of dollars putting their own DSLAMs into the exchanges can be considered good use of the limited pool of broadband investment dollars in this country.

The primary issues with Telecom and ADLS at the moment are

  1. Backhaul capacity (Easy to regulate a fix)
  2. Requirement to have a voice phone line to use ADSL.
    This is really a the primary block to competition in the local lines market. Let people have broadband without a phone line and you'll see heaps of new VOIP based local line providers pop up. (Easy to regulate)
  3. Connection service times, price etc.... all easily regulated

It seems REALLY stupid to me that we're going to have what limited capital resources we have in New Zealand being spent on duplicating what is perfectly functional hardware in the exchanges. We should be finding ways to encourage investment in new infrastructure- the stuff that will be replacing copper phone lines. ULL does just the opposite. We want people to invest in laying fiber, deploying wimax etc... not putting more DSLAMs into phone exchanges

[Disclosure]
Most of the rest of the package seems great- things like preventing predatory pricing etc....FWIW: I am not a customer of Telecom NZ and have not been for a long time. I have a TelstraClear Cable Internet connection at home. No phone line and use FX networks to provide VOIP telephones for my Wellington office.
As of yesterday afternoon @ $4.73 my company is a shareholder in Telecom NZ. A 14% odd dividend yield from an NZ Blue Chip is just too good to pass up.

PoliTechLaw|Saturday, 06 May 2006 00:09:18 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 19 April 2005
ACT Move Website to .NET

THe ACT Party have moved their website from JSP to .NET.

Gavin has the details here, here and here.

Sounds like they are doing lots of REALLY cool shit such as dynaimically generated RSS feeds- i.e. do a search and then save the search as an RSS feed.....

“Making the switch to a Microsoft product isn't an issue of ideology, it's just that .Net is a great platform for doing the stuff we want to do. Rodney loves the Open Source, but our existing platform had a couple of really frustrating bugs. So we rebuilt it.”

Amen Brother!

Could have given the UI a bit more of a makeover though....It's not immediatly obvious how I use all the whiz bang features.

 

.NET | PoliTechLaw | Politics|Tuesday, 19 April 2005 13:35:42 UTC|Comments [0]|    

If I Were A Packet.....

of IP data... and I wanted to travel from Hangzhou China to Wellington, NZ I'd try to take a nice direcdt route.

But OH NO. Just did a trace route from here to TRademe.

We went through 30 hops to get there. But get this. We went

China (China Telecom)->Japan (Sprint) -> USA (Sprint) -> Australia (AT&T) -> F'ing Japan Again (AT&T) -> NZ

Would the telcos in this world PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE sort your shit out. You are f'ing up the internet for the rest of us.

FWIW a trace to Telecom.co.nz looks to come directly through a Telecdom Global Gateway router here in China in 20 hops.....

PoliTechLaw|Tuesday, 19 April 2005 11:52:48 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 08 April 2005
From the Unix haters Handbook

"I liken starting one’s computing career with Unix, say as an undergraduate, to being born in East Africa. It is intolerably hot, your body is covered with lice and flies, you are malnourished and you suffer from numerous curable diseases. But, as far as young East Africans can tell, this is simply the natural condition and they live within it. By the time they find out differently, it is too late. They already think that the writing of shell scripts is a natural act."

Ken Pier, Xerox PARC

PoliTechLaw|Friday, 08 April 2005 01:54:39 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 21 March 2005
For All You Steve Riley Fans....

His book is availbale for pre order here.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0321336437/nova-20

.NET | PoliTechLaw|Monday, 21 March 2005 21:51:18 UTC|Comments [0]|    

John Cambell Live

Well... I was really looking florward to watching this. Much as I loathe the politics of JC I think he's quite a good journalist. But... his new TV show SUCKED THE FAT ONE for the first night out.... and that Max Cryer thing! What was the producer thinking!

Rating for Mr JC... 4/10

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 21 March 2005 21:01:44 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 24 February 2005
TC kills TM

DPF is discussing the fact that the TelstraClear depeer decision seems to have killed TradeMe.

Stupid Stupid telcos....

PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 24 February 2005 03:43:19 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 21 February 2005
SHA1 Attack

Bruce Schneier has a detailed post on the recent cryptanalytic attack on SHA1.

It's still not an easy task... but they have significantly lowered the bar for brute force attack.

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 21 February 2005 01:19:05 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 17 January 2005
It's XML Stupid

http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/01/15.html#a9204

Scoble has been fanning the flames around the copyright nature of blog material. Wearing my techno-legal guy hat for two secs... how about incorporating some sort of license metadata into the RSS standard... that's what XML is for isn't it? It's eXtensible for a reason.

This would allow publishers to indicate to aggregators how their content may be used- it's almost like DRM but without the big stick. Like an advanced form of robots.txt. It could allow things such as a copyright/attribution notice to be appended and so forth.

PoliTechLaw | Rambles|Monday, 17 January 2005 22:29:06 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Tuesday, 24 August 2004
Damned if you do... Damned if you don't

Scoble posted on the Spyware problem in Windows.

It's a pretty simple problem to solve- build virus and spyware protection.

So... why hasn't MS done this? Simple! Three letters D O J.

The anti trust implications of MS bundling virus protection are huge. The 'new look' Microsoft (of which Scoble is serious flag bearer) will not stand up against the US Anit Trust laws any more- been there, tried that, got bitten in the ass once already. Result- piss poor Virus protection baked into the OS. Who loses... you guessed it... Joe Public.

Me..? I say %%$&^$ 'em.... bundle it anyway- this has to be the most blatant case of Anti Trust hurting the consuming public that I have ever seen.

PoliTechLaw|Tuesday, 24 August 2004 06:43:47 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 30 May 2004
More on Rodney Hide and the Civil Unions Bill

Berend de Boer another ACT supporting software engineer has posted some stuff on the current ACT primary. He linked bac to me and I saw the linkback so had a read of his article. The english is a bit lacking but it is a reaonably detailed article and, for much the same reasons as myself Berand reaches the conclusion that Rodney is the man for the job. This is particularly interesting in so far as Berand falls squarely in the conservative christain camp whereas Rodney would probably not mind being given the title of most Liberal (in the classical sense) ACT MP.

The Once Over Lightly

Berand attended a couple of the meetings I think including the Chris Trotter meeting. He makes some similar notes to what I did about each of the candidates speeches. Notably that Ken Shirley is a real performer.

Like me Berand was interested in testing the candidates under a policy high ball. Being from the conservative persuasion he (innevitably) chose the civil unions bill. It was unsurprising then to see a similar, ney almost identical, split to the answers to my Drugs question at the Dunedin debate. I'm going to commit a bit of space to the whole civil unions thing in this post simply because it's anopther one of those social freedom issues where I firmly belive that ACT should hold true to its principles (and consitution) and take a party stand rather than making it a conscience vote.

Muriel, as expected, was firmly against the Civil Union Bill.
Shirley, one of the more liberal members, would probably support the bill.
Franks, surprise... surprise..., said he wouldn't/couldn't take a stand without knowing what is in the bill....Bloody lawyer..... one can only hope he will commit to at least something if he becomes the leader.
Hide, as noted in his blog, supports the Bill in principle.

A More Detailed Discussion of the Civil Unions Bill- Debunking de Boer....

OK.... so a decent chunk of the de Boer article is given over to having a rant on the civil unions bill. Die hard libertarian that I am there is only one thing that offends me more than naive left wing economics and that is calculated right wing christian bigotry. So... here goes... quotes from de Boer in itallics, emphasis mine....

This bill is about recognition of the gay life style as fully equal to the union between a man and a woman. That will extend into child care, adoption, employment law and the like. Any form of perceived discrimination will be rigorously prosecuted. Anytime a citizens or organisations think they can still distinguish between a married man and woman and a married gay couple, they will have to defend themselves in court.

OK... so let's tick these off one by one....
I have absolutly no problem with private individuals or organisations discriminating against people for whatever reasons they see fit. As a proper classical liberal I think it is totally inappropriate for the government to determine what discrimination private citizens may undertake. Were I a bigoted christian business owner then I should be entitled to choose to employ only white middle class christian males who displine their kids with a bamboo stick- the government should keep well out of such things. But where the government, as legal monopolist of force and the enforcement of law, makes such discrimination then it is wholly inappropriate.

I know from my experience in The Netherlands how these things will work. As a private school, try to reject someone who is in a gay marriage. As a private businesses, try not to hire someone because he is in a gay marriage. The politically correct will send the police to force the issue.

The same sentiments as above apply. Private schools (I have some experience in these one, two) should most certainly be entitled to discriminate against gay people. Likewise, private businesses should be entitled to discriminate against gay people on the basis of employment, service and/or any other such matter. Most importantly, private churches should and must be allowed to determine for themselves whether they are prepared to consecrate the marriage of two gay or lesbian people. But, the government should never be permitted to make such discriminative choices. The real problem that is identified in the above statement is not that the Netherlands permits gay marriage but rather that their government has not grasped this important distinction between the public and private realm. I would hope, libertarian that I am, that any ACT leader in government would work towards freeing up our private rights of discrimination.

de Boer then runs through a quick summary....

1. It sends the wrong message. Especially when then government picks up the tab for failed child care...

Get the government out of paying for child care. Hell let the churches pick up the tab and dish out their Sunday collection monies on whatever terms they see fit!

3. Since Labour has been in power, ACT has steadfastly opposed each of the anti-family Bills that it has introduced.

Such as? If you are going to summarise then at least provide some detail above? I've always loved the term Family when used by christians. Oh and I love their enthusiasm for the 'right' to assault their kids too! But those are topics for another day.

4. This does not mean ACT should not address injustice and fight for those whose clear wishes and contracts the law does not recognise. That's wrong. But this Civil Union bill is not really about that.

It doesn't address it entirely... but as Rodney as noted it is a step in the right direction. The simple solution is to get the government the hell out of relationship law. Give marriage back to the churches as a concept to do with as they wish- i.e. remove the legal concept of marriage from the statue books. Then, simply have the government enforce relationships by way of simple civil contract.

5. The government cannot define what marriage is. Like freedom it is one of those inalienable rights God has given to mankind. Government cannot define what it is nor who can enter into it.

God hasn't given me anything... and from what I've seen thus far if freedom were God given then he is doing a shitty job of stopping Helen Clark et al. from taking it back of me. Without wanting to get into the underpinning philosophical justifications for man to be free let's just agree that god or otherwise freedom is a right that should not be and can not be defined by government. I also agree that the govt. can not and should not be defining marriage and who can enter into it. Leave that for the churches. The govt. should define a structure of civil contract such that people can enter into private contracts to define their relationship.

6. Rodney Hide must have noticed the markedly different levels of applause. Muriel Newman got a warm and loud applause. The applause after Ken Shirley's, Stephen Franks' and Rodney Hide's answers was remarkably more reserved

*note to self*
Must be louder than the conservatives at the next meeting.
Guess that sort of statement just shows how much opportunity to woo new voters we can achieve through the election of a new leader.

 

PoliTechLaw | Politics|Sunday, 30 May 2004 01:17:43 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 24 May 2004
I couldn't give a $^%%$# about families.

It looks like Michael Cullen is going to be more than generous with my money this coming budget night. In particular all the signs point to him dishing out plenty to families.

I don't know about you but this pisses me off! I don't pay my bloody taxes to subsidize others procreative tendencies! Hell we've been doing it for years with the pop another child earn another buck DPB system... but now they are expanding the program.

Not contented with the evils of progressive taxation, this govt. supported by the likes of United Future (our Christian Bigot party for non NZers), see fit to further piss on young and hard working but childless people like me!

I pay my taxes both personally and as a business and what do I get for it!?! Sweet FA! If I wanted to support families I'd give money to Banardos- hell if they cut my taxes I could possibly even afford to do that! Voluntary charity... now there's an idea Mr Cullen.

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 24 May 2004 02:03:03 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 20 May 2004
Bill is on my list of people t meet @ MVP Summit next year.....

So she starts talking about her theory on lottery tickets (no, it didn't involve any multiple linear regression models).  She was talking with her mouth full of cookies and a nice little chunk of cookie dough came flying out of her mouth and hit the plexiglass partition. It was about the most vile thing I've ever come across.....” [here]

Plus a whole load of great free market leaning political commentary over the last few days.... Bill... I'm buying you a beer!

PoliTechLaw | Rambles|Thursday, 20 May 2004 00:05:07 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 17 May 2004
This is a political broadcast...

So I went to the ACT party leadership campaign shindig here in Dunedin tonight- see photo below.

Had a great time. I got to ask my “do you support drug legalization“ question, which, along with my “should bar owners be allowed to decide if people smoke in their bar“ question have been my mainstays for politicians since my student days. I mean you could ask them an economic question but you'd get four identical answers.

Here is my rundown of the candidates as I saw them....in order that they spoke.

Muriel Neuman
Muriel is from the socially conservative wing of the party. Spoke well, but quite from notes oriented. Her platform is very much welfare (thank god it's not the 'dreaded P'!). I think she'd make a pretty good deputy, maybe to one of the more liberal leaning guys.

Rodney Hide
Rodney has obviously got the highest profile of the four- and wasn't afraid to tell us so.  He speaks well and explains ideas well- I think he was a former lecturer. He's obviously carrying the baggage of being a perk buster a bit- addressed this too - is it that significant really? Judging by the polls it's hard not to rate him. Rodney is from the socially liberal side of the party, always has been, which obviously appeals to my libertarian side a lot.

Ken Shirley
Where has this guy been hiding? He is articulate and has a real presence in front of a crowd. He has been ACT deputy for some years... why haven't we seen him wheeled out before! I came away from the meeting with the feeling that somehow Ken has been flying under the radar. He's a liberal and I think he'd make a great leader too.... would a Hide/Shirley combination alienate the conservative side of the party too much? Why hasn't he made more noise up until now!?!

Stephen Franks
I've got a lot of time for Stephen. He's not afraid to hold to his principles even when it might not be politically expedient e.g. the East Coast Aquaculture thing. Yet, funnily, he took the 'devil in the detail' approach to copping out of my question- he seems to do that a bit on conscience issues. Stephen certainly has the intellect to be leader, but, I don't know if he has the political presence (yet) for the job. Again, he'd probably make a none too shabby calming voice of conservatism along side one of the others.

Ultimately the new leader is going to have to make some serious noise to pull ACT back into the political landscape. There are votes begging in my generation for a truly liberal party that respects both economic and social freedoms. Generations X and Y are going to become an influential voting block and I firmly believe that ACT has the ability to capture a decent chunk of that block.

Finally... I think the candidates met with some of the Uni students prior to the rally and then those students came along. Seemed like half of them were wearing suits!.... Put it away guys... if you want to look like 'Youth for Maggie Thatcher' then go somewhere else. Ties are for funerals!

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 17 May 2004 09:34:33 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 16 May 2004
Our PMs Blog

So our Prime minister has a blog.....

unfortunatly is is extremely lame- reads more like Monday Morning Show and Tell at the local primary school if you ask me.

Others seems to agree- here and here

The NZPundit guys have even launched a spoof blog that you can post to publicly... makes for some funny reading.

PoliTechLaw|Sunday, 16 May 2004 21:36:46 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Saturday, 08 May 2004
The catalyst for getting MoBlogging set up.....

OK, so I've been meaning to setup my blog to work with my Smartphone for a wee while....

The catalyst though was finding out that I was being outdone by a bloody politician (Rodney Hide)......

I have been asked to explain how I manage to blog from Parliaments debating chamber. Its easy. I have a sony P900. I use Opera 6.3 as the browser. I log in over the GPRS network while sitting in the chamber and report the news from within Parliament in real time. You arent allowed to use a phone in the debating chamber but I am not. Well, not really.

...can't have that!

At present I'm MoBlogging via email and so can send photos from the phone camera. I thought about building a thin client app to blog from in .NET this morning... but instead spent most of the morning tearing my hair out trying to get Exchange to work properly. Rodney is using a browser and I don't know if he is using the P900 camera yet.... maybe we can get him to switch to a Windows Mobile device...... Rodney notes that the PM also blogs... Her blog reads more like a Monday morning Show and Tell at the local primary school....boring!

He's doing a meet the people in Dunedin on the 17th..... I might have to go and lure him to the darkside....

 

PoliTechLaw|Saturday, 08 May 2004 07:59:23 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 03 May 2004
David Farrar on the current huis, hikois and other hilarity...

David Farrar has a good wee post laying the blame for the current b/s around the abolition of the Privy Council....

I've said in a number of posts that the reason that we're up the creek now is because the Govt. grossly over reacted to what was, in the end, a mere jurisdictional hearing...

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 03 May 2004 22:20:51 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Thursday, 22 April 2004
GoogleStacking....

Further to the on going NZPundit vs Russel Brown spat... the Pundit is calling for a Google Bomb

Who am I to deny the man his pleasures.... let's see if my Google Rank (currently 4) can do any good.

Herewith the Terzain Link

PoliTechLaw | Rambles|Thursday, 22 April 2004 21:33:17 UTC|Comments [3]|    

&%^$# Privacy! This is just too cool!

”Being recognized has never been easier for VIP patrons of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona, Spain.

Like a scene out of a science-fiction movie, all it takes is a syringe-injected microchip implant for the beautiful men and women of the nightclub scene to breeze past a "reader" that recognizes their identity, credit balance and even automatically opens doors to exclusive areas of the club for them. “

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=38038

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 22 April 2004 07:24:27 UTC|Comments [20]|    

 Monday, 19 April 2004
Win Big Here!

.... Well $50 ain't big... but still.....

NZPundit is running competition bsed around taking the piss out of Russell Brown

What a great idea.... keep an eye out for my entry.

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Monday, 19 April 2004 23:20:42 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Saturday, 17 April 2004
Lock The Bastards Up

Looks like Mossad are having a go at getting New Zealand passports this time around. I'm impressed that our coppers actually nabbed them, one would have thought the Israelis should have been able to run rings around us.

Good to see the government 'treating it like any other case'. Bad to see them out on bail.... I mean can you say FLIGHT RISK! One has already escaped the country.

 

PoliTechLaw|Saturday, 17 April 2004 07:39:27 UTC|Comments [0]|    

More on the Civil Union Bill

David Farrar has the first guess at numbers on the Civil Union Bill.... looks promising...

Let's hope we can convince a few more 'classically liberal' ACT members to support it.

PoliTechLaw|Saturday, 17 April 2004 07:35:26 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 15 April 2004
Civil Union Bill

Russel Brown has a good post today on the moralistic ranting and raving that is going on over the yet to be introduced Civil Unions Bill.

As per my last post on the matter, the Libertarian in me would get the Government out of the Marriage business altogether.

 

PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 15 April 2004 21:33:43 UTC|Comments [5]|    

 Wednesday, 31 March 2004
Cool Google Viz Tool

Check out this cool vizualization tool for Google News.

Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap's objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe.”

PoliTechLaw|Wednesday, 31 March 2004 09:18:15 UTC|Comments [19]|    

 Tuesday, 16 March 2004
Where has your Word document been today?

In yet another case of 'oh dear I forgot that word stamps every revision', the California AG has been publishing letters passed across the desk of the MPAA.

http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/001775.shtml

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Tuesday, 16 March 2004 03:12:49 UTC|Comments [17]|    

Where has your Word document been today?

In yet another case of 'oh dear I forgot that word stamps every revision', the California AG has been publishing letters passed across the desk of the MPAA.

http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/001775.shtml

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Tuesday, 16 March 2004 03:12:47 UTC|Comments [12]|    

 Monday, 15 March 2004
Land of the Free? Read and weep!

Harvey Silvergate has a very well researched and very well written article outlining the real threat being posed to fundamental liberty in the US today. It is long- took me about 20 mins to read- but well worth it.

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 15 March 2004 21:23:21 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Sunday, 14 March 2004
Scoble on Free Speech

http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2004/03/14.html#a7010

”The way to fight hate speech is by pointing it out. This is a marketplace of ideas. Sometimes the ideas are rotten. That's what a lot of countries, and people don't get. The way to get rid of bad ideas is to point them out. Not ban them.”

'nuff said!

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Sunday, 14 March 2004 20:46:25 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Friday, 12 March 2004
.Mobile

A consortium of communications companies including Nokia, Vodafone, Microsoft and Orange, are asking that ICANN approve its application for a mobile-phone oriented top level domain.

News report here.  Slashdot rumination here.

Calder.mobile from the Guggenheim depicted above.

 

[via TrademarkBlog]

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Friday, 12 March 2004 23:50:04 UTC|Comments [5]|    

 Tuesday, 09 March 2004
Microsoft is awarded patent on Scroll Mouse

http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3322891

Not all scroll mice mind you... just dual directional scroll mice- i.e. the tilt wheel ones.

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Tuesday, 09 March 2004 20:03:15 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 08 March 2004
CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada

This recent Canadian unanimous decision of the Candian Supreme Court may be of interest.

They consider their fair dealing provision as it relates to the copying of Law Journal articles and come back with a very liberal result. Is the tide maybe turning? There is also some obiter with regard to the originality level required which shows similar sentiment.

CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada
http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/rec/html/2004scc013.wpd.html

[via LessigBlog]

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 08 March 2004 08:16:31 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 26 February 2004
All necklaces are equal... but some necklaces are more equal than others...

NZPundit had a post this morning linking to a Herald article on the ongoing necklace debate at Marlborough Girls College. Briefly...

“A Pakeha student whose necklace was forcibly removed by a teacher - even though Maori students are allowed to wear their taonga (treasures) - has quit school over the incident.”

While I'm no fan of the Human Rights Commisariat this looks like a fine time to have a good go at the establishment. On that note I've got a NZ$50 note to kick off a legal fighting fund for anyone who's interested in having a go at:

  • The Ministry of Ed
  • The school, the board of trustees or the principal especially
  • The teacher who forcibly removed the necklace
PoliTechLaw | Rants|Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:36:15 UTC|Comments [6]|    

Robert Scoble vs The Hornets Nest

Well, Well, Well...... Scoble has stirred up a hornets nest with his post on Gay Marriage. He posts some follow up here.

Die hard Libertarian that I am I can't let it go without comment.

In the ideal world I don't think that the government would have anything to do with marriage save for enforcing any properly made contract that might stem from a marriage. In the same way I don't think the government should have anything to do with what goes on in your bedroom. ...or what sort of crack you like to smoke.... etc...

Marriage and participation therein should be left up to the churches. Most of them are die hard bigots but there are increasingly tolerant people among both clergy and parish. The important thing though is that churches are private organizations and in a free world private organizations and individuals should be free to be as discriminatory or tolerant as they see fit. If non religious people like me want to get married then we can also start a private organization to record the commitments that we make.

But, we don't live in the ideal Libertarian Utopia (yet!) do we. So my current feelings are that while the government continues to bring the concept of marriage under a legal framework then the law should apply to, and the protection thereunder be available to, all people no matter who they share their life with. Ultimately I believe that private people should be free to discriminate as they see fit, the government should not.

PoliTechLaw | Rants|Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:23:07 UTC|Comments [5]|    

 Monday, 23 February 2004
God: 'Bush to win 2004 Election'

According to American Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson George W. is going to win in a landslide this year- god told him so. More likely Pat has been smoking the same crack that Ralph Nader has recently.
 

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 23 February 2004 06:53:04 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 17 February 2004
The Official Word on the Source Code Leak and a Guided Tour Thereof

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2004/Feb04/02-12windowssource.asp

Wasn't MS's Fault
Wasn't Shared Source's Fault
Not the Govt Security Program.....

So why not tell us who it was!

Also...

Kuro5hin has a guided tour of some of the comments... makes funny reading.

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/2/15/71552/7795

 

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Tuesday, 17 February 2004 23:51:00 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 16 February 2004
Lies, Damn Lies and Slack Left Wing Statistic Quoting

David Slack, another Public Addressee, posted an interesting wee survey on the Treaty of Waitangi. The purpose of the carefully selected questions (and even more carefully selected answers) is obviously to encourage us to all conclude that this Don Brash Orewa Speech thing is just a big beat up.

Unfortunately Mr Slack is just that. Let's go through and take a look at some of the selective statistics that he is referencing. (Question in Bold, Answer in Plain, my ranting in italics)

Question 1.
What has been the approximate total cost of Treaty of Waitangi settlements since 1989?
According to the Office of Treaty Settlements, the total cost of settlements since 1989 has been $596 million.
OK. But is this really the full extent of all of the settlements? He lists them below in another question. Most notably absent is the true cost (both up front and ongoing) of the Waitangi Fisheries Settlement. Looking at this site we can see that the Sealord component alone of this settlement cost $350 million- a sum which if added to the Slack answer would make a not inconsiderable difference. Whats more this settlement commits the crown to substantial ongoing liabilities the value of which must surely measure into the hundred of millions of dollars.

What was the approximate size of Telecom's profit for the year ending June 2003?
Telecom's net profit for the year ending June 2003 was $709 million. In 2001, it was $643 million; in 2000, $783 million; and in 1999, $822 million.
The only year in which it did not achieve a net profit greater than the total value of of all treaty settlements was in 2002, when it had to write off $725 million of its investment in the Australian company AAPT. This was more than four times the total value of the settlement with Tainui, who have found themselves pilloried in the business press for making poor investment decisions.
This is the 'Big Bad Multinational Corporate Greed' component that necessarily comes with almost any left wing social commentary. If the share holders of Telecom want to they are able to get stroppy about any such losses and wasteful use of resources. One might say that the New Zealand taxpayers (as 'shareholders' in the country) are getting stroppy also- as is their right. If the shareholders of Telecom have been slack in reprimanding their board then so what. Let us not as a country be slack in reprimanding our governors.

How much revenue did the Government collect for the year ending June 2003?
According to Treasury, the Government collected $57 billion in total for the year ending June 2003.
And just how did they collect said revenue? By taking it forcibly of you and I; the people who had to work their asses off to earn it. I don't know about you but we seem to be being lined up for a 'if the government only pisses away 0.01% of the annual tax take then that is OK' statement. If the government wants to take my money by force (and that is a discussion for another time) then the least they can do is be responsible with the money! Slack standards of accountability are not acceptable no matter what proportion of the kete is at stake.

Of all the money the New Zealand Government has spent in the last five years, what proportion of that has been spent on Treaty settlements?
According to Treasury , in the past five years, the Government has spent $227 billion.
Treaty settlements in that period totaled $248 million, or 0.109% of total spending.
If you paid $1,000,000 in tax in the last five years, your contribution to treaty settlements was $1090. If you paid $100,000 in tax in the last five years, your contribution to treaty settlements was $109.
And what proportion has been spent through other agencies such as Te Mangai Paho? Te Puni Kokiri? the Pipi Foundation? The Treaty Settlement process is but a drop in the ocean in terms of $$$. If anything successive governments have been slack in making full and final recompense for justifiable grievances- viz just and proper Treaty settlements. It's the 'recompense' that is being provided for completely unjustifiable reasons that is the real concern for most New Zealanders.

How many Treaty claims have been settled?

According to the Office of Treaty Settlements, there have been 15 completed settlements since 1989:
Ngati Tama
$14.5 million
Ngati Ruanui
$41,000,000
Te Uri o Hau
$15,600,000
Pouakani
$2,650,000
Ngati Turangitukua
$5,000,000
Ngai Tahu
$170,000,000
Te Maunga
$129,032
Rotoma
$43,931
Waimakuku
$375,000
Waikato/Tainui raupatu
$170,000,000
Ngati Whakaue
$5,210,000
Haui
$715,682
Commercial Fisheries
$170,000,000
Ngati Rangiteaorere
$760,000
Waitomo
The Crown transferred land at the Waitomo Caves to the claimant group, subject to a lease, and provided a loan $1,000,000.
Date of Deed 1989
A good question to have asked might have been: 'Of the 15 aggrieved groups with whom a settlement has been reached, how many are back already for another bite of the cherry? And, how many had had full and final settlements or similar in the past?'. The last National Government was particularly slack at upholding past settlement agreements. Much of the furore over the recent Foreshore and Seabed decision is centered on Marine Farming rights- something that is surely covered by the definition of fishing in the Fisheries Claims Settlement Act. We need to resolve past grievances. We need to resolve them swiftly, fully and finally.

How many Treaty claims have been heard by the Waitangi Tribunal and are approaching settlement?
You can read about progress at this web site, which reports that there are twelve claims at various stages of settlement.
According to the Office of Treaty Settlements, progress in historical Treaty settlement negotiations is best measured by the number of claimant groups moving toward settlement of all their claims. Many separate claims may be lodged by individuals from the same tribal group. The number of registered claims therefore gives an inflated picture of how many settlements will be required.
Settlements are currently occurring at a rate of about one every six months.
And what of those making claim to tax dollars on the basis of race outside the Treaty settlement process? What is this wonderful euphemism 'historical' Treaty settlement process? Is the also a 'fanciful future opportunities' Treaty settlement process? As noted above successive governments have been slack at tidying this mess up; hence where we are today. It is surely line in the sand time!

Who has the final say in a Treaty settlement?
Parliament has the final say. Click here to read about the process of Treaty negotiations and settlements.
Hence the outstanding promise shown by poll results such as these. This is far more than the second major party taking up the political slack. It was a truly phenomenal polling turn around founded on a single political issue.

Tertiary students have access to 1451 scholarships for study. How many more scholarships are available solely to Maori?
The Sunday Star Times reports here that Maori students can apply for an additional 154 scholarships not open to others.
Funny how the Sunday Star Times didn't note the number of scholarships that 'orange haired and be-freckled but otherwise slack beer swilling' students could apply for to the exclusion of others. Once again, we should be appalled that such racially based scholarships exist irrespective of the actual proportion of them. Let's have a tertiary education system with acceptance on color and class blind merit and assistance on need. Enough of our student load fueled 'shotgun' approach to tertiary enducation. Enough dodgy tertiary institutions masquerading as Universities.

The Government presently spends about $7.7 billion per year on health. Maori represent 14.7% of the population. What approximate proportion of the health vote do they receive, including special grants for Maori health?
The Sunday Star Times reports here that the Ministry of Health estimates that last year it spent $1105 million on Maori health through its mainstream funding 14.7% of the total health spending of $7.7 billion.
Additional money targeted specifically at Maori lLast year amounted to $158m, about 2% of the total.
As above, what proportion was targeted at 'orange haired and freckle faced people' purely on the basis of their skin color and ethnic lineage? There is no slack in our health system. We have long waiting lists for most quality of life restoring elective surgery. Playing favorites programs do not have a place in a need based health system.

Last year, the Court of Appeal gave a decision which gave rise to the current debate about ownership of the foreshore. What did that case decide?
The Court of Appeal held that the Maori Land Court has jurisdiction to consider whether the foreshore and seabed are Maori customary land.
You can find concise analysis of the case by Damian Stone, of Bell Gully, here.
Oh lordy a question the sentiment of which I agree with entirely. The Court of Appeal ruling was little more than jurisdictional. The Labour government (and I suspect one member more than others) got their knickers in a twist over nothing. I bet you thought it was only the Waikato Law School admission criteria that were hopeless! *grins* If you want something even more concise ask Damian Stone for a list of his Bell Gully colleagues who are Waikato graduates!

If the Government passes a law that declares who owns the foreshore, who can fully and finally over-rule them?
A large enough group of voters is the only group that can effectively fully and finally over-rule a Government law, by voting in a new Government capable of passing new legislation that overturns previous legislation, or over-rules any finding of any court or tribunal.
Click here to read about New Zealand's constitutional arrangements.
Governments do not pass laws, Parliament does. But in practical terms Mr Slack is correct here. Parliament is sovereign and we live in a democracy so a large enough block of voters could potentially amass sufficient Parliamentary power to overturn any previous enactments. Or... we could just have a bloody revolution... *rubs hands with glee*

Which of the following is not a treaty which was entered into many years ago?
The right to issue a writ of Habeas Corpus is not a treaty. It is, however, very old law and yet, curiously, many people continue to find it helpful in defending their human rights.
I bet he put this one in for Margaret! You'd have to be a pretty slack law student or polly not to get it. It kinda stands out as the 'so bloody what' question of the bunch. The concept of Habeas Corpus well predates the legal formalism thereof in the Habeas Corpus Act 1679. But anyway.... so what, the liberties that it protects are in fact important and would (or at least should) be protected still even if it were thrown out tomorrow.

PoliTechLaw | Rants|Monday, 16 February 2004 08:52:41 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 15 February 2004
Artima.com

Dunno if you already know of it, but, the site http://www.artima.com/ might really spin your wheels. Basically it is a set of informal interviews with some big names in software engineering- think Stroustrup, Gosling, Eckel, Hejlsberg, Cunningham, Meyer etc....

It's actually really readable and suprisingly un Computer Science like. (maybe I'm just becoming more CS like... I don't know...)

Anyway. Well worth taking a look at.

.NET | PoliTechLaw | Rambles|Sunday, 15 February 2004 20:33:30 UTC|Comments [0]|    

IPLaw: Lessig on the Copyright Implications of Aussie Trade Deal and JFo on Leaky Windows

Larry Lessig- the creative commons guy and Stanford Law Professor on the implications of the Aussie free trade deal on copyright law.

http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/001733.shtml

Mary Jo Foley on the windows source code leak.

http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,4248,1527761,00.asp?kc=MWRSS02129TX1K0000535

Human Aggregation | PoliTechLaw|Sunday, 15 February 2004 20:26:46 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Saturday, 14 February 2004
The Ever Quaint Russell Brown

New Zealand blogger extraordinary, the ever quaint Russell Brown, spent a good part of his Mediawatch (9am Sunday on National Radio) show this morning explaining away the apparently aberrant results of recent political polls with regard to the Don Brash thing.

Unfortunately for poor old Russell, while he had to file his program on Friday, TVNZ waited until Saturday to announce the results of their latest Colmar Brunton poll. A poll that TVNZ had to check twice in order to confirm the quite astounding results. While most seem to be crowing that Brash is behaving like a racist redneck, the facts must surely belie this. If such popularity could be had in such behavior then Winston Peters would have been Prime Minister long ago.

I think that Brash is saying (and importantly thinking) the right things and going about it in a reasonably (for a politician) scrupulous manner. Provided he can keep the rest of his rabble in line his party may do all right come election time. Let's hope any success doesn't come too much at the expense of the other Libertarian and Libertarian leaning parties who have been saying these sorts of things for some time now.

PoliTechLaw|Saturday, 14 February 2004 23:33:35 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Thursday, 12 February 2004
Windows Source Code Leaks

A community site is rep[orting that the Win2k and WinNT source code has leaked.

http://www.neowin.net/comments.php?id=17509&category=main

Including a link to the file tree

http://home.hccnet.nl/pacjack/src/INDEX (no files)

And here comes GrokLaw with the obligatory warning to the OSS all and sundry

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20040212190859280

 

PoliTechLaw|Thursday, 12 February 2004 21:28:33 UTC|Comments [7]|    

 Monday, 09 February 2004
Free Trade or Horse Trade?

So the Australians have their free trade carrot from the Yanks as a thank you for playing war games in Iraq. But it's not really free trade is it? Seems more like mutually agreeable protectionism to me.

The thing about free trade (and political freedom generally) is that it isn't something that really works all that well under segmentation. It's hard to deal with somethings being more free than others. The effect of true free trade should be such that market forces will determine the most efficient productive outputs from given resources- in this case countries.

Of course the 'Land of the Free' has been anything but over the last 20 years of my life at least. We've had steel, lamb and recent bleating over lost technology jobs to India. American 'Freedom' is not even limited to economic areas- just how free are religious minorities, gays and drug users in the good ol' USA?

But I digress. The Aus/US free trade agreement is nothing more than pork barrel horse trading and the worst thing for New Zealand is that the Australians capitulated. If anything it has set back Free Trade opportunities for agriculture dependant countries for many years to come.

PoliTechLaw|Monday, 09 February 2004 23:16:46 UTC|Comments [9]|    

 Friday, 06 February 2004
Anton Pillar orders executed against Sharman Networks

ZDNet is reporting that the two companies behind Kazaa, Sharman Networks and Brilliant Digital Entertainment along with the homes of their executives were raided this morning in the execution of an Anton Pillar order. An AP order is the civil equivalent of having a rubber gloved coppa on your doorstep at 5am to execute a search warrant.

They also raided Monash, UQ and UNSW. Even Australias large ISPs including Telstra and BigPond were raided although Telstra at least insist that 'mums the word' when it comes to subscriber information.

PoliTechLaw|Friday, 06 February 2004 10:05:40 UTC|Comments [0]|