Irregular Injection of Opinion
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 Friday, 10 August 2007
Rick Jeliffe on the Standards Debate

There's a bit of a bruhaha around the fast tracking of Office Open XML at the moment ECMA 376 as an ISO standard. New Zealand have, thus far, shown themselves to be among the less supportive crowd.

To be honest it seems to be distilling down to a debate between the:

“There should be one standard” crowd vs the “There can be many standards crowd”.

Rick Jeliffe from Australia (Writing on the O'Reilly site about the Australian standards meeting yesterday) makes a great point:

Then a quick mention of some of the issues that I prototype in this blog: that ISO standards for documents are voluntary, that standards form a library of choices, that the mere existence of alternative standards does not prevent any group from choosing one over the other, that standards such as PDF and Torx are not open in the sense of allowing arbitrary change but nevertheless valuable, and so on. I emphasized again that the ISO process is a win/win system in which attempts by one group to stymie another’s needs does not fit.

It makes fascinating reading actually- international techno-politics writ large.

Further to my thoughts earlier this week Rick also points to some thoughts from Marcus Carr:

Marcus Carr objected to this. He spoke from the perspective of document processing from the early 90s, and the difficulties in practice of dealing with Word documents (with the various hijinks: converting .DOC to the Rainbow DTD, converting .DOC to RTF then processing that, etc) and brought up the key processing issue that I think almost all the commentators on Open XML miss. He brought up the issue of the need for a full-fidelity baseline schema to allow the most flexibility in downstream processing. “


|Friday, 10 August 2007 00:13:42 UTC|Comments [22]|    

 Thursday, 09 August 2007
New Toys for Me... EOS 20D

Got myself a sweet new (2nd hand) Digital DLR yesterday as my birthday gift for myself :-)

It's a Canon EOS 20D Bod. Barely used. I thought that there wasn't a bundle of point in buying the newer model... it really only offered a Bigger screen on the back to which I say BLAH... it's an SLR!

I'm currently using my nasty old Sigma 28-200 Superzoom and my “Every Canon Shooter Must Have One” 50mm F1.8 on it.

Now I have to decide on another Lens.

Current Candidates are:

Canon EF 24-70 F2.8 L
This is a nice fast lens. L spec is nice. Is an EF lens so if I get bitten by the bug I can carry it across to a big sensor camera like the 1D MarkIII or 3D/7D/5D (yes... you know they coming!!!!0

Canon EF 24-105 F4 L IS
Not as fast as the above. But, longer Zoom range and Image Stabilized. Currently my top choice. Is still an L spec lens and F4 is not terrible... only 1 stop above the 2.8.

Canon EF-S 18-55 F2.8 IS
So in many ways this combines the best features of the above. Fast lens WITH Image stabilization. Arguably the lower bottom end is well suited to my 1.6 crop camera. But... it's as much as the above and a non L series lens (read plastic!!!) and being EF-S I can't take it across to a bigger sensor later....

I am torn..

Share your thoughts!

Photography|Thursday, 09 August 2007 23:48:22 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Tuesday, 07 August 2007
Open XML IIS Sample - Testers Wanted

So we've been beavering away here @ Intergen for a couple of months putting together a fantastic sample around OpenXML. It's basically a bolt in to Excel that lets you parse and process IIS log files. We'll be releasing it up to Codeplex soon, but, I'm looking for a few keen people to test it and give us some feedback now.

If you are a person who runs IIS and would like to have a look at the pre-release code. Let me know in the comments and I'll get in touch.

It's been quite exciting working with the new Office Open XML file formats. Having kicked around in this industry for a while I've seen quite an evolution in how I've dealt with generating documents- where we once had to wrestle with crazy DDI APIs we can now simply manipulate good ol’ text files. XML , simple and verbose as it is, is kind of a holy grail for document manipulation as it means that we can do it with all the tools we've been using for internet based development for many years- while still maintaining document integrity using the meta-model support offered by XML schema. Office was never really geared up for automation on the server, it worked, but was dangerous, whereas smart developer folk can do server side XML processing in their sleep.

The XML approach has a few key benefits as I see it.

1.       XML is easy to work with on ANY platform.
We’ve got tooling to manipulate XML on pretty much every platform you can think of. From Windows to Linux to a smartphone to the Microframework embedded devices we’re working with. The packaging format (basically it’s a ZIP file) is also broadly supported across most platforms.

2.       It’s X as in eXtensible
This means that you can easily take the Open XML document and emit some of your own custom data into the document. This was possible in a few roundabout ways in Word in previous versions. But now we’ve got a common approach across all the Office tools, AND, because it’s an Open standard we should see much broader support from other vendors- e.g. There is Open XML support on the iPhone.

3.       It’s a standard (ECMA standard and submitted as an ISO standard)
The best thing about Office Open XML being standardized is that changes will be far more predictable and controlled. If an ISV or Integrator like Intergen, or a Government Department commits to building tooling to manipulate documents they have some reassurance that it’s not going to be obsolete when Microsoft (or some other dominant market player) decides to change their proprietary format. It’s unrealistic to assume that there can ever be *one* document format for all applications- we have ODF, PDF, HTML and countless other formats available already. For me the key benefit of standardization is that it allows smaller companies like ours to enter the market with confidence that they are not subject to the whim of the dominant player.

|Tuesday, 07 August 2007 22:38:24 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Thursday, 21 June 2007
MedRecruit.... one of my other ventures...

So my good friends Simon 'Skip' Gardiner and Sam Hazledine and I have been working on a new venture called MedRecruit.

We went live with our new look site yesterday.

It's a Medical recruiting company... so if you have any doctor friends then tell them to give use a yell.

Human Aggregation|Thursday, 21 June 2007 21:03:40 UTC|Comments [1]|    

Some Great Silverlight Tutorials

Check out this Silverlight Site that shows off some short and sharp how toos for Silverlight and Blend\

Human Aggregation|Thursday, 21 June 2007 20:58:34 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 12 June 2007
Apple Safari - Secure From Day One?

It took less than a day for someone to hack Safari.... ouch!

Human Aggregation|Tuesday, 12 June 2007 02:43:44 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 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:

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

Stripping Line Numbers from Code....

Say you've got some code with line numbers

1: using System;
2: using System.IO;


1430: else if (1==0)

blah blah...


And you want to strip out the line numbers.

This regex: ^[ 0-9]*\:

will do it for you. THanks go to the new regex building in Orcas :-)

.NET|Thursday, 07 June 2007 06:03:04 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Something Exciting Happening @ Intergen

So we've had a team @ Intergen hard @ work for the past 6 moths putting together a fantastic new service offering that we're going to take global.

It's called ActionThis and it's basically a platform for getting things done. I can't say much more than that in terms of detail... but in the abstract here's a few things it is (grab your Buzzword Bingo Card)....

  • It's web 2.0. It has AJAX, simple graphic elements and all that Web 2.0 jazz.... yes. It looks like sex!
  • It's Software as a Service with a twist... think more Picasa meets Flickr meets Live Spaces... but in an entirely different problem domain... that I'm not going to tell you about.
  • It's going to be a platform- you'll be able to build stuff that bolts into ActionThis and help people get stuff done.

I'll probably dribble a bit more information out here before we begin yelling from the rooftops (i.e. go public with an announcement) but, if you want to be the first in the know and the first to get your hands on the bits... you should head to and sign up for our Beta news...

Intergen | ActionThis|Wednesday, 23 May 2007 04:28:43 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 06 May 2007
Jesse Ezell on Flash vs Silverlight...

This is a great run through of some comparisons between Flash and Silverlight.... My hope is that Jesse can provide a bit more detail around Flex vs .NET 3.0 at some point too....

.NET|Sunday, 06 May 2007 01:02:11 UTC|Comments [52]|