i4i Says XML Patent Doesn’t Affect OpenOffice.org!

Here’s some interesting news from Government Computing (via Groklaw) on the patent that has caused all the worry about Microsoft Word and XML:

i4i said it has looked at OpenOffice and found it doesnโ€™t infringe on its patents.

Which is good news for ODF, but still demonstrates what an utter minefield software patents are. The sooner they’re gone the better.

Microsoft Word Falls Foul of XML Patent

Uh oh, this sounds really bad! LWN is reporting that:

Here is a press release from legal firm McKool Smith, which is quite proud at having gotten a US court to rule that Word violates patent #5,787,499. “Today’s permanent injunction prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML.” The text of this patent is quite vague; if it stands it could almost certainly be used to make life difficult for free software as well.

Microsoft taking a beating for this is not something to celebrate, this is yet another example of how software patents are really bad for all the players in computing.

A New TTY Maintainer for Linux

After the recent orphaning of the Linux TTY code there was speculation about who, if anyone, would be mad enough to take it up next. Well just merged in Linus’s git repository is the answer:

commit 57d7f282271a83fe4ca4bd15eee79be577210210
Author: Greg Kroah-Hartman 
Date:   Fri Jul 31 21:28:16 2009 -0700

    TTY: Maintainer change

    Clearly, I am a glutton for punishment.  I'll see if I can see Alan's
    changes through to the end, otherwise I'll be fending off a lot of bug
    reports for usb-serial devices.

    Cc: Alan Cox 
    Signed-off-by: Greg Kroah-Hartman 
    Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds 

So the self-described “Maintainer of Crap” has added some more dodgy code to his collection.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So a big round of applause to Alan Cox for starting this dirty nasty work off and another big vote of thanks to Greg for picking it up. A raspberry to Linus for annoying Alan enough to make him give up on a really really tough job. ๐Ÿ™

Tsunami Warning for South East Australia (updated – no impact)

Just got back from a talk Donna was doing to find that the BoM has issued a tsunami warning for Victoria after a large earthquake near New Zealand.

An undersea earthquake of magnitude 7.9 has occurred at 07:22 PM EST on Wednesday 15 July 2009 at 45.960S , 166.470E off W. COAST OF S. ISLAND, N.Z. Sea level observations have confirmed a tsunami has been generated.

ABC News says:

The weather bureau says there is a potential tsunami threat to New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island.

No risk to us, being well inland, but hopefully those nearer the coast will be OK.

Update: Well it was tiny – 774melbourne (ABC local radio) on Twitter reported:

774melbourne Correction: TV NZ reports the NZ wave was around 17cm.
774melbourne Observations of a very small Tsunami in Tas. No major land impact expected.

Linux Based Open-PC Project Launched

The KDE News website has the announcement of a new Open-PC project to create a PC shipped with Linux and other FOSS software. Why another ? Well, as they say:

The project was initiated in response to the lack of quality in the Free Software-based hardware solutions currently on the market. As many reviewers and end-users have stated, the pre-installed software used by hardware vendors generated a bad image for Free Software with potentially interested end-users. Much of the software was buggy and not widely tested and device drivers were often unstable, non-free or not available at all.

There’s a lot of questions to answer yet – what form factor, what software, etc – so they are running a survey to try and gauge peoples thoughts. The site says there is a second survey planned for a later date, presumably focusing in on options once they’ve got general ideas. The other interesting thing is that they’ve apparently already got a major PC manufacturer lined up and they are aiming to be shipping by late 2009 with part of the profits going to funding FOSS projects.

There is more information in Frank Karlitschek’s presentation (PDF) from the Desktop Summit in Gran Canaria.

Google Chrome OS

I suspect that the world and its dog will have heard about this by now, but in case you’ve somehow missed the announcement from Google..

Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. The software architecture is simple โ€” Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

If (and I emphasis if) this takes off then MS might be in for something of a rough ride in the Netbook market. The Netbook vendors have been unable to stand up to the MS monopoly with Linux on Netbooks until now, perhaps Google can start to rebalance the marked a little ?

Anti-immigrant Facebook group

The ABC is reporting the depressing, but not entirely unsurprising, fact that 65,000 people have joined an anti-immigration Facebook group.

I’d like to make a suggestion to all that groups members – given that you want immigrants to leave Australia perhaps you would do the rest of us the honour of going first given that your ancestors arrived here with the last 1% of the inhabited time of this continent ?

Thank you for your understanding..