Monday, 22 December 2008

Merry Christmas - with impressions from Heidelberg Christmas market

Every year, during advent season, it's Christmas market time in most German towns, and so in Heidelberg, too. I like the Heidelberg Chrstmas market very much. It is spread over the entire old town. And for a couple of years also with an area for doing ice skating, right underneath the castle and thus in a magnificient atmosphere.

The other day I took our camera along and took some pictures. Enjoy!

I wish you all a wonderful and magic Christmas and a good, happy and healthy New Year 2009.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Minature world

This year is the second time that we put up the model railway. It is not big - well, big enough for being part of our living room for some weeks, but not a professional model railway landscape. Most of the equipment, the trains, wagons, houses, are still from me when I was a child. And it is plain and easy to package up again some time in the new year.

My kids love it. Especially my son is enthusiastic. He took some pictures with our camera the other day - some of them pretty good. You will see - this miniature world has got its charm. Who would not like to walk around there, bord a train and go down to the lake; visit the church, buy a newspaper at the newspaper stand and enjoy the peaceful life. But beware: there is a police, a fire station, and once in a while the peaceful changes - with accidents, fires and thefts it gets very much like the real one ;-)

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Relevant link of today - Security issues with Internet Explorer

German government office for security in IT recommends not to use Microsoft's Internet Explorer

Bundesamt warnt for Microsofts Internet Explorer
Finger weg vom Internet Explorer - das empfiehlt das Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik. Eine Sicherheitslücke ermöglicht es, Schadsoftware über den Browser einzuschleusen. Es genügt, infizierte Internet-Seiten aufzurufen. Ein Sicherheits-Update steht noch aus. [...]

Monday, 15 December 2008

Relevant links of today - studies on open source and eGovernment

Spanish report: saving on software licences is one of the main advantages
Saving of software licenses is one of the main advantages of the use of open source, concludes Cenatic, Spain's resource centre on open source, after studying sixteen implementations of such software by Spanish public administrations. [...]

The administrations see three more main advantages. Using open source makes the public administrations independent of providers and gives them the possibility to create a community around a project. This is noted in half of all the case studies. Using open source moreover allows the public organisations to adapt applications to specific requirements. This is a determining factor for 60 percent of the public administrations, Cenatic concludes. [...]


European Commission Report on eGovernment and eParticipation

The EU is investing heavily in e-government to help boost growth while delivering on the benefits of the information society, including greater cross-border collaboration, less fragmented research effort, and access to ICT anywhere, any time and by any one. [...]
E-government promises, and can deliver, better services at lower costs – something citizens are
increasingly expecting. As such, it was considered an important addition to the i2010 Action Plan. [...]

Friday, 12 December 2008

Birthday Blog for Helmut Schmidt

Fantastic idea: the German weekly paper Die Zeit has set up a blog for congratulating Helmut Schmidt to his 90th birthday on December 23. Helmut Schmidt is the former German chancellor (1974-1982) and has since been editor of Die Zeit. He is one of the most respected German politicians still alive. He is one of the architects of modern post-war Germany, of a closer European Union and of a common currency, the Euro.

For more details on Helmut Schmidt see the English Wikipedia entry.

Go to the birthday blog and give your wishes.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Standards bodies should use standards

If you are active in standardisation you are involved in a highly collaborative environment. Developing standards is all about joint work; about compromise and consensus; about collaborative document drafting and editing.

Now there the trouble starts. If you want to jointly develop and edit documents you need to be sure that everyone can access the document and open it for editing. This touches on the issue which word processing technology and which document format to use.

To say it very bluntly: standards bodies should use a standard for that. The purpose of standards is to ensure interoperability and thus to facilitate collaboration. That's what the work of standards bodies strives for. And that's what standards bodies should take into account when deciding about their working processes, as well.

The Open Document Format (ODF) is an agreed and accepted ISO standard (brought into ISO by the standards body OASIS) and has successfully been implemented in various products and offerings including, amongst many others, OpenOffice, StarOffice, IBM Lotus Symphony, Google Docs. The great thing is: since all of these products implement one standard and compete on the level of the implementation, you are free to choose between either of these applications for working with the documents they produce.

In other words: the document formats are .odt, .odp, and .ods. So a document called, say, “standard.odt” can be produced with OpenOffice, I put in my comments using Lotus Symphony, my colleagues from partner companies use StarOffice or Google Docs or whatever for inserting their comments. Nobody is forced to buy one single, specific software. Everyone can use what they like best, what they prefer in terms of look and feel.

Therefore, the Open Document Format is best suited for collaboration.

Several standards bodies these days discuss whether to accept Microsoft Office 2007 formats. This means files with the extension .docx; .pptx, .xlsx. To be clear. these formats are not a standard. Office 2007 has, for whatever reasons, not implemented the Open Document Format standard. After the release of Office 2007 Microsoft pushed for a different document format standard called Office Open XML (OOXML); this standard is in the final process phase of ISO. If Microsoft are going to implement it for their products once it is final – which is not clear by now – the current Office 2007 format is already obsolete. Moreover, Office 2007 is not available for different platforms. So as a Linux user you won't ever be able to access the information contained in Office 2007 documents. On the other hand, Microsoft announced that they are going to implement the Open Document Format some time in the near future.

In addition, once collaboration is done, a compromise found and consensus reached, for publishing the final version of a standard there is also an open and accepted ISO standard available: the Portable Document Format, better known as pdf.

All of this drives me to the following conclusion:
  • For document formats the Open Document Format standard is available, widely implemented and best suited.

  • PDF is best for publishing final versions.

  • Moving to Office 2007 does not make sense at all, since the validity of the format is questionable and since users of different platforms than Windows are excluded.
Or to cut a long story short: Standards Bodies should use standards.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Relevant link of today - new era for office and desktop work

Report in the Wall Street Journal of Dec 4:

"IBM Creates 'Microsoft-Free' Desktop

Applications for Thin Clients Would Operate From Back-Office Server

International Business Machines Corp. is hoping to convince corporate customers that they no longer need Microsoft Corp.

IBM says it has created a "Microsoft-free" virtual desktop -- a complete suite of applications that run on a backroom server and don't require Microsoft software or costly desktop hardware.

The software package, available immediately, uses the Linux operating system and a set of IBM office applications that can be displayed on so-called thin clients, which don't have processing units or hard drives."

For the full article see: