The Sweet Smell of Redmond…

I’ve previously talked about the horrors of the native document format in the Office 2007 (and now 2008 for Mac as well), OOXML. I’m not going to go through an extended talk about the nonsense that Microsoft has done to essentially bankrupt the legitimacy of ISO bodies around the world. I’ll let you head over to Bob Sutor’s blog if you want to do that (disclaimer: Bob is a VP at IBM. He’s super smart, but IBM is an ardent supported of ODF, and opposed to OOXML. That position comes through in the blog.).

Now, I just want to note something that you might have missed in some of the FUD that has been swirling about OOXML receiving ISO certification. While it’s true that OOXML may indeed receive such certification (which will be a sad, sad day), the current office suites that Microsoft has on the market (i.e. 2007 and 2008) do not support ISO 29500 – the OOXML standard. That’s right: if you’re saving your documents in OOXML right now, you are NOT saving it as the default standard that Microsoft is championing. Instead, you’re just saving in the ‘transitionary’ format. This means that you could potentially be stranded with a lot of OOXML documents in the future, especially if you decide to move to a non-Microsoft office package. At the very least, it’s looking as though only Microsoft will be able to be ‘backwards compatible’ with 2007 and 2008 when and if the ISO 29500 is approved – no Open Office, Neo Office, Abiword, Google Docs, or anything else for you!

I’m so impressed that ‘open standards’ are translating to ‘closed, proprietary based standards’. It seems in accordance with the thousands of pages that go into the OOXML so-called ‘standard’.

Counterfeit and Security

One of those batteries is fake. Can you tell which?

Over the past few weeks more and more attention has been drawn to fake computer hardware that was sold to varying interests around the world. While fakes aren’t new (AMD, Intel, and a variety of other hardware companies have processes in place to avoid repeats of past counterfeiting), what seems to be new is the kind of hardware being ‘faked’.

Networking Hardware

The FBI investigated claims that the government had purchased counterfeit Cisco hardware that may have potentially held, well, God knows what. As is noted by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher;

Counterfeit network hardware entering the marketplace raises significant public safety concerns and must be stopped . . . It is critically important that network administrators in the private sector and government perform due diligence in order to prevent counterfeit hardware from being installed on their networks.

While it’s of concern that government data may be being directed/inspected by unknown groups, I don’t really want to talk about that. Instead, what I think this shows is that when deploying new networking tools that it is essential that some kind of authentication process occurs – rather than just purchase from trusted vendors and call it a day, those purchases must be tested. Moreover, while the FBI was able to conduct an operation that resulted in convictions and fines, it raises the specter that other groups with less capital to invest in internal investigations may similarly be threatened, and their data and customers as well.

It Just Works (Sometimes)!

Time Capsule is incredibly helpful – it’s saved me from several moderately catastrophic data loses. What is less than terrific, however, is the instructions for connecting an external hard disk drive (HDD) to it. To save myself the hassles of figuring out how to set it up again in the future, and for those who are searching for the solution, I’ve thrown this together.


Many drives are shipped partitioned to FAT. That’s great…for PCs. Heck, my Macbook could read it too, but doing so crashed my Time Capsule. I figured that it was probably FAT, and so just opened up the Disk Utility to erase the drive and partition it to HFS+ (Journal). Then I found out that this element of OS X has been broken for a long, long time.


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Common-law = Snooplaw

Rather than talk about the FBI’s desire to patrol the Internet backbone, have your laptop searched without warrant or any particular reason when facing US Customs officers, or Microsoft’s Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE), I want to quickly talk about the Australian government’s desire to give law enforcement and corporate IT the power to monitor and inspect any and all electronic employee communications. What is most concerning is that it continues an Australian trend to insert American attitudes into common-law.

Terrorism Down Under

I don’t want to come off seeming as though I think terrorism is a small or unimportant issue. It’s not – terrorism is a very real issue, and it has incredible financial and human costs. That said, whenever someone mentions either children or terrorism as a justification for a new piece of legislation that would dramatically extend the surveillance powers of public and private actors, I immediately want to know just how invasive those new powers might be. Whereas Australian law presently only allows security companies and those dealing with the government to survey communications without permission, after a four year fight to revise the Telecommunications Interceptions Act the government may be successful in extending those surveillance powers. If the amendments are passed, all corporate IT groups will be able to survey employees’ digital communciations. The government’s reason for extending the surveillance powers is that, by monitoring workers’ emails, it will be possible to stop/deploy coercion towards those who would;

attack to disable computer networks that sustained the financial system, stock exchange, electricity grid and transport system “[and would consequently] reap far greater economic damage than would be the case of a physical [terrorist] attack”. (Source)

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