Standards

The world wisens up about OOXML

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The world is finally realizing that Microsoft's OOXML "format" is the old dog's usual tricks - incomplete, relies heavily on undocumented tricks to work, which puts full control back in their hands. This week both Brazil and India have decided to vote "no" at the upcoming ISO meeting where OOXML's fate will be decided. Good to see that, despite Microsoft's attempts, some countries can't be bought off.

SPF the easy way

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Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an open standard that aims to help prevent spam, and stop legitimate email from being tagged as such. While the specifications can take some time to understand, there are some web-based tools to help you make creating your SPF records a little easier than by hand, but I still find them to be a bit misleading. According to the SPF FAQ the simplest way to create your SPF record is to simply list the IP addresses of all servers that mail goes out through, e.g.:

v=spf1 ip4:192.168.0.10 ip4:192.168.0.12 ~all

and just add more "ip4" strings for each address. Then just paste it into a TXT record in your domain's DNS and you're good to go!

HD-DVD has won the high-def media format war?

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It appears that HD-DVD will win the high-def media format war, if history is anything to go by.

History lesson: In the 1980's Sony's Betamax tape standard lost out to JVC's competing and technically inferior VHS tape standard primarily due to the adult entertainment industry's backing of the latter's lower production and media & equipment costs.

While Las Vegas's played host to 2007's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), down the street was the adult entertainment industry's annual convention where many studios announced support for the more affordable of the two new high-definition media standards: Microsoft's HD-DVD. While Sony's Blu-Ray is admittedly a superior technology, as Betamax was versus VHS, it is the media costs, production costs, playback-equipment costs and popularity of the players (in part due to Microsoft's XBox360's popularity, which has a HD-DVD player available for it, versus Sony's Playstation 3 with its Blu-Ray player) that has sold them.

Reasons why Microsoft's OpenXML standard is junk

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Here's a wonderful explanation of why Microsoft's "open" OpenXML "standard" is a wolf in sheep's clothing:

In short, the specification is littered with little tidbits which say that to properly display a file you must understand details of how 12 year old software (Word 95) worked, or reverse engineer it. So here's a wonderful schematic on how to build a new house, but the kitchen won't fit unless you know how to arrange atoms at the quantum level, meagre saws won't work. And that, folks, is why I don't use Microsoft software and stopped buying their junk several years ago.

Update: Just to better explain why this is a problem, there is no guarantee that Microsoft is using its own specifications in its own software, namely Office 2007. In fact current reports state that they are doing their old tricks of using a mix of the current specifications with chunks of the older (undocumented) formats thrown in for good measure. Given this you'll have a slim chance of being able to use their published specifications and generate the same output that their own software creates. That is why people should use software that supports the internationally recognized OpenDocument format in either KDE's KOffice, Openoffice.org, StarOffice or the other programs that support it.

New Information Architecture book is awesome

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I picked up a review copy (review forthcoming) of O'Reilly's new Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, 3rd edition, and so far it is a simply inspiring book. I'm only fifty-ish into its almost 500 pages but I've already started to brainstorm ideas for a huge improvement to the website at work, which I intend starting shortly after the holidays. Of all of the tech books I've read this is so far one of the best from a general knowledge point of view - the lessons to be learned in this book aren't just for web development, they're for anyone creating any sort of software. While I'm far from finishing it I already would have to count it as a must-read for anyone developing websites, both internal and public-facing, you won't be disappointed!

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