Just sent the following letter to the Australian Standards rep for the proposal DIS29500 (Microsoft Office Open XML standard) which is being Fast Tracked through ISO, even with blatant interoperability, portability and cultural technical issues.  This is based on the instructions posted at Groklaw. Also, instead of just cut-and-pasting the comments from the No OOXML web site, I’ve reviewed them and altered for Australian concerns, so that they really are my own comments.

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Essentials to make Windows almost bareable

Okay, so I hate working in Windows, but on my employer’s equipment at least, I must live with it. After having had this machine replaced twice (faulty Dell hardware) and rebuilt more times than I can remember (Windows BSODs), for a total of at least 3 system migrations this past year, I thought I’d better keep a list of what free software to install on top of Windows, and what adjustments to make, so that at least I don’t feel like I’m wearing a straight jacket. Here goes:

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Microsoft Vista keyboard?

I spotted a “Vista compatable” keyboard in K-Mart the other day, which set me thinking… what would a Vista keyboard actually do that a “non-Vista” keyboard can’t?

Then I Googled for “Microsoft Keyboard Vista” and found this ad from Microsoft (Google Cache).

What the? “Designed to make it easier than ever to control PC media from your desk, your lap–or even from the comfort of your couch”. So… if I use this keyboard’s Play button to try and play media that Vista’s DRM system thinks I shouldn’t be playing, does it administer an electric shock? What if I have the keyboard in my lap 😀  Ouch! No so comfortable now…

Thanks, Microsoft, but … ahem, no thanks!

32-bit Windows and JVM virtual memory limit

This post is also available at my personal web site:

On the 32-bit Windows platform, JVM programs can only ever use up to about 1.5–1.6 GiB of memory in RAM per Java VM process. Allocating a heap size greater than this amount does not work. What’s going on?

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Shifting Interfaces

Once again, Microsoft have drastically changed their Office interface.

While the new interface is very nice eye-candy and probably has some new features that could help (arguably), it represents yet another need to re-train.

The old argument that OpenOffice is too different from MS-Office to be quickly useable has just vanished. OpenOffice is more like MS-Office 97 than MS-Office 2007 will be, and really, who has needed any of the features in Office XP or Office 2003? What were they, again…? Oh yeah, anoying interface changes, and removal of the stupid Paperclip.

I think I’ll be distributing my work documents in PDF, created by OOo now, except where I must absolutely use MSO documents for work. Everthing else will be OOo. Now I just need to convince my wife that it’s not worth continually purchasing MSO, or even having it on our home PC.