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Software Government Politics

Texas Bill For Open Documents 197

Posted by kdawson
from the et-tu-texas? dept.
Ditesh Kumar tips us to a blog entry by Sam Hiser noting a bill filed in Texas that would require state agencies to conduct their work in an open document format. After Microsoft's grueling battle against ODF in Massachusetts, bluest of blue states, it must be galling to face te same fight in the reddest of the red. Hiser notes that the bill includes a rigorous and sound definition of an open document format, which ODF would meet but Microsoft's current OOXML submission would not.
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Texas Bill For Open Documents

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  • Reddest? (Score:5, Funny)

    by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:18PM (#17915512) Homepage Journal

    ...it must be galling to face te same fight in the reddest of the red.
    Obviously you've never been to Alabama.
    • Utah: 71% Bush in 04
      Alabama: 63% Bush
      • by evilviper (135110)

        Utah: 71% Bush in 04
        Alabama: 63% Bush
        To say that Utah is more "red" than Alabama based on votes, is to suggest that G.W. Bush is the ideal Republican candidate...
        • by JohnFluxx (413620)
          No, it's to suggest that Bush is a more republican candidate than the opposition
          • by evilviper (135110)
            That's nonsense. How about if the Republican candidate just happened to have been a mass murderer? Besides mass murder, ANY issue people disagree with, will have the same effect to a different extent. The people of Utah might just not have happen to like a law that Kerry voted for while he was a senator. Or maybe he said something offensive about Morons...

            ANYTHING could have skewed the numbers.
        • Tis to say that the Utahns will vote for the Republican no matter how un-ideal he is because Democrats are "Liberals" and "Liberals"=Evil.

          How much more conservative can you get?
          • by evilviper (135110)

            Tis to say that the Utahns will vote for the Republican no matter how un-ideal he
            To prove that is the case, you need a hell of a lot more evidence than the voting statistics for one single election.

            As I said, if John Kerry just happened to have offended Mormons, that would easily account for the numbers, even if they were die-hard liberals to begin with (which they obviously are not).
        • by Darby (84953)
          To say that Utah is more "red" than Alabama based on votes, is to suggest that G.W. Bush is the ideal Republican candidate...

          They have these things called "primaries" in which many people compete to be exactly that.
          Bush won over many "real' republican candidates therefore demonstrating that he was the ideal Republican candidate.

          I think you haven't clued into the fact that the Republican party underwent a major shift some time back. The day Reagan was elected was the day the final nail in the coffin of the o
    • Moreover, Texas is predicted to be a swing state within 10 years, due to demographics shifts from legal immigration.

      (Legal immigration, obviously, since this is concerning voting.)
    • Re:Reddest? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity@sbcgloba[ ]et ['l.n' in gap]> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @01:38AM (#17916998) Homepage Journal
      Or Austin, for that matter.

      Austin's about as red as the Santa Fe sky on a clear afternoon, or Australia's Coral Coast. Add to that a bunch of tech industry, a huge university and about 2000 miles between it and Redmond, and this is hardly surprising.

      Austin's where I first heard about Linux... in January of 1992. Slackware was on sale in the University co-op a year or so later. And it's where I first used USENET, IRC and internet e-mail, way back in 1991.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ryan Amos (16972)
      Texas is conservative, but it's more of a libertarian, small government kind of conservativism. Bush won by a large margin here because he used to be the governor and (this was probably more of it) east-cost snobs like Al Gore and John Kerry are despised here.
  • by DaveM753 (844913) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:22PM (#17915546)
    I never thought I'd say something like this, but GO TEXAS!
    • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @02:14AM (#17917242) Homepage
      Indeed Go Texas!

      If you live in Texas, WRITE TO YOUR LEGISLATORS ! You can find out who to write to at the Texas Legislature Online's "Who Represents Me?" [state.tx.us] page. In my case, there were direct links to my Texas State Senator's and Texas State Representative's webpages, and I used the "email me!" type links I found there. If you don't want to take the time to write something yourself, you are welcome to use the same short letter I wrote:

      I recently learned that a bill (SB 446) had been introduced to the Texas Legislature which would require all electronic state documents to be stored in a format described by an open standard. I am writing to lend my overwhelming support to this bill, and to express my hope that, if given the opportunity, you will vote in favor of this measure.

      Open standards for documents ensure a number of things. First, the records of our great state will be preserved in a form accessible to posterity. You have no doubt heard the aphorism "Those who do not learn their history are doomed to repeat it," and how can our descendants learn our history if it is locked away in a format that can no longer be supported. It would be as if we had recorded all our state documents on 8-track tapes. Second, those who cannot afford the more expensive platforms and applications required for closed format documents would no longer be restricted from participating in the government (of the people, by the people, for the people) of the State of Texas.

      Please, ensure that both the present and the future of our state can participate and learn from our government, and support this measure to require open formats for all state documents.
      • My draft (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
        I am writing to ask that you will vote in favor of bill (SB 446), introduced by Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, which would require all electronic state documents to be stored in a format described by an open standard

        As an IT professional, document formats play an important role in my work (and, consequently, my contribution to the Texas economy). Open standards and open formats ensure that critical information will always be available to citizens, but they also make it possible for government operations to be more
  • by ZPWeeks (990417) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:24PM (#17915562)
    It may be Texas, but the bill was filed by Rubén Hinojosa, a Democrat representative from the U.S. House. They'll shoot it down. (unless Cheney misses and hits MS OOXML by accident.)
    • Go figure (Score:3, Informative)

      It may be Texas, but the bill was filed by Rubén Hinojosa, a Democrat representative from the U.S. House. They'll shoot it down.
      ...and that's why George Washington said to stay far away from political parties. I love how well America listened.
    • by pallmall1 (882819) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:02PM (#17915866)

      They'll shoot it down.
      You're probably right. A $500 Million Microsoft datacenter [lockergnome.com] in San Antonio, Texas probably also means Microsoft's OOXML for Texas documents. Ballmer aims his furniture better than Chaney aims his shotgun. :)
      • Re:Check the author (Score:5, Interesting)

        by yo_tuco (795102) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @12:16AM (#17916424)
        "Texas probably also means Microsoft's OOXML for Texas documents.

        Some years ago Microsoft threated the city of Huston [usatoday.com] to sign up for a multiyear, $12 million software licensing plan or face an audit exposing the city's use of software it hadn't paid for.

        But as it turned out, Huston had more than enough proof of purchase seals. And then they voted to dump Microsoft Office in favor of SimDesk because of Microsoft's gestapo tactics. I don't know if that's still true today and I doubt SimDesk supports OOXML. So not all parts of Texas are friends of Microsoft.
    • Check Again...... (Score:2, Informative)

      by cary67 (1060860)
      The author made a mistake, which has been corrected. The bill was submitted by Juan Hinojosa, State Senator from District 20
    • by sconeu (64226)
      Besides, it's the Texas Legislature. There ain't nothin' that a briefcase stuffed with $100 bills won't cure.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:30PM (#17915622)

    With Massachusetts, bunches of foreign governments, and now Texas realizing the importance of document formats that are Free, future proof, and equally accessible to all citizens (including those who don't use Windows), I think it's about time the other forty-eight states introduced similar bills of their own. I just wrote an email suggesting such to my representative; now it's your turn!

  • I happen to work for a company that builds schools. This change would affect my work to some degree as well. I just want to know who I can write to in order to support the move. It would also be helpful if someone more clever than myself wrote up a letter from which I can extact key points and write my own. (If hundreds of people wrote the same letter, I think it wouldn't be as meaningful somehow.)

    In any case, I'm ready to start my letter-writing campaign in support of this move.
    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:43PM (#17915716)

      Well, I'm not a Texan, but since it's a bill in the Texas state Senate, I figure you probably ought to contact your state Senator.

      Also, since it's going to have to get out of committee before anyone else sees it (unless your state government is unusual), you could contact the other Senators who make up whichever committee it goes into -- which, based on a 10-second scan of the list of committees, I'm guessing is this one [state.tx.us]. But I could be wrong.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by danWeasel (619358)
      You could write to Rick Perry and ask him to executive order it into policy. (Except where religious or personal reasons prevent.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:44PM (#17915718)
    This just goes to show that Free Software is not a democrat or republicrat thing. (Remember, Microsoft itself is in one of the 'bluer' states.)

    The real issue here is freedom, and the benefits that can be derived from it: Better security, lower upfront costs, less obsolescence, open formats, and the ability to choose between software packages and providers, rather than just taking whatever Microsoft shoves down your throat.
    • Prior to the last few elections, red was always used for the democrats. At the time the republicans favored freedom more and the democrats were all about big government, so the association of the democrats with the reds (communists) was fitting.
      • by MoxFulder (159829)

        Prior to the last few elections, red was always used for the democrats. At the time the republicans favored freedom more and the democrats were all about big government, so the association of the democrats with the reds (communists) was fitting.

        No, this is not true. The colors used to draw political divide on maps are not meant to symbolize the political leanings of the parties in any way. They were chosen arbitrarily by TV networks, and there was no agreed-on color scheme prior to the year 2000... that'

        • by r00t (33219)
          Your wikipedia link supports me rather well. Perhaps you should read it again, to the very end.

          CBS was backwards, ABC couldn't decide and liked yellow... but other than that it was pretty much red for the democrats and blue for the republicans. This goes back to 1888. It is followed for similar conservative/libral divisions in numerous other countries.
  • To me, this is one of the very good pieces of news this year. As the introduction mentions Massachusetts is one of the bluest of blue states and Texas is on the "other" side.

    Question: How will each of these states' approach to this `open formats' "problem" be similar and how will it be different if one dares to compare and of course speculate?

  • by pongo000 (97357) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:45PM (#17915736)
    Unfortunately, it's in the form of a recommendation [state.tx.us], but it's better than nothing. In a nutshell, it directs Texas state agencies and higher education institutions to consider OSS for all IT procurements. I believe it was originally the brainchild of a Dallas-area senator named John Corona.

    I referenced it quite often while pushing for OSS-based IT implementation at the college I was teaching at...most administrators were ignorant that this even existed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by GaryOlson (737642)
      The Texas higher education institutions already make heavy use of OSS. Our budgets don't allow us to afford anything else....except, of course, for UT Austin who can walk across the street to wine, dine, and whine the Texas Legislature.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pongo000 (97357)
        Actually, it's been my experience that many are still in the dark ages when it comes to OSS. Imagine one of the 5 largest community college districts in the country still pushing proprietary (and patented!) online education at the tune of millions of dollars a year in taxpayer money. Four-years are no different (ever try to find a LyX layout/LaTeX class for a disseration? La-what?)

        I've presented at several regional (Texas) conferences on various aspects of OSS in higher ed, and have talked to many, many
  • What's Slashdot going to do now that it has used the reddest of the red and the bluest of the blue for states? Northest of the north? Bestest of the best? Openest of the open?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:50PM (#17915772)
    Hi folks,

    Microsoft went for ISO fast-track approval which allows only one month for dissenting countries to speak out (and with 6000 pages in the spec it's not enough time -- there hasn't been any public standardisation prior to this fast track as is normal with fast-tracked standards).

    Anyway, as I understand it there only needs to be one single vote against in order to force a fast-tracked proposal down the long and arduous path of open evaluation, analysis, and justification. Canada and Britain have voted against Microsoft. Thanks Canada, thanks Britain!

    OOXML is now considerably more shakey with governments around the world, and other countries, like Texas.

    -- Matt Carter

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ... and a lot of other countries too (several out of the 19 who responded). Seems like a new record! See http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/articl e.php?story=20070206145620473 [consortiuminfo.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nbritton (823086)
      "Microsoft went for ISO fast-track approval which allows only one month for dissenting countries to speak out (and with 6000 pages in the spec it's not enough time -- there hasn't been any public standardization prior to this fast track as is normal with fast-tracked standards)."

      That's nice Microsoft but we already have a published ISO standard (ISO/IEC 26300:2006) for "XML schema for office applications and its semantics". One standard is enough, thanks but no thanks. If you want you may propose revisi
  • Hi, y'all (Score:2, Funny)

    by Texas Bill (1060854)
    Ah'd like to make it clear as the wide blue sky that Ah am indeed for open documents. We've got to stop those Mahcruhsowft bush-whackers afore they've done rustled off all ahr fahn computers. Wah, Ah'd even make common cause with them damyankees from Barstn. Any foe of Redmond Bill is durn tootin' a friend of mine!

    Thank y'all fer yer time.
  • Texas is a conservative state and conservative values call for open and unfettered competition. This is what I expected would happen.
  • by Hadlock (143607) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:05PM (#17915892) Homepage Journal
    Keep in mind Dell, which has been noted recently for the N-Series computers, is also located near Austin. The concept that the incredibly liberal capital Austin introducing progressive bills isn't terribly suprising. If this had been a city council proposition in a small town an hour outside of San Antonio or Tyler, this would be news.
    • by JoshJ (1009085)
      Except that if it was a smaller city it wouldn't be nearly as relevant. Your point is valid, though.
  • ODF Converter... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by friedmud (512466) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:15PM (#17915982)
    I hope Microsoft's newly released ODF converter doesn't mess with Texas's plans... a partly-free solution just doesn't cut it in my eyes.

    For me, this is all about the future. Locking up government documents in proprietary formats is a disaster for future generations. We should ideally be scratching them out on cave walls...

    Friedmud
  • by gsn (989808)
    Documents open you!

    Yeehah!
  • Red State? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cary67 (1060860) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:35PM (#17916136)
    I'm not sure why being a so-called "red state" means that it's people or government agencies are supporters of MS. What does that have to do with anything? Spare me the drivel about the Bush administration caving on the MS anti-trust case. Maybe they did. Maybe I agree. However, the sweeping generalization made by the original poster is simply unsupported. Instead, I would point you to the fact that you're talking about the people who brought you the Boston Tea Party and The Alamo here. It's no surprise. These are Americans standing up against 21st century tyranny. Government users are BIG business for MS and YOUR tax dollars are paying for it. Texans, voice your support for this bill today!
    • by illumin8 (148082)

      I'm not sure why being a so-called "red state" means that it's people or government agencies are supporters of MS.

      It doesn't, but in general, Republicans fall on the side of big business much more often than they fall on the side of the consumer, therefore a red state is probably less likely to be anti-MS. There are exceptions to this rule: Utah and Massachusetts, but Utah has Novell as a constituent and Massachusetts has Mitt Romney, who came from Utah and knows full well how MS destroyed Novell and Word

    • by Darby (84953)
      I'm not sure why being a so-called "red state" means that it's people or government agencies are supporters of MS.

      Becasue "Red state" means "Republican". The Republicans are an extreme right wing party.
      Rigth wing means that they support using the power of the state against the individual for the benefit of the wealthy elite.
      Back in the day that was the
      Nobility and Church against the people. Today it is corporate power.
      MS is a big corporate power who likes using the government against the citizens. Therefor
  • Open formats (as well as Free Software, etc.) have nothing whatsoever to do with red or blue states, liberals or conservatives, Republicans or Democrats. Stop trying to make this an us-vs-them issue.

    p.s. Besides, Utah is much redder than Texas.
    • by gordo3000 (785698)
      well, after the republican showing in the net neutrality bills in front of congress its surprising they would take a stand in the realm of technology that could help the people and promote freedom.
      • Outside of tech forums, NO ONE knows what net neutrality really means. There has been NO debate on the issue, only snarky remarks from both sides. Thus it's irrelevant whether one side or the other is for or against it. It's like saying Democrats are raving war hawks just because they all voted for the Iraq invasion.
        • by gordo3000 (785698)
          no, what I mean to imply, though obviously not well (after reading my own words) was this correlation:

          Net Neutrality becomes issue
          Republicans get solicited by ISP's and other business's that it is a bad thing
          Without even attempting to get a clue form a 3rd party source, blindly follow what the pro's in the business say.

          So I would be surprised that the republicans would actually take a stand in favor of the consumer. It can mean one of two things:

          A republican with a clue actually made his own decision befor
  • From the summary: face te same fight. How hard is it to spellcheck?
  • by bahwi (43111) <incoming@josephguhli n . com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @01:14AM (#17916788) Homepage
    Say what you will about the political climate here(very red) but a lot of stuff is online and sped up by computers. Last year when I incorporated I used the online website, paid the $300 fee with my debit card, and the paperwork was done and I was sent everything with the seal and all the appropriate numbers within two hours via e-mail in PDF format, completely official and everything. Paying corp taxes couldn't be easier(few that there be), ditto with unemployment. If I have to do anything that affects my corp, pretty much everything is online and an option to be filed. And it's all done by the state.

    Getting my federal EIN meant going through a third party company, paying a fee(only $20, so I figured might as well instead of waiting for the feds to get it to me in a few weeks by doing it on paper). It works really well. I renew my drivers license online(every other renewal only, gotta get new pics at some point) and my vehicle registration is always done online. In terms of computing it's a very progressive state. Much of it is very basic HTML so it works in whatever browser you use it with.
  • After Microsoft's grueling battle against ODF in Massachusetts, bluest of blue states, it must be galling to face te same fight in the reddest of the red.

    Here's a thought: Maybe it's possible that not every issue can be polarized along the lines of "left-wing moonbats" and "right-wing rednecks".

    You people are idiots.

  • I really don't get the US party colours. In the cold war, the Soviets were the red and the allies (NATO) were the blue. In the US, the left on the political scale (Democrats) are blue, while the right (Conservatives) are red.

    In Sweden, where I live, the conservatives are blue, the liberals are light blue, the social democrats are red and the left party is a little bit darker red.

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