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OpenOffice.org Conference 2007

I’m back from Barcelona despite Delta’s best efforts to trap me at JFK airport. No rain, no snow, no sleet, no security alert, no strike. Nothing. But somehow Delta managed to turn a scheduled 40 minute flight to Boston into a 3 hour delay to board plus another 2.5 hours sitting on the runway waiting to take off. So instead of arriving at 18:00, we didn’t arrive in Boston until 23:30.

It is interesting to look at FlightStats.com to see how they rate this particular flight. It says that DL 480 has an on-time percentage of 30%, and is excessively late 52% of the time. The average delay for this flight is 79 minutes.

I just don’t get it. It is one thing to be slow. But why can’t you be slow and still be accurate in your estimates? If you are going to be 79 minutes late on average, then why don’t you adjust your schedules accordingly?

In any case, the conference in Barcelona was great! This was my 2nd year attending OOoCon. Last year, in Lyon, I attended OOoCon as an outsider. I remember then being asked by several attendees why IBM was not contributing code to the community and thinking to myself how much it sucked that we were not doing so. What a difference a year makes! Now the discussion is not if IBM will contribute, but the logistics of exactly when and how we will make our contributions. I was proud to attend the Barcelona conference as a real OpenOffice.org member, and I can tell you that the beer tastes better when you are a member of the community.

I gave a presentation called “ODF Interoperability: The Price of Success” on Wednesday. The slides should be posted up here within a few days. A video of the presentation is here. Your best bet is to wait for the slides and follow along with my audio.

On Thursday I lead a full-day workshop on ODF interoperability on behalf of the OASIS ODF Adoption TC. We had participants from a number of ODF vendors/projects: IBM, Sun, Google, Novell, SEPT-Solutions, Haansoft, OpenOffice.org and KOffice. We worked through a few exercises where we tested the exchange of documents that reflected a number of typical real-world business cases. Although they did not attend, we also did some tests with the Clever Age Word Add-in. This event was the first of hopefully several workshops where we will attempt to bring the vendors together in a focused effort to improve ODF interoperability.

There were many good conference sessions that I wanted to attend but missed. That is the downside of having a full day workshop. Of the sessions I did see, the highlights were:

  • Louis Suarez-Potts’s opening keynote “OpenOffice.org 3.0 and Beyond”
  • Hu Cai Yong’s impassioned “Beyond Technology, the Chinese Roadmap” on the subtext of Western cultural imperialism embedded in some “one size fits all” commercial software application suites.
  • Barbara Held’s talk “Toward openness and accessibility” (video available here)

For the ones I missed, I need to go back and watch the taped sessions and read the presentations.

Overall, it was great to see old friends, and meet so many more for the first time, including some with whom I have corresponded with at length, but never before had met in person.

I didn’t have much time to play a tourist, so I’ll give you only two pictures. The first I’ve taken from the Ars Aperta website, a picture of Charles Schulz and I exchanging funny stories at the Mac Porting party:

And in the “Maybe My Youth Was Not Misspent” Department comes this picture of a decorative “column” outside the building where I gave my presentation on Wednesday. The building hosts the University of Barcelona’s philology department. I immediately recognized the text as Homer and snapped this photo. The next day I was passing when two students were trying to read it. I stopped, and stood, with arms dramatically outstretched, and in my best Greek dactylic hexameter, recited from memory the Invocation to the Muse that begins the Iliad. So, thank you Professor Higbie, wherever you are, for making us memorize Homer. It actually came in use!

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{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Anonymous 2007/09/25, 16:15

    Boston? They probably closed the airport because someone found an LED somewhere. Remember that MIT student?

    You’re just lucky they didn’t close the airport after finding out that a 4oz shampoo bottle made it past security.

  • Christopher 2007/09/25, 16:19

    Apologies in advance that this comment is so off-topic from your post (although it’s great to hear about IBM’s involvement in OOo now)…

    Now, I admittedly know very little about the capabilities of the US transportation system, but taking a flight as short as 40 minutes strikes me as a bit odd.

    It used to be that whenever I went to London from Glasgow, I would take a 50 minute flight. I now get the train and it only takes me about 90 minutes longer overall, taking into account travel between the city centre and airport at each end, check-in, security, waiting for baggage, untold (and always seemingly lengthy) delays etc..

    Plus there’s less hassle overall: I can turn up two minutes before the train leaves, and then I get a few hours of uninterrupted time to Get Things Done.

    Anyway, my point is to ask: does the US not have any better (less polluting!) method of getting between not-too-distant cities?

    Having looked it up, I’m even a bit more surprised that flying is an option here. New York and Boston are only about 220 miles apart! London and Glasgow are 400 miles apart and it takes 4.5 hours on the train. Surely New York to Boston can be done pretty speedily without flying..?

    Anyway, sorry, this environmentalist-sounding spew is over. I return you to the fine writings of Mr Weir and his commenters. :)

  • Koranteng 2007/09/25, 18:11

    Apropos Delta and delays, Bush – the president that is, was landing in JFK yesterday hence the reason for delays that messed everyone up. I got caught on both ends – first stuck in the city as police cordoned off a few blocks around his hotel and wouldn’t let anyone leave and then at the airport which was a mess as you noted. For security reasons, they don’t tell anyone about these things. At least you were on the tarmac, you could have been in one of those planes that had to circle for a couple of hours…

  • Rob 2007/09/25, 19:48

    NYC to Boston is 3h30m by train. If it was just a matter of getting from one to the other, then I wouldn’t bother with air travel. But in this case it was the last leg of an international flight. After an 8h30m long flight, the last thing I want to do is drag my bags around NYC to board a rush-hour train to Boston.

    In Europe I like the trains. They are fast, clean and on time. But in the U.S. they have been underfunded over the years and are rarely attractive options. So airlines have stepped in with numerous short-hop flights to hub cities. For example, Delta has a “shuttle” flight from Boston to NYC or Washington, DC every half hour.

  • Ed 2007/09/26, 17:02

    it would be different if you could get on the long-distance train right at the airport, as you can at, oh, almost every major airport in Europe. Here in Chicago, I’m not even sure where a long-distance train can take me reasonably other than Milwaukee, and the train station and airport are 20 miles apart. In NYC, the situation is the same (maybe not 20 miles), but you have to leave the airport, get in a taxi (as in the case of Laguardia) or on a train to a train to a train. Not worth it.

  • Christopher 2007/09/26, 18:00

    Interesting, thanks for the info.

    I wouldn’t necessarily call the trains in Europe fast or punctual. Well, in mainland Europe, in my experience, they certainly are. Just don’t count on it too much in the UK! :)

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