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Microsoft

Microsoft's OOXML Formulas Could Be Dangerous 360

Posted by kdawson
from the who-approved-this-stuff dept.
hill101 writes "According to Rob Weir's blog, Microsoft's 325-page OOXML specification for spreadsheet formulas is deeply flawed. From basic trigonometric functions that forget to specify units, to statistical functions, to critical financial functions — the specification does not contain correct formulas that could possibly be implemented in an interoperable way. Quoting Mr. Weir: 'It has incorrect formulas that, if implemented according to the standard, may cause loss of life, property, and capital... Shame on all those who praised and continue to praise the OOXML formula specification without actually reading it.'"
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Microsoft's OOXML Formulas Could Be Dangerous

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  • EULA? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @04:58AM (#19822983)
    if implemented according to the standard, may cause loss of life, property, and capital...

    Didn't you read your Office EULA?

    Microsoft specifically disclaims any damage relating to loss of life, property, or capital.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by setagllib (753300)
      Precisely because it's so likely with Microsoft products. If they didn't disclaim it they'd be in serious trouble. Disclaiming doesn't make it a non-issue though.
    • I don't think that you can apply a EULA to a standard. The product (MS-Office) yes, but the standard (OOXML) no.
  • by KiloByte (825081) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:00AM (#19822999)

    Shame on all those who praised and continue to praise the OOXML formula specification without actually reading it.
    To the contrary, they have all carefully read the checks they received.
  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ColaMan (37550) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:00AM (#19823003) Homepage Journal
    .....if implemented according to the standard, may cause loss of life, property, and capital..

    Pffft....as if this has ever been much concern to software manufacturers before.

    Every EULA has boilerplate text denying all responsibility , and you'd be mad to trust any results from software implicitly. Double check it yourself , even if it's just a few corner cases.
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:37AM (#19823159) Homepage
      A user NOT trusting his tools is a very strange thing. If it were some sort of software engineer doubting software tools, that's one thing and it's somewhat expected. But in general:

      * We trust all hand tools like wrenches and sockets to be exactly the size on the label
      * We trust all of our doctor's opinions whether or not a second opinion is recommended
      * We trust our math applications to do math properly
      * We trust our spell checkers to check properly

      In general, we trust the things we by to work as expected... as advertised. (No, I haven't seen Excel advertised to be accurate, but in a math application, it's implied by its very existence) So to say that you should re-check the results by hand is not just ridiculous, it would never happen.

      I remember when the Pentium processor first came out and there was this math error in there somewhere. It was a BIG deal.

      But before passing too much judgment on this too quickly, a little verification of the bugs might be helpful and let's mark our calendars to see how fast Microsoft fixes the problem... oh wait, the problem is said to be in the file specification? What does that mean if they update the format specification with regards to their ISO certification?
      • by ColaMan (37550)
        All your trust examples are good... to a point.

        For me , it'd probably be when the personal financial loss involved gets over $1000 or so, then the trust in what is essentially a black box starts to go down.

        I worked for a time in a lab reporting on coal samples. Penalties for incorrect spec coal can easily end up being half a million bucks for one shipment. My spreadsheets were a small step in the chain of reporting and they took a lot of tedious calculations out of the loop, but I made damn sure they were c
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        * We trust our spell checkers to check properly

        I don't. I could list lots of dubious or wrong words I've found as "suggested" by various spell checkers, and as many errors they just ignore. Not to mention the problem of the wrong, but correctly spelled, word (horde/hoard, strait/straight, there/their, lose/loose....)

      • by QuestorTapes (663783) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:14AM (#19823331)
        > ...in general:
        >
        > * We trust all hand tools like wrenches and sockets to be exactly the size on the label
        > * We trust all of our doctor's opinions whether or not a second opinion is recommended
        > * We trust our math applications to do math properly
        > * We trust our spell checkers to check properly
        >
        > In general, we trust the things we by to work as expected... as advertised.

        http://www.oandp.com/edge/issues/articles/2006-08_ 06.asp [oandp.com]

        http://www.brajeshwar.com/finance/insurance/Liabil ity-Insurance.html [brajeshwar.com]

        These links refer to the concept you're talking about. The second refers to the UK Consumer Protection Act, but the concept is general and fairly well accepted. From the first link:

        "...any product that is sold comes with an implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose; and, just by selling a product, a seller is implicitly promising that: (1) the product is merchantable, i.e., fit for the ordinary purposes for which such products are to be used, provided that the seller is in the business of selling products of that kind; and (2) the product is fit for a particular purpose, provided that the seller, at the time of sale, knew the particular purpose for which the product was required, and the buyer relied upon the seller's skill or judgment in selecting a suitable product for that purpose."

        This hasn't been successfully applied to software cases like this, but the issue hasn't be ruled out either. But it's hardly a stretch to expect that software such as a spreadsheet comes with an implied warranty that ordinary financial and statistical calculations are properly performed.

      • by wikinerd (809585)

        * We trust all hand tools like wrenches and sockets to be exactly the size on the label
        * We trust all of our doctor's opinions whether or not a second opinion is recommended
        * We trust our math applications to do math properly
        * We trust our spell checkers to check properly

        I don't know how many think like I do, but I generally take everything with a grain of salt. I have never trusted 100% any doctor opinion. If there is something I may say that I trust completely, this is probably rigourous mathematical proofs. Everything else is not to be trusted completely. But it also depends on what definition you put on the word trust.

        A socket may not be of the correct size: The assembly line might have malfunctioned at some point, or a worker might have been sleepy during work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tsa (15680)
        In general:

        * We trust all hand tools like wrenches and sockets to be exactly the size on the label


        OK, I'm with you here.

        * We trust all of our doctor's opinions whether or not a second opinion is recommended

        I guess you have a good health and don't see doctors often, or you would never say this.

        * We trust our math applications to do math properly

        Really? I live in a scientific environment and I've never seen a colleague who put his/her full trust in a mathematical program.

        * We trust our spell checkers to check
      • by Eivind (15695)
        You do ? I sure don't trust hand-tools to be exactly the size claimed. They're probably reasonably close, but I wouldn't be terribly surprised to find say some tool that is really a 2-inch tool relabeled and sold as a 5cm one, despite it really being 5.08cm

        I do, generally, trust my doctor. But not blindly. If I for whatever reason think that something he says sounds dubious, and it is important, I can and *will* get a second opinion, regardless of if he recomends that or not.

        I sure as *hell* don't trust gen
      • by Smidge204 (605297)
        We trust all hand tools like wrenches and sockets to be exactly the size on the label

        If the wrench is mislabeled or out of spec, the worst that happens is it doesn't fit right. Attempting to use a wrench that doesn't fit right will, at worst, damage the nut or bold. Since you're using the tool to begin with, you should have the mechanical aptitude necessary to say "hey, this doesn't fit right..." - which is exactly the opposite of "trusting" the tool. (The decision to use it anyway is up to the individual)

        W
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ericrost (1049312)
        "* We trust all hand tools like wrenches and sockets to be exactly the size on the label"

        Well, technically we trust our hand tools to conform to the nominal size specifications that go along with the size on the label and thus interface correctly with any connector that also conforms to that nominal size specification.

        A 3/8" wrench is not 3/8" EXACTLY, it is some close approximation of 3/8" toleranced such that a correctly toleranced bolt that is a close approximation of 3/8" is guaranteed to be smaller (in
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Every EULA has boilerplate text denying all responsibility

      I can't believe this is still happening... Imagine, for example, that your kitchen range or your kitchen table or your window AC unit came with such a document?

      • Well, it's a little different with software. The manufacturer of a range, table or AC unit know exactly what you are going to do with it and can assure its safety if used as intended. Microsoft, on the other hand, can't know exactly what the output of an Excel spreadsheet will be used for. As an extreme and unlikely example, imagine an engineer using Excel to calculate stress in a new building. Maybe the result from his spreadsheet is not quite accurate enough and the building falls. It's up to the user to
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:08AM (#19823051)
    ... put out garbage into the marketplace, and then wait for the customers to do the quality assurance work that Microsoft should have done.

    The trouble is that the politicians standardizing on this spec will look only at its length and declare it to be good. Maybe Microsoft made the specification long with that intent in mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:09AM (#19823057)
    Shame on all those who praised and continue to praise the OOXML formula specification without actually reading it.

    What percentage of those who praise ODF specifications actually read it? Or any other specification? I would imagine it is a small percentage.
  • Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:10AM (#19823065)
    I doubt anyone is surprised. How can you possibly fast track a 325 page document, giving the public only a time amount of time to check it, then expect it to be perfect.

    Man, I really really get annoyed at Microsoft.
    • by JonTurner (178845) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:17AM (#19823099) Journal
      >>How can you possibly fast track a 325 page document, giving the public only a time amount of time to check it, then expect it to be perfect.

      Damned if we know.
      Signed,
      The US Congress
    • It's a 6000 page specification. The 325 pages concerned are only the specifications for the formulas.

      As per usual though, Microsoft has proven that greasing enough palms will get even an international standard approved without much review. Something the medical industry has known for years.

      To quote someone (Denis Leary?): "They drove a dump truck of money up to my house, man. I'm not made of stone!"

      • by ejdmoo (193585)
        It's Krusty.

        Hopefully the spec will be fixed. A spec is even more easily fixed than software!
        • by PhilHibbs (4537)
          Unfortunately the spec was written to match Excel, so MS won't change the definition of Pica that Excel uses, or add calendrical localisation that Excel does not support, etc. so some things (like specifying that SIN uses radians) can be fixed but not so others.
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:13AM (#19823085) Homepage
    I don't know about you, but I view this as being a very GOOD thing.

    Because the format was an "open" standard, the serious flaws present in the format were quickly and correctly identified by third parties outside of Microsoft.

    If it had been a trade secret, it could have been bundled into a product, and assumed to be reliable by its users. Instead, it's been exposed for what it is.

    If anything, this proves that open formats are a good idea.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:28AM (#19823135)
      Now that MS are the only ones who are allowed to change the standard, we must

      a) wait until MS change the standard
      b) then progress it through the "approvals" procedure
      c) find out again if there are any problems (and go back to a)
      d) implement these changes

      And when it comes to WordSpacingLikeWord95 or whatever, how has this being "open" helped? People have asked what it means and been told nothing useful.

      Oh, and doesn't this show that if MS had opened up the standard for perusal BEFORE filing it (like ODF did), wouldn't we have avoided this problem?
      • by ray-auch (454705)
        Oh, and doesn't this show that if MS had opened up the standard for perusal BEFORE filing it (like ODF did), wouldn't we have avoided this problem?


        Well, we could look at ODF to see. Take one problem, from the article:

        First, let's take the trigonometric functions, SIN (Part 4, Section 3.17.7.287), COS (Part 4, Section 3.17.7.50) and TAN (Part 4, Section 3.17.7.313). Hard to mess these up right? Well, what if you fail to state whether their arguments are angle expressed as radians or degrees? Whoops

        So where i

    • by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:30AM (#19823139) Homepage
      MS pretty much seems to have cut-n-pasted their MSOffice help files and decided to call that a 'standard'. Only thing good about it, is that it will make ISO be so much less willing to ratify their standard. If you look at their CEILING definition, as linked in the article's comments, it is so unprofessionally written you'd wonder at the size of EMCA's checks.
    • It may be open, but it is not free, i.e. the required changes can not be done by third parties or by a committee and then used by Microsoft. Microsoft wouldn't do anything that would hurt its embrace and extend business model, and OOXML follows that logic as well(it's so huge and flawed that no one dares using it).
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jkrise (535370)

      If it had been a trade secret, it could have been bundled into a product, and assumed to be reliable by its users. Instead, it's been exposed for what it is.

      Exactly! Imagine a Hospital implementing OOXML for it's entire IT needs, and a prescription reads: 1 tbsp Terramycin, twice daily. If a patient sues the hospital for wrong dosage, lots of red faces will be guaranteed.

      FTA:

      The CONVERT function (Part 4, Section 3.17.7.48) converts from one unit to another. Some conversions explicitly allowed include liquid measure conversions such as from liters to cups or tablespoons. But whose cup and whose tablespoon? Traditional liquid measures vary from country to country. In the US, a cup is 8oz, except for FDA labeling purposes when a cup is 240ml. But in Australia a cup is 250ml and in the UK it is 285ml. Similarly a tablespoon has various definitions. OOXML is silent on what assumptions an application should make. I guess I won't be using OOXML to store my recipes, and certainly not to calculate medical doses!

      • w.r.t. "convert," this is why doctors don't say "take a cup of $BLAH" they use measurements like mL/cc, mG, etc.

        Take 1/72nd of a cup of morphine!!!! STAT!!!
      • Assuming Rob Weir is right, I certainly hope that ISO insists on fixing OOXML, and rejects it as ISO standard if it is not fixed.

        But that remains to be seem, maybe Microsoft has enough clout to get it approved anyway. It seems that ECMA did not care much about quality when accepting OOXML, lets hope ISO does better.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bjourne (1034822)
      Sorry, but this is FUD of the worst kind and it is very unfortunate that it comes from IBM and the free software community. Every standard has omissions, most even glaring faults. You could find similar problems in virtually all specs. I'm to lazy to provide examples, but you can dig up lots of problems with even a venerable and industry proven spec like C89/90 too. So the spec doesn't specify whether trigonometry functions accept radians or degrees? That is what is called a "bug." Most likely, the OOXML sp
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mikeb (6025)

        "You could find similar problems in virtually all specs"

        Well I would like to see your evidence of that! Having worked on the the original C standard extensively and done a fair bit of work on the C++ standard, I find it rather annoying that an unsubstantiated statement like this is trotted out.

        In the standards committee it was typical to find 50 people in a room reading *each* *single* *word* of the draft standard and arguing for hours over a single line - 8 hours a day for five days at a stretch. Immense attention to detail was spent on considering every possi

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bjourne (1034822)
          Well I would like to see your evidence of that! Having worked on the the original C standard extensively and done a fair bit of work on the C++ standard, I find it rather annoying that an unsubstantiated statement like this is trotted out.

          If you have been involved in drafting the C standard then you should be aware of the list of defect reports [open-std.org]. You should know that it is almost impossible to precisely specify every single detail that a normal working human would naturally assume.

          The standard is far f
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mikeb (6025)
            At face value, the list of defect reports might be assumed by a naive reader to suggest that the C standard is full of holes and would metaphorically never float. In fact on rereading it, I think that in the main it supports my point :)

            Any standard that's intended for human readership will suffer precisely because it's written for humans. Attempts to use formal specifications (perhaps denotational semantics or something like 'Z') haven't really caught the public imagination though it would have been interes
    • by Karellen (104380) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @08:58AM (#19824179) Homepage
      Oh, I definitely agree that open formats are a good idea, and that this does show one very good reason why.

      But, the point is that MOOXML is a shitty open format. It was written in a closed environment, without a decent review by anyone, in 1/20th the time you'd expect a spec of that size to take, and is being put on a "fast-track" process to ISO which means - if it goes through - it will never have had a proper review by anyone.

      Yes, having the format be open is a good thing.

      But this format is utter crap, on many different levels. It's size, complexity, inconsistency, bugginess, NIH-iness, reliance on Win32, etc., etc., etc.... make it completely unsuitable to be ratified as an ISO standard.

      When you're turning something into an international standard, you want to take your time and get it right. That's what the standardisation process should be about. Creating something usable by as many parties as possible. MOOXML fails completely here.

      Yes, I'm in favour of them opening their document formats. I wish they'd release updated documentation for the binary .doc format as well, usable by anyone (last I checked there was a "you must agree not to use this information to create products that compete with office" clause in the (outdated) documentation download) so that people could interoperate with those formats on non-Windows platforms. But do I wish for the binary .doc format to be an international standard? Hell no!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The trig functions take arguements in radians, and the arctrig functions return radians. This doesn't ever need to be said - it's goddamn assumed by anyone who knows what they are doing. Unless degrees are specifically mentioned, you always assume it's radians. ALWAYS. I might as well complain that when I press the pi button on my calculator it outputs a number but doesnt specify whether it's in base10 or something else...

    If someone thinks that these functions even MIGHT work with degrees, than they sho
    • by pytheron (443963)

      This doesn't ever need to be said - it's goddamn assumed by anyone who knows what they are doing
      And it is also assumed that that that the end implementation made the same assumption as you. These assumptions start to rely on one another and stack up quick !
      To quote :- "and what do they say about assumption being the brother of all fuckups ?"
    • by Xiaran (836924) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:11AM (#19823319)
      The problem is that we are talking about a proposed international standard and you are using the phrase "it's goddamn assumed by anyone...". There should ideally be *no* assumptions in a stadard... it needs to be as clear and accurate as humanly possible. Remember that once a standard is published it is translated into many laguages and possibly implemented in different cultures as mentioned in TFA. What you assume to be obvious may or may not be obvious to others.
    • By default, the calculator in Windows 2000 uses degrees. Enter "30", press "sin" and you get 0.5. To be fair, at least it displays the argument format via a set of radio buttons (where it can be altered as well).
      From this, I infer that it is not always assumed at Microsoft that trig functions take arguments in radians. So if the same corporation presents a "standards" document where the argument format is undefined, I'd also ask for clarification ;-)
    • Okay. Nice rant. However, let me capitalize this for the mentally impaired: DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING IN A STANDARD DEFINITION.

      That's the whole idea. A standard is meant to *AVOID* the pitfalls of assumption (which tend to be different for different people)

      So uhm. Get real.

      And if you're the professional you say you might possibly be, then your calculator example is even more retarded, since any sort of professional scientific calculator *will* actually tell you what baseX it's currently working in. (Mine sure
    • by sid0 (1062444)
      Very true. If you say that sin(90) = 1, YOU'RE WRONG. You have to say sin(90 degrees) = 1. Mathematics, and the radian concept, is universal.
  • It has incorrect formulas that, if implemented according to the standard, may cause loss of life, property, and capital
    Surely this is a Bad Thing, but if you're put in the situation where you're trusted with peoples' lives, you shouldn't let them depend on a single spreadsheet anyways.

    Capital and property I can see, but until stories start popping up about people dying because of spreadsheet errors, let's tone down the hyperbole, alright?
    • you own some property which is rented by someone else. Next January a spreadsheet error causes you to lose that property (don't ask how). The new owner of the property kicks your tenants out. They no longer have anywhere to live and die of exposure the next night.

      You run a charity which provides food to homeless people. A spreadsheet error makes you believe that your budget is only 10% of what it was last year. You drastically cut back your work. Someone dies of starvation.

      Life can still be lost indir
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by CmdrGravy (645153)
        A simple spreadsheet error in the zoo transportation department commands them to mail a large crocodile to a balcony at the top of a large block of flats. A party of innocent children are walking down the road under the balcony and are all hit and killed by a large falling crocodile.

        The Israeli kidnap and asassination department are looking through their targets spreadsheet where a simple spreadsheet error has flagged your address at the top of their list. Next day you are kidnapped, tortured and killed.

        A s
  • Who is the author, Rob Weir?

    I work for IBM, as a performance architect, as well as on various ODF technical topics. (source [robweir.com])

    So a guy working on a different document format, for a company who competes with Microsoft, has unkind words? Color me shocked.

    OOXML defines spreadsheet formulas, and ODF doesn't. The Microsoft boosters have been parroting the party line for quite some time.

    Uh... ODF doesn't define spreadsheet formats. There's no standard for spreadsheets in ODF. How is that "parroting the par

    • by january05 (1126057) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:42AM (#19823181)
      ODF will define spreadsheet formulas, in the next version. And come on, the "IBM conspiracy" take from MS is really lame since OOXML is the one with proprietary patented extensions. I'll take any open standards company I can get, personally.
    • by topham (32406) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:02AM (#19823271) Homepage
      Parroting the party line is promoting the fact that it has formulas as showing it is superior to ODF when the formula specification is next to useless because it wasn't reviewed properly.
      If you read the article it isn't a cople of minor mistakes which can be corrected; it's a number of mistakes which have already made it past a review stage.

    • by Bert64 (520050)
      ODF references an external spec for formulas, IE the "OpenFormula" spec, which is also available from oasis-open.org
      Just like it references some other open specs for other parts, it makes no sense to reinvent the wheel.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jkrise (535370)

      So a guy working on a different document format, for a company who competes with Microsoft, has unkind words? Color me shocked.

      A competitor has a vested interest in exposing short-comings of his competition. So an IBM employee is the best critic of a competing Microsoft product. Why is this hard to understand? Why not criticise the views expressed, rather than the person he is OR his employers?

      As for spreadsheet formats not being defined in ODF - it isn't a big deal, and the alliance seem to be working on the issue, in any case. A wrong formula is infinitely worse than No Formula.

      I wonder what your vested interest is... your lack

  • by bersl2 (689221) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:40AM (#19823173) Journal
    While I think that the "loss of life, etc." part is a bit overboard, since nobody builds a mission-critical system on top of Excel (or do they...), I do think that the criticism is appropriate.

    Anybody keeping a comprehensive and up-to-date list (or list of lists) of specific things that are wrong with OOXML? I see a bunch of scattered ones here and there. Of course, I've also wished there were a comprehensive list of specific "bad" things that MS has done; it would make demonstration of their unscrupulousness that much easier.
  • Yet, at any rate. IIRC it's a work in progress.

    http://wiki.oasis-open.org/office/About_OpenFormul a [oasis-open.org]
  • Billg: "That's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft."
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:01AM (#19823267) Homepage

    Let MS do exactly what they want, they seem quite successful at it, if it bites them in the butt, so be it. I would just like our own software freedoms to be preserved. I have no intention on producing anything with their format, I'm sure I'll eventually have to read it, but the chances that the receiver of a document is liable for inaccurate content within that document seems very low.

    What is the motivation, since I'm sure there must be a good one, to do this free work for MS?

  • Microsoft can't code (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:38AM (#19823429) Journal
    > From basic trigonometric functions that forget to specify units

    Amazing. That's the sort of mistake you'd expect from a First Year Computer Science Major, but not from a Second Year. This isn't the first time Microsoft have done this. Even for the Windows API, the code trumped the documentation. The best way to find out what a feature did was to write test programs to poke at it. Heck. Until recently DirectX needed three pages of goobleydo-gook to start up. These people just don't get APIs, period.

    In Microsoft Visual Studio when you press F1 Help it comes up with a list that includes "How to Write Good Code". Yes, by Microsoft. Even in the early hours of the morning, it gets a smirk if not a gufaw or a laugh. Microsoft are not good programmers. Haven't been for a long time. Anyone worth their salt will launch a Start Up, or at least join a company offering reasonable growth and prospects. Microsoft is like a Pyramid Scheme. The people that joined at the start did very well. As for the people that joined late... not a chance. Which makes you wonder about the ones that joined anyway. Read the Book "Microserfs".

    > Ecma

    Why didn't Ecma pick it up? These Standard Bodies are in-name only. When a "Member" wants to push something through, it gets pushed through. Then the Member's sales reps can go to the Government body and say "Look! We have an Ecma approved Standard" and t he Government worker ticks the "Uses Industry Standards" box on the tender.

    One of the funnier "standards" was a simulation standard called HLA. It was approved before anyone had built a proof of concept. People bet their careers on it and the whole government was ordered to embrace it. The only problem: When they finally built it, it didn't work. *OUCH!*
    • by sid0 (1062444)
      Name me one programming language that does not take trigonometric angles in radians.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by clickety6 (141178)
        LOGO

        Example 1: a square

        FORWARD 100
        LEFT 90
        FORWARD 100
        LEFT 90
        FORWARD 100
        LEFT 90
        FORWARD 100
        LEFT 90

  • no units ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    From basic trigonometric functions that forget to specify units/i?

    Trignometric functions are unitless to begin with. They are ratios.
  • Article on BBC (Score:3, Informative)

    by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @07:23AM (#19823621) Homepage Journal

    The BBC have published an article by FSFE [bbc.co.uk] also explaining the general problems of MS's non-open OOXML format (and proprietary formats in general).

  • Shame?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by krygny (473134) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @07:29AM (#19823645)

    "Shame on all those who praised and continue to praise the OOXML formula specification without actually reading it."

    Reminds me of something I once heard a congressman rationalize in reference to a bill he just voted for containing several lame provisions (many with which he did not even agree): "Do you have any idea what reading a bill like that would entail?" I do. It would entail you doing your fucking job.

  • by rsmoody (791160) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @07:53AM (#19823751) Homepage Journal
    After all, they did not BUY this from someone else. They came up with it on their own. We all know, Microsoft's best products were purchased from someone else. Excel for example.

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