- The Wild Wild East (The Economist) — Fung Retailing Limited, a related firm, has over 3,000 outlets, a third of them in China. Victor Fung, its honorary chairman, sees the era of mass production giving way to one of mass customization. Markets are fragmenting and smartphones are empowering consumers to get “directly involved in what they buy, where it is made and how they buy it.” Zhao Xiande of CEIBS in Shanghai points to Red Collar, a firm that used simply to make and export garments. Now it lets customers the world over design their own shirts online and makes them to order. Another outfit, Home Koo, offers custom-built furniture online.
- Motivation for a Monolithic Codebase (YouTube) — interesting talk about Google’s codebase, the first time I know of that Google’s strategy for source code management was discussed in public.
- SQL in CockroachDB: Mapping Table Data to Key-Value Storage — very easy-to-follow simple database implementation lesson.
- cryptdb — A database system that can process SQL queries over encrypted data.
Google has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the CAFC’s ruling that Oracle's Java APIs are copyrightable.
Editor’s note: this is a forthcoming article for the March 2015 issue of Communications of the ACM (CACM); it is published here with permission.
For more than 20 years, the prevailing view has been that application program interfaces (APIs) are unprotectable elements of copyrighted computer programs. Under this view, programmers are free to reimplement other firms’ APIs in independently written code. Competition and innovation in the software industry has thrived amazingly well in part because of rulings upholding this understanding.
Challenging this view is the Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit (CAFC) May 2014 decision in Oracle v. Google. The CAFC held that the “structure, sequence, and organization” (SSO) of Oracle’s Java APIs that Google reimplemented in its Android software are protectable expression under copyright law. It reversed a lower court ruling that the Java APIs were not copyrightable.
Google has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the CAFC’s ruling. Several amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs have been filed in support of this effort. Hewlett-Packard, Red Hat, and Yahoo! (PDF) are among these amici (as am I and 77 computer scientists).
The Supreme Court may take the case because the CAFC’s decision is in conflict with other appellate court rulings that exclude APIs from copyright protection.
This article will explain the Oracle and Google theories about the copyrightability of Java APIs and the precedents on which each relies. The stakes in this case could not be higher. Read more…
Google requires quid for its quo, but it offers something many don’t: user data access.
Despite some misgivings about the company’s product course and service permanence (I was an early and fanatical user of Google Wave), my relationship with Google is one of mutual symbiosis. Its “better mousetrap” approach to products and services, the width and breadth of online, mobile, and behind-the-scenes offerings saves me countless hours every week in exchange for a slice of my private life, laid bare before its algorithms and analyzed for marketing purposes.
I am writing this on a Chromebook by a lake, using Google Docs and images in Google Drive. I found my way here, through the thick underbrush along a long since forgotten former fishmonger’s trail, on Google Maps after Google Now offered me a glimpse of the place as one of the recommended local attractions.
Admittedly, having my documents, my photos, my to-do lists, contacts, and much more on Google, depending on it as a research tool and mail client, map provider and domain host, is scary. And as much as I understand my dependence on Google to carry the potential for problems, the fact remains that none of those dependencies, not one shred of data, and certainly not one iota of my private life, is known to the company without my explicit, active, consent. Read more…