- Trap Island — island on most maps doesn’t exist.
- Why I Work on Non-Partisan Tech (MySociety) — excellent essay. Obama won using big technology, but imagine if that effort, money, and technique were used to make things that were useful to the country. Political technology is not gov2.0.
- 3D Printing Patent Suits (MSNBC) — notable not just for incumbents keeping out low-cost competitors with patents, but also (as BoingBoing observed) Many of the key patents in 3D printing start expiring in 2013, and will continue to lapse through ’14 and ’15. Expect a big bang of 3D printer innovation, and massive price-drops, in the years to come. (via BoingBoing)
- GraphChi — can run very large graph computations on just a single machine, by using a novel algorithm for processing the graph from disk (SSD or hard drive). Programs for GraphChi are written in the vertex-centric model, proposed by GraphLab and Google’s Pregel. GraphChi runs vertex-centric programs asynchronously (i.e changes written to edges are immediately visible to subsequent computation), and in parallel. GraphChi also supports streaming graph updates and removal of edges from the graph.
Island Traps, Apolitical Technology, 3D Printing Patent Suits, and Disk-Based Graph Tool
The DoJ sues Apple and five major publishers, Yahoo files patents to put ads in ebooks, and B&N one-ups Amazon.
Amazon does a happy dance as five of the Big Six publishers and Apple are sued by the DoJ. Elsewhere, Yahoo looks to increase revenues with ebook ads, and B&N lights up its Nook.
Inside Apple, Microsoft Acquires Netscape Patents, Open Science, and Smart Meters
- Inside Apple (Amazon) — If Apple is Silicon Valley’s answer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, then author Adam Lashinsky provides readers with a golden ticket to step inside. In this primer on leadership and innovation, the author will introduce readers to concepts like the “DRI” (Apple’s practice of assigning a Directly Responsible Individual to every task) and the Top 100 (an annual ritual in which 100 up-and-coming executives are tapped a la Skull & Bones for a secret retreat with company founder Steve Jobs). Hopefully it can provide a better template for successful executive behaviour than “be an arsehole who has opinions about design” which seems to be all that many have taken from the life and works of Steve Jobs. (via BoingBoing)
- Microsoft Buys Netscape Patents from AOL (Slashgear) — when your employer says “we need you to file for a patent on this, just so we can build up our defensive arsenal”, bear this in mind: you can never know that the defensive portfolio won’t be bought by an aggressive competitor in the future. I’m not sure that we can all sleep sound knowing that Microsoft owns autofill and SSL.
- Open Data and The Gulf Oil Spill (Ars Technica) — competing interests meant uncoordinated data collection, reporting distorted research by omitting caveats on preliminary work and findings, and talking openly about what you’re doing can jeopardise your chance of publication in many journals. I found data collection stories particularly horrifying. (via Pete Warden)
- Smart Meter Hacks — Liston and Weber have developed a prototype of a tool and software program that lets anyone access the memory of a vulnerable smart meter device and intercept the credentials used to administer it. Weber said the toolkit relies in part on a device called an optical probe, which can be made for about $150 in parts, or purchased off the Internet for roughly $300. “This is a well-known and common issue, one that we’ve warning people about for three years now, where some of these smart meter devices implement unencrypted memory,” Weber said. “If you know where and how to look for it, you can gather the security code from the device, because it passes them unencrypted from one component of the device to another.” Also notable for the fantastic line: “What you’re hearing is the sound of [a] paradigm shifting without a clutch,” Former said.
It's iPad evolution rather than revolution, increasing patent penalties for Android, and Raspberry Pi is served.
Apple unveils pretty much what it was expected to unveil, and decides to treat Android as a cash cow rather than an enemy. Meanwhile, the Raspberry Pi is finally out, so let the hacking begin.
Corruption Remains, Automated Instruction, Eolas Victory Incomplete, and CI Arduino Hack
- Why I Hate The STOCK Act (Clay Johnson) — an attempt to reform insider trading within government, but because Congress exempts itself from substantial penalties then it has little effect where it’s needed most. We won’t see change on the issues that matter to us (copyright, due process for Internet takedowns, privacy, etc.) while the lawmakers are distracted by money.
- Instruction Medium is the Message (Dan Meyer) — Print is a medium. Same as digital photos. Same as a teacher’s voice. Same as a YouTube video. Same as a podcast. These are all different media. And as we know, the medium is the message. The medium defines and constrains and sometimes distorts the message. The math that can be conveyed in a YouTube video is not the same math that can be conveyed in a digital photo or a podcast or a print textbook. Anything that can be replaced by a computer should be; it’s doubtful that successful widespread education consists only of things a computer can replace.
- Eolas Patent a Hollow Victory (Simon Phipps) — those who were extorted by the patent troll will go uncompensated, and the loss of one patent leaves their business model still intact. The patent system is extremely broken in the US, it’s a giant cost of doing business, a regulation-created tax that is paid to trolls instead of to the US Government. What idiot supports a tax that doesn’t go to the government? An ethically-corrupted one (see point 1 above).
- Monitor your Continuous Integration Server with Traffic Lights and an Arduino — nifty little hardware hack. It’s an example of making physical objects which control or portray virtual systems, and it’s tied into this Continuous Integration trend whereby software changes go live as soon as possible rather than being held off until 2am on the first Thursday of the month, when the IT team come in to manage the rollout of the new code. CI, in turn, is an example of failing early on something small rather than failing later and larger. (via Sandy Mamoli)
There was good news and bad news on the intellectual property front this week.
We take a look at two major events that rocked the technology intellectual property wars, centered on a courtroom in Texas and a standards body a continent away.
A decision to strike down patents to the "Interactive Web" is an important victory for the networked commons.
A Texas jury has struck down a company's claim to ownership of the interactive web. Eolas, which has been suing technology companies for more than a decade, now faces the prospect of losing the patents.
B&N takes issue with Microsoft's patents, Congress held a SOPA hearing, and authors decry Amazon's Lending Library.
B&N’s position against Microsoft was made public, causing quite a dust-up. Also, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) hearing was as controversial as the Act itself, and the Authors Guild says the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library breaches contracts.
University Relevance, Free as in Dom, Patent Trolls, and Facebook Teams
- Questioning University — my take on the issue of whether a university education (particularly CS) is still relevant or whether kids should go straight to startups. So what do I tell my kids? Should I urge them to go to university? Should I tell them to jack it all in and run off and join a startup? This is what’s occupying my mind now.
- Still Cripped by Free (Simon Phipps) — the freedoms of free and open software (the ability to use it for whatever you want, to improve it or give it to others who can then improve it) represent creative and financial independence. Fifteen years after open source and business really started to get dirty with each other, the misunderstanding is still widespread that it’s about price. Simon has a clear and robust essay about the latest UK procurement guidelines to show why price can be subverted in a way that freedom cannot.
- The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls — Using stock market event studies around patent lawsuit filings, we find that NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars of lost wealth to defendants from 1990 through 2010, mostly from technology companies. Moreover, very little of this loss represents a transfer to small inventors. Instead, it implies reduced innovation incentives. (via BoingBoing)
- Facebook’s Teams and Use of Data — great talk by Adam Mosseri of Facebook, where he covers the composition of teams at Facebook, how they use data to make decisions, and when they don’t use data to make decisions. (via Bryce Roberts)
The Linux kernel gets to 3.0, Oracle is bitten by the Internet's long memory, and more lawsuit fever.
The Linux kernel gets to version 3.0. Meanwhile, Oracle doesn't seem to remember the warm reception that Sun gave Android, and big players get lawsuits on their doorsteps.