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Tech Stuff and random observations on life as I see it….

Tag Archives: google

Are we in a bubble? Patently we are!

I have been resisting it for a while but it has just got so stupid I can’t stop the rant any more. This story is going to center around the giants of tech and starts with the auction of the Nortell patents and will end up with a claim of infringement based on a sci-fi movie.

Battles over patent infringement is nothing new, this is no beginning but it is an escalation. It has become a time when companies are forced to buy more and more patents just to defend themselves from lawsuits by countersuing with their own list of infringements. It seems to me to be like the cold war of a couple of decades back where countries stockpiled a nuclear arsenal with little intention to use them but to use them as a deterrent against anther country attacking them. Then, as now, we find these large tech companies buying up stockpiles of patents to assure one of two things, a deterrent against attack or at the very worst each others mutual destruction. No longer are the giants like Microsoft, Google and Apple (and the hardware companies like HTC and Samsung that have been dragged into the battle) able to dedicate the same level of time and investment to innovation. Surely, if you have faith in your product and your user base you should be able to compete in the open market and not resort to the courts to decide which product is the best.

I am no patent lawyer (not even close) and I can understand a need to protect your idea but when it gets out of hand like this, something in the system is broken, whether it is the system itself or whether the patents granted truly can be called justified will require many clever heads in the industry to sort it out,

At the point where we begin, we What follows is a summary of the news that has really dominated tech throughout August.

Nortel patents 1st July 2011
This is the tipping point for the recent bout of madness. Up until now, Google has been trying to sidestep all the patent issues and carry on the development of Android. However a constant stream of litigation against the successful mobile OS forces Google to look to purchase some protective patents of their own. However they misjudge the situation quite badly offering sums based on mathematical variables like Pi. They end up losing the patents to a consortium of 6 companies made up of the most unlikely set of allies: Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, Ericsson and EMC. The 6000 patents are sold for $4.5bn.

Apple files against HTC – 12th July
HTC and Google have been partnering together with Android for a while now and in their ongoing battle against the copycat designs of their mobile and tablet devices, Apple sued HTC for infringing on 20 of their patents. HTC denied the allegations and immediately counter-sued against Apples infringements of their own designs. It’s not the first company that Apple has tried to stop imports of their products, the previous month they had made the claims against Samsungs designs of phone and tablet

Google whines about everyone not playing fair – 3rd August
In what I felt was a very uncharacteristic for Google, they posted on their blog about how unfair everyone was being to Google and Android in particular. The post was titled When patents attack Android and was posted by David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer.

Rather than rant at the blogosphere, I think that Mr Drummond’s energies would have been better off directed at solving the problem rather than cry about it. Google simply looked like were sulking about losing out on the Nortel deal even though they didn’t take it as seriously as they should have.

Microsoft replies to Googles post publicly on Twitter – 4th August
Google’s assertions were swiftly contradicted by Microsoft. The firm’s General Counsel, Brad Smith, tweeted: “Google says we brought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”

Frank Shaw, one of Microsoft’s top PR men, then tweeted an image of an email between Smith and Kent Walker, Google General Counsel, which appears to confirm that Microsoft offered to team up with Google.

David Drummond then goes on to update his blog post from the previous night to explain why they didn’t team up with the group and instead highlights the fact that the DOJ overturned the ownership of some of the patents and forced them to be handed over to the open source community.

The rest of the consortium opt not to join in the public slagging match and stay quiet.

Apple seeks injunction preventing Samsung galaxy tab in Europe – 10th August
In a mini-saga in itself, Apple files an injunction to ban sales of the Galaxy range of smartphones and the 10.1″ Galaxy Tab. This is initially granted despite controversy surrounding the doctoring of The Tab’s dimensions. The injunction is later lifted after courts decide that the only infringement is that of how the two devices scroll pages.

Google buys Motorola – 15th August
It’s a Monday morning, the markets haven’t even opened yet and Larry Page was announcing to the world that it has bought Motorola Mobility for $40 a share… In cash. This is of course the mobile phone arm of Motorola that was spun off as a separate company 8 months previously. In a deal for $12.5bn (£7.7bn), Google gets not only the ‘Mobility’ arm, which makes phones and tablets, but it also has a ‘Solutions’ division, which develops technology systems for industry. Analysts speculate that Google’s primary motivation was not for the hardware but also arms them with over 17,000 patents of protection for themselves. Although other handset manufacturers like samsung and HTC were falling over themselves to say what a good move it was for them, you can’t help but wonder how they really feel now that Google has a dedicated hardware platform that they can produce for.

The deal has yet to be completely finalised but Google expects the purchase to be completed by the end of 2011 or early 2012.

Microsoft tries to ban Motorola imports – 22nd August
Microsoft filed a suit on the above date accusing Google’s new besty, Motorola Mobility, of infringing on seven of Microsoft’s patents that just so happen to cover Android. Before the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, Microsoft requested an import ban on a number of Motorola smartphones.

Microsoft is “confident that the ITC will rule in [its] favor.” Meanwhile, Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said in an email to Bloomberg that Motorola is “vigorously defending [itself] against Microsoft’s patent attack business strategy.” And a business strategy is exactly what it is.

Administrative Law Judge Theodore Essex will release his findings to the public on November 4.

Samsung tries to claim “prior art” on Apples patents – 23rd August
You can tell that Samsung is getting desperate in it’s fight against apple’s lawsuits. They made the claim that iPad-like tablets have already been established as “prior art,” thanks to a scene in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In one of the Space Odyssey scenes, two astronauts are eating together. Each has a thin, tablet-like display next to his meal tray. Because the film was released in 1968, long before Apple designed the iPad, Samsung argues that Space Odyssey establishes iPad-like tablets as “prior art” and invalidates one of Apple’s patents.

“As with the design claimed by the D’889 Patent, the tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table’s surface), and a thin form factor,” Samsung’s legal team writes.

That’s it to date… Actually it’s not, there’s more looming over the horizon but if I don’t post now, I never will cos this is going to rumble on and on and on.

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Oracle wipes an embarrassing blog from site – not before it’s noticed though

You may have been following the Oracle V’s Google patent lawsuit. If you haven’t Oracle is looking for over One Billion dollars (needs to be read in a sinister tone with a little finger up to the mouth – sorry, it’s the Austin Powers Imagery at work). Actually, Oracle’s damages expert, Dr. Cockburn submitted a damages report that ranged from $1.4 billion, to $6.1 billion but that doesn’t sound like a Dr Evil amount of money..

Apparently Google is a patent stealing thief with the technology used to develop Android.

Imagine now, if you will, the embarrassment after all this posturing when they come across a blog posting from the then CEO of Sun Microsystems, Jonathan Schwartz endorsing the use of Java in Android development. So they then did what any honest half decent company would do in a situation like this; They scrubbed the post. In fact they removed all of Jonathon’s posts; other Sun employees posts still remain. All in all this was probably not the best course of action.

Of course, nothing ever really disappears from the Web. Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, Web surfers can find the post. Click here to view it. The image above comes from a screenshot from CNET who in turn retrieved it from Internet Archive.

Keeping evidence from court judges doesn’t tend to go down well and I can’t help but think that it’s going to damage Oracles position in this case. Google seems to think so and aims to use it as part of their defence.

It’s all go for Google Go

The Go programming language has been used for ‘real stuff’ at Google since last May. Go’s “gc” compiler targets multiple OS’s on multiple architectures. Go is an expressive, concurrent, garbage-collected systems programming language.

last week, the Go Programming Language Blog revealed that the Go runtime for App Engine was now released for general use. Google had mentioned Go at the 2011 I/O event earlier this year and the team has been in serious development till now. Anyone who has been playing with Go apps up till this point can now publish them using the latest SDK.

App Engine was first launched in 2008 with support for Python, adding Java support in 2009. Support for Go on App Engine was first announced at this year’s Google I/O developer conference, albeit on an experimental basis.

The 1.5.2 release is based on the latest stable version of Go, release.r58.1 – it introduces api_version2 and is not backward compatible with the previous release. Existing apps may require changes as per the r58 release notes. Go App Engine documentation, including a Getting Started guide, is available on Google Code.

Google closing down side projects to concentrate on the ‘bigger picture’

Google, it seems, is looking to streamline a bit and closing down some projects that we have become synonymous with the company in themselves and will certainly be missed by me.

Sniff, sniff. Goodbye Google Labs, I have used you often. Many experimental lab plugins have found there way into so many people’s Gmail or Maps and Calendar pages and have become so often added that they have made it into the full product. Sometimes useful and sometimes obscure and soon, to be no more. Google has promised to keep users in the loop of what and when it will disappear.

Google’s Firefox toolbar is also no longer going to be supported. Citing exponential growth in the browser space, and that a lot of the functionality is now duplicated in the Google bar the Google toolbar for Firefox is no longer necessary. Support will continue for older versions of the browser, but users of Firefox 5 will not get it. I’m going to miss this but I guess that anything that reclaims browser space has to be positive, right?

Google warning users of malware infection

Google has started to issue warnings to users that they have been infected with malware. During routine maintenance of a data Center they noticed a particular repeating pattern of traffic that warranted further investigation. From the post on the Google blog, the traffic is being generated by scareware, fake AV software Which aims to funnel search requests through intermediate sites that promote fake security programs and other scams.

As a result of this activity Google is able to detect those users that are infected and will now post the following message at the top of the search results.

Along with the warning there is a link pointing to the Google Help Center offering advice on how to get rid on the infection. The question is, with so many messages in headers that we routinely ignore every day, will anyone take any notice of this message.

Recent Tech articles 4th – 10th July 2011

It’s been another week of Google+ V’s Facebook. With more people gaining access to Google+ by fair means or foul and Facebook making their ‘Awesome’ announcement. The jury seems out whether Google+ will be a mainstream hit or just be a tech haven for geeks. The full global opening of the gates is likely to happen later this month. I finally managed to get my own invite and have been roaming about the site… I do have a limited amount of invites for anyone willing to subscribe to the blog.

Google started the week off a announcing that Blogger and Picasa would Be renamed. They then finished off the week announcement that YouTube, although not being renamed will take on the new design style.

During the early part of last week it seemed that each day was bringing a new security hack. A fresh one for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Post: https://cbeagrie.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/antisec-attacks-the-gathering-storm/

On Tuesday, a Global team was set up to fight global cybercrime. This has taken a while to set up and through other previous treaties. Recent AntiSec events have promoted a push to get it up and running.

There was a call this week from Google to the UK Government to open previous closed door discussions on the website-blocking debate to the public. In a later post, Ed Vaizey responds to reports of ‘conspiracy’ on industry web-blocking discussions.

Facebook announce that it was introducing video calling as their ‘awesome’ announcement.. Half a week later, Spammers swoop in to try and catch people out.

Apple filed a patent for an Augmented Reality device, so what is it? Plus some examples

Recent Tech articles 4th – 10th July 2011

It’s been another week of Google+ V’s Facebook. With more people gaining access to Google+ by fair means or foul and Facebook making their ‘Awesome’ announcement. The jury seems out whether Google+ will be a mainstream hit or just be a tech haven for geeks. The full global opening of the gates is likely to happen later this month. I finally managed to get my own invite and have been roaming about the site… I do have a limited amount of invites for anyone willing to subscribe to the blog.

Google started the week off a announcing that Blogger and Picasa would Be renamed. They then finished off the week announcement that YouTube, although not being renamed will take on the new design style.

During the early part of last week it seemed that each day was bringing a new security hack. A fresh one for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Post: https://cbeagrie.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/antisec-attacks-the-gathering-storm/

On Tuesday, a Global team was set up to fight global cybercrime. This has taken a while to set up and through other previous treaties. Recent AntiSec events have promoted a push to get it up and running.

There was a call this week from Google to the UK Government to open previous closed door discussions on the website-blocking debate to the public. In a later post, Ed Vaizey responds to reports of ‘conspiracy’ on industry web-blocking discussions.

Facebook announce that it was introducing video calling as their ‘awesome’ announcement.. Half a week later, Spammers swoop in to try and catch people out.

Apple filed a patent for an Augmented Reality device, so what is it? Plus some examples

Google redesign continues with Cosmic Panda on YouTube

Cosmic Panda! Thats the name for the new Google+ styled look. Now, YouTube, is joining in with the Cosmic Panda design at least on TestTube anyway..

“Today, we’d like to invite you to play along with us by participating in one of our latest TestTube experiments: Cosmic Panda. To take this experiment for a test drive go to www.youtube.com/cosmicpanda and click ‘Try it out!’,” YouTube announced.

The page reads:

So what the heck is Cosmic Panda?

We’re always trying out new things here at the Tube and Cosmic Panda is our way of letting you in on some of the fun.

Here’s what to expect when you follow the cosmic panda over the double rainbow:

A new experience for watching videos and playlists

More page designs and better editing tools to customize your channel

Keep watching when moving between videos, playlists, and channels (Chrome only)

Stylish new look and feel

You can always jump back to the YouTube experience you know and love by coming back to this page or visiting TestTube.

What are you waiting for?

There are plenty of changes, the best way to check them out is to see them for yourselves. The new design is still in the testing phase and YouTube wanted people to start using it before rolling it out.

If you don’t like what you see, you can go back to the regular YouTube design from the TestTube page. But this won’t be for long, YouTube will roll it out to everyone soon enough.

Ed Vaizey responds to reports of ‘conspiracy’ on industry web-blocking discussions

Apparently Ed Vaizey has met the members of the Open Rights Group and wasn’t impressed by the campaigning group, describing them as being stuck in permanent shouty student mode. He is more convinced by the economic arguments posed by industry copyright holders. Vaizey himself has declared that he is a strong supporter of copyright, and said he was unimpressed by the argument that it’s “an outmoded conspiracy designed to put money into corporate interests”

He feels that most people don’t go out of their way not to pay for music but are just looking for good music and not always finding it where they want it. He would like to see the music industry working operating in “enlightened self-interest”. He also took a swing at the complaints the BT were placing against the Digital Economy Act and suggested that if they put as much effort into providing a good music offering as they did complaining, we would have an fantastic service.

He expressed frustration that ISPs were spending millions on fighting the copyright wars, rather than innovating.

There is no conspiracy
“One thing government is good at is bringing people together. I’ve found that in discussions in a neutral venue, people are more polite in front of ministers. Government also has a responsibility for setting the legislative framework and making sure it’s fit,” said the minister.

“P2P file sharing is not the only threat. We set up the Working Group on site-blocking and it has done some promising work. What kicks off this huge conspiracy theory is that ‘voluntary’ is misleading. It’s about working within the existing law to block sites that are serial infringers. It’s about trying to speed up the process to agree on the most notorious sites and have it fast-tracked.”

Call from Google to UK Government – open website-blocking debate to the public

A couple of weeks back I wrote a blogpost titled UK Copyright lobby in talks with British Government on national web censorship Now Google is trying to get the UK government to open up these closed-door discussions on website censorship to the public and parliament.

Up until now, the discussions have been private and have been with communications providers and other copyrights holders to explore the idea of website blocking for those that may infringe copyright. Sarah Hunter, Google’s UK regulatory chief is calling for a public debate on the UK-wide site censorship issue. This backs up requests from Open Rights Groups who are making the same request.

“There are conversations that the government has instigated,” Sarah Hunter said at a Westminster Media Forum on Wednesday. “We’ve said from the outside that this isn’t something companies should make decisions on. People feel very strongly about how the internet is delivered to them.”

“If the government wants to make laws about blocking websites, then they need to discuss it with the public and parliament,” Hunter continued. “I hope that… everyone who has a stake in the internet can have their voice heard.”

It seems that the Google representative was something of a lone voice at the conference, which was dedicated to discussion of the forthcoming Communications Act revamp. Various commercial broadcasters being behind the idea which protects their investment in their current offerings. They went on to state that much copyright infringment occurs beyond current national juristiction. Hunter replied back that it was still questionable whether or not blocking those websites on a national level was “the right way” to fight infringement.

Currently the public is not getting to hear about what is being proposed other than what is coming out of socieal media sites such as the following posted to Twitter by Open Rights Group (ORG) chief Jim Killock on Wednesday:

“Interesting meeting with @edvaizey this morning about web censorship. Wanted to know who ORG is and what we would do about infringement.”

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