What
 · Technology
 · · Intellectual Property

Dell, LDAP, IP Dandruff · I was look­ing at Neil Wilson’s Sun T2000 vs Dell 6850: LDAP AuthRate, a straight­for­ward Dell-vs.-Niagara LDAP bench­mark write-up, and two un­re­lat­ed but in­ter­est­ing things came to mind. First, this piece suf­fers from ma­jor IP dan­druf­f; is it re­al­ly nec­es­sary for the text iden­ti­fy­ing the CPUs to read “Intel® Xeon® EM64T” and “UltraSPARC® T1 with CoolThreads™ technology”? I know about de­fend­ing your trade­marks and so on, but this is im­pos­ing vi­su­al pain on read­er­s, and that can’t be a good thing. Se­cond point: here we have yet an­oth­er ex­am­ple of one of our peo­ple beat­ing up Del­l. In my time here, I haven’t no­ticed an or­ga­nized Dell-dissing cam­paign, but I have no­ticed per­va­sive or­gan­ic loathing for this one com­peti­tor all over the com­pa­ny, end to end. I mean, we com­pete with IBM and HP and Mi­crosoft and so on, but there’s a whole dif­fer­ent emo­tion­al lev­el around Del­l. My best guess is that it’s a cul­tur­al thing; Dell is do­ing well in this busi­ness with­out seem­ing to ac­tu­al­ly like com­put­ers very much. And one of the first things you no­tice if you work here is that peo­ple re­al­ly care about com­put­ers for their own sake; al­most ev­ery­one would be a tin­ker­er or hob­by­ist or spare-time hack­er if they couldn’t get paid for what they’re do­ing. I don’t think ei­ther Sun or Dell are go­ing away any time soon, so we can ex­pect the fun to con­tin­ue.
 
Ils sont fous ces Français! · Trans­lat­ing from Goscin­ny/Uder­zo to Hunter S. Thomp­son: there’s bad crazi­ness go­ing on over in France. Ap­par­ent­ly, there’s a move afoot to ban Free Soft­ware, and I can on­ly think “Never as­cribe to mal­ice that which can be ex­plained by incompetence”. Mal­ice or in­com­pe­tence aside, in the un­like­ly event that this sil­ly thing pass­es, it could hard­ly be en­forced with­out build­ing a cyber-police-state of an ef­fi­cien­cy and com­pre­hen­sive­ness be­yond the wildest dreams of the Bei­jing regime. If any of my read­ers are French cit­i­zen­s, you might want to call your lo­cal politician’s of­fice or write a let­ter to your lo­cal ed­i­tor or what­ev­er. Here’s some more from Hen­ry Sto­ry, with French-language links. [Up­date: Gilles Gravier writes: “It’s not all free soft­ware that they are try­ing to ban... Just soft­ware that en­ables dis­tri­bu­tion of copy­right­ed ma­te­ri­al which is not equiped with means of trac­ing who shares what with whom... Ob­vi­ous­ly, open-source soft­ware makes it easy to re­move such trac­ing mean­s, so is a no-no for SACEM (who are des­per­ate­ly try­ing to keep alive an old mod­el for mak­ing mon­ey over artists in­stead of try­ing to turn to the fu­ture and find new adapt­ed ways).” And now I see that he’s writ­ten more on the sub­ject.]
 
6,950,791 · In the in­ter­ests of full dis­clo­sure, since I have of­ten ful­mi­nat­ed in this space about the gravely-disordered software-patent land­scape, I should state that I re­cent­ly learned that, well, I now have one: Method for de­scrib­ing ob­jects in a vir­tu­al space. The ap­pli­ca­tion was a con­di­tion of re­ceiv­ing venture-capital fund­ing for my last star­tup, Antarc­ti­ca Sys­tems. As I re­view the paten­t, two things strike me: First, how hard it is to read through the lines of le­gal jar­gon to see what the es­sen­tial tech­ni­cal point is. And sec­ond, how bad the draft­ing is; I spot lots of egre­gious ty­pos and mis­spellings that ap­par­ent­ly no­body caugh­t. Th­ese must have crept in dur­ing the pro­cess be­cause the sub­mis­sion was clean. Hm­ph.
 
DRM · There’s a lot of noise over the Open Me­dia Com­mons DRM-for-the-masses an­nounce­men­t. Me, I thought Jonathan Schwartz’s lit­tle para­ble yes­ter­day was way more in­ter­est­ing. What all the DRM dream­ers don’t want to ad­mit is that 95% or more of the pop­u­la­tion hasn’t yet en­coun­tered DRM, and when they do, they aren’t go­ing to like it. They’re go­ing to scream and scream and scream and get mad as hell and not take it any more. I’m talk­ing about the hon­est peo­ple who play by the rules: they buy a house and the ven­dor moves out and pulls no more strings. They buy so­fas and flow­ers and wine and pa­per and the store where they bought them doesn’t try to lim­it what you can do with them, and when the digital-media ven­dors try to horn in on this re­la­tion­ship, the re­sponse is go­ing to be “you and whose army?” OK, if there’s ev­er a place where DRM is ap­pro­pri­ate, it had bet­ter be open and non-monopolistic and all that. But the mu­sic and movie com­pa­nies who are cling­ing to this id­i­ot­ic idea that they can sell stuff to peo­ple and re­tain the rights to mi­cro­man­age it, well they’re in for some re­al­ly un­pleas­ant sur­pris­es. Peo­ple who are sur­prised, or think I’m a rad­i­cal, should check out Co­ry Doctorow’s clas­sic rant; for slight­ly dif­fer­en­t, but al­so stim­u­lat­ing an­gle, see Roger Sperberg’s The Law of Com­put­er En­tropy. [Up­date: This piece pro­voked au­thors of ear­li­er rants on the sub­ject to send point­er­s: among the best are those from Ju­lian Bond and Norm Walsh.]
 
More Patent Funnies · Per­haps just now it’s un­fash­ion­able to grum­ble about patents, giv­en that Sun and IBM are show­er­ing the world with buck­et­fuls of ’em (and a fine thing, too), but if you want a loud, ug­ly, wake-up cal­l, start at VarChars, which is of­fered by some­one who ap­par­ent­ly wish­es to be known on­ly as “rayg”. Sam­ples: IBM Re­ceives Pa­tent for Us­ing Reg­u­lar Ex­pres­sions to Ex­tract In­for­ma­tion from Doc­u­ments, Google Re­ceives Pa­tent for High­light­ing of Search Re­sults, and Mi­crosoft At­tempts to Pa­tent Ob­ject Per­sis­tence. Read on for some predictably-negative com­men­tary and—gasp!—a look in­side some incredibly-advanced Google tech­nol­o­gy ...
 
The DRM Debacle · I spent a cou­ple of days this week in Brus­sels talk­ing with Euro­pean Com­mis­sion peo­ple and oth­er ven­dors about a bunch of things, but DRM kept com­ing in­to the con­ver­sa­tion. Here­with some doom­say­ing and para­noia; the whole idea is bro­ken and go­ing to cause se­vere dam­age and pain for con­tent ven­dors, tech­nol­o­gy ven­dors, and or­di­nary folks who just want to go on with life ...
 
Patents and Linux · The wires are full of news around Lin­ux and Pa­tents, with OSRM claim­ing that Lin­ux in­fringes lots of ’em, and IBM promis­ing not to lit­i­gate ’em. Wel­l, I go way back on this is­sue; here­with a soft­ware patent war sto­ry, fla­vored with the usu­al cyn­i­cis­m ...
 
The New World of PR · Last Fri­day, Scoble re­layed a de­nial by Mi­crosoft ex­ec Martin Tay­lor that they were be­hind the big ven­ture in­vest­ment in SCO. I’m sur­prised that nobody’s point­ed at the meta-message here; this is the first time I know of that a big com­pa­ny has gone to one of their blog­gers to get a crit­i­cal piece of PR out. But I bet it won’t be the last. [Up­dat­ed: Scoble clar­i­fies. I had read his orig­i­nal post to say that Tay­lor had emailed Scoble say­ing “Blog this.” In fac­t, Scoble saw Taylor’s mes­sage on an an in­ter­nal mail­ing list and did it on his own ini­tia­tive; not quite as news­wor­thy as I’d thought. But read Scoble’s clar­i­fi­ca­tion for more on this.] [Up­dat­ed again: Busi­ness Week says that Mi­crosoft did lead the Ven­ture Cap horse to the SCO trough. I tend to trust Busi­ness Week. Uh, would Martin Tay­lor like to clar­i­fy his state­ment that the al­le­ga­tions “are not accurate”?]
 
W3C Patent Policy Draft · The lat­est draft, pub­lished to­day, is a land­mark. You can't pos­si­bly imag­ine the num­ber of hours of hard think­ing and nasty wran­gling that have gone in­to pro­duc­ing it. My per­son­al take is that it's about done and it's good enough and we're not go­ing to end up with any­thing bet­ter. Warn­ing: long and bor­ing, but I think im­por­tan­t. ...
 
DVD Player Stupidity · Like most peo­ple, we have a DVD play­er, we climbed on board the band­wag­on some­time in 2002. Un­like many who live in North Amer­i­ca, we have strong fam­i­ly ties to Ger­many and to Aus­trali­a, and have ac­quired DVDs from both places. Of course, we couldn't play them on the Sony DVD play­er be­cause the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try puts "region codes" on DVDs, di­vid­ing the world in­to six movie-viewing is­land­s. I am not go­ing to dig­ni­fy this id­io­cy by re­lay­ing their ra­tio­nale; re­al­ly just an­oth­er symp­tom of the brain dis­or­der af­fect­ing the in­dus­try that caus­es them to view their cus­tomers pri­mar­i­ly as thieves and abuser­s ...
 
The Rant at Seybold San Francisco · I at­tend­ed Sey­bold San Fran­cis­co 2002, where I gave an open­ing keynote and shmoozed heav­i­ly. Prob­a­bly the most stim­u­lat­ing ses­sion was the Dig­i­tal Prop­er­ty Rights track ses­sion "The An­tipira­cy Wars. The mod­er­a­tor was the pleas­ant­ly cyn­i­cal Bill Rosen­blat­t, a guy who wor­ries about this full-time. On the pan­el were Ted Co­hen, a shill for the record com­pa­ny EMI, Lawrence H. Leach of L2 De­sign & Devel­op­men­t, and Ed McCoyd of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Pub­lish­er­s ...
 
author · Dad · software · colophon · rights
Random image, linked to its containing fragment

By .

I am an employee
of Amazon.com, but
the opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.