Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Because a distraction seems therapeutic

I'm glued to the latest news, rumors, and speculations about events in and surrounding Ukraine. On a lesser scale, I also can't look away from the collapse of Mt. Gox and the turmoil attendant to the markets for bitcoins (and other virtual currencies). 

So: in search of diversion -- for myself, in any event, and perhaps for you -- herewith, a few interesting items of science and technology news.

On at least one topic -- the proper etiquette for the use Google Glass -- Google shows signs of listening. See "Google: How not to be a 'Glasshole'."

Have you followed the patent wars among (far from an exhaustive list) Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung? These are huge, expensive conflicts. How huge? Google, in one example, recently paid billions to obtain Motorola's handset business -- then sold off the handset business per se while keeping rights to the onetime Motorola Mobile patent portfolio. How is a small business to compete?

My older brother is a long-time patent attorney; I, before my second career, spent decades in software-intensive businesses, including an Internet-bubble-era software-only start-up (that came to naught ... sigh ... though I can't blame the outcome on anything to do with patents). And I co-hold a software patent awarded back in the 80s.

Waiting on the Supremes
So: I was particularly interested in, from the Washington Post, "Will the Supreme Court save us from software patents?" This spring, for the first time in a generation, the Supremes will be looking at the issue of software patents. There's much to consider, including when/whether software should be patentable at all, and whether the Federal Circuit Appeals Court -- created by Congress expressly to specialize in patent law -- has been defying Supreme Court precedents.

Looking to put yourself on the map? Just so you know, "IAU Not a Fan of Uwingu's Mars Crater Naming Project." (IAU: that's the International Astronomical Union, the organization with the authority -- among Earthlings, anyway -- for assigning official names to celestial bodies and features. The same crew, BTW, who a few years back redefined "planets," and in the process demoted Pluto.) You have been warned.

But if nicknaming a Martian crater sounds like fun, and if you'll consider the small fee your (nondeductible) contribution to a worthy cause -- see some of the projects that Uwingu supports -- then, by all means, go for it.

From the Department of Too Little, Too Late: "Microsoft reacts to XP upgrade critics with free file transfer tool." Certainly too late for me -- I already went through the pain of migrating from XP (to Win 7 -- why in God's name would anyone want touchscreen-optimized Win 8 on a desktop PC?). It's clearly not like MS gave thought to their XP customers other than "buy more of our stuff."

Ready to dive-bomb a porch near you?
And finally ... did Amazon's December prediction of package delivery by drones seem a bit, well, out there? Apparently Netflix thought so. See Netflix have a little fun at their sometimes rival's expense: "Netflix Ad Spoofs Amazon's Drone Dreams."

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