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June 28 2013

Four short links: 28 June 2013

  1. Huxley vs Orwellbuy Amusing Ourselves to Death if this rings true. The future is here, it’s just not evenly surveilled. (via rone)
  2. KeyMe — keys in the cloud. (Digital designs as backups for physical objects)
  3. Motorola Advanced Technology and Products GroupThe philosophy behind Motorola ATAP is to create an organization with the same level of appetite for technology advancement as DARPA, but with a consumer focus. It is a pretty interesting place to be. And they hired the excellent Johnny Chung Lee.
  4. Internet Credit Union — Internet Archive starts a Credit Union. Can’t wait to see memes on debit cards.

June 11 2012

Smartphones: US-Richter haben genug vom Patentkrieg

Die US-Justiz reagiert zunehmend genervt auf die Patentkriege rund um Smartphones und Tablets. Der US-Bundesrichter Richard Posner hat den Prozess im Fall Apple vs.

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December 11 2011

Wochenrückblick: Abmahn-Auktion, kino.to-Prozess, Patentkriege

Eine Kanzlei versteigert Millionenforderungen aus Abmahnungen, ein weiterer Kino.to-Beteiligter kommt in Haft, im Patentstreit mit Motorola droht Apple ein Verkaufsverbot.

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August 18 2011

Developer Week in Review: Google Goes Yardsaling

This is the city: Los Angeles, Calif. Every year, millions of tourists flock to this Mecca of stardom and glamour, hoping that some of it will rub off on them. Sometimes they're geeks. My name is Turner. I carry a MacBook.

This is your somewhat delayed Developer Week in Review, coming this week from the Mondrian Hotel in Hollywood, a place where the laws of reality have become so distorted that paying $6 for a can of soda has actually begun to seem reasonable. There was no WIR last week, as I was trapped in an alternate universe full of hotels with Wi-Fi connections slower than dial-up. 20kb/sec, swear to God!

We're wrapping up our West Coast trip this week, a vacation that has been warped somewhat by the presence of my 16-year-old son. Certainly, if my wife and I had been traveling alone, we would not have taken a ride on a Nike Missile elevator in the Marin Headlands, or toured a WW2 submarine. Not that I'm complaining, our side-trip to the LA Gun Club this week to shoot semi-auto AK-47s and AR-15s was definitely a blast (pun intended).

All your patents are belong to us!

Google and Motorola MobilityContinuing the massive arms buildup of patent portfolios being waged among all the smartphone makers (with the exception of RIM, which seems content to take the role of Switzerland in this war), Google has assimilated Motorola. In addition to super-sizing Google's intellectual property assets in the mobile space, it also places Google in the role of a direct competitor to the other Android licensees. Until now, Google produced what were essentially engineering development platforms, but no real consumer products. Now that Google owns the DROID (the Motorola version), they're suddenly in the position of having a strong pre-existing consumer channel.

On one hand, the acquisition makes a lot of sense. Motorola is a pioneer in the mobile space, and the purchase gives Google a lot of ammo to fend off the increasing spate of patent lawsuits being lobbed its way. On the other hand, Google is now trying to sell the Android operating system to companies that it will be selling against. While it's great to talk about how Android will remain open, the reality is that once Google is fighting for market share with companies like HTC, you have to believe the relationship will become strained at best.

Will a Kzinti invasion be next?

In another case of fiction predicting reality, the last few weeks have been host to a series of social-media-organized protests, which at least in England quickly transformed into riots. Philadelphia and Cleveland fell victim to less widespread but still serious incidents of violence, and San Francisco shut down cell phone service in one BART station after word of a planned protest emerged.

None of this should be surprising to aficionados of classic science fiction, who will recognize the flash mobs now appearing as an eerie echo of the flash crowds described by author Larry Niven in his "Known Space" series. Niven used cheap teleportation as the mechanism that brought large groups of people together at the site of interesting events, but social media is proving to have an equally powerful, if more localized, affect.

Niven also predicted that the presence of a crowd would attract people whose only reason to be there is to take advantage of the chaos to loot and cause mayhem. The big question now is, how much restriction will we accept in this new medium to prevent future occurrences? We are already seeing draconian censorship and invasion of privacy as a result of the battles against child pornography and music piracy, will this be the next battlefront?

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Pimp my language

While it seems there's a new emerging language every week, lots of developers are still being productive members of society with the old programming warhorses. But that doesn't mean a language can't get an "Extreme Makeover: ISO Editor"! Case in point, C++ moved into the new decade with the acceptance of the C++ 11 specification.

The new standard brings O-O concepts such as lambda functions and improved type coercion into the language, and it should make the lives of developers still maintaining existing C++ code much more bearable in the future. One must wonder which old-school language will be the next to get a fresh coat of paint. As the old joke goes, if they ever add O-O to COBOL, they'll have to call it add one to COBOL.

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March 31 2011

Why Motorola may move beyond Android

An Information Week article claiming Motorola is developing its own web-based mobile OS sparked widespread speculation this week that the handset maker could be moving away from using Google's Android for future smartphones.

Based on an unnamed source familiar with the project and citing a rash of recent hires of ex-Apple and Google OS engineers, InfoWeek reported that Motorola may be developing its own OS because of concerns about Oracle's patent claims against Google.

Although it would seem to be late to get into this game with the popularity of iOS and Android, it's easy to see why Motorola would want its own OS. Beyond patent concerns, depending on a third party for a core part of your product is always risky. With most other smartphone vendors jumping on the Android bandwagon, it could also become harder for Motorola to differentiate its products. And let's not forget the fragmentation issues around Android, which will likely be a pain point for all Android-based handset makers.

Motorola responded to the reports with a terse and not terribly convincing denial. From PCMag:

When asked to comment on the accuracy of the InformationWeek report, Kira Golin, a spokeswoman for Motorola Mobility, issued what has come to be known as a "non-denial denial." "Motorola Mobility is committed to Android," she said. "That's our statement, and I can't control how you interpret or print it."

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Just what exactly is Motorola up to by hiring all those OS engineers? There are several theories floating around. Jared Newman points out that Motorola already has a basic web-based OS in its Webtop "application" for its Atrix line of docking devices, and Motorola has indicated that it plans to expand the use of Webtop to other smartphones. Keir Thomas of PC World wonders if the new hires may be working on an English-language version of Wophone, a Linux-based smartphone OS that's already been released in China with support from Motorola. Then there's Azingo, another Linux-based mobile OS that Motorola acquired last year.


There's also speculation that the "web-based OS" noted in the InfoWeek report could refer to a completely cloud-based system where not just the apps are online, but all of a user's data resides in the cloud.

We'll have to see if any of those theories prove correct, but it's not surprising that Motorola would be hedging its bets on Android. Last year, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha clearly summed up the situation:

Owning your OS is important; provided you have an ecosystem, you have all the services and you have an ability and the scale to execute on keeping that OS at the leading edge.

Motorola isn't the only one hedging here. In addition to Android devices, HTC actively supports Windows Phone 7 and Samsung has launched its own Bada mobile OS. It's unlikely that Motorola is planning a wholesale move away from Android anytime soon, but like other smartphone vendors, they likely don't want all of their OS eggs in one basket.



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