CyberTech Rambler

January 29, 2010

Microsoft Courier Tablet is what we want, not iPad

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:58 pm

Too much news overload on iPad, BBC and CNN thinks it is worth a “breaking news alert”, even The Economist magazine thinks it is worth two articles. To me, it is a disappointment as it is not a full computer. A lot of technology commentator got it right, it is a oversize iPod Touch.

However, if Gizmodo’s reporting is true, Microsoft Courier will be the one tablet I want (See the video). It got several things right: The UI is intuitive enough, it is a good electronic organizer, much more than a glorified book reader or portable TV or a gaming platform.

If Microsoft ‘leaks’ this to sound out interest, it got it. Now let’s see whether they can deliver.


January 25, 2010

Let the trials begin…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 6:39 pm

I had been waiting for this for a long time: London Stock Exchange is finally beginning its transition to Linux.

We know Linux works very well on super computers, and I am sure a lot of high-powered computers in finance that has similar characteristics to LSE’s system are on Linux. However, I still view this as a big  test for Linux, because of the volume handled and the importance on the timeliness and fairness of distributing share information.

Critics of Windows Platform will now have a chance to prove their case, that Linux is more suitable for LSE than the .NET platform LSE was using. It will take a few years.

As for whether the migration prove that moving away from Windows to Linux is possible, I do not think it is a big news. For highly managed systems like LSE’s, it has always been possible.

Interestingly, this is one big chance for Sri Lanka to shows its computing prowess, since the system is developed in Sri Lanka.

Good luck to everyone involved.

January 23, 2010

Describing your critics incorrectly diminishes a valid concern

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 4:01 pm

In an article, Gene Quinn on IPWatchDog argues that a yet-to-be decided patent application filed before Blinski’s decision should be judged on the old standard, instead of the new. He does have a point, which I will discuss later. But first, I find it really unfortunate that Quinn decided on the beginning of the article to attack his  critics in a way that is fundamentally wrong. Yes, in our anti-software patent camp we have zealots, plenty of them. However, most of us are reasonable people.

A large number of us, like Quinn, earn a living because of IP protection provided to us by law. To say we are anti-software patent because we want to copy what others had spend time and effort to develop it is wrong. It completely ignores that copying is a double-edged sword. Turn the table around and we will find people copying our stuff, something we spend our whole day creating.

Most of us do not claim to be law experts. To categorize all of us as such is plainly wrong. What is fair is to say that we have a different view on software patent as a result of coming from another direction. Our view is that it has gone berserk and needed to be brought back to reflect reality and its fundamental purpose: promote the interest of society by balancing the needs of inventors and public good.

He is a law expert. I only claim to have a cursory understanding on the law, and less on how the mechanics of the law actually works. However, he does pose an interesting question, i.e., how to judge pending applications, filed on good faith before the Blinski decision.

The truth? I have no answer to that. I strongly believe that if a criminal committed an offense the law at the time the offense is committed is the one to apply to his case, regardless of the changes to the law he is charged with. In PhD examinations for example, examiners have to judge whether the work had “contributed to knowledge” and the yardstick is the state-of-the-art at the time the work commences. Normally it meant casting our mind back three years which is relatively easy. Sometimes, it is not, as the work was performed more than 8 years ago.

In this case, there is a very strong and good reason to judge the application using the standard of the time. However, if we look the practical implication, then the case to do so will start to wobble. If, should an infringement case be brought, the patent in question is going to be judged by the Blinski standard, then evaluating the patent based on the old standard does not sound right. Moreover, this will create a situation where by a normal curse of patent suite, i.e., one party choose to settle instead of fighting because it is cheaper, is fundamentally not supported by the current law structure. It would be grossly unfair to the party in question.

As I said, I do not have an answer to Quinn’s question. What I will say is the Patent Office are used to this type of situations and will know how to handle it. For example, just after  software patents were allowed, we have cases where the pending patents would had been rejected if we evaluate it using the standard on the day it was filed. The same argument forwarded by Quinn, i.e., inventors cannot modify the patent information to suit the new reality, applies here as well. My believe is whatever convention used to manage that should be imported for use this time. Moreover,  good cases, those that in everyone’s view will qualify for IP protection because it satisfy the principle for which the protection is designed for, *will* survive this change in law in particular, and whatever changes in law that comes.

Going back to the case of the example of the criminal, we sometime see new thinking in laws change the fate of the criminals : Death sentences are normally commuted once an anti-death sentence law is passed. In the not so distant past, inmates’ execution dates are postponed as doubts are raised on the method of carrying out the sentence are resolved.

I take solemn in the fact that while I am not versed at all in the mechanics of the law, those in the known and who has to work it will come out with a compromise that upheld the spirit and the letter of the law.

January 21, 2010

Conduct unbecoming an officer

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:29 pm

Unless TechRadar’s Patrick Goss report is false (which, for something of this magnitude, is unlikely),  Microsoft’s UK Security Chief has just committed an offense known as “Conduct unbecoming an officer“.

Why? I understand that he is not happy with the publicity the IE flaw is getting. I would if I was in his shoe. It is not easy when someone criticize your work. But it is always important to behave professionally. It is perfectly fine for him to say that “Switching to other browsers is not the solution because they have flaws of their own”. But to let Goss quote him as saying “The net effect of switching [from IE] is that you will end up on less secure browser{}” ({} mine, as I had omitted a comma here in the original article) is way over the top, unprofessional and I do not expect it coming from someone of his stature.

January 20, 2010

Do not take advice at face value

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:21 pm

France and Germany warned their nationals not to use Internet Explorer for the time being until Microsoft fix a security hole. It appears people do listen to those advice, as TheRegister reports that download of alternative browsers has spiked upwards.

It is wise, if you are using IE exclusively, to download another browser and have it as a backup. The same applies whether you are using Safari, Firefox or Opera or any browser for that matter. Today, IE has a serious problem, tomorrow? May be Firefox, may be Safari, or any other browsers.

While I leave it to the respective government to decide whether a warning against any browser is warranted, I believe the current advisories missed an opportunity to tell users to have more than one browser at hand and be prepare to switch between browsers when necessary.

January 19, 2010

Google showing its “false” teeth

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:45 pm

Yes… Google has teeth, but no bite. In fact it is so bad, I call it false teeth.

First ,we have news from PCWorld that Gmail of Foreign Journalist hacked, and let’s assume it is by the Chinese state. The last fact alone is not given, as I can see plenty of reason why other countries want to do this. From Google’s point of view: Either they know this story is coming out, therefore PR manage it by putting out the news that it “might” pull out of China first, or it is giving this information out to support their “possible” decision to pull out and help nudge China towards a compromise. As for the reputation of Gmail? I do not think it will matter much. We all know Gmail, and any other online mail providers, are subjected to hacking day in and day out. For the journalists and media groups? It is interesting that they decided to use Gmail instead of running their own mail infrastructure. I am not sure whether to say it is right or wrong to use Gmail because I am not sure which is better: Having Gmail’s team constant vigilant on your mail account but painting a bigger target on oneself, or painting a smaller target but not the vigilant that Gmail can provide by running the mail infrastructure oneself.

Second: The hilarious one now. BBC is reporting that Google is delaying the launch of two mobile phones in China. Yes, that’s right. The world in general, China is particular, had been crying out for not one, but two, Google phones. Of course we know the reason: China may not listen to Google, a foreign company, but may be the most affected partner, China Unicom, has more clout in changing China’s mind. However, for joe consumer? Big deal.

January 13, 2010

Calling Google’s bluff : It will stay in China

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:23 pm

Google abandoning China? I do not think so, so I am calling the bluff.

Even with companies as influential as Google, building market share take years. Although Google’s share of the market is not as big as other country, it is still not insignificant for the company to abandon in the hope of rebuilding it later.

As for the implication for the Chinese: They haven’t been flocking to Google as we do. Chinese Government? They know they hold better cards than Google.

Of course, this is also Bing’s wet dream.

January 8, 2010

Nexus One or Nemisis One?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 5:05 pm

Box-standard, uninspiring. That is all I can say about Nexus One from Google.

Beating iPhone? Forget it.

And … That is not the end of the bad news.

Google is in a unique position, it is now manufacturing hardware besides paddling software. Being in this position is give Google good choices: It can either come out with an amazing slick phone, or it can use it to showcase Andriod. But what did Google choose to do? Neither.

Worse. Being a hardware manufacturer now means partners company selling phones with Andriod on is going to look on Google warily. Is it going to twick Android for Google benefit but to our disadvantage? This increases the possibility that Android is going down the way Symbian did, without acheiving what Symbian did for smartphone.

What I think about the Microsoft’s Tablet Prototype

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 4:57 pm

The news is that Microsoft Steve Ballmer is unveiling prototypes of Tablet computer manufactured by their partners. Of course, on everyone’s mind is whether this is Microsoft’s answer to a possible Tablet Computer by Apple in MacWorld 2010.

The tablet computer was kinda an eye opener for me:

First. The good news: Microsoft’s manufacturing partners can come out with eye-pleasing devices. Contrast this with Nexus One from Google which looks like a box-standard mobile phone. The HP’s iPhone like one is particularly good looking. Well done to the Microsoft’s manufacturing partner.

Now, the bad news: First, it is no different from Tablet computer you get today or tomorrow.

Sure,  the HP model on show looks good, but it is only eye-candy. The other, less prominent prototypes do not stand out.

In fact,  I do not believe it can drive aspiration or contemplation for the devices. It is not going to generate the same buzz as iPhone when it was launched. The Tablet thing just looks like Microsoft hashing existing offering. Recycling yesterday’s news as new. In fact, I went as far as reading the whole event as Microsoft shouting on top of its lung that “I have a plan for Tablet computer too!!”

Second bad news: The way Ballmer described it, it looks like just a standard laptop without the keyboard. I am wondering what actually differentiate it from existing laptops where you can swivel around the touch screen and use it as a tablet?

You have to buy all the software again. Good for Microsoft’ bottom line. However, from a consumer point of view it is just another form factor for laptop.

Third bad news: Perhaps I am naive, as I was expecting it to be usable right out of the box, i.e., I don’t have to buy Microsoft Office and all my other favoured apps all over again.  It did surprised me that it is simply a box-standard computer in different form factor. That is disappointing. I was hoping for killer app or must-have gadgets.

It is still in prototype stage.  The whole presentation looks like a business meeting where one partner shows off to another yet-another-product it has designed, except that this time, they seems to think that you and I are their partners. It is not aspiring at all.  I hope when the time come to launch it. they will come out with reasons on why should I get one of those.

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