CyberTech Rambler

June 30, 2010

Blinski Opinion… came out as I had expected

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:42 pm

The internet is full of analysis about the Blinski opinion by the US Supreme Court. It has the potential to rewrite the rules of engagement for the patent world. In the end, it came out as I had predicted: Despite attorneys from both sides trying extremely hard to turn it into a test case for a rewrite of the rules, the justices (rightly) turned them down. In the end, they decided to look only at the merit of this case and decided that an age-old reasoning prevail: Blinski was an abstract idea.

There is one clarification: The  test for deciding whether a patent should be granted is just a guide, a very useful guide, but it still cannot tell you for sure whether something can be patented.

Reading the justices chronicle of the events in this case shows one thing: Everyone in the case, from the Patent Office up to and including the Supreme Court, agrees that the method cannot be patented. The fact that different justifications were used by various judges/examiners in the process shows clearly that nobody, except perhaps the plaintiff, believe the patent should be granted. I think the final result is the correct and just one, i.e., no patent. However, this case throws the whole patenting process into disarray. The only consistent thing in the whole saga is the plaintiff insistence that he should get the patent, and his case for getting a patent. For the opposing party, it looks like they are just scrambling for a reason, any reason to reject the plaintiff’s application.

This is what I learned: No amount of effort can turn a dumb idea into a patent, but it can and will take a long time to establish that.


June 25, 2010

Steve, give every iPhone 4 buyer a free bumper sleeve please!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:31 pm

Dear Mr Job,

You know, and I know, that it is not good enough telling people ‘not to hold the iPhone4 a particular way‘.

The problem qualifies as a serious design flaw, and I am sure you found it out during your usual testing before launching it. I do not think you found that out only after yesterday’s launch, but perhaps you failed to notice the seriousness of the problem until yesterday.

Regardless, my electronic engineering degree tells me that if you put a small distance between one’s hand and the antenna, the situation can be improved dramatically. And guest what? You already have such a device ready. I am not sure what you call it, but people appears to call it the bumper sleeve.

If using the bumper sleeve will improve the reception, I hope you will do  the right thing by your customer by giving them one free. It will cost you pittance, but buy you a lot of good will. Furthermore, you are actually rewarding loyal customers of Apple who queue up for iPhone, something most people, like me, would not bother to.

Best Regards


June 22, 2010

No pressure, no threat needed …

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:14 pm

VAR Guy asked whether Microsoft pressured Dell to change its statement that “Linux is more secure than Windows”. I do not think any threat is needed, just a reminder that Dell might be wandering into territory that it should best avoid in the first place.

Why? While we all know that Linux, MacOSX and other non-Windows computers are more secure than Windows for a variety of reasons, how are we going to prove it? Gut feeling, the fact that you and I don’t have virus problems on those platform year after year just do not count as evidence. Research on the topic? Too easy to pick apart the methodology.

If the statement is challenged in court, Microsoft could have put up 100 research papers to counter the 100 research papers that Dell put up in defense. The poor jury will be so confused at the end of the day so it will be a more on luck than on evidence whichever side wins.

The impact on both companies would have been bad. The distraction is not something both needs. Without the cash reserve as big as Microsoft, and the fact that it is in a more competitive market than ever (witness Dell’s steady drop from no 1 vendor to the world) Dell is in a more vulnerable position.

Therefore, it is smart for Dell to change the wording. It should concentrate on its core competence, i.e., selling computers, not lawsuit. After all, it has a viable business model, unlike SCO.

June 16, 2010

Main Stay of SCO lawsuits are over, and some advice to PJ on being emotional

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 8:27 pm

PJ of Groklaw carried the news that Judge Stewart rules for Novell. Good news for Linux. However, as she said, and as SCO’s history indicates, it might not be still the end of it.

I think it will go to appeal. There is no downside for SCO, especially since according to PJ, their contract with their lawyers say that they do not have to pay the lawyer bill for it. If I were SCO’s bankruptcy trustee, I will pursue it since there is no significant cost to me. Furthermore, it means I can hold out longer for a buy out, and may be the people I sue will buy me now as I am going for rock-bottom price. Please do not blame him. It is his job to think of the best way to save SCO. If I were the trustee, a sale is much better than winding a company down.

One thing I find funny is PJ’s emotional ride during the trials. She went as far as wondering what Judge Stewart were thinking when he ruled for SCO. In fact, if I remember correctly, she was saying the judge “did not get it”.  Now she is celebrating the fact that the judge ‘gets it’. What a transformation!

It is true that Judge Stewart appears to be leaning over backward for SCO during the trial. I think it has to do with his duty as a judge. At that point in time his job is to arbitrate both side’s demand, not to let his own opinion on the subject matter colour his duty as an impartial referee. It was his job to allow both parties to present their case and not to make a judgment on the merit of their argument. After the trial, as he is asked to pass judgment on remaining issue, he is now able to tell us what his opinion on  the matter is.

While I expects layman like me to not understand the judge’s role, a paralegal like PJ should understand it. That made it a surprise for me to see PJ complaining about the judge. I understand she had a lot of emotion invested in the trial, but I think she should try not to let her emotion overwhelm her.

June 7, 2010

I don’t know why I don’t find it scary when warships can be “dead in the water” while waiting for software reboot

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 4:27 pm

You got to hand it to TheRegisteer claiming that UK put warships to sea “unarmed”.

Just in case you are wondering, it is not unarmed but “under-armed”.

That reminded me about the documentary on Channel 4 about the building/launching/commissioning of HMS Daring a few weeks ago. As a PhD holder, I am one of those eternal skeptics that would not be wowed by PR talks such as “most technologically advanced warship in the world” and “Mission Accomplished” claim or “British built” Sampson radar. I did find one thing strange and another surprising (but not scary.

The strange one is the footage of it firing a missile which then intercepts and destroy another “missile”. It did not look real even after considering that the clip has to be taken by multiple cameras. I also note that the footage on the warfare management room is different from the BBC supposed footage of it when Daring was first launched. In the BBC footage, although the computers are on workbenches,  we see computer monitors on standard desktop and not secure to anything. They cannot be! The first wave will send them crashing to the ground. Furthermore, there are simply too much empty space. In the C4 documentary the computers were secure to frames and looks more like a weapon/radar station and that confirm to me that you cannot trust what you see. I just left it at it. TheRegister’s article confirmed to me that the missile footage is fake.

The second one, which initially did not scare me, was the fact that during the start of the “first-ever” war games, the ship’s computer developed a serious fault and everything, radars and weapon controls go down with it. First thought was that was not a good advert for “Windows for Warship“. [The clip helpfully reminded viewer that it is window by showing a window error message screen] but deep down, I don’t think it matters whether is it Windows or Unix. Second, I am surprised I did not find it scary or unusual that a sophisticated warship can be “crippled” by a computer fault. Looking at a whole room full of sailors finding themselves having nothing to do due to a computer fault is priceless television. The fact that they are not surprised spoke volume to me. I mean you can get one or two sailors (and the captain of the ship) to pretend everything is normal in front of the camera, but you cannot do it with the whole room.  For some reasons unknown to me I don’t find that surprising at all. On second thought, that should scare me coz it shows how flimsy military techology is. Even the Royal Navy, with the money they can pour in to a major project, cannot get away from a warship that can become significant crippled from a single computer fault. I said significantly crippled instead of dead-in-the-water because I am pretty sure that it is an exaggeration when it says all radars and weapons control are down (like the claim that the Sampson radar is “British technology”).

Well, lets sit back and see what other problems the class of warship has. It will be an interesting study of military technology for an outsider like me.

June 1, 2010

Hardware without Software is not tax-deductable

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:23 am

The news on the web is that Czech Ministry of Finance is proposing that if you buy computer without software, then your purchase cost is not tax-deductable.

The author says this step is obviously urged on by Business Software Alliance to push for pay-for software. Me? I am wondering whether the ministry is looking at trying to boast tax-revenue in the recession.

We know this is yet another misguided attempt to reduce piracy, if this is the ultimate aim. Moreover, finance ministry has nothing to do with piracy, as that is the domain of the department dealing with commerce. It should not had dipped its toe in.

There is a possible silver-lining: To get around it, one simply has to install Linux on the hardware. Knowing that the ministry would be quite vigilant on preventing fraud, we can expect that there is no ‘mickey mouse’ job, i.e., partial installation that don’t work. This will be a boast for Linux as it makes people aware of alternatives available. As for piracy? People will always run pirated software. No amount of tax penalty will change this. That will only encourage people to find ways to circumvent it.


Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 10:59 am

The news on the net is Google is ditching Windows, citing security concerns.

More precisely, its employees are no longer offered the options of using Windows by default. It is rumored that to get a Window desktop requires approval from “someone quite senior” [What they have left is MacOSX and Linux. Most of us would envy them having MacOSX as a choice, but that’s another story]

Does it means Windows will disappear from Google’s employee desktops? Yes if you are admin/HR or other normal business function staffs who mostly don’t care which operating system you use; No if you are a developer for Google. The majority of Google’s software is used by users with Windows operating system,IE is most prominent browser on the planet, and finally, Google has offering that has to be targeted at Windows, Chrome Browser for example. Therefore, it is easy to built a case to get a Windows desktop if you are a developer.

This does means the number of deployed Windows systems on Google decreased significantly. One cannot say it is a cost-saving measure because a cheaper lower spec Windows system will do the job just as well as the cheapest available MacOSX system for it.

Google did it for security reasons? At least this is the cited reason. I do not buy it. The next major bleach of security for Google is now more likely to come from Linux or MacOSX, now that Windows system are not so prevalent in Googlesphere. When that happen then what will Google do? Ditch another next operating system that is at fault? Since there is a finite and small numbers of operating systems to choose, is it going to reinstate Windows?

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