GNC-2011-12-19 #730 Two Massive Contest!

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Google Buys 1,000 IBM Patents to Protect Itself

Google

Google

Why Would IBM want to sell their patents? And to Google, nonetheless?

Think of it this way – You’re at a garage sale and you see a box of comic books (or records if you are not a comic nut). You buy the box for $20, hoping there is a valuable comic (record) in there. You pull out the important ones and what is left is a box of comics you don’t care about.

IBM has been gobbling up different companies throughout the years and some of the patents are like the odd comic books. Nortel is a great example – IBM had over 6,000 patents that they didn’t need. Therefore in May, they decided to auction off those patents that didn’t pertain to them. Google didn’t win that bidding war.

But , according to SEO by the Sea, IBM last week did find 1,030 patents that they sold to Google for an undisclosed sum. It was a hodge-podge of patents – from fabrication to database structures. These are patents that could keep Google from going to the courts for their Android devices, new products coming out on the market and other threats to future revenue.

It’s also a case of Google picking out the ones they need, then keeping a couple in the back pocket for future need (whether for selling or future projects). A couple of those patents relate to search methods. It will be interesting how that effects other search engines like rival Bing.

We’ll have to wait and see how Google utilizes these patents.

Create Your Own TV Station

One of the problems with watching video podcasts as an alternative to conventional television is that you have typically and deliberately watch one video at a time. On longer videos it’s not as much of a problem, but with short videos that last 5 minutes or less you have to keep manually restarting the next video after the previous one has finished.

I now have three Mac Minis – one is an old somewhat underpowered Power PC Mac Mini that I’m using as a video podcast aggregator. I have that machine’s iTunes database located on a much larger shared drive that’s available to every machine on my home network. I’m subscribed to a variety of tech podcasts, most of them in the highest resolution file sizes available.

I have two other Mac Minis that are of the latest design. I have an “Eye TV” USB HD tuner connected to one that’s connected to a substantial external antenna. Depending on atmospheric conditions I can receive up to 18 channels counting the various digital sub channels. This enables the Mac Mini to function as a DVR.

The second Intel Mac Mini is in another room and the Eye TV software also loaded on it is able to work from the other Mac Mini’s shared recordings.

Today I discovered by accident when playing around with iTunes on one of the Intel Mac Minis that the shared videos show up in the shared playlists from other iTunes databases. So, in other words, I can pick a shared iTunes list from the Power PC Mac Mini’s shared iTunes and a list of video files shows up. Since the videos are in the list just like audio would be, I am able to start a video file playing and when one file ends it will immediately start playing the next video file on the list. This is particularly useful because I can start videos playing as I do other things and it will continue to play just as if it’s a TV station. This is quite a handy capability to have. The lack of an ability to set up continuous video playback has long been one of the Apple TV’s biggest shortcomings.

Periodically I go to the Power PC Mac Mini and delete the video files that have been played, since iTunes keeps a play count, so I always have fresh material to watch.

 

SPOILER ALERT: Watson Is The New King Of Jeopardy!

If you aren’t in the Eastern time zone or you recorded tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! for later viewing then you may want to stop reading now.  But if you have seen the show or don’t plan to watch it or don’t know what the heck I’m talking about then read on.

Day three, the final day, has just wrapped up and the final score was not particularly close, although round 2 proved to be a bit more exciting.  As for final tallies, Watson racked up $77,147 to Ken Jennings’ $24,000 and Brad Rutter’s $21,600.  However, during tonight’s round 2, Jennings took a brief lead over the IBM supercomputer.

We did learn a few things along the way.  One was that Watson’s algorithm for wagering money is incomprehensible.  It’s bets were always amounts that seemed to make little sense based on it’s total or the totals of its opponents.  Another was that it did not receive information on it’s opponents answers – at one point, after Jennings buzzed in first and gave an incorrect answer, Watson buzzed in and gave the same answer.  We learned that Watson thinks Toronto is a US city.  We even learned that Ken Jennings has a sense of humor.  In round 2, after hitting the daily double, he joked that his two choices were to either “unplug Watson or bet everything”.  During Final Jeopardy of round 2 he wrote his answer as “Bram Stoker (I for one welcome our new computer overlords)”

Watson, made by IBM who also created Deep Blue, is powered by 90 32-core IBM Power 750 Express servers with a total of 16 terabytes of memory and can calculate hundreds algorithms simultaneously.  Or, in short, it was an amazing display of technology and a lot of fun to watch.  This was a Geek’s dream TV show.

Is Google Cursed?

Back in the very early part of the 1990’s, the tech world villain of choice was IBM, and the underdog was Microsoft. As the 1990’s progressed, IBM began to move into the background and Microsoft took over the role as tech villain.

Windows 3.0 was the version that really started making waves in a big way. It was buggy and unreliable, but it offered a glimpse of the potential personal computers presented. Windows 3.0 made it possible to pick from a wide variety of standardized computer hardware parts and put them together and have a working personal computer that could do rudimentary multitasking. Windows succeeded because it worked on an open hardware platform. That same open platform forever cemented The Windows’ Curse.

In 2010 the new tech villain is Google. Smartphones are the new computers of choice. Google Android is the new Windows 3.0 morphing into 3.1, 3.11, and Windows 95.

My fear is that Google Android is doomed to repeat the muddled path of Windows.

Here is why.

My HTC Evo was recently updated to Android 2.2 “Froyo.” All well and good. However, the Android apps I have installed are constantly being updated. Fine – I can see how that would happen. However, I’m noticing that some of them no longer work. Incompatibilities are creeping in. The latest victim of Android upgrade fail is the latest Android version of the Foursquare app, which causes my phone to spontaneously reboot a few seconds after I open the app.

The Windows Curse is in very real danger of becoming The Android Curse.

The open platform is both a blessing and a blight. Open platforms are great so long as they are small. Once they become the majority market leader, their very openness makes them vulnerable to of errors of confusion as well as a giant security target.

It’s probably time for some company to start producing antivirus and antispyware software for Android phones. And it may also be time for some of us to start fleeing for the higher ground of walled garden dictatorships.

Microsoft Gets No Love From IBM

“Firefox is now the gold standard for what an open, secure, and standards-compliant browser should be.”

So says Bob Sutor, vice president of Open Source and Linux at IBM.  The new default browser for half a million IBM employees worldwide is now Firefox.  All newly deployed computers at IBM offices will be set with Firefox as its default browser, and IBM has gone so far as to recommend that home and business customers it deals with use Firefox as well.   They are also encouraging vendors who may be supplying to IBM to be sure their products are Firefox-friendly.

As a Firefox zealot myself (I’m not just a lover of Firefox, I preach its gospel as well), I am happy to see this.  I’ve been using Firefox since almost the beginning, on every Windows or Apple-based machine I have any control over.  I have successfully dissuaded the parents, siblings, children, and spouses of same to leave the Internet Explorer foolishness behind and use Firefox exclusively.  The only time I use Internet Explorer at all is when I’m using our backwards and stodgy business systems at my job, and we are still on IE 7 with no plans to move forward anytime soon. (We were on IE 6 until about four months ago because newer versions are not compatible with our business systems.)

IBM is a huge player, and to make such a public statement says something about both Microsoft, and Firefox.  I am glad to see it, and hope more companies, especially big ones, will make the same move.

McBride still after Linux Payday Despite Firing

So the latest SCO filings quietly stated that the man most linked to the long running SCO litigations, Darl McBride, was no longer with the company.  His role as CEO and president had been eliminated.  One might have thought that this was an indication that the other people in charge at SCO were cooling to the whole thing.  In case you are not aware, SCO is currently in bankruptcy in what is arguably a direct result of the litigious course they have followed.

This is not the case with McBride himself though.  He is still pushing for SCO to aggresively continue to try for a big payday from IBM.  He is using his shareholdings, and the backing of some other shareholders, with the objective of  “…putting together an alternative plan … that will ultimately get SCO its day in court.”  What this actually means is anyones guess at this stage, but McBride has a long history of grandios pronouncements.

It is hard to believe that this is still going on, or that McBride still actually believes that there is any chance that SCO is going to prevail in any way, or even that SCO has any shred of moral high ground in this case.  Having followed this case closely over the years there must be some severe self blinding going on here.  If there was any secret information that needed to come out, the time for it to come out passed 2-3 years ago.

As always, Groklaw has all the best dirt.

GNC-2007-08-31 #298 Abridged Show Notes

I talk about Hawaii Road Runner Turbo RR plus some upcoming thoughts for show 300 and some other milestones I will hit on that show.

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OS X Leopard vs Vista
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RIAA accused of being a Illegal Cartel
MPAA in confirmed dirty pool
The Time is!!

Grid Computing Comes Mainstream

The Globus Consortium, founded by Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, and Sun Microsystems, announced today plans to design and market commercial grid-computing software applications. The consortium will promote technical standards to make grid computing a viable option for businesses. With a quarter million dollar investment from each company, the organization is sufficiently funded to begin operations. Other contributing participants include Nortel Networks, Univa Corp., and private individuals.

[Read more...]

AMD and IBM Create Innovative High-Speed Computer Chip

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and International Business Machines (IBM) announced, today, their joint development of an innovative high-speed computer chip that will boost transistor speed by 24 percent, improving the performance and reducing the power consumption of chips used in many products.

[Read more...]