• Linux and Patents: Just Patently Wrong

    So I read the news Novell and Red Hat are being sued for patent infringement. This is all about multiple workspaces that can hold various graphical user elements, a Xerox Parc patent which dates to the early 1990’s. Xerox Palo Alto Research center invented the graphical user interface in the 1980’s, only to been, licensed and used by Steve Jobs in Mac OS Classic. Now IP Innovation, a submarine patent troll, who make no products and bought the patent want their payday. The logical step is to go after the biggest infringer to set a precedent for your patent, and then make your way to all the smaller companies who infringe. Well logically of course that would be Apple or Microsoft. Apple has already paid them a reported 20 million dollars, and well no-one knows what Microsoft has done, but this fish is smelly. From the Register Article:

    The complaint, available here as a pdf, says “the Red Hat Linux system, the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop and the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Server all breach held patents. The companies seek increased damages for the willful infringements of their patents and an injunction to prevent further infringements”.

  • Planning the Computer Build

    Planning to build a computer can be fun also. Researching parts, making sure they work well together (if they are on Manufacturers QVL). Making a list of all the parts you need is the beginning of the purchasing, assembly and then seeing your machine in action! Lots of guides online help with the planning stage; but nearly all are advice and tips. How do you know which is biased? Are the benchmarks relevant to what you are building your machine for? Probably not most of the time. If you’re not a hardcore gamer like myself, your machine can mid-range and cheaper than a pre-built solution, saving you money. I am using my machine as a long term investment: I plan to have it long into the future and just replace components. I think that could save me at least €3000 over ten years (two €1,500 machines every 5 years, not beyond possibility) if not more. I can also re-use perfectly good parts when my other machines have departed to that big waste recycling plant in the sky.

  • Computer Systems - Dismantling PC's is fun!

    I found a new pastime: dismantling pc’s. It my not sound like great fun, but its a challenge to do it right and make sure you don’t break your pc at the end of it all. Nothing feels of so much relief when you see the BIOS boot up again after ripping everything you can out and cramming it all back in. It stands to you in developing problem solving skills, which of course employers love. It is so much more visual than any theory, plus it is what the majority of people like: physical objects like Lego going together. I am writing this on a computer I stripped everything out of at the moment: a Dell 3100c, a Celeron D machine I bought in August of last year. Today I dismantled a very old Optiplex PIII, and the difference between the machines is marked, even though there are only a few years between them. I have included some photos below to show the inside internals:

    Here is My Dell 3100c Internals:

    Here is the shell of a computer I am building:

  • Apple - Play Nice....

    Is the much beloved Apple the new Microsoft? First there was IBM, the big all crushing corporate machine that was humbled by the next big giant in the form of Microsoft, so it seems Apple’s turn is long overdue. The next few weeks are crucial to this crossroads in which Apple finds itself: It owes a HUGE amount to the BSD (an open source Unix clone) which is the foundation for not just OS X, but the iPhone and now the iPod Touch. Basically without the kernel that runs these fantastic devices, Apple would still be up shit creek without a paddle. Granted the iPod would have been a huge success probably still, but OS X’s core is the foundation for the real money making Apple will do over the next few years, a point that is not lost on Mr. Jobs as the company intelligently markets different segments to different markets of which I have first hand experience of: Go to the Apple site for education and they extol the brilliance of a Macbook and make they deal sweeter by throwing in an iPod Nano. But if you go to a link I was provided in a college advert; they bring to a page pointing out key areas a mac can make a difference. I picked Computer Science naturally, and the site extolled the virtues of Open Source, a Unix base and programming tools like Xcode.

    So whats the big deal? Well the fact the new iPods are locked solid with a new encrypted hash, meaning nothing besides iTunes will work with the new iPods. The iPhone also gets similar treatment, no third party development is allowed: no only Apple Applications are allowed. This stinks to high heavens of monopolistic behavior akin to Microsoft or IBM of old. Not to mention gouging both networks and customers with the iPhone. Apple may not yet be important enough to endure the wrath of the European Union Antitrust bodies or the US Department of Justice; but they are certainly on a slippery slope as the popularity of their products and lock in seem to increase day by day. Interestingly enough Apple may be also feeling the heat of Linux, with the much-famed poster child of the free software revolution now making it into Apple’s marketing material; meaning Apple sees Linux as a future threat. After taking so much from Open Source, including the GNU Tool chain, the BSD Kernel, the Samba Networking protocols to interact with Windows (to name a few) Apple should be a good free software citizen and not aggravate core customers like myself of which Open source is a key factor in OS X.

  • Comp Sci - An Interview with Stanford's Undegraduate Professor

    This is the guy who runs Stanford University Undergraduate programme. He talks about the future of computer science:

    • Computer Science will evolve more than most other subjects as it expands into other areas, especially Biology and other areas people don’t normally associate with it
    • Industry ties with Colleges are going to be very important
    • Computer Science with Law is the next big area

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