Friday, March 31, 2006

Back from the land of the Flu Zombies

Sorry I haven't had the chance to update the blog in quite a while. I ended up getting a bad case of the flu and was pretty much out of commission.

Anyways, I'm back with a sad story that really highlights what's wrong with the patent system in America today. Long story short, a company named Eolas received a patent back in 1998 that describes a way that a Web browser can use external applications. They claim that the way Microsoft's Internet Explorer uses plug-ins violates their patent. The courts agree.

Of course, now Eolas wants to receive nice big fat "licensing fees" from cash cow Microsoft so they may continue to use "Eolas's technology." Of course, this "technology" they want to license is nothing more than the actual idea that an external program can be seamless embedded into a web page. It's understandable that Microsoft doesn't want to pay. What they're doing instead is a shame.

Microsoft has realized that as long as the content is not automatically activated, the Eolas patent does not apply. So - they're breaking IE. The latest update to IE will make it such that you have to click on or otherwise select the embedded content for it to activate. Eolas is calling this move "a sham"; and while I hate to agree with them, they're right.

We really need to look at the patent system as it's applied to software and make some hard decisions about what we want to allow to be patentable and what we don't. Besides this case, consider the recent Blackberry scare and the infamous Amazon "One-click Shopping" patent to see how trivial some of this stuff is. Patents are supposed to promote the advancement of science and technology for the greater good. Breaking IE is definitely not that.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Just a thought...

I couldn't decide what to write about today. Should I point out an interesting article on the Net, or some tidbit about my personal life?

Hmm, well, I did find this interesting article thanks to Digg. It's about how "the kids these days" are so much more media-savvy and obsessive multitaskers and the pros and cons of that. (It's on Time's website and you have to watch a 30 sec add to view.)

It sort of parallels what I've been thinking about personally lately. It seems that we have so many more options available to us that are supposed to make our lives richer and easier. In reality, however, we use these things to cram more into lives, making them more hectic. And worse, you somehow feel guilty if you purposely try not to keep up the frantic pace.

What I found to be the most disturbing part of the article was how disconnected the members of the various profiled families were. I therefore decided that tonight I would go home and spend some real quality time with my wife and daughter - building deep and meaningful relationships that will overcome all the distractions of modern life.

Then I remembered that it was Tuesday, which is my night to play multiplayer Halo 2 with my Xbox friends. Well, I have to show up for that. And, well, we have that appointment tomorrow night...

Monday, March 20, 2006

I guess I don't have it so bad...

I thought my wife's memory was a seriously painful steel trap. Not after reading this.


Inspired by Matt's recent spat of activity, I've decided to re-dedicate myself to really try blogging. Also, I want to get better about posting my pics online - and will be considering moving to Flickr. I'll let you all know.