Archive for April, 2005

Why There Should Be No Software Patents

24 Apr 2005

Around this time, the European council is bowing itself over the case of the patenting of software and codes. Voting ‘pro’ is not a good thing, because once patenting is legal, it will block access to and the usage of code or algorithms to developers worldwide, and it will stagnate the evolutionary process of software development, for this entire evolution is based on the knowledge and use of previously invented applications, and when those are no longer free to be modified, it will stop improvements and fine-tuning of these applications by other developers than those proper to the company that has ‘originally’ released the wares.

Christian Schaller is the Business Development Manager for GNU/Linux multimedia specialist Fluendo. He serves on the GNOME Foundation board of directors and has posted a three-page argument about this item on OS-News.

“We today face the risk of software patents being approved in the EU because not enough parliamentary members will be showing up to vote. Due to this it is important for those of us who oppose software patents to make sure EU parliament members see the damage software patents cause, so they realize it is important to be there to vote providing the needed absolute majority. But sending out a clear message is also important for the process of patent reform in the US and other places who have fallen into the trap of introducing them.”

What is the goal of the patent system?

“The original idea of the patent system was to stimulate innovation and research by awarding innovators and researchers with a time limited monopoly on their ideas in return for them disclosing those ideas to the public. The feared alternative was for this knowledge and innovation to be kept secret as trade secrets by the people and companies making them, and these great ideas then never reaching the general public to be built upon by others and through that generating even more wealth for society than otherwise would be the case. The original idea was in other words not as much to protect ideas from being used by others, but to encourage the publication of the ideas so they could be used by others. I doubt anyone with inside knowledge of the industry can say that goal is achieved by the software patent regime in the US today.”

You want to steal my great idea !

“A very typical argument you get when arguing for the dissolution of patents is that you want to prohibit the people who come up with good ideas and do research from cashing in on their ideas and research. Many outright accuse you of wanting to be able to steal other people’s good ideas. Such arguments can be hard to counter if you are taken unaware. One natural response I see many people come up with is trying to explain how all ideas build upon earlier ideas and that no idea is truly original and as such nobody is stealing nobody else’s idea. I know I have fallen into that trap myself at times. The problem with this line of reasoning is that its too abstract so unless you are discussing with a true intellectual it will fall on deaf ears and the admission that they are standing on the shoulders of giants come hard to many.”

“The counter argument need to instead be that, yes of course we should help inventors to earn money on their inventions, but in the case of software, patents doesn’t do that. Making software today is complex and a program is using a multitude functions and algorithms to be able to do what it does. If you do come up with a really good idea while making your software, which you can patent, you will not really be able to cash in on it, as your established and bigger competitors will have patented so many of the other things your program needs to do that you can’t really use the patent against them to get ahead anyway. You can of course cross license with your competitors, but then the patents just mean forcing businesses to spend more money on legal fees and bureaucracy, which is not exactly the perfect crib for the generation of new ideas.”

Click here to go to OS-News and read the entire argument.

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Hey Google ! Where’s My Doodle ?

23 Apr 2005

There is no gentle way to say this, and we still have to wait for the moral damage reports to come in, but to my great stunned amazement, apparently Google has forgotten about UNESCO’s ‘world book and copyright day’. A very important day to everyone who reads and writes. Bulletins speak of self-help groups being formed, and therapists are fully booked for the next week to help collectors in coping with this tragedy.

“23 April: a symbolic date for world literature for on this date and in the same year of 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo. It was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity. The idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia where on 23 April, Saint George’s Day, a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold. The success of the World Book and Copyright Day will depend primarily on the support received from all parties concerned (authors, publishers, teachers, librarians, public and private institutions, humanitarian NGOs and the mass media), who have been mobilized in each country by UNESCO National Commissions, UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations, Associated Schools and Libraries, and by all those who feel motivated to work together in this world celebration of books and authors.”

“By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.”

So states the UNESCO site. Click here to go there.

As for Google, well I had time enough to make a doodle myself, so that somewhere on the net someone would represent Google in an appropriate manner on this important day. It’s not official, and I don’t
claim it to be, but here’s my try:

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Internet During International Train Rides

23 Apr 2005

My daily free news tabloid, which I tend to read during the twenty minute ride to school (by train), reported on a rather unique project the Thalys company has launched. Thalys ensures the international connections between The Netherlands, France and Germany and uses high speed trains for the transportation of their customers. Thalys is currently trying out an internet project, in which they offer a wireless connection to all passengers on the train who want to surf or check mail.

First: Back in time to October, 2004 :


A. Considering that approximately 700.000 passengers are using the train on a daily basis for at least one hour;

B. Considering a number of foreign projects with wireless internet on public transportation are already far ahead;

C. Considering Belgium owns a very dense cable network along the railroad tracks;

D. Considering WiMAX to be an achievable solution on short term with a long term gain or profit.

E. (…)

H. Considering that the porposal of wireless internet can become an extra service that can make the train more attractive to a new segment of travellers and a become a competititve advantage for the Belgian Railway Federation for a future market that is open and free. (…)

This resolution was proposed on october 20th by Stefaan Noreilde, VLD
(from the Flemisch Liberal Democrats)

FreeMetro reported on Friday, April 22nd :

Travellers of Thalys on Wireless – Thalys has started a test case in which they provide wireless internet access to the users of their train connections. If clients buy a ticket, they also receive a login and a password, which allows them to log in onto the internet. How much it costs to connect yourself whilst moving at 200 mph is not known.
The pilot project remains a test case for three months. Provided that it’d be successful, this technology will become implemented on the Brussels-Paris international connection. (Original article in Dutch)

Talking about fast internet connections at high speed :)
By the way, seems our political system is often working quite fast too.

Click here to know more about the Thalys project 

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Two Funny Ones That Came By Mail

21 Apr 2005

When it comes to fun and humour, I’m always in for a laugh. Luckily, so are a lot of my friends. I’ve received some nice footage today, of which the origin is very traceable. So I went to the site that spawned the images, because the least you can do before posting something, is to check the origin of the stuff you’re about to post.
Must say there’s a lot of tasteless jokes on the consumption junction site. But we’re not here to discuss taste. Here’s some goodies :



Source : CJ - NSFW !

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Panasonic Folds For U.S. Market

21 Apr 2005

Panasonic is no longer playing the U.S. cellphone market, and stops selling its handsets to the customers because it can’t find a carrier who wants to join them in a partnership. Sad news, because a lot of technical goodies have been produced by Panasonic already, and the near-future releases are very promising too.

EnGadget goes a little deeper on this story.

“(…) for better or for worse, you can’t sell a significant number of phones in this country unless you’ve got a partnership with a major carrier (they’re the real customers, not us). Panasonic used to have a little something going on with AT&T Wireless, but the merger with Cingular left them out in the cold, with the new mega-carrier opting not to continue buying handsets from them.”

The sad thing is: even though you are a worldwide known and respected brand with millions of satisfied customers, if you can’t make a deal with a local reseller, you don’t have access to the local market that reseller is playing. That puts a giant like Panasonic in very tight shoes, and makes the local resellers very powerful negotiators during business deals.

I must say I think it’s a bit dangerous that a big company with such a solid structure and highly estimated trade value can so easily be outplayed and be forced to leave a market for what it is, to go and pursue business elsewhere. It says a lot about the current economic atmosphere, and the vulnerability of it.

Click here to read the full article on EnGadget.

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When A Market Is Virtual

21 Apr 2005

Multiplayer gamers can soon join Sony’s auction site. Sony plans to launch a marketplace where fans can buy, sell or trade the right to use specific characters, items and online funds that they have earned playing the video game.

“Until now, Sony has been among the most aggressive game makers in restricting sales of such articles, even insisting that all material related to its EverQuest series belongs to the company. For instance, Sony has blocked numerous EverQuest-related auctions on eBay and Yahoo and convinced both of those sites to ban sales of such items. Sony has also sued other sites specializing in the barter of the online commodities.”

C|Net also reports that, according to Sony:

“Sony is creating Station Exchange to discourage underground trading of game articles and to protect its customers from fraud. As the trade of game-related items has increased, so have the reported number of incidents of people ripped off in misleading or illegitimate transactions”

Why would gamers be interested in selling/trading or buying goods they can only virtually possess? I’ve reported about virtual and real life activity crossing before (dot-life-where-the-watcher-steps-in) and this fact adds up to my estimated predictions. I’m not the only one who believes in the future of the web. But if there are any signs or indications that the web is evolving into a cyber-trade land, then this is one of them.

I see a rather new character appearing in our society, namely the professional game-trader, who is always scouting the web for his customers, looking for the little dwarf you can only unlock after finishing the seventh level. The nerd who sacrificed his time to unlock the dwarf gets rewarded with hard cash in exchange for the virtual character. So there must also be ‘professional’ gamers who try to unlock every item, to sell it later on through an auction site as a reward for sweat and tears.

“The unsanctioned secondary market for online games is rapidly growing, and more and more of our players are taking part in it,” John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, said in a statement. “Not only are we answering the demands of a sizable portion of our subscriber base, but we are also set on establishing the standard for online game sales.”

So Sony wants to take a leading position, right after entering the market. A very nice target to set. Will there be any revenue from this auction site? Any normal person would think so, but Sony did not reveal if it had those intentions. According to C|Net, Sony’s unofficial estimate of the current market for underground game item begins at $100 million a year. About 20 percent of those sales would be generated from items related to games Sony carries in its own portfolio.

The project kicks off at Sony’s Secure Station Exchange Auction Site and for now only the EverQuest II players can exchange their items. If this testcase works and proves to be efficient and just, no doubt it’ll indeed become the standard for online in-game trading.

How this thing actually works? Sony states (on the Station Exchange): “Station Exchange offers secure transactions and prevents the parties from reneging on the deal. When a character is listed, it is effectively removed from the game world. When the auction closes, the character is added to the successful winner’s EverQuest II character roster – so it cannot be taken back.”

Click here to read it all on C|Net.

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About The BeachFrequency

19 Apr 2005

Thank you everyone who made it, it was great ! I’ve had a wonderful time and I’m happy you all were there to share the moment ! :) To the ones from France and Brussels, and from other places : I’ll be there when it’s your turn to be celebrated, you can count on it !

Thanks to La Rocca for making it all possible, for the VIP treatment, the free champagne the super service ! Fred, you’re the best waiter I’ve ever had. My glass was never empty, and I have you to thank for it. This is the coolest club in my country. No doubt and unique.

… it’s true what they say : Real friends give booze to each other.




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MeMoRi’s Forgotten White Paper

19 Apr 2005

I overlooked an important link I wanted to share with you all about the importance of weblogs for PR and corporate communication. It’s been posted a while ago by Tom De Bruyne on MeMoRi, the research and development center linked to my school.

“A newly published white paper on blogs from Edelman, an independent public relations firm, and Intelliseek, a marketing intelligence firm and provider of a leading blog portal, explores the importance of the blogging phenomenon for public relations and marketers and provides a directory of influential bloggers, segmented by industry.”

“We’ve entered the era of mass personalization where people expect far greater participation in their favorite brands and companies. For companies, bloggers represent an immediate source of information and feedback, but also an opportunity to engage a rapidly expanding global network of influential, credible, passionate and involved group of real people who communicate constantly,” said Pam Talbot, President & CEO, Edelman U.S. “The white paper is to help companies better understand how to engage bloggers through authentic dialogue in ways that are appropriate and respectful.”

Sources : MeMoRi and GovTech

Download the paper at Edelman | Read More at Edelman

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