Thursday, February 28, 2008

patention deficit disorder

Just been reading (prompted by last months CACM article) about peer to patent:

seems a fairly sensible movement, but really lacks teeth ...there's some
big company guns behind more large scale US federal changes


and Cisco:

viz...costs keep mounting just to fight the mountains of nonsense...
and there are some recidivists

Kind of old news...but I am catching up....

for me, the key thing is that
a) software patents are silly - we have software copyright, and algorithms are discoveries and should be in the public domain as they are knowledge that underpins many things as in mathematical theorems, whereas the effort lies in turning them into useful computing products and that is supported adequately by copyright for software and patent for hardware
b) all patents should have
i) use it or lose it clauses based on reality check - does someone intend to
do something other than hold other people to ransom with their invention?
ii) lifetimes that reflect the domain of activities typical time to product, service, and profit - for example, in Internet time, this might be about 5 years - in Big Pharma, maybe 10. In vacuum cleaners, perhaps 7.

c) Clearly patent applications need testing properly by motivated experts - one trick would be to tax patent lawsuits (say 10%) and use the tax to allow the patent office to hire patent reviewers (see peer to patent above).

d) intellectual property is not a good - it has some rather different flavour; as with spectrum, and other new aspects of 21st century life, we need the law to move on from simple notions of property and commons to some wider range of notions....

to be continued... ... ...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

squeezy throbbing phone skins - new idea for staying in touch

So phones vibrate - so do game console controllers - but what if they provided a "remote touch" mechanism? how hard could this be?

one end simply senses a few "pressure points" - the other end turns this into
the opposite force - a first cut at such a system would be a phone that you could "squeeze" and the phone at the other end of a call just expands a bit - so if someone has the phone in their hand, it "feels" like the remote person is squeezing their hand.
A more complex system would put the phone in a glove and have full on remote robot glove controller sensor and motors (actually you just need motors - in reverse, they work as sensors so it is really really simple to build) - there's a little bit of concern about feedback and the amount of force so the system would need to be sloppy
but that isnt too hard to design.

I wonder if there's anything out there one could adapt to this right away?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Small Worlds and Flat Earths

Reading Flat Earth News which is much better than yesterday's guardian review would have it, but not perfect - one interesting item was the use of plagiarism detection software to track where news items came from and how many of them were basically direct or close transcriptions of wire feed (AP, Reuters) stories - would be Interesting if Google were to build on this - some stories come from PR, some from real reporters, some from the public - a tool that provided a provenance tree for online information should be something easy to knock up - sort of a backwards in time, patient-zero finder, that allowed you to see if somethign was cooked up by a government Press Officer, a company
publicity dweeb, or had some basis in the real world (or even more than one).

This would also obsolete reportage:_

You could call it "newsrank", since basically it is just souped up pagerank....

feel free to pay me a small royalty for the bad idea

Monday, February 04, 2008

SybillRus - a new idea for anonimity in online social networks

oh, ok, so it aint that new an idea, but I think there is a business case for a company that provides ready-made identities (in large numbers) that look plausible, have existing interest, group membership, friendship groups etc, and slot in to facebook or myspace or any of the other social networking environments (cyberspace, we used to call it:) - recently I noticed from some friends that their facebook pages had inaccurate birthday dates -this turnbs out to be deliberate on their part (a mechanism to mitigate identity theft).

So would provide lots of these - then the bad guys wouldn't know who was real and who was virtual

This idea, or something like it a lot, is also in Ben Elton's latest SciFi novel, Blind Fait, (in my opinion, a return to form by this amusing, contentious, but thoughtful satirist) also has some very funny reality-tv extremism...