in yr internets, cloggin yr tubes

Maybe it’s not new, but it certianly is interesting…

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Today, I found this PC Mag story from April about Apple’s patent suit against HTC and Nokia, with Apple alleging the two companies infringed on Apple patents for use in their – specifically Android – smartphones.

Now, Apple’s patent suits are a topic for another post on another day, but the penultimate graf in the story is what interests me today (yes, I understand, a solid five months after its posting).

From the story:

According to Mobiledia, mobile manufacturers often pay royalties on up to 300 patents for a single smartphone, adding 15 to 20 percent of the selling price.

Some argue patents hurt innovation and should be done away with. Others doubt whether patents should be issued for computer code, seeing as software is protected by copyright, not patent. But to me, this is blatantly telling, especially in the context of a flurry of patent lawsuits between smartphone companies. First, because if technology patents are that easy to infringe upon, maybe the patent office should be taking a better look. Second, patents and patent licensing agreements are making smartphones more expensive. Certainly, smartphones for all isn’t solid public policy, but it is interesting to see how much extra the patent system is adding to our consumer electronics.


Written by Matt

July 25, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Posted in Patent

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Times predicts world-altering tech in ’82, still can’t figure it out

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Twenty-nine years ago today, a New York Times article reported on a National Science Foundation report predicting “a style of life defined and controlled by videotex terminals throughout the house.”

The article called it simultaneously “appealing and threatening,” and while it’s not quite videotex (which never really caught on) I think you’d have a hard time arguing that the videotex terminal the NSF mentioned hasn’t become the computer.

Yes, the Times, the United States’ hallmark newspaper, reported on the predicted rise of the internet, and only sort of figured how to leverage it financially and only did so recently. With the news media taking way too long to realize how important the internet is to their bottom line, and it is sort of (I do love journalism, after all) funny to see how the rise of technology was predicted, reported on and then ignored almost completely.

Written by Matt

June 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Chuck Schumer wants you to keep your receipts…

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From New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer

“They prevent people from tracking the financial end of this. Using real money, users purchase Bitcoins, which can be traded at $9 to one Bitcoin and use them as proxy for real money when they buy things on Silk Road. It’s an online form of money laundering used to disuse the source of the money and disuse who’s both selling and buying the drug.”

Gawker broke the news on The Silk Road last week – exposing the deep web’s eBay-for-drugs site. Fine, drugs are illegal, despite the drug war clearly having failed. If he wants to continue to argue drugs are the society-destroying evil the state seems to think they are, fine. Quite honestly, I’d expect no less.

But Sen. Schumer clearly has very little understanding of…well…how cash works. Aside from the face-to-face interactions it takes to buy things with cash, there are few ways to track exactly who is buying what from who with cash. Sen. Schumer does little to distinguish Bitcoins from the multitude of community currencies used across the country, except that Bitcoins can be used to buy stuff Sen. Schumer doesn’t like.

Unless Williamsburg coke dealers take Brooklyn Greenbacks.

So…we get more drug war paranoia, except this time its online in your TOR networks…

Written by Matt

June 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Republicans Deadset on Making Net Neutrality Worse

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Just like perpetually infuriated comedian Lewis Black said, in the United States we have the party of no ideas and the party of bad ideas.

Marsha Blackburn (R, TN)

Marsha Blackburn (R, TN)

Republicans, no fans of Net Neutrality in the first place, have started working to get rid of it. Marsha Blackburn, representing Tennessee’s 7th district (which may or may not acutally have internet access), has proposed the Internet Freedom Act. The IFA makes the internet the jurisdiction of Congress because “Only Congress can address those challenges without compounding them. Until we do, the FCC and other federal bureaucracies should keep their hands off the ‘net.”

So bad ideas get worse.

I’m not sold on Net Neutrality, as evidenced by these posts and the fact that there will be mission creep, but I can tell you one way not to combat it: Don’t let Congress get it’s hands on it. I can promise you that much.

Written by Matt

January 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm

So Maybe Ed Whitacre Won’t Be Controlling Your Tubes

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According to the National Broadband Plan, the government foresees a future where we only have one high-speed ISP.

In the report, released last year, the FCC noted that cable companies are able to provide ever-faster internet and phone companies aren’t able to keep up due to outdated technology. This trend means that, eventually, there will only be one legitimate high-speed ISP in each municipality.

The fear is that eventually, everyone will have to use their cable providers for high speed internet, who, even by their own standards, are pretty much universally hated*. The phone companies will be out of the picture (well, except for Verizon and FIOS, I assume) because they just can’t keep up.

It’s an interesting insight into the rationale of the FCC: We need Net Neutrality to protect the ISPs from foisting their “managed services” on us (basically, no more Netflix, no more Hulu if we’re talking cable-based ISPs), which they will do once they achieve a “natural monopoly” and ISP competition goes the way of cable TV. Basically, we need Net Neutrality because the FCC screwed up in the first place.

The flip side to this is that people don’t hate their ISP they way they hate their cable provider – a statistic Net Neutrality For The Win noted in a study – and even the New York Times who usually walks in step with attempts at government regulation thinks competition is a better way to solve the problem**.

So maybe the old quote trotted out by every Net Neutrality supporter will finally go out of vogue since, evidently, it’s going to be the cable companies fucking us instead of the phone companies. Hey, it’s only been 5+ years.

*A little side note: Cable providers have been so historically awful at customer service that the FCC actually enacted guidelines in the early 90’s to try and improve customer service. Nice to see that worked out.

**Unfortunately I can’t find the link to the Op/Ed. I’ll keep looking, though. Keep in mind, it might be stuck behind a paywall.

Written by Matt

January 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Fox News and the l33t haxx0rz

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If only because writing about 4chan before got me a fair amount of hits the other day, check out this awesome Fox News story about 4chan’s recent DDoS shutdown entitled 4chan, a Breeding Ground for Hackers, Crippled by Hackers.

The article, among other things, calls Anonymous a “hacker collective.” Of course, let’s ignore the rudimentary method of DDoS attacks, described in the article as utilizing “a large network of computers to flood websites with so many data requests that it cannot keep up, eventually crippling the site and forcing it to shut down.”

Let’s ignore that it doesn’t exactly take l33t haxx0r skillz to be part of a DDoS attack or that the majority of 4chan users have never participated in raids.

Basically, a bunch of white suburban computer nerds posting ridiculous pictures have become the single most lethal hacking entity in the world today.

Let’s ignore the fact the Chinese government orchestrated what’s essentially cyberwarfare* on one of our most successful companies. Yep, it’s those /b/tards who are the problem.

*There might not be a term I hate more than “cyberwarfare” or “cyberwar,” though, that’s another post all it’s own.

Written by Matt

December 29, 2010 at 9:50 pm

moot on 4chan survey: “It’s total garbage.”

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According to a survey, the majority of 4chan users are young (14-23), straight, surburban white guys, many of whom are virgins, who lurk the imageboard at home. A minority of users said they have participated in raids and IRL protests.  For those of you who have been on 4chan, this really should come as no surprise to anyone.

Granted, this is 4chan. One percent of respondents said they discovered 4chan in 2011. So the answers should be taken with a grain of salt, or as Christopher “moot” Poole told TechCrunch “a massive grain of salt.” (The survey results have since been muddled by TechCrunch users taking the survey. I posted the pre-TechCrunch story above, the post-story results are here.)

Of course, when TechCrunch got a hold of the story they immediately emailed Poole to figure out what he thought about it. Poole called it “unscientific” and “total garbage.”

The problem, of course, is that while the mass media has crowned Poole King of the Anons, what Poole really did was start the imageboard using code he ripped from a similar Japanese site. All he did was create the forum, which, if you’ve ever used it, is pretty damn rudimentary. And while it’s fun to get all excited over Canvas, Poole’s new venture that’s kind-of-like-4chan-but-not-really, or pit Poole against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg in a philosophical battle for the internet, the fact of the matter is that 4chan is less Facebook and Twitter – regimented and constructed, and more BitTorrent – an internet world all it’s own.

In an attempt to understand exactly what the fuck 4chan is, people essentially, put moot at the head of the table and the Anons as his followers. In reality 4chan is a disjointed mass of users all bound together by a desire to be on the seedy underbelly of the internet, no real leaders, no real followers, and lots of in-fighting. 4chan didn’t evolve in a world of APIs and iPhone apps. It’s from the fringes, not the mainstream, which is part of the allure I guess – how could an online force evolve with no VCs? No Harvard educated founders? No cross-platform integration?

I guess, too, that’s what Lerer Ventures is trying to find out.

Written by Matt

December 28, 2010 at 2:14 pm