October 2006 - Posts
IBM (the big open source friendly blue giant) has announced it has:
"filed two patent infringement lawsuits against Amazon.com for unspecified damages. The lawsuits come after nearly four years of attempts by IBM to resolve its concerns with Amazon.com over infringement of IBM’s patents."
This Forbes article provides more detail on the patents themselves:
"IBM says the technologies covered by the patents govern how the site recommends products to customers, serves up advertising and stores data.
Some of the patents were first filed in the 1980s, when IBM created back-end technology for Prodigy, an early online service that grew out of a joint venture between IBM and Sears, Roebuck & Co. One such patent is titled "Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalog."
"Given that time frame, these are very fundamental inventions for e-commerce and how to do it on the network," said John E. Kelly III, IBM's senior vice president for intellectual property. "Much, if not all, of Amazon's business is built on top of this property.""
eWeek and this press release from IBM has listed the patents in question:
"The patents that IBM says are being violated (included are links to the full texts of those patents) are:
- U.S. 5,796,967: Presenting Applications in an Interactive Service; [the link here should infact point to this patent: http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5796967.html]
- U.S. 5,442,771: Storing Data in an Interactive Network;
- U.S. 7,072,849: Presenting Advertising in an Interactive Service;
- U.S. 5,446,891: Adjusting Hypertext Links with Weighted User Goals and Activities; and
- U.S. 5,319,542: Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalogue."
"Amazon declined to comment."
I think I'd be rather lost for words too...however, Slashdot commenters have plenty to say.
Thought for the day?...What comes around goes around.
Nick Bradbury announced the beta of FeedDemon 2.1 earlier this week, the feed reader I've been using for years now.
I noticed this snippet in the new features list:
From the release notes:
"If you don't already have a blog publishing tool configured in FeedDemon, FeedDemon will automatically detect Live Writer. Otherwise, click the "Auto-detect" button on the "Configure Blog Publishing Tools" dialog to add Live Writer."
So I tried it out...It works! This post was created using by right-clicking Nick's post within FeedDemon and selecting Window Live Writer (WLW) from the menu (Send To >> Blog this News Item >> Window Live Writer (on your first run you need to select the 'Auto Detect Feature' - note: you must have already installed WLW on your machine for this to work...) - this copies the content of the post into WLW, ready to edit and post. Easy. Sweet.
P.S - I've got all this running on Windows Vista RC1 without any issues.
This mashup is clever. Via John Musser's ProgrammableWeb:
"The First MMO Real Time Strategy on Google Maps. Take over the world in this real time Risk-like game based on Google Maps."
Sign up is pretty painless, but a problem finding players - you need a minimum of two, so you could end up hanging around for ages to pair up against some competition.
(Btw, nothing here that couldn't be done with Windows Live Local...here's the Virtual Earth Dev Center).
Why snot is green and other things you absolutely have to know in the latest New Scientist podcast.
This post getting a suprisingly high number of clickthrus via my feed on this post. So, for all you who really need instant gratification around the question 'why is not green?', you can check out this loser-generated answer thread here or the enlightening article 'The Sound of Mucus'.
Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX v1.0 Beta (code-named “Atlas”) is now available to download - it provides a preview of the fully-supported version of ASP.NET AJAX scheduled for release by the end of this year.
Frank Arrigo has some useful links relating to this release.
Update: Microsoft's Scott Guthrie a posted a lot more detail on this beta release.
Everywhere, but not Kazakhstan apparently.
This serious matters has a been dealed with in the most followed Press Conference.
Chris Messina's post is one of the best things I've read in a long time:
"And that is where we are today — in the middle of an uprising from within — lead by folks like Kim Cameron, Ray Ozzie and others — on the opening lines of Web 2.0. What’s lead us here so far has only been the precursor in what will be a very long and very gradual change in our cultural and technological environment. But the launch of Internet Explorer 7 represents the true beginning of Web 2.0 because the vast majority of folks who have been living on borrowed time, using the spyware prone and popup-riddled previous version of IE, now have a capable browser… one that’s just as fast as what the rest of us are used to, with tabs and support for feed and CSS standards. And it’s delivered automatically, without a thought or a care necessary. So what comes next is where things get interesting."
Dean Hachamovitch has just announced
- well, you know the rest.
Christopher Carfi threw out a interesting idea yesterday...
- "When an organization puts out a product, the organization defines and publishes a particular tag that they will listen for in the blogosphere when there are customer questions (for example, "office2007question" would have been a good tag the MS could promote with its Office 2007 product)
- If a customer has a question with a product, he posts the issue (just like Shel has done) with the tag(s) of the associated product(s)
- The vendor organization, which is theoretically listening for posts tagged with its "support tags" takes notice, and addresses the issue on the customer's turf."
The post Christopher refers to by Shel is here. It's classic blogger behaviour: I have a problem and hopefully one of my readers can help me out.
I do this from time to time myself and it works. Many do this.
Adding a support tag as a call for help mechanism reminds me of the Structured Blogging concept and edgeio. Earlier this year, I commented on the edgeio's distributed publishing and aggregation model for classifieds:
"Edgeio is a good example of how this aspect of information distribution can become more efficient and convenient for the selling party, and how the data can remain the seller's data. As a seller, all you need to do in order that edgeio lists your product on its site is to post your listing content on a blog, or a site that outputs an RSS feed and include tags for that item. If other marketplaces also decide to go down this route, the seller's item can be also listed by these marketplaces using exactly the same means. So for the seller, they can publish once, run anywhere and maintain control of their data. In this context, edgeio is acting as an infomediary leveraging the distributed power of RSS and giving control back to the user. In this scenario, the act of the seller creating an feed RSS with an item to sell won't achieve a great deal unless something picks up the listing, and does something with it, like distribute it to potential buyers. So edgeio is acting as an infomediary."
Naturally, there will be those who scoff and respond to the support tagging idea along the lines of "Why? Customers should come to our support site, and open a ticket there". And that's how it's done today - make your customers come to you.
But why not reverse this completely? In one sense, this already happens today: customer conscious companies are trawling the RSS search engines and blogs looking for customer feedback / gripes / issues and post comments on those blogs (or post a blog and pingback). This is how these companies win the hearts, minds and loyalty of their customer. Its amazing customer service - a true differentiator.
By providing a support tag, it could allow for further structuring around this 'listening to the blogs customer support' approach. A kind of tagged post RSS aggregator feed could be plugged into existing customer support systems - so instead of email or forum post, it's just a blog. Of course, not all your customers would use it, but if there is a real benefit to the customer in doing so (i.e. faster response times, quality of response, etc), then why wouldn't they? And the benefits to the company providing support in this way? Well, happy customers for one - but if the support is provided via a comment then this provides evidence to prospective customers of the quality of service who happen to come across the blog post.
The more I think about this (and I admit, I've not about it much), the more it makes sense - great idea Christopher.
I'll do my bit and the send idea around within Microsoft for consideration by the powers that be.
According to the BBC:
"A video game depicting playground violence has been banned from some UK shops"
...practically guaranteeing that every kid will try to get a copy from the shops where there aren't banned. What great free publicity! Brilliant.
Skimming through R/WW's review of Firefox 2, Microsummaries caught my eye.
What are Microsummaries?
"Microsummaries are regularly-updated short summaries of web pages. When you bookmark a web page that has a microsummary, you can choose to display the microsummary as the title of the bookmark. Then, when the page changes, the title will also change, so you can find out the current status of the page just by looking at the bookmark.
For example, a microsummary for a Yahoo! Finance stock quote page might display the current price of the stock and how much it changed today: . A microsummary for Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day page might display today's word: . And a microsummary for a Federal Express package tracking page might display the delivery status of the package: . "
Examples here. Very, interesting. I've not seen any of this at work yet, but the idea sounds great. One thought? Isn't this the kind of application RSS / Atom would suit? Others have discussed this similarity. What about RSS + microfomats?
And is a Microsummary microformat? Well, microsummaries aren't not listed on the microformat spec wiki today, and back on the Mozilla Microsummaries Wiki it says:
"The microsummary generator dialect and the use of the <link rel> element to specify microsummaries should be standardized by the appropriate bodies, which may include the microformats group and the WHATWG."
So, not a microformat today, but maybe in the future (here's blog post discussing this, and in case you're wondering, here's the answer to the question: What is WHATWG?).
It looks relatively simple to get going in terms of creating these microsummaries, but I can't help wondering what confusion might spring from
microformats microsummaries and microsummaries microformats. More links on microformats microsummaries from Myk Melez.
Who knows more on the microformat / microsummaries thing? Any more links I should look at for more on this topic?
"Apple: Is it so hard to own up?"
The rise of the bottled water market is a great example how marketers can make people want something they don't need into something they feel they do need and want and then charge for that something accordingly.
To marketers everywhere, be reminded: if bottled water can be charged for at more than the price of gas, then the world is your proverbial oyster. I'm not talking here about the kind of bottled water that developed countries actually need. I'm talking about the art of marketing, branding, perception change and then the selling of water to people who already have perfectly drinkable and safe water running out of their taps at home and don't actually need bottled water. I'm talking about creating a perceived need.
In the early eighties, it seemed that the only bottled water you might find in the local London shops were Perrier and Evian. And then they were only sold at the shops where Corn Flakes was sold for something silly like £5 a mini-box. These luxury corner shops specialised in selling things that nobody actually needed or things that if you did 'need', would be charged 3-4 times the going rate and without shame. Only the very rich and / or the very stupid bothered paying for water in those days.
The exotic source of the water (France - exotic!) and the product's 'purity' seemed to be the appeal to small number of Gold Card holders. Somehow, and seemingly overnight, it became 'hip' to drink water, necessary even. Not just any old water from any old tap. I don't know how it happened (I sort of do, but I'll act stupid), but one day it became obviously unhealthy and unhip if you drank 'agua' provisioned by that ghastly utility company, Thames Water.
As the years went by, more and more brands came to market - SPA (Belgium), Highland Spring (UK), Volvic and Vittel (France). At the same time, I remember the beer market also transforming - again, the origin of the product was the differentiating brand attribute: Stella Artios (Beglium ) and Fosters (Australia) come to mind (as they did regularly in my formative years...). We've seen it happen to the coffee markets more recently - Starbucks anyone?
By 2004, the UK water market alone was worth £1.2 billion. Not bad for a country where water falling out of the sky is considered a standard feature. With all that money streaming out of our pockets, was it any wonder that Coke wanted in? Remember the Danasi fracas? What's funny about that 'PR disaster' is how the people, to their horror(!), realised the Danasi was just tap water taken from the mains with crap added in:
"So now the full scale of Coke's PR disaster is clear. It goes something like this: take Thames Water from the tap in your factory in Sidcup, Kent; put it through a purification process, call it "pure" and give it a mark-up from 0.03p to 95p per half litre; in the process, add a batch of calcium chloride, containing bromide, for "taste profile"; then pump ozone through it, oxidising the bromide - which is not a problem - into bromate - which is. Finally, dispatch to the shops bottles of water containing up to twice the legal limit for bromate (10 micrograms per litre). "
Tap water???? How ghastly! It didn't put Coke off mind you (they tried again with Malvern, this time water out of a hole in the ground), nor has it put off us water-guzzling consumers.
In glorious 2006, the piss-taking just doesn't stop and we're all lapping it up. With respect to water at least, we are all either very rich and / or very stupid. Indeed, today you can now get ripped off Bling stylee at a measly $35 a shot. Super.
Raymond Chen at his best:
"Help text is not the place to put logic puzzles."
Jason Matusow has a piece of news to share regarding Microsoft's interop efforts:
"As of today, we are extending our commitment to interoperability by announcing that our Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) Image Format is becoming an open specification under the open specification promise (OSP). VHD is the file format for storing virtual machines. Think of it like this: VHD is to virtualization as .DOC is to office productivity. There are >60 industry licensees of the VHD open format today, but we have heard feedback from the community to have us broaden the availability of the technology. Our hope is to see broad adoption of the VHD technology, and to promote interoperability for our customers. By putting the VHD under the OSP, it is available for any developer to utilize no matter what development or business model they choose to use."
Beta News has more on the story...and more on OSP here.
Link to the press release is here and the VHD spec.
While on the topic of Microsoft's interop efforts, check out Craig Kitterman's post. Craig is a Technical Evangelist focused exclusively on interop:
"...I am going to be reaching out directly to developers, architects and IT pros who deal with interoperability issues on a daily basis. I think of you as the 'troops on the ground' – the folks who are tasked with actually dealing with these issues, and are usually the first people to raise these issues within your organization. This is a very different conversation than one we can have with CIOs and CTOs, and in my opinion is just as critical to our long term vision of interoperability. Over the next several months, I will be constructing a community consisting of several Microsoft and non-Microsoft folks who will be blogging regularly on interoperability subjects – including specific technical solutions. "
If you've got some feedback for Microsoft on interop, Craig's a pretty good starting point for you...
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