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SOPA/PIPA

by @ 6:25 pm
Filed under: internet,law — Tags: ,

Here comes another attack on the free and democratic way of life.

the SOPA/PIPA bill sponsored by congressman Lamar Smith is about to be voted on by the legislators. On the surface, the goal is to protect copyrights and intellectual property rights on the Internet.

In reality this law is created to bring the Internet under complete control and censorship of the US government. In other words any site can be blocked and any site owner or user can be charged for almost any  reasons.

Let's face it, the proposed rules are so loose that just about everyone is automatically in violation of the potential law already. Who needs to go to China to enjoy arbitrary criminal charges and censorship, when you can have all that fun right in the USA.

Stop American Censorship

Patents attack Android

by @ 2:29 pm
Filed under: financial,google,law,microsoft,technology — Tags: ,

I'm not naive to the point of believing that Google is all good and no evil, but in this case I side with Google.

What the big patent trolls like Oracle and Apple and Microsoft are doing by burying Android in lawsuits and threats is stifling innovation and taking away choice from consumers.

I'm all for protecting new ideas, but patents are no longer used in the way they were envisioned. They no longer protect ideas and innovation, but are used as weapons against anyone who can be leeched for money. And the leeches are typically not the original patent holders either, but sleazy patent trolls and patent mills.

Official Google Blog: When patents attack Android

Software Patent Sharks

by @ 2:46 pm
Filed under: business,computers,law,technology — Tags: , ,

This is superb reporting by NPR (link at bottom) on the murky business of software patents and how the real spirit of patent and copyright laws have been subverted by patent mills out to make a quick pile of cash.

These days greedy companies get patent protection for the most ridiculous and obscure algorithms. Most developers behind these patents don't even know what the patents actually cover. The patents are then sold to patent mills, which are front companies with a few lawyers and accountants collecting patents.

The patent trolls then go after anyone they deem to be a good target to extort money from, using frivolous lawsuits. From the thousands of patents in their lists, they can cash out with one or two, and that's what keeps this repugnant but lucrative practice alive.

The fact is that just about any idea anyone can fathom is covered in one way or another under one or more patents, mainly in vague general terms. That is why software is under siege now. Any entrepreneur who would dare conceive and implement a new product with a modicum of success, will inevitably be in the cross-hairs of patent lawyers.

And so we give yet another boost to countries like India and China and extinguish innovation in USA. I'd like to see how far these sleazy patent sharks can get in those countries.

Intellectual Ventures And The War Over Software Patents

Running to Music

by @ 9:27 pm
Filed under: law,music,running-hiking

This article (Jogging to music? Unplug for a safer workout) states the obvious by claiming that runners who listen to music pose a threat to themselves by becoming less aware of road dangers such as traffic or criminals.

There's also an additional claim that iPod runners, being distracted, may miss their body signals to speed up or slow down, thereby missing out on an optimum workout as well as being oblivious to small injuries that may require them to stop.

As a long-time, music-free runner (over 2 decades), I agree with both assessments. Many times on my running routes I come across narrow roads, blind curves, fast cars, sirens, and unfriendly dogs. In many cases I can navigate these challenges easily because I can hear a car noise or some commotion ahead. I can't imagine how I would face all these obstacles with music blaring in my ears.

The article is also correct about the distraction caused by music. I tried running to music a couple of time some years ago. In those cases I felt less in touch with body and the runs were much less enjoyable. Guess I'm the type that likes full sensory involvement in the running activity. I actually run for its pure enjoyment, not for the health benefits, so why drown my mind in music while running?

The part of the article I have a problem with is the governments wanting to force runners to shed their ear buds. This is such a ludicrous violation of personal freedom. I don't run with music but many runners do. Leave us alone. Instead perhaps concentrate on catching speeding cars. I mean where will this lead? Jogging police checking our shoes for correct fit, checking clothing for appropriate layers, or checking our hydration levels?

I can only see the court systems clogged with running felons 🙂

Amazon fires California affiliates

by @ 12:35 am
Filed under: business,law,politics — Tags:

This is old news by now, but fresh on the heels of firing its Connecticut affiliates, Amazon just terminated its California affiliates program in protest over the new state law requiring it to collect sales taxes on purchases.

The law may be fair or unfair, but Amazon could have easily complied, as it does reluctantly for New York. Perhaps Amazon already wanted to get a bunch of affiliates off its books anyways and this provides a good excuse. But the company is just being childish by lashing out in this manner.

At any rate, the business impact of firing the California affiliates is most likely minimal for Amazon, or else it would have hung on to them, as it has been doing with the New York affiliates.

Amazon cuts off California affiliates - San Jose Mercury News.

Amazon.com punishes Connecticut associates

by @ 4:53 pm
Filed under: business,law — Tags: ,

Not to defend big-box stores but this statement from Amazon is an obvious distortion of facts. Amazon is just being whiny because it hates fair competition.

We opposed this new tax law because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It was supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside Connecticut, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors.

So big-box stores compete with Amazon, maybe fiercely, but that's life. And what does Amazon do in return? Like an infant, it throws a temper tantrum and takes it out on its associates.

So magnanimous of Amazon to allow the dumped associates the continued privilege of shopping at Amazon.com 🙂

... this development ... will not affect their ability to purchase from http://www.amazon.com.

letter from Amazon.com to Connecticut associates - Courant.com.

Amazon.com Dumps Connecticut, Too

by @ 3:09 pm
Filed under: business,law — Tags: , ,

Amazon has lashed out against my home state of Connecticut, cutting all their affiliates in the state, because Connecticut told Amazon to play fair. While local merchants are required to collect and pay state taxes, Amazon was happily undercutting them online, using its affiliates as mules to deliver some of those sales. The state recently closed that loophole, therefore raising the ire of Amazon who's now promptly firing all of its Connecticut affiliates as a retaliatory reaction. Blame the state all you want, but don't just become tools in the hands of a greedy corporation.

This is not the first state who has been punished by Amazon. This follows a string of affiliates from other states who have been dropped like sacks of manure because that's what Amazon generally thinks of its users and partners. Amazon figures it has milked the affiliates enough already and will continue to do so with all the residual backlinks. Why continue to pay commissions when it can keep the money for itself?

At the same time consider Amazon's hypocrisy of keeping the New York affiliates. New York has the same state tax laws as these other unfortunate states but the New York affiliates haven't been fired. Why? Money, of course. New York is just too lucrative of a market to dump so easily.

I myself was dumped by Amazon over a year ago and wasn't happy about it. So yes, I do have a grudge, but life goes on. I licked my wounds, moved on to Google Adsense and eBay and dumped Amazon in return by vowing to never shop from them again, A promise I have faithfully kept since then.

Of course I am happy to use Amazon's site for comparison shopping and product information, but never to order anything from. eBay or other sites suit me just fine, thank you very much. And when it's time to consider cloud computing services for my company, Amazon will be last in the list to consider, if at all. Why would I jeopardize my job position by going with an arrogant and untrustworthy company?

Don't let being fired from Amazon upset you. Fire them back. Stop buying from Amazon.

Handling Illegal Workers Problem

by @ 12:41 pm
Filed under: law,politics — Tags: ,

This is a perfect example (link at bottom) of how the illegal immigration problem should be handled. Charge the businesses that hire them. These businesses not only hurt the nation but also abuse the illegal workers themselves.

What's there to be gained by arresting and detaining a bunch of illegals? These people don't have much money and they return anyways. By going after the businesses that hire them, you dry up the incentive to cross the borders illegally, and the government can possibly recoup the litigation costs.

This is not unlike the war on drugs, where the government fights the losing battle of arresting and incarcerating people with a joint. The real solution is to legalize some milder drugs, like marijuana, then tax them heavily and use the proceeds for public outreach and education.

Of course, all this requires a government with efficiency and integrity, and when is that last we had such governance?

NYT: A crackdown on employing illegal workers - Business - US business - The New York Times - msnbc.com.

Amazon.com and Pedophilia

by @ 9:09 pm
Filed under: law,money — Tags: ,

amazonFirst amazon.com accepts a book that apparently promotes, or at least condones, pedophilia (I haven't read the book, nor do I plan to). Then basks in the publicity as complaints begin to pour in and the media covers the story ad-nauseum. Then it stokes the flames more by hiding behind the first amendment, realizing that it will drum up even more business. Finally when the calls for boycotting start to get louder, it silently removes the title from its site, and it refuses to answer any questions about its decision.

So which is it, amazon? Did you suddenly decide to violate the first amendment rights of the author and yank the title? Or did you decide to be a moral corporate citizen? The answer: none of the above. Just a hypocritical company riding the wave of publicity and doing the right thing only when profits are in jeopardy. It's anything for a buck, even instructions on child abuse.

Disclaimer: I have a gripe against amazon.com for unjustly accusing me of wrong-doing.

Oracle Collects on Sun

by @ 11:15 pm
Filed under: business,google,law,technology — Tags: , , ,

Oracle SunBack when Oracle acquired Sun, you really didn't think that it was going to continue with the free open source model, did you? Of course not. This is Oracle, and Oracle is all about business. It has expensive products and even more expensive support and maintenance terms. And if someone like SAP starts to offer cheaper support, Oracle has the legal resources to sue them out of its turf very quickly.

Those lawyers are now busy suing Google over Java license violations in its Android platform. Meanwhile OpenSolaris is seeing its last days in the sun as the focus shifts to its commercial counterpart, Oracle Solaris, where there's money to be made.

It won't be long before Java, MySQL, and OpenOffice will be history too, at least in terms of their current forms. In Oracle's world if a product doesn't substantially contribute to the bottom line, it's axed. That's an unfortunate hit on innovation and open collaboration.

Oracle has a good track record of successful business ventures and profitable acquisitions. But the company is basically reliant on old legacy systems from itself and acquired companies to drive its earnings. When is the last time you heard of an innovative or exciting product coming out of Oracle? Probably in 1977 when its flagship product, Oracle Database, was conceived. And even then Oracle Database wasn't that novel. It was based on an existing IBM database product.

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