Who Said You Could Remove Features?

The iTunes loving world was rocked with the release of iTunes 11 and the removal of several features.  After something similar with iMovie ’08 and Final Cut Pro X and how high profile those removals were, you’d think that this is an Apple thing – but that would be unfair, since other companies, such as Microsoft and Techsmith also have done this. Software upgrades consist of fixes, improvements and new features. There are times when its right to remove – but most often not.

Now Apple has gone and done it again with Garageband’s loss of podcasting features and also left out iWork features in their most recent update (though claim they will be restored). Should vendors feel they get a pass when they remove features? Continue reading Who Said You Could Remove Features?

Congress Looking at Patent Trolls; Should Look at Software Patents Too

It is good that congress is finally looking at the problem of Patent Trolls, who are notorious for shaking down companies for fees that are just under the cost of litigation. Patent trolls are known especially for pursuing the small fish first and building up a legal warchest of money that allows them to pursue larger and larger targets.

But congress shouldn’t just be looking at patent trolls, they should be looking at the food that makes patent trolls, too. That food comes in several flavors:

  • Patents that are “softwared” versions of something else. If the process exists already in the real world, commonly used or not, an implementation into software isn’t something original, especially if the end result is a process that duplicates the steps of a real world process. Europe has already figured this one out – why can’t we?
  • Patents that are modest extensions onto something else.  Patenting a the behavior of a list on a computer display that provides a “bounce” feedback when you reach the bottom, aka List scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display. The implementation is modestly original, but not really notable – and its effect, is similar to reaching the edge of anything in software.
  • Patents that are incredibly broad. What is a process that is incredibly broad and applicable to just about anything? Not a process, an idea.

Patent abuse happens for several reasons, but it is systematically allowed because the USPTO rubberstamps just about anything. Our legal venues are packed because of poor governmental management.


Illinois court throws out ‘Amazon tax’ online sales law

The Illinois State supreme court ended up having to school the Illinois State legislature on where the state borders end on taxes, by throwing out their “Amazon Tax” on online sales.  Amazon cut their affiliate program in the state of Illinois as a result of this law passed in 2011, and rightly so – all state legislatures understand the concept of tax nexus. Now many are very creative in defining exactly what that is, but what it has always meant was a physical presence within a state. It is quite simple – if you aren’t there, the state cannot demand you pay taxes. It is the same reason why US online retailers and catalogers do not collect VAT (value added tax) when shipping to European customers, even though many European countries demand it.

Internet Brain Suck: (P&Q)≠(P→Q)٧(Q→P)

That’s Correlation does not Imply Causation – and its the blogger heaven of logical fallacies. Roughly, it means two (or more) events can occur without one being the cause of the other. This is a logical fallacy, but there is often wiggle room. Two causes may be present in a result in a way that is extremely suggestive but not proven to be 100% true – like obesity and diabetes. There could be some science that will prove the link one day. Or there could be yet some unidentified event – or numerous chained links of events. Continue reading Internet Brain Suck: (P&Q)≠(P→Q)٧(Q→P)

Adobe CS Dead: Web Service Only Not Good for Consumers

Adobe announcement Adobe Accelerates Shift to the Cloud includes a death sentence on standalone channel applications of Creative Suite. CS 6 is the end of the line. This strategy is good for Adobe but it is not good for users. Continue reading Adobe CS Dead: Web Service Only Not Good for Consumers

Governance and Accountability in Technology Spending

Ars Technica report on West Virginia overspending on Cisco routers while fascinating  misplaces much of  its blame on Cisco for selling unnecessary equipment to the state. It is misplaced because the state government of West Virginia failed to properly assess its needs for the technology.

While the state auditor states “Cisco representatives showed a wanton indifference to the interests of the public in recommending using $24 million of public funds to purchase 1,164 Cisco model 3945 branch routers,” where is the statement that the employees of the State of West Virginia showed both incompetence and negligence in its governance of the project and accountability in spending? Continue reading Governance and Accountability in Technology Spending

Deadly Sins of Software Executives Redux

Because it needs to be reposted, here is a list of the Seven Deadly Sins of Software Executives. This orginated from a 2005 Edge Forum – Deadly Sins that Can Kill Your Software Company, but polished and modified by me:

  • Ignoring your Customers and Their Real Needs
  • Underestimating Your Competition, Direct and Indirect
  • Letting Your Focus Drift
  • Thinking that Sales is Someone Else’s Job
  • Being Naive, Unrealistic or Soft on Team Members and Leaders
  • Doing a Bad Job of Raising Money
  • Running out of Money
  • Letting Your Company Culture Define Itself Rather than Architecting It to Support Your Goals

Make Your X Here: Adapting to Technology That Should Adapt to Us

I recently visited an AT&T store to upgrade a phone. All the AT&T employees on the floor were using iPads to manage orders and service agreements with customers. This didn’t seem so strange to me. Using portable POS devices is nothing new after all. But what struck me is how awkward and slow the experience was. Continue reading Make Your X Here: Adapting to Technology That Should Adapt to Us

Software Patents are Destroying Innovation in the Software Industry

By way of reporting by Electronista, Judge Richard Posner writes in his blog entry Do patent and copyright law restrict competition and creativity excessively? Posner about how the software industry has completely overreached itself in software patents. I cannot agree more. As we’ve seen in the Apple vs Samsung trial, patents are granted for non-innovations, such as a bouncing effect when one reaches the bottom of a list on a smart phone.

Apple makes for a convenient poster child for this, but they are not alone. Most of these “innovations” are modest tweaks of the work done by others, and the only thing they do is buy time for the company that patents them first, until the time comes that those patents will get tossed. But time is all they need – time to keep other companies from implementing them. This doesn’t even equate to standing on the shoulders of giants.