All 24 entries tagged Computing

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July 06, 2005

Software patents bill overturned


The European Parliament has voted by a massive majority to reject the software patents directive, formally known as the Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions. The vote to scrap the bill was passed by a margin of 648 votes to 14, with 18 abstentions.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) says the rejection is a logical response to the Commission and Council's refusal to take parliament's will into consideration.

Anti-software patent campaigner Florian Muller argues that today's vote was prompted by events back in February, when the parliament's committee of legal affairs, JURI, voted for a restart of the legislative process. That vote was flatly ignored by the European Commission, which decided instead to move on to a second reading.

"A nightmare is over," Muller says. "Next time around, let's honestly discuss the pros and cons of pure software patents, and then we can get a great directive that won't die a dishonourable death like this."

It looks as if members on both sides of the debate chose to reject the bill in its current form. Supporters of patents would have been unhappy with the numerous amendments to the bill and will thus work on creating a motion thatís more appealing to sceptics. At stake is future innovation in the realm of software. The introduction of software patents may hamper or prevent small firms or individuals from creating rival goods. Without the funds to hire a legal team, such groups may be susceptible to pressure from more powerful firms and unable to defend legitimate claims.

May 08, 2005

The REAL Digital Divide

Marketing guru Seth Godin yesterday put forward an amusing post on the digital Ďhavesí and Ďhave notsí. He compares those eager to embrace new web based technologies to those content to use not exploiting new opportunities.

Some snippets Ė

Does it surprise you that more than half of the hundreds of thousands of Boing Boing readers use Firefox? That's about five times the number you'd expect. It turns out that a lot of these tech-friendly behaviors come in bunches. Someone who has a few of these behaviors is likely to have most of them.

Donít know what BoingBoing is? Never heard of Firefox? Youíre on the wrong side of the fence according to Seth Godin.

The second thing to keep in mind is that the digerati are using the learning tools built into the Net to get smarter, faster. A new Net tool can propogate to millions in just a week or two. Unlike the old digital divide, this means that the divide between the digerati and the rest of the world is accelerating.
Try to imagine doing your work today without email. It's inconceivable. I think the tools of the digerati are going to be just as essential in just a moment or two. You can wait until Microsoft issues them all as a dumbed down package, but if you do, you'll not only miss the texture and understanding that comes from learning as you go, but you'll always be trying to catch up.

It seems a reasonable pont of view, albeit slightly elitist. That said, in the past, users of email/mobile phone (both now ubiquitous technologies) would have levelled the same criticisms at those wary of embracing them. I know which side I would have preferred to be on. Read the full post here.

April 30, 2005

Blogs and Trackbacks

In a recent post, Tom Coates of questioned the utility of blog trackbacks, saying:

I think it's time we faced the fact that Trackback is dead. We should state up front – the aspirations behind Trackback were admirable. We should reassert that we understand that there is a very real need to find mechanisms to knit together the world of webloggers and to allow conversations across multiple weblogs to operate effectively. We must recognise that Trackback was one of the first and most important attempts to work in that area. But Nevertheless, we have to face the fact – Trackback is dead.

Bryan of Smart Mobs on the other hand says,

Personally, I've seen living and dead trackback. My research blog gets very useful, clean trackbacks. But a couple of others I've posted on have suffered from pornspambacks.

I donít know the mechanisms surrounding trackback spam (e.g. how specific blogs are targeted, the effectiveness of preventative measures, etc.) but they still remain a useful tool for tracking the spread of conversations. Following trackbacks allows one to sample a greater range of responses as well as highlighting blogs on similar issues which may otherwise escape notice. The only real alternative at the current time is to search for URLs manually via the likes of Blogpulse, Pubsub and Technorati. It's tedious and not a surefire way of ensuring everyone who references a link (and wants others to know) is highlighted.

Many of the blogs I read donít seem to have a problem. Perhaps itís limited to those which see particularly heavy traffic. Or maybe the blogs which appear Ďcleaní are so because the authors are religiously deleting spam. In any case, time is sure to provide an innovative solution to the problem, or weíll simply learn to live with it; just like email.

April 28, 2005

Bloglines Tutorial

Over the past few weeks, Iíve mentioned Bloglines, the online RSS (Blog) reader, several times here. For anyone still unsure about:

a) What it is, precisely,
b) How to use it, or
c) Whether itís worth investigating at all,

Preetam Rai has produced a cool tutorial for beginners.

Well recommended to anyone who fancies making the blog-reading process much easier.

You can find the tutorial here.

April 17, 2005

Bloglines & NewsGator

Bloglines has been my primary feed reader for a while now, but given some downtime issues I gave NewsGator's online service a try.

(Either service is recommended to anyone reading more than 2–3 blogs regularly. You can see updates to all blogs on a single page, saving you time in looking at each blog individually – and who doesn't like useful shortcuts!)


  • Easy importing of OPML files
  • Ability to rate posts (Given that posts quickly disappear in an active feed, it'd be of more use in a list of deliberately archived posts)
  • Read feeds disappear from the list of channels


  • Default headline & text sizes appear smaller than those in Bloglines
  • Hierarchy of feeds has a habit of collapsing randomly
  • Can't be synchronised with software based readers such as Onfolio and Feeddemon

Overall, it doesn't offer anything to warrant a switch, but functions well as a backup.

April 07, 2005

New MSN Messenger 7 – Grab your updates nowÖ

Official download site: Click here
Direct download: Click here

The official download site lists the following as reasons to upgrade:

Have a quick chat with text messages - you can even send text messages to mobile phones.* If you want to get more personal, initiate an audio conversation and simply talk together or add a webcam and have a video conversation - it's almost as good as being there!

MSN Messenger has never been so personal! New features like Nudges and animated Winks help you get someone's attention or emphasize your point. You can create custom backgrounds, show unique display photos and personal names along with a message like "working from home". We've also added Dynamic Display Pictures that will change emotions based on the emoticons you send. There's no harm in having a little fun, is there? ;-)

Enhance your MSN Messenger conversation using MSN Search. Conduct a Search query directly from your conversation window no need to launch a separate Search window. Whenever you need it, Search is just a click away.

Help Protect Your Privacy
MSN helps you stay in control. You have the option to sign-into MSN Messenger and appear offline until you change your online status. In addition, it's up to you to invite or accept an invitation to add users to your contact list. That way, people outside your list cannot communicate with you without your approval.

Anyone whoís been using the varous BETA releases will verify that the program is much improved. Download now, for yet another distraction from work!

Overdoís blog
Microsoft press release

April 03, 2005

CSS & Web Design

After taking a look around the web development site over the weekend, it seemed clear that using standard tables for page layout is officially old-school. As such, I spent some time browsing for tutorials, fired up Dreamweaver and redid my dadís business site using CSS. Not being a complicated layout to begin with, the process didnít take long. Still, the code is much tidier now and future updates should be relatively easier.

For anyone looking for some info (and so I donít lose the links) here are some useful sites I came across.

April 02, 2005

Talking about yourself, Talking about others

This monthís Carnival of the Capitalists (collection of interesting posts from the past week loosely based on marketing, economics and business, etc) links to a Blogging Policy from entrepreneur Will Pate.

Will lays down these simple rules:

I will NOT blog about anything you talk to me about unless:

You ask me to and I think it's good idea.


I ask you if you want me to and you think it's a good idea. If I sense any hesitation on your part, I'm not gonna do it (Wouldn't be prudent).

Full post here.

Now heís talking from a business perspective, but the idea isnít limited to that sphere.

Blogs are clearly great for presenting info, opinions and experiences, but the latter category in particular often requires talking about those you interact with on a daily basis. Though users here can be considered part of a relatively closed community, to what extent should bloggers worry about breaching the trust of others when posting? Is it necessary to seek the permission of others before talking about them, or posting their pictures in galleries, or is being a friend an implicit go-ahead.

Itís an important issue because all posts can hang around in the public domain indefinitely. As anyone who's been vain enough to search their own name will know, Google has already run though and indexed many of these pages. Due to the caching of pages by search engines, even removing a blog or changing post permissons may prove ineffective should you wish to prevent a page from ever being viewed again.

For most people, most of the time, Iím sure this isnít an issue at all. Still, you shouldnít post anything that you or those you mention would be uneasy to have read by others months or years down the line.

April 01, 2005

Using MindManager as a newsreader

The newly launched MindManager blog recently had a post by Francois Lavaste, on using the program as a newsreader.

I personally find MindManager very easy to use for that purpose and I like to navigate my news in its visual environment. We are actually featuring a nice RSS map in our map library. You can use it as a starting template and download it if you want.

In fact, MindManager X5 Pro comes equipped with Smart Map Parts for news feed from several CNet news channels, as well as Mindjetís own news feeds. These feeds give you the latest headlines from the specified source. The content is updated each time the map part is refreshed or each time the map is opened.

Read the full post here.

Itís a nice feature to have around, but itís unrealistic to draw comparisons with dedicated online and software based tools. Even taking into account map linking possibilities, the number of feeds that can sensibly be displayed at any one time is limited, as is the ability to read text in the ĎNotesí window. Mr Lavaste himself claims to read 15 feeds, a number far removed from the several hundred many others deal with regularly.

In a podcast I heard about a fortnight ago, a Mindjet representative admitted that RSS functionality was added simply because it could be done. The developers are yet to think carefully about the programís potential for acting as a newsreader and circumstances in which its current level of development would render it a useful tool.

March 30, 2005

Interesting Flickr app

Any users of flickr, the photo sharing website (plus anyone who hasnít heard of it before!) should take a look at this new browser app that lets you view images by tag. Clicking on a given image allows you to see a larger view, and there are links to the photographerís profile. Below, is an example of the interface after a search for ĎWarwickí.

Click here to access the site.

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