Category Archives: Fun, Facts & Figures


Software Patents

The subject of Software Patents has always attracted much debate, with the nature of this minefield and the absence of legal definitions for patents for software causing differing limits to be set by various jurisdictions around the world.  The European Patent Office talks of the ambiguity of the term software, as it could refer to several aspects including program listing or binary code, and “computer programs as such” are not eligible for patents, although many large organisations continue to lobby for changes in the law.

 

Historically the month of April has seen some activity in this area, in April 2005 the Indian Parliament rejected a clause to allow for the inclusion of software patents in The Indian Patent Act, and in the same month steps were taken in Japan to establish the Intellectual Property High Court of Japan, where software related inventions have patent eligibility. In April last year the first reading by Germany’s Parliament of a joint motion took place against the increasing numbers of patents being granted on software programs, in line with the “secure competition and innovation in the software development” resolution which relates to software protection by copyright as opposed to the granting of patent protection.

 

In the USA in the last month the US Supreme Court have been addressing issues over software patents, including patent eligibility, patents that are vaguely defined and the associated issue of “patent trolls”.  Narrow rulings are anticipated by many as opposed to significant changes to existing law.


NAB Las Vegas

Tradeshow Recap – NAB Las Vegas 7-10 April

An amazing 98,000 visitors attended The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show held at the Las Vegas Convention Centre, with the 4 day event bringing together some of the biggest names in electronic media and entertainment, exploring this constantly changing industry and providing the latest ideas from content creation, management, commerce, delivery and distribution and finally consumption.

 

Gordon Smith, the NAB President and CEO opened the eagerly anticipated event, with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond including Ray Romano and the show’s creator Phil Rosenthal taking to the stage as part of the Television Luncheon to discuss the challenges faced in its early years as well as the huge success of the show, as they accepted induction to the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Insight was also provided into the extensive work and challenges involved in the production of the recent Sochi Winter Olympics, with discussions involving representatives from CBC Television, NBC Sports Group, the Olympic Broadcasting Services, TV 2 Norway and Sports Video Group on their undertakings to enable global coverage of the event.

 

Further awards took place on Day 2 with Steve Harvey, radio and TV personality and bestselling author also inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame.  A key focus of the day was the Future of Broadcasting, with Cloud and Net Neutrality also covered.  Amazon Web Services’ Mark Ramberg presented on the use of Cloud technology for meeting the demands of anytime anywhere content delivery across all devices, as well as uses of the technology in film and broadcast production.  With the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed new rulings on net neutrality, World Without Rules – Is this the End of the Open Internet? proved an interesting discussion, with the pros and cons of the changes proposed and implications to the industry covered.

 

A wealth of stars attended NAB 2014, Norm MacDonald of Saturday Night Live fame and known for his writing, producing and acting roles, together with comedian, producer and director Tom Green, and Criss Angel renowned magician and illusionist, accompanied Cali Lewis of GeekBeat TV in a lively discussion entitled NewTek Presents: Broadcast Minds, exploring the innovative ways in which loyal online audiences can be built along with commercial success, including the production of quality shows specifically created for online consumption.

 

Additional super sessions included a chance to learn more about the massive internet hit Camp Takota, with a feature in Filmmaking in the Age of YouTube, with its stars Grace Helbig and Mamri Hart and producer Michael Goldfine reflecting on the methods used to create, market and distribute this online comedy success which took third place in the iTunes Independent Movie Chart.

 

The Arc@des, ATSC Technology Pavilion, Connected Media World, Studio Experience and Futures Park provided the ideal opportunity to showcase the latest industry developments, with the Startup Loft and Sprockit areas focussing on newly created and market-ready businesses.

 

Image Credit:

http://bit.ly/1ii9IYr


Anniversary of the Launch of Apple’s OS X

Following the successful launch by Apple of the Mac OS X Server 1.0 on March 16th 1999, the Mac OS X desktop version known as Cheetah was released 2 years later on March 24th 2001 superseding the Mac OS 9.  The new generation of operating system was based on technology developed by Steve Jobs’ company NeXT through its OPENSTEP system, a move which saw Apple purchase NeXT and Jobs famously return to the company he co-founded taking the position of interim CEO.

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Intel Pentium Processors

 

March 22nd marked the anniversary of Intel’s release of fifth generation microarchitecture with the Pentium processors making their first appearance in 1993. X86 compatible, the Pentiums superseded Intel’s 486 technology and became a global brand which has extended over 2 decades.

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fsfe Logo

13 years of the FSFE

 

Today, March 10, marks 13 years since the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) was founded in 2001. Formed to support the free software movement in Europe, the FSFE was awarded the Theodor Heuss Medal in 2010 for its work for freedom in the information society.

The FSFE work on many projects and campaigns within the information society, including but not limited to:

  • World Intellectual Property Organisation
  • European Union v Microsoft
  • Software patents in Europe
  • Freedom Task Force
  • Document Freedom Day
  • EURA v Slovak Tax Authorities

 

The founding president of the FSFE, Georg Greve, lives in Switzerland and is a software developer, author and academically trained physicist. Before handing over presidency of the FSFE to Karsten Gerloff in 2009, his responsibilities included supporting local representatives, political and legal issues, informing journalists and coordination of the General Assembly.


A look at Yahoo!

 

We’ve all heard of Yahoo! – back in the late 90s and early 00s, Yahoo was one of the biggest and most popular search facilities online, and even despite the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, it continued and continues to this day to be one of the key players in the online search market, as well as offering free email services, a comprehensive website directory and a question and answer service, aptly named Yahoo! Answers.

 

Have you, however, ever heard of Jerry’s guide to the World Wide Web? Well, if you haven’t, you have now, and if you’re wondering where we’re going with this, the answer’s simple – this was Yahoo’s name before it became Yahoo! A website that was a directory of other websites, Jerry’s Guide (aka David and Jerry’s Guide) to the World Wide Web was set up in January 1994 by Jerry Yang and David Filo, electrical engineering graduates from Stanford who realised early the power of the Internet and what it could mean for those searching online, and formed the directory to cater to user’s needs by listing other websites in a hierarchy. When it appeared obvious that the idea was a good one, they changed the name to Yahoo!, only two months after they had started in March 1994, and registered www.yahoo.com on January 18, 1995, a year nearly to the date they’d begun.

 

The name Yahoo! itself has often been coined to mean different things. The term “Yahoo” in itself means, “Yay”, “I’ve found it”, “yes”, and other positive terms – great for a facility online used by people find things. Various acronyms have also been accredited to the name, although the official acronym used by the founders is “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”. This refers to how the hierarchial Yahoo! Database was arranged at the time, and the terms “officious” and “oracle” referenced the office workers who would be using the website, and the fact the results rendered were the “source of truth and wisdom”, respectively.

 

In recent years, Yahoo has seen a decline since its’ heady days of owning the Internet, but is still particularly popular as a search engine and directory in the US. July 2013 saw Yahoo outperform Google in the number of searches performed where users clicked through to websites listed in its SERPs, the first time since 2011.


Steve Jobs – The Early Years

With the 24th February marking the birthday of Steve Jobs, we reflect on the early years of the life of this remarkable man, who would go on to be described at the Father of the Digital Revolution.

 

Steve Jobs was born in 1955, in San Francisco and was immediately adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs.  The family moved to the Mountain View area of California when Jobs was five and it was from his adopted Father that Jobs first became interested in electronics.  A carpenter and mechanic by trade, Jobs’ father taught his son how things worked and together they would rebuild electronic devices in their garage.  Jobs’ mother worked for Varian Associates in Accounts, a high-tech company based in what was later known as Silicon Valley.

 

It would be whilst attending Homestead High School that Jobs met Bill Fernandez, a fellow fan of electronics, and it was through Bill that Jobs was introduced to Steve Wozniak, who at the time was Bill’s neighbour.  Jobs graduated in 1972, but having enrolled at Reed College he dropped out after just six months.

 

Jobs secured a job as a Technician with Atari, and later travelled to India with Daniel Kottke in search of Neem Karoli Baba, the spiritual teacher and Hindu guru on a journey of enlightenment.  Having stayed in India for over 6 months, he would return to the US and work again for Atari.

 

An early successful venture would be with Wozniak who had created a blue box, which orchestrated free long distance calls through telephone networks.  Jobs worked with Wozniak to build and sell the boxes, and at this time the pair also began to take part in meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club which was based in Silicon Valley and brought together those with a keen interest in electronics and computing.  The Club would prove inspirational to Wozniak for the design of the Apple I, and would also see pioneers in computing and electronic engineering such as Adam Osbourne, George Morrow, Lee Felsenstein, Li-Chen Wang as well as John Draper regularly attending meetings.

 

In 1976 Wozniak and Jobs founded Apple Computing Company, together with Ronald Wayne who they had worked with at Atari, and who was responsible for the design of the first Apple Logo as well as writing the Apple I manual.  The trio originally worked out of the garage of Jobs’ parents in Los Altos, and from these humble beginnings the computer and consumer electronics giant was born.

 

Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1fUYR5s


A Look Back at Windows 2000

 

Today marks the 14th Anniversary of the release by Microsoft of Windows 2000.  Windows 2000 succeeded Windows NT 4.0, and was referred to as Windows 5.0 during its development.  It would prove to be the last release by Microsoft under its Windows NT umbrella with Windows XP released the following year in October.

 

Having been designed to replace Windows 95, 98 and Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 offered increased reliability, greater ease of use, as well as improved support for mobile computing and internet compatibility. Windows 2000 allowed for easier hardware installation for its users as it now supported a vast array of Plug and Play hardware including wireless and networking devices, as well as USBs and infrared equipment.  Through Windows 2000 Microsoft also introduced support for operation system level hibernation without the need for special drivers as in previous releases.

 

With greater reliability and security key features of Windows 2000, Microsoft included Windows File Protection for the first time, to protect core files and prevent programs replacing them.  Microsoft also gave us the MMC Microsoft Management Console and Logical Disk Manager capability for dynamic storage, in addition to features such as Internet Explorer 5 and Windows Desktop Update now introduced into the NT line.

 

With personalised menus, expandable special folders and the ability to launch multiple programs from the Start Menus, a Re-sort button also allowed files to be sorted by name.  Windows 2000 also introduced us to visual improvements such as fade transition effects, with layered windows that were transparent, and supported balloon notification in the Taskbar.  With a default-enabled interactive Media Player for previewing video and sound files, additional assistive technologies for those with disabilities were also included by Microsoft.

 

Subtle logo changes and the addition of a melodic piano tune were added for start-up and shut-down also featured in the release.

 

Windows 2000 was made more accessible to those with visual and hearing impairments as well as other disabilities through the addition of assistive technologies, FilterKeys included SoundSentry which show a visual effect when sound is played, ToggleKeys with sound indicating when Caps, Number or Scroll Lock are pressed together with BounceKeys, SlowKeys and Repeat Keys offering further assistance. Serial Keys allowed for speech augmentation device support, with the Microsoft Narrator screen reader also offered for the first time, together with a screen magnifier.

 

Available in 4 editions, Windows 2000 was an instant hit with Microsoft reporting that over 1million units were sold within the first month of its release.

 

Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1eLZWYP


A look back at Windows Vista

 

 

7 years ago today, one of the most eagerly anticipated Windows products became available for general purchase – Windows Vista. Unfortunately, the OS didn’t have the impact that Microsoft had hoped for – instead of a positive product that could only build on the successes of XP, Vista was met with a backlash of criticism and unflattering reviews, centred largely around performance and cost. It’s predecessor, Windows 7, was released not even 3 years later, and even though some said this was rushed through development, it was still met with a better reception than Vista.

 

So what made Vista so unpopular? It had a lot of new features and upgraded programs, including Windows Media Player 11, IE7, instant search, the Aero interface, Windows Mail and newly designed games, including some for younger children, a feature XP was lacking. Well, cost for one thing. Whilst the costs to buy Vista in a package new weren’t highly expensive in the US for the time, in the UK the equivalent versions cost almost double, as well as in Canada. Additionally, Microsoft boasted that Vista would be able to run on nearly any PC on the market – a claim that backfired as a lot of the “premium” features, such as Aero, required very high specs to run properly, and were very buggy on PCs that did not meet requirements.
Windows XP diehard fans were also unimpressed with Vista. A lot of the features that made XP work well had been removed or redesigned in Vista, leaving users confused about the reasons why, and also how to work their machines.

 

Removed/replaced features included:
•    Windows Messenger
•    MSN Explorer
•    Active Desktop
•    NetMeeting – replace with Windows Meeting Space
•    Luna theme, and other classic colour schemes
•    Windows Explorer features

 

So what was good about Vista? There are several elements that did make up for Vista’s problems, including:
•    Search in Start Menu – This makes using the OS a lot easier, and saves time
•    Voice recognition – great for timesaving, and also easy to use in meetings.
•    Different volume settings for different programs – speaks for itself
•    Number of items being dragged in a drag and drop multi-function command – only a small thing, but lets you know you have selected the right number of items

 

So, what were your thoughts on Vista when it was released? Did you buy it and regret it? Were you one of the ones who liked Vista and kept it when 7 came out? Let us know in the comments…

7 years ago today, one of the most eagerly anticipated Windows products became available for general purchase – Windows Vista. Unfortunately, the OS didn’t have the impact that Microsoft had hoped for – instead of a positive product that could only build on the successes of XP, Vista was met with a backlash of criticism and unflattering reviews, centred largely around performance and cost. It’s predecessor, Windows 7, was released not even 3 years later, and even though some said this was rushed through development, it was still met with a better reception than Vista.

So what made Vista so unpopular? It had a lot of new features and upgraded programs, including Windows Media Player 11, IE7, instant search, the Aero interface, Windows Mail and newly designed games, including some for younger children, a feature XP was lacking. Well, cost for one thing. Whilst the costs to buy Vista in a package new weren’t highly expensive in the US for the time, in the UK the equivalent versions cost almost double, as well as in Canada. Additionally, Microsoft boasted that Vista would be able to run on nearly any PC on the market – a claim that backfired as a lot of the “premium” features, such as Aero, required very high specs to run properly, and were very buggy on PCs that did not meet requirements.

Windows XP diehard fans were also unimpressed with Vista. A lot of the features that made XP work well had been removed or redesigned in Vista, leaving users confused about the reasons why, and also how to work their machines.

Removed/replaced features included:

· Windows Messenger

· MSN Explorer

· Active Desktop

· NetMeeting – replace with Windows Meeting Space

· Luna theme, and other classic colour schemes

· Windows Explorer features

So what was good about Vista? There are several elements that did make up for Vista’s problems, including:

· Search in Start Menu – This makes using the OS a lot easier, and saves time

· Voice recognition – great for timesaving, and also easy to use in meetings.

· Different volume settings for different programs – speaks for itself

· Number of items being dragged in a drag and drop multi-function command – only a small thing, but lets you know you have selected the right number of items

So, what were your thoughts on Vista when it was released? Did you buy it and regret it? Were you one of the ones who liked Vista and kept it when 7 came out? Let us know in the comments…


7 Facts about the Computer Mouse

 

 

Today, January 30th, marks 51 years since the first prototype of a computer mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute, and where would we all be today without a mouse to guide the pointy arrow around the screen….well, probably all using touch screens, but that’s not the point. The humble computer mouse has long been an indespensible part of our computing equipment, and we didn’t want to see this anniversary go past without a closer look

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