Instagram’s Exit Plan

instaUpdate — Instagram now says it was all a huge mistake, that users own their pictures and there’s no way Facebook is going to sell them to anyone… but the company hasn’t yet revealed alternate legal language, which they should have been able to cobble up in an hour or two. The underlying problem of mean-spirited, self-serving, over-reaching terms of service is still with us at Instagram and almost everywhere else. Their revised terms of service were stupid and couldn’t stand. Let’s hope in their next attempt to grab rights (because that’s what this whole thing was about and probably still is) Instagram and Facebook treat their users fairly. Until they do, most of what’s […]

Amoeba Music’s Vinyl Vaults is no Napster despite what musicians say

Remember Napster? Not the paid streaming music service sold last year to Rhapsody, but the original peer-to-peer music sharing service that was hugely popular from 1999-2001 when it went down in a legal ball of flames over copyright infringement. Well something Napster-like is emerging from Amoeba Music, the huge pre-owned music and video stores in Berkeley, San Francisco and Los Angeles and some musicians and vinyl junkies are up in arms about it, though I can’t understand why.

Napster was a peer-to-peer service that allowed people to share their music collections online. What Amoeba is doing with its new Vinyl Vaults service is similar in that the company is ripping tracks from […]

Apple and Samsung: brands at war

I was supposed to be on CNN last night to comment on the Apple v. Samsung  patent infringement trial that just started in San Jose, but then Mitt Romney insulted the Palestinians and I was bumped.  The way these things work is CNN calls the day before so I have time to think up something pithy to say. The question now is what to do with all that pith? So I’m dumping it on you. Consider this the long distance view of this legal battle in the context of what it really is — brands at war.

As a practical matter, I think it is very unlikely that Apple can win based on its accusation of […]

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and other weird thoughts

How many times yesterday did you do a web search that led you to a Wikipedia page that then didn’t load because of that site’s SOPA protest?  I didn’t notice the effect immediately but once I did I was later able to go back through my browser history and see that I tried and failed to open a total of 13 Wikipedia pages so far.  Whether you give a damn about SOPA or public protest, this experience has given me a whole new respect for the role Wikipedia has come to play in my life and probably yours.

As a result I made a small donation to Wikipedia around lunchtime then cursed it the rest of […]

By |January 19th, 2012|2012|81 Comments

Siri may infringe old Excite patents

I was watching this Bloomberg video the other day featuring Shawn Carolan, the venture capitalist who backed the Siri electronic personal assistant startup then sold it to Apple. His was the closest I’d heard to a technical explanation of how Siri works and it surprised me because it sounded a lot like technology I remembered from years ago at Excite, the long-defunct search engine.  Please look at the video and then meet me in the next paragraph.  The part that excited me (no pun intended) is about four minutes in.

Okay, he said they used linguistic techniques to map blocks of words against 10 possible domains of expertise to figure out what the heck you are asking Siri to do, with the real […]

By |January 14th, 2012|2012|73 Comments