Archive for March, 2005

No Spring in My Step

March 23, 2005
menlo spring

I shot this last time I was on Sun’s Menlo Park campus where Spring was clearly in full swing. Back here in Boston I had my hopes, but apparently we are in for another 5″-10″ today and tomorrow. Waah.

I’m running short on Yankee stoicism this year.

Welcome Home

March 19, 2005
carl and kids

My brother came home from Iraq yesterday, safe and sound. He’s been stationed out in the far west of Anbar Province since August. Needless to say, we are all very happy to have him back.

Who Cares About Camera Phones? Suddenly…Me!

March 18, 2005

Up until about a week ago, I viewed camera phones as one of the sillier current product trends. After speaking with a few of my colleagues, I’m pretty much convinced that these devices are poised to unleash a wave of incredibly interesting capabilities on the world–if a few key players move to exploit the unique capabilities of the camera phone.

First off, don’t think of it as a camera. Think of it as a scanner. Actually, view your camera phone as a vision-enabled, network-connected, mobile input device with modest local storage and processing power. With appropriate infrastructure, it could read bar codes. Or do optical character recognitionto populate your address book from a photo of a business card. Or tell you when the next bus will arrive. Some of this is being done now in Japan and elsewhere. Check this out for an example.

But this is the tip of the iceberg. Google and other search providers are pushing the state of the art on the back-end of search–in the engine. But look at Google’s front end. It’s text based and, while that is certainly useful, it isn’t the right interface for what will be hundreds of millions of network-connected, vision-enabled, mobile input devices. I want to query Google with an image sent from my phone and get data back. What building is this? What does this sign mean? What does this sentence say in English? Is this restaurant any good? Who is this person?

It’s the opposite of Google Image, which takes text as input and locates matching images. Call it Google Egami. I want my Google Egami! And I bet I’m not alone…

Pirates R Us

March 16, 2005

[resposted because the blogging software somehow ate the original version]

A full version of Adobe Photoshope CS for $99.99! How about a full version of Studio MX 2004 (includes Dreamweaver) for a mere $99.99 (regular price $999)? Both of these and more are available for credit card purchase on a site whose URL I do not deign to publish. What I do want to share is some of the fine print this “vendor” has on their website.

The site describes what they are supposedly doing. They claim to have OEM copies of software that they are selling at a big discount. One problem: most of this software isn’t actually available in OEM form. Even if it were, unbundling software for resale in this way probably isn’t kosher. In any case, it’s pretty clear what they ARE doing once you read the fine print. I’ve bolded the best bits below in this extract from their Terms of Service.

You are not permitted to duplicate or illegally distribute any product purchased from XXX. You agree to abide by the End User License Agreement contained within those products. You assume full responsibility for complying with all copyright laws. All products offered by XXX are fully compliant with sec. 117 of the US copyright laws. XXX reserves the right to refuse any customer for any reason. You understand that in order for XXX to make you a copy (OEM) of any software, you acknowledge that you are the legal owner of this same software, and are looking to just make a new copy (OEM) for archival (backup) purposes only. You also agree to destroy all copies of the software in the event it is ever no longer voluntarily in your possession. You understand that only the licensed owner (with a valid serial number, where applicable) of the various software found on XXX may use the services located here. You also acknowledge that the software you have was obtained legally and that you have the legal right to request this backup (oem) copy to be made. If you obtained your version though any other means, including any pirated versions, or if you do not already legally own the same version of the software requested, then you may not use this service. you also agree to hold XXX harmless for any damages that may occur for your failure to follow the U.S. Copyright and other laws as they pertain to the backup (OEM software) you are requesting. When you purchase any backup (oem) copy of software through XXX, you agree to assume full liability in the event your actions are deemed illegal. XXX does not condone software piracy and has every intention of complying with the laws pertaining to the duplication of software. By placing an order for software, you declare and warrant that you are provided all material on an “AS IS” basis, and XXX makes no representation or warranties of any kind. All title and intellectual property rights remain those of the respective content owner and any intellectual property protected by laws and treaties, without grant or rights to use, and not to copy or print. Any such documentation, serial number, activation services or material that is accompanying any software or document is provided by XXX only as documentation or to ease installation in the event your originals are lost, with no basis of value. The laws of the State of Florida will govern this agreement.

So, their business involves selling $99.99 backup copies of software to people who already own the rights to the software. And any activation or licensing codes they give to their customers are purely for illustrative purposes.

On top of all of this, I noticed through the whois service at nic.net that they’ve anonymized their domain ownership. The owner of record is listed as Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc.

This kind of piracy is equivalent to what I saw going on in Kowloon shops several years ago. CDs cost $25HK each (about $5USD), regardless of content, and pirated license keys were conveniently printed on the CD label. Somehow, a site selling these wares on the web seems so much more…blatant.

Goddess of Spring

March 14, 2005

It’s been a long slog through winter here in Boston this season. We topped the 90″ mark last week and another storm is apparently on the way.

Imagine my delight when I came upon this striking figure in my neighborhood just after the latest storm. Such a wonderful sight!

goddess of spring