Thursday, October 6, 2016

Stuff I'm reading, leaves-are-changing-color edition

The Halloween lights and decorations are going up!

  • FTC Releases Big Report On Patent Trolls, Says The Patent System Needs To Change
    And now, finally, after all these years, the FTC has released its big report. It appears that 22 patent trolling operations responded to the subpoenas, though many had "affiliates and other related entities" allowing the FTC to study many more patent trolling operations overall. The study lumps patent trolls (they prefer the euphemistic "Patent Assertion Entities" or PAEs) into two categories: litigation trolls and portfolio trolls. In short, litigation trolls are the smaller guys with just a small number of patents, who would threaten and sue companies (and quickly reach settlements) over those few patents. It's more of a "mom & pop" shakedown kind of business. Portfolio trolls are the bigger, well funded operations, that have a massive portfolio of patents and play a more comprehensive shakedown game, going to lots of big companies and basically saying "you infringe on some of our patents, so give us a bunch of money to not figure out which ones." Think: Intellectual Ventures or Acacia.

    The differences here matter, because the businesses are quite different. Lots of the actual lawsuits come from the litigation trolls as a sort of negotiation tactic. The portfolio trolls don't actually have to go to court that often -- they have "sales people" who are a bit more effective. But the amount of dead-weight loss to the economy from the portfolio trolls is much larger. When big companies agree to a portfolio troll shakedown it's often for a tremendous amount of money. The FTC study found 80% of the revenue went to portfolios, and only 20% to litigation trolls -- even though litigation trolls filed 96% of the lawsuits and 91% of the reported licenses.

  • Google and the Limits of Strategy
    This is where that infamous Gundotra speech matters: I’m not convinced that anyone at Google fully thought through the implication of favoring Android with their services. Rather, the Android team was fully committed to competing with iOS — as they should have been! — and human nature ensured that the rest of Google came along for the ride. Remember, given Google’s business model, winning marketshare was perfectly correlated with reaping outsized profits; it is easy to see how the thinking and culture that developed around Google’s core business failed to adjust to the zero-sum world of physical devices. And so, as that Gundotra speech exemplified, Android winning became synonymous with Google winning, when in fact Android was as much ouroboros as asset.
  • Is 3D XPoint in trouble?
    Intel and Micron are chip folks. I’m confident that at the chip/media level, the results that Intel reported are close – despite marketing rounding-up – but when talking about SSDs, Optane or QuantX, the subject is a system, not media.


    Systems consist of cooperating parts, and making one part a thousand times faster doesn’t make all the other parts go faster too.

  • Concurrency Puzzle - System.arraycopy()
    Instead of just providing a detailed explanation, I thought it would be more fun if you got into the cave of concurrent coding with us and tried to figure out how System.arraycopy() could sometimes do early writes and thus leak uninitialized arrays into the reader threads.
  • How it feels to learn JavaScript in 2016
    Hey, I got this new web project, but to be honest I haven’t coded much web in a few years and I’ve heard the landscape changed a bit. You are the most up-to date web dev around here right?

    -The actual term is Front End engineer, but yeah, I’m the right guy. I do web in 2016. Visualisations, music players, flying drones that play football, you name it. I just came back from JsConf and ReactConf, so I know the latest technologies to create web apps.

    Cool. I need to create a page that displays the latest activity from the users, so I just need to get the data from the REST endpoint and display it in some sort of filterable table, and update it if anything changes in the server.

  • own with the tool fetish
    We accord one another status for serving our own personal gratification through the use of new tools. Meanwhile we completely forget about the people we’re actually supposed to be working for: our users.

    The web development community has gone off the rails. It must be restored to sanity.

  • The four types of board games
    In The Oxford History of Board Games published in 1999, scholar David Parlett wrote that there are four types of classical board game: race, chase, space, and displace.

1 comment:

  1. "But the amount of dead-weight loss to the economy from the portfolio trolls is much larger." I think that the economic effect of these big patent trolls just results in a shifting of assets among capitalists, so is not really damaging the economy much. Instead, the patent system needs to be revised because it is muffling creativity.