The trip that wasn’t

I should know better than try to travel in November.

This last Saturday I was scheduled to travel to Europe for a business meeting. It was the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, so I wasn’t surprised when I got to the airport to find the parking garage nearly empty. Most everyone was probably where they were supposed to be, though I knew the next day, Sunday, would be travel hell as people tried to return home or go back to school after the four day break.

Things were looking good as I got through security and headed to my gate. I grabbed lunch and still had two hours to spare before my flight.

It was a sunny cold day though rather windy, but flights seemed to be coming and going as scheduled. There was this one AirTran flight that was delayed and they reminded us every five minutes of that situation via the public address system. Then one of the announcements was a little different, it was for the 3:21 flight to Newark, and that was where I was going to connect.

I went up to the counter and learned that there was a little mechanical problem with the plane while it was still in Newark. Evidently they had knocked off or damaged some rubber pieces on the plane while the were deicing it. We were to sit tight and wait 25 minutes.

In less time than that, the gate attendant made an announcement that anyone with a connection time before 6:30 should come up. Mine was 6:50, but I figured that since international flights board earlier, I should check out the situation.

When I got to the desk, there was a teenage girl crying and the attendant was trying to find out what was wrong.

“Are you upset because you won’t get to Cincinnati today?”


“Then why are you crying?”

“Because I don’t want to leave.”

“So you want to stay here in Rochester?”


So they agreed that she could leave the airport and grab a flight the next day.

I got to up to the gate, promised the man that I wasn’t going to cry no matter what he told me, and found out that I would definitely miss my connection. Moreover, even though there was a later flight to Frankfurt, I might miss that as well. Rescheduling for the next day was hopeless. So I decided, reluctantly, to cancel my flight and went home. I called the travel agent and got my hotel reservation canceled, and sent email apologies to my colleagues in Europe.

This is the third time this has happened to me in the last 10 years, missing a flight to Europe because of mechanical or weather problems. I always feel very bad and guilty about it, though I know the situation is out of my control. I even tried to allow an extra day in this case.

I had other work to do on a work project and spent most of Sunday and a good deal of Monday handling it because of a tight deadline.

On Monday afternoon I got a call from a friend and coworker in Europe:

“Do you know that person you were supposed to meet?”


“She never made it here, she got stuck in snow at the airport in Frankfurt.”

So it’s good I didn’t go. I missed two cross-Atlantic flights and had more time to work on my project. I suspect we’ll try again in January, but ultimately things worked out for the best in terms of my not travelling. It would have been good to have that meeting, but we’ll get around to that.

Daily links for 11/30/2010

  • “Linux came a long way concerning music players in the last couple of years and if in the past there were only few choices for users – XMMS has to be mentioned here – well, now there are so many players to choose from, and if most share the same features, each one provides an alternative by bringing a new feature or a different interface. This I can tell, can satisfy any user’s taste. Without further ado, here are no less than 16 graphical music players for Linux.”

    tags: linux music

  • “I assume most of you are familiar with reddit.  It is a social-bookmarking service where you share links and can have a threaded discussion for each link as well as vote each link up or down.  Anyone can post links.  Anyone can vote links up or down.  Anyone can comment on links.  With sufficient participation the most interesting links and discussions rise to the top.”

    tags: reddit open standards

  • “Barnes & Noble said Tuesday it will continue to invest heavily in its digital efforts such as the NookColor, Nook and various apps for its e-book store. The rub: That investment is translating to some serious red on the bottom line.”

    tags: nookcolor ebook

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Daily links for 11/29/2010

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Some thoughts on baking apple pies

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you celebrating it today in the US or elsewhere!

My first cooking task of the day was to bake an apple pie, something I’ve been doing for many years. There are many recipes for the pie and the pie dough, and this entry is not one for either, but rather a few comments and recommendations.


  • Making the pie dough is not my favorite part of the process but I’ve learned to relax about it as I’ve gotten older.
  • A mixture of butter and shortening in the dough works well in a ratio of 3 or 4 to 1. I’ve never used lard but I hear it is even better than the shortening. Keep all the “fats” in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
  • Use unsalted butter if you have it, but if you use salted butter reduce the amount of salt added to the flour for the dough.
  • pie birdI bought some pie birds this year, not so much because I have a problem with “empty dome syndrome” where the filling reduces while the top pie crust bakes as a dome with air under it, but because I think they are fun and cool to use. Artfully placed slits cut in the top crust work well. If you have a child, spell out his or name in the slits.
  • Per Alton Brown of the Food Network, I substituted very cold apple jack for water in the dough. The pie is not done yet, but I can confirm that the dough is much easier to work with and much less gloppy.
  • Though I’ve used wax paper for years, I’ve decided it is more trouble than it is worth. Today I just used flour on the counter top and it worked just fine. Making sure you sprinkle both sides of the dough and move it to ensure it is not sticking to the countertop.
  • rolling dowelI prefer using a maple rolling dowel rather than a wood or marble rolling pin.
  • If I have extra rolled dough after constructing the pie, I put the pieces on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a sugar and cinnamon mixture, and bake until lightly brown. My kids love these.


  • Try using apple jack or apple cider instead of water.
  • If you put raisins in your pie, soak them in apple jack for 10 minutes. Alternatively, use some brandy.
  • apple slice and corerAfter peeling the apples, I use an apple slicer and corer to get uniform slice sizes. I then cut these the long way to make slightly thinner slices. Make sure you get all the peel off the slices.
  • Consider substituting light brown sugar for one-third of the sugar in the filling.
  • The recipe I used today called for 6 large apples. I used 4 varieties but generally the more the better. I would not recommend using all Granny Smith, but one or two lend a nice tartness and crunch to the filling. You are going here for a variety of flavor and texture in every bite.
  • limesYou can use lemon or lime zest but I think you should add some lime juice to the apple slices as are you are collecting them so that the apples do not brown. It also gives the juice a little more time to soak in. Lemon juice works here as well, but I usually prefer lime in most situations.


A finished pie

Daily links for 11/23/2010

  • “When Novell turned down an offer to be acquired by hedge fund Elliot Associates earlier this year, it seemed like the Linux vendor was looking for a better deal. The company announced today that it has accepted an offer to be acquired for $2.2 billion by software company Attachmate. Parallel to the acquisition, Novell has sold over 800 patents for $450 million to a consortium of technology companies organized by Microsoft.”

    tags: novell suse linux

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First impressions of iOS 4.2

Yesterday Apple released the latest version of their operating system for iPhones and iPads. iOS 4.2 is not radically new and different for the iPhone, but does bring new functionality to the iPad.

The primary thing I’ve been waiting for is folders, the ability to hold up to 20 apps in a named collection. I’ve acquired a lot of applications since I got my iPad in April and this will bring more order and structure to my screens. It will also mean that I’m more willing to get some new apps, something that Apple no doubt understood as it rushed to get this feature out. Note that you can give several folders the same name, such as “Games.”

The partial multitasking is good to have though I haven’t had time to play with it much. It’s not something I’m particularly impressed by since I think it should have been there onday one.

The really cool feature is AirPlay, the ability to stream music (and video?) to devices like Apple TV. We got one of those mainly to access Netflix, but it’s very cool to sit on the couch and beam over music into my speakers. I must admit that this is slightly redundant since I could already access my home music collection through Apple TV, but it’s an interesting indication of technology to come.

Daily links for 11/22/2010

  • Apple on Monday released the promised update to iOS 4.2 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The update brings a number of long-awaited iOS 4 features to the iPad and adds the new AirPlay and AirPrint features for all iOS devices. In somewhat of a surprise, owners of the latest iOS devices can now use the Find My iPhone feature for free. iOS 4.2 brings a slew of new or updated features to the iPad—features that iPhone and iPod touch users have been enjoying since June when iOS 4.0 debuted on the iPhone 4. This includes the iOS version of multitasking and fast app switching, the ability to organize apps into folders, a unified inbox and threaded messaging for Mail, and access to Game Center for keeping track of game achievements, scores, and challenges.”

    tags: apple ios iPad

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Daily links for 11/21/2010

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Daily links for 11/20/2010

  • “So far 200 software developers have expressed an interest, and 45 are signing on. Allscripts is also talking to major hospitals willing to share their intellectual property. “If you’re a small hospital in Alabama, you can benefit from that,” says Stephen Collins, vice president of strategy. Five applications that tie into Allscripts’ EHRs are now available, including a labor and delivery monitoring software, and a medication reconciliation app—which provides a patient’s complete list of medications. A customer no longer has to be locked into Allscripts’ products.”

    tags: Open Source healthcare

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Daily links for 11/18/2010

  • “But although Hewlett-Packard has marketed its Slate 500 on its website as “the ideal PC for professionals who don’t usually work at a traditional desk, yet need to stay productive in a secure, familiar Windows environment,” HP spokesman Roman Skuratovskiy says the Slate’s intended use is far narrower: “The HP Slate 500 is designed to run custom applications created by enterprise customers, unlike HP’s business laptops, desktops, etc.” (HP declined further comment when asked to clarify that statement.)”

    tags: ipad hp tablet

  • “Black Duck Software, a provider of products and services for managing the use of open-source software, has acquired the assets of SpikeSource, a provider of software tools and services to automate application component identification and assess security vulnerability. Among the technologies acquired was SpikeInsight, a cloud-based offering for automated application component identification and security vulnerability assessment; SpikeForge, a forge comprising 17 open-source projects; the Developer Community Forum, a group of forums associated with SpikeSource OSS projects, virtualization management technology and a number of other software assets.”

    tags: Black Duck Open Source

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Daily links for 11/17/2010

  • “Now there’s a Linux kernel patch that may give you a faster, much faster, desktop experience. The patch by Linux kernel developer Mike Galbraith adds a mere 233 lines of code to the kernel’s scheduler, but it cuts desktop latency down by a factor of ten. That’s impressive — it’s almost like getting a new computer.”

    tags: linux desktop

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Daily links for 11/16/2010

  • SugarCRM and Open Invention Network (OIN) today announced the signing of SugarCRM as an OIN licensee. OIN’s mission is to enable and protect Linux. By becoming a licensee, SugarCRM, a leading provider of open source CRM software, has joined the expanding list of companies that recognize the importance of participating in a substantial community of Linux supporters and leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.

    tags: linux sugarcrm oin

  • Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, has expanded its outreach to introduce open source into the computer science curriculum at leading colleges and universities. As a member and catalyst in the Teaching Open Source community and through its sponsorship of POSSE (Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience) workshops, Red Hat has worked with professors across the globe to teach them how to launch and incorporate open source into higher education coursework and degree programs. As the use of open source continues to expand globally, the need for graduates with open source software experience is also expected to increase.

    tags: Red Hat linux education

  • “Twenty-one songs Springsteen originally recorded for Darkness on the Edge of Town are now being released for the first time as part of a collection called The Promise. Here, we feature some of Springsteen’s conversation with Norton at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the two men talked about the making of Darkness, as well as a new documentary about the album, titled The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town.'”

    tags: springsteen music

  • “In October 2010 in Orlando, Florida, many Ubuntu contributors, upstreams and interested organizations joined us at the Ubuntu Developer Summit to plan the new release, Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. This page summarizes many of the outcomes of the event, and for each track there is a link to further detailed notes. Please note: these are proceedings and plans, and some of these things may not get completed as planned for whatever reason. As such, please read this list as a set of goals, and not a promise of what Ubuntu 11.04 will include.”

    tags: ubuntu linux

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Daily links for 11/12/2010

  • “Oracle and Apple® today announced the OpenJDK project for Mac OS® X. Apple will contribute most of the key components, tools and technology required for a Java SE 7 implementation on Mac OS X, including a 32-bit and 64-bit HotSpot-based Java virtual machine, class libraries, a networking stack and the foundation for a new graphical client. OpenJDK will make Apple’s Java technology available to open source developers so they can access and contribute to the effort.”

    tags: oracle apple openjdk

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Daily links for 11/11/2010 – RHEL 6 Edition

  • Red Hat and IBM have collaborated for over a decade to optimize Red Hat Enterprise Linux and IBM platforms for the needs of our joint customers,” said Jean Staten Healy, director of worldwide cross-brand Linux strategy, IBM. “The combination of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and IBM technology offers our joint customers even further improvements for mission-critical, virtualized and cloud deployments, especially when combined with our latest IBM hardware capabilities. Designed with scalability and performance, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 is an important new platform for the industry.”

    tags: linux Red Hat

  • “Red Hat has released a new major version of its flagship server platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The RHEL 6 update brings some noteworthy improvements in key areas like virtualization and scalability.”

    tags: linux Red Hat

  • “The OS has also been future-proofed, in the view of the Red Hat executives. It can support up to 16 terabytes of working memory, even though no physical system could now actually run that much memory under a single server. It has been configured to run up to 4,000 processors under a single OS. This release also introduces management of NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access), which allows the kernel to understand the varied memory resources across a variety of processors, a needed feature for tomorrow’s multicore, multinode systems, Totton said.”

    tags: linux Red Hat

  • “Another point that Red Hat makes is that RHEL is that they’ve gone to great trouble to make RHEL as power-efficient as possible. RHEL 6, the company claims, will use 40% less electricity. That may not sound that important to you, but, ask your local data center director how he would feel about cutting his electrical bill by 40%. This is a big deal.”

    tags: linux Red Hat

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Daily links for 11/11/2010

  • “The Web, ever more sophisticated, is feeble as a publication medium when it’s compared to what can be done with layout software such as Adobe Systems’ InDesign. But that’s beginning to change. The change is significant: digital publishing is moving to the Web, but the array of new devices such as iPads and Kindles pose a challenge. Should those overseeing the designs create native applications for those devices or Web pages that will work on just about any device? For the latter to be a competitive option, the Web has to match up better.”

    tags: web fonts

  • “Developed by Red Hat’s global team of architects and enterprise consultants, our migration planning provides the tools, insights, and proven processes needed to proactively plan a Sun Solaris to Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® migration based on risk and readiness. The result? You achieve maximum cost-savings and knowledge transfer with minimal disruption to your business.”

    tags: linux solaris Red Hat

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Daily links for 11/09/2010

  • “If you are going to create a new browser from scratch and go up against the Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Apple, you might as well make it really different. RockMelt, a company backed by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen which has been under wraps until today, is trying to build a new browsing experience from the ground up. Are they crazy? “The big thing,” says Andreessen, “is that the browser world is very much in flux right now.””

    tags: browser rockmelt chrome

  • “The Fedora Scholarship program furthers Red Hat and the Fedora Project’s commitment to helping develop and foster emerging talent in the field of open source software. Applicants will be evaluated on criteria including the quality of contributions made to Fedora and other free software projects, references provided by Fedora community members, the amount of time the applicant has been contributing to Fedora and the overall quality of the application. Recipients will receive $2,000 USD per year for each of the four years that they attend college or university. In addition, the 2011 recipient will receive funding for travel and lodging at the Fedora User and Developer Conference (FUDCon) nearest to their location for each year of the scholarship.”

    tags: fedora scholarship Red Hat

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Daily links for 11/08/2010

  • “Adafruit industries offered a reward of $1000 for the first open source drivers for Microsoft‘s Kinect hardware. Microsoft wasn’t pleased at the idea that its hardware might be diverted to some other purpose and told Adafruit exactly what it thought of the idea. Adafruit responded by doubling the reward to $2000 and warned Microsoft not to make them go to $3000.”

    tags: microsoft kinect Open Source

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Daily links for 11/07/2010

  • “Costanza asked Sussman why MIT had switched away from Scheme for their introductory programming course, 6.001. This was a gem. He said that the reason that happened was because engineering in 1980 was not what it was in the mid-90s or in 2000. In 1980, good programmers spent a lot of time thinking, and then produced spare code that they thought should work. Code ran close to the metal, even Scheme — it was understandable all the way down. Like a resistor, where you could read the bands and know the power rating and the tolerance and the resistance and V=IR and that’s all there was to know. 6.001 had been conceived to teach engineers how to take small parts that they understood entirely and use simple techniques to compose them into larger things that do what you want.”

    tags: lisp python scheme mit

  • photo of iKlip

    “IK Multimedia continues to help bring your iPad to the stage with iKlip, a universal microphone stand adapter for Apple’s iOS-based tablet. Use the iKlip to help practice during music lessons, make presentations even easier, display note sheets or lyrics for reference in live performances, control visual effects right on stage, and so many other possibilities.”

    tags: ipad iklip music

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Daily links for 11/06/2010

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ApacheCon keynote presentation

Here are the slides I used today during my ApacheCon 2010 keynote. The presentation was called “Data, Languages, and Problems” with the abstract

Much research work over the next decade will be driven by those seeking to solve complex problems employing the cloud, multicore processors, distributed data, business analytics, and mobile computing. In this talk I’ll discuss some past approaches but also look at work being done in the labs on languages like X10 that extend the value of Java through parallelism, technologies that drive cross-stack interoperability, and approaches to handling and analyzing both structured and unstructured data.

image of cover slide

As I say at the end of the talk, I want to thank colleagues who have shared their time and wisdom with me on these topics. They include John Duimovich, Sam Ruby, Brent Hailpern, David Boloker, Bob Blainey, Stephen Watt, Vijay Saraswat, David Ungar, Tessa Lau, Rodric Rabbah, John Field, Martin Hirzel, and members of the IBM Research staff. I thank them for their conversations and sharing material with me, much of which I have liberally borrowed.

The presentation is also available on SlideShare.

Being more explicit about “open cloud computing”

I just had a chance to read David Linthicum’s article in InfoWorld called “What does ‘open’ really mean in cloud computing?”. In the piece, David argues that open needs to be more than a marketing term.

I agree. See for example, my blog entry from June of 2005 called “Open Document Formats: “Open” must be more than a marketing term.” There, of course, I was talking about ODF and document formats and not the yet to be born or at least named technology of cloud computing. Here I want to expand a bit on what “open” might mean for cloud computing and quibble a little bit over one of David’s points.

David offers three conditions whereby someone can claim to be doing or providing open cloud computing.

  • First, the vendor must provide the code for the core cloud product or service — not a subset of items on a separate code tree, which many vendors call the “open source version,” but what the vendor is actually pushing for its customers to use.
  • Second, the vendor must take feedback, fixes, and new features back into the core code tree from outside the organization.
  • Finally, the vendor doesn’t take legal action against anyone who takes its core product and builds something better with it, or includes it in other products.

It seems to me that David, who by the way is a seriously smart guy on these matters, is talking about “open source cloud computing.” That is, he is worried about the source code used to implement the cloud computing service and the right of others to use that code without fear of legal action.

I think we need to include some consideration of the standards being used, not just availability and reuse of the code. That is, can users and clients of the cloud service under discussion interact with and manage that cloud via fully open standards developed in a democratic and transparent manner by a diverse community of stakeholders? Are users locked into having their data owned by the cloud provider or can it be extracted at any time in an open and reusable format?

For this case, should we refer to “open standards-based cloud computing”? Might we reserve the term “open cloud computing” to include both the standards and open source components?

One comment on David’s second point: committers on open source projects may consider “feedback, fixes, and new features” for inclusion in the source code tree but they are not obligated to actually insert them. On the off chance that the feedback is misinformed, the fixes are buggy, or the new features lead to unnecessary bloat, it would be best to leave them out.

If the committers never ever consider the elements that David describes then indeed there is a problem. A healthy open source project takes the best recommendations and code and then uses them if they are in the best interest of the community of users and the architectural direction of the work.

Daily links for 11/05/2010

  • “At least in Mac OS X 10.5.x (Leopard), there’s a pretty quick fix. Here’s how to create a little droplet application that you can dump your PDF on to strip the metadata out. If you are organizing a conference: do this.”

    tags: pdf

  • Fedora logo

    “The Fedora development community announced on Tuesday the official release of Fedora 14, codenamed Laughlin. The new version is a bit light on user-facing changes, but adds some useful features for developers. Fedora typically issues a new release every six months and is loosely aligned with the Gnome development cycle. Each release brings updated software and some new packages.”

    tags: fedora linux

  • “That tweak is a dig at Facebook, which isn’t reciprocal to Google. In a statement to TechCrunch, Google said that Facebook is a data dead end. So Google changed its rules. Google won’t allow Web sites to automatically import contact data unless the other site allows a similar export. The key word is “automatically.” You can still download contact data to a file that in theory could be added to Facebook.”

    tags: google facebook api

  • “CoffeeScript is a little language that compiles into JavaScript. Think of it as JavaScript’s less ostentatious kid brother — the same genes, roughly the same height, but a different sense of style. Apart from a handful of bonus goodies, statements in CoffeeScript correspond one-to-one with their equivalent in JavaScript, it’s just another way of saying it.”

    tags: javascript coffeescript

  • Ars logo

    “We’re pleased to announce the official availability of the Ars Technica Reader for iPad, made possible in partnership with IBM. We thank IBM for supporting the Reader for iPad, and we hope you will enjoy version 1.0. In the rest of this column, we’ll tell you about the app, explain some choices we made, and ask you to help spread the Ars goodness.”

    tags: ars ibm

  • “The theme of this year’s GOSCON, from my perspective, was that governments remain eager to embrace open source software, and are no doubt already doing so in many cases, but there is still a great demand for more commercial backing of more open source. Even though we continue to see more official adoption and procurement of open source among public organizations, it seems clear after GOSCON there is a need for more awareness, but also for more commercial support of open source.”

    tags: 451 Open Source government

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ApacheCon keynote preview

I don’t give my ApacheCon keynote for 24 hours, but here are a few bullets I’ll address in my presentation:

  • For any programming language I mention that does something, there will be 10 that do something similar that I won’t mention, including your favorites.
  • X10 does not try to hide concurrency or the multiprocessor, or pretend that concurrency is just a minor extension.
  • We need more information like “it’s probably best not to try to solve that kind of problem in this language.”
  • Would WoW use JavaScript today if Blizzard started over?
  • How do you answer: how much energy is used in computing that result?
  • People are terrified of being stuck with huge libraries of source code written in now abandoned languages.

I’ll post the full set of slides after the talk.

Daily links for 11/04/2010

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Daily links for 11/03/2010

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Daily links for 11/01/2010

  • “The inevitable: When Motorola preemptively launched their declaration judgment action against Apple earlier this month, we knew that Apple was likely to launch multiple patent infringement lawsuits against Motorola once their licensing negotiations failed to produce an agreement. Late yesterday, Apple filed a pair of patent infringement lawsuits against Motorola Inc. and Motorola Mobility Inc. in the Wisconsin Western District Court. The combined lawsuits cover six patents – none of which were covered by Motorola Mobility Inc.’s filed lawsuits. The main focus of these lawsuits centers in on the most important technology of all pertaining to the next generation smartphones: Multi-Touch. In 2009, Apple’s COO Tim Cook warned the competition during a financial conference, as follows: “we like competition as long as they don’t rip off our IP. And if they do, we will go after anyone who does.” Obviously Apple now thinks that Motorola has crossed that line.”

    tags: apple patent mobile lawsuit motorola

  • “Well, there wasn’t much to add to that, I thought. Until things began to hot up at the end of summer, and more patent lawsuits began to fly around. When, finally, Microsoft sued Motorola, I thought that it was finally time to update the NYT’s (excellent) graphic.”

    tags: mobile patent lawsuit

  • “Thanks to record shipments of the iPhone 4, which arrived on the U.S. market at the start of the summer, Apple shot past several other mobile phone vendors, landing in fourth place ahead of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. For the third quarter, Apple shipped 14.1 million phones, 1.7 million more than RIM and 3.7 million more than Sony Ericsson, which fell out of the top five list for the first time since 2004. This was also the quarter in which the iPhone 4 reached 17 additional countries to establish its beachhead worldwide. With heavy demand for smartphones, Apple also joined RIM as the second smartphone-only vendor among the top five.”

    tags: apple mobile smartphone

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