Links for 2012-03-12

  • Opinion: The problem with software patents? They don't scale

    Nathan Myhrvold, the Microsoft veteran who founded the patent-trolling giant Intellectual Ventures, loves to complain about the "culture of intentionally infringing patents" in the software industry. "You have a set of people who are used to getting something for free," he told Business Week in 2006. Myhrvold is right that patent infringement is rampant among software firms. But in demanding that this infringement stop, Myhrvold isn't just declaring war on what he regards as Silicon Valley's patent-hostile culture. He's declaring war on the laws of mathematics. The legal research required for all software-producing firms to stop infringing patents would cost more than the entire revenue of the software industry. Even if firms were willing to pay the bill, there simply aren't enough patent lawyers to do the work. Firms infringe software patents because they don't have any other choice.

  • 24/192 Music Downloads are Very Silly Indeed

    Articles last month revealed that musician Neil Young and Apple's Steve Jobs discussed offering digital music downloads of 'uncompromised studio quality'. Much of the press and user commentary was particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of uncompressed 24 bit 192kHz downloads. 24/192 featured prominently in my own conversations with Mr. Young's group several months ago. Unfortunately, there is no point to distributing music in 24-bit/192kHz format. Its playback fidelity is slightly inferior to 16/44.1 or 16/48, and it takes up 6 times the space. There are a few real problems with the audio quality and 'experience' of digitally distributed music today. 24/192 solves none of them. While everyone fixates on 24/192 as a magic bullet, we're not going to see any actual improvement.

  • Essay on how "The Apprentice" prompted a change in a professor's requirements | Inside Higher Ed

    Faculty members often urge students to meet for assistance with their presentations, but only the outliers show up. Detailed instructions for producing quality presentations sometimes go unnoticed or ignored. Even dedicated, high-achieving students can miss the mark come presentation day. The end result is a waste of valuable instruction time. Fifteen minutes of ineffective student-to-student instruction multiplied by 25 student presentations equal six-plus person hours of lost learning. Who is at fault? An episode of "The Apprentice," which aired fall 2010, provides a possible answer.

  • Mapping the NBA: How geography can teach players where to shoot

    The annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, created in 2006, has become something like Bonnaroo for sports nerds. And if there was a breakout star at this year's gathering, held at MIT this past weekend, it may have been Kirk Goldsberry, an assistant professor of geography at Michigan State (and currently a visiting scholar at Harvard). At Sloan, Goldsberry--whose dissertation "investigated real-time traffic maps" and who has also used geography to examine "access to nutritious foods in urban areas"--considered the ways that sophisticated statistical mapping can illuminate the game of basketball, in a paper called "Court Vision: New Visual and Spatial Analytics for the NBA."

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You know, I can't help resenting my husband's employer being called a patent troll. Jordin, and a number if other people, earn their living by actually inventing cool stuff. They have a lab and everything. Furthermore, IV is so structured that the inventors share generously in the proceeds from licensing of their patents. Unlike most other companies in the US. Myrhvold started IV because he thought America didn't properly reward its innovators and he wanted to do something about that because innovation is important to the future health of economies and nations. IV encourages, supports, and rewards a LOT of innovation. But, hey, Myrhvold's got lots of money and is close to Gates so he can't be doing something good. Right? Right. Grummph.
MKK