Well that’s it for Android – Stupid Headlines

Knockout AndroidApple Just Delivered A Knockout Blow To Android with IOS8 blares the headline from Forbes. Yes, we have the Stupid Headline of the Week award winner. Hooray for Forbes.

In case anyone hasn’t been paying attention lately the people over at Forbes have been whoring themselves out for clicks for a number of years now. They basically allow anyone to sign-up for a Forbes blogging account and that person gets to have the word Forbes in their URL.

The people writing the blog posts have no association with Forbes whatsoever. It’s like the URL in this blog post that mentions WordPress because the site is hosted by WordPress.

I’m not associated with WordPress nor is the person who wrote this headline associated with Forbes. Ian Morris just wrote a really stupid headline hoping you would click it.

For all those grieving over the demise of Android, well, don’t start crying just yet. Ian is engaged in both wishful thinking and headline trolling.

As an added tip to Dr. Headline writer: Don’t capitalize words like “a” and “to”.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Well that's it for Android – Stupid Headlines

Knockout AndroidApple Just Delivered A Knockout Blow To Android with IOS8 blares the headline from Forbes. Yes, we have the Stupid Headline of the Week award winner. Hooray for Forbes.

In case anyone hasn’t been paying attention lately the people over at Forbes have been whoring themselves out for clicks for a number of years now. They basically allow anyone to sign-up for a Forbes blogging account and that person gets to have the word Forbes in their URL.

The people writing the blog posts have no association with Forbes whatsoever. It’s like the URL in this blog post that mentions WordPress because the site is hosted by WordPress.

I’m not associated with WordPress nor is the person who wrote this headline associated with Forbes. Ian Morris just wrote a really stupid headline hoping you would click it.

For all those grieving over the demise of Android, well, don’t start crying just yet. Ian is engaged in both wishful thinking and headline trolling.

As an added tip to Dr. Headline writer: Don’t capitalize words like “a” and “to”.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

When is a Season not a Season – Apple Season Pass Lawsuit

Breaking BadThere’s an interesting case making its way through the court system right now in regards to iTunes’ download policy on a television show.

Basically a popular television show, Breaking Bad, broke their fifth and final season into two groups of episodes. The first eight episodes were released in July of 2012 while the second half of eight episodes was released in the summer of 2013. When people view television shows via download with iTunes and other services like Netflix they can either pay per episode or purchase season passes. Therein lies the crux of the issue.

Does the Season Pass cover the entire season as defined by the content maker or by the date it is released? Is a season that is broken into two parts, two seasons? That’s what Apple thinks and they refused to honor the original Season Pass and viewers had to purchase a second Season Pass for $22.99 or individual episodes.

The first time I remember a season being broken up like this was when the Sopranos broke season six into two parts. The first twelve stared in the spring of 2006 and the last nine in the spring of 2007. I don’t know what the policy of iTunes or other providers was at that time. There were probably incidents before that, it’s just the first I remember.

I think it’s an interesting question from a legal perspective. Who makes the decision on what defines a season? The content creator or the content provider? Both entities charge their audience money. Apple has to pay AMC money in order to provide Breaking Bad episodes on their iTunes network. Meanwhile people must then pay Apple for the right to download the episodes. The two transactions are separate entities.

The issue comes because of the “Season Pass” payment. If it was called a “Contiguous String of Episodes Pass” there might not be as much confusion although certainly the name does not roll as easily off the tongue.

Personally I think Apple has every right to implement whatever pricing plan they want. They could charge by episode groups. Discount for groups of ten. It’s their decision to make.

On the other hand I think that the consumer has every right to expect that something called a Season Pass would, in fact, count for the entire season as defined by the content creator.

So, what we have here is a failure to communicate. Apple chose to name their product “Season Pass” and this is clearly misleading to consumers. Apple has every right to charge for the two sets of episodes separately and consumers have a real complaint about being misled. Where does that leave us?

I think Apple would be wise to extend the Season Pass holders the rights to all the new episodes and refund any money paid out. Then they should revamp their naming scheme. If this case goes to court they will generate a lot of bad publicity at a time when they don’t need it. Sticking to their argument will garner them millions in revenue but I’m not sure it’s worth the price. An accountant might better be able to make that decision.

In my opinion the problem stems completely from lack of forethought. AMC announced the dual season long ago and Apple should have done a much better job of explaining their “Season Pass” policy. This lack of thinking ahead brought on problems that could have easily been avoided.

That’s common in life. It’s good to plan ahead, to anticipate problems before they occur. Particular when millions of dollars are at stake.

What do you think? Apple refund? Whining consumers?

Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a full length eNovel)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Enforcement of the Standard Patent – Obama Ruling

Samsung vs AppleI was astonished to read the headlines that the Obama administration essentially voided a trade panel ruling in the ongoing Apple/Samsung patent wars. Without even reading the stories my immediate reaction was the administration overstepped the separation of powers but I’m learning more and more about this case and my opinion is evolving.

The Essential Patent or Standard Essential Patent is a patent different from non-standard patents. It sounds more complicated than it is. Let’s say I invent a device that makes walking easier, the Easy-Walk. This is a non-standard patent and other people cannot produce anything that is too similar to the Easy-Walk.

On the other hand there are technical standards that everyone who creates particular device follows so that consumers have a standardized product. Plumbing pipes are a certain size for the kitchen as an example. The owner of such a patent is generally required to sell licenses rather than keep the technology for themselves. Otherwise an entire industry, and consumers, suffer.

Watch this video for a better explanation.

Most countries do not enforce patent claims on Standard Essential Patents although Germany is an exception which is why much of the litigation between Samsung and Apple is taking place in that country.

The ongoing dispute between these two technology companies has descended largely into trying to enforce Essential Standard Patents to prevent a rival from selling their technology. If these sorts of lawsuits are allowed to continue there will undoubtedly be a negative effect on the consumer electronic industry which could easily spread to other industries.

The injunction the Obama administration voided was of this kind. Samsung has a patent on an Essential Standard which Apple used in some of their older models. Samsung insisted that Apple should not be allowed to sell them. The Obama administration decided that this pattern of abuse with Essential Standard patents needed to stop. They stepped in with the hopes that the action will discourage others from filing similar claims.

These injunctions represent a real threat to capitalism and, in a way, freedom. If a large company is allowed to enforce Essential Standard Patents then it inhibits, in a significant way, the ability of others to compete in a free and open market. Companies are attempting to destroy each other in the courts rather than making a superior product.

I’m not completely convinced the Obama administration did the right thing in this case but I’m leaning in that direction. Normally I would suggest that the courts impose fines for lawsuits of this nature but the fines are minuscule compared to the loss an injunction against sales causes. Fines are essentially useless in this fight.

If these sorts of lawsuits stop because of the action then it was the right thing to do. If the suits continue then another remedy must be found.

Still, I learned a lot about this because rather than just leaping to a conclusion I stopped and learned more. Always a good thing.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 and you can read it on your phone!)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Critical Thinking Fail – Apple Factories

Critical ThinkingHere is the second in my Critical Thinking Fail series. I just read this article at Yahoo about a story that broke last January on the radio show This American Life. In it a man named Mike Daisy made some pretty serious allegations about the condition of the factory workers in China working on Apple products.

It turns out he made up at least some of the allegations. That’s fine and dandy. He’s a liar, good to know. Keep track of the liars in your life and understand their words in that context.

My critical thinking fail is this. Daisy told This American Life producers that he “lost the phone number” of the translator who took him around to the factories in question. When tracked down said translator put Daisy’s stories into doubt. Subsequently, Daisy admitted to making up some of the allegations although he largely stands by his story.

So, my question is, did This American Life fail to think critically when they went ahead with the story without meeting with the translator to corroborate the story?

[polldaddy poll=6049628]

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Science Rocks

Science Week – Computers

ScienceI don’t think anyone takes computers for granted these days so there isn’t a lot of sense in telling everyone how important they are in the world. Instead I want to talk about how they, more than any politician, altered the economic landscape of the United States and mention of few of the most important names in the field. It’s important to understand why computer technology kept the U.S. as the world’s leading economy and why we are now, once again, in some danger of losing that power.

So my loyal followers, dig into your closets, find that oft used Time Travel cap, and place it firmly upon your head as we go … back … back … back to 1971.

Computers have been around for quite some time with even the ancients using calculating machines. I’m skipping past the fascinating stories of Hero of Alexandria, Wilhelm Shickard,  Charles Xavier Thomas, Ryoichio Yazu,  Joseph Marie Jacquard, Charles Babbage, Herman Hollerith, Arthur Pollen, and Konrad Zuse among a host of others. If you’ve time and inclination these are all interesting stories. However, I’m skipping ahead a bit.

In 1971 Intel developed the microprocessor for a Japanese computer company based on an invention of Robert Dennard. What I think is important here is that a U.S. company built it for a Japanese company. At this time Japan’s economy was growing while the U.S. was beginning a period of stagnation. Japanese cars were flooding the market and American consumers rightly found them to be superior to home built vehicles. Technology from Asia was beginning a flow that continues to this day with China leading the way.

Then in 1975 a little machine called the Altair 8800 was introduced and a group of young Americans began to play with it.  A couple of young fellows named Paul Allen and Bill Gates wrote something called a BASIC Interpreter for it. Two other young guys, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak began to work on their own versions of home computers.

Now, I’m going to leave aside all the name dropping and get back to the economics of computers and how they changed the landscape of U.S. power. By the late 1970’s there was a feeling that the U.S. was losing it’s place as the preeminent economy in the world. Gasoline embargoes and the rise of Asian technological advances contributed to a perception that probably had some merit if was overblown.

Computers changed all that. With companies like Microsoft, Apple, a reinvigorated IBM, Hewlett Packard, Xerox, Commodore, and a host of others suddenly pumping huge sums of money into the economy and paying massive tax bills our economy grew at an astonishing rate. The link between economic growth and technical achievement is strong. However, the boost we gained from computers is waning as it does with all new technology. There are some arguments that this boost was less than others throughout history.

With new technology our living standards improve dramatically, our work week declines, our free time increases, and our buying power increases. I think many of these things are directly attributable to the rise of computers and their related technologies.

The lesson I take from all this is that if we want to continue to improve our lives then we need to continue to invest in emerging technologies and particularly reward entrepreneurship. Too much of late I see Crony Capitalism and regulations designed to empower the established businesses at the expense of the small innovators.

This is a core message of Ayn Rand and Objectivism. If the big companies squeezed out Microsoft, Apple and others with regulations and government intervention our lives would have suffered. The individual achiever must be allowed to innovate and achieve and then we all benefit.

In my opinion, the next new technology is alternate energy. If we continue to invest heavily in subsidies for oil we will fall behind other nations researching nuclear, wind, solar, wave, thermal and other sources of power. If this happens will will lose our place as the most powerful economy in the world. I’ll take that topic on in more detail soon.

For now I simply want to say thank you to all the men and women who bring me computer technology! Gentlemen, Ladies, thank you! Maybe you can take the time to head down into the little cave where your IT staff resides eating donuts and making fun of the technologically illiterate. Ignore the odors, the dank depression, the wild eyed maniac drooling in the corner, and any other strange things you might see, pop your head in with a cheery smile and say, “Thanks!” Then get out of there while you still can!

Tell me what you think in the comments. Like, Tweet, Stumble, Pinterest, PlusOne, and otherwise share with your friends if you think this is worthwhile subject matter.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist