Friday, May 27, 2016

Do Google API declarations violate an Oracle Copyright

More completely:
Do “declarations of the API [application programming interface] elements in the Android class library source code and object code that implements the 37 [Java] API packages” violate a copyright held by Oracle?

An Initial Bias
In the Database (DB) world I grew up with Oracle.  Whereas my first proper database was really Informix,  Oracle was the familiar  DB where I always felt at home.   Even when later I was supposed to be fawning over the capabilities of IBM's DB2,  I always hankered back to Oracle.  20 years ago I  always unfairly gave Oracle the benefit of the doubt.

But over the years the behavior of the Oracle CEO, of course Larry Ellison 
has had me cringing until  in 2010  Oracle went for the big disgrace.  To quote Wikipedia

On August 12, 2010, Oracle sued Google over claimed infringement of copyrights and patents related to the Java programming language.[293] Oracle originally sought damages up to $6.1 billion,[294] but this valuation was rejected by a United States federal judge who asked Oracle to revise the estimate.[295] In response, Google submitted multiple lines of defense, counterclaiming that Android did not infringe on Oracle's patents or copyright, that Oracle's patents were invalid, and several other defenses. They said that Android is based on Apache Harmony, a clean room implementation of the Java class libraries, and an independently developed virtual machine called Dalvik.[296] In May 2012, the jury in this case found that Google did not infringe on Oracle's patents, and the trial judge ruled that the structure of the Java APIs used by Google was not copyrightable.[297][298] The parties agreed to zero dollars in statutory damages for a small amount of copied code.[299] On May 9, 2014, the Federal Circuit partially reversed the district court ruling, ruling in Oracle's favor on the copyrightability issue, and remanding the issue of fair use to the district court.[300][301]

In December 2015, Google announced that the next major release of Android would switch to OpenJDK, which is the official open-source implementation of the Java platform, instead of using the now-discontinued Apache Harmony project as its runtime. Code reflecting this change was also posted to the AOSP source repository.[143] In its announcement, Google claimed this was part of an effort to create a "common code base" between Java on Android and other platforms.[144] Google later admitted in a court filing that this was part of an effort to address the disputes with Oracle, as its use of OpenJDK code is governed under the GNU General Public License(GPL) with a linking exception, and that "any damages claim associated with the new versions expressly licensed by Oracle under OpenJDK would require a separate analysis of damages from earlier releases".[143]

May 26th 2016 Verdict
From arstechnica:  Following a two-week trial, a jury has found that Google's Android operating system does not infringe Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs is protected by "fair use." The verdict was reached after three days of deliberation.

Other Examples

How far would Linux Development have got, if the owners of UNIX had said, sorry you can't copy any of our System calls or API's?

Ditto for Minix and any other UNIX like Operating System.

How far would GNU have got if UNIX developers had said: Sorry our UNIX utilities and command flags are not to be copied?

How far would Microsoft DOS have developed had it not adopted the API structure from Digital Research CP/M and CPM/86?


Yes but: The Appeal

I am pretty sure the tossers [that is Oracle of course] are going to argue the toss.  They have the money and will; based on previous performance, appeal and whine and moan, dragging out the case to its last gasp.

Where do I stand Now?

- No matter the technical qualities of Java,  I think I'd rather code in Assembler than have to promote any kind of code owned by Oracle
- And whilst I might have grown up with Oracle,  I think the company has sufficiently showed me its true colours, so if I could instead use another database,  (well very easily in SAP by the way) then I would if I could.
- Given that Android is free  (see Android AOSP),  Oracle's trying to extract between 6 and 9 Billion Dollars from Google  (depending on who you consult) for this API violation is just a total disgrace.
- And don't even get me started about Oracle licensing!!

I can sum it up succinctly

Don't be evil

Dear Oracle: your behaviour broke my heart .....

ABC: Poison Arrow

ArsTechnica briefing
Quartz Coverage
Realtime Web Coverage

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Japan Classic at Bleinbach

I know, friends are asking Marcus, just how many Birthday 2016 celebrations did you actually have?  I have to admit that Agata outdid herself and arranged for us to attend the Japanese Classic car show in Bleinbach Switzerland.

Some Photos

And Also
The vintage car scene simply draws owners of whatever marque to an event.  So not on formal display, but mostly parked in the Open Air Car Park we also came across ...

Marcus had a wonderful time informing Agata about the choice details of the many cars that he oh so nearly bought in the years when the Japanese made the hottest cars in town.

The full album of photographs at original resolution is uploaded and available in Google Photos here

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Every Time You Say GoodBye

Ella Fitzgerald: Every Time

Subtitle:  With every sell off, I die a little

There was quite a sharp pain in my gut when I read that Microsoft is internally proclaiming a withdrawal from its presence in the Smartphone market.   It is particularly galling because at the same time it is /talking up/ the prospect of "great new devices"

I felt the same angst when IBM sold its semiconductor manufacturing business in 2014. to Global Foundries.  The headlines and sentiment from the article above were just plain wrong.  One example shown above. Either intentionally due to ignorance or willfully so, the effect is the same

For over a decade IBM has argued that its manufacturing was not core competency, arguing that "mere manufacture" was now a sort of commodity.  It like other aspects, let me think: The IBM Printer Business, The IBM Disk Drive Business,  the IBM Intel Server Business.  Hmm, let us simply outsource this "to a specialist".    The number of people who think the 1.5B $ was a sale, that I had to correct:  No IBM, paid 1.5B USD to GlobalFoundries to take the business away, they did not receive any money.

Unflippin believable.

Talking it Up
Whilst nobody likes a misery guts, and we are all taught to think and act positive, because people just respond better to it, there continues to be a worldwide epidemic of false optimism that occludes and obscures reality.

Take the Financial world for example, where in the USA the FED continually talks about the chance of /an interest rate rise/, talking up the market, but in reality has no intention of delivery, further punishing savers.  And with each broken promise sending signals to those who borrow, that they should merely continue and further aggrandize their position.

Change is Necessary
Change is necessary, but not all change is good.  Without the power of hindsight I can definitively state that:

Any company that abandons one or more,  or perhaps several of its Core Businesses or Competencies, best realise that afterwards

It really is a totally different company to that of its founders

Back to Microsoft

+ You are right to focus efforts on Universal Windows Platform (UWP)
+ Developers need a way to develop simultaneously for smartphone, portable, desktop and even Enterprise platforms

+ Developers need a convenient way to convert old Windows apps to UWP, and you are providing this
+  With UWP focused apps you are removed from fixed architectures.  As I have previously suggested you could then re-invent your Smartphone platform on different Hardware architectures easily
+ You need to get tougher on others like Apple and Google, who are purposefully not developing for Windows Mobile, just to screw with you. 
+ You continue to invest in Cross Platform developer platforms - fantastic innovation
- The above statements do not conflict the Open Source Programming model, you need to do more to embrace this publicly though
- Getting out of the Smartphone Hardware business would be a plain mistake

Oh, and IBM,  does M still stand for Machines now, or after you have sold off every, or nearly every Manufacturing Plant, and Hardware division you ever built and made great, maybe the acronym should change too?

Still Waiting

John Meyer:Waiting on the World to Change

Simplistic End User Design

Recently a friend who is an excellent cook has talked about finally getting a decent food processor, now that their existing [mediocre] one has finally given up the ghost.

As usual it set Marcus and Agata of on an interesting trail of discovery, since food processing equipment is not at all an area of knowledge for us.   But we thought as Engineers and logicians we would turn our mind to the task.

We were told that the gold standard was Vitamix and that the 750 is a great machine, but that the 300 series is probably enough for a small  household on a reduced budget.

And then our local qoqa bargain site has amazingly a Princes Turbo blender for /only/ 199 CHF

Before the offer expired (24 hours) we now had a deadline to investigate and comment and advise on this technology.

The race was on to use Google to intensively Internet Research ...

Occams Razor Extended

Marcus used Occam's razor principle in 2009 to talk about product ownership.  Today I'll propose to use it to help with product design and selection

The gist of the argument is:

Buy a product that by design meets your needs closely.  Something without lots of needless add on gimmicks that if you seriously consider it, you know you will never use end us being a distraction and an annoyance.

Many of us can relate to this argument in many other spheres of our lives.  The washing machine with > 30 programmes, but we settle down in real life to just using 2.

The Word Processing package that is so sophisticated we are deeply conscious of the fact that we use less than 5% of its capabilities, making us feel like idiots.

The car with an infotainment and computerised audio/ climate/ engine setup system so complicated that you hardly dare go into the menus for fear of screwing something up.

End User vs Actual Design
Many products have a complicated Internal design but operationally and for End user interaction they are simple to operate.   Apple products for example, typically have excellent End User accessibility and interface.  However internally they are difficult, and sometimes impossible to service: too much solder and glue meaning disassembly & component replacement is not just impractical but impossible.

But the end user is not directly affected  (I'm leaving out Environmental waste concerns as this is a separate, though valid discussion beyond this article scope)

So the first pass must be that End User operation must match a users capability, and for most people, even professionals this means simplicity.

In this Case
- What do all those buttons do?
- How easy to clean if I spill liquid over the unit itself
- How strong is the motor
- What is the Warranty
- If it goes wrong then how do I get it fixed
- Will it physically fit under the kitchen cupboards
- Do components fit in the dishwasher, and can they be 
- International voltage in case I move country
- Spare parts if I drop and break something

Our analysis had us going to the Vitamix all of the time.

Oh, but the Cost Argument
A slight setback to our argument is that the Vitamix 350 with its quality and simplistic design costs 799 CHF (at least) in Switzerland.  And that the Princess device on the qoqa offer was only 199 CHF.

The Verdict
- For Marcus and Agata, our mostly occasional needs would easily be satisfied via the special offer of the Princess Blender
- But if you are an expert cook, who wants a simpler and more professional unit, and somebody who has been obsessing about the ultimate Vitamix quality product, then the choice is clear
- Go for the superior, simpler and elegant Vitamix and to hell with the cost!

Vitamix vs Blendtec

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Welcome to Switzerland

Subtitle:Feeling Poor again in Switzerland

With what I can only describe as the secondly shockingly expensive contraption being advertised on the Swiss bargain website  in a matter of one week, I feel compelled to write something.

I still believe after over a decade of living in Switzerland, i.e. my views are not just of somebody /fresh off the boat/ that money still flows relatively freely in this non EU country.

On the Lausanne metro  I play a game of who is my carriage is NOT using an Apple iPhone. And then, of those iPhone users who is using the latest 6S technology and who has been so rude as to stick with something older.  (The results are that over 50% of those using Smartphones are Apple by the way, and a sizable proportion, I mean over 40% of them are on 6x technology)

But back to the Breaking Point
I talked in March 2016 about how  was still my favourite Swiss bargains website, and that they have expanded to etcetera.

So the and sister websites provide

- A daily deal
- For Switzerland
- Designed to appeal to the Regular Swiss customer, i.e. not the super rich
- Provide Real Bargains

So the first shocker a few days back was the chance to buy a Laurastar Ironing Board and Iron for only 1499 CHF.  That is 1046 GBP or 1514 USD; for International readers

And then today we have the chance to buy a Husqvarna 315 robot lawn mower at 2499 CHF which is 1744 GBP.

A bargain?

Well if you consult the UK Manufacturer website ...

You will see the UK price is 1600 GBP including 20% VAT compared to the qoqa bargain price of 1744 GBP equivalent with 8% Swiss VAT.

Unflippin believable.

Now I do know that Husqvarna is a Swedish company so it's imported to both countries.  There are therefore no Internal Manufacturing costs to deal with, just perhaps different costs of transportation and the maintenance of a local retail distribution network, the costs of which due to higher labour costs might be marginally higher in Switzerland.

But a difference between 1600 GBP (including 20% VAT) for the UK and 3170 CHF (including 8% VAT) which is 2212 GBP equivalent?

Oh, and these products, an Ironing Board, a Lawn Mower maybe up-market, but are being sold on a /Bargains/ website, and check the qoqa history, are nearly all without exception sold out within the 24 hour timeslot.

So yes, Marcus the non Apple iPhone or iPad user and not the Husqqvarna mower or Laurastar Ironing board owner, feels suitable poor today.

Welcome to Switzerland indeed.

Husqvarna Robotic Lawn Mowers

Monday, May 23, 2016

Bike Days Solothurn 2016

Bike Days: A few jumps

Marcus has cycled all his life, well since the age of a toddler, since we had a large garden and driveway in England, making for private tuition, experimentation, falls and eventual progress.

Agata has now cycled a Road bicycle almost daily for over 15 years.

So, when Agata heard of a local Swiss large bicycle expo in Solothurn, I said YES PLEASE!

Obviously this forms part #3 of Marcus' birthday celebration :-)

The main attraction was the Expo.  So in Pictures and comments, some highlights of what we saw.

Bike Days Expo

A queue

I know, everybody was standing around looking at each other thinking.  In Switzerland, a queue.  How can this be ?


Small Swiss startup with big plans.   Like some others they are exhibiting 1000Wh battery capacity electric bikes with upto 750Watt motors.  Astonishing!

My definition is an immensely impractical and heavy but showy bicycle.  Ideal for making a statement but not very practical.  A plaything really, but hey, it takes all sorts.


Some impressively light, fat tyred bicycles, no electric power and good in the snow

 Started doing motorhome VW rentals.  Impressive

 Marcus found what appears to be a rarity.  A swiss bargain.  A seller at the show of waterproof smartphone cases.  We plan to use this to protect our phones whilst out cycling or whilst swimming.

Light and Motion

 I scrutinised the design of Taz 1500 and 1200 and was very impressed.

Do an interesting mains powered neck and upper body massager.  Apparently can be used on feet too.   Marcus the model shown above, it was a beautifully strong massage as my expression shows.

 Rose are an international bicycle mail order company.  They had complete bicycles on display

They have a bicycle configurator ... wow!

So Many Stands
There was so much to see.  We didn't photoshoot everything.  For example at the Garmin stand we tried the Vivoactive HR, and found as we suspected that it looks great, but might not work on a smaller wrist.


 Really High quality and beautifully Engineered electric bicycles.   But you will pay for it!


At the stand a bike with Sram Red eTap , the world class Swiss Triathlete Daniela Ryf, and a variety of  road and cross bikes.  Very nice.


 Custom fitted cycling shorts.  Now for women too.

The Town
We also took time to stroll around the Solothurn itself.  As it was Sunday, of course all the shops were closed.

Whilst the focus was Mountain/ off-road bicycles or Electric there was still a good showing of Road Bicycles and Accessories.  We had a great time browsing, and testing out the food at the nutrition stands.  Thanks to Agata for finding this event.   Marcus' birthday celebrations continue!

Google Photos Full Album