For the heck of it

Monday, May 22, 2006

Taking a Bite out of Apple

Intellectual properties have always been subjects of debate in the IT industry for quite sometime. Intellectual properties that manage to create a sense of anxiousness on the market, find themselves face-to-face with copyright infringements and court cases. The other day, I came across a news item on the internet that screamed “Creative sues Apple over technology”. The news item further went on to elaborate as to how Creative filed a lawsuit against Apple in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, because it saw Apple being involved in a "willful infringement" of Creative's self-termed Zen Patent.

Creative defines the Zen Patent as “a method of selecting at least one track from a plurality of tracks stored in a computer-readable medium of a portable media player configured to present sequentially a first, second, and third display screen on the display of the media player, the plurality of tracks accessed according to a hierarchy, the hierarchy having a plurality of categories, subcategories, and items respectively in a first, second, and third level of the hierarchy.” In layman terms, it essentially defines the way music tracks are organised and navigated on a player through a hierarchy using three or more successive screens. For instance, this would be a sequence of screens that could display artists, then albums and then tracks.

Creative claims that it shipped the NOMAD Jukebox in the US during September, 2000, and by November the same year, PC Data confirmed that it was already a top revenue-generating product in the US in the digital audio player category. The Apple iPod meanwhile was only announced in October 2001, a full 13 months after Creative had been shipping the NOMAD Jukebox. According to Creative, Apple’s iPod player was also based upon the user interface covered by Creative’s Zen Patent.

Reports also suggest that Apple was in talks with Creative in 2001 to license Creative’s driver source code and explore joint business opportunities. However, the discussion failed to take off further, since Creative declined Apple’s offer to spin off its digital media player business into a separate company that Apple would invest in.

Thus, Apple went ahead and launched its own version of digital audio player in October 2001. Meanwhile in 2005, Creative was awarded the Zen patent. That brings us to a big question – why did Creative wait for almost an entire year to sue Apple over the alleged infringement? There could be two answers to it. May be Creative tried ousting Apple from the top position, by launching new and innovative player models every now and then. But when its efforts failed to materialise, it went ahead and sued Apple following the rule, “if you can’t beat them, sue them”.

Another reason could be that Creative was planning out the lawsuit all this while and found this the right time to get its message aboard. This law suit certainly means that Creative is all out to sue Apple (and other MP3 player vendors) that use the same type of interface. This is because most MP3 player models on the market today, allow you to sort music either by the genre or even the artist name. I am not however sure whether Creative will pursue a licensing agreement with Apple. It might even try an out-of-the-court settlement, similar to what happened between NTP and Research in Motion. However, if Creative's intention is dethroning the king of MP3s, it seems likely that it will pursue the law suit till the end.

Meanwhile Apple surely won't go down without a long, bitter fight. More likely, Creative will push for a rather large sum in damages and a hefty licensing fee to bring in continuing revenues for the struggling music player manufacturer. I feel that Apple will be spending a lot of time and money in the courtroom defending its digital music empire. Why I say this? Well, I just read another news item that said “Apple countersues Creative”.

Monday, May 08, 2006

That's a hat-trick!

"...or shall we say "Third Time Unlucky"? Well, I have lost hope. Every time there is something good waiting to happen, something or the other just goes wrong. I try so hard to make it happen... I almost tell myself... 'oh, we are almost there'. But No! Fate doesn't like me fooling around and there I go again - lost, and hopeless. So close... yet so far... hmmmm, life goes on."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The next Indian woman in space

Following the footsteps of Kalpana Chawla, an Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams will now be a part of the replacement crew for the six-month-long International Space Station Expedition. This space programme will be carried out in September this year.

Sunita's selection caps the prospects, which began in 2003 when she was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Agency as a backup crew member for one of its missions to the space station orbiting about 240 miles above Earth.

She is the second astronaut of Indian origin after Kalpana Chawla, whose space odyssey had a tragic end on February 1, 2003, when space shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas during re-entry.

Check out Sunita Williams' profile on NASA's web site here.

Her entry in Wikipedia is here.


The advantage of being Chinese

If you cannot decipher anything, then try pulling the corner of your eyes as if you were Chinese.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Welcome To Your Worst Nightmare

Spoiler Warning

I watched Hostel yesterday and I should say that it's frickin' sick! To describe the movie in two words - Sleazefest and Gore. Well, it's a usual Quentin Tarantino movie - the first half of the movie seems like fun, while post interval is where you encounter a shock. The movie has however been directed by Eli Roth - the director of "Cabin Fever". Hostel is the second mainstream film by Roth, whose Cabin Fever was a playful throwback to 70s gritty horror. It was gory, to be sure, but much lighter than Roth's second effort - Hostel.

Hostel has been shot in Europe entirely. (UPDATED: Now though the directors will have us assume that the movie has been shot in Bratislava, Slovakia, the story has actually been shot entirely in Prague, Czech Republic). The story revolves around three guys who are backpacking in Europe - two Americans (Paxton and Josh), and one Icelandic (Óli). The movie opens with them having fun in Amsterdam (UPDATED: which is again Prague and not Amsterdam, as the directors would like us to believe) - doping and checking out brothels. After they are denied entrance into a hostel where they stay, because they arrived after curfew, they go to an acquaintance's apartment to spend the night.

At the apartment they learn about a hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia, with incredibly hot women who will do just about anything for foreign American boys. That idea alone should sound off an alarm, but our friends are, well...stoned and horny and looking for a hands-on experience in multiculturalism. The trio thus decide to track down the hostel by train. Everything seems well, but unfortunately there is more to the hostel than meets the eye. The next morning, Óli goes missing. Later Josh is also missing. Paxton, then sees that there is something worng going on and thus embarks in his search for Josh.

The rest of the movie is whether Paxton manages to find Óli and Josh. The movie has some major disturbing scenes - one is shown where Josh is being tortured using a drilling machine. Another scene shows Paxton's fingers being cut using a saw. The movie has been rated R for voilence, blood and gore, strong sexual scenes, explicit language, and drug use. Some countries have even banned this film, due to its graphic nature.

The City of Bratislava, Slovakia, which has been portrayed in the film as being a sex and crime capital, has condemned the makers of the film, saying that the film shows the beautiful city of Bratislava in bad light. The authorities had asked the makers of the film for an apology, stating that Bratislava is in no way like what it has been portrayed in the film. Check out the press release here

NOTE: Sentences in BOLD have been updated recently.