Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'google'

Dustin Kirkland

It's hard for me to believe that I have sat on a this draft blog post for almost 6 years.  But I'm stuck on a plane this evening, inspired by Elon Musk and Tesla's (cleverly titled) announcement, "All Our Patents Are Belong To You."  Musk writes:

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
When I get home, I'm going to take down a plaque that has proudly hung in my own home office for nearly 10 years now.  In 2004, I was named an IBM Master Inventor, recognizing sustained contributions to IBM's patent portfolio.

Musk continues:
When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.
And I feel the exact same way!  When I was an impressionable newly hired engineer at IBM, I thought patents were wonderful expressions of my own creativity.  IBM rewarded me for the work, and recognized them as important contributions to my young career.  Remember, in 2003, IBM was defending the Linux world against evil SCO.  (Confession: I think I read Groklaw every single day.)

Yeah, I filed somewhere around 75 patents in about 4 years, 47 of which have been granted by the USPTO to date.

I'm actually really, really proud of a couple of them.  I was the lead inventor on a couple of early patents defining the invention you might know today as Swype (Android) or Shapewriter (iPhone) on your mobile devices.  In 2003, I called it QWERsive, as the was basically applying "cursive handwriting" to a "qwerty keyboard."  Along with one of my co-inventors, we actually presented a paper at the 27th UNICODE conference in Berlin in 2005, and IBM sold the patent to Lenovo a year later.  (To my knowledge, thankfully that patent has never been enforced, as I used Swype every single day.)

QWERsive

But that enthusiasm evaporated very quickly between 2005 and 2007, as I reviewed thousands of invention disclosures by my IBM colleagues, and hundreds of software patents by IBM competitors in the industry.

I spent most of 2005 working onsite at Red Hat in Westford, MA, and came to appreciate how much more efficiently innovation happened in a totally open source world, free of invention disclosures, black out periods, gag orders, and software patents.  I met open source activists in the free software community, such as Jon maddog Hall, who explained the wake of destruction behind, and the impending doom ahead, in a world full of software patents.

Finally, in 2008, I joined an amazing little free software company called Canonical, which was far too busy releasing Ubuntu every 6 months on time, and building an amazing open source software ecosystem, to fart around with software patents.  To my delight, our founder, Mark Shuttleworth, continues to share the same enlightened view, as he states in this TechCrunch interview (2012):
“People have become confused,” Shuttleworth lamented, “and think that a patent is incentive to create at all.” No one invents just to get a patent, though — people invent in order to solve problems. According to him, patents should incentivize disclosure. Software is not something you can really keep secret, and as such Shuttleworth’s determination is that “society is not benefited by software patents at all.”Software patents, he said, are a bad deal for society. The remedy is to shorten the duration of patents, and reduce the areas people are allowed to patent. “We’re entering a third world war of patents,” Shuttleworth said emphatically. “You can’t do anything without tripping over a patent!” One cannot possibly check all possible patents for your invention, and the patent arms race is not about creation at all.
And while I'm still really proud of some of my ideas today, I'm ever so ashamed that they're patented.

If I could do what Elon Musk did with Tesla's patent portfolio, you have my word, I absolutely would.  However, while my name is listed as the "inventor" on four dozen patents, all of them are "assigned" to IBM (or Lenovo).  That is to say, they're not mine to give, or open up.

What I can do, is speak up, and formally apologize.  I'm sorry I filed software patents.  A lot of them.  I have no intention on ever doing so again.  The system desperately needs a complete overhaul.  Both the technology and business worlds are healthier, better, more innovative environment without software patents.

I do take some consolation that IBM seems to be "one of the good guys", in so much as our modern day IBM has not been as litigious as others, and hasn't, to my knowledge, used any of the patents for which I'm responsible in an offensive manner.

No longer hanging on my wall.  Tucked away in a box in the attic.
But there are certainly those that do.  Patent trolls.

Another former employer of mine, Gazzang was acquired earlier this month (June 3rd) by Cloudera -- a super sharp, up-and-coming big data open source company with very deep pockets and tremendous market potential.  Want to guess what happened 3 days later?  A super shady patent infringement lawsuit is filed, of course!
Protegrity Corp v. Gazzang, Inc.
Complaint for Patent InfringementCivil Action No. 3:14-cv-00825; no judge yet assigned. Filed on June 6, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut;Patents in case 7,305,707: “Method for intrusion detection in a database system” by Mattsson. Prosecuted by Neuner; George W. Cohen; Steven M. Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP. Includes 22 claims (2 indep.). Was application 11/510,185. Granted 12/4/2007.
Yuck.  And the reality is that happens every single day, and in places where the stakes are much, much higher.  See: Apple v. Google, for instance.

Musk concludes his post:
Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.
What a brave, bold, ballsy, responsible assertion!

I've never been more excited to see someone back up their own rhetoric against software patents, with such a substantial, palpable, tangible assertion.  Kudos, Elon.

Moreover, I've also never been more interested in buying a Tesla.   Coincidence?

Maybe it'll run an open source operating system and apps, too.  Do that, and I'm sold.

:-Dustin

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David Murphy (schwuk)

Zach Holman writes about how GitHub communicates:

here’s a look at most of the communication that happened at GitHub on one random recent day: February 4, 2014

The expected methods are all there: chat (Campfire in their case), email, and – of course – GitHub itself.

One thing that piqued my interest was their internal-only social network “Team” which seems very reminiscent of how Automattic use WordPress & P2. Since I learned how Automattic use P2, I’ve been wondering if we could do something similar at Canonical. Perhaps we could use Google+  for this as we already use it for internal HangoutsUbuntu Developer Summit, and to power Ubuntu On-Air. There are ways to limit Google+ communities to members of your Google Apps domain.

(Side note: I hate having two Google+ accounts!)

I really need to finish coalescing my thoughts and put them into their own post…

The other point I noted was that their use of email was both minimal and individual – Team and GitHub itself are their primary ways of disseminating information.

It always interesting to see how others do achieve similar goals to yourself.

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David Murphy (schwuk)

Zach Holman writes about how GitHub communicates:

here’s a look at most of the communication that happened at GitHub on one random recent day: February 4, 2014

The expected methods are all there: chat (Campfire in their case), email, and – of course – GitHub itself.

One thing that piqued my interest was their internal-only social network “Team” which seems very reminiscent of how Automattic use WordPress & P2. Since I learned how Automattic use P2, I’ve been wondering if we could do something similar at Canonical. Perhaps we could use Google+  for this as we already use it for internal Hangouts, Ubuntu Developer Summit, and to power Ubuntu On-Air. There are ways to limit Google+ communities to members of your Google Apps domain.

(Side note: I hate having two Google+ accounts!)

I really need to finish coalescing my thoughts and put them into their own post…

The other point I noted was that their use of email was both minimal and individual – Team and GitHub itself are their primary ways of disseminating information.

It always interesting to see how others do achieve similar goals to yourself.

The post How GitHub communicates appeared first on David Murphy.

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David Murphy (schwuk)

As part of our self-improvement and knowledge sharing within Canonical, within our group (Professional and Engineering Services) we regularly – at least once a month – run what we call an “InfoSession”. Basically it is Google Hangout on Air with a single presenter on a topic that is of interest/relevance to others, and one of my responsibilities is organising them. Previously we have had sessions on:

  • Go (a couple of sessions in fact)
  • SystemTap
  • Localization (l10n) and internationalization (i18n)
  • Juju
  • Graphviz
  • …and many others…

Today the session was on continuous integration with Tarmac and Vagrant, presented by Daniel Manrique from our certification team. In his own words:

Merge requests and code reviews are a fact of life in Canonical. Most projects start by manually merging approved requests, including running a test suite prior to merging.

This infosession will talk about tools that automate this workflow (Tarmac), while leveraging your project’s test suite to ensure quality, and virtual machines (using Vagrant) to provide multi-release, repeatable testing.

Like most of our sessions it is publicly available, here it is is for your viewing pleasure:

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David

Chromium Translations in Launchpad

I’m very much thrilled to announce that Chromium, the Open Source project behind Google Chrome, the browser that is transforming the way we experience the web, is now open for community translation in Launchpad.

Chromium will be hosting its translations in Launchpad Translations, the collaborative online tool for translating Open Source projects and building community around them.

Translate Chromium in Launchpad

You can now translate Chromium online into almost any language. Using Launchpad’s simple web interface you’ll only need a Launchpad account, a web browser and good knowledge of English and the language you’ll be translating into.

Under the Hood

For the technically minded among us, here’s an overview of how everything fits together.

But first of all, I need to mention that all this would not have been possible without the fantastic work of Fabien Tassin, the legendary Ubuntu community member of Chromium and Firefox packaging fame. Big thanks also go to Evan Martin from the Chromium project, the Launchpad Translations developers and anyone else involved in making this possible.

In short, after seeing the willingness from the Chromium project to use translations infrastructure in Launchpad, Fabien single-handedly designed and implemented the machinery that performs the conversion between the Chrome translation format and Gettext, the widely-used standard format Launchpad understands.  He did not stop here, and he also devised a way to package these translations and submit them to upstream.

The following diagram illustrates the Chromium translations lifecycle:

Chromium Translations Lifecycle

Chromium Translations Lifecycle - Diagram by Fabien Tassin

The work is happening between Fabien’s server, where he maintains a local copy of the Chromium upstream branches, and Launchpad, where the PPA builds and translations happen. These are the two big blocks you see on the diagram.

The existing Chromium translations are imported into Launchpad after being converted to the gettext format. The result is then committed in a bzr branch, which is enabled with automatic translation imports to make the translations available through the web UI.

At this point translators can do their work: either complete missing translations, improve existing ones or add new languages.

This work is then committed daily to another bzr branch making use of another cool Launchpad integration feature: automatic translation exports.

The rest of the process is also fully automatic: every day, a bot in Fabien’s server fetches the translations export branch, converts back from gettext to the Chromium translation format, merges that with the upstream trunk and lands the changes in the corresponding PPA of the daily builds. For other branches the process is the same, except that it is only run when there is a new upstream release.

From there, patches with the translations are generated daily for anyone else interested in using them.

Q+A

What does community translation mean?
It means that any Open Source enthusiast will be able to translate Chromium to their language through volunteer contributions.

Why do we need community translations?
Many of the translations already available in Chromium come from private translations originated in Chrome. Until now, Chromium did not have any translation infrastructure to enable the community to localize the software, and therefore some languages were incomplete. In Launchpad you can now a) complete Chromium translations, b) improve them and c) add new languages.

How do I get started translating Chromium?
If you don’t have one already, you’ll need a Launchpad account. Once you’ve created it and selected your prefered languages, simply point your browser to https://translations.launchpad.net/chromium-browser, click on your language of choice, and that’s it, you can now start translating!

?I can submit neither translations suggestions nor translations. How can I translate Chromium?
If you aren’t already logged in to Launchpad, try to log in and see if it helps. If it doesn’t, that’s probably because there is no translation team for your language yet. Launchpad Translations is built around a model of community (in the form of translation teams) and permissions (chosen by the project developer).

The permission model for Chromium is Restricted, which provides a good balance between community participation and translation quality. This means that while everyone can submit translations suggestions, only the members of the translation team will be able to accept them after review.

Have a look at the list of teams in the Launchpad Translators group. If there isn’t one, you should be able to start a new team in a matter of minutes following these simple instructions, which will allow you to start translating Chromium once the team is approved.

When I try to translate my translations are saved as suggestions. Why can’t I directly submit translations?
That’s because you are not part of the translation team for your language. You can look for your language’s translation team here and get in touch with them. If you wish, you can ask them if you can join the team or if they can review your suggestions. See the previous question for more information on translation teams, suggestions and permissions.

How do I get support for Launchpad Translations?
There are many ways to get support if you need help. Here are some of them: you can ask a question in Launchpad, you can send an e-mail to the launchpad-users mailing list or you can ask on the #launchpad IRC channel on the Freenode network. You will find more information here.

Will Chromium translations make it to Google Chrome?
Most probably not. Google Chrome and its translations are subject to different QA processes than Chromium and we’re not contemplating this possibility at this time. We are only making those strings either common or specific to Chromium available for translation.

How often will translations be updated?
?It depends on the Chromium version and the operating system you are using:

  • Ubuntu, stable: if you are using the Chromium version provided in the Ubuntu package through Software Center, you will get a translations update whenever there is a new Chromium stable version released upstream.
  • Ubuntu, PPA: If you are using the Chromium daily PPA for Ubuntu, there are several options depending on which actual PPA (channel) you are using: for trunk, once a string is translated in Launchpad it takes about 2 days to be available; for the other channels (dev, beta, stable) translations are only made available whenever there is a Chromium upstream release.
  • Other: the frequency of updates in other distributions will depend on the use they make of the translations and their update policies. There are currently no Chromium builds for Windows or Mac.

This is a fully automatic process: translations exported from Launchpad are fetched daily, merged with the upstream trunk and changes are landed in the corresponding PPA of the daily builds.

How can other Operating Systems use the Chromium community translations?
The intention is that any Operating System/Linux distribution can benefit from the work from Launchpad translators, so these translations will be available to anyone interested in using them. They  can even be used for Windows and Mac.

If you are interested in using the translations for another distro, the best thing is to get in touch with Fabien (you’ll also find him as fta in the #chromium IRC channel on Freenode).

If you’ve got more questions, also feel free to ask by sending a comment to this blog post.

Happy translating!


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Wow, I’d like to thank Google for enabling Voice and Video chat in Linux. Thank you for taking the time and effort to support our platform!

In Ubuntu we’ve been shipping Empathy, a chat client based on the Telepathy framework, which has supported Video chat over gtalk (a jabber based network) for quite some time (see my answer on Stack Exchange). In case you didn’t know, Empathy (and the underlying guts) has been primarily developed and supported by a company in the UK called Collabora; who have been funding this work for quite some time. And yeah, they’re basically awesome people to hang out with.

I am wondering why it took Google over 2 years to support this feature. Google decided to support Jabber on purpose, for whatever reason when they launched gtalk; they’ve always been good at supporting open standards, but they never supported this feature until just now. Why? 

Those of use using Empathy/Telepathy have been enjoying audio/video support for quite some time, so we know it’s technically possible. And as it works out the people who make our operating system WANT to ship features like this OUT OF THE BOX. Maybe they wanted to and couldn’t get it quite out the door until now. Who am I to complain, without gtalk the Jabber protocol would probably not be as popular, so thanks for that Google folks for putting their hand in that.

I can’t help but wonder why Google would support Jabber right off the bat with gtalk but it would take them so long to support the video/audio feature until now; our Telepathy friends seemed to figure it out — but I don’t want to dwell on that, what I do want to dwell on is a message we need to send to companies like Google: how can we better improve our platform so that it doesn’t take you 2 years to support us.

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