The guy whose hand is up my butt made a Flash version of an interactive storybook for the upcoming Alice: Madness Returns game, to complement the lovely iOS and Android versions of the storybook. If awesome visuals are your cup of tea, you can check it out now on facebook.
Facebook is holding some special event this Wednesday, October 6, to unveil something. Nobody knows yet, but lots of folks are speculating on the introduction of the Facebook Phone, Facebook/Skype integration, updates to Places (which seems less an issue of reasoned speculation and more a case of idjits moaning about the fact that Places doesn’t work in their country yet), possibly a Facebook-themed unicorn-buggering service.
Techcrunch (who has enough money because of the AOL buyout to afford my show. Call me) ruminates on this upcoming event, and the bit of fanwankery that caught my eye was this:
iPad: The lack of an official Facebook iPad app has been glaring since the device launched six months ago, and while some third party apps have stepped up to the plate (and done very well financially), a Facebook app is still nowhere to be seen.
Why does everyone keep going on about how much of a big deal an iPad-app for Facebook would be? The only reason they needed to make an iPhone app for their site is that their regular website was impossible to use on the iPhone, because the iPhone has a screen that’s only 3 or so inches big (like me!) and they had to restructure their experience to make sense on a small screen. But the iPad, in case you “pundits” haven’t noticed, is a full 10 inches (like Steve!). You don’t need to restructure anything, because the Facebook experience fits perfectly well and looks great on an iPad. Let me say that again, in case some of you are dimwitted:
A Facebook iPad app is unnecessary because Facebook fits on an iPad.
Jesus Crap, tech journalists are thick. What would you gain from having an iPad app? Places, maybe, though if they just added that to their website then everyone could access it from wherever they happen to be, and not just a super-small subset of people bitching about their precious First World Problems. What else would you gain? You wouldn’t have to worry about logging in all the time, I guess, but considering that you can tell the browser to remember your goddamn login information, this seems like a non-issue.
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying Facebook won’t ever build an iPad app; they very well might. I’m just saying it’s goddamn pointless to do so, and its introduction would only serve to stem the tide of blogger-bitching for about two seconds.
In a TechCrunch post yesterday about the implications of Facebook’s new internet-wide “Like” system, MG Seigler nails it:
Facebook’s intentions very clear: they want to be the fabric of the web.
I’m about to soil my beautiful track suit (lucky for me it’s already brown!). Didn’t I say just yesterday that Zuckerberg was a menace? If I didn’t say it explicitly, let me say it now: Mark Zuckerberg is a pimply-faced menace, the little bastard.
I’m not going to take this lying down, because my close, personal friend Steve Jobs is in the process of trying to destroy the internet because it’s open, and open is bad. Closed applications on the iTunes store are good. Do you know what side of that particular fence Zuckerman is on? That’s right: he’s on the bad side, and if Steve says the net has to go down, then it has to go down, which means that Mike Zuckerman must be stopped!
There some fascinating stats coming out of Facebook’s f8 conference (techcrunch has a bunch of coverage). For example, did you know that Mark Zuckerberg’s penis is only 1″ long? And that he sleeps upside down in a jar of his own urine? And that he masturbates himself to sleep every night looking at pictures of Bill Gates? It’s possibly true!
This is Walt Mossberg; shut up.
In a move that came as no surprise yet sent a record number of industry observers to the emergency room with a broken wrist because of how fast and how hard they hit themselves in the face with the palm of their hand, Facebook was awarded a patent this week for “the feed.” For those of you who aren’t hip to these things like I am, the feed is Facebook’s name for the list of activities you see when you log in to Facebook.
You know where all your notifications get shown, and messages about who’s friends with who, who’s asking you to play some goddamn online game, asking for a trinket or a treasure or something? That’s the feed. It’s a list of information relevant to the user. You know, like every other list of information a user gets presented with when they go to practically any website in the world.
Let me just say straight away that I think the US Patent Office is scum, and that software patents are dirty scum. Are you with me so far? It boggles the mind that Facebook could be awarded a patent for something so obvious and ubiquitous as a list of information relevant to the user in a social context. What this patent means is that if Facebook wanted to, it could shut down half the internet because they now own the rights to everybody else’s core functionality. It’s insane! All software patents are insane, because the language of the patent can be general and doesn’t need to specify the way the thing was made, in what environment, or what language. Anyone who programs will tell you that just because you’ve achieved a result doesn’t necessarily mean you did it in a specific way; if you write a program in a different language, that represents a completely different challenge, and it should be regarded as such. The fact that it isn’t shows that nobody handing out software patents has any idea what goes into writing software.
Because a software patent — and, really, patents in general — can refer to the end result very vaguely, plus can be awarded without, you know, actually having built the goddamn thing, you run into serious problems, like people patenting hypertext several decades after others invented it in a specific way, and people getting patents for products other people have already brought to market.
But this is the system we have, right? It’s a stupid zero-sum game, but because there’s money riding on it, everyone takes part, because who wants to be the jerk who goes all noble and doesn’t lock down his creation, only to have someone else file a patent for it, so that the person who’s actually developed a certain piece of software has to pay royalties to some goddamn patent squatter? That’s right!
So the stupidity of the patent system means companies lock down every single thing any of their developers ever do, just in case they decide at some point to bring whatever they’ve done to market at some point in the future, or because it’s close enough to their plans that they don’t want anyone getting anywhere near it. When companies like Apple do this, since they’re fantastic and have amazing ideas, it do two things:
One, it makes it so that other people can’t develop whatever it is they’ve worked on, which is a goddamn shame because even though there’s probably a good reason why Apple doesn’t make products out of everything they patent, so many of them — like physical object recognition on your computer monitor, a list of contacts on your phone’s lock screen and a rubber dock that conforms to fit any device you shove in it — are so amazingly cool that it would be great to see other companies be able to make them, even though their executions would be subpar, since they’re not Apple.
Two, it makes idiot bloggers write about all of these patent filings as though it means anything, as though it necessarily reflects anything other than Apple covering its bases, and getting the greatest value for their R&D dollar, and it makes idiot bloggers say stupid stuff like this:
A patent filed seven years ago for a solar powered media device was uncovered today. Ecologically sound AND fantastic, Apple is sending a clear signal to batteries everywhere: your days are numbered! Subscribe to my newsletter!
Dear blogosphere: Searching through public patent information and “discovering” a filing from half-a-decade ago does not give you any special insight into what Apple’s plans for the future are, and claiming so is pretty pathetic. Just take your hands off the keyboard, get out of your mother’s basement, and step outside. See that big ball of brightness in the sky? That’s the sun: you should stare at it until the world goes away, so you can’t bug me with this piddly crap any more.
In conclusion, the patent system, which is supposed to encourage innovation, can lead to innovation stifling, and can lead to idiot bloggers really chapping my ass, neither of which I like. Unless I’m paying extra for the latter.
This has been Walt Mossberg: shut up!
So the crapdamn US Patent Office again showed how irrelevant it is and how little it knows about technology when it recently granted Facebook a patent for the “the feed,” which refers to that list of information happening on Facebook. This is the patent claim:
A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment, the method comprising: monitoring a plurality of activities in a social network environment; storing the plurality of activities in a database; generating a plurality of news items regarding one or more of the activities, wherein one or more of the news items is for presentation to one or more viewing users and relates to an activity that was performed by another user; attaching a link associated with at least one of the activities of another user to at least one of the plurality of news items where the link enables a viewing user to participate in the same activity as the another user; limiting access to the plurality of news items to a set of viewing users; and displaying a news feed comprising two or more of the plurality of news items to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewing users.
Why was Facebook granted a patent for this? More to the point, why do software patents exist at all? Does anybody at the patent office have even the slightest goddamn idea of what it means to make software? Do any of these crapasses even have computers?
Here’s my question: Aside from the fact that this patent, like a great number of sofware patents, is vague and relates to activities performed on a great majority of sites for a really long time (prior art, much?) it’s all built on existing languages, and all that anyone can do when building software is use existing languages and systems. And before any of you bastards say:
But, Walt, a developer could use existing tools and APIs, but they could also develop their own languages!
Let me say:
Sure, Facebook could, in this case, write a new language to power the feed. They wouldn’t in this case because it has to work on the internet, but even if they did, so what? It all eventually goes down to Assembler, and ultimately, binary. How can any piece of software imaginable not be negated due to prior art? Answer: It can’t. Software patents are stupid.
And this is aside from the fact that a patent if enforced could mean that people who develop something on their own, in private, would be prevented from actually, you know, enjoying the fruits of their labor simply because they didn’t take the time to patent what is just their daily work, or because someone else did it first, or because some jackass got a patent through that is so vague it could reflect nearly anything.
In conclusion, software patents are stupid and should be destroyed. Make it happen, crapcakes. Make it happen.