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Slashback: Start, Trash, Explain 142

Posted by timothy
from the questions-before-work dept.
Slashback tonight with more on the Microsoft start page project vis-a-vis Google's similar one, a wee $40 million slap on the wrist for Amazon over shopping-cart patent infrigement, new animals for the CodeZoo, and a strong denial that WikiPedia has announced a more stringent editorial policy. Details on these stories and more, below.


What's done is done, and in a certain order. MSN.com general manager Hadi Partovi writes:
"A few days ago I read your Slashdot post about start.com.

Thank you for the promotion :-). Meanwhile, I wanted to make sure you know that the work we've been doing on the start.com project actually predates the Google personalized page. I manage a tiny incubation team that has been building start.com since November, and it was first live on the Web in February, 3 months before Google released their personalized page. Of course we are missing some capabilities that Google has, and vice versa. It's a tight competition. But I'm emailing you because our team takes a lot of pride in its innovation. You may point out at a lot of place where Microsoft is following competitors, but if you track the functionality and UI changes that the companies have made over the past 6 months, this has clearly been a place where Google has been following Microsoft's lead.

(Our main engineer on the project has written a bit more about this to respond to your post.)

Anyway, I'm not sending this to be defensive. Heck, I have a lot of work to do to bring an innovation culture to the MSN organization and in many areas we have our work cut out for us. But I guess I want my small incubation team to get credit for being the leading innovators on this one small product :-)"


Thanks for the note!

Always clean out the trashcan. dotpavan writes "The Register and Cnet have this report about Kai-Fu Lee not cleaning his recycle bin at his previous workplace and now MS has stumbled upon some interesting document, which shows that Google anticipated the MS move, and had planned top put him on a leave of absence or have him as a consultant to thwart any attempt of MS getting him back."

Amazon Settles Patent Suit For $40M theodp writes "In today's SEC filing, Amazon.com disclosed it will pay $40 million to settle an e-commerce patent infringement lawsuit that was reported earlier on Slashdot. The terms of the settlement also provide for dismissal of all claims and counterclaims and grant Amazon a nonexclusive license to Soverain's patent portfolio."

29+36 more = 65 vector drawing apps. Anonymous Coward writes "There were many useful comments made for 29 Vector Drawing Programs. After incorporating most of them, the revised column has 65 Vector Drawing Programs."

And each after its own kind. chromatic writes "As seen on the O'Reilly Radar and announced at OSCON 2005, CodeZoo now lists Python and Ruby components. CodeZoo is a human-edited directory of useful, well-maintained, and redistributable software components in various languages. (Slashdot previously covered CodeZoo's launch.)"

The chair recognizes Mr. Wales for a point of clarification. brajesh writes "There has been news on Slashdot and others about Wikipedia announcing tighter editorial control. It seems that everyone jumped the gun. Jimmy Wales, a founder of Wikipedia, has clarified his stance on the idea of freezing stable content on Wikipedia. Apparently, [Jimbo writes] 'I spoke in English, and this was translated to German. Then the German was translated back to English, and then translated again into the Slashdot story.' Also, 'There was no "announcement." We are constantly reviewing our policies and looking for ways to improve, but we have not "announced" anything. We don't even really work that way ... if you know how Wikipedia works, it's through a long process of community discussion and consensus building, not through a process of top-down announcements.' This has also been covered on Ars Technica."

Google Earth not a security risk after all. mister_tim writes "In a follow-up to yesterday's story about ANSTO's request that Google censor images of Australia's only nuclear reactor, the Australian government has now come out and said that Google Earth poses no security risk. Australia's Attorney General has come to the view, also noted by many /. readers, that the Google images have been available for several years from other sources and add nothing to the existing publicly available data. Chalk this one up as a victory for common sense."
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Slashback: Start, Trash, Explain

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  • I highly recommend all the coders out there check out CodeZoo. Just browsing around I found some extremely nifty little programs that I know I'll be using in the near future. Since I missed the first article, thanks for pointing me to it Slashback.
  • by deutschemonte (764566) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yremogtnom.enal.> on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:07PM (#13299547) Homepage
    It's cool to know that MSN actually came up with that interface before Google. I mean, I hate MS and love Google just as much as the next /.'er, but tight competition like this is awesome for everyone involved.

    Now if only we could get some nice eye candy from the Yahoo! folks.
  • by aaza (635147) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:12PM (#13299575)
    This is why shredders are so useful...

    Apart from the fact that the one at my work has a "donations for hearing aid fund" on it (put on there by the guy who sits right next to it).

    They're great: they turn whole pieces of paper into lots of tiny things this big -->.<--

  • by jb.hl.com (782137) <joe@NOspAm.joe-baldwin.net> on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:13PM (#13299579) Homepage Journal
    Sweet, Start.com isn't actually that bad, and they trumped Google too! Now all they need is to have an email service which doesn't piss off everyone who uses it, a homepage which isn't cluttered and full of shite and doesn't install cookies on your PC when all you want to do is download Firefox on a new Windows install, a Messenger service which doesn't have wanky "nudge" features built in which are expressly designed to cater for those with the intelligence spans of a flea, a media player that works with ShoutCast streams and doesn't clash horribly with every other app out there in terms of UI, a web browser that isn't 5 years behind Firefox in terms of EVERYTHING and a fucking always on top button on Windows, and they're getting somewhere!
    • :) Actually I just wanted to mention that the new Hotmail beta(aka Kahuna) is damn cool. I got the chance to Beta test it. IE7 is decent, better CSS support, PBG transperancy, and ofcourse tabbed browsing. I dont use MSN messenger (why is GAIM bad ?), shoutcast or need to have an always on top setting for windows.

      Look what you just did, made me defend MS , I'm gonna get u.
    • Hey! I like MSN.com and have had it as my start page for a few years now. If you configure it to the way you want to use it, it provides you a sufficient dose of pointless anecdotes to get you started in your web adventures.
    • There are a few commercial apps that give you the always ontop for windows, also the nvidia drivers offer an app too which gives you said functionality.

      For a good free (and small) application see Powermenu [veridicus.com].
  • by anything lemon (820119) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:14PM (#13299584)
    If Wikipedia wants more credibility, then they need to start freezing some articles. At least the most controversial ones, which as you know are terrorized by vandals and agenda-pushers.
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:35PM (#13299714) Homepage
      If Wikipedia wants more credibility, then they need to start freezing some articles. At least the most controversial ones, which as you know are terrorized by vandals and agenda-pushers.
      Wikipedia doesn't always do well on controversial topics, but I don't think freezing articles would necessarily help. In fact, WP already has a procedure to freeze articles, and it's generally used when an article is experiencing a revert war [wikipedia.org], or a wave of determined vandalism. In the case of a revert war, my experience is that the freeze is an admission of failure, and the frozen version of the article typically sucks to high heaven. An article that gets to that point is one that's already become a sterile battlefield, and nobody has been able to do any constructive work on it for a long time. Freezing doesn't help; it just gives official recognition to the fact that the article is dysfunctional anyway.

      I think the most positive thing WP can do right now is to eliminate the time-honored custom of allowing anonymous edits, and institute some kind of moderation system (yes, a la Slashdot) so that sock-puppet accounts can't be used to mess up an article over and over. For instance, there was recently a horrible mess over the article on apartheid, where one anonymous editor kept insisting on inserting text about Jews in an effort to blame apartheid on the Jews. It caused massive conniptions, because he was dialing in from different IP addresses several times a day, and using sockpuppet accounts.

      Another example is an artist named Gabrichidze, who has been spamming lots of articles (Mermaid, Plato, Pop art,...) with his (non-copylefted) artwork. Once people got wise to him, he started creating sockpuppet accounts to throw people off the trail.

      • by Prof. Pi (199260) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @09:16PM (#13299934)
        I think the most positive thing WP can do right now is to eliminate the time-honored custom of allowing anonymous edits, and institute some kind of moderation system (yes, a la Slashdot)

        Which would cause them to degenerate into groupthink (yes, a la Slashdot).

        I've seen way too many cases in which posts that say little more than "X sucks" (where X is any of the usual things hated by the majority here) get +5 Insightful, while well-written posts defending X and presenting cogent arguments get modded down into oblivion. Meta-moderation fails due to the same groupthink. ("Yes, nobody intelligent or moral could really be defending X, so I agree with the moderator that it's Flamebait.")

        Slashdot is viewed as heavily biased in many circles, and for good reason. If WP wants to be taken seriously, they should avoid copying Slashdot.

        • Which would cause them to degenerate into groupthink (yes, a la Slashdot).
          I wouldn't claim that Slashdot moderation to individual posts is always fair -- obviously it's not --- but I think anybody who isn't a complete jerk will see their karma trend up over time until it maxes out and bobs around 50 forever. The point of what I'm suggesting isn't to make some articles or edits privileged over others, it's just to allow sockpuppet accounts to be distinguished from accounts of people who actually have an ed
        • Group think can be avoided by having a rating system tied to the actual rating rather than in +-1 steps.

          Instead of 20 people all saying "yer, that was funny, +1" and instantly making a rather amusing comment blasted up and down like a yoyo (After the overrated mods kick in)
          you can have many more people saying "Funny=3" without the overrated mods. Concensus means its less likely to be over modded and doesnt bounce around.
          • Group think can be avoided by having a rating system tied to the actual rating rather than in +-1 steps.

            That would address the issue of volatility, but not the fundamental problem of groupthink. What's the difference whether a well-reasoned article taking a minority position (on /.) gets a bunch of (-1, Flamebait) mods and a small number of (+1, Insightful) posts, or a bunch of scores that average out to (Flamebait=-1)?

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Slashdot is viewed as heavily biased in many circles

          Um, yeah, that's one viewpoint I've seen. Not the most common one, but it is one of them :-)
      • What's a sockpuppet account? Is is kind of synonymous (like along the same lines) as people who put socks over their hands and pretend they're puppets? I've never heard this expression before.
        • What's a sockpuppet account?

          Someone makes multiple accounts to make it look like he's more than one person.

          WP has some processes that involve a kind of voting (not by strict numerical count, but by consensus), and sockpuppets can be used to influence the votes. (The people with privileged accounts who actually decide the results of the vote can take into account whether the accounts have real edit histories.)

          Also, people will use sockpuppet accounts to disclaim responsibility for their actions, or make

    • They should have a "released" version that is locked and a "current" version that is undergoing change.
    • I tried this already - I called it a Baseline Revisions [wikipedia.org]. It never really took off, though it would never have impacted on Wikipedia (the baseline is just a subpage that hangs off the main article and points to an article revision selected for reliability, readibility, verifiability, number of citation - to stop it from going against the no original research policy - and neutrality).

      I basically made it to try to satisfy the criticism that Wikipedia is too unstable. For some reason, those critics don't realis
  • hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:15PM (#13299588)
    Amazon Settles Patent Suit For $40M theodp writes "In today's SEC filing, Amazon.com disclosed it will pay $40 million to settle an e-commerce patent infringement lawsuit that was reported earlier on Slashdot. The terms of the settlement also provide for dismissal of all claims and counterclaims and grant Amazon a nonexclusive license to Soverain's patent portfolio."

    Those who live by the sword die by the sword.
    • Yeh but ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:53PM (#13299803)
      Now some patent lawsuit company has $40M to go after other companies, and Amazon has even more incentive to enforce its own stupid patents. More swords will be put into play. This is not good.
    • Um- When is Amazon going to patent their great shopping experience- Like when you shop around the site, find 10-15 items cheap, put them in your AMAZON shopping cart, think you are getting a great deal, and then go to check out and realize that all your items in your AMAZON shopping cart are from a ton of different stores, and that your shipping and handling is separate from each location, and the SH charge would be well over the merchandise total for these 15 items.... Is Amazon going to patent that waste
  • I spoke in English, and this was translated to German. Then the German was translated back to English, and then translated again into the Slashdot story.

    So what you're trying to say here is that the problem was with going from English to German, or German back to English?
  • Wrong comment? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GillBates0 (664202) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:15PM (#13299593) Homepage Journal
    (Our main engineer on the project has written a bit more about this to respond to your post.)

    The comment [slashdot.org] that Hadi Partovi points us to as a comment by his main engineer doesn't seem to be the right one. The one he linked to is by http://slashdot.org/~yagu [slashdot.org] and says the following:

    for me, the last line on the page:

    ©2005 Microsoft &nbsp

    kind of says it all... In their hurry to rip off the competition, they even forgot a semicolon ... Tsk-tsk!

    That criticizing clearly doesn't seem to be coming from an MSN guy. Who really is the informed MSN engineer posting/clarifying on /. and what really did he say?

    • Re:Wrong comment? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think she didn't quite get the right comment. Further down in the thread generated by that comment is this one, that's much more likely from the MSN guy:

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=157898&cid=132 29038 [slashdot.org]
    • Re:Wrong comment? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by value_added (719364)
      The comment that Hadi Partovi points us to as a comment by his main engineer doesn't seem to be the right one...

      Maybe you're looking for the post that begins with:

      (I posted this as a new topic earlier. I hope I don't end up in karma hell for re-posting it as a reply like I should have...) ... I work on start.com and am one of the 3 folks on the team ...

      And ends with:

      I noticed one of the posts mention that we use a cookie. Yeah we do, we use it to index your settings on the back-end. The last thin

      • Hating MS is like people from non-US countries hating Americans. Sure, MS has its share of both decent/normal people and asshats... it's generally the higher-ups that have a tendency towards public assholery (*cough* Developers... developers... developers *cough*). The same applies to the US in general, lots of decent normal people, a certain population of asshats, and lots of assholes in the government/administration.

        Shit floats to the top where it is more visible... go figure!
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:20PM (#13299619)
    Amazon Settles Patent Suit For $40M theodp writes "In today's SEC filing, Amazon.com disclosed it will pay $40 million to settle an e-commerce patent infringement lawsuit that was reported earlier on Slashdot. The terms of the settlement also provide for dismissal of all claims and counterclaims and grant Amazon a nonexclusive license to Soverain's patent portfolio."

    Wow, I depressed, $40M will only further strengthen the incentive on this patent behavior - I wish amazon stuck it out. Not that I care about amazon that much, but it only raises the barrier of entry for the little guys - especially on stupid shopping cart technology.

    FYI Soverain held patents on "shopping cart" technology.

    Here's another article on it:
    http://news.com.com/Amazon+pays+40+million+to+sett le+patent+dispute/2100-1030_3-5829193.html [com.com]
  • Retractions (Score:2, Funny)

    by Jeff Molby (906283)

    Since half of those amount to retractions, does that mean there will be a reduction in dupes for awhile?

    /It's a joke. I'm not that new here.

  • by RexRhino (769423) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:24PM (#13299651)
    It seems like Amazon is up to something sneaky by paying for this frivolous pantent portfolio, when Amazon surely has the legal clout to fight this kind of thing.

    Big companies like Amazon can afford to pay for these patents, but small companies cannot. They are losing money by paying for these things, but if they raise the cost of doing buisness beyond a certain point (if everyone has to pay millions to use patented technology in order to run an eccommerce site), they can knock out a lot of competition. There will be no chance for the mom and pop store selling used books can hope to compete with Amazon, because they won't be able to afford the startup cost or liability.

    I think a lot of big companies are encouraging this abuse of patent laws in order to squash competition from smaller companies who don't have a few million to spare.
    • I think that strategy will bite Amazon in the ass later - Walmart has a history of fighting ANY and ALL lawsuits against it just to discourage the next party of thinking they can have easy money.

      With Amazon rolling over and paying these guys - who'll be next up at bat in order to get a few easy million?
    • Not to disparage your main point, but Amazon is not knocking out mom and pop booksellers. As an Amazon.com Marketplace Pro Merchant I can attest that Amazon is, in fact, enabling thousands of mom and pop outfits (as well as larger retailers) to compete on the internet. The vast majority of Amazon Marketplace sellers do not have the resources to develop their own ecommerce sites. Even if they did, it is not likely that anyone would ever see them. As it is, anyone with a book to sell can get it listed on
    • What should they do? Fight against frivilous patents and throw out their buisness model of patenting everything? better to just pay it now than have it used against you next time someone fights your stupid lawsuit
  • "The Register and Cnet have this report about Kai-Fu Lee not cleaning his recycle bin at his previous workplace and now MS has stumbled upon some interesting document, which shows that Google anticipated the MS move, and had planned top put him on a leave of absence or have him as a consultant to thwart any attempt of MS getting him back."

    Now I know I've tossed out my share of Microsoft 'merchanise', but I never, not once, considered that they could actually be IN my trash bucket.

    One could say that this is
    • Uh, this was regarding a desktop that was located on Microsoft's campus, not your typical remote desktop...
  • by everphilski (877346) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:32PM (#13299700) Journal
    ... that's amateur! I mean heck, I was just interviewing for an entry level job and they wanted me to give them an email address that wasn't work related to communicate with. I mean, come on, if entry level employers are that sensitive, what is your million dollar arse doing talking to Google on a Microsoft computer?

    (Obligatory Napolean Dynamite quote)
    ....Idiot!

    -everphilski-
  • by lost in place (248578) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:34PM (#13299710)
    If you read the story, it was not a physical recycle bin, but the "Recycle Bin" on one of Lee's computers. Which makes it even more stupid that he would have such a document. If you're going to negotiate employment with a competitor, especially a potentially hostile/actionable move like this, for god's sake don't use your employer's computers to do it. Had Lee never heard of backup tapes or email scanning/archival? Amazing.
  • Following your lead? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:35PM (#13299715)
    "but if you track the functionality and UI changes that the companies have made over the past 6 months, this has clearly been a place where Google has been following Microsoft's lead."

    Maybe, but if you look at the original start.com.. http://www.start.com/1/ [start.com] its just a simple search bar. The second rev http://www.start.com/2/ [start.com] adds some dhtml functionality, but only the third rev, http://www.start.com/3/ [start.com] adds the identical dhtml section moving feature google has... probably after google came out with theirs.
  • Hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smoondog (85133) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:42PM (#13299746)
    Not surprised that Austrialia backdown from the Google security claims. It sounded a lot to me like they were using that stance for political reasons, given the PR nature of the release (instead of a quiet request to google).
  • I'm sorry the Microsoft stories both are hearsay, it's good to show both sides in their light, but I expect you ask Google for an opinion on the start page if you can. (and was Yahoo before both or what?, or who had the first discussion of it)

    In addition the story on the Recycle Bin sounds like an attempt to get suspicious news out to the public to poison the pool of jurors or such, However it's nontheless interesting, but again I'm waiting to hear the other side of the story.

    However this is nice, because
  • Heh well first, I actualy like the start.com page, but not as much as google. To me it doesn't matter much who comes out with it first, as it is who makes it better. The entire industry is about copying and improving on things, and I fault neither google nor microsoft for that.

    As for the Wiki stuff, it reminds me of playing games with the babelfish [altavista.com] Where you pick a phrase (any common saying works nicely) and start translating to see how many steps you need to make it illegible. Bonus points for getting a

  • See? [slashdot.org]
  • Dia runs just fine under Linux.

  • Ok I am still in shock about the choices (less so on python) of languages to add here.

    I have been having a hard enough time getting people I work with to understand Ruby isn't some weird language. Until I show them Ruby code with equivalent Perl code.

    I just found their reasons reaffirming. Ruby is an excellent sys-admin glue language.
  • by iCEBaLM (34905) <<icebalm> <at> <icebalm.com>> on Thursday August 11, 2005 @11:06PM (#13300470)
    I discount every blurb from a microsoftie when it has two or more instances of the word "innovation" contained therein.

    This particular one has three.

    Why does everything spoken by anyone associated in any way with microsoft have to have so many copies of the word "innovation" in it? I submit to you that their use of the english language is as "innovative" as they are, simple rehashes and reusing the same old tired components, perhaps rearranged in a different way, with nothing actually new.

    Microsofties: quit using the word "innovation", it just makes you look like a drone in the collective.
  • but if you track the functionality and UI changes that the companies have made over the past 6 months, this has clearly been a place where Google has been following Microsoft's lead.

    The first version of start.com looks like Google has looked for years. Later versions look like what My Yahoo has offered for years. And start.com added drag-and-drop after seeing it on Google. I'm sorry, but where exactly does he think that Microsoft has been leading?
  • It seems that Start.com has stopped... it has only a simple gif served from the front page. ./ed?
  • Don't get me wrong, I like Google as much as the next guy, but Microsoft had this drag and drop business going with my.msn.com way before Google did, although it only works with IE. These were early applications of the new web parts framework in ASP.NET 2.0.
  • Did anyone see the episode of "News Radio" where Jimmy James' business book was translated into an Asian language and then translated back to English? The scene where he did a public reading from it had me on the floor.

    - Greg

    • Just found a transcript...

      Mr. James: "The original title of this book was 'Jimmy James, Capitalist Lion Tamer' but I see now that it's... 'Jimmy James, Macho Business Donkey Wrestler'... you know what it is... I had the book translated in to Japanese then back in again into English. Macho Business Donkey Wrestler... well there you go... it's got kind of a ring to it don't it? Anyway, I wanted to read from chapter three... which is the story of my first rise to financial prominence... I had a small house o

  • MSN doesn't have an innovation culture?! I'm deeply shocked.
  • 'I spoke in English, and this was translated to German. Then the German was translated back to English, and then translated again into the Slashdot story.' SOMEONE SET US UP THE JOURNALISTIC UH OH.

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