Open3DP Now Less Open

Entirely through no fault of their own, the astonishingly innovative academics at the Open3DP project have run into obstacles living up to the “open” in their name.

Since approximately, October 17, 2011, we’ve been a little bit more guarded about what is going on in our lab and perhaps a little less helpful or open to some of you. We’re sorry. Our University has decided, with no faculty involvement to change our consulting/engagement forms.

The change means that University of Washington is now claiming total ownership of intellectual property developed by facutly and students. Previously the project had been sharing its knowledge much more freely across an amazing breadth of efforts. These are the folks that figured out how to print 3D objects in wood and generally have been working with a variety of materials broader than most included concrete, glass and tea.

To benefit from their considerable experience now requires a consulting contract that may cost as much as $80K to $110K at a minimum. Several of the faculty are working to change the new policy. They are circulating a form letter in response to inquiries highlighting the situation and redirecting interested parties to other resources in the 3DP community.

I had the great pleasure of talking with one of the faculty working on Open3DP last Summer. The irony for me is that the conversation I had then informed me of the patent situation around powder bed 3DP technologies of which previously I had been largely ignorant. In a nutshell there are still considerable barriers in the form of intellectual property licensing keeping out all but the well financed commercial ventures or the most brazen academics and homebrew enthusiasts.

Sorry we’re not so Open lately, Open3DP (via BoingBoing)

feeds | grep links > Holographic Video Displays, Univac’s Electoral Prediction, Patent Database is Up and Running, and More

  • First glimmerings of holographic video displays
    John Timmer at Ars Technica discusses some pretty impressive research considering how little holography has advanced for anything other than trivial applications. The system these researchers are building may seem crude but most of the equipment being used, including the network connection, are pretty close to consumer grade. The potential is enormous though I have to imagine free standing holography is a further horizon beyond these re-writing but otherwise fairly constrained displays.
  • History of computing and elections from 1952
    Wired has re-printed an article from around the time of the last US elections by Randy Alfred. In it, he explains how Univac, one of the earliest computers, was tasked with predicting the presidential election in 1952. The forecast put together by the machines and its operators was remarkably accurate but the TV folks they initially approached were too skeptical to air it at the time, only admitting to discounting the computer’s results well after they were obviously correct.
  • Patent database is up and running
    Rogue archivist, Carl Malamud, has the good news at O’Reilly Radar. The joint effort between the USPTO, the White House and Jon Orwant at Google has resulted in a new, open database that supplants feeds that formerly required substantial subscription feeds. As Carl explains, this was no easy chore given vested interests in the revenue streams from the old, closed system. A huge win for restoring a critical piece of our informational commons here in the US.
  • Five years of Linux kernel benchmarks, Slashdot
  • Group trying to get back scatter airport scanners banned, Techdirt
  • Google and Facebook to face tougher EU privacy rules, Reuters, via Groklaw
  • New beta of Firefox 4 mobile released, Mozilla, via Hacker News

feeds | grep links > USB Dead Drops, Mobile Mesh for Telephony, Facebook Bans Apps that Sold User Data, and More

  • USB dead drops, embedding the dark net in architecture
    Slashdot and BoingBoing covered this project by Aram Bartholl over the weekend. He’s cemented USB sticks into walls and other fixtures at a handful of locations, with plans to set up more such dead drops. The idea is that rather than passing storage containers hand to hand, file shares can simply plug in and copy onto and from the drives what they want. The project seems more like an art installation than an IT effort, a way of weaving asynchronous, anonymous sharing into public spaces.
  • Mobile mesh for wireless telephony
    Duncan Geere cross posted this article to Wired and Ars Technica, it is about research that really is quite similar to other mesh network plans about which I’ve read. Why not make the cutely named body-to-body connections simply provide IP protocol carriage with telephony being just one application carried? I would think the growth of smart phones is what is crushing networks more so than mere phone calls. It will be interesting to see if this work which was done at Queen’s University in Belfast can make better progress on the challenges of making a mobile device based mesh as good as or better than the fixed mobile networks we have now.
  • Facebook bans apps that sold user info to data brokers
    Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb has the details of some positive privacy news from the dominant social network. I do wonder if this practice would have persisted if the Wall Street Journal had not exposed it, though. Also, why isn’t Facebook built in such a way to make this sort of thing much more difficult, if not outright impossible?
  • Users sue Google, Facebook, Synga over privacy , Slashdot
  • Justice department rules isolate gene sequences should not be patentable, Techdirt
  • Google sues US government for only considering Microsoft solutions, Techdirt
  • Researchers claim better quantum tunneling, EE Times

Following Up for the Week Ending 10/17/2010

feeds | grep links > IBM-Oracle Java Pact, Interactive HTTP Tool, Future of the Cell Processor, and More

Why Nobel Prize Recipient Never Patented Graphene

Slashdot links to an interview with Andre Geim at Nature News that discusses his Nobel Prize winning research. I am a big fan of graphene for its potential applications in electronics and computing. This research was clearly richly deserved of winning the prize.

The most curious part, though, as Slashdot calls out, is why Geim didn’t patent graphene.

You haven’t yet patented graphene. Why is that?

We considered patenting; we prepared a patent and it was nearly filed. Then I had an interaction with a big, multinational electronics company. I approached a guy at a conference and said, “We’ve got this patent coming up, would you be interested in sponsoring it over the years?” It’s quite expensive to keep a patent alive for 20 years. The guy told me, “We are looking at graphene, and it might have a future in the long term. If after ten years we find it’s really as good as it promises, we will put a hundred patent lawyers on it to write a hundred patents a day, and you will spend the rest of your life, and the gross domestic product of your little island, suing us.” That’s a direct quote.

I considered this arrogant comment, and I realized how useful it was. There was no point in patenting graphene at that stage. You need to be specific: you need to have a specific application and an industrial partner. Unfortunately, in many countries, including this one, people think that applying for a patent is an achievement. In my case it would have been a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Part of me really wanted the reasoning to be more enlightened, an embracing of a scientific commons of thought. Despite the stomach churning encounter with a clear patent mill, Deim is clearly not entirely deterred. Still, the narrowing of consideration to applications is at least more palatable than the rash of recent bad patents that completely preclude entire classes of inventions based on nothing more than basic research. For the rest of us, the encounter also paints a stark contrast between researchers just looking to help subsidize research with patents and corporations trying to completely own a space of interest.

Why Geim Never Patented Graphene, Slashdot

feeds | grep links > In Praise of CLIs, ISPs Resisting Mass Copyright Demand Campaign, Recycling Rare Earth Metals, and More

Following Up for the Week Ending 10/3/2010

feeds | grep links > Chrome Loses Pirvacy Feature, Google Introduces Image Format, Microsoft Sues Motorola over Android, and More

feeds | grep links > Plans for Firefox Home, Review of “Get Lamp”, Open HDCP Software Implementation, and More

  • Contest to produce JavaScript demos no more than 1Kb
    Slashdot links to this now concluded contest that sort of reminds me of the demo scene in terms of the constraint to bum down code as much as possible. The results are a bit more diverse, including many interactive games as well as passive animations. More so than a lot of recent and fairly contrived “HTML5” demos, the finalists in JS1K really showcase what modern browsers can do.
  • Firefox Home adding more devices, social capabilities
    Chris Cameron at ReadWriteWeb shares news of Mozilla’s plans for their Sync client for iPhone. Personally, I cannot wait to get an Android powered replacement for my iPod Touch and start running Fennec, their full mobile browser, but in the interim I’m happy that Home is getting such attention from the lizard wranglers. I especially cannot wait for the password sync support planned for a future release.
  • Congress passes internet, smart phone accessibility bill, Washington Post
  • Update to private cloud-based file system, Tahoe-LAFS, BoingBoing
  • Android software piracy rampant, Slashdot
  • A Review of Jason Scott’s “Get Lamp”
    Text adventure games figured largely in my earliest experiences of computers. It was a no brainer for me to pick up a copy of Scott’s documentary on the subject. I enjoyed it immensely and am far from finished exploring all the material he has included in the two disc set. Jeremy Reimer at Ars Technica has a glowing review that resonates very strongly with my own experience of the work.
  • EFF, others, support Microsoft in case trying to make patent invalidation easier, EFF
  • Open HDCP software implementation released
    Ars Technica, among others, has news of researchers using the recently leaked HDCP keys to build an open source program capable of decrypting encoded digital video streams. Peter Bright questions the utility of the effort as it would still require some sort of hardware to connect into your home media ecosystem. I think the overlooks the very strong tradition of these sorts of proofs of concept developed by security researchers interested in the system more so than its applications.