Bill Gates: 'Microsoft didn't MISS cell phone' bandwagon

Plus: 'Trolls are just trying to hijack somebody else's idea'

Quotw This was the week when US President Barack Obama let everyone know that Google Hangouts are a thing! POTUS indulged in a little "Fireside Hangout" to chat about issues raised in his earlier State of the Union address. When asked about software patents and the patent snarking that goes on, Obama came down hard on patent trolls, so-called non-practising entities (NPE) whose sole business is IP litigation. He complained:

They're just trying to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else's idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.

When talking about patents in general, Obama said that the 2011 patent reform bill only went halfway to sorting out the system and there was no easy fix:

We... want to make sure the patents are long enough that people's intellectual property is protected, [but we have to] balance that with making sure they're not so long that innovation is reduced.

United States patent law has never discriminated between technologies with respect to patent term and I wouldn't expect that to change.

Moreover, since 1995, patent term has been calculated from the effective filing date of a patent application. Thus, if a patent’s term were to be reduced to five years, depending on the amount of time a patent application is in prosecution, there could be significantly less than five years of term remaining once the patent issues.

I also note that it would be difficult for Congress to define exactly what constitutes a ‘software patent’.

The President also said that he wants the internet to stay open for everyone and said that he and Mark Zuckerberg agree that kids should be learning programming:

I want to make sure they know how to actually produce stuff using computers, and not just consume stuff.

In Microsoft news, Bill Gates admitted this week that maybe the software giant had climbed aboard the mobile bandwagon a little on the late side:

We didn't miss cell phones. But the way that we went about it didn't allow us to get the leadership, so it's clearly a mistake.

Considering what a tiny segment of the market Microsoft has with WinPho, just 2.9 per cent, that comment was something of an understatement, but Gates doesn't blame current chief Steve Ballmer:

He and I are two of the most self-critical people you can imagine. There were a lot of amazing things that Steve's leadership got done with the company in the last year. Windows 8 is key to the future ... the Surface computer ... Bing, people have seen is a better search product ... the Xbox ... But is it enough? No. He and I are not satisfied that, in terms of breakthrough things, that we're doing everything possible.

Meanwhile, US security biz Mandiant released a study claiming that a unit of China's People's Liberation Army, number 61398, is holed up in Shanghai tower blocks masterminding a state-sponsored cyber-espionage hub.

The company reckons that electronic intrusions are being carried out by a group dubbed an advanced persistent threat (APT) and previously codenamed by Western experts as APT 1. Mandiant concluded:

Either a secret, resourced organization full of mainland Chinese speakers with direct access to Shanghai-based telecommunications infrastructure is engaged in a multi-year, enterprise-scale computer espionage campaign right outside of Unit 61398’s gates, performing tasks similar to Unit 61398’s known mission, or APT1 is Unit 61398.

Talking about the study, security consultant Brian Honan joked in a tweet:

Given the news this week I suggest the theme song for infosec is T'Pau's "China in your hands" changed to "China in your LANs" ;)

Speaking of Twitter, a couple of high profile names had their tweet feed hijacked this week, including Burger King and Top Gear celeb Jeremy Clarkson. The unlucky fast-food joint found itself praising the virtues of arch-rival McDonald's courtesy of a faction of Anonymous. Your AnonNews tweeted:

We're guessing the ‪@BurgerKing‬ social media team is having a bad day.

Although other bits of Anonymous were protesting its innocence. Meanwhile Maccy D's tweeted:

We empathize with our @BurgerKing counterparts. Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking.

Motormouth Clarkson was either very, very angry at the spammers who were peddling dodgy diet pills through his Twitter account or possibly he was joking when he said that he would track down and erase the hackers in words reminiscent of a certain Liam Neeson character:

Luckily I have acquired a special set of skills over many years. I will find them. And I will kill them. Unlike some people, I WILL find who hacked my account. And I will visit them.

And finally, long time BT ad man actor Kris Marshall was less than pleased with the service the one-time national telco gave him. Apparently, despite telling the My Family star that he would get free broadband for his time in countless BT ads over seven years, the telco issued the poor bloke with a fine for not paying up. He said:

I was supposed to get complimentary broadband, but it never happened. It was all, ‘Oh yes, that’ll all be taken care of’, then suddenly I got a big bill. I didn’t want to be seen as churlish so I just paid it.

I did actually get fined by them for not paying my phone bill. It’s okay though. I’m with Sky now. ®

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