Archive for August, 2006

No Jacques in F1.

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

It was announced last weekend that the temporary replacement of Jacques Villeneuve by the excellent Polish driver Robert Kubica was made permanent throughout this year and next. Kubica replaced Villeneuve at the Hungry GP and the team was pretty clear in their interest in Kubica and apparently Villeneuve forced the team to commit to one of the two.

In any case I’d like to thank the 1997 F1 world champion for his contribution to F1 both on track and off. No one was better at getting under Michael Schumacher’s skin and JV’s legendary disregard for sponsors was always pretty funny. Jacques used to have the least amount of media events of any F1 driver, and once when at an energy drink’s event he responded to the question about “does this stuff work?” with “I don’t think so.”

That said, with BMW Sauber JV seemed to be looking a lot more dignified and bringing experience to the team. BMW did some really cool demos and lots of media days this year and Jacques was a very willing and important participant in all of them.

Despite my general dis-interest in the sport, my hope is that JV joins his rival and kindred spirit Juan-Pablo Montoya (JPM) in NASCAR next year. I think the real ballad or Ricki Bobby is coming true – without the homosexuality.

BlackBoard goes Metallica

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

On Monday I found out that BlackBoard (Bb) had been issued a patent on eLearning. Bb recently bought WebCt inc. which makes the learning management system that consumes most of my days at work. I was dismissive of it until I learnt about the subsequent lawsuits against Desire2Learn (D2L) the day afterwards.

As far as I’m concerned it’s a problem with the US software patent system more than anything else. The reason I initially dismissed it was I assumed it was akin to Amazon’s “single click purchase” patent and the collection Microsoft and Apple hold against each other in a kind of cold war — then Bb sued D2L (see Slashdot).

Now I’m a little more concerned and hope that the patent gets invalidated, take a look at these gems (from US Patent office):

9. The system of claim 2 wherein the course files comprise an asynchronous communication file.

10. The system of claim 2 wherein the course files comprise a synchronous communication file.

19. The system of claim 18 wherein the grade is made available to the student user.

I’m pretty sure that there’s a lot of prior art on these points, some might even pre-date Matthew Pittinsky’s (Bb chairman of the board and co-founder) birth! I’m not sure if Bb can win on a few points of a patent that is otherwise invalid.

I left the international WebCT Conference in Chicago with a relativly good feeling about Bb and what their future plans were, even if I’ve never been a big fan of CEO Michael Chasen — that feeling is rapidly going away and according to the academic technology related list serves, I’m not the only one who feels this way.

To use a Chasen-ism, BlackBoard is becoming a thought leader in business bullying.

Net Neutrality

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

If you don’t know now you know – Net Neutrality is important and we don’t want big US telcos to be able to double charge and create an internet class system.

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The cool cats at www.wearetheweb.org are doing their part. Watch the video.