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mobile mesh == ad hoc networks

Now, this really, really pissed me off.

Russ pointed to an article/press release on Mistubishi, about a technology they "developed". Here is an excerpt:

What Mitsubishi has developed, is the prototype of a relay-type mobile communications technology, called Mobile Telecommunications Radio and Relay Network (MOTERAN). The basic patent has been already granted in Europe and Japan and has been applied for in major countries around the world. Unlike conventional mobile communications, MOTERAN allows each terminal to act as a relay point communicating with other terminals without the requirement for infrastructure, such as base stations or switches. This could be known as peer to peer networking.
Russ's comments are good. My problem has nothing to do with his post of anything he said.

What pissed me off is the article itself, and Mistubishi's pretense that this is new, or innovative or whatever. In fact, what Mitsubishi describes there is an ad hoc network. (Disclaimer: part of my PhD thesis has to do with ad hoc networks.) Mitsubishi's work is derivative (friendly term for "outright ripoff") and they should acknowledge it, but of course they don't, going as far as using buzzword-terms to deflect attention and get media interest. On top of that, they got a patent on it! I wonder what the patent says. Here is the original press release from Mitsubishi, which says that "the technology on which their development is based was invented in Germany in 1996." Really? Here is a link from CiteSeer for a paper that described DSR (Dynamic Source Routing protocol), one of the best known dynamic self-organizing protocols for ad hoc networks. And the paper is... from 1996. This wasn't the first paper on the topic, no (See below).

Ad Hoc Networks have been under development for several years, both in universities and corporations such as Ericsson (as part of research efforts and commercial efforts as well). There's an ACM Conference, MobiHoc (which has existed since the year 2000), that deals specifically with the topic of ad hoc networks. Ad Hoc routing protocols have been under heavy R&D since the early 90s. The idea that any one person or company can get a patent on something as generic as what is described in the "article" is laughable. Sure, they might patent some work based on it, maybe even some particular algorithm (although my understanding is that actual algorithms can't be patented--only copyrighted, and that what you can patent is the process described by the algorithm if anything. I might be off-base with that). But patenting the concept? David Johnson, one of the researchers who created DSR, has a page with previous publications on the topic of ad hoc mobile networks that date back to 1994, which proves that the research was ongoing well before that date.

In fact, hey, why talk about "pie-in-the-sky" research at all? IETF has a group called Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANET) which has been working for years on standarizing protocols for dynamic, self-organizing routing. The earliest posts for IETF drafts date back to late 1997!

Okay, okay, maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe they never claimed to have invented the whole field. But they make it sound like it. It's disgusting when a company does that. It's even worse when trade publications repeat their news releases like parrots, confusing everybody, without even checking the facts.

Categories: science, technology
Posted by diego on March 2, 2003 at 11:30 PM

Microsoft's P2P Toolkit

Almost two years after JXTA got going, Microsoft has announced the availability of a P2P software development kit for Windows XP. Some or all of the APIs included in the Kit are expected to make their way into Windows. No hope that they would use the JXTA Protocol for that uh?

Categories: soft.dev, technology
Posted by diego on March 2, 2003 at 10:03 PM

RSSLibJ

In a comment to a previous entry about more RSS fixes, Joseph pointed out that:

You might want to look at RSSLibJ, which takes a common object model (items/channels/etc) and renders an RDF/RSS stream according to the type you want, so you can change a string and get a completely different (valid) feed.
Nice! I didn't know RSSLibJ could do that, though I was aware of its existence, for some reason I thought that it was "just" a Java library to parse RSS files, but it's more than that, in fact, the FAQ points out that it is primarily intended for writing RSS feeds rather than reading them.

As a sidenote, my main complaint was that all of these versions of RSS have to be supported at all. One should be enough, either 1.0 or 2.0.

Pointless griping, I know. Just venting.

Categories: soft.dev
Posted by diego on March 2, 2003 at 7:44 PM

no cure for stupidity

From this New Scientist piece: "Stupidity should be cured, says DNA discoverer":

"If you are really stupid, I would call that a disease," says Watson, now president of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, New York. "The lower 10 per cent who really have difficulty, even in elementary school, what's the cause of it? A lot of people would like to say, 'Well, poverty, things like that.' It probably isn't. So I'd like to get rid of that, to help the lower 10 per cent."

Watson, no stranger to controversy, also suggests that genes influencing beauty could also be engineered. "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great."

Can you say "Eugenics"?

Of course there must be a genetic component to "stupidity" (whatever that is--I'm sure that many people Watson would consider "stupid" live happy, productive lives). chaplin-dictator.jpg But then the world is an imperfect place. Once you "fix" that "lower 10%" you get a new 10% at the bottom. Why not "fix" that too? And, as Watson so eloquently puts it, let's "make all girls pretty" in the process. I wonder, pretty according to what measure? Would he like a society of Barbies and Kens? (oh, sorry, no Kens. He didn't say that men should be "pretty".) Is Barbie "pretty"? Watson seems to think that "prettiness" as well as a number of other traits can be objectively defined, and then imposed on society at large. Hitler would be proud.

The other day I was reading on an op-ed on the Washington Post that 6 out of 10 children of age 10 in the Washington D.C. area can't read. But hey, no problem, Watson would say.... these guys are lost, but we can "fix the next batch" right? Just let me tweak this little gene here and everything will be just fine...

I think that since Watson dismisses environmental factors such as poverty and education and "things like that" out of hand, he should watch Gattaca to see a plausible endgame for his ideas. But "things like that" would never happen right? After all, humans are so great at dealing with this kind of power.

Or maybe there's a gene for intolerance that we can "fix" as well?

Categories: science
Posted by diego on March 2, 2003 at 3:39 PM

conservatives in US Media

An interesting article from Salon's editor in chief, David Talbot. Salon does feel like a voice in the wilderness. In light of their current financial problems (which aren't new by the way) one can only hope that it will survive.

Categories: art.media
Posted by diego on March 2, 2003 at 3:12 PM

some movies

I was reading about David Cronenberg's new movie, Spider (starring Ralph Fiennes), when I came across this paragraph:

For the guy across the aisle from me at a Times Square theater for "Crash," in 1997, the sadomasochism was OK, the open-wound sex and disability fetishism was not a problem, the "autoeroticism," ha ha, was fine and dandy. But when James Spader and Elias Koteas embarked on some same-sex probing in the back seat of a 1963 Lincoln Continental (the precise model in which John F. Kennedy was assassinated, naturally), he was out of there. He was a large man, and he unfolded himself to his full height and girth to address the audience as he stood up. "No, no!" he said. "Nuh-uh! I ain't sitting here for that."
This is exactly what I saw when I watched Crash at a theater. I could tell from their sighs and oomphs that many in the didn't care about (or like, or appreciate, or even see) the deep, dense web of correlations between technology, sex and death that the film exposed through the actions of that merry group of twisted sociopaths. And yet the people endured it. Right up to the point in which Spader's and Koteas's character get it on, when many decided to leave. To me that was immensely hypocritical, I thought 'So all the other stuff was fine, but this is not?' and 'This is Cronenberg. What the hell did they expect?'. Although sometimes Cronenberg can make you cringe a bit too much, he always (certainly in all his movies after the early 80's) makes you think. Art (specially good art) will inevitably provoke a profound reaction of some sort. It goes to the core of what we are. If it doesn't, IMO, it's not art.

I can't wait to see Spider. From what they talk about in the article/interview, it seems its themes follow the lines of Memento in that it explores the relationship between memory and identity in some unsettling ways, from a different perspective, into the territory of the artist (or failed artist) as a central character, and how art is communicated:

Here's the point: It's a subjective movie. You are seeing it from Spider's point of view. So he doesn't explain stuff that's obvious to him. When he's confused, we the audience are also confused. When he's hallucinating, we are hallucinating. And the nature of hallucination is that it feels real. The main hallucination in the film is the only one that I thought was necessary.
Exactly how it should be.

Speaking of movies... some movies I saw recently:


  • The Weight of Water (Sean Penn, Catherine McCormack and Elizabeth Hurley). Directed by Katryn Bigelow (an underrated filmmaker if you ask me, having directed movies like Point Break and Strange Days). Great photography. The atmosphere is very tense, but the ending is slightly disappointing... probably because all the tension built up before doesn't really seem to have a "hollywood conclusion." Sort of like Neal Stepheson's Snowcrash... I enjoyed it a lot though.
  • Tape (Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Uma Thurman). Indie, minimalist movie shot digitally, based on a stage play. Everything happens in "real-time" in a single room. The first ten minutes are strange, maybe even slightly boring. Then suddenly it gets interesting, and you can't get off your chair. Same as The Weight of Water regarding the ending. No happy hollywood ending there.
  • Monster's Ball (Halle Berry, Billy Bob Thornton). Thornton is great as usual. Berry is good too. But to be honest, after all the hype (from recommendations, the Oscars, Berry's histerics when receiving the awards...) it wasn't too satisfactory. The ending was lame; compared to the previous two, this was a Hollywood ending. Reminds me of one of Eddie's (played by Sean Penn) lines in the excellent Hurlyburly: "No guts! No originality, no guts!".

    Hollywood ending. Haven't seen that Woody Allen film yet. And I'll write some more about Hurlyburly later.

    Categories: art.media
    Posted by diego on March 2, 2003 at 1:28 PM

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