Technology

Dear Mr. Cox, We have been following with growing concern that Europe has been extending patentability to computer programs. Now European Parliament is about to vote on a directive that could put a stop to this development, or make it worse, depending on how it is amended by the Parliament. US experience shows that, unlike traditional patents, software patents do not encourage innovation and R...
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Dear Mobile Health App Developers, We—patients and caregivers—need your help to reduce the demands of self care. Mobile health (mHealth) apps have enormous potential to lessen our burdens. But our needs are often only loosely related to what clinicians and/or the evidence expect us to do. Most mobile app developers have ignored this fact by designing tools that primarily reflect the imperatives of clinicians and evidence with little or no consultation with us patients about our experiences, our wishes or our requirements. While I can't promise you that consultation with us is the magic key to successful, well-used apps, I can tell you that without it, your app doesn't stand a chance. Two recent experiences prompted me to write you. Each illustrates the gap between the promise of...
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Dear Microsoft As a parent of a teenager, I find that I sometimes have to resort to drastic measures like withholding WiFi access until chores are done. Sometimes, I will change the WiFi password and leave a note in the Teen's computer saying "The WiFi password has changed - do your chores and then I'll tell you what it is" The problem is that Windows 7 then doesn't handle this at all gracefully. Why can't it just pop up a message if it encounters a WPA failure on a network it was previously authenticated to, simply requesting the new password? At the moment, it is necessary to drop the connection to the network, go to "Manage wireless networks" and "Forget" the network, then go back to the tray and re-add the network. This seems to be beyond The Teenager, and as a result...
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Dear Shareholder, As you are aware, Hewlett Packard remains locked in dispute with a group of its own shareholders and with the former management team of Autonomy over its purchase of Autonomy. I write to you today to raise serious concerns about the way HP has conducted this affair, and to put forward a number of questions that HP management should answer. The evidence shows that HP is not just smearing us, but also misleading you, its shareholders. I ask you to help put things right. On November 20th 2012, HP made a series of serious and damaging allegations about the management team of Autonomy. It couched alleged misdeeds in general, rather than specific terms. We emphatically denied all suggestions of wrongdoing. In the 16 months that have followed, HP has not provided...
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Hi Tim: I’ve got an idea for you. I think it would be a big win for independent developers targeting Apple platforms, and by extension a big win for Apple, if the App Store revenue split used a tiered rate. (Hopefully you agree that a thriving ecosystem of independent developers is an important competitive advantage for Apple.) It would cost Apple some money, but the cost should be relatively low, especially when considering the impact it could have on the vibrancy of Apple’s developer community. A bit of background: I am the co-founder of AnyList. Our sole product is a highly rated shopping list and recipe organization app for iOS. Formerly, I was a software developer at Apple from 2005 - 2010. Over the past year, several independent developers have written about the revenue...
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Dear Apple: It’s your friends from Readability. Remember us? You put our technology into your Safari browser last year. We’re writing this open letter because – well – we’re a little upset right now. Last Friday, you notified us that our Readability iOS application was rejected. In explaining the rejection, you pointed us to 11.2 in the App Store Review Guidelines: 11.2 Apps utilizing a system other than the In App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an app will be rejected. We’re obviously disappointed by this decision, and surprised by the broad language. By including “functionality, or services,” it’s clear that you intend to pursue any subscription-based apps, not merely those of services serving up content. Readability’s model is...
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Dear Mark: You have lost focus. Please get it back. As a longtime Facebook user, advertiser and publisher, I think your company is losing the plot, and is in danger of repeating the mistakes made by companies like Kodak, Polaroid, Sony, Myspace, BlackBerry and others. Namely, at some point you stopped focusing on delivering things that people really wanted. You have lost focus on the people using this platform, and that’s the first step toward losing touch and becoming obsolete. So many things that so many people want, and which would make Facebook so much better, go either seemingly unattended or unfixed. You’ve got around 7,000 people working at the company, and I just don’t get it. Need an example? Try this: Why is it that no one can get the News Feed to remember that we...
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Dear Sony Vaio PCG-V505DX, I thought I was buying a compact, highly portable machine to tote here and there in my wanderings, but you’ve turned out to be so much more. You sit in my lap and warm my goods like an accomplished lover. We sleep together and first thing I do is roll over to you and turn you on like you do me, stroke your touchpad, finger your keys. Your wireless convenience allows me to take you everywhere, and where you go, I shall follow. Has Sony pulled a Philip Morris, Slipped something in your mix? To make me need you, crave you Like a junkie’s morning fix? You are the sleek and silver monkey on my back. Your hard drive makes me whimper, your gigabytes make me swoon. No three-and-one-half-inch floppy you, babe. You’re all DVD—Divine Virile Dog, making me leap...
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Dear Lighting in the Victoria’s Secret Dressing Room, I’m not sure if you remember me, but we met last weekend, when you made my stomach and inner thighs look like the surface of the moon, pale and lumpy and riddled with craters. I thought we were on the road to becoming good friends—that you were going to convince me to buy that unnecessarily complicated bra that wouldn’t look good under any of my clothes. Boy, was I wrong. Until last weekend, I thought I’d been making real progress in my bi-weekly Pilates class. I think I’ve finally mastered the Teaser. I know. Exciting, right? But then we met, and you gave me at least five new ways to hate my body. Like, for example, that area right below my boobs, along the ribcage? I didn’t even know I could have cellulite there. So thanks for...
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Dear Philip Malmberg and Adam Lowry, RE: Ecover and Method’s decision to use ingredients derived from Synthetically Modified Organisms (SMOs) in its products We are writing as representatives of several international environmental, consumer and social justice organisations to formally ask Ecover and Method to reconsider its decision to use ingredients derived from synthetic biology in its products. On April 2nd 2014, Ecover announced that it would replace some of the palm oil used in its laundry detergent with algal oil produced by Solazyme Inc. of California (USA), which is derived from the fermentation of Brazilian sugarcane. As you are aware, Solazyme’s proprietary product is ‘genetically tailored oil’ fermented in vats of bioengineered algae that were created using the...
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