UNIX: The Enlightenment’s Operating System

[As ever, you can read this on the BBC News Website]

In the autumn of 1984 I completed the Diploma in Computer Science at Cambridge University and started looking for my first job in the computing industry.

Cambridge was a good place to be a programmer at the time. Trinity College had built its Science Park on the northern fringe of the city in 1970 and the university’s permissive approach to intellectual property meant that it was relatively easy to spin off an idea and see how it worked out without severing all links to a departmental salary.

As a result the cauldron of innovation had been well-stirred by academics from Computer Lab, the Engineering Lab and elsewhere, with a good mix of venture capitalists and an influx of talented managers eager to guide new companies, and by the mid 80’s the Cambridge Phenomenon was in full flood.

I ended up in the middle of it, joining a small software house called Bensasson and Chalmers as a programmer to work on their database management system, Spires.

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Downloading is Not Enough… probably

[As ever, you can read this on the BBC News website too]

Peer to peer download services are still popular with music-loving kids, it seems.  The second annual survey of young people’s music consumption by pressure group UK Music found that three-fifths of the 1,808 18-24 year olds who took part said they used p2p services, and four-fifths of those did so at least once a week.

This is almost the same as last year’s result, and would seem to indicate that the efforts by the music industry to offer a range of licensed alternatives to Limewire and other p2p services have failed to have any real impact.

The survey was carried out by academic researchers in the Music and Entertainment Industry Management Research Group at the University of Hertfordshire, and the picture it presents is a complex one that will surely give the music industry many sleepless nights.

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Oiling the Digital Society

[As ever, you can also read this on the BBC News Website. And Bud Smith at Google Voice Daily mentions it in his round up of GV news.]

The announcement that Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt is standing down from the Apple board hardly came as a surprise.
Google’s Android is already powering smartphones that offer an open alternative to Apple’s iPhone, while the recent announcement of plans for Chrome OS, an operating system that will directly challenge Mac OS, makes Google a direct competitor to Apple in its core market.
Apple’s recent decision to keep Google Voice out of the iPhone App Store must surely have increased tension on the board, and may have been the last straw.

The move not only annoyed customers, who wanted to take advantage of the single phone number and voice-over-IP calls it offers, but has also invited the attention of the US Federal Communications Commission, which has asked Apple, Google and network provider AT&T to provide it with details of their decision making process.

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