Friday, October 28, 2016

Can something be un-invented?

In a legalistic sense, an invention can be un-invented.

The concept of invention is embodied by patent law. Patent law even defines the appropriate use of words like “patented”, “patent pending”, “invention”, and “inventor”.

For example, I created the first and original embodiment of Chromebook as a Google employee and wrote Google’s patents on Chromebook, so I’m legally the inventor of Chromebook because my name appears on all Google’s Chromebook patents. By law, no one else can claim such.

However, there are ways that a patent can be voided.

A patent can be abandoned. This happens by default if a patent isn’t defended against infringement. For example, if Samsung made their own web operating system using Google’s intellectual property, and didn’t make arrangements to license Google’s webtop patents, a court might find the patents had been abandoned. Google would no longer be able to claim any intellectual property ownership for them.

A patent can also be superseded. At the time Google filed my patents, the law was such that whoever constructed the first embodiment of the invention described in the patent has priority. The very first implementation of a webtop at Google was in 2006, albeit at that time the code was built on Firefox. If someone constructed a webtop earlier than 2006 which matched the details of Chromebook, as described in the patents, it’s my understanding Google’s patents could be determined to be superseded. As far as I know, there weren’t any webtop before 2006, much less any webtops backed by cloud services and identical to the details described in the Chromebook patents.

There may be other reasons a patent could be invalidated, such as if a court determines the patent wasn’t filed properly or if some third party was harmed at the time of the filing of the patent, it could be challenged in court.

In a legal sense, these are some ways that a patent can end up invalidated, which might be poetically described as “un-inventing” the invention.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that many other factors have nothing to do with invalidating a patent filing or un-inventing an invention. For example, I no longer work at Google, yet the patents I wrote for Google on Chromebook are still in force. Under US law and my employment contract with Google, Google own all the intellectual property (not me). Legally, though, I’m still the inventor of Chromebook.

I am - of course - not a lawyer; decades of work with software intellectual property being my only legal school. As always, you should talk to a lawyer if you need legal advice for your own inventions or intellectual property.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Is there any way I can get Kik and Snapchat on my school Chromebook?

Probably not. Google has been working for a couple years now to converge Chrome OS and Android, but so far, very little has been made available to the public. This is not unusual for Google, where apps often remain in testing for several years before public release.

As Matthew Ponce points out, you can try to run your Android apps on ARC Welder from the Chrome Web Store. Some are compatible, but it's still in an "experimental" state.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

What has Jeff Nelson been doing lately?

Greetings. I am indeed lurking and occasionally get some time to try to catch up on my Quora feed. I've been dabbling in some other social networks (if it's fair to call Quora a social network) and try to have at least some activity every few days.

I don't know if the book is going to happen in the short term. It's a tremendous challenge trying to write a book that makes the engineering process sound interesting. There weren't any love triangles. No fist fights. I never once got into a car chase. It was mostly long days of getting into work, doing my job, then going home to do some more work on my Chromebook experiment. Possibly, the most interesting part for most people would be descriptions of the meetings with various executives, Larry Page, etc.

Other than that, the only drama was from the comedy of errors made by management, and I don't necessarily want to write a whole book about that. It would start to read like a super long exit letter or a rant, which is not what I want to write about and I'm not sure anyone would want to read. For now, I'm just planning to keep re-writing it until I find the right tone.

Aside from that, I've been continuing to pursue a machine learning startup that I'm not ready to talk about.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Who are the creators of Google Chrome?

Tl;Dr It was a team effort. If you want one name, Ben Goodger was the lead and wrote the original design doc.

As Philip mentions, Chrome is based on many open source projects going back about a decade. Hundreds of engineers worked on those FOSS packages.

The Google story began around March 1, 2006 when someone came up with the idea for an April Fools joke that Google was making a browser. That unknown person probably deserves an honorable mention. because they spawned the more serious discussion at Google.

From there the Pm team discussed briefly whether this should be taken seriously.  They decided it was a joke and too much of a distraction.

On March 27, the AFJ was announced to the company.

That immediately spawned a more serious discussion,  primarily on the Google Ideas mailing list that we really should build a browser.  I'm not sure who made the original Ideas list post,  but I suppose they also deserve an honorable mention.  At that point,  several engineers, myself included, started lobbying for Google to actually make a browser. Ben Goodger pointed out that we had several engineers from Mozilla and Netscape. My own point was that Google was increasingly dependant on Javascript and other company's browser platforms. Other engineers pointed out that we also needed a better Javascript engine for search quality,  since the Web itself was also increasingly based on Javascript.

It then went to Product Council, which came back positive around April 15. It was now an official Google project.

Ben was the main tech lead and wrote the design doc. (Ben also is who helped setup the Linux build for Chromebook.)

On the management side, Brian Racowski was the main point person for the project,  and I'm sure he also did a significant amount of work to get the ball rolling on the project.

There are certainly many others who tackled major milestones,  particularly the V8 Javascript engine, NaCl, and sandboxed Flash, but I can't remember all the names.

Because Chrome was based on open source, internal to Google we had prototype quality builds almost from day 1. June 2006 was the first time I saw rendered html.

More than 10,000 open source developers have contributed code to the Chromium project since September 1st 2008, when it was announced to the public.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What is the easiest programming language/framework/ engine to start making iOS games with?

I am a big fan of Unity3D, which is a cross-platform framework for 2D or 3D game development.  It's primary language is C#, which isn't necessarily my favorite language, but the framework has a number of advantages, including:

Cross platform support.  Write your game once, compile it for many platforms, including iOS, Android, Xbox, web player, and Windows.

Third party component market.  Hundreds of pre-written components are available, some of them free, others for a small fee. So, if your game needs a humanoid model with realistic motion-capture physics, you don't need your own motion-capture studio. You can find practically anything you might need on the market.

A large and active community of developers.  If you have questions, there's someone out there who can help you out.

Great documentation and tutorials in how to build your first application.

One big disadvantage though, they don't support Chromebooks, although there is a very difficult workaround that requires downgrading to a previous version of Unity3D that used to support NaCl.  Until that changes, you probably won't see many Unity3D games on Chromebook.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Does every Googler own a MacBook?

Macs have become more popular recently since Mac OS is a Unix, and Google is first and foremost of Linux company.

I certainly hope that more developers are starting to opt for BYOD with Chromebook and Android, since Google manufactures two perfectly good operating systems. There's no surer way to lose an operating system war than not use yourr own opeating system.

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Will chrome OS dominate the budget laptop market?

The trend we are seeing in Chromebook sales is rather straightforward.

Institutions that switch to using the Google Apps for Work suite of products are very easy to convince to switch to using Chromebooks as well.

Institutions that haven't switched to Google Apps for Work are nearly impossible to sell on the idea of deploying Chromebooks.

So, it's upto Google to convince more people, businesses, and universities that Google Apps are all they need to use. Once that is fate accompli, the decision to use Chromebooks rather than a far less secure, far more expensive, far more difficult to manage platform is rather easy.

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