What’s the most important thing a small start-up should do?

A small company called Laminar Research, a creator of a flight simulator got sued by an even smaller company called Uniloc for IP infringement. Now, the company I work for, used to work with Uniloc for a couple of years, integrating their license-management solution into our product. Around December 2010 they stopped supporting their product and I believed (until recently) that they were shut down.
Well what do you know? it seems that since they stopped developing and selling their product – they started making the big bucks – sounds weird ? not at all!
Apparently these guys, which are located in Luxembourg, finally found a good way of making money without any hard work: by suing!

The “IP” that Uniloc claims that x-plane (and previously Microsoft) infringed can be described as follows:
“A registration authority communicates with the electronic device. The registration authority has a database of verification data for verifying the license data stored on the licensing medium and provides updated license data to the licensing medium.”

Basically what it says: the patent is of a “LIVE” authentication of a license-key with a license-management server (over the web).

Sounds unbelievable?

After hearing the BS that Apple used against Samsung (for copying features like “pinch and zoom” and the “bounceback” effect), it doesn’t sound that weird anymore. So I’m probably naive, but I still can’t believe that anyone would approve a patent for authenticating against a server.

If you want to read more about Uniloc vs. Laminar Research, you can find the details of the lawsuit here.

Now for the important part: if you have a small start-up, how can you avoid such bogus lawsuits? cause, you know, the minute you’ll start growing – the blood-suckers will come after you…

Luckily, the makers of stackexchange just launched a new beta: patents.stackexchange.com. So before you start developing ANYTHING, better search patents.stackexchange.com, maybe even post a question!

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What’s the most important thing a small start-up should do?

Guava is much more than a delicious fruit!

google

Yesterday I went to a meet-up organized by Silicon Valley Java User Group, the subject was An Overview of Guava: Google Core Libraries for Java. Naturally, it was hosted at Google. Since I was already late, Murphy decided it would be a good idea to f*ck with me: traffic on 101 was crawling at ~20mph (I’m sure that those of you from the valley will totally understand…).

Anyways, I was only 20 minutes late, when I found out there was still plenty of pizza and drinks, apparently I wasn’t the only one who was late. I still had bout half an hour for mingling, but developers are not great at socializing, so I found myself cursing for not bringing with me my Nexus 7″.

Finally the place filled up, it looked like this:

meetup
An Overview of Guava @Google headquarters

Picture credit: Lawrence

A few words about Guava:
Guava is a collection of Google Java-based libraries which includes: caching, hashing, concurrency, collections, I/O and more. The main reason I wanted to attend this event was hearing about their caching solution, unfortunately, right at the beginning of the lectureKurt Alfred Kluever said that caching deserves a separate talk. The good news are that the organizer of the meet-up sent a link to this video right after the talk (the first twenty seconds are in French so don’t get stressed ;)

I asked a couple of questions, one about their caching-library – if it was properly benchmarked and compared to other alternatives (memcache for instance) and the answer I got was that many people decide to implement their own benchmarking and do it poorly, so Guava team assigned one of their team-members to work on a micro-benchmarking library!

A couple of other cool stuff they implemented are the MultiMap (a Map which can hold multiple values for one key) and the BiMap (Map which supports mapping the values back to keys). You can download the slides from the talk here. Also, you can find here some code-examples.

To sum up:

  • Guava looks like something I will definitely check
  • Google looks like amusement-park for developers!
Guava is much more than a delicious fruit!