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'We're going to have a renaissance – let's do it'

Plus: 'We just want people to invent their own stuff'

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Quotw This was the week when it looked like the case against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom could be brought to its knees on the mere technicality that the site had never been served with papers in the US.

Unfortunately, the criminal conspiracy charges in America are vital to the trial, and without a charge carrying a five-year maximum sentence, the FBI won’t be able to meet the criteria necessary to having Dotcom extradited.

That would leave a trial taking place in New Zealand – if at all – and there the FBI's evidence might not be admissible.

This was also the week when every oops-I've-sent-that-email-to-the-wrong-person moment was eclipsed by the colossal slip of the mouse over at Aviva Investors, whose HR department fired its entire staff.

1,300 employees got the message that they should pack up their desks, taking care not to add any of the company's staplers, and leave their security passes at the door on the way out.

The less-than-pleasant way to end things was only meant for one worker, so 1,299 people immediately got a retraction notice and apology from HR.

The incident was all the more terrifying for the poor workers because Aviva is actually making job cuts, but spokesman Paul Lockstone said they were all okay really and then gave the understatement of the week:

From time to time, things go wrong.

In the UK, app developers said the idea of making money from smartphone apps was ridiculous and most of the time the cash coming in didn't even cover the cost of making the damn things.

The UK Computing Research Committee said:

Software "apps" can be marketed through App Stores, such as Apple Inc’s iTunes store, but competition is intense, individual apps sell typically for 99p, and almost no one recovers the realistic costs of development...

Some innovative software-based services have been commercialised extremely successfully – Facebook and Google being the leading examples – but the commercial model is extremely unusual, as it requires huge investment to provide free services so that a vast population of users is developed and monetised through advertising revenue and added-value services.

However, app developers needn't despair, because Tech City, the wee area around Old Street in Shoreditch, London, is apparently going to save the world.

The Prime Minister's ambassador to Tech City Ben Hammersley gave an... interesting lecture to Queen Mary Univerity's Mile End Group this week that heralded the small place as the saviour of the planet.

He declaimed:

Tech City can be a catalyst that improves the lives of the whole area, the city, the country and in fact the whole world.

So all the tech firms and internet businesses there are going to make so much money that it sorts out the global downturn? Ah no, not quite.

This kind of success is not measured by piffling trifles like food in mouths and roofs over heads, no, no, this is measured by "kindness", "happiness" and "joie de vivre".

He elaborated:

We have a community that has become a place that nurtures people into a set of skills that can be a blessing for everyone and everyone in this community, from the imams in the mosques to the academics in the universities, to the graffiti artists and the market traders and the strippers [who] have all come together to create a place which seems to be about to create a new renaissance.

It's not a matter of policy, but one of the things the government can say is: 'We're going to have a renaissance – let's do it'.

"Yes we need more developers. We also need more poets and more artists and more hoodies and more kebab shops, more people in the rag trade, more academics and anything else that you want to be

That's sure to cheer everyone up.

As the Great Patent Wars continue, a Pennsylvanian professor decided to get in on the action by suing Apple for all its touchscreen iDevices.

Slavoljub Milekic said he developed a touchscreen testing tool for children to manipulate screen images in 1997 for the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and was issued with a patent eight years later.

He then set up Flatworld Interactives in 2007 to monetise his invention, which is different from other touchscreens because he included gestures.

His managing partner at the firm, Steve Berman, said in a statement:

Reading Flatworld’s patent is like reading the description of gesture recognition features of any of the accused products on Apple’s website. It is clear that Flatworld owns technology that Apple has used to drive billions of dollars in infringing sales.

And speaking of Apple litigation, did you know that Tim Cook would really prefer not to be suing everyone over smartphones?

During the company's earnings call, he said:

I've always hated litigation and I continue to hate it.

Huzzah! Now all the tech companies can get back to actually making cool stuff and stop moaning about each other and even collaborate for the benefit of consumers. But no, what Cook meant was, "I hate litigation and I'll stop if everyone gives in to Apple!".

He carried on his thoughts with:

We just want people to invent their own stuff. So if we could get to some arrangement where we could be assured that's the case and a fair settlement on the stuff that's occurred, I would highly prefer to settle than to battle.

Ah well, it was fun while it lasted. Oh, and just in case you were wondering if Apple would ever cross a toaster with a fridge, they're probably not going to. ®

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