Microsoft Loses Word Patent Case

According to various news reports, Microsoft has lost a case filed against it by a Canadian company i4i, which alleged Microsoft had its patent on an XML markup technology.

So, what is the patent infringement really about? A study of United States Court of Appeals judgement document 09-1504.pdf dated 2009/12/22 and some other relevant documents points to the following:

1. i4i is a Canadian company started in 1998 and helps develop and maintain customized software for its customers.

2. In June 1994, i4i applied for a patent concerning a method for processing and storing information about the structure of electronic documents. This patent was granted to the company in 1998 and the technology was later used in “add-on” software for Microsoft
Word, expanding Word’s capability to work with documents containing custom XML. In the patent document i4i is named as Infrastructures for Information, Inc.

3. The patent claims the improved technology as stemming from storing a document’s content and metacodes separately.

4. Apparently, Microsoft used this same “improved technology” in Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007.

i4i sued Microsoft in 2007 saying that Microsoft knowingly infringed one of i4i’s patents in its Word application and its Vista operating system.

In August 2009, a Texas district court ruled in favor of i4i and filed an injunction preventing Microsoft from selling Word 2003 and 2007.

Microsoft appealed and yesterday (12/22/2009) the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s verdict. The court judgement document talks about a jury award of $200 million to i4i. The court was authorized to triple the jury’s damages award because of Microsoft’s willful infringement, but the district court awarded only $40 million in additional damages. Press reports about $290 million in damages are not clearly adding up, unless I am missing something.

According to Microsoft’s press statement on its website,

This injunction applies only to copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 sold in the U.S. on or after the injunction date of January 11, 2010. Copies of these products sold before this date are not affected.

With respect to Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, we have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products. Therefore, we expect to have copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Office 2007, with this feature removed, available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date. In addition, the beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, do not contain the technology covered by the injunction.

Related links:
Statement on Microsoft’s website
Statement on i4i’s website (pdf)
Court Judgement Document
Patent Document

Get Free Hosting For Your Site – Part 1

OK, so you have decided create your very own website, with your own domain name and everything. The very first thing you will need is a domain name, and then a web host. You can register a domain name for an initial cost of about ten bucks, give or take a couple. Then you only need to worry about it once a year. A web host, on the other hand can cost $30 upwards, even for a basic site, and for that kind of price all you will get is a fly by night hosting company that can pull the plug on your site any time. So, how would you like it if I explained to you how to get free hosting, ad-free, logo-free, that too from some leading companies like Google and Microsoft. After all, in this era of Internet freebies, who wants to pay for things like web hosting?

Well, this works for a blog or a basic site, where you would like to give information about yourself or your small business, get feedback, run surveys, write articles, even place ads to make some money. If you want to create an e-commerce site, where you want to sell stuff, accept payments, etc., then these instructions are not for you.

OK, let us get back to the basics. Assuming that you already have a domain name (if not, get one now), there are three main ways you can set up a site with free hosting from World’s leading Internet companies:

1. Blogger from Google
2. Google Sites
3. Office Live Small Business

Part 1: Setting Up Your Domain on Blogger

In Part 1 of this article, I am going to explain how to set up your site using blogger.com. But I am not trying to create a blog, you ask. OK, I will also tell you how to make your site not look like a blog. Let us start with the steps.

Step 1: Creating a free blog on blogger.com
Create an account on blogger.com and create a blog for your site. It is easy and self explanatory. If you have a google account, use that to sign in, otherwise I recommend you create one. If not, you can use any email address to create an account. After creating an account create a blank blog site, and may be start with a simple test post. It doesn’t matter what name you choose for your blog, but it will be nice if you use the same name as your domain. For example if your website is example123.com, use example123.blogspot.com as your blog address. If the name is not available, don’t worry. choose any name that is available and you like.
(Click here to watch a little video on how to create a blog on blogger.)

Step 2: Telling Blogger Your Domain Name
Now that your free blog is set up on blogger, it is time to change your example.blogspot.com address to example.com. Here’s how to do this:

- On your blogger dashboard, click on the “Settings” link against the blog you wish to link to your domain.

- Under Settings, Click on Publishing. You will see the following message.
Blogger Custom Domain Setting
- Click on “Switch to Custom Domain”.

- On the next screen, click on “Switch to Advanced Settings”.

- On the next screen, enter your domain name. Just below the text box for domain name, click on “setup instructions”, which will link you to this page. Leave the setup instructions open in a separate page.

- For basic settings, say “No” to “Use a missing files host?”. Enter the Word Verification, and click on “Save Settings”.

Step 3: Telling Your Domain Registrar Where to Go
Now complete the instructions given on the setup instructions page. For this you need to visit your domain registrar’s site, e.g., if you registered your domain from Godaddy, go to godaddy.com. This step basically consists of setting up your CNAME and A NAME records. At this point don’t worry what these NAMEs mean. Your CNAME needs to point to ghs.google.com. Setting up your CNAME is enough to direct your domain www.example123.com to your blog, but you need to set up the A names to make sure even example123.com (without the www) points to the same blog. Once your DNS settings are complete, it may take several hours (sometimes upto a day) to be active.

Step 4: Setting Up Your Blog Template
While the DNS settings take effect or “propagate”, let us take some time to customize the blog.

- On your blogger dashboard, click on the “Layout” link against the blog you wish to customize.

- Use Page Elements, Fonts and Colors to change the look of your blog. You can also Pick a New Template from, or search the web for thousands of templates others have created for blogger.

Now if you are actually using this site for your blog, you don’t need to go to Step 5. If you want your site not to look like a blog, then read on.

Step 5: Making your blog look like a non-blog site
You will need to do several things to make your site not look like a blog.

- Hide or Remove Blogger Navbar: Follow instructions on this page. Or better still, use a non-blogger template that has a built in code to hide the navbar. If in doubt, ask in the comments section below.

- Under Layout > Page Elements, click on “Edit” under “Blog Posts”, and uncheck all unnecessary fields like Date, Author, Time, Comments, etc. Also under Layout > Page Elements, delete any unnecessary sidebar elements. Use sidebar to add a menu to your site.

- Various pages for your site will have to be created by going to the Posting tab. Create the pages and use the current date for the page you always want to appear on the front page. For all other posts, use an old date. Remember, you will need to keep the date for the front page later than all other pages. That is how blogger.com will know which page to show first when someone visits your website.

- Under Settings > Formatting, choose “Show 1 post” on the main page.

That is it. Your website is ready to go. Questions? Concerns? Go ahead, ask in the comments section.

Yet Another WordPress Upgrade – 2.8.4

Yet another upgrade has been announced to WordPress. Version 2.8.3 was released early last week, and today 2.8.4 has been announced. Look at the timeline.

09-Jul 2.8.1
20-Jul 2.8.2
03-Aug 2.8.3
12-Aug 2.8.4

Once again, it is termed a security release. According to Matt, if you are still using 2.8.3

a specially crafted URL could be requested that would allow an attacker to bypass a security check to verify a user requested a password reset. As a result, the first account without a key in the database (usually the admin account) would have its password reset and a new password would be emailed to the account owner. This doesn’t allow remote access, but it is very annoying.

So, go download 2.8.4 or upgrade using your WordPress dashboard.

Reverse Order WordPress Comments

Sometimes you may want the order of comments on your WordPress blog to be reversed, i.e., want the newest comments to appear on top. While simple plug-ins have been available to accomplish this (I liked Sudar’s the best), now there is a much simpler solution. Now WordPress dashboard itself allows you to reverse the order of your comments.

To reverse the order of your comments, go to your WordPress dashboard and follow the following sequence of operations:

1. Under Settings, click on Discussion

Reverse Order WordPress Comments2. Under Discussion Settings » Other comment settings it says Comments should be displayed with the older comments at the top of each page. Just change the older to newer using the drop down box, and hit “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page. You are done!

Also, as I said before the search feature at the plugins page needs to be more efficient. It still returns a number of plugins for reversing comment order, when they are no longer needed.

Upgrade to WordPress 2.8.3

I think the pace at which WordPress.org releases WordPress upgrades is a little bit too fast. It is kinda good, because this tells us the people at WordPress are working on it all the time, but it does add some admin work for us bloggers. Even though upgrades are now a breeze thanks to the auto-upgrade feature, it is always advisable to take a backup before the upgrade. If you are maintaining multiple blogs, you just signed up for a good amount of admin work between taking backups and upgrading each blog. But hey, you wouldn’t have taken that backup otherwise, would you have? Makes you think of going to WordPress mu, but there may be more unknowns there. Haven’t tried that yet.

Exactly 2 weeks after the release of its 2.8.2 version, WordPress.org has released WordPress 2.8.3. This release has been termed as a “security release”, as some of the vulnerabilities of 2.8.1 were not fixed by 2.8.2. Ryan Boren advises:

Since this is a security release, upgrading is highly recommended.

So, if you are running your site on WordPress, go ahead and upgrade now. Don’t forget to backup your data. I am still looking for an easier way to take a backup. As I said in my last “upgrade” post, the easiest way I know to back up your WordPress blog is to go to Tools » Export in your dashboard. However, for bigger blogs, it creates an issue because while restoring your site, importing a file larger than 2 MB creates an error unless you change your php.ini file. I will write more about that soon.

Google Adds Urdu Transliteration to Custom Search

Last month Google had announced on its Custom Search Blog that transliteration had been enabled in Custom Search for a set of languages,
“making it easier to find news in Arabic, Indian news in Hindi, your favorite Bollywood song lyrics, or local content in a bunch of other Indic languages – Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. Other languages will be enabled soon.”

Google has lived up to its promise and today it announced that Urdu and Nepali have been added to the mix.
Continue reading

2 Easy Methods to Add Adsense for Blogger

If your blog is not on blogger, setting up Adsense on your blog can be quite a chore, particularly adjusting the font colors, background, link colors, etc and then obtaining and adding the code to your website. However, if your blog is on blogger, and you are using the “new blogger” templates, adding the Adsense widget makes the whole process much easier.

Method 1:

In your blogger account, click on Monetize, under the blog you want to add Adsense to. Continue reading

Gmail Out of Beta But Issues Persist

The Official Gmail Blog tells us that Gmail is no longer in beta. I don’t know if it is just me, but I have had the following two errors occurring multiple times:

- Say, I read an email, or delete an email, or archive an email, or mark it as read — any of these actions should result in the email header not appearing in bold (or shown as unread). It happens momentarily, but on next auto-refresh a couple of emails again show as unread. Anyone else seen this happening? This has happened more often when I am checking my Gmail at work, where there may be security and firewall issues, but what should that cause this error? Continue reading