Google triumphs over Oracle

Google triumphs over Oracle

- Long-time readers may remember that back in the mists of IT time, over 10 years ago, Oracle challenged Google over the use of Oracle's Java API's and some of their code in Android.

Recently the US Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that Google's use did indeed represent fair use under US law and the long-running case is now finished. Oracle was understandably not pleased, while Google declared the decision to be "a victory for consumers, interoperability and computer science". The ruling covered 37 Java APIs and 11,500 lines of copyrighted code so it begs the question of just how much you can "reuse" before being culpable. In a separate ruling, the court also vacated a ruling that found the former US president Donald Trump could not block Twitter users, which opens up the question can Twitter block Twitter users? I suspect we will see a lot more on this last ruling in the coming months.

- They said it would never happen, but in other Java-related news Microsoft has released its own OpenJDK variant with binaries for Java 11 for macOS, Linux and Windows platforms. Microsoft also plans to make the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK the default distribution for Java 11 across Azure-managed services later this year.

- Going even further back, nearly 30 years in this case, the eons old case of SCO vs Linux has reared up from the almost dead once more. As one source put it "the software zombie court case to end all zombie software court cases has woken from its slumber". The SCO Group tried from a long time back to get money out of 1,500 companies, without success. IBM was a main target and they ended up paying out a little just to stop the harassment. In more recent times a group called Xinous found some money and are having another go but the word is that they will have even less luck than the SCO Group did back in the day. There is now after all such a thing as Ubuntu for Windows.

- For a bit of modern nostalgia, IBM has announced a Cobol compiler for Linux on x86. Your first question might be why? Turns out that Cobol is still alive and well in multiple systems across the globe and IBM reckons you might want it as part of your hybrid cloud mix. It could also be a cunning plan to get organisations off Cobol. Time will tell.

- Many readers will already know by now that 533 million Facebook account details were leaked into the wild. Facebook has decided that this is now "old news". But it would appear that your details are still not safe on the giant platforms and that they don't really care so much if they are or not. After all, they sell this kind of information to marketers and more for the extra income.

- The field of AI is running into an interesting conundrum. Good AI requires precise definitions of terms. For item recognition this involves having the correct labels on things. In the post-modern world labels change and data sets become incompatible. In a recent MIT study an average of 3.4% of data sampled was mislabelled, up to 6% in some sets. Some of this was just getting it wrong, but as language and definitions become more fluid, items will need multiple words and definitions to cover all the possible flavours that can be assigned to them.

- I love the possibility of new technology. Sometimes it actually comes to be and I can buy it. Other times it is a great idea in the lab that doesn't make it to the outside world. I recently read of a new diamond battery technology that uses nuclear waste like radioactive graphite and a diamond that absorbs energy from the material to provide power for devices. The radioactive diamond is wrapped in synthetic diamonds to prevent leakage and cut radiation to less than the human body emits -- yes we are radioactive. The University of Cambridge has a proof of concept design they claim could be in commercial use by 2024. One claim is they could take up to 28,000 years to run out of charge, but I suspect it will be nowhere near that when commercially available.

- My two questions are that with so many diamonds involved how much will such a technology cost, and will it ever be small enough to power my mobile phone for a very long time?

- Finally for this week the hard drive maker Seagate is claiming to be the first company to ship three zettabytes' worth of data storage devices. As a reminder a zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes, and an exabyte is 1,000 petabytes. A petabyte is about 56, 18 terabyte Seagate drives. It took Seagate 36 years to sell its first zettabyte, and just four years to ship its second. Zettabyte three took just two years. That is a lot of data storage.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at

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