Posts filed under "Business"
April 14, 2011
We’re at it again and we’re hiring…
Chip has created the Nth generation of his massive-scale real-time server architecture (the spiritual descendent of Habitat) and we think the time is right for mobile/social games to go multiplayer! So we’ve gotten the band back together, and you can join us!
FUDCorp Job Openings
Real-Time Game Server Programmer, SF Bay Area
About us: a still-stealth start-up with a groundbreaking mobile/gaming platform that will reshape social games/apps. Get in on the ground floor with world-class founders and established technology. If you know us, you what we’ve built since the earliest days of online play.
- Writing server-side Java code for an original massively multiplayer mobile online game
- This is a contract position, with potential to join our full-time team
- Immediate Availability. Our recent successes (partners and funding) means we need more help immediately!
- San Francisco Bay Area. With live meetings at least weekly, increasing over time.
- Minimum 3 years as a professional Java programmer working on client-server applications in a small, decentralized team.
- Strong Linux/Unix skills: shell scripting, command line tools, server administration, etc.
- Big plus: experience with Amazon EC2, and optimizing server features for automatic deployment
- Big plus: previous work with implementing social games, such as taxonomies, economies, abuse mitigation, and social issues
- Big plus: experience with iPhone or Android app development
Please send resume and contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 15, 2011
Requiem for Blue Mars
Another virtual world startup (Blue Mars) is dying. At The Andromeda Media Group Blog Will Burns [Aeonix Aeon] writes:
Looking Back at the Future
The really interesting part about all of this is that in order to see the future of Avatar Reality, and subsequently Blue Mars (or any virtual environment today), we need not look into the future but instead look to the past…
[many interesting insights about 1990s era worlds]
In 1990, the solution was given by two people to all of this madness. Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer, authors of Lessons Learned From Lucasfilm’s Habitat. Strangely enough I had asked Mr Farmer about Linden Lab and he informed me that he was actually called in as a consultant in the early days, and not surprisingly, ignored.
That’s a bit of a harsh summary, but more than five years ago I did write The Business of Social Avatar Virtual Worlds: Or, why I really like Second Life, even if their business is most likely doomed. Clearly I wasn’t 100% right about them – they found a business model that at least got them to cover their run-rate. But many of the things in there may to apply to Blue Mars…
November 16, 2010
Quora:What lessons of Social Web do you wish had been better integrated into Yahoo?
On Quora, an anonymous user asked me the following question:
In hindsight, what lessons have you learned from the Social Web that you wish you had been more successful at integrating into Yahoo before you were let go?
I considered this question at length when composing this reply – this is probably the most thought-provoking question I’ve been asked to publicly address in months.
If you read any of my blog posts (or my recent book), you already know that I’ve got a lot of opinions about how the Social Web works: I rant often about identity, reputation, karma, community management, social application design, and business models.
I did these same things during my time for and at Yahoo!
We invented/improved user-status sharing (what later became known as Facebook Newsfeeds) when we created Yahoo! 360° [Despite Facebook's recently granted patent, we have prior art in the form of an earlier patent application and the evidence of an earlier public implementation.]
But 360 was prematurely abandoned in favor of a doomed-from-the-start experiment called Yahoo!Mash. It failed out of the gate because the idea was driven not by research, but personality. But we had hope in the form of the Yahoo! Open Strategy, which promised a new profile full of social media features, deeply integrated with other social sites from the very beginning. After a year of development – Surprise! – Yahoo! flubbed that implementation as well. In four attempts (Profiles, 360, Mash, YOS) they’d only had one marginal success (360), which they sabotaged several times by telling users over and over that the service was being shut down and replaced with inferior functionality. Game over for profiles.
We created a reputation platform and deployed successful reputation models in various places on Yahoo! to decrease operational costs and to identify the best content for search results and to be featured on property home pages [See: The Building Web Reputation Systems Wiki and search for Yahoo to read more.]
The process of integrating with the reputation platform required product management support, but almost immediately after my departure the platform was shipped off to Bangalore to be sunsetted. Ironically, since then the folks at Yahoo! are thinking about building a new reputation platform – since reputation is obviously important, and everyone from the original team has either left, been laid off, or moved on to other teams. Again, this will be the fourth implementation of a reputation platform…
Are you sensing a pattern yet?
Then there’s identity. The tripartite identity model I’ve blogged about was developed while at Yahoo an attempt to explain why it is brain-dead to ask users to reveal their IM name, their email address, and half their login credentials to spammers in order to leave a review of a hotel.
Again we built a massively scalable identity service platform to allow users to be seen as their nickname, age, and location instead of their YID. And again, Yahoo! failed to deploy properly. Despite a cross-company VP-level mandate, each individual business unit silo dragged their heels in doing the (non-trivial, but important and relatively easy) work of integrating the platform. Those BUs knew the truth of Yahoo! – if you delay long enough, any platform change will lose its support when the driving folks leave or are reassigned. So – most properties on Yahoo! are still displaying YIDs and getting up to 90% fewer user contributions as a result.
That’s what I learned: Yahoo! can’t innovate in Social Media. It has a long history in this, from Yahoo! Groups, which during my tenure had three separate web 2.0 re-designs, with each tossed on the floor in favor of cheap and easy (and useless) integrations (like with Yahoo! Answers) to Flickr, Upcoming, and Delicious. I’m sad to say, Yahoo! seems incapable of reprogramming its DNA, despite regular infusions of new blood. Each attempt ends in either an immune-response (Flickr has its own offices, and a fairly well known disdain for Sunnyvale) or assimilation and decreasing relevance (HotJobs, Personals, Groups, etc.).
So, in the end, I find I can’t answer the question. I was one of many people who tried to drive home the lessons of the social web for the entire time I was there. YOS (of which I helped spec in fall 2007) was the last attempt to reshape the company to be social through and through. But, it was a lost cause – the very structure of the environment is personality driven. When those personalities leave, their projects immediately get transferred to Bangalore for end-of-life support, just as much of YOS has been…
I don’t know what Yahoo! is anymore, but I know it isn’t inventing the future of social anything.
[As I sat through this years F8 developers conference, and listen to Mark Z describe 95% of the YOS design, almost 3 years later, I knew I'd have to write this missive one day. So thanks for the prodding , Anonymous @ Quora]
Social Media Consultant, MSB Associates
Former Community Strategy Analyst for Yahoo!
[Please direct comments to Quora]
October 12, 2010
First! Randy to be the kickoff guest for new Community Chat podcast series.
Bill Johnston and Thomas Knolls are launching a new live podcast series: Community Chat on talkshoe.
I am so honored to be the lead-off guest on their inagural episode (Wednesday 10-13-10):
The kickoff episode of Community Chat! [We] will be discussing the premise of the Community Chat podcast with special guest Randy Farmer. Will also be getting a preview of Blog World Expo from Check Hemann.
I’ll be talking with them about online community issues developers and operators all share in common – well, as much as I can in 10 minutes. :-) Click on the widget above to go there – it will be recorded for those who missed it live…
February 24, 2010
Grizzled Advice from Business & Legal Primer for Game Development
[Two years ago, I wrote up a few lessons for inclusion in Business & Legal Primer for Game Development. I'd always meant to cross-post it here and was surprised to see I hadn't already when I went looking for it to share with the folks over at PlayNoEvil in reply to a recent post. - Randy]
Here are three top-line lessons for those considering designing their own MMORG or latest Facebook game for that matter…
1. Design Hubris Wastes Millions
Read all the papers/books/blogs written by your predecessors that you can – multi-user game designers are pretty chatty about their successes and failures. Pay close attention to their failures – try not to duplicate those. Believe it or not, several documented failures have been repeated over and over in multiple games, despite these freely available resources.
If you are going to ignore one of the lessons of those who went before, presumably because you think you know a better way, do it with your eyes wide open and be ready to change to plan B if your innovation doesn’t work out the way you expected. If you want to hash your idea out before committing it to code, consider consulting with the more experienced designers – they post on Terra Nova (http://blogs.terranova.com/) and talk to budding designers on the Mud-Dev (http://www.kanga.nu/) mailing list, amongst other places. Many of them respond pretty positively to direct contact via email – just be polite and ask your question clearly – after all, they are busy building their own worlds.
2. Beta Testers != Paying Customers
One recurring error in multi-user game testing is the problem of assuming that Beta users of a product will behave like real customers would. They don’t, for several reasons:
A. Beta testing is a status symbol amongst their peers
“I’m in the ZYXWorld Limited Beta!” is a bragging right. Since it has street-cred value, this leads the user to be on their best behavior. They will grief much less. They will share EULA breaking hacks with each other much less. They will harass much less. They won’t report duping bugs. The eBay aftermarket for goods won’t exist. In short, anything that would get them kicked out of the beta won’t happen anywhere near as often as when the product is released.
B. Beta testers aren’t paying.
Paying changes everything. During the Beta, the users work for you. When you release the game, you are working for them. Now some users will expect to be allowed to do all sorts of nasty things that they would never had done during the Beta. Those who were Beta users (and behaved then) will start to exploit bugs they found during the test period, but never reported. Bad beta users save up bugs, so they could use them after your product’s release to gain an edge over the new users, to dupe gold, or to just crash your server to show off to a friend.
So, you’re probably wondering; How do I get my Beta testers to show me what life on my service will really be like and to help me find the important bugs/exploits/crashes before I ship? Here are some strategies that worked for projects I worked on:
Crash Our World: Own up to the fact that Beta testers work for you and they do it for the status – incentivize the finding of crash/dup/exploit bugs that you want them to find. Give them a t-shirt for finding one. Put their portrait on the Beta Hall Of Fame page. Give them a rare in-world item that they can carry on into general release. Drop a monument in the world, listing the names of the testers that submitted the most heinous bugs. Turn it into a contest. Make it more valuable to report a bug than to keep it secret.
Pay-ta: Run a Paid Beta phase (after Crash Our World) to find out how users will interact with each other socially (or using your in-game social/communications features.) During this phase of testing you will get better results about which social features to prioritize/fix for release. Encourage and/or track the creation of fan communities, content databases, and add-ons – it will help you understand what to prepare for, as well as build word-of-mouth marketing. But, keep in mind that there is one thing you can never really test in advance: How your user community will socially scale. As the number of users grows, the type of user will diversify. For most games, the hard-core gamers come first and the casual players come later. Be sure to have a community manager whose job it is to track customer sentiment and understand the main player groups. How your community scales will challenge your development priorities and the choices you make will have you trading off new-customer acquisition vs. veteran player retention.
3. There Are No Game Secrets, Period
Thanks to the internet – in-game puzzles are solved for everyone at the speed of the fastest solver. Read about “The D’nalsi Island” adventure in Lucasfilm’s Habitat where the players consumed hundreds of development hours in only tens of minutes.
The Lesson? Don’t count on secrets to hold up for long. Instead, treat game walk-thru websites as a feature to be embraced instead of the bane of your existence. “But,” you’ll say, “I could create a version of my puzzle that is customized (randomized) for every user! That will slow them down!” Don’t bother; it will only upset your users.
The Tragedy of the Tapers
Consider the example of the per-player customized spell system in the original Asheron’s Call (by Turbine, Inc.): Each magic spell was designed to consume various types of several resources: scarabs, herbs, powders, potions, and colored tapers. The designers thought it would be great to have the users actually learn the spells by having to discover them through experimentation. The formula was different for every spell and the tapers were different for every user.
One can just hear the designer saying “That’ll fix those Internet spoilers! With this system, they each have to learn their own spells!” But, instead of feeling enjoyment, the players became frustrated with what seemed to be nothing other than a waste of their time and resources burning spell components as they were compelled to try the complete set of exponential combinations of tapers for no good reason.
What was interesting is that the users got frustrated enough to actually figure out the exact method of generating the random seed to determine the tapers for each user as follows:
Second Taper = (SEED * [ Talisman + (Herb + 3) + ((Powder + Potion) * 2) + (Scarab - 2) ] ) mod 12
[Modified from Jon Krueger’s web page on the subject.]
The players put this all into a client plug-in to remove the calculation overhead, and were now able to correctly formulate the spells the very first time they tried. Unfortunately, this meant that new users (who didn’t know about the plug-in) were likely to have a significantly poorer experience than veterans.
To Turbine’s credit, they revised the game in its second year to remove the need for most of the spell components and created rainbow tapers, which worked for all users in all spells, completely canceling the original per-player design.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars went into that spell system. The users made a large chunk of that effort obsolete very quickly, and Turbine then had to pay for more development and testing to undo their design.
Learn from Turbine’s mistake; Focus on making your game fun even if the player can look up all the answers in a database or a plug-in.
Don’t start a secrecy arms-war with your user. You’ll lose. Remember: There are more of them than you and collectively they have more time to work on your product than you do.
September 25, 2009
The good news is, I don’t have to move to Seattle
From the shameless self-promotion department:
As some of you may know, I’ve spent most of the past year working as a contract CTO for Kirkland, WA based WeMade Entertainment USA, the (relatively) recently formed American arm of the Korean online games company WeMade Entertainment. The job involved overseeing the setting up of their engineering organization and architecting a community platform for their MMO offerings in the west. There were many cool things about this job, but one of the less cool things was that since it was 800 miles from home, it kept me racking up the frequent flyer miles and would have required me (and my family) to move to Seattle if it had gone on much longer. However that contract is over as of the end of September, and so I’m now once again a free agent.
For the moment I’m doing some work with Randy’s consulting group (and, I’ll admit, finding the consulting lifestyle congenial), but I’m definitely on the prowl for The Next Thing. If you know anybody looking for a virtual worlds guru, online games technology wizard, freelance code disciplinarian, or software development organization tamer, my resume is here. Pass the word.
July 8, 2009
Online Gambling Patent: Another One Bites the Dust
For regular readers of Habitat Chronicles, it comes as no surprise that Lucasfilm’s Habitat, the first graphical virtual world with the first avatars, was the source of much innovation in the field. And this was back in the mid- to late-1980’s before people tried to patent software. As a result, those who created products like these are in some demand when later related patents were filed in the 1990s and now lawsuits a cropping up in an attempt to enforce them.
Another product during that period was called Rabbit Jack’s Casino, which allowed Quantum-Link users to play online gambling games such as Bingo, Poker, Slots, and Blackjack against each other for Q-Pons, chips that were not backed by real dollars, other than the $3.60 to $4.80 an hour people were paying for premium service access.
Rabbit Jack’s played an important role in getting an EU patent on online gambling [EP 0625760B1] declared invalid yesterday. Though I provided three sworn statements about Habitat, in the end the Honourable Lord Lewison did not need to site them in the decision. No matter – I was glad to be of help and to see the process in action.
Another one bites the dust!
December 29, 2008
The Demise of the Word Balloon Patent
or How IMVU, Bruce Damer and I Saved Blizzard a Million Dollars and They Don’t Even Know It
Patent Trolls Piss Me Off
The latest news about Worlds.com, Inc. joining a long line of virtual world patent trolls has pissed me off.
You can always tell a patent troll because they are not actively developing or marketing the supposed “protected” technology and the patents are a decade old and they had previously turned a blind-eye to possible infringing use, then sold them to lawyers (or just retained a trolling firm) to generate cash to keep a portion of their anemic business on life-support by shaking down the gaming and virtual world industry. In the U.S. the big money target is Blizzard’s and their global monster hit: World of Warcraft. These lawyers don’t go after Blizzard straight away. That’d be stupid, since that company has the deep enough pockets to tell them to pound sand, and on the chance they might even become inspired take active countermeasures [as happened with the case I am going to share with you today]. Instead, they’ll first go after a few little guys who can’t really defend themselves; get them to roll over and pay just to establish a precedent. Then, armed with the claim that the industry has obviously accepted the validity of their patent – start the proceedings against the larger worlds, and eventually hit up the big guys – Linden Lab/Second Life and Blizzard/World of Warcraft.
I know about this particular pattern first hand, as Bruce Damer and I helped IMVU ’s founder Will Harvey (et al.) defend against one of these terrible patent suits, and all the parties involved ended up limping away with limited victories.
Software Patents are Newer than Virtual Worlds
For the last several years, I’ve been doing a lot of patent consulting since I was one of the principle developers of Lucasfilm’s Habitat /QLink’s Club Caribe (the first graphical virtual world), which existed in the mid-1980s, before people even thought they could make money patenting software. This means that the stuff invented for Habitat is NOT PATENTED and is PRIOR ART to be used to defend against many early and bogus virtual world-related patents. Seriously folks, there are patents out there with claims like generating a random number on a server that is authoritative for chance events when received by clients. Really? “You can’t trust the client” was novel as late as 1996? I don’t think so! And I have the software, documentation, and widely cited white papers to prove it.
The Word Balloon Lawsuit
Three years ago, on November 3rd, 2005 Forterra Systems, the company formerly known as There.com, filed suit against Avatar Factory and William “Will” D. Harvey in US District court for Patent Infringement. The suit was all about US patent number 6,784,901 Method, system and computer program product for the delivery of a chat message in a 3D multi-user environment
A chat system, method and computer program product for delivering a message between a sender and a recipient in a three-dimensional (3D) multi-user environment, wherein the 3D multi-user environment maintains respective digital representations of the sender and the recipient, uses a recipient interface to receive a message, map the message to a texture to generate a textured message, and render the textured message in the 3D multi-user environment so as to permit the recipient to visually ascertain the location of the digital representation of the sender in the 3D world. Received messages are mantained as two-dimensional elements on a recipient viewport.
- Inventors: Harvey; William D. (Palo Alto, CA), McHugh; Jason G. (East Palo Alto, CA); Paiz; Fernando J. (Millbrae, CA), Ventrella; Jeffrey J. (San Francisco, CA)
- Assignee: There (Menlo Park, CA)
- Filed: August 31, 2000
- Granted: August 31, 2004
You can find all the details about this case online by entering the case number 95000155 here – there are thousands of pages of documents. I am not a lawyer, I’m a storyteller, and was just one of many people who played a non-trivial role in determining the primary outcome.
I like to call this action the Word Balloon Lawsuit since the claims in question are primarily about displaying chat messages in word balloons that float over an avatar’s head in a virtual world. Forterra was claiming they had a patent on them and IMVU was infringing and should stop or pay up.
You probably noticed in the patent office excerpt above that the primary inventor on the Patent is the same name as the primary individual defendant – Will Harvey. Will filed the patent while he was still a founder and member of the virtual world and company There (which was later renamed Forterra Systems). After leaving There, Will founded IMVU – another 3D avatar chat system – dropping the virtual world from the original idea altogether and just keeping the best lessons about avatars and user-created clothing, objects, and environments.
The Word Balloon Suit against IMVU seemed shrewd on Forterra’s part for several reasons:
- IMVU, on the surface, had features that looked in many ways similar to those in There.
- IMVU was small and not cash-rich and unlikely to put up a protracted fight, or any fight at all.
- By being an Inventor on the patent in question, Will’s options to defend himself would be limited because of the legal principle of Estoppel. For example, he couldn’t claim that the patent was invalid, since he signed the application saying that it was valid when it was filed.
Archivists To the Rescue!
January 9th, 2006 I received an email from Will that started:
“Thought you might be able to help me on something and simultaneously help stop some bad people from blatantly abusing the patent system by egregiously
asserting intellectual property rights that they don’t own.”
He was looking for support in the form of screen shots, articles, and even physical media that proved prior art to break the patent. He continued:
“… of course I know that we at There.com did not invent the idea of chat balloons, but There.com is trying to give the patent a broader interpretation than was intended and claim that they own idea of chat balloons [...] something they didn’t even invent!”
He also contacted virtual worlds pioneer, author and archivist Bruce Damer. I was probably the most vocal co-creator of the first two or three generations of graphical virtual worlds and Bruce had a broad, almost ecumenical view of the entire field. Bruce’s book Avatars, is a catalog of the state of virtual worlds as of 1997 and would also play a key role in the final decision.
After reviewing the patent, it was obvious to me that Will’s interpretation was right – the patent was not meant to cover all 3D word balloons, it was something he called “Chat Wads” – to me a ho-hum idea of little indicators that the user is typing flying through the virtual world to the balloon. That interpretation might be innovative, but certainly no one had copied it. Stretching it to cover all word balloons? No way!
IMVU was based in Palo Alto, where I live, so Will and I had a face to face chat at a coffee shop downtown. He seemed understandably preoccupied with the personal ramifications. I said something like “Dude! I’m not just doing this for you – they aren’t just after you! If you cave or lose, they’re going after bigger fish. You aren’t the real target. They’re after Blizzard! They figure you’re easy pick’ns given that you have to defend yourself with one-hand tied behind your back and a limited legal budget.”
Bruce and I independently agreed to help with Will’s defense of this case not only for him or IMVU, but for virtual righteousness.
Bruce and I produced piles of prior art – for products such as Lucasfilm’s Habitat (1986), Club Caribe (1988), Fujitsu Habitat (1990), Sony’s Community Place (1995), WorldsAway (1996), The Palace (1996), ECHabitats/Microcosm (1997), and more. We provided screen shots, videos, white papers, published articles, and other patents. I even remember demonstrating ECHabitat’s 3D word balloon system to Will Harvey at Bruce Damer’s Avatars97 conference. I was even able to point to online conference photos that included myself and clearly EC Habitat with visible balloons.
The best defense is…
On July 17th, 2006 – IMVU requested a Patent Reexamination for the patent claims in question. If the request was granted this would allow the USPTO to review the patent more closely and potentially throw out invalid claims. This was a risky move, because if the PTO refused to reexamine, or even worse, reviewed and upheld the patent, it would be a disaster for IMVU. But, at this point the examiner’s research would now include all of the court record to date, including the comprehensive submissions of prior art that Bruce and I provided.
On October 17th, 2007, after almost two years and 137 separate legal filings the lawsuit was Dismissed With Prejudice.
Bruce Damer wrote me:
I was told that the presiding federal judge [The Honorable Patricia V. Trumbull] upon denying all the claims of Forterra held up a copy of my 1997 book “Avatars” and said something like “not only are all of your claims predated by the prior art but that prior art is all contained in this one book which was published two years before the patent was filed…”. I like to think that she then slammed the book down on the bench, gavel-like, but wasn’t there to witness this.
The lawsuit was dead, but the patent reexamination was still underway.
The Danger of Suing with Bad Patents: Reexamination
Losing the suit wasn’t the end of the bad results for Forterra.
Almost one year later, on October 7th, 2008 the US Patent Office issued a Reexamination Certificate, numbered 95/000,155 that invalidates all of the claims in question – gutting the patent for use in future lawsuits against 3D chat systems.
Virtual worlds with chat balloons past, present, and future could rest a little easier, even if they didn’t know it. Blizzard dodged a bullet. You’re welcome guys. :-)
Epilog: Goliath’s Rage
Forterra was beaten, twice.
In a Hollywood-inspired universe, this would be the end of the story: Rationality and the little guy triumph, the free (virtual) world is saved, and the big bully goes home with his proverbial tail between his legs, right?
But this is the real world of angry losers.
Will Harvey had really pissed off someone with a lot of money. Forterra filed a new and unrelated lawsuit that seems to me to be attempting to make IMVU pay for the lost potential revenue as a result of defeating the chat-balloon patent suit. Unlike with British tort law, where losers pay much of the winner’s legal costs, in the US civil courts it often ends up that the one with the most cash can continue to sue the little guy over and over, making him spend dollar-for-dollar the same amount of money with no real recourse. Deepest pockets can force a financial draw.
This later suit was eventually settled for undisclosed terms to presumably just get the whole matter behind them. As a side effect of the settlement, if it weren’t for this post, you probably would have never heard about any of this. But, you see, I never signed anything. :-) And the patent (re)examiner pulled the entire court proceedings into the web-accessible public record!
So that’s a free tip for you: Civil court documents become a part of the USPTO’s Patent Reexamination process. Amazing what you can find on the web these days.
But, Word Balloons are Free!
So, IMVU and Will Harvey took one on the chin for the rest of us. I say Huzzah! to them! They did us all a big favor.
Too many companies just cave when stuff like this comes along. It takes real courage to stand up and say “Hey! That’s not right!” Especially to Patent Trolls. So, if you see Will at a conference somewhere, say “Thanks Man!” He can’t talk about any of it, but hopefully with this blog post and the story spreading through the social network, maybe he doesn’t have to.
Patents weren’t created so that people can sue each other into the ground, they were created specifically to allow an individual (and eventually a company) to have a limited exclusive period to develop and market their invention. They are meant for defense. Something has gone horribly wrong that people who aren’t developing or marketing an invention at all are just applying scatter-shot legal action on the hopes of a big payoff. This sets the wrong kind of incentives for the creation of patents – see or think of a clever idea – patent it quick, without actually understanding if it is novel or common or has prior art. Or, if you patent something you think is novel, wait years as others use a similar idea to build successful products and then spring from the trees shouting “Ah ha! I got you! We’ll just sort it all out in court.” After all, if you can patent a method for moving your legs to move a tree swing, you can patent anything!
I do not categorically object to patents. I have several granted patents and about the same number pending approval – filing defensive patents is unfortunately required by the current business environment . There are two Fujitsu patents that are in my name that Chip and I refused to sign because of prior art, and I have copies the legal paper trail to prove it – so if Fujitsu shows up at your door claiming to have the patent on the virtual world, you know where to find us.
February 14, 2008
Anyone got a spare GDC badge-day?
Chip and I find ourselves without certain income and with the need to network for a day each at GDC next week. This seems like an excellent opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Anyone that has a spare (even just an expo pass) they could lend on one day would be greatly appreciated. I won’t even wish for access to the Online Worlds summit – at $2000.00 the price is insane. Even if we don’t get a pass, we each would be happy to meet with folks near the conference.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog –
February 12, 2008
Chip and Randy cut loose!
Perhaps you heard that Yahoo! was laying some people off today?
It turns out that this force reduction included [me] Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar – much to our mutual surprise as we each had strong contributor/leadership roles in the company. From here it looks like they might have gone after those with larger salaries given the number of top-quality people we saw get the axe today. Given what we were working on, it was doubly confusing.
This layoff should be a recruiters dream.
Don’t use email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org anymore – those don’t work and aren’t forwarding, as of now. I’m randy.farmer at pobox dot com, and Chip is chip at fudco dot com.
[update]My phone is back online so feel free to call or email or Y!IM frandallfarmer.
Apparently CNet thinks I was on the Yahoo A-List, at least as far as a MS/Y merger goes. Lets see if Microsoft thinks so too! [/update]
[update] Chip’s resume link above is better now.[/update 2/13]