Monday, December 25, 2006

Google prediction for 2007

Merry Christmas and such from Morocco.

I've been here for 10 days now - my 4th trip to this country, and it's starting to feel familiar again. The police officers with their hand-me-down uniforms that look as if they were given to them by their mothers with the plan that they'd grow into them. The languages, the smells, the utter confusion of figuring out what to do in a hammam.

We're now in Chefchaouen, and have been here for a week or so. It's beautiful, calm, but freezing cold. After a few days of unpleasantness, we've now located a hotel with a fireplace and have gotten ourselves some custom tailored heavy wool clothes. All is good.

With that out of the way, onto the main point of this post:

I saw the news regarding the announce of Google Patent Search recently. This is extremely interesting, in that Google have been able to leverage their Book Search technology and used it to tap a large, useful database of information in the public domain.

The previous patent search website run by the USPTO & IBM was clunky, and slow. From a strategic intelligence and search privacy perspective, this is a fantastic/scary move.. Knowing which patents your competitors are looking at is very very useful information.

Which brings me to my prediction. A fantastic public domain body of information that is currently held hostage by pay-as-you go companies: Legal Opinions/Cases... I predict that Google will leverage its Book Search infrastructure, and begin scanning case law/history documents from court houses around the country. WestLaw and LexisNexis aren't particularly well loved by their users, and without a doubt, the public would certainly benefit from having all this information online and easily searched.

This kind of thing has already been done by the folks at Project Posner, putting online all of Judge Posner's legal opinions. Now, it's just an issue of scale - which Google can certainly take care of.

Small Print: I'm no longer a Google Employee, and have absolutely no inside knowledge of any projects like this at Google.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Not (yet) on the no-fly list

I was rather worried after receiving that nasty letter that TSA would put me on the no-fly list. Well, after a long 24 hour journey, I'm now in Spain - and can happily confirm that I was able to pass through the airports without any problems.

I'll be here for a week or so, and then will be off to Morocco for 3 weeks of R&R. I highly doubt if I'll be blogging much during this next month - not at the advice of lawyers, but just simply because I'd rather not be using a computer during my holidays.

I'll update the blog once I get back, and have some TSA news to share.

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An Early Christmas Gift from TSA

Dear Christopher,

We were slightly worried that you might spend Christmas relaxing and spending quality time with your family. We can't have that.

Thus, please enjoy the enclosed letter - we're quite confident that it'll occupy your thoughts for the next few weeks. Have fun mulling things over. We expect a reply from you by Christmas day.

Enjoy your holidays!


Your Friends at TSA.

P.S. We continue to ignore the existence of a different boarding pass generator, written by someone else and which has been online for the past month. It wasn't in the Washington Post, so our bosses haven't seen it yet. Phew!

P.P.S. We don't actually plan on fixing any of the underlying security problems. That'd be far too difficult. We may, however, switch from requiring Ziplock bags to Reynolds Wrap foil pouches for passengers' liquids. The idea of people constructing oragami foil pouches in the security line has been making us crack up at the office, and we think it should do much to spread Christmas Cheer at the Airports.