Apr 14 2012

If you produce software – any kind of software – the issue of patents has probably come up. The fact is that it is impossible to produce a piece of software that actually does anything practical without infringing on at least one patent – and for complex systems, probably hundreds of them.

Let’s say you wanted to write a quick program to index music collections. Congratulations, you’ve just run afoul of… umm, let’s see… I count at least four patents for that, at a glance. What about indexing images? Well, depending on how you do it there are at least 30 patents that apply to that.

Think of something obvious you can do with software. There’s a patent for that. Probably a lot of them. You probably owe someone money.

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Or slowed it down, or made it reset or caused it to go all Blue Screen of Death, or just generally messed it up, and it has been running really slow every since you installed it.

Well, no. It didn’t, necessarily, and here’s why.

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The first non-experimental release of Imprudence viewer 1.4.0 is available for download now. The number of tweaks, fixes, adjustments and bug-fixes is immense, and as a result, the release-notes are still a work-in-progress.

How to even begin summarising all of the features?

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An ounce of documentation is worth a pound of implementation. In conjunction with a specification (or documentation, if you prefer the more inclusive term), a reference implementation is a good thing. Without a specification, a reference implementation is an astonishingly efficient way of propagating bugs into third-party software.

The Second Life viewer is in the latter category, alas.

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