Mar 3, 2010 by Matt | Posted in General
Facebook was just granted a patent for something that should prove to be controversial. Patent #7,669,123, which was filed for in 2006, is for “A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment…” The abstract reads:
A method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment is described. The method includes generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network environment and attaching an informational link associated with at least one of the activities, to at least one of the news items, as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items. The method further may further include displaying the news items in the assigned order to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewers and dynamically limiting the number of news items displayed.
It sounds to me like they just patented a fairly obvious mechanism that has been long used by sites like Twitter, Digg, Reddit, RSS readers, blogs, etc..
Am I the only one who isn’t okay with this sort of patent-trolling behavior? Why does the USPTO keep letting these kinds of application through? It’s bad enough that Amazon is still fighting to have their one-click buying patent approved, and now we have another stupid patent that is just too obvious. Facebook is by no means the first website to have a “news feed,” and the idea is hardly patent-worthy.
Facebook Just Patented The Feed – What Does That Mean For Everyone That Uses Them? [TheNextWeb]
Feb 3, 2010 by Matt | Posted in Coding
PHP is my favorite server-side programming language, but it has one major Achilles’ heel: speed. A language that is interpreted by the server at load time can’t hope to compete with a compiled language for speed. That’s what Facebook’s new project, “HipHop for PHP,” aims to solve. HipHop converts PHP scripts to C++ code and then uses g++ to compile it. This brings a CPU usage decrease of up to 50%, according to the announcement.
One night at a Hackathon a few years ago (see Prime Time Hack), I started my first piece of code transforming PHP into C++. The languages are fairly similar syntactically and C++ drastically outperforms PHP when it comes to both CPU and memory usage. Even PHP itself is written in C. We knew that it was impossible to successfully rewrite an entire codebase of this size by hand, but wondered what would happen if we built a system to do it programmatically.
Interesting, for sure. Imagine using it with WordPress for a high-traffic blog…
HipHop for PHP: Move Fast [Facebook Developer Blog]