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Slashback: IEEE, Liquid, Swings 241

Posted by timothy
from the hike-in-smokies-this-weekend dept.
Slashback this evening brings you updates on silly patents, closer-to-mainstream watercooling for your desktop, the IEEE's publication rules, and more. Read on below for the details.

IEEE v. DMCA. Reacting to the IEEE's changing publication rules, Boone^ writes: "The IEEE has backed away from their stance that all papers submitted must comply with the DMCA. Their reason? 'The IEEE, publisher of nearly one-third of all computer science journals, said it is removing the requirement because it turned out to be more contentious than expected.' Personally I'd have preferred their reason to be based on the law instead of popular backlash, but maybe that's a step in the right direction to eventually bring about new legislation."

Many readers also pointed out this New Scientist story on the reversal.

Free as in Blender? tinus writes: "Ton Roosendaal, creator of Blender, submitted an update to Elysiun.com about finding solutions for continueing activities of the Blender projects. He describes the way Blender has been split up into smaller projects to make it both profitable as public domain software. Also, he gives us a preview of his setup for his new community plan, which even mentions 'Blender sources will be opened for members.'

Seems like there is a very promising future for Blender after all. Read the full story here."

Water meets your processor. Foss writes "You may remember this story about the dodgy-yet-extremely-cheap DIY water cooling block. Well, thanks to all your emails, Rob's getting better. It's still extremely cheap (under £10), but it's now pretty stable too, running a P3 933@1.1GHz for a few hours at a very stable 28 degrees. No dental floss this time round either!"

But don't worry, all the other patents issued were A-OK. Worried about getting slapped with a lawsuit for swinging different? f00zbll writes: "Cnet is running an follow up article on the patent posted earlier in the week. Apparently, the kid doesn't plan on suing anyone over swinging side ways."

We're here to save you money, Ma'am. Now, where do you keep it? guttentag writes "The NYTimes (reg req'd) is reporting on a MS and Mexico plan to develop digital community centers as part of a broader 'eMexico' initiative meant to bring the entire nation online by 2006. Microsoft will license its Windows, Office and Encarta software on the same terms that colleges and universities use. Some background: Microsoft's licensing deal with the University System of Maryland resulted in a mandatory $14 Microsoft tax imposed on all 130,000 students. Apparently, if you want to attend one of MD's taxpayer-funded university, you must pay MS. Is eMexico Microsoft's plan to tax Mexican citizens?" Hope they keep their licenses up -- Virginia Beach's taxpayers got to foot a city-size bill. The tab in Texas wasn't low either. What would it look like for all of Mexico?

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Slashback: IEEE, Liquid, Swings

Comments Filter:
  • i'm so glad that i can now go to the playground and not have to police my son.... that kid in wisconsin is very generous.

  • IEEE issues (Score:2, Funny)

    by El_Nofx (514455)
    One of my professors was talking about the problems with the IEEE and the DMCA, he is a fellow in the IEEE too, head of the EE department at my college. He was definitely against it.

    The fact that he has about 20 gigs of Divx movies on his laptop he brings to class might have something to do with it.
    • " One of my professors was talking about the problems with the IEEE and the DMCA, he is a fellow in the IEEE too, head of the EE department at my college. He was definitely against it. "

      Great, so we'll get Gene Hackman to play him in the movie, in a "Admiral, you will lose your position if you do this" "Then so be it" kind of a way.

      graspee

  • by KeatonMill (566621) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:10PM (#3369760)
    Swinging upside-down, swinging standing up, swinging both ways, swinging both ways at ONCE, swinging with another person, using two swings, swinging without hands, swinging without feet, and finally, swinging with a brainless parent. What kind of parent actually files a patent, to teach about the patent process? That's like taking your kid to the bedroom with you and your wife (husband) to teach him/her about the birds and the bees!
    • Swinging upside-down, swinging standing up, swinging both ways, swinging both ways at ONCE, swinging with another person, using two swings, swinging without hands, swinging without feet, and finally, swinging with a brainless parent. What kind of parent actually files a patent, to teach about the patent process? That's like taking your kid to the bedroom with you and your wife (husband) to teach him/her about the birds and the bees!

      I wouldn't be surprised if the father actually did the latter.. especially if he's a swinger.

    • What kind of parent actually files a patent, to teach about the patent process?

      A lawyer of course!

      I bet the kid did learn a lot about how the whole process works though, he probably knows more about patent laws than your typical high school grad, at the age of 7. Would be especially cool if his dad used it to show him ridiculous patent laws can be... never know
    • swinging both ways at ONCE

      Do you mean, like, a quantum swing? Where you're not swinging forwards or backwards, but both simultaneously?

      I can't wait to try one of those!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:10PM (#3369762)
    The subject is what the fish gave me for
    "Blue Screen of Death" in Spanish.
  • On MS Tax (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Geekonomical (461622) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:16PM (#3369789)
    I wonder whether we can call it a tax!

    Are we assuming that software HAS to be free already? Does it mean that we need some kind of a policy for univeristy and educational institutions not to spend for software at all? That being said, I am not justifying the MS pricing or anything...
    • by Catiline (186878) <akrumbach@gmail.com> on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:41PM (#3369908) Homepage Journal
      It's based on the concept that since you pay a sales tax on everything* (*:Void where prohibited by law. Some restrictions may... *ahem*) the fact you "pay" for Windows with every prebuilt computer from the big name retailers (Dell, Gateqay, Compaq, eMachines, etc) makes it a tax as well. Of course, using such a loaded term is meant to suggests that the minimal OS choice I ought to have is ordering a "nude" PC with a $50 - $100 discount (price of license).

      Of course, you can always flip the loaded term around (especially given the recent actions of Microsoft), and say it's a commentary on their "we laugh in the general direction of your government" attitude. I used to think there was a limit to arrogance, but they sure cured me of that over the past year.
    • Re:On MS Tax (Score:5, Insightful)

      by coyote-san (38515) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:47PM (#3369937)
      Why should students be forced to pay a $14 fee for a mandatory software license if they:

      1) don't use computers in their class,

      2) only use Unix or Apples computers with not one bit of Microsoft software on them, or

      3) only use their own computers, purchased outside of the university, with independently and fully licensed software on them.

      Remember that last item - many incoming students will arrive with computers their parents bought them before they learned about educational discounts (you think Best Buy will tell parents of college-bound students about the competition?), and many non-traditional students will already have computers because of their job.

      This sounds a lot like a tax (second definition) - everybody pays regardless of whether they need it or not, and regardless of whether they've already paid for the product or service elsewhere.
      • At the UMBC campus, everyone uses the labs. You cannot graduate without taking several classes that require the use of the labs, the least of which is freshman English, where the curriculum is being moved to be totally technology oriented and taught out of a lab. The x86 machines in the labs and the library dual boot a custom version of Redhat and WinNT. All of the non-x86 machines have either Redhat or Irix. I think there is somthing to be said for a)choice and b) not ramming *nix down everyone's throat just because you don't like Microsoft. It called being well-rounded. All of the poor sods who have non-technology jobs when they graduate and go of to their cubicles will likely be using something microsoft based. Why not teach them something they will use in real life when they get on the job, whilst still educating them to the alternatives?
        • Re:On MS Tax (Score:3, Insightful)

          by coyote-san (38515)
          So a lab is required for Freshman English? BFD - that class ALONE has a lab fee associated with it. Same as the "glass fee" for most chemistry labs, the materials fee for some art classes, etc.

          The issue isn't whether *some* classes may reasonably have a mandatory fee associated with them, it's whether it should apply to every single student regardless of need. Worse, in this case not only do not many students not need MS products for their courses, if they do they probably already licensed the software via some other mechanism.
          • Most universities shy away from extensive use of per-course fees because they don't want the relative cost of different classes to influence what people choose to take (they should take what's most interesting/educational, not what has the cheapest lab fee). Exceptions for major items of course -- art studio type classes mostly. But both the admistrative paperwork and the aforementioned discouragement factor would make it better to just distribute the costs evenly over everyone. That's what they do for most things anyway -- you have to pay for the sports team even if you don't pay sports, you have to pay for the library even if you never research there, etc. It's how colleges work.
      • Re:On MS Tax (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dragons_flight (515217) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @11:23PM (#3370718) Homepage
        Excuse me? Why should a nationally renowned university maintain diverse high quality computer labs for their students?

        Students don't pay $14 a year for computer access, the university pays $14 per license and even if that amounts to 4000 licenses at UMD that's still less than $2 per student per year to maintain the computer lab software. Futhermore, they have this great deal where a student or faculty member can buy MS software for personal use for only $14.

        In the technology age, big universities have to maintain computer labs in order to justify classes that require computer use even if not everyone can afford their own PC. If you would step back for one moment and realize that this is software they intend to run anyway, then you'll realize that it's a great deal for the university.

        As far as being a tax, why not? This is about raising the general level of education. Just like my taxes pay for roads that I never use but I assume that they help support the community. Very few, if any, colleges make only students that use the computer labs pay for their maintance.

        If you want a far more contentious issue, then let me tell you, every student in UMD residence halls is assessed a cable surcharge even if they don't even have a TV.
  • When do we get slashbacks about CmdrTaco's marriage?
  • The article mentions $1000 in fines. I wonder what those were for. Not fees, but fines.

    Anyone know what those might be for?

    S
    • The article mentions $1000 in fines. I wonder what those were for. Not fees, but fines.
      Congratulations on actually reading the article before posting:
      "One rejection and $1,000 in fees later, Steven is a certified inventor."
      It's a shame you immediately forgot it, though.
  • Message for kids, 20 years from now... Kids everywhere, beware of a 25 year old man who will sue you for swinging sideways. Add your allowance to the 'Free Swing Fund' and defend your rights.
    • 20 years from now this technique will be in the public domain, and we all will know how to do it because he published detailed directions. That is the theory behind patents, instead of everyone keeping secrets (i.e. the formula for Coke) in exchange for publishing what you invented and how it works, you get a time limited monopoly, in 17 years we all will be enjoying this innovative method of swinging totally free of a license fee, I can hardly wait!
    • Inventors & attorneys of obvious patents should be suable for fraud. Patents should be challengable without the owner suing you.
  • One rejection and $1,000 in
    fees later, Steven is a certified inventor.
  • Intellectual-property experts said the patent clearly should have not been issued, but that such mistakes were inevitable from an underfunded government agency that issues 3,000 patents each week.

    If the patent office is so underfunded, then why don't they charge more to apply for a patent? When I applied to colleges, the colleges did not complain because they accidently accepted a few people that they should't have because they were underfunded. No, if they are underfunded, then they simply raise the cost to apply. At each school I applied to, it cost between 40 and 70 dollars. Now, some of you might claim that this would be unfair to the poor inventor, but I say that this is simply the cost of doing business. The patent office would be much less underfunded, and thus issue less stupid patents if they raised the cost to apply by simply $10.
    • by startled (144833) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:27PM (#3369848)
      "If the patent office is so underfunded, then why don't they charge more to apply for a patent?"

      Damn, you were so close to the reason, but needed to skim a bit further. Quoth the article: "application fees go into the general government budget, rather than being used specifically to fund patent examinations".

      They could charge a million bucks an application, and still not get any more money.
      • ...and in the next paragraph:

        The administration has also proposed a one-time surcharge of 19 percent for patent applications, which would generate an additional $45 million for the agency and $162 million for the rest of the government.

        • In fact, the PTO generates a profit. Really. Its operating budget is lower than the revenues it generates in fees. (Maybe becuase there's so many boneheads out there trying to patent business methods of picking their nose)

          And you know how Congress shows its gratitude? (drum roll) It doesn't. The money vanishes into the Treasury until Sen. Byrd uses it to fund yet another pork barrel project in West Virginia.
  • Boone^ writes:
    Personally I'd have preferred their reason to be based on the law instead of popular backlash, but maybe that's a step in the right direction to eventually bring about new legislation.
    The DMCA is the law in the US. I don't think we're going to see that changed, other than possibly by people speaking out on the subject. If there's a popular backlash, that says that people have spoken out because they don't think the policy is right. If some functionary simply changes the policy, where's the opportunity for comment? Probably better this way.
    • The DMCA is the law in the US. I don't think we're going to see that changed, other than possibly by people speaking out on the subject.

      It could very well be changed if a big case involving it ever makes its way through the courts. The law would be in great danger of being ruled unconstitutional. This is why media giants haven't pushed cases beyond easy out-of-court settlements.
  • cost (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A spokeswoman for the Patent and Trademark Office said she could not comment on the merits of any particular invention, but pointed out that typically only 400 of the 187,000 patents issued each year come under challenge.

    I'm assuming from this that challenging patents is an easy and inexpensive action. If someone could enlighten me on how to do this for little to no money, I'd be rather pleased as there are a lot of patents I'd like to have dismissed. As it is, I live in fear of being sued despite the fact that I have no intention to purposefully break any patents - it's simply too unwieldy for me as a software developer right now.

    • Don't worry about it. People won't generally sue you until you can afford lawyers and a nice juicy settlement. They wouldn't want to bite the hand that they leech off of, after all.
  • The growth in "business method" patents over the past 20 years--which provide protections for software and other intangible inventions...

    Could someone clue me in? Since when did swinging on a swing have anything to do with business?
    • Because business method patents get through the system that are MORE obvious than swinging sideways, such as one-click-shopping, hyperlinks, exercising a cat with a laser pointer (I shit you not), etc.

      They are just using this as an example of how broken the system is, sort of how that Representative got a resolution through his state legislature authorizing the use of submarines to torpedo gambling boats. (I forget the exact reference, google for details.)
  • Alternatives (Score:1, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529)
    Jesus, would you editors please stop whinning about the choices other people make?

    Yes, we all know that you think that OSS is better. Yes, we all know they should have used an exotic and ecclectic mix of various miscellanous OSS projects. Yes, we all know that 'M$' is the beast.

    And we all know that not everyone agrees.

    I guess I don't get 'it'. Mexico wants something; they've hired a company to provide it, and have struck what sounds like a great deal.

    The $14 per license from the UMD deal? What a bargain! You get Windows, Office, etc for $14 per license per year! What a great frickin deal! And, of course, this line was sitting right there in the press release

    The agreement is not exclusive - participating schools and colleges will continue to be free to use and support any other software products they choose.

    Jesus, what more could you ask for? Ohh wait, anything that goes MS's way is bad. MS is the devil. They only want to hurt maim and kill. Down with the beast. Groups of schools that get together to form a consortium to save money are wasting their time. I mean, they could get everything they wanted for 100% nothing, absolutely free! It'd be so much better if they went with Microsoft! They'd save 100% of the money! Open Source is free! Even to implement across an entire network with thousands of users, its completely free! Yeah!

    Yeah. Sure. Hey, by the way Slashdot editors.. when was the last time you saw any open source company put together a broadbased, ambitious, and extremely useful package like the 'eMexico' initiative? Where is RedHat? Where are the competitors? Where is RedHat in this big deal? Why didnt they put together a package? What about the open source ally's? Where are they?

    Sorry, it may seem like I am trolling, but I am deadly serious. Where is the pressure on competitors to do better? Where is RedHat? SuSE? Mandrake? Where are they? They are off fighting for scraps here or there while missing huge opportunties.
    • Re:Alternatives (Score:2, Insightful)

      by raistlinne (13725)
      Ohh wait, anything that goes MS's way is bad. MS is the devil.

      You in fact answered your own question. Microsoft is a company out to destroy all of their competitors, including open source software. They've stated it, they've acted the part, and they've been found guilty in a federal court of doing just this (to specific competitors).

      Why do people find it so hard to understand that some of us do, in fact, believe that microsoft is bad. Why on earth does the fact that they want to make money somehow exonerate them from everything they've done to destroy competition, and somehow nullify the fact that they're a highly abusive monopoly?

      In short, MICROSOFT IS EVIL. Get that through your thick skulls. If you're not part of microsoft, you do not stand to benefit from anything that they do. Not in the long run.

      Note: I am counting greed as evil. It is not, in fact a virtue, and when greed is allowed to cause one to injure others, it is evil. Why do people restrict their definition of evil to killing >1,000,000 people and clubbing baby seals? There are plenty of types of evil in the world, and microsoft actively engages in several of them.

      Hell, there's "Megan's Law" for sex offendors. Somehow people think it's not entirely unreasonable for people to find out about child molestors who enter their communities. Microsoft has comitted crimes. Microsoft has admitted in many, many times to anticompetitive behavior. What more do you need? Bill gates to grow a goatee and wear all black?

      • Why do people find it so hard to understand that some of us do, in fact, believe that microsoft is bad

        YES I GET IT. I said I got that. The point is that this tidbit isnt properly about MS - yet you are bound and determined to make it. This is about a group of schools getting together to bargain for lower prices - which is a good thing regardless of who they bargaining against. The point is that you and everyone else is focusing on how this relates to MS being bad when this article should be all about how the schools are being very good, prudent, and making great strides to getting what they for their students and faculty at lower cost. They broke ground here. And that's good.

    • by coyote-san (38515) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:07PM (#3370060)
      The issue isn't whether students WHO WANT MICROSOFT PRODUCTS AND HAVEN'T ALREADY PURCHASED THEM are getting a great deal.

      It's whether it's fair to force students to pay for software that they don't want, don't need, and possibly can't even use.

      As a trivial example, I took one grad CS course a semester for about 7 years during the 1990s. 14 semesters. Had the University of Colorado had this mandatory plan, I would have paid close to $200 to Microsoft. For absolutely nothing of value in return.

      Could I run any Microsoft application on my computers? No - I was already using Linux almost exclusively on my own equipment.

      Did I need any Microsoft application for my graduate CS course work? No. It was either agnostic (e.g., email), or needed to be done on Unix systems.

      Could I have saved money on my rare Microsoft purchase? No - my laptop already included a mandatory copy of Windows and applications. What possible value would there have been in replacing a copy of Office 95 with another copy of Office 95?

      Maybe you're rich and can afford to give people $200 for absolutely nothing in return, but most of us aren't and we resent being forced to do so.
      • Remember those from college? Usually about $15/semester, they entitled you to use the pool tables at the Student Union or go to college football games for cheap.

        They were imposed on every student, regardless of whether that student actually went to football games or used the pool tables at the Student Union.

        "Maybe you're rich and can afford to give people $200 for absolutely nothing in return, but most of us aren't and we resent being forced to do so."


        Yep. Although, like the activity fee, your choice is always to go somewhere else. Most universities now have the Microsoft program whereby students can get any Microsoft software for $15 or so (everything from Visual Studio to Windows to Office.) Microsoft also routinely gives out free software at college events. I think that most students see this as a value-add, just like most students see being able to go to a football game for cheap see that as a value-add. Regardless of whether you like it or not, if most students are willing to pay, the university will be willing to levy another fee on those students.

        On the other hand, if students had protested, I doubt this would have ever been enacted. So the benefit is there, even if it doesn't apply to every student.
        • The difference here being that the money you paid TO YOUR COLLEGE was FOR that college and NOT for some privet independent company.

          if I worked I MS I would be willing to throw in a few bucks to the office party pool, but since I am NOT working there DAMNED if THEY should get MY money.

          Emphasis added for the bleak hopeless and generally inane.

          When you attend a campus you CHOOSE WILLINGLY to become at least in the smallest part a part of that campuses social atmosphere. As such you contribute some small pittance to funding various (often times idiotic) social activities.

          But there is a DIFFERENCE between contributing to SOCIAL activities for the GROUP that you belong too and providing REVENUE for a private company that exists SOLELY to make money. (of course your institution of higher learning may very well exist for a similar purpose, but once again, you have willingly signed on the dotted line saying you are willing to join them)
    • Re:Alternatives (Score:2, Informative)

      by Fantome (7951)
      The $14 per license from the UMD deal? What a bargain! You get Windows, Office, etc for $14 per license per year! What a great frickin deal!

      It sounded like it was going to be a great deal, and then we found out that, although the students are paying for it, we don't get any of the software. It all goes to computer labs, research groups, and other university employees. I think there was a student option, but the school where I'm at (UMDCP) didn't exercise that option.

      It ends up being a pain because the professors want us to use MS products (it's free for them), while it costs us good amounts of money. This isn't true across the board, but it happens often enough to be annoying.

      • Yeah, the press release said that schools had the options of offering the prices to students.

        Kinda sucks yours doesn't. From personal experience you should be able to get academic pricing on most anything MS offers - and they are pretty goddamn good deals as well.
    • Weren't people on Slashdot just yesterday praising the guy who put a computer in a wall in an Indian slum? [slashdot.org] How is this much different?

      From the article: "Eventually, the Mexican government hopes to have 10,000 free public Internet kiosks in rural areas to help bring government services to citizens and reduce what has been called the ``digital divide'' of the urban rich from the rural poor."

      I think this is a good thing, regardless of who is sponsoring it.

      Miguel de Icaza is quoted in the article as saying "It's a shame." But why weren't Linux companies involved in this? As Dan asks, where was RedHat? Miguel? Any other Linux-based company?

      And if the Linux vendors weren't there, why not? I think it is because it is still the case that no one has figured out how to make money off of Linux. RedHat is profitable -- barely. Mandrake and the others are begging for support, and a lot of them aren't getting it. Meanwhile, the editors and others on Slashdot rail against companies and people who choose Microsoft because they believe that no one should have to pay for an operating system. But isn't this very belief what is killing the commercial Linux companies?

      It's a question that needs to be asked.

      I think that if you polled those college students who get Microsoft Office for $14 a year, and asked how many of them would not be willing to pay that money, you would find that an overwhelming majority are in favor of getting Office for cheap. Heck, you can't even buy StarOffice for less than $60.

      I guess I really don't understand this "everything must be free" mentality. I use Windows, and I think it's worth the $140 (Windows 2000 OEM) because Windows helps me make money doing my job. I am fully supportive of your right to use Linux; however, I believe that you should chip in your support to those vendors that you feel are making a good product, regardless of whether that product is being offered as a free download or not.

      If all software developers worked for free, what would your job be? How would you put food on the table?

      Keep that in mind next time you bash someone for using a product that costs money.
      • Re:Dan is right. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ethereal (13958)

        That's a nice straw man:

        If all software developers worked for free, what would your job be? How would you put food on the table?

        But it's not particularly valid. The question isn't whether software developers should work for free, but whether the software itself should be free. And that's a very different discussion.

        The majority of software is written and used deep within corporations; it never sees the light of day. It isn't sold to consumers or to businesses; it's as much a part of a business as the chairs in the cubicles. There will always be software developers getting paid to write this stuff, and to write custom software for embedded devices that have special needs. Software developers will never have to work for free.

        But, if those developers are able to use software that is itself free as the basis for their work, then the costs to their employer are reduced. Where does this savings go? Into paying the developers better, more profit for the business, or better prices for the end user of the business' processes and/or embedded products that make use of the software.

        I put plenty of money on the table working with free software right now, and if I had my druthers I'd be working with it entirely. It's easier to use, easier and more well-thought-out to configure, has fewer licensing and cost issues for management, and doesn't mind me tinkering with it. Right now, can my employer's business do everything with free software? No, not quite. But would the business, and the software developers that it employs, be better off if it could run on free software? Absolutely.

        So yes, Red Hat et al should get their acts together, but let's face it - they're essentially always going to be fairly low-margin operations. The question is: with the amount of money that eMexico is putting up, could a small team of hackers (Miguel, even) have been hired to make Red Hat Linux more than usable for the goals of eMexico? Definitely - and with money left over, to boot. The goal is online access for millions of people; the point is not proprietary software. eMexico took the easy way out of that decision, not the smart way, and not the cheaper way.

        P.S. - do you really think that the majority of the citizens of Mexico that are getting online with this initiative will want to pay $14 (or whatever) for Microsoft Office? Or, more exactly, do you think that the $14 is worth the difference between Microsoft Office and Open Office? When $14 might be a day's wage, or more?

        • P.S. - do you really think that the majority of the citizens of Mexico that are getting online with this initiative will want to pay $14 (or whatever) for Microsoft Office? Or, more exactly, do you think that the $14 is worth the difference between Microsoft Office and Open Office? When $14 might be a day's wage, or more?

          Yes, I think so. I've paid a day's wage (and then some) for Office over Open Office. I don't think that the Mexicans wealthy enough to own computers will have a problem with this.


      • I guess I really don't understand this "everything must be free" mentality. I use Windows, and I think it's worth the $140 (Windows 2000 OEM) because Windows helps me make money doing my job.


        Like many IT industry people, you are completely missing the meaning of "free". You have assigned it the designation of "without a fee". And you have missed the real power of Open Source for the end user: freedom.


        To be sure, we all like to hold on to our funds. And sometimes that alone is a justification for one particular piece of software over another. But it is only one issue (and a minor one to many organizations with the appropriate funding).


        Sometimes technical decissions are made to support marketing. Often to the detriment of the end user - locking them in to a more profitable path. And while Microsoft is not the only one who does this, they have often proven to be especially adept at the practice.


        Open Source projects tend to make technical decissions for technical reasons. By its nature, it is difficult to use such technology to force a customer in to a set path (at any time, they can contract their own coders and go their own direction). And, of course, open source technology favors open standards which means an infrastructure will be compatible with other technology following the same standard (proprietary or not). Freedom.



        ...I believe that you should chip in your support to those vendors that you feel are making a good product, regardless of whether that product is being offered as a free download or not.


        And often those who desire monetary compensation DO have ways for end users to offer that compensation. I have paid for boxed sets of Linux for my own use (and that of my clients). I've recommended a mixed environment when the commercial and competing Open Source packages offered different strengths for different reasons (and actually - that competition helped ensure my employer got an improved product in the commercial package). I've seen my employer take GPL code, pay for development to improve functions needed for their own use, and return those changes to the project. And I've seen my employer contract a major Linux company for desktop support of their official desktop Linux rollout.


        Of course, that all involves fees. I've also supported my favorite Open Source projects with code (though I'm horrid at that). Artwork. Documentation. Bug reporting and working with developers to track down the problem. I've certainly helped improve those projects. And THAT is an important aspect of Open Source too.



        Keep that in mind next time you bash someone for using a product that costs money.


        Microsoft does not get bashed because their products cost money. Some of their free offerings (IE, Outlook Express, etc) get heavy criticism. And to be honest... anyone who wants to get Microsoft products for free has only to look for "pirated" copies.


        Microsoft gets criticized because of their marketing. This is where they take advantage of their customers. This is where they attack and attempt to strangle competition. This is where they attempt to subvert open standards. This is where they leverage their market leadership to illegaly maintain their monopoly. This is where they gain the tittle "evil".

    • If the "eMexico" package is merely a cut-down on license fees, then free software has them beat.

      In a Wired Story [wired.com] we get the following quote.

      "We agree with the philosophy of free software," said Valencia Garcia. "We'll use the money we save in the city's social programs. The slogan of our mayor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is 'for the good of all, the poor must come first.'"

      I'd suggest you read the entire short article for more information. Also according to another article [livingstonmontana.com], " The Mexican government is installing the free Linux operating system in 140,000 computer labs of elementary and middle schools."

      ``We decided to go with Linux because it would have been too expensive for all the proprietary software licenses,'' said Arturo Espinosa Aldama, the project's leader from the University of Mexico in Mexico City. The popularity of Linux, as an option to Microsoft Windows, is internationally expanding, while many of its former problems are disappearing.

      Frankly, there's no need for Red Hat or Calderal or any business to do anything. You see, to get Free Software, you have get out of the iron triangle of technology, business, and money. You have to include other rather foriegn concepts like community and freedom. So whats my bid? Linux User Groups.

      From this page [linux.com] I count eleven LUGs that mexicans can contact to help get their schools and organizations technologically up to par. Of course they'll need plenty of other things but the software is all right their ready to download of the internet, to share on CD's, and to modify to their needs. Of course Microsoft won't have for any of that sharing software thing--how can they compete?

      Now...all this information I gathered from google, a brilliant search engine that even you can use to answer your own questions.

      I'm dead serious too.

    • Re:Alternatives (Score:2, Informative)

      by Abreu (173023)
      danheskett says:
      ...when was the last time you saw any open source company put together a broadbased, ambitious, and extremely useful package like the 'eMexico' initiative? Where is RedHat? Where are the competitors? Where is RedHat in this big deal? Why didnt they put together a package? What about the open source ally's? Where are they?
      ...Where is RedHat? SuSE? Mandrake? Where are they? They are off fighting for scraps here or there while missing huge opportunties.


      Problem is, EMexico was originally based on Linux and Free Software, at least the original drafts made at the National University (UNAM), --incidentally this is Miguel de Icaza's alma mater.

      However Microsoft, upon learning this, offerred a very sweet deal to the President Vicente Fox and to the Communications and Transports Secretary Pedro Cerisola. Gates himself gave a tour of Redmond to these two and most likely they also got showered with gifts and other "signs of good will".

      Theres nothing the University could have done about it, much less Redhat or any other Linux company.
      • Theres nothing the University could have done about it, much less Redhat or any other Linux company.

        Really? Are you sure? NOTHING?

        They didnt even try. Thats bad.
        • Yes, this is redundant, but I've got mod points so at least my post will be seen, unlike the original (at least until you mod me -1 Redundant :-)

          How do you *know* they didn't even try? Please cite references.

        • You are so slow you are almost going backwards!

          I say no one can compete against MS PR money! Specially when that money is being used to buy 3rd world politicians!

          Look at the diverse US cases against MS. Bill will get away with everything without as much as a slap in the wrist. Money is power, and theres nothing you or me can do about it.
  • and the school bookstore at UMBC offers most of microsoft's current software for uber-cheap.

    MS Office XP Professional (3CD) 14.95
    MS Windows XP Professional (2CD's) 14.95
    MS Office Mac OS X - (1CD) 9.95
    MS Visual Studio.NET Pro (5CD's) 24.95

    At prices this cheap, how can you not buy it? Even just to tinker around.
    • Yeah, exactly, those prices are *cheaper* than you can get RedHat boxed set or Mandrake or anything else.

      For those prices you can just pick up a copy, tinker a bit, maybe pickup a few things, and that's it.

      Its always so goddamn virulent around against MS - but those prices (and the ones for the schools and Mexico) sound like just an amazing deal - really a fine bargin. I guess I dont get it.

      I guess until every single person chooses OSS than Slashdot wont be happy - its not good enough to be there, to be free ,to be available to anyone who wants it. They must crush and destroy everything despite what users what want.
      • Its always so goddamn virulent around against MS - but those prices (and the ones for the schools and Mexico) sound like just an amazing deal - really a fine bargin. I guess I dont get it.

        Personally, when I look at Microsoft's corporate practices, I only wonder whether they think they sell a product or a service. If its' "product", why does it go out the door in such crappy shape (remember the thousands of known bugs at Win2K release?); on the other hand, can you really call an OS a "service"? It's much clearer for RedHat, Mandrake & Co. where they give away the code and sell their support services.

        On top of that, they play very fast & loose with differences between what they say and what they do. Remember Tuesday's story about the IE Back button exploit [slashdot.org]? Even if that were a non-issue as far as bugs go (and it's not because any script kiddie worth his cable modem could do anything they want with that), the fact that it went unpatched across their month of code review and security focus-- when they had notification as early as last November-- makes their newfound focus on security seem more like spin control than code control.

        I'm not even going to start talking about their business practices. If you've read any details about some of their recent [slashdot.org] actions [slashdot.org] during the waning days of the antitrust suit, you would understand why I personally think they are a lower form of life than pond scum. That's ignoring, of course, all of the issues surrounding things like Passport, .NET, or Product Activation, all of which are questioned for different reasons (privacy and security top the list, though).

        Given the whole picture of Microsoft's behavior, I'm all for the corporate death penalty. But since it seems that the US government won't do that, I'll just try to generate as large a boycott of their products as possible.
        • 1. You can say the same thing about Mozilla. Why do they allow people to use it before its "done". It has thousands of bugs. It is, therefore, bad. Second, that whole story was mostly FUD. We all know that. Using the highest number in a bug-tracking system to declare how many bugs are in a product is silly. It was clear that the e-mail from Ballmer was a "developers" style motivational piece.

          2. I wont argue about thier corporate practices, except to say that I think all in all its fine by me. Personally, the whole anti-trust thing is a piece of crap - really. It was a shitty case and we all know that MS isnt a monopoly (what operating systems do you use?). But thats all besides the point. My point is: slashdot editors have this whole "haha - i am better than you" outlook all the time. I am sorry to be the one to inform y'all, but most people think its just fine. This article referenced was all about how MS and the new tech. consortium in Maryland negotiated a great deal for what people really want for software. It should be a great piece about how technology hungry organizations can team up to save a lot of money. Instead its yet another slam at Microsoft.

          P.S. Answer me this: if MS really is such a big bad monopoly how were the univeristy people able to negotiate with them? Monopolies need not negegioate for lower prices, remember?
      • Its always so goddamn virulent around against MS - but those prices (and the ones for the schools and Mexico) sound like just an amazing deal - really a fine bargin. I guess I dont get it.

        Well, Microsoft could just give them one DVD of software for $1 and let them copy it freely. That would really be a bargain.

      • I guess until every single person chooses OSS than Slashdot wont be happy

        You do realize that even if Microsoft died and everyone finally was using OSS, slashdot would then turn into a huge argument of Debian versus Red Hat versus ...
      • Its always so goddamn virulent around against MS - but those prices (and the ones for the schools and Mexico) sound like just an amazing deal - really a fine bargin. I guess I dont get it.

        That 18-20 y.o. CS student may become tomorrow's purchasing agent at Fortune 500 Company X. So obviously Microsoft are spending for the future.

        In fact, if they were acting in ways that weren't for the financial benefit of the shareholders, they'd lose their jobs. Some of thus think they've gone a little too far. The Democrats agreed when they had charge of the DoJ, although the Republicans seemed to have nipped that in the bud pretty quickly. :/

        I'm not particularly bothered about the bundling of IE, although they were lying under oath, but the requirement on OEMs to pay a fee to MS for each CPU shipped, whether or not that CPU has an MS OS with it, was a definite abuse of their monopoly. The web services play also scares me.

        It's been proven, in court, that they can't be trusted at their current level of market share -- so why should we want to see them get that last few percent as well?

        • Yeah, I see your point. But the essense of this piece is that a school decided they wanted specific software from MS (and not just MS, btw, they left in room for 3rd party/free software), they got together with a big bunch of other schools, and they collectively bargained for lower prices (and got them! in a big way!).

          Its a truly good thing. Most people pay like 10-20 times more for the same software; yet they managed to get a really fine deal. I dont see what everyone is all pissed off about that. They wanted everyone to be able to have the same software, for a low price. They got it. Whats the problem again? Ohh, right.. "M$" is the devil. The point of it is they were going to us MS software anyway. They still are, but now they are getting a great deal.
        • >That 18-20 y.o. CS student may become tomorrow's
          >purchasing agent

          I don't know if you meant that to be as damning as
          it sounds.

          It's like saying "that med student at johns hopkins may become tomorrow's lab assistant"

      • Because more people using MS stuff is not a good thing....

        Their software becomes exploitive, over time.

        Oh moved your entire organizations email system over to Exchange, thats a good idea. Why don't you use are "secure" embedded Win2K firewall to protect? Oh looks like you may have to have an audit, because we think you are using 300 more licenses than you say you are. Oh, well, either you can pay us $25,000 to leave you alone this time, or you can deal with $50,000 with legal fees, millions in man hours doing inventory for you case, and that is not including what would happen if we WON the lawsuit.

        Oh wait, you want to upgrade your license? You have to use our normal rates, that was just an introductory rate. Oh, well you want to switch to a compet.. what? Yeah, all your data is stored in our secure format, and it is illegal for you to circumvent it so you can convert your database easily. Oh and this months software license bill is $50,000. But we can work out a nice credit plan that will slowly destroy any possible income you can have.

        This is just hypothetical. Some of it has already happened. This is just my take on the current abilities microsoft is starting to develop for itself. (MORE people using MS Products, which use MS only protocols, why may be illegal to circumvent / reverse engineer, means for a legitimate school/business not wanting to face a law suit, that it appears to be a good idea to run all on MS. Which means MORE people using MS Products).
    • Office XP and WinXP are both $10 at CMU =) 'Course I don't use 'em, but if you do its not a bad deal.
    • If the bookstore required a $14 fee (once per semester) before students bought the software at this price, then that would be great. Students would get discounted software, Microsoft would get to warp impressionable young minds.

      The problem is when they want $14 from EVERYONE regardless of need. A lot of courses - even many computer science courses (at least at the graduate level) don't require software of any kind. Or people may already have the software through other channels, e.g., it came preinstalled on their computers, or their boss makes their work systems available for academic work.

  • by EMIce (30092) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @08:38PM (#3369894) Homepage
    I run a P3-800 at 1066Mhz by bumping the bus speed up to 133Mhz. It barely gets warm with the stock retail-boxed Intel heatsink/fan. Watercooling and overclocking a 966Mhz processor to this speed doesn't show anything.

    See my earlier post [slashdot.org]
    • The problem is that 90% (that # is pulled out of my ass) of Slashdot's userbase knows NOTHING about actual computer hardware. Don't you know how 100 "overclocking is stupid, doesn't gain you anything, and just shortens the life of your CPU" posts show up every time a story on overclocking is posted?

      Never put it past Slashdot readers to display their ignorance. :)
  • by RN (21554)
    others have said it, but here's the dictionary.com definition of tax.

    tax
    n.
    1. A contribution for the support of a government required of persons, groups, or businesses within the domain of that government.
    2. A fee or dues levied on the members of an organization to meet its expenses.
    3. A burdensome or excessive demand; a strain.

    No matter how you slice it, what Microsoft charges to customers has no resemblance to a tax. You could facetiously argue the third definition qualifies this as a tax, but the first two just don't apply.

    Microsoft charges somebody and they get something in return. If they don't want it, they don't have to pay for it. That's a service not a tax.
    • You need to get a better dictionary (or would that be a better dictionary.com?). Language evolves, and it's now widely accepted that "tax" can refer to any mandatory fee collected by one group on behalf of another group, esp. if the first group is a government entity of some type. This isn't entirely "fringe" groups pushing their own agenda - after California (and other states) passed tax limitation laws it becamse common for governments to enact taxes through third parties in an effort to evade those laws.

      As for the common usage that lexigraphers love, the "blank media tax" that's a law requiring part of the money from the sale of blank media go to the RIAA regardless of how the media will be used. (E.g., even if you're dubbing tapes of your own garage band's original compositions, the RIAA gets a cut.)

      Or the well-known "Microsoft tax" that's a license requirement that every system sold by OEM include payment for the Microsoft software license regardless of whether the user wants it or not.
      • sorry, but even with your own evolved definition of tax, this still doesn't apply. the fee is not mandatory, the University is paying it of their own accord. The costs are then passed down to students, but there is no force or cohersion involved. A tax is imposed by authority. This fee is in exchange for goods and services.

        As for the blank media tax, it's a law passed by the government, Microsoft does not charge through the law.

  • Look guys, This is the second time that you've bankrupted a company trying to give away Blender and charge money for documentation and support. Have you noticed most (all?) of the other companies following that business model are supporting Open Source software that they didn't develop themselves?
  • He describes the way Blender has been split up into smaller projects to make it both profitable as public domain software.

    God forbid only one of it be profitable.

  • by voice of unreason (231784) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @09:03PM (#3370026)
    I go to the University of Maryland, and I have to say the $14 dollar tax is more than reasonable, particularly if you're in CS. They've donated tons of stuff, including .NET as soon as it came out. They give heavy student discounts on their software. They hold dull presentations where they give away their software for free. For the non CS people, with the $14 dollars they've installed Office on practically all of the Windoze boxen on campus. Now, I'm as reluctant to part with my money as the next guy, but the fact of the matter is that like them or not, Microsoft is giving Maryland a LOT of software for just a $14 tax. I was against it when it was proposed, but I have to say it's worked out well.
    • Wait until next year when they want $75/person to maintain the licenses that you have now.

      It happened to the university where I work. They played hardball until they found out that we were serious about converting all of the PC labs to Linux/Star Office the moment the licenses expired. We had a "one disk" solution for students, too.
  • What is it with these stories about a guy who figured out how to make a box out of copper sheet? This is not very interesting. It is a fucking parallelapiped, not too tricky. Here is a pattern:

    _
    _|_|_ _
    |_|_|_|_|
    |_|

    The hard part of a water-cooling system is the circulation of the water, not the stupid box taped to the CPU. Please let this be the last time I have to see this shite on slashdot. :(

  • This probably means you, RedHat. Go set our Mexican friends up with Free Software before M$ further ruins their economy to deepen their own pocketbook. This is really disgusting how M$ is seeking to stay afloat by going for big sleazy licensing deals at taxpayers expense both here and abroad.
  • by josech (98417)
    As you would know Mexico is an "emerging economy" (AKA third world), and one of the Mexicos greatest challenges is the technological dependency on other countries. Despite there are many people who are creative and brilliant (Manuel de Icaza) there are very few chances to develop an own technology. The mexican government doesnt support the technological development at great scale yet and the efforts to improve our technological base are very seldom.

    eMexico is a very interesting project focused on offering government services thru the use of IT in many different levels trying to close the technological gap. Unfortunately, Microsoft is the most known and used software provider, and its market dominance is brutal. 99% of the mexican IT is based on Microsoft products. I really dont think that Microsoft would pretend taxing these licenses, it pretends to consolidate its hegemony on the countrys technological dependence.

    Manuel made some proposals to include open source software on the eMexico project, but MS is offering a very "generous" support to the project in order to keep dominating the mexican market. They dont really need to tax this software cause they intend to dominate the whole mexican technology market.

  • The guy with the water-cooled PC is depending on a RUBBER BAND to keep the water-seal tight? You've got to be kidding me. Hasn't he ever seen what happens to a rubber band when it gets old? Not to mention that it'll be under constant strain, and exposed to heat being in the case? That thing's going to turn brittle and crack within months leaving his PC soaking wet.

    Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb....

    link [eimod.com]
  • MS-exico? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jamirocake (456380)
    As a Mexican residing in the US i have to say this:

    It does not surprises me for to reasos:

    The right-wing governmet lead by the ex-Coca-Cola executive Vicente Fox that loves interviewing and meeting with his friend Bill G.

    Second: is a nation where most (not everybody thank god )computer knowlegable are "yuppies" that would never think of other OS than Microsoft. That is beacuse the common people don't have enough buying power to acqire PCs so that "world" is left to the semi-rich.

    In conclusion ,and ironically, is in nations like Mexico where MS can find a great niche because of poverty hopefully this won't continue, hopefully Linux will come to the rescue ....
  • by ppanon (16583) on Thursday April 18, 2002 @10:14PM (#3370379) Homepage Journal
    Since in the US you can patent something as long as you file the application within 1 year of publication, I think somebody should file a patent on hijacking planes to use them for building demolition. There's still a few months left in which to do it. That way if somebody actually manages to pull off another grab & crash, you could sue their families for patent infringement and recover any money that Saddam Hussein is paying suicide terrorists. I'm afraid it wouldn't work for suicide bombers in Israel. Firstly, there's lots of prior art and, secondly, the US is probably the only country that provides the 1 year grace period.

    If asked why you didn't publish and kept it as a trade secret, well the latest rash of copycat planes crashing into buildings should make the answer obvious: the public safety interest. It also indicates that this could become quite a lucrative patent in the future.
  • They only look at things as though they can't be done or are hard to do, without questioning if they could be done differently.

    Case in point:

    From the article on the 5 year old's patent:
    "Intellectual-property experts said the patent clearly should have not been issued, but that such mistakes were inevitable from an underfunded government agency that issues 3,000 patents each week."

    This is the reaction I'm talking about, not that the patent office should not be giving out 3,000 patents every week, but since they do, there are mistakes. And underfunded? anybody file a patent lately? It cost this boys father $1,000 dollars to file his patent. With that as an example cost, the process cost the patent filers 3,000,000 dollars a week. Someone gets that money, and the patent office is the most likely cantidate that I can think of.

    If the lawyers are getting that money, well that's the patent office's fault for not looking over the patents themselves and billing the same as the lawyers. It's their only job after all.
  • "Our Content" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by j09824 (572485)
    "The DMCA's been so bloody controversial," Bill Hagen, the IEEE's intellectual property rights manager said Tuesday. "On one hand, it protects our content.

    This comment is quite telling. Authors write articles for the IEEE at their own expense. Sometimes they even pay page charges. And most of the editorial and reviewing for the IEEE is done for free. And in return, the IEEE claims that it is "their content" and charges steep fees for access to it. It's a really unfair arrangement, and the IEEE can only get away with that because students and professionals must publish or perish and there is no way to avoid the IEEE if you work in the field. You can avoid buying Microsoft, but there is no way to avoid paying the IEEE.

  • At my school (which shall remain nameless), we the students can get MS software for only a small fee: basically the cost of the media. This is due, I'm sure, to Microsoft's academic volume license agreement. Here's what we pay, and you've got to admit, it's a damn good deal for us students.

    Microsoft Office 2000 Professional: $6.00
    Microsoft FrontPage 2002: $6.00
    Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional: $32.00
    Windows XP Professional Upgrade* $6.00
    Windows 2000 Professional Upgrade* $6.00
    Office XP Professional $8.00
    Office 2001 for Mac $6.00
    Office v. X for Mac $7.00
    Visio Professional 2002 $6.00
    Visual Studio .NET Academic $6.00

    These are for licensed, legal copies, and as long as we get them as students, those licenses are good in perpetuam.
    • At my school (which shall remain nameless), we the students can get MS software for only a small fee: basically the cost of the media. This is due, I'm sure, to Microsoft's academic volume license agreement...and you've got to admit, it's a damn good deal for us students.


      At my school (which shall remain nameless), we the students can get MS software totally for free. This is due, I'm sure, to the big-ass w4r3z server run by the l33t h4x0r d00d down the hall. You've got to admit, it's a damn good deal for us students.

      Only kidding,

      Steve
    • Well, I'm not a zealot but for about £50 you can buy SuSE Linux Professional which gives you not only an OS but pretty much every piece of software you could ever want. And if there is something missing, you can probably get it for free on the net. Which is a better deal?

      Now, I know some people will prefer MS/Apple software which is fine, but the issue is not whether it's a good deal but the fact that they are forced to pay the $14 whether they want it or not. No choices. That is the issue.

      • I see it as a non-issue. If the school computer labs run microsoft software, the money for the licensing is still going to come out of the students' pockets, even if they don't have a line item for it on their bill. It's usually subsumed into the "technology fee".
    • I can say from personal knowledge that those prices are lower than employees get at the company store. (IANAE,BIAMTO)

  • mistakes? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bilbobuggins (535860)
    Intellectual-property experts said the patent clearly should have not been issued, but that such mistakes were inevitable from an underfunded government agency that issues 3,000 patents each week.

    What mistake? Temporary illiteracy? Did the possessed hand from Evil Dead get control of the 'APPROVED' stamp?
    I'm sorry, just don't get it.

  • The article states that the patent office is underfunded. What exactly, then, is that patent fee for?

    Yes, I understand when there are millions upon millions of patents issued, it can take a lot of time to go through them, even if there's a smart search engine available. But $1000 per patent buys a LOT of time to hunt.

    The first stage should be: Does the person working in the patent office, yes, your average federal employee, think that the patent is obvious or that prior work exists. This is about as close to a "layman" as you're going to get. If THEY think its obvious, then it fails immediately. Swinging on a swing, in ANY direction, should have failed. Maybe I have too much faith in federal employees. I don't have much as it is.

    Second, the exact text of the patent is cross-referenced against a database of all patents ever issued. Any more than 3 words match, they get marked for review. And then they're REVIEWED. BY MORE THAN ONE PERSON.

    Once again, I feel it is important to mention that this is a federal organization, with federal employees. I realize that has NO significance here, but for some odd reason I feel the need to mention it again.

    Peer review. A patent gets issued on a 30 day contingency period. Anyone who thinks that the patent has significant prior art will have the opportunity to submit proposals for its dismissal, and those proposals will be taken seriously. Yes, I know, they're "underfunded".
    But I'm sorry. There's no reasonable way that it cost $1000 to grant a patent for swinging sideways. And if 95% of the fees really do go to fund the beuracracy to support the office, then it probably would be better for everyone if it didn't exist at all.

    -Restil
  • I had to do all the patent searches at the actual patent office and through all the paper. that was 1995. I was wondering why they didn't just scan it all in and search it that way since I had just implemented that (on a smaller scale of course) in that law firm's office when I first started that summer. they told me that it was taking some time - but the early stages of IBMs thing were up - I was very impressed by it. they were running on pentiums! WOW!! hee hee.

    I had to do many searches, mostly on weapons and fitness equipment - EVERYTHING that you've ever seen on late night tv - like the abdomizier and shit like that - all of that was patented in the late 1800s and early 1900s and then someone came along and searched through them all and made them in plastic and aluminum instead of iron and voila!

    there were a series of strange patents that I can recall - one was a device that was basically underwear for women that would have a dildo of sorts on the inside that was made of radioactive material... I can only assume this was for medical treatment.
    then there was a dog carrier that would loop over their upper jaw and snout and then the other side went in the dog's ass. things in animals asses are always funny.
    but probably the best one was a "lottery ticket scraper" - it was just a flat peice of plastic and it was done up by a local patent lawyer there in DC - I just loved that it started out "Since the dawn of time man has..." and then I don't recall the rest. but it was amusing.

    the end.
    • also - the patent office was my first time experiencing being around really weird smart people. there were all of these inventors there that had briefcases full of paper that would sneak around with the briefcase handcuffed to them, and then refuse to talk about what they were working on. I of course HAD to know what they were doing. one guy in particular was very strange and I know his idea had something to do with fake ducks...

      also, in the patent office main search area - at least circa '95 - there are these large columns. there was one guy that would tiptoe along from column, and hide behind them - if he wanted to talk to you - you would hear "psst psst"
      very weird people.

      and they coated the floor to ceiling windows with a film to reduce the amount of harsh light and heat coming in - but that blocked cell phones (which were a huge deal back them - the big kind that only rich important people had) - so the people that had them would sit by the window and then tear off the film on the window... so it produced all of these strange light patterns coming in.

      also, they had security there, but in the entire summer that I was there, I just made up different names the whole time I was there and never showed real ID - just acted like I knew what I was doing and went everyday, dressed well, and they just ignored me. also got into a few patent inspector's offices that way - really needed a xerox of a few patents and they were hoarding them in their office - so I waited until lunchtime and snagged them and then put them back.
      I felt like james bond. only skinnier.

      also - they have a VERY extensive magazine collection there. it was awesome - I would get my work done and then read every single back issue of all the car mags and Cinefex

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