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Slashback: Hippocampus, Matter, Blogs 187

Posted by timothy
from the dilemmas-are-everywhere dept.
Slashback tonight brings you updates, clarifications and even a followup question on recent Slashdot stories on the iLoo, Verizon's pay-phone hot spots, the artificial hippocampus, Google and blogs, patenting smart matter and more -- read on below for the details.
I have room for an entire artificial brain in there! The Evil Couch writes "In an update to an older Slashdot story The Guardian has a story saying that the scientists at USC-LA are about to connect a silicon model of the hippocampus to a rat's brain. If it's a successful replacement for the meat hippocampus, they plan on scaling it up and testing it on monkeys and then hopefully humans."

Why not a quarter for 15 minutes of access? amy's robot writes "After announcing plans to do so just last week, Verizon has activated the WiFi hotspots built in to their Manhattan payphones. Here's official info and a FAQ along with a map of the hotposts. The catch: you have to be a Verizon Online subscriber to use them, but they're free if you are."

So the blogs can stop fleeing to the hills. GeekLife.com writes "Dave Winer received a note from Google PR stating 'Just want to be sure you know that there's been no consideration of removing weblogs from our index.' Seems The Register's speculation may have somehow been unfounded."

I'd rather see a patent for smart toothpaste. Wil McCarthy writes "Last week on this forum, there was some heated discussion about my nonfiction book, Hacking Matter , and specifically about the patent application included in the book's appendix. I was accused of the intellectual property equivalent of cybersquatting: patenting a speculative idea and then sitting back and waiting 'for someone to actually do the hard work of inventing a useful product before gouging them for royalties.' In this scenario, my book has a chilling effect on an entire industry, stifling innovation.

What may have been lost in the shuffle is the fact that I'm not 'just' a science fiction writer or science journalist. First and foremost I'm an engineer, and to the best of my knowledge the idea of "wellstone," or bulk programmable matter woven from fibers surfaced with quantum dots, is original to me. The patent merely codifies these facts. Also, notably, the field of quantum dot research is lively and growing, but not at all focused on materials science applications. Thus there is no extant programmable matter industry to be squelched by my efforts.

Nor have I, per the discussion, patented a device which a person skilled in the art could not produce. It's true that some embodiments of the invention require nanometer precision in three dimensions and are thus beyond present-day manufacturing capabilities, but other less capable embodiments could be produced today. I didn't provide a working model to the patent office because I wasn't required to, having filed a Provisional Patent Application prior to the RPA.

As I make clear in the book, my interest is in hastening the arrival of programmable matter as both an industry and a field of inquiry. My partner and I are presently engaged in discussions to fund the development of a prototype quantum dot fiber which would be broadly, programmably self-doping at liquid nitrogen temperatures. We're also quite willing to license the technology to interested parties at non-gouge rates, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply foolish. If my aim is to change the world, what do I stand to gain by stifling development of my own invention?"

Sorting through the evidence. CowboyRobot writes "Edward Tufte (known for his book, Envisioning Information) analyzes the Boeing explanation for the Columbia disaster, pointing out design flaws and how those flaws conceal ambiguity in the report."

Tufte's analyis is the kind that should be applied to many more situations -- he dissects the way reassuring, blandly obfuscated PowerPoint slides can be used to slip through statements that might cause justified concern if spoken in plain language.

Dr. Whonow? Mechanik writes "You may remember the previous Slashdot story about the BBC doing a Flash treatment of one of Douglas Adams's Dr. Who scripts, Shada. Just wanted to let everyone know that Part Two is now available."

Welcome to Stepford. ragingmime writes "The Boston Globe has an interesting story on the Polyphonic "hit song science" technology that Slashdot mentioned a while ago. The Globe mentions specific things that the software measures and give opinions from various people in the music industry. It's an interesting - and kinda creepy - read."

Boilerplate or camera tricks? andrel writes "In his Slashdot interview Michael Robertson answered question 10 with:

I believe that if you purchase a product, you should have the right to change it, move it, or alter it for your own personal needs. The seller should have the right to say that you void the warranty or refuse to support it if you change it, but you should still have right as the purchaser to make that choice. This goes for music, software and personal computers. [emphasis added]

Too bad Lindows.Com doesn't share his values. The license agreement for LindowsOS explicitly prohibits users from modifying it (section 1.1.a.iv for individuals and 1.1.b.iv for businesses). As for voiding the warranty, well according to section 4 there wasn't one there in the first place. The EULA also claims that you may not allow a visiting friend to use your LindowsOS computer, nor may you use it to conduct business(both in section 1.1.a.iii)."

Robertson reads Slashdot; I hope we'll see his reaction to this soon.

Imagine the course of a canoe paddled by Microsoft and SCO. SolipsistX writes "The Seattle Times is reporting that Microsoft now says that the iLoo is not a joke. Apparently, execs killed the project after it became a laughing stock. The announcement yesterday that it was a joke was caused by miscommunication, says Microsoft. Needless to say, this does not help Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative."

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Slashback: Hippocampus, Matter, Blogs

Comments Filter:
  • iLoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:02PM (#5959823)
    Oh, and I wanted an iLoo too. It would have given me a chance to use MS products in the way in which they were intended for a change.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    An absolutely priceless article title. One of many that can be found on the iLoo here. [google.ca]
  • heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by asv108 (141455) * <[gro.oiduatahp] [ta] [xela]> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:04PM (#5959841) Homepage Journal
    Robertson reads Slashdot; I hope we'll see his reaction to this soon

    Maybe Robertson should spend more time reading his own EULA's and less time reading /.

  • you may wish to fix the link on the main page. Thats ok news for the blogs , but I would still like to see you be able to exclude blogs from your search results (I dont really want to know what a couple thousand slashdotters think about everthing :-)
    • by feldsteins (313201) <scott@nOSPam.scottfeldstein.net> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @09:39PM (#5960341) Homepage
      You know, at first I thought this was a good idea. People go to google to find out "objective info," not what I and some guy down the block think about it, right?

      But then I started thinking maybe that's wrong. I mean what is it that makes millions of us sit up at night on the web rather than watching late-night tv? I believe that it is because there is some kinds of information that you can get on the web that you can't get on television, newspapers, magazines, or radio.

      That information is simply real people speaking plainly in their own voices. Complete with lies, swear words, misunderstandings, misspellings, everything. it's completely devoid of slick, corporate, boardroom approved, focus-group tested, marketing speak. People like that, it seems. They like it enough to shut off Letterman and hang here.

      If you wanted to buy a car for example you could go to the dealer showroom and listen to the sales person and read the glossy brochure. Or, you could go to an independent web discussion site to hear what owners have to say about it. Even if some of the things they say aren't true you're a lot more likely to get the straight scoop after reading a hundred posts there than you are by reading all the promotional materials the maker can throw at you.

      So, given that this type of information is what makes the web a cool place to begin with, in the end maybe the real smart thing for google to do would be the opposite: the default behavior is to include blogs. You'd have to deliberately exclude them if you wanted to. An opt-out scenario.

      And please excuse me for butchering the ideas of David Weinberger in his magnificent Small Pieces Loosely Joined [amazon.com].
      • This blog-exclusion idea is indicative of the current mindset regarding AI, not to mention the accomplishments of AI. (See previous story [slashdot.org])

        The true problem that needs to be fixed is that google needs to be able to grok well-formed sentences and return appropriate results. I hope that my future kids will one day be able to search the web with something better than boolean logic with a page rank assist.

    • Up until early March, my blog had top search rankings at Google for some rather common searches. Then all of a sudden, my search rankings plummeted to the point where only extremely specific searches would turn up my blog articles at all. And ever since then, my new blog articles get top search results while the old ones still do not.

      It's as if Google did a one-time slapdown of my blog.

      I'd rather have had medium-level search results for all my articles, as a lot of my best material is early material.

      The s

      • . . .
        my new blog articles get top search results while the old ones still do not.

        Isn't that part of the Google algorithim... links on/from the front page contribute more to your PageRank? As links to your article move off of blogs' front pages and into "archive" sections, your PageRank is going to go down. (IANG)

  • by BigBir3d (454486)
    Needless to say, this does not help Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative.

    Why is that exactly? PR versus good code writing go hand in hand now?
    • If they can not even know what products there researching, how can the be trusted to communicate proper security information accross there programming teams?

      uummm, ok its a stretch.

      OTOH they don't go hand in hand, this is why we can't trust MS is implimenting security in a trustworthy way just cause they say they are.

      ha, that ones better. ;)
    • "Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing" has nothing to do with good code writing... it's entirely PR.
    • Some might argue that Microsoft's Trustworthy Compuing Initiative is just PR.
  • So, um, should the Keanu Reaves joke be about the Matrix or about Johnny Mneumonic?
  • Come on now (Score:5, Funny)

    by AvantLegion (595806) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:07PM (#5959863) Journal
    Look, I've been "holding it" ever since the iLoo was announced. Is it real or not?

    • Re:Come on now (Score:2, Informative)

      by kupo zero (581452)
      The iLoo, WAS a real idea, not a hoax as previously stated. However, MS's PR department fscked it up, and announced it as a hoax.
      • Re:Come on now (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Kris_J (10111) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:55PM (#5960122) Journal
        So it is a joke, but not a hoax. Either way it will never be a product. I could probably make a joke about vapourware here, but I'm too busy.
      • Re:Come on now (Score:5, Interesting)

        by WEFUNK (471506) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @09:35PM (#5960323) Homepage
        The iLoo, WAS a real idea, not a hoax as previously stated. However, MS's PR department fscked it up, and announced it as a hoax.

        Microsoft may have screwed this one up with some really poor internal communications and overzealous PR reps, but the media also has to take some blame for some really poor journalism.

        While a few MS reps did try to spin things as "an April Fool's joke", the story with the widest circulation (and it's still being published in some papers as late as today) was the one with the "hoax" headline attached to a story that made it clear that it was NOT a hoax, but was simply an overhyped pilot project. Of course all the editorials and TV news programs simply read the misleading headline about a "hoax" without reading the rest of story and turned this into an even bigger story, while most Slashdot comments seemed to pick out the obvious discrepancies right away.

        Slashdot readers may be criticized for not always reading the stories but at least they seem to do much better than the mass media in this respect. That the media will continue to spin this story over the next couple of days is almost as sad, irresponsible, and scary as the recently exposed fraudulent NYT reporter.

        Of course, it's fun to laugh at Microsoft too!
    • Look, I've been "holding it" ever since the iLoo was announced. Is it real or not?

      It's not real... and I doubt it ever will be in the way it's documented. What I could see as cool is if you could walk in and it could scan your eyes so you could "look" at where you want to go. Much like the visual-assisted computers that some disabled people have used, without all the heavy headgear. That way, when you "click" on the wrong place, you won't pick up more than just a 404 :).

      This probably won't be soon, so
  • Right (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:08PM (#5959866) Homepage
    he dissects the way reassuring, blandly obfuscated PowerPoint slides can be used to slip through statements that might cause justified concern if spoken in plain language

    Which would not be the case if the slides had been created with Agnubis or Impress. That bit of editorial spiel would have read "he clarified points made in the presentation slides".

    • I know the editors throw in lots of spin, but I really don't think this counts. Where I come from, saying 'presentation slides' and saying 'powerpoint presentation' amounts to the same thing, since powerpoint owns so much of the market. If anything, this is pro-Microsoft spin -- it enforces the idea that Microsoft owns everything.
    • by renard (94190) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @09:07PM (#5960177)
      <sarcasm>
      Which would not be the case if the slides had been created with Agnubis or Impress.
      </sarcasm>

      You're right. Obviously, it is possible to create crappy presentations using any given product - just as it is possible to write crummy code in any programming language.

      However, you miss one of Tufte's main points. There are many, many ways to produce high-quality technical documents (I prefer TeX/LaTeX). There are even multiple ways to produce overhead-projector or LCD-screen presentations (see LaTeX slides, or the Prosper package [sourceforge.net]). Packages that are designed to work with variables, equations, and scientific notation, would have done a better job with this presentation than (what looks like) PowerPoint did.

      They would have made it easy for the authors to use a consistent, clear notation for the "cubic inches" unit measure that is crucial to their analysis. At the very bottom of the slide, they reveal that the piece of foam that struck Columbia was 640 times the size of the foam chunks they experimented with on the ground! As it is, they refer to this unit as "cu in" several times but each time the unit, as plain text, blends into its surroundings rather than associating itself with the accompanying number.

      Have you ever tried to write an equation in PowerPoint? PITA. Now of course, ideally the Boeing engineers would have put in boldface 18-point font at the bottom of the slide that they did not want to extrapolate their test results by a factor of 640. But in the absence of this honorable impulse, a technically-minded presentation package would have made it easier for them to present the critical information in an readily-digested manner (and may even have warned them against using all those single-item sublevels).

      As it is, any time they wanted something other than plain, bulleted text, they were working against the grain of their software. Who knows if it made the critical difference (I doubt it), but please recall that we are talking about 7 lives and several billion dollars here.

      -renard

      • I kinda doubt this... I've looked fairly deeply into the Challenger disaster, and the same sort of problems were present in 1985 during the June/July briefing of the NASA leadership concerning the O-ring issue. The problem is probably not a tools issue so much as a author's issue.
        • But that's kinda the whole point. You can present data in many, many forms. Sometimes, no, actually all the time, the format in which you present your data is critical to what data the attendees (or readers, whatever) take away from the briefing.

          This is a good example of a case where the tools and the author have limited the way in which the data was represented, leading to an incomplete understanding/obfusciation of the problem.

          As for the O-ring thing...that's a whole other barrel of fish, and not at all
      • Have you ever tried to write an equation in PowerPoint?

        I have. It's one of my jobs because the older guys struggle with it.

        1. Insert > Object... from the Menu Bar
        2. Click 'Microsoft Equation 3.0' on the list then click the OK button.

        Failing that, find the Equation Editor here: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Equation\EQNEDT32.EXE. Of course it can be used in many more applications other than Powerpoint.

        It's a bit time consuming for complex equations but they look very nice.

        • MS equation stinks. Not only that, but getting simple equations in is ok, but for anything with limits, recursive matrises and/or anything above a linear 4th degree polynomial, it gets nasty pretty fast...and it looks like shit too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:10PM (#5959875)
    Thus there is no extant programmable matter industry to be squelched by my efforts.

    The whole point is that such patents will "squelch" any burgeoning "programmable matter industry", not simply one that is already extant at the time of your patent application.

    The question of what constitutes innovation versus discovery is always a difficult one. The fact is, however, that patents are not meant to protect or aid those "who figure out how to do new stuff", but rather for those "who do new stuff". We do live in a society with a penchant for materialism; as thus, the "ideas behind something cool" are valued much less than that actual "something cool".

    Thoughts?
    • I'd be the first to complain if this was essentially a software or business process patent, but I fail to see why so many at /. have something against just about any patent. If you were questioning whether the idea was innovative or not, I could see it, but he even states that the patent is provisional, which makes a lot of sense if the bulk of the invention is complete.

      In many cases it is unclear whether patents are actually functioning to protect the inventor financially, but in this case, it seems to

      • Isn't that just it? A 'provisonal patent'!?! I mean, wtf?

        See, the thing here is that I can make a pretty good stab at things which will be cool in the future, and I can even make a decent guess as to how to implement them. BUT! if I where to try and do what this guy has done, I could get a patent on those grounds alon! He's patented something where he doesn't exactly know how to do it himself yet! And that, in every definition the patent office wants, is just plain wrong.
        • Having read more of what he is talking about, I suspect that this is further from reality than would justify a patent, but it is difficult to judge without a lot more detail. Not being a patent lawyer, I don't know exactly what this means myself, but logically, if you can spell out pretty much exactly how something would work, this should give you a limited amount of time to demonstrate a working device based on those principles.

          At least it isn't actually patenting something that is essentially conceptua

          • Heh...for a mechanical engineer, that's like having g-codes patented! G-codes are the basic codes used in computer controled milling and lathing...essential in any production environment.

            But what this guy is doing is a step further beyond the pale; he's patenting something which he himself doesn't know how exactly it will work...which is like rewarding some dumb kid down the block for Einsteins work.
    • His statement "the idea of wellstone, or bulk programmable matter woven from fibers surfaced with quantum dots, is original to me." is untrue. Many people have thought of this- science fiction authors have published books [amazon.com] and even comics [schlockmercenary.com] based on the idea. True, to make an exciting story, they have exaggerated the possibilities, but the core is there.

      On a different note, science fiction authors have "invented" things like robots (Capek), communication satellites (Clarke), and even the internet (Gibson).
  • patent apologist (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:10PM (#5959878)

    As I make clear in the book, my interest is in hastening the arrival of programmable matter as both an industry and a field of inquiry.

    Then why patent part of the field before it even gets off the ground? Why not just publish the description in a journal?

    We're also quite willing to license the technology to interested parties at non-gouge rates

    Ah yes, that's MIGHTY generous!

    If my aim is to change the world, what do I stand to gain by stifling development of my own invention?

    Oh, I dunno, a few dollars from the occasional "non-gouge rate" perhaps?

    I hear this a lot.. someone patents something, then when asked they say: "I patented it because I want everyone to use it!" .. "I patented it so it would become the standard!" .. etc..

    That doesn't make sense to me.

    • by Corvaith (538529) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @10:00PM (#5960458) Homepage
      ...it was, you know, *his idea*, and that's the whole point?

      He came up with this thing. He knows, apparently, how to produce it. And this is what patents were made for--not stupid business practices which are all but common sense, or software concepts with only minute differences from other software concepts, or whatever.

      This is the sort of thing the patent office was meant to do: Allow people who really innovate to secure ownership of those innovations and therefore rights to money made from them later if they so choose. This is a good thing, because it prevents me from inventing the machine that does your homework for you... and having my neighbor start up a company producing those machines and make millions, not giving me so much as a dime.

      My father once new a guy who invented a new gadget of some variety. I want to say it had something to do with a regulator for an airgun or something. He patented it--not a cheap proposition. But he'd invented it; it was his. A largish company in that field, shortly thereafter, copied his design to use for their own products. He innovated--they stole it. And because he'd patented it, he was able to take them to court over it, and protect his work, so that he could continue to produce that item and make his living.

      There's a difference between 'using the system' and 'abusing the system'. Patents are not completely evil in and of themselves. The problem comes when the goal becomes stifling competition instead of protecting innovation.
      • Thing is, he doesn't know how to make it work! He hasn't even got a blueprint...he's got an idea, and a vague idea of how to make it work, but that's it.

        It's exactly like me patenting an engine based manipulating gravitational effects; I know it's something which could/will work, sometime in the future, but I haven't a clue how to make it now...but I'll patent it in the meantime, even though I can't make a prototype, no matter how much money I have.
  • "I can confirm it was an April Fools' joke," Noury Bernard-Hasan, a director in the public-relations division, told the CNET news Web site.

    I would like to see them confirm that its an april fools joke..... in May (or maybe April, but way after April 1st anyways)!

  • controll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:11PM (#5959889) Homepage Journal
    " If my aim is to change the world, what do I stand to gain by stifling development of my own invention?""
    ummm, MS changed the world of comuting, but I don't see them opening up there research.
    Just because you want to change the world doesn't mean you don't want to control/dominate that change.

    • by waldoj (8229) *
      ummm, MS changed the world of comuting, but I don't see them opening up there research.

      Well, yeah, but who would want to replicate their model of commuting: travelling in a car with the the hood welded shut that requires a restart every few miles?

      -Waldo Jaquith
    • "MS changed the world of comuting,"

      Yeah, instead of idiots reading a newspaper while driving, we now have idiots using a laptop while driving. Thanks Microsoft!
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:12PM (#5959892)
    The EULA also claims that you may not allow a visiting friend to use your LindowsOS computer

    Bob, buzzing Roger : hey buddy, can I pop to your place to play with your new Lindows box ?
    Roger : Err, actually Bob, I'd love to but we're friends and you'd be visiting me, so you couldn't use my box. The EULA says it, ya know ...
    Bob : What does that mean ? are you kidding me ? you suck ass man !
    Roger : hey, don't you dare insult me ! Bob : F*ck you man, you're talking bollocks. You're not my friend anymore. There ! Roger : well then, if we're not friends anymore, I suppose you can come visit me and try out my Lindows box ...

  • by karmawarrior (311177) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:13PM (#5959899) Journal
    Behind the obvious humor in the story behind the iLoo lies a more serious issue concerning universal access to a network that's steadily becoming more important to people's lives. The Internet continues to grow - at a slower rate, perhaps, than at the height of the tech bubble - but the massive amount of content on the Internet and the day-to-day reliance upon it as a disseminator of information is unquestionable and important.

    The iLoo marks one attempt to create an environment where the internet is everywhere. It was a brave attempt - other attempts have focussed on relatively unusable systems such as bringing the internet to pocketable phones, an exceedingly expensive mechanism that does not deliver what it attempts to do due to the limitations of the medium. Airports have experimented, with moderate success, at providing Internet terminals, and also at 802.11 based systems - though in that case, taking advantage of the high number of laptops owned corporately and the high number of corporate users of air travel. More universal 802.11 solutions are doomed - at least until the development of a $199 Apple iBook.

    Putting the Internet everywhere will be a difficult task. An environment needs to be fostered where relatively expensive equipment can be placed in public safely and profitably. This means thinking laterally, and Microsoft has, for once, done so with the iLoo. Systems may eventually be developed that provide usable Internet terminals on public transport or in shops or photobooths. The ideas about where cannot be limited except by trying and failing. But it's inevitable that ideas will not be tried if they're laughed at before they can even be tested. This quagmire of laterally thought ideas not being raised for fear of ridicule will not disappear by itself. Unless people are prepared to actually act, not just talk about it on Slashdot, nothing will ever get done. Apathy is not an option.

    You can help by getting off your rear and writing to your congressman [house.gov] or senator [senate.gov]. Tell them that the Internet is important to you, and that universal access, both geographically and sociologically, is vital to the Internet's future and to the many billions of people who rely upon the Internet in their daily lives. Tell them that you appreciate the work being done to bring the Internet out of the offices and homes to where it can be reached by everyone, by groups such as Microsoft, VoiceStream, Palm, and Apple but that if they are unable to bring ideas even to the prototyping stage, you will be forced to use less and less secure and intelligently designed alternatives. Let them know that SMP may make or break whether you can efficiently deploy OpenBSD on your workstations and servers. Explain the concerns you have about freedom, openness, and choice, and how cramping creativity when it comes to opening the Internet harms all three. Let them know that this is an issue that effects YOU directly, that YOU vote, and that your vote will be influenced, indeed dependent, on their polices on Universal Internet Access .

    You CAN make a difference. Don't treat voting as a right, treat it as a duty. Keep informed, keep your political representatives informed on how you feel. And, most importantly of all, vote.

  • Info for editors: (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dynedain (141758) <.slashdot2. .at. .anthonymclin.com.> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:14PM (#5959906) Homepage
    It is not USC-LA, it is just USC, the University of Southern California.
  • Re: Lindows (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bold Marauder (673130)
    Yikes! Even the XP EULA allows a visiting friend to use your computer. (afaik, correct me if I'm wrong.) So, long story short: Lindows is copying not only Microsoft's look and feel, but also the legalese (and in this case, even eceeding it)? Ugh, I guess someone had to replace SCO.
  • Patentable? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GlassHeart (579618) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:18PM (#5959930) Journal
    Nor have I, per the discussion, patented a device which a person skilled in the art could not produce. It's true that some embodiments of the invention require nanometer precision in three dimensions and are thus beyond present-day manufacturing capabilities, but other less capable embodiments could be produced today.

    So what makes it patentable if a person with ordinary skills in the art can build one? A patent is supposed to protect inventions beyond the abilities of those with ordinary skills at the time of application.

    • The invention is not in the skills needed to actually build one, but in the thinking necessary to design it. His point was that building a device based on the patent application doesn't require substantial additional invention or processes impossible with current technology and technique. Also, he stated that the application was provisional, so I don't really see anything to complain about here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:22PM (#5959954)
    So Blogger (aka BgLoOoGgGlEeR) now is offering a $3/month (free trial available) Audio Blogger service. It provides you with a phone number to call, then posts any message you leave at that number as .mp3 clips on your blog.

    Actually sounds really cool. Has anyone used or tested this? What's the filesize on, say, a 30 second clip?

    How long until we see the first "I just got hit on and you won't guess what his pickup line was!" blog?
    Now imagine the new "Picture Blog" service that works with photo-cellphones. Now that would give rise to an awesome blog called:
    "I'm too drunk to tell; how about you guys vote on how she'd look without beer goggles?"
  • BSODs (Score:5, Funny)

    by Luigi30 (656867) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:24PM (#5959970)
    Oh well. Guess I won't have to write "Ctrl+Alt+Del" on my plunger...
  • When I get my CF Wireless card I'll be able to use my Zaurus to surf the net/answer emails/administer systems while taking a crap. Another way to maximise productivity!
  • Sounds like the record companies want to move another step closer to Orwell's 1984 [online-literature.com], where music was automatically generated for the proles by a machine called the versificator.

    Is this why Big Brovahz had a hit single recently?

  • by Apotsy (84148) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:41PM (#5960049)
    Wil McCarthy asked:
    If my aim is to change the world, what do I stand to gain by stifling development of my own invention?

    Here's a better question: If your aim is to change the world, what the fuck are you doing wasting time answering questions from a bunch of morons on Slashdot?

  • by hillct (230132) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:43PM (#5960058) Homepage Journal
    Read the EULA carefully - Users provide, um, 'content' but does microsoft take ownership of the er, 'content' after it is provided by the user? DO users retain rights to the content after it is provided? (Do users want to retain rights to it?)

    One article stated that MSN saw a decline of 300,000 users in the first quarter of this year. Not satisfied with the number of people shitting on MSN, Microsoft now brings you the MSN Toilet!

    This product opens up an opportunity for a whole new Microsoft slogan:
    Microsoft - Where Do You Want To Shit Today?
    And last but not least, Microsoft has found that deman for their steaming piles of crap far outstripps the supply, so they have come upw with a strategy to collect as much as possible. Enter, the iLoo!

    --CTH
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:43PM (#5960065)
    I read that 3 times before I realized that it wasn't a hippopotamus. I was just thinking how cool it would be to see a rat controlling a CGI hippopotamus.
  • So Verizon starts installing a bunch of WiFi hotspots that they then sell private access to. In the meantime they are also clogging up spectrum for use by private individuals. I would think this issue would become a tragedy of the commons, in that more and more people are trying to install WiFi hubs, and thus crowding the bandwith and ruining it for everyone. Since the spectrum in question is free to all, people try and profit off of it at the detriment to others.

    At what point in time do they have more
    • What? You plan on installing your APs right next door to theirs? How are they using up the spectrum? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 802.1x allows for frequency hopping and other cool shit to avoid exactly this problem....
      And of course they can charge you. It's for their bandwidth. They are not charging for the spectrum.
      Divot.

      Tragedy of the commons- It's the buzzword the cool kids are using...

  • This [google.com] is what will result!
  • the incrdible similarities between Douglas Adams's "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" (far funnier and less silly than the hitchhiker trilogy) and this episode of Dr. Who? I can't decide if this is the inspiration for Dirk, if Dirk is the inspiration for this, or if it's a crossover.

    For those who found him interesting, the character of Professor Chronotus is fleshed out a lot more fully in the novel.
  • by Dag Maggot (139855) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @08:59PM (#5960145) Homepage
    For the record, this is really whacked.

    a. Family License: If You are a Family or Individual, You agree to the following terms of this Section 1.1.a: LindowsOS is a modular operating system made up of individual software components (each individual software component and all accompanying documentation, enhancements, upgrades and extensions thereto are referred to herein as "Software Program(s)") that were created either by Lindows or various individuals and entities ("Third Parties"). Subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, Lindows grants You a non-exclusive license to use the object code form of LindowsOS for Your personal use in accordance with the accompanying documentation. You may download and use LindowsOS on multiple computers owned, leased or rented by You; provided, however, You and members of Your Household (a "Household" consists of those individuals that currently reside with You) are the only individuals with the right to use Your licensed copy(ies) of LindowsOS. For example, if You have a desktop computer at home and a laptop computer which You travel with, You may download a copy of LindowsOS on both machines for the personal use of members of Your Household and You. You agree that You are responsible for the members of Your Household's compliance with the terms of this Agreement as though they were You and had agreed to all terms and conditions herein. Except as otherwise expressly set forth herein, You may not (and shall not allow any member of Your Household or any other Third Party to) (i) remove any product identification or other notices; (ii) copy LindowsOS (other than for back-up purposes, for Your personal use on Your multiple machines as set forth in this Section 1.1.a, or for archival purposes); (iii) provide, lease, lend, use for timesharing or service bureau purposes or otherwise use or allow others to use LindowsOS to or for the benefit of Third Parties, or (iv) modify LindowsOS or incorporate LindowsOS into or with other software, except as may be provided for in this agreement.
    • Now that I see the actual text, this doesn't surprise me that much.

      Basically, they don't want you giving out LindowsOS to all of your friends for free. You can use it on any of your own computers (or computers of anyone else in your household), but no one else. ...then the wording was made *stronger* than it really needed to be. They do this to kind of make up for any loopholes they might have left in, like the guy who builds computers for a room full of computers he's lending to a local school, and inst
  • yay (Score:2, Funny)

    by nasalicio (122665)
    iLoo...i love you...iLoo...i love you...iLoo..i love you...when i got to poo...iLoo...i love you...iLoo...why'd your screen go blue?
    • Favorite hippocampus?
    • Artificial
    • Meat
    • CowboyNeal
  • by gad_zuki! (70830) * on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @09:25PM (#5960277)
    Of course blogs aren't going to be pulled from google. If google wanted they could just reduce the pagerank and be done with it, IF blogs take away from signal noise ratio. I doubt they do, stuff is generally easier to find though blogs in my opinion and I don't think I've ever gotten a search result to a "livediary" type site.

    Google bought blogger. They want to bring mass, cheap, digital publishing to everyone. Its a great bet and will connect more people to the google brand than the USENET archives did. Joe Sixpack doesn't care or even know wtf usenet is, but if he can blog with the click of a button and have his buddies find it on google instantly, well then something interesting might happen.

    Self weblog-type publishing is fairly easy, but its going to get technophobe easy with google. Give them some time and they'll make the standard blogger tools of today look like a slackware install on an old 486.

    Like someone said the digital divide today is between those who serve content and those who don't. Google isn't stupid. Sorry anti-blog people, but you're going to have to deal with cheap, egalitarian publishing on the net for a long, long time. Sure beats the default msn.com homepage, eh?
  • I got a Hippo for Christmas - Now I find out that I have to send it to school too?
  • of having a button to stimulate an artificial hippocampus to set the memories you want to set?

    You could choose to only save the good memories, or at least filter out all the damn advertisements.

    The benefits would be tempting. Sleep with a model, heavy button pressing. Wake up with a member of a non-preferred gender and/or species, the button isn't touched all day afterwards.

  • This guy may be an engineer (so am I), but he sure doesn't act like it. There are a million obstacles to creating a _working_ prototype of something versus theorizing about the existence of such an object. REAL engineers do actual work to create such objects. Only then does someone deserve to hold the patent on the object..after they've proven that they can build it.

    Until then, it's all bullshit hype.

    For an example of a real engineer, read this [umn.edu]. Of course, it's the USPTO that mistakes hype for substance...at the cost of the true innovators in this country.

    Howard Salis

    • Let me ask you this then. I'm a college student, and my studies focus towards communication and visualization. I'm as much a geek as the rest of the /. crowd, yet I don't have as much technical knowledge in some areas as others might, namely engineering and programming. I'm also in talks with a patent lawyer now regarding an idea of mine which works with cellphones and would be kind of a social innovation in that area. Do you feel I should not be able to profit from that idea simply because I lack the t
      • Words are just words. Just because you can think of some (what you call) new idea doesn't mean it's doable or practical or that _you_ can actually do it.

        The Space Elevator was imagined by Arthur C. Clark a while back. Did he patent it because he thought of it? No. He didn't create one, nor design one (ie. detailed schematics), nor prove that he could build one.

        The first person to be able to build long lengths of carbon nanotubes will surely get a patent for their TECHNIQUE. It will be priceless. It will b
      • Guess what? You're absolutely right when you write that not everybody is able to come up with certain types of innovation. Often, only those few out of millions who spend years of their lives developing the skills to do so, at the cost of other profitable ways to spend their time, are the ones who can. Should we reward them, or should we reward the folks who drank and screwed their way through college, or those who spend their time making larger monthly incomes in marketing, or their bankers, or ???

        If you'

  • Hopefully they will hire the Kingsmen in loo (leui) of Stones to launch the iLoo. Always thought the memorable Lyric We go to go [guitaretab.com] would come in handy .
  • by Kevin Carmony (673400) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @10:48PM (#5960661) Homepage
    Timothy,

    This was the EULA our lawyers put together a year ago when Michael and I were buried trying to get LindowsOS off the ground. Now that we are up and running, Michael and I will go through this and review it. I think you've pointed out some good areas that probably don't really fit with what we're trying to do and could use some updating.

    Thanks,

    Kevin Carmony
    President, Lindows.com
    • Now if only M$, the RIAA, the MPAA, I guess the MPA now too, would be this socially responsible and aware. Kevin, I'd just like to say thanks for being one of the few business men in this world who doesn't just force things down its customers (notice I didn't say consumers) throats. Merely responding to things such as this shows that you value your customers more than your lawyers. And that's saying a lot, especially since the majority of us are not your customers, it just shows you want to go the extra
  • The guy is an aerospace engineer. That has close to nothing to do with condensed matter physics. He has no business patenting a theoretical device in a field he does not participate in. He can offer up any excuses he wants, it's still a slap in the face to those of us who ACTUALLY work in the field.

    And you can bet that there's NO WAY I'm going to work on something that's already been patented... just so he can thank me and run off with credit for MY research.
  • I don't know about you but the only kind of internet access I'd want in a public bathroom would be the voice-activated kind. Know what I mean?
  • Hi all.

    I am looking for a girlfriend from Israel. So if you happen to be a girl from there who reads /. right now, please respond. Okay? (Is this highly unlikely?)

    Btw: I love slashback!
  • Google tabs (Score:2, Funny)

    by DrJAKing (94556)
    Is it true that Google plan a tab for searching through Google tabs?

A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.

Working...