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This is in the UK, though, and the US Patent Office might not be aware that we exist.
Everyone knows England is just a conspiracy of cartographers.
Alright, here. I AM a lawyer (though not your lawyer, and nothing I post here should be construed as legal advice) and you might be interested to know that Microsoft is already backing off a bit in the suit with Barnes & Noble. So yes: "at least 6 multi-billion dollar corporations, some of which are much larger than Microsoft, have signed patent deals worth hundreds of millions over completely flimsy ridiculous patents that could easy be overturned by any court."
The nice way of saying it is that those companies have agreed to "play ball" and probably anticipate improved relations with Microsoft as a result. In the sense that it takes money to make money, these companies probably see the payoff as an investment in something else (even if that "something else" is just avoiding a protracted legal battle). Barnes & Noble is no stranger to the game of David & Goliath, though they are usually the Goliath! But they are refusing to be bullied while several of the companies who have capitulated are not treating it so much as being bullied as cutting deals.
If Microsoft hadn't insisted on an NDA ("you're violating our patents but we won't tell you which ones unless you sign an agreement with us") they might have some minimal leg to stand on. As it is, though, what they're doing looks an awful lot like bad-faith extortion. Especially if it was a natural person doing it; but of course, large companies these days get away with much worse.
Ten inches is too big to be truly portable, too small to justify using as a replacement if you own an actual computer (especially if you own a laptop). I think for many non-tech types, tablets are replacing the PC--after all, they only bought a PC so they could surf the web and maybe play simple games.
But that's not me. I don't carry a cell phone (my wife uses her iPhone constantly) but I'm interested in the 7" tablets... may pick one up this Christmas, though now that the Tegra 3 is out I guess I'm waffling again. Combined with a bluetooth headset, I would definitely use a 7" tablet often.
I tried out Mosaic via a NovaNET connection out in rural Arizona--in 1994, when I was 14. It was another year before I bothered with the web again (once we moved somewhere with local dial-up access), though by the time I graduated high school I was using it every day.
I left IT behind in 2006 and am an attorney now, but honestly the HTML (and Photoshop) I learned running an "underground" newspaper website on Geocities has been more useful to me than most anything else I learned in high school. As usual, Randall got it right.
I've had the same experience. I've been summoned four times in the last 12 years. Twice I was out of state at school, so obviously I couldn't go. Twice I was in-state and reported happily. The first time I was down the list a ways and they selected a complete jury before getting to me. The second time I had just graduated from law school so the attorneys on the case bounced me, which was disappointing. While sometimes it doesn't work that way, most of the time if you are a lawyer or even a paralegal, you will not be selected. Which disappoints me because it means I will probably never get to serve on a jury now.
Anyway, in the same time period, my wife has never been summoned at all. Just the nature of random (here on