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Comment: Re:There is no such petition at the link you poste (Score 1) 6

by Alchemist253 (#37522836) Attached to: Petition to White House to End Software Patents

So long as I have JavaScript enabled I am unable to reproduce that result in any browser on any platform (Firefox, Safari, Chrome; Linux, Mac OS X). That's exactly the behavior I see if I do disable scripting.

I'm at a loss, but I guess at this point it doesn't matter too much...

Comment: Re:There is no such petition at the link you poste (Score 1) 6

by Alchemist253 (#37497882) Attached to: Petition to White House to End Software Patents

1) If you look at my posting history and karma it ought to be evident that I am not a troll. Please don't rush to judgment.

2) Do you have JavaScript enabled in your browser? The petition won't show up if you have it disabled, which is slightly silly, but is the White House's decision, not mine. Other than that, I can't think of what you are referring to by "no such petition." When I click on the link I see:

we petition the obama administration to:
Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents

The patent office's original interpretation of software as language and therefor patentable is much closer to reality and more productive for innovation than it's current practice of issuing software patents with no understanding of the patents being issued.

Under the patent office's current activity, patents have been come a way to stifle innovation and prevent competition rather than supporting innovation and competitive markets. They've become a tool of antitrust employed by large companies against small ones.

To return sanity to the software industry - one of the few industries still going strong in America - direct the patent office to cease issuing software patents and to void all previously issued software patents.
Created: Sep 23, 2011
Issues: Innovation, Job Creation, Small Business
Learn about Petition Thresholds
Signatures needed by October 23, 2011 to reach goal of 5,000
810
Total signatures on this petition
4,190

Patents

+ - Petition to White House to End Software Patents-> 6

Submitted by Alchemist253
Alchemist253 (992849) writes "The White House recently launched the "We the People" initiative, an official mechanism for submitting online petitions to the Executive branch of the U.S. government. One of the first petitions, and one which has rapidly gained momentum, demands that the Patent Office cease issuing software patents and rescind those already issued. While the text of the petition could stand improvement, and while this matter is no doubt fraught with legal complexities, Slashdotters may nonetheless wish to sign the petition. If it gets at least 5000 signatures then the White House promises a formal response — and the more, the better."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:at 12 I learned HTML (Score 1) 799

by Alchemist253 (#30570718) Attached to: How To Teach a 12-Year-Old To Program?

HTML hardly constitutes "programming" in any reasonable sense. That's not to disparage knowing it as a skill, but regardless of what some people think, it's not programming.

While of course strictly true, I don't think that for the true beginner "programming" is actually the most important thing.

Learning to write HTML (okay, learning to write standards-compliant, non-lazy HTML) forces one into the mindset of thinking about how a computer is going to interpret something. Don't underestimate the effort involved in parsing a line of code, be it a loop in C or a row of table data in HTML; training one's mind to be able to walk through code of any flavor is a crucial skill to hone early on.

Some of my first efforts to make a computer do what I wanted programatically involved creating simply web pages (this was back in 1993 or so). It was very exciting to see the results of my work, and figuring out why my output didn't look quite right was, in effect, my first exposure to the debugging process. Eventually I wanted one of those newfangled email forms, so I next picked up Perl. (Yeah, please refrain from poking fun at my early language choices.)

So, HTML proved a "gateway drug" into software development. Many years later, I came to learn C, Obj-C, Python, PHP/MySQL, etc. "Programming" can wait - let kids start out with web pages.

(As an aside, I never did learn Java. In retrospect, I wish I had learned Java in lieu of the Perl and PHP I cultivated for server-side web work; while Perl has definite sysadmin uses, Java could have replaced PHP quite satisfactorily and would have been more broadly useful outside web work. Just advice I would give to those starting to program.)

Comment: It's about service. (Score 4, Insightful) 1147

by Alchemist253 (#27282207) Attached to: Ballmer Scorns Apple As a $500 Logo

My bias: I primarily run Linux (writing this on a Debian workstation), so I suppose I might be more of a "Microsoft basher" than an "Apple fanboy."

However, one thing I will say about Apple is that it has arguably the best customer service of any large company I have ever dealt with in ANY FIELD.

Fortunately, Apple products tend to "just work" and continue "just working" so I don't have to deal with service that much. However, when I have I have been impressed.

When I called Apple support for a particularly obscure software problem, within I got conferenced in with an OS X software engineer who had kernel HFS code in front of him. Keep in mind, this was the standard consumer 800-number level support! How often would this happen at, say, Microsoft?

I broke one of the mechanical components of my iPhone, walked into an Apple store, and within ten minutes walked out with a replacement phone - no arguing, frustration, or upselling attempted. Along the same vein, a friend of mine had a laptop that was YEARS off warranty, and when the DVD drive finally died Apple still offered to repair it at no charge.

I've even gone into the Apple store to look at accessories like earphones and had a salesperson tell me that a different retailer was having a sale that I should check out to save money.

My point I suppose is that the "Apple tax" (or what I would more formally refer to as the "brand premium") is in no small part to pay for having a large number of well-trained (even more with respect to customer interaction than technical skill) employees with sufficient authority to actually deal with problems. Apple takes the attitude that customer satisfaction is more important than low prices - and I thank them for it.

Comment: Re:Submitter forgot to mention it costs $79.99 + S (Score 1) 133

by Alchemist253 (#26794513) Attached to: Hackable Microcontroller-Powered Valentine's Card

I own a NerdKit and have been having a lot of fun playing with it. While the components certainly cost a lot less than $80, the documentation and real human-based tech support (right down to helping you debug your own code at no charge) is well worth it.

It should also be noted that if you choose to make more of the kits by buying components, the NerdKits people supply their bootloader and assistance for installing it on a fresh microcontroller. I think it's a pretty sweet deal, even if perhaps a Slashvertisement is a bit uncouth.

Comment: Re:hmmm (Score 0) 693

by Alchemist253 (#26429353) Attached to: iTunes DRM-Free Files Contain Personal Info

I don't think that "hey check out this song" obviates copyright considerations.

One is typically permitted to share/post small excerpts for critical commentary. IANAL, but I highly doubt that sending an entire song to a friend is within the letter of the law.

(As an aside, I don't think this is all that unreasonable. Either send an excerpt - which would be OK - or have your friend buy it on iTunes, Amazon, whatever.)

Infringing a copyright is infringement, whether it is a single act or mass distribution for commercial gain. The difference is in severity (and degree of punishment/restitution if caught).

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.

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