There's no danger of a fuel shortage. The new US centrifuge enrichment plant is up and running, and the second section of the plant is under construction.
This is a reasonable idea. The items to be delivered are small and light, and pharmacies tend to have a customer base within a few miles. Many pharmacies already deliver. This would be cheaper and faster than sending out people in cars and trucks to carry tiny packages.
could you please provide a reference or two to support it?
Here's a list compiled in 2011.. The last of the "orginal 27" patents expires on March 28, 2014. MPEG-LA has later patents, but maybe you don't need the technology they cover, or can attack those patents.
The original application on which this is based is dated May 3, 1999. So this predates Bitcoin. Only prior art earlier than the priority date is relevant.
The life of the patent counts from the priority date, so this patent, if issued, will run out in 2019. The USPTO doesn't consider this patent to contain patentable subject matter; they've issued a 101 Non Final Rejection. (You have to look up the patent application in USPTO Public PAIR to see this. Public PAIR has the status info for all patents as they go through examination, and images of all the actual documents. All the letters and forms back and forth between the applicant and the USPTO are in there. PAIR is kind of slow, and there's a CAPTCHA to prevent it from being scraped in bulk, so the data in PAIR isn't indexed by search engines.)
Do you predict that a patent-free MPEG-2 decoder capable of playing DVDs would be possible within a year?
No, DVDs use some of the newer MPEG 4 features. But online video doesn't need all that stuff. Youtube, Netflix, etc. are probably within the base MP4 spec, for which the patents have mostly expired.
That's reality. I had to post this for one of my Firefox add-ons:
"Due to Firefox Bug 886329, "drop-down list in Jetpack add-on breaks entire UI", the preferences menu in Ad Limiter is not working in Firefox version 23 only. It worked in Firefox 22, and is fixed in Firefox 24, which is now available. We suggest not using Firefox 23."
Most of the remaining MPEG LA patents that matter run out in Q1 2014. They have others, but most of them are on features added to MPEG-4 late, ones that aren't needed in a browser's decoder, such as interlace support and decoding of images with errors.
While I am all for automation, Kiva is about as dehumanizing a system as I could imagine possible.
Agreed. Kiva is one of the most blatant examples of "Machines should think, people should work". The intelligence in the system is in computers. All the humans do is reach into the bin the laser pointer points to, take out an item, wave it under a bar code scanner, and put it in the output bin which has a light on. It takes 15 minutes to learn the job (really, about 90 seconds, but you get a little faster with practice). There's no hope of promotion, and it's only a temporary job until the picking robots are developed.
Welcome to the future.
This should be very effective if it works. Which it should. Automated manufacturing usually takes a lot of startup time. Production lines have to be designed, fabricated, and carefully installed with everything aligned properly.
There's already a big success in this area - Kiva Systems. They make those little mobile robots used for order processing. Kiva already is handling about 20% of online orders, and Amazon bought the company recently. Setting up a warehouse for Kiva is simple - all you really need is a big flat floor. You put down markers for robot guidance, bring in the shelving units, the charging stations, and the human order-picking stations, which are all standard components, hook everything up to the servers, and go. No need to fabricate and install complex conveyor systems. No need for on-site robot repair techs - all the Kiva robots are interchangeable, so you have spares, and you can just send them back to Kiva HQ (which is small) for repairs.
Having once written for HyperCard, I'm glad it's gone. It had some syntax in common with COBOL. ADD 1 TO N is valid COBOL and valid HyperTalk. The data access in Hypercard (put the second word of name into last_names) was worse than COBOL.
If you used card names instead of card numbers, the program ran much slower.
The cited article is interesting, but he never gets into Bitcoin's "contract" capabiilty. There have been proposals to add mechanisms to Bitcoin so that you could send Bitcoins to someone, but they couldn't spend them until the sender committed the transaction. This provides a way to insure you get the goods when you order something.
So far, that's a future feature, not a usable one. This is why Bitcoin remains the scammer's paradise - anonymous, irrevocable remote money transfer. There's little risk of annoying lawsuits, cops, or armies of angry customers with pitchforks coming after you.
As a result, more than half of Bitcoin "exchanges" have gone under, usually taking customer funds with them.
Most alternative reactor designs have some major flaw. Sodium reactors have sodium fires. Pebble-bed reactors have pebble jams. (An experimental one in Germany is such a mess there's no way to fully decommission it.) Helium gas-cooled reactors leak helium. (Fort St. Vrain was converted from nuclear to natural gas because of that.) One of the painful lessons of long-life nuclear power plants is that what goes on inside the reactor vessel has to be really, really simple. Anything complex in there will break. It's being shot full of holes at the atomic level, after all. (See "hydrogen embrittlement").
Pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors at least have only water to deal with. The fuel rods are solid rods. The thing is basically simple, although the plumbing gets insanely complex. Even then, big accidents have happened.
Some of the fancier reactor designs require an associated chemical plant to reprocess the materials. This is a pain if you're in the power generation business, and a source of leaks and risks.
Show me someone building an airplane. Oh sorry, you need an FAA license for that...
Check out the Experimental Aircraft Association. Visit the Oshkosh Fly-In. FAA regulations on experimental aircraft are quite lenient. You can't carry passengers or fly over heavily populated areas, which is reasonable enough. For flight test, there's the Mojave Air and Space Port. "My job is to give people permission. Every day in the skies over Mojave and on the ground at Mojave Air & Space Port, people take enormous risks, which someday will yield great things for all humanity." -- Stuart Witt, CEO, Mojave Air & Space Port.
How about a rocket?
"You want to test a rocket engine? This is a place where you can do that." -- Board of Directors, Mojave Air and Space Port. SpaceShip One and various X-Prize trials have launched from Mojave. Rotary Rocket flew from there, although not very far. I know people at TechShop building upper stage engines for orbital insertion.
Flying car? Forget it...
There are several ultralight helicopter kits. Quadrotors seem to get bigger each year. Thrust-type VTOLs need a lot of power, which usually means jet engines, which means a flying car will cost about as much as a small bizjet, which limits the market. Paul Moller built a flying car; it doesn't work, but that's Moller's problem, for which he's been making excuses for 40 years. I had some hopes for Urban Aeronautics out of Israel, which was showing a non-flying mockup in 2010, but they never made it fly.
Government is not preventing you from doing any of these things.
Did this guy just reinvent spreadsheets? There's something to be said for this, but having written in Prolog, which works that way, the 'reactive programming' people have to make a better case than the article does.
On the other hand, one of the big problems in databases is change notification. Microsoft at one point had a research project on this. The concept was that you could make a request to be notified when something of interest changed in the database. This was expressed as an SQL SELECT statement. When some change was made that would affect the output of your pending SELECT, you'd be notified. The problem was to figure out some efficient way to do this with thousands or millions of pending SELECT statements.
Finance people use notifications like that all the time. Limits on stocks, limits on combinations of stocks, changes in key ratios, that sort of thing. But the systems for that are specialized, a special case of a more general problem. The most general form of the problem is that B wants to know when something has changed at A. Most of the solutions for this have problems. Polling is either inefficient or slow. B relying on A to message them on a change has a failure problem. Both approaches can result in overloading A with checks for events that aren't happening.
The point to take away here is that you can generally avoid being charged with "bad faith" by not doing specific bad things. The standard in the bill is much more ambiguous.
On the other side, an infinger can be charged triple damages for "willful infringement". A recent court decision raised that standard to "willful and reckless", which is almost impossible to prove.