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Submission + - Ask SIashdot: How to Write Legal Software? 4

craznar writes: I am a professional software developer, currently writing some 'high-tech' point of sale software with some pretty unique features in it. The company I work for is a start up and doesn't have much in the way of financial resources.

Almost all of the code is my design, the over all structure is my design — but it uses a stack of novel approaches to problems that I worked out with customers over a period of a year or more.

This brings me to my primary concern — how many patents am I unknowingly breaking, how on earth can I possibly find out, and fundamentally is it at all possible to actually write software free of patent infringement any more.

For the moment, ignore the patent infringements in your purchased (and or open source) development libraries and development tools and focus the question just on the parts I have developed and written myself ?

Submission + - Slashdot is Dying, New York Times Confims It ( 12

An anonymous reader writes: The New York Times is running a story about how Slashdot has dropped in popularity compared to other news sites in social web space. Quote: "Why is Slashdot almost irrelevant to the social media community? It used to be the biggest driver of traffic to tech web sites, but now it hardly delivers any traffic at all to them. We explore some of the reasons, including input from our own community."

Submission + - The Scalability of Linus 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "Katherine Noyes writes at LinuxInsider that it may be time for Linus Torvalds to share more of the responsibility for Linux that he's been shouldering. "If Linux wants to keep up with the competition there is much work to do, more than even a man of Linus's skill to accomplish," argues one user and the "scalability of Linus," is the subject of a post by Jonathan Corbet wondering if there might there be a Linus scalability crunch point coming. "The Linux kernel development process stands out in a number of ways; one of those is the fact that there is exactly one person who can commit code to the 'official' repository," Corbet writes. A problem with that scenario is the potential for repeats of what Corbet calls "the famous 'Linus burnout' episode of 1998" when everything stopped for a while until Linus rested a bit, came back, and started merging patches again. "If Linus is to retain his central position in Linux kernel development, the community as a whole needs to ensure that the process scales and does not overwhelm him," Corbet adds. But many don't agree. "Don't be fooled that Linus has to scale — he has to work hard, but he is the team captain and doorman. He has thousands doing most of the work for him. He just has to open the door at the appropriate moment," writes Robert Pogson adding that Linus "has had lots of practice and still has fire in his belly.""

Feed Techdirt: Supreme Court Says Antitrust Law Applies To The NFL; No Exclusive Licensing Allo (

Earlier this year, we mentioned the Supreme Court was reviewing a lawsuit over whether or not the NFL had the right to have an exclusive license for its apparel. A company, American Needle, who had supplied apparel to various NFL teams, sued the NFL after it had entered into a long-term exclusive contract with Reebok to handle all team apparel. American Needle claimed that this was a clear anti-trust violation, as all of the teams had colluded to exclude everyone else from the market. The NFL argued, instead, that the entire league should be viewed as a single company. Today, the Supreme Court ruled against the NFL, saying that each team should be viewed as a separate company. The case then gets sent back down to be reconsidered: The details of this particular case are somewhat unique, in that it really only applies to situations where there are sports leagues (Major League Baseball is the only sports league that has an official exemption from Congress for antitrust issues -- though it's not clear why the different treatment). However, the decision by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens highlights the importance of competition, and the problems of letting organizations team up, just because teaming up makes better financial sense for all of those organizations:

Directly relevant to this case, the teams compete in the market for intellectual property. To a firm making hats, the Saints and the Colts are two potentially competing suppliers of valuable trademarks. When each NFL team licenses its intellectual property, it is not pursuing the "common interests of the whole" league but is instead pursuing interests of each "corporation itself," Copperweld, 467 U. S., at 770; teams are acting as "separate economic actors pursuing separate economic interests," and each team therefore is a potential "independent cente[r] of decisionmaking," id., at 769. Decisions by NFL teams to license their separately owned trademarks collectively and to only one vendor are decisions that "depriv[e] the marketplace of independent centers of decisionmaking," ibid., and therefore of actual or potential competition.
This makes a lot of sense. Otherwise, you could argue that any particular industry could set up an organization of which all the companies in that industry are a "member" and allow that single organization to negotiate exclusive deals, with the argument that it's "for the common interests of the whole." But, that's obviously collusion, with the intent to harm consumers. Thankfully, the Supreme Court saw through the flimsy claim that such a structure makes companies immune to antitrust law.

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Feed Techdirt: As Expected, Judge Issues Injunction Against IsoHunt For Not Finding Magic Wand (

Well, here we go again with the difference between real copyright law and "file sharing copyright" law. Just as a court in the southern district of California has suggested that Rapidshare is not liable for infringing activities of its users, a court in the central district of California has come down hard on Isohunt, demanding the site wave a magic wand and delete all infringing links. Of course, since we don't live in fantasy land where that's possible, it basically means the site needs to be shut down. As with the original ruling against Isohunt, however, it appears the judge doesn't quite understand the technology at play, and ascribes to Isohunt functionality that it has nothing to do with. For example:

Second, given the way in which Defendants' system works, when Defendants' end-users download one of Plaintiffs' works, the end-users automatically and simultaneously further distribute the work to innumerable others as a required part of the download process; additionally, at the conclusion of the download, Defendants' end-users obtain an unprotected digital copy of Plaintiffs' work that those end-users can further distribute indefinitely at will.
But, uh, that's how BitTorrent works. Not IsoHunt. I don't quite see how it makes sense to blame IsoHunt -- which is basically a search engine -- for the activities done by its end users and the technology of BitTorrent. The court also takes it as fact that the availability of unauthorized free copies must harm the market, despite no evidence to back that up. It's faith-based rulings, based on Hollywood (on the heels of its best box office year ever) making claims with no facts, that the judge just accepted:

It is axiomatic that the availability of free infringing copies of Plaintiffs' works through Defendants' websites irreparably undermines the growing legitimate market for consumers to purchase access to the same works.
But that's wrong. It may cause harm, but it's hardly irreparable. If the movie studies actually, you know, adapted to the changing market (as some are figuring out), they could actually do much better. Why does the judge suggest otherwise with no proof at all?

Finally, the court continues to live in the same fantasy land as the entertainment industry in thinking this injunction will actually slow down or prevent any file sharing:

Finally, the Court agrees that the public interest will be served with a permanent injunction, since it will protect Plaintiffs' copyrights against increased and unrestrained infringement.
Except, of course, it will do no such thing. Instead, those users will disperse to other sites, perhaps the same ones that the entertainment industry just helped advertise.

Finally, the actual injunction is incredibly broad and amounts to -- as mentioned -- demanding that IsoHunt and Gary Fung develop a magic wand to figure out if a link points to infringing material:

Defendants shall be permanently enjoined from knowingly engaging in any of the following activities in connection with the Isohunt System or any Comparable System:

(a) hosting, indexing, linking to, or otherwise providing access to any Dot-torrent or similar files that correspond, point or lead to any of the Copyrighted Works;

(b) assisting with end-user reproductions or transmissions of any of the Copyrighted Works through a tracker server, or any other server or software that assists users in locating, identifying or obtaining files from other users offering any of the Copyrighted Works for transmission; or

(c) hosting or providing access to any of the Copyrighted Works.
This is not to say that Fung is blameless. Clearly, IsoHunt did some things that looked quite bad under the law. But that doesn't excuse some of this ruling, which seems to go to ridiculous levels, way beyond what copyright law allows. None of this is a surprise given the earlier ruling or the proposed injunction, which included much of the same troubling language (including the bogus "axiomatic" statement). This isn't to defend Fung or IsoHunt at all. But I do worry when judges get so hung up on how bad a site like IsoHunt must be that they make rulings that will cause trouble down the road for others. Below is the full ruling if you want to read through it:

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Feed Engadget: The fate of a generation of workers: Foxconn undercover fully translated (

Machine translations are still years or even decades away from perfection, so rather than sending you to a machine-translated page, we now present -- with exclusive permission from Southern Weekend -- a human translation of this damning report on Foxconn by SW's undercover reporter, Liu Zhiyi.

(Photo: Southern Weekend)

I know of two groups of young people.

One group consists of university students like myself, who live in ivory towers and kept company by libraries and lake views. The other group works alongside steel machineries and large containers, all inside a factory of high-precision manufacturing environment. These guys always address their seniors as "laoban" (boss), and call their own colleagues -- regardless of familiarity -- the rude "diaomao" (pubic hair) in loud.

After going undercover in Foxconn for 28 days, I came back out. I've been trying to tie the two pictures together. But it's very difficult. Even with people living in these two places sharing the same age, the same youth dream.

My undercover was part of Southern Weekend's investigation on the then six Foxconn suicides. We soon found out that most of Southern Weekend's reporters were rejected due to age -- Foxconn only recruits people around the age of 20. In comparison, being just under 23 years old, I was quickly brought into Foxconn.

The 28-day undercover work made a strong impact on me. It wasn't about finding out what they died for, but rather to learn how they lived.

Continue reading The fate of a generation of workers: Foxconn undercover fully translated

The fate of a generation of workers: Foxconn undercover fully translated originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 19 May 2010 20:03:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Submission + - iPad is not "killing" netbook sales (

mantis2009 writes: Paul Thurrott, the prolific technology analyst and Windows expert, reacts strongly to an article highlighted on Slashdot. Thurrott takes numbers from IDC and the Wall Street Journal, indicating that netbook sales have not in any meaningful way been affected by sales of Apple's tablet computer, the iPad. Money quote: "...netbooks and sub-12-inch machines[] will sell 45.6 million units in 2011 and 60.3 million in 2013. If I remember the numbers from 2009, they were 10 percent of all PCs, or about 30 million units. Explain again how the iPad will beat that. Please. Even the craziest iPad sales predictions are a small percentage of that."

Submission + - New software to reduce computer energy waste (

MBAFK writes: In honor of Earth Day, MiserWare announced the release of Granola, energy efficiency software for PCs (see Granola can save up to 35% of the energy a computer uses. Imagine the difference that could make for the planet. Over a billion personal computers are in use worldwide, collectively consuming hundreds of billions of kilowatt hours annually. If each of these computers ran Granola and reduced their power consumption by only 10%, it would equate to removing 7 million cars from the road or planting 900 million trees or turning off 65 coal power plants. Granola is a free download for PCs or laptops running Microsoft Windows or Linux.

Comment Re:Wrong. (Score 1) 495

How so? I accept that the Big Bang happened, and can be logically explained. However, I also believe there was a higher power at play that created it. Namely %DEITY%.

Think about it. How can *something* come from absolute nothing. No time, no space. It never existed. Mathematically, nothing is represented as 0 (zero). Yet, something, somehow, someway, the status quo changed. Why? Was it a branch from the multiverse? Who created that. At what point do you acknowledge there was a genesis (if at all) and what caused it and for what reason?

Comment BAD ANALOGY (Score 1) 703

"Forcing our schools to instruct children on how to utilize contraceptives encourages our children to engage in sexual behavior, whether as a victim or an offender," he wrote. "It is akin to teaching children about alcohol use, then instructing them on how to make mixed alcoholic drinks."

ACTUALLY, since condoms are about having safe sex, a better analogy would be to say that teaching condom use is like teaching kids "don't drink alcohol; but if you do drink, drink in moderation, and don't drive after you've been drinking."

Which is actually a pretty good fucking idea, now that I think about it.

Teaching kids to drink in moderation is prevalent in France, where kids are allowed to drink wine with the family at dinner from a teenagehood. Coincidentally (sarcasm), binge drinking in France is FAR less prevalent than it is in the U.S. or U.K.

Drinking is just one more issue where pretending it doesn't exist is a really, really bad idea.

A big *double* fail for Mr. Dipshit Attorney.

Submission + - The iPad is a microwave (

milesw writes: FTA: 'You can't realistically do whatever you please with a microwave, and most people won’t expect to. But the future of food delivered from microwaves — quick, easy, user-friendly, one-button — is a bleak future. No one will become a world-famous chef by playing with making food in the microwave when they're 12. The stove presents much more opportunity to mess up and spend hours cleaning up the aftermath, or even burn down the place. It also presents an opportunity for expression and exploration that just cannot be realized in the limited nature of the microwave oven.'

'It looks like Apple would really, really like it if more people would get rid of their stoves and only use microwaves.'

Comment I gotcha affluent areas righ 'cheer! (Score 1) 207

Students from more affluent areas have... often, more enlightened parents... Poorer students without home access don't have those opportunities.

WTF?!?!?! Poor families are less enlightened, as a rule? So poor equals dumb, and rich equals smart. Huh. Yeah. That totally makes sense. Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton must have been the smartest kids in school!!

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.