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Tandberg Attempts To Patent Open Source Code 187

An anonymous reader writes "As if the current situation with software patents wasn't bad enough, it appears a new phenomenon is emerging: companies are watching the commit logs of open source projects for ideas to patent. In this case, Tandberg filed a patent that was step-by-step identical to an algorithm developed by the x264 project — a mere two months after the original commit. The particular algorithm is a useful performance optimization in a wide variety of video encoders, including Theora."

They Finally Found Out We Like Our Computers 184

I'm Not There (1956) writes "Sociologist Clifford Nass is talking about how people think of their computers as something like human beings. In one of his experiments, Nass found that people are more willing to 'help' computers when the computer helped them previously: 'When people were then asked to help optimize the screen resolution on a computer where the program had been "helpful," they were much more likely to do so than with the less helpful version.' He also found that people evaluating software's performance were more forgiving if the evaluation was done on the same computer the software was tested on. Nass has recently published the book The Man Who Lied to His Laptop, in which he 'uses our interactions with machines to investigate how human relationships could be improved.'"
GNU is Not Unix

If Oracle Bought Every Open Source Company 237

An anonymous reader points out Glyn Moody's thought experiment: what if Oracle bought up the entire open source ecosystem? Who would win, who would lose? And how might an open ecosystem grow in the wake of such an event? "Recently, there was an interesting rumour circulating that Oracle had a war chest of some $70 billion, and was going on an acquisition spree. Despite the huge figure, it had a certain plausibility, because Oracle is a highly successful company with deep pockets and an aggressive management. The rumour was soon denied, but suppose Oracle decided to spend, if not $70 billion, say $10 billion in an efficient way: how might it do that? One rather dramatic use of that money would be to buy up the leading open source companies — all of them."
Open Source

Unusual, Obscure, and Useful Linux Distros 221

angry tapir writes "Most people will be familiar with some of the big names when it comes to Linux — distributions like Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Debian, and Mandriva. Most of the well-known Linux distros are designed to be used as general-purpose desktop operating systems or installed on servers. But beyond these distros are hundreds of others either designed to appeal to very specific audiences or to fulfill the somewhat niche needs of some users. We rounded up some of the most interesting Linux distributions that you might not have heard of."

Scaling To a Million Cores and Beyond 206

mattaw writes "In my blog post I describe a system designed to test a route to the potential future of computing. What do we do when we have computers with 1 million cores? What about a billion? How about 100 billion? None of our current programming models or computer architecture models apply to machines of this complexity (and with their corresponding component failure rate and other scaling issues). The current model of coherent memory/identical time/everything can route to everywhere; it just can't scale to machines of this size. So the scientists at the University of Manchester (including Steve Furber, one of the ARM founders) and the University of Southampton turned to the brain for a new model. Our brains just don't work like any computers we currently make. Our brains have a lot more than 1 million processing elements (more like the 100 billion), all of which don't have any precise idea of time (vague ordering of events maybe) nor a shared memory; and not everything routes to everything else. But anyone who argues the brain isn't a pretty spiffy processing system ends up looking pretty silly. In effect, modern computing bears as much relation to biological computing as the ordered world of sudoku does to the statistical chaos of quantum mechanics.

Microsoft Patents sudo 663

Jimmy O Regan writes "Justin Mason (of SpamAssassin fame) has this blog entry: US Patent 6,775,781, filed by Microsoft, is a patent on the concept of 'a process configured to run under an administrative privilege level' which, based on authorization information 'in a data store', may perform actions at administrative privilege on behalf of a 'user process'."

It is easier to change the specification to fit the program than vice versa.