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Comment: Force a *free* service to do something? (Score 1) 153

by Theaetetus (#48253523) Attached to: Can Ello Legally Promise To Remain Ad-Free?
Yeah, sorry, Bennett, but there's no way that someone can be bound to a promise when they're not getting anything in exchange. Contracts require consideration or an exchange of obligations... If Ello isn't getting anything in return - subscription fees, payments, etc. - then how can they be legally required to fulfill a promise? And if the users aren't giving up anything, what are our damages when they breach that promise? Our hurt feels? Our increased skepticism and distrust for organizations in the future?

Now, the one thing you note is that Ello could charge extra for special features... Privacy obligations could be tied into those features, where they have a penalty if they breach. But in a system in which users pay specially so that they remain anonymous, isn't it implied that non-paying users have their demographic information sold? In which case, isn't Ello doing exactly what Ello said they wouldn't?

Basically, all of this navel-gazing is stupid. If you want to avoid ads, don't use free services that have ads. Or, if you're going to use free services, accept that the service provider has to make back their costs somewhere, and your eyeballs are a valuable asset.

Comment: Re:Boys are naturally curious... (Score 1) 599

by Theaetetus (#48240869) Attached to: Solving the Mystery of Declining Female CS Enrollment

Mod parent up (just exhausted all my mod points). I know a lot of people won't like this, but it's true. Not that there's anything wrong w/ either, but it's just that it then translates into ground facts, such as women are more interested in nursing than men are, while men are more interested in cars, planes, computers and all other things (not people) that one can think of.

Nursing was originally a male-only profession. Unless you're seriously suggesting that we've undergone a drastic evolutionary shift in the past few hundred years, then no, there's nothing genetically innate about that interest.

Comment: Re:Not just women (Score 1) 570

by Theaetetus (#48213237) Attached to: The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll

... the idea of "hate crimes" still seems silly to me...something is a crime or it's not, we can't legislate hate IMO.

We don't legislate "hate". "Hate crimes" are not the criminalization of "hate", but sentencing enhancements applied based on motive or intent. And you understand that we do punish different crimes differently based on intent, right? For example, premeditated murder is usually punished more severely than heat-of-the-moment murder, which is punished more severely than accidental homicide or reckless "manslaughter", which is punished more severely than negligent manslaughter, etc. If I swing my arm without paying attention and bop you in the nose, that's bad, but it's not as bad as if I intentionally bop you in the nose... and we as a society have decided that that is not as bad as if I intentionally bop you in the nose because you're a member of a minority group I dislike.

Or, to look at it another way, if I bop you in the nose because I dislike you, that harms you, and I should be punished for that single instance of harm. But if I bop you in the nose while ranting about people of your religion/race/gender/etc., I'm doing it to terrorize or intimidate other people of that religion/race/gender/etc. - I'm physically harming you and sending a message to others like you that they should beware because I'll try to harm them in the future. Accordingly, I should be punished for that increased harm.

And remember, there has to be evidence of that intent. If I bop you on the nose because you're a member of group X, but I never say a word about that, then I'm not going to receive an enhanced sentence simply because you're X and I'm Y. It's only when I take the additional action of letting my intent be known - and as noted above, I would do that because I'm trying to intimidate other X's.

So, in short, we're not criminalizing "hate", we're criminalizing domestic terrorism. And I'm fine with that.

Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 1) 57

Combining A+B and C may not be easy, but it is obvious. This is actually the main problem I see with software patents: idea C is "with a computer", and A+B is some existing invention. Newspapers - on a computer! Alarm clocks - on a computer! Bank transactions - on a computer! Sure it was hard to program them. It's still obvious. But if securing the bank transactions requires new innovations in security technology to glue the pieces together, those innovations could merit patent D. Does not and should not prevent anybody else from making their own secure bank transactions with a different security method because somebody got an A+B+C patent covering the obvious part.

Definitely, and that should be the answer to those:
"Alarm clock, on a computer!"
"That's obvious. Alarm clocks and computers both exist."

"But this was difficult because [intricate problem that's different with computer clocks] and we had to do [intricate solution]."
"Then put that in the patent claims."

Good patent examiners currently do that, but there's a bunch of terrible stuff out there.

Really not understanding your point about pharmaceuticals. How is the benzene ring different from "including a library or function in a program [which] should have an absolutely predictable result"?

Combine a program and a library and even before hitting compile, you should be able to tell exactly what the result is. Combine a benzene ring and a hydroxide compound and even if you done it at one position, move it someplace else and it could have the opposite effect. It's unpredictable.

I do agree though that pharmaceuticals are a bit different than other patent issues, but for a different reason: selling a drug requires round after round of expensive clinical trials because of the FDA. Without exclusivity, there may not be enough incentive for drug companies to pay for those trials if a generic manufacturer can reverse engineer the same drug and sell it on the cheap without paying for the trials. Maybe the FDA should have its own special exclusivity granting system so we can peel off one of the complications of patent law.

True. Pharmaceuticals don't really seem to mesh with patent law anyway - right now, a company will defend their patent application as I did above, saying that the result of any compound is absolutely unpredictable, so therefore, nothing is ever obvious in drugs... and then when they get the patent and some competitors makes a biosimilar drug, that first company will leap up and say it's just an obvious variation on the patent and is covered under the doctrine of equivalents.

Comment: Re:Not a surprise, but is it just one ingredient? (Score 1) 422

by Theaetetus (#48203335) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

In short-- dont let me stop you if you want to look into steak and beer as potential causes of telomere shortening-- but unless theres substantive results there, Im not going to start panicking yet.

Or, as I suggested, we could actually do science and do a whole bunch of tests changing or removing one variable at a time: try cola and then try clear cola, rather than your suggested "try cola, try steak, gosh, different effects."

Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 1) 57

So, if the invention claims "A+B+C" and one piece of art teaches A+B and the the other teaches C, then A+B+C is obvious. That's not very subjective at all.

I disagree here. Sometimes the non-obvious part is that C can be combined with A+B in a useful manner in the first place.

That's actually the counter-argument: reference 1 teaches A+B, reference 2 teaches C, so they're obvious? No, because combining them is a biatch and raises additional problems, or combining them is unforeseeable because they're so widely different that they result in an unpredictable result, etc., etc. :)

That argument generally works better on the pharmaceutical side, where some benzene ring with a hydroxil component may be beneficial if it hangs off the first carbon, really beneficial if it hangs off the second, and absolutely toxic if hangs off the third. Doesn't work as well on the high tech/software side, where including a library or function in a program should have an absolutely predictable result. So, instead, it's better to argue that neither reference actually teaches "B" or something.

Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 2) 57

When a certain drug, whose active ingredients were asprin and something else, had its patents about to run out the maker "invented" a new durg that was the same except that the replaced asprin with aceteminophen. Patented that. and then withdrew the original from the market.

Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid or 2-(acetyloxy)benzoic acid. Acetaminophen is N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)ethanamide. It's an entirely different chemical. They didn't "invent" a new drug - they actually did invent a new drug.

And as you note, the two have different effects. Acetaminophen can be particularly bad for livers in high doses.

And finally, your timeline is off. The patents on aspirin expired in 1917. Acetaminophen was released in 1956. Aspirin was widely available at that time, with many different manufacturers competing.

Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 4, Informative) 57

The problem is, what is prior art? It's highly subjective and as such, the law is complicated.

It's anything in the art that was published or available to the public prior to the filing date of the application. There's nothing subjective at all about it. The Model T is prior art for the Tesla Roadster. UNIVAC is prior art for the Macbook Pro.

What you seem to be referring to is anticipatory prior art - that is, art that includes every element of a claimed invention. But even that is not subjective - either it describes the claimed features or it doesn't.

What you really want to be referring to is "what is obvious?" And that's a little more subjective, but not as highly subjective as you think - under the current law, if no one reference describes everything in the claimed invention, nothing anticipates it or it is "new", but if a combination of references teach everything in it, then it's obvious. So, if the invention claims "A+B+C" and one piece of art teaches A+B and the the other teaches C, then A+B+C is obvious. That's not very subjective at all.

There is no reforming the current system. We need an entirely new system. As is, an inventor has basically no change to win. If he invents something, lawyers find a way to subtly change it to produce it without permission.

In other words, lawyers (or other engineers) find a way to invent around it. The public ends up with two ways to accomplish the same thing. Innovation is increased. Hooray!

Likewise, if they have something patented they again get lawyers to find a way to change it and extend that patent into perpetuity.

In other words, lawyers (or the inventor) find a way to invent around it, or come up with an improvement. The public ends up with two ways to accomplish the same thing, or a better way to accomplish the thing. Innovation is increased. Hooray!

Patents should be rare. Almost everything should be covered by short term copyright and trade secrets. Patents should only cover truly new and innovative tech. Smartphones are battery powered computers... there shouldn't be anything in them that's patentable.

What about the better batteries? What about wireless charging, fast charging, new battery management techniques that extend battery life, etc.? What about new transmission and data compression techniques that make that new smart phone able to communicate ten times faster, over ten times the distance, as the old model?

A new form of Fusion reactor? Ok... that's patent. I'd even propose that someone applying for a patent should have to get a court to approve the patent before it being granted.

But let's say we go with your suggestion... No patents since they'd be way too expensive if you have to go through an entire trial just to get exclusivity before you even start making your product. Instead, "short term copyright and trade secrets".

Well, copyright doesn't apply to that smart phone, because when your competitor makes one, they're making a new one, not copying yours. In fact, copyright only really works when you're copying the exact thing - rip a DVD of Harry Potter and you've committed copyright infringement. Film the Mockbuster production Larry Kotter, and you haven't. Dream Heights isn't an infringement of Tiny Tower. GIMP isn't an infringement of Photoshop. A Nissan Leaf isn't an infringement of a Toyota Prius. As a result, copyright doesn't work when people care about the implementation, but not the exact thing. It's fine for movies and music and books, but not for software or hardware.

So, we turn to trade secrets. Great, now you have to sign a contract with every piece of software or hardware you buy. And those contracts can last a lot longer than the limited term of a patent - they can be lifetime contracts. Don't like it, don't buy the software or hardware - but without patents, every manufacturer is going to insist on non-disclosure agreements and non-reverse engineering agreements, so no smart phone for you.

Patents exist to destroy trade secrets - in exchange for public disclosure, we give a limited monopoly to the inventor. The alternative is going back to trade secrets, guilds, aristocratic patronage, and companies that hire mercenary guards to keep anyone from ever discovering what goes on behind closed doors. And that's bad for innovation.

Comment: Re:Not a surprise, but is it just one ingredient? (Score 1) 422

by Theaetetus (#48185831) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

If it does, we need to look at steak, beer, and caramel too.

Are you suggesting that we shouldn't look at any effect consumption of those have on telomeres? Unless I'm reading your sarcasm wrong there, it seems that in two posts you've flipped from a pro-science, anti-ingredient-scaremongering position to an anti-science, can't-study-anything position.

Comment: Re:Not a surprise, but is it just one ingredient? (Score 1) 422

by Theaetetus (#48183509) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

Sure - is it that, or the HFCS, or the sugar generally, or the carbonic acid, or something in the caramel coloring?

1) Caramel coloring is generally not required to be specially labelled (can be listed as "artificial coloring") because its literally caramelized carbohydrates. 2) HFCS and sucrose are basically indistinguishable other than trace additives once your body metabolizes them; the sucrose becomes a mix of fructose and glucose.

And does consuming a high dose of caramelized carbohydrates or a mixture of approximately 50-50 fructose and sucrose cause telomere shortening?

Simply saying "well, X ingredient is really Y" doesn't mean that Y (or X) has no effect.

Comment: Re:Not a surprise, but is it just one ingredient? (Score 1) 422

by Theaetetus (#48182011) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

Sodium benzoate

I think that this one ingredient, (which is also in many juices) would explain most of this. That is why they are starting to phase it out in many pop formulations.

Sure - is it that, or the HFCS, or the sugar generally, or the carbonic acid, or something in the caramel coloring? Study needs to be done with seltzer, diet cola, diet clear soda, regular cola, regular clear soda, etc.

Comment: Re:Are you patenting software? (Score 1) 224

by Theaetetus (#48156645) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

On the other hand, I want to avoid a situation where for-profit companies co-opt the idea and charge people for it.

If the idea requires a level of effort to implement that only those large companies can provide, then it's probably something deserving of getting paid for. That implementation is protected by copyright. If, on the other hand, it's simple enough that other people can implement it without a great deal of work, then eventually a free (gratis) implementation will rise up.

The free (gratis) implementation would not infringe the copyright on the large company's implementation, since it would be separately created and not a copy. This is why copyright is great when the original item is what's desired - Harry Potter, rather than Larry Kotter; World of Warcraft, rather than Troll-Human MMO Saga; the Hulk movie rather than the Strong Green Man movie from Bollywood, etc. It's terrible when the implementation is what's desired, but not the specific copy - for example, Photoshop vs. GIMP vs. Sketch vs. Paint.Net; or SimTower vs. Dream Heights vs. TinyTower vs. Hotel Simulator, etc. Basically, it only works with software when the software is a de facto standard, and particularly if it fights interoperability, which is something geeks should be opposed to generally.

Comment: Re:Are you patenting software? (Score 0) 224

by Theaetetus (#48156609) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

Those patents disclose algorithms. Basically, applied math.

35 USC 101 allows patenting a process, which is an algorithm. And the judicial exception carves out mathematical algorithms, not applied math. In fact, applied algorithms are probably exactly what we want patents to cover, rather than the abstract mathematics themselves.

Which should have never, ever been allowed as claims in a patent since they are antithetical to the compromise between the inventor's and society's benefit the patent system was designed to facilitate.

In what way? The patent discloses the invention, so society benefits over the inventor keeping it a trade secret. In return for the disclosure, the patent owner gets a limited monopoly. That's exactly the compromise.

Comment: Re:So I take it (Score 1) 253

by Theaetetus (#48150787) Attached to: Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs

So, if they install a wheelchair ramp for a disabled employee at your company, do you demand they spend the same amount on amenities for everyone else? If they employ an on-site councillor to help employees deal with stress but you never use the service, do you demand they employ someone to mow your lawn instead?

No, GP poster insists that they break his kneecaps and install random flashing lights in his cube so that he can take advantage of the same benefits.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk