Forgot your password?

Comment: How I'm learning German (Score 4, Informative) 75

FWIW, I'm also learning German. It's the fifth language I'm learning as an adult and it's definitely the toughest. I've never found any good software or edu-websites, I just use the old methods. I watch a lot of German telly:


Series are the easiest because you can get to know the characters and then they're kinda predictable so you can't get completely lost. The News is easy enough because there's lots of pictures and you'll know the context of most stories, but it doesn't teach you conversational German. Comedy can be the toughest. On Das Erste, there's a crime drama most Friday and Sunday nights called Tatort which is good because there's also a version for blind people ("hÃrfassung" - o-umlaut between h and r, if that doesn't display right), which has everything of the normal version plus one extra voice describing the visuals, so you hear a lot more words.

I also read German translations of books I've already read. And when I'm cooking I leave on WDR5 talk radio in the background, all to help develop a feel for how the language sounds when used correctly:


And I do tandems with a native German:


Oh, and of course I'm working my way through a book with grammar and exercises.

Yeh, German's a tough nut to crack alright. Unlike Spanish, you have to do a lot of grammar before you can really start building sentences (the declensions are what frustrate me most) but I think it's a language where your effort won't show at first, but then there's the breakthrough later.

Comment: A big problem, but also the only missing piece (Score 1) 263

by ciaran_o_riordan (#47285263) Attached to: The Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Software

With regard to this, one helpful thing in the ruling is that the Court says that old and ubiquitous technologies don't count when judging if an abstract concept has been transformed into a patentable application of said abstract concept.

(Patent lawyers are up in arms about this, complaining that the Court has "mixed up article 101 (subject matter) with articles 102 (prior art) and 103 (obviousness)". To get more patents, they want to reduce the "abstract ideas" exception to a theoretical concept that only happens inside people's brains any patent application can pass.)

So Timothy's right (as usual), but still, at least we have the Justices acknowledging that algorithms shouldn't be patentable, and that "on a computer" doesn't make a non-patentable concept patentable. All we have to do is bridge that last gap and show them that all software is math:

For Alice v. CLS, more analyses listed at the end of this page:

Comment: I wrote the headline, and it's correct (Score 3, Insightful) 220

I know the headline is correct because Gene Quinn is hopping mad. Quinn makes a living by obtaining software patents and always says he can draft around any limits imposed by the courts, but here's what he's saying today:

"an intellectually bankrupt opinion ... will render many hundreds of thousands of software patents completely useless ... On first read I donâ(TM)t see how any software patent claims written as method or systems claims can survive challenge."

I didn't want to trust my own reading, but I knew it was a big victory when I read Quinn's reaction.

+ - US Supreme Court invalidates patent for being software patent->

Submitted by ciaran_o_riordan
ciaran_o_riordan (662132) writes "The US Supreme Court has just invalidated a patent for being a software patent! To no fanfare, the Court has spent the past months reviewing a case, Alice v. CLS Bank, which posed the question of "Whether claims to computer-implemented inventions ... are directed to patent-eligible subject matter". Their ruling was just published, and what we can say already is that the court was unanimous in finding this particular software patent invalid, saying: "the method claims, which merely require generic computer implementation, fail to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention", and go on to conclude that because "petitioner’s system and media claims add nothing of substance to the underlying abstract idea, we hold that they too are patent ineligible". The 'End Software Patents' wiki has a page for commenting the key extracts and listing third-party analyses. Analysis will appear there as the day(s) goes on. Careful reading is needed to get an idea of what is clearly invalidated (file formats?), and what areas are left for future rulings. If you can help, well, it's a wiki. Software Freedom Law Center's website will also be worth checking in the near future."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Great. Protects me against my employer (Score 2) 135

by ciaran_o_riordan (#47258335) Attached to: Wikipedia Forcing Editors To Disclose If They're Paid

Fantastic news.

I mention my Wikipedia activities in the "Other interests" section of my CV but I'm always worried that employers will misinterpret it as an offer to polish their image. With this rule change, if an employer does ask me to "Hey, since you know how this wiki thing works, can you correct some stuff?" I can say that I could but I'd have to declare it as being paid work.

That'll make them less interested, so I'm less likely to get put in that situation to begin with.

(Some other comments rubbished the idea because it won't get 100% compliance but they're missing the point. Improvement is improvement.)

Comment: Designing models for 3D printers (Score 1) 737

by ciaran_o_riordan (#46739067) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

Today's mass-scale manufacturing will collapse, and needs will change, so my bet is that it will be very useful to be the guy who can design models to be fed to 3D printers.

This is going to become a useful skill anyway in the next few decades, so it's not a bad investment for a hobby today.

Will lawyers be useful? (I know many slashdotters will laugh and say we'll be better off without them, but the new forms of society will need new rules and a new justice system - and programmers would do this as badly as lawyers would program.)

Comment: Re:The blurb doesn't give enough for a discussion (Score 1) 144

Last I checked (a few years ago), the pretty much universally accepted theory of muscle growth is that muscle fibres suffer micro-tears during exercise, and these heal back slightly stronger than before. Bodybuilders inflict more micro-tears on their muscle fibres than other exercisers and then try to maximise nutrition, rest, and hormones afterwards to maximise the healing.

The observations might be valid in some sense (e.g. not incorrect) but it looks to me like an insignificant finding that's been dressed up to get press attention. I mean, I don't think anyone was under the impression that all-nighters were somehow good for you, or even neutral. A good question would be how much damage they do, and more importantly, what nutrition or what should be done before or after an all-nighter to reduce the negative effects.

This researcher's next shocking discovery will be that crossing the road carries a risk of death.

Comment: The blurb doesn't give enough for a discussion (Score 1) 144

> anything that takes a small toll, may become measurable
> in aggregate after a given number of occurrences.

I think that's overly vague. Us animals have very resilient bodies. Our muscles get damaged during exercise but years of hard exercise doesn't wear our muscles away.

The article itself (or at least the blurb) is sensationalist in its use of "brain damage".

If I never did any all nighters, ok, maybe I would have avoided some "measurable" but insignificantly small amount of damage, but I would have failed some important exams and missed some project deadlines.

Similarly, I won't be giving up drink just because some study says it's not good for the brain.

Comment: Re:both a misconception and irrelevant (Score 1) 105

> Narrowing what the Federal Circuit thinks is patentable, yes. Narrowing what the Supreme Court thinks is patentable, no.

The Supreme Court rarely narrows what it thinks. They look for ways to judge each case in a way that (they can claim) is consistent with prior rulings.

The Supreme Court had never ruled on the subject matter of Mayo or Myriad before. Until they rule on something, the patents are "valid" if the PTO grants them and if the courts uphold them. In those two cases, the Supreme Court's ruling means the PTO has to stop granting a certain category of patents, and the lower courts have to stop upholding them against product developers. That means patentable subject matter got narrowed.

Comment: Re:both a misconception and irrelevant (Score 1) 105

> we can see pretty well which way they're leaning, based on Bilski and other cases.

If you check, you'll find that the last three subject matter cases taken by the Supreme Court have resulted in *narrowing* what is patentable.

The Mayo and Myriad cases narrowed subject matter very explicitly, and while I originally read Bilski was neutral, it did actually cause the CAFC to start rejecting certain types of previously-accepted patents, and Bilski is also the reason we're seeing this case today.

Comment: Re:both a misconception and irrelevant (Score 3, Insightful) 105

> You can patent a new method for ranking relevant web pages in search results.

Well, no. That's only the patent office's point of view. We don't know what the Supreme Court thinks about this, and that's what this case is going to decide.

Comment: p.s. (Score 1) 921

by ciaran_o_riordan (#46357547) Attached to: Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

P.S. In that last sentence I meant "person" in the general sense, not specifically the person mentioned in this particular article. What I'm criticising is that the article portrays the behaviour of filming people without their consent as being perfectly fine, and that people who object just "don't understand". (Don't understand what??)

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.