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Comment PR Rule: Always disclose a conflict of interest (Score 2) 384 384

How is it possible that you got blind-sided by this story? For a company with media holdings Dice sure does a lousy job of handling public relations. It's not like slashdot is the first publisher to have a conflict of interest involving it's parent company. The smart thing would have been to simply disclose up front the fact that slashdot's parent company owns sourceforge.

Comment The absence of simple networking is by design (Score 1) 384 384

I don't know what laws might apply but since I used to maintain the certification databases for the American Petroleum Institute I would strongly discourage any workarounds. In the USA every nut, bolt and screw used in the oil industry pipeline is certified by the API. If you wanted to connect any device to the system you'd have to get it approved, tested and certified.

I would guess that the lack of a unique IP is just the first layer of security. If you hook two devices to the pump a the same time it would probably trigger a shutdown of the station. A subsequent internal investigation would find that someone had connected an unauthorized network device to the system. I won't guess what would happen after that but I wouldn't be surprised if it set of alarms in one or more federal agencies.

Comment You missed part of the bill (Score 1) 532 532

You've got the $275 for the pill. Then there's the charge for the water cup. And the technician that brought you the pill. And the nurse that verified you took the pill. And the doctor approved the prescription. That's billed separately. They probably tack on a fee for the medication administration software too. I'm guessing that pill could run you an easy $600.

You really should have packed your own Tylenol.

Comment Why bother? (Score 1) 409 409

Why repeal a law you can just ignore? The only reason this made it to the Supreme Court is that the officer acknowledged he held the suspect longer than necessary. Next time he'll take a little more time writing the ticket. This won't change until citizens are empowered to arrest police officers.

Comment Consider leaving a vent open (Score 1) 253 253

In warm humid areas they now air condition the encapsulated crawl spaces. As I recall it actually increases efficiency to condition the crawl space. I believe it has something to do with the temperature difference causing condensation.

In any case, encapsulation can make a big difference. My parents had their crawl space encapsulated when they bought their house. A few years later Terminex cut through all the side insulation to spray for termites. We realized what had happened when we started seeing cockroaches. Temperatures and humidity in the living areas increased. After they repaired the barrier the insect problem significantly decreased. We now see the occasional roach entering around drain pipes. Before the repair they had to run a dehumidifier inside the house almost constantly. Last summer they only used it a few days.

Last year my sister and her husband had to spend thousands of dollars repairing damage to their floor joists from mold. They had their crawl space encapsulated and the mold is now gone.

My parents spent about $5k getting their encapsulation redone. There were enough method and material improvements in the 5 years between projects that it was worthwhile to replace rather than repair the barrier. While encapsulation is expensive it protects your property investment and reduces utility expenses. It also can have significant health benefits.

Comment Re:Why open source hardware is not like software (Score 1) 64 64

I was really hoping there was some way the donatee could fill this role.

Kind of a catch-22 there. If the donatee is to defend the patent they need to have a revenue stream to do so which presumably would have to come from the product which (probably) necessarily requires that they exclude others from using it. Not really sure how to resolve that conundrum. Patents were designed to combat the Free Rider Problem but in this case the economics of the patent system interfere with the ability of people to put something in the public sphere and keep it there in a manner similar to copyleft.

My theory is that some companies would have an interest in fostering an environment where patents could be developed for the common good. Perhaps if it's worthwhile to back a software non-aggression pact it might also be worthwhile to back an organization that independent inventors could donate their designs to. Somewhere I could send my designs to knowing that any resulting patents would be available to anyone to use.

Out of curiosity, what sort of product is it? What does it do in general? You don't have to tell me all the gory details but you've piqued my interest.

I'm trying to figure out how I can answer that question. There's nothing about the hardware itself that's particularly sophisticated. It uses technology that was invented decades ago and any patents would have long since expired.

The opportunities here are not in the hardware but in designing applications to interface with it. The problem is that in today's world it's possible to patent the application of an idea. My concern isn't that someone else could be the first to bring this to market. It's that someone else could patent the idea and prevent anyone else from exploiting it.

Comment Re:Why open source hardware is not like software (Score 1) 64 64

Doesn't really solve the core problems. 1) It's expensive to get and defend a patent. If you cannot defend a patent then companies with deep pockets will ignore the patent.

I'm happy to have people ignore the patent if that were possible. I just don't want someone to claim the patent and then charge others to use it.

2) Even if you get a patent that doesn't guarantee you'll be able to produce a useful product without infringing on other patents. Lots of tech products simply cannot be produced without cross-licensing agreements.

I was really hoping there was some way the donatee could fill this role.

3) Manufacturing hardware is expensive even without worrying about patents. Software can be manufactured very cheaply - almost for free. Hardware requires a credible business model and substantial capital investment for even the simplest of products.

Agreed. But I think the need for all that is driven by the licensing issues. There's simply no way to put hardware designs into the commons. You can't copyleft a patent.

No disrespect intended (seriously!) but if you cannot afford to get it patented then I have to wonder if it is terribly valuable. Patents cost a few thousand dollars. Costly enough to keep the casual out but it's not a prohibitive amount of money. Defending the patent on the other hand can be very expensive if it is something that others might care to copy. It's not terribly hard to get financing to patent and produce a product with some meaningful market value.

None taken. I think it would be useful to a lot of people but I have no interest in patenting it for my own profit. It doesn't make sense to pay $2000 to patent something unless you're going to make your money back. I guess I'm suggesting that a non-profit could patent and protect the donated hardware designs.

Comment Re:Why open source hardware is not like software (Score 1) 64 64

We really need some kind of an organization that we could donate hardware designs to that would guarantee any resulting patents would be open. I have an interface device I've been working on for about 15 years. I can't afford to patent it and certainly can't afford to get it to manufacture. I'd be happy to give away the designs but I don't want some patent troll to claim it. So it sits on the shelf gathering dust.

Comment Conflicted interests? (Score 1) 261 261

I'm more interested in what this says about the Washington Post than the book. Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. TFA is a book review with a link to Amazon, where you can buy the book. I wonder if this is part of the owner's strategy to make the paper profitable. And why does the entire article ignore the difference between color displays and e-ink?

Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them. - Oscar Wilde