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Comment: Re:Don't they Already Have This (Score 1) 144

by devjoe (#48206503) Attached to: Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization
Yes. They introduced a thing several months (maybe a year now) ago which gives you five inboxes instead of one. There's one for Social that catches all the stupid emails social networking things send you. There's one for Promotions that catches commercial email (at least, whatever isn't spam-boxed instead). There's one poorly defined one called Updates which is supposed to be for receipts, statements, bills, and confirmations - email related to stuff you bought or business you are involved in, as opposed to Store X's weekly email which is in promotions. And one for Forums is meant to be email from mailing lists. There is also the Primary inbox for everything else, which is meant to be just the real email from friends and such after everything else goes into the other boxes.

This never worked well. The social filter is pretty good. But I am on one mailing list which ends up in Promotions about 2/3 of the time, despite my repeatedly telling GMail to deliver it to Forums instead, and despite the mailing list having no commercial content whatsoever. The filter for Updates is really whacked; anything can end up in here, and the stuff that should go here can end up in Forums, Promotions, or Primary instead.

The new thing sounds similar, but on steroids. More like using labels (which are GMail's equivalent of folders to file email into, except that emails can have more than one label and so the folders aren't exclusive), but letting Google determine the labels by itself. We'll see how good that works.

Comment: Re:Yay! (Score 2) 118

by devjoe (#47893187) Attached to: Software Patents Are Crumbling, Thanks To the Supreme Court
The first story about "on a computer" patents getting invalidated is a good thing. But the second story is perhaps even more important. People are taking notice that patent examiners are not doing their jobs. Too many of them are just working one day a week/month/whatever and just rubberstamping their quota of patents, allowing anything whatsoever through the system, and falsely reporting that they worked full time and even overtime, because there is a corrupt culture that lets them get away with it. Exposing this could lead to mass firings, and some sort of system to ensure real accountability.

It's a problem, though, because there's no simple metric to determine whether patent examiners are doing a good job. Using number of patents reviewed as that metric encourages examiners to do a shoddy job actually examining the patents (i.e. what has actually been happening). If they are expected to pass only a certain fraction of patents, this is slightly better since it forces them to actually come up with reasons to reject some patents, but what fraction should they use? Two examiners doing perfect jobs may have very different fractions of accepted patents simply because one got better patents to review than the other, especially if they have different focus areas. Does the patent office even know the fraction of submitted patents in various areas which are good? A better metric would be whether accepted patents survive in the courts, but this depends on somebody actually challenging the patents and takes years after the fact. It might help now throw out some of the patent examiners who clearly haven't been doing their jobs in the past.

I'm not sure what the right solution is. Blind peer review and multiple review? Assign each patent to 2 or 3 different reviewers and call to carpet the ones who most consistently differ from others? Does that even work if half your patent examiners are shirking?

Comment: Re:ESPN (Score 2) 401

by devjoe (#47460389) Attached to: Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer

About 4 or 5 years ago, all the broadcast TV in the US changed over to a digital format, and the digital format includes HDTV broadcasts. If you have an HDTV and an antenna, and you live in a place where you can receive the signals, you can get the HDTV of all the broadcast networks over the air (OTA) with no cable.

It has been reported that Comcast re-compresses the digital HDTV streams, cramming them into a smaller digital channel in their cable system, in order to fit more channels in. This leads to reduced quality in the picture you view on Comcast compared to the OTA HDTV broadcast. I don't know about other cable systems. Here is one such report, though it seems to be specifically about other non-OTA HD channels (where the FIOS broadcast was used for comparison).

Comment: Re:3dnewsen article - auto translated? (Score 5, Informative) 155

by devjoe (#46082659) Attached to: $499 3-D Printer Drew Plenty of Attention at CES (Video)
Specifically, it appears to be a translation-and-back-again of the LA Times article which is the first link in the article, or an automated synonym-substitution (trying to avoid being detected as copyright violation for reposting stories in full, perhaps, though strangely they link to the original article at the bottom). The other articles on their site (see Latest USA News sidebar on the right) appear to have undergone the same process.

+ - FEC will not allow bitcoins from campaign contributors->

Submitted by memnock
memnock (466995) writes "ABC new reports: 'Political organizations can't accept contributions in the form of bitcoins, at least for now, The Federal Election Commission said Thursday.

The commission passed on a request by the Conservative Action Fund, a political action committee, to use the digital currency. That group had asked the FEC recently whether it could accept bitcoins, how it could spend them and how donors must report those contributions. It was not immediately clear whether the same ruling would apply to individual political candidates.'
Slashdot reported earlier this week that other federal agencies have taken positions that may recognize or regulate the currency."

Link to Original Source

+ - The Patent Problem Is Bigger Than Trolls

Submitted by Bob9113
Bob9113 (14996) writes "Ars Technica reports the following: "Canada-based telecom Nortel went bankrupt in 2009 and sold its biggest asset--a portfolio of more than 6,000 patents covering 4G wireless innovations and a range of technologies--at an auction in 2011. Google bid for the patents, but didn't get them. Instead, they went to a group of competitors--Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony--operating under the name "Rockstar Bidco." The companies together bid the shocking sum of $4.5 billion. This afternoon, that stockpile was finally used for what pretty much everyone suspected it would be used for--launching an all-out patent attack on Google and Android. The smartphone patent wars have been underway for a few years now, and the eight lawsuits filed in federal court today by Rockstar Consortium mean that the conflict just hit DEFCON 1.""

+ - Dyson Patents Hint At 'Silent' Hair Dryer->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The Guardian reports: Whisper it, but it looks like Sir James Dyson – creator of the bladeless fan and bagless vacuum cleaner – is building a silent hair dryer. When Dyson, now 66, became frustrated with his wheelbarrow, he invented the 'Ballbarrow' – replacing the wheel with a ball so it would turn more easily. When he had to vacuum the house, his annoyance at conventional bag cleaners led to the invention of the Dyson cyclone cleaner. Possibly Dyson has become annoyed at the time and especially noise involved in drying his full head of hair. Diagrams that have surfaced at the UK's patents office show that his company has filed patents for 'a hand-held blower with an insulating chamber' – in other words, a hairdryer, which is already being dubbed 'the Hairblade', playing on the name of its Airblade hand dryer. Crucially, he seems to be aiming to make it much quieter than current models – rather as the Dyson bladeless fan is almost silent. Standard hairdryers are extremely loud, reaching up to 75 decibels – as loud as a vacuum cleaner, but held beside your head. The patents, which become public earlier this week, are surprisingly detailed, and show what looks like a hairdryer with an air chamber linked by two smaller cylinders to a smaller base unit. The air would flow through the two cylinders and into the base. The patent publication is a rare slip-up by Dyson, which goes to extraordinary lengths to keep its new products secret. It shrouded the launch of its most recent product – a combined tap-and-hand-dryer – in secrecy, demanding journalists sign non-disclosure agreements. Key among the phrases used in the application in the 56-page application show that it would have 'sound absorbing' and 'vibration absorbing' properties 'tuned to the resonant frequencies of the appliance2. Dyson has also focused on the safety aspect of hairdryers, where anything that gets sucked into the air intake can come into contact with the electrically heated wires which warm up the incoming air and cause a short circuit. It moves the warming element away from the air intake: 'if something is inserted into the appliance, it cannot contact the heater directly,' it says."
Link to Original Source

+ - The Linux Backdoor Attempt of 2003

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Ed Felton writes about an incident, in 2003, in which someone tried to backdoor the Linux kernel. Back in 2003 Linux used a system called BitKeeper to store the master copy of the Linux source code. If a developer wanted to propose a modification to the Linux code, they would submit their proposed change, and it would go through an organized approval process to decide whether the change would be accepted into the master code. But some people didn’t like BitKeeper, so a second copy of the source code was kept so that developers could get the code via another code system called CVS. On November 5, 2003, Larry McAvoy noticed that there was a code change in the CVS copy that did not have a pointer to a record of approval. Investigation showed that the change had never been approved and, stranger yet, that this change did not appear in the primary BitKeeper repository at all. Further investigation determined that someone had apparently broken in electronically to the CVS server and inserted this change.

if ((options == (__WCLONE|__WALL)) && (current->uid = 0))
retval = -EINVAL;

A casual reading by an expert would interpret this as innocuous error-checking code to make wait4 return an error code when wait4 was called in a certain way that was forbidden by the documentation. But a really careful expert reader would notice that, near the end of the first line, it said “= 0” rather than “== 0” so the effect of this code is to give root privileges to any piece of software that called wait4 in a particular way that is supposed to be invalid. In other words it’s a classic backdoor. We don’t know who it was that made the attempt—and we probably never will. But the attempt didn’t work, because the Linux team was careful enough to notice that that this code was in the CVS repository without having gone through the normal approval process. "Could this have been an NSA attack? Maybe. But there were many others who had the skill and motivation to carry out this attack," writes Felton. "Unless somebody confesses, or a smoking-gun document turns up, we’ll never know.""

+ - Auto Makers To Standardize On Open Source->

Submitted by Lucas123
Lucas123 (935744) writes "There are efforts underway within the auto industry to create a standard, Linux-based platform for In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems so that cars will act more like smartphones instead of having only about 10% of that functionality today. For example, Tesla's Model S IVI system, which is based on Linux, is designed to allow drivers to navigate using Google Maps with live traffic information, listen to streaming music from any online radio station and have access to an Internet browser for news or restaurant reviews. Having an industry-wide open-source IVI operating system would create a reusable platform consisting of core services, middleware and open application layer interfaces that eliminate the redundant efforts to create separate proprietary systems by automakers and their tier 1 suppliers like Microsoft. By developing an open-source platform, carmakers can share upgrades as they arrive."
Link to Original Source

+ - Dice Ruins Slashdot-> 12

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "In an attempt to modernize Slashdot, Dice has removed everything that made Slashdot unique and worthwhile and has turned it into a generic blog site. User feedback has been unanimously negative, but this is to no avail, and users will have to head elsewhere for insightful and entertaining commentary on tech news."
Link to Original Source

+ - Judge Orders Patent Troll to Explain its 'Mr. Sham' to Jury->

Submitted by netbuzz
netbuzz (955038) writes "Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has no problem calling Network Protection Sciences (NPS) a patent troll. What he does have a problem with is NPS telling a Texas court that NPS had an “ongoing business concern” in that state run by a “director of business development” when all it really had was a rented file-cabinet room and the “director” was actually the building landlord who merely signed legal papers when NPS told him to do so. Judge Alsup calls the alleged business a “sham” and the non-employee “Mr. Sham,” yet he declined to dismiss the patent infringement lawsuit filed by NPS against Fortinet from which this information emerged. Instead, he told NPS, “this jury is going to hear all of this stuff about the closet. And you're going to have to explain why ‘Mr. Sham’ was signing these documents.”"
Link to Original Source

+ - Somebody Stole 7 Milliseconds From the Federal Reserve 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Three to seven milliseconds before the fed moved interest rates, billions of dollars of trades were input that took advantage of the changed rates, reaping huge profits. Last Wednesday, the Fed announced that it would not be tapering its bond buying program. This news was released at precisely 2 pm in Washington "as measured by the national atomic clock." It takes 7 milliseconds for this information to get to Chicago. However, several huge orders that were based on the Fed's decision were placed on Chicago exchanges 2-3 milliseconds after 2 pm. How did this happen?"

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