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US Patent Office Seeking Consultant That Can Stamp Out Fraud By Patent Examiners 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the stamping-out-the-rot dept.
McGruber writes: A month after Slashdot discussed "Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office," the USPTO issued a statement that it is "committed to taking any measures necessary" to stop employees who review patents from lying about their hours and getting overtime pay and bonuses for work they didn't do.

USPTO officials also told congressional investigators that they are seeking an outside consulting firm to advise them on how managers can improve their monitoring of more than 8,000 patent examiners. The Patent Examiners union responded to the original Washington Post report with a statement that includes this line: "If 'thousands' of USPTO employees were not doing their work, it would be impossible for this agency to be producing the best performance in recent memory and, perhaps, in its entire 224 year history."

In related news, USPTO Commissioner Deborah Cohn has announced plans to resign just months after a watchdog agency revealed that she had pressured staffers to hire the live-in boyfriend of an immediate family member over other, better-qualified applicants. When he finished 75th out of 76 applicants in the final round of screening, Cohn "intervened and created an additional position specifically for the applicant," wrote Inspector General Todd Zinser in a statement on the matter.

Comment: X Windows Isn't Very Big, and Servers Need it (Score 1) 280

by billstewart (#47859473) Attached to: Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

Yes, X is a lot more bloated now than it was back in the late 1980s, when I was running it on 386/25 PCs or Sun3s. But on just about anything but an ARM microcontroller, it's still small enough that you can run a basic X distribution that's enough to fire up a browser, and still not make a dent in the system resources. And you need that browser to use lots of management applications, some of which you're going to need before all the networking is really done, and you probably also want to run a couple of X-terms at the same time, doing something that alternatively you'd have to do on a 24x80 Emacs screen.

Yes, there are lots of tools that want Gnome or KDE, which are both a lot more bloated than some TWM upgrade or Motif or something, and sometimes they're useful enough to drag them in, but you can still have enough X Windows for a server machine without including all the LibreOffice, GIMP, and other large desktop application suites.


Restoring Salmon To Their Original Habitat -- With a Cannon 147

Posted by timothy
from the going-up? dept.
StartsWithABang writes Hydroelectric dams are one of the best and oldest sources of green, renewable energy, but — as the Three Gorges Dam in China exemplifies — they often cause a host of environmental and ecological problems and challenges. One of the more interesting ones is how to coax fish upstream in the face of these herculean walls that can often span more than 500 feet in height. While fish ladders might be a solution for some of the smaller dams, they're limited in application and success. Could Whooshh Innovations' Salmon Cannon, a pneumatic tube capable of launching fish up-and-over these dams, finally restore the Columbia River salmon to their original habitats?

Comment: No, Reclining is *not* "socially unacceptable" (Score 1) 811

Reclining is perfectly reasonable, even though there are people who whine about it because they'd like to be using a laptop. The exception is during meals, where people behind you need to be able to reach their tray and where most airlines no longer provide enough space (though they've mitigated this by no longer providing meals either.) And as a tall passenger, I especially need to recline, because airplane seats aren't built for tall people's backs.

However, I agree with you that you should recline slowly, giving the person behind you time to move a laptop.

Comment: I *like* Robusta coffees! (Score 1) 228

by billstewart (#47849601) Attached to: DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

Sure, it's not the only thing I drink, and there are lots of really great arabicas, and even some of the libericas are drinkable. The taste is different, and if you haven't had it, Vietnamese coffee is the easiest source to find. (There are some non-Vietnamese robustas, and some non-robusta coffee in Vietnam, but basically they dominate the market for good robusta, plus there's some from Africa as well.) Many of the varieties of coffee out there were developed by looking for mutations in existing coffee strains, trying to find weird beans that would breed true, and mainly looking for disease resistance and good production quantities.

And you really should go read the recent research article on DNA results from coffee, or at least the popularized summaries. Interesting stuff about how caffeine evolved separately in coffee and tea plants, in both cases probably because it kept insects from eating them.


Newly Discovered 60-foot Asteroid About To Buzz By Earth 68

Posted by timothy
from the look-up-below dept.
An asteroid nicknamed "Pitbull" and detected by the University of Arizona observatory atop Mt. Lemmon on August 31st will make a close approach to Earth Sunday; it's predicted to pass at a distance of about 25,000 miles, and to pass over New Zealand. According to the article, The asteroid is a similar size to the rock which caused enormous damage to the city of Chelyabinsk in Siberia. Last year's explosion generated the equivalent energy of more than 20 atomic bombs detonating and left more than 1,000 people injured while damaging thousands of buildings. Astronomers at Nasa, who track the movements of the more than 11,000 near-Earth objects, are confident Pitbull will not strike the planet.

Comment: Pre-rendering web pages (Score 1) 107

by billstewart (#47814535) Attached to: Raspberry Pi Gets a Brand New Browser

Sorry, but web pages get rendered into images before displaying them. (Though at least Firefox's semi-recent versions don't bother rendering web pages until needed when you crash&restart Firefox, which I do all the time - usually not on purpose, though I'll occasionally do it to scavenge memory or when performance has become unbearably slow.)


Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines In the Limelight On Stage and In Society 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-asimov-was-around-to-see-it dept.
aarondubrow writes: We're entering an era where we'll increasingly coexist with robots and other intelligent machines — some of which may look like us. Not only is there a growing number of industrial robots (about 1.5 million today), there are 10 million Roombas in our homes, porter-bots in our hospitals and hotels, social robots in our nursing homes and even robot spectators at baseball games in Japan, tele-operated by remote fans.

Theater is not an arena that we typically associate with robots, however, artists, musicians and producers are often early adopters and innovative users of emerging technologies. In fact, robots got their name from the 1920 play, R.U.R., by the Czech playwright, Karel Capek. An article in the Huffington Post describes a panel discussion at the National Academy of Science in June that featured the producers of three recent plays that starred robots. The plays highlight our robot anxieties, while offering new visions for human-robot interactions in the future.

Comment: Re:Maybe your logic is wrong...Like insanely wrong (Score 1) 83

by n1ywb (#47774299) Attached to: $33 Firefox Phone Launched In India

The ignorance of people is astonishing.

FIFY. I've been around the world and in my experience people from other countries know as little about the USA as people from the USA know about other countries. Also America is a pair of continents, not a country. Canada, Mexica, and Brazil are all in "America".

APL hackers do it in the quad.