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Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 280

by harperska (#47857083) Attached to: Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

Yep. If they were officially and permanently split, desktop linux would first stagnate, and then eventually cease to exist. For as good as linux is for desktop use, there just isn't enough interest to maintain it as a purely desktop system. Otherwise the oft predicted 'year of linux on the desktop' would have happened long ago. Because Linux is popular as a server OS, the community gets the benefits of just having to maintain a few modules on top of it to make it into a perfectly serviceable desktop OS.

Comment: Re:Not Enough (Score 1) 528

by harperska (#47856961) Attached to: AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

Most people don't currently need symmetrical service, though I could see that changing soon if personal cloud computing and storage really took off. If people's entire library of documents, photos, etc. were in a dropbox type storage rather than on their own HD, people would start to notice how crappy normal upload speeds are.

Comment: Re:Well insulated? That's debatable... (Score 1) 72

by harperska (#47673151) Attached to: The Biggest iPhone Security Risk Could Be Connecting One To a Computer

There was one iOS version (4.something) that was vulnerable to drive by jailbreaking, though. If I remember, the only known exploit in the wild was a website for the purpose of intentionally jailbreaking that installed Cydia as well as a patch to close the vulnerability. Ironically, at the time the only way to properly secure your iPhone against the vulnerability was to let it be hacked by that website first.

I remember going to an Apple store and installing Cydia on all of the iPhones on display there via that website. Fun times.

Comment: Re:This is NOT a land breaking ruling (Score 4, Informative) 43

It is a landmark because even though abstract ideas were never patentable, it was never established that joining abstract ideas to generic implementations was also not patentable. Previous law suggested that an implementation, even if it seems obvious, was transformative enough to make an abstract idea patentable. This case clarifies that once and for all.

Comment: Re:Patent the invention (Score 5, Informative) 43

This case was specifically about whether adding "on a computer" would make something patentable that is otherwise not, but it does have wide implications beyond software patents, including possibly business-method patents.

The things that are by their very existence unpatentable are abstract ideas, and things preexisting in nature (possibly among other things that I am not remembering). This ruling was actually more wide reaching than the red hat article suggested, because it establishes tests specifically to be used in the future and not making it so narrow as they like to do, so that the ruling would only apply to the case at hand.

This ruling doesn't just apply to software patents. The common law rule now is that if anything is not already patentable such as an idea or thing of nature, you can't patent a method based on that thing if the steps of that method are themselves well known or obvious to the industry to which they apply. In this case, an abstract idea combined with an implementation on a generic computer is considered unpatentable, and the precedent cited was from Mayo v. Prometheus where a biological function (i.e. naturally occurring) combined with a common medical procedure to measure that function was considered unpatentable by the same logic. Since Clarence Thomas relied so heavily on Mayo for this decision, that rule now seems to apply not only to stupid software patents, but anything in any industry that seems obvious to those in that industry.

In a way, they did comment on whether specific software-implementation claims would be patentable by pointing out that this claim specifically did not further the state of computing technology, suggesting that software that was truly innovative that did advance the technology and didn't just use methods "well known" and "long in use" may themselves be patentable. Otherwise, why point out that this particular software was specifically unpatentable because it was "well known" and "long in use"?

Interestingly enough, Sotomayor wrote her concurring opinion specifically to make a statement about how she thinks business methods are themselves unpatentable. I don't think concurring opinions have any common law teeth like the primary opinion does, so we don't have any specific precedent regarding business method patents. But we do know how 3 of the justices feel about them (since Ginsburg and Breyer joined Sotomayor's concurring opinion).

Comment: Re:Only keyboard smartphone (Score 2) 67

by harperska (#47291687) Attached to: BlackBerry Back In Profit

That's why I said "outside of what is best made with a qwerty keyboard". I am not arguing that the iPad is just fine for all content creation. Not all content is typed, and I specifically excluded typing for a reason. For example, I have heard a lot of musical people are performing and composing with iPad apps. In fact, composing on the go can be easier on an iPad than on a laptop, as a qwerty keyboard is definitely not optimized for musical note input whereas an iPad app can display a piano keyboard for input just as easily.

Comment: Re:Blackberry will probably be my next phone (Score 1) 67

by harperska (#47290907) Attached to: BlackBerry Back In Profit

Do your Android using friends have high end models like whatever the latest Samsung Galaxy is? Because Android has become the favorite OS for low-end crapphones foisted on people who would have opted for a simple flip phone but are forced into buying a smartphone because nobody makes flip phones anymore. I would not be surprised if those phones sound like crap, but it would be odd if flagship Android phones had poor call quality as well.

Comment: Re:Only keyboard smartphone (Score 1) 67

by harperska (#47290891) Attached to: BlackBerry Back In Profit

Except for all of the content creation that is happening on iPads. There is a lot of content outside of what is best made with a physical qwerty keyboard. It might not be a majority in any field, but it is certainly far from nonexistent and not as simple as the black and white dichotomy sound byte people like to repeat.

Comment: Re:Bogus turn around. (Score 1) 67

by harperska (#47290777) Attached to: BlackBerry Back In Profit

The CEO has proven that, underlying Blackberry, there is a real profitable business which is swamped by development costs.

Not necessarily. It depends on what it is that was cut. The problem with cost-cutting and downsizing to get into the black is that it is hard as an outsider to tell the difference between cutting genuinely unnecessary overhead and gutting the organization. If the cuts are just general downsizing, any appearance of increasing profitability is temporary and illusory. A useful oversimplification is that you essentially spend money now to make a product you sell tomorrow, whether it's in R&D now for products to be made in the future, or just the time it takes a product to move through the supply chain. So it is possible that the cuts are making them look profitable because they are currently selling what they made yesterday with yesterday's level of spending, while shooting themselves in the foot by eliminating the means to make something to sell tomorrow.

Comment: Re:I'm really missing Groklaw (Score 1) 220

by harperska (#47283937) Attached to: US Supreme Court Invalidates Patent For Being Software Patent

A case that was used for precedent was over a patent for a medical process that used the concentration of a drug's metabolites to control the dosage of that drug. The patent was thrown out because it wasn't transformative enough over an unpatentable thing. The relationship between the drug dose and the concentration of metabolites is a law of nature which is listed alongside abstract ideas among those things which are not patentable. And most importantly to this case, the process for measuring the concentration of metabolites as stated in the patent was already well known and obvious to the medical industry. So the court established a test for patentability where if a thing is unpatentable (law of nature / abstract idea), and it is tied to a method that is obvious to the industry in which that method pertains to (common medical process / basic program on commonly available computer), that combination is not enough to establish patentability.

The opinion seems to take the definition of "generic computer" to be an average computing device in common use. From the opinion: "The method claims do not, for example, purport to improve the functioning of the computer itself. Nor do they effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field." In other words, this decision seems to say that software implementing abstract ideas that can be run on hardware that is common and generally available without needing to enhance that hardware in such a way that it would significantly advance the state of the art of computing is unpatentable.

Comment: Re:I'm really missing Groklaw (Score 4, Informative) 220

by harperska (#47273845) Attached to: US Supreme Court Invalidates Patent For Being Software Patent

IANAL, but I am a software developer. One additional piece of the puzzle is that Thomas was very careful to use the term 'generic computer'. I.E. the system claims are invalid because the computer implementation at each step of the process does not need anything more than industry standard hardware, common APIs and algorithms/processes common and well known to the industry. Because the computer portion itself could be considered generic, it didn't make the unpatentable idea into a patentable process. That decision left the door open for software patents that require either specialized hardware, or truly novel algorithms not generally known to the industry to implement an otherwise unpatentable idea.

Comment: Re:It's Nissan (Score 1) 137

by harperska (#47246023) Attached to: BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology

Gee, I can't imagine why nobody would want to fill a box up with batteries that would cost what the batteries in your electric car cost

There is no reason why this would have to be the case. As the buffer batteries don't have to have the lightweight requirements of a battery you literally carry with you, they could easily be made of a cheaper but heavier chemistry. Maybe even a room full of deep cycle lead acid batteries.

Comment: Re:Initial Offer (Score 2) 232

by harperska (#47231419) Attached to: US To Auction 29,656 Bitcoins Seized From Silk Road

They could have split the 29656 BTC into as many lots as they wanted. They intentionally split it into a few lots worth over $1M rather than more blocks worth less. Arguing over the amount of the surety money is missing the point. $200K is a reasonable amount assuming the final bids will be over $1M, but that is just ignoring the question as to why the blocks are that large in the first place. The intentional decision to auction the bitcoins in the completely arbitrary size of 3,000 blocks presumably simply for the purpose of limiting bids to institutional investors and the otherwise wealthy is what people are arguing is undemocratic.

Comment: Re:Progenitors? (Score 1) 686

by harperska (#47218739) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

What seems plausible to me is that habitable planets are overwhelmingly common, while spacefaring races are relatively rare such that there are millions or billions of habitable planets in the Milky Way, and perhaps only a few thousand spacefaring civilizations. Therefore, there is no 'need' for spacefaring aliens to colonize earth as there is an abundance of other inhabitable worlds out there and the chance that a spacefaring civilization happens to be close enough to us that we happen to be on their colonization path is pretty small. No need for them to be specifically ignoring us, just that it is unlikely that they will 'accidentally' cross paths with us.

As far as detecting alien life elsewhere, remember space is big. I don't know the numbers but I think I have heard that without constantly sending out high power radio beacons in all directions, the amount of radio signal that we give off would be below the signal to noise threshold to be detectable even from Alpha Centauri much less wherever an alien looking for other aliens (e.g. us) might likely be. So unless ET beams a very powerful radio beacon directly at us at the moment we happen to be looking in that direction (minus speed of light transit time), we would never know they were there.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll