Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:The real questions to ask (Score 1) 209

Verizon doesn't get why canceling those plans is very harmful to them. All they've done is succeed in getting us to stop using the phone, not in extracting more money out of us.

They've forced us into locating where wifi access points and then switching to use them. Before we were blindly using Verizon and didn't care. Now they've taught us there are options and it is likely that Verizon is not going to be one of them in the future. I'm never going to pay $10/GB in overages - the phone is just set to shut off cell Internet access if the 6GB runs out. Now that we're being careful about using wifi its not clear that we even need much of a data plan.

Comment: Re:The real questions to ask (Score 1) 209

Wrong - we recently upgraded a phone and ended up in a big fight with Verizon. When we upgraded the phone in the store we made the rep swear on a stack of bibles that the unlimited plan would not be terminated. We even made him bring over his manager.

Next month we get bill with $100 of overages and find we are now on a 2GB plan for same price as old unlimited plan. Of course we screamed. Store was locked out of computer for making changes. So we spent about two weeks harassing them over the phone. Finally when we brought in all three phones we had back to the store and told them to compute the early termination charges did they start talking.

They ended up giving us 6GB for the same price we were paying for unlimited previously and took off the $100 overage. We are still not happy about this and will definitely be shopping vendors when contract expires.

So it is not clear to me if there is a solution to keeping the unlimited plan. We were ready to terminated our entire 10 year relationship with Verizon and still they wouldn't give it back. Now they have just deferred things for two years and we will definitely be shopping then.

Comment: Re:Of course it does. (Score 1) 173

by jonsmirl (#47996181) Attached to: Solar System's Water Is Older Than the Sun

This article explains it more clearly, the author at Discovery is confused.

For sure the hydrogen and oxygen are much older than the sun, but are the water molecules older than the sun? The formation of the sun may have caused the creation of a lot of new water molecules out of the ancient elements. Or did the water molecules form in interstellar space before the sun's birth?

Comment: Re:No one's neutral (Score 4, Informative) 132

by jonsmirl (#47965261) Attached to: Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

"As much as 70% of Internet-distributed data is now video, 50% of it from Netflix. This new video industry — growing exponentially and transforming the nature of entertainment — is getting a free ride on the cable and telco investment in broadband. Arguably, this is unsustainable free distribution, overtaxing networks and slowing the Internet for everyone."

I just gag on "free ride". 11M Netflix subscribers pay Verizon/Comcast/etc $50 * 12 * 11m = $6.6 billion a year for this "free" ride. Margins on Internet services at Verizon/Comcast are believe to be in the 90% profit range.

I can help the FCC solve this. Require that ISPs provide at least one settlement free peering point for each customer in their network with no peering point providing access to less that 10,000 customers. 10K because after all they are ISPs and they should do something for that $50/mth (i'm sure Verizon would immediately declare this settlement free peering point to be the customer's wifi node without this rule).

Comment: Re: This is not a new or unique problem (Score 1) 124

If they can't be limited then I'll settle for the PTO admitting that software is math (which it clearly is) and banning all software patents.

In my opinion patents in software and electronics have perverted from promoting the arts and sciences to destroying them. Pretty sure the founding fathers didn't intent for 300,000 patents a year to be issued. It was 50 years before the PTO broke 500/yr.

Comment: Re: This is not a new or unique problem (Score 1) 124

The bar for patents need to be raised much higher. One way of raising that bar is to simply limit the number being granted. Only grant a patent for something that truly is a significant invention. I don't believe anywhere close to 300,000 significant inventions are made each year.

Imagine if we only granted 50 patents a year in each field allowing patents. 50 patents is a small enough number that humans working in these fields could be expected to know what is patented and to then respect those patents. (50 * 20 yrs = 1,000 patents). In this model the granting of a patent would be an event in the field, get press coverage and everyone would read the patent to learn about the new discovery. Everyone would know about these 50 patents, infringement would be rare and the value of the patents would be high.

Instead we get 500 new patents a day in software and electronics. Nobody reads them and they just function as landmines when someone accidentally reinvents.

Think of a patent as a mini-Nobel prize instead of cannon fodder for lawyers.

Comment: Re: This is not a new or unique problem (Score 1) 124

Shifting it to the courts is a very effective filter. Most of the rejected applications will not get appealed since they aren't worth the burden of the cost of the appeal. But the PTO may make mistakes and this would allow them to remedy those mistakes.

An alternative would be to allow for reapplication with the same priority date but require the inclusion of more evidence of why the patent should be granted. Of course if the PTO still doesn't believe it makes the cut into the 10K a month it will get rejected again.

The trade off for granting a patent is disclosure. Something valuable - a government monopoly - is granted in exchange for this disclosure. So why doesn't anyone read patents to learn from this disclosure? A few may get read but most patents do not contain anything interesting to someone practicing in the field. I would say this demonstrates that the value in many patents is the ability to cause legal problems not the actual technology being disclosed.

Comment: Re:This is not a new or unique problem (Score 1) 124

Keep a pool of about two months worth of patents that might meet the bar of being granted. Then reject the rest. The value of a patent is inversely correlated to how many patents are being granted. When there are fewer patents on better ideas, those patents will be respected and fulfill the original purpose that inspired the creation of patents.

Software patents are just totally broken. It is far, far too easy for a good software engineer to infringe dozens of patents through independent invention. And no one is going to go read through 100,000 patents and become aware of what has already been patented. So no one knows that they have "infringed" until they get a demand letter in the mail. Then of course they gag on licensing demands over something they have also spent resources on developing.

Comment: Re:This is not a new or unique problem (Score 3, Insightful) 124

The problem is that the patent office is a papermill and the number of patents being granted has be growing at around 5% a year compounded for the last 25 years. I'm pretty certain that the number of patentable inventions found each year is not growing at 5%. Instead the definition of what is patentable keeps expanding into areas where it doesn't belong. The growth mainly benefits patent lawyers and patent office employees. We've gone from granting 100,000 patents a year 20 years ago to 300,000 a year now.

Do a little projecting out - if that same growth is maintained in 20 years they'll be granting 900,000 patents a year. And we'll have a pool of 12 million active patents to deal with. To support all that you'll need 25,000 or more examiners. Of course patent infringement lawsuits will be totally out of control - no human can be expected to know the contents of 12M patents and not infringe on them. Heck, I can only read three or four before my head explodes.

The simple fix is to limit the patent office to granting a fixed number of patents each month. And I'd set that limit at 10,000 or less per month. Doing that stabilizes the number of employees at the patent office. And do you really believe there are 10,000 inventions made each month worthy of patent protection? I sure don't believe that there are that many. I'd set the limit even lower - 5,000 or less. Setting the limit lower simply gets rid of the junk and makes the ones that do get granted more valuable.

Comment: Re:Punitive Damages? (Score 5, Interesting) 200

You have to wonder how much the employees were really hurt by this. It was a 'no poaching' agreement. That meant that recruiters from those companies weren't going to call down the entire Rolodex of the competing firms and try to recruit. But.... there are nothing stopping external recruiters from doing that. And there was nothing stopping individuals from switching on their own.

There's some logic to an agreement like that. Each of these firm's recruiters could waste huge amounts of employee time in their competitors by making thousand of recruiting calls.

+ - War of the one cubic inch Linux computers

Submitted by jonsmirl
jonsmirl (114798) writes "The battle for smallest Linux COM may not be won yet. Recently Vocore was announced, but it is attracting competition. AsiaRF is offering a one cubic inch Linux computer with wifi and Ethernet on Indiegogo. What sets this project out is it's low risk. The module already has FCC. It is already supported in OpenWRT. And it ships next month, no need to wait."

Comment: Re:US (Score 1) 224

by jonsmirl (#47135951) Attached to: Thousands of Europeans Petition For Their 'Right To Be Forgotten'

You are aiming at the wrong target. Google blindly indexes what it finds on the web. The right solution was for the EU to require the sites hosting the source articles to include a "do not index" meta tag which Google would then respect. Put this burden where it belongs - on the author of the stories, not the search engine.

Comment: Re:Every... (Score 0) 224

by jonsmirl (#47135917) Attached to: Thousands of Europeans Petition For Their 'Right To Be Forgotten'

There is a difference between forgiven and forgotten. Until we invent time machines undoing history is impossible. You can pass all of the laws you want but you will never be able to erase the event.

Trying to get Google to stop indexing is just going to result in a giant game of whack a mole like we have with DMCA take down notices. No matter how many million take downs they file the mole can never be erased.

Keep your boss's boss off your boss's back.