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Submission + - US Justice Department Urges Supreme Court Not To Take Up Google vs. Oracle

Areyoukiddingme writes: The Solicitor General of the Justice Department has filed a response to the US Supreme Court's solicitation of advice regarding the Google vs. Oracle ruling and subsequent overturning by the Federal Circuit. The response recommends that the Federal Circuit ruling stand, allowing Oracle to retain copyright to the Java API.

Submission + - More Problems At The Patent Office

BarbaraHudson writes: The work habits of examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have once again come under scrutiny and been found wanting, according to a new report.

An audit by the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Commerce, USPTO’s parent agency, showed that supervisors have no way to know whether examiners are issuing quality patents that will ensure an innovation is protected.

“We found that USPTO’s performance appraisal plans and related policies cannot distinguish between examiners who issue high-quality decisions versus those who issue low-quality decisions,” the report said. In addition, auditors found that nearly all examiners are graded “above average” on performance evaluations, entitling them to bonuses averaging more than $6,000 per year.

The inspector general last year found multiple abuses in USPTO’s telework program, including end-loading, examiners being paid full salaries despite not working for several weeks a year and even one examiner who’d installed a “mouse-mover” program on his home computer so auditors couldn’t tell he was not working. When it was discovered, supervisors did nothing.

It is unknown it an examiner filed a patent for a "method and device to move the mouse to defraud taxpayers."

Submission + - FBI can't cut Internet and pose as cable guy to search property (

An anonymous reader writes: Harrah for some common sense:
A federal judge issued a stern rebuke Friday to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's method for breaking up an illegal online betting ring. The Las Vegas court frowned on the FBI's ruse of disconnecting Internet access to $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino. FBI agents posed as the cable guy and secretly searched the premises.

The government claimed the search was legal because the suspects invited the agents into the room to fix the Internet. US District Judge Andrew P. Gordon wasn't buying it. He ruled that if the government could get away with such tactics like those they used to nab gambling kingpin Paul Phua and some of his associates, then the government would have carte blanche power to search just about any property.

Submission + - BT Starts Blocking Private Torrent Sites (

An anonymous reader writes: This weekend both BT and Sky implemented the new changes, making it harder for their subscribers to reach these sites. Interestingly, however, BT appears to have gone above and beyond the court order, limiting access to various other sites as well.

Over the past several days TorrentFreak has received reports from several users of private torrent sites who get an “error blocked” message instead of their favorite sites. These include the popular and trackers, as well as scene release site

IPTorrents and Torrentday are significant targets. Although both sites require prospective users to obtain an invite from a current member (or from the site itself in exchange for cash), they have over a hundred thousand active users.

The error displayed when BT subscribers try to access the above URLs is similar to that returned when users to try access sites covered by High Court injunctions.

Submission + - How The Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly on Classrooms

theodp writes: Electronics almost universally become cheaper over time, but with essentially a monopoly on graphing calculator usage in classrooms, Texas Instruments still manages to command a premium for its TI-84 Plus. Texas Instruments released the TI-84 Plus graphing calculator in 2004. Ten years later, the base model still has 480 kilobytes of ROM and 24 kilobytes of RAM, its black-and-white screen remains 96×64 pixels, and the MSRP is still $150. "Free graphing calculator apps are available," notes Matt McFarland. "But smartphones can’t be used on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. Schools are understandably reluctant to let them be used in classrooms, where students may opt to tune out in class and instead text friends or play games. So for now, overpriced hardware and all, the TI-84 family of calculators remains on top and unlikely to go anywhere." So, to paraphrase Prof. Norm Matloff, is it stupid to buy expensive TI-8x milk when the R cow is free?

Submission + - Frigid Brown Dwarf Found Only 7.2 Light-Years Away (

An anonymous reader writes: Astronomer Kevin Luhman just found the 7th closest star to the sun. It's a mere 7.2 light-years away, discovered using NASA's Spitzer and WISE telescopes. How could it exist so close for so long without us knowing? It's a brown dwarf — barely a star at all. 'Brown dwarfs are star-like objects that are more massive than planets, but not quite massive enough to ignite sustained fusion in their cores. Hydrogen fusion is what powers the Sun, and makes it hot; it’s the mighty pressure of the Sun’s core that makes that happen. Brown dwarfs don’t have the oomph needed to keep that going.' This small almost-star is downright chilly at around 225-260 Kelvin. That's -48 to -13 C (or -54 to 9 F). As Phil Plait points out, that's not much different from the temperature in the freezer in your kitchen. He adds, 't implies this object is very old, too, because it would’ve been a few thousands degrees when it formed, and would take at least a billion years to cool down to its current chilly temperature. It’s hard to determine how old it actually is, but it’s most likely 1-10 billion years old. It has a very low mass, too, probably between 3 and 10 times the mass of Jupiter. That’s pretty lightweight even for a brown dwarf. And here’s another amazing thing about it: It might be a planet. What I mean is, it may have formed around a star like a planet does, then got ejected by gravitational interactions with other planets.'

Submission + - Open Source Embroidermodder goes where no embroiderer has gone before (

supermatt writes: Even Linus Torvalds has had trouble with the proprietary formats of Embroidery machines. Enter Embroidermodder 2, an open source program on Kickstarter to create and edit digital embroidery designs.

Jonathan Greig and Josh Varga launched a Kickstarter for Embroidermodder 2, an open source, cross-platform program to create and edit embroidery designs.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why I'm not joining the slashcott 14

It was a really nasty surprise when I opened slashdot and Beta hit me in the face. Apparently from the backlash, I was not alone. Every story was full of little but "fuck beta" comments. I added my own. There were one or two complaining about "anonymous posters" and the "fuck beta" protest, but most of the protesters were logged in.

Submission + - slashdot drives away people with beta 2

An anonymous reader writes: For many months now, people have been quietly redirected to slashdot's beta site ( Any negative feedback of the beta is ignored and/or disavowed. The majority of viewers do not like the beta — resulting in major loss of viewership.

Will slashdot alienate existing users of the site and keep pushing the beta OR will it keep the users and boot the beta?

Submission + - Slashdot beta sucks 9

An anonymous reader writes: Maybe some of the slashdot team should start listening to its users, most of which hate the new user interface. Thanks for ruining something that wasn't broken.

"Help Mr. Wizard!" -- Tennessee Tuxedo