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Comment Re:Troll/Squatter vs Licensor (Score 1) 241

I think that if the patent were valid (under the 20 years of non-implementation/non-description standard I described), it wouldn't matter. What bothers people about patent trolls is that they are getting in the way of you doing normal work. It shouldn't matter if someone wants to patent the idea then license it without an implementation, IF the patent is for something genuinely non-obvious. I think that 90% or more of peoples' issues with "patent trolls" are over obvious patents.

Even if you added the "good-faith effort to manufacture" standard, people could get around it pretty trivially by creating a small, failing business, then when it goes out of business they can claim it's because people are infringing.

I do see one advantage of the kind of standard that you're talking about, which is that for a company like IBM or Microsoft, if someone actually is in a legitimate business, it's likely they are infringing on one of MS or IBM's patents, so they can do the horse trade reciprocal licensing thing. But that's a huge waste of lawyer time compared to not actually having any obvious material patented, I think.

Comment my proposal for revamp of patent law (Score 1) 241

Since it's basically impossible to say what would be "surprising to an expert in the art" (or whatever the standard is), and since soooooo many obvious things have been patented that were patently obvious, you adopt a new standard.

A product (or even a business technique) is patentable if and only if:

(a) It has been economically feasible to do for 20 years
(b) It has not been publicly described or implemented

The idea is this:

Even a simple idea, which for whatever reason has not been described or implemented, could be brought to market because of this. If you have a simple improvement on, say, the broom, you are just going to sit on it, because (a) you don't know who to talk to at the many many broom manufacturers (b) if it's simple anyone else could copy it, so it's not worth it to start making brooms yourself, etc.

It should prevent the current patenting of obvious things that simply haven't been done because people haven't been doing business over the internet or selling stuff on cell phones or whatever. The obvious stuff that any smart engineer would figure out will get done in that first 20 years, and only the hard (or easy, but hard to think of) stuff will be left.

The justification for granting a patent is that the world has been given time to figure this out, and they haven't. Therefore, it makes sense to give you monopoly for 20 years (short time in the big scheme of things) so that the idea gets out there, which is the whole point of it from the Constitution's perspective.

Another way to do it:

(a) It has been feasible for X years, but not described or produced, you can have patent for X years. That way if you're working in a new field, you can still get protection, but not lock everyone out for 20 years. So, one-click could have gotten protection, but only for four years or whatever.

Obvious flaw: how do you decide when it started to be "feasible"? But I think that's a lot easier to come up with a standard for than "obviousness", which is plagued by the fact that a lot of things seem obvious after you see them.

Comment Re:Security through Obscurity? (Score 1) 595

A similar bug existing in Windows doesn't prove anything and is irrelevant here. After all 'M$ can't code shit'. Linux and FOSS is commonly claimed to be more secure because of it's development model and bug free here in these parts

Can you show me some (high-modded, preferably) comments that claim linux is bug free?

Comment Re:Of course... (Score 1) 241

My understanding was that people didn't want to commit to DAT until the legal issues were settled. That didn't happen until 1992, and at that point they had not only added a tax to it (an already expensive technology, surely that didn't help), but they were successful in keeping players from being able to record past a single generation. By this time, cd was ubiquitous, and with the format crippled it had no hope of people being willing to pay the early adopter price. The RIAA had demonstrated that, as I'm sure a lot of people expected, they were going to be able to control the manufacturers. The laws they did get passed were enough.

This isn't from the wikipedia article, just my recollection of a conversation with someone about it a long time ago.

Comment Re:Of course... (Score 3, Interesting) 241

but you were copying to crap cassette tapes. You didn't have digital audio tape. Why not? Cuz the RIAA won that one.

As long as the technology was localized, where they could attack a single format, target manufacturers, etc, they could keep it under their thumb. Things are, I think, fundamentally different now that digital copying and digital redistribution is ubiquitous.

You weren't making anything like the quality of copy that is possible now, and you had no way to anonymously dump a million crappy cassettes for other people to pick up, either.

Although technically you might have called what you were doing piracy, I think the Internet has fundamentally changed the game. He might have needed to say "piracy at this scale" vs. just piracy, but functionally it's just a minor quibble.

Comment Re:Infrastructure! (Don't fall for Communism Smear (Score 1) 554

Many think it should all be privatized, but this is a fringe view

Sound money is a "fringe view", too. It's too bad more people don't get it.

The problem is that state run or state mandated monopolies easily become a slippery slope to more power grabs by the state.

Let's take your "obvious" case of roads. You know how the federal government forces states to go along with completely unconstitutional things like drug laws? The put into the bill that if you don't do things their way, you don't get highway funds.

It is not obvious that a state monopoly on roads is a good thing. Widely believed, maybe, but not obvious. Again, look at the economy, and all the widely believed assumptions ("real estate will always go up!") that brought it down. The idea that we were in a housing bubble was considered a fringe view, too.


Submission + - Ecommerce with Catalyst - a post-project analysis

Denny writes: "Perl is Alive has published a 'six months later' analysis of a Perl ecommerce project which used the popular Catalyst framework at its core. It's a well-written look at how, by choosing various components from CPAN, you can build up a complex custom-tailored system without having to write everything end-to-end yourself. The author concludes that they would "undoubtedly" make the same technology decisions again, given the success of this project, and the quality of 'modern' Perl libraries and frameworks which are now available from CPAN."

Comment Re:Are we TRYING to destroy the Union? (Score 1) 86

I'm not sure, I'm pretty sure Amendment 3 is still going strong. I've never been forced to quarter troops, in time of war or otherwise.

So the money they take out of your paycheck to house our standing army is a voluntary contribution then? :)

(To be serious, I think war has changed a lot since the 1700s, when a lot, maybe the majority, at least of rural people, had "assault rifles" in their homes. That is to say, they had pretty much state-of-the-art weaponry, and an invading army was not going to be all that better equipped, except possibly with cannon or whatever.

But a lot has changed now. I'm not sure how you would be able to defend your country from invasion by countries with modern warplanes if you don't have them yourselves, and that's a lot for a militia-of-regular-folks to have stored in the garage or out on the back part of the ranch. It would be interesting to know what a defensive force and an efficiently run R&D would actually cost in terms of %gdp or %avg paycheck.)

Comment Re:Not again! (Score 2, Informative) 199

Just out of curiosity: what barrier was that? I thought it was capitalism that went bankrupt

To anyone who understands anything about economics, this statement, honestly, looks like a troll. It's like reading someone saying "I thought Windows was better? Isn't that what 95% of businesses use?" or something like that. Yes, there are many, many people who thought (and perhaps still think, although OS X and even linux have made tremendous inroads into the public consciousness now), for example, that it was "obvious" which operating system was best. For one thing, there were many, many people in the media who would pontificate about the superiority of Windows over any alternative, and then you could back that up by finding hordes of Windows weenies who would enthusiastically repeat the tired, old, canards in a way that made them sound all sarcastic and superior.

The people talking about the current crisis as a failure of capitalism understand economics in the same way that the people referenced above understand technology. They hear people talk about it, some of them sound like they know what they're talking about, they look around at other people in the crowd and go with what they think of as the consensus of the smart/informed people.

In fact, they know very little, and the people that do know are sharply divided over what is "obvious".

But if you think that you have seen capitalism fail, you just aren't looking hard enough to see past the Democrat's distortion blitz.

I agree wholeheartedly that the novelty of credit default swaps were an artifact of capitalism. A stupid investment which Buffet called a time bomb--but capitalism produces stupid investments, as it reflects the desires of individuals to get something for nothing. That's not all it produces, but because it embraces freedom, it embraces people's freedom to dumb as well as to be smart. And sometimes what one person says is dumb turns out to have been really smart.

But let's get back to the current useful-idiot-producing crisis. Where did the "money" come from that went into the bubble that just burst? It came from "money" (fiat money, meaning you aren't allowed to compete with it like you would in capitalism; political money, meaning it's produced by a quasi-government entity (the Federal Reserve) ) that was "created" when banks sold mortgages. There was a huge influx of "money" into the system. All the dizzying loads of information you can find about what happened after that--the "exotic derivatives" and so forth--is just the result of people trying to cash in on a flood of "money". Basically, yes, if you pour money into a capatilist system, it will figure out all kinds of ways to attempt to drive that money into the pockets of various players. No surprise there, and you can call it capitalism.

Over time, after a source of money shows up, once people figure out what the real nature of that source is and how to value it, the activity around it calms down. There may or may not be a bubble, depending on how risky or cautious people are, whether quality information is available, and a host of other factors. Capitalism does not instantaneously find the value of something new, it tries hundreds of different ways to measure and extract that value.

What, in the case of the current crisis, is the source of the "new money"? Well, we've already talked about the mortgages, buy why did they show up? Was there some kind of twitch in the invisible hand? Some evil capitalist corporation put subliminal messages into advertising convincing people that they should really be buying a house, it's what all the cool people are doing?

No, no, and no. Although things something like that happened once it was shown that there was money there, what started this artificial glut of money was the government. Some politicians, concerned that people that couldn't afford to buy homes by evil capitalist banking standards, well, couldn't afford to buy homes by the evil capitalist banking standards, decided to legislate a change in the standards. The Community Reinvestment Act, first started under Carter then given a dose of steriods under Clinton, forced banks to change their standards if they wanted to do what normal capitalist banks wanted to do--acquire or merge with other banks in order to realize economies of scale.

Not content with this meddling, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were spawned to do something that the silly capitalist banking world had foolishly never thought of--to buy, on a very large scale mortgages that had been initiated by someone else, and were being paid by someone that the institutions had never met, were for homes in neighborhoods thousands of miles away, etc, etc. Suddenly, because of government intervention, there was a huge market for mortgages--and the government was making it practically risk free. It wasn't far from that to "lend to anyone, on any house, for any amount, and you will be able to sell the mortgage to a greater fool".

Having thus circumvented decades, or possibly centuries, of capitalism pricing housing (to whatever extent that was possible given all the other ways that government meddled in housing in the name of fairness or handicapped accessibility or whatever they had decided), a free-for-all started and things went nuts.

And then the Democrats that started it all declared that it was a problem with lack of regulatiion, which the media was happy to trumpet, right on the verge of an election, and the sheeple did what sheeple do.

Do you want to keep going? Shall we talk about how money was drying up for IPOs after Sarbanes-Oxley destroyed the American IPO market, and speculate whether that money was looking for somewhere to land and got sucked into the government sponsored Ponzi scheme? Shall we talk about what real estate might look like if there hadn't been decades of interference by the well meaning government? Cuz we can go on. And on, and on.

I'm sorry, but the people that you think are there to save you from the Evil Republican Liberty Crushers are the Evil Democrat Liberty Crushers. And we haven't had capitalism in America for a long, long, time. We've had crippled capitalism which, when it stumbles, is blamed on the failure of unregulated capitalism, and regulated further by the kind lawyers who have never had to strain to make a payroll, don't know the sweat and tears of building a business from nothing, and, frankly, appear to look with incredible arrogance and condescension on those that have.

Comment Re:Not again! (Score 1) 199

2. Write "world" on it,

Yeah, well, there's gonna be a lot of people writing almost the same thing, but with slight but meaningful variations:

"world--finally the whole thing is up for grabs"

Also, when you're trying to bring about the One World Government you're supposed to do it in secret with Bilderbergers and Rothschildren and stuff.

(Note that I completely left out this version:

"world--thanks, Obama, for bankrupting the last barrier to a crushingly Socialist one-world government where the only group willing to rise up and take back power are the Islamofascists"

That's because I'm dedicated to keeping the discussion dignified and civil.)

Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie