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Submission + - Ask Slashdot - The legality of licensing extorsion? 1

firegate writes: We've come to rely on a piece of specialty software that costs $7000 per license, with a 10-year expiration on each license. The software checks licensing at startup against an online activation server, and each copy has a $750 annual maintenance agreement to cover updates and support. With support generally unable to solve issues and no product updates in ages, we chose to let the maintenance agreement lapse. A couple of months later, one copy of the software displayed a licensing conflict at startup. The software vendor refused to correct the issue, which was on their end with the licensing server, until we agreed to pay out the annual maintenance fee — despite the fact that we are only one year into the 10-year license window. Are their actions legal, and is there any recourse in situations where software vendors hold licenses hostage in this manner?

Submission + - Prosecutor Loses Case for Citing Wikipedia ( 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "The Phillipine Daily Inquirer reports on a recent case where the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) lost an appeal after seeking to impeach the testimony of a defendant's expert witness by citing an article from Wikipedia. In her brief, the defendant said "the authority, alluded to by oppositor-appellant, the 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders DSM-IV-TR,' was taken from an Internet website commonly known as Wikipedia" and argued that Wikipedia itself contains a disclaimer saying that it "makes no guarantee of validity." The court in finding for the defendant said in its decision that it found "incredible ... if not a haphazard attempt, on the part of the (OSG) to impeach an expert witness, with, as pointed out by (the defendant) unreliable information. This is certainly unacceptable evidence, nothing short of a mere allegation totally unsupported by authority.""
The Courts

Facing 16 Years In Prison For Videotaping Police 878

krou sends this snip from the Maine Civil Liberties Union: "The ACLU of Maryland is defending Anthony Graber, who faces as much as sixteen years in prison if found guilty of violating state wiretap laws because he recorded video of an officer drawing a gun during a traffic stop. ... Once [the Maryland State Police] learned of the video on YouTube, Graber's parents' house was raided, searched, and four of his computers were confiscated. Graber was arrested, booked, and jailed. Their actions are a calculated method of intimidation. Another person has since been similarly charged under the same statute. The wiretap law being used to charge Anthony Graber is intended to protect private communication between two parties. According to David Rocah, the ACLU attorney handling Mr. Graber's case, 'To charge Graber with violating the law, you would have to conclude that a police officer on a public road, wearing a badge and a uniform, performing his official duty, pulling someone over, somehow has a right to privacy when it comes to the conversation he has with the motorist.'" Here are a factsheet (PDF) on the case from the ACLU of Maryland, and the video at issue.

The Scalability of Linus 239

Hugh Pickens writes "Katherine Noyes writes at LinuxInsider that it may be time for Linus Torvalds to share more of the responsibility for Linux that he's been shouldering. 'If Linux wants to keep up with the competition there is much work to do, more than even a man of Linus's skill [can] accomplish,' argues one user. The 'scalability of Linus' is the subject of a post by Jonathan Corbet wondering if there might there be a Linus scalability crunch point coming. 'The Linux kernel development process stands out in a number of ways; one of those is the fact that there is exactly one person who can commit code to the "official" repository,' Corbet writes. A problem with that scenario is the potential for repeats of what Corbet calls 'the famous "Linus burnout" episode of 1998' when everything stopped for a while until Linus rested a bit, came back, and started merging patches again. 'If Linus is to retain his central position in Linux kernel development, the community as a whole needs to ensure that the process scales and does not overwhelm him,' Corbet adds. But many don't agree. 'Don't be fooled that Linus has to scale — he has to work hard, but he is the team captain and doorman. He has thousands doing most of the work for him. He just has to open the door at the appropriate moment,' writes Robert Pogson, adding that Linus 'has had lots of practice and still has fire in his belly.'"

Thermosphere Contraction Puzzles Scientists 200

The thermosphere layer of earth's atmosphere begins 80 to 90 kilometers above the surface and extends several hundred kilometers into the sky; it is the home to numerous satellites and the International Space Station. It is known that the thermosphere occasionally cools and contracts, but a recent study of satellite orbital decay (due to light atmospheric drag) found that the contraction during 2008 and 2009 was significantly more severe than expected, leaving researchers at a loss for how to explain it. From "This type of collapse is not rare, but its magnitude shocked scientists. 'This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years,' said John Emmert of the Naval Research Lab, lead author of a paper announcing the finding in the June 19 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. 'It's a Space Age record.' The collapse occurred during a period of relative solar inactivity — called a solar minimum from 2008 to 2009. These minimums are known to cool and contract the thermosphere, however, the recent collapse was two to three times greater than low solar activity could explain."

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson