Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale Extended! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 20% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY20". ×

Submission + - Bezos Patenting 'Dumb' Tablets, Glasses, Windshields 2

theodp writes: GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses).

Submission + - Mobile Sharing: 'Bezos Beep' vs. Smartphone Bump?

theodp writes: GeekWire wonders if the 'Bezos Beep' could replace the smartphone bump for mobile content sharing. A newly-published patent application listing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as sole inventor describes the use of audio signals to share content and communicate between devices, eliminating the need for NFC chips and facilitating the simultaneous sharing of content with multiple people via a remote server. From the patent application: 'For example, a first device can emit an encoded audio signal that can be received by any capable device within audio range of the device. Any device receiving the signal can decode the information included in the signal and obtain a location to access the content from that information.'

Submission + - Google Seeks Patent on Searching Your Belongings

theodp writes: With its patent-pending System and Method for Searching Belongings Using Social Graph Information, Google could make needing a warrant to search someone's belongings a thing of the past. 'In one aspect,' Google explains, 'the user may desire to search for all belongings including his/her own belongings, or alternatively, may wish to only search for belongings of other users of the system.' What kind of belongings? Describing the example provided in Fig. 7, Google says, 'More specifically, user 1 is associated with user 2, user 4 and user 5. Furthermore, User 1 is associated with belongings including "Camera A", "Tablet A", "Mobile Phone" and "Laptop C". User 2 is illustrated as being associated with user 1, user 3 and user 5, and with belongings including "SKIS" and "MOBILE A". User 3 is illustrated as being associated with user 2 and user 4, and further with belongings including "CAR B", "BOOK C" and "JACKET S". User 4 is illustrated as associate with user 1 and user 3 and belongings including "TV A" and "My Kix". Finally, User 5 is illustrated as being associated with user 1 and user 2 and with belongings including "TABLET A" and "SUNGLASSES A".'

Submission + - Microsoft: The 'Scroogled' Show Must Go On

theodp writes: Microsoft says that the death of its 'Scroogled' ad campaign against Google has been greatly exaggerated. 'Scroogled will go on as long as Google keeps Scroogling people,' said a Microsoft spokesperson. 'Nearly 115,000 people signed a petition asking Google to stop going through their Gmail.' So, is Microsoft's scare campaign justified? Well, in a recently-published patent application for a Method and System for Dynamic Textual Ad Distribution Via Email, Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy. Google also illustrates how advertisers can bid on access to those suffering from breast cancer, bi-polar disorder, depression, and panic anxiety. Hey, what could possibly go wrong?

Submission + - Google Email Patent Scarier Than 'Scroogled' Ads?

theodp writes: If Microsoft really wants to scare Gmail users, perhaps they should drop the Scroogled! campaign and simply post Google patent applications. Take Google's patent application for its Method and System for Dynamic Textual Ad Distribution Via Email, for instance, in which Google provides an example of how they can milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms. 'An end-user accessing documents related to breast feeding,' Google notes, 'is more likely to be in the market for a breast pump than any given end-user accessing pregnancy, in the mind of the advertiser. Thus, the advertising user has bid more to achieve the first position in that breast feeding document level.' Along the same lines, an accompanying diagram illustrates how Google's invention allows advertisers to also bid on access to those suffering from breast cancer, bi-polar disorder, depression, and panic anxiety. Hey, what could possibly go wrong?

Submission + - Google Patents Staple of '70s Mainframe Computing 2

theodp writes: 'The lack of interest, the disdain for history is what makes computing not-quite-a-field,' Alan Kay once lamented. And so it should come as no surprise that the USPTO granted Google a patent Tuesday for the Automatic Deletion of Temporary Files, perhaps unaware that the search giant's claimed invention is essentially a somewhat kludgy variation on file expiration processing, a staple of circa-1970 IBM mainframe computing and subsequent disk management software. From Google's 2013 patent: 'A path name for a file system directory can be "C:temp\12-1-1999\" to indicate that files contained within the file system directory will expire on Dec. 1, 1999.' From Judith Rattenbury's 1971 Introduction to the IBM 360 computer and OS/JCL : 'EXPDT=70365 With this expiration date specified, the data set will not be scratched or overwritten without special operator action until the 365th day of 1970.' Hey, things are new if you've never seen them before!

Submission + - Amazon Patents the Milkman 1

theodp writes: Got Milk? Got Milk Delivery Patent? Perhaps unfamiliar with the concept of the Milkman, the USPTO has granted Amazon.com a patent for the Recurring Delivery of Products , an idea five Amazon inventors came up with to let customers schedule product deliveries to their doorsteps or mailboxes on a recurring basis, without needing to submit a new order every time. 'For instance,' the filing explains, 'a customer may request delivery of one bunch of bananas every week and two gallons of milk every two weeks.'

Submission + - Amazon Patents 'Maintaining Scarcity' of Goods

theodp writes: Back in Biblical times, creating abundance was considered innovative. That was then. Last Tuesday, GeekWire reports, the USPTO awarded Amazon.com a broad patent on reselling and lending 'used' digital goods for an invention that Amazon boasts can be used to 'maintain scarcity' of digital objects, including audio files, eBooks, movies, apps, and pretty much anything else.

Submission + - Microsoft Patents Virtual Handshakes, Hugs 2

theodp writes: 'It can be tough to stay connected over long distances, writes GeekWire's Todd Bishop. 'Yes, there’s phone calls, texting, Facebook, Twitter, IM, video chatting and everything else. But what if you could give virtual hugs to each other using battery-powered, Internet-enabled pillows?' That — and more — is covered by Microsoft's newly-awarded patent on Force-Feedback Within Telepresence , the idea of using interactive, connected devices to bring physical interactions to long-distance communications. Readers of Ted Nelson's 1975 Computer Lib/Dream Machines can only imagine the interesting possibilities for Skype!

Submission + - Google Patents Guilt-By-Association

theodp writes: Guilt by association is defined as the attribution of guilt (without proof) to individuals because the people they associate with are guilty. It's also at the heart of U.S. Patent No. 8,306,922, which was awarded to Google on Tuesday for Detecting Content on a Social Network Using Links, the invention of three Googlers. In its patent application, Google argues that if an individual posts content to social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. 'that is illegal (e.g., content violating copyright law, content violating penal statutes, etc.), inappropriate for minors (e.g., pornography, "R" or "NC-17" rated videos, adult content, etc.), in contravention of an end user licensing agreement (EULA), etc.', then their friends 'may be likely to post content to their profile pages related to similar topics.' Google further explains: 'For instance, a first user and a second user that are designated as friends on a social network may be friends based upon a set of common interests (e.g., the first user and the second user are both interested in tennis). If the first user adds content to its profile page that is related to sports, then the friendship (link) between the first user and the second user can indicate that the profile page of the second user is likely to contain content related to sports as well.' By extension, the same holds true for porn, pirated videos and music, etc., right? So, would you feel comfortable being judged by the online company you keep?

Submission + - Will Microsoft dis-Kinect Freeloading TV Viewers? 2

theodp writes: Just when you think the cable TV viewing experience couldn't get any worse, GeekWire reports on the Microsoft Xbox Incubation team's patent-pending Consumer Detector, which uses cameras and sensors like those in the Xbox 360 Kinect controller to monitor, count and in some cases identify the people in a room watching television, movies and other content. Should the number of viewers detected exceed the limits of a particular content license, the system would halt playback unless additional viewing rights were purchased. As Yakov Smirnoff might say: In Soviet Russia, Kinect-equipped Motorola Model 20F2 console TV watches your family!

Submission + - Facebook Patents Pokes-Per-Minute Limits

theodp writes: The USPTO lowered the bar again on Tuesday, granting U.S. Patent No. 8,296,373 to four Facebook inventors for Automatically Managing Objectionable Behavior in a Web-based Social Network, essentially warning users or suspending their accounts when their poking, friend requesting, and wall posting is deemed annoying. From the patent: 'Actions by a user exceeding the threshold may trigger the violation module 240 to take an action. For example, the point 360, which may represent fifty occurrences of an action in a five hour period, does not violate any of the policies as illustrated. However, the point 350, which represents fifty occurrences in a two hour period, violates the poke threshold 330 and the wall post threshold 340. Thus, if point 350 represents a user's actions of either poking or wall posting, then the policy is violated.'

Submission + - Will Microsoft Change Your FB Status to 'Pooping'? 1

theodp writes: In a newly-published patent application for Identifying Status Based on Heterogeneous Sensors, Microsoft lays out plans for employing cellphones to capture 'environmental noise levels surrounding the user' to 'infer activities the user may be performing.' Based on the inferred activities, Microsoft explains, a status of the user can be determined. So, thanks to the brainiacs at Microsoft Research, updating your Facebook status to 'pooping' may someday be as simple as passing gas within earshot of your Windows Phone!

Submission + - Microsoft Patents 1826 Choropleth Map Technique

theodp writes: A newly-granted Microsoft patent for Variable Formatting of Cells covers the use of 'variable formatting for cells in computer spreadsheets, tables, and other documents', such as using the spectrum from a first color to a second color to represent the values in or associated with each cell. Which is really not a heck of a lot different from how Baron Pierre Charles Dupin created what's believed to be the first choropleth map way back in 1826, when he used shadings from black to white to illustrate the distribution and intensity of illiteracy in France. BTW, beginning in March, the U.S. will switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of granting patents. Hey, what could go wrong?

Submission + - Google Bans Online Anonymity While Patenting It

theodp writes: 'It's important to use your common name,' Google explains in its Google+ ground rules, 'so that the people you want to connect with can find you.' Using a 'secondary online identity,' the search giant adds, is a big Google+ no-no. 'There are lots of places where you can be anonymous online,' Betanews' Joe Wilcox notes. 'Google+ isn't one of them.' Got it. But if online anonymity is so evil, then what's the deal with Google's newly-awarded patent for Social Computing Personas for Protecting Identity in Online Social Interactions? 'When users reveal their identities on the internet,' Google explained to the USPTO in its patent application, 'it leaves them more vulnerable to stalking, identity theft and harassment.' So what's Google's solution? Providing anonymity to social networking users via an 'alter ego' and/or 'anonymous identity.' So does Google now believe that there's a genuine 'risk of disclosing a user's real identity'? Or is this just a case of Google's left hand not knowing what its right hand is patenting?

1000 pains = 1 Megahertz