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Slashback: Unenforceability, Conflagration, Cans 111

This is Slashback for the evening. Please be advised, through the following items, about ... how to turn that extra Pentium into a firewall running iptables; the state of the Symantec patent on software updates (uughh!); more on can satellites, and more.

a filtration system for your 2.4 goldfish Jay Beale points to this followup to his "Why iptables rocks" article of a few weeks ago: "It fulfills my promise to show how to actually build a home/SOHO firewall with Linux 2.4's iptables aka Netfilter. It contains the full code, explained piece by piece, to build a working firewall with 2.4, including all kinds of cool packet mangling for load balancing, redirecting stuff to transparent proxies, or avoiding nmap stealth scans ..."

Out of embarrassment, perhaps? An unnamed correspondent points out this bit of news regarding Symantec's patent on software updates. The upshot is, without pointing out that updating software incrementally is not a patent likely to win them a lot of favor from the industry they have simply decided not to enforce it. Smart move.

Not yet in the can, or the cube either Casey Ho of San Jose's Leland High wrote with some interesting information for those interested in tiny amateur satellites; Leland is one of the handful of schools whose students are designing experimental payloads for inclusion on an upcoming launch.

[We] are focusing on making a CubeSat. Leland High school officially has one satellite to launch, and there are four teams now competing to make a design that will be approved by CalPoly technicians. My own group will attempt to broadcast a powerful long term signal using only a small satellite. The project is not easy since there are a lot of scientific guidelines we must meet. We are discussing how to create a reliable circuit and transmitter that will function in extreme temperatures, vacuum, radiation, and most importantly, after an extra powerful rocket launch. The requirements are available here.

For some of you posters out there, sorry, no living organisms or explosives are allowed on the satellites. ;)"

Machinima makes the grade ILL Robinson writes: "Wanted you guys to know that our Quake II-based machinima film, Hardly Workin', received top honors at Showtime Networks' Alternative Media Festival - In an awards ceremony on February 8th at MTV Studios, Showtime awarded The ILL Clan with awards in both Best Experimental Short as well as Best of SHO for the festival. Using Machinima (films created with a PC game that can be modified with users' assets), The ILL Clan's film gained notice from the festival's judges - citing Hardly Workin' as a short with a high degree of innovation, design & creativity. We're pretty excited to receive the recognition, all the way from fans of ours who had been following us from the beginning and now, from a top-tier cable TV network. Cruise on over to our site for the official announcement, or to for more machinima works. And thanks also to the Slashdot readers, as they helped spread the word of what Machinima is all about."


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Slashback: Unenforceability

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It always bugged me that they licensed such cool technology to Microsoft years ago; (defrag, scandisk, etc.) I'm so glad that it didn't put Norton Utilities out of business.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The patent was applied for before Diablo I was introduced. LiveUpdate has been a part of Symantec products sice early 1996.

    Also, one of the patents is for the way it resolves the differences, not for the idea of resolving differences.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The certainly can change their minds at any time.

    This is one more in a long list of improperly awarded patents.

    If this patent remains unchallenged, it may gain legal weight as time passes. A future argument could be "since no one has disputed it in x years, it must have some validity".

    The government is doing such poor administration in the tech fields that it will soon be time for the gov to be bypassed where necessary. I don't mean doing anything illegal, just something as simple as declaring en masse that a specific patent will not be recognized.
  • Yes, but the original DOS defrag was licensed from Symantec.
  • You have no chance to survive make your time!
  • > your grassblade starship won't have enough power to send a signal back to earth to report its findings.
    But if nanotechnology gets beyond being a pipedream, that needn't be a problem. Your grassblade starship lands, builds a few self-replicating exploratory/survey craft, then switches to building transmitter builder builders so when the survey is finished it can transmit the results back.
    This also assumes any inhabitants of the planet don't object to self-replicating nanobots reshaping a chunk of it into a huge antenna and power station, and that your spaceship drive scales in such a way that a small spaceship can get anywhere in the first place anyway.
  • If they just wanted to use the patent defensively, they could have just published the technology unpatented. At that point it's prior art which they can use as a defense against claims of infringement, but it doesn't prevent anyone else from using it. That would be the ethical thing to do.

  • "My own group will attempt to broadcast a powerful
    long term signal using only a small satellite."

    Great. Interminable orbital QRM thanks to a buncha adolescents with more money than sense.
  • Keep in mind, IANAL!

    My uderstanding of the patent process is that it grants protection from someone using your patented "THINGY" (tm) for profit, but you, in turn must divulge the particulars of the "THINGY." Another condition is that you (or your company) must take it upon themselves to enforce the patent, and challenge any and all violations of that patent. If you don't, you lose patent protection, and can never get it back.

    Why this is a good thing, is that if Symantec does not enforce, they cannot, and no one else can patent it to enforce it for their own evil purposes. Once it is patented, it is patented.

  • Don't you mean 1,000,000 pico satelites? :)
  • Not to mention diff and patch.
  • See also Digital's (now Compaq's) AUTOPATCH and SOUP/SOUPR. Quite old.
  • It's derived from the opening of Zero Wing, generally considered to be the worst translation of a video game ever done.

    ... like a bad Star Trek script written by I.R. Baboon [] ...

  • The patent bureau of the United States actually inhibits a free market economy. In a true free market economy, anyone can reverse engineer any process, and use it to whatever ends they wish, but the one who does it most efficiently ends up with the ability to make the most profit.

    Unfortunately, government intervention via the patent process interferes with this and favors those with the itchiest trigger finger rather than those with the best and most efficient production solutions.

    In other words, rather than fostering capitalism, the patent office is actually a mechanism of socialism, and undermines the American Ideal in a way that the Open Source movement could never hope to touch :)
  • Whomever granted that patent must have been a royal dumbass. Tell me something. Would GNU "patch" be prior art? I know what Symantec is talking about here. It's now part of InstallerMaker. I forget it's original name (UpdateMaker?) but you basically give it two files to compare and tell it which one you want it to look like in the end and it generates an installer to do just that. I've used it before on numerous installers I've built. That's not exactly a fancy thing though. In fact I would think it's pretty common. I write an AppleScript to take a binary (Apple binaries have two forks, data and resource--the resource contains stuff like sounds, picts, strings, menu info, etc...) and I have it take an pict file and binary and replace a specific ICON# within that binary with my pict file and set a few attributes. That's a patch on an application. That would violate their patent. What about patching a running kernel like MOL (Mac-On-Linux) can do? I'm a bit baffled by this claim. In the article they also say
    "...may be also be used to update general computer readable files, which may include data files, program files, database files, graphics files, or audio files..."
    So what, does that mean that CVS, rsync, and bk trample on their patent? They are applying updates to files, any file for that matter. What about VOODOO, a version control system for general documents for the average Joe. That could easily be construed as an app making changed to general computer readable files, which may include data files. I wonder if I would be breaching their patent if a buddy sends me a document to read and I send him back changes to make to it. I didn't create an app to it but I am updating general computer readable files, which may include data files. I really don't know what to say about this patent. I never knew Symantec to be like this. I'm glad they aren't enforcing it though. I know that you must enforce trademarks vigourously from day one or risk loosing them. That was spelled out in a quote from a recent discussion on /. I believe. I wonder if the same can be said about patents. Can they selectively enforce it? Can they say they won't enforce it and the next year start enforcing it?


  • Um... I think that mechanism is called "selling things." And it works quite well, even without government-created monopolies (patents).

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.
  • "but the one who does it most efficiently ends up with the ability to make the most profit.." That's not necessarily true. In Micro$oft's case, it's whoever markets it the best makes the most profit. Not to mention stifling innovation and buying out then burning the competition.

  • Its a pity the moderator didn't get it, and slapped you with a flamebait mod. C'est la vie, and all that stuff...

  • So you don't think, for instance, that advances in BSD spur Linux developers to to improve Linux?
  • Since CVS falls under the patent, there's pretty clearly prior art into the 80s.
  • You are speaking of enabling bridging, which is neither a firewall nor a router.

    Had what you described been true, there would have been no need for Microsoft to create Microsoft Proxy Server (version 1 OR version 2!), nor MS NAT, as implemented in Windows 2000 server.

    Clarity helps a discussion, and OpenBSD really does have a kick-ass NAT implementation. It's not touched by any MS product. I've used them all. :)
  • As long as we keep the current taxation methodology technical progress will NOT free us from long hours and hard work - especially since population is still growing. Read the stuff and do the quiz at to understand why.
  • Do you think you'd get away with it? I realize that our government doesn't kill their internal enemies anymore (yeah, right), but if your bird bumped into their bird you would be held responsible.
  • I wonder if the same can be said about patents

    See the hotly disputed GIF patent discussions.

    Can they selectively enforce it? Can they say they won't enforce it and the next year start enforcing it?


  • What does designing payloads have to with sending?
    What does students designing have to do with funding? all it costs is pencil and paper.
    What does a small payload have to do with with NBC's or anyone else's large satellites? Nothing small payloads go up yearly. Did you think they'd show every payload launch on CNN? Do you truly think this is all that expensive?

    C'mon use some sense.
  • I patented your pancreas, pay up.
  • The students are writing the plans. That includes, reading, writing, and comprehension skills. Don't give me the learn to read crap when it's obvious that are reading, researching, analysing, synthesizing, and proposing ideas.

    In the words of one of my favorite anime characters, "Gather your thoughts and then place them into words."

  • err... actually, I was just thinking it might be neat to try to blow something up in orbit...
  • They'd assign the rights to the patent to the FSF or some other organization as a safegaurd, or anti-patent if you will. I think it's nice that they made this statement, though, and it shows then in a little bit better light than simply letting it go without saying anything, then all of a sudden breaking out the guns.
  • If you're going to overfund something, by all means it should be schools.

  • "shareholder lawsuits are settled out of court, and it's a great way to earn a quick buck from a bumbling company"

    Unfortunately, by saying that in public you've probably just ruined your chance of becoming true for you. Learn to keep your mouth shut.

  • micro = 10e-6 pico = 10e-12 micro = 10e+6 * pico 1 micro sat is presumably 1 microunit cubed. or 10e+6 pico units, 10e+18 picocubes...or 10e+18 (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) picosats no just 10,000. I need a life.

    Hey, were not talking cubic satellites here - well, yes, we are. But, er, its a different meaning of cubic.

    If your unit is one satellite (not one cubic satellite, multiplying things by things by things is rather hard), a microsatellite is just a million picosatellites. Er.

    "Out Of Cheese Error. Redo from Start" - Hex


  • > ... how to turn that extra Pentium into a firewall running iptables

    You people must be RICH! My iptables router is a 486/66 with 8 MB of RAM and very very horrid I/O performance (yes, Timothy, it's the short little box I showed you when you dropped by). Easily saturates a modem line, though, and I can wait the ~1 minute it takes to telnet in, su, and run iptables to open or close a port.

    I have inherited a Pentium-120 now (though I had to trade parts of my desktop box for it) so unless I get a cable modem or DSL before I get around to changing it out, that 486 is going to take a very long rest soon. Might resurrect it someday for realtime 3D rendering and video compression.

  • And if we're lucky, we still have a 50% chance in 2010 of getting a space shuttle into orbit without it being shredded by one of those microsatellites...

  • I'm sure your favorite goldfish would much rather take a nice airline trip to space than get flushed down the toilet.
  • Ya know, i'm just thinking that one of those CanSats would make the ultimate overclocking rig. "Yeah well, my Celeron 333A is overclocked to 10Gz, and its core temp is -300 degs C!!"
  • I'm trying to figure out how to go beyond Jay Beale's SOHO firewall article [] and to set up a DMZ for a number of servers - more than just the one he gives in his example. What I can't figure out is how to map a multihomed external interface to multiple IPs on the internal network.

    Could anyone help explain the additional steps needed to make this work? Or tell me where to find this on the web/docs/faqs/etc? Even Rusty's guides don't cover this.

    Goal: -->> --> -->
    (and once those work I can make anything go...)

  • No, the original DOS defrag was from Central Point. Central Point was acquired by Norton about the same time as DOS 6.2 came out with the Central Point defrag and scandisk built in. AFAIK, it was 1997 before Norton was fully acquired by Symantec.
  • I'm not an expert on this or much of anything, who is Drexler?

  • My router is(was) a Dec Multia that I won in a contest at the Linux store. It has to be the slowest Alpha ever made, but it was small, quiet and chugged away. Alas, it has died and I can't figure out how to resurect it. It made a flexible and easily configurable firewall and router.
  • Well, there are a couple of reasons why this needs to be stated.

    First of all you are dealing with college students here.

    Second there is a need for antenna deployment and if this were NASA an exploding bolt or some such fun could be used to release it.

    Third we are dealing with college students here. :)
    When we were discussing the need for a way to shut down a stuck transmitter an autodestruct sounded really cool.

  • Look at the size of the Apollo landers, and of the Saturn V rockets. Notice a difference in size? If you wanted to put one poxy nanobot into space you'd still need huge rocket, as for most of the time the rocket needs to propel itself with its fuel as well as the nanobot.

    Your comment ignores two factors. First, although you are right that every a small device would require a huge rocket, I believe the idea behind micro satalites (and a "nanaobot" by extention) is to put large numbers of them into orbit from a single rocket launch. Hence you are saving money by spreading the cost. If (as an example I have no real idea) it costs 2 million to put a small rocket into space, and 200 different companies put microsatilites on the rocket none of the companies has to bear the full cost of the launch, but all get their craft up. Second, if a sufficcently small device could be deisigned, at some point in the future they could be built and launched from the ISS. Thus eliminating the incredible cost of actually putting the object into space (by far the most epensive part of space flight).

  • All your What []?

  • Then how did Unisys get to start enforcing its patent on GIF way after the fact? -x
  • Nah. If there wasn't a protection of intellectual property, er... no mechanism for the inventor to recoup the effort put into developing a new product or whatever, then a lot of people would probably not try. Or at least I think that's the idea. I think this was an episode of The Simpsons.


  • Advances in BSD encourage Linux developers to take BSD code, incorporate it into the Linux code (read: replace their crappy, buggy shit with the superior BSD code) then claim that the Linux code was written from scratch to justify re-releasing of the code under the less-free-than-BSD GPL license.

    (anti-troll system engaging)
    Lots of code has gone in both directions. Big deal.


  • lol @ your comment, I was starting to do the calculations before I read your reply. I swear I had a life, where did I put that thing?

    Where's my will to live? I seem to have lost it.
  • It's ok, he wouldn't have to worry about ever violating the patent on thinking anyway.

  • That'd be a little difficult, considering absolute zero is at -273 C and the 'vacuum' of the universe itself is at around -270 C so you'd actually be absorbing heat with that processor.

  • I think you're missing the whole point of not enforcing the patent.
    By claiming the patent they can add to their net worth. Symantec gets to be in the news ( dont believe me? Just look it up on slashdot ). They protect themselves from someone else doing the same thing against them ( remember ).

    But, the meat will likely turn rancid if they try to enforce the patent. If they were to challenge someone who was doing something similar ( Insert random networked software here ) then they will likely lose the case and maybe even eventually lose the claim. If that were to happen then they lose face, lose networth, and maybe, just maybe some customers.
    In short, they likely win all they can win by claiming the patent but not enforcing. They lose if they give anyone a chance to challenge their claim. IMHO this is simply not a card Symantec can play.
    As a share holder I am sure you want Symantec to have all the networth they can muster.

    On an OFFTOPIC note: If they were to win in court then I am going to enforce my patent on controlled inbalance as a form of motivation (i.e. walking).

    - The moon is smaller but farther away
  • If they started using linux instead of MS products they could afford to send 10 of them a year at least.
  • If they're not going to enforce the patent, then why get it? ... Why not just not patent it in the first place?

    Because this way they're protected against another company patenting the same process. If Barnes and Noble had patented one click shopping, but then hadn't enforced it, they'd have avoided the Amazon litigation.

  • How on earth (no pun intended) did this get to +5?

    The "putting things into near earth orbit" is already amost a commodity. The exploration of space is a totally different kettle of fish, and your syllogism just isn't valid.
    Secondly, how do you know if I want the price of space launches to be brought down? You have no right to speak for "all".

    You obviously have no knowledge of engineering.
    Look at the size of the Apollo landers, and of the Saturn V rockets. Notice a difference in size? If you wanted to put one poxy nanobot into space you'd still need huge rocket, as for most of the time the rocket needs to propel itself with its fuel as well as the nanobot. The thing _does not scale linearly_.

  • Explosives provide their own O2. For most common explosives this is what the 'nitrates' are for.
    XNO3 for X=almost anything (From Potassium to Toluene and beyond) will often part with its oxygen quite easily. (The Potassium version in the saltpetre in traditional gunpowder, and the toluene version wants three 'nitro's round it, and hey presto - nice almond smell and TNT)

  • From Bruce Schneiers last Cryptogram Newsletter []:
    DirecTV scored a direct hit against pirates. Over the course of a few months it surreptitiously broadcast, byte by byte, a program that allowed it to permanently disable pirate DirecTV access cards. On January 21st, they triggered the program. Supposedly this knocked out 98% of cracked cards. My favorite tidbit is that they wrote "GAME OVER" into an affected area of memory. The pirate community is already working on hardware workarounds and, supposedly, the cracked cards that use emulation are easy to fix. So while DirecTV won this battle, the war goes on.
  • man your computer must be shit. I have a microchannel IBM 9585 as my NAT machine on my cable modem and it isn't saturated at all.
  • But like you say, the 9585 is an MCA machine. That counts for a sizeable increase in performance of anything not completely CPU+memory bound. (And besides, the 95x5s have a 64 bit memory-bus, a normal 486 doesn't. Or at least my 9595 has, and I would assume it did when it was a 486 too (same MB) (now P60).)

    I have a crap ISA 486 (dx2/66) with two ne2k clones for my NAT-box, and it sometimes goes to about 10% time spent in interrupt-handlers, but otherwise it's about 1.5% max CPUuse for my cablemodem. A 486 is much better than needed for most (home) firewalls.

    (Of course, with only 8mb RAM running a modern linux kernel is probably not so much fun.. A modern FreeBSD on mine (with 16mb) is fine though.)

    Damn I write too much..

  • Windows 98's defrag was from Intel. Windows 2000 disk software is from Veritas if I remember correctly. I'm not sure though.
  • I really don't understand the concern. It shouldn't be able to explode, no O2, and from what I've read the satelites aren't supposed to crash land. So what's the problem?
  • Would you please tell y tech. director that. I asked him if he had ever thought of using Linux, and he gave me this blank stare, I said "you know, the os", and he said something like, I do not feel as if it will adequately replace the effectiveness of Microsoft software. I also caught him one day saying Bill Gates "Coded all of Windows himself". This is coming from a man with an MCSE, so it was just pretty dang sad.
  • $30,000 isn't *that* much. The teams are actually making a pitch to parents and companies in a week to start fundraising.
  • Funny but definitely a troll. Symantec would upset far too many people by getting litigatious.

    The author has a point that this one method of doing business that is well loved by certain companies and it helps to be there first even if you don't intend to enforce the patent to stop others from trying the same thing.

    However, litigatious shareholders are not a joke - but it would take a significant chunk of the equity to force a response from a US company. Rather less than in a Japanese company which is why they have been subjected to pressure in return for hush-money to prevent embarassments at shareholders meetings.

  • Interesting question, but you posted it under a poor thread.
    Slashdot really needs a positive moderation choice for interesting, on-topic questions.
  • With my microsatellite I'm going to write a question for the ages; one that will puzzle future intelligent inhabitants of this planet for generations. I want to enlighten, provoke unimaginable debate and become immortalized for all eternity.

    My microsatellite will contain a solitary piece of paper with the words:

  • Actually, your quotation is from the game Alpha Centauri by Sid Meier. It may sound like Toquville, but in reality I think it was (somewhat ironically, based on current right-wing conspiricy theory) ascribed to the leader of the UN faction.

    The whole quotation is worthwhile:

    As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free access to information is the only safeguard against tyranny.

    The once chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information will soon burst with freedom and vitality, while the free nation gradually constricting its grip on free discourse was begun its rapid slide in to despotism.

    Beware he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.


  • The correct quote is "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US" actually.

    The quotes come from ZeroWing, an old space shoot-em-up by some company no one seems to remember. When it was rleeased for the Genesis, it had an opening sequence tackes onto it. This sequence is generally considered the worst-translated video game dialogue of all time, with at least one error in every single sentence, and often more.

    Lately, thanks to a fandub OverClocked did of it, the opening has gained a cult following in gaming/geek circles.
  • Since when do patents lead to state ownership of the means of production?
  • I really don't understand the concern. It shouldn't be able to explode, no O2, and from what I've read the satelites aren't supposed to crash land. So what's the problem?

    The problem is that "things that detonate" ie. true explosives not just pyrotechnical compounds that burn relatively fast (few hundared meters/second as opposed to few kilometers/second) already contain all oxygen they need in they molucular structure. Most pyrotechnical compounds also contain the oxygen they need to burn in some form or another (salt peter [i hope this is the correct english name] is very common oxidizer)

    The problem with explosives (or guns, or other things that go boom) is the fact that pressure is rather low in space which causes all sorts of problems like rather poor and non spectacular burn of pyrotechnics, explosives detonate allright but since there is no medium to carry the shockwave it's not much of fun.

    Sure there are uses for detaching or welding and stuff for explosives in space but using them is FAR from trivial, you need VERY carefull planning for those things to work properly.

    NOTE: I am a trained in handling pyrotechnical compunds and explosives, speciality in special effects (where real explosives have quite little use, pyrotechnics look and sound much, much better).

  • Hey, everyone remembers Toaplan []. Or at least shmup [] fans like myself do. They never made anything as classic as Gradius or Raiden II, but they did solid work.
  • Nanotech is prompting interesting questions that are producing interesting answers. Much progress has been made, much work remains to be done. And are you really claiming the computer hasn't changed the world?

    Anyway, here's one set of Top 10 Recent achievements in Nanoelectronics []

    And a set of Top 10 Hard Problems [].

    In recent years the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology [] has been awarded for experimental work as well as theoretical. Some people have been designing cool devices at the molecular level, other people have been building them, and they work. There's no reason to think progress of this sort will stop any time soon.

    For all the revolutionary talk about how [the computer] will free us from the burdens of work, now all we do is spend more time working, because computers have enabled us to do more!
    We may spend more time at work but I wouldn't say we spend more time working. For instance, consider time spent reading Slashdot! :-)
  • Explosives are widely used in satellites and launch vehicles. Any place you need to cut or detach something is a possible application for an explosive device. It isn't that scary when you think about all of the other things that can go wrong and blow up on a launch vehicle.
  • That is incorrect; an unenforced patent doesn't lose any power from the lack of enforcement. You're thinking of trademarks, perhaps?

    If the major differences between trademarks, copyrights, and patents aren't already in the /. FAQ, they should be :)

  • It's derived from the opening of Zero Wing, generally considered to be the worst translation of a video game ever done.

    "If ignorance is bliss, may I never be happy.
  • I was involved in developing code for a flash EEPROM-programmed device that was reprogrammable over the wire (i.e., downloadable software updates) about 12 years ago. Just like almost all these other software patents, the ideas are neither unique nor new.

  • Now that I think about it, Apple has the same feature. What about the autorpm stuff for Linux? Now granted, it's not patching a binary, but it is updating them.


  • If they're not going to enforce the patent, then why get it? Isn't that the point for a commercial entity to get a patent, to protect their idea? Not that I think it's bad that they aren't, it means that people can write code that the patent covers without worrying some other corp will come by and smash them in legal battles, but what's the usefulness to a corporation for having a patent but not doing anything with it? Why not just not patent it in the first place?
  • Did Norad ever announce an upper limit on what they could track? I realize you were joking, but still, if someone wanted to DDoS the US Military, this is how they would do it, right?
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • Maybe they just patented it to cover their ass? Make sure some other retarded company didn't come along and patent it then try to charge them for it?

  • Is Symantec perhaps preparing a defensive software patent warchest? This would allow them to counter-sue anybody launching a suit against them, a situation that could be dubbed MAUL (Mutually Assured Unprofitable Litigation), in other words "You mess with us, we'll mess with you so don't bother." Which I have to admit is certainly less objectionable than some the behaviour of other companies (above all BT's absurd URL patent threats).
  • I think it's nice that they made this statement, though,

    Honestly, it's not like they had much of a choice in the matter. There was tons of prior art (everything from rsync to Diablo I). They made the only business decision that made sense (as a court battle would've had a high cost and a low return).

  • Who cares if it would've been unpopular?! That's what business is all about. That's what capitalism is all about: getting a limited monopoly from the government (a patent) in order to restrict the trade of your competitors in reward for a brilliant insight or idea. That's what patents are for. They're not something you play with in kindergarten. They're not like shuffleboard or parchesi. They're important stuff.

    Either you are +1 Funny (Sarcastic), or -1 Troll.

    Surely your not proposing that 'profit motive' is the only important factor in life? Maybe we should eliminate patents all together just to give Capatalists a little shake up - the system is not working - and what you propose is *MORE* corporate-power-hording.

    Suggestion to Symantec: Give your Patent to the FSF. Release the patent GPL.

    My advice to you: Re-evaluate your priorities, you'll be dead soon.. and no one likes a greedy, selfish, myopic jackass... you cant *buy* wisdom, peace or contentment - re-adjust your life-goals.. help re-adjust the goals of your country.

    *BUT* im thinking you mean that as +1 funny... i hope.

  • its a troll cos it has no relevance to the story.

    Wasn't the story about iptables?

    Isn't iptables the new kernel's replacement for the venerable (and fun!) ipchains?

    Isn't it therefore relevent to state that there are alternatives to the new firewalling features in Linux, which may have other advantages?

    I'm confused. Thrall me with your acumen.

  • Or you install OpenBSD and have a firewalling router with one line of configuration. ONE. I'm not kidding.

    (Score:0, Troll)

    Could someone please explain to me how that was a troll?

    So, just because the post suggests that there might be something out there that is better for a specific task than Linux, it's a troll?

    [sigh] Slashdot is rapidly degenerating into a demonstration of why the masses should not be allowed to vote.

  • how is an unenforced patent such a great thing? this yields a great deal of uncertainty to anyone who may be infringing on their patent. there is nothing to keep symentec from changing their mind and enforcing the patent tomorrow.
  • by Ernest ( 4173 ) <ernest&terkuile,ch> on Monday February 19, 2001 @04:04PM (#419306) Homepage
    Hopefully the Borgs didn't patent the Cube in space idea. I'd hate to have them come and claim there rights. Ernest.
  • by RelliK ( 4466 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @04:17PM (#419307)
    So let me get this straight: You are going to file a frivolous lawsuit because Symantec chose not to file a frivolous lawsuit based on an obvious and unenforcible patent. God bless America!
  • by Christopher Thomas ( 11717 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @07:49PM (#419308)
    When you can manipulate the atom, there is no point having huge unwieldy craft several metres long - why not just build something the size of a blade of grass?

    Because your grassblade starship won't have enough power to send a signal back to earth to report its findings.

    This is the main factor that provides a final lower limit on the size/mass of space probes, be they in-system or interstellar. An in-system one that stays inside the orbit of Mars can get away with being big but light, as it can draw power from the sun. For the outer solar system or for deep space, it'll have to carry a radiothermal power source large enough to power a microwave beam that outshines background noise and instrument noise when seen from Earth.

    The electronics for the transmitter aren't going to be small or light either.
  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @11:13PM (#419309) Homepage Journal
    A friend once showed me a procurement spec for a (foreign) military system that had a requirement to operate at -300C. We had a good laugh, and he confirmed it was a typo (the actual spec was for -30C).

  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @11:14PM (#419310) Homepage Journal
    I could see Microsoft getting rather upset about this patent... Can you say "Windows Update"?

    Whether you use Windoze or not, same thing...
  • by aidoneus ( 74503 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @06:41PM (#419311) Journal
    Failure to enforce a patent does not result in the loss of a patent (take a look at the well discussed Unisys GIF patent of the even more slimy Rambus patents). If a trademark isn't vigorously defended, it can become diluted and therefore lose protection. A trademark exists for a word or form (such as the shape of an iMac, IIRC), while a patent is for an idea or implementation.
  • by Trepalium ( 109107 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @08:37PM (#419312)
    Unisys once said they would not pursue patent claims for the LZW technology in GIF against any software that was distributed for free. Overnight one day, Unisys changed their policy and started cracking down on even free products, and going so far as demand that websites that designed any graphics in .GIF format, employing LZW compression had to pay royalties to them.

    The point is, there's a huge difference between a company publically stating that they don't plan to enforce, and granting an irrevocable royalty-free license to use the patent to the general public. Ten years from now, if Symantec sees their profits starting to dry up, what do you want to bet that this policy will change for the sake of a cash grab. Unlike other forms of intellectual property, such as trademarks (and to a lesser extent, copyright), a company isn't required to enforce their patent to maintain rights over it, and they're fully allowed to change their policies regarding the patents.

    Suppose I should be thankful that Canada doesn't grant or respect software patents.

  • by slashdoter ( 151641 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @03:17PM (#419313) Homepage
    no living things?!?!

    Note to self, withdraw bid for anthrax from EBAY and cancel the order for the micro-sat,

    move to plan 2



  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @04:35PM (#419314) Journal
    I am wondering about the concept of Prior art in regard to the Symantec Patents.

    For Example, there is this Story [] about the war of DirectTV against hackers. Direct TV for the past FOUR YEARS did incremental upgrades to their systems to try to stop hackers from stealing their signal. They finally inmplemented a gradually update program that convertly set up a complete system upgrade, sort of like a digital jigsaw puzzle, with the last piece shuffling and re-compiling the pieces, and locking the pirates out when they pulled the final trigger.

    So in any case, just the idea of online upgrades before this little bit of coding is demonstrated prior art by DirectTV

  • by abdulwahid ( 214915 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @03:52PM (#419315) Homepage

    Or you install OpenBSD and have a firewalling router with one line of configuration. ONE. I'm not kidding.

    Or you install a Windows NT and pull the network cable out and have a firewalling router with no lines of configuration. NONE. I'm not kidding.

  • by Angreallabeau ( 263172 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @03:40PM (#419316) Homepage
    There seems to be many small projects going on of note that could use the support of many minds. The people should stop competing against each other (I am against the idea that competition spurs the advancement of technology) and these smaller teams should start working together. Better to have one succeed than all of them fail.

    On that same note....

    It would seem to me that NASA should open their arms to the brains of the world. A true international project, would be an opensource project, where all minds of can offer their guidence and help for free. Where getting more for your dollar seems to be something NASA is interested in, it would seem that they should look towards our community.

    If the "Space Community (NASA...Smaller Projects)" start working together we might see real results a lot faster.


    P.S. I just want to walk on the Moon before I die - a small vacation. :-)
  • by sharkticon ( 312992 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @03:18PM (#419317)

    And looks set to remain so for the forseeable future. Despite a lot of hype generated by Drexler and his fellow zealots, nanotechnology is still a purely theoretical psuedo-science, supported solely by a few developments in molecular manipulation that in reality have little to do with Drexler's ideas of nanoassemblers.

    Until an actual working model is proposed I have little time for nanotechnology and its grandiose claims. Every two-bit prophet has claimed that their creations will change the world, and yet they rarely do. Just look at the computer. For all the revolutionary talk about how it will free us from the burdens of work, now all we do is spend more time working, because computers have enabled us to do more!

    Nanotech is not the answer to all our future problems. Hell for now it's not the answer to anyone's problems, except maybe Drexler's bank balance and a few labs hoping for Government funding. Maybe you should be looking for a more scientific solution?

  • by Heidi Wall ( 317302 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @03:08PM (#419318)
    Microsatellites are an excellent idea, as they would be much cheaper to launch than normal satellites. This would mean that they would be brought within the reach of many more commercial entities, which would further commercialise the space industry. This commercialisation would further bring down the price of space launches, which is an outcome we all want, as it would make exploration of space cheaper and more frequent.

    I would guess that exploration of other star systems in the far off future will be performed by very small nanotechnological space vehicles.

    When you can manipulate the atom, there is no point having huge unwieldy craft several metres long - why not just build something the size of a blade of grass?

    With nanotech, it would still be enormously powerful.
    Clarity does not require the absence of impurities,

  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:10AM (#419319) Homepage

    it scares me that they need to explicitly say 'no explosives', like there are a bunch of kids who wanted to sent TNT into space.

    Along those lines, I've got a (formerly) solar calculator that has been running for over ten years continuously. Unless it breaks, I fully expect that it will continue to work long after I'm dead.

    I painted its solar cell with the radium-based luminous paint that was used on clock and watch faces before it was discovered to be dangerous. It seems that the beta particles and low-energy gamma rays very well "illuminate" the solar cell.

    You could easily power a D-I-Y microsatellite in this way, without having to have to engineer systems to deploy solar cells once in orbit.

    Is that worse than the explosives?

    Instead of using mechanical systems, motors or even explosives (ie. NASA loves exploding bolts - seriously) to deploy fragile solar cells by remote control, in orbit, all you'd need to do is make a nice little bundle of solar cells, coated in this paint, and packaged tightly to prevent damage. All of a sudden, for low-power satellites, you've got a viable power source.

    I'm sure Cassini's controversial nuclear power source was a lot more refined, but it doesn't need to be complicated to work well.

    As for the radium paint, look around antique shops, volunteer in the workshop of an aviation museum, etc. Old bottles of the paint occasionally turn up - just don't put them in your pockets, and make sure you've washed your hands after using them, and don't scrape the dried-on paint, because the dust is bad. Treat it like a lead-based paint, and you'll be quite safe.

  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @03:25PM (#419320) Journal

    ...I'd use it to launch 10,000 Pico-Satellites!

    Then I sit back and laugh while NORAD tries to track them boogers.

    "A microprocessor... is a terrible thing to waste." --

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant