Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment Respect needs to be earned... (Score 1, Troll) 133

...and far from earning respect, Microsoft's thieving, scattergun approach to acquiring patents deserves only disgust and contempt. I know it's really the patent system's fault that Microsoft and others are both motivated and enabled to steal by patenting the trivial, the broad, the already invented etc. in the first place, but if theft and extortion were made legal it wouldn't make calls for respect from professional thieves and racketeers any more palatable, would it?

Comment Re:Time to rethink patent laws (Score 2, Informative) 282

Economists have always worried about whether the patent system actually works as intended or not. For evidence that it probably does not work for e.g. software, start here: Before reading the recent literature, however, I'd recommend reading Machlup's famous review: in which it is made clear that fairness is an outdated way of thinking about patents and a weak justification for them at best: the disclosure benefit is dubious, to say the least, and the patent privilege is something which needs to be justified as beneficial despite its potential for *unfairness* (and its various other negative effects).

Comment Re:Patent Trolls are a GOOD thing... (Score 1) 250

It's a pain that popular compression algorithms are covered by patents


but I think it's quite fair to say that advances there are patentworthy, just like advances in analog techniques of bandwidth reduction for broadcast video.

And as any student of the patent system will tell you, the patent system never has been and (for various reasons) cannot be made to issue patents only for "patentworthy" inventions. Unless there is good reason and evidence to believe that making patents available in some field/industry "promotes progress...", the economically (and ethically) rational thing to do is to not make them available. See e.g. Machlup's review and

Comment Re:My recollection differs from the book (Score 1) 713

Perhaps someone knows of studies to the contrary (or which support these tentative beliefs)?

You should read the book (or at least an accurate review of it) before you decide your recollection substantially differs from it. ;-) Unless your earlier investigation of these matters was a long time ago or cursory you probably read some of Ernst's work or at least saw mention of it.

Comment Re:The author is wrong about accupuncture (Score 1) 713

Ignore idiots like him and read peer reviewed journals and abstracts before basing your own judgment.

As I and others have pointed out below, your citations do not refute the book's claims concerning acupuncture or anything else and you are the one making a fool of yourself. Perhaps if you'd taken your own advice and at least read a more reliable book review: you wouldn't have made such absurd accusations against Ernst & Singh but there really is no excuse for this.

Comment Re:I cited through pubmed because it's public (Score 1) 713

Would you prefer citations from journals that require a subscription or academic access?

Your citations of individual studies are irrelevant and do not support your original post's assertion that they constitute a refutation of Ernst's position:

that is but one of the author's claims that actual published studies in the medical literature refute

Ernst's position on acupuncture is informed by the totality of the evidence to date. That evidence includes systematic reviews etc. which will have taken into consideration individual studies like those you linked to (even if only to then discard them as being of too poor quality).

Perhaps you've been misled by the awful book review here but that doesn't really excuse your ludicrously illogical, inapt and ironic smears against a highly respected "alternative" medicine researcher.


Submission + - Sage wins Award for Free Mathematical Software

Ponca City, We Love You writes: "Since 2003, Cetril has organised the Trophées du Libre contest to reward innovative free software and this year Sage won first place in the Scientific Software category. Sage faced initial skepticism from the mathematics and education communities. "I've had a surprisingly large number of people tell me that something like Sage couldn't be done — that it just wasn't possible," said William Stein, lead developer of the tool. "I'm hearing that less now." The big commercial programs — Matlab, Maple, Mathematica and Magma — charge license fees. The Mathematica Web page, for example, charges $2,495 for a regular license. But the frustrations aren't only financial. Commercial programs don't always reveal how the calculations are performed. This means that other mathematicians can't scrutinize the code to see how a computer-based calculation arrived at a result. "Not being able to check the code of a computer-based calculation is like not publishing proofs for a mathematical theorem," Stein said. "It's ludicrous.""
The Courts

Submission + - RIAA ordered to divulge expenses-per-download

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "The Court has ordered UMG Recordings, Warner Bros. Records, Interscope Records, Motown, and SONY BMG to disclose their expenses-per-download to the defendant's lawyers, in UMG v. Lindor, a case pending in Brooklyn. The Court held that the expense figures are relevant to the issue of whether the RIAA's attempt to recover damages of $750 or more per 99-cent song file, is an unconstitutional violation of due process."

Submission + - A supercomputer to design better plants?

Roland Piquepaille writes: "Is it possible to create more productive crops than nature does without growing hybrids or genetically modified plants? According to researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the answer is yes . They've simulated photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light to energy, with the help of supercomputers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Their models suggest that soybean productivity could be increased by 40 to 60 percent. They're also working with wheat and rice and expect that biotechnology companies will use this research to design more productive plants without altering their genes. But read more for additional details and to see how the researchers calibrated their supercomputing model."

Submission + - BBC told Windows DRM is not enough

Richard Fairhurst writes: "The trustees who govern the British broadcaster have demanded that its new video-on-demand service mustn't be Windows-only. The BBC Trust says the new iPlayer must be "platform-agnostic within a reasonable timeframe", explaining: "This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux, to access the on-demand services.""

Submission + - Making Animated Fluids Look More Realistic

brunascle writes: Technology Review has an article about recent advances in animated fluid dynamics made by Mathieu Desbrun, a computer science professor at Caltech. "He and his team are developing an entirely new approach to fluid motion, based on new mathematics called discrete differential geometry, that use equations designed specifically to be solved by computers rather than people." Desbrun explains that the currently in-use equations for anitmating fluid dynamics were not developed with computers in mind, and were simply reworkings of older equations. He claims that his new equations use about the same amout of computer resources, but with much better results. The article includes a 5 minute (flash) video demonstrating various results using his equations, ending with 2 fascinating and vivid displays: the first of a snowglobe, and the second of a cloud of smoke filling a volume in the shape of a bunny.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Mr. Watson, come here, I want you." -- Alexander Graham Bell