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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Uh... (Score 1) 89

Yes. Many patents aren't weaponized, and are defensive. The media, and many here, are focussing on the case where desperate companies like Yahoo are using them as weapons. I would wager the vast majority of patents are not used in this way.

Many arguments here focus on the philosophical "you can't own an idea." This may be true, but the practical reason for patents (justifiable philosophically or not) is to incentivize the development of new technologies. I've experienced the benefit of this thinking first hand, growing up with two engineer parents who, between them, owned/created somewhere around 30 patents.

Fact of the matter is they wouldn't have worked on these technologies if another company could legally come in, replicate their product exactly, and take a significant slice of potential market share. You can call that greedy, but the money that the patent protection afforded my parents (and many other inventors and the companies they work for) feeds families.

On a corporate level, I witnessed the work my parents did for Motorola and National Instruments in the early 90s get ripped off by other companies. When this occurred, the violating companies had a few choices: stop using that tech in that way, license it, or be bought out by the patent owning company. That was what was offered before litigation occurred. You can call this destructive, but ask yourself this ... would you, as an engineer or owner of a company, invest in the development of a product if you knew it was going to be ripped off right away and you wouldn't make nearly as much money as you could? If such robbery were legal, the incentive to invest in development would be diminished greatly.

Is Yahoo's use of these patents frivolous? Absolutely. But let's not universalize here and categorize all patents as bad. I support innovation and the free spread of ideas, but there is a price to pay when you no longer incentivize the commercialization of those ideas, and destroy the tools that allow creators to hope for profit protected by law.

Submission + - Pico Projector That Adapts to Surface, Can Use Random Objects as Input Devices (engadget.com)

jpwilliams writes: This tiny projector can use random surfaces to project an image. Using a webcam, it adapts to the surface, not just by adjusting keystone, but also following that surface and displaying different amounts of information (in certain cases). The guy in the video also uses a coffee mug as an app changer.

Comment Re:Be careful (Score 1) 36

Exactly. The trouble also is that you, as the entrepreneur/inventor/owner of what's being sold, can experience some cognitive dissonance when confronted with "too goo to be true" offers. In other words, since you love your creation, a scam artist knows they can appeal to you with what seems like offers that are too good to be true, since you are trying to justify doing business with them. That's why it is so important to get an outside perspective, hopefully from an expert.

Comment Re:Be careful (Score 5, Informative) 36

You're right, there are a lot of scammers out there, and that gives the real guys a bad name.

I used to work for a legit firm. Here's a few tips (totally anecdotal) in case you're interested.

1. See how fast they move
If they're trying to close the deal after one or two calls, beware. Proper firms will vet the idea, invention through several channels, as well as having lots of internal discussion before closing a deal. Even if the firm is just a few people, lots of consideration goes into each opportunity. Unlike scammers, who are wham bam thank you entrepreneurial maam.

2. What other companies are in their portfolio
Just like the parent mentioned, investigate their portfolio. Don't look for a lot of companies. Rather, look for companies that seem to have a legitimate product or service they are marketing to a known (not necessarily established) marketplace. Note: some of these companies won't have websites or huge public faces yet, that's not bad necessarily, it could just mean they are young.

3. Get a second, expert opinion
Search your network and find someone you know who's dealt with an investment banker or VC before. Tell them in vague details what you've experienced, and see if they identify any red flags.

Angels and VCs are a great way to bring an idea into reality. Don't be afraid, be careful.


Submission + - Hackers Hit Apple Supplier Foxconn (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: Protests against Apple and Foxconn due to furor over reports about working conditions have gone digital.

A group known as SwaggSec has successfully hacked computers at Foxconn, and posted the stolen data to The Pirate Bay website.

News of the hack comes as protesters paid a visit today to Apple stores around the world to deliver petitions demanding the improvement of working conditions at factories run by Apple suppliers in China and other countries.

In response to the attack, Foxconn reportedly took down a website that explains the services it offers to some of its partners, including Apple, Cisco and Acer.

The Almighty Buck

Submission + - The Zuckerberg Tax

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "David S. Miller writes that when Facebook goes public later this year, Mark Zuckerberg plans to exercise stock options worth $5 billion of the $28 billion that his ownership stake will be worth and since the $5 billion he will receive will be treated as salary, Zuckerberg will have a tax bill of more than $2 billion making him, quite possibly, the largest taxpayer in history. But how much income tax will Zuckerberg pay on the rest of his stock that he won’t immediately sell? Nothing, nada, zilch. He can simply use his stock as collateral to borrow against his tremendous wealth and avoid all tax. That’s what Lawrence J. Ellison, the chief executive of Oracle, did, reportedly borrowing more than a billion dollars against his Oracle shares to buy one of the most expensive yachts in the world. Or consider the case of Steven P. Jobs who never sold a single share of Apple after he rejoined the company in 1997, and therefore never paying a penny of tax on the over $2 billion of Apple stock he held at his death. Now Jobs' widow can sell those shares without paying any income tax on the appreciation before his death — only on the increase in value from the time of his death to the time of the sale — because our tax system is based on the concept of “realization.” Individuals are not taxed until they actually sell property and realize their gains and the solution to the problem is called mark-to-market taxation. According to Miller, mark-to-market would only affect individuals who were undeniably, extraordinarily rich, only publicly traded stock would be marked to market, and a mark-to-market system of taxation on the top one-tenth of 1 percent would raise hundreds of billions of dollars of new revenue over the next 10 years."

Comment Very frustrating (Score 4, Interesting) 281

I'm in SF, and I upgraded from an iPhone 3G to a HTC Thunderbolt with 4G. The Thunderbolt, even brand new, has to be charged twice a day at least, and I keep things like Bluetooth and wifi off most of the time. If I don't plug in my phone at night, it will be dead by morning.

Coming from someone who carefully manages when I plug my electronics in so as to extend their usable battery life, it sucks to have to feel like my phone always needs to be plugged in.

Is the 4g tech itself power hungry? Mine seems to have battery trouble even when I'm stationery and the 4g signal is strong.

Comment Re:Dead Tree Exclusivity (Score 1) 70

Not really. There are several publication rights that can be had on a written work. You often see one publisher release the hardcover, another the paperback, another the audiobook, etc.

Now, to be sure, one publisher usually gets a share of those other formats, but that's on a case by case basis. There's no reason why a written work couldn't have more than one publisher over time.

Comment Re:First Round of "winners" arranged? (Score 1) 75

Indeed, I am reading through the Real Analysis one to see.

A math buddy of mine has wanted to write a textbook for years as a big Middle Finger to the establishment. I like the model here. The Real Analysis book, at least, is free for teachers and self-teaching students. Available for a small fee for the classroom. See publisher http://trillia.com/.

Props to you, Trillia!

Comment Re:Nice! (Score 1) 38

I see what you're saying, but I don't know if I agree. The other systems of the body (lymbic, digestive, etc.) are fairly well understood, yet we don't possess the processing power to deliberately (keyword) run them. I believe scientific analysis of many many brains may one do yield just a good understanding of the brain.

This could even more true if you believe in the Singularity, which I personally don't, but it certainly warrants mention.

Comment Re:Nice! (Score 1) 38

Good point. But I don't think we know enough to say, even if the results of this do match past data, that applying this method to something more unfamiliar will yield similar quality. I guess it may bring up some interesting questions that could then be put to scientific scrutiny.

Slashdot Top Deals

Chemist who falls in acid will be tripping for weeks.