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Comment Hear that sound? (Score 4, Interesting) 272

Its the sound of the patent system beginning to crash down. RIght now there are two choices

1) Take the fundamentally broken US system and roll it out across the world
2) Take the rest of the worlds approach that software can't be patented and roll it out to the UK

The scary thing is that even with judgements like this and the patent trolls out there we are actually seeing the likes of Microsoft push for option 1.

Patents will be the death of innovation if the system continues in this way, particularly if the US judgements are assessed at insane levels of cost. If Microsoft had known about this patent when starting the development they'd have bought the company for less than this judgement.

Comment Don't worry about the quality, feel the cost (Score 3, Insightful) 215

Seriously is this a good thing?

In the UK we have a service "NHS Direct" which is effectively a triage service which tells you whether you need to go to a doctor. Its in no way shape or form a replacement for a direct doctors appointment its just there to filter out cases that aren't overly serious or are serious enough to need an emergency visit. This service is staffed by nurses and its pretty good and does help with people who are concerned about medical issues.

The idea of someone prescribing drugs via this sort of service is just insane. It would be smarter to delegate prescriptions, or at least re-issuing prescriptions, to pharmacists who will at least see the patient. Or are we going to a world where you don't see the doctor and you get your drugs shipped direct so you never ever see anyone with any sort of medical training who can just briefly add a sanity check to the whole thing.

Its hard to imagine a better example as to why the US system is completely and utterly fucked than this being considered a good thing.

Comment Re:More power to 'em (Score 2, Interesting) 647

Europe doesn't have software patents..... yet.

The problem is that legal tourism means that its about the lowest point, so the US/UK extradition treaty is based on the US idea of "fuck, he must be guilty" while libel tourism goes to the UK as there is a nutty judge (Eady) who appears to think that even if you are a corrupt funder of terrorist groups then it would be wrong to actually say that out loud.

Software patents, such as the Eolas one fail miserably on the "non-obvious" basis. My favourite prior art on this would be the wonder that is Emacs, Emacs is an environment with a million different plug-ins which delegate IO to the containing applications, these elements can be downloaded dynamically if you want as well. Hypercard would he a hypermedia prior art.

The US standard for patents is so low that basically anything is patentable and the "non-obvious" clause appears to have been dropped, even prior art has arguably been dropped and a reasonable time perspective of this being about 15 years they've had the patent and in that time they've sued one company.

And which company did they sue? Was it the same company who gave money to SCO to "settle" things.

Go figure.

Comment Health reform for the stupid (Score 5, Insightful) 85

For anyone in the US who thinks that the current system is any good whatsoever have a read of how losing your job can cost you your life.

This paying in Facebook games just sums up the level of "debate". On one side you have a bunch of people who, like the old tobacco company, will swear blind that the current system is perfectly okay despite it killing an estimated 45,000 people a year. That is 15 9/11s in terms of un-needed deaths as a result of the current system which is being actively supported by those who profit from it.

The irony of course is that the US not only has the worst coverage it also has the most expensive healthcare in the world while also having a lower life expectancy than most other 1st world countries.

So to everyone who decrys the systems in Switzerland, France, Canada, UK, etc remember this. They save more lives, they result in a longer average life expectancy and they don't kill their citizens because they've lost their job. and they cost less, often half or less of the US spend per capita

More deaths for more money. And this is the system people want? No its the system that corporations with marketing departments want and the sheep are fine to go along if they get thrown some facebook points.

How sad

Comment Re:The TSA redacting process (Score 1) 605

I suspect the boarding pass check is primarily to keep the TSA from being overwhelmed by people not flying, such as family members waiting for you to arrive. Using it for any other purpose (including identifying selectees) is pretty pointless until they actually validate the boarding pass. They're slowly starting to do this, but it's a long process.

Which means JUST CHECK IT ONCE at the start of the queue. The 2nd check is completely and utterly pointless. Hell I once realised I'd been showing them the wrong boarding pass, it was only when I went to get on the plane that they pointed it out.

Comment The TSA redacting process (Score 4, Insightful) 605

This clearly comes from the people who thought up my favourite piece of brain dead "security" from the TSA

When you enter the line to the security gate a TSA numpty checks your boarding pass to make sure you are allowed to join the line. Everyone joining the line has their boarding pass checked, this is a piece of paper often printed on a computer that says what flight you are on, its just about the easiest thing to fake in the history of fakery.

Then you lob everything into the x-ray machine, clearly needing to separate your laptop out as clearly its impossible to see stuff through that. Shoes of course, belts, internal organs...

Then as you step through the body scanner some TSA numpty says "boarding pass please". Pointing out that you've just put all your crap through the machine and that your boarding pass is with your passport and your wallet is of course pointless. The answer... wait until it comes out of the machine and then show the numpty. you are of course also checked at the gate with both passport (hard to fake) and boarding pass (trivial to fake).

So in otherwords the TSA check TWICE a piece of easy to fake information and NEVER check your ruddy passport.

So how did the TSA redact this PDF. Well simple they had the same process. The first person pasted on the black squares. This was then printed out.

The first checker then looked at the printed out copy and said "looks fine to me"

This document was then scanned in and then printed again to be checked by a second checker who said "yup all okay"

And then they put the ORIGINIAL electronic copy on line with the pasting over the top.

The TSA is to security what Micheal Vick is to Pet Care

Comment Every ten years (Score 1) 408

I bought my last PC after a ten year cycle and the next one is heading that way the basic thought went

When they bring out a standard dual-CPU set up I'll upgrade
When they bring out a single chip dual-core set-up I'll upgrade
When the bring out a single chip dual-core 64 bit set-up I'll upgrade
When I can get 8GB of RAM I'll upgrade

3 years ago I got to the stage where my 400Mhz Pentium II was struggling even with DSL to do some of the video editing requirements I had. So into the breach and a 64 bit/dual core box was mine.

Now I'm into the

When SSDs are over 500GB
When I can have >16 cores
When I can stuff 24 GB of RAM into it

Or to put it another way I'm now waiting for the next Mac Pro

As a techy my home machine is always behind the curve because I tune it and keep it clean.

At work however my upgrade schedule is about 9 months as I go through laptops in a brutal manner. This also means that it satisfies my tech lust (ooooh Shiny MacBook Pro) without me having to pay for it.

Comment Re:When facts were respected (Score 1) 83

I'm not sure this is true. In the early Victorian period in particular the drive for rationalism and empirical information was everywhere. The heros of the age were scientists, explorers and engineers.

In Newton's time there was more mumbo jumbo but do remember that they changed the laws of the country to allow him to take up his chair at Cambridge, this led (in part) to the explosion of non-comformist religions in the UK.

Benjamin Franklin was a hero in the US in the early victorian era (IIRTTC) and is a great example of the difference between then and now.

Comment Re:When facts were respected (Score 2, Insightful) 83

The placebo effect is a real thing, and it works better if the placebo is expensive.

It is indeed real but that doesn't make homeopathy real. I have no problems with the placebo effect or even people who deliberately sell a placebo wrapped in mumbo jumbo what I have is a problem with people selling a placebo who don't have the intellectual honesty to admit its just a placebo.

The placebo works, homeopathy doesn't.

Comment When facts were respected (Score 4, Insightful) 83

The Royal Society really does typify the content led questioning society that the world used to be. By establishing a body (The Royal Society) with the express intention of enabling that form of dicussion it represented very much a broad view that facts were what moved society forward rather than opinions.

How far we have fallen from 200 years ago into a world where opinion matters more than facts and where its routine for big companies in particular to hide data that doesn't match the outcome that they want.

The current pieces around Climate Change are a great example as to how far we have fallen, people with zero background, training or experience in a field are claiming that their opinions are just as valid as someone who are studied a field for 20 years.

We have people questioning doctors and demanding antibiotics
We have people believing rubbish like homeopathy because their "opinion" is it works
We have presidents believing that FAITH in something (WMDs) is more important that actual facts
We have people questioning evolution because their FAITH says it isn't so

Hopefully in 100 years our great-grand-children will look back on this as the biggest era of deliberate human stupidy. Its not often the past is actually better but the basis of the Royal Society and indeed the society which it represented 200 years ago is a much more rational and measured one than the FoxNews driven debates of today.

I often think that Fox News would be firmly on the "gravity denier" side if it had been around at the time of Newton.

Comment Xenophon and Socrates (Score 3, Insightful) 511

Pretty OT here but with people making Xenu gags because of the name its worth point out that Xenophon's Conversations with Socrates is one of the few sources for views of the great Greek philosopher and orator.

CoS are of course a shill, its not even a very clever shill, their "e-meters" are almost as dumb as the bullet proof pants that the Mormons try and pedal.

Why should any religion get tax status? They aren't a charity, the money is primarily there to support their own organisation. They are selling a product called "salvation" and people are paying money in the belief they are getting something back.

Socrates wasn't the biggest fan of religion either... question everything.

Comment Re:Gee, it's almost like they have a monopoly or s (Score 1) 330

That would make sense if you could demonstrate how they are leveraging their current "monopoly" (search) to dominate in another area (mobile phone OS, Sat Nav). This is VERY different from having a dominant (and convicted) monopoly in one type of operating system (desktop) and then using that to shift into other operating system areas (Mobile, Gaming, etc).

Its the difference between GE and Standard Oil. Being GOOD at different things is fine.

Comment Re:Finally!!! (Score 1) 278

Seriously, I have trouble dating


from "interviewing" them and their family

Now correlation is not causation but....... I'd suggest reducing the formal interview requirements for prospective dates and particularly don't insist on interviewing their family before considering them for a date.

Just a little hint....

Comment Re:Wouldn't it make more sense... (Score 2, Interesting) 105

Only if you trust the US to not screw around with it for political reasons. Imagine Sarah Palin as President, who is to say she wouldn't scramble GPS for France & Germany because they refuse to support her invasion of Canada? How about if they release those algorithms and keys just to US companies thus undermining European ones (TomTom etc) and say that the keys can only be exported in completed devices.

The issue with GPS is one of trust and control, simply put the Europeans don't trust the US to play nicely and fair in part because they are funding it.

And if it sounds far fetched... remember the US used to forbid the export of crypto.

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