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Comment Use off the shelf hardware for control if you can (Score 5, Interesting) 135

Having some experience in this area my suggestion is to use off the shelf hardware if you at all can. For most of these specific market "black box" control applications you'll never sell enough to bring the cost low enough to do a ground-up design at a reasonable price, plus it locks you in to the current state of capabilities. It will be much more cost effective to use existing Android tablets, write an app for them to do your control and talk back to your black box over a network (a private network if you must). This will allow you much more flexibility than linking the control interface directly with the black box. In the pro a/v and automation category where I do some of this work almost everything has gone this direction and it makes it much easier and faster to design/upgrade.

Comment Re:University Owns It (Score 1) 211

The trick is to get someone to pay for it, but not the institution. Particularly in high-expense research areas (biomedial, sciences) you can usually find federal funds (NIH, NSF, etc.) which will make it clear that you own the copyright but that you have to provide a copy for free distribution through some clearinghouse. My suggestion (and experience) is to avoid funds coming directly from the institution, there are too many strings attached as you have noted. Finding money for good research is not as tough as it might seem. I would go so far as to suggest that if you're paying your own tuition (definitely for a PhD and probably for a masters) you're probably doing something wrong. Writing grants is a key part of future academic work so you may as well figure out how the system works now...and negotiating so that you retain copyrights is part of that.

Comment Re:Creative commons! (Score 1) 211

They're mostly concerned with you using their facilities extensively, many times that is not the case. Also, you'll see exceptions if you bring any money/resource into the picture with it's own strings attached (NSF funding is specifically called out). For a terminal MS this is probably less common but in the PhD world you almost always bring your own pot of money to the table and thus can make some of your own demands. I suspect that in the end MIT only ends up owning the rights to a very selective number of theses compared to the total number submitted in any given time period.

Comment Re:University Owns It (Score 1) 211

All of this applies only to my experience in the US... At the schools where I've taught and the schools where I've been a student there are no such forms which state those things. Even if there were as you say it might be that they can use it but I would really enjoy seeing such a form which actually turns over all of the rights and are not joint ownership, etc.

Just because there are grants does not mean that ownership is automatically turned over. In fact, most grants explicitly state that ownership resides with the grantee. Sometimes (many times with federal grants) there are requirements to disseminate the research freely but that's the opposite of what's being talked about and that too would never be implied, it would be clearly spelled out in the agreement accepting the grant. As for the use of labs, equipment, etc. the university usually takes a hefty "administrative cost" off the top of money coming in to cover those things and usually any fixtures, equipment, etc. you purchase with the grant become school property.

Academics vigorously protect that their intellectual property belongs to them and not to anyone else. Most contracts for faculty, for example, go so far as to clearly spell this out...even to the extent that at many schools syllabi are property of the faculty and the school may require a record of it but cannot distribute it without permission. Patentable sponsored research, especially in the areas of biotechnology and plant genomics, are some special cases which may be governed by special agreements about who owns the intellectual property of the research, but even there the rights to the report itself is usually owned by the researcher.

Comment Re:Creative commons! (Score 1) 211

That would not fly in the US. I do believe that in some countries universities may have copyright claim on student work but this is simply not the case in the US unless there is a contract and funding making it a work for hire or copyright assignment. I am not aware of any US schools which have such requirements and I study and practice in the field of education.

Comment Re:University Owns It (Score 1) 211

What country and field is this in? If they are sponsoring the research...maybe. In my experience though it is exactly the opposite. Unless you sign a contract making something a work for hire I am aware of no legislation in the US which would give the university any rights to your work at all (other than fair use of course).

Comment Re:Creative commons! (Score 1) 211

I did this for my PhD (in 2009) too and my school (University of Minnesota) didn't blink over the copyright being CC at all. I also agree with Danah that you should try to make it as available as possible. Even with a CC license it's important that people be able to find it so they can use it. Luckily in my field there is a clearinghouse (ERIC) which will host theses, papers, and articles and distribute them indefinitely. I also allowed the University Archives to post it online. Interestingly, ProQuest later submitted the copy I sent to them to the same database (of course they didn't submit the full text, just a reference link to there site where you can buy it).

Your institution and department don't have any claim to your work (unless they are directly paying for it, but even so giving up the rights to it would be rather unusual) and should not be telling you how you can and cannot copyright it. Worst case you just re-release it after the fact with whatever license you want. Academia is the last place that closed licenses belong!

If you're interested you can see what I did at:

Comment Not a new discussion (Score 4, Insightful) 706

This is not a new discussion... there have been people thinking about this for some time. In March of 2006 I wrote an article on my blog about it (reproduced below) which eventually led to me consulting with Public Radio on a show they were doing at the time about online public information (you can listen to an archived copy of that at October 12, 2007: Your Exposed Life on MPR

My Original Article 3/24/2006:

I've often wondered who will be able to run for political office in forty or fifty years. People, especially youg people, seem to be so naive about posting things online. For years online forums and message boards have been a place where people vented. Now sites like Myspace, Facebook and others are creating such a low barrier to entry that almost every middle and high school child in the United States has some kind of web presence. What many fail to understand is that once something is posted or "said" on the internet it never goes away...ever. The internet is also quite easy to search if you know what you're doing. This dangerous combination means that everything you write to a message board can be found at some point in the future and "can and will be used against you". Any kind of off-color comment or joke you ever made online, even if your intention wasn't to hurt anyone, is public knowledge.

Employers already know about this. BusinessWeek recently ran an article called "You are what you post" that talked about some of the implications for job seeking but I think the arena where this will really get the consultants salivating is politics. There are so few people who are able to hold their tongue and never offend anyone. In the past politicians have relied primarily on obscuring and making it difficult to find embarrassing things about their past. When today's teens start running for political office these things will only be an internet search away. Remember that posting to that email discussion list about STDs you made when you were 15? How about that time someone on a message board got you mad and you called them a racial slur? You may have forgotten these incidents but the internet has not and neither will your enemies.

I wonder if the politicians of the future will need to be groomed from birth to have no defects and think very, very carefully before ever speaking. On the other hand our society may end up becoming more accepting of faults which would not be an all bad outcome. This remains to be seen but in the meantime those of us who have always tried to think about how what we say today could come back (for better or worse) in the future are going to be much better off than the indiscriminate masses.

Comment Re:Good news...? (Score 5, Insightful) 296

Maybe because the web is a medium and not a place?

I'm all for requiring public physical places to be designed with the needs of the disabled in mind. This only makes sense and I think has made a tremendous difference for both the legally disabled and our generally aging population but I don't think the web is the equivalent of a public place. I think it's a medium more akin to a newspaper or book.

Would it make sense to REQUIRE all book publishers to publish extra copies in braille for example? I can certainly see the value of regulations which said that if the publisher (or website author) doesn't do it themselves a third-party service provider must not be prevented from (legally) making the information accessible but to require all websites to do it themselves would put a huge burden on website authors and may just cause a lot of people to stop putting information on the web unless they need to or their is a compelling commercial reason to do so.

Let's look at a project to scan in material from old books and make it available in image/pdf format for research. If the information were required to be accessible it would add a significant amount of work and cost to the (already expensive) digitization process. In my own case where I am putting up some very specific historic and technical material which I am making no money on I might just stop doing it. This would be a net loss for the spread of knowledge.

These types of regulations work best when they encourage people to do the right thing but do NOT just stop anything from happening. eg. If people stopped building public places because of the expense of ADA compliance the ADA would not make sense on a societal level as public places have value. The same goes for websites.

Comment Re:news? (Score 4, Insightful) 150

Why is this sad? What's wrong with implementing RS-232 on a 25 pin D-sub connector? In fact for real RS-232 support you need more than 9 pins and the 25 pin connector is really better suited. The fact that 9 pin connectors became the norm for RS-232 on PCs is the part that's more interesting.

GrandCentral Reborn As Google Voice 206

Some anonymous person wrote in to say that Google has relaunched and rebranded GrandCentral as "Google Voice." The article says it will "revolutionize telephones. It unifies your phone numbers, transcribes your voice mail, blocks telemarketers and elevates text messages to first-class communication citizens." Sadly, the voicemail didn't integrate very nicely w/ my phone back in the day, so I guess I should give it a shot.

Comment Re:1984? (Score 1) 513

Obviously you have not been smacked down by Wikipedia editors for reporting original research in Wikipedia. In other words if you want to prove that someone famous lives in your town going to their house and interviewing them is not sufficient. You must publish that interview somewhere else (and not self-published because they'll smack you for that too) and then someone else must correct the article. All because some newspaper got lazy and reported the incorrect town of residence as a larger town nearby. No, I'm not upset though.

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