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Comment Re:WTF (Score 3, Insightful) 349

That guy misses the point.

There is an apparent change here, evidenced by the fact that new tests of old drugs are giving poorer relative results while giving similar absolute results.

It may be due to better testing methods. It may be that there was fraud in the earlier tests which has been gradually weeded out. It may be that people in studies are culturally more eager to please and so are (consciously or unconsciously) making larger lifestyle changes when they enter the study. It may be (as stipulated in TFA) an increased confidence in pharmacology leading to a larger impact of those "other less clear and tangible effects" that PalMD nods to. It is not simply representative of the failure of pharma to find worthwhile new drugs - the fact that old drugs wouldn't pass muster puts the lie to that. What is interesting is that standards have implicitly risen, and no one understands why. This is news, this is interesting, and this should be investigated.

Comment Re:Like any partially treated wart (Score 1) 275

IMHO, a better strategy is a short, definite length (say, 14 years - the original maximum term?).

My reasoning is that we can therefore look at something that says "(C) 1994" and know that it's out of copyright, and something that says "(C) 1996" and know it's not (unless the author's placed it in the public domain earlier).

Comment Re:Like any partially treated wart (Score 1) 275

They aren't bound by law to take the job in the first place. If they feel their duty to the shareholders in their position is requiring them to act unethically, they should quit. Their duty to the shareholders cannot require them to act illegally (although they may be replaced if they don't, in a lax regulatory climate).

Comment Re:hire a lawyer IS a practicle step. (Score 1) 221

But if you know of a vaguely related patent, and in your expert opinion deem it to be unrelated, you're placing yourself at the mercy of the court - if they decide differently, you're liable for treble damages.

My understanding is that the "correct" thing to do is to hire a lawyer, before you set about inventing anything. Have them do a thorough search, and never look at any patents yourself until they expire.

Of course, this means that inventing anything costs at least the price of a patent lawyer, shutting out the small players - which is why patents should only apply to industries where the cost of research is so high that it dwarfs the price of the patent lawyer (so, y'know, NOT SOFTWARE) and probably not a few other areas as well.

Comment Re:Story meaning? (Score 2, Insightful) 313

It does not "obviously" amount to theft. It *is* illicit, and it may be immoral (see Free Rider Problem), but it is not theft. If I steal 10 M&Ms from you, you have 10 fewer M&Ms - not the case if I download your song, in which case you have less than you otherwise would have *if and only if* I would otherwise have paid for it. This clearly is not the case for, say, college students with tens of thousands of dollars "worth" of media on their hard drive.

As for legal uses of "file-sharing" technologies, well - how about the entire world-wide web? We're sharing files...

Specifically P2P file-sharing technologies? Linux ISOs and WoW updates, to name two common legal uses.

Finally, I for one have an emotional reaction to assertions that technology should be restricted unless I can make you understand what it is for - and I don't even personally use any P2P software at the moment.


Submission + - Super-Smart AI Will Need to be Super-Motivated Too (

An anonymous reader writes: Neurobiologist Ed Boyden has an article in Technology Review discussing the potential pitfalls of creating a super-intelligent artificial intelligence without also building in some sort of motivation. Most visions of a Technological Singularity are concerned purely with creating highly intelligent machines, but Boyden worries that such machines might quickly realize the futility of existence and "decide to play video games for the remainder of its existence". From the article: "Intelligence, as commonly defined, isn't enough to impact the world all by itself. The ability to pursue a goal doggedly against obstacles, ignoring the grimness of reality (sometimes even to the point of delusion--i.e., against intelligence), is also important. Most science-fiction stories prefer their artificial intelligences to be extremely motivated to do things--for example, enslaving or wiping out humans, if The Matrix and Terminator II have anything to say on the topic. But I find just as plausible the robot Marvin, the superintelligent machine from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, who used his enormous intelligence chiefly to sit around and complain, in the absence of any big goal".

Submission + - How to Build a Low Power Home Server?

thetartanavenger writes: My home server is at the end of it's tether and in desperate need of an upgrade, but this time I'm wanting to do it right. All it does is act as a file server and a few other low-usage daemons so processing power is not important here. As it's an always on server I'd like to minimize it's power usage as much as possible, at the very least when not in use, so I was wondering in which direction the community would recommend to do so. Expandability is essential so a large number of SATA ports are a must but other than that what hardware would you go for?

Submission + - Code-breaking quantum algorithm on a silicon chip

Urchin writes: "Shor's quantum algorithm, which offers a way to crack the commonly used RSA encryption algorithm, has been demonstrated on a silicon chip for the first time. The algorithm was first demonstrated on large tabletop arrays 3 years ago, but the photonic quantum circuit can now be printed relatively easily onto a silicon chip just 25 mm long."

Comment Re:When I multitask... (Score 1) 386

That strip shows polling behavior, not interrupt driven. Interrupts are my preferred method of dealing with the world. How much time have you wasted checking email or Slashdot when there was nothing new? I know the figure is pretty high for me... That said, context switches are indeed expensive.

What I find works best for me is an unobtrusive notification, that I can address when I've wrapped up my current train of thought - the CS analogue would be a top-half/bottom-half split in my interrupt handler. The top half notices that my phone has beeped, and I schedule it for later.

Comment Re:open source... Likely defence (Score 1) 306

To some degree you attack a straw-man here. The bewilderment expressed in these comments is at the apparent waste of resources - setting up a means of informing security when the burner is used is significantly harder than simply removing/disabling the burner, and no easier than selectively enabling it. I question the notion that burning CDs may have been a regular part of business - they surely don't quarantine a section of the office in response to routine behavior. It is precisely the fact that they went to such lengths and seem to care so much and yet aren't taking what seem to be more reasonable precautions that leaves us confused.

Comment Re:Copyright law applies to internal distribution (Score 1) 306

I don't think it would. Consider the last sentence of the passage you quoted.

In this case, too, no GPL-covered code is being distributed under an NDA, or under any additional restrictions.

This is manifestly not the case when I am given a modified version of GPLed code and told I cannot distribute it.

Note specifically that in the examples above, it's a question of what someone agrees to do with code he has written. In our example, it's a question of restricting what someone agrees to do with GPLed code they were provided. If - a big if - the employees are taken to be recipients of the software, the employees are either implicitly licensed the software under the GPL or the company is in violation of copyright.

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