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Google

Google Pledges Not To Sue Any Open Source Projects Using Their Patents 153

sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.
Portables

Razer Edge Gaming Tablet Reviewed 48

adeelarshad82 writes "After being tweaked and polished for months with the help of feedback from pro gamers and enthusiasts alike, Razer's Project Fiona has finally come of age. Re-named as Razer Edge Pro, this gaming tablet is way more than a mere plaything. Razer Edge Pro is a beast which packs a dual-core Intel Core i7-3517U Ivy Bridge processor with 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE graphics card with 2GB of dedicated memory. All this in a small 7 by 11 by 0.8 inches wide frame which weighs only 2.14 pounds. Comparing the Razer Edge to anything else is tough, considering that it doesn't necessarily have a true competitor. However in a series of performance comparisons with other powerful tablets and ultraportable gaming laptops, Razer Edge performed better than the tablets but wasn't at par with ultraportable gaming laptops. For instance when comparing scores from 3DMark 11, the Edge Pro scored 2,503 points at entry settings and 504 points in extreme mode putting it ahead of both competing tablets, the Microsoft Surface Pro (1,055 Entry, 206 Extreme) and Samsung ATIV SmartPC (1,044 Entry, couldn't run at Extreme mode), but behind the gaming-focused laptops, like the the Maingear Pulse 11 (3,868 Entry, 724 Extreme) and the Razer Blade (3,458 Entry, 716 Extreme). What's baffling is that with all accessories incuded (gamepad dock and the console dock) the final price of the tablet is a cool $1,870, which most expensive than not only the two tablets tested but also the two gaming gaming laptops compared. It remains to be seen whether the Razer Edge Pro is something special or just on the edge of it."
Science

Interviews: James Randi Answers Your Questions 217

A while ago you had the chance to ask James Randi, the founder of The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), about exposing hucksters, frauds, and fakers. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. In addition to his writings below, Randi was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about his life and his foundation. Keep an eye out for those videos coming soon.

Comment Re:Turns out (Score 1) 473

It shouldn't be, but statistically speaking, you're wrong. Don't confuse stereotyping individuals (which may or may not be a factually correct assessment of someone, depending on the individual) with aggregate data collection (which can be proven to be statistically valid). Most people who actively associate themselves with gay rights are gay. That is in no way saying that no straight person does so, or that most straight people aren't for gay rights (which has become the case in only the last decade). It's only saying that those people marching in gay rights parades? They are predominantly gay. If you pull someone out of the parade, they might or might not be gay. But if you want to advertise, for example, a heterosexual dating service, you'd probably be better off targeting a different event demographically.

Comment Re:It's time to stop calling these things "phones" (Score 5, Insightful) 619

People used to ask why desktops would need multiple processors. Most software now takes advantage of multithreading capability, and trying to use a single core process is downright painful.

It may not need to multitask many phone calls at once, but it most certainly may need to multitask a whole bunch of apps at once, especially on a phone that can do things like instantly translate written or spoken text, record and composite two video sources at once and audio in real time, receive notifications such as texts, keep track of calendars, locations, temperatures (?), heart rates (!), etc. while you go about whatever it is you're doing, running a pretty sophisticated operating system with a pretty sophisticated user interface, and oh yeah, take and process telephone calls. And don't forget that it might have to do some of these tasks twice, given that the phone can be configured to be running an entirely separate virtual OS for your work stuff.

Never ask why any electronics device would need more resources, whether it's CPU cores, memory, storage capacity, network bandwidth, or anything else. It's a sure recipe for looking back in five years and say, "Wow, I sure was dumb back then. I never dreamed that devices today would be able to [insert amazing capability due directly to advancement in hardware specifications]!"

Comment Re:Ah tax season (Score 1) 526

With all due respect, this is one of the dumbest things I've ever read on Slashdot. It really doesn't take a lot of thinking to realize how nonsensical what you've stated is. Yes, some poor and middle-class people have investments, but I can't imagine anyone who doesn't know that the rich have disproportionately much more in investments than any poor or middle class person does. In fact, most of the poor don't have any investments at all, or so little as to be negligible, more than offset by debts they carry, and a lot of the working lower-middle class don't either. Sales taxes (or VATs or consumption taxes or whatever snake oil term you want to use for it now) disproportionately hit the poor and middle class, the people who don't have the luxury of choosing whether to spend or save their money because they're living paycheck-to-paycheck. Your warped logic seems to be that because the poor and middle class would have to pay a little bit extra on investments if the capital gains tax is raised, let's instead endorse a plan in which they'd get the shit smacked out of them with, depending on who you ask, an extra 20%-40% in taxes at the time of purchase. Oh, and the rich, who pay the lions share of capital gains taxes, might have to pay a minuscule bit more on their foie gras, but if you're listening to who I think you're listening to, they'll get a huge windfall in paying little or no taxes on money made by their money sitting in a bank or corporation's slush fund!

I hope you're not seriously advocating the so-called "Fair Tax," because the people who cooked that up have one goal and one goal only in mind: To shift the nation's already skewed tax burden even more onto the poor and middle class. It is to get people who currently pay little to no taxes due to their low incomes to pay even more in a national sales tax. Yes, I've read up on the so-called "Fair Tax". Yes, I've heard all of the arguments for it. Yes, I know about the proposed refund to people in poverty. I've looked at the numbers, evaluated their arguments, and come to the conclusion that they are goddamned liars with a slick marketing campaign trying to twist the concept of "fairness" into getting people to lobby against their own economic self-interest.

What really needs to happen is that they need to do away with the capital gains tax and tax all income as income, period, end of story. If you make $50,000 from wages and $5,000 from capital gains, then you'll pay a marginal income tax rate of 25% on that $5,000. If, on the other hand, you make $5,000 from wages and $50,000 from capital gains, you'll pay a marginal income tax rate of 25% on the last $5,000 of that $50,000. No matter how you slice it or dice it, you pay the same taxes.

Comment Re:Turns out (Score 4, Interesting) 473

Funny, but it does make me wonder. While I'm not gay, I do tend to like statuses and pages that have to do with gay rights, and several of my friends on Facebook are gay, yet I still see ads all the time for single ladies in my area. It makes me wonder: 1) Has Facebook accurately pegged me as straight (or bisexual) even though I haven't given it any direct indication of what I am, 2) has Facebook not made the connection and/or advertisers don't care, just spamming their ads to all males, or 3) is Facebook using some other algorithm that happens to be accurate for me, but generally less accurate for the population as a whole? Personally, I think #2 is correct.

I'd like to see a page about me that says, "Here's the information you've provided, and here's the information we're inferring from what we know about you." I suppose they'd never do that because it might very well creep people out too much, but then, it might get people whose inferences are wrong to directly supply the information to them.

Comment Re:Liberty must win... (Score 1) 303

Maybe, but if you're a nude man and see someone attractive, it could be a bit embarrassing. You just can't hide that. And if you spend much time in an airport, you'll know that there are some VERY attractive people who go through there. While I'm not so low on self-control that I'd rape someone, sometimes just thinking about that girl I saw in the theater last night is enough that I'm glad I wear pants everywhere I go about my daily business.

Comment IVR hell (Score 1) 294

True story: A few years ago I got sick as a dog, running fever, having chills, and relevantly to this story, I had a nasty case of laryngitis. I wasn't just hoarse, I just plain couldn't talk. I called my insurance company to get some information I needed to go to the doctor, and I had one of those damn voice menus. "Please say your social security number!"...

I tried entering it in using touch tones, but it wouldn't work. The damn thing insisted that I say my social security number, and it wouldn't let me talk to anyone until I did. And I tried, too. Oh lord, I did try. I could get enough weird sounds out that a human could probably understand what I was saying, but my voice was breaking up so badly that the IVR couldn't decipher it.

I ended up going to the doctor anyway, and they had someone from the receptionist desk help me out with the insurance stuff because according to that insurance company, if you can't talk, you don't get help.

To this day, I think that any company worth its salt should give you the option of dropping to a human operator to help you. There are just too many things that can go wrong with an IVR, and too many problems that are simply unsolvable via automated response systems.

Comment I'd go further... (Score 1) 418

I'd go even further, and say that most of even the best documentation doesn't provide use cases and best practices. Picking on MSDN as an example, there are some really good articles out there about various topics, but there aren't a lot of articles on addressing a specific question or need. If you need to know how to use, for example, a treeview control, MSDN is probably the best place to go. But it doesn't answer the question, should I be using a treeview control to begin with, or are there other solutions that might be better? Or, I'm having a specific problem with a treeview control, such as getting it to work right in a multithreaded application. How do I fix this? For those kinds of issues, you don't particularly need documentation, you need a community that is ready and willing to help you.

Having said that, one problem with StackOverflow is that it's not maintained that well. I've frequently found answers there that were just plain wrong, and answers that might have been applicable in 2005 when the software I'm working with was six versions behind what I'm using now. It would be nice if they had some sort of cleanup mechanism to maintain a bit of freshness to the answers and encourage people to re-answer questions when underlying technologies or software changes.

Comment Re:Another reason we're stuck on this blue planet (Score 3, Insightful) 505

Seriously? "Stumble upon" science? Man, I'm glad you had no authority in the Apollo program.

The idea is that you don't wait for these technologies to serendipitously come along, you go research and find them. Maybe your success will be limited, but in the process, you will probably stumble upon things that will be useful in other fields. In this day and age when we're approaching ecological disasters and energy crises, I think that a lot of the technology researched in working on a manned mission to Mars would be very useful in other fields.

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