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Comment Re:Yet Another Reason... (Score 1) 214

I believe you'll find that argument against software patents is threefold - firstly, that they have a far broader reach than most patents, secondly, they are obvious to practitioners of the art, and thirdly, the lifetime of software patent is often significantly shorter than items in the physical world.

I'll touch first on the obviousness - I think it's likely that patent examiners are not software developers. Nor are they likely to be mechanical engineers, or experts in other fields. For some reason though, software is a black art - lots of people seem to intuitively understand mechanical devices, yet those same people look at computers and cry "too hard". As a result, patents that really are obvious to a programmer can be approved - it's on a computer therefore it must be new and complex.

For the other two points; consider, for example, a patent on a new 6 cycle engine - which happens to be perfect for large, low RPM equipment because it produces far more torque for some reason. The creator works in the ... oh, I dunno ... let's say the mining industry. The patent application is written by a lawyer who considers the application of the engine to mining, construction etc - but in the end for whatever reason it can't be adapted to ships.

Now someone comes along and builds on (or around) that patent for a revised 6-cycle engine for ships. No (minor?) infringement. New patent. Technology progresses. The patent applies for, I think, 17 years? But creating a new type of engine probably takes 5-10. So the patent is between 1.7x and 3x the development cycle.

The equivalent patent in the software world not only applies to all software in all fields of endeavour, they all seem to be incredibly broad compared to physical object patents, and I contend that they effectively last far longer. The software patents I've seen boil down to "software does a common task in any number of ways" - and because the patent system doesn't require a working model, it's a case of "think of a way it can be done and it's patented". So now because I've needed to solve a problem, and I have a patent on all the ways I can think of to solve the problem, no-one else can write software that solves the problem. Also, that 17 year life of the patent is anywhere from 8x to 17x the life-cycle of software (versioning estimated at 1-2 years). With software you can often easily produce a new major version in a year - you can create something completely new, on the back of last year's efforts, in as little as a few months.

I guess the equivalent in the engine example would be the ability to patent "a device, with any number of combustion chambers, powered by a fuel composed of an element or compound, or collection of compounds, with zero or more extra components, where the fuel is burned". And yet I don't recall seeing patents like that.

Don't get me started on companies patenting gene sequences - unless they're claiming to have created the gene sequence from scratch (i.e. stringing individual bases together), they didn't create anything. They may have FOUND it, but last I checked finding != creating.

Comment Re:RTFA - really, it's interesting! (Score 1) 845

Last time I checked, 140+56 was only 196. So if you actually do as described, you'd be looking at both answers above $200 and calculating further.

How did I do it? The "hard" way.

288 / 40 = $7.2/hr, 29 * 7.2 = 140 + 63 + change so it had to be more than 203, ah fuck it it's nearly 4 in the morning where's the damn calculator to check?

Comment Re:Daily Mail should call out to ban this evil gam (Score 5, Insightful) 516

Insightful grants karma. Funny doesn't. So marking insightful rewards the writer.

I'd be inclined to suggest it is insightful, too; I can easily imagine a crowd of soccer mums getting upset about a racist game. If you were careful to avoid actually naming it, I reckon the movement to ban it would make an awful lot of headway.

Comment Re:Are the taxes reduced? (Score 1) 680

Oops - it's not a new rebate, it's removal of eligibility for part of the Family Tax Benefit - which is paid to a subset of families with children. So - have children, get reduction in taxes to compensate for a small part of the cost of raising them; but if you don't have them vaccinated, the government will keep that portion to pay for the expected extra costs of those children who are not vaccinated. Yes, it's aggregation of cost and risk - a form of insurance, if you will.

If you truly are objecting to the vaccinations or for other reasons must not have them (religion counts, as do allergies), there is a process whereby you can still get the FTB repaid - your doctor signs a form and Medicare tells the ATO you can have the cash.

I think this is a pretty good system - true conscientious objectors, including people with religious objections, don't have their rights trodden on (I'm pro-vaccination, having seen what polio did to my father), people on the fence might be swayed to vaccinate which improves herd resistance, no-one loses unless they're just too lazy to do anything. Heck, we're so nice about it that we'll even let the whackjobs (IMO) pretend they're conscientious objectors!

Comment Re:Are the taxes reduced? (Score 1) 680

I don't know if you're trolling, but I'll answer what I can anyway.

You get taxed on your income; and a separate 1% (for most people with a salary) or 2.5% (REALLY high income earners - >180K pa, I think, or >300K for couples/families?) levy for "Medicare" - federally funded health care that pretty much covers anything medically required - so for example it wont pay for cosmetic breast implants, it will pay for reductions if doctors determine that oversized mammaries are causing back or neck problems.

If you wish, you can get private health insurance. This not only allows you more freedoms in terms of choosing doctors, bypassing waiting lists in the public system by using private facilities, certain plans (even cheap ones) mean you can avoid the extra Medicare levy. There are, of course, about 32987132 plans available with incomprehensible coverage terms, exclusions, waiting periods etc; usually completely incomparable. USA ex-pats generally feel completely comfortable with this.

Unsurprisingly, given the public system is, by and large, pretty darn good (IMNSHO), employers in Australia do not need, or tend, to provide private health insurance as seems to be common in the US.

The taxation is the same, near as I can tell, for everyone; this new rebate is recognition that in general, immunized children will be less likely to require medical attention and thus there's an overall saving within the system. You can represent that as more resources being available - or as in this case - as a direct financial return to those providing the cost reduction. I see nothing in this that changes any rights to treatment (and it is, effectively, a right) by the public health system. Sometimes it's overloaded, and if it's not life threatening you can wait ... well ages. I've waited 8 hours for something that was, in the end, extremely important - but less so than a child with a 40C fever. But you WILL be seen and treated, and in the public system it is, 100%, completely and unequivocally free (i.e. pre-paid by taxes).

As for completely opting out? Nope. You WILL pay the 1% or 2.5% levy (unless you are below the lower cut off - which does NOT mean you don't get the health care!) - but you can certainly choose to go private and never use the public services - but those public services are the same ones that help car crash victims, people recovered from drowning in rivers and at the beach etc - all those cases are automatically public health (as a citizen, completely free/pre-paid, as a tourist, you'll get a bill).

So given what amounts to complete cover for anything within the country, with the exception of elective surgery, for 1% of gross salary ($1000 per $100K!) - that's a bargain.

Comment Re:You are 1200 miles from a school? (Score 1) 608

Sorry, that makes no sense to me. Are you sure you phrased it correctly? You're opposed to someone trying to make money by offering a service? Why must one course be free because another series of presentations is free? Why shouldn't the user be able to decide (for example, reading reviews, trials, word-of-mouth etc)?

Comment Re:Take out a hit? (Score 2) 436

I really hope the Mob get some of these lawsuits - but any organised crime group will do. Or a biker gang. Maybe take away WiFi from a prison and put the word out to the detainees (esp. those about to be let out) that it's this law firm's fault. Let them sort it out with the lawyers - I bet it wouldn't take long.

Comment Re:Frankly, that's cool (Score 1) 312

Definitely. From the "whole-problem optimisation" of selecting individual blocks of characters and composing the whole, to the implementation of a scalable distributed algorithm, to the various approaches to processing and validating the text, to the selection of the final comparison blocks. Though I don't know why I'm supposedly only "virtually" impressed.

Comment Re:Interesting. (Score 3, Interesting) 137

The micro connector was designed for 10,000 cycles, IIRC. So you can plug and unplug your phone 6 times a day for 4.5 years. Note that the mini-USB was only designed for 1/10th of that, so the micro connector is the better choice. Go check the Wikipedia article if you don't believe me (not that it's any more authoritative than I am).

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