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Submission + - SPAM: Time To Ditch Cable For Internet TV?

itwbennett writes: A flurry of announcements from YouTube, Boxee, Dell and Clicker on Thursday brought good news for anyone considering canceling their cable service in favor of internet TV. Blogger Peter Smith offers this rundown: First, YouTube announced that within the next few days it will start offering full 1080P HD streams; better than your cable company can offer. Next, Boxee announced a "Boxee Box" that promises to make it easier to get the content off your computer and onto your TV. Or you could hook up Dell's Inspiron Zino HD instead. 'This is an 8" x 8" PC running Windows 7 (with an option for Ubuntu) that you certainly could use as a desktop machine, but the form factor just screams 'Hook me up to your TV!' via its HDMI port,' says Smith. And, last but not least in this roundup of announcements is the launch of Clicker, a programming guide for internet TV that will help you find what you want, when you want it.
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Comment Re:The 9-year-old is the key (Score 1) 932

Sounds like it's time to transition your support job to the next generation.

That would be a logical choice, and if it works out, then everybody is better off. But just because a kid is young and impressionable does not mean that he is willing to become the family tech guy.

I ended up playing with computers a lot at that age, but then, I was also brutally nearsighted, terrible at sports, and into videogames. My younger brothers have had the benefit of far better computers and so forth than I had at their age, but they also had totally different interests. They don't really care about the computer as the computer, and are perfectly happy to deal with the computer as a mysterious magic box.

Comment Re:35mm? (Score 5, Interesting) 150

Resolution isn't the whole story here, either--there's also dynamic range. Black and white film emulsions, properly exposed and processed, have extremely wide dynamic ranges. Big negatives show tones better. (If you want to be blown away, have a look at some of Edward Weston's photographic work, done on 8"x10" view cameras). NASA probably went with Hasselblads as a compromise: they needed something reasonably portable that could give useful dynamic range images, too. I

Comment Re:I'd have taken it more seriously (Score 1) 833

Users are not born with an innate sense of how to use a computer--they are trained. What passes for intuitiveness really means "creating an environment identical to that on which the user was initially trained." That means aping Windows. There's only one flaw with this: if you ape Windows well enough, users will begin to transfer their already-learned behaviors. Thus, no matter how "intuitive" the interface, a Windows user will do Windows things. He will want MS Office. He will want Silverlight. He will want to know why BonziBuddy won't run, or why the game he bought won't install. The only way Linux was going to win the desktop was to reach out and capture untrained, impressionable users-- school-age kids or retirees with no previous computer experience.

Feed New Agent To Fight Genetic Disorders Found (

A new agent, "Zorro-LNA," may stop some genetic disorders in their tracks. A recent article describes how researchers developed Zorro-LNA to bind with both strands of a gene's DNA, effectively disabling it. This has clinical implications for virtually every condition caused or worsened by dominant defective genes, such as: Huntington's disease, familial high cholesterol, polycystic kidney disease, some instances of glaucoma and colorectal cancer, and neurofibromatosis, among others.

Feed Healthy Muscles: Scientists Identify Pathway That Promotes Muscle Cell Survival (

Scientists have identified an enzyme that pumps up a cell's ability to maintain healthy muscle and restores normal muscle function in genetically engineered mice with weak muscles. The study, published online in Nature Medicine, is the first to explore the part this enzyme plays in a cascade of events triggered by exercise-induced hormones and other signals.

Feed Supreme Court Makes Two Good Decisions On Patent Law (

This morning the Supreme Court came down with two decisions about patent law that both take small, but extremely important, steps towards reigning in some of the worst abuses of the patent system. In both cases, it's disagreed with the position taken by the Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). This isn't a huge surprise, as many observers figured that the Supreme Court's recent interest in all sorts of patent cases meant that the justices weren't at all happy with the way CAFC was moving. This is a good thing, as the past twenty-five years or so of CAFC is a big part of why the patent system has veered out of control. For those who don't get into the details of these things, effectively CAFC was taken over by patent attorneys who pretty much felt that since patents were "good," more patents were "better." They continually expanded what could be patented and how much power patent holders had. This, in turn, meant that many more people and companies started filing for many more patents. While the Patent Office complains that it can't handle the load of patents, rather than hiring more examiners, the solution may simply be in reigning in the overwhelming power handed to patent holders by CAFC. Today the Supreme Court took another step in that direction.

The first case was between AT&T and Microsoft, where it was already admitted that Microsoft had infringed on the patent in question. The legal question at stake was whether or not copies of Microsoft Windows outside the US should be counted when calculating the damages. While, normally, patent infringement rules only cover within a country, there is a rule against shipping the components outside the country to be assembled somewhere else just to get around patent infringement rules. So the real question was whether or not shipping a master copy of the software abroad was shipping the "components." The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 1 saying that it was not shipping components -- and that software was more closely related to a blueprint than actual components.

This ruling is likely to cause a number of things to happen. Back when this case was first being presented to the court, one of the amicus briefs tried to show that software shouldn't be patented at all. Since this wasn't the key argument in the case, it seemed like a wasted brief, but the ruling here actually may open up the possibility for a new case that argues exactly that. That is, the court has now made it clear that they consider software to be more of a blueprint than a component, and someone else can now make the argument that, based on this, software should not be patentable. This certainly could get interesting. However, the court did also suggest that Congress may want to clean up this "loophole" so watch out for someone in Congress to slip in a ruling keeping software patents in place before the court has a chance to make more of a statement on this. More immediately, this may help Microsoft lower the amount it needs to pay Alcatel-Lucent in the separate MP3 patent lawsuit -- since approximately half of the $1.5 billion award was based on overseas sales.

The second ruling may be even more important. It's the decision on the Teleflex v. KSR case concerning the obviousness test in patents. Once again, the Supreme Court has smacked down CAFC, saying that the lower court had gone too far in embracing an incredibly strict standard in determining obviousness. This is tremendously important, as the lower court's "test" for obviousness barely exists at all. Effectively, the only thing looked at is prior art, when the law is clear that patents need to be on processes that are both new and non-obvious. If this allows the courts and the patent office to start actually looking at the obviousness of patents, it could help get rid of plenty of really bad patents.

These two rulings, combined with last year's ruling that automatic injunctions don't always make sense for patent infringement are steps in the right direction. The Supreme Court is clearly recognizing that patent law has spiraled out of control and reached an unconstitutional level, where they're being used to hinder, rather than promote, innovation. It's great to see the court now reeling in these abuses, but there's still plenty more to be done before we've cleared out the problems of the patent system. The good news is that the Supreme Court is clearly looking at the issue and clearly recognizing that the constitutional purpose of patents is to promote innovation. As Justice Kennedy noted in that Teleflex ruling: "Granting patent protection to advances that would occur in the ordinary course without real innovation retards progress and may... deprive prior inventions of their value."

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