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Comment Re:Pittsburgh is losing its identity (Score 1) 126

I get it. That's a part of why I typically try to negotiate non-standard start times when I take a position. Starting work at 09:30 makes for a much more relaxed commute both to and from work.

If/When telecommuting become the norm, most of my problems will be behind me because I'll be able to live and work far enough outside of the city that none of their decisions will have any impact upon me.

LK

Comment Re:For the Republican readers (Score 1) 391

4. He imposed obamacare which doubled my monthly healthcare costs.

HE didn't raise your healthcare costs, your insurance company did, when people who didn't have insurance got some and actually started using healthcare to improve their lives! The insurance industry were STILL making insane profits, just smaller insane profits, so they raised prices. And they were able to do so because the government didn't have the power to stop them. Remember, if you get your healthcare from your employer, not from the exchanges, the ACA doesn't have anything to do with that.

Blame excessive unregulated capitalism, not Obama.

Comment Re:Conversely... (Score 1) 242

Thank you for affirming as much of my argument as you did and, also, for the corrections in the second half of that post. That's some good information, of which I was not aware. Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on shortening the term (of both, but primarily patents, as that's your focus)?

I think patents are probably about right as is. As you note, some industries develop faster than others... but if you start basing patent term off that, then do you create different term lengths for every industry? Like pharmaceuticals get 20 years, but software gets 3? Airplanes are 15, but cars are 5? Given the number of industries and the fine delineations we could make, you'd end up with more law than the tax code... 8-bit retro indie video games get 7 months; but 8-bit retro AAA video games get 9 months... two legged walking robots get 4 years and eight months, three legged wheeled robots get 3 years and 11 months, etc. Congress would spend all of its time passing new patent term laws. And what about the cross-over technologies? Software for developing pharmaceuticals? Biological computers? Simulated cars for video games?! And what about a revolutionary new technology, where the patent is the first in a whole new industry? Hundreds of years? Or none?
20 years seems like a pretty decent compromise, particularly with the maintenance fees. One thing that could help is additional maintenance windows... Right now, you pay your fees at 3.5 years from issue, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years (with the costs increasing each time). Many software patents are abandoned before hitting that 11.5 window. But what about 5.5, or 9.5? Or even annual fees, steadily increasing? That would help encourage shorter terms for patents that are obsoleted early.

As for copyright, there are multiple parts there (copyright is often compared to a bundle of rights, with exclusive rights to make copies, distribute works, perform the work publicly, make derivative works, etc.). I think piracy - direct copies, identical to the original - is less morally defensible than, say, sampling, which falls under the derivative work umbrella. Like, if you make and distribute a copy of someone's album because you're too cheap to pay or whatnot, that's just wrong. Heck, at best, it's plagiarism. But if you sample their bass line and make a new song over it, you've created something new, and the world of art is enriched due to your joint contribution.
With that in mind, I think that the term for a derivative work should be short - like 5 years. The original artist gets to do remixes, screenplays, etc. for that period, but if they don't, then it should be up for grabs - as source for further creative works. But pure copying? That term could stay as long as it is, frankly. Let the authors exploit their original work, but let others also improve upon it.

Comment Re:Conversely... (Score 4, Informative) 242

They are written vague on purpose, because to be specific, would allow others to build upon your patent, and patent their improvements, locking you into a stale old way of building said invention, never able to improve it.

This is precisely the type of abuse, by a handful of unscrupulous assholes (patent holders being, relative to the entirety of the population, a handful of people), which I propose we amend patent laws to prevent.

And, by amend, I truly mean "actually enforce the laws as written", since they already require some degree of specificity.

I am a patent lawyer, and I completely agree. My patents, of course, are clear and informative; but yes, there are many terrible ones out there. Frankly, it's partly unscrupulous assholes, but mostly incompetent and lazy assholes: to write a good patent application, you have to understand the invention... too many patent lawyers skip that step, take whatever the inventor sent them and slap some boilerplate "in some embodiments" language on it, and file it. Heck, you can still charge the same amount as a well-written patent, but can crank it out in an afternoon! What a world!

Fortunately, the courts and the patent office are finally pushing back on this. Most of the "abstract idea" rejections under Bilski and Alice Corp and other related 35 USC 101 cases are really about badly written patents that claim "A method for doing something awesome, comprising: applying rules, by an expert computer system, to do something awesome." What rules? How does it achieve that awesome result? Fark if anyone knows... the person drafting the patent sure as hell didn't. The cases that are being upheld are the ones that go into detail about what calculations are being performed, how the thing works, the low-level specifics of what it does, etc.

That said, patent law and courts and such are glacial. It'll be another decade and change before patents drafted and granted, say, 5 years ago, expire. And patent litigation with terrible patents will keep popping up over that time. But maybe by the 2030s, things'll start looking better. \_()_/

It's debatable whether the term should be shortened; many would argue it should be extended, as was done with copyright. Personally, I believe that patents and copyright were given the terms they were originally given based on how long it took to produce and circulate a work at the time that those respective laws were written; as both now take considerably less time, yes, I agree that the terms should be shortened.

Patent term has only ever been extended twice, and the second one wasn't a real extension (the change from 17-years-from-issue to 20-years-from-filing was based on an average 3 year prosecution queue, so the result is the same). Copyright has big money publishers on one side like Sony, Disney, Columbia, etc. wanting longer term and, what, pirates? The public? No money on the other side. So your bought-and-sold Congresscritter happily votes for term extensions.
But in patents, Apple, say, wants longer terms for their own patents, but shorter terms for Google and Microsoft's. And vice versa. So you get this pressure on both sides, with no real imbalance in money and lobbyists.

Incidentally, there's a safety valve in patent term already - patent owners have to pay maintenance fees that increase over the life of the patent, or it goes abandoned. Most patents in the tech sector are abandoned long before that 20 year term expires, because, after 10 years, say, they're obsolete. It's the pharmaceutical people who try to keep them alive until the very end, because of how long R&D and FDA approval takes. Increasing those maintenance fees would have the same effect of shortening patent term in fast moving industries while keeping it long where it's needed.

Comment Relatives from out of town. (Score 1) 158

I had a cousin and her family come to town from Maryland and when it was time for them to go home, I tried to give them directions to the Turnpike. It was literally take the next four right turns and then drive about 6 miles, you'll see the signs.

She was like Nope, I'm GPSing it. The GPS gives her valid directions but they were longer and more complicated.

I was amused but she got home safely.

LK

Comment Re:Liability (Score 1) 495

Whomever performed the modification, if that modification is the cause of the incident.

It's not like we're discovering new issues here.

In 1968, if you took your Buick to your neighborhood fix-it guy and he used sub-standard wheel bearings and they caused the wheel to fall off and kill someone, Mr. Fix-it would be liable.

Really, this isn't rocket science just because the story includes the word "firmware".

LK

Comment Instinctively, I have avoided opiates. (Score 1) 181

I have always felt that pain killers should be used sparingly and that one should only take the minimum level necessary to make the pain tolerable.

For me, it wasn't about avoiding addiction. I don't like the feeling of having my mind feel cloudy.

When I had my wisdom teeth removed, the doctor gave me a prescription for Lortab. I declined to fill it. I said that if Tylenol or Aleve made it tolerable, that's what I would use. Even though I had already made my decision, when a friend offered to buy them from me, I was even more certain that I made the right choice.

LK

Comment Re:Pittsburgh is losing its identity (Score 1) 126

You don't know anything about the city, and probably weren't born there.

I was born out of state but I have been here in Pittsburgh since I was an infant, more than 40 years.

I bike year round in Pittsburgh, with studded tires for use in the winter.

I'm sure that you and the three other people who will face sub-zero temperatures on their bikes appreciate it but those lanes would be more useful with cars in them.

The chairs at Market Square were removed due to issues with loitering and drug use

I believe that those excuses were pretexts.

How does removing amenities make "more room" anyway?

By providing more space for outdoor dining areas for the restaurants. When (not if) they expand, that seating will be private property that can be limited to paying customers.

Gentrification of the Hill District is a strange thing

It's not just the Hill District. It's Homewood and East Liberty too. 10-15 years ago, it was Lawrenceville. I suspect that the Hazelwood/Glenwood area will be next.

The drug problems are real, but they were real in the 1980's too, it's just white people didn't notice except when they saw them on Hill Street Blues.

Nice try but it's not going to work here. I'm not white. I lived in the Duquesne projects back in the 1970s. I was harassed by cops during the drug wars in the 1990s. There is a black middle class in the region and most of us moved to the suburbs to escape the problems of the city. Now the city is sending those problems our way.

LK

Comment No shit (Score 1) 319

And I dunno about schools these days, or everywhere for that matter, but way back when I was in high school the books usually used something that was quasi-cylindrical like a Robinson or some such. Tended to give you a good picture of whatever they centered it on (which would usually be whatever was being talked about) and squished things near the edges.

I don't recall ever seeing a Mercator projection. Maybe the local maps were, like when it was showing a single country, but of course it doesn't matter a lot at that point as the distortion in a small area isn't that large whatever kind of projection you use.

Comment Pittsburgh is losing its identity (Score 1) 126

So much is being done to attract people to the region that it is making it unbearable for those of us who have always been here. We're giving up lanes on major city streets to make room for bike lanes that are only usable for 5 months out of the year.

The city just removed the chairs from Market Square to make more room for the patrons of the upscale restaurants that surround the place.

The glut of well-to-do out of towners has led to the gentrification of several areas like Homewood, The Hill District and East Liberty which is in turn creating problems out in the suburbs. Basically, people are going in and buying blocks of low value property, renovating them and charging more for rent than the current occupants can afford. Those people move further and further away from the city and when you have an influx of low income people, a small but extremely destructive minority of drug dealers comes with them. We have had numerous heroin busts just a few miles from my house in an area that never saw that kind of activity before.

When people like me complain about it, we're met with the response that this is how things go in other cities. My reply is that if I wanted to live in those cities, I'd move there. I live in Pittsburgh and I like it.

LK

Comment Re:The European Model (Score 1) 374

No potential college debt looming overhead that you could only dream of repaying if you don't make it. Which in turn means that more students are starting and our universities can (and do) eliminate brutally anyone who isn't among the best. Those degrees actually mean something.

Obviously, we have the opposite here. Regardless of the college debt, college enrollment rates are very high, but colleges don't eliminate terrible students, and bachelor's degrees mean little these days. Why do you think it's different in Europe? Is it because here, they'll keep milking tuition out of students for as long as they attend, while in Europe, budgets are fixed? And if so, do European universities really have fixed budgets that aren't based on enrollment?

Basically, why is there an incentive in Europe to eliminate students, and how can we duplicate that here?

Comment Re:That kind of pricing makes no sense. (Score 1) 374

The ONLY answer is to eliminate loan subsidies and force colleges to deliver an suitable education product at a price people can afford.

Make colleges liable for their students' loans if, say, 90% of the graduating class are not employed within their degree field within 3 years. That would force them to drastically cut admissions and start doing some economic forecasting.

Comment Re:Why do state universities have patents at all? (Score 1) 52

It's because a few years ago the US patent system was changed from "first to invent" to "first to file" which mean if the university doesn't patent it, then when they publish their work, some other company can patent it and charge royalties.

That's completely, entirely, 100% untrue. The change from first to invent to first to file simply removed interference proceedings, which is where two inventors file applications for the exact same invention, and the USPTO held a mini-trial to determine which one actually invented it first. Those are now replaced with a simple "who filed first?" rule. Big change? No. There were on average 20 interference proceedings a year, out of half a million applications.

Comment Re:goddammit (Score 1) 322

It's not that anything that uses pulse is dead while jackd runs, it is that unless you have everything configured up right it will "appear" audio-dead. But if you DO have it configured up properly you can use applications that use pulseaudio while using JACK. I've done it.

Pulse HAS displaced ALSA, except for some of the bearded grognards. As for JACK, JACK is designed for more high end audio, especially real-time work. IIRC Pulseaudio wasn't capable of realtime operation until what was it, last year? And even then I've been told it can't do some of the source/sink tricks JACK can do.

That said, I run Fedora as a desktop, and pulse has worked well for me in Fedora since what was it, 15? That's when HDMI audio began working automagically without me having to manually configure it. (It worked BEFORE then, but required some manual config edits)

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