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Submission + - Don't like a patent? Help kIll it.

Camael writes: When Joel Spolsky spotted an undeserving Microsoft patent application, he didn't just let it be granted — He killed a in just a few minutes. In short, he found prior art and submitted it, and the USPTO examiner rejected the patent because of it. From TFA :- "Micah showed me a document from the USPTO confirming that they had rejected the patent application, and the rejection relied very heavily on the document I found. This was, in fact, the first 'confirmed kill' of Ask Patents, and it was really surprisingly easy. I didn't have to do the hard work of studying everything in the patent application and carefully proving that it was all prior art: the examiner did that for me." This is all under the umbrella of Ask Patents'.

Comment Re:My perspective (Score 5, Interesting) 112

When MPEG LA first announced the VP8 pool formation, a rush of companies applied to be in the pool, partly because everyone wanted to see what everyone else had. That gave way to some amount of disappointment. And by 'some amount' I mean 'rather a lot really, more than the MPEG-LA would care to admit.'

Eventually, things whittled down to a few holdouts. Those '11 patent holders' do not assert they have patents that cover the spec. They said '_may_ cover'. The press release itself repeats this. Then these patent holders said 'and we're willing to make that vague threat go away for a little cash'. Google paid the cash. This is what lawyers do.

That's why it's a huge newsworthy deal when companies like NewEgg actually take the more expensive out and litigate a patent. It is always more expensive than settling, even if you'd win the case, and very few companies are willing or able to do it. Google was probably able, but not willing.

We deal with this in the IETF all the time. Someone files a draft and a slew of companies file IPR statements that claim they have patents that 'may' read on the draft. Unlike other SDOs though, the IETF requires them to actually list the patent numbers so we can analyze and refute. And despite unequivocal third-party analyses stating 'there is no possibility patent X applies', these companies still present their discredited IPR statements to 'customers' and mention that these customers may be sued if they don't license. This is not the exception; this is standard operating procedure in the industry. These licensing tactics, for example, account for more than half of Qualcomm's total corporate income.

It's this last threat that Google paid a nominal sum to make go away. It's the best anyone can hope for in a broken system. If those 11 patent holders had a strong claim, it is exceedingly unlikely they would have agreed to a perpetual, transferable, royalty free license.

Comment My perspective (Score 5, Insightful) 112

I'll add my own thoughts here, also posted at

"After a decade of the MPEG LA saying they were coming to destroy the FOSS codec movement, with none other than the late Steve Jobs himself chiming in, today the Licensing Authority announced what we already knew.

They got nothing. There will be no Theora patent pool. There will be no VP8 patent pool. There will be no VPnext patent pool.

We knew that of course, we always did. It's just that I never, in a million years, expected them to put it in writing and walk away. The wording suggests Google paid some money to grease this along, and the agreement wording is interesting [and instructive] but make no mistake: Google won. Full stop.

This is not an unconditional win for FOSS, of course, the LA narrowed the scope of the agreement as much as they could in return for agreeing to stop being a pissy, anti-competetive brat. But this is still huge. We can work with this.

For at least the immediate future, I shall have to think some uncharacteristically nice things about the MPEG LA.*

*Apologies to Rep. Barney Frank"

Comment Re:Great lesson, but what's with the audio? (Score 1) 50

>If you insist on recording in stereo though, you might do as they did, and record with a Mid-Side array and use a matrix to decode back to L-R, so you can control the stereo spread in post-production.

That would not have controlled the reverb; the space this was recorded in was a concrete floor with concrete walls and no acoustic treatment. Like I said, it was a tradeoff, and one that was successful if not perfect.

Comment Re:Using real world audio waveforms? (Score 1) 50

Right, and this is why dither is only applied to 'last-mile' audio intended to be consumed. Dither 'screws' you in other ways if you intend to use that audio in production, such as losing all the property of removing the distortion, yet still having the additive noise. But we're still talking about changes 100+dB down.

>Counter nitpick: Monty, as a professional motion picture sound designer, I cannot tell you how distracting it is to hear your voice constantly changing its pan across the stereo field :)

The audio was recorded with a stereo pair. It wasn't panned artificially :-) Look down a few comments for more about this, you weren't the only person to complain.

Comment Re:Using real world audio waveforms? (Score 1) 50

As a nitpick, you get dithering losses _or_ quantization distortion, or a linear tradeoff between the two. You don't get the worst case of both on top of each other unless you screw up.

Without dither, worst case, all your 16 bit quant distortion products will be under -100dB regardless of input amplitude. I actually display the worst case in the video to make it easy to see. Quantization distortion aliases, and I chose an integer sample period so the aliased distortion would always land in the same bins after folding. If I hadn't, it would have spread out more and been even lower. If I had chosen a relatively prime frequency, the quantization distortion would have spread out across all bins equally.

Comment Response from CDParanoia author (Score 5, Insightful) 330

> Stop using cdparanoia - it isn't very good, at all. It tests poorly, we're sad to say.

Really! As the author, I'd love to hear hard specifics. or maybe a bug report.

> You want to use Secure Mode with NO C2, accurate stream, disable cache.

You can't disable the cache on a SATA/PATA ATAPI drive. The whole point of cdparanoia's extensive cache analysis is to figure out a way to defeat the cache because it can't be turned off. There is no FUA bit for optical drives in ATA or MMC.

The 'accurate stream' bit is similarly useless (every manufacturer interprets it differently) and C2 information is similarly untrustworthy.

Plextors are not recommended for error free or fast ripping. They try to implement their own paranoia-like retry algorithm in firmware and do a rather bad job about it. They also lie about error correcting information (you do not get raw data, you get what the drive thinks it has successfully reconstructed). Plextors often look OK on pristine disks, but if you hit a bit error (like on just about any burned disk), you don't know what it's going to do. Plextors are, overall, among the more troublesome drives _unless_ you're using a ripper that does no retry checking (ie, NOT cdparanoia and NOT EAC). If you use iTunes, you want a Plextor. Otherwise, avoid them.

Comment Re:General Consensus (Score 2) 330

That was true ~15 years ago. Since then, Plextor's firmware gets along very badly with the rippers that try to be frame accurate, because Plextor tries to implement a much lighter-weight more error prone version of the same algo on the drive. The drive still doesn't do a realiable job, and it seriously mucks up the ripper.

Comment Re:"You wrote for Slashdot?" -- Unabridged (Score 4, Funny) 101

One of the common threads back then was when people would repost sex stories with the names run through sed, and we weren't exactly privacy nuts -- People knew our real names, but usually also the names of our significant others. My wife-at-the-time saw one of these comments in which she was named as a participant in an explicit story, performing unspeakable acts on myself, Rob, Jeff... I thought she was going to be horrified, but she exclaimed, "I might be the new Natalie Portman!"


Comment Re:"You wrote for Slashdot?" -- Unabridged (Score 2, Interesting) 101

The original post had half of my original piece cut away from it, the links stripped out and my name spelled incorrectly. I'd posted the full version of what I'd sent in within the comments -- Then the full version of what I'd submitted was re-edited into the original post, making the unabridged version in the comments completely redundant.

But I'm glad some traditions are alive and well at Slashdot... :)


Comment "You wrote for Slashdot?" -- Unabridged (Score 2, Interesting) 101

“You wrote for Slashdot?”

I get this a lot, even twelve years after I’d written my last piece. It happened again just two weeks ago, talking to a guy from InfoSec.

I was young, idealistic and had no idea what I was doing. I imagine that for most of us, this is still true. We didn’t write for a market or to capitalize on a trend. We wrote about things we liked, and tried to get other people to like them, too.

A cynical perspective could see Slashdot as a place where angry nerds gather and rant anonymously about the topics of the day, but it misses the point. It’s actually a place where hundreds of thousands of people show up to say, ‘Hey, look at this thing, isn’t it cool?’

Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s hell-no, but there’s always an answer.

Nerds are some of the weirdest people you’ll ever meet. They also tend to be intelligent, opinionated and enthusiastically kind. Twelve years later, Slashdot still makes that obvious -- Even when the readers are loudly complaining about software patents, arguing about intellectual property and demanding new Firefly.

“What was it like?”

Rob Malda had managed to learn most of Darth Maul’s moves, and was terrifying with a dual-bladed lightsaber toy. We knew every word to ‘Cowtown’ by They Might Be Giants, and we broke out into song while driving down a highway in Michigan. The ‘geek compound’ was actually a few houses at the end of a suburban cul-de-sac. Jeff Bates did a killer Dr. Evil impression, and was able to eat clementines at a terrifying pace. The one-and-only time I’d ever visited the aforementioned ‘compound,’ I had a flu and was taking a terrifying amount of medication for it, which led to me saying wildly inappropriate things to people I’d just met. No one really seemed to care. I slept on CowboyNeal’s couch, and learned that Rob and I had not only run BBSes ‘back in the day,’ but ran them on the same software as well.

I wrote a lot of pieces that I still enjoy to this day. I also wrote a lot of pieces that I’d prefer to never see again. I approved some stories that I shouldn’t have, and rejected a lot of stories that probably should have gotten more attention. Have I mentioned that I had no idea what I was doing?

I enjoyed my time at Slashdot tremendously, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It’s unsettling to know that what you’re typing in vi tonight is going to be in front of more than a million smart people tomorrow morning. Then those smart people will be encouraged to comment on what you write, telling you exactly how much of an unparalleled genius/complete moron you are. They may even make a chart.

No matter what we had to say on the site back then, everything at the time was colored by money. The dot-com investment mania was at full strength, and there was a wildly inaccurate assumption that we were all hip-deep in filthy lucre. Writing about technology isn’t terribly lucrative, even if you’re writing for one of the most popular sites on the planet. Putting the technology to use is considerably more valuable: When I left tech writing and journalism to go back to work as an engineer, my income more-than-doubled.

“All good things...”

I left Slashdot to take over as the editor-in-chief of, which ended up being a beautiful disaster. I went back to engineering for about a year, then took over as the CEO of the Foundation for a while, and then went back to engineering again. I started a production company and was able to fulfill childhood dreams by working on Star Trek and writing a lot of music for video games. My current time is divided between working in systems engineering, managing my production company and training for my private pilot certificate here in the Valley of the Sun.

I still love tech, and I still love sharing cool new things with people I barely know.
I still run Linux machines at home, at work and in outside projects.
I still think the DMCA is a terribly stupid piece of legislation.
I still throw down with pudge on political matters.
I still read Penny Arcade, run a BBS and hang with trekkies.
...and I’m on IRC right now.

@EmmettPlant is a composer, systems engineer, ‘Star Trek’ producer and amateur aviator who wonders why there aren’t any fat dudes on ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ He lives in Arizona.

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