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Comment Re:Absurd! (Score 1) 112

Never mind the working models, patent law already excludes simple ideas that are "obvious to someone skilled in the art". You have a small portable device / computer + a radio = a PDA that can make calls. The idea is obvious even to laymen, and has appeared in speculative fiction long before this patent was filed.

I'd be in favour of a tiered patent system. Cute ideas like XOR mouse cursors, one click shopping buttons, rounded corners or making calls on a PDA get you a tier 1 patent, meaning you don't get a monopoly, you get a head start on the competition with a patent that is valid for perhaps 3 years. Do the research and come up with genuinely new things like medicine or new hard disk technology, and bring a working model, then you can apply for a higher tier patent that grants you a longer monopoly. The higher the tier, the stronger the challenge and the closer the scrutiny (and the price goes up). I also like the idea someone suggested, of making patent applications free... if it gets accepted. But if it is rejected, you pay.

But we'd already improve things a lot if we just start applying existing patent law and test for prior art and obviousness.

Comment Re:MQTT + OpenWRT-router/some other server (Score 4, Interesting) 180

You can mix & match with the right selection of components. I use the following, and I won't hesitate to recommend it:

- For generic Home Automation stuff, use Z-Wave: a non-open radio protocol that has proven to be pretty robust. Z-Wave devices form a mesh network so range generally isn't a problem. And with the latest version of the standard, some security has been added as well. There are tons of items out there: switches, dimmers, thermostats, locks, sensors, remotes, and so on, from many brands, in many ranges of prices and quality.

- You need a Z-Wave hub, and again you have several choices that do not require the cloud: Homeseer (reliable but you get nickle & dimed to death for addons, and it's less accessible to tinkering), Vera (pretty reliable, and best of all it is open to tinkering. You can write your own plugins for this hub and there is an active community of plugin developers), or OpenHAB + a Z-Wave stick (Open! But using it is still somewhat reminiscent of installing Linux in its early days). I am currently using a Vera hub

- Your hub needs to be able to address non Z-wave devices. Most hubs do this with plugins, allowing you to include these in your setup: WiFi-enabled thermostats, Philips Hue bulbs, Alarm systems, anything networked that has an API, really.

- For your DYI devices, use Arduino + a NRF24L01 radio module running the MySensors libraries. MySensors is an open DYI project using Arduinos, having them form a reliable mesh radio network (way better than WiFi), and you can build pretty much anything you can imagine with it, usig the libraries and a handful of lines of code. MySensors interfaces nicely with Vera, there's a plugin that will expose MySensors devices like switches and sensors as native Vera devices, allowing you to use them in scenes. For the MySensors gateway to be used with Vera, I recommend using an Ethernet Arduino for maximum reliability.

Oh, and for anything that needs to be somewhat reliable, avoid WiFi devices. WiFi is not a very good HA platform.

Comment Re:Payback (Score 1) 310

Got this from some media law site:

If you send a counter-notice, your online service provider is required to replace the disputed content unless the complaining party sues you within fourteen business days of your sending the counter-notice. (Your service provider may replace the disputed material after ten business days if the complaining party has not filed a lawsuit, but it is required to replace it within fourteen business days.)

Perhaps an actual lawyer can chime in?

Comment Re:Payback (Score 1) 310

The owner of the video (i.e. the guy that posted it to Youtube) can and hopefully will file a counter-notice. Youtube is then obliged by law to reinstate the deleted material in a reasonable time frame. The ball is then in Fox' court; their recourse is to file a copyright infringement suit. In reality, the threat of being suid in court by Fox is enough to deter the owner of the video to file a counter-notice... if it was me, I would think long and hard before entering into such a battle (in the US anyway... here in NL I'd be happy to go mano a mano)

Comment Re:I guess there's one sensible solution to this (Score 5, Interesting) 801

Only problem is: people can test positive for a few weeks after having used drugs. And while no one wants to hire an addict, many of those people are just recreational users who take something in the weekend, i.e. when it's no one's business what they get up to. I don't care what my heart surgeon drops in the weekend as long as he is sober come Monday.

I had a chat with a colleague from the US about this, when I admitted I smoke pot (a couple times a year). He asked if I wasn't afraid to test positive in a random drug test, and he was surprised to hear we have no drug testing at all; in the Netherlands, it is unheard of in an office environment. Medical tests in general may only be used to look for conditions that impair your ability to carry out your assigned duties. Testing positive once is not considered proof that you have a condition preventing you from working well, and cannot be considered proof that you are more likely to report to work under the influence. Tests in the workplace are rare, and pre-hiring drug screens are not allowed at all (you can't pose a safety risk if they haven't hired you yet). On-the-job testing is allowed, but only in the context of safety, and testing positive might result in being sent home, not in being fired straightaway. Only in a few exceptional cases like pilots or air traffic controllers are employers allowed (or even obliged) to keep to a zero-drugs policy. Alcohol tests are treated slightly different, because they are much more accurate in measuring actual influence at the time of the test (i.e. during work).

In most cases of recreational drug users, you'll never know if they took anything during the weekend if you don't test... so what is the problem? If they take too much, or use on the job, you will notice it... and you can take action in those cases. The law here does allow for disciplinary action in such cases, and allows for on-the-job drug testing of that employee if he is noticeably impaired, or during a rehabilitation course.

You could argue that in some cases it is critical to check the mental well-being of workers, for example we wouldn't want intoxicated software engineers developing code for pacemakers or heart monitors. My arguments against drug screens in such cases: 1) drug screens only tell you that someone has used drugs in the past days / weeks, but say nothing about how fucked up they are right this minute, nor how often they take them. 2) if your software quality control cannot catch errors introduced by intoxicated (tired, worried, overworked, momentarily dense, distracted, malicious) employees, then maybe you shouldn't be developing software for medical devices.

Comment Re:Basically if you ever posted social media selfi (Score 4, Informative) 157

Something shady like visiting a bar, going to a drunken dorm blowout, picking up some (legal) weed or (legal) porn, visiting the "wrong" political rally, and so on. It's one thing if you bump into a colleague in the dodgy rubber fetish section at the videostore, it's quite another if your current and future friends, family, employers, interested law enforcement officers can place you there until the end of time.

Comment Re:Stop your bitching (Score 2) 327

It's not free. There's a limited time free (and more or less mandatory) upgrade for users of Windows 7 and up, but anyone buying a new computer is paying for it, And while it's nice of them to offer the free upgrade to Windows 7 users, people running Windows 8 are kind of entitled to the upgrade, given how crappy and short-lived Windows 8 was (Windows 10 is more like Windows 8.2).

Comment Re:"The G part stands for GNU?" (Score 3, Insightful) 434

There's a big push in the industry to make things easier for non-experts. For entirely selfish reasons, to be sure...

try hard to make things more complex to outsiders than they have to be

If that accusation ever came from a lawyer or a judge, I'd say that's the pot calling the kettle black.

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