Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×

Comment Re:5th ammendment (Score 4, Informative) 796

That's a nice theory, but unfortunately it's wrong. For example, it has been established that compelling a suspect to give a handwriting sample (Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966)) or to speak for voice identification (United States v. Dionisio, 410 U.S. 1 (1973)) does not violate the Fifth Amendment. Also permitted is compelling a suspect to sign a document that e.g. a foreign bank requires to release some information, although I'm too lazy to come up with a reference.

Comment Re:They are not "Oracle's proprietary Java APIs". (Score 1) 215

Yes, but the Federal Circuit's decision in this case is binding (only) in the 9th Circuit, I believe. You are right, though, that it will have influence in other circuits.

While I don't like the result, contrary to what others have written, I do not find the Federal Circuit's decision in this case to be hasty; on the contrary, I think it was very well reasoned. It's not for the courts to make law, but to interpret it. The decision made, in my opinion, well the case that this is what the law says and it is for the legislature to fix it if you want it fixed. I think the major problem is the completely broken legislature in the US. I think this probably also factored into why the Supreme Court did not grant certiorari (they also prefer to let issues percolate in lower courts before taking a suitable case).

The same cannot be said of Federal Circuit in may patent cases, though, where they seem to go to ridiculous lengths for the patent owner.

Comment Re: Wrong industry? (Score 4, Insightful) 117

Well, not really. If the relevant facts are roughly as stated in the summary, it's indeed quite possible that the company will be forced to produce the source code or not rely on the evidence. However the only thing this means is that the defendant's paid experts get access to the source code under a strict protective order. They will then produce an expert report, which is the only thing anybody else will have access to, and even that may be sealed in whole or part if it would reveal, in the opinion of the judge (and often anyway unless the defendants object) significant trade secrets.

I think the two most realistic reasons to oppose are the costs of production and the possible loss of reputation if the evidence due to the inevitable criticism by opposing experts.

Comment Re:It's a hacked Deja Vu (Score 1) 211

Some of the changes seem nice to me, some of them bad, and some neutral. However I use DejaVu regularly and some of these might be just a matter of getting used to. The biggest changes are to i and 0 (zero).

Here's an animated gif from Reddit: http://i.imgur.com/8SqL6mT.gif

The changes I like are to comma, underscore and minus.

I don't quite understand their changes to i and 0 (zero); do they solve some problem or do they supposedly just look better? I like DejaVu's zero more. It seems to me the new i is closer to l (lowercase L) than in DejaVu, and I cannot imagine DejaVu's i being confused with anything; however I think I could live with the new i. DejaVu's original parentheses are better too; the new ones almost look like if there's a space in ().

There seems to be a tiny kerning change to r. It makes some words look better, but others look worse. For example, I think "import" looks better in Hack, but "Keyboard" and "Interrupt" in DejaVu.

Comment Re:That's not what the blockchain is for (Score 4, Insightful) 46

Then configure your miners to not accept these transactions.

Essentially the blockchain is exactly this: A way to record information in an unforgeable way, for a fee to the miner. Bitcoin works, and the only way it can work, is by being a system that behaves in a desired way when each player maximizes their own benefit. (To a small extent this can be affected in a centralized fashion because the community can develop the reference implementation to a desired direction, but that may or may not turn to be anathema and may or may not be a powerful enough tool.)

True, blockchain bloat causes problems, and it's a limited resource. The bitcoin solution is to sell the space to the highest bidder, because generally that maximizes the seller's benefit. In a sense, someone saying "that's not what the blockchain is for" is very similar to someone complaining that people are using lithium to make these stupid batteries, driving its price up, and "that's not what lithium is for".

Whether Bitcoin can survive all the technical challenges in the long term is not at all obvious. For all we know, it might be that the entire model is game-theoretically self-destructive if analyzed thoroughly enough. In fact, it has provided quite a few surprises where the incentives have turned out to be something different than anticipated, causing weird scenarios where e.g. in some situations it's advantageous for a miner to not immediately report a found block. So far none of these have been such that they would cause a death spiral, but that's far from a given. (Arvind Narayanan's blog posts on the topic are quite insightful; you might want to start from https://freedom-to-tinker.com/...).

Comment Re: Have Both (Score 3, Insightful) 567

I would do this at work for writing code, but alas, I currently work on Windows, and its support for portrait monitors, let alone landscape+portrait, is broken enough that the path of least pain is just to use landscape alone.

Specifically, there seems to be no way to get proper antialiased fonts in portrait mode. While ClearType makes Windows fonts quite tolerable, it doesn't (and arguably can't) work in portrait mode. Traditional antialiasing could work, but for some inexplicable reason Windows disables it for a large range of font sizes (something like 7..13).

Even worse, you can either use ClearType on all of your monitors or none of them. On portrait monitors Windows, when using ClearType, still renders the fonts as if it was landscape; the result is an incredibly blurry, colored mess. So if you have one portrait monitor, you have to tolerate aliased fonts on all of your displays.

Comment Re:PR works well? Where? (Score 1) 413

I live in Finland. Why do you think there is "instability" in "having to form a coalition government"? To the contrary, I find it ensures that every vote counts to the extent it should. I also would be somewhat horrified if some party in my country got enough votes that it could form a government alone. It would have way too much power.

Let's consider a simple example, say we have parties A (40% of votes), B (35 %), C (15 %) and D (10 %).

To be stable a coalition should have around 60 % of members of parliament behind it. Hence, generally the interesting stable coalitions would be A+B, A+C+D and B+C+D.

Now this allows for the parties to haggle and trade on those issues they consider most important. For example, say that party B strongly wants to have higher taxes for fuel, while party A is strongly opposed to it. Party A somewhat prefers to impose fascism, while the other parties don't want that.

Now, say that parties C and D would, everything else being equal, not want higher taxes for fuel, but they don't consider it a core issue.

Now, let's say party C wants to safeguard some minority to a larger extent compared to the other parties, and none of the other parties is strongly opposed to that (but would not do it on their own). Party D has similarly some core issue of its own.

Now, A+B may not be a good coalition because their agendas are so contradictory that it's hard to figure out a good deal. A+C+D would be a viable coalition: A, C and D get their wish on fuel taxes, but A has to give up on fascism (which it mildly prefers) and accept the core agendas of C and D.

Also, B+C+D would be possible; probably B would have to make some concessions that A is not willing to make.

As you can see, every party has an incentive to offer to give up to an extent on their minor agendas in order to reach a consensus that is preferable to each of them. And this, I believe, makes everybody get a better deal.

Also, a two-party system (which is a natural result of your voting system) seems to be incredibly polarizing. See, you have two kinds of people, democrats and republicans, and it seems to me that the ones you don't belong to are those crazy lunatic bastards. I find it hard to imagine that is healthy for a population.

Comment Re:The measurements in question: (Score 1) 142

Current_Pending_Sector > 0 means you most likely already have unrecoverable errors on your disk, because otherwise the sectors would already have been remapped (and thus not pending). So if your CPS = 3, expect there to be at least three sectors which will return an uncorrectable error when read. Writing to these sectors will allow them to be remapped, which will decrease your CPS.

Comment Why only sue for patent infringement? (Score 1) 191

The only thing I don't quite understand is the possible motivation for XimpleWare to only sue for patent infringement, but not for copyright infringement. It's not like you have to choose between the two (you can have both), and anyway it seems that a copyright claim would be quite strong.

Maybe it's just to keep the lawsuit more contained and therefore save in attorney's fees and costs? On the other hand it seems to me that only claiming patent infringement encourages the defendants to challenge the validity of the patents (which are anyway questionable after Bilski and Alice Corp), while they would have much more incentive to settle if there also was a copyright claim that they had little hope of winning.

Comment Re:DMCA? (Score 1) 273

Whether the access is gained by the same way or a different way from how a copyright owner would do it is not material to the law; the authorization of the copyright owner is the defining criterion. The law defines circumvention thus:

to "circumvent a technological measure" means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner'

For example, most non-authorized decryption would quite obviously be done in the same way as a copyright owner authorized device would do it. This would not make it not circumvention within the meaning of the law; the definition of circumvention is quite broad and essentially focuses on circumventing the requirement for authorization.

Comment Re:DMCA? (Score 2) 273

A mechanism doesn't need to prevent copying in order to qualify for DMCA's anticircumvention protections; it only needs to control access to a work. That's why you specifically need an exception for phones, among other things, even if phone unlocking does not let you copy the phone or its software.

"No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under [the Copyright Law]".

You would be right that this does not qualify as a DMCA takedown request. In this case that doesn't matter very much though, because the letter was sent to the publisher of the article, not only to a mere carrier of the article (like an ISP).

Normally carriers are not liable for what their customers do, unless they have sufficient (in legal terms, actual or constructive) knowledge of the infringing activity. The idea behind DMCA takedown requests is that by sending a certain formal request to an ISP, where you among other things must allege in good faith that your copyrights are being infringed, you put the ISP formally on notice that certain activity is infringing and thereby oblige the ISP to provisionally remove the content pending a counter-notice from the poster of the content. An ISP still has the option to not remove the content, but in that case it assumes liability if it turns out the content was in fact infringing. Significantly, sending a formal DMCA takedown request to an ISP has three special effects compared to sending a free-form cease and desist letter:

1) It puts the ISP under a threat of liability if it does not remove the content;

2) It absolves the ISP from liability towards the customer for removing the content;

3) It makes the sender of the takedown notice liable for damages and attorney's fees for knowingly materially misrepresenting facts in the notice.

So when sending a notice to an ISP (party other than who posted the information), it makes sense to send a DMCA notice, because the party has less incentive to act on free-form requests and because it can actually incur liability if it does. Thus many ISPs routinely disregard non-DMCA takedown requests.

When sending a notice to someone who actually posted the allegedly infringing content, it makes less sense to send a DMCA takedown request. The recipient is liable in any case, and sending the notice puts you in a disadvantage by making it more likely that you are liable for damages and attorney's fees.

I speculate Tektronix's challenge would most likely fail in this case rather because the information posted is not "any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof" that is primarily designed to circumvent a technical measure that effectively controls access to a protected work. (It certainly is primarily designed to circumvent, but it doesn't fall into any of the enumerated categories of technology, product, service, device or component.)

Comment The article misunderstands the ruling (Score 1) 263

I don't think this article quite hits the nail. Specifically, its interpretation of the ruling is wrong (though IANAL). Having said that, this is certainly a positive ruling (if you are, like me, opposed to software patents), and in general my impression is that the trend is clearly against software patents. I'm not sure if there is any software patent the court would eventually uphold, but it generally prefers to avoid such sweeping rulings on matters that are not immediately before it. That is, the court is not entirely sure that no software patent can pass the muster, so it prefers to wait until it sees more credible software patents (like compression algorithms, apparently) to rule on those.

The article claims the Supreme Court ruled that the "invention" is not patent-eligible because "each step does no more than require a generic computer to perform generic computer functions". However, this is not the whole analysis and is akin to saying that no electrical circuit can get patent protection if it can be divided into basic components.

Let me quote the relevant parts from the ruling.

In Mayo, we set forth a framework for distinguishing patents that claim laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas from those that claim patent-eligible applications of those concepts. First, we determine whether the claims at issue are directed to one of those patent-ineligible concepts. If so, we then ask, "[w]hat else is there in the claims before us?" To answer that question, ***we consider the elements of each claim both individually and "as an ordered combination"*** to determine whether the additional elements "transform the nature of the claim" into a patent-eligible application. We have described step two of this analysis as a search for an "'inventive concept'"--i.e., an element ***or combination of elements*** that is "sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the [ineligible concept] itself."

(page 7, emphasis added, internal quotations removed)

That is, the "elements", or the steps the algorithm in question performs, are to be considered both individually and as an ordered combination. The article somehow reads the second prong of this analysis entirely out, but such a reading is not faithful to the decision. Similarly to how an electrical circuit that consists of basic components can still merit patent protection, the court leaves open the possibility that an algorithm composed of "ordinary" steps might be eligible if the steps "as an ordered combination" contains an "inventive concept" that is "sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon [an abstract idea] itself".

The text that the article quotes is from page 15 of the ruling:

***Taking the claim elements separately***, the function performed by the computer at each step of the process is "[p]urely conventional.". Using a computer to create and maintain "shadow" accounts amounts to electronic recordkeeping--one of the most basic functions of a computer. The same is true with respect to the use of a computer to obtain data, adjust account balances, and issue automated instructions; all of these computer functions are "well-understood, routine, conventional activit[ies]" previously known to the industry. In short, each step does no more than require a generic computer to perform generic computer functions.

But this is only the paragraph that analyzes the claim elements separately. What the article does not recognize is the paragraph that immediately follows:

***Considered "as an ordered combination,"*** the computer components of petitioner's method "ad[d] nothing . . . that is not already present when the steps are considered separately." ***Viewed as a whole***, petitioner's method claims simply recite the concept of intermediated settlement as performed by a generic computer. See 717 F. 3d, at 1286 (Lourie, J., concurring) (noting that the representative method claim "lacks any express language to define the computer's participation"). The method claims do not, for example, purport to improve the functioning of the computer itself. See ibid. ("There is no specific or limiting recitation of . . . improved computer technology . . . "). Nor do they effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field. Instead, the claims at issue amount to "nothing significantly more" than an instruction to apply the abstract idea of intermediated settlement using some unspecified, generic computer.

So, the fact that an algorithm only performs "purely conventional" steps is not the end of the inquiry; it just may be sufficient that such an algorithm when viewed as a whole ("ordered combination") may warrant protection.

Comment Let me add fuel to the flames (Score 0) 818

This seems to be a rather natural result of a two-party, winner-takes-it-all system, or rather an electoral system that favors such systems.

I know this isn't going to be liked here, but I want to say it anyway:

One of the eternal prides of the American people is their freedom of speech. You are comparatively free to incite whatever kind of racial/ethnic/religious hatred, and the beautiful theory is that enough good speech will nullify the effects of bad speech.

I say (and have said before) this only works precisely because you don't live in a democracy, but in a system where the actual ruling class have the power do not let the government to be swayed by such popular sentiments and moreover control the sentiments by controlling media. I believe it is fair to say that historically having such freedoms in actual democracies very much tends to lead to genocides and otherwise really bad results.

Slashdot Top Deals

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye