The_Rook writes: for some reason, the article on obsolete technical skills got me thinking about this web page likes to videos of record changers from the 1920s and 1930s. more than just your typical changer, the fancier changers even flip the records over. i'm not sure if this is cutting edge news or technology appropriate for slashdot, but i thing at least a few readers may be interested in some cutting edge electro mechanical robotic systems from the 1920s.
my favorite quote is from the discussion of minus zero: "Signed magnitude...doesn't seem like such a difficult problem today, when hardware is, by the standards of the 1950's when the [UNIVAC] 1100 series was designed, free, but when you put yourself in the place of designers who knew that each logic gate cost several dollars and, in the vacuum tube era, took up substantial space and gave off more heat than an entire computer does today, the need to simplify was compelling."
The_Rook writes: the discovery institute copied Harvard University's BioVisions video, "The Inner Life of the Cell", stripped out Harvard's copyright notice, credits, and narration, and inserted their own creationist friendly narration and renamed the video "The Cell as an automated city". pretty insidious, as suggesting that a cell is like a city is to suggest that it was designed rather than evolved. it should also be of interest because the discovery institute, really more of a lawyer mill than a scientific institution, engaged in a particularly egregious example of copyright infringement.
The_Rook writes: In an opinion piece in the New York Times, "A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn't Its Copyright?" Mark Helprin, author of "Winter's Tale," equates copyrights on written works like novels, etc. with physical assets like houses, flour mills, travel agencies, and newspapers. Apparently 70 years after his death is not enough for Mr. Helprin. He wants his descendants to own the copyright on his works forever.
On the way he laments that the Constitution says copyrights are to be granted for "limited times" and is thankful that congress can and has periodically extended the length of copyrights.
Lost on Mr. Helprin is that the entire value of an idea is it's usefulness to others and that public domain enriches more than "stockholders of various businesses."
The essay is not particularly well thought out and is perhaps beneath the attention of the Slashdot community. But it needs to be refuted on the grounds that is perpetuates the fallacy that intellectual property is the same as physical property and that authors have always had right to their intellectual property (which the nasty government has seen fit to take away) rather than the real situation where intellectual property is a fiction created by the government to encourage the creation and publication of creative works.