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Comment Re:Missing option: end the USPS (Score 1) 564

Take a chill pill, and consider the fact that you can put a box outside your door for letters and packages, NOT label it "US Mail", and... Gues what? It's just a box that people happen to drop letters and packages into.

I'm plenty chilled. I'm just tired of everyone completely perpetuating the "sarcastic and arrogant computer scientist" stereotype. It's totally unnecessary. It's not that difficult to have an intelligent, thoughtful, conversation without going ad hominem and claiming that everyone who disagrees with you is incompetent.

Comment Re:Missing option: end the USPS (Score 1) 564

"Monopolies are bad" is a religious statement because it isn't based on supporting evidence.

Since when did "religious" become synonymous with "not based on supporting evidence?" That may very possibly be the most bigoted definition for "religion" that I've ever heard.

All you do is say, "Last time I went to the post office the line was too long," or "they lost my letter once."

I absolutely did not say either of those things. I said that it was $15 billion dollars in debt. The USPS has never lost any of my letters and for the most part I've experienced relatively-reasonable wait times in line. My problem with the USPS is its tremendous debt and the fact that it is becoming an increasingly unnecessary part of government. The internet is rapidly rendering traditional mail delivery obsolete. The USPS's debt is exhibit A.

Comment Re:Missing option: end the USPS (Score 1) 564

(1) I would actually concede that point. I was only arguing that "monopolies are bad" is not a religious statement. I don't necessarily agree that the USPS is a monopoly. To be fair, though, they do have a monopoly on traditional mail and the use of mailboxes.
(2) That's mostly true. I would argue with you about the word "heavily." While this may only be anecdotal, only 2 of the 30+ packages I've received in the past year has used USPS for the final leg of the delivery. The rest use FedEx/UPS for 100% of the route.
(3) That doesn't make them effective or well-managed. That probably explains their $15 billion debt.
(4) I didn't blame unions. If you have a problem with something I said, then address what I actually said. Don't put words in my mouth.
(5) "If the USPS was allowed to act as an independent agency they would be fine." I think we're in agreement on that. If the USPS wasn't tied to the government, i.e. if the USPS was a private business, then it wouldn't be having so many problems. We need less government involvement in every aspect of life - especially the USPTO.

Comment Re:Missing option: end the USPS (Score 1) 564

Then you don't know what one is. I suggest checking a dictionary or other aid to comprehension.

There is no reason to be saying things like "I suggest checking a dictionary or other aid to comprehension." That's completely uncalled-for.

Additionally, since you mentioned the dictionary, let's take a look at the entry for the word "monopoly:"

1. exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices.

They have (1) exclusive control over mail delivery and access to mailboxes and (2) the ability to manipulate prices as they please. And even if you disagree with prong (2) - their ability to manipulate prices - the definition only requires one of the prongs (it used the disjunctive "or"), thus it is a monopoly.

Comment Re:Missing option: end the USPS (Score 1) 564

What is wrong with the USPS and how would the free market make it better?

How about the fact that it is $15 Billion in debt?

FedEx, for instance, is several billion dollars in the black. The free market has a way of weeding out unsuccessful enterprises. If you can't manage your money, then you go out of business and someone else steps in the fill the void.

And how is "monopolies are bad" a religious statement? Are you saying you think monopolies are good?

Comment Re:Copyright protection (Score 1) 307

as a typical /.er I did not RTFA... but how can he claim rights to a cover? he covered a song, and he is claiming copyright on the cover of a song, that is copyritten by someone else? Am I understanding this correctly???

Coulton parodied a song and is entitled a copyright protecting only his original contributions to the parody. Someone else copying the song verbatim happens to copy his protected contributions and thus is infringement. If they simply made their own parody on the original song (without copying the Coulton parody), then we'd be having a different discussion.

Wait - my bad. He didn't parody the song, he purchased a license to cover it. Regardless, replace "parody" with "cover" and the argument still stands.

Comment Re:Copyright protection (Score 2) 307

as a typical /.er I did not RTFA... but how can he claim rights to a cover? he covered a song, and he is claiming copyright on the cover of a song, that is copyritten by someone else? Am I understanding this correctly???

Coulton parodied a song and is entitled a copyright protecting only his original contributions to the parody. Someone else copying the song verbatim happens to copy his protected contributions and thus is infringement. If they simply made their own parody on the original song (without copying the Coulton parody), then we'd be having a different discussion.

Comment Re:Copyright protection (Score 2) 307

Arrangements of nonprotectible elements are, in fact, copyrightable. See Reader's Digest Association, Inc. v. Conservative Digest, Inc., 821 F.2d 800 (D.C. Cir. 1987). (magazine cover made up an arrangement of nonprotectible elements was copyrightable) Note, though, that in Reader's Digest, only the arrangement was protected by that copyright. If you're talking about "arrangements" in the musical sense, those are only copyrightable after they are "fixed in a tangible medium." 17 U.S.C. 102. That is, sheet music is protected, concerts that are recorded are protected (which is one reason why audio recording is often disallowed in concerts), etc.

Comment Re:Copyright protection (Score 4, Insightful) 307

wouldn't it look pretty bad in court if you just let damages accrue, and only filed a case after the defendant had made a bunch of money?

Generally, no. In the specific case of trademark law, you can lose your trademark if you don't defend it, but with copyright and patents, there is no such 'problem'. Submarine patents are a real thing, look at the case of GIF.

If you know about copyright infringement and don't act on it, then infringers might be able to employ the defenses of "laches" (unreasonable delay) or "equitable estoppel" (misleading the infringers to believe you're not going to pursue them). I'm not familiar with the GIF case, but my guess is that they were able to show that they were still actively enforcing the patent (even if "actively" is an exaggeration).

Comment Re:Copyright protection (Score 5, Informative) 307

In copyright law (and in most, if not all, areas of IP) there is a defense called "equitable estoppel." The copyright owner's lack of action against an alleged infringement that he or she knows about can sometimes be interpreted as permission to continue use. There's also a defense called "laches" (pronounced: "latches") which can be employed in response to unreasonable delays in prosecution.

Comment Re:Huh?? (Score 1) 227

Patent infringement occurs when another "makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention." 35 U.S.C. 271(a). If the company actually held a patent on the process of scanning documents and emailing them, then they really could sue users for infringement. In this case, though, that process is clearly not patentable since the process of scanning and emailing a document "was known or used by others in this country ... before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent." 35 U.S.C. 102(a). When the USPTO issues a patent, the scope of the claims is not immediately clear. This is what the patent holders here are relying on. It's difficult - even for a patent attorney - to determine the exact scope of the claims of these patents. If they make it cheaper to settle than to hire an attorney (and possibly go to court), then they win.

Comment Re:I'm confused (Score 1) 307

(replying to self)

too many Facebook users lose or never gain the ability to use the web-proper. As soon as they move beyond the walled garden, they are lost and confused

I'm curious who you know that is like this. I can only speak for people my age (23 - 25), but having grown up with the WWW, these people have no trouble navigating the world outside of Facebook. My friends and classmates browse our university subreddit, many of them have their own domain and personal website, and Facebook is only a subset of the WWW to them. I'm not saying they don't check it, but they can do nearly anything that you and I can do w.r.t "web browsing."

Comment Re:I'm confused (Score 1) 307 can't even view a public wall without a Facebook account

And what purpose would that serve, exactly? Stalking? If you can interact with the people whose profile you're viewing, then what's the point? Very few people are willing to have their profile/comments/photos visible to the entire world of people who might be prospective employers or other authority figures. Your Facebook credentials let other people blacklist/whitelist you based on groups they assign you to (or specifically block you if they want). You lose that functionality when you have your profile visible to everyone and without requiring users login.

But Facebook is a closed universe, a walled garden.

Yes, and people like it for the same reasons they like living in a gated community. Privacy, safety, and convenience. Privacy/safety was addressed in the previous paragraph, and the convenience should be apparent. Browsing Facebook is fast because everything can be done from inside the web application. If I want to view my best friend's vacation photos, all I have to do is click on them and they load asynchronously in a pop-under. From there, I can hit my left or right arrow keys to keep viewing, or I can click "close" and continue reading the newsfeed without waiting for a full reload. If a website wants to integrate their website into Facebook, there is an API for that.

Facebook is a web application. Highly-integrated applications are always the most useful, whether it's a desktop app or a web app. Would you prefer to use Visual Studio/Eclipse/C++ Builder or would you prefer to use gedit and then alt-tab over to your terminal to compile? I prefer the former, and that's the issue here. Yes it can be done by stringing things together, but it's hardly robust and certainly not integrated. You're using the term "walled garden" as some kind of pejorative, but really it's a feature. To most people, Facebook is a highly-integrated web application that meets the majority of their needs all within the application. That's what makes it popular. You might disagree that you it's best for you, but to say that it isn't best for its core user base would be out of touch. I bet you're also trying to convince your grandmother that she should be using vim instead of Microsoft Word... I think the state of software engineering would be better if people would take the time to better understand their user base and the lives that they lead. Not everyone is going to have the technological aptitude of an engineer, but that's okay. I'm sure I wouldn't want you performing open heart surgery on me, just as I wouldn't want my surgeon writing firmware for a pacemaker.

Comment Re:I'm confused (Score 1) 307

First of all, I'm a Flickr Pro subscriber, so I'm intimately familiar with all of its features.

In re tagging:
Yes, Flickr has something called "tagging," but it's a different definition of the word "tag." It's a textual field for each photo so that you can assign to it some keywords to make your image more "searchable" for Flickr's built-in search engine. It doesn't actually link the photo to a person's Facebook/Flickr user account.

In re Facebook integration:
Flickr's idea of "Facebook integration" is allowing you to log in to their website with your Flickr credentials (a process that you can expedite by using your Facebook credentials, but you're still having to create a Flickr account) and subsequently letting you post a link on your own Facebook wall to a photo or an album with a tiny thumbnail. Potential viewers then have to navigate away from Facebook into Flickr to view the actual photo(s). And that's if I leave my album wide open to the entire world with no concept of privacy. (which I don't like to do since there are other people in my photos - it's a violation of their privacy) So then if I want to restrict who can see the album, (e.g. my Facebook friends), I have to instruct them to create a Flickr account and then I would have to manually whitelist each of those people. Contrastingly, with the "Facebook photos" system, my "friends" automatically have access and everyone else is blacklisted.

In re "logging in":
Not everyone likes linking their Facebook account with arbitrary websites - especially not when all they want to do is view/comment [on] a photo. And even when someone does link their account, they can still only access private photos after I go in an manually whitelist them. Facebook's built-in photo system lets you view and comment on photos without having to reauthenticate and it lets you do it in situ. In addition to that, it has built-in privacy controls that let you control which groups of people can see which photos.

All things considered, yes, I could put my photos on Flickr and inconvenience my friends/family and potentially violate their privacy, but the cons simply outweigh the pros. And no, I'm not an AOL user (metaphorical or otherwise)... I'm a CS major who doesn't have a lot of free time to manage a hundred different applications strung together by shoestrings and instead prefer to use systems that are robust and integrated.

Also, if you prefer empirical evidence, there was a time when I posted all of my photos straight to a Gallery2 installation on my web server and would post a link to it on my Facebook page. (essentially the same solution as you're proposing) I ended up switching back to the built-in Facebook gallery because comments and views were virtually non-existent. It's very inconvenient to have to leave Facebook to casually view some photos. In case you're unfamiliar with Facebook, photos that are either new or have had lots of recent activity show up in your friends' news feeds. So when they log in, they will see something of this nature: "[friend a] and [friend b] commented on [friend c]'s photo," along with the actual photo. It also shows some of the comments and lets other people join the conversation. That level of interaction isn't present when you just post a link to an external website. My guess is that you've never used Facebook and thus have no knowledge of the distinction, but it's definitely there and it was very apparent to me from my Gallery2 migration experiment.

Comment Re:I'm confused (Score 1) 307

Well it's not so much the lack of ability. It's just that outsourcing photos to another website makes viewing them inconvenient and lacks the "social" part of social networking. There's no tagging and nobody wants to have to create an account just so that they can leave a comment. And personally, I don't blame them. It's a pain. The integrated "photos" feature is very convenient and definitely serves a purpose. I just wish it wouldn't suck. (bad compression and lack of features)

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