Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Well.... really? (Score 2, Insightful) 152

Of course he will say that, his job depends on there being patents to work and litigate with.

Yes, let's just ignore his decades of experience in patent law and years of studying patent history that comes with the territory because he has a vested interest. On the other hand, he makes some fairly good points. If we all but abolish the patent system for technology companies they would easily be overtaken by whomever has the largest manufacturing capacity. Ever wonder why Foxcon didn't just grab android and make an iPhone clone? Why be subject to Apple if there are no IP restrictions at all? People bemoan the quandary of the small innovator, and this is a legitimate concern, but it must also be weighed against the benefit patents (software and hardware) confer to large companies who must decide how much to spend on R&D.

Stallman is an activist against tightly controlled intellectual property, copyright and otherwise. That isn't a something to hold against him, it's just a fact that one must consider when listening to his opinions and analysis. Please try to keep that in mind when reading analysis from the other side.


Submission + - Positive bias could erode public trust in science (

ananyo writes: Evidence is mounting that research is riddled with positive bias and, left unchecked, the problem could erode public trust, argues Dan Sarewitz, a science policy expert, in a comment piece in Nature this week. The piece cites a number of findings including a 2005 paper by John Ioannidis that was one of the first to bring the problem to light ('Why Most Published Research Findings Are False'). More recently, researchers at Amgen were able to confirm the results of only six of 53 'landmark studies' in preclinical cancer research (abstract only but interesting comments). While the problem has been most evident in biomedical research, Sarewitz argues that systematic error is now prevalent in "any field that seeks to predict the behaviour of complex systems — economics, ecology, environmental science, epidemiology and so on."
"Nothing will corrode public trust more than a creeping awareness that scientists are unable to live up to the standards that they have set for themselves," he adds.
So do slashdot readers perceive positive bias to be a problem? And if so, what practical steps can be taken to put things right?


Submission + - California Students Rank 47th In National Science Test (

bonch writes: 22 percent of California eighth-graders passed a national science test, ranking California among the worst in the U.S. according to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The test measures knowledge in Earth and space sciences, biology, and basic physics. The states that fared worse than California were Mississippi, Alabama, and a tie between the District of Columbia and Hawaii.
Social Networks

Submission + - 55,000 Twitter Accounts Hacked, Passwords Leaked ( 1

MojoKid writes: "Tens of thousands of Twitter accounts have been compromised in a recent hack attack in which more than 55,000 passwords were leaked and posted to Pastebin by anonymous hackers. Most of the accounts supposedly belonged to spammers, and there were many duplicate entries, Twitter officials pointed out. However, to play it safe, you should probably change your Twitter password ASAP."

Comment DVD CCA: keys cost money (Score 1) 4

People forget that the content decryption scheme on DVDs requires a licensed key from the DVD Copy Control Association (CCA). Yes, you can download grey-market/illegal decryptors for free, but Microsoft can't bundle this software with your PC legally without paying a fee.

In the past it was usually that hardware manufacturers that paid the DVD CCA, so I wonder Microsoft is changing this practice to encourage WMP uptake or if the article is merely stating that win 8 computers will lack only the MPEG playing software out of the box.


Submission + - Unintended Consequences of the Prometheus Decision (

An anonymous reader writes: In the case Mayo v. Prometheus recently covered on Slashdot, the Supreme Court ruled that patents 'based on laws of nature' are not valid. In a scathing 5 part series San Francisco IP Lawyer Robert R. Sachs attacks both the reasoning and the prose of the Supreme Court opinion. As evidence of the decision's potency, several patents have already been invalidated by the Prometheus decision in the month since it came out. For my personal take, I am a graduate student doing biomedical research. After finding a new compound allowing early diagnosis of a disease where the only diagnostic test is symptomatic, I was advised by our legal counsel not to attempt patenting the compound until further court rulings clarify Prometheus. As a result, my compound may never see publication. At the very least my publication will be delayed significantly. It seems that if Prometheus is applied broadly, the only way to profit off of these sort of discoveries will be through trade secrets: a major step backwards for scientific progress.

Submission + - Why Medical Bills Are a Mystery

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Regardless of what decision the Supreme Court reaches on the legality of the Affordable Care Act, Robert Kaplan and Michael Porter write in the NY Times that solutions to our health care problems are failing because of a fundamental and largely unrecognized problem: We don’t know what it costs to deliver health care to individual patients, much less how those costs compare to the outcomes achieved. Providers themselves do not measure their costs correctly. They assign costs to patients based on what they charge, not on the actual costs of the resources, like personnel and equipment, used to care for the patient. The result is that attempts to cut costs fail, and total health care costs just keep rising. In a pilot program to address the problem, doctors asked their staffs to help them map out each step in a patient’s treatment, from the moment they’re checked in at the door of the hospital to their final follow-up visit. Mapping the process allowed the doctors to identify inefficiencies, like the amount of time nurses spent filling out paperwork instead of tending to patients. After mapping the process, one surgeon repairing cleft palates at Children’s Hospital Boston discovered that 40 percent of the total cost of an 18-month-care process was due to the time a child spent in the intensive care unit before and after surgery and that by using a far less intensively staffed and equipped observation room, the hospital could achieve equivalent quality and safety at much lower costs. Kaplan and Porter say there are hundreds of opportunities like this one in every hospital to use time, equipment and facilities more intelligently using Time-Driven Activity-Based Accounting (PDF) but these opportunities have been obscured by existing costing systems that have little connection to the processes actually performed. "Understanding costs could be the single most powerful lever to transform the value of health care. This would give payers and providers the data they need to improve patient care, and to stop arbitrary cuts and counterproductive cost shifting.""

Comment Apparently (Score 1) 1

Apparently Richard Stallman knows as little about the nature of the abortion debate as he knows about quantum mechanics.

The cornerstone argument of his paper is that soul's form gradually because they are governed by QM... of course if they were governed by QM, then the current assumption that they form instantaneously is actually more likely to be true since there is no intermediate state. Along with several other broad and inaccurate generalizations he proceeds to use Schrodinger's cat as evidence that his position holds merit (whereas the thought experiment was designed to show the limitations of QM applied to physical systems).

Anyways... doesn't deserve front page, I hope /.ers see through this trash.
(Yes RMS is great and stuff, but being a Free Software guru doesn't make you a meta-politico-physical expert)

Comment Drunk driving vs... this? (Score 0) 652

38k MVA deaths in 2009.
200 deaths caused by backup accidents is 0.6% of the national total.
12400 deaths caused by alcohol impaired drivers is about 38% of the national total.

Rear view cameras = $800
Breathalyzer key lock = ~$1500

For less than twice the price, you can get 62 times the life saving potential. Just food for thought.

Comment Re:DNA is not a protein (Score 1) 95

Perhaps you didn't read my post.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, a target protein would not need to be crystallized in order for an aptamer to be developed. I'm pretty sure they just screen the proteins against a large aptamer library and then sequence the bound aptamers to see what worked. I'm a little fuzzy on this, so somebody correct me if I got that last part wrong.

Slashdot Top Deals

The IBM purchase of ROLM gives new meaning to the term "twisted pair". -- Howard Anderson, "Yankee Group"