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Comment The IRS does not call (Score 1) 212

I suspect that most people smart enough to read slashdot already know this, but: The IRS will never make first contact via phone. They will make first contact by mail. That is paper mail. They will not use e-mail much less facebook, IM, or text.

Unless you are already actively working with (or against) someone in the IRS regarding your case and are expecting contact through other means, you can be confident that any phone calls you receive are fraudulent.

Also, and even more blatantly, the IRS will not take payment in the form of gift cards.

Comment Re:Troll vs legitimate non-practicing entity (Score 1) 191

"If you are violating a patent, then it is perfectly normal, and expect, for the patent holder to demand you stop or pay royalties."

That depends very much on the industry and the market conditions. Patents are often acquired with no intention of ever demanding anyone stop. They are sometimes acquired, especially by young startups, to add value in the eyes of investors. They may be licensed in conjunction with consulting agreements and transfers of know-how where the patent really does serve as closer to an advertisement than what the licensee is really buying. They are also often acquired for "defensive purposes" with no intention to ever sue unless the other party sues first..

Comment When they do more than license (Score 1) 191

A company can be a non-practicing entity in the sense of not producing an actual product and still be a valid and useful part of the economy if they are genuinely providing the know how that goes along with the patent. The quoted article makes reference to Thomas Eddison, and it is true that he primarily focused on actually inventing rather than building and selling his inventions. But (at least most of the time) when he licensed the patent he also provided the knowledge and advice needed to actually produce those inventions.

Todays patent trolls do not do that. They often don't actually know how to create the product in question or how to use the patent if some possible licensee actually wanted to pay for consulting. Instead they wait for someone else to build something that sort of looks like it might be covered by the patent and then sue. Eddison provided value to the world, they do not.

Comment Re:Silverlight greatness (Score 1) 394

I would be surprised if they did. I have subscribed to netflix for years and what I want is convenience and the ability to find new things. It wouldn't be possible for me to download everything I want in a month, because I don't know today what I will want next month. And even if I did, new stuff will be added.

Most importantly, even if I did know what I wanted and didn't worry about new content, it would be inconvenient for me to do that.

Comment Re:No, it's not the Boomers failing to retire. (Score 1) 489

"Of course, how they expect to have any university-affiliated distinguished scientists is a different question."

This could be a point if the problem applied to scientific fields, but it at least seems to be much less of an issue there. Getting a tenure track position in math or a science is not easy by any stretch, but it is much more realistic than what this person is describing for Literature.

Now, asking how they expect to have any distinguished Literature Professors associated with the University might be a valid question, but its not clear many Universities are overly worried about that.

Comment Re:Mass Mail (Score 1) 473

Netflix uses USPS extensively. There are also certain legal matters that for the moment require the physical exchange of documents (anything that requires a notary for a very simple example). Many of them go through FedEx/UPS of course, but for some non-urgent ones USPS makes complete sense.

The USPS may be fading, but there is still a need for the immediate future and ending saturday delivery is a very logical way to make up some of its revenue gap.

Comment Re:Why not use tools that help do it? (Score 1) 288

It depends. When we are talking about desktop applications (whether consumer or purely in-house), then there should certainly be a user friendly install package for everyone's sake. It makes it easier for the front-line help-desk, easier for the user, and saves the developer time. For complex server packages, I would be much more tolerant of not creating a simple install package. For something like that, creating a simple install package might be very difficult and might loose the ability to customize each install for that particular server. Such packages are not installed frequently and there is often good reason the installation is complex. With that said, the install process should at least be well documented. If it is not well documented, then you can run into problems if (when) you loose that particular developer.

Comment Lack of software (Score 1) 1091

First, I would pick a distro, that makes it a lot easier to sell. I unhesitatingly recommend Ubuntu for someone that wants Linux on the desktop.

But as for what needs to be done, while I use Ubuntu I also still use Windows. Windows really is a pretty good OS, IMHO. But more than that, there are several important programs that have no Linux counterparts. There are few AAA games on Linux. Also, as much as I love LibreOffice, MS Office is sometimes an absolute requirement.

Comment Re:Black's Law Dictionary (Score 2) 124

#2 is murky. Clearly the box and physical items are goods, and interactive online access is a service. But it is not clear that a license should be needed for software. While there is now some case law on EULA's it is far from clear yet. After all, I do not need a license to read a book. Why should I need a license to use software I purchased? And even the cases that say a EULA is enforceable generally view it as a contract of adhesion, which means it is subject to scrutiny for what the company can put in it and so those contours are very unclear. And you mention copyrights and patents, but I only need to worry about copyrights and patents if I am doing something which is protected by those. It is fairly clear that most uses of most software (even software that in some way invokes a patent) are *not* covered by patents. Most uses of software do involve some sort of copying, but that kind of transient copying which is necessary to make any use of the purchased software at all would almost certainly fall under fair use. So, #2 is extremely murky. And there are plenty of software cases that don't implicate 1 or 3 and some of those are murky. Do I buy anything when I use (great site incidentally), or am I licensing it? Is it a sale of a good or a service or neither?

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