Feeds

back to article IBM solves world's 'paper or plastic' crisis

Since the dawn of history, mankind has been plagued by an unnecessary burden whilst grocery shopping at their neighborhood supermarket: telling the cashier whether they prefer a paper or plastic bag. Precious moments are squandered. Moments better spent reading the collected works of Spinoza, curing cancer, building shelters for …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

We live at the dawn of a new age

Now for the big question - why have no UK supermarkets introduced those strong brown paper bags you get in US stores?

0
0
Sam
Thumb Down

What?

"(Dear pedantic readers: yes, this model takes place in a vacuum. And you know what? I'm not even sorry.)"

The speed of light does not vary because of the presence, or lack of an atmosphere.

Sound (as in "how do you want it wrapped?") however, relies on an atmosphere.

This however, is totally irrelevant as in the United Kingdom the stuff gets wrapped however, and the shopper has fucking better things to do than be slowed down by stupid fucking questions.

Bad day, was it?

0
0
Unhappy

Re: What?

"The speed of light does not vary because of the presence, or lack of an atmosphere."

Yes it does. Silly, silly person.

0
0
Bronze badge

they should all be paper

easy to put out with your recycling, and "corode" with abit of rain, then IBM's system would be even more worthless

0
0
Bronze badge

@sam - Speed of light

Does change according to the substance through which it is propagating - it depends on the dielectric and magnetic properties of that material - this is how refraction works.

Of course the difference between air and air is enough to cause mirages and a whole host of other phenomenon, but that's still not really enough to change the maths by much.

Of course the model fails to account for the fact that the cashier can, in most cases, start scanning things while asking the question, thus wasting no time at all.

This is a ridiculous invention, it's not solving any extant problem.

0
0
Silver badge

Obvious?

Doesn't the US have a clause in their patent laws about the invention not being obvious. OK RFID systems might be patentenable but how the hell can the patent office justify granting a patent of this?

What next, will there be a patent for a system that avoids asking the customer whether they'd like the bag to be brown or white?

ARGH!

Is it time that they just scrapped every bloody patent and then they could afford to do with out all the patent lawyers and most US companies would halve their total business costs over night.

0
0
Black Helicopters

@Sam

Sorry dude but it does change. (Not much as epsilon_r is about 1.00054 and mu_r is about 1.0000004)

See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dielectric_constant

and http://www.microwaves101.com/encyclopedia/magneticmaterials.cfm.

SO the speed of light in air is 0.99972990935 X vacuum speed.

I have said too much - To the helicopter!

0
0
Paris Hilton

Now that I wasted a perfectly good comment - here is what I wanted to say to this great debate

Paris for President!

0
0
Boffin

@Sam

Actually, it does. If it didn't, you'd not see rainbows and prisms wouldn't work. Oil slicks would look really flat and dull. Some more advanced fiber comms stuff would also stop working.

Also, in lab conditions, they've slowed light down to under 30mph. And I believe that other scientists have knocked photons to speeds very slightly higher than the speed of light in a vacuum somehow.

But yeah, it is a stupid fucking question to ask. For the more "eco-conscious" person, just stick with plastic like everyone else and save a massive amount of energy, waste materials, trees and other stuff from use/destruction. Or bring your own bags and save EVEN MORE!

0
0
Paris Hilton

@sam - Speed of light...

...in a given medium is a constant.

The refractive index of dry air at sea level is 1.0003, which means that light actually does travel a teeny weeny bit slower in our atmosphere than in the vacuum of space.

Paris because I have roughly the same chance of shagging her as of anyone giving a flying fig about this post :-)

Kev

0
0
Flame

IBM is pushing back boundries people !

How about leaving a pile of paper bags next to a pile of plastic bags at the end of the checkout, customer then picks bag type without wasteful waffling.

Patent pending bitches.....

0
0
Silver badge
Stop

But it isn't that speedy!!

Often times you get asked the dumb question BEFORE you present any identification, payment card, or loyalty card. So, unless it can determine your preference by how you look, or some such, it isn't going to work.

Personal experience (yes even I go to the grocery store) indicates that the bagging of your groceries starts before you have everything on the conveyor belt. Sometimes it is done by a person other than the one actually doing the scanning.

So, it isn't going to save any time, in fact it might waste some!

0
0
Black Helicopters

I don't want your fckng bags! - how many times do I have to say it!!!!!

1. No I don't have a 'loyalty' card

2. No, I don't want a bag, thanks

3. I come to this shop ~ once a week, see the same till minder every time and every time you pull a bag from your stack and shove it at me without asking - and then go all slack-jawed and uncomprehending when I say no thanks.

4. Will this patent save me any time? - no of course not!

Seriously though, some greedy idiots just want to make sure that they don't miss out on OWNING something - even if anyone with half a brain can see it's a totally worthless piece of sht!

black helicopter - because - 'What do you mean - you don't have a loyalty card?'

0
0
IT Angle

example program & data

print "<$name> likes <$type> bags, because of <$reason>"

Max, plastic, asphyxiation roleplay games

...

0
0
Bronze badge

blatant sexism

Consider the following extracts :-

"If a customer is standing 3 feet away from the cashier, it would take approximately 0.002665 for the words "paper or plastic?" to reach him at the speed of sound."

"it would take a mere 0.000000001016703 seconds for the information to reach her at the speed of light."

This blatant bit of gender stereotyping will probably have completely passed by the approximately 99.9% male readership (my conservative estimate) of this virtual rag. It's just a good thing that nobody from an HR department has ever heard of The Register or the formal complaints would have been winging there way in.

0
0
Paris Hilton

Gagh!

The easiest way to cut through the whole dilemma is to use a plastic crate instead of bags. No fuss, no waste and no chance of the sub-epsilon at the till asking stupid questions.

IBM is a bowl of dicks.

0
0
Coat

why paper or plastic?

Couldn't you just take your own bag to the shops every time you go?

That would get rid of the waste problem and the need (need?!) for systems like this?

Apologies for pointing out the bleeding obvious.

0
0
Flame

Better off with a Mac

Of course this only applies to Windows users, who are idiots by definition.

A Mac user would wear a badge (made from recycled card) that says "No Plastic bags please." and cut the transaction time in half.

0
0
Boffin

Speed of light

The speed of light is a constant, but is different depending on the material.

If you were to attempt to measure the speed of light by running along side it at the speed of light, you would find that it is still going away from you at the speed of light (in all directions).

Yes, I have just read 'a brief history of time'

But remember, Einstein calculated that nothing can be accelerated to or beyond the speed of light (because it would need infinite energy), but he didn't say anything about things already travelling at or beyond the speed of light! (K-Pax)

That waffling is because the point I was going to make - that sound doesn't work in a vacuum, so the authors model falls down (let alone the people who are apparently alive in a vacuum) - has already been made by another commenter.

0
0

@Sam

Four words.

"Would you like cashback?"

(If I wanted ***ing cahback I'd have ***ing asked for cashback)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Bass Ackward

"...Often times you get asked the dumb question BEFORE you present any identification..."

Over here in Airstrip One, it's *always*. I've finished packing stuff away in my bags before giving them any cards, most of the time. Does *anywhere* begin the cashier-customer interaction with swiping the loyalty card?

0
0
Alien

The REALLY BIG question.

If a grocery store employee says "Paper or Plastic?"

and there's no-one in the store to hear it,

.....Will it adversely affect the price of a tin of baked beans?

...The shopping trolley is out there!

0
0
Coat

Denial of Service Attack?

IBM seems to be executing a denial of service attack on hte US patent system.

IU think the plan is to flood the patent office with dumb patents so that the real patent trolls cannot file any more "one click shopping" patents.

The poor corporate lawyers can than get back to filing motions at the golf club as god intended.

Is it Friday yet?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Example output.

"<undef> likes <undef> bags, because of <undef>"

You need a store card for this to work.. I fear the software may be more complex.

0
0

Huh?

Why is there something that looks suspiciously like a Greyhound Bus stuffed inside the terminal?

Is this some new type of package transport layer?

0
0

time saved?

If only they came out with a system to stop those annoying screaming kids at the checkouts...

Or a system to reduce the amount of time taken for the nice old dears that spend at least five minutes trying to find the right money off coupon in her purse...

0
0
Silver badge
Alert

Paper is dead!

Doesn't everyone pay with plastic in one way or another? Seriously, between debit and credit cards, who keeps cash in their pocket? Now where the hell is my RFID money? Oh, there it is!! www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/07/fastrak_vulns/

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Tesco's scan-it-yourself tills

the ones without a conveyer belt practically force you to take a plastic bag, if you have a rucksack or pannier bag and place it on the machine where the plastic bags hang it refuses to scan your items, this is because that shelf has weighing scales in and checks the weight of the item you just scanned to make sure you don't put a different item in the bag than the one you scanned, and it doesn't like the weight of your rucksack/pannier bag.

Stupid eco unfriendly Tesco :p

0
0
Stop

@everyone @ing sam

14 comments so far and 6 of them have been to point out that the speed of light is affected by the medium*? Crikey, don't you READ the comments before having to show the world how clever you are?

We need a little piccie of a dead horse and a whip.

* Something most of us know already, anyway.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Anybody know these guys?

Primary Examiner: Lee; Michael G.

Assistant Examiner: Savusdiphol; Paultep

Attorney, Agent or Firm: Pastel Law Firm Pastel; Christopher R.

These people should be ashamed of themselves, the examiners because they didn't do their job, the attorneys because they shamelessly exploit the system to the detriment of the patent system and society in general.

0
0
Joke

speed of light...

Ah yes, speed of light... and IBM in one article. Made me flash back to the "jokes file" from the 70's which featured this gem (all over the net. Just google for OSVU if the link gets moderatrixed...).

http://ldworen.net/fun/osvu.html

"...IBM, through its wholly owned subsidiary, The United States of America, is working on a program to upgrade the speed of light and thus reduce the overhead of extraterrestrial and metadimensional pageing..."

Ahead of its time I say!

0
0

It's a NIGHT ELF MOHAWK!

Foo!

0
0
Happy

Self-Reliance

I bring my own bags, thank you...

They have big handles and large storage capacity, much more manly than those wimpy plastic or paper bags :-)

0
0
A

I understand their reasoning!

The reasoning is simple; they don't have any intent to make this, but the research department needs to be seen to be doing *something*.

A PHB would never question whether a patent was going to be approved or was even vaguely useful. They'd just count the numbers of patents applied for.

Reminds me of my time spent in a call centre for a certain fruit vendor. My dear PHB always checked the average duration of calls per day and the number of inbound calls. Funnily enough one of my colleagues aced it, but she never actually took a single support call. She arrived at the office, called her friend for most of the day, then "accepted" but promptly hung up on 45 calls at the end of the day. Only one outbound call, excellent, and 45 calls per day with an average call duration of nigh on 9 minutes. Yup, she was being paid to talk to her friends all day; and was regularly given "top employee" accolade for doing so. I really hate having a work ethic at times...

0
0

I dunno...

What if sometimes I want paper and sometimes I want plastic? It depends on how far I have to carry it, and whether or not I need more bags to clean out my cat's litter-box or whether I need more bags to put my paper recyclables in.

Anyways, the point is now moot. My local grocery store has already largely moved on to those 'self checkout' machines. The girl at the traditional checkout line is always trying to get me to use them because, she says, it's more convenient. Heaven forbid I should be inconvenienced by someone ringing up and bagging my groceries for me when I could so conveniently do it myself.

She deserves to be replaced by a machine.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

obviousity

> Doesn't the US have a clause in their patent laws about the invention not being obvious.

I think this "invention" is anything but obvious. I for one have never realized there was even a problem!

Anyway, IBM patents everything it possibly can, and in most cases, like here, the world+dog can simply look on and shrug.

0
0
Black Helicopters

Old Iron???

surely this is just IBM getting a patent on the software they use when you call their Helpdesk...

caller # A

RING RING

>:IBM helpdesk now scanning......

>:RESULT.. caller requires assistance....

>:RESOLUTION... no action taken

caller # B

>:IBM helpdesk now scanning......

>:RESULT.. caller requires large volume purchase....

>:RESOLUTION... putting you through to human interface....

... Come to think of it, MS is likely to challenge that patent... Heck we all know they have been running that very same application since the mid 80's, last century.

Helicopter cos there is one hovering above this story somewhere.

0
0
E

Patenting what?

Are items 202 and 214 patented as well? If so does the patent specify that 202 & 214 are *my* head, *your* head, or just he person down the streets' head?

0
0
Happy

@JH - I don't want your fckng bags! - how many times do I have to say it!!!!!

Jack, I'm just registering a new patent..

What you need to do is hold an RFID card programmed to say you don't have a loyalty cad and/or need a bag.

I'm rich!! Thanks Jack. Thanks IBM.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Prior art in Japan at FoodExpress supermarkets

"... it will be appreciated that, instead of the card, the customer identifier may be any one of a token, a key fob, a chip, or any other suitable type of portable identifier."

I live in Japan and often shop at FoodExpress supermarkets. They have been operating just such a system, using tokens, for years. The priority date on IBM's patent application is July 20, 2006. I am pretty certain FoodExpress have been using the tokens already before that date and that means it would constitute prior art. FoodExpress use a Japanese cashier systems, not IBM, so this shows just how obvious this "invention" is. Besides the use of tokens for getting a certain item at the cashier is hardly anything new in the first place, for the purpose of a patent claim it doesn't matter if the item you receive (or don't receive) in return for a token is a product you pay for or a product you are given as a throw in (such as a plastic bag). It is simply a token for product exchange. Reversing this into token for no-product exchange doesn't make it novel, doesn't make it an "inventive step" both of which is required to qualify for a patent grant.

Everybody who feels this patent was granted unduly (and thus in violation of US patent law) and who cares enough should write to the USPTO and tell them of prior art where tokens have been used at check out at any kind of shop (not just supermarkets). I for one, will write to the USPTO and quote the prior art I found at my local supermarket here in Japan.

0
0
Happy

The effects of a patent bounty

Well, that's another $1,500 in some IBMers pay packet, and more brownie points for their manager to climb the slippery pole of internal promotion... Time well spent then.

0
0

Someone..

..got paid for the idea of "a screen that shows stuff". Christ. Can I patent every website panel/table I've made?

Tardation.

0
0
Coat

And my response is always 'I have my own'...

A local chain 'Kiwi' here in Norway sells solid nylon bags for a little over 1£, and with the promise that if it gets ruined, they'll replace it at no cost.

In other shops they have boxes of baggies under the conveyor where you place your goods. Then it's your responsibility to pick as many as you need, and of the size/material you want and place on top of he belt with your other stuff.

No need for the teller to ask, and the time you spent picking the gags best suited for you would have been waisted waiting for the granny in front of you finishing complaining that the food was cheaper before and paying with all the smallest coins she can find...

Mine's the one with a green nylon baggie balled up and stuffed into a pocket.

0
0
Sam

@ Adam Foxton

"Also, in lab conditions, they've slowed light down to under 30mph."

They recreated Virgin Media's network in a lab?

" And I believe that other scientists have knocked photons to speeds very slightly higher than the speed of light in a vacuum somehow."

Stephen Hawking is on his way round to run you over very slowly.

0
0
Flame

The patent system

The patent system is irrevokably broken: unless of course you are a big business interest. Invention? Novelty? Purpose? None are important. Its even more borked than the modern abuse of copyright.

The only issue is "have you enough money to litegate?" If you do, you don't even have to spend it: just having it is enough. If you don't - you are screwed.

0
0
Happy

Good idea for pubs

This is a good idea for pubs across the country ; no more having to shout your order across the crowded bar, just flash your card and they'll know what you're having. The card could even be pre-programmed with your "limit" so they wouldn't be able to serve you when you've had too much.

Mind you, I went to a pub the other day for a pub meal and was asked if I wanted "cashback" when I paid with a card. I won't be returning there in a hurry!

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@Mike - strong brown paper bags

I got one of these in a well known discount clothes shop the other day.

Within about 2 minutes the handles had ripped off and I had to go into another shop to get a plastic bag to put my 'strong' brown paper bag into.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Happy

Mama's got a brand new bag

I never realised shopping was such hard work. According to the patent people may have different packaging preferences for each item they buy. Worse, they're suggesting the packaging preference for each item could be communicated by a voice message or tone, so going through Tescos on Friday evening could sound like the end of Close Encounters.

This also raises the possibility of customised packaging, so the Ferrero Rocher for the wife's birthday gets gift wrapped and the hemeroids cream is put in a plain brown bag and hidden under the frozen peas (though the voice message announcing this might defeat the point).

The first cited article is a gem - "means for comparing said characteristic of said article as identified by said article identifying means with the characteristic of the actual article to confirm the identity of the article bagged by a bag formed by said bag forming apparatus, whereby to prevent both deliberate fraud and inadvertent mistake in the self-service checkout of said one or more articles."

0
0
Alien

@Sam

"Stephen Hawking is on his way round to run you over very slowly."

First time I've laughed out loud in the office for quite some time! Thanks!

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.