Why do we have a patent system at all?
Juries or patent specialists, ignorance or mallice, who do you want to be trolled by?
2601 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007
If you put a magic warp field generator on your spaceship, the warp field has to move faster than the speed of light through unwarped space or your spaceship will overtake it. To use a magical warp field generator to get to Alpha Centauri at ten times the speed of light, you switch on you field generator and project a beam of warped space towards Alpha Centauri for 3.93 years. You then jump into the beam and switch it off. You ride the beam for 159 days (Earth time) and arrive at Alpha Centauri at the same time as the leading edge of the beam. Calculating the size of the lens needed to keep a beam of gravitation waves focussed to the size of a space ship 4.37 light years away is left as an exercise for the reader.
They only sell them in a few low-population countries. Unfortunately they out sell Windows phones and make a profit.
Linux distributions already have regular security updates. I have heard Windows users complain that AV software smells of pooh so often that I am glad there is very little for Linux (There is some for filtering Microsoft malware out of email). In the Microsoft world, malware is installed and executed so it can hide and do damage before AV software can hunt for it. The rest of us don't run malware in the first place unless it is to test security.
I have tried installing some but the install scripts got tripped up by little things like mounting /tmp and /var/tmp noexec. Trivial changes to the configuration like that make most Linux boxes more trouble than they are worth. There are plenty of more complex options available for high value targets to ensure that viruses have to be targeted to a specific organisation or machine.
X86 is getting rare these days as much has been moved to AMD64, but my home also has MIPS and two incompatible flavours of ARM. Multiply that by the number of distributions and the users' choices about what software to use and you can see why Linux malware is just not as profitable as stuff for Microsoft even though some of the machines are very high value targets and Unix malware has been around longer:
This is the Unix e-mail virus. It works on the honour system. Please send copies of this e-mail to your friends then delete a few files.
Never ascribe malice where incompetence or lack of time will suffice. There is more than enough ignorance in the world to explain why a script writer does not understand a thing about programming. The author of the article does not even know the difference between a freetard and a penguinista, and he writes for a tech journal, not childrens' television.
Anyone with half a brain can avoid jury service. (Likewise anyone with a super brain will not get past jury selection). When jury decisions are suprising, the first places to look are the evidence and the reporting. Some reporters like to emphasise the evidence that is contrary to the jury's decision to create some controversy. Some just paraphrase the press release from the losing side. Remember that we see evidence that the jury does not.
The biggest slice of evidence we got to see is about 950 examples of prior art Samsung does not get to show the jury. Apple complained that Samsung did not specify for each example whether the example demonstrated obviousness or prior art. Samsung did not get a response in by the deadline. I think that example of Apple lawyering speaks volumes about how weak they think their case is, but the jury is not allowed to know about it.
The court summons a large bunch of potential jurors. Some are sent home because spending time on the jury would cause undue hardship or because they have a business relationship with one of the parties. They lawyers from each side get to throw out a few potential jurors. Every single time, they throw out the people with experience with technology or law.
The European Patent Office is lobbying hard for a specialist patent court. If they ever get their way, no patent will be too obvious and the concept of non-patentable subject matter will be entirely forgotten. If you ever hear a rumour that the possibility of a specialist patent court will be created, publicise the rumour at once and hope that letters to MEPs will stamp this atrocious idea back into the mud again.
No DRM has survived determined attention from hackers. At $199, surface would receive lots of attention, and Microsoft losing money on each sale would add more. The only way you will see $199 is if you sign up for some lock-in ware at $20/month for 2 years increasing by $5 per month each year after that.
Patent examiners are overworked, and it takes far less effort to grant a patent than to do all the paperwork required to delay it. Rejecting a patent just means it will come back with a few words changed. Remember the purpose of the patent system is to divert money from R&D to lawyers. A good patent should be really obvious so there will be plenty of infringers. A better patent has plenty of prior art so plenty of businesses are already profiting and ripe for some nuicance litigation.
I too looked at the title, and hoped for the impossible - standard laptop components like we have for desktops. Parts of my desktop are ancient because I can keep using them when I upgrade other bits. You could do with some standard laptop case sizes so you can transfer your good components. I would like to upgrade my CPU/chipset to something quieter, but lack of standards mean I would have to replace the LCD, keyboard, touch pad and case at the same time.
If Intel want a faster upgrade cycle, they will have to sort out some standards - over the dead bodies of the current laptop and LCD manufacturers.
"expected to meet the energy demands of 1.5 million homes"
The Register often contacts people and organisations that are in the news for their comments. Can you make it standard practice to find out what the energy demand of a home is because I am sure everyone uses homes with or without gas central heating and hot water depending on what they are selling. I am keen to these claims in well defined units:
Power: 1 sheep jub weight = 123.6MW
Energy: 1 Norris linguine = 14 Joules
The units of power are Watts: Power = Voltage × Current
Power is also Velocity × Force, which means there is already a Register unit of power:
1 sheep·jub = 123.5MW
The real challenge is to find the unit of power used by the wind turbine industry. 1 Windmill (when the wind is just right) is equivalent to so many million homes (with gas heating, hot water and cooking + free public transport). If anyone can find this home, we will be able to calculate the number of sheep jubs per windmill.
Register units lack a direct unit of time, but one can be inferred from distance and velocity:
1 second = 41970000 linguine per sheep
Register units do not include a unit of charge or anything that involves charge, so there are no Register units of voltage or current.
If all else has failed, and you have to use Windows, install Cygwin so all your favourate Linux command line tools will be available.
The amount you have to learn is not that big either. The name of the command is plenty as almost all of them will explain themselves if you type:
If you cannot remember the name of the command to handle some topic:
man -k some_topic
The commands you need to get started are:
Those are the manual pages for reading the manual and using the shell, and the info page for using the info documentation library. If there are some details of a command you cannot remember, read the manual. If you are dealing with a new topic, try info. After a couple of months, you will find things in the manual far more quickly than by clicking on all the menu entries and reading all the options in the dialog boxes.
There are some tasks that are best handled with a GUI, but if you have to do something once, then there is a bad chance you will have to do it again. If you got the job done using the command line, then it takes almost no work to get atd or cron to do it for you in future.
Patents were supposed to increase the rate of technological progress by rewarding publication of how novel non-obvious inventions work with a monopoly.
Microsoft claims Linux infringes their patents, but as they have disclosed nothing, the "inventions" must be so old and obvious that people can implement them without looking at any of the secret patents.
Merging a USB hub into a laptop power brick would suit me fine. I currently have power, USB and ethernet cables tied together so they don't tangle. External 2.5" disks eat two USB ports and 3.5" need their own brick. It would be tempting to put a USB/Ethernet converter on a laptop power/hub and reduce the number of cables down to 1.
I am surprised they did not go for 48V like PoE, or take the frequency to 1000Hz so the voltage can go higher without killing people.
The day my laptop arrived, i replaced the hard disk with a proper 72000rpm fluid dynamic bearing disk. Some kind person sat on my LCD, so i replaced the LCD. I have worn out the keyboard a couple of times, so I replaced that. When SSD's reached a reasonable price, I upgraded to that. The power cable wore out, and I replaced it. The track pad and the (rarely used) battery are still fine, but I can get replacements for those. The archaic CPU needs a big noisy fan, and I can replace... the entire laptop.
The only reason I would replace my entire laptop is if there is a standard for motherboards so I can upgrade the CPU/chipset just as easily as the disk, LCD, battery and so on. That is how Intel can sell more CPU's. The only interest I have in $699 ultrabooks in autumn is the possibility of $299 ultrabooks in winter.
The article gives to beam energy: 1.85e6 Joules. Use the magic formula Power = Energy / Time to get the amount of time this laser can fire continuously (<4nano seconds). While you are at it, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TNT_equivalent and find that 1.85e6 Joules is less then .5kg of TNT, or less than £0.10 of electricity. While you are at it, take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Ignition_Facility and you will find "In the same month [January 2012], the NIF fired a record high of 57 shots, more than in any month up to that point." 0.5 kg of TNT twice per day is not going to put a big dent in the moon. There is some good news: $150 buys the electricity for about 10 shots (~1% efficiency).
A Watt is a unit of power (1 Joule per second). The SI unit of energy is the Joule. Take your pick from:
kilo Watt hours (Energy supplied by an electricity company): 1kWh = 3.6MJ
British thermal unit (Energy supplied by a gas company): 1BTU = 1.055kJ
Foot pound force (A unit of energy - honest): 1ft·lbf = 1.356J
Calorie (Energy spent while exercising): 1cal = 4.2J
Calorie (Energy content of food): 1Cal = 4.2kJ
Electron Volts (Energy per particle in a particle accelerator): 1eV = 1.602E-19J
Litre (1/1000 of a cubic metre) of petrol: 34.2MJ
Kiloton (Energy in 1 ton of TNT): 1kt = 4.184GJ
The units of power are just as bad. The most common is:
1Windturbine = electrical energy used by 10billion homes with gas hot water, cooking and heating, petrol driven transport, food from high energy content fertilisers, candles for lighting and the average number of gadgets for a family living in a remote corner of a rain forest.
Buy some advertising, then look for an increase in sales. If the sales do not increase, you are spending money on the wrong adverts.
For TV adverts to stand a chance, the brief flicker of advert that appears before I press step forward again must be really interesting. The advert has to explain what is being sold, where and for how much without any sound. Finally the really difficult bit - sell a product that I want to buy.
I have no problem with fools being parted from their money - only with the damage that money does in places like Nigeria. Skilled Nigerian 419 scammers can afford to buy their way into politics. I think part of the answer is bigger and more selective taxes on stupidity. Anyone want to buy some lottery tickets?
PC's are low margin products. To stay in business, retailers have to sell high margin software with the PC (Last time I looked at buying a Linux machine from HP, they shoved options for Windows specific Antivirus and Microsoft Office in my face). If these touch tablets can only get software from an online app store, why would retailers stock them?
If I am looking for a free image and like one where there is a clue that someone wants me to pay, I will look for a different one. The only time someone could loose a sale is when my requirements are specific enough that I am starting my search with the assumption that I am going to end up spending money. Buying an image requires an effort. Making sure that I am buying form the owner requires more effort.
I do pay for art, for example: http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php
By all means charge money for your own work, but please do not count all images used for free as lost sales. It should be possible to create a hash of an image, post the hash online, and provide free software so I can hash and search for images I suspect require payment to use. If this sort of thing does not exist, have it made. If it does exist, publicise it. "Whine, whine, government, wah wah" does not get you any sympathy. Just about everyone else could say the same thing.
£30 bulk price. Retail price would be a little higher. Retailers would not sell on the Windows license at cost either.
The real danger to this product comes from the channel. You are required to pay at least £200 for a no-margin computer with no useful software. They only tolerate that price because they expect to make some money on the software. Microsoft will not need to bury this product - the channel will do that for them.
Here comes the small cheap computer again. Blink and you will miss it.
I know what I want. I know reliable internet venders that sell it. When I visit a vender's site, my browser spends ages waiting for replies from various analytics companies. I get really bored, and look for the product elsewhere, but other sites a just as bad.
I used to middle click on a bunch of products to open pages in new tabs, start a new search, then, while that page is loading, make purchase decisions about the other tabs. If I try that now, the first middle click causes my browser to lock up and refuse to scroll until the tab loads. The CPU is almost idle, the network connection is not saturated. I am waiting for dozens of remote servers to guess what I want to buy. Please can someone find the webfarters responsible and educate them with a clue stick until they understand quantum mechanics from the point of view of a cat in a box.
My laptop is 7 years old. XP got wiped before it could boot. Vista and Windows 7 have been and almost gone. Windows 8 is nearly here, and I will not bother to look at the required specs or available drivers. Microsoft could bring out hundreds of new operating systems, but I doubt if any of them will be a reason to replace my laptop. Eventually some part of it will break and I will not be able to find a replacement. For that day, I am thinking of something like a raspberry pi and a monitor glued to the inside of a suit case. A Pi is already pushing my (partly older) desktop towards retirement.
I do not see Intel promising to compete with ARM on price yet. Ultrabooks will stay expensive for another year, perhaps two before Intel admit that an £800 computer is a niche market.
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