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JavaScript Inventor Brendan Eich Named New CEO of Mozilla

flagboy Re:He's entitled to spend his money as he wishes.. (112 comments)

The CEO cannot unilaterally change company policy on employee benefits or anything else. And if the extent of his activism is to donate to a campaign 6 years ago (he has not spoken publicly on the issue very much) then it probably isn't a major issue for him.
And even he were a major campaign leader against gay marriage, it doesn't necessarily mean he is going to bring his politics into the Boardroom. The founder/owner of the Stagecoach bus company in the UK (Brian Souter) campaigned very strongly and publicly against the repeal of Section 28 (an statute that banned the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools), especially in Scotland, using his personal fortune to run an unofficial 'referendum' on the law there. However, Stagecoach has an excellent record as an equal-opportunities employer, with no-one expressing concern that Mr Souter was using his company as a platform for his own view on homosexuality or that its employment practices reflected it in any way.
Ultimately, limited companies are not Leninist organizations, in the sense of being the personal tool of the CEO. The CEO has to answer to the Board and if he did want to change Mozilla employment practice to discriminate against gays, or use corporate money to finance an anti-gay-marriage campaign, other Board members would have to agree to it.

about 6 months ago

South Carolina Woman Jailed After Failing To Return Movie Rented Nine Years Ago

flagboy Re:Statute of limitations (467 comments)

No, most people will say, "Why are law enforcers bothering about someone who failed to return a borrowed video disk worth $10 nine years ago?" No formal statute of limitations here in the UK, but the Crown Prosecution Service would almost certainly drop the case due to lack of public interest / passage of time since the alleged offence.

about 6 months ago

Assange's Lawyers: Follow Swedish Law, Interrogate Him In the UK

flagboy Re:or stop hiding... (377 comments)

That didn't help Christopher Tappin (exactly the sort of person your typical Home Counties Tory might be expected to support)

about 7 months ago

Assange's Lawyers: Follow Swedish Law, Interrogate Him In the UK

flagboy Re:or stop hiding... (377 comments)

It would be easier for the US to get him extradited from the UK than from Sweden. Our extradition treaty with the US has far fewer safeguards than does Sweden's. And Sweden wouldn't be able extradite him to the US anyway without him going back to the UK first. I don't see why he can't go to Sweden to face questioning. He seems to have a case to answer, as well he would if the allegations against him were made in the UK (not that this matters legally for a European Arrest Warrant to be valid, but it makes a difference morally).

about 7 months ago

Slashdot Asks: What Are You Doing For Hallowe'en?

flagboy Nothing (273 comments)

Nothing. As far as I'm concerned, no-one over the age of about 11 has any business celebrating Hallowe'en (except parents of young children). So as a proud non-parent, I plan to stay at home and be glad I live in a gated block. But just in case somebody decides to buzz the gate for obnoxious kids, I shall avoid answering the door.

about a year ago

MEPs Vote To Suspend Data Sharing With US

flagboy Re:Business as usual (180 comments)

It has been used actually, in the mid 1990s. More recently the EP also used its power to reject an entire Commission line-up because it objected to one particular candidate.

about a year ago

MEPs Vote To Suspend Data Sharing With US

flagboy EU Parliament not weak (180 comments)

This particular vote is non-binding, but the same is true about a lot of votes in national parliaments. You are also wrong to say that the Europarliament "[is] very weak and has limited influence"; actually it has equal power with the European Council over all EU legislation, and it has full veto pwer. For instance, MEPs rejected ACTA last year, meaning that the EU is unable to sign the treaty. It also rejected the software patents directive (remember that?) in 2005. Also because of the principle of separation of powers, MEPs are independent of both the Council and the Commission: there is no "payroll vote" as in most national parliaments, and consequently party discipline is much weaker. The situation is similar to that of US Congress; a US President cannot bank on unqualified support from Congress even when both the House and Senate are controlled by his own party. Finally the European Commission is indeed the executive branch of the EU, but it is NOT "directed by national governments": you are probably thinking of the Council, which is indeed made up of representatives of national governments. You can think of it as a kind of unelected Senate. Commissioners are appointed by national governments of each country, but once appointed they are independent of the government that appointed them.

about a year ago

Sci-Fi Stories That Predicted the Surveillance State

flagboy Re:Why exclude 1984? (213 comments)

because it's not science fiction, but political fiction. The only "futuruistic" technology mentioned is the telescreen, and that is only described in vague terms. Sure, it's a two-way communication / one-way surveillance device, but beyone that no attempt is made to describe how it's supposed to work. Everything else in the book is late 1940s technology.

about a year ago

Sci-Fi Stories That Predicted the Surveillance State

flagboy 1984 is not sci-fi (213 comments)

Of course 1984 shouldn't be on the list, as it is not science fiction. It imagines a political dystopia, and does not go into details about the technology. In fact, apart from the "telescreens", the technology depicted in the story is crude and primitive compared to the real 1980s. 1984 is about the use of the /political/ power of a one-party state to achieve total control over people's lives.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Is an Online Identity Important When Searching For Technical Jobs?

flagboy Re:Depends on what you are applying for (358 comments)

It's also illegal in the EU, where privacy is taken very seriously. Frankly I'm shocked this is even an issue in the US; employers have no business demanding confidential personal info from employees or candidates.

about a year ago

Transgendered Folks Encountering Document/Database ID Hassles

flagboy Words have gender. (814 comments)

Gender? Words have gender. People have sex.

about a year ago

Tech Giants Bankrolling IP Hoarding Start-Up

flagboy Re:Hey, good job fellas! (528 comments)

sorry guys, but Taiwan passed its own DMCA earlier this year.

more than 9 years ago



Challenging an overly broad US patent from India

flagboy flagboy writes  |  about a year ago

flagboy (670403) writes "I got this in my mailbox today (in my capacity as representative of FFII UK), from an Indian developer wanting to challenge a US patent with his self-developed prior art

I am writing to seek advice with regard to a new patent issued to Google Inc (USPTO# 8429103 B1, URL in link). This patent essentially confers upon them the exclusive right to deploy implementations of Machine Learning algorithm on phones.

I believe that this patent is extremely broad, based on poorly defined terms ("Machine Learning services") and totally lacking innovation — Machine Learning is commonly taught in University classrooms, and phones running general purpose OS are commonplace — so the patent-holders are essentially claiming that the spark of genius lies in implementing ML on phones!

However, I have a phone app, Intelliphone (published before the patent was applied) (, that would serve as prior art disproving claims of innovation in this patent. In fact, my app is pretty much an implementation of the first claim in the patent, which most of the other claims rest on. And based on the very broad language used, I can think of other apps that could also argue that they were doing classification, clustering and predictions on the phone before this patent was applied for.

I suppose what I find insidious about this patent is that future developers would have to depend on Google's continued benevolence to make ML-based apps on all other mobile platforms. And they are taking credit where none is due. Indeed, before I saw this patent, I never considered what I was doing to be worthy of a patent.

I am wondering if there are any avenues through which I could claim to be an interested party in respect of this patent, and try to dispute its validity? I am not a resident or citizen of the United States, so I don't know if I would have a legal standing to mount a challenge. Also, I am lone/hobbyist developer, so am not really in a position to hire a team of attorneys in the US. I am well annoyed by this though!"

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