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Software Patents Are Crumbling, Thanks To the Supreme Court

pavon Other side of the story. (118 comments)

When Arstechnica ran that WP story about corruption in the USPTO, several current and past patent examiners posted comments that are worth reading. Two key ones in particular are this and this.

Short story is that USPTO has stupid counterproductive performance metrics, so everyone games the system to look good by the metrics (we've all seen that before). Some managers recognize this and don't want to be assholes about time charging rules because of it, as long as employees are doing good work. Others get upset that the rules are being broken and assume it is blatant time card fraud, and blew the whistle to the news outlets.

about three weeks ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

pavon Re:difference between driver and passenger? (364 comments)

They are evaluating different technologiess, some of which are implemented on and affect a single phone, others implemented with hardware in the car and affect all phones in the car. But even if it disables all phones in the entire car, I am completely fine with this. Yes it is inconvient, but it's not like it is being required as standard equipment on all cars all the time. It is only being applied to cars of people who broke the law and put others around them at risk. You want to keep using your phone when you are riding with a friend/spouse; then give them shit about texting while they are driving.

about three weeks ago
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Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

pavon Reading comprehension. Do you have it? (221 comments)

A recent survey of scientific education and attitudes showed the Canadian population to have the highest level of scientific literacy in the world, as well as the fewest reservations about the direction of scientific progress

They measured multiple things! The statement "We depend too much on science and not enough on faith" was measuring attitudes about science, and neither the article nor the report present it as an example of scientific literacy. Here is what the article stated as proof of scientific literacy from the article:

Among the most striking results from the survey is that Canada ranks first in science literacy, with 42 per cent of Canadians able to read and understand newspaper stories detailing scientific findings.

The executive summary of the report goes on to list some tests as an additional assessment:

Average score on OECD PISA 2012 science test: 525 (10th out of 65 countries)
Average score on OECD PISA 2012 math test: 518 (13th out of 65 countries)

about a month ago
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The American Workday, By Profession

pavon Re:TFA bad at math? (146 comments)

Commenting to undo accidental moderation. But since I have to say something anyways...
It makes since that they would draw 9-5 on the graph, for easy comparison and that they would label it the standard workday, since that is what is traditionally been considered as such. But I have no clue how they could look at that graph and come to the conclusion that most people still work from 9-5, as the article text claims.

about a month ago
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California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

pavon Re:Not surprising (506 comments)

Sure, I assume that all cars will have something like that. Heck, since the car will be doing navigation it will likely have found a gas/charging station and pulled over long before it even got to that. But regardless they will never be perfect. What if it sprung a leak and couldn't pull over in time because it judged that there was no suitable shoulder (mountain road, narrow bridge), and this info wasn't in it's database to enable it to plan ahead?

We have been mass producing cars for over 100 years, and by all reasonable measures they have never been as reliable as they are today. Yet they still break down on occasion. Self driving cars will have all the same mechanical and electrical problems that we have today, with software problem on top of that. You can mitigate some of these hardware problems with additional sensors, and fault-tolerant design of the driving computer, but only to the point where the sensors and software are significantly more reliable than the hardware they are monitoring, and only for the situations that are programed for.

There always will be situations where things break down in unexpected ways that the car isn't capable of handling on it's own. And based on the historical rate of reliability improvement, those situations won't be uncommon for quite some time.

about a month ago
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California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

pavon Re:Not surprising (506 comments)

They may never be removed. Everyone is focused on the split-second decision scenario when talking about this issue, and on that I agree that humans will cause more problems than they solve. But there are many more situations where manual override is needed and beneficial. What happens when the car runs out of gas/charge and you need to push it to the side of the road out of traffic. Or the computer is malfunctioning somehow (software bug, squirrel chewed halfway through a wire, dead battery/alternator). Or when I need to move the car somewhere off-road that the AI refuses to recognize as a valid driving path. There are plenty of not so time critical scenarios where some sort of manual override is needed and those aren't going to go away even when we trust the software to do all the driving. Once we admit that they don't have to be intuitive for split-second reactions, then they don't have to retain the traditional layout, nor be designed for comfortable everyday use, but some sort of steering, brake control, and neutral gear select will always be needed.

about a month ago
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A Horrifying Interactive Map of Global Internet Censorship

pavon Re:Stop being such a drama queen. (158 comments)

such as people who clearly don't understand basic science drawing conclusions from unfiltered scientific data.

Those people come to their predetermined conclusions with or without the the raw data, but removing restrictions on distribution of data does help real researchers.

Or statistics? How many people are easily manipulated by presentations of statistics that they don't even understand?

Again those presenters would be manipulating opinion with or without openly available data.The fact that the statistics are openly available is the only chance people have to prove them wrong.

So neither of the examples of negative aspects are actually negative. At best the open information gives other groups the opportunity to debunk the lies and correct public knowledge, at worst people will ignore the facts for the opinions they prefer which is no worse than before the facts were available.

about a month ago
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Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

pavon change.org != change.gov (239 comments)

change.gov and change.org are two completely different sites. The .gov site is the official petition website for the US government. The .org site is like wordpress for petitions. Anyone can go an create a petition for any reason, and it has about as much weight as a wordpress blog does, which is to say most are completely meaningless, but on occasion once actually gets some momentum, and it is that momentum (not the petition itself) that matters.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

pavon Re:Sad Puppy Slate (180 comments)

Thanks for posting a link that actually mostly explains the issue. Much more helpful than the summary that posted a link to a huge list of links, and of the ones I clicked, half weren't applicable to the issue, and the other half were just opinion pieces that assumed you were already familiar with the controversy. Horrible editing.

about a month ago
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51% of Computer Users Share Passwords

pavon Not Insecure (117 comments)

The purpose of security is to prevent unauthorized people from accessing the account. There are tons of accounts that are legitimately shared, and there is nothing wrong with sharing passwords in those situations, if the account doesn't have any technical mechanism to allow for multiple users/profiles on a single account. For example bank accounts, utilities, Netflix, Hulu, wireless router administration, all have been shared accounts with my wife (some have since added profiles, but not all).

Furthermore, even with accounts that we keep separate, like email, there are useful reasons to share the password, like when my wife is away from internet at work and wants me to print a boarding pass that was emailed to her. Sure I could snoop through her email, but I don't just like I could snoop through her purse or journal, but I don't.

about a month and a half ago
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Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

pavon Re:It's OPTIONAL! (232 comments)

I've seen several comments here saying "Well, I'm just CC'ing people who need to be kept in the loop!" Ok, I get that. If it's that important, why don't you just wait until they get back and give them a short briefing? If it's not that important, why did you bother sending it in the first place?

Becaused they asked me to CC them on such issues, and I don't feel like keeping a log of when everyone was gone and what happened that they might care about, so I can resend it when they get back. If it is something I care about I will talk to them when they get back. If it is something that they care about and know about then they can ask me. The problem is the stuff that they care about but don't know to ask about. Skimming an inbox full of CCs works well for that.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

pavon Re:Not all documentation is giant documents (199 comments)

Absolutely. There are many advantages to this approach:
* Users can get info they need more quickly as they are already in the correct context to get help on that feature, and don't have to search a document.
* Users are more likely to use integrated help than a huge user manual, saving you support time.
* It is easier to enforce a policy of updating documentation when you update code.

The only thing your separate documentation needs to cover are high-level concepts of the application, and common HOWTOs. If you must have a monolithic reference document, then use a system like docbook that generates HTML and PDF, and integrate HTML help into your application.

Of course this is assuming that these are GUI apps. Server apps or anything that needs configuration outside of a GUI must have full reference documentation.

about a month and a half ago
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Senior RIKEN Scientist Involved In Stem Cell Scandal Commits Suicide

pavon Re:It wasn't his fault (127 comments)

Sure, his name was on it as a co-author, but that sounds more like the result of office politics than actually believing what she was publishing. Even his employer seemed like they held him in high regard after the scandal broke.

It was a bit more than that. He recruited Obokata to RIKEN, was her mentor, and supervised her STAP work. As you said, there is not even the slightest hint that he was engaged in any misconduct, but the RIKEN investigation did find that Sasai and Wakayama carried “heavy responsibility” for what happened, and the incident opened questions about how closely co-authors and research advisers should oversee the work of their underlings.

about 2 months ago
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The Man Who Invented the 26th Dimension

pavon Yes it is. (259 comments)

The scientific model is quite simply:
1) Develop testable hypothesis (aka theory)
2) Develop experiments/observations to test hypothesis
3) Perform experiment/observations
4) Repeat
Anyone who participates in any of these steps is performing science. It took a while to find practical tests of String theory given it's extreme generality, but several have been suggested and a few have even been performed, ranging from the scale of planetary motion to LHC data.

about 2 months ago
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Tesla and Panasonic Have Reached an Agreement On the Gigafactory

pavon Re:New Mexico (95 comments)

No, nothing in this article says anything about the site selection which is still pending, just that it will be a joint venture between Tesla and Panasonic rather than Tesla going alone as was previously believed.

about 2 months ago
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MIT Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

pavon Re:But (110 comments)

The quickest numbers I could find say that at the scales of large power-plants, the generator is very efficient, but the turbine not so much, around 50%. This would put the system as a whole at around 40% efficency sunlight -> electricity. That's competitive with the best solar voltaic systems tested in the lab, and 50-100% better than practical systems on the market. Assuming their system really does scale up to power plant sizes, of course.

about 2 months ago
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Microsoft CEO To Slash 18,000 Jobs, 12,500 From Nokia To Go

pavon Half of their employees to be fired. (383 comments)

Microsoft brought over 25,000 Nokia employees in the merger of which 12,500 are to be laid off in the next 6 months. Probably all that's left is the hardware engineers, with nearly all of software, marketing and management getting the boot.

about 2 months ago
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Two Big Dark Matter Experiments Gain US Support

pavon I don't see what you are saying (37 comments)

We'll have more information about the gravity attributes and locations of dark matter,

Both of these experiments aim to detect collisions of dark matter particles with their respective detectors, and if found give an estimate of the particles energy. Neither are astronomical surveys that would tell us anything about the gravitational properties or distribution of dark matter.

about 2 months ago

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