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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

s13g3 As an agnostic, I like Pope Francis, but... (890 comments)

He's absolutely wrong on this one, and his bias towards religion is showing. I believe he needs to be reminded of the lesson in Matthew 26:52, when Peter draws a sword in defense of Jesus from arrest:

"Then said Jesus unto him, 'Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.'"

Nothing in your personal beliefs, ethics, philosophy, feelings, or anything else can ever justify the initiation of force or violence against an innocent person regardless of the content of their speech (at least so long as the speech itself is not a credible and reasonable threat or incitement to violence).

If I insult your mother and you punch me, I'm going to hit you back. Repeatedly. At the least. "Fighting words" is NOT an ethically supportable excuse, regardless of what the law in some places may say: your sense of offense is not an acceptable justification for violence because it has no bearing whatsoever on your health, safety, liberty, or life expectancy, whereas violence does. Words cannot - directly, in and of themselves - put a person in the hospital, or in a grave. Even the most "simple" fight, however, can.

If your religion, philosophy, ethics, creed, etc. - or your faith in them - cannot stand a little satire or ridicule, then that's a pretty clear sign it (or your faith) is severely lacking, and that is your problem and yours alone, not mine. If those things lead you to believe violence is acceptable just because someone made light of them, they're an outright failure and you and your lack of impulse control make you a danger to society no different from or less than a rabid dog, and you have no place around other people in a free society.

"Violence begets violence," said Dr. King, paraphrasing the theme of Matthew 26:52. To paraphrase Col. Jeff Cooper, if anyone brings violence to me or mine, I intend to beget a whole lot more violence than s/he bargained for in return.

about two weeks ago

MI5 Chief Seeks New Powers After Paris Magazine Attack

s13g3 Never been true (319 comments)

"MI5 could not give a guarantee it would be able to stop it" That's no more or less true today than it was 5, 10, 25 or 50 years ago. Presuming otherwise is like presuming you can prevent a single, truly determined and capable individual, from assassinating someone else, which history has proven time and time again is impossible. Sure, they might say they can fairly reliably catch amateurs and idiots, but no matter how much power they are granted to do whatever they wish, they will

  • never

be able reliably detect and stop the truly determined and capable, any more than police actually stop crime.

about two weeks ago

How Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel Plans To Live 120 Years

s13g3 Just goes to show (441 comments)

*Facepalm* It just goes to show that being wealthy is not corollary with being intelligent.

For example, while certainly possible, a "cure for cancer in the next ten years" is wishful thinking at best, and in light of engaging in a behavior that increases cancer risk, is dangerously naive.

Another example is the fact that he's subscribing to another idiotic fad diet with absolutely no credible scientific backing, and like all fad diets (ala, any diet besides "eat a healthy, well-rounded diet and exercise") is likely to actually do more harm in both the short- and long-run than good.

about a month ago

Power and Free Broadband To the People

s13g3 As long as NYC benefits, screw everybody else? (262 comments)

So, let me get this straight: he's willing to let Comcast get even bigger - and almost certainly even worse as a service, much less as a company - and effectively cement Comcast's monopoly on cable internet service throughout much of the nation, as long as poor New Yorkers benefit? How is that even remotely ethical in any sense? For that matter why would people make the effort to educate themselves and gain useful new skills necessary to get better jobs when you just give them luxuries that would otherwise serve as an incentive for improvement and mobility?

about 3 months ago

Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

s13g3 Fallacious (839 comments)

Author's assertions are patently fallacious, based on a failed analysis resulting from disregarding a crucial point: we have not had anything remotely like "unchecked capitalism" in this country (or in any other First World nation on the planet) since WWII and/or FDR's "New Deal", at the absolute latest, and really not since the creation of the Federal Reserve and the beginning of its meddling with our economy.

To blame "income inequality" and all the rest of the world's ills on "unchecked capitalism" that hasn't existed in most people's lifetimes just plain fails on every front, given the ever increasing interference, meddling and "regulation" of industry and economy by the government, especially as "income inequality" has largely only worsened ever since the government started meddling more and more with the economy, introducing more and more regulation, giving unions patently anti-liberty powers they should never have to fulfill a purpose that shouldn't even be necessary, and in return, businesses use the regulation and legal process to bring about ever more and more laws that are patently anti-capitalist in order to protect them from competition and to game the economy.

The failure of this analysis becomes only more evident when you consider the fact that when you compare America - arguably the closest thing to "unrestricted capitalism" you'll find among First World nations today, regardless of how far it is from being completely true - to the rest of the world, our "income inequality" gap is as narrow - or narrower - here than almost anywhere else on the planet, and certainly among nations with a population exceeding 20 million.

What, does Piketty think that there was no "income inequality" anywhere else in the world, prior to the existence of Capitalism as we know it today? That it is somehow worse today than it was in the 18th century? That there's no "income inequality" in nations with heavily "managed" (i.e., meddled-with) economies? That all government will always work towards the betterment of "the people" by default, more so than private industry will?

Sorry, but Piketty's analysis is just plain flawed on too many levels to be worth taking seriously, as it is premised entirely on the falsehood that "unrestricted capitalism" has ever even existed recently enough in this country - or anywhere else in the world - recently enough to be a cause of income inequality, when it is readily shown that the ever-increasing regulations imposed by government have led to ever increasing meddling by that government in the operation of business, paving the way for other businesses to then abuse the political process to create ever more anti-capitalist laws and regulations, and that a great deal of that very same regulation, taxation, and interference is very often itself a factor in income inequality.

In a truly "unrestricted, free-market capitalist" economy, under a strong, just and ethical system of reasonable laws based on liberty and freedom that are equally enforced regardless of wealth, influence or social station, the only restriction on wealth and income (aside, perhaps, from physical/mental health) is one's own industry and willingness to work, learn, and create industry where none exists.

"The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits."
--Thomas Jefferson to M. L'Hommande, 1787

"[...] a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government..."
--Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, Washington, D.C. March 4, 1801

"[Ours is a] policy of not embarking the public in enterprises better managed by individuals, and which might occupy as much of our time as those political duties for which the public functionaries are particularly instituted."
--Thomas Jefferson to W. C. C. Claiborne, 1808

"Taxes on consumption, like those on capital or income, to be just, must be uniform."
--Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Smith, 1823

"And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."
--Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Is Reporting Still Relevant?

s13g3 Reports still serve a purpose (179 comments)

Granted, it may be primarily of a bureaucratic bent that many geeks - professional or otherwise - may not be terribly keen on, nor interested in, however reports - especially those of the "mailed-daily-to-your-inbox" variety fulfill a number of functions within a business ecosystem.

Reports of the "traditional" variety provide an accountability chain and historical record that a dashboard cannot. They can be accessed locally, outside of any other application or access requirements - including email - meaning a connection to said dashboard is not required when someone must review those reports for whatever reason.

Reports can be printed off readily, and due to their very nature, are often formatted to present data to the viewer in such a way that they retain their usefulness after being printed to hardcopy, whereas a screen-cap and printout of a dashboard is quite often one of the least efficient ways to consume the type of data these more traditional reports display.

Last but certainly not least, they make it possible for data to be shared easily with other interested parties, on demand, at any time, without having to carve out user accounts or VPN tunnels to internal networks or mission-critical systems, with no requirement greater than being able to read whatever format the report is stored in - again, unlike dashboards, no few of which also require Java or some other extension to be installed on the user's computer, often necessitating IT support for non-Administrative end-users, which is itself a special and often painful consideration when this data needs to be provided to customers or vendors with their own IT processes, procedures and issues to deal with.

Dashboards have their uses and purposes, especially for live, changing data, things that need to be regularly and closely monitored, or even things that just need occasional monitoring, however for many other purposes, such as those involving accounting or other applications where historical data is of a concern, they fall dramatically short of being able to adequately - much less completely - supplant reports as they have traditionally been used.

about 4 months ago

Software Error Caused Soyuz/Galileo Failure

s13g3 In other words, retritbution... (157 comments)

Revenge is a dish best served in the wrong orbit?

Funny, isn't it, in the midst of all these sanctions and general brou-ha-ha over the Ukraine, with Russia taking all kinds of tit-for-tat punitive measure in response by EU attempts use economic fines in order to restrain their bad behavior, that, âoeThe nonstandard operation of the integrated management system was likely caused by an error in the embedded software," which manages to cost the EU the full use of a multi-million dollar satellite whose purpose was to provide competition with Russia's GLONASS system (in addition to American GPS)?

They didn't even have to do anything fancy, just twiddle a few lines of code to send it off course, then blame it on random "unforeseeable" coding error that they'll refuse to accept responsibility for.

about 5 months ago

U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

s13g3 Forget Federal funding... (643 comments)

Forget Federal funding, this needs to be Federal law , plain and simple. As in, no officer testimony or evidence gathered or submitted without corresponding and complete video+audio evidence shall be admissible in a court of law, absent other strong, irrefutable and corroborating testimony or evidence originating from a non-police/non-governmental source. After all, anybody who took a basic logic or philosophy class should know that the burden of proof lies on the accuser, not the accused, and anyone who has been paying attention should know that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that police officers are somehow more honest than everyone else, or incapable of lying simply because they took some classes, swore and oath, and had a shiny piece of metal pinned on them: they are caught lying in and out of court ALL the time, on a daily basis, so why should their word be considered more reliable than anyone else's?

Frankly, the behavior of the police has been so questionable lately that there's no reason for anyone - especially otherwise honest judges - to take them at their word, especially when they're the ones completely in control of the entire evidence-gathering process, and thus have every opportunity to rig it in their favor.

There's just no excuse for officers NOT to be wearing cameras (particularly cell-enabled body-cameras that are constantly uploading to a remote server), much less for them to ever make an arrest or gather evidence without one running. Cost is not relevant: even if they are $1000 or $3000 each, that's still vastly cheaper than the lawsuits cities regularly pay out to as a result of police misconduct, alleged, factual, or otherwise. Cameras will help ensure officers conduct themselves professionally, knowing their behavior is being recorded impartially and will be subject to review, while simultaneously reducing false claims and ensuring that when such claims are made there is sufficient evidence to disprove them.

about 5 months ago

Password Gropers Hit Peak Stupid, Take the Spamtrap Bait

s13g3 Re:This guy might be overvaluing his files (100 comments)

I designed a honeypot built on similar principles at the last data center I worked for, whereby I had at least two different VM's comprising at least two different OS' on each and every subnet on our network.

Using a custom implementation of PSAD and a bunch of PERL, the basic idea was that any time a specific IP (external *or* internal) scanned more than eight ports per IP across two or more subnets, it was unquestionably an illegitimate scan of our network, and the IP originating the scan in question was immediately submitted for null routing, because nobody could possibly have a legitimate reason for doing such a scan.

Port scans from internal IP's, along with those matching other patterns (such as multiple scans within a single subnet or attempting certain exploits/attacks that can be deduced from snort's output in /var/log/messages, like the slammer worm, etc.) were output to a file that was reviewed daily, and could then be fed either in whole or in part(s) to a script that would process the desired actions. Before I knew it, I was blackholing hundreds or even thousands of addresses a day... ~70% of which were from China Telecom, followed immediately by Russia, Brazil, and Moldova, with less than 5% of attacks originating from U.S. or European addresses. The number of compromised customer servers on our network plummeted, along with a corresponding and by-no-means-insignificant dip in network traffic.

What got me started on this project was that, among other things, hackers were scanning our network for Plesk's default admin login port (as Plesk at that time *had* a default admin login and password), and any time they got a response from port 8443 on an IP that previously did not have that port open, they would jump in and root new installs often before the customer ever logged in for the first time. Needless to say, I put an end to that nonsense.

However, calling spammers dumb as others have above is probably a mistake: they can often be fairly smart, but what they really are - usually - is Peak Lazy, and are aiming for low hanging fruit. Eventually, the more sophisticated ones will create or adapt new techniques to defeat - or at least cope with - this particular methodology, and the cat-and-mouse-arms-race game of security will continue on as it always has, with one side or the other evolving new defenses or offenses, and the other evolving an appropriate response. The fact that a particular batch of spammers got caught and will find the emails from their current spam campaigns not reaching their intended audience on this go round will only slow them down for a time on the domains this list covers, but to say the spammers have hit "Peak Stupid" as a result of excessive automation is, in fact, an NP-Dumb analysis.

about 5 months ago

Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable

s13g3 assumption fail (426 comments)

"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong." ~Arthur C. Clarke

Just because they can't figure out HOW a digital machine would compute it does not mean that machine consciousness isn't possible... merely highly unlikely with the current state of the art.

Semi-/organic systems or components or other radically new or different implementations and designs of hardware, new materials, as well as new software techniques could blow their assertion out of the water next month as easily as in the next decade.

Pretty much every time someone says "you cannot", someone eventually comes along and develops something to prove them wrong. Just like they said no one would ever break the sound barrier, or put a man in orbit, or that there's only a need for a handful of computers globally. You know, like every time someone says "tape is a dead storage medium", or "ZOMG Moore's Law is going to fail in the next 5 years", and are consistently proven wrong. This scenario is no different, and merely indicates a lack of understanding of science on the part of the researchers, as well as a lack of imagination. Just because they can't figure out HOW it could be done does not mean it is not possible.

about 9 months ago

Physics Students Devise Concept For Star Wars-Style Deflector Shields

s13g3 Not even remotely... (179 comments)

Star Wars didn't even remotely do this first... in fact, it wasn't even the first in major media, seeing as how this was the whole point of the "deflector dish" in Star Trek.

Also, they've "proven" or "demonstrated" precisely nothing, as they have tested - and derived results from - precisely nothing.

Finally, the feasibility of this was demonstrated long ago by an "odd" occurrence in a 3M plant making polypropylene film, not to mention the high-strength electro-magnetic fields (or "bottles") currently in use in experimental fusion reactors.

Just because I noticed that birds and other creatures can fly and write about it in a paper, does not mean that constitutes demonstration or proof of an assertion that human-powered flight is feasible, nor does it demonstrate the actual principle in any useful way.

about 9 months ago

DOJ Complains About Getting a Warrant To Search Mobile Phones

s13g3 By this logic fire should have been banned (178 comments)

If this exact same logic had been applied during the time the Constitution was written, these people would have attempted to ban anyone from possessing or using fire in any place where any document that any government agency might one day want to read is created or stored, because "the criminals might burn the papers we think might contain evidence against them, therefore nobody should be allowed to have fire and paper at the same time because it would inconvenience us."

about 9 months ago

Siphons Work Due To Gravity, Not Atmospheric Pressure: Now With Peer Review

s13g3 Re:oh man (360 comments)

Notation that you create a vacuum. ;)

about 9 months ago

How Cochlear Implants Are Being Blamed For Killing Deaf Culture

s13g3 Re:Let it die (510 comments)

Agreed entirely.

"Wah, technology is making our extremely self-isolated, often xenophobic culture irrelevant and unnecessary, and we're losing children to the 'normals' because the 'normals' want our precious deaf babies to be able to hear just like them, and then they won't be able to identify with our problems and won't want to be part of our little culture. Waaaaaahhhhhhhh."

It's a bit like the tiny backwards religions and cults (like the ones that preach total abstinence, for example) who can't figure out why their children don't want to remain part of their tiny little self-isolated ultra-religious, extremely narrow-minded and often rather intolerant communities for the larger world of opportunities without the shackles of self-imposed dogmas or bigotries. "We just can't figure out why these children would want to leave our perfect little nest and see or be part of the wider world."

That's part of what technology does: encourages progress, and helps us ablate away the slough and callouses on our society and cultures. 100+ years ago there were whole, relatively mainstream cultures focused on death because it was such an unavoidable part of life, during an age where you were lucky if 1 in 3 children survived to adolescence, much less adulthood. Since then, medical science drastically increased survival rates, and those cults faded away as fewer and fewer people suffered agonizing, tragic, or otherwise preventable losses, and thus as fewer people needed social support in their grief or hardships, such cults largely disappeared.

Deaf "culture" should be no different. It's a crutch, a support group, for people with similar problems to band together, however it very often creates as many problems as it solves. By pulling people away or serving to isolate them from their larger culture, not as an individual wishing to remain unique, but as someone who sees themselves as irrevocably different from, and outside the groups that would otherwise be their peers, if not for their disability, it creates a barrier to participation or feelings of inclusion in society at large, and in the end can do as much harm as good by fostering resentment toward a society they see as rejecting them, all while they isolate themselves from it further and further.

about 10 months ago

Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

s13g3 Having recently just re-watched all of ST:TNG (512 comments)

Having recently just re-watched all of ST:TNG, my picks for worst are fairly simple: most episodes focusing on Troi, any episode featuring Troi's mother, and almost every episode featuring or focusing on Worf's son Alexander.

about 10 months ago

Wildstar To Launch On June 3

s13g3 Re:How to Falsify Evolution (64 comments)

Stop feeding the troll, kids.

Seriously, this is being reposted to multiple threads with no intent other than disrupting normal discussion, no different from the GNAA trolls of years past. Just move along and ignore it, nothing to see here.

about 10 months ago

Replicant Hackers Find and Close Samsung Galaxy Back-door

s13g3 In a word... (81 comments)

> "is a 100% free software mobile device important to you?"

In a word: Yes.

The borderline (and sometimes not-so-borderline) criminal behavior of some software/hardware makers, coupled with often exorbitant costs for a device that will either be destroyed (via being cheaply made) or totally obsolete in a few years makes me quite leery of trusting or relying on a modern smartphone, much less actually spending my own money on one. Especially when my company provides me with a phone, POS though it may be.

about 10 months ago

How Do You Backup 20TB of Data?

s13g3 If you can afford to raid out 20TB (983 comments)

If you can afford a 20TB RAID *and* have enough data of value to warrant *retaining* 20TB, then you can certainly justify the expense of a tape drive and corresponding tapes to back it all up.

Tape is not dead, contrary to more than 3 decades of claims otherwise. It is, in fact, perfectly alive and healthy, and well worth using (with a proper backup/rotation scheme) when you have that kind of data volume to store.

I've worked for Arcus/Iron Mountain and Recall both, and I can't tell you how many times over my years with those companies I've heard someone say "We don't need off-site backups" or "We don't need tape, we just have the IT guy take the hotswap drives home every day", only to have them come crawling back in tears weeks, months or years later when they've lost everything.

about 10 months ago

Nanomaterial May Be Future of Hard Drives

s13g3 Re:Hard drives have no future. (82 comments)

Because tape is a dead and obsolete technology too, just like people have been saying it will be with every new storage advance for more than 30 years, right?

about 10 months ago

Nanomaterial May Be Future of Hard Drives

s13g3 Re:Hard drives have no future. (82 comments)

*sigh* Let me guess, you're either between 15 - 25 years old, and/or have never worked in enterprise-class I.T.? Otherwise, you really ought to know better.

Before I ever entered I.T. professionally 20 years ago, people had been claiming the impending death of magnetic tape for more than a decade. at least, yet it is still with us today. Sure, the round-wheel tape is more-or-less gone, but tape is still going strong.

Similarly, SSD's are not going to completely replace mechanical storage any time soon, if only because as solid-state memory improves, so will mechanical devices continue to do, and they will almost certainly have a place in modern computing for many years yet to come, barring some as-yet completely unforeseen revolution in materials science lowering materials and production costs while raising quality and value to thresholds well beyond anything currently predicted. Then again, the same advance (such as room-temperature superconductors) could have wide-ranging positive impacts on both technologies, increasing memory operation speeds in SSD's while eliminating the mechanical bearing from HDD's and providing similar performance increases.

After all, I'm pretty sure that if I dig back far enough, I can find at least one thread - quite possibly one I made substantially similar comments in - on this very site from ~15 years ago with someone saying much the same thing about how optical (or magneto-optical) is going to make tape/mechanical-drives obsolete. Now we know optical disks have a life-span before they degrade, making them useless for long-term archival storage, and I couldn't tell you when the last time I saw a mini-disc was.

about 10 months ago



New GMail compose inspires user backlash

s13g3 s13g3 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

s13g3 (110658) writes "Yesterday, Google finally rolled out the "new compose" as a mandatory change to all users, eliminating the "old" compose option with no way to revert. The move has sparked such a significant amount of user backlash on Google's product forums that moderators are having to close hundreds of "I hate the new compose" threads as "duplicates" and are directing people to the main feedback thread, which is currently over 21 pages some 24 hours later. So far, there appears to be nothing in the way of a response or recognition from Google of the amount of hate the change has inspired, only an insistence that somehow the input of "Top Moderators" from their forums since October 2012 resulted in a number of "improvements" to the new compose in response, which supposedly makes it easier to use, but does nothing to address the laundry list of complaints and issues people have with it: simply put, no one likes the new compose, and significant numbers of users are threatening to abandon the service as a result of this forced change."

Google forces unnanounced, arbitrary changes

s13g3 s13g3 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

s13g3 writes "The iGoogle homepage has changed for users linking to it through Google.com, starting sometime Oct 16th. The change doesn't show up when searching (Google, of course) for articles, though there are many complaints within Google's internal help forums. The change in question is relatively minor, (a side-bar on the left) and has introduced at least one bug. The real question is, why would Google force such a (potentially disruptive) change on such a large scale with no notice or option, when they could have suggested the user try their new theme in a public beta as other sites have done in the past when rolling out new themes? As a market leading (if not controlling) service provider, do they have any obligation to their user community, or is it unlikely any single change will see any noticeable decrease in their user base, so they don't care? As obnoxious (and occasionally disruptive) as it is, once the bugs are fixed, will this actually cause anyone to stop using Google? I made the same complaint when my television provider removed one of the channel listings at the bottom of my guide screen in favor of an advertisement — the company calmly assured me they were sure this was what their customers wanted (an outright lie), and never removed it — and I still use the same company. Do we really have any input on what companies do anymore, or are even companies such as Google now beholden only to stockholders and marketing survey groups?

Also, for those affected users, you can work around this by replacing the .com portion of your iGoogle page link (http://www.google.com/ig) with .ca, .ie, .uk, and the like — how long this will last is unknown."

Craigslist ad costs man nearly everything he owns

s13g3 s13g3 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

s13g3 (110658) writes "A man in Oregon says he has lost nearly everything he owns as a result of a Craigslist ad someone posted in his name that offered all of the belongings in his home for free, whereupon people showed up at his home during the day while he was (presumably) at work and starting loading up his items. He was on his way home when someone even called his cellphone to inquire about his horse, then paslost nearly everything he owns as a result of a Craigslist ad sing people with carloads of his belongings and another 30-some people ravaging through his home.

This begs the question of what sort of person would read such an ad and believe it was legitimate? Was this a clever cover for the original thief, presumably whoever broke into the home in the first place and allowed the others in and left them to muddle the evidence of the original break-in? Are there effective ways to protect ourselves from such things besides ultra-high-end security systems?"

Link to Original Source

U.S. DoJ approves XM and Sirius merger

s13g3 s13g3 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

s13g3 (110658) writes "The U.S. Dept. of Justice has finally approved the XM-Sirius merger, though the FCC still has yet to sign off on the deal. There seem to be concerns from various parties regarding the merger, but the DoJ seems to have decided that the deal is not anti-competitive, even though the two companies are the only U.S. based satellite radio providers, and as far as this reader is aware, the only companies providing such service in the continental U.S."
Link to Original Source



Another good one that most have missed

s13g3 s13g3 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Another post I made, late in the life of the thread that the mods missed. This relates to a piece of FUD that kdawson posted regarding a new patent filed by IBM to automate rewards for customers who have been waiting too long in line. Nearly every respondent to the thread was way off base, lead astray by the trollish wording of the article: IBM wants to patent restaurant waits.

Most respondents went off the deep end, seeing another case of seeming patent abuse, and claiming that IBM is going to start suing anyone who gives a reward to customers who have waited in line a long time - utter non-sense, which just goes to show that even geeks (or slashdot trolls) don't understand why it is that we have and need a patent system, and their supposition about how IBM could abuse this patent is not just ludicrous, but about as valid as saying that just because a hacker in China somewhere has abused a computer that all computers will be abused.

Good point. Personally, I don't see why any restaurant would want to use this. Why make an automated way to give away free lunches to people because they wait? If a customer complains about waiting too long, then you give them the coupon.

I suppose the flipside to that is that the customers who don't complain, but decide that they don't want to come back to the restaurant because they had to wait...

The reason being that IBM makes business machines - including point of sale and business automation systems. What they have described here is a novel method by which the human factor normally necessary to monitor customers' time spent waiting and then selection of an appropriate compensation is automated through their system, almost certainly to be tied in to an existing product like a point of sale terminal that will quite possibly be tied into one of those little pager systems that lets you know when your table is ready. Rather than requiring employees or wait-staff to monitor times spent waiting on a screen and then offer the customer something gratis, the system is designed to do all this for them, thusly eliminating time and resources necessary in what is probably an environment where time is a premium (since people are waiting for service) as well as potential stress or conflict with a customer who may unhappy - now they don't have to approach an already harried manager or wait-staff and present a complaint or argument - the system notes that a pre-programmed threshold (which the establishment has determined to be the minimum time before they would be willing to offer such freebies regardless of system automation) has passed and automatically offers the free item, in theory placating the customer(s) without creating extra resource strain on the staff.

Why patent this? Because IBM wants to offer this ability to restaurants and other businesses who do not want to have to do these things themselves, implemented via a piece of IBM equipment. The patent as described does not prevent a business from offering you a free lunch if you wait too long - IBM obviously spent money time and research effort creating a combined software and hardware method that can automate this process (and thereby expand the services and functions performed/offered to customers already owning or seeking to purchase IBM equipment) - also known as a "value add"; what the patent prevents you from doing is copying or mirroring IBM's research to produce a similar system while not actually doing any innovation of your own. If they didn't file for a patent, then you could just go buy a bunch of chips, assemble your own equipment, and then gank (yes, that's a technical term) the software that they paid someone to develop all without any real investment of your own - exactly what the spirit of the patent system is meant to prevent you from doing - stealing other peoples innovations, not to prevent you from innovating on your own. If you want to use an off-the-shelf or custom built computer and implement your own methodology for accomplishing the same task, there doesn't appear to be anything anywhere in the patent application that would prevent you from doing so; you just can't steal IBM's precise method for doing so. I don't claim to understand how they mean this can be implemented without automation or computerization, I'll admit. I've read as much as the patent application as I can bear to (or have time for, for that matter), but claim 1 indicates automation is necessary. To wit:

1. A system for reducing customer dissatisfaction for waiting, said system comprising:a queue monitoring subsystem that detects an entry of a customer into a waiting queue;a reward computing subsystem that calculates a reward for the customer for being in the waiting queue; anda communication subsystem to communicate the reward to the customer,wherein at least one of said queue monitoring subsystem, said reward computing subsystem, and said communication subsystem is automated.

I looked for but did not immediately see any claim within the patent that the system can be used without computers or automation. In point of fact, the entire filing seems to indicate that an automated or computerized system is entirely required.

Just because I have a patent on a child's swing-set doesn't imply or grant a patent or ownership on the idea or process of swinging, just my unique design that allows you to accomplish the task of swinging. Similarly, the company (companies?) who make the little restaurant pager systems don't hold any ownership of waiting in a restaurant, nor any ownership of radio technology, pagers, or even using a like device to alert customers that their table is ready, they simply own the rights to *their* particular implementation of it - i.e. you can't simply use their software and make an identical copy of their equipment and implement it for free or resell it to others, requiring you to do your own innovation, not profit off of someone else's.

I realize slashdotters can be hard-headed - look at my user number, I've been here a while and made some hardheaded posts myself, both for and against patent law. There is no doubt that the USPTO is a broken system in dire need of reformation (or disbanding), but people are taking this one wayyyyyyyyyyyy too far without really stopping to consider that occasionally companies do apply for patents for valid reasons, and that there is a need for a patent system, even if the one we have is often abused.

And shame on kdawson for posting such a sensationalist FUD piece - the patent application could have easily been noted, mentioned or referred to without such a huge quantity of sensationalism, hyperbole and supposition from the contributing user.


Democracies and Republics

s13g3 s13g3 writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I was looking through my old posts, and thought it was a shame that few people probably read this. I also thought it was a fine bit of writing on my part, and it's somewhat relevant to the issues of the day, so I'm reposting it in my journal, not that anyone is likely to read it here either, but I think its worthwhile.


  How many times do you people have to be told???
The US is a Republic not a Socialist Democracy, so please, get your facts straight people! Mob-rule does not work! Besides, "Democracies" never wind up being democratic for more than the 10 minutes it takes for a Mao-Tse-Tsung or Stalin to step in. History is FULL of examples of failed attempts at democratic goverments, whether they fell to exterior forces b/c of a lack of decent, cohesive foreign policies or whether they fell from the inside due to lack of consistent domestic policies, they always fail, they fail pretty quickly, and they fall HARD. No government or nation has ever stood as it was forever, but some last longer than others, and republics (the way our nation was designed to be as set forth in the constitution) tend to fare better than most.

Rome was a republic too. Rome also fell. But yanno, during the time of the Roman Republic, the citizens of Rome were by far and large much better off than the citizens of any other land, as are the citizens of the U.S. right now... Beware those who would make our great nation a Socialist one and then subject (or subvert) it's will and the will and wants of it's people to another entity like the U.N. who just wants to steal money and resources from those who work so hard to make this country the great place it is. Billary would rather everybody get equal shares for unequal work, rather than reward those who deserve it and let those who do nothing (e.q. 60%+ of welfare recipients, IMO) and deserve support the least to rot, as it should be. Take a closer look at the LEFT and the FAR LEFT as well as it's figureheads and leaders, and you'll get a much clearer picture of Socialism and Facism than you will from the right. My biggest problem with the right-wingers is their religious agenda and anti-abortion stances, but the last thing you can do is call them facist. Pull your head out of your ass and try a dispassionate and honest observation of your own views before you start dissembling on the views of others.

Wow, this whole thread is WAY off topic... Classic example of what /. has degenerated to, I suppose. Shame on me for contributing to it, but these people need straightening out, damnit.


-ists, -isms, and pseudo-techno-enlightenment.

s13g3 s13g3 writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I find myself motivated to write a short something in my journal. I will quite possibly never do so again. I will, by the same token, quite possibly do so again on a different Sunday at 1:30 in the morning and I'm bored with sleeping roomates and on my third glass of scotch. That said, one should always keep in mind that the Tao that can be named is not the thing named, and I have great ph33r of that dire warning this entry box has next to it informing me that this entry will go down on my permanent record, for woe be unto he who fails to make a particularly insightful entry into his /. journal, forever ruining his chances at getting into the geek hall of fame... Oh no!

Eschew obfuscation.

"On the other hand, you have different fingers." -Unknown

"Brilliant spirits often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds." -A. Einstein

"The keyboard is mightier than the machinegun."

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