Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:Well, there goes the 4th Amendment again... (Score 1) 204

The bigger issue is that they wanted to search an opaque bag. For no reason other than they were curious. Then when it's opened, and shows cards, again, they wanted to search, for no reason other than curiosity.

Partly yes, partly no. They wanted to search an opaque bag because they were curious. They had no right to do so... until the driver handed the cops the bag and told them that it contained gift cards he had purchased for cash off another individual, giving them (i) reasonable articulable suspicion that these were counterfeit cards, and more importantly (ii) implicit consent. It's even in the opinion:

Turner agrees that by handing the bag to the officer in response to his question about its contents, Henderson consented to the officer’s initial seizure of, and look inside, the bag.

At that point, the cops can most certainly open the bag, see the cards and, per (i) above, check if they were counterfeit.

If the driver said, "I don't consent to any searches" and shut up, they wouldn't have either (i) or (ii).

Comment Re:One month every four years. (Score 1) 294

Thus, to have Judge Haldane Mayer do an about-face on Software Patents is Huuuge, in part because of the influence the Federal Court of Appeals has on lower courts, but mostly since it shows that learning can take place at that level, when presented with cogent arguments.

Perhaps there is hope, after all.

It certainly is a good sign. The Alice ruling is key since it provides him with a basis for his opinion and the Appeals Court can use the SCOTUS decision and clarify and extend the boundaries of what is not patentable. Ultimately SCOTUS may have to weigh in on the boundaries established by the Appeals Court and say yay or nay. Which wold be good since there would be more clarity around patent law.

Not if they do it in the way Thomas did in Alice Corp.: "In any event, we need not labor to delimit the precise contours of the "abstract ideas" category in this case."
"We know it when we see it" is not good law.

Comment Re:OMFH!!! (Score 1) 294

Any half-assed hacker can reverse engineer your code

Reverse engineering is, in fact, one of the hardest forms of engineering and projects that reverse engineer are generally filled with some of the smartest brains we have- because it's very hard. You think the wine devs are idiots ? Yet it took them more than decade to get out of alpha !

Part of that, mind you, was because they had little to no money and were working part time. How do you think Zynga cranks out their own versions of whatever the hot new game on the App store is in two weeks? Because they've got a team of a dozen full-time paid programmers reverse engineering the code.
Perhaps OP's hyperbole should be toned down to "any company with sufficient resources and motivation can reverse engineer your code," which, I'm sure you'll agree, is true.

>He can then replicate your software in 1/10th the time it took you to develop your software

If what my software does is so simple that somebody can replicate it in 1/10th the time it took me to do it - then he's the better programmer and he deserves to win in the market place. My best defense, in fact, is to use a free software license in the first place - so it's to his benefit to rather add his features to *my* product where we can both profit than to go and create his own.

Use a free license so you can both profit? What are you going to do, make it up in volume? \_()_/
Your best defense is a patent, though you may not like them for various moral reasons. Regardless of legitimate complaints about patent abuse and patent trolling, patents are useful when a giant company swoops in and blatantly steals a feature from a small company and says, "what are you going to do, sue us?" Microsoft learned that from lesson from i4i.

You must be truly incompetent as a programmer if you are *this* afraid to compete on the merits of your product - that even with a first-to-market advantage you are this convinced any "half-assed-hacker" can make something better than you did...

Or OP's a competent programmer, but in an industry that lacks proprietary format lock-in and where the market is quick and fickle. Like, say, mobile games. NimbleBit certainly weren't incompetent programmers, but their first-to-market advantage didn't help them against Zynga's giant cross-marketing arm. Nor did Liam Bowmers, creator of Castle Clout, see a dime for Angry Birds.
As noted above, a company with the resources to devote can reverse engineer your product within a couple weeks. More difficult product that you've been working on for years to solve problems? They'll just hire more engineers. Your first to market advantage is going to be negligible, because your head start will be tiny, and they can spend lots of money on marketing, since they don't have to pay people for years to solve the problems you did when they can just take your solution.

exactly the the reason patents exist

No. That is not at all why patents exist. The reason patents exist is right there in the law. To promote open disclosure of how an invention works. Quite the opposite of what you think - it's to make sure you will have MORE competitors than you otherwise would. The reward for letting the world copy your invention, is having a brief time where nobody is allowed to.

Here, we're in agreement. The point of patents is to encourage people to give up trade secrets. Otherwise, we would end up with crappy proprietary format lock-in, intrusive DRM, and highly restrictive licenses like the one AutoCAD uses to keep people from selling older copies of their software.

One of the major problems with software patents it the absolute lack of disclosure actually - I've yet to read a software patent include full source for an implementation of the idea - and nothing less than a working source implementation can count as 'blueprints' for a software program.

I would agree, except that I'd say flow charts and pseudocode should be sufficient as blueprints. I'd also point out that, once a patent application has been filed for, an inventor is free to release white papers, functional specifications, source code, etc., without losing any rights. The original patent for Brunelleschi's merchant boat didn't include any details in the patent - it did, however, include a legal requirement that he was to separately teach everyone how to build it. Patents in many ways are like land deeds - they're written in formal language to sketch out the boundaries of a claimed invention - but you wouldn't rely on the land deed to build a house.

That said, the patent office and courts could be much better at enforcing the written disclosure requirements.

Hey it's first-to-file - who gives a fuck that she died after spending 50 years 'inventing' romance novels before I got the patent right ?

First to file didn't change anything about rules of inventorship. It simply changed the case where two inventors independently create the same thing at the same time and both file identical patents. Know how rare that is? There were about 20 interferences per year, out of half a million patent applications. And they cost hundreds of thousands to resolve. First to file simply reduces that to a black and white decision, rather than a trial.

That would be mathematics. Which is, in fact, a language - and unpatentable all by itself anyway. You may want to study computing theory - if you think software is anything but NOT pure and unadulterated mathematics on every level it's because you don't actually know what software is. Only what we try very hard to make it pretend to be.

Machines can be easily abstracted to pure and unadulterated mathematics, too, but no one would say a transmission is unpatentable because you can describe it in gear ratios.
Pure software is unpatentable. Software implemented by a machine, however, is no longer just mathematics - like the transmission, it's a bunch of interconnected parts configured to produce a particular result.

No, 'technology' consists of real, physical things - machines and devices. Processing steps - a completely abstract set of ideas is not and has never been patentable, software was an abberation in this regard - and the Alice verdict was basically the supreme court telling you just that.

35 USC 101 defines patent eligible subject matter, and uses the term "process", which is a set of steps. Processes have always been patentable in this country, and the Supreme Court certainly did not say they weren't or that software wasn't patentable in Alice Corp. They said that some attempts to claim processes were too abstract (and Alice wasn't on software anyway, but double book accounting). In fact, the word "software" doesn't appear even once in the Alice decision. And a bunch of software has been patented since, and the Supreme Court just denied appeals from a bunch of patent eligibility cases, confirming patentability of software in some of them.

Alice Corp involved a terrible patent. But that doesn't mean that by invalidating it, the Supreme Court threw out all patents.

So what are you ? Patent lawyer ? Patent troll ? Since those are the *only* people who have ever benefited from software patents. No programmer has ever found them anything but a massive risk. No programmer has ever benefited from them. Many have been bankrupted by them - but it wasn't usually other programmers bankrupting them.

Don't know about OP, but I'm an engineer and a patent lawyer. And I've got many clients who rely on patents to protect their businesses. Maybe some programmer in a cubicle working for them might think patents have no value... but if that programmer's work could be easily copied by every competitor, then the programmer has no value to the company.

If we used a graphical flowchart based system to describe software You may actually get a little closer to at least properly disclosing the invention - it wouldn't solve the other problems. Oh and graphical flowcharts used to be the standard way we designed software until not so long ago. We ditched them because they don't work very well - especially for stuff like parallel execution where you could have dozens of lines on the chart all being followed at once...

Every patent application on software includes at least one flow chart. Problem is that the patent office just said "include a flow chart, and you're okay", rather than "include a detailed flow chart that you could hand to a programmer and say 'build this'," which is what they should have said, under 35 USC 112. As I said above, we agree that the disclosure requirements aren't being sufficiently enforced.

Nope software has never been patentable and never will be. It was a massive legal fuckup to pretend they were, perpetrated by a court of people who - whatever their merits as judges - were idiots at technology who could barely tell the difference between software and magic - let alone fairly adjudicate whether this is patentable technology or not. Because courts and legal systems are slow beasts, and precedent is a thing - it took decades for judges to start figuring out they had made a mistake and finally start fixing it.

Hundreds of what you'd call software patents are being issued every day, and judges are upholding them. I think you're going to have to eat that "never has been and never will be" statement.
Incidentally, your arguments are nothing new. Every new industry throughout history has complained about patents - people said that automobile patents shouldn't exist, aerospace patents shouldn't exist, textile patents shouldn't exist, small molecule pharmaceutical patents shouldn't exist, etc.. This has all been done before, and will be done again.

Comment Car with funny looking thing on top goes wrong way (Score 3, Interesting) 254

From a distance he couldn't tell whether the car was driving itself, or its human operator had made a mistake. Stachelek took out his phone in time to shoot a brief video of Uber's vehicle backing up and driving away, then uploaded it to Facebook. "Driverless car went down a one way the wrong way," he wrote. "Driver had to turn car around."

Well, was it driverless or did it have a driver? If it had a driver, was the driver in control? Which would make it just a funny looking car and a confused human operator?

Verdict: meh.

Comment Re:Also kicks out scores from third party purchase (Score 1) 85

Isn't that a good thing though? If you didn't by the game on Steam, why should you be able to contribute to the rating on Steam? Amazon does the same thing, it's called a verified purchase. To allow anything else is opening up the system for abuse.

It's still a verified purchase... You get a Steam key on Humble (and other stores) that you then have to redeem at Steam, download the game from Steam, launch the game via Steam, etc. Steam sure as hell knows you have the game.

Comment Re:Also kicks out scores from third party purchase (Score 4, Interesting) 85

one of my initial thoughts as well.

I suppose a better way to deal with the problem is to throw out reviews that are tied to a clearly inactive steam account.

A person who actually uses steam will have recorded play histories and times. A bullshit ratings inflation service will have hundreds of dummy accounts that they use to inflate ratings with, and little to nothing else. If those accounts need actual play history, especially recent play history (given valve's stated goals with this to capture changing ratings over time), then the cost of these ratings inflation services will balloon.

That suggests an idea that they should be doing already, with data they already have access to: rather than providing a single rating score (or even two with "recent" and "overall"), provide a graph of average rating vs. time played. If the average score among people who've played it less than 20 minutes is 4 stars, but the average score among people who've played it two hours is 2 stars, that's a lot more indicative of rating inflation and what the real game is like... Conversely, if the average score among short-term users is low, but the score shoots up among people who stick with it, that may indicate a difficult learning curve that most people give up on, or may indicate that it's a niche title only for users really into that genre, etc., etc. Either way, it would be very useful information to have.

Comment Also kicks out scores from third party purchasers (Score 5, Insightful) 85

... it does not include reviews written by those who obtained the product through a Steam key. What this means is that reviews penned by those who got a game after backing it on Kickstarter, for example, or via a developer's website, do not affect the Steam user review score. Again, the thinking behind this change is sound. Valve knows that some developers were gaming the system -- that is, they were giving keys to friends or shady paid services in exchange for positive reviews.

Although certainly a valiant effort, one unintended result is that it will ignore reviews from people who purchase keys via Humble Bundle or other third-party stores. Perhaps that's a negligible portion of the total, but for some games, it may not be. For example, Humble frequently puts up indie bundles for a few dollars, including games that many people wouldn't necessarily buy individually on Steam (because of, for example, the lack of reviews). But at $10 for two games you want and three you've never heard of, you figure, why not? If you end up liking one of those games, your review won't matter... again making it difficult for hidden gems to get a foothold.

Comment Re:Russia would have nada If the US system was hon (Score 1) 531

The circumstances matter, and selecting which circumstances the audience does or does not know means the ethical perception of the issue can also be selected. This was seen directly in the "Collateral Murder" video, where WikiLeaks made extensive use of editing to minimize the evidence that the targets were hostile, and emphasizing the evidence that they were innocent. They also edited around the protocols used to confirm a target, and intentionally made no acknowledgement of the fog of war, letting the viewers know from the beginning that the victims were innocent.

Isn't "Collateral Murder" by definition referring to the victims who were not the targets, hence "collateral"? Accordingly, isn't it irrelevant that the initial intended targets were hostile, if a whole bunch of innocent people got killed afterwards?

Comment Re:FaceTrace's Trace satellite destroyed (Score 2) 338

An anomaly on the pad at T-3 minutes when the rocket isn't even turned on would suggest that it just might have been something else.

If you look at the explosion videos in slow motion, it starts near the middle or closer to the top of the rocket, not near the engines. My guess is a static discharge during fueling, which could still be underway at T-3.

Comment Re: Rape sympathizers (Score 2) 229

Assange committed a "crime" that isn't a crime in the US. He lied to a woman to convince her to have sex with him. Apparently that's "rape" in Sweden, and not in the US.

Nope, that's a lie. He had sex with an unconscious woman, knowing that before she fell asleep, she told him 'no'. And not only is that a crime in Sweden, it's also a crime in the US. And it's also a crime in the UK, where Assange tried exactly the defense you're offering: he said that because she didn't fight him off later, it shouldn't be a crime. The UK High Court, in its opinion upholding extradition, stated:

Our view is, as we have set out, that a jury would be entitled to find that consent to sexual intercourse with a condom is not consent to sexual intercourse without a condom which affords protection. As the conduct set out in the EAW alleges that Mr Assange knew SW would only have sex if a condom was used, the allegation that he had sexual intercourse with her without a condom would amount to an allegation of rape in England and Wales.

As the EAW sets out the circumstance that SW was asleep, s.75 which applies to rape is also material: [quote of statute removed].
As it is alleged SW was asleep, then she is not to be taken not to have consented to sexual intercourse.

Comment Re:SJW Bullshit (Score 0) 229

I posted this in another post below, but I just wanted to reiterate it here, for those who might not fully understand the situation.

It might help your understanding of the situation to understand that the CIA and NSA now use fake rape and sexual assault/harassment claims as their preferred method of character assassination (much easier, less messy, and just as effective as actual assassination). It happened to the poor bastard IMF head who made the VERY stupid mistake of challenging the supremacy of the U.S. Dollar.

What would you call someone who repeatedly changes their story, offering details, then recanting them over and over? The "poor bastard IMF head", maybe? He originally said nothing happened and he had never even seen his accuser; then that he may have been in the room while she was cleaning but he doesn't pay attention to housekeeping staff; then that he was naked in the room while she was cleaning; then that they had consensual sex; then that they had "rough" consensual sex during which he tore her rotator cuff. That doesn't sound like someone who is the victim of character assassination - you'd expect that such a victim would be able to maintain a constant story.

It also happened to Julian Assange and others.

Assange who has admitted he had sex with an unconscious woman? If all it takes to be a honeypot is to fall asleep around Assange, then they're not really entrapping him into doing anything he wouldn't do otherwise, are they?

Comment Re:I lean the other way. (Score 1) 148

In general (not talking about actual crypto here), the whole password/passcode policy thing is nothing more than a CYA and comfort food for the paper pushers.

You make a password more complex than 8 characters and a cap (or number or special)... you got the easiest password to break. The monitor post-it.

But if you ignore the enforced artificial complexity and suggest pass phrases, you get easily remembered, but very strong passwords. For example, even assuming a brute force attacker limits their search space to 26 characters plus punctuation - and further limits it to common english words - if you have a pass phrase like "everyday for breakfast, my cat, muffin, enjoys eating tuna dipped in milk", the resulting Shannon entropy is 365 bits. By comparison, a keyboard-mashed password of "a8gh!#hZ0-" only has 40 bits of entropy. Even though the former has a very limited search space, the length is sooooo much longer that protons will decay before you brute force it.

Comment Of course it's not unstoppable (Score 5, Insightful) 236

Sure, they use caller ID spoofing so that we, the recipients, can't block the number, but you know who knows exactly who the spammers are? The phone company, for two reasons: first, they're routing the calls from end to end, so they know the real source rather than the spoofed one. Second, and more importantly, they're billing them for the calls. They're not sending out bills for thousands of calls to the spoofed IDs, but the real ones. And while individually, those calls are cheap, the tens of thousands a day add up and the phone company makes a lot of money from the spammers, all while telling the FCC and consumers that their hands are tied.

Freeze their assets until they release the billing information to the state AGs. That'll untie their hands really quick.

Comment Purchase without having to purchase? (Score 2) 13

Subby: "without having to purchase HTC's VR gear."
Article summary: "track objects with the HTC Vive base stations... new hardware can work with the Vive's base stations and sensors... products that work together with HTC Vive."

Cripes, Subby, we know no one reads the articles, and at this point, we don't even expect Subbys to read the articles, but can you at least read the text that you're copy-pasting into the submission box?!

Comment Re:Not a Violation of 1A because why? (Score 1) 447

The government's "request" was the reason the private company complied. That makes it a government action. The government, not facebook, shut down her speech, though obviously Facebook was involved..

But only Facebook would have standing to sue, and they agreed with the government, apparently.

Slashdot Top Deals

Real Programmers don't eat quiche. They eat Twinkies and Szechwan food.