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Archive for the ‘free (or not) software’ Category

Arizona turns off its photo ticket contract.

The cameras, which included 76 units either mounted near the shoulder or operated from vans, were adept at snapping speeders as they whizzed past sensors, but getting offenders to pay after the tickets were mailed to them was another matter. Less than a third of the 1.2 million tickets issued were paid, and the state collected $78 million, far below the projected $120 million annual revenue. Some of those tickets, typically $181 apiece, no doubt were lost in the mail…

no doubt.

… others no doubt were not paid as violators tested a legal theory that they needed to be served in person.  Process servers who were supposed to follow up could hardly keep up with the load.

Oh.  That’s much more likely.  Wonder what it costs to hire a cut-rate process server in Arizona?  $80 per attempt?  $50?  What with the vendor’s rake-off for running the system, I bet nobody did the math to figure out whether they’d ever break even.
But WTF is this about?

Lawmakers at the hearing were concerned with more than just accident statistics. State Representative Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) was also upset to learn that the Redflex freeway cameras have been recording video twenty-four hours a day to track the movements of drivers not accused of any crime. Last September, TheNewspaper first reported the plan to link all continuously recording photo enforcement cameras into a nationwide surveillance network.

Jesus on fishhooks.  Sometimes when I read stuff like this I wish I was actually MORE paranoid than I am.

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Everyone in patent law (and in software, and in pension management) is waiting breathlessly for the Supreme Court to issue an opinion in Bilski.  Everyone agrees that it’s probably Justice Stevens (who is regarded as a patent minimalist) authoring the opinion.  Likewise everyone agrees that the decision, when it comes,  will be bad for business-method patents.  People with idiot business-method patents, like Jeff Bezos and his infamous Amazon 1-click patent, are sad about this.  On the other hand, most people who actually create and invent stuff are genuinely happy.  The only real controversy at this point is how far the court will go: will it strike only business method patents, or will it rule that no software should be included in the list of patentable subject matter.  But the thing is, it’s (at least nominally) Bilski bringing this fight, trying to keep his ridiculous business method patent alive!  If it seems so clear that he’s going to lose, why not just give up now and avoid setting precedent?

I make no bones about my position- I’m anti-patent in general, and anti-biz-method / software patent in particular.

So when I saw this post from George Washington Law Prof John Duffy at Patently-O, I was afraid at first that he was giving Bilski to escape being hoist on his own flawed petard.  But when you get to the end of the article you find this gem:

I had previously thought that “irrational exuberance” provided the best answer—that the Bilski petitioners were likely to remain unrealistically optimistic about their chances for success right up to the end. But the presence of a multibillion-dollar corporation controlling the litigation decreases the chances that the strategy is due to simple inventor over-optimism.

It seems that Bilski sold the patent at issue … to a corporation that apparently wants to have business method patents killed off entirely.

Oops.

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I guess that depends whether you are (a) someone who enjoys music and art and culture, or (b) a parasite

Peer-to-peer file-sharing on the Internet has certainly weakened copyright, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing unless one equates “stronger copyright” with “better copyright.” According to the US Constitution, copyright is about promoting “the Progress of Science and useful Arts”; it’s not about enriching authors […]

[T]he most pertinent question to ask is […] Has file-sharing reduced creators’ incentives?

My knee-jerk answer is– of course not!  More people are creating and publishing creative works today than at any other point in history.  But I didn’t have any data to back that up, and knee-jerk reactions only work as a basis for policy when Republicans are in power, so anyone who hopes for meaningful change in the US copyright framework is going to need more ammunition.  Fortunately, someone has actually done a bit of research now, and you can read more about it here.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that venture capitalists are becoming more interested in businesses concerning privacy.

via Privacy Lives » Blog Archive » Wall Street Journal: Funds Invest in Privacy Start-Ups.

That might actually be a really good fit for me.

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Calendar World Cup 2010 by MARCA.com.  It’s the best because it allows you to view the matches in any relevant format you want- date, team, location, or group.  Far superior to the official FIFA site.  Stuff like this makes me love the internet…

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The key is if it’s in warrantee. And from what I can tell, mine’s not. So it would seem I’m hosed.

via On-Going Kindle Post-Mortem | Talking Points Memo.
So I’m vaguely interested in the outcome, if only from an IP-licensing perspective.  I wonder how much money Josh has already spent on Kindle content… and I wonder how much of it he’s ripped to another format, or if he’s stuck with the choice between (a) shelling out for another crapware locked platform so he can access the content he’s already bought or (b) letting it go, and then having to pay again for the same content if he wants to access it in a different format.

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Engadget says some  hacker has Netflix for iPad running on iPhone.   I’m sure this will do wonders for AT&T’s 3G networks.

Ports like this have to be expected by Apple; there is probably no technical way to prevent it.  I have to wonder whether there are terms in Apple’s deal with AT&T that address what happens when people start using AT&T’s network to constantly stream video to their handsets.

Netflix now, Slingbox next…

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