Monday, September 30, 2013

"17 Reasons Why The Kids Don't Like Facebook Anymore"

Usually when I post a list, I say which items on the list are the best ones.  But these are all great.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Latest EFF Amicus Brief: WildTangent v. Ultramercial

Today EFF filed the latest amicus brief that I helped write.  Our brief supports WildTangent's request that the Supreme Court hear a lawsuit brought by Ultramercial LLC.  Ultramercial owns U.S. Patent No. 7,346,545. The patent claims, in essence, showing a consumer copyrighted video over the Internet, provided that the consumer is shown advertising first.  If that sounds like it shouldn't be patented, EFF agrees:  EFF's blog post about today's amicus brief is here.  That post contains links to many previous posts about the case, which has been going on for some time.

The district court had dismissed the lawsuit on the ground that the patent claims were impermissibly abstract under 35 U.S.C. §101.  That statute prohibits patents on abstract ideas.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court, but WildTangent asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.  The Supreme Court ordered the Federal Circuit to reconsider in view of a Supreme Court case interpreting §101, Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories.  The Federal Circuit issued a new opinion again reversing the district court.

In plain English:  The patent takes an abstract idea -- showing people copyrighted content if they watch an advertisement first -- and adds limitations such as "the Internet." The Federal Circuit's view is that adding "the Internet" to an abstract idea somehow makes it patentable.  Along with many other people, EFF disagrees.  We hope the Supreme Court will hear this case and invalidate this patent.

UPDATE:  Techdirt has this story on Public Knowledge's fine amicus brief also supporting the cert. petition.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Do You Enjoy TED Talks?

Do You Enjoy TED Talks?  Here is how they are made.

The 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes

The 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes are out. Best ones:
  • The Medicine Prize, for "assessing the effect of listening to opera, on heart transplant patients who are mice"
  • The Psychology Prize, for "confirming, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive"
  • The Physics Prize, for "for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the moon." 
  • Finally, the Peace Price, to the "president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Monty Python and The Holy Grail Trailers: Then and Now

Monty Python and The Holy Grail is a 1975 comedy classic.  Typical of that oddball comedy troupe, the 1975 trailer for the movie was, shall we say, a bit strange.

Someone has now created a 2013 "modern" trailer for the movie.  As Monty Python's Eric Idle tweeted, "it's really good."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

How Do You Know When You're Middle-Aged?

"How Do You Know When You're Middle-Aged?"
Sample answer: "You struggle with new technology such as the heavy plough and the longbow."