Monday, November 24, 2014

13 Amazing Food and Life Hacks You Need to Know Right Now

Here are "13 Amazing Food and Life Hacks You Need to Know Right Now."
Some samples:
"1. Keep cake moist by just eating the entire thing in one sitting."
"4. Can’t fold a fitted sheet? Don’t worry, nobody can. Unless you are a wizard or something."
"5. To store asparagus for up to 2 weeks, first I would suggest you consider how much you actually like asparagus and why you bought so much asparagus 2 weeks before you planned on eating it."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dave Barry's 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Humorist Dave Barry has succumbed to the trend of advertising for Christmas before it's even Thanksgiving.  Happily, it's due to Dave's 2014 Holiday Gift Guide!  Best ones: "Selfie" Toaster; "Rocky" Action Figure: The Meat: and Acupuncture Pig Model.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Latest EFF Amicus Brief: 77 Computer Scientists Ask The Supreme Court To Review Oracle v. Google

Last Friday, EFF filed the latest amicus brief I helped write, in the Oracle v. Google case.  The case involves Oracle's claim that Java's Application Programming Interfaces (API) are copyrightable.  Generally speaking, APIs are specifications that allow computer programs to communicate with each other, or to allow a program to communicate with a human being.

In May 2012, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that the Java APIs were not protected by copyright.  Oracle appealed to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; as part of that appeal, EFF filed an amicus brief on behalf of 32 computer scientists.

In a terrible decision in May 2014, the Federal Circuit reversed Judge Alsup and held that APIs are copyrightable.  The Federal Circuit went out of its way to disagree with the Lotus v. Borland case I worked on twenty years ago, which dealt with similar issues.  The circuit court's decision was harshly criticized by nearly every commentator who wrote about the case (the sole possible exception being a paid consultant for Oracle).  One commentary observed, "The court that created the patent troll mess is screwing up copyright too" (that commentator previously observed how the Federal Circuit has damaged the patent system).

In October, Google asked the Supreme Court to review this case; its petition for certiorari is here (or here).  On Friday, EFF and other groups filed amicus briefs supporting the petition.  EFF's amicus brief was on behalf of an expanded group of 77 computer scientists.  As explained in EFF's press release, signatories to the brief include five Turing Award winners, four National Medal of Technology winners, and numerous fellows of the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The list also includes designers of computer systems and programming languages such as AppleScript, AWK, C++, Haskell, IBM S/360, Java, JavaScript, Lotus 1-2-3, MS-DOS, Python, Scala, SmallTalk, TCP/IP, Unix, and Wiki.  ArsTechnica's article about EFF's filing is here; other articles or discussion boards are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Articles by Public Knowledge about its amicus brief are here and here.  CCIA's amicus brief is here.  Other articles about all three of these amicus briefs are here and here.

The Law Professor's brief, filed by Pam Samuelson of U.C. Berkeley, is here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Talking Dogs Explain The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court doesn't permit video broadcasts of its oral arguments -- only audio recordings.  The audio recordings are sometimes uninteresting.  To solve that problem, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver helpfully got a group of dogs to play the part of Supreme Court Justices, with the real audio in the background.

If you are inspired to create your own videos of this type, the show has helpfully provided stock footage.

EFF Files Comments With Patent Office About Review Of Issued Patents

In 2011, Congress passed the America Invents Act (AIA) to enact certain patent reforms.  The AIA included some provisions allowing review of issued patents in the Patent Office, which can be much cheaper than district court litigation.  Last week, EFF filed comments with the Patent Office about the review proceedings, which I helped draft.  EFF's blog post about those comments is here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

If Girls Proposed to Guys

If Girls Proposed to Guys.
"Maybe if you didn't want such an expensive lunchbox."
"I've been looking forward to a lunchbox my entire life."
"Yeah, I understand.  But an $8,000 lunchbox?"

Thursday, September 18, 2014

2014 Ig Nobel Prizes Are Out!

The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes are out.  My favorite: the Neuroscience prize, "for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast."  Runner-up: the Physics prize, "for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that's on the floor."

Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Reviews That Are Better Than The Book?

Someone published a children's book entitled, "My Parents Open Carry."  I haven't read the book -- there's no point, really, since open carry is illegal in California -- but the Amazon book reviews just have to be better than the book itself.  Some examples:
  • Can't wait for the sequel,. "My Black Parents Open Carried Until the Police Shot Them 146 Times".
  • I laughed, I cried ...I accidentally shot my mailman in the face
  • I got really excited when I found out there was a sequel coming out for the really little ones: "Goldilocks and the Three Open Carry Bears"
  • My buddies and I used the pages for target practice. I bet my friend a nickel he couldn't hit brennas face on page 7. I'm a nickel poorer, good shootin Steve.
  • If only the title was "My Two Mom's Open carry" . The Pulitzer would be already decided.
  • I gave it five stars, but my gun accidentally went off and killed Number 5.
  • The five stars are for the reviews here. These are the finest book reviews on Amazon this summer. Once I started reading them, I couldn't put them down. If you read close to 100 reviews this summer, read these. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll walk away with a big smile. Congratulations to the writers. Good, good solid work. I couldn't give a rip about the book. But these reviews? Take a bow, all. Put them in Kindle form and I'll buy it in a heartbeat.