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Fighting terrorism with bees. Well, why not? Naturally, you have a good reason:

I was enthralled by your article about the US invention of a bomb sniffing device. I love reading about new advances in new technology, even if it does consist of a bee in a box.

This technology however was of particualr interest as I had already heard of this technology, more specifically I had already heard of this technology when it was invented 3 years ago!

The technology of sniffing bombs using bees was invened by a British man called Paul Davis. Unfortunatly I had heard that the reason that this was never turn into a working product was that the US gov had applied the Patriot act & taken the technology off the compnay to use for their own ends.

All that the US had to do was to build their own version of the design, very clearly outlined in the patent. I'm not sure why US scientist needed 18 months research, the patent is one of the clearest I have ever read and clearly shows a lot of work has already been carried out.

Apparently 'their own ends' also translates as "wait 3 years and claim that we invented it".

Mick


Silly server names. And why not?

in a similar vein, until quite recently the Met Office in Bracknell used to have a pair of twin Crays. They were called Ronnie and Reggie.

-J.


I know of lots of companies that use wierd naming schema, Can you guess what Eircom use ? moe.eircom.net. 86320 IN A 159.134.237.94 kodos.eircom.net. 86269 IN A 159.134.237.29 smithers.eircom.net. 86393 IN A 159.134.237.73 barney.eircom.net. 86188 IN A 159.134.237.68 Barney is running NetSaint as far as i remember :D

Keith


More on the computer misuse act, and its woolly wording:

Problem is, banning nmap doesn't stop people who are breaking the law already from using it. It also doesn't stop someone just smacking all the ports (because nmap merely cuts down the number of possible attack vectors you need to try but you don't need to limit yourself just to them).

Mark


"The new Act will make a person guilty of an offence "if he supplies or offers to supply any article believing that it is likely to be used to commit, or to assist in the commission of, [a hacking offence]". The word "article" is defined in the Act to include "any program or data held in electronic form"."

Oh dear. At least within the computer security industry, it is common knowledge (which must make "belief" "likely") that patches (which must be a good match for "program or data in electronic form") are reverse engineered by the bad guys to find out where the flaw was (and still is, in unpatched machines). How long will it be before software companies are hauled up in front of a judge for protecting their users?

Who would bring such an absurd prosecution? Well, any end-user who was a day or two late applying the latest patches might have a legitimate grievance, and the bad guys in organised crime have an obvious interest in encouraging such prosecutions. Of course, such silliness is just what you deserve when you try to criminalise knowledge.

Ken


A SurfKitchen patent has you all as angry as Gordon Ramsey:

In the article "Surf Kitchen patents customised phone downloads" (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/21/sk_patent/) you write, "While the concept might seem obvious, that makes it no less of an invention and no less patentable and, unless some strong prior art turns up, Surf Kitchen will have a significant advantage in handset interface customisation."

If I dust a boxing glove with icing sugar, is the act of planting it in the groin of a patent lawyer suddenly patentable because of the icing sugar? That would seem to be the level of inventiveness encouraged by various patent regimes today.

If we allow the continuous institutional and corporate pressure within the European Union to legitimise exactly this kind of "armchair patent", the supposedly dynamic European economy of the 21st century is going to be all about profiteers taking things which belong to everybody (or are at least freely usable by everybody), frosting the top with the intellectual equivalent of icing sugar, and then levying a tax on anyone who goes near either their "invention" or the thing they gladly co-opted to serve their business model.

There will be no more genuine innovation if all real scientific and technological work is hindered by speculative monopolies, such as the one described in the article, established by people who did none of the real work in the first place, but perhaps those deluded enough to genuinely believe that patents somehow reward innovation will come to realise that the only real beneficiaries of permissive patent regimes are those who run and administer those regimes.

Patents don't reward innovation; ultimately they only serve to reward the people who grant the patents. Scientists and technologists would do well to cut these people out of the loop once and for all.

The Badger


"unless some strong prior art turns up"

Err, like Microsofts Windows Update service, where a client contacts the server which puts together a package of only the updates relevant to the client ?

Simon


"While the concept might seem obvious, that makes it no less of an invention and no less patentable..." While it's been a long while since I suffered hearing about patents as a computer science student, I do seem to recall "novel" and "non-obvious" being two fairly important criteria.

Alfie


When is a ringtone more than just merely annoying? Simple. When it is blasphemous too:

I wonder if we could get these clerics to extend this ruling to all polyphonic ringtones, thus demonstrating that Islam is a truly civilised religion. I like the sound of, "anyone who persists in using these should be ostracized from society".

Richard


And finally (well, we had to) we turn to the cosmically important question of just how much sex a poor man's lobster should be having:

Lester, what if anything, does this have to do with the fine business of reporting about all matters technological?

Unless there will be a follow-up along the lines of: 'Some Comments About the Apparent Similarity Between Submissive-Dominant Behaviour in Crustaceans and the Reason for Common Users to Accept Microsoft's Overtly Aggressive End User Licence Agreement - a study in dominance of software vendors over their customers in the consumer electronics market space' I'm not really all that interested in how and why crustaceans get their freak on.

Really, let them get a room or something.

I'm a geek. Sex is behaviour that other people are purported to engage in. It has nothing to do with me. The day women produce a tidy log file of the problems they encounter while the process is running is the day I'll happily start debugging. Until then: don't give me images of fornicating crustaceans.

What's that all about?

Jorge

A good question and, it seems, a reasonable point to leave things for today. Ponder that one, Vultures... ®

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