WebMink writes "It used to just be speculation, but the numbers are now in — patent trolls are costing America jobs and economic growth. Newly-published research using data commissioned by Congress shows big rises in patent troll activity over the last five years — from 22% to 40% of all patent suits filed, with 4 out of five litigants being patent trolls. Other papers show that jobs are being lost and startups threatened, while VC money is just making things worse by making startups waste money filing more patents. Worst of all, it's clear this is just the tip of the iceberg; there's evidence that unseen pre-lawsuit settlements with patent trolls represent a much larger threat than anything the research can easily measure."
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acer123 writes "Lately I have replaced several home wireless routers because the signal strength has been found to be degraded. These devices, when new (2+ years ago) would cover an entire house. Over the years, the strength seems to decrease to a point where it might only cover one or two rooms. Of the three that I have replaced for friends, I have not found a common brand, age, etc. It just seems that after time, the signal strength decreases. I know that routers are cheap and easy to replace but I'm curious what actually causes this. I would have assumed that the components would either work or not work; we would either have a full signal or have no signal. I am not an electrical engineer and I can't find the answer online so I'm reaching out to you. Can someone explain how a transmitter can slowly go bad?"
mikejuk writes "After six years in the making, the Arduino Due is finally becoming available and, with a price tag of $49, is bound to give a boost to the platform. The Due, which means 2 in Italian and is pronounced 'doo-eh', replaces the 8-bit, 16MHz Uno by a 32-bit, 84MHz processor board that also has a range of new features — more memory, a USB port that allows it to pretend to be a mouse or a keyboard say, 54 I/O pins and so on — but what lets you do more with it is its speed and power. The heart of the new Arduino Due is the Atmel SAM3X8E, an ARM Cortex-M3-based processor, which gives it a huge boost in ADC performance, opening up possibilities for designers. The theoretical sampling rate has gone from the 15 ksps (kilosamples per second) of the existing boards, the Arduino Uno, Leonardo, and Mega 2560, to a whopping 1,000 ksps. What this all means is that the Due can be used for much more sophisticated applications. It can even play back WAV files without any help. Look out for the Due in projects that once would have needed something more like a desktop machine."
In an effort that took four months and $2000, instead of the quarter million dollars and two years they estimate it would have using conventional design methods, a group of University of Virginia engineering students has built and flown an airplane of parts created on a 3-D printer. The plane is 6.5 feet in wingspan, and cruises at 45 mph. I only wish this had been sponsored by Estes or Makerbot rather than the MITRE Corporation; it would be great for every high school or hobbyist group that can scrape together the printing time to have one of these on demand. (HT to Gaël Duval.)
New submitter ShadoCat points out this interesting project to restore the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation, writing: "This isn't the original set unfortunately (which was destroyed making the ST:Generations movie). This is one that Paramount created for display in 1991. Huston Huddleston saved the pieces of the set late 2011 when they were about to be trashed by Paramount. Huddleston and crew will be refitting the set with working displays and controls. They plan to host parties and educational events in the set which, apparently, is big enough to hold a large number of students. For safety though, I hope they add circuit breakers (a technology along with seat belts that seems to have been lost in the 24th century)."
An anonymous reader writes with word that NetFlix recently opened its streaming service in Finland and was promptly caught stealing movie subtitles from a local DivX community site. How were they caught? NetFlix failed to remove references to the pirate site in the subtitles.
An anonymous reader writes "Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff is the latest to predict Windows 8 will be a disaster for Microsoft, but for a different reason than some others: he says that Windows is simply irrelevant in the new era of cloud computing and bring-your-own-devices (BYOD), which will become clear to corporate IT decision makers when they confront the upgrade decision. Of course, this conveniently dovetails with Salesforce's market position, so consider the source. Another interesting development is the growing rivalry between Benioff and his old boss Larry Ellison; Salesforce.com is a longtime Oracle shop, but they have just announced intentions to hire 40-50 PostgreSQL developers."
Hugh Pickens writes "Remember Righthaven? Steve Green writes that the copyright troll who partnered with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post to file 275 no-warning copyright infringement lawsuits in 2010 and 2011 against parties that used content from those papers without authorization has just been ordered to turn over to a creditor hard drives from its computers so the creditor could determine if Righthaven has any assets that can be liquidated for the benefit of Righthaven's creditors. Federal judges in three states rejected Righthaven's lawsuits because the company lacked standing as the newspapers — not Righthaven — maintained control of the material Righthaven was suing over. Some defendants were also cleared by the fair use doctrine in copyright law. In the aftermath of Righthaven's legal debacle, the company shut down and claimed to be broke. Creditors in another case seized its website and trademark and auctioned them. They also seized the copyrights it sued over, but they didn't sell. Meanwhile Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for the EFF, has for months been urging Judge Peggy Leen to hit Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson with 'coercive sanctions' for Righthaven's failure to turn over information that will help the EFF find Righthaven assets. 'Steven Gibson is now going to have to show some responsibility,' said Opsahl after the judge issued a court order that could cost its CEO a fine of $500 per day for non-compliance. 'The CEO of Righthaven remains responsible for taking care of the business of the company.'"
hypnosec writes "Cyber-scammers have started using '1.usa.gov' links in their spam campaigns in a bid to fool gullible users into thinking that the links they see on a website or have received in their mail or newsletter are legitimate U.S. Government websites. Spammers have created these shortened URLs through a loophole in the URL shortening service provided by bit.ly. USA.gov and bit.ly have collaborated, enabling anyone to shorten a .gov or .mil URL into a 'trustworthy' 1.usa.gov URL. Further, according to an explanation provided by HowTo.gov, creating these usa.gov short URLs does not require a login." Which might not be a big deal, except that the service lets through URLs with embedded redirects, and it is to these redirected addresses that scammers are luring their victims.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to this Reuters story, from which he excerpts: "Italy's supreme court has upheld a ruling that said there was a link between a business executive's brain tumor and his heavy mobile phone usage, potentially opening the door to further legal claims. The court's decision flies in the face of much scientific opinion, which generally says there is not enough evidence to declare a link between mobile phone use and diseases such as cancer and some experts said the Italian ruling should not be used to draw wider conclusions about the subject. 'Great caution is needed before we jump to conclusions about mobile phones and brain tumors,' said Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics and clinical engineering at Britain's Royal Berkshire Hospital. The Italian case concerned company director Innocenzo Marcolini who developed a tumor in the left side of his head after using his mobile phone for 5-6 hours a day for 12 years. He normally held the phone in his left hand, while taking notes with his right hand. Marcolini developed a so-called neurinoma affecting a cranial nerve, which was apparently not cancerous but nevertheless required surgery that badly affected his quality of life."
beltsbear writes "Welcome to the future that you warned us about. Starting soon, Verizon, Comcast and others will work with the Center for Copyright Information to reduce piracy. Customers thought to be pirating will receive alerts. 'The progressive series of alerts is designed to make consumers aware of activity that has occurred using their Internet accounts, educate them on how they can prevent such activity from happening again,' If a customer feels they are being wrongly accused, they can ask for a review, which will cost them $35, according to the Verge."
SternisheFan writes with this snippet from gizmodo: "The Associated Press reports that smartphone robberies now account for nearly half of all robberies in San Francisco, as well as an impressive 40 percent here in New York City. And the numbers aren't just high, they're getting higher fast. In Los Angeles, smartphone robberies are up 27 percent from last year, with no signs of slowing down. The thefts come in all varieties as well. Victims have reported having their phones—iPhones in particular (surprise!)—yanked out of their hands while talking, snatched just as public transit reaches a stop, or even taken at gunpoint." When I was relieved at gunpoint of my (very, very dumb) phone a few years ago in Philadelphia (very, very dumb), it made for a lousy evening. Have you been robbed (or accosted) like this? If so, where?
New submitter jaa101 writes "Facebook has refused a request from Australian police to take down a page with details of undercover police vehicles saying it cannot stop people taking photos in public places. The original story is paywalled and it doesn't give a link to the relevant page which seems to be here . This page for the state of Victoria has 12000 likes but a similar page for the state of Queensland has over 34000, and there are other Australian pages too."
colinneagle writes "It's a darned shame, but the writing is on the wall for AMD. The ATI graphics business is the only thing keeping it afloat right now as sales shrivel up and the company faces yet another round of staffing cuts. You can only cut so many times before there's no one left to innovate you out of the mess you're in. Qualcomm, on the other hand, dominates this space, and it has the chips to back it up. The Snapdragon line of ARM-based processors alone is found in a ridiculous number of prominent devices, including Samsung Galaxy S II and S III, Nokia Lumia 900 and 920, Asus Transformer Pad Infinity and the Samsung Galaxy Note. Mind you, Samsung is also in the ARM processor business, yet it is licensing Qualcomm's parts. That's quite a statement."
An anonymous reader writes "In his latest story, Brian Krebs reports on a collaboration between brand holders and credit card companies to shut down payment processing for rogue online pharmacies, pirate software sellers and fake anti-virus scams. By conducting test purchases, they map out which banks are being used to accept payments for which scams. Writes Krebs, 'Following the money trail showed that a majority of the purchases were processed by just 12 banks in a handful of countries, including Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Latvia, and Mauritius.' These results are then fed to Visa and Mastercard who typically shut down the merchant accounts 'within one month after a complaint was lodged.' If you can't accept payments, you can't make money — and without money you can't pay the spammers who advertise your product. This effort is apparently quite effective and has led to much concern by those running such sites."