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July 09, 2011

Michigan Woman Faces Misdemeanor Charge for Vegetable Garden In Her Front Yard

Julie Bass of Oak Park Faces Misdemeanor Charge for Vegetable Garden
OAK PARK, Mich. (WJBK) - "The price of organic food is kind of through the roof," said Julie Bass. So, why not grow your own? However, Bass' garden is a little unique because it's in her front yard. "We thought it'd be really cool to do it so the neighbors could see. The kids love it. The kids from the neighborhood all come and help," she said. Bass' cool garden has landed her in hot water with the City of Oak Park. Code enforcement gave her a warning, then a ticket and now she's been charged with a misdemeanor. . . . "That's not what we want to see in a front yard," said Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski. Why? The city is pointing to a code that says a front yard has to have suitable, live, plant material. The big question is what's "suitable?" We asked Bass whether she thinks she has suitable, live, plant material in her front yard. "It's definitely live. It's definitely plant. It's definitely material. We think it's suitable," she said. So, we asked Rulkowski why it's not suitable. "If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster's dictionary, it will say common. So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what's common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers," he said. But when you look at front yards that are unsightly and overgrown, is Bass' vegetable garden really worth the city's time and money? We asked Rulkowski what he would say to those who feel this is ridiculous. "I would argue that you won't find that opinion from most people in Oak Park," he responded.

Microsoft’s Android Shakedown

Microsoft’s Android Shakedown - Timothy Lee - Disruptive Economics - Forbes
In the 1980s, attorney Gary Reback was working at Sun Microsystems, then a young technology startup. A pack of IBM employees in blue suits showed up at Sun headquarters seeking royalties for 7 patents that IBM claimed Sun had infringed. The Sun employees, having examined the patents, patiently explained that six of the seven patents were likely invalid, and Sun clearly hadn’t infringed the seventh. Reback explains what happened next in this classic Forbes article: An awkward silence ensued. The blue suits did not even confer among themselves. They just sat there, stonelike. Finally, the chief suit responded. “OK,” he said, “maybe you don’t infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?” After a modest bit of negotiation, Sun cut IBM a check, and the blue suits went to the next company on their hit list. This story sheds light on the recent string of stories about Microsoft demanding royalty payments from various companies that produce smart phones built on Google‘s Android operating system. Intuitively, this doesn’t make much sense. Most people would say that Google has been more innovative than Microsoft in recent years—especially in the mobile phone market—so why is Microsoft the one collecting royalties? The reason is that Microsoft has more patents than Google. A lot more. . . .

July 04, 2011

Religious Oppression. For America.

religious oppression | god hates protesters

July 03, 2011

DropBox now claims ownership of every file users have on their servers

DropBox are changing the Terms of Service every few minutes right now, as outrage spreads. Fun! Put it in the Cloud? Are You Nuts? at Literary Abominations
As of Sat, July 2 2011, Dropbox has joined Facebook and who-knows-how-many-other ass-backward companies in declaring eminent domain on their user’s data. That’s right, boys and girls, if you’re using Dropbox for storing your manuscripts, photographs, creative works, etc., you shouuld know that their revised TOS says that: you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent we think it necessary for the Service. In other words, they own your stuff. Not that this would stand up for a minute in court–but do you want to be a test case? That right there is bad enough–almost, but not quite as bad as Facebook claiming copyright to anything you post, link to, etc. (and using everything you post in their advertising), but Dropbox does one better. Lest you say “Haha! I’ve dodged a bullet! I only use dropbox to hold my ebook collection, or to sync my porn files and music between my home and office systems!” you better read on. Following on from the same place in the TOS: You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission. In other words, if you put something you legally bought for your personal, non-infringing use, you’ve just been made a felon, because Dropbox now requires you to grant them worldwide license (including derivatives!), by uploading a file you didn’t author (for a personal backup or so you can have access to it on a business trip, say) you’ve just granted rights to Dropbox that you don’t own. . . .