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U.S. Supreme Court building... (via USGOV & wiki)


When it comes to software patents, the waters are pretty murky and there’s an obscure line between what can and cannot be patented. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) has defined a software patent as a ‘patent on any performance of a computer realized by means of a computer program’, however there is no legal definition currently on the law books. In the US, current patent laws regarding software excludes ‘abstract ideas’, natural phenomena and laws of nature, which has been used in the past to refuse a few of those software patents.


In an effort to address the issue of patented subject matter, or lack thereof, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought about by Alice Corporation Pty Ltd against CLS Bank International. Alice currently holds a number of patents for their computer system that implements financial transaction invented back in the 90’s, which they claim were violated by CLS Bank. CLS claims that four of those patents are invalid and several lower courts have favored them regarding those patents, however some, including some tech giants such as Google, Hulu and YouTube along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation found those judgments to be lacking due to the vague interpretation of current patent laws.


Those entities claim that the previous judgments were ambiguous at best with no clear terms for their basis, which would leave lower courts with no clear way of handling software patent cases, especially when it comes to ‘software patent trolls’ (companies who own the patents solely for suing other companies looking to expand on those patents). Hopefully the Supreme Court can come to an agreement over abstract ideas and finally layout specific guidelines regarding software patents so that companies can keep their property safe and secure without the need for frivolous litigation that would surely follow after being infringed upon.



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The standard USB is getting a facelift. Its USB 3.0 Promoter group recently announced development of a new USB cable port, called the USB Type-C connector. The new cable connector will be slimmer, reversible and will streamline virtually all electronic devices.


The new USB Type-C connector will be slimmer without losing its power. It will still rely on the fastest 10GB/S USB 3.1 standard technology, but instead of supporting clunky connectors, like that of the Galaxy Note 3, it will be slender and small, like that of the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B connector. While there are no photos of the new cable yet, it is expected to look similar to existing USB 2.0 Micro-B connectors and feature reversible technology.


The new USB Type-C connector will, for the first time, be reversible. This means users will not have to wonder which side is up and fumble with the cable before successfully getting connected. The cable will be modeled after Apple’s Lightning ports, in that both ends are identical, and will also make the user experience more streamlined.


The standard 2.0 and 3.0 USB ports support virtually all electronic devices since its release into the market in the 1990s. For this reason, not only will the cable itself be updated to feature a more slender look, but virtually all electronic devices will also be redesigned to support the new, slimmer port. This means laptops, desktops, phones, tablets, etc. will be redesigned with a technology that allows for more slender and compact electronic devices.


The new USB Type-C connectors are expected to make the user experience more pleasant, without sacrificing the power and speed of existing models. The new cable is expected to  be introduced in mid-2014. Updated devices that feature the Type-C connector are expected to be on the market shortly after that.


Reminds me a bit of this meme.....





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littleBits Synth Kit (via Littlebits)

A while ago a tech startup, littleBits, designed and developed a series of electronic circuit board modules that can be connected together (using magnets) to perform any number of functions. The idea was to get children interested in prototyping and learning about electronics, which is why the devices require no soldering, wiring or programming. The initial release of those modules, which are still limited in scope, was a huge success and not only interested kids but adults as well. While some of those modules are capable of making noise, they cannot really make music, which is why littleBits has teamed up with Korg to release their new Synth Kit. Just like connecting the company’s first line of modules to create interesting projects, the Synth Kit functions in the same manner but instead allows users to create music. Just as the name implies, the Synth Kit functions much like an analog synthesizer. The soon to be released kit (available December 6) contains everything you need to create music, including a micro sequencer, keyboard, filter, mixer, oscillator, delay module, power supply and even a speaker (although you can hook-up your own as well). The modules are all color-coded depending on the function they perform, with blue representing power, orange for wire connections, pink for input and green for output. This makes it easy to find the pieces users need to connect together. If that was not easy enough, the magnets can only attach one way, which prevents users from connecting the modules in the wrong way, potentially damaging the module(s). The Synth Kit will retail for $159, which nets users a total of 12 modules, a 35-page instruction booklet, a battery and a connection cable.



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