On Patents

News of the USPTO reexamination results of the Blackboard ‘0138 patent hit Slashdot yesterday. Naturally, both Desire2Learn and Blackboard are cautiously claiming victory. Certainly, as this is a draft and not the final decision, the next 60 days could result in significant changes to this preliminary decision. We will just have to wait and see.

How this plays out over the next couple months out to be interesting indeed.

National Debt

Saw a graph showing the United States national debt color coded by presidential party. The intent is to illustrate how Republican presidents are the big spenders.

Unfortunately, all too many Americans believe presidential candidates when they claim they will do some action or another. The farce is the President of the United States sends a wishlist of priorities to Congress (the State of the Union). It is Congress which sets the actual budget by passing appropriation bills. Congress has no obligation to include anything the President asks to be in the bill. The President can only veto each bill which usually contain budgets for hundreds of departments.

In my opinion, the chart ought to show who holds the majority of the houses of Congress (red for Republican, blue for Democrats, purple for one of each).

Wrong Number

A ticket our Blackboard technical support manager marked as really urgent was picked up by another technical support person who left a note about calling me. Except, the familiar phone number called wasn’t my office number or even my cell number. Nope, it is the office number at my previous job. Yup. I have not worked there in over two years. Yet, no one at WebCT or Blackboard has updated my contact information so Blackboard employees can find me. Isn’t the whole point of having my phone number to be able to call me? It is okay. As it is the end of the work day I was headed home anyway.
🙂

Sorry, Andy, if they left a message….

Fall in Love With Cyberbullying

Kentucky’s Bill HB775 would require those operating web sites or blogs or message boards in the state to enforce a policy to collect legal names, postal addresses, and email addresses to use the service. The legal name would, of course, be posted on the web site. Should the poster cross someone else, then the operators have to hand over to the victim the identity of the poster. First offense at not having the poster’s identity is $500 ($1,000 each thereafter).

A policy to collect the information doesn’t mean the users of the web site must actually provide the information. Though it seems like this law is pointless unless it means the web site must force users to provide the information.

Any universities running a system like Blackboard Learning System Vista or CE editions (possibly others) probably would need to disable anonymous postings in the discussion board. The legal name of the poster would need to be visible. So, the system could not use nicknames the person would be addressed by in a face to face setting.

Universities typically have major difficulty getting students to correctly maintain their postal addresses. This is why many are turning to direct deposit of excess checks and email. This way the school avoids mail returns on thousands of addresses.