Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blackboard Loses on Appeal

Inside Higher Ed reports on Blackboard's latest loss, which is good news for universities and colleges who use open source software because we can be sure that despite their disclaimers, Blackboard would certainly move against open source courseware if they succeed against Desire2Learn and other private companies. Blackboard's loss is also an affirmation of common sense since anyone with long-time experience in course management software knew that Blackboard's patent claims were simply assertions, not valid original contributions to courseware delivery methods. ____JH


"Both companies appealed the parts of the case they'd lost to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has nationwide jurisdiction over U.S. patent claims. Its highly technical decision upheld the lower court's conclusion that Blackboard's claims 1-35 were invalid. But the three-judge panel rejected the lower court's finding that Blackboard's patented learning system had originated the approach of giving a single user with a single log-in multiple roles, such as being a teacher in one course and a student in another."

"The appeals panel embraced Desire2Learn's argument that such technology existed in 'prior art,' in this case previously existing course management systems such as Serf and CourseInfo 1.5. The appeals court essentially ruled that the lower court judge had framed Blackboard's claim incorrectly for the jury, said Bruce T. Wieder, a lawyer for the Washington firm of Dow Lohnes who was not involved in the case. Having done so, the Federal Circuit court "could have said, 'This is how you should have interpreted it, you go look at it again,' " Wieder said. "But instead, the court said, 'Since we've seen what was argued, we now can say that the district court wouldn't have come to any conclusion,' and declared those claims invalid."

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From home schooling to 'unschooling'

George Provine, 6 , brothers Lance, almost 4, and Miles, 17 months, and mother, Suzy, look at a salamander George caught in Patapsco State Park.

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Dorm Room Necessities

Dorm Room Necessities
After saving for 18 years, my parents had my college money saved up and ready to mete out for strictly education items only. And still, the first semester’s worth of tuition, dorm costs, and meal cards were a bit of a punch in the abdominal region for all three of us. Oof. [...]

After saving for 18 years, my parents had my college money saved up and ready to mete out for strictly education items only. And still, the first semester’s worth of tuition, dorm costs, and meal cards were a bit of a punch in the abdominal region for all three of us. Oof.

And then came the necessary accoutrements: computer, extra long sheets, phone, textbooks, school supplies, etc. That shopping expedition, which was the absolute bare-bones minimum, I assure you, gave us vomitous feelings. My entire childhood had been strictly budgeted just so my college education would be covered. None of us were used to just laying down thousands of dollars for anything that didn’t fall into the Life or Death category.

It’s easy to fall prey to the Everyone else has a pink furry lamp so I have to have one too! mantra, but try to avoid it.

Loft Bed: It Depends
If you’ve managed to keep the buying under control, then, no, you won’t need a gigantic wooden behemoth that you’ll have to disassemble and try to get rid of nine months from now.
If you brought along enough extra furniture and plastic crap to fill an apartment and are shocked to discover you will be calling upon your Tetris skills to cram it all into half of a tiny square room, then yes, you will be needing a loft bed. Since everyone regrets investing in a loft bed within a few months of buying and building one, you can probably find one cheap on Craigslist.

Dorm-Room Phone: No
Everyone under the age of sixty has a cell phone, so paying for a land line in your room is dumb. It’s also risky if your dorm has big loud parties with all doors open along the hall. There’s always some guy or girl who misses their ex (who is spending the year abroad in outer Mongolia), and feels it is absolutely imperative that they drunk-dial said ex, beg to get back together, and then pass out with the phone off the hook while outer-Mongolia ex is ranting and raving about what a jack-ass the drunk half of the ended relationship is. You will be paying for this

Desk Lamp: Yes
If a lamp doesn’t come standard with the room, get one. Otherwise you’ll be studying by fluorescent ceiling lighting, which will hum and flicker and will foster violent tendencies around two a.m.

Laptop: Yes
This does not require explaining.

Printer: No
It’ll take up too much space, and the ink cartridges suck to replace, and they will always[italics] run out ten minutes before a paper is due. Learn to use and love the campus computer labs and the people who work there (use the lab, love the people). You can print stuff out there, and if anything goes haywire (and it will), the Gods of the Computer Lab will be able to help you. This will not be the case if you are crying about a term-paper meltdown in your dorm room.

New Textbooks: It Depends
See previous post.

Linens: Yes
A towel (two if your school is near a beachy area), a washcloth, comforter, and one set of sheets. Make sure the sheets are the right size. For some reason, even though only a non-majority percentage of students at any given college are over six feet tall, they make all dorm beds extra long. Which means that for probably only one year, all American college freshmen have to buy (and then never ever use again) extra long twin bed sheets. Asinine.

Dorm Fridge: Maybe
Only if you or your roommate either can’t share or have a difficult time reading labels or remembering which shelf belongs to whom.

Microwave: No
99% of the other dormies will have one, and if you’re wanting to “cook” anything stinky and offensive, most dorms have a kitchen. Even the lamest and grungiest versions will come equipped with a microwave.

Shower Shoes: Yes
Because dorm hook-ups are way less hot when all involved parties have foot fungus.

Bucket-Thingy to Carry Bathroom Paraphernalia: Yes
It will cost you less than five bucks, and if you don’t bring one, I can guarantee that (a) your room will be the farthest one away from the bathroom, and (b) you will drop your towel in front of a hallway full of people while trying desperately to juggle slippery bottles of shampoo, wet toothbrushes, squishy toothpaste tubes and sharp razors. I don’t care how hot you are, it’s still hard to be sexy while standing there naked, wondering whether squatting or bending over to retrieve the towel and the bathroom items is your best bet.

Running Shoes: Yes
Even if you’d rather walk, forward motion at any speed is the cheapest and best way to get away from your fellow dorm residents for a while and have some time to think and release some stress.

Posted by Alexa Harrington