Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


"A greater pendulum shift away from patent holders' rights..."

A federal appeals court has issued a ruling this week that makes it more difficult to accuse a company of "willful" patent infringement.

Court opinion here.

News summary here.

Patently-O Patent Blog input here.


The first link is a stealth PDF. In future please mark these (e.g. "Court opinion here. (Warning! PDF)").
I'm curious what the deal is with PDF's and what is the significance of marking them with a warning label?
If you do not put a warning, other users may be led to believe that they are clicking a link to a html page or a text file.

I believe it has been customary for a while now to mark links to binary files as such when it is not immediately obvious from context. They must be handled differently, and it's nice to know in advance.

It's especially bad with pdf, because most browsers completely freeze for a significant amount of time when they go to invoke the Adobe plug-in for some reason. Nothing works -- including (egregiously) the stop button. You have to just sit twiddling your thumbs and wait until the whole file is downloaded. Which is often huge (many megs). If you're on dialup, or worse mobile where you may be charged by the minute or by the megabyte, that can be BAD.
I would blame that behavior on thoroughly broken software. You seem to be using the proprietary adobe plugin. Consider free software alternatives - in free development, some user will get annoyed by this broken behavior and fix it.
a) Us Windoze users have no alternative b) This is the browser plugin, anyway; third-party pdf readers seem to be standalone applications c) The browser loading plugins synchronously is a browser bug, not a bug in a specific plugin, and is present (and persistent) in Firefox, which by the way is free software. The plugin loading content synchronously and not providing a stop/cancel capability may be the plugin's fault however. d) Third-party pdf readers and similar appear to suffer from poor presentation quality, particularly vis-a-vis antialiasing, resulting in grainy or crummy appearance of a document that looks excellent in Adobe's reader. (This applies to postscript viewers too, and most dvi previewers, with the notable exception of Yap.)

Yes, I've authored pdfs, and generally using free tools. None of those has ever given a decent pdf presentation however.

One issue with pdf that will not be affected by any manner of browser or plugin improvements or vendor-switching is the size factor. Nontrivial documents in this format are simply large files, and large files may be expensive for some people to transfer. Fixing things so you can stop the load (other than with the equivalent of kill-9 or by physically unplugging the network cables) would mitigate but not remove this issue with surprise pdf links. On broadband, even a large file might transfer largely or fully before you react. On wireless broadband, this might nonetheless be expensive. Users of wired broadband are probably safest; the browser will freeze for the least possible amount of time and they are unlikely to be metered, charged extra, or given trouble by their provider unless they rack up tens of gigabytes of transfer in a month. Dial-up users may not be so lucky, especially if they're stuck where the nearest dial-up service is a long-distance call. At least they have time to react (e.g. they can pull the plug on the modem before it costs them through the nose). Wireless users have it the worst -- they may not have much reaction time, there are no cables to unplug anyway, and they WILL be charged by the minute!

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