The nice thing about the cost of disk storage these days, as well as the speed of USB 3.0, is that, in my opinion, now is the first time in a long time that personal back up is viable.
There have always been back up systems, but most have been unwieldy to the point that they just were not practical unless a discipline IT department was in charge.
I've been using computers since the early 1980's, and though I did my best to keep important files backed up, today's 1TB USB 3.0 external drive is the first system that I've felt like I could use without hassle, and take with me when traveling.
I don't think there are /any/ existing patent systems with are functional for modern technology.
There are three main reasons why patents are a bigger problem in the US than other countries. The first is that the US allows patents on more things - such as patenting a black rectangle as a shape for a phone, and software patents.
The second is that in the US there is a poor implementation of their patent system. Did you know that in the US, patent offices get budgets based on the number of patents they award - not for the work they are supposed to do? The assumption in the US is that the applicant is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the eligibility of the patent and prior art. The idea is that if they should not have the patent (either due to a mistake, or by deception), then someone will challenge it in court and it will be overthrown. Which brings us to the final point...
In the US legal system, in almost all business vs. business civil cases, the company willing to spend the most money will win.
This combines to make patents in the USA into a club that companies can legally buy to beat protection money out of other companies.
You ask what would be a better patent system? For most areas, /no/ patents would be much better. Copyrights and trade marks are good enough protection. Dropping patents would greatly reduce the costs of companies developing new products.
There are a few areas where something more is needed, such as in medical research - but patents are not the answer there either.
Just curious which patent system is the most functional? It seems that the patent trolls are abusing all of the systems and due to differing legal systems making it difficult to standardize the patent system. But it appears that the US is working to bring our patent system into alignment with other systems on March 16, 2013. Whether or not this will actually improve the system we must wait and see.
You might like to note in your article that it was the first /American/ patent office that opened in 1790, it was the /American/ patent office that burned down, and so on. And it is the /American/ patent system that was "on trial", and that is so badly broken.
Looking beyond your own navel, you can see Apple losing to Samsung in almost identical cases in different courts around the world. Most countries' patent systems are broken - partly due to giving in to American pressure to follow their system and accept their patents - but few are quite as badly broken as the American system. Most countries' civil courts systems also have big problems, but few are as badly broken as in the USA (where you have a law system, but not a "justice" system).
Here's hoping that at least some people in the USA will realise that they are a small part of a big world, and it pays to lift your head and look around. There they will see how the rest of the world alternates between laughing at the American patent and court system, or crying about it, or simply feeling sorry for the poor sods who have to live with that mess.
Blog Doing Math in FPGAs Tom Burke 23 comments For a recent project, I explored doing "real" (that is, non-integer) math on a Spartan 3 FPGA. FPGAs, by their nature, do integer math. That is, there's no floating-point ...