Patent Trolls

A term that is currently banded around is that of “Patent Troll”.

The very term is divisive.

Do musicians who sue pirate mp3 services and people who sample or rip off their songs become Copyright Trolls?

Why is it considered different for a natural born engineer to own their intellectual property than for a musician or writer who automatically gets their copyright.

I am a design engineer, I have three patents and I have tried to license these technologies. If one of the companies I’ve shown this to then  start making these devices without license fees or giving me royalties or money (when I’ve spent time designing, and researching) is it not my right to sue them?

Let’s say, Hypothetically, I had designed a device at college. 10 years later a close proximity to that design turned up on a large IT companies portfolio of products, would I be a Troll to approach the company and suggest they are tramping on my bridge?

Let’s hear less about “Patent Trolls” and more about investment by businesses in young, upcoming engineers and inventors.



Published in: on 12/01/2011 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Patent Trolls

A term that is banded around a lot is that of “Patent Troll”.

Patent Trolling is a very divisive term.

Do musicians who sue pirate mp3 services and people who sample or rip off their songs become Copyright Trolls?

Why is it considered to be different for a natural born engineer to own their intellectual property whereas a musician or writer automatically gets copyright.

I am a design engineer, I have three patents and I have tried to license these technologies. If one of the companies I’ve shown this to decides to start making these devices without license fees or giving me money when I’ve spent time designing, and researching, is it not my right to sue them?

Let’s hear less about “Patent Trolls” and more about investment by businesses in young, upcomming engineers and inventors.


Published in: on 12/01/2011 at 11:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Once again, Equality Mr. Rubik!

BBC post another statistical gaff, and that’s only in the link(!)

The title on the page is “What if all workplaces had to be a third female?”, yet the link was called:

“Goals allowed: What if a third of ALL workplaces had to be female?”.

Maybe it’s a gaff in statistics or just careless word order, but I’d interpret “a third of ALL workplaces had to be female” as 33% of companies being exclusive of men. They should get the “More or Less” team to review BBC content before it goes out!

This is about “Pay Equality” and it ALWAYS come up, year after year. Generally pushed by people who have an interest in it ;p.

The truth is, certain fields aren’t conducive to women, so these surveys are always flawed.

There is an argument that supersedes the discrimination conjecture: Nature versus Nurture.

For discrimination to be a factor you have to assume that both groups have equal abilities. This presupposes that both sets do have equal abilities in all areas the jobs would cover.

However, factors may not be equal with the genders for everything. How often do you see a girl playing with a Rubik Cube for example?

The Rubik Cube

I am not saying for one moment that Toys should be in firm and unmovable categories of “Boys Toys” or “Girls Toys”, Jasmine likes to play with toy cars, Emma likes to play with building blocks and trains, and I actively encourage them both.

However The Nature vs. Nuture argument could be used to look at Rubik Cubes. Let’s say the job is “Rubik Cube Demonstrator”. There are two ways of looking at it: most users are Men, so the target market is male, so get yourself  a few pretty girls to demonstrate it at a conference. This works on the de-nerding of the Cube, and will attract the attention of the men who weren’t interested in the actual cube.

Alternatively because the majority of users are men, maybe there would be a large shortage of women who could do the cube with sufficient dexterity to take on the job of “Rubik Cube Demonstrator” – Should the exhibition organiser be forced to take on someone without the skllset because there aren’t enough women exhibition staff?

I can feel the feminist’s wrath at both of those examples, but the point I am trying to make is the symbol of the uber nerd – the cube (57secs if you are wondering) –  is a real sieve function for what may be a real gender gap.

Any of the major names I could think of associated with the Rubik Cube have one thing in common, see if you can spot it:

Erno Rubik : Male

Tibor Latzi : Male

Tom Kremer: Male

David Kremer: Male

David Singmaster : Male

 Minh Thai : Male

So if a gender gap exists with a Rubik Cube, where else could it exist? And what would the cause be: Nature or Nuture?

A parent or peer might have discouraged the girl or lady from playing with the Rubik Cube, similarly a parent or peer may encourage the boy or man to play with the Rubik Cube (unlikely!). The alternative would be that there is something naturally occurring (genetic or hormonal or developmental) that makes males more likely to play with the cube.

It’s a difficult issue to separate out the Nature and Nurture with the Cube, so I think its necessary to look at something where no parent would encourage boys to be one way and girls to be another way.

Mental Health

There are several psychological disorders that men are more prone to than women.

Schizophrenia is known as a young man’s illness, but I challenge any one to show me a parent who would push boys down that route. Generally I don’t know of any connection between schizophenia and a particular profession. ASD (Autism, Aspergers) do have anecdotal evidence of a connection with engineering, mathematics and accounting (observed by Simon Baren Cohen). These professions are interestingly male dominated.

If women’s and men’s brains are identical, why are 75% of all cases of Aspergers Syndrome or Autism Male? That’s 3:1 ratio of men to women.

Is Aspergers Syndrome subject to sexual discrimination? Or are Men’s Brains wired differently from Women’s?

I don’t know of genetic links to either of these illnesses or conditions, but if it were, then a  gender non-equality in Mental Health exists.

Health and Safety Executive Data

Then we have the data from the HSE. It’s there on the website if you care to look.

This basically says that 97% of work place fatalities are men, just trying to earn a wage.

Someone who works in a dangerous industry (and some are intrinsically dangerous) should receive higher compensation for their risk. Sticklers will say these statistics they reel out year on year of pay inequality are for equivalent jobs (more on that later!).

Alex, Bob & Charlie

In a free market, the opportunities one is offered can have an affect on completely unrelated activities, so presence of danger money may well affect money in safer environments.

Imagine this: if Alex and Bob both work for the same place (let’s say in a sales department) and Bob is offered work on scaffolding or oilrigs, he might resign, and go after the better pay.

Both Alex and Bob are good workers. Top workers. Charlie, the boss wants to keep them, so Charlie matches the pay that Bob would get on the Scaffold or Oil rig.

Alex would never work on an Oil Rig, or Scaffold: it’s just too dangerous, but when Alex hears Bob was offered more money to stay at the company, Alex wants the same pay rise.

Why should Charlie give Alex a pay rise because Bob is going to leave?

It’s the Reverse Darwinism at it’s best. Alex can grab the tailcoats of Bob and proceed up the pay scales without ever having to threaten to leave the company and work on oil rigs.

No danger, yet get paid the money for it.

This argument works just as well whether Alex and Charlie are men or women. Sometimes you get paid for the job you don’t do. It’s about negotiation skills and free markets.

“Equivalent Jobs”

Usually some feminist organisation compares the wages of a Car Mechanic with those of a Nursery Nurse. This is a Very Poor Comparison.

I love my children very dearly (more than I love my car) but once again I invite you into my warped mind: I would rather have a Car Mechanic with kids of his own look after my children than a Nursery Nurse with a Car of her own service my car. Aside from the obvious lack of skills the Nursery Nurse hasn’t gained from looking after her own car that the Car Mechanic had gained by looking after his own kids, the Garage is a much more dangerous place for the actual Nursery Nurse. All manner of moving HEAVY parts, dangerous fumes, toxic materials: and that’s just the Mechanic doing a nappy change. (drum role: disclaimer: my kids don’t wear nappies anymore!).

Labour Leadership:

The Final Clincher for me with the hot air that is around this issue is Harriet Harmon and the recent Labour Leadership contest. As deputy leader she always says there are too few women in Top jobs, and there should be more, possibly with “Job Shares”.

This is another case of “Do as I say, not as I do” with Hariett Harman.

Why didn’t she run for Ed Milliband’s position with a co-runner? Is the Labour Leadership too important for her to job share, or is it because she knows it would be a bad idea to have a top position filled by two part time people?

Businesses want to make money

Finally, Let’s agree with the findings (or imagine they are true as I’d put it): women do EXACTLY the same job as men, and take less money for it.

A business owner (male or female) would know this statistic, and realise he or she could save 10% on wages by employing a female only work force to do the job cheaper than the male work force. More businesses would employ only women if this were true.

However there aren’t lots of Female only businesses out there out performing the male dominated sexist businesses we all hear about. 

Draw your own conclusions.


(Comments expressing any opinion are welcome).

Published in: on 10/11/2010 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pope Visits UK, and the intolerance starts NOW!

One cardinal has already “succumb to Gout” after making comments to the effect that Britain is a Third World Country full of Intolerant Atheist Gasbags (I paraphrase, but it was probably in Latin, or maybe Italian, or maybe Vaticanese).

Set to prove him wrong, apparently the Guardian have published a letter signed by “50 Public Figures”. The usual suspects are there: Clinton Dawkins, Stevie Jones, Phil Pullman… all the way down to the BBC’s own Stephen Fry.

Dawkins has been grinding his anti-religious axe for so many years he’s a self parody now.

Jones (I believe) did a Car advert once extolling Evolution (“Not just a Theory”) and inferring the Car (the pinnacle of a design process) was the product of Evolution (Which is insulting to all those automotive engineers out there).

And Pullman still owes me an hour of my life after wasting it on that Golden Compass Crap he wrote (what a rip off of George Lucas!).

But Stephen Fry? That’s a new one on me! Why is a BBC presenter (a BRILLIANT one) taking such risks as to make controversial statements in public?

Looking at what they object to: the state visit, I can’t see their point.

The Vatican City is a City State, it has been since 1929 – but has had government of the present form since 1274.

The Pope is the head of the Vatican State.

Are we suggesting the Vatican is not a valid state, or the Pope is not the valid leader of this state, or that he was put in power by a controversial means?

For you to be objecting to the State visit, you should surely be objecting to one of those facts. Maybe the Pope’s selection happens behind closed doors, but is that any worse than having a state visit from someone with a Royal Blood Line?

Reasons cited include Vatican policy on Condoms, Homosexuality, and (this makes me laugh) “segregation of the education system”, could they be a little more specific? Racial or gender based?

Maybe the Vatican isn’t up to speed with gay rights, I’ve never heard of corporal or capital punishment being issued from the Vatican on gays or lesbians (though I may be wrong). There have been royal visits from OTHER states where homosexuality carries a punishment of Public Lashing or worse.

Maybe the Vatican hasn’t used a safe-sex message to people around the world, opting for the idealistic notion of monogamy as a method of counteracting HIV, but the Queen has recently been host to polygamist Jacob Zuma, who recently said he’d had (controversial) unprotected sex  with  a HIV Positive lady and had a shower to reduce the risk of him (and his many wives) catching AIDS.

As to Human Rights, when France has been threatening forced “repatriation” of the children of immigrants and have even this week been treating Roma very poorly, where were any of our “50 Saviours of the British Way”  when Sarkozy and spouse where coming?

Now, have Richard Dawkins, Steve Jones, Philip Pullman and Stephen Fry written to any news papers (overtly left wing or not) complaining about state visits from Heads of state of Saudi Arabia, South Africa, France?


I feel Stephen Fry, who I am a great admirer of, has let himself slip on this one. He’s standing against the dumbing down of media, yet he seems daft enough to delve into politics, something a BBC Presenter should not be doing.

The rest of them are the usual axe-grinders.

The only thing they seem intent on doing is proving Cardinal Kasper correct about Britain having too many aggressively Atheist Windbags.

(For the record, I am not a Catholic, I welcome all heads of state to UK, and I still think Fry is a great TV and Radio presenter. Phil Pullman is still a hack though.)

“Comments Welcome”……….

Published in: on 09/15/2010 at 10:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

HTC: Go and join Apple in the Naughty Corner.

As you all may have suspected in the past: I’m a fan of HTC’s phones. I’ve been using a SPVm3100 (TyTn) for the last few years now, though it’s old, battered and obviously big.

Recently I bought a HTC Hero, an Android powered device that has Built in GPS, Wifi, Digital Compass, Camera allsorts. On paper it is brilliant.

Currently, it’s running Android 1.5, quite an antiquated version, but when I bought the phone in February HTC had promised an imminent update (as they had since December 2009). They had previously treated owners of their “G1” phone (one of the first Android Phones) to an update to Android 1.6 (a later version than the Hero is currently running), so it seemed reasonable that they would soon fulfil their promise of a firmware update.

I’m sad to say that 6 months later I am still waiting for my Firmware update (25/08/2010).

Why is this such a big deal?

One of the big selling points of Android Phones is the fact that Google announced a free Turn-by-Turn Sat Nav program on compatible phones, quite a powerful selling point. This is only available on compatible phones. GPS and a Good processor are required, both of which the HTC Hero has. The other Requirement for Google SatNav is to have a Android Firmware of 1.6 or later. The HTC Hero has been hamstrung by HTC’s failure to release a Android version update, and comically a HTC phone over a year older than the Hero (the “G1”) can use software that the Hero cannot.

Last Month HTC finally released a Android 2.1 ROM for certain networks, but alas my supplier isn’t one of these.

To add insult to injury, even before HTC released the Android 2.1 ROM to the networks who have it, they announced that the Hero will never have a ROM update after the Android 2.1 is released.

To be truthful, I liked my phone and I loved it. Until I realised something: the poor reception I’ve been having is not due to the Network Coverage in this area, it’s due to the HTC Hero’s aerial.

The Hero’s aerial is in the “Chin” of the phone, which isn’t the best position, but the problem seems to be a little more deep-set than that.

My first signs that the handset was the problem came when a co-worker bought a lovely new Samsung Galaxy S Phone. He was on the same network as me, and managed to stream Video to his phone when I was on the desk next to his and couldn’t even perform a Facebook status update. This showed me something was wrong, I then realised that if the network was good enough to stream live video then it should be good enough to send text messages: something the Hero failed to do (5 repeat sends are often required to successfully send a message).

I tried the Sim in the other 3G phone I had: the SPV M3100, a phone manufactured by HTC about 5 years ago. Using the exact same Sim card, network everything I found internet dropped out on me far less and text messages sent correct first time all the time. The only conclusion I could make was the Hero Handset was at fault.

I reported this to the customer services at the network, who recommended I updated firmware (already at latest release, they had no news of when HTC would release 2.1).

I was gutted. I’ve recommended HTC Hero and Desire to at least 10 people, now I’d lumbered them with poor quality handsets.

To cut a long story into a slightly less long story, the phone went to 3UK customers services who spent 18 days reflashing the ROM to the release it was on before, told me the phone worked perfectly and sent it back for me to realise it was just as bad as when it was sent away (only without my Contacts or Apps on it).

HTC swore blind they could fix it, failed to log the pick up once, failed to send the paperwork through twice, and UPS refused to pick it up twice because they “Didn’t have anything with a barcode on it.”

Meanwhile I’ve spent 4 hours waiting for the package to be picked up, been on the phone to HTC for about 3 hours, and had managers promise to give me a call back and never return a phone call.

When I finally got in touch with a manager (not easy) he promised me my phone would be turned around in 2 days after they received it, but still couldn’t issue me with a UPS bar code, so I suggested I’d pay for Royal Mail delivery and they could refund it. I apparently was supposed to pay for it myself and HTC “have no mechanism to refund 3rd party shipping expenses”. I thought it would be fine though, in return for the phone being fixed in under 2 days.

They have had the phone for over a week. Royal Mail delivered it the day after posting, and it wasn’t acknowledged by HTC as being received until the day after that. I’m still waiting. I’ve been told it will take at least another 10 working days before it can be repaired.

So all this and they finally decide to release Android 2.1 for 3UK today! what an annoying company. I honestly won’t be using their products again (unless the only alternatives are Philips or Apple – Don’t get me started on those two!).

How do HTC think they can get a good reputation when they ship products that don’t work, fail to keep promises of software upgrades, treat customers like poop and then break all promises they make of returned phone calls and quick return times.



Edit: three days after this blog entry 3uk released android2.1 on the Hero. It was well worth waiting for. Though maybe not 6 months.

It’s out there now, and anyone with a Hero should install it.

My hero was finally returned – problem fixed – 17 days after being sent to HTC. It came back on Android 1.5 but I upgraded almost immediately. The new imei number hints to their repair involving a modern unit replacement. It is now the phone I was promised in February.

HTC may not be the pneumatic blonde they once were, but certainly they aren’t the swap donkey they were when I first wrote this blog entry.

Published in: on 08/25/2010 at 9:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Religion and Driving.

A man was driving around, looking for a parking space.

After 10 minutes of driving around, he prays, “God, if you help me find somewhere to park, I will go to church every Sunday and tithe ten percent of my income.”

Immediately, a spot opens up, and the man ends his pray, “…..never mind, I found one.”

I think most people get more religious when they drive, judging by what they say.


Published in: on 08/25/2010 at 6:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Love your SAK

I love my SAK, and most men like me would love their SAK too.

Bold Red coloured, fits in the palm of your hand perfectly. It’s ergonomical and practical.

For the last fourteen years I’ve been aware of playing with it whilst talking, in meetings etc. and I always make sure I use it once a day.

Mine is a Victornox Huntsman, and not surprisingly, the Main Blade sees the most use, problaby followed by the Bottle Opener/Large Screw Driver, Can Opener/Small Screw Driver, Scissors and Corkscrew. The blades show the wear of their use. I’ve managed to break the end off my Bradle, and there are chips out of the plastic handles, but worst is the main blade.

It is far more than a pocket knife, it is a multitool. It is my preferred can opener, easy to use, quick, safe, easy to clean and very simple.

Wenger and Victorinox recently merged, but continue to operate as seperate companies, personally I prefer Victorinox, it just has a better form to it.

There is a lot of misguided information about SAKs out there.

There are a few places where they are not allowed to be carried, e.g. Airports and sensitive areas, but as a general rule SAKs are fine to be carried around in public.

The general rule is if the blade is 3″ or less (the sharpened bit only), isn’t locked out (so as to be considered to act like a fixed blade knife) requires two hands to open (not a flick knife, gravity knife or spiggoted knife that can be opened with skill by one hand) you are ok to carry it. There are exceptions to rules, e.g. longer blades or locking blades are sometimes permitted if you have a legitimate purpose for them, though I always make sure I comply with the two hand rule, slip joint rule and 3″ rule and have a “purpose”  just to be safe.

As I’ve said, I’ve had this blade since 1996, and I’ve carried it almost every day (I’m an engineer and I constantly take things apart, open packages, cut my lunch, remove stones from horses hooves, etc).  The blade has seen better days. I was even considering replacing the blade recently: It’s mis-shapen compared to the new profile, and I’d broken the tip (taking a hard drive out of a set top box), and was having trouble sharpening it.

I felt quite stupid when one of the guys in our workshop told me I’d been doing it wrong. Apparently Stainless Steel is hard to sharpen and can’t be sharpened on a normal sharpening stone. Yesterday I was introduced to a Diamond Lap, and within a minute my blade was restored to its former glory. I was so impressed I bought a set online straight away.

My knife is now sharp enough to circumcise gnats, though I’m not sure if there’s ever a reason to do that, at least I have a tool capable of doing so!

I’m hoping this knife will last me another 14 years, it’s worth its weight in gold and helps me do everything from fixing a computer to opening a bottle of wine or beer.

Do you have a Swiss Army Knife? 

On Wednesday I used it as a deposit on a Locker Pass I had to borrow from the Gym.

What did you use it for recently? What is the most unusual thing you have used it for?


Published in: on 07/10/2010 at 10:52 am  Leave a Comment  

How old are you?

My friends say I should act my age, what’s my age again?

It’s easy to calculate someone’s age, it’s date of death minus date of birth. Unless they are still alive, or believed to be alive, on which case its today’s date minus date of birth.

So in Doctor Who, when Amy tries to vote in the episode the beast below, she is told by the computer that she is 1300 years old.

Did the computer assume because she was standing there she must be alive? Or did it have no record of her death?

I’d assume it had some logic in place that would mean it checked there wasn’t an impostor trying to vote.

So the question is does Amy Pond get abandoned on the future, on an alien planet or die on her travels?


Published in: on 06/17/2010 at 12:47 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

Maths is the Answer to Child Benefit.

They’re talking about cutting Child Benefits for families on larger incomes.
I am against Means Testing, it encourages people at the borderline to think tactically about doing what is right for themselves, and whether this will jeopardise the help they will get in the near future from the tax system.
e.g. Two plumbers, both on minimum wage, one works 35 hours a week and spends 10 hours in the pub, the other works 40 hours a week and spends 5 hours in the pub. The conscientious one will accrue more money/savings/property than the one who spends more time in the pub. Why should the alcoholic one benefit from tax subsidised pensions, health care and child support?
I think a fairer system is EVERYONE with children should receive child benefit, but savings should be made in an alternative way.
The first child should receive £60 child support per month,
The second child should receive £30 child support per month,
The third child should receive £15 child support per month,
The fourth child should receive £7.50 child support per month,
 The fifth child should receive £3.75 child support per month,
This is known in Maths as a Geometric Progression with a = £60, and r = 0.5;
The Sum to infinity is 2a (i.e. no one will ever receive more than £120, double the amount of child support of the first child).
This would encourage people to live within their means, and make sure they can support themselves before they plan their families.
There would be needs for exceptions, e.g. multiple births would obviously receive two (or more) payments at the same level for their child,
Eldest child is a twin, the two kids receive a total of £120 (2 x £60)
Eldest Child +2 younger twins, would also receive a total of £120 (£60 + 2 x £30)
Third birth is to twins, the four children would receive a total of £120 (£60 + £30 + 2 x £15)
Eldest are twins, with one younger brother, the three would also receive a total of £135  (2 x £60 + £15)
Eldest Child +3 younger triplets, would also receive a total of £150 (£60 + 3 x £30)
If this is implemented from 2011 onwards, there would be no hardships caused to current parents or families.
I realise that some people will feel this discourages people from having the large families (e.g. 4+ children) that some parents want. I would really like an Audi R8 which I can’t afford, but I don’t burden the tax payers of this country by asking them to pay for my selfish desires.
This is reminiscent of the Chinese Single Child per Family Policy, which has worked well so far for population control and increasing quality of life. This does lack the more draconian and horrific consequences of the single child policy, but at a time when we are told that there is too much strain put on our environment by the Human race, is it not our responsibility to exercise birth control and reverse years of social engineering which tells people “have children, and the government will house you and pay you more than you could earn otherwise”.?


Damn it!

The New Android phone, the Desire is available on a tariff for £23pm and unlimited data.

I guess I bought at the wrong time!

Anyway, I’m happy with the Android phone: the Hero. I just wish HTC would hurry up and release the 2.1firmware update for it.

I’m finding it works better now I have wifi on/off and mobile network on/off dongles on the fourth screen, much easier to control.

I’m also keeping the screen brightness down. It helps the battery life.

As previously mentioned, the android phones are easy to tether: that’s the process where you share your data network (i.e. mobile phone connection) with a computer or laptop.

I really was surprised how easy it was to do, and I’ve not been charged for it (yet) by my network, so it does beat certain smart phones out there I could mention.

Another great App I’m using is Taskiller. It lists all the widgets and multi-tasking programs on the phone and allows you to terminate the unwanted ones.

One surprising thing is that the Widgets on other (apparently non-active) screens/scenes are also loaded into memory, taking up resources. After learning this I’ve rationalised my number of scenes, and cut down on the hardly used widgets.

I’ve also ordered a new wall charger and spare battery off eBay, never hurts to have a spare battery on a feature rich phone.

Still love the Hero, even though I “could” have had a Desire with similar data allowances for cheaper!


Published in: on 05/11/2010 at 7:46 pm  Comments (2)