Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prior Art in the iPad - from 1968

Okay, here's something cool that I never noticed before.

If you follow the Tablet Wars at all, you might have read that Apple is suing Samsung, claiming that Samsung is violating Apple's Intellectual Property.

What I didn't realize until I read this article, is that of the four patents that Apple is claiming Samsung is stealing from, three of them are DESIGN PATENTS.

What is a design patent?  It's not an invention, like this (I actually have a patent.  I hardly ever get to mention it.  Yes, I'm bragging.  I seldom get a chance to brag.  This is probably my only chance this year.  Forgive me.).  A design patent is a protection for the look of something.  You can get a design patent for a piece of art, or the styling of a jukebox:

Not an iPad.

My jukebox has this design patent.  It shows the styling of the jukebox so that other manufacturers will not copy the design, taking away from the (I hate the term, but) look and feel of the original. 

So what Apple did was to make a design patent for the iPad that shows a thin rectangular pad with a large screen, narrow borders and a flat back.  And they are claiming that Samsung (and anyone else daring to make a tablet without paying them royalties) is stealing those design elements, taking away from the art that is their iPad.

So what is Samsung saying?  Obviously, just about any tablet is like any other tablet.  So it's hard to argue that "Gee, our tablet is entirely different, even though it looks pretty much the same."

What Samsung is arguing is that the iPad design is not original.  They are saying that other people came up with the design elements (rectangular tablet, big screen, narrow borders, flat back) before Apple came up with it.  If Samsung can convince a judge that this prior art is sufficiently similar to what Apple is claiming, they can then argue that this design was not original enough to deserve a patent, and that Samsung can make all the flat big-screened narrow-bordered flat-backed tablets that they want.  In fact anyone who wants to can.

So where did Samsung find this prior art?  In Stanley Kubrik's (and Arthur C. Clarke's) 2001: A Space Odyssey!  And they have submitted this image:

Look!  There's Dave and that other guy (the one who gets killed, and nobody remembers his name because it wasn't Dave as in "Open the pod bay doors HAL" "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that.").  They are both using tablet devices while they eat their astronaut food!  Look! Those devices are rectangular.  They have big screens.  They have narrow borders.  They have flat backs (because they are sitting flat against the table).

Ya.  This just got interesting.  I can't wait to see what Apple argues back, and what the court decides.  A 43 year old design that looks just like my iPad.

Oh, and - Frank.  His name was Frank.  And he was killed by own beloved UIUC alumnus HAL 9000.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Physical Mechanism to cope with stress

I'm not sure why, but when I'm feeling exceptionally stressed, my brain goes into a mode where it simply wants to sleep.

Either it's my subconscious telling me to sleep on whatever is bothering me, and maybe I'll figure it out, or it's my brain saying "Hey man, I don't want to cope right now.  Go to sleep, maybe the problem will go away on it's own."

I can just see me being the caveman sleeping in the back corner while everyone else was fighting the saber-tooth tiger at the front of the cave.  "Yawn.  You guys look like you got this.  I'll be in the back catching up on my z's..."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Blogging Blues

Wow.  It's been like three weeks since I posted.   Life's been happening.

Last week, I went out of town to test my magic machine.  Hey, surprise of surprises - it seems to work!  Now I have to go to Stage 2 - building a real machine to test in a real plant. 

We went to see fireworks on 'Murica Day.  We sat on  bleachers on a soccer field far from anyone else.  It was actually like having our own private display.  Pretty fun.  Of course, it took about 2 hours to get home because there were so many other people trying to get home from their own private displays too.

And I've had two campaigns that I'm in self-destruct.  Which is [sad face].

1) Jared is getting burned out on d20, and is ending Council of Thieves.  There's a general rule that I've found is that when I customize or paint a miniature specifically for a campaign, the campaign dies.  In this case, I found and painted a miniature for my character's new "Life Coach".  I think the death stroke was molding it and casting an invisible version in clear acrylic.

2) Dennis is ending /placing on hiatus his Deadlands:Hell on Earth campaign.  We have about 2 sessions left (provided people show up).  I've really been enjoying this campaign, and it's one of the few I've played in recently where I haven't played some sort of spellcaster.  I've played a sniper with a really big gun. 

I'm not certain why I haven't been posting lately, other than the fact that nothing has stood out as post-worthy in itself. 

Tonight is Character Creation for Jared's new campaign.  He's running something in the Hellfrost campaign for Savage Worlds.  I have no idea what kind of character I will run.  Casters are kind of wierd, in that they continually risk losing their casting ability.  I'll try to post back whatever I decide.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Of Mothers Days and Fathers Days

Mothers Day and Fathers Day are promoted all across this country by businesses.  Restaurants, florists, greeting card manufacturers, and a host of other small and large industries rely on and promote the holiday to drive sales.

And this is not what this post is about.

I think a lot of people have a lot of stress on these two holidays.  Every family has issues, and it seems like no matter what issues you might have, you are expected to set these aside one (or two) days a year and tell your mother and father how great a job they did, and by-the-way, here's some flowers, or a tie, or a lunch.

But there's a lot of people that really would like to skip that holiday altogether.  If you grew up in an abusive home, why would you want to tell the abuser that they are a great parent?  For that matter, it's a reminder of just how crappy you had it growing up.  Let's rub some salt into that wound.

What if you have lost one or both parents.  You get a yearly reminder of that empty spot in your heart, and the phone calls you no longer get to make. 

Even worse.  What if you are a parent, and you don't get that phone call, or card or lunch?  Is it a condemnation of your parenting?  Or is your child simply forgetful, or very busy?  What if you've lost a child?  God, to think that every year, other parents are celebrating a holiday with their kids that you will never ever get to celebrate again.  There's a Lifetime-For-Women movie in there somewhere because it makes me sad just to consider abstractly.

Then there's sibling issues.  What if you have a brother or sister and they celebrate "better" than you do?  Now somehow you have to start competing to show your parent that you love them just as much as your brother who by-the-way also lives in a nicer house and has a wife with a better ass?   As if you didn't have to worry about enough things in your life that you really wanted to add "Do I show my mom I love her enough?"

Or what if your parents are aging, and you start wondering how many holidays they might have left with you.  Do you make them into bigger celebrations in some morbid "prove my love before he/she dies" kind of thing?


All of this seems like a lot of stress. 

I love my parents.  I hope my son loves me.  He texted me "Happy Fathers Day.  Relax and have lemonade!"  Which was nice, but I'm not sure on the whole lemonade thing.  I don't have any strong memories of us ever sitting back and enjoying lemonade together.  And I'm going to puzzle over that one for at least a few days.

Maybe we should get rid of these two holidays, and just tell the people in our lives that we appreciate, that we appreciate them. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Savage Worlds - Old West

KEJR ran a Savage Worlds one-shot last night at the Gopher.  (Best game store in town.) 

We were a group of old-west outlaws with a price on our heads.  The run started with us encountering a set of slightly less outlaw types who wanted to kill/capture us for the bounty.  We took them down fairly quickly, except that the very first round my character took two wounds, that he had for the remainder of the night.

We met some city-slicker guy named Gabe, who gave us directions to a town - Revelation.  In the town, we met up with various people who had been killed by a corrupt Marshall that we knew from our outlaw days.  Except these people were all undead of one sort or another, and we had to take them down.

Eventually we met up with the marshall himself in th church.  A difficult fight ensued, but we won - only to meet some other guy named Lu who wanted us keep going down the dark side, while Gabe encouraged us to be good guys.   We eventually decided that maybe Gabe was a better friend that that Lu guy, and made the choice to try to be better people.

All in all it was a fun one-shot.  KEJR did an awesome job, as always.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Long time, no post...

I've been meaning to post, but I haven't had a reason to write much.

I've been trying to stop bashing Paizo in print (electronic or otherwise), so no matter how high my frustration level is with what's going on with the Paizo messageboards, I haven't commented.  Much.  Lately.  And I can't really go into any details without breaking my own posting fast.  (Though KEJR and I email back and forth a lot.)

My wife and I celebrated our 24th anniversary on Monday.  It was really a weekend of celebration.  We went to Silvercreek restaurant on Friday to see David Howie play.  (Local guitarist/singer/songwriter - he's really talented, and a very nice guy.)  We told him that we were celebrating our anniversary, and he sang "All you need is love" for us.  Very very cool!

On Monday, we went to Boomerangs because my wife wanted to see and possibly play in their open jam.  We had a great time, and she got up on stage to play for the first time in many years.  Awesome fun!

We did Trivia at another bar last night, and teamed with Team Funk.  We won the music round thanks to my wife's awesome song knowledge of 80's music.

But nothing controversial, or particularly interesting.

Tomorrow I have Pathfinder with KEJR's Council of Thieves game.  That should be great fun, and I'll hopefully write up a recap.

Other than that, I'm trying to get a lot of coding and hardware done before the end of the month trip to the Home Office.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Overlooked Sci-Fi Weapon of Coolness

I'm watching old Andromeda reruns, and I'm thinking that if I could only ever have one scifi weapon, this might be the one.

From Wikipedia:

The High Guard Force Lance (from Andromeda)

The Force Lance generally looks like a harmless metal rod approximately 1/3 of a meter in length which fires high energy plasma shots, but can extended to almost 2 meters and be used as a melee weapon. The Lance is keyed to its handlers DNA and can also be reprogrammed, a person will be electrically shocked when trying to use another's programmed Lance. It can also be used as a taser.
The Force Lance can launch a number of self-guided tiny attack drones (called “effectors”) that both target opponents and intercept incoming bullets and missiles.  It has a grappling hook function, it can be placed in a stationary position to be set on auto fire, & finally it can be used as a plasma grenade by setting it to overload.

So let's recap:

  • It's a quarterstaff
  • It fires plasma bolts
  • It's a taser
  • It fires self-guided drones that target either people, or incoming bullets and missiles
  • It has a grappling hook
  • It can work as a sentry gun
  • You can use it as a grenade (but then you don't have one anymore)
  • And...If anyone but you tries to use it, they automagically get tazed!!
Batman probably wishes he had one of these.