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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2575 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Are we in the middle of a PATENT BUBBLE?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Or make patent duration variable?

In some sectors you can innovate quickly, and long duration patents can stifle innovation (potentially). In other sectors, innovation is slower, and patent duration might be longer.

Of course, you then end up with a question on how to judge the duration per domain, but it is worth a thought.

As others have said, the USPTO spends to little time evaluating patents. Things are a good deal better here in Europe, where investigation into prior art is generally quite thorough (as I noticed when I was (co-)inventor on a patent).

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Wouldn't it be simpler if patents were non-transferable?

This could actually harm inventors. If I invent something, I might be better off selling my patent to a company capable of producing and marketing it and policing for infringement of the patent, rather than doing all that myself. After all, many inventors do not have the capital and resources to police a patent properly, and fight legal battles against potentially very wealthy players. I could of course sell a unique, non-transferable license for production or marketing, but what of the policing bit, would the license holder do that?

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Ginormous sunspot spews solar guts towards Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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It is a peak in the current cycle

But to date (as a sunspot observer for quite a while), I have seen far fewer sunspots now than in the maximum around 33 years ago when I started, even though I have a bigger scope than I had in those days. So while the 11 year cycle is more-or-less on course in terms of the period, the whole 11-year wiggle seems to be superimposed on a downward trend. The last minimum was amazing. Months might go by without a single spot. I never witnessed that in the first cycles I observed.

They don't make sunspots like they used to! ;)

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Maggie Philbin on tech, teens and cardigan fear

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Loved watching Tomorrow's World too

However, in a long piece about British Engineering and/or current lack thereof, can we let this pass: We mention ENIAC, but not Colossus? Especially following the brilliant bit on BBC last weekend on Bletchley Park's lost heroes (William Tutte and Tommy Flowers). Told me bits of computer science history I did not know, and I work in computer science.

The comment on ENIAC was logical in context (given women involved). It is surprising how hard it is to get girls into science and engineering over here in the West. I was at a conference on image processing last September and many women presented really good work (no surprise to me), and the vast majority were from India or China.

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Mars probe crippled by buggy SSD successfully jury-rigged

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Awesome!!

I think I will use this as an example of the awesome things computer science brings us when we have our next open day for potential students on coming Friday (apart from a host of other, more mundane examples)

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Miley Cyrus cracker: 'I'm too short for the slammer!'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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In the Netherlands 5'6" is very short

At a shade under 5'11 (1.80m) I was the third shortest guy in my year

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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In the Netherlands 5'6" is very short

At 1.80m (just shy of 5'11") I was one of the shortest guys in my year when I left secondary school. In the US I gather my length fairly average. 5" shorter would be quite short then.

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Record flight is step toward HYPERSONIC SPACE AIRSHIP

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Dark Sky Station

Now there is a now to conjure up a super-villain image.

Where is that white Persian cat got to now!

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OpenBSD 5.0 reveals MAD-themed release

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Ah, finally!!!

An OS suitable for mad scientists!!!!

IGOR, DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL IT!!!!!

I can feel an extra exclamation mark coming on!!!!!!

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Wooden Mars ark voyagers set to step out on Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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It might work psychologically

but what about radiation issues?

Besides, the stresses involved are way higher on the real trip, because the chances of anything going wrong are higher in a real ship, and the chances of anyone from outside being able to help if something goes wrong are effectively zero.

Still good that someone is still working on manned missions.

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Official: Kindles get heavier as you add e-books

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

What? No reference to L-space theory?

Mine is the one with "Small Gods" in the pocket.

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This weekend: First ever iPADS IN SPAAAACE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Apple iPads? But we ordered a few kg of Granny Smiths!!

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CERN boffins re-running neutrino speed test

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Yeth, marther!!

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Windows XP and iPod: A tale of two birthdays

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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What I REALLY did not like in XP, as I had to move from 2000

was the lack of proper separation between admin and user.

At home, I had to prevent the missus from removing such unimportant items as command.com in earlier Windows incarnations, so quite early on I installed Windows NT 4.0. Later I moved to 2000 rather than going through 95, 98 and (shudder) Millennium. I did not like the level of privilege I had to give users on XP, when that became the next step (as MS throttled support for 2000).

Windows 7 is a good deal better than XP in many ways.

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Apple gets patent for ‘unlock gesture’

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

was that not on the xxxPad

Sorry, couldn't resist

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Allowing patents for prior art is USPTO standard practice

This is how patent trolls work: scour the literature for interesting ideas, apply for a patent, and sue anybody using it EXCEPT the guy who came up with the idea in the first (he could too easily take you to the cleaners, if he works for a big company, if not sue him too).

USPTO: Fire the lot of them, and replace them by half the number of competent people

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Many phones out there do just as described above

So it is still too flaming obvious.

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Last mystery of first recorded supernova laid to rest

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Yes, and the other major type is II

"nearby" galaxy M101 is currently (well, millions of years ago, but now in out frame of reference) host to a type Ia supernova. It was visible in binoculars just a few weeks ago, but now is borderline in my 8" scope.

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Massive study concludes: 'Global warming is real'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Which has happened before.

There are now indications that the ice sheets withdrew at a huge rate at the end of the last ice age. The same seems to happen at the start. Initially people thought ice ages centuries or even thousands of years to get started or to end, now people are looking at much shorter periods. It seems climate can flip faster than was thought before. Some mass extinctions might be linked to these rapid flips (in particular the megafauna extinction at the end of the ice age).

I for one think it is good to have better data. By research standards not a huge amount of money was spent (one PhD position in our neck of the woods), and if we have better data, we have a better chance of understanding.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Many people do:

My cooking range and central heating are gas-fired. Replacing all the incandescent bulbs by fluorescent lights saved us a significant portion of our energy bill.

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Intel, MS destined to remain tablet underdogs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Linear growth?

I am somewhat puzzled how they predict this linear growth based as it seems on two data points: 2010 and 2011. OK mathematically that defines a line, but will markets not become saturated after a while? Some error bars might not be amiss.

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Jobs: 'I'll spend my dying breath destroying Android'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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As I recall

a law suit was threatened by Xerox, and Apple hastily withdrew its case against Microsoft on "look and feel"

The case was settled, making it legal in retrospect, I guess.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Palm OS

seems to spring to mind unbidden

Does anyone see similarity between iOS components listed above and my ancient Tungsten T3 (grid of icons, lack of buttons, soft keyboard when needed)? Apple may have put them together in a better sleeker way, but they did not invent that stuff. This fits in with earlier Apple history (Xerox work on GUIs anyone). Again, Apple may have combine elements better than others before, and that is to be applauded, but they also often stood on the shoulders of giants.

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Crap alchemist jailed for poo-into-gold experiment

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Shit happens

so they say

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Microsoft's saucy compiler exposes privates to devs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Rewriting compilers from C++ to Basic and C#??

Is this me, or does this remind others of Niklaus Wirth's (failed) attempt to write a Pascal compiler in FORTRAN?

Or are they just modifying the compiler to make interim listings available in C# and Visual Basic showing the transformations performed by the code optimizer (in much the same way as the Cray FORTRAN and C compilers I used in the 90s?

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Jobs was 'working on future product day before he died'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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However

The claim that Steve Jobs may have had a good idea for a product the day before he died is still more believable than a similar claim about Steve Balmer on any arbitrary day.

More seriously, though I am not an Apple user in any form, I do not find the former claim beyond the realm of the possible. Though the story does have a strong ring of spin on it, it may well be true, and it may be a bit cynical to reject it off-hand (though cynics are right depressingly often). Trying to keep working may be a good way of keeping your thoughts off what must be scary to anyone. It can also take your mind off pain, or give you some positive feeling.

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0.5mm2 ARM chip offers 5X energy efficiency, jacks up performance

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Sounds neat!

We are living in amazing times, aren't we. At some point you will hold the compute power and memory storage of a Cray Y-MP in your pocket.

At which point it becomes possible to run MS-Office 2010

;-)

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Japanese take World Solar Challenge

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Cheers to the lot of them

Glad to see the Dutch team on the podium (as me mum is Dutch), kudos to Tokai and Michigan too of course!

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Ballmer disses Android as cheap and complex

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Balloon, buffoon, baboon, they all mix nicely to spell Balmer, don't they?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Balmer apparently needs to vent vast quantities of hot air from time to time, or else he might burst.

(Oh bleeding hell, now I cannot get that image out of my mind).

If he means what he says, Microsoft shareholders might be in for a rocky ride, if he stays at the helm.

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Team Philippines solar car in self-combustion drama

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

They just look at the situation through rose-tinted rather than polarizing glasses

I'm on my way

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Michael Dell declines to eat his Apple (humble) pie

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

@Steve Evans

"In the parallel universe where 1997 saw the end of Apple, I don't think anyone will be casting any blame for not sticking with it. Jobs pulled off a 1000:1 shot."

I think it was a million-to-one shot, and everybody knows you can always pull those off! Just ask Sergeant Colon

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Man 'drinks 2 pizzas' before skidding off road

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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The real question is

Did he put the pizza or his brains in the blender.

By bet is on the latter

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DeLorean goes electric for 2013 roll-out

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

"... whereas if you open a normal car door six inches you couldnt get a sheet of paper out , never mind a person!"

Certainly not certain American persons

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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But will it do time travel?

Or can it not hit 88 mph?

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Hundreds of Mr A N OTHERs discovered on payrolls

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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there was a BOFH episode

featuring:

A.N. Other

C. Omputer (you mean Chaz!)

and many others, all receiving payment as consultants

great epsiode

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Back to the Future DeLorean to go under the hammer

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

stop this sketch

it's getting silly

The Rt Hon. Major Smyth-DeVere-Charteris, in a sauce of green herbs

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Intel mad for power, but stacked-up dies keep MELTING!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Wasn't he a pet halibut?

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Ubuntu's Oneiric Ocelot: Nice, but necessary?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

What will be the next names?

Some modest proposals:

Peripatetic Panther

Querulous Quagga

Revolting Rhino

Sociopathic Salamander

Maybe I should not get into marketing

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BOFH: Where's my free fondleslab?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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@Chriss007

exactly, the editors may expect a visit with a cattle prod.

or a modded security robot

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Iranian TV claims royals ordered Ofcom to ban it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Old men shouting at pigeons often make more sense

Millennium hand and shrimp, buggrit, buggrit. I told em, I told em, I told em, I told em. They'd only run out. Doorsteps!

Mine's the long trench coat.

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Solar car teams bask in Darwin sunshine

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

And of course

WHY on earth would you bring a trailer full of cans of "Bud" to Australia when you can drink Aussie beer?

Mine's a James Boag's please.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

And under the hood of the solar car

are hundreds of duracel bunnies

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AMD 'unleashes' unlocked FX processor family

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Could be of use to me though

I write some heavily multi-threaded stuff at work, and could test these when working at home before running it on the 24-core Opteron beasts we have here. We should be getting a 48-core one shortly, but maybe I will delay the purchase until the 64-core versions with Bulldozer cores come out. For our research purposes, testing for scalability over many cores is more important than absolute speed. For production machines, that changes, of course.

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Gigantic KRAKEN fingered in prehistoric murder mystery

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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So I guess nobody

wants to welcome are hyper-intelligent qiant kraken overlords?

I'll have mine sliced, battered, and deep fried (and with garlic sauce)

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Solarcars are hot!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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A stabilizer requires extra weight, complexity and electricity, all of which come at a premium in these vehicles, I would guess. There may also be regulations against it.

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Post-pub nosh deathmatch: Kapsalon v quesadillas

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Will you compare it to:

Deep-fried pizza?

I have never tasted (not do intend to taste) this artery clogging horror, but I would be interested in a fair comparison. All in the interest of science, of course.

Beer, because it is Friday afternoon.

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Gay-bashing cult plans picket of Steve Jobs funeral

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Shouldn't be any such thing as hate crimes

If people beat people up, that's bad: agreed, it's just the level of badness that is at stake.

In my book at least, it is worse if someone beats you up because he hates the group you belong to, rather than, e.g., what you said about him or his mother, or because you took a swing at him. There is even a sort of "bad sense" in mugging: people do it for profit. It is definitely bad, but not as bad as an unprovoked attack based on a person's religion, race, or sexual orientation.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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or

let every male mourner embrace, and perhaps even kiss a male protester (I realize this requires setting aside your natural revulsion, but be strong!!).

For a nice touch add: "I forgive you."

I think this might freak these guys out, and they could hardly sue you for it, you are merely following the example set by by Christ, showing love to thy neighbours.

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Quote of the Week: 'I shave my balls for this?'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

"Now is the time to take advantage of the large webOS user base."

What? Both of them?

Sorry, I like WebOS, I even got the SDK out of curiosity as a long time user of Palm hardware (my Tungsten T3 was only retired last year). The joke is bittersweet in that a good idea seems to have been ruined by bad marketing. The HP statement is just surreal.

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