Nov 19, 2011 at 11:50
My godmother was an unmarried aunt who was extraordinarily smart – with a first class honours degree in English and the scary ability to learn a new language every year – and reached a high level in the British Civil Service. But she was also an argumentative, selfish woman who thought, for example, that Christmas for her godson involved the purchase, every year, of a new pair of slippers. She would spitefully use the tip of her umbrella to create space on her standing-room only commuter train and accused one of my brothers of poisoning (with alcohol) her pet budgerigar (not an impossible theory, at all), and put herself in a pit of gloom when her last conversation with her mother – my paternal grandmother – was actually a full-face verbal fight.
But she was also a delightful woman in some respects; she regularly took me to Gilbert and Sullivan performances of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company at the Savoy with a dinner treat either before or after. How grown up I felt eating a gam...
Nov 12, 2011 at 11:40
I met my first patent pirate about fifteen years ago. He was a lawyer who specialized in buying patents in the electronics sphere that were close to expiry. He then used them to whelp companies into financial submission with the threat of court actions.
The first of those patents concerned the storage of video line information that could then be read out at a different or more stable rate than the input. It was not a very solid patent and could be – and actually was – successfully contested with the patent office because of an incredible amount of prior art. But that was not before a number of manufacturers paid the man off so that the problem would go away: a great deal cheaper than fighting it through the courts.
The patent was broken by a friend of mine who didn’t allow his company (Japanese) to be blackmailed into submission and fought it for a couple of years. I got involved by foolishly trying to broker a settlement. It did not happen until the man went away empty-handed.
Nov 6, 2011 at 4:46
There can be little argument in our modern world that bad science is prevalent. Climate scientists, for example, have to endure the rantings of pseudo-scientific pundits who will postulate that because it snowed somewhere, then global warming is a lie. Whatever their reasons for the strange positions they take, these people would like nothing better than for the scientists to come on their shows and engage with them. That, however, is one way of giving some credence to the idiocy; the best minds out there will have no part of it and decline such invitations.
The same thing may be true for the news item (would someone define ‘news’ for me?) in the New York Times wherein a computer scientist (another term that surely is a non sequitur) has decided that a device such as a Kindle gets heavier when you load more data into it. “Although the total number of electrons in the memory does not change as the stored data changes, the trapped ones have a higher energy level than the untrapped ones&hellip...