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Comment patents and engineering (Score 5, Insightful) 179

As an engineer, I thought I would point out there are two ways we deal with patents:

Method 1: Once you have an idea, do a thorough patent search and verify your idea does not appear to violate any patents. If it does, re-design the widget so it avoids the patent.

Method 2: Ignorance is bliss. Design and build it.

I can tell you, if you use method 1 you will need an enormous staff and risk never getting anything done. Despite it all, you still won't be safe because someone will come along with patent claims anyway, even though you did a most thorough due diligence search. I'm not saying you ignore patents, that would be unethical. Company I work for has a record of the patents related to our products that we have been made aware of. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to go looking for trouble.

Comment Patents won't stop you (Score 4, Insightful) 179

Patents won't stop you from building a couple of devices in your garage; but, they'll be as useful as bricks. You have to get the radios FCC certified and then run the gauntlet of certification hoops to convince the cell provider to allow you to connect your garage built device to their network. There are radio modules available that would speed up the process -- basically pre-certified modules that handle the entire cell phone function. You might be able to do it using these... But they're huge, relatively speaking. You won't be building a sexy device like a Galaxy S, iPhone, or Droid with them.

We've done it on equipment we're designing for deployment; but, I have the advantage of being able to call Verizon and say, "I'm Confused, an electrical and software engineer with Big-Company. I am using a cell radio module from A_well_known_manufacturer. I need to activate it on our account for testing..." And, by the way, we won't do that until we're pretty damn sure the thing will work right.

Comment Re:Fracking is dangerous... (Score 1) 114

it will make it less likely to erupt

Uh, no. First, you'll not affect the upwelling of heat from the lower mantle. Second, you might increase the viscosity in the localized region around the well, which might have the opposite effect by forcing any upwelling magma to seek other directions for expansion, should there be pressure to expand. Third, if the water does ever reach the magma, it will enhance the probability of an eruption.

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