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Comment Re:Wear earmuffs. (Score 2, Interesting) 1019

A research lab at one of the big chip makers issued me earmuffs, as they did to all employees. Note: This is a research lab, which looks a lot like any cubicle environment at a company like Google, Microsoft, etc. This worked very well, and to this day, I consider noise-blocking earmuffs to be part of my office supplies.

Good noise-blocking earmuffs are better than earplugs. If they are of good quality, they will be more comfortable than all but the best headphones. Be careful, because many of these earmuffs are designed to block loud noises like jet engines, while letting in conversations. You do not want something that lets conversations in, but instead, muffs that block everything.

The best set I have found (other than very expensive examples) are the Bilsom Viking V3 earmuffs. See http://earplugstore.stores.yahoo.net/bilsom-viking-v3-1.html as one example.

When I am wearing my earmuffs, I can barely hear my phone ring. If someone walks up behind me and talks to me, I do not know they are there.

-Todd

P.s. One more important consideration is one way to block noise is to block air movement. Some inexpensive earmuffs do this, but it causes pressure issues in your ears, similar to pushing your hands against your ears (painful!).

You can tell whether a set of earmuffs is good by putting them on and then pressing the muffs tighter into your head. If the pressure goes up like you are in an airplane, these are cheap. The Vikings will NOT do this.

Comment Re:Hope he never gets funded again (Score 1) 79

Here is how the system works:

1. The inventor contacts WARF about a possible patentable idea. This might be done to help his/her students, as they get the patent on their resume if they are co-inventors. I believe the patent in question here is 6,658,554, which has one of Dr. Sohi's students as a co-inventor. Note: If you are going to search for Guri Sohi's patents, use his full first name, "Gurindar."

2. WARF decides whether or not to file for a patent.

3. If the patent is infringed, WARF goes for the money. Although, since some patents are in very specialized fields, this might require a quick email from the inventor or some other expert in the field in order to start the investigative process.

-Todd

Comment How WARF Works. (Score 4, Informative) 79

I was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin for 6 years, during which I was able to work with Guri Sohi as his teaching assistant, in addition to having many stimulating technical discussions.

WARF (Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, warf.org) helps faculty and students patent their ideas and protect the patents. Remember, a patent is only as good as the lawyers who are willing to go to court to defend it--as this WARF v. Intel situation has shown.

WARF was established in 1925, and helped the University of Wisconsin become one of the first academic institutions to take advantage of the patent system. The patent for including vitamin D in milk was the first big money winner for WARF and the university.

The system is driven by the inventor. If a faculty member or student has an idea they want to patent, WARF covers the expenses, provides help with prior-art, etc. efforts, and pledges to defend the patent. For this, WARF gets 80% of the patent revenues, which it puts back into research funding for the university. The inventor(s) receive 20% of the revenues. From what I have heard, this is a larger percentage than that given to the inventor at many other institutions.

-Todd

Comment The problem of single-location is more important. (Score 4, Insightful) 266

The problem of having the data in a single location is probably more of an issue than the type of media because of fire or other physical damage rather than the issue of lifetime.

If you decide to back up the data on writable DVD, you have a lifetime of 2-10 years. With flash, (e.g., a thumb drive,) the general advertised time is 10 years. Even if there is a medium which guarantees a longer period, you still have the problem of multiple secure sites.

You can solve both problems at once by going with an on-line data warehouse who will guarantee data integrity and mirrors data to multiple locations. This leaves the issue of media life to them, and solves the multiple-location issue.

Cheers!

-Todd

Comment I like the way draftsmen write. (Score 1) 857

I have known a few architects (buildings and landscapes) and drafters. These people all took a technical drawing course in college in which they had to learn to print nicely.

I *REALLY* like the way these people write. It is stylish and very legible. I have even asked one to write out an invitation (which I had printed) to give it a more individual look.

Maybe we should be teaching this to our children.

Of course, if you do not teach people how to read cursive writing...

-Todd

Comment Re:Porting code to a new architecture (Score 1) 521

What is involved in porting code to a new chip? I've done some programming in my life, but it has mostly been limited to personal interest and school projects. I imagine it can't be as simple as just recompiling. So what does it take to port code?What are the hurdles? Assume (accurately) that I'm a total noob.

The main issue will be handling of virtual page tables in the OS. The code for x86 will not work for ARM.

There will be some other issues with the boot sequence (BIOS), and of course the need to be able to drive the devices attached to the ARM, as some people have noted with respect to getting Linux to run on the ARM-based netbooks.

I expect the code base for Windows has been hacked for so many years by so many different people that moving it to another architecture would not be as easy as it is for Linux. But, a good team should be able to do it. Perhaps Microsoft took this possible future into consideration and cleaned up a lot of the code when they did Windows 7.

-Todd

Comment Re:What about Chinese nationals? (Score 1) 382

While I certaily wasn't at that talk (and I suspect that neither were you), I'm willing to bet that you don't completely understand what the talk was about. ... The problem isn't one of ethics, but one of culture. The Chinese don't regard plagiarism the same way we do - in fact, the educational system encourages it in a way as it is an honor, of sorts, to 'plagiarize' your mentor...

I was at the talk. I understood the problem to be what one culture considers ethical, another might not. Thank you for clarifying this. Since I did not grow up in China, I do not understand the issue as well as someone who did, but I now feel I understand it better than I did.

Thank you,

-Todd

Comment What about Chinese nationals? (Score 4, Interesting) 382

(The following discussion is based on real experiences and is not meant to profile people, but to state facts.)

This is really ridiculous. If the Chinese want to steal our technology, all they have to do is to contact several of the thousands of Chinese nationals who are working in the US until they find someone who needs money or other help for their family back in China.

One company I worked for had a Chinese national who was not allowed to work on part of a project because it was protected technology. The same person could have dropped the entire project onto their iPod and carried it out the door, but did not.

The ethics problem is represented by an experience I had while at an American research university. A Chinese faculty member met with the Chinese students in order to tell them in America, cheating and other ethical breaches are not considered a good way to get ahead. This suggested certain cultural differences which should not be used to discriminate, but need to be recognized because of the risks involved.

-Todd

Comment Re:Most OSes fall under the claims of this patent. (Score 2, Interesting) 304

Jerry, Thank you for pointing out my omission of the networking requirement. I am not a lawyer, but I have worked on a few patent cases as an expert, so I know to read the patent before talking about it, even if I am not as careful as a lawyer at reading over it. :-)

I believe the networking requirement you mention will be fulfilled by any system which needs to use a network to validate user information from a central source, such as kerberos authentication or Windows Active Directory mechanisms. Of course, LDAP was mentioned in the patent, but these go beyond LDAP.

These thoughts come after less than an hour of investigation. It seems strange Facebook could not come up with something compelling...

-Todd

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