"Flash of Genius" movie

On Sep 26, 12:38am, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:


SR-71 and intermittent wipers are two different types of ideas.
What could any one guy on the SR71 team, any of 'em, have done by themselves?
Little ideas count too. I had a microwave that had one damn nice feature. Most microwave turntables, the dish spins at some rate that just seems reasonable. Now, most things you nuke go in for a time that's a multiple of ten seconds. Spin that platter at any old rate, and the mug you put in is now hot, and the handle is pointing any old way, and chances are good you have to grab the hot mug, or bend over and reach over the steam. Now, spin that platter at 1 revolution per 10 seconds, and that handle is right where you put it.
Genius!
Dave
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Another thought is on low power cycles where the power is cycled on and off, where is that platter (and dinner) in relation to power on cycles?
Wes -- "Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
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On 26 Sep 2008 04:38:39 GMT, the infamous snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) scrawled the following:

How's the air up there, Curt? Pretty thin?

So, what petty idea was stolen from you to get you so vitriolic?

True, with the type of contracts they have to sign to get work nowadays. That's truly sad, too. The better companies share the wealth and/or fame with their more inspired workers. THAT is the way it should be, at least in most instances.

I haven't yet seen the movie, but to hear you rant like this without having seen it is quite interesting. Tell us the real story behind your acrid response, sir.

Just -try- to tell me that you've never used them, Curt.
-- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw
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On Fri, 26 Sep 2008 06:54:44 -0700, Larry Jaques

It's always been thus at many or most large companies: in the "fine print" of the job application, it says that anything one thinks of, on or off the job, belongs to the company. In practice, that only applies to ideas relevant to the company's business: companies don't go after a guy who designs engines during the day and invents new fishing lures hoops nights and weekends.
My employer paid $1 for each patent filed back in the day. That was later increased to $1500 per patent.
I never knew an engineer or scientist who felt shorted by this approach. Engineers are paid to innovate and invent. It's part of their job. It's not an explicit job requirement, but those who do are usually better compensated and have more interesting assignments than those who don't.
Some feel that "the idea" is gold. In fact, there's a lot of work and investment involved in getting from "idea" to profit. If ya wanna be an inventor/entrepeneur, ya gotta do the whole job or get others to do for you. Many or most engineers don't want to mess with the many tedious and mundane aspects (and risks) of taking an idea from eureka to market success.
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wrote:

I'll never get another patent! Too expensive and the Russians ripped me off!
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Don Foreman wrote:

My employer paid $500 or $1k and I never felt shorted during the process, but 5 years later when the subpoena to defend the a patent that had been sold to a bunch of litigous trolls showed up 4 days before Christmas, I was way less than pleased. After spending a couple of days preparing and giving deposition, I felt distinctly screwed on that $500 or $1k.
Filing patents for your employer is a lot like signing up for the military in peacetime for their college benefits. You may get what you expected, but you may wind up getting a completely different education, at a time you did not expect.
BobH
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On Sun, 28 Sep 2008 03:30:39 GMT, BobH

Why? The $500 or $1K was an "award" or honorarium for assigning rights to said to your employer. Defending it is then his problem. If he needs your help, he should pay for your time and services like he does for any other time and services.

I'm seeing more gimmewhine than professional here. Signing with the military in peacetime or anytime conveys obligations as well as benefits. Well duh! The military does not exist primarily to provide college benefits. It exists to defend the nation against enemies foreign and domestic. There is never a guarantee that there won't be any enemies around during your service period. Pick yer pony, take yer ride.
If your employer wants your professional services to help defend his patent, fine. If he doesn't, that's his choice.
Part of being a professional is being ready to move at any time. The alternative is becoming an indentured servant in exchange for an illusion of security. Having to move can certaintly be very inconvenient and expensive. In my case, clear willingness to do it if and when necessary always made it unnecessary.
It would take singularly stupid management to piss off their most prolific inventors, but there's no shortage of stupid management and that does seem to be getting worse. My experience is dated, having been retired for 9 years now.
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Don Foreman wrote:

Every patent I have disclosed to an employer came with the express language that you would help them or their assignee defend the patent. There was no language in the subpoena suggesting that there is any compensation or anything other than negative consequences for ignoring it.

This is pretty much my point. Filling in the patent disclosure carries obligations as well as the payoff. It is completely obvious that signing up for the military carries obligations, that is why I used it for comparison.

I would have been fine with defending the patent if I had any connection to the litigants. That was the obligation I thought I was signing up for when I filed the disclosure. As it was, both companies were operations that I have very low regard for and unrelated to the company that I filed the disclosure to.

I think that the expectations between an employer and employee have changed. In todays engineering world, most employers will put you on the street if it solves a quartely cash flow problem. That lack of long term trust, means that employers cannot ask as much of the employee anymore. I have done two interstate moves for employers and at this point, I might do another one, but it would have to be to somewhere I want to go.

You picked a good time to retire. Engineering has changed markedly in the last decade. I have another 10 years to go before I retire.
BobH
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On Sun, 28 Sep 2008 16:19:06 GMT, BobH

Oh! I never encountered such a situation. It seems logical that they'd want to fairly compensate you for your time if they really want your willing help and counsel ... but lawyers do have their own peculiar sort of logic.
In my case, such activities were just another work assignment and part of the job.

I've had many people tell me that. I still occasionally see some of the good people I worked with. I'm very glad I was able to bug out when I did. I'd certainly be better off financially if I'd worked another 8 years to age 65, but I've never once regretted retiring when I did. All ya need is "enough", right?
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Larry Jaques wrote:

My inflation adjusted $0.75...
On the subject of intermittent windshield wipers and patents, one of the requirements for issuing a patent is supposed to be that the invention is not obvious to someone in the field.
People in the automotive engineering field drive automobiles, and anyone driving an automobile before / without intermittent windshield wipers was already manually operating them in an intermittent fashion under light rain conditions.
Based on that existing knowledge, automating the intermittent function would indeed be obvious and therefore a patent for such would be invalid whether issued to an independent inventor or an automobile manufacturer.
Pete C.
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Pete C. wrote:

As useless as it was before, I now see that there is *no* reason for a Patent Office, even for large companies. We can close it.
Until then, we can retroactively invalidate any patent claim by simply saying "Well, I see it's just obvious that you would invent this particular kind of assembly robot with these particular features operated in this particular way."
Genius is recognizing the obvious before everyone else. It should be rewarded.
--Winston
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Winston wrote:

Inventing a practical electric light - Genius Inventing the telephone - Genius Applying a timer to windshield wipers to do what people were already doing manually - Obvious
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Pete C. wrote:

People were already using candles, fireplaces and gas light. According to your criteria, the electric light is nothing more than another way to illuminate a room.
You were referring to Joseph Swann's 1878 invention, the one that he patented before Edison claimed it as his own, right?
Or were you talking about the 1839 arc lamp?
http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1330.htm

A faster, more convienient telegraph, invented 39 years before the telephone. Telegraph multiplexers proved you could place different audio frequencies on a telegraph line. Duplex telegraphs proved you could use the same line in both directions at the same time. Was the telephone such a great leap from that point intellectually, especially from our viewpoint in a spoiled, pampered future?

OK Pete, using your criteria these are all obvious and unpatentable, yes?:
* A clothes dryer that automatically sorts and folds your laundry.
* A kitchen robot that prepares 100's of your favorite dishes, just the way you like them.
* A robot in the back yard that keeps the lawn in trim, cares for your vegetable garden. Waters, weeds, mulches, fertilizes.
* A self - cleaning front yard that gathers and bales twigs and leaves for pickup.
* A robot that vacuums your living room and hallway; another that scrubs your kitchen floor: http://www.irobot.com/
* Another to do bomb disposal: http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid9
'Obviousness' is just another retroactive justification for theft.
--Winston
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"Winston" wrote:

You don't need robots for those jobs, we already have women!
Jon
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Jon Danniken wrote:
(...)

"The week was marked by a short burst of laughter followed by several sleepless nights on the couch."
:)
--Winston
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    [ ... ]

    The intermittent windshield wiper became practical when SCRs (Silicon Controlled Rectifiers) or power transistors and circuits like the 555 timer chip became inexpensive enough. The windshield wiper motor already had a set of contacts to open the circuit when the wipers reached the "park" position. All that was necessary was to kick the wipers on for a moment (through the "run" wire) to get past the park position, and then sit back to wait for it to park at the end of a single wipe. Then wait an adjustable time and kick again. Since the park contacts were not designed for that frequent a use (just once when you turned off the wipers when the rain went away) adding solid state components to it made it more reliable so you could depend on that to work.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
--
Email: < snipped-for-privacy@d-and-d.com> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
(too) near Washington D.C. | http://www.d-and-d.com/dnichols/DoN.html
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

(...)
I think the advent of the intermittent wiper and that of cheap, high power semiconductors is largely a coincidence. I do agree they were a match made in heaven regarding cost and reliability.
Heck, if they had though of it, the folks in Detroit *could've* made an 'intermittent' wiper control with a modified turn signal blinker relay as early as 1926!
http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/windwiper.htm
What combination of parts (within your easy reach) will be a revolutionary design feature *41 years from today*?
If you demonstrate it Monday afternoon, you will be a genius.
You can bet your bottom someone will come along on Tuesday morning and call it 'obvious'.
:)
--Winston
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    Indeed.
    Intersting. I would have sworn that all were vacuum powered at that time -- but apparently I just neve looked at a high-end car from that period -- or at least not with the idea of examining the windshield wiper motor. I do know that the vacuum-operated ones were really nasty, as when you were accelerating (and thus needed them most) they would slow to a crawl. :-)

    I don't know -- yet. For that matter it may be something which I have made and just take for granted, and nobody else knows about. :-)

    :-)
    Obvious to me, at least. :-)
    I do have a few patents (with the government having free access to them, because I was working for the government at that time, and they paid for the processing of the patents. :-) I considered each to be obvious to *me* at least - since I was the one who thought of them.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
--
Email: < snipped-for-privacy@d-and-d.com> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
(too) near Washington D.C. | http://www.d-and-d.com/dnichols/DoN.html
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DoN. Nichols wrote:
(...)

(...)
You are too modest, DoN.
--Winston
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wrote:

Unless you had a double acting fuel pump which gave vacuum for the wipers as well as pumping fuel. Common on the last Chevies to use vac wipers, as well as some AMC cars.

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