October 18, 2005

Great moments in interviewing

I was phone-screened by a recruiter at a Major Silicon Valley Company yesterday, and at one point, while I was describing my work history, he broke in and asked,

What's a Newton?

Ah, how soon they forget.

Posted by todd at 09:50 AM

October 17, 2005

open studios: the day after

Frankly, Open Studios didn't go all that well. Bishop and Tammy sold a few things, Forrest sold one print to a friend, and I sold squat. I was disappointed that ArtSpan seems to have done a poor job of promoting the event, as very few people who walked through the door were even aware that this past weekend was the official ArtSpam Open Studios Weekend ® in our neighborhood. Most of them just saw our sandwich board and wandered in off the street. These folks weren't really out to buy art, they were just out for a nice weekend stroll (and the weather was fantastic yesterday) and perhaps a few easily-found bargains.
Anyhow, I'm not sure Open Studios is the right venue for selling sculpture, or any kind of art over $100.

By the way, we're in the process of setting up a simple online shop where we can sell some of these pieces.

Posted by todd at 10:52 AM

October 14, 2005

Finished sprint triathlon...

Tammy and I did a trial "sprint" triathlon today, out at Treasure Island. This was roughly 1/2 the distance of a full Olympic triathlon: 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile ride, 5k run. Our friend Kelly was kind enough to babysit us and officiate.

It went really well-- we did a lot better than we expected. The only major mishap is that about 6 miles into the bike, my back wheel lost a spoke and warped. So I rode slowly back to the start point and did a 10k run instead.
Then, we raced back to SF to get ready for Open Studios tonight. And now I take a nap...

Posted by todd at 04:46 PM

October 11, 2005

Sexed Robots

It's kinda like Roomba with courtship dances: mating_robots1.jpg
mating robots
.
Posted by todd at 09:33 AM

October 03, 2005

Love this wine

St. Supéry 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon
Posted by todd at 07:20 PM

October 01, 2005

The USPTO Still Sucks

Back in 2000 I had an idea nutty enough to warrant filing a Preliminary Patent Application (PPA) with the US Patent and Trademark office (USPTO) to protect it. At the time, the USPTO had just started allowing electronic submissions of patents in addition to the usual paper submissions. After learning all of the hoops you had to jump through with a set of completely borken custom software tools that the USPTO had commissioned, I decided against doing an electronic submission and instead went with good ol' paper.
Now it's 2005 and the USPTO is now urgently pushing electronic submissions because they're completely drowning in patent paperwork. (For everyone who hasn't been following the news on this: the rate of US patent submissions has been growing exponentially every year.) If you go to the USPTO website, it's actually very difficult now to find information on doing paper submissions.
Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I decided to go ahead and try their new electronic submission system to see how it worked. I started by downloading their three separate (?) tools for creating the electronic submission, all of which seem to be cobbled together from chewing gum and spit, but with flashy US Dept. of Commerce logos splashed all over them. I have three main complaints about these tools:
  1. The UI is poorly designed. I could rant forever about specifics, but trust me, I've been using and building software for over a decade, and this stuff sucks in the worst possible way.
  2. They're Microsoft platform-dependent. You literally need Windows and Microsoft Word to create and submit an electronic patent application.
  3. They don't work, or if they do work, you'd never know it. They create a cryptic, complicated set of about 50 PDF, XML, XSL, and DTD output files, none of which really make sense...nor is is clear why multiple files are needed. The obscure "verification" functions in the tools, that allow you to view the resulting files, don't work.
Well, after I did finally manage to create all the requisite files (it took about a day, starting with what was a fully ready printable application), I went to submit them to the USPTO using their ePave tool (great name!)....and, the one and only USPTO server capable of accepting US electronic patent applications is down. And it's been down for two days now.
Posted by todd at 08:35 AM