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1 year Transistorized

Yup, that's right! Today marks a year since I moved to this domain. Now this is calling for some stats to the rescue. Since June 2016 I wrote 23 posts, which compared to 2015 is exactly 50 % less. I hope this trend does not end up following Zeno's paradox, but hopefully 2016 would just be archived as a local minimum. The majority of these posts are an offspring of travels, hence the quality... and perhaps quantity in 2016.

Anyway, let me share something. The name of this domain (which I still think isn't sparkling of uttermost cleverness) was inspired by a word printed on the first ever very high volume mass-produced portable transistor radio, which pretty much revolutionized the way we receive information. This was the TR-55, behold:

The first very high volume mass-produced transistor radio - TR-55

See? - it's T R A N S I S T O R I Z E D :)

Btw, I am now partly working on my final "long" paper, and pretty much write circuit related stories all day every day. So yes, catch you in my next post which might again be a philosophical one... just releasing the steam with philosophy doctrines here...

Date:Thu Jun 22 21:39:48 GMT 2017


On the phenomenon of rubbish patents

a train of thoughts written on a train

You are starting your next venture with a brief search on what has been done before. Stumbling across some patents you get excited and start exploring the database vigorously. It isn't too late that you realize that something doesn't feel quite right – nearly 2/3 of the patents you come across are vague and do not make sense. You then morph into a questioning phase, but why?

All granted patents in the databases have a certain role. They are like the bureaucrats in the public sector: some are completely useless, others a bit pointless, you can also find a few good ones. But why is it that the majority is rubbish? The short answer would be that a patent's purpose is to protect someone's intellectual property from misuse, but a large portion are instead used for image forgery and lobbying. The long answer, however, is a bit more involved and perhaps cannot be answered by a few lines. But, let me try to elaborate on what I think can be defined as rubbish, and later on state my views for the utopian world of patents.

So, what's a rubbish patent anyway? These are patents which include methods or apparatus with false claims, have never been or ever will work. Usually submitted by universities or companies which are hopelessly trying to boost their sell value by enriching their patent portfolios. Similarly, university professors sometimes use the patenting strategy to provide that kick which makes the graduation of the lower performing PhD students possible, or perhaps why not even justify project money funded by the taxpayer, easy huh? In the end, who doesn't get impressed by a few US/EU patents backing-up a CV. These patents are generally harmless, except for the disturbances caused in the public monetary balance.

The other, and more prominent, type of bullshit patents are the ones filed by patent trolls, whose sole purpose is to milk someone legally. Patent trolling is usually done by individuals (typically well trained lawyers) who issue or buy patents from a bankrupted company and then attempt to enforce patent rights against accused infringers far beyond the patent's actual value or contribution to the prior art. Patent trolls do not really create products or supply any services based upon the patents in question. These are perhaps a bit less of a problem in Europe than in the U.S. because Europe has a fairer loser pays the trial costs regime. But still, this kind of trickery is harmful to all sensible companies who add value to society, and objectively, the end users are the ones who suffer and have always been covering the mess.

Patent trolling is just a product of a lawyer's imagination, does not contribute any value to society, should be regarded as crime; and must be eradicated. That's probably easier said than done, but here's my suggestion for Intellectual Property (IP) handling in an utopian world.

My vision for the patenting system in a dreamland is not to have it in the first place. Eradication of the whole scheme would mean two tings; all harmful trickeries rooting from the law system would vanish and competition would solely be driven by creativity, leading to an even faster technological development. Having no secrets in science and engineering means that to be better one will have no other option but to expand his/her creativity, instead of trying to hide, protect, and waste energy on lawsuits. You might argue that once we lift IP protection some companies will go bankrupt, while others will just cheat by keeping secrecy (which happens nowadays anyway and is totally fine). Well and here is my point, lifting the patenting barriers will only work if, and only if, IPs are always shared and open which isn't particularly easy to enforce.

The last is likely to be the most mountainous issue which is typically encountered in all utopian dreams – you can't re-program people's brains overnight. We need someone like Rotwang, popping out the dungeons of Metropolis to ring that global brain-resonance tuning bell, but this only exists on film reels. Until then, it seems like we'll have to accept things as they are, and stick living in a world stuffed with patent lawyers, bullshit patents and inefficiency.

Date:Thu May 23 06:44:49 GMT 2017


Live demo of the column-parallel ADC testchip

I was lucky enough to have my work accepted at IISW this year. As you may notice the technical program is really crammed. I have 9 minutes to present my work and results, which spans next to impossible. Thus, I decided to create a follow-up video to the presentation which was placed in the last slide. A cheeky way to get away in case the conference presentation gets horribly wrong.

So here's a brief demo, enjoy:

Also, be warnined! A few words are verbally misplaced in my explanations and I don't necessarily mean everything I say in this short clip. Looks rather amateurish, but at least I tried :)

Date:Mon May 16 09:48:03 GMT 2017


Rustic Runes

The year is 2747. The AI apocalypse in 2314 has been long forgotten now and new intelligent biological life forms craving for new information start to emerge. But what's left on Earth now are scattered Runestones with odd mystic symbols. Where could all those runic stamps be coming from?

AI-modified runestone in the county of Östergötland and Linköpings kommun, Sweden

Hehe, I just can't help not pointing out the horrific lens chromatic abberation in my picture...

Date:Mon May 1 12:18:04 GMT 2017


Stitching panoramic die images

The practical definition of dog work

Our lab has a neat brand-new-car-worth Nikon optical microscope... Great!... hehe, except that it's useless... It has a very small field of view together with a very large minimum magnification factor of x10. All of that resulted in a lot of dog work till I acquire a simple panoramic image of a chip.

To distill something good from all the drudgery involved I decided to create a fast-forward timelapse of the whole process. Behold, my artsy creation:

Date:Mon May 3 18:23:11 GMT 2017