October News

The importance of Prior Art

Prior art for Apple slide to unlock

Upheld in multi-billion dollar patent infringement case Slide to unlock and rounded corners on a rectangle.

September was an interesting month on patents
We are not patent lawyers, but as technical folk, cannot understand how people knowing so little about patents were allowed to be jury in a multi-billion dollar case. It just reinforces our view on prior art and software disclosure.

The case of Apple against Samsung has some serious implications in the abuse of the patent system. One would also imagine that experts in patent law would be involved in a multi-billion dollar claim, or that prior art would be admitted (standard for invalidating a patent), but that was not the case.

In light of our customers wishing to save a few billion dollars when the fruit logo company's legal army approaches, we offer some prior art for the next touch screen that needs to use the “Slide to unlock” concept. The door shown is a few hundred years old (around Kyoto — photo courtesy of Bruce Clark). Folks in other locations can go to their nearest cathedral or castles for similar sliding prior art.

Old radio

Yesterday's state-of-the-ark technology

Old radio

Different user interface?

Digital Signage

At the ElectroneX show last month, there was a launch by Congatec announcing an Australian office. They have Qseven modules and many ideally suited to digital signage.

Do the radios alongside have enough differences in their user interface to avoid the modern interface wars being waged in courtrooms around the world where lawyers get paid enough to bother with the mundane?

Advances in storage technology

Shrinking storage


Digital signage in the past relied on bulky PCs attached to equally bulky screens. Storage required a large hard drive, which did not last too long in hot climates where panels are not airconditioned. That has been overcome with updates over Ethernet, the Internet, mobile phone modules, however, data rates in many countries are high for large files typical of video or digital media. How do you solve that? In the photo on the left, the stiffy disk on top of the keyboard had enough storage for roughly 1,4 million characters. The two SanDisk solid state drives are each 8GBytes, more than three thousand times as much storage as the stiffy drive. DVDs can store 4,7 GBytes on a single sided commodity disk, but posting it is a lot more difficult than the small solid state disks, and housing the disk is much easier for the smaller solid state devices. Do we see a future for small embedded boards with lots of storage for the digital signage market? Absolutely!

Tales from the woods

Tree house in Adelaide Hills

Tree House near Mt Barker —  on the road to McLaren Vale over the Adelaide Hills

We have seen tree houses built for the young, but this is one that must have been built by the young for the old! The hill already has a stunning view, but this is another of those ideal spots to sip red wine and indulge in a few lines of software. A laptop would be required, as no power lines spoil the view. If we ever get to meet the construction team, we'll add in a story.

Trees near Meadows

Near Meadows —  Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills

Last month we traveled from Adelaide, to Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and back over the Great Dividing Range. In the Fleurieu Peninsula we have winter rainfall, so the Adelaide Hills and surrounds are looking particularly green. So much so, that the $1,8 billion Desalination plant is rumoured to be mothballed. Soon the dry period kicks in, and the grass turns brown. The vines will still be green, but then perhaps the eastern coast will look better than the Adelaide Hills. Brisbane was dry last month and we expected to see fewer gum trees in a subtropical climate. This picture was taken a few kilometers from McLaren Vale, near Meadows.