Blog Post #336 Plagiarism has its price

Plagiarism has its price

From:   From a May 19th 2018 news article.

The title of this article is: Samsung owes Apple $1B — or maybe just $28M.  Now (a) that is a lot of money; and (b) there is a huge discrepancy between the two end points.

Seemingly the focus is this:  Samsung infringed upon three of Apple’s patented designs and two utility patents when it sold millions of obsolete phones several years ago.  Samsung ‘borrowed’ some designs. The question becomes while they ‘borrowed’ some component designs, they did not ‘borrow’ the entire concept.  

The trial might be related to other component issues.  I ‘complained’ a while back in a blog post that cars should have more standards – for example on my Nissan, the turn signal level is on the left and in my Chevy, the turn signal is on the right.  Likewise, the cruise controls on the Nissan are on the right and on the left for the Chevy. When I get in the car I sometimes run the wiper instead of getting the turn signal correct!!!. Now if (say) Chevy copied ALL of the Nissan turn signal / cruise control levels that would be worthy of a design infringement.  At the minutes level, if Nissan has a cruise control (no matter where it is) and they were the first company to have a cruise control, if any other car company has a cruise control (no matter where and how designed) would that be a infraction. Can a company (Samsung) take the ideas from another company (Apple) and ‘adapt’ them to their use?  Can a company (Samsung) take the ideas -AND – the design down to the size and shape – from another company (even if it makes perfect sense).

In education, I’ve had student papers that quoted other academic papers.  Generally the concept was one of “reasonableness”, and appropriate citations.  I remember a student who had paper after page; word for word; from another paper without a citation that (to me) justifie a failing grade for plagiarism).  But, if that student was using the concepts AND citing them or paraphrasing the concepts AND citing them, it would have been acceptable. (Plus the student’s paper was primarily ONLY the copied material).  If the student wrote a twenty page paper and used (say) two pages from one source (with appropriate citations or paraphrasing) would that be acceptable. He was building from another person’s concepts, but adding in many thoughts and his own ideas.

So, this trial (which might be done by total) has significant financial impacts (28 million verses 1 billion) but maybe even more legal impacts (like ‘my patented pencil has a long shape and lead (graphite) to write with; and any other pencil that is long and has graphite is an infringement’).

Patents are to protect ideas, products and inventions – but this is a gray area that needs clarification.  How much is too much in terms of copying a design specification?

We will find out more soon.

What do you think?


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Blog Post #335 Time to plant soybeans???

Blog Post #335 Time to plant more soybeans


We really are a global community.  I’ve talked before about flowers for Valentine’s Day coming from various places that grow flowers at that time of year.  Here is another article about that global community. The article focuses on my native state – Iowa. The article states that: “Fully one in four rows of Iowa soybeans end up in China, meaning that Iowa’s farmers are, essentially, being kept afloat by China’s middle class.  That’s 25% of Iowa soybeans – being loaded on ships and sent to China.

Now Iowa’s economy has other things, but if you have driven through Iowa, agriculture is still king.  There are fields after fields of corn, soybeans and other crops, followed by feed lots of cattle and pigs.

But, America is in a trade deficit with China.  According to this article, the trade deficit with China in 2017 was $375 BILLION.   But … we have trade surpluses with China in agricultural products – and in the case of Iowa, that is in soybeans and pigs.  

The current American administration wants to decrease the trade deficit.  That could happen with tariffs on incoming goods – like steel made in China.  While it would be good to raise the price of Chinese steel so that American steel companies could flourish, China talks of putting tariffs on American agricultural products – like soybeans and pigs.  The article suggests that an economic model of tariffs on some American products like soybeans could cause some counties to suffer job losses up to 40%. I can imagine driving through Iowa a few years after China put a high tariff on soybeans – and see field after field empty, town after town losing population, school districts cutting teachers pay and cutting sports and activities since the population can’t support the financial needs of the district.  

I’m not enough of an economist to know or recommend a solution.  Yes, get the deficit down; but keep our ‘hot’ products selling to China.  

The article also suggests that a 25% tariff on hogs would lower the price received by Iowa farmers for their hogs by about seven dollars – or almost at the minimum price it takes to raise a hog.  

In a global marketplace, it might be possible for China to encourage agriculture in Ethiopia  where they recently have been investing in that country. What if Ethiopia could become a soybean and hog exporter to China – without the tariff?  

On the other side, could Americans do without Chinese products?  In particular some of the various chips and computer equipment we use.  

In conclusion today, there are many questions and issues with a global economy and there are not many good answers.

What do you think?


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Blog Post #334 Keep the trains running!!!

Keep the trains running!!!


A few years back I was in the Washington D.C. area for an ABET meeting.  One evening, my friend and I went to a Washington Nationals baseball game.  We took the Metro from our hotel in Arlington, did a transfer to another Metro line and got to the game quickly.  

Of course after the game, it was the two of us and 50,000 other baseball fans getting back on the Metro (actually it worked out quite well).

Well, this article says that Qatar is trying to improve its image in the US (after some bad press  – and potential support of terrorism). And what better way that to keep the D.C. Metro trains running an extra hour – so those sports fans attending the Washington Capitals versus the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey playoffs can catch the train home.  

The article states:

“On Tuesday, Evans told The Washington Post that the tiny, wealthy nation of Qatar has agreed to pay the $100,000 fee to keep Metro open until 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, when the Capitals host Game 4.”  (by-the-way, the home team Washington Capitals lost to Tampa Bay – even with the support of the Metro)

The article later on says:

Maybe Qatar’s government thinks it curry favor with D.C.’s political class — which includes plenty of hockey fans — by helping them ride a train later at night? I don’t know.”

I’m sure Qatar got good publicity out of this move.  Not sure if Qatar would have supported longer hours in any other city out of good neighborliness – but sponsoring the Metro for longer hours was not lost on the Washington D.C. population.  

So, was it a gesture of good will – or a gesture of improving their image in the political center of the United States?

What do you think?

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #333 A King and His Crown?

A King and His Crown?


There are new techniques and technologies in almost everything these days.  Today I’m looking at 3D printed crowns for teeth.

It seems like in the past if your dentist needed a crown for a tooth, he/she put a Silly Putty like composite in your mouth where the crown was needed.  That composite hardened and the dentist sent it to a lab who made the new crown. The existing tooth was at the bottom of the composite, the teeth around the crown area were in the molding so the lab would know how tall it should be.  And in a few weeks, you were back at the dentist getting the crown inserted.

But, here in this Harvard Business Review article you see how this dentist is using 3D printing to create a new crown right in the dentist’s office.  

The article states:

About seven years ago I had chipped another tooth that required a crown and didn’t remember the process fondly. It required multiple drawn out — not to mention expensive — visits to my dentist. He first had to make a physical mold of my damaged tooth. The mold was sent out to a local dental lab to manufacture a permanent crown. In the meantime, I was sent home with the inconvenience of a temporary crown made of a cured composite secured with temporary cement. Weeks later when the permanent mold was back from the lab I was summoned to the dentist for another lengthy visit to secure the new crown in place.”

“I wasn’t a happy camper, facing the same fate seven years later.. However, this time instead of a physical mold my dentist inserted a digital camera in my mouth and the next thing I knew a digital image of my damaged tooth immediately appeared on a computer screen positioned right next to my dental chair. My dentist knows I’m a tech junkie so he went out of his way to demonstrate his new high tech capability. I watched my damaged tooth rotating in all of its 3D glory when he ran the design software to quickly and magically fit a digital crown on top of my chipped digital tooth. Voila! He even made a few manual tweaks to the digital crown using the computer aided design software, a little bit off the side here and a little smoothing there.”

One visit to the dentist and you are walking out with the new crown, not getting a temporary one and waiting weeks for the replacement.  

I have had teeth crowned in the past.  When the get the crown back from the labs it seems like the dentist has to use a rasp tool to get rid of some of the extra material on the new crown.  Plus it might be such that it might have to be rotated slightly – and then a soft mallet was used to force the new crown into the space.

3D printing can work on many things.  My 1952 Studebaker needs a new thing-a-ma-bob – and guess what AutoZone (or any of the other auto part stores just doesn’t have that thing-a-ma-bog for a 1952 Studebaker.  Maybe you can call a salvage yard and get lucky. They might have a 52 Studebaker sitting out in the yard someplace. They will search for it and see if the thing-a-ma-bob is okay on that vehicle.  

But now, with the right software and a 3D printer, the parts store can make the part for you on the spot – possibly even using the original design for the part.

And … in the future (still in research) are 3D printed biological items – lost a finger in an accident, get one printed – with organic materials, blood vessels and more.


What do you think?


Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #332 Spreadsheets to App Development

Spreadsheets to App Development


From this article, it seems like DashDash – a start-up company wants YOU to develop applications (apps) for your smartphone (or website or whatever) by using YOUR Excel skills!!

The article states: “One of the latest is a startup called dashdash, a startup out of Berlin and Porto that is building a platform for people, who might to be programmers but know their way around a spreadsheet, to use those skills to build, modify and update web apps.

The dashdash platform looks and acts like a spreadsheet up front, but behind the scenes, each ‘macro’ links to a web app computing feature, or a design element, to build something that ultimately will look nothing like a spreadsheet, bypassing all the lines of code that traditionally go into building web apps.”

So, if I understand this, my great Excel skills with some web app development understanding can generate a completed app.  That sounds cool to me.

The article continued: “That, in turn, is part of a bigger effort from Microsoft to catapult Excel from its reputation as a piece of clunky legacy software into something much more dynamic, playing on the company’s push into cloud services and Office 365.”

So, Microsoft – who has paid for the development costs of Excels thousands of times over; is trying to move to the next development product based on – you guessed it – Excel!!!  Sounds like genius to me!!!

What do you think?

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #330 Is my food safe?

Is my food safe?

From New Technologies in Food Safety:

Food safety is getting to be big business.  When a recent scare of e-coli bacteria in romaine lettuce caused both good and bad romaine to be pulled off shelves it cost producers money, in addition to grocery wholesalers, restaurants and others.  Was this an isolated problem – isolated to a particular farm or packing / distribution center? Was it human / animal contamination?

This article talks of three ways that technology is helping in food safety:

#1 Light-based Technology:

The website says:

“Scientists are studying the use of ultraviolet light, LED lights, and pulsed light and their ability to eliminate bacteria from food products such as fruit juices and milk. Before ensuring food safety, more work need to be done to determine how these light waves penetrate foods at varying degrees. As of now, light-based technologies can breakdown bacterial cells on the surface. However, the main issue remains with the penetration depth. Food safety professionals need to ensure that every part of the food product is hit with the light. Once light-based technology is more developed, it can be a cost-effective way to eliminate food contaminants without compromising food quality. “

#2 3D printed sensors

These sensors can tell if a product is fresh (particularly milk).  The sensor has a smart cap that can determine freshness.

#3 Ultra-sonic spray nozzle system

Some products are sprayed with various antimicrobials to stop food borne problems.  These new spray systems are smaller and can do a much better job of covering the food products.

The article says “In order to attain better precision, an ultra-sonic spray nozzle system uses 50,000 electronic signals per second to eliminate pressure and create a tighter uniformity in droplet size. This allows for a consistent dosing of up to 1,000 slices per minute. “

I’m glad that new research into new technologies and techniques for food safety are being developed.  Food poisoning and e-coli bacteria poisoning are not things I want!!!

What do you think?


Have a great day!!



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Blog post #331 Mom, I need to go to the Moon!!!

Mom, I need to go to the Moon!!


Sometime in the future: “Mom, I forgot to do my homework.  But everything I need is on Wikipedia – and a copy of Wikipedia is on the moon, so I need to go there!!!”

In an article called: “The Arch Mission Foundation and Astrobotic plan to send a microfiche library to the moon”, I learned that the Arch Mission foundation is writing Wikipedia contents and more on to nickel microfiche.  

The article states:

“All of the content will be stored on “nickel microfiche” — the text and images will be etched by laser onto thin sheets of nickel. Spivack told me that nickel should be able to endure the harsh conditions of the moon (“it’s essentially indestructible”), while the microfiche format won’t require a computer to read, just a really powerful optical microscope: “We don’t want to assume in the distant future that somebody has our operating system.”

“This lunar library will be stored on the surface of the moon. Spivack said the library can also be extended and updated in the future with more storage devices.

“The ultimate goal, he said, is “putting these archives of human knowledge around the solar system.”

So a thousand years from now – a visitor to the moon can see what was written about a lot of things from WIkipedia – and that it will be on the moon.


Over the years, different groups have put artifacts into building cornerstones and into time capsules.  Here is almost the ultimate time capsule in an almost indestructible format on the moon. While I doubt that I will ever physically make it to the moon, maybe my great-great (40 times of ‘great’) grandchildren will make it there and find out what our current thoughts from 2018 were like.  

So to Bruce White, the 41:  I hope you find out all about the mundane knowledge of 2018 in the year 3018!!!

What do you think?

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #329 So, where did this lettuce come from?

Where did this lettuce come from?

Part of this comes the May 14 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek and from

We have had warnings about romaine lettuce.  This article talks about container growing – in particular using the 40 foot long shipping containers that ride on trains and then loaded to trailer trucks.  Local Roots says:

“We design, manufacture and operate the world’s most productive indoor modular farming solutions. We believe the key to a more sustainable future requires eliminating supply-chain risks and undoing the commoditization of the food industry. That’s why our Local Roots Family is building a distributed network of cutting-edge farms throughout the world to grow the freshest, healthiest food possible.

They say that they use only 1% of the water that normal irrigation uses.  The growing process has technology to track growth, water recirculation. They can put the container ‘farms’ at food distribution centers to cut the supply chain to mere hours.  

One of the containers can yield as much as five acres of farmland in terms of lettuce in a shorter time.  

The Local Roots site says:  “We capitalize on our ongoing data collection in order to quantify the TerraFarm environment. Through computer vision and deep learning we created a neural network that diagnoses and monitors plant health, allowing TerraFarmers to streamline quality control.”

Might this be the produce growing solution for the future?  WIth control over the growth of vegetables – not too hot, not too cold, the right amount of water, control over various organisms that cause e-coli and other food recalls.  With the right equipment, people in Bismarck North Dakota can have fresh produce in January grown in their town at a reasonable price.

What do you think?

Could this be a game changer for farming?

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #328 Excuse me, what did you say?

Today I’m looking at using artificial intelligence for hearing.

The article is:

The article indicates that research is going on in a lot of areas.  Voice to text translators are growing as well as artificial solutions that can translate voice into sign language.  One company, SignAll has an array of cameras that uses computer vision and natural language processes to translate sign language into text.  

Another area is with closed captioning.  We are familiar with closed captioning on our TV sets, where the computer translates the verbal comments into text that scroll on the screen.  In particular I like this is crowded restaurants where you can’t quite hear the TV set, you you can read the closed captioning. With better algorithms (that is artificial intelligence) you can get better text displays.  

In a related hearing aid area, technology is advancing better hearing aids.  These will fit better and will adjust to different situations easier. The article states: “The AI assistant reportedly aids in the process of adjusting the sound processor to a comfortable and effective fit for the cochlear implant recipient. Specifically, this process is known as ‘fitting” or “programming” and is essential for establishing and balancing loudness and softness of sound. Essentially, FOX [the name of the system] helps to predict the best fit.”

Another product (AVA) does this: “Founded in 2014 in San Francisco, CA, Ava claims that its mobile app uses natural language processing to transcribe conversations in real-time for the deaf and hearing impaired to participate in any spoken communication.”

“For example, all participants in a conversation would begin by downloading the app to their smartphones. Using their device’s microphone and natural language processing software, dialogue is picked up by the app and transcribed for all participants to read.  The deaf or hearing impaired conversation participant can type text and it is visible to others in real-time.”

The article also suggests that much of the research is ongoing and that even better products for the deaf and hard-of-hearing will be coming.

What do you think?

Do you need help hearing at times?  Might you want better solutions?


Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #327 Time to say “Ouch”???

Time to say “Ouch”???

With my various surgeries last year, I was poked and prodded a lot of times.  Maybe the worst was when what seemed to be a new nurse (or nurse’s aide) woke me up about 1:00 a.m. to draw my blood.  

I had IV’s for various CT scans – some with dye.  

The article today looks at a robotic machine that draws blood!!!  

Taken from:

How about a robot that draws your blood?  Really!!!

The article states:

“A startup called Veebot is testing a prototype robot that they hope will draw blood faster and more accurately than a human. The goal is to automate both blood draws and IV insertions to make the process even more standard, and reduce complications. The robot has a tourniquet similar to a blood pressure cuff to make a patients’ veins more prominent. It uses infrared light, a special camera and ultrasound combined with image-analysis software to choose a vein and confirm that enough blood is flowing through it. Then the robot lines up the needle and inserts it into the arm at the calculated correct depth. The whole draw takes about a minute plus additional time depending on how much blood is being collected.

“Currently Veebot chooses the best vein about 83 percent of the time, which is on par with the average phlebotomist. The company says it will work to get the rate to 90 percent before attempting to enter clinical trials, though. Which is comforting for those of us who prefer not to interact with phlebotomists of any sort, be they human or robot.”

So Veebot uses a special camera, infrared light, ultrasound with image-analysis software to find and determine if a vein is suitable.  It inserts the needle to the right depth to contact that vein and to draw blood.

If they can get the percentage up to 90% accuracy that would be excellent and the hospital could replace that nurse’s aide who took my blood at 1:00 a.m.!!!  

With computer vision and the various sensors this sounds like a great idea.  

Let’s see … soon robots will be taking out tonsils , doing haircuts, and making dinner.  How soon before we get humanoid robots at our houses? 10 years? 20 years?

What do you think?

Would you be willing to have a robot draw your blood?


Have a great day!!



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