Monday, October 26, 2009

What an engineer could do

About 2 years ago, one of my engineer friends told me that been an engineer is useless in real life. A doctor, lawyer, car repairs man can all do something to help you in real life, while us software engineers are mostly useless out side of our work.

It is mostly true, and I agreed with him. I did wrote a WOW bot to help me and other grind, but that is not really the day to day life.

Last Sunday I finally found out the usefulness of us software engineers. My wife bought a Digital Arts & Crafts Studio (a kids drawing tool, which is a digital pen) from yard sale. After she got home, she found it needs special software. Without the software CD the tool is useless. She really wants to play with it and got a bit upset.

I figured that the tool must use the USB to transmit data, and most likely it is in a very simple format. So I go ahead and download the Microsoft drivers development kit, tweaked with USB drivers and then HID, and wrote my own program to read/write (yep, you can write to it to control the LEDs). What I did is I read the position of the pen, then move the computer's mouse accordingly, so she can use it like a mouse.

Problem solved, I am proud to be an engineer (however if I could pick my career again, I would like to be a doctor).

And a last note. The digital studio is kinda slow, it takes a while to respond to the pen movement. I am pretty sure it is their hardware instead of my software.

One of the most interesting ZvZ

A different kind of zvz

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finally finished my patent process!

Yep! And that was a lot of hard work. Originally I thought I will do it on Oct 9th, but I was so confused about the process it is very obvious to me that is not possible early that day.

After 2 days of reading about the patent process, I finally got a hand on it. Today while I was doing a patent search again (to complete the pre-exam), I found another guy doing the same thing!! The good thing is we are using almost totally different methods, and I think mine is better :-) He did his patent back in 2006, and just got it granted this year.

The lessons learned is:

1. Don't do you patent apply process last. Do it while you are preparing your invention.

2. You don't need to do a patent search early on. If you do that, not only you might not doing your research, you might be influenced by the other guy and can't jump out of his bound.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Almost ready to patent now

Yep. I spend 2 hours last night writing the patent application. It is much harder for me than developing the method, mostly because doing programming and research is much more fun than writing paper and describing it (and has to follow certain formats).

Apply myself will be cheap, if I need to hire a lawyer, it will cost thousands.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Update to my secret project

Last week I got feed up with the quality and performance of OpenOffice charts (it is for office charting and it slows horribly when there are a lot of data).

So I use a few hours (and that is spread to 2 days, for me that is a lot) and made a charting tool myself, with ability to scale and scroll, and can mouse over and show me details. Much better!! I was immediately able to figure out what I need to do, and I am so close to the finish line (means apply for a patent) now that I can tell you something related to what I am doing.

I don't want to tell before hand, because I don't want other engineers to say "That is doable? Let's do it". Because I don't have time, so I will definitely loss in that race. The stuff I am researching on is so common that many people must think of it already but then they will think it is either very difficult or impossible to do (something like give a scent to a computer and let the computer tell you what that is).