“Hacker” is a Good Word

14 Sep 2006

One thing that really irritates me to no end is how the mainstream media keeps demonizing the term “Hacker”. I often get questions about the term and sometimes end up spending time explaining that the term “Hacker” has been around since long before it came to be used in the world of computers.

As I’m sure most of my regular readers have already figured out, I agree with much (but not all) of what Bruce Schneier writes. His latest post, titled “\What is a Hacker?,” repeats some things he has said before about this and is an excellent description.

Well worth the read.

Utah #1 Volunteer

26 Jun 2006

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Utah has the highest rate of of volunteer work from 2003 to 2005. Here’s the top 5:

  1. Utah: 48%
  2. Nebraska: 43%
  3. Minnesota: 41%
  4. Iowa: 39%
  5. Alaska: 39%

Camera Batteries Didn’t Last

24 Jun 2006

In my recent post, I said that I would try to get better pictures of the commemorative plaques at the U.S. Patent & Tradmark Office‘s training rooms. When I went to start making the attempt, the camera reported to me that there was insufficient power remaining to take pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a spare set (2xAA) of batteries with me.

When I bought the camera, I read in it’s manual that it should last much longer on lithium AA batteries that it will on alkaline, so I guess I’ll have to go get some and try it out. Either way, I should carry a spare set when I’m traveling. I already keep AAA batteries for my headphones and my bluetooth earpiece.

Patent History

21 Jun 2006

I recently posted about a nice little bit of historical information that I had found while traveling for work. Since then, I purchased a digital photo camera. This week, since I’m back at the same location where I found “The Real McCoy” factoid and since I brought my new camera, I decided to take some pictures of some of the plaques.

Unfortunately, the subject I’m trying to photograph is so highly reflective, that only 4 out of the 14 photos I snapped today turned out well enough to be used.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Real McCoy

23 May 2006

This week, I’m working at the United State Patent & Trademark Office. On Monday, I had some time to myself during lunch and walked around the halls of their classrooms floor. Outside the door of each is a display mounted on the wall, talking about a different inventor (or inventors), their patent(s) and how they affected technology & society.

This one in particular caught my eye, so I took a picture of it with the camera in my cell phone.

Elijah McCoy, the son of former slaves, worked for the Michigan Central Railroad as a fireman. His duties included lubricating engine parts. McCoy invented his automatic lubricator. Soon, long distance locomotives, transatlantic ships and factory machines were using his lubricating invention. His reputation spread, and users were wary of buying cheap substitutes. As a result they often asked for “the real McCoy.”