Thursday, June 23, 2011

Submitting Patents Online

Yesterday's big project was submitting my patent application for the Delegate Key Exchange scheme I presented at RSA.

Working round the USPTO EFS system is still a real chore. One of the biggest problems being preparing the PDF to comply with their requirements. The Windows PDF generator is not listed as one of the ones that is acceptable so I first tried to install the distiller that the USPTO recommends. This turns out to not work at all on Windows 7.

Try number 2 was to try using Open Office. This was pretty much a disaster as OpenOffice couldn't parse the references in my Word document and lost all the reference numbers in the claims section and it didn't rotate the landscape diagrams to meet the PTO requirements.

To add insult to injury I remembered the reason that I uninstalled OpenOffice with prejudice last time I used it (on the provisional). It is one of those programs with an updater but the update invariably fails to retrieve the files it needs. Probably due to not having the right permissions. And unlike most other updaters it does not have a 'do not update' option. For the time being I have just disabled running the program on startup which is an obnoxious feature in itself. Why would I want to have over a Mb of code that always loads to support a program I am not running? If I get any more nag screens the whole Java system is going in the bin.

So anyway, after discovering that Word cannot rotate the diagrams I made I ended up having to recreate them using cut and paste into Powerpoint (which can handle rotation properly). First time round this was rejected by EFSWeb as well. Then I found an option to create standards compliant PDF.

I have the feeling I could have avoided the whole performance by just selecting that option in Word in the first place.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Salvador Dalek gets his exterminator gun.

Salvador is complete and has moved into my office.


I recently received my Netduino

Netdulino is a small computer designed for interfacing to hardware. It is very much like the Ardulino only with a faster processor (32 bit rather than 8) and supports the Microsoft .Net technology.

.Net is a really good match for this sort of board as the CLR is designed to allow for code to be compiled at deployment time for any processor with a CLR compiler. So in theory programs written in .NET could be moved from one Netdulino to another without the need to access the source code.

.Net also provides a full features programming environment (Visual Studio Express is free) and you can even choose between imperative (C# / Basic) or functional programming styles. These are full featured compilers with no compromises. You don't have to spend your time thinking about weird restrictions on integer sizes, register use or whatever. Any C# source will work fine without modification.

Getting started was pretty quick once the files were all installed. I had the LED blinking in about half an hour, most of which was spent downloading stuff.

The only drawback with this approach is that once you blink the LED there is not much more that can be done without getting some electronic components to interface to. I have ordered some LEDs, motors and a grab bag of other stuff from Jameco and Solarbotics.