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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Beyond outrageous

Mark Pilgrim recently posted a rant about how he was "forced" into submitting a patent by his former employer, IBM. I worked for IBM for 4 years and can attest to how maniacally focused they are on generating software patents.

Periodically, there are "patent scrubs" during which employees are reminded via email, during team meetings, and by senior architects that they should be thinking of ideas to patent. It also happens to be the case that senior managers typically have a patent quota written into their goals. I can remember some line managers begging us for more patent ideas because X (some manager a few levels above my manager) hadn't reached his patent quota yet. Like Mark, I found it disgusting. However, I clearly didn't find this experience as traumatic as Mark did. I think I authored or co-authored 4 or 5 patents during my time at IBM. A drop in the ocean as compared to the master inventors who seem to make a career (and livelihood) out of generating as many patent applications as possible, regardless of the insignificance of the invention.

What I take issue with is Mark's need to point out that he was coerced into filing a patent application and to justify it by pointing out that he has a mortgage. Lots of people have mortgages. Many more people with more significant financial responsibilities than that are asked to do much more heinous things than file a patent in order to keep those jobs. Get some perspective Mark!

Lastly Mark, I think you should be thankful. If during your time at IBM the only thing that made you cry was having to file a patent, then you've escaped that hell-hole relatively unscathed.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tori Amos Meets PS22

This is really special. Last Friday, Tori Amos met a group of 5th-graders from PS22 in New York. It turns out that their teacher, Greg Breinberg, is a major Tori Amos fan (just like me) and has been leading the PS22 chorus in adaptations of various Tori Amos songs. You can read the full story here.

Here is a video of the chorus meeting Tori and singing one of her songs during which she was obviously quite moved.

And here is Tori singing with the chorus.

Pretty cool...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Zen Judaism

A friend of mine just showed me a book (booklet really) she purchased called Zen Judaism: For You, a Little Enlightenment, by David M. Bader. It's hilarious.

Here are two of my favorite selections:

Do not let children play contact sports like football. These only lead to injuries and instill a violent, war-like nature. Encourage your child to play peaceful games, like "sports doctor."

Zen is not easy. It takes effort to achieve nothingness. And then what do you have?

You want to see more? Don't be such a shnorer and buy the book!

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