Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ric's system for delegating email to his PA using screen recording

Just thought Id let you in on a little experiment I am running at my office with my PA Danielle. Since our work times don't coincide I've been looking for ways to allow her to help me as much as possible without having to spend much time face to face.

Besides my penchant for hanging a voice recorder around my neck an uploading the voice messages to Evernote for her to work on, the next best thing we have done is using screen recorders.

Here is how it works:

  • I have a screen recording app running all the time. It is set to record only the window I am working in. 
  • When an email comes in I work out if I can handle it immediately or if not I quickly summarize in my mind what I want to do and then hot record.
  • While looking at the actual email (I use GMail) I record my instructions using my voice while highlighting things on the screen so that Danielle can see exactly what I'm talking about.
  • When I click the stop button the file is recorded to a time stamped video file on my desktop.
  • Then I drop the file onto a shortcut which links across my network to Danielle's machine and a folder on her Desktop. 
  • The icon changes to reflect the new file has been added and she opens and works on the file.
  • When she is finished doing the task she changes the name of the file to describe what it was about and drops it into a sub folder called DONE.
So far so good... we have been using it for a few days now and it seems to be working well. She really loves that she is seeing what I'm seeing but working on tasks in the order that makes sense for her... for me it's really fast and convenient. And I can keep doing what Im good at which is NOT answering emails!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Collaborative shipping–an Amazon book should cost 6 cents

When I moved home from the States in 2009 we brought all our stuff over from the US in a 40ft container fro $3500. Two lounge suites, California king, motorbike, side tables, everything. But for me to get some books from Amazon cost me $75…
At the same rate as I paid it should have cost me $0.06 cents!
Are my facts wrong? Don’t think so. So what do we do about it… this is my idea:
  • Get a consignment quote for one container to be shipped to your neighbourhood.
  • In my case it would be consignment at an address in LA (where we have our stuff sent to).
  • Then get a quote for customs handling (every package must be under $1,000 AUD in value.
  • And a shipping truck rate from the port to your location ($300 from Brisbane to Byron Bay)
  • Then get your neighbours to put the dimensions of the products they want onto a website that calculates the total volume and as soon as it makes sense everyone puts in their orders and waits for the shipment to arrive…
Yeah. Go the Aussie dollar. What do you think? Would you do something like this if it was available… please make comments below.

Cool keyboard invention

I met with a Byron local who had one of those wake up epiphanies… literally…. and ended up with a new approach to the way a computer keyboard works. Today we sat in one of my favourite Byron Cafes and discussed, then drew, then dictated the nuts and bolts of a provisional patent over the course of a bit over an hour and a really nice Fettuccini.

I cant go into details of Paul Nicholls patent as he may want to have some filing options but when he  is ready I’d love to share with you this great idea.

For me its so much fun to sit with an inventor who has a simple well thought out idea that is also new and practical… congratulations Paul.

Writing patents for others… disappointment

Some time back an acquaintance approached me about the patentability of their invention and I helped them brainstorm on what was patentable and what was not. After all, I do have a bit of experience on these things.

As I recall they were having trouble getting their head around working out if anything they were doing was patentable. They also said they didn’t have money and when I offered to help draft their patent my invitation was enthusiastically accepted. They really did have a cool idea.

As always, I offered my help for FREE.

However I don’t like being used as a transcriptionist or a technical drawing expert. When I write patents I like to make notes, record audio transcriptions and do hand drawings… its fast spontaneous and allows me to capture the essence of the idea at the time it is most fresh… the moment the idea hits me on how to handle the patent… in many cases the inventor I am helping is sitting across from me at a Cafe and the drawings and the outline of the patent are done on the spot… so a transcriptionist and drawing expert were used at $75 per hour working at my instruction.

This is what I did for the above mentioned person. Then I receive this email:

An acquaintance of mine spoke to a Patent Attorney and he said that you could get fined for filing a provisional patent and that US investors may find it very irregular that the patent was not written by an Attorney.

Well goodness gracious.Apparently no one but patent attorney’s are allowed to file patents. Garbage. Both the US and Australian patent offices sites show laymen how to file patents.  The IP Australia site says:

Patents can be very complex. Many people have been caught out by their lack of knowledge and experience in this area, or by their failure to adequately develop their IP protection strategy.

Many patent applications filed without the help of a patent attorney are not successful-or are abandoned by the applicant.

We strongly recommend you avoid problems by consulting a qualified patent professional before you apply. They can also carry out searches of existing inventions and draft your application.

Sure… its complex. Sure… get professional help if you need it. In fact I DID. For the first 6 or 7 patents I used a lawyer to draft my provisional… then I had a go myself. The first provisional I did was ripped to shreds by my attorney… the next one was better and then I realised that by around the ten count that all they were doing was clean up, some legalese and the claims writing… so now I file my own provisional patents and only get the lawyers to do the full application conversion and the writing of the CLAIMS… the most important and legal part of the patent…

As far as US investors are concerned… who would you have as the person to help capture the protectable essence of your invention? A guy who is behind a successful patent infringement win against Microsoft or a guy with a plaque. In the end it’s the work that matters. Is it a good patent? Does the patent fairly and accurately describe the invention? Then that’s all that matters.

No I am not against patent attorneys. I am, however, against abdication of the inventors role in writing the patent especially the provisional. The more an inventor can educate themselves on how patents work, how they should be written, how they protect the inventor, the more educated the better.

Sure you may not be a natural patent writer. The majority of provisional patents I wrote for Uniloc were given the once over by the lawyers but ended up with only minor edits when going for full application

It’s sad however that self serving alarmist comments by patent attorneys like the one above make light of the gift I gave in helping the inventor I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

The book I wrote about the fallacy of having to use a patent attorney looks at this issue closely. The problem is that patent attorneys reason for being is to provide legal advice but their motivation is their hourly rate which means there is a natural tendency to be alarmist and to complicate things to appear to add value, but after you see a few dozen patents and understand how they work, the opposite is true. Well written, concise and honest patent writing is better for everyone… its the basis of the original idea of patent law to protect inventors…

Things like this happen from time to time. Everyone knows what it’s like to help someone else out and they turn around after accepting your help boo-hoo it. Well all that means is that I now have time to help someone else.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The latest on Uniloc vs Microsoft

In case you have lost track of where the case between Uniloc and Microsoft is at these days here is the latest:

  • We won the appeal that reversed the judges decision to ignore the Jury's $388 million win in 2009.
  • But the appeal judges made us go back to court to review the settlement amount.
  • Uniloc tried to have the appeal judges consider just letting us go with the original $388 but they were persistent. Note this does not mean a LOWER figure... just a figure based on a calculation that does not use the 25% rule... a bit confusing.
  • Uniloc is waiting to hear when it will have a court date to go after a damages amount, but this time we do it with the courts ruling that Microsoft IS GUILTY.
So there it is... that's the latest

Note: The 25% rule has been used a lot to determine what percentage of the product should be paid in damages if someone uses a patented technology illegally.

VoiceTING... text messaging but with your voice!

Whats this? Imagine texting....

Yes I'm dubbing it Voiceting... as in texting but with your voice... what do you think? Ive put a form below so you can give me some feedback... It's really important to me so please make the effort.
Here is how it works. You go to the Voicy messaging app like you would the standard text messaging app on your phone and you choose a recipient from your phone book but instead of typing a message you hold a little record button and speak your message. Then SEND.

The recipient gets a message notification saying XXX has sent you a message and you can choose to play or cancel and play later.

They see who sent the message then here your message and then can reply by... voice. How cool.
When you get their response back you can hear the last few seconds of the message you first sent and then their response is played back to you, and the conversation goes on as needed... back and forth. In the example above I am planning to add the ability to send photos as part of the app and maybe normal text if you want to reply without sending voice but the idea is to COMBINE THE CONVENIENCE OF TEXTING WITH VOICE without having to use a phone answering or message system... the audio gets uploaded and downloaded automatically and is instantly ready for you to hear and listen to.

This is a stripped down version of a technology I am developing for my parents involving a physical phone with the ability to send and receive VOICETING messages and also keep them in conversations like you do on an email system but I couldn't resist seeing what everyone thought of this idea as I am seriously considering getting it coded and onto the AppStore if there is enough interest.

Please give me your feedback below and help me make the decision to go ahead with this project....

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