Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cherio from Ric to all the visitors coming in from the Sydney Morning Herald news site.


A little message for all of you visiting from the Sydney Morning Herald article that appeared today.

Sydney Morning Herald runs Good Weekend story


Asher Moses from the Sydney Morning Herald emailed me yesterday to tell me they were running the Good Weekend story online soon and it popped up just now.

The link to the story is this:

For a bit of background on some of the projects mentioned in the story please click the special welcome in the right column to Good Weekend Readers.

Some extra news for you is that Microsoft’s attempt to have the Uniloc patent questioned by the US Patent office failed last Friday. The patent office ruled that the 216 patent is legal and stands in its entirety despite claims by Microsoft that there were prior inventions… now all that is left is to get a Jury to give us a good damages amount and then wait to see if Microsoft appeals that decision and then tries for the Supreme Court… well that’s my understanding of what’s ahead… it’s been a long battle but I’m not complaining… anything worth while usually takes a long time.

Still can’t get my head around the beautiful mind thing… to me most people will be surprised how well they think when they clear out pressures, get in a good calm and interesting setting (like the fig tree lane in the article) and take their time to really analyze a problem… the brain just seems to love that situation… oh and a good cappuccino every two hours or so!

Carbon Tax explained… a non political explanation.

Please note that I personally am completely neutral on political matters and do not have an opinion one way or the other regarding governmental initiatives.
That said, I also would like to weigh in on clarifying how the carbon tax seems to have been designed to work.
A basic fact:
  • According to government figures Australians per capita produce more carbon than anyone in the western world mainly due to the use of coal for generating electricity.
To stem this tide the government is introducing a tax on carbon. It is really a tax on dirty energy generation.
To understand how this works you may want to consider import duty. The idea behind an import duty is to artificially raise the price of imported goods so that locally produced (more expensive goods) can compete on a level playing ground even though the basic costs of producing Australian goods are higher due to Australia’s higher hourly worker rate etc.
The duty is then redistributed to Australian tax payers and probably results in less need for taxes to cover other costs that the government needs to pay for.
Most people understand this and comprehend that the higher price Australian’s pay is directly related to the good of preserving jobs and also a small reduction in taxes due to the funds being used to offset costs in other areas of the government spending.
The carbon tax? Well imagine all our energy was imported and we only had wind farms and solar panels to produce our electricity. The import duty (carbon tax) would make the imported energy more expensive driving down demand and allowing local competing technology like wind and solar generators to be more competitive and increasing the demand for it. The key is how the collected duty (carbon tax) is redistributed. If the tax is redirected to Australian tax payers then the whole process is relatively cost neutral.
For me to understand it, the key was seeing it as a redistribution rather than another tax. In fact the whole process of taxation seems to be about balancing the redistribution of profits from Australian people and companies for hopefully the benefit and common interest of tax payers.
I reiterate. Personally I am neutral to political and national issues. This article was simply an attempt to try and clarify how I think the carbon tax is designed to work.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wonderful Feedback on Good Weekend article


Wow what a title… I suppose with a headline like that I should expect to be brought back to earth with some hassling about my weight.

Surprisingly, many of my friends and readers commented that the article was really inspiring despite the digs about my size. So far I have received about a hundred emails, most of whom are fellow inventors looking for a little support or advice.

If you missed the article there seems to be no place on the web where the article was published digitally so for those of you who weren’t able to pickup a physical copy I have done a PDF of it and it is available here to download.

That photo was taken near our home at a place I actually do use for brainstorming… lovely fig trees and a lovely grassy area to have a play with Max between mind grinds.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Yeah I get it… I’ve got to lose weight


“Yeah I get it… Ive got to lose weight” was my first words to Jane Cadzow when I rang her just now to thank her for the article in the Good Weekend.

After a good laugh Kaz had a talk to her and we thanked her for her open and candid, but interesting article… somehow great writers make a pretty normal person look really interesting… Kaz and I are amazed that the people in the newspaper are us….

Also it feels really current even though the $500 mill win was over two years ago. As always our pets steal the show and the van gets another shot… great photos…. if you have a read, thanks for showing the interest…


Ric and Kaz, and Oscar the horse and Max the dog and Blanch, Noddy, Betty, Hazel, Hilda, Bev and Edie the chooks.

Ric in Good Weekend mag- Sydney Morning Herald

I’m currently up in Townsville without access to the normal Fairfax newspapers like the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age so I have no idea yet how good the article is that appeared today in the Good Weekend Magazine today… but by the emails I've started to get the reaction must be good.

So far everyone seems to been a little bit inspired by the story of a normal Aussie caught up in very abnormal circumstances. I've got some important things to do today so will not read the story till later but feel very privileged that an award winning writer like Jane Cadzow thought enough of the story to pour her considerable talents into writing it…

Welcome Good Weekend Readers

Hi, and thanks for taking the time to look for me on the web after reading the excellent article in this weekends Good Weekend Magazine.

First of all, let me share with you that it was a real privilege to be interviewed by Jane Cadzow. Even though she walloped me regarding my weight :-) she seemed to catch every nuance of our time together. After reading her article it seems now that she must have been watching everything with laser beam eye sight! Her insightful questions about my child hood also also highlighted how important my parents influence was on our family. You know we all just grow up and think that everyone had a childhood just like ours but after an interview like that you realize the special things your parents do.

Thanks Jane.

Some of the things mentioned in the article are explained in other articles on this blog if you are interested.
These include:

Logarex - an explanation of what it is and how it works
Rail Trucking - Herb Elliott mentions it in his part of the interview.
Working with Fortescue - this article talks about my first week working with Andrew Forrest's fantastic team.

If you would like a PDF copy of the article you can download it from here..

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Customize your iPhone home screen with your own icons and weblinks

iPhone users. Have you ever been frustrated at not being able to put links to important things on the home screen of your phone with their own custom icons?

  • An icon that calls your best friend with one touch?
  • An icon that opens a new email to your wife?
  • An icon that opens your favorite app using a custom script or instruction?

I searched far and wide without someone supplying an answer.

It seems Apple likes to control what can and can’t be displayed on your screen.

Well there is a work around. Apple supplies a utility to corporations called the iPhone Configuration Utility that is available to the public.

It is used by large corporations to configure iPhones for their employees for all the fiddly stuff like security protocols, wifi logons etc. But the utility also has a desktop icon writing capability which allows you to place any URL inside a button on your iPhone home screen!

For example I use Filemaker Go on my iPhone. I need a link on my home screen to quickly open a Filemaker file and run a particular script. It saves me at least 4 steps and can now be conveniently triggered from my home screen… you can do anything you want with this great little utility.

The download is available here:

How it works:

  1. Download the utility and install it.
  2. Setup a profile and go to the section called weblinks and fill out the form. It allows you to add a name to be displayed on your home screen, the url you want to use and upload the icon you want to use.
  3. Save the profile and export it as a config file. A config file is a special file recognized by your iPhone.
  4. Send the config file to yourself as an attachment to an email.
  5. Open the email on your phone.
  6. Click on the config file that appears on your screen as an attachment.
  7. and Voila! the icon will appear on your home screen… easy.

For those of you who find this all a bit daunting please email me your title; url and icon and ill send a config file back to the first 5 people who approach me. I can be reached at

Things you can have as a url:

  • callto://telnumber – calls the number direct from the home screen
  • mailto://email|subject| body – opens an new email to the persons email with the subject and body you want
  • fmpscript://database|script – opens a filemaker file and runs the corresponding script

Provisional Patent for Sale $3,500

No. It’s not one of my patents. But pretty good in any case. A pretty relentless inventor I have been helping has asked me to see if I can help him sell a provisional patent we have worked on together to cover an unexpected cost he has to cover.

The patent covers an invention he came up with to vent toilet bowls as they are used rather than venting all the air in the bathroom after the fact.

How it works?

Basically a tube connects the toilet bowl with the toilet s-bend and contains a fan activated by sitting on the toilet seat that sucks the air out of the bowl direct to the S-bend when the user is sitting on the toilet.

I did the prior art search myself and it looks pretty clear…

Some people may ask, your well off Ric, why don’t you buy it?

Well I have always been tempted to buy or get in on good inventions but that would compromise my ability to help people and be seen to be neutral… also I hate doing business, and the gentlemen I rely on to bring my inventions to life ask me to only work on projects that are worth in the millions… this project is needed, its cheap to manufacture but worth millions? That may be questionable…

So what do you think?

Want to have a go?

Then email me directly at and lets see if we can give a good beginner inventor his first break at a good price.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Using sound to triangulate location

When most people think of Sonar they think of submarine pings are bats finding mozzies. The problem is that the power needed to tune in on echoes is pretty advanced stuff and beyond the capabilities of most smart devices...
But sound presents some wonderful location possibilities compared to radio waves.

One problem with radio waves is that they travel at the speed of light and this means that if you use the signals themselves for measuring distance, you have to have a timing system that is accurate to parts of a nanosecond to measure small distances..

Here is my proof: 

speed = distance/ time
speed of light ie 186,000 m/per hr=  186,000miles/ 1hr

To measure 10 metres at the speed of light is a flash of time.

According to my research most smart phones can accurately measure time down to as little as 14 nanoseconds i.e. 14 billionths of a second.

So at 299,792,458 m/s (speed of light) the accuracy in meters of a smart device able to measure time at 14 nanoseconds or more is

14* 0.0000000001 of a second times 299,792,458 meters which equals 4.19 meters!!!

This is a big ask and fraught with accuracy problems but this is the theoretical accuracy and is not far off what most of us experience with our own GPS location experiences when everything is working properly...

Now let’s try Sound instead of light in the same equation

However consider what happens when you use Sound instead of Light... the accuracy.

Speed of sound is 340.29 meters per second
The accuracy of a smart phone is 14 billionths of a second i.e. 14 nanoseconds

Therefore the accuracy of a sound based location system should be

14* 0.0000000001*340.29

= 4.76406 × 10^-6 !

So lets say it should be accurate to the millimetre!

That’s pretty accurate.

The problem is that sound has limited range... but that’s ok since stuff you want to measure really accurately is usually only in close proximity.

Sizes of rooms, location of stuff in rooms, at meeting halls, in offices, in garages and workshops...
Now the job is how to make all this practical.
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