The Red Lines Page

December 4, 2010

Snowy Hursley

Filed under: Articles,IBM — Peter A @ 7:45 pm

I am very lucky to work in a wonderful location at IBM Hursley.  And even luckier that my current job means that I have an office on the top floor of the splendid Queen Anne House that forms the centrepiece of this magnificent Hampshire location. You can take a virtual tour of the location. But that shows it in the summer sun. So this week, I’ve taken some photos of Hursley in the snow.

The full set is here in Flickr.

PS: One of these is actually my back garden. Not quite as grand as Hursley Park, but I love it anyway.

March 25, 2010

No Lovelace lost

Filed under: IBM,Technology — Peter A @ 12:01 am

As I type this, it’s still Ada Lovelace Day. I intended to write more, but alas have time only to say this: computing and IT companies want to hire more women. IBM UK (where I work) want to see substantially more women applicants for their hundreds of graduate trainee vacancies.File:Ada lovelace.jpg

While I don’t represent the company on this blog, I’m happy to point people to a recruitment site that talks about what it’s like to work in the IBM UK Ideas Lab. The hope is that many more modern-day Ada Lovelaces will apply — not favouritism, just encouragement.

(Men can apply too!)

It’s also worth noting that these vacancies are for a training scheme. So while applicants, men or women, may have a computing or IT degree, they do not have to — a good degree in any discipline is acceptable.

I have blogged a bit more about this on eightbar.

Ideally, I would have blogged about the achievements of a woman in technology and science. So I’m going to cheat and post a link to a blog by Laura Cowen, who is herself a splendid example of a woman in The Ideas Lab, but who has also helpfully linked to blogs by women who inpired her: Laura Czajkowski and Ana Nelson.

Pass it on!

Edited to add: I pressed “save” at one-minute-past-Lovelace! Tsk!

January 15, 2010

Patently obvious

Filed under: Articles,Grumbling,IBM,press — Peter A @ 9:25 pm

Last year, IBM published one of my inventions and another where I was a co-inventor. I was quite pleased, even though they were published, not patented. Then I saw a churlish article in The Register about IBM’s patents — prompting this grumbly personal blog response.

In 2009, the US Patent and Trademarks Office granted IBM more patents than any other company in the world. This was the 17th straight year  that’s happened, though it didn’t stop The Register‘s Gavin Clarke reporting this as “each year for nearly a decade”. (The IBM press release makes this obvious to most of… er… the press.)

Mind you, some of The Register’s other calculations were inaccurate too. And I think they missed a more interesting analysis of  the figures that they were handed on a plate by the various source documents.

For example, The Register claims that a company called Hon Hai Precision grew fastest on USPTO patent awards, but then refers to a table of data that shows Hon Hai was up 39% year-to-year whereas Microsoft was up 43%.

When Gavin’s article was first published earlier this week, it also asserted: “the number of patents granted to Microsoft  almost doubled, growing 43 per cent over 2008 to hit 2,903.” Wouldn’t “almost doubled” be “almost 100%”? And even doubling their impressive 2008 haul would still have kept Microsoft in second place to IBM in 2009. [Subsequently, this calculation gaffe has been quietly removed from the article.]

On trends, the article says: “if IBM and Microsoft continue at the same pace, Microsoft should slide into the number-two spot behind IBM. Then it’s just a matter of time and filings before Microsoft deposes IBM at the top.”  It fails to make a connection with another observation in the article that “the size of portfolio is the currency that you use to trade to another company”.

So how many years on current trends will it be before Microsoft amasses the same amount of total patent “currency” as IBM, Samsung, Canon, Sony or others? Especially as some new patents derive from that existing  intellectual property, and those other companies have been amassing thousands every year for many years… in IBM’s case, for decades. Maybe that’s why in 2003 Microsoft hired Marshall Phelps, the former IBMer who Newsweek said turned IBM’s patent portfolio into a $2 billion business.

In addition, Gavin snorts: “There you have it fanbois: Those who think IBM walks on water because of the patents and IP its generously given to Linux and open-source, the mask as finally slipped. Patents to IBM are a currency it uses to get what it wants.”

But why can’t companies — IBM or otherwise — do different things for different kinds of patents? And if the article’s questioning IBM’s accumulation of intellectual “currency”, perhaps it could have admitted something else made plain in the press release: IBM also had nearly 4,000 additional technical inventions in 2009, but published them directly instead of seeking patent protection, thereby making the inventions freely available to others in a public database of prior art. Including mine. Fly, my pretties, fly!

Companies like IBM, Samsung, Canon, Sony and (increasingly) Microsoft have a big portfolio of existing patents on which they can develop new intellectual property; and IBM also freely publishes thousands of new technical inventions that others can build on.  There you have it, fanbois.

I suppose  journalists prefer to write a story about “the Beast of Redmond breathing down everyone’s necks” or “Big Blue’s mask finally slips after nearly a decade”. (Or is it 17 years? Let me check that press release again.)   And that’s easier to do if you get the basic maths wrong, selectively quote the data, and if you don’t bother with much real analysis of the underlying trends. That much is patently obvious.

April 19, 2009

Keynote question

Filed under: IBM,ISTC,writing — Peter A @ 6:00 pm
Tags: , ,

My keynote at Technical Communication UK (23rd and 24th September 2009,) has been announced.

Technical Communication UK 2009Peter Anghelides has worked at IBM since 1988 in a variety of technical communication roles — as a technical author, information planner, translation coordinator, line manager, and most recently as a member of IBM’s worldwide leadership team for Information Development tools, technologies, and processes. He is the author of a dozen tie-in novels and audios published to accompany BBC TV’s Doctor Who franchise, including the best-seller “Pest Control” performed by David Tennant and “Another Life” read by John Barrowman.

I’ve discussed with the organisers what they’d like me to talk about… but already several people have e-mailed me with suggestions, questions, or just to say “Some people will do anything to avoid paying the conference fee” (thank you, Ian).Not a hat like that

So what would you like to hear about? If I can plausibly work it into my keynote speech, I will.

This is an open invitation for your suggestions, by the way, and not a competition! It’s not like the Doctor Who convention where I once appeared, at which the guest speakers gave each other challenges to work phrases into their panel discussions. The winner on that occasion, if I recall correctly, was Gary Gillatt, who repeated worked variants of this Patrick Troughton line into his various appearances: “I should like a hat like that!”

March 3, 2009

Improving views

Filed under: IBM — Peter A @ 12:04 am

office11With my new job I have a new office. The view has improved. Now when I look out of my window, I can see a rather splendid view across  the grounds of Hursley Park from my vantage point in the House. Previously, I had a less-than-splendid view across an open-tread stairwell in A Block. The old office was newer and better-appointed than my new home, but opposite me was the lift and the loos.newoffice1

When I was working at my desk, I might spot some movement in the corner of my eye. I had to resist the instinct to look up and see what it was. Because that inevitably would give the unfortunate impression that I was keeping track of everyone who was using the lift. Or the toilets. It could have been worse, I suppose. I could have been holding a stopwatch.

Now I could use binoculars every morning to track activity from the House as far as the site boundary, and no-one would notice. But I promise not to. Besides, no-one in my new department looks out of the window in the morning. Because that would give us nothing to do in the afternoon.

You can look around the site for yourself with this handy Explore Hursley web page.

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