Two Free Anti-Spyware Software Tools I Recommend

In addition to Norton Antivirus, I’ve used Webroot Spysweeper for a long time, but have grown tired of how it slows my systems down and uses so many resources. I finally took it off my main computer and now rely on a couple of free tools to fight spyware. These tools are Spybot Search and Destroy and Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware SE Personal. Both do a great job of scanning your computer for spyware, and Spybot adds filters that keeps you away from known dangerous sites and provides other immunization.

Since I don’t mess with downloaded games, stay away from questionable sites, never activate questionable files attached to emails, and avoid other bad practices, I usually don’t get affected with malicious spyware and find the free tools to be adequate for my needs.

By |October 30th, 2006|Categories: Internet, Webmasters||Comments Off

Patent Lawyers vs. Patent Agents

A lof of people ask me if I’m a patent lawyer. No, I’m a patent agent, and there is a significant difference, but some areas of overlap.

Both patent lawyers and patent agents can prepare and prosecute patents before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Both have become licensed to do so by passing the PTO’s own bar exam. The area of patent law is so different from other aspects of law, with its own unique codes and procedures, that it has its own bar exam supervised by the Federal Government. People with a technical degree or technical experience can take the bar exam and become patent agents or, if they already have a law degree, they can become patent lawyers (patent attorneys).

A patent agent can only practice patent law before the PTO. When it comes to other aspects of the law, such as preparing an assignment of a patent, suing someone for infringing, or dealing with patent law before a court, patent agents are powerless. These matters require a qualified attorney.

Patent agents are often hired to assist attorneys or corporations in drafting patents or in supporting patent work. In my case, I was already employed in research and engineering, pursuing patents and patent strategy, when I saw a need to expand my skills. I began studying for the US PTO’s patent bar exam that I took and passed in 1996, with the help of an excellent patent bar exam course offered by Patent Resources Group. I completed additional requirements and became registered as an official US patent agent in 2007, the first employee of my company to become a patent agent, as far as I know. Doing so has opened many doors to me and has helped me be more effective in my research work and in my work to guide and develop patent strategy.

If you have a technical background and an interest in patents, I would encourage you to consider becoming a patent agent. And if you’re interested in a law degree, take the extra time to also become a patent attorney. There is great demand for skills in patent law, and it’s an exciting area to pursue.

By |October 27th, 2006|Categories: Career, Patent law||3 Comments

Missile Defense: Isn’t It Time to Be More Aggressive?

Missile defense ought to be on everyone’s mind these days as rogue nations like North Korea develop nuclear weapons and missile programs. They don’t have missiles that can reach the United States – yet – but surely that will come next. But China, the real ally and builder of North Korea, already has that technology and has nuclear missiles that at least used to be pointed at the United States.

If our politicians really want to protect the United States, there are three things needed. One, seal our borders so terrorists can’t simply walk across and bring a dirty bomb into the United States. Second, build a powerful missile defense program to provide a strengthened defense system against nuclear missiles. And third, quit providing financial and technological support to nations that have weapons aimed at us or that provide help and support to nations like North Korea. Nations that help our enemies should not be getting our money. Any questions?

For insight into some of the issues around missile defense, see “Countering North Korea’s Missiles: The Missile Defense System the U.S. Should Have” by Baker , June 2006. It argues persuasively that it’s long past time for Congress to support an improved missile defense system for dealing with ICBMs, such as the foolishly abandoned 1991 Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS) missile defense plan. We have the technology. What we need are politicians who care more about defending America than they care about keeping our global “partners” happy.

By |October 26th, 2006|Categories: Politics||Comments Off

A Couple Photographs from Las Vegas

Bellagio foyer in Las Vegas

A scene from the foyer of the Bellagio Hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo.

You can lose more than just your shirt while gambling in Vegas.

By |October 21st, 2006|Categories: Photography, Society||Comments Off

Racial Tensions in Appleton?

While Appleton has come a long ways over the years and is generally a healthy, vibrant community with a lot of racial harmony, recent events have stirred up some racial tensions between the Hmong and white communities. The problem involves a Hmong man, Chuetoua (“Toua”) Lor, who was accosted by a white man while squirrel hunting. The man called the police and reported that Toua had pointed a gun at him. Toua was arrested and now faces felony charges that could result in 13 years in jail.

Toua is well known in the community as a gentle, cooperative man, a US citizen who has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with whites and others to build this community. He has a wife, kids, a home, a job, is active in his church, and is a true Appletonian. And the many people that know him, myself included, know that he is calm, gentle, lacks a temper, and would never threaten someone else except in pure self-defense.

Sadly, the local media don’t seem interested in Toua’s side of the story or in understanding the impact this case has on the Hmong community. They have unfairly and repeatedly linked this case – a case in which no one was injured in the least – with a massacre of six white hunters in 2004 by an angry Hmong man, Chai Vang. I’m pretty upset with how the press is handling this case, and how they are ignoring important aspects of the story. See my page, “The Challenge of Being Hmong: How a Gentle Hunter Got Arrested.” Also see my reports on the Appleton Blog: “Time for the Media to Cover the Rest of Toua Lor’s Story,” “Giving Up on the Post-Crescent,” “My Letter to the Post-Crescent on the Recent Hmong Hunting Case,” and The 2006 Hmong Hunter Story: Local Media Stirs Racial Tensions in Wisconsin.”

By |October 14th, 2006|Categories: Hmong, Society||Comments Off

Silver Wheaton: The Silver Stock that Doesn’t Mine Silver

Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW) is one of the best ways for investors to take advantage of the bull market in silver. Many people assume it’s a mining stock, but it’s clever business model frees it from the risks of mining while giving it leverage and profitability from silver’s increasing value. It does this by buying the future production of silver mines and miners for whom silver is a byproduct. The miners get an assured price for their production that allows them to expand now, while Silver Wheaton gets their silver. This company owns no mines, but has contracts that allows it to profit from the silver of several major mines. It’s a pure silver play and a real bargain at the moment, in my opinion.

For more on the history and the business model of Silver Wheaton, see the article, “Silver Wheaton: The best silver play in town.”

By |October 11th, 2006|Categories: Investing||Comments Off

Support Your Police – But Also Get a Lawyer Before Talking

I’m a big supporter of law, order, and local police, but a tragic event involving a friend of mine leads me to this tip for all of you: If the police question you about an event where there is any chance that someone might accuse you of wrongdoing, don’t talk until you get a lawyer.
My friend is a US citizen who was born in Laos and speaks English but not terribly well. He was hunting squirrels with a 22-calibre rifle on property open to the public for hunting when a white man accosted him for the second time that day (the first time was allegedly on the white man’s property, but I doubt that), accused him a second time of having trespassed his land, began firing questions at him and accusing him of being a liar, and began moving toward him.

I can’t go into too many details, except to say that the white man later called the police and said my friend pointed a gun at him. The police showed up later at his home and an officer began asking him a series of questions concerning the incident. My friend, always a gentleman and always trying to be nice, was extremely cooperative and answered a series of questions and tried to tell him what happened, but did not know what the issues were, did not know the law, did not know his rights, and did not know how little details in his answers would be used against him. He did not have an interpreter and surely did not understand all the questions he was being asked and also may have explained things in poor English that further confused the situation.

After lengthy questioning, the officer took my friend to the police station and arrested him. Only at the station were his legal rights read to him. Had he had the help of a lawyer during questioning, it is very unlikely that the case would go as far as it has.

He was surprised to find that the confrontation with the white man in the woods would make major headlines suggesting a link to a past massacre of white men by a Hmong hunter, as if he we some kind of crazed criminal out threatening helpless white property owners. A media circus would form on his property that night, with so-called journalists trespassing on his property, refusing to leave when the wife demanded it, repeatedly pressuring family members for statements, ringing their doorbell into the night, and leaving only after the family contacted a lawyer and had him call the TV crew’s superiors telling them to back off or have the police be called again.

The man faces 13 years in prison if convicted of a felony charge of reckless endangerment, when the charges perhaps should not have brought against him in the first place, in my opinion. Had he had a lawyer during questioning, the stress on the family and the harm to the community from racially-charged news stories might have been much less.

By |October 7th, 2006|Categories: Hmong, Society||Comments Off

Get Out of Debt – or Die

I marvel at how Americans are strangling themselves with debt. Here’s a passage from a recent note from the angriest man in economics, Richard Daughty, a.k.a. “The Mogambo Guru”:

We professional economists call this process the Slow, Horrible Spiraling Death Of An Economy By Inflation Syndrome, but more commonly by its acronym, SHSDOAEBI Syndrome. In the early stages, it can be temporarily delayed by using savings to plug the gap between stagnant income levels and rising spending levels, which resulted from prices rising so high, and so fast.

In the later stages, however, after the “Steal the kids’ piggy banks!” and “Intercept birthday cards from their grandparents!” stage, now with no savings remaining, the onset of economic death can be temporarily forestalled, one last time, with increased borrowing. This is Late Stage SHDOAEBI Syndrome.

And we are already in this advanced stage, if you listen to Martin Weiss of the Safe Money Report, who says “According to Federal Reserve data, the typical American family today has a balance of only $3,800 in cash in the bank, has no retirement account whatsoever, owes $90,000 on their mortgage, and owes $2,200 in credit card debt.”

I know what you’re thinking: How do these average Americans get by on so little credit card debt? OK – there must be a typo in that figure – it’s got to be more. But don’t miss the main point here: we’re doomed unless we get out of debt. Get out of debt now, or perish. And as part of your financial plans, you need to invest in things that maintain value when the dollar crashes. Precious metals can help.

How does one get out of debt? The first step is to begin living within your means. Prepare a budget. Stick to it. Eliminate things that aren’t needs. Be disciplined. Get rid of credit cards. Cut back. You’ve got to live your plan and move forward.

By |October 1st, 2006|Categories: Investing||2 Comments