Patents As Weapon: How Tech Companies Compete

The Patent, Used as a Sword
By Charles Duhigg and Steve Lohr
New York Times, October 7, 2012

Tech companies have traditionally managed patent portfolios as a competitive strategy, but the stakes have exploded in the past five year.  The current case of Apple vs. Samsung shows how two companies square off in court to protect technology and markets. The New York Times looks at how companies are going on the offensive to build up patent war chests to not only protect, but literally knock out competitors. Co-author Charles Duhigg on NPR’s Fresh Air compares the strategy with nuclear deterrence during the Cold War.  Be warned and seek shelter.

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New Seminar: Research Skills for Engineers

Introducing a new series of seminars designed to address the research needs of engineering graduate students.

Harnessing Databases for Better Research
October 31st from 10AM to 11:30
Room 314 – Caruth Building

Specialized databases have moved beyond simply searching an article repository. Services like IEEE Xplore, Engineering Village and Dissertation & Theses have advanced features for complex searching, organizing and analyzing citations and alerting users of new material. In this 90 minute hands-on session you’ll learn about advanced database features and how to make them work for you.

Space is limited to the first 16 students who sign up. Click on the following link to RSVP a spot:

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Misconduct Taints Retracted Research Study Finds

Misconduct Widespread in Retracted Science Papers, Study Finds
Carl Zimmer
New York Times, October 1, 2012

A recent study of retracted articles in biomedical publications finds misconduct as the primary reason in three-quarters of the articles reviewed.  The authors of the study believe researcher’s incentives create a culture of premature findings and outright fraud. Often reports of fraud, do not appear in the final retraction. Check out the blog Retraction Watch, which tracks faulty research in publication.

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IEEE Xplore Training Coming October 1st

Monday, October 1st on the second floor of the Junkins Building, IEEE Client Services Manager Jalyn Kelly will be conducting training for IEEE’s Xplore database.  The informal sessions will take place between 10AM and 12PM in the break area.  Stop by to find out how to use Xplore to track emerging technologies and uncover potential employers. Besides great info, Jalyn will be sure to have some IEEE giveaways!

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The Redwood from 50 Million Years B.C.

50-Million-Year-Old Redwood Chunk Found in Diamond Mine
Megan Gannon, News Editor – Fri, Sep 21, 2012

Despite the infinitesimal amount of paleontological evidence left on earth providing a clear picture of early life forms, surprises continue to pop up.  The latest glimpse into the past is a piece of redwood sealed in volcanic rock found by diamond hunters in far northern Canada. It was likely frozen in time when a tree fell down a crack into cooling lava. According to scientists, its condition is well preserved enough to tell about the weather during the period it grew.


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Ethical Fellow Charged with Unethical Behavior

Feds Charge Activist with 13 Felonies for Rogue Downloading of Academic Articles
David Kravets, September 18, 2012

Twenty-five year old hack-tivist Aaron Swartz habit of downloading millions of articles from the academic database JSTOR has caught up with him.  Aaron surrendering last July after spoofing MAC addresses on MIT’s network and using a scraper to do his work. At the time Aaron was serving as a fellow at Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics. While Aaron may believe he’s got a case for first amendment rights, his actions blocked other users from the service and brought down JSTOR’s servers on numerous occasions.  While information may want to be free, it costs money to keep the servers running.

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Other Voices, Other Blogs: Wired’s GeekDad

As a father of a teen- and soon-to-be-teen geek, I take my responsibility as a nurturing force in their lives serious.  I want my kids to have fun and learn, so visiting’s GeekDad blog is a daily ritual of what’s new in geek culture.  The blog covers obligatory geek-cultural touchstones like comics, movies, music, conventions, and electronic and non-electronic gaming. They also do a good job covering DIY projects for kids and teens.  Today’s article on adding transistors to the Arduino to drive bigger events like controlling a strobe light is a great example. Be warned, GeekDad contributors add 4-6 articles a day, so it’s quite addictive!


Here are other recent articles of interest:

Playing at the World is a Must Read for Gaming Geeks
Impossible Project Hardware: Turning iPhone Images to Polaroids
ThingsWeStart: A New Source for Kickstarter Stats
Inspire Dorm Room Envy With This Pico Projector

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Assessing the Job Market for Science PhDs

Is a Science Ph.D. a Waste of Time?
By Daniel Lametti – Aug. 31,2012

Simply put: No.  Despite a recent spate of news on the lack of opportunities for science doctorates, the author shows that while jobs in academia continue to shrink, more employers outside “traditional” science want their skills. Not everyone can solve complex problems and have the tenacity to work years on a dissertation. Looking at all the skills you acquire is the real key, and figuring out how they are coveted in other professions / industries.

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IEEE Xplore Training Opportunities

If you want to improve your use of IEEE Xplore, here is news about upcoming online training sessions:

IEEE is dedicated to bringing you the most cutting-edge technology information through the IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

Training webinars offer the opportunity to learn the best practices in searching the IEEE Xplore Digital Library as well as getting quick demonstrations of new features. All courses are taught by professional librarians from IEEE.

Register today for any of the upcoming online training webinars for the IEEE Xplore Digital Library. All attendees to join the webinar will receive a certificate of completion and a week’s access to the IEEE eLearning Library.

Schedules of upcoming training sessions currently available are listed below:

Strategies for Using IEEE Xplore – United States

  • 6 September – 9:00 am CT
  • 6 September – 1:00 pm CT
  • 27 September – 6:00 pm CT
  • 17 October – 1:00 pm CT
  • 22 October – 9:00 am CT
  • 23 October – 6:00 pm CT


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Take Our Survey: Using Research Databases Seminar

An important difference between the undergraduate and graduate engineering student experience is the role of research.  Whether taking the thesis or non-thesis option, master-degree seeking students are expected to conduct research in the professional literature.  While Google is easy to use, it’s imprecise and evaluating search results is time consuming.  So how can students get familiar with using IEEE Xplore or Engineering Village 2, used worldwide by engineers and researchers?

This semester we’re hosting a 60 minute seminar on using engineering databases for Lyle graduate students. Our class will demonstrate basic and advanced search techniques, and review features like setting up alerts.  We’re trying to pick a date and time that works best for graduate students. Please take our incredibly short survey at so we can offer a time that works for most of you. Thanks!

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