Fire Fall

Adam Frelin’s artwork is inspiring. This happened at a quarry in upstate NY last weekend.

Here’s some history on the firefall, Here is Adam’s page on it. The rest of his site is worth the time too ;) .

Here’s a picture that will give you a sense of the fire’s scale. They burned 250 pallets on a graded cliff in the quarry. The whole thing took about 5 minutes. Adam likens it to watching heat lightning, or snow falling. I think it’s beautiful.

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Friend Dave Lewis got a boat. 28 footer. Had a chance to go sailing a week and a half ago.

Sailing past the Verrazzano Bridge. We picked some trash out of the harbor, which turned out to be some mylar balloons with American flag pattern. Now Dave’s boat has a flag!

Captain Dave and fellow crew member Dana.

Sailing in the shadow of the Verrazzano.


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Pachube Graph Test

This is a testing post. The graph is a week wide. Started 4/18 around 7PM.

Updates every 4 minutes or so. Refresh page for latest update. You can also see this in different time scales by going here



More info at


UPDATE: Having some trouble with the WiFi connection and posting data correctly. For now, it’s running off of a regulated 3.3V while I debug the Wireless issues.

UPDATE: bit of a snafu. taking the day off.

UPDATE: the arduino sketch got hung during my I2C functions. I have to manually operate the TWI hardware because of a conflict with the SoftwareSerial library. Code got hung during a while() that waited for an interrupt bit to set. I put in a timer, and it doesn’t hang anymore.
STATUS: cautiously optimistic.

UPDATE: feed keeps freezing. Not sure if it’s on my end or patchube’s end. STATUS: Noggin scratchin’.


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Hawking Tech Tragedy

File under: Collateral Troll Damage.

There is a sad digression in the ongoing intellectual property lawsuit between Sipco, LLC and Amazon, et al, involving one of the defendants, Hawking Technology. Back in the fall of 2008, Sipco served it’s complaint to initiate litigation against and other companies including Hawking. Defendants were given about a month to file answers to the complaint, and they all did at the time, except for Hawking. By mid December, Sipco filed a motion for default judgement against Hawking, since they weren’t even acknowledging the lawsuit. Hawking’s position at this point could be described as ‘super shitty’ in that a default judgement against a company that won’t even pay respect to the court could tear a ragged hole right through its bank account. Not surprisingly, Hawking woke up and responded. In their motion to set aside default judgement, they claimed the ‘leaky water pipe’ defense. Two employees signed declarations that stated the complaint letter was received by one of them, who did not notice the importance of the letter and put it the designated place for mail processing, and then after a water pipe leaked all over the mail, the other employee threw it away because it, along with all the other mail, was completely illegible. Ok. Whatever. Hawking says, please don’t default-judge us, we are here now before the court and we want to play nice. So the court says, alright. Go ahead and proceed along normal lines. Hawking avoided default judgement and over the next months came to an agreement with Sipco to some terms (unknown) and the Hawking aspect of the case was closed. That happened in the fall of 2009.

That could have been the end of it, but it looks like Hawking pushed their luck alittle bit too far. It’s gonna start to get complicated, so let me introduce you to the characters in the drama.

Mr. Wu is the lawyer for Hawking during the Sipco dispute.

Mr. Owen and Ms. You are the employees who’s declarations pulled Hawking from the jaws of default. They quit working for Hawking soon after the settlement with Sipco.

Mr. Lin is the principal person who represents Hawking.

Turns out the Mr. Wu filed a fee collection case against Hawking after the Sipco trial was done. In the process of discovery for that case it turned out that Mr. Owen and Ms. You stated that the leaky-pipe story was cooked up by Mr. Lin, who then coerced them into signing the false declaration. Ms. You appears to be completely manipulated in this case, and never had any inkling of the situation and that she was given the declaration document to sign without having ever seen it before. She was afraid that she would loose her job. Mr Owen, the senior product manager with no legal training, was put in charge of handling the case and dealing with the lawyers at Mr. Wu’s firm. Through his conversations with the lawyers, Owen heard about a ‘water damage’ defense, among others, and passed it along to Mr. Lin, who decided to pick the leaky water pipe excuse. He couldn’t do the deed alone, however, and he also refused to sign the false statement himself, urging Mr. Owen to do so. One time even suggesting that he work with a different story, if the ‘leaky pipe’ story did not feel right. All of the damning evidence, beyond the statements by Mr. Owen and Ms. You, are contained in emails between Owen and Lin. At one point, Owen said he was “hesitant to sign this, as this is a direct lie.”   Sigh.

Mr. Lin and Hawking really blew it. Mr. Owen and Ms. You were saved from legal consequences of their false statements, because they eventually came clean, and because their statements in the end did not greatly effect the case. Mr Lin, after not paying his legal fees for the Sipco case, is being referred to the US Attorney for investigation.

If it turns out that Sipco’s patents are fraudulent, then this is a tragic story of unnecessary stress and expense, and it’s not over yet for Mr. Lin.


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Further Coverage of SipCo’s abuse of the Patent System

Last time I wrote about SipCo’s case against Digi International et al, and I want to write about their defence against Sipco, but not right now. There is a concurrent case that Sipco is trying against, Cooper Industries, Cooper Wiring Devices, Crestron Electronics, Eaton Corp., Hawking Technologies, HomeSeer Technologies, Intermatic, Inc., Leviton Manufacturing, Smart Home Systems, Wayne-Dalton Corp., and X10 Wireless Technology. Whew!

The original complaint was brought in the fall of 2008, and the case is ongoing. The latest activity involves transferring the case to a different court because the judge originally assigned is retiring. Lots of stuff has happened, including a train-wreck of sorts, but I’ll get to that. Plaintiffs Intermatic Inc., Cooper, HomeSeer, and Hawking Tech., and Leviton have all settled. That means that most likely they have come to some licensing terms with SipCo. Amazon, Eaton,  Crestron, Smart Home Systems, Wayne-Dalton, and X-10 are all in the fight against Sipco.

I’m getting all my information from the public records system at ECF Live, the US court filing system. Most of the documents are dry dry dry, but sometimes there are glimmers or reveals of the human story behind the scenes. This case has two fun stories so far.

Smart Home Systems wrote a letter in response to the original complaint back in October of 2008. The president, Allan Diamanti, wrote the letter himself. Smart Home Systems is a small company in upstate NY that sells products to DIY home owners who want to improve security and efficiency in their homes. They claim to be re-sellers of technology products (from some of the companies listed in the suit) and didn’t have the funds to enter the suit with lawyers. They decided to rely on their named product manufacturer and the other parties to act as insulation for them. It is surprising that SipCo would include Smart Home Systems in the suit, since there are hundreds of small reseller companies like them in the market. Smart Home offered to SipCo that they may have made a mistake and confused them with Smart Labs (CA company) which is a manufacturer of wireless tech. That’s very generous of Smart Home, since the attack on Smart Home appears very malicious. I have a warm spot in my heart for Smart Home, a small company in my home state that caters to DIY home owners like me. My own business is small, and I don’t want to get caught up in some big nasty lawsuit either. I guess SipCo is trying to make it very clear that no company no matter how large or small will get away from their clutches. Smart Home Systems is still in the fight, having filed a more formal response and defense. Go Smart Home Systems!!!

The other human story pulled from the court filings is sad and tragic. If it turns out that SipCo’s case is full of hot air and bullshit (which it seems to me) then the story of Hawking Technologies will be one of unnecessary tragedy.

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Digi International Fights Back Against Patent Creeps

I’ve been splashing around in the US Patent Office Records (as reproduced by Google. Much better interface than USPTO, IMHO) in an effort to get a sense of the territory surrounding home thermostats and related devices. As a home owner, I have a love/hate relationship with my programmable thermostat. I love that it can be programmed and I can save energy, but I hate that it has such a crappy interface and once it’s programmed with some schedule, the last thing I want to do is update it, even if I can save energy and money by doing so. Anyhow, the Tale of the Programmable Thermostat will be told another day. Today, I want to tell a different story of patents and litigation.

There is a company called Sipco LLC, based in Georgia, that owns a handful of patents that cover mesh networking. On the news page of their website they advertise licensing agreements with many companies, including GE Appliances & Lighting Business Unit, Hawking Technologies, Intermatic. They also talk about David Petit (Owner, Inventor) and his awards and accolades. Mostly though, they talk about who they are suing for patent infringement. The list of companies is long, so I can’t go into all of them. The case that sparked my interest is ongoing between Sipco LLC and Control4 Corp., Digi International Inc., Schneider Electric Buildings Inc., and Schneider Electric USA Corp. There were a few other ones to start, but those companies settled out of court (likely came to some licensing agreement). The thing that struck me was the complaint against Digi. Digi makes Xbee and Zigbee wireless transcievers, among other things, and I love thier devices. My student’s at Parsons love their dievices, and from what I can tell DIY’ers and Hackers around the world love their devices. So I’m quite interested in the outcome of this case. The parties are still in pre-trial litigation. This process has already taken years (initial complaint filed in May, 2010). Currently, they are stuck in a battle over disclosure of documents that Digi has requested as a part of it’s counter suit. That’s right, Digi is fighting back. Sipco doesn’t want to turn over the documents that Digi is asking for, and so Digi has asked the court to compel Sipco to deliver the documents. All three defendants mentioned above are answering Sipco’s complaint with similar defences, namely that Sipco defrauded the USPTO during the patent process by not including prior art (stuff and patents that folks have already done) which renders the Sipco patents ‘obvious’ or otherwise unpatentable.

This is super important stuff, considering the rise of ubiquitous computing and the need for micro and adhoc networking devices in data acquisition and instrument control applications, as well as large installations like Smart Grid implementations that some power utitlites are employing, like the stuff SmartSynch is doing. SmartSynch is also involved in a different patent suit brought by Sipco over the same patents in the Digi suit.

Now, if Sipco, and Mr. Petit, actually are the rightful owners of the technology then they should be compensated by companies using the technology, and that compensation should be negotiated in good faith by all parties. In all of my research, I have not found that Sipco makes anything. They appear to exist solely in order to sue for profit. That’s why I’m calling them creeps.

The arguments that Digi, Control4, and Schneider are making in their counter suit are very damning. If they hold up, it will wreck Sipco, and unravel their agreements with other parties. The heart of the argument is that the patents should not have been granted because prior art renders them obvious. In other words, mesh network structures are and were known, and some or all of the technology is in the public domain.

I’m going to dig further into the structure of Digi, et al’s defense and talk about it here as a way to learn about patents, and patent law.



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Spooky Snow

Got about 2″ of snow in Bed Stuy last Saturday. Sloppy slushy stuff. Still a bit left in the back.

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Goodnight Irene

The sky is flying


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That Irene, she is ‘a blowin’  We got gusty wind and rain

But we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Time for a break to watch a video from the hikes Deb and I took last weekend. The first day we went up to Pecks Falls. Humid trail with cool relaxing spots by the brook.


Abit further up the trail is Peck’s Falls.

The next day we went to Bellows Pipe Falls. Same area of Greylock as Peck’s. Up Gould road to find parking. Must say the trails are very well maintained.


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Panic in Bushwick

Preparedness Fail

Paranoid? Safe!



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