Below are some modest examples of technology dabbling on my part. Most of the techy stuff I've tried to accomplish is in computer scripting and programming, creative uses of existing technology. My “day job” as patent analyst has me examining other inventors’ patent applications. I've also done some beta testing (real beta testing, with periodic reports to developers, etc.). Beyond that, I’ve had some basic flying lessons (VFR / Single-Engine Land); experimented with methods of plant resin extraction; and two patents (US 9,558,636; 10,068,437) granted by the Patent Office.
My first (unofficial) lesson took place flying R-T from E. Falmouth, MA to Martha’s Vineyard. My official training was in Princeton, NJ and St. Louis, MO.
below: screenshot of Microsoft’s Ski Free! game (bundled with old versions of Windows), albeit as hacked by me.
No big hack, though, all I did was use a commonly available resource editor to change some object labels then recompile it. Specifically: I changed the text in the
title bar to memorialize a sore loozer (he lost a “grudge match” skiing race against me; see below) (repeat: he lost), and I changed the other
skiers (obstacles) into cocoa cups, and I changed the
grizzly bear yeti (which, in the original Microsoft game, runs out at you after you cross
the finish line) into a cocoa bean.
Here you can download the .zip file of the version of game as I modded it. You can find info about the original game at
The Most Officialest SkiFree Home Page!
notes: (a) you may have to rename the file extension (to .doc, e.g.) to get it past a malware scanner or something (like you can with some e-mail servers), then rename it back to .zip; (b) not sure if it still works nowadays, you may have to install it and/or run in some backward compatibility mode e.g. on Windows 10 you may have to run it in XP Compatible Mode.
How I treated the unsavory incident (in Chapter ‘E’, vol. 1) of my memoirs:
Carol was new to the world of skiing, and we plunked her into a beginner’s class until she was ready to ride up the hill. Suzanne, Todd and I rode to the
top and picked our way through the variety of runs.
After we had warmed up a bit, Todd and I continued our jousts as to who the better skier was, he with his flashy new boards and designer boots, or I with my rental equipment.
Well, I guess he didn’t understand when I tried to explain the extent of my Idaho ski days, working at Pebble Creek and screaming down the trails with Ed and Buck and everyone. He challenged me to a race, and with the girls looking on helplessly we took off down the mountain at full bore.
Todd gained an early lead, and for several parts of the course I trailed him slightly – but that’s just where I wanted to be. As we powered over one of the last little hills, I “put into a way deep tuck” and blew right on by.
I never looked back, and at the bottom of the hill I came to a stop and plopped myself down in the snow, soaking up the sun and waiting for the others to catch up.
Todd didn’t like that very much.
Then I did look back.
As I turned my gaze uphill once more, suddenly I was showered with a face full of crusty snow – Todd had pulled a hockey stop right on top of me! My face was so plastered that the inside of my sunglasses were completely caked, and I noticed my right eye was smarting.
After this full day of careening down the hill, and of course winning the race with Todd, I looked forward to the usual reward of hot cocoa in front of the fireplace, and an evening of well deserved rest.
Todd’s emotional outburst certainly sweetened my victory, but on the other hand I noticed later that the eye was developing a red spot. Afraid that it might prove serious, I had it checked out and everything was okay except that there was this little matter of the $100 for the exam so I passed the bill on to the perpetrator, thinking him at least enough of a sportsman to pay for his mild mistake. Not so. Even though he was making well over six figures trading cocoa commodities on Wall Street, it was evidently beneath him to compensate me for the exam. So what could I do? Well, I decided it called for drastic measures – none of the usual legal folderol like demand letters, small claims court, and so forth. No, this called for something special. I had a little computer game called Ski Free! which was put out by Microsoft, a simple game where you move the mouse around to maneuver a skier down the hill. You had to avoid stationary obstacles like trees and rocks, and also moving obstacles like other skiers and even snowboarders. Well, one of the neat things about these kinds of programs today is that the program’s “resources” (things like pictures, sounds, and words) are separable from the “engine” (the program logic which controls the flow of events). Using a nifty tool from the Borland C++ Development Environment called Resource Workshop, I changed all the pictures of snowboarders to pictures of hot, steaming cocoa cups and recompiled the entire program – so now, instead of having to avoid snowboarders, I could happily maneuver around cocoa cups with the word “cocoa” prominently displayed. At the end of the Ski Free! program, a big bear [sic: yeti] comes charging out of the woods to gobble you up, and as a finishing touch I changed the bear [sic: yeti] to a giant cocoa bean.
- - - - - - - - - - - (end of selection from memoirs) - - - - - - - - - - -
What I Woke Up To One Day. Seems that for a few hours, back in 1999 or so, Earthlink (hosting company for many sites at the time, including mine) got hacked before they quickly fixed it. I wasn’t sure how long it would be before I could post content, and if my blogs were still “there” i.e. how good of a disaster recovery plan Earthlink had. Note: I no longer own the domain depicted in URL. Hacking is a very interesting field of study.
below: screenshot of the hack result which affected one of my old websites
If a screen like the one represented by the screenshot immediately above can ruin your day, a screen like the one immediately below (ca. 1999) can make your year or even decade. Imagine my delight when, as I was adjusting to my then job as a webmaster at a medical school, I was integrating one of the (at the time, newfangled) “news banner” (site widget) into the intranet site, and ... wow, one of the first news stories that rolled in front of my eyes (from the CNN .rss feed) was all about a state supreme court chief justice who got impeached for misconduct the same judge who’d ruled me ineligible to practice law in his state, even after I’d passed the bar exam, because of a report that I’d smoked some marijuana. The Pisspoor Bastard. No chief justice of any state supreme court in the United States had been impeached since 1790. I was delighted that the story had rolled across my desktop whilst I was occupying an important high-tech job at a medical school.
below: GUI (Graphical User Interface) I developed (using Winbatch) for my personal use of Roger Schlafly’s old “RogBlog” (PERL script) blogging program, ca. 2003. At first, this just displayed some lines from Roger’s script as an interface for writing a post. Eventually I got permission to introduce a few small mods, which I added to GolbGor (my GUI, “RogBlog” spelled backwards), so I could add more features (Comments, Permalinks, etc.) to my blogs. For awhile, before I stopped blogging, I was trying to integrate GolbGor usage with the StarTree site map generator (see below).
below: another piece of tech I was able to integrate into my blogging: Inxight’s StarTree Studio (old software, no longer available). This program let you make site maps for websites: a hyperbolic map. Dragging a node to the right, for example, would cause more edge nodes to be displayed on the left (sub-noding as much as you want, pretty much). Presto! Improved data visualization. This part of the process was manual, I was looking at using Winbatch to jump from a posted blog entry to opening up the current StarTree map (.stz file) and adding the post as a new terminating node.
below: screenshots showing the Android app icon for my memoirs book (“Propeller Head”). I created the book app using BookMaker (a program possibly no longer available), and the icons in screenshots below using basic image editors like Irfanview and MS Paint. Android users can download my .apk file of the (mostly finished) book, you will need to allow your device to install apps from unknown sources (app not listed in Play Store). On some droids you might have to check a box saying “Do this only for current install”. For other devices I made a corresponding set of PDF files (.zip).
left: old HTC Evo screen
showing my book app’s icon
right: same deal on an old
Samsung Galaxy screen
NEW 12-16-2018: Game module available for download. Permanent link: here.
below: pic of the old board game UBI (made by the same developers of Trivial Pursuit), and (below that) links to a few screenshots of some work I’ve done trying to cobble together a computer version (using the Vassal game engine). Information on the original UBI board game can be found here.
On my Patents/I.P. page I’ve listed a bunch of analytical work I’ve done on misc. patent matters.
Two technical problems I boned-up on and mulled/pondered, but with respect to which I made no headway whatsoever:
(a) P v. NP (a semi-well-posed math problem); (b) NEOs / The Asteroid Problem (engineering issue, only viable solution = Lifeboat to Mars). (nb: Yeah, I know; everyone assumes P v. NP is well-posed. My theory is: It ain’t.)
Here are some scans (8 pics) of my original research notes on The Asteroid Problem. They’re from December of 2006. In an act of desperation at the time, I sent them to the physicist Dr. Albert Young. I decided to publish them here, with a couple of non-related scribbles redacted (e.g. there were names, phone #s, etc. scrawled on the last page, maybe a shopping list scribbled in there somewhere; nothing to do with subject matter). They’re sort of like a BOTEC / cocktail napkin sketch, but expanded to further iterations. If you’re not technically minded, better get a few stiffs drinks in first. I recommend just glancing (no pun), then deciding if you really want to delve more deeply (it gets ugly). The whole point of the exercise was to posit a God-like boundary problem of an order “Problem solvable [it’s not an asteroid so huge that we have no chance] and serious [going to do some serious pulverization when it hits], but no Lifeboat to Mars available [can’t avoid the problem; species survival at stake]”. (Addendum: Actually, looks like there are a few Mars-related notes on the last page). When I started the project, I loosely framed my general idea in the form of patentable output (dreamt-up initial Claim 1, jumped to other hypothetical claims, Claim 99, etc.) but that was just to get organized at first. It wasn’t written with the idea of patenting anything, just inventing. My “solution” assumes certain technology assets (robotic convoy in non-near space, semiautonomous and warheaded) and tries to reduce the problem to one of control theory.
page last updated: 12-17-2018