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aerial-displayHave you ever heard the rhetorical question; “What will they think of next?”

Viable answers to that question may be gleaned by perusing applications filed with the US Patent Office (USPTO).

A patent is an assignment of exclusive intellectual property rights by a government to an inventor for a specified time period, in the U.S. and Europe for 20 years.

When someone files a patent on an invention or process, others are prohibited by law from creating and selling products derived from that intellectual property.

Inventors cannot patent ideas alone, they have to demonstrate how the invention will work and that it is feasible.

The word patent stems from the Latin word “patere” meaning “to lay open.”

This etymology reflects the public nature of patents and distinguishes them from trade secrets which are kept private and guarded.

In addition to sheer curiosity you can make powerful uses of the information at uspto.gov.

Some investors make profitable uses of that information in deciding what industries to put their money into.

Writers can gain excellent topics for analysis and writing from patents because successful future products are communicated to us in the present.

For instance, students may develop presentations and papers based on patent information.

infectious-diseaseSuppose that you have a class presentation or paper to prepare and need a strong topic.

Browsing through recent proposals at the USPTO you find a patent filed in 2015 by Boeing Inc. for “Infectious Disease Detection.”

This proposed invention would use sensors to detect traces of specific pathogens; bacteria and viruses.

Why would a company that makes airplanes invest in disease detection?

Because infectious disease is spread significantly by air travel leading to pandemics which are global outbreaks of illness

To turn this idea into a paper or presentation, think through the conditions and implications of effective disease detection at the primary points of transmission.

Detecting disease allows for intervention and preventing its spread which may dramatically impact the global health situation.

Think of other situations where the spread of disease is significant, such as hospitals, daycare and University residence halls where the Norovirus runs rampant.

The analytic strategy of turning a proposed patent invention into a top-rate paper is to produce a reasoned analysis based on the problem, the proposed solution and the implications of a successful solution.  Break it down like this:

1. The problem: describe the circumstances that occur without the invention; e.g. infectious disease spreads rapidly and is hard to control leading to deaths, illness, increased health care costs and other economic impacts.

2. The proposed solution: explain the proposed invention and how it will solve or change the problem; e.g., a system of disease agent detection and intelligent alerts will recognize when a severely contagious disease is present and allow for immediate interventions to help infected people and prevent further contagion.

3. The implications of a successful solution: speculate on the social impacts that will occur if the invention works and is used effectively; e.g., by detecting and managing disease at the primary points of transmission the spread of infectious disease can be significantly contained and prevented.  The gains to human welfare in terms of health will be great and economic benefits from lower health care and otherwise lost productivity will add significantly to the general welfare.

cardboard-bicycleYou can totally make an interesting paper or presentation with a strong analysis and argument from this by filling in the details and backing up your claims with facts, such as the current costs of infectious disease to the economy.

You might also think of potential negative effects of such inventions, which is how writers like Michael Crichton make great stories (Jurrasic Park, Prey) and tons of money.

Now that you see how such analysis and future-casting works, try your mind some other fascinating recent patent filings.

Multi-Part Navigation Process by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Navigating to a Medical Situation”: Google filed a patent for a drone with navigation and flight control processes capable of reaching an emergency with appropria1te reinforcing-photosynthesis1medications and medical equipment. Imagine in the future subscribing to a medical response service that responds immediately to your crisis based on your medical profile.

“System in Space for Reinforcing Photosynthesis and Method”: Airbus, a European airplane maker, may have a way to collect sunlight by satellites in orbit and retransmit the energy to Earth to re-enforce photosynthesis and crop growth. I wonder whether this technology can also boost solar energy collectors.

“Fact Checking Using and Aiding Probabilistic Question Answering”: IBM filed a recent patent for a use of its Watson artificial intelligence program that won the Jeopardy game show. In its role as fact-checker Watson will “decompose a statement into sets of question and answer pairs for each of which it then determines a confidence value from which is calculated a probability that the statement is true.” Imagine this at work in newsrooms and Presidential debates.

“Gamma Secretase Modulators”: Pharmaceutical giant Merck filed a patent for a compound that “targets amyloid beta, a metabolite of amyloid precursor protein which is considered to be of great importance regarding the degeneration and loss of neurons in Alzheimer’s patients.” This may lead to a treatment and even prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

It does not follow from the fact that a patent was filed that the proposed concept will really work, be practical and economically feasible.

Patents do show us the realm of the possible driven by human imagination.

Here are some titles of patents filed in the last few years to peak your interest.

“Method and Apparatus for Delivering Energy to an Electrical or Electronic Device Via a Wireless Link.”

“Devices and Methods for Transferring Data Through a Human Body.”

“Method for Personalizing an Appliance User Interface.”

“System and Method for Targeting Customers Who Invite Other Customers to a Business.”

“Apparatus and Method for Sharing User’s Emotion.”

“Recyclable Cardboard Bicycle.”

“Foreclosure Prevention and Protection.”

“Seawater Desalination System.”

“Foreign Currency Solution.”

“Aerial Display System With Marionettes Articulated and Supported by Airborne Devices.”

“Fabrication of Products On Demand.”

“Self-propelled unicycle engagable with vehicle.”

“Telescopic Contact Lens.”

“Virtual Universe Teleportation Suggestion Service.”

Find many more filed patents at: uspto.gov >Patents >Patent Search (Search for Patents) > Seven Step Strategy.uspto_logo

For patents filed since March 2001 be sure search the AppFT: Applications database.

Understand that patents are legal documents and not designed for easy reading, but you are smarter than the average duck and can hone in on the key points, especially the “abstract” or ”summary” sections.

Make sure that you access the images linked at the top and bottom of the patent text.

Learn to access these ideas directly from the USPTO and you will gain a wealth of future potentials that you may talk and write about.

 

Source Acknowledgements

USPTO
http://www.uspto.gov/

The Top 10 Patents Issued in 2015, Steve Brachman
http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2015/12/28/top-10-patents-issued-2015/id=64025/

Image Acknowledgements

aerial-display.jpg

infectious-disease.jpg

cardboard-bicycle.jpg

reinforcing-photosynthesis1.jpg

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Students searching for jobsI am about to tell you how to increase your odds for getting the job for which your degree qualifies you.

I write this mainly for the seniors and graduates who are looking for a job.

Perhaps you know someone in that situation and will share this advice with them.

Juniors, sophomores and frosh may take even better advantage of this knowledge by using it to make advance preparation.

My advice comes in two parts: (1) do your research; (2) use your education, not just your degree.

I hear many students ask Will this degree get me a job?”

The answer to that question is “No” because your degree is a tool that you must use in combination with other tools to get that job.

“It is not what you can do with your degree, but what you can do with a mind capable of earning that degree.”

Many thousands of others all over the world have degrees just like yours.

That is why you hear human resource departments tell you that your application is one among many.

So the winning move in the employment game is to document your unique abilities that stand out from the many

There are clear ways to accomplish that standout quality and it is a fact that most job applicants do not do so.

The most basic method is to make your resume, cover letter and reference letters match the needs and values of the prospective employer.

How do you know what they need and value? Because you have done your research on that employer.

You should research your job hunt with double the rigor and intensity that you put into any project or paper in school.

Research means learning everything you can about the job, the company and the people who work there, much of which is online.Linkedin network

A critical way to research a job is through the people who work for that company and department.  They all have profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook which will tell you about the work they do, the skills they value and the projects they are working on.

Search for the company in social media to find its employees.

It will take creativity on your part to find the right information and piece it together, but this is not more intellectually challenging than many of the course assignments that you have succeed

You are accomplished at those skills at some level, or else you would not be getting an OSU degree.

In the end it is not what you can do with your degree, but what you can do with a mind capable of earning that degree.

So how do I, Dr. Tech, know all of this? Because I have hired scores of employees and read hundreds of resumes, from high-school volunteers to Vice-Provosts.

Most of the resumes I have seen resemble a grocery list, merely enumerating the jobs worked at.

Such a resume does not include either what you are good at or what the employer is looking for.

Many job seekers bemoan the experience paradox – i.e. you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job.

If you feel trapped in that paradox it is because you have a narrow conception of your own experience.  You have lots of experience; four or five or more years of it at OSU alone.  You just need to recognize the activity of your education as experiential and turn that activity into language that communicates your expertise.

Consider another bit of information gained through research: there are consultants who report every year on industries of all kinds by conducting surveys of companies to find out what skills they are looking for in the people that they hire.

Please read that sentence again. How much would knowing what skills are most valued by the employers that you are applying to be worth? A lot and you can have that information for free just by doing online research.

In this instance I will refer to The Bloomberg Job Skills Report 2016: What Recruiters Want and Forbes’ The Ten Skills Employers Most Want in 20-Something Employees.

For the 2016 report Bloomberg surveyed 1,251 recruiters in 11 industries to find out which skills they rate both highly desired and hard to find.

Forbes based it’s analysis on surveys asking hiring managers what skills they prioritize when recruiting from college graduates.

Here are the skills employers say they seek, in order of importance as rated by employers.

1. Ability to work in a team structure

2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)

3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization

4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work

5. Ability to obtain and process information

6. Ability to analyze quantitative data

7. Technical knowledge related to the job

8. Proficiency with computer software programs

9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports

10. Ability to sell and influence others

The good news is that the learning objectives and requirements for the majority of OSU degrees cover most of the skills on the list, which means that

Bacclaureate Core Writing Skills

OSU Bacc Core Skills

you have practiced them and have the right to claim them on your resume and cover letter.

Those group projects that many students complain about required that you actualize team work, decision processes, planning, communication and influence.

Baccalaureate Core, DPD, WIC and other requirements involve obtaining and processing information in order to write and communicate persuasively.

These are real skills that you have specific and demonstrated evidence of your competence in.

Even better, those skills are explicitly stated in the learning objectives for the courses, so you can refer to objective sources in claiming success with those skills.

If you passed an OSU Bacc Core course, then you succeeded at the skills certified through that course.  Have you mined your course objectives for demonstrated skills?

Draw on that objective evidence and you have unique and demonstrable qualifications to bring your resume and cover letter into the top tier.

That you can communicate, solve problems, find information, and lead a team is exactly the experience that employers say that they want.

They also say that those skills are “hard to find.”

Do not make them hard to find in your resume and cover letter.

As the Forbes article notes; “The survey makes clear that employers want universal skills you can learn across academic disciplines and in any job where you are working with others. The trick is to communicate clearly that you have those skills.”

The trick for you is to take ownership of your acquired skills and take yourself seriously as a fully educated person, not merely an applicant with a degree.

You will accomplish that by researching what your prospective employer values and by researching what skills your OSU education gives you the right to claim as your own.

 

Image Acknowledgements

looking-for-a-job-68958_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/looking-for-a-job-work-silhouettes-68958/

head-1250008_960_720.gif
https://pixabay.com/en/head-circle-linkedin-networks-1250008/

bacc_core_skills.jpg
http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/baccalaureate-core

HIV_StructureSince it was identified in 1983, HIV has infected 78 million people world-wide.

Half of the people infected with HIV have died from AIDS.

For three decades researchers have been seeking effective treatment for AIDS and a vaccine to prevent HIV infection.

These objectives are high aims given the challenges that the HIV virus poses.

HIV is as sneaky a virus as it is deadly.

One of the infection strategies of the HIV virus is to establish hiding places in the body in which it may lay dormant ready to re-emerge as a persistent infection.

Since HIV attacks the immune system, disabling the body’s defenses, infected cells do not produce HIV antigens making them indistinguishable from uninfected cells.HIV_Epidem

These research and medical challenges are well described in an article by Genevieve Martin, Hidden Menace.

Yet, in 2015 there appear to be several breakthroughs that some scientists characterize as a “renaissance in HIV vaccine research and development.”

Treatments have improved to the level that many with HIV may live decades without developing AIDS.

Medical trials have demonstrated individuals who test negative for HIV after5425951169_1a17b23c46_o experimental treatments.

Researchers have reached a level of collective understanding about HIV that a vaccine is a practical objective.

The best article that I have read about these recent advances is Defeating the Virus by Wayne C. Koff.

As knowledge in science and medicine grows it is critical that intelligence people generally stay informed.

Death may come to all, but you and I may soon live in a world where HIV/AIDS is not the deadly cause that it has been for so long.

Image Acknowledgements

HIV_Structure.jpg
http://www.biocab.org/HIV_Structure.jpg

5425951169_1a17b23c46_o.jpg
https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5051/5425951169_1a17b23c46_o.jpg

HIV_Epidem.jpg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/HIV_Epidem.png

77aa99b53b82d17d5f03ca8a3fcbfe35All learning is a form of research as we test our mental models of reality against the cold hard facts of the world.

When someone keeps making the same mistake we can say that they have not learned what that mistake is and how to avoid it.

Humans have evolved the ability to keep track of our successes and failures in order learn.

Keeping track of and analyzing what happens is the basis of research, which I claim is the foundation of learning.

It follows that treating your education as a research process will make you a more capable learner.

Technology can help you to become a more capable researcher and to better understand the relations of information and reason to knowledge.

Zotero is an OSU supported no-cost application that assists with collecting, organizing and citing research sources.zotero_logo_300x300

You should be using Zotero or a similar tool because when you write a paper or produce a project the sources upon which it is based are critical.

Your sources are established by citations which follow formats including APA, MLA, Turbian and IEEE.

If these are not familiar to you, then you are at a distinct disadvantage when developing a paper or project for a class as many instructors place significant grade value on well-formed citations in the correct format.

Check your syllabus and assignment description to ascertain the citation format then install Zotero and access the OSU Library resources to learn how to use it well.

Zotero has a stand-alone version to install on Windows or Mac and also as plugins for FireFox, Safari and Chrome and apps for iOS and Android

Build your Zotero “Library” by creating a “Collection” and adding sources as you search for sources.

A Collection may be for a project, a class, a topic or whatever you need to gather information for.

The sources can be books, articles, websites, videos and other forms of information that you have used in developing your work.

While developing your work, such as a paper or project use Zotero to retrieve sources and then to cite those sources for your bibliography.

A bibliography is the part of a work that lists the sources that form the research upon which the work is based.

The purpose of a bibliography is so that readers can retrieve the sources in order to check on the accuracy of the claims in the work.

Bibliographies consist of references which provide the information that anyone needs to find and retrieve the source referred to.

Citations are the expressions embedded in the text of a work that indicate the reference on which that portion of the work is based.

In my work as an Editor I have received submissions that included bibliographies that contained numerous references that were not cited in the text of the paper.

I sent those submissions back for revision because the relevant references are those that are used in creating the work.

It is an error to pad a bibliography with books and articles that you did not read or use in your writing.

If you did use a source, then cite and reference it properly.

If you did not use a source, then do not refer to it.

2447112317_b1f13112cbIf any of these aspects of research puzzle you, then you should visit the OSU Writing Center at 123 Waldo.

Writing Center assistants will help students, staff, faculty and community members with all aspects of writing from brainstorming to writer’s block to bibliographies and beyond.

Once you understand what citations and bibliographies are and know what formats are required for your papers, then you are in a strong position to use writing tools like Zotero effectively.

A powerful feature of Zotero is the capability to create Collection items contextually from your Web browser so to gather relevant reference information from whatever web source that you are viewing.

This contextual sensing feature is amazing when researching journal articles, news articles and books in the OSU Library; see the Valley Library tutorial “Using Zotero with 1Search.”

I emphasize again that finding likely titles and capturing reference information is not research unless you read the sources and use them in your work.Research-Illistration-4x4

Once you have a collection of sources Zotero helps you tag, sort, move, copy, annotate and edit your sources.

Organizing and connecting your sources, which are prior information about a topic, is a powerful way to construct knowledge out of your research.

Knowledge constructed from intentional collections of sources may involve finding patterns, drawing inferences, producing new research questions, identifying problems and much more.

A research-based paper and project is designed to communicate the knowledge that you have constructed, your findings, from the sources that you have collected and analyzed.

That is a basic description of how research and learning work.

Zotero supports sharing collections online which vastly increases its power as a research tool, for instance when working on a group project designate a role for “research managerin the group and have them curate the Zotero collections.

With your thesis, narrative, and references accomplished you then use Zotero to produce the bibliography which can export to Word and OpenOffice documents.

With a collection and bibliography created it is easy to re-format your references to different citation standards.

Valley Library has many resources including workshops and online tutorials for becoming proficient with Zotero at guides.library.oregonstate.edu/zotero

In addition to Zotero I have used Citation Machine, a web-based citation creator, to create bibliographies for publications – citationmachine.net.

Both tools provide a form in a selected citation style that prompts you for necessary information about a source such as author’s name, book title, publication date, page number and publisher.

Both tools allow switching citation styles for already created references.

Zotero is the more powerful of the two, but Citation Machine is handy.

Social bookmarking is a technology that is related to the research-oriented tools.

Diigo and Delicious are powerful social bookmarking applications, also called “social tagging,” with browser extensions that support tagging, annotating and highlighting web sources including pages, PDFs, blog posts, images and videos.

The social character of these tools is changing the way that information and knowledge works.

Think of the efficiency with which disinformation such as rumors spread.Wikipedia_-_taste_the_fruit_of_knowledge

Now imagine similarly efficient information but grounded in referenced sources.

Our information environment is changing fast and you will be better equipped for that change when you are able to use social bookmarking and referencing tools.

Most important is your understanding of how information constructs knowledge and how references provide evidence.

Of immediate value to you is how you can use these tools to do a stronger job of writing papers and projects.

Image Acknowledgements

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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/551409548100840461/

hBQdLi.png
https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/482247447293337601/hBQdLi_-.png

2447112317_b1f13112cb.jpeg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/12662957@N05/2447112317/

Wikipedia_-_taste_the_fruit_of_knowledge.jpeg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Wikipedia_-_taste_the_fruit_of_knowledge.jpg

I’ve got bad news and good news.

The bad news is that the world is messed up and life is hard.

The good news is that not everything is messed up and humans get better at dealing with bad news as we grow.

bad_news_vs-300x161The bad news is that it is hard to keep perspective in a world where war, violence, disease, crime, and struggle make up the major part of the information that we consume.

The good news is that perspective and attitude can be balanced by intentionally adding positive information to your media diet.

I am not advising affirmations, inspirational quotes and feel-good stories.

I am referring to developments and events in economics, business, medicine, science, technology, environment, politics, education, athletics, culture and society that work towards the general well-being of people and planet.

Real moments of progress and purpose happen all the time, though you’d not suspect that from the major news media or the trolls of talk radio and TV.

Given the negativity of our major news media it seems rational for intelligent caring people to avoid it, but those are precisely the people who the world needs to be best informed; and by people I mean you.

The resources referred to in this article with annotations and more are available at Dr. Tech’s Bookmarks.

So if to you the world appears to be going to dystopia in a hand basket, please consider some alternative information; for instance.

Crime overall in the United States has declined steeply and steadily since the early 1990’s and is approaching an all-www.bjs.gov.content.pub.pdf.cv13.pdf[2]time low; this is especially true for violent crime. 1

No one knows why crime is declining and none of the usual explanations hold for this trend.

Steven Pinker – Harvard University – thinks that he does know why violence is declining and in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” (2011) argues that violence and cruelty have been diminishing through most of human history and that we are headed towards a more peaceful and humane future.

Russian geneticist Dmitri Belyaev (1917-1985) conducted a remarkable experiment that showed that the domestication of silver foxes changed both belyaev_silver_foxesthe personalities and physical traits of the animals; they became gentler and cuter. 2

Some contemporary researchers believe that similar changes are occurring in the human species; that is, we are becoming gentler and more physically juvenile than our ancestors; this research is recounted in a RadioLab episode titled “New Nice.”

Research these ideas for yourself and also check out edge.org where the Annual Edge Question is posed to a lot of brilliant people in order to “arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.”

In particular I recommend the 2007 issue “What Are You Optimistic About?”

Read the GoodNewsNetwork (GNN) which reports real news that is also good news.

GNN editor Geri Weis-Corbley landed a job with TV network CNN just out of college. She told her boss; “There should be a good news show. He informed me that good news doesn’t sell — but the idea gnawed at me like sand in an oyster.”

She quit CNN, started GNN and became the first expert in the field of positive news in the U.S.

In the U.K. there is Positive News, a “solution-focused newspaper, reporting on people and initiatives that are creating a sustainable, just and fulfilling world.”

The DailyGood is another credible source which leans to the inspirational side of information.

You already know where to get the bad news and perhaps were exposed to plenty of it – along with expert commentaries from relatives – over the holiday break.

Now you know where to look for credible positive news.

Using those sources is a rational way to balance your media diet in order to draw grounded inferences about the world. 3

If you know of quality good news sources and good ideas of any kind, please send them to me.

Have a good dead week and don’t let the stress get you down – Dr. Tech believes in you.

Sources

1 Truman, JL. (2011). Criminal Victimization, 2011. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv11.pdf

2 Bidau, C.J.  Domestication through the Centuries: Darwin’s Ideas and Dmitry Belyaev’s Long-Term Experiment in Silver Foxes. Gayana 73(Suplemento), 2009.
http://www.scielo.cl/pdf/gayana/v73s1/art06.pdf

3 Aquino, K. and McFerran, B. (2011). Moral Identity and the Experience of Moral Elevation in Response to Acts of Uncommon Goodness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 100, No. 4, 703–718
http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/100/4/703.pdf

Image Sources (Creative Commons and public domain)

bad_news_vs-300×161.jpg
http://www.sailinghappilyeverafter.com/wp-content/uploads/bad_news_vs-300×161.jpg

Violent and property victimization, 1993–2013
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv13.pdf

Tame-Silver-Fox-783188
http://funboxcomedy.com/uploaded_images/Tame-Silver-Fox-783188.jpg