A speed test for you to try

When I check into a hotel or log in at a public wifi location, I sometimes do a “speed test”.  The goal of course is partly just to make sure that I have successfully logged in or have successfully entered an access code.  And to test to see how fast the Internet connection is.

I am tickled to be able to report that we at OPLF have set up a speed test which everyone can use.  The speed test, unfortunately, requires that your system has “Flash”.  Most smart phones and tablets do not have Flash.  So the speed test is generally available only for laptop and desktop computers.

Who would like to receive a free super spiffy OPLF digital multimeter?  Maybe you already have an OPLF digital multimeter?  This one is new and more spiffy.  In addition to the features of our original digital multimeter, this device measures current and has an audible continuity indicator.  (It can be set to beep when there is continuity.)  This new device does auto-ranging;  with our original multimeter you had to select the range.

So if you’d like to receive one of our super spiffy new OPLF digital multimeters, just be one of the first three people to post a comment in which you report the results of at least two speed tests — a speed test result using your favorite speed test that you have used in the past (a speed test hosted by someone other than OPLF) and a speed test result using our new speed test.  It would be interesting to see how the results compare.

Sharing blog articles on Whatsapp

Long-time readers of this listserv will recall my suggestion that the smart way to do messaging is not through cell service text messaging and is not through most of the available messaging apps.  As I wrote in this blog article, in my view by far the best choice is Whatsapp.  Whatsapp is encrypted from end to end.  Whatsapp gets through any firewall, no matter where you are in the world, and nobody can eavesdrop on the messages.  You can use it for messaging but you can also use it to send attachments, including large files, again safe against eavesdropping.  No other messaging app or service is quite this safe against eavesdropping.

This icon is not clickable! If you are using a smart phone or tablet, please click on the icon below.

Just now I have added a Whatsapp plugin to this blog.  If you are viewing this blog article on a smart phone or tablet, you should be able to see a Whatsapp button (like the icon at right) below this posting.

Here’s the fun part.  The first three readers who successfully share this very article with me using the Whatsapp share button below (visible only if you are using a smart phone or tablet) will win a prize, namely a spiffy OPLF digital voltmeter.

To do this, you will need to install the Whatsapp app onto your smart phone or tablet (if you have not done so already) and then you will need to add me to your Whatsapp contacts list (if you have not done so already).  Then you will need to view this blog article on your smart phone or tablet, and scroll down to the Whatsapp share button, and click on it.

SSL progress for www.oppedahl.com

We at OPLF should have done it a long time ago … but finally today we have implemented SSL (“https”) for our main web site www.oppedahl.com.   In addition we have configured the SSL on https://www.oppedahl.com so that it uses PFS (perfect forward secrecy).  The domain name itself has for several years now been protected by DNSSEC.

One reason that a webmaster should implement SSL is that Google and the other search engines give a small boost in page ranking to a web site that supports SSL.

But the more important reason to implement SSL is simply to make web connections more secure.  Among other things SSL eliminates eavesdropping on a web connection.

If you haven’t already done so, you should implement SSL (and PFS, and DNSSEC) on the web sites that you operate.


Building a guitar compressor pedal

The other day we had soldering class at Oppedahl Patent Law Firm LLC.  Everybody at the firm received a nice soldering station and soldering tools and a toolbox to keep everything in.  We assembled several do-it-yourself kits that required soldering.  Some of our people already knew how to solder and got through the kits pretty quickly, and others got to learn how to solder for the first time.  Continue reading

A curate’s egg

Bishop: “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr Jones”
Curate: “Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!”

I’ve been teaching patent law as an adjunct professor at University of Denver law school for some twenty years, and every one of my students over the years has heard my recommendation that they subscribe to The Economist. I think The Economist offers a very helpful non-American perspective on events of the day.

Today, reading The Economist, I learned the term a “curate’s egg”.  As Wikipedia explains, a curate’s egg is something that is mostly or partly bad, but partly good.  The term has its origin in a cartoon published in 1895 in the British humor magazine Punch.  Drawn by George du Maurier, it pictures a timid-looking curate eating breakfast in his bishop’s house. The bishop says:

I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr Jones.

The curate, desperate not to offend his eminent host and ultimate employer, replies:

Oh no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!

A Google search for the term “curate’s egg” yields over a hundred thousand hits.


The Next Big Thing in microcontrollers

esp8266As of a couple of years ago the big thing in microcontrollers was the Arduino.  The Arduino was (and still is) a delightful board for hobby projects.  But now there’s a new microcontroller board for hobby projects, namely the fetchingly named ESP8266 ESP-12E NodeMCU board, pictured at right.  There are many nice things about this board.   Continue reading

Picking a smart speaker

echo homeIt’s getting to the point where a person might choose to get a smart speaker.  Which reminds us that we are in a fast-changing world.  Used to be there was no such thing as a smart speaker.  Which by the way makes me feel ancient.  Just in case anyone does not know what a smart speaker is, I will now explain.

Continue reading

Using patents to learn how stuff works – Stud Sensor

zirconOne of the nice things about the patent system is that we can use the patent system to learn how stuff works.  One of my favorite examples of this is the Zircon Stud Sensor.  This product hit the market in about 1978, and I  bought one of the first ones.  Continue reading