Saturday, July 10, 2010

Software Legal Issues

One of the things that I've been tracking for a while now is software legal issues, having worked as a programmer among other roles in the software industry for 13 years. On my last job where I worked at AT&T Wireless / Cingular, I was involved with working with patenting some of their technology.  Unfortunately, even though I helped patent work that was invented and done by my higher-ups in my role as a 'systems engineer', my name never got onto the patents.

So now that I've been thinking of coding some of my own projects, including data mining tool, I'm wondering now how to produce code.

For example, how can I make a data mining application that makes use of a database, say a Microsoft SQL database, without running afoul of patents, and who would I talk to? For example, I used to use an application called 'Business Objects', that mapped a relational database to a different queryable form. So if I were to do something like this with my tool, even though the purpose of my tool is different (I want to add some analytics into my tool to do data scrubbing, for example), how would I avoid runnning afoul of the law?

In addition, text entry methods, all of the Microsoft common controls, etc., are they patented? Maybe I need to contact Microsoft's legal team and see what is up with that.

Data Mining Project


One of the things that I always wanted to do was to build a data mining tool. When I worked at Chase Manhattan Bank, one of the tools that they asked me to look at was called 'Business Objects'. It was a tool that allowed people to set up a view of a database schema and do queries and reporting, etc.

What 'Business Objects' lacked, however, was a lot of different analysis functions. For example, one of the projects that I worked on at Chase was a project where they got all of their 'Value at Risk', or the exposure they had from different securities they held, under one database. This was the reason they wanted me to look at Business Objects, was to see if it would be a good tool to do their own reporting on, edit price data with, and see if there were any gaps in data, and possibly fix them. BO ('Business Objects'), didn't have a lot of analysis functions, however.

So I started working on one. So far, I haven't gotten very far with it. I'm using a language called C#, which so far is very nice to program with. In the past I've done a lot of Java development, and C# is pretty close to Java. There are some interesting differences, however, that place it more like C or C++.


Welcome to my coding and programming blog. I first started coding when I was in the 4th grade and I bought a book called 'Basic for Beginners' from the school book club. I started coding without any computer, just by book, because I couldn't get computer time where I lived, and I didn't have a computer.

Later, my grandfather bought me some computer time, and I started doing his loan amortization schedules. He'd pay for the computer time (It was $6.00 an hour, if I remember correctly), in exchange for me programming a loan amortization schedule for him. He was a real estate investor, and used to sell people buildings and 'hold the loan', meaning that they would pay him instead of borrowing money from a bank. Later, after I did a couple for him, he even paid me a few dollars for my trouble doing the schedules for him. I had a lot of fun doing that.

Thanks for reading!