Cross-disciplinary Research

Claud Shannon's master's thesis established the foundation of modern computer through cross-disciplinary research.

Today, Boole’s name is well known to computer scientists (many programming languages have a basic data type called a Boolean), but in 1938 he was rarely read outside of philosophy departments. Shannon himself encountered Boole’s work in an undergraduate philosophy class. “It just happened that no one else was familiar with both fields at the same time,” he commented later.

– by Chris Dixon in How Aristotle Created the Computer - The Atlantic


As introduced by Ryan Christoffel in LiquidText 3.0: A Uniquely Digital PDF Experience, LiquidText is an unique app for PDF works on iPad. The app was recognized by Apple as the most innovative iPad app of 2015. It gets its update to version 3.0 recently.

Liquid Text is a tool for deep annotation and interconnection. It goes beyond what one can do on physical paper. The essence of the paper is more easily preserved. The connection between different points wihin the paper and with other paper can be easily established. In other words, it is a great tool for legal research.

Eddie Smith described some of the best new functions below.

Finger selections can make excerpts even while the Pencil is in drawing or highlighting mode. The Pencil can draw anywhere—not just on the PDF like most PDF editors, but even in the LiquidText workspace, right alongside your excerpts and comments.

You can even drawn a circle or box around anything in the PDF, and it extracts it as an image to the workspace. The image can be copied to your clipboard and even pasted into other apps. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to capture a portion of a PDF as an image without having to screenshot the whole screen and crop in Photos. This opens a lot of possibilities—like being able to capture a graphic and paste it into an app like Notability, to collect it with other visual notes.

The research experience on LiquidText is truly amazing. Not only one can annotate on the space outside of the paper, the gold feature for me is the instaneous connection with all the relevant part of the rest of the paper as well as other papers. The connection can be established super fast while reviewing the paper. Reaching related references becomes a breeze.

Now it would be a dream come true if LiquidText can establish some kind of connection with citation managers like Mendeley or Zotero and the word processing programs. For example, a drag and drop into the Word document brings alone the properly formated citation.

Thoughts on FB

I visit FB rarely these days. When I did, I spend very little time there, usually just took a look at the posts my wife posted, and skimmed through posts at the top of my feeds.

Still, as brief as my time there, almost every time I saw something annoying or distressful. I can find very little positive posts there, left along inspiring ones.

I wonder it is just me, or a problem with FB.

The Arrival of Artificial Intelligence

You can see the parallels between the industrial revolution and the invention of the computer: the former brought external energy to bear in a systematic way on physical activities formerly done by humans; the latter brings external energy to bear in a systematic way on mental activities formerly done by humans

The Arrival of Artificial Intelligence by Ben Thompson

It is almost a crime not to think through what you do everyday and use appropriate tools to make it better.

Google Data Protection Case

by Tsai-fang Chen

In this ruling, the Court finds that Google needs to "remove from the list of results displayed following a search made on the basis of a person’s name links to web pages, published by third parties and containing information relating to that person, also in a case where that name or information is not erased beforehand or simultaneously from those web pages, and even, as the case may be, when its publication in itself on those pages is lawful."

I do not dispute the importance of the fundamental right to privacy. This ruling, however, seems odd to me, especially when the information is published lawfully on the internet by the third party.

The Court does consider the interests of the internet users, but apparently this means little when it comes to the fundamental right charactor of the right to personal data enjoyed by the "data subject". Perhaps it is counterintuitive to argue that knowing personal data about someone else's is also a foundamental right. But Isn't it due to the fact that the definition of personal data is way too broad?

The anology would be writing a book about a person. In the book, there contains a lot of personal information. Some are bad and the "subject" does not like about it, but could not prevent it because of the right of expression. Can the "subject" prevent the library from loaning this book to the users of the library? Doesn't the reader's right be considered more seriously? Shouldn't the writer has some right, too?

What bothers me is that if the information is legally published on the internet, the noraml decision regarding whether the perosnal data should be protected has determined right there. Which is to say, if the data is published legally, then it means that the personal data does not need to be protected. How, then, can the publication of the search link be illegal?

Furthermore, the court argues that whether the information accessible through the search engine has to be removed will depend on the purposes of the data collection ("inadequate, irrelevant or excessive in relation to the purposes of the processing, that they are not kept up to date, or that they are kept for longer than is necessary unless they are required to be kept for historical, statistical or scientific purposes." para 92) Whose perspective does this requirement regulate? Does this even apply to the purpose a search engine has?

I would argue that there is simply not enough incentives for the search engine to keep fighting. The road leads to an internet that will be self-censored by the search engines. Self censorship is rarely, if ever, a good term.

PowerPoint slides as a license

It seems that it is a very strange thing for a presenter not to use a PowerPoint slides in a speech these days. There seems to be a perception that if a presenter does not provide PowerPoint slides, the audience is under served, and the presenter is somehow under prepared, or worse, out right lazy.

Before I delivered a two hour speech on a subject of patent law last month in a graduate institute, the organizer asked for the file. He was genuinely surprised to learn that I would not use such a thing. He noted that he has never seen a lecture without the aid of slides. Indeed, never was the word.

I have seen enough presentation to know it is not the case. It is almost always more interesting when the presenter does not use a slide. I also have delivered enough lectures to know that it is almost always more difficult to prepare a speech without the aid of slides.

Slides can and often become something the presenter has to compete with. Slides are constantly the focus of the attention. It is something the audience can escape to. Anything other than this boring presenter or the not-so-inspiring speech. It is thus to me an obstacle to human interaction, i.e, a recipe for bad speeches.

Slides work as a comforter for both the audience and the presenter. It makes the audience believe they are following the talk. It makes the presenter believe that the audience is following along. Only if those believes are true.

It does not help that most projectors are only able to produce extremely low qualify images. The terrible fonts of PowerPoint is the confirmation that this speech is all about something that is far from pleasant. The white light of the projector destroys all possible atmosphere and hurts my eyes.

There are awesome slides, of course. A good slide does not provide the amount of information an audience cannot digest. Which is to say, nothing more than the presenter is able to optimally provide verbally. On the other hand, it has to be nothing but the presenter cannot deliver orally. This, of course, is an extremely rare feast.

Somehow presentation slides become a license for terrible presentations. It drives me nuts when people think that my speech is bad simply because there is no slides. Or the lack of slides is a proof that I did not put efforts in the speech.

I may not be a captivating speaker. The fact that I did not use slides is not to blame. It frustrated me that my efforts to improve my speech without slides have seemed failed. Next time, perhaps, there is need for me to acquire such a license. I might as well feel much better to think that the audience is sleeping over my slides instead of over me.

My lock screen

My lock screen. 

My lock screen. 

I have been using this home screen for a while now - across two phones actually. It is partly attributed to the short life span of my iPhone 4S (which strangely came back to life mysteriously after I purchased the new phone and became a toy for kids). The sight of holding my son's little, soft hand still touches me in a special way.

Professor Dongsheng Zang's talk on TPP

Today we welcomed Professor Dongsheng Zang of University of Washington School of Law to NCTU Law for a talk. His topic was "Is there a future for TPP?" Prof. Zang's answer was negative. It was an excellent talk with controversial conclusion.

Prof. Zang observed on the difficulty of the deal between US and Japan. He asked first the question: what is preventing US JP deal in the TPP?

He choose IP as well as agricultral trade as two example demonstrating that the TPP deal is actually not making sense for countries involved, especially Japan.

Prof. Zang noted that higher standard of IP protection does not work for Japan as Japan is actually importing more on those items.

He also argued that it is self-contradictary for President Obama in moving against patent trolls with support from tech firms' support while promoting higher standards when it comes to dealing with foreign countries. In addition, so called "trouble makers" (such as India) are not those in the TPP. On future Of pharmaceutical trade: forcasted markets that matter in the future are not included in the TPP.

Back to Japan, Prof. Zang raised question for Abe. As President Obama wants TPP to increase US export with JP in mind.Take medical markets for example, Japan is US medical devices number one export market. It may make sense for US to raise patent protection.But JP? Deficit on medical equipment is increasing shows that there is no sense for Japan to raise IP protection.

Another example is alpgriculture trade.TPP does not help JP in curbing EU Subsidiaries as EU is not included in TPP. In addition, major export of JP agriculture not included in TPP- such as UK, Taiwan, China, Thailand. Furthermore, domestic oppostion in Japan also posted serious obstruction for the country to join TPP. Deficit data shows TPP does not worth the efforts for Japan.

Professor Zang asked: If it is not making sense for JP, does it make sense for other less developed countries?

He also noted that it is hard to see how Obama can push TPP politically.

Professor Zang concluded that TPP is out of dated concept of globalization and should be replaced by new thinking that deals with globalization together with the problem of climate change.

It was an inspiring talk, even though I may not agree with some of his conclusion. It was great for us to welcome Professor Zang in our campus.

Wolf coach

There are two Professors in NCTU law to coach this year's VIS moot court competition. Yesterday I was told by the other coach, Professor Hsueh, that she is like a shepherd dog, and I am like a wolf. The difference is that one bites the sheep, and the other only barks at them. This is of course by no means accurate. Shepherd dogs are certainly more than capable of using their teeth. They just don't use it on their sheep. 

However, it does reveal one thing about my moot teaching style. I do bite.

I think that's necessary when coaching Moot, especially for students used to Taiwanese traditional legal education. Students need to learn how to be a wolf. A fierce animal who cares about every little detail. A fighter who knows how to pick the right tools and take down her enemy with precision.

A student can never be lectured into a wolf. However, she can learn to be one when being forced to be in the battles all the time. Battles any lawyer will eventually face. And it is best to take place in the law school, by a wolf coach who bites with a lot of care. 

On failing

We had a good VIS Moot Court practice session last Wednesday. I love teaching moot court competition so much that I have to wonder where that comes from. I think moot court exercises bring out the lawyer in me. I sometimes missed my time as a lawyer. I enjoyed talking to clients and tried to solve their problems, whatever it takes. I actually enjoyed my time as a lawyer. 

I interned and later became an associate at a boutique law firm. At the time my mentor once told me that I have a kind of quality that makes me good lawyer material. "Clients trust you," he said. That's despite the fact that I was young and made all kinds of mistakes a young intern could possibly made. I was thrilled and curious by his comments. 

Now I realized a little bit. That was probably because I know very well the feeling of frustration and failure. I did not pass my first bar exam fresh out of school. I took a job not related to law for two years and later decided to quit in order to prepare for my bar exam. And failed. For two years I had no job and just preped for the bar exam. It was not uncommon in Taiwan for a law graduate to do that. Despair at times; lots of anxiety. You name it. I was forced to review every aspects of the preparation along the way. That is how I truly came to appreciate the qualification I finally obtained to practice the law. When I saw a client's problem, I knew how easy it was for me to fail. But perhaps somewhat ironically, I have the calmness to deal with it because I have lived through many kinds of failure. 

Congratulations to everyone who has passed the bar exam this year. For those who haven't, if it is the fight you want to fight, it will not be wasted. It can be done, and it will be done. It just need not be today.

Have to buy a vinyle record player.

Have to buy a vinyle record player. When we lived in Madison, Wisconsin, we bought lots of vinyle records. We had an extremely cheap set of player, amp and speakers. Miss the sound very much. We brought boxes of the records back to Taipei, and now they are at Chubei with us. Sleeping at the boxes. I could not bring back the set, though. I *really* have to buy a new player.

The photo was taken by Minolta Hi-Matic 9. We found it at St. Vincent de Paul for $4.5. I think the roll of film in it was more expensive . . .

Minolta Hi-Matic 9 Kodak Portra 400VC