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Government Power IT

USPTO Power Outage Damages Equipment and Shuts Down IT Systems (uspto.gov) 62

An anonymous reader sends word that many online systems at the United States Patent and Trademark Office are down due to damaged equipment after a power outage. A statement from the USPTO reads in part: "A major power outage at USPTO headquarters occurred last night resulting in damaged equipment that required the subsequent shutdown of many of our online and IT systems. This includes our filing, searching, and payment systems, as well as the systems our examiners across the country use. We are working diligently to assess the operational impact on all our systems and to determine how soon they can be safely brought back into service in the coming days. We understand how critical these systems are for our customers, and our teams will continue to work around the clock to restore them as quickly as possible, though the impacts may be felt through the Christmas holiday. We know many people have questions regarding filing and payment deadlines. We are reviewing this topic and will provide an update when we have further information."
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USPTO Power Outage Damages Equipment and Shuts Down IT Systems

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  • by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2015 @06:06PM (#51175179)
    Guess they'll need to use literal rubber stamps now!
    • That was my immediate response as well, they'll just have to go back to rubber-stamping every arbitrary patent filing that appears in their inbox by hand. In fact they could just replace the whole patent apparatus with a franking-machine type device that automatically stamps each filing with "Approved once payment clears".
      • by WarJolt ( 990309 )

        That is correct. Then just let lawyers decide which ones are enforceable once they are challenged. I laugh every time I hear someone brag about their patent portfolio before it's been properly vetted by those blood suckers.

      • That is exactly what isn't working right now, because the powers out. It has been in use so long, nobody knows how to wield the rubber stamp anymore.

    • You obviously know nothing of the process. I lost my first patent attempt after years of work and numerous back and forth rejections from the examiner. I later obtained a patent in a different IT field after 7 years of hard, expensive work, and again numerous rejections. It is very difficult to get a patent.
  • (not in that order tho ;)

    UPSs save lives. If you insist on not backing up your data, not having your equipment on a UPS, and not following standard authentication and encryption standards recommended by industry, have the decency to resign and go home and fall on your blade.

    In my house even my AMOLED TV is on a UPS. Power spikes happen all the time. A $100 UPS will prevent a $200 visit to replace a $100 part in a TV power supply. How is that a bad idea?

    *shees*

    E

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      For one thing, you have to replace the UPS battery every year.
      • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2015 @06:40PM (#51175385)

        For one thing, you have to replace the UPS battery every year.

        3 - 5 years. I some network closet UPS's with 7 year old batteries that are still showing around 60% of original reserve capacity so we haven't bothered replacing them since they'll still last longer than our main server room batteries do in a power outage.

        UPS battery changes are cheaper than replacing hardware that failed because it's not on a UPS.

        • Even older APC SmartUPS can give a false reading if they've never been fully cycled. Yes, they do a periodic self-test (you can hear the relay clicking when being performed), but not a full discharge and recharge cycle. With batteries that old, you'll be lucky if you get 2 to 5 minutes of runtime out of them at nominal load. In fact, for SmartUPS, they must be recalibrated with a new battery. Typically this used to involve putting a 25% or 33% load until the battery completely drains in order to learn the n

          • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

            Even older APC SmartUPS can give a false reading if they've never been fully cycled. Yes, they do a periodic self-test (you can hear the relay clicking when being performed), but not a full discharge and recharge cycle. With batteries that old, you'll be lucky if you get 2 to 5 minutes of runtime out of them at nominal load. In fact, for SmartUPS, they must be recalibrated with a new battery. Typically this used to involve putting a 25% or 33% load until the battery completely drains in order to learn the new runtime metric. We used to use a few halogen lights to provide the test load :)

            We do rundown tests every 6 months where the UPS runs itself on battery for some period of time (15 minutes) and checks the battery state? The UPS's are way oversized for the loads we run on them (2 SU3000's per closet, each closet has between 6 - 12 switches, and we've dramatically cut back on PoE power since most people switched from desk phones to cell phones), and even if we only had 5 minutes of runtime that would be more than enough, the UPS's are mostly there to let the network ride out short power g

            • We do rundown tests every 6 months where the UPS runs itself on battery for some period of time (15 minutes) and checks the battery state?

              Why abuse batteries like this? What did they do to you?

              When not being boiled by crappy chargers they are discharged to low SOC at unnecessarily high rate for no useful reason (~$10 BOM hit for useful dummy load obviously out of the question). To pour salt on the wound same crappy chargers spend days trickling current back into batteries because UPS manufacturers don't care.

              People wonder why they have to pay to replace batteries so often when they appear to just sit there idle 99.99% of the time.

              • It's good to perform a test load on them once in a while, but even if you don't, 5 years and they'll need to be replaced; if not to address a potential hazard. They're lead acid cells. They dry out, bloat, and in some cases vent violently!.

                Some consumer grade UPS units are so cheap that it makes no sense to replace just the battery. With those, you're better off replacing the whole thing as all the internal components wear out with age to. But, if you wish to go with a generic replacement battery assuming y

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      United Parcel Service. That's a trademarked name, so we can't use it.

      • I always thought it stood for ÜPS, as in "oops", because that's what seems to happen a lot with the packages they send me.

    • A $100 UPS will prevent a $200 visit to replace a $100 part in a TV power supply. How is that a bad idea?

      How? $600 worth of replacement UPS batteries over the life of a $500 TV that will actually be more like obsolete in two years anyway?

      Never had a UPS on a TV. Have never had a TV fail due to any of our many power flickers, sags, spikes, or outages. Sure, it'll happen eventually. In the meantime, I'm many hundreds of dollars ahead of the game (thousands, probably, looking at the period of time I'm talking about) and also not paying for the extra electricity it takes to keep those UPSes awake and happy.

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        A $100 UPS will prevent a $200 visit to replace a $100 part in a TV power supply. How is that a bad idea?

        How? $600 worth of replacement UPS batteries over the life of a $500 TV that will actually be more like obsolete in two years anyway?

        Never had a UPS on a TV. Have never had a TV fail due to any of our many power flickers, sags, spikes, or outages. Sure, it'll happen eventually. In the meantime, I'm many hundreds of dollars ahead of the game (thousands, probably, looking at the period of time I'm talking about) and also not paying for the extra electricity it takes to keep those UPSes awake and happy.

        My $1000 3 year old TV is on a $75 UPS. Even if I have to replace the UPS every 5 years, I still consider it money well spent. If nothing else, it prevents short power glitches from interrupting my TV show.

        • If you have glitches often enough for it to be a problem, then it's money well spent.

          That being said, I get the idea that people are forgetting that surge suppressors are a thing, and cheaper than UPS units. Hell, I have a whole-house one that I installed on my main breaker box.

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

        a $500 TV that will actually be more like obsolete in two years

        Jeezus, consumer much?

        • apparently, since he's also using up 20-30 UPS batteries within two years...since they only cost $20-$30, and his math is "$600 worth of replacement UPS batteries"
      • $600? Just how long do you keep your TVs around? I can buy a name-brand Power Sonic battery through a non-ebay company for under $20, with free shipping. How are you going through 30 batteries over the life of your TV? Even at three years per battery, that means your using the same TV for 90 years?!? Per your stated TV lifetime, you'd have to be replacing the battery almost every week.
    • Data centers have had power switching fails some times it just cuts all power other times fires and with a fire when the firemen say cut all power they mean do it now.

  • Perhaps it's a side topic, but in my opinion patents do more harm than good. Big expensive labs that do nothing but invent are a rarity now. Most discoveries happen in the course of making something specific and would happen anyhow. Patents just hamper the little tinkerers and make lawyers rich.

    • It might happen organically. It doesn't sound like they have a good DR plan. I hope their backups work. They said "several days," that's not a good sign.
    • The USPTO can (and does) award patents for almost anything. The patent examiners aren't experts in every field and if they receive advice that an item, method, or process is unique and non-obvious, they will award a patent.

      But a patent is just a pretty piece of paper until you try to enforce it. Only then will the courts actually look at the merit of the patent and declare it enforceable or invalid.

      The main reason for granting patents is to persuade inventors to publish their ideas so knowledge will s
      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        The main reason for granting patents is to persuade inventors to publish their ideas so knowledge will spread and in return they are given exclusive licensing rights for a reasonable amount of time.

        I know that, but it's not working as intended. There's no evidence companies heavily use patent searches to make something or make something better. They mostly use them to avoid getting sued. The court battles and the practice of holding products and product ideas "hostage" is too large a counter cost.

        Overall, t

  • Seems odd theres not BC/DR here

    • It's never a priority until it's needed. People say we can live without that system for a few days or weeks or whatever. My response is, well let's do a DR test and turn it off for a few days.
    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      BC/DR does not mean no outages. It doesn't even mean no extended outages. It simply means that there is a plan on how to eventually recover. The acceptable length of time to recovery entirely depends on the impact of the outage. If every second of downtime means lost money, having a hot backup datacenter in a different location makes sense. If, like in this case, a few days of downtime make no real difference (it can take years to go through the patent process, what is another few days going to matter)

  • Way back when, they were putting in Hitec UPSs, a diesel-rotary flywheel system for backup power. About 7-10 years ago, 365 Main In San Francisco had an outage with these units after a few consecutive short outages. I know Hitec updated the firmware on the system to change timings, but I wonder if these units were ever "patched."

    Oh well... Nothing of value lost and all that.

  • So instead of a patent taking 4 years to grant, it's now going to take 4 years and 30 days? Oh the humanity! This is a deal breaker and changes everything.
  • I'm a little disturbed by their use of the term "customers". It's a bad sign that they consider patent applicants to be customers. It implies that it's their job to grant patents--denying a patent would not be serving their customers.

    Yeah, I know, this isn't new. It's been their attitude for years, but I hate having our noses rubbed in it.

    • Don't get too hung up on it and add extra meaning that is not there. "The customer is always right" is a statement that become utter bullshit in a variety of circumstances even if it is the catch cry of retail. I used to do weld tests and the ones that failed stayed failed no matter what the customer wanted in the short term. Services have defined limits.
      • "The customer is always right"
        That term mostly was used to try to prevent employees from getting into arguments with customers over trivial matters. If the customer was a Yankees fan, don't start busting him because you are a Red Sox fan, or if they come ranting about politics just politely agree with his politics and get back to business. However the customer goes to you for a service or product. If it is a product you can choose to trade it for currency or not. for a service, they pay for the work in

  • By any chance would this equipment be running on Microsoft Windows.
  • It would be a very merry Christmas for all if patents end up expiring due to non payment of maintenance fees.

    USPTO IT please stay home and celebrate Christmas then celebrate the new year away from USPTO systems for the whole of 2016. Nobody will mind a brief 1 year outage... honest.

  • They were hacked or were being hacked. They took the systems offline to prevent further theft of data.
  • "I'd better send him my final rev. of the application due tomorrow within a few hours" after I got to work. I had expected to have until the end of the day. The night before I had almost given up in despair, that the thing could ever be made so that his way of saying what I tried to tell him was invented could ever make sense. And that he covered the important shit, instead of the irrelevant stuff.

    By some miracle I was able to send it off within a couple hours.

    My first and hopefully last experience wit

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