Dwayne Phillips ' Day Book

This is my day book for this week. I have modeled this after science fiction and computer writer Jerry Pournelle's view, or as he calls it, his Day Book. I encourage you to see Jerry Pournelle's site and subscribe to his services.

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Summary of this week:

This week: May 5-May 11, 2008

Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday - Thursday - Friday - Saturday - Sunday

Monday May 5, 2008

In print, an excellent article in the May 5, 2008 issue of Computerworld by Tracy Mayor on Asperger's Disorder. It seems that the stereotypical computer nerd suffers from this disorder. It give me a different perspective on many of the people I know as well as myself.

Here is a good explanation of how David Blaine held his breath for 17 minutes. This is not easy, but there are techniques that help.

Here is The ultimate guide to Moleskine Notebooks. I use Moleskine for a journal - have for the last two years. I used another brand of journal for five or six years, but they quit making their hardbook version. Hardback works better for me than softback. I have journaled for almost a decade on the advice of Jerry Weinberg. Journaling has helped me on many occasions. It is how I think.

Here is a short piece on curing notebook backache. I'm disappointed in the piece. The best article on such that I read was in a magazine (cannot remember which) that I read on a coast-to-coast flight a few years ago. I was using my laptop computer for many painful hours in a hotel room. Remedy? Put the bed pillows on the chair to raise myself to the correct height for the keyboard. It works for me. I do this at home when writing on my laptop at the dining table. I also put a pillow behind my back. It helps.

So why does the U.S. hold terrorism suspects here and there? Almost eight years after al-Qaeda nearly sank the USS Cole with an explosives-stuffed motorboat, killing 17 sailors, all the defendants convicted in the attack have escaped from prison or been freed by Yemeni officials.

Computerworld reports that silver-zinc batteries are coming to laptops promising 40% more battery life than lithium-ion.

Information Week compares seven Linux desktop distributions. They declare Ubuntu the winner. "It works with almost any hardware you throw at it, and has tons of features for both existing Linux users and prospective converts from Windows." I don't have any personal knowledge on this matter. What is surprising to me is how Ubuntu has come out of no where in the past few years to gain this aclaim. If anything, this shows that there are still markets to conquer if you have a product that is better than what everyone is using now.

Some news about China. The Chinese have been mounting heavy attacks on Indian computer networks for the past year and a half. Also, the Chinese want American-owned hotels in China to censor Internet use during the upcoming summer Olympics. I think the Chinese will have their way on this one. Money is money.

Next Energy News reports on a fuel additive that cuts pollution by 90% and increases fuel efficiency by a third. I hope some of these things actually work. There are billions of dollars to be made in energy in the next 20 years.

LapTopMag has done a test on the typing speed of several small netbook computers. The HP mini-note scored 53 words per minute while the ASUS eee PC and the 2GoPC both scored around 44 words per minute. This test measures the HP mini-note keyboard at 92% regular size. They don't indicate the relative size of the other keyboards.

I guess this picture summarizes the differences and similarities between Linux and commercial software. Clever.

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Tuesday May 6, 2008

It appears that Broadband over power lines (BPL) is dead or dying. That is too bad. I thought it was a good idea to use existing infrastructure to bring broadband to more homes. Maybe not this one.

Now maybe Yahoo wants to talk with Microsoft again. I have not made note of the many comings and goings of the Microsoft-Yahoo story (except I was fooled by the April fool's headlines). We shall see what happens.

Maybe Apple will become part of corporate IT. There is much money to be made there, but I am not sure Apple wants to go there. It may ruin their reputation and cause them to move their technology into the boring but safe area.

Apple is the industry leader in providing help to consumers. They rated 80% satisfaction while the industry average is 60%. There are different ways to read this. One is that, while growing, Apple's market share is so small that they don't have many calls for help. Another is that the Apple computer just works, so they don't have many calls for help.

Here is something that will one day be common. Phoenix BIOS is making Fujitsu laptops fail safe. If your laptop is lost or stolen, they can turn it off. Data safe. Also, data recovered for you.

For future reference, another ten best laptops list. I don't like the way PC World posted this one. I have to click through ten web pages to see the list.

The Wall Street Journal has a new list of top business thinkers. This year the trend are for phsychologists and journalists.

For those of us who travel or work outside the home as part of working inside the home, free WiFi access is becoming sort of free. People like Starbucks are offering free access to repeat customers. This is free access if you buy something often. The model seems fair to me, but fairness was never part of making money.

 The Christian Science Monitor has a long article on netbooks
- those little laptop computers that cost less than $500. We owe much of this trend to the One Laptop Per Child attempt (maybe that will succeed, we shall see). I like this trend. As the article mentions, we have all this computer power, but we don't use much of it.

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Wednesday May 7, 2008 

The New Yorker has an excellent article on big ideas. The New Yorker does this from time to time. This is written by Malcolm Gladwell, and concerns among others Nathan Myhrvold and his company Intellectual Ventures. This company has filed some 500 patents a year for the past ten years. How do you sign up - no money, I would just like to participate.

The government of China is now upset with Google Maps and other mapping services. Such service don't represent Taiwan the way the People's Republic of China desires and they sometimes show people things that the PRC does want shown.

We may yet have a national WiMax network. Sprint, Clearwire and investors (Intel, Comcast, Time Warner, Google) are teaming to make this real. I hope it works. WiMax has big advantages over WiFi.

This post shows "Tech's Top 10 Workspaces." My workspace is not in any of these photos. My workspace has gray carpet, putty-colored furniture, and beige walls. From the photos, nice workspaces don't have to cost much money.

Now we have a rumor that Microsoft may buy Facebook. Well, why not?

I heard of this one several times before. "Iron Sky" the movie. This is impressive work given the meager resources at hand. I like this sort of thing, but I know it isn't for everyone.

This post has little good to say about the PsyStar computer. You do receive what you pay for, so this is not a surprise.

The Beta version of OpenOffice 3.0 has been released. This is progress towards a good day. I am looking forward to 3.0 as it is supposed to run on Apple computers without X11. That slows the software too much for me. I am using NeoOffice in the interim, but look forward to 3.0.

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Thursday May 8, 2008

A reminder of how far and fast computer hardware technology is moving. The current iPhone is more powerful than the iMac of 1998 and the original Mac of 24 years ago. Here is a video of Steve Jobs announcing the first iMac. It is almost comical at the specs that the crowd ooohed and aaaahed over. We live in fascinating times.

Another post in the realm of stop and think a moment, is from Computerworld. The 10 most important technologies you never think about. I find it good to pause and reflect.

Here is an interesting post on the U.S.S. Independence Littoral Combat Ship.

Here is more on OpenOffice 3.0 Beta with emphasis on Apple OS X users. The post throws in a remark about why anyone would use this when they could use Google Docs. I had not thought of Google Docs in that way, but with the latest feature of offline editing and automatic synchronizing, Google Docs is a much improved alternative.

BitTorrent has to pay Hollywood $111M. I am not big on downloading movies on the Internet, so I am a bit behind on this one. I do feel that you should be paid for the content you create and other people cannot copy it without your permission. There are many sides to the discussion about how you could make more money by giving away some of your rights. That is different, but stealing someone's rights seems to be a trivial case to judge.

The State Department has lost hundreds of laptop computers. Long sigh. I work in government. I am amazed at how people cannot keep track of accountable property. I have seen many million-dollar database projects come and go. Put a person at the door with a clipboard and have a big mean dog sit next to the person.

Some more new Dell laptop computers coming in the next month. Dell is putting more effort into the external design of their laptops.

Here is another "I sure hope this comes true" car from Volkswagon. This one promises 285 mpg on diesel fuel. It is a two-seater where the passenger sits behind the driver. This all makes for a narrow, low-drag design.

Maybe NASA is learning. Here is an experimental, low-cost, quick-to-build, modular space craft. I hope this works. We could use some workable technology in our space program.

The Grand Theft Auto 4 game made $300 million its first day and $500 million its first week. These numbers are amazing. Compare to the hotest opening movie of all time - one of the Spiderman films - at $150 million its first three-day weekend

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Friday May 9, 2008

Following a story earlier this week, there are fewer than 5,000 Broadband Power Line subscribers in America. So, what is the fuss about?

Do you want to make real money on the Internet? If yes, try selling t-shirts and selling pizza. People have to wear clothes and people have to eat.

Here is a little post on the Lenovo U110 laptop computer. What I find interesting is that it has face-recognition software to help with logon security. Nice use of biometrics. What I dislike about this and mnay other such posts is that they don't put a ruler in the images so I can tell how big the thing is.

This laptop computer carry bag body suit thing was too much for me to resist. It will start conversations.

Here is a post on counter-illumination, an old technique for making things less visible. This concept has been known for decades. Maybe new lighting technology will make it more useful.

News flash: video games don't turn kids into killers. Now I can sleep at night without one eye open for my kids. I suspected this to be the case seeing how we have had several world wars and other lesser known wars before the invention of video games.

Here is part of a review of using Google Docs online and offline. I am trying this at home. It seems to work, but also seems really slow on the updating. I'll keep trying it as there are big advantages to this.

This report claims that NASA is planning a mission that will land three astronauts on an asteroid. The three-month trip would be an experiment to gain knowledge for a much longer trip to Mars. Let's do it. Let's do something that gets people interested in manned exploration again.

This story is everywhere on the Internet today. Windows XP Service Patch 3 is hanging computers. I am glad I am not involved in the experiment.

I haven't seen this blog before - Free Range Kids encourages parents to let their kids go outside and play alone. We grew up this way, are our kids defective. Yes, times have changed, and times were different for me than they were for their parents.

This post describes how to try Knoppix Linux without installing it on your computer.

China won't have an open Internet during the Olympics in spite of what all the big international organizations have requested. This is not surprising.

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Saturday May 10, 2008

This one rings with me. Why does Apple keep charging $100 a year for its .Mac online services? They really don't offer much, and the price? Doesn't make sense to me.

I like this computer the same height as a Coca-Cola  can is wide. It looks to be about $500.

Toshiba will go to a cell processor in a future laptop computer. The processor comes from IBM - the buys who used to make the processors for Apple computers and still makes the processors for Sony's Playstation. Let's see if these processors once again compete with Intel's.

Here is a large music collection on a disk drive. It costs $9,000, but everything is all in one ready to go. Yes, as the post describes, you can do the same thing cheaper with some work.

For future reference, five tools everyone working online should have.

Here is one of those articles that makes you wonder. It documents how U.S. Congressmen and women own stock in companies that have big government contracts. One question is, where should they invest their money?

Aha! I might get $25 back from Apple. I had to replace my power adapter for my iBook computer. The settlement isn't yet settled, and I have no idea how Apple might know that I am in this group.

Microsoft is doing something smart here (I think). They are offereing big discounts on the Windows XP operating system to makers of the little computers (netbooks). Microsoft, however, is placing limitations on the hardware for those little computers (no touch screens for example). I think that limiting is also smart. Why should Microsoft have to spend millions to ensure their old operating system works on new hardware?

To go along with an earlier post on best places to work, here are the 10 worst places to work. This looks just like my workplace. Gray carpet, gray cubicles, putty-colored furniture.

Jerry Pournelle has a Chaos Manor Review up. I am glad to see he is feeling well enough to do so.

I don't like the looks of this, but I do like its function. This gadget puts a little camera in your remote controlled car or aircraft, and you see the picture in the goggles.  This inexpensive gadget would have many applications in law enforcement where the budgets are much smaller than in military circles.

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Sunday May 11, 2008

I have not seen an Amazon Kindle in person. I have read several reviews where people liked it. This reviewer loves hers.

Solid State Drives are closing the gap in speed with Hard Disk Drives. Good news.

For Mother's Day. Ten best things about being a mom.

NoteBookReview.com has an extensive review of the MacBookAir.

This is unbelieveable video. It is the guys jumping into their Levi's. Not the most important thing in the world, but it shows that a few guys can make a video and everyone in the world can see it.

This story has made the rounds - it is almost hard to believe. It seems that various U.S. government agencies bout $3.5M worth of Cisco router parts that were NOT made by Cisco and WERE made in China. This opens the possibility that Chinese hackers were able to break into countless U.S. government systems. Oh well.

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