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 12-May 18, 2008

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

Monday May 12, 2008

One of the things I've learned while doing this Day Book is the cycle of old and new media. Old media - newspapers - have their biggest day of the week of Sunday. New media - blogs and such - do little on Sunday or Saturday. I guess the readers of new media don't read much online on the weekends, so why post then?

On the home front over the weekend. Our old kitchen computer wouldn't print to our wireless network printer. After an afternoon of work, my son - the professional system administrator - fixed it after Mother's Day lunch. It seems that Norton Antivirus was preventing the printer from communicating with the computer. Something to remember for the next time.

These two links point to a "peel and stick" set of solar panels that can be mounted on a flat surface like a roof. This link shows a video of the install of 2.25 Kilowatts of panels in half an hour. This link gives a little more information on the panels themselves. This appears to be a practical solution. You don't drill any holes in your roof and build a large support structure. These pages don't give costs and the time it takes to recover your costs.

I like this site. It links to free sicence and technology textbooks that you can download. These are real textbooks that the authors have made available to the public.

I will try to watch this one. Evindently, there is a a book out now called "The Dumbest Generation" by Mark Bauerlein. I've never heard of the book or the author, up until now.

I have heard of Michael Pollan before. He has practical and healthy ideas about eating. His most famous is Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. This sounds too simple, but much of his message is that much of the "food" sold in gorcery stores is many steps removed from the "food" that comes out of the ground. There is more profit in processing food than in selling it fresh from the ground. Hence, large companies process food from the ground as much as they can before they sell it in the stores. This link discusses Pollan's ideas and links to a one-hour speech he gave at Google.

Here are some new rules for buying a Mac. I may have to do this in the summer of 2008 as my youngest son - a music major and fan of Garage Band - needs a computer for college. The article recommends looking at the lower end Macs - the iMac instead of the Mac Pro on the desktop, the MacBook instead of the MacBook Pro for laptops - as they have improved their power recently.

Eye-Fi has now updated their SD camera memory card. Not only does it move images from your camera to a network, it also now geotags the images so you know where you were when you took the photo. This card is called the Eye-Fi Explore.

Engadget reports on a robotic sailing competition. Autonomous sail boats will attempt to cross the Atlantic or something. This is intended as a "proof-of-concept for long-range autonomous sea-faring scientific vessels." I find it fascinating and can think of many other applications. The official rules are here.

Here is another energy project aimed at Africa that I hope works. It uses dirt containing microbe (abundant) with water (abundant in many places in Africa, but scarce in others) and a few devices to generate enough energy to charge a battery and operate a light, radio, or cell phone. The link is here.

There was a major earthquake in China today. The Twitter crowd beat everyone to reporting the story. There may be something to that Twitter. Perhaps I should buy a cell phone.

It appears that Apple will soon be offering HBO programs on iTunes. The news is that HBO may get better (higher) prices for their content than others have from Apple.

I like to read the Location Independent Professional (or Living) Blog. One day...I aspire to do such. This post, however, shows some of the not so good parts of working from anywhere.

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Tuesday May 13, 2008

Yesterday's earthquake in China was horrid. I am guessing the death toll will be near 10,000. There has been much on the Internet about how people in the U.S. first learned of the quake through Twitter. This story shows how while CNN didn't have camera crews on the scene, people made their own videos and put them on YouTube.

Hewlett-Packard is about to buy EDS (Electronic Data Systems - Ross Perot's old company). There are $14Billion involved. I remember looking through the HP catalogs in the early 1980s back when HP sold test equipment. That catalog was better than the Sears Christmas catalog I looked at as a child.

With all the food being burned for fuel farmers still aren't making much money. This story predicts that less corn will be grown this year. The reason is that the cost of growing it is rising faster than the price of it.

Life for females in Saudi Arabia is ... different. This is an eye-opening article.

What is good for Apple can be good for (part of) Microsoft. Microsoft sales of Office 2008 for Mac are huge. People buy an Apple computer and then buy Office software for it. Here is a clue to software companies: people are buying Apple computers and will buy good software for them. Hint.

I like this article on living with a laptop computer. I agree with the author's advice: buy a loaded machine as it is hard to upgrade the hardware, watch the weight, and most important - try out the keyboard as much as you can before you buy.

This is a great promotional video for Ubuntu Linux.

And Red Hat releases Fedora 9. Red Hat is widely used in business and governemnt (yes, some parts of government use this). I am associated with a lot of people who crunch numbers - signal processing. Red Had Linux machines with multiple processors work well in this field.

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Wednesday May 14, 2008 

MySpace won $235million in a lawsuit against spammers. I don't think they will actually collect the money. I know if someone won a suit against me for that amount they would be out of luck.

Many people are not happy with Windows Vista. General Motors will wait it out and run XP until Windows 7 comes along.

The MSI Wind netbook computer is coming. As this post shows, it is impressive. It uses Intel's new Atom processor - small size, fairly big performance. Under 3 pounds, 10" screen. I don't see any notes on the size and usability of the keyboard. That will be the big statistic for me. Here is another report on the MSI Wind. Impressive. Where do you buy them?

I liked Malcom Gladwell's piece last week on Nathan Myhrvold. This post, however, helps surface some of the questions I had last week. Like, what good does it do to be awarded 500 patents a year? Who has the resources to turn those into profits? Do you own them and sit on them?

What do with your portable computer when you are at the Internet coffee shop and have to go the bathroom? This post addresses that question. Me? I take the computer with me to the bathroom. I feel no embarassment in doing so. It makes perfectly good sense to me.

HP's purchase of EDS may not be all good news. There seems to be many who are skeptical of the wisdom of this proposed deal.

WiMax will face stiff comptetition from Long Term Evolution (LTE). LTE is a migration upwards from the GSM cell phone standard. As such, it seems logical that it will dominate high-speed wireless data services. We shall see. I like the competition.

This post predicts that Apple's portable computers will take a 50% share in that market in a year. It contains some good arguments for Apple growing its marketshare quickly - 50%? maybe. The point I glean from this is that Apple sells three models of portable computer - the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air. How many models does Dell sell? Toshiba? HP? Some Dell models are great, but you have to buy just the right one. The selection is dizzying and is chasing away customers. There is a hamburger chain in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. called Five Guys. They sell hamburbers, hot dogs, french fries, and sodas. I like it. I like the Apple line of portable computers.

Here is a small, single-board computer that needs no fan for cooling. These are impressive. I wish I had the time to experiment with these.

I feel compelled to mention the Wikinomics blog. I read the book Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams about two years ago. All the researching I do on the web today is based on that book. Their's was the first blog that I read daily. Recently, they have added several other writers to the blog. The result is more good posts everyday. I like this.

While mentioning daily reading, I must also mention Jerry Pournelle's site. This Day Book is an offshoot of Pournelle's View. I read Pournelle's work intently several times a day. I espcially am following his recovery from radiation treatment for a brain tumor. My uncle died of a brain tumor in the early 1970s. We treat these much better today than back then. Pournelle's recover is enlightening and inspiring. If he can keep working through that, well...

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Thursday May 15, 2008

I am posting this one day late. I made a mistake with my email yesterday and lost this information for a day.

This is an in-depth review of the Fedora 9 Linux release. The product is good, but it is still a little difficult to install.

This is amazing - I'm not sure about the judgment of the guy. A working jet pack with wings. Yves Rossy would like to cross the English Channel with this and maybe fly through the Grand Canyon. Evil Kneivel was born 50 years to soon. Here is a video of it.

The picoprojectors are coming this year. I'm not sure if this is a good thing. They will be convenient for people who travel and have to make presentations.

Here is a new term for me: the Black Hat Tax - that money spent by Internet companies to fight scamming, phishing, hacking, and reply to government requests. Auren Hoffman estimates it at 25% for successful Internet companies. This is a much higher percentage expense than regular stores pay for security.

This is a strong rumor that Apple is working on a small tablet (or large iPhone) computer. I like the concept. But now Intel is denying this rumor. We shall see.

Bill Gates is now talking about a TouchWall. The concept is to make every flat surface (table, wall, what else is flat and prevalent in our lives) into a computer interface that we touch and communicate with. This is looking into the future - interesting. We shall see.

CBS is buying CNET Networks. This will make CBS one of the top ten most popular Internet companies in the U.S. Someone at CBS is thinking. Now if they could just do something with that contract with Katie Couric...

More people adopted cable TV access to the Internet than telephone access last quarter. This reversed a 3 1/2 year trend. I use a cable modem for broadband access. I guess I have done so for 6 or 7 years now. Verizon is now pulling fibre optic cables through my neighborhood, so in a couple of months I will have the choice of cable modem or FIOS. Ah, competition for my money.

Here is more on the issue of letting high-tech immigrants work in America. Here, a congressman wants to have graduates of U.S. graduate schools stay and work without using an H1-B visa. This comment exposes much of the need for H1-B visa workers as a sham. I cannot test its accuracy, but I have trouble doubting it.

Apple is selling a lot of Time Capsule network backup drives. If I buy an Apple portable computer for my music-major son, I may buy a Time Capsule. Wireless, automatic backups sound nice.

Here is one of those forwarding-looking posts about the top 10 tech trends. Everything will go to mobile devices - combine your cell phone and computer into a little thing that fits in a pocket. Also, turning bio mass into fuel will make $2 a gallon gas without any petroleum. This latter prediction sounds good to me. If it comes true it will shift the politics of the world. The middle east will no longer be a big concern to the industrial and information nations. Maybe people will leave it alone. I hope so. But, if this happens, water will replace oil as a precious material. Looks like lots of money to be made in desalinization.

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Friday May 16, 2008

Here is another post critiquing William Gladwell's article on Nathan Myhrvold.

This post is related to Gladwell's piece. The idea is the easy part, making it happen is really tough. I've spent most of my career making things happen. Many people tell me that is the easy part, the creative part is creating the idea. I feel that there is tremendous creativity in making something happen. If making things happen were easy, everyone would be doing it. Well, look around - everyone isn't making things happen. Consider searching the Internet. I studied search algorithms in the late 1970s along with tens of thousands of other people. Google made search happen in a profitable manner. Very few can make that claim.

Asus introduces the model eee 901. It has an Intel Atom processor. This comes out in early June. The price - $650 - seems high, but maybe that is with an expensive Windows operating system installed. Let's hope an Linux version is available for under $400. By the way, last night at the local Best Buy I saw an Asus eee with 7" screen running Windows XP. So they do exist.

And now you can get a One Laptop Per Child machine with MS Windows. To some this protends the end of mankind. To others, well just another day. OLPC claims that MS Windows only increases the cost of the system by $3. That is truly is nice of Microsoft. Microsoft isn't always spelled Micro$oft.

Now the reports are that Apple won't update the MacBook portable computer until July or September. Rats. I was hoping for a June announcement. We shall see.

Another great idea for wind power. This one has a novel approach to putting multiple rotors on one shaft. I hope this works.

Sprint promises to have commercial WiMax in the Washington-Baltimore area later this year. We shall see. I would like this to happen.

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Saturday May 17, 2008

Alltel is dropping out of WiMax and going to LTE. This hurts Sprint's efforts in WiMax. I like the competition, but this could delay us having a good, mobile broadband system.

This cannot happen too soon. It appears that all city-wide WiFi efforts are dead. Firms couldn't figure out how to do the last mile as there were too many last miles to do. Shopping centers, airports - relatively small places in a city can provide WiFi and probably make a profit doing it.

Ars Technica - one of the sources I read every day - has been bought by Conde Nast. Conde Nast is the parent  of Wired.com - another source I read everyday. This story appears in several sources, so it must be fairly important. 

Here is a post on working from a co-working place instead of home. This option works well for some who have cabin fever from home.

Now Japan is running short of engineering students. Perhaps the Japanese kids don't want a degree in engineering just to see their jobs outsourced to India.

HP is to use a council of teenagers to design a set of products for teenagers. That sounds like a good idea to me.

Here is how to put a bootable and persistent Fedora 9 Linux on a USB stick. Great stuff! Can you do this with OS X or Windows XP? Another advantage of Linux.

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Sunday May 18, 2008

Here are some Apple rumors for the weekend:

Apply may build a MacBook portable with a 15.4" screen. At the present, Apple only sells a MacBook with a 13" screen. The larger screen model could come out in June.

But wait, this one says the MacBook will have a major upgrade in October. This upgrade cuts the thickness in half and uses a new type of plastic case.

This rumor looks pretty solid. It shows a new RF card for the MacBooks that has WiMax as well as WiFi.

And now, a wireless keyboard for Apple TV. Some of the concepts include a multi-touch pad.

Here is another idea for creating almost-city-wide WiFi access. It involves restaurants and lots of marketplace forces. I don't know that it would cover a city, but as I wrote earlier in the week it would pretty much cover all shopping areas.

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