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.

Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page
Email me at d.phillips@computer.org

Summary of this week:

This week: June 2-8, 2008

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

Monday June 2, 2008

Even the Washington Post thinks the surge is working in Iraq. They continue to say that a withdrawal of troops based on an arbitrary timetable would be a bad idea. Maybe George Bush was right.

Here is a lengthy post on copyright. ASCAP has written a bill of rights in disagreement with this post. Creators should be paid for what they create. I have the impression that this post and ASCAP are talking past one another, and neither has much interest in having a rational discussion.

Here is yet another view of Nathan Myhrvoid and Intellectual Ventures. This stems from Malcom Gladwell's article about such. Intellectual Ventures does claim a lot of patents that it doesn't attempt to implement. Whether that is "hoarding" or not is subjective.

Now Sony is entering the netbook market with a 9" screened portable computer. Keep the competitors coming - just in time for Christmas or back to school.

And Nvidia is building processors for these samll portable computers.

I usually don't link to photos, but I really liked this one. This is one of those space shuttle external fuel tanks falling through the sky.

The Sharper Image is closing all its stores. I like wandering through the Sharper Image stores. I never bought anything. That's probably an indicator of why they were losing so much money.

Adobe is taking on Google docs. They now have an online office suite at Acrobat.com.

For future reference, a bus service between Washington D.C. and New York City that has WiFi and power outlets in all seats.

I like this post from NextEnergyNews.com because it is about something that is working NOW. It concerns a machine that captures "waste heat" and turns it into electricity. A 50kWatt unit is operating at Southern Methodist Univeristy NOW.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Tuesday June 3, 2008

Images from the Phoenix Mars Lander are posted here. Here is another "home" page.

This shows a small, practical exoskeleton. The video shows the effect of the machine and also shows that the machine is barely visible. The user can carry 200 pounds all day. There are many application for this with people with severe physical injuries. I think we will see amazing thing done in this technology area in the next ten years. Here is a similar post with video about a robot arm.

This post discusses Intel's strategy for the "Mobile Internet Devices, netbooks, and nettops. Intel has an Atom-based processor for each slice of the market. VIA and NVIDIA are also in this market. I like the future.

Computex, a computer show in Taiwan, is happening this week. Here is a photo of several little computers using Intel Atom processors. The promises have become reality.

The MSI Wind is a reality. $400 buys a 10" screen, 80GByte disk drive, and so on running Linux. This now appears to be a clear step better than the ASUS eee PC.

This claims that Starbucks and AT&T now offer free WiFi. You have to buy a Starbuck card, use it once a month or so, and allow AT&T to send you a few e-mails, but you can use WiFi for up to two hours a day. As one commenter wrote, independent coffee shops have had free WiFi for years. Starbucks, however, are available nationwide and are easy to find while driving around unfamiliar places.

This is an interesting tool - goosh. It is a text-based Google shell search. You type commands like "wiki Dwayne Phillips" to find occurences of "Dwayne" "Phillips" "Dwayne Phillips" in Wikipedia. The answers are displayed as text with links (much like this Day Book).

It seems that everyone is jumping into the solid state drive market. Good competition.

Microsoft is extending the sales of Windows XP again. This time it is for low-cost desktop computers (also known as NetTop computers). Let's see, Microsoft has a product that people want to buy. Should Microsoft sell that product?

Apple launches a big back-to-school promotion. Buy a certain type of Apple computer or other device (see the link for details) and Apple will give you a $299 rebate on an iPod Touch device. I have two sons eligible. Maybe I should start teaching night classes locally. I would rather have $300 off the purchase of the computer.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Wednesday June 4, 2008 

Several blog posts recently point to the open source software audio editor Audacity. I used Audacity 4 or 5 years ago and liked it then. I have every reason to believe that it works even better now. My youngest son is a music major and will probably have a use for this. Keep it in mind.

Some terms related to smaller, cheaper, powerful-enough computers:
Intel and others are building processors specifically for these markets.

Jeff Atwood reports some numbers on USB flash drives. Models holding 16GBytes and more are now available. Why not just use these as carry-around disks (the essence of your computer)? One reason not to is the relatively slow transfer rates. Good post.

Nigerian scam artists are taking their trade to LinkedIn. I lived in Nigeria 1995-1996. The "419" scam is named after the number of the law passed about scamming. 60 Minutes did a story about the Nigerian scam artists back in the 1990s. They are very good at their illicit trade. See the old movie "The Sting" for a hint of what they can do.

This predicts that a quarter of smart phones will be based on Linux by 2013.

One thing that some people like about the ASUS eee PC tiny computers is that you can take them apart and solder things to them. This post shows that the 9" screen model is even easier to modify than the earlier model. Adding to the hacking is that at $400, you can afford to break it. Not many people are going to solder things to their $3,000 Mac AirBook.

Here is a favorable review of using the ASUS eee PC. Note how this author also mentions the low cost to replace the machine if it is destroyed.

My experience with an eee PC is also favorable. I can type on it at 75% the speed of a full-sized keyboard. That forces me to think more - not a bad thing. What I like most is that the success of the eee PC is pushing the computer industry to finally make a cheap computer instead of just selling new, more capable computers at the same old price.

Flip is updating its small, simple video camera. The new model is (surprise) smaller, more capable - but a little more expense at $180.

Here is part 2 of Travelling with a MacBook Air. I have used an Air for the past month. It is a computer that works. The odd thing I have noticed is that it takes a long time to charge the battery. Much longer than on all the other portable computers I have used.

Jerry Pournelle has a new Mail Bag column up. I am happy to read that he is recovering - slowly, but recovering.

Mike Kavis reports back on one year of using no Microsoft software - completely open source for a year at work. It worked. He had no problems. This won't work for everyone, but it will work for many people. Software has been the dominant cost in computing for many years. It doesn't have to be any longer. This is how ASUS and others can sell fully functional computers for $400.
Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Thursday June 5, 2008

A paper from Princeton University calls for the U.S. government to change its strategy regarding the Internet. They advocate stop polishing poorly designed government web sites. Instead concentrate on making data available and let everyone else mashup good web sites. I concur. I work for the U.S. government. Until there is real reform inside government (not likely in my lifetime), government cannot react to changing times. Trying to is mere folly, and a waste of taxpayers' money.

It seems that Polaroid is finally selling its portable printer. They are trying to bring back instant prints of your photos. I think that is a worthy effort. They have been trying to bring this device to market for several years now. Maybe they have it working. We shall see.

Windows XP lives on perhaps because of Linux. This theory is that the advent of $400 and less computers that run Linux AND sell a million copies (ASUS eee PC) showed Microsoft that there is a good market for smaller operating systems (like XP - at least it is small when compared to Vista).

A little more evidence of this is that Aver is pushing Linux on its smallest computers.

Years ago, we ran various Unix flavors on computers that had 1 Mbyte (that is Mbyte, not Gbyte) of RAM. Where did those operatin systems go? Why can't I run Linux on my old (read very old) computer that has 16 MBytes of RAM?

Believe it or not, rural areas in America have fewer broadband connections than urban areas. Someone had to do a study to make this official. I am surprised to find that Virginia, my home for now, has relatively few broadband connections. I live in Northern Virginia (also known as Federal Virginia, to accompany Navy Virginia, and Virginia Virginia), where broadband is plentiful. My mother lives in rural Louisiana where broadband is only available "in town."

People are encrypting data on portable computers, but not on the cell phones. Oooops. Security problems with those employer-supplied Blackberries.

Yard sale? Garage sale? What are those things. People are selling their stuff on Craigslist. I agree. My youngest son has bought two musical instruments - at excellent prices - in the last month via Craigslist. Now if I could get my wife to...

I hadn't realized this. When you buy and install Windows Vista, you can then choose to "downgrade" to XP. This seems strange, but if it is a way to buy a copy of XP, so be it.

The next release of Apple's operating system (10.6) will be called "Snow Leapord." For me, the numbers work better. I'm confused by the big cat names.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Friday Jun 6, 2008

Someone is about to sell a 64 GIGA byte CompactFlash card. It can hold 19,000 images from a 20 mega-pixal camera. How long will it take someone to look at 19,000 images?

For reference: SafeManuals.com has downloadable copies of thousands of user manuals. I have had to search for PDFs of user manuals half a dozen times in the past week. This site has almost all of them in one place. Finding the user manual is much easier here.

Stowe Boyd reports on a study that says Instant Messaging (IM) reduces interruptions. While a basic guess is that IM increases interruptions, that is not true. It seems that IM sessions take less time than phone calls and other forms of communication to transfer needed information.

I am a bit amused at how many people on the Internet are crediting Barack Obama's winning the Democratic nomination for President (I don't think that is official yet) to the Internet and Web 2.0. (Wikinomics - one of my favorite blogs - is one of these. Funny how people making money from Web 2.0 claim that Web 2.0 was the deciding factor.

On the home front, I am trying to interface an iMac to a Panasonic HD projector (model AE 2000). I am using the DVI port on the back of the iMac and a DVI-to-VGA adapter from Apple. The iMac "freezes" when I connect this into the back of the iMac. The mouse doesn't work, the keyboard doesn't work, and the projector projects a solid blue screen. Apple help thinks the problem is that projector is not compatible with OS 10.5. An older PowerMac G5 running OS 10.4 works with the projector. I spoke with Panasonic help, and they are researchig the situation as they believe this setup should work. I hope I have more to come including a resolution.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Saturday June 7, 2008

I read Jeff Atwood's blog "Coding Horror." I like his post on the Greatest Invention in Computer Science. He credits the routine to that title (I still call them subroutines, but I am probably older than Atwood). I don't know if consider the routine the single greatest invention, but it is pretty high up there.

Fujitsu portable computers will come later this year with wireless USB built in. I find that inviting in some ways. Fewer wires to carry, but what about security?

The USB 3.0 standard is coming in 2009, but the vendors are fighting over who can see it in time to be first to market. USB 3.0 is to be ten times faster than USB 2.0. Given all the fuss here, there must be a lot of money at stake.

I don't like working in cubibles in the office. I do like the design shown here from Planet 3 Studios. Watch the video. 

Here is a post about the Lenovo IdeaPad U110. This is halfway between the MacBook Air and the Lenovo X300. I have been able to experiment with both the Air and the X300. The IdeaPad (what a great name, who doesn't want to carry around ideas?) doesn't have an optical drive, so it is closer to the size of the Air. The IdeaPad has more processing power and I/O ports than the Air. A nice fit.

Apple is now the number three seller of smartphones in the world. How to grow a business? Open new markets. It is still a computer with software in it, but now it is a phone and practically everyone in the modern world uses a telephone. Find something that you can put a computer and software on. The kitchen seems to be an open market. So does clothing. What else?

T-Mobile is now suing Starbucks for letting AT&T into the WiFi trade in Starbucks. I don't know if they have a case. Competition can be cruel at times, but breaking contracts is wrong.

I saw this video yesterday. Someone goes beserk in an office, and it is captured by the security camera. This is hard to believe, so much so that I wonder if it were staged. I would not be surprised either way.

This post predicts that the really small portable computer market will be like the cell phone market - give away the machine and charge for an accompanying service. Give away the computer and charge for a wireless broadband service or charge for a complete on-line applications service. This makes sense.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Sunday June 8, 2008

An interesting look at Apple announcements. This timeline has links to videos and such. It is hard to believe the MacBook Air is only six months old and the MacBook is two years old.  The MacBook is due for an update, but phones are making lots of money these days.

ReadWriteWeb describes a new site that discusses every audio - science as well as art. The site is WikiAudio. I may refer to it in the future onthe science side.

This article is about General Motors' Volt car. It is two years away and may cost $35K. It is interesting technology, but still a stunt as who is going to buy a $35K battery? Perhaps it will lead to something practical one day.

This story is all over the Internet. The Federal Trade Commision is investigating Intel. I don't know what the story is about. I am sure the press will teach me over the coming months.

This may be the way to sell books in the future. Advertise by making a video and putting it on YouTube. I shall give it a thought.

NASA believes it can build large telescope mirrors on the moon. Actually making them on the moon instead of making them on earth and taking them to the moon. Such telescopes should work much better than anything we have today.

Toshiba's latest laptop computers will use face-recognition software to login. Interesting application of that technology. I hope they have tried the obvious shortcuts to break this security.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page