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: June 9-15, 2008

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

Monday June 9, 2008

Will print be dead in ten years? Some people believe so. I understand it is possible for print to go away, but I find it unlikely.

This story is too good to pass without mention. I hope it is true. A Bulova watch lost in the Gibralter harbor during WWII was recovered. And it still works after 67 years.

I like Neil McAllister's take on the Windows XP to Vista back to XP exercise. Maybe the rat race is over. Maybe, just maybe software makers won't keep growing their software in anticipation of more processing power. Maybe, just maybe software makers will write software to meet a user's need instead of anticipating a user's desires for more and more featuers that fewer and fewer people will use. I have been writing more on the Google docs text formatter (I won't call it a word processor). It works for what I want to do 95% of the time. I have written four non-fiction texts using the old Unix vi editor. I use Word or something like it for the last step of making a manuscript. Typing is typing - at least for me.

Lenovo will sell an X200 series of portable computers in September 2008. These will have 12" screens (breaking the 13.3" standard - YES!) and weigh less than 3 pounds - another YES!

This is an odd video of four cell phones popping popcorn. I suppose it is real. There is lots of RF energy out there folks.

Reading books: I just finished reading Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. Jerry Pournelle recommended this book last year in a replay to an e-mail I sent him. I received the book at Christmas 2007 and have been reading as much as I could during lunch time. I found this a difficult book to read - the six months required for me to finish it is one indicator. Swain wrote this in a structured manner. I wish Swain had better annotated his structure as I kept getting lost in his chapters. The book, however, does provide plenty of good advice to a writer trying to make money in the fiction market. Hence, I thank Pournelle for his recommendation.

For me, the summary of the book is on page 257. It reads:

So, this chapter ends; and with it, our analysis of the major elements that go into fiction: words, motivation-reaction units, scenes, story patterns, and character.

Yes, that is his analysis of the major elements. Master them, or learn from them, and you will be on your way. This book is not for the faint of heart. If you are serious about writing fiction, or serious about reading and analyzing fiction, get this book and study it.

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Tuesday June 10, 2008

Jerry Pournelle has a new Chaos Manor column up. I am encouraged by his recovery process.

While mentioning acquantances, Esther Derby, Johanna Rothman, and Jerry Weinberg will be presenting the Problem Solving Leadership workshop in Sweden in January 2009.

For the record, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone 2 (3G with GPS at a lower price) at the WWDC 2008 yesterday. This is all over the Internet. Here is a link to one story.

Perhaps of more significance is that applications written by others are appearing for the iPhone. It was, after all, visicalc (an application written by someone else) that made Apple Computer in the first place.

Move over MacBook Air, this computer is 0.06 inches thinner. I find it strange that the thickness of the computer is the attribute to optimize. I like what cell phone makers are doing with slide-in, slide-out, unfold and such. I would like to see something creative like that with portable computers. Super small to carry, normal size keyboard to use.

Here is a poll that says a third of U.S. tech workers would take a 10% cut in pay to telecommute. That is a large percentage of people and a large cut in pay. Gas is $4 a gallon. I spend about $1,200 a year commuting to my job. People who are paid much less than me spend much more. The numbers work.

And Sun did some calculations to show how much people save by telecommuting.

This post confirms that open source software killed selling tools. Well, yes. People actually buy C compilers? I thought eveyone used the free GCC tools from GNU. All kidding aside, I have seen GCC tools used on $100M projects. The tools work better than anything else.

A race car designer argues that the best way to improve car effciency is to reduce weight instead of fiddling with hybrid and electric engines. This seems too simple to have to publish.

I kept seeing this story on the Internet, so I have to put a link to one version of it. HP introduced a large number of new portable computers. It doesn't make much sense to do this on the same day as Apple's big announcement, but I guess HP knows what it is doing.

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Wednesday June 11, 2008 

In print, books: I finished reading Trial and Error, A Key to the Secret of Writing and Selling by Jack Woodford. As best I can tell, this book was first published in 1933. The version I have has a 1940 copyright. Jack Woodford wrote in the 1930s and 1940s. Trial and Error is written in a style that people didn't use in the 1930s. It is frank, a bit cynical, and eye opening to authors and would-be authors of the day. What is significant about the book is the number of famous authors who claim it inspired. These include Ray Bradbury, Jerry Pournelle, and Robert Heinlein. I enjoyed the book and learned a few things that are still applicable today. I like old books like this. In addition to teaching a subject like writing, they teach much about the culture of another time. The book was first published the year my mother was born, so it helps me understand her.

There must be something wrong with this story. If you are nice and tell the TSA that you forgot your ID at home, they will let you fly. If you refuse to show ID, they won't let you fly. Surely this is an April Fool's joke, but this is the government.

BMW has a concept car that is covered with "fabric." This is one way to make the vehicle lighter and improve fuel efficiency. It is also a way to reduce the energy consumed in manufacture. Often, the manufacturing energy costs dwarfs the cost of energy to run a vehicle.

This photo shows that while the Voodoo portable computer is thinner than the MacBook Air, it certainly looks thicker. I suppose the attribute to optimize is the volume of the computer, not its thickness. Again, why optimize the thickness?

Has anyone else noticed that the rumors leading up to the Apple WWDC consumed far more print space than the actual news coming from the event? I was disappointed in that I was looking for updates to their portable computers. Maybe later this summer.

There is lots of bad news for airline travelers. Ticket prices are rising for one thing. If you can still afford to fly, the cabins are going to be more uncomfortable. The airlines are charging people for luggage, so more people will carry more onto the plane. This will make the boarding process much longer with more pushing, shoving, cursing under the breath, and general grevious vexation. Ah, the jet setter.

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Thursday June 12, 2008

My Day Book entries for the next five days may be a little sparse. We are visting relatives in Louisiana. There are Internet connections in Louisiana - none at my mothers or at my in-laws. There are, however,  plenty of publicly available WiFi coffee places - and the coffee in Louisiana is good. Sometimes access is slow. This morning we helped the kind lady at the coffee house get her cable modem and WiFi router going.

Here is a good article about USB 3.0. Good reference point.

"Someone" from China is breaking into computers on Capitol Hill. Do you suppose the Chinese government has anything to do with this? The Chinese government denies any involvement.

Starbucks, T-Mobile, and AT&T have decided to stop suing each other. Things have settled and it is now safe again to pay Starbucks prices and get "free" Internet access.

Firefox 3.0 will be available June 17th. They are trying to set a record for most downloads in the first 24 hours. I will wait a week or so.

This one is ... uh interesting. It shows how to embed an iTouch iPod into a Moleskine book. That makes the iTouch easier to hold and, well I don't know what else.

The Washington Post reviews HP's mininote small portable computer. They don't like it claiming that the machine falls flat on the software side. So, buy the machine, load your own Linux, and you will be in good shape. But not everyone has the expertise and the interest to do that.

Intel showed off its robotic hand. It uses an electic field to sense the shape of an object before touching it. This allows the hand to know much about the object before touching. Fascinating idea, and Intel seems to have it working. Excellent.

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Friday Jun 13, 2008

Only a few notes today. The local coffee shop lost thier Internet service while I was there. I will be in Baton Rouge tomorrow, and the coffee shop there has more reliable service.

Knowledge workers switch task every three minutes. According to this study at least. Seems odd as with that pace of shifting tasks you would never accomplish anything. Statistics can be misleading, and I think this is one case where that is true.

Here is some shift in how people use the Internet. LinkedIn is gaining on everyone. People are spending more time there and using it to contact other people. In a related story, FaceBook has caught up with MySpace in some measures.

Dell is trying to catch up on several fronts of the portable computer market. The Dell E is a 9"-screen portable (price starts at $299 - yes!) takes on the ASUS eee PC and the Dell "E Slim" has a 12" screen and takes on the MacBook Air. Both models will run Windows XP or Linux. I like the competition.

Parallels - that software that allows you to run Windows programs inside OS X - has now added support for Linux as well. It is becoming easier to run just about any software in the world on an Apple computer. This is a nice feature.

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Saturday June 14, 2008

I like Scott Berkun's post on reducing the number of people in the room. <i>The most common bottleneck by far to progress in the middle ranks of corporate America is too many people in the room. Especially too many people with the power to veto...</i> The veto power given to masses of people is the single greatest inhibitor to getting anything done in government. I have seen it dysfunction for 28 years.

Apple now ranks 7th worldwide in portable computer sales.

Here is an interesting post on managing time vs managing attention. It urges people to decide where and when to use technology. Then put it away from other places and other times.

Meet the Press host Tim Russert died. I liked to watch him on TV and listen to him talk on the radio. I am disappointed in the news media. They have made his death the lead story. Seems self-absorbed on the part of the media - they are more important than all the world.

Here is another way to run Apple's OS X operationg system on just about any computer with an Intel CPU. The product is based on a USB memory stick. No product yet, but the post shows a video that "shows" that it works.

This story is about the rooms in which writers write. I wrote part of this week's short story while sitting in the front passenger seat of the van. I don't have a space where I write most of the time. While visiting an old friend this morning, I saw an old wooden desk in his office. I have been visiting my mother the past couple of days. My dad used an old wooden desk. It is still here. Perhaps...

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Sunday June 15, 2008

It is Saturday, but looking ahead to the activities of travel, I won't be able to read and post tomorrow. So I am ending the week here.

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