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 30-July 6, 2008

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

Monday June 30, 2008

Here is a post about Melinda Gates, Bill's wife and her affect on him. Noteworthy is how she influenced Bill to create their foundation. They will give away probably $100 Billion in their lifetime. I see some admirable qualities here. This is the link for the foundation.

Now people have learned how to overclock Apple computers. My computers run faster than needed already. This does, however, sound like an interesting experiment.

I like this news. ASUS will introduce eee portable computers with larger keyboards. The new models will have 9" displays and the same size keyboard as the current model that has a 10" display.

Ars Technica looks at the first Alpha release of Ubuntu 8.10.

I had to look at this one. Lifehacker asked its readers to vote on books that changed their lives. The Bible came in first followed by the words of Ayn Rand. I have yet to read Ayn Rand, but I've read the Bible end-to-end some 20 times.

I like this post. I agree with the writer, and the title is wonderful. Working at Night is for Raccoons - Not You!

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Tuesday July 1, 2008

Jerry Pournelle is well enough to post a "Computing at Chaos Manor."

Apple shipped 61% more portable computers in the first quarter of 2008 than the same period of 2007. Apple is in seventh place in worldwide portable computer shipments.

I like this: Lessons in productivity from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Prior this, I knew nothing of Emerson other than he had a neat sounding name. His thoughts fit me: Write everything down, Eliminate distractions, Keep moving.

Microsoft has released the specifications for Pre-Office 2007 files. The specifications are long (Word - 533 pages, Excel - over 1,000 pages).

The TSA is moving forward with their plan to allow travellers to keep their portable computers in their travel bags. This has been in the works for several months now (how fast do you expect the Federal government to move?) and is in its last stage. Several bag manufacturers submitted test bags that met TSA approval. Those bags will be available in late summer or early fall.

I saw this story in several places. The U.S. government has stopped all construction of solar power plants on public lands. There will be environmental studies that will take a couple of years. I understand that this is only on public land, and no has a right to use public land any way they wish. It does seem, however, that in these times the government regulators could cut a little slack to an industry trying to climb up on its feet.

Related to portable computers and transiting airports, this study claims that over 10,000 portable computers are lost at airports each week. I once almost walked out of a Wendy's without my computer. I've never forgot it at the airport. Travel Tip: Tape one of your business cards to your computer. It helps in identifying it as yours and also helps people return it if they find it.

This story is about DigitalBridge: a company that has successfully brought WiMax to a number of small towns. But will it scale? That is an important question, but it is an important achievement to show how high-speed Internet access can be done in rural areas and small towns.

Of great interest in my house, photos from the Gibson guitar factory where they make the custom models. The public does not have access to this factory.

Here is a possible replacement for traditional passwords: doodles. Yes, little skteches. They are easier to remember and harder for a machine to duplicate using brute force techniques.

I really like this. Merrian-Webster has an online visual dictionary. This is great for writers and everyone else, too.

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Wednesday July 2, 2008 

I am not sure how long this guy will last. David J.C. MacKay of the University of Cambridge has posted a draft of his book “Sustainable Energy-without the hot air.” I have heard of this mentioned elsewhere. MacKay actually measures things and then calculates things. He then publishes his measurements and calculations. That is something different in the global warming, I mean climate change discussion. He debunks many assertions. This post shows how the claim that leaving device chargers plugged in while not charging the device makes a 0.01% difference in a person's energy use (I think I did the math correctly). MacKay also has a blog.

HP has introduced a powerful workstation for under $600. Where were these things when I needed them for my dissertation experiments?

I like this. A backup disk drive that is waterproof and flame resistant. SentrySafe (I own a little fire-proof box they make) has teamed with Maxtor to make this.

Marking a point in time, the most often viewed laptop computers on one site. This is a good indication of what people are using in portable computers. The Apple MacBook comes in 12th and the PowerBook 20th.

Computerworld compares three thin (and costly) portable computers: Apple MacBookAir, Lenovo ThinkPad X300, and Toshiba Portege R500. I have used the Apple and the Lenovo and like them both. The results are in the same order as listed above: (1) Apple MacBookAir, (2) Lenovo ThinkPad X300, then (3) Toshiba Portege R500.

The U.S. economy must be suffering, Starbucks is closing 600 stores. The ones in my community all seem quite busy.

This is a new term to me: the writing organization. I agree with the sentiment, but don't know if it would ever be adopted much. I write. That is natural to me and has been so since childhood. I find it is not so with most people.

The anti-Obama blogs that were closed by Google have been reopened. Google says it was a mistake, an error with spam detectors and such.

Apple's OS X operating system continues to gain in market share. It is now up to 8%. Its share was 6% a year ago.

I hope to see this vehicle. Wolkswagen will indeed build a two-person vehicle that travels 100km on 1 litre of diesel. That translates to 282 miles per gallon. The post from Next Energy News has a photograph. VW expects to sell the car in 1020 - I hope they are correct.

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Thursday July 3, 2008

Two cores, four cores, eight cores a dollar..sorry wrong line. Intel predicts thousands of cores per chip in the future. That is right - thousands. I was thinking about my past with Intel and multi-processors. In 1983 I worked with the Intel 432 computer. It was a true parallel processing machine with four processor boards and one 32-bit processor per board. It used the new Ada programming language. The 432 worked; it was a commercial flop, but it worked. Move forward to 1990 and I worked on a mini-supercomputer that had a processing machine attached to it. The processing machine used 64 (think that number is correct) Intel i860 processors in parallel. It also worked, but was a commercial flop. Now we have four cores on a chip with the number climbing each year. Great stuff for scientists.

Many Americans use dial-up service instead of broadband because they want to. So says this study. One of the major reasons is that 35% of the people don't switch to broadband because it is too expensive. Oh, that reason.

Now the U.S. Federal government has reversed its policy of use of public land for solar power plants. The previous headlines sure looked bad. It is interesting to me that without free land use no one wants to build a solar power plant. I guess they aren't cost effective yet. There is a reason why we use petroleum, coal, and nuclear.

Here is an article about the privacy paradox. "Normally sane people have inconsistent and contradictory impulses and opinions when it comes to their safeguarding their own private information." It seems than some people in America are furious because President Bush wants to listen to their phone conversations because he thinks they are funny. Yet they don't mind if Google, OnStar, cell phone makers, and auto insurance companies know where they go and what they buy. This is odd, and I don't understand it. Perhaps someone can explain it to me.

This is a fascinating and short talk out of Ted.com about a new vision for refrigeration. It is something for the third world cooling of medicine and such.

This story is everywhere today. Nvidia's GPU chips in portable computers are failing much too early and too often. This has caused a drop in their stock price and lots of bad publicity. And it hasn't been pleasant for people who own those computers either.

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Friday July 4, 2008

I had no time for looking at the Internet today. Instead we  were on the Shenandoah River in a canoe (in a rainstorm).

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Saturday July 5, 2008

Dell found a loophole in its licensing agreement with Microsoft. As a result, Dell can continue to send Windows XP with its computers and call it a Windows Vista "Bonus."

I suppose it is too difficult to avoid mixed messages coming from government. Parts of the U.S. government tell people not to carry their social security numbers while parts require them to. Oh well. Strangely enough, this is the role of the President of the United States: the manage the executive agencies and fix these things.

Sharp has shown a prototype LCD TV that is solar powered. In some ways this is silly. Still, there is value in bringing news to people in isolated areas (there is a storm coming, don't cross the mountain as they had a flood last week). I think that one of the greatest re-inventions of the late 20th century was the handcrank radio and other appliances. This permits people in areas without electricity infrastructure to have needful news and light. That is worthwhile.

Interesting video of a "helicopter" type of flying vehicle being built at Stanford. This information was posted on CrunchGear - just another blog or news type of web site that puts out information daily. Who knows who will see this and what they will do with the information - good or evil.

The Chinese government doesn't have a monopoly on crushing free speech and blogging. The Iranian Parliament is debating the death penalty for bloggers that it doesn't like.   Some people in the west seem to think that the only thing that separates people across the world is language. Just sit down and talk with these people and everything will be fine. People who make those speeches don't seem to realize that they would be the first killed (because the make speeches) if other people were in charge.

Apple has reduced the price of its MacBook Air with the solid state drive by $500. The price is now $2,500 instead of $3,000.

This is, uh, interesting in a way. Here is a list of 14 science questions that a group would like to have asked of the presidential candidates. The trouble I see with the list is that each question is based on an assumption that is up for debate by itself. You have to accept the assumption for the question to be taken seriously. I would think that scientists would have noticed this while creating the questions.

Here is some progress: an electric car that will go 150 miles on a two-hour charge. It costs $70,000 though. Got to work on that part.

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Sunday July 6, 2008

Here is a hands-on report on two Asus small portable computers: one with a 9" screen and one with a 10" screen. The reviewer was impressed with the WiFi's speed and the battery longevity.

Something I wouldn't have expected, many insurgents captured in the war in the middle east have U.S. arrest records. There are many conclusions I could draw here.

Microsoft may offer their office suite at $70 per year subscription. This idea has some merit.

It wouldn't be the 4th of July weekend without the hot dog eating contest.

Here is a good article examining why OpenOffice isn't gaining more ground in the market. It works, it reads Microsoft files (at least the ones that are a couple of years old), and it doesn't cost anything to try. I have used OpenOffice for five or six years now.

I have been watching the Gentlemen's final at Wimbledon. It appears that they will not finish until tomorrow. Oooops, they have restarted at about 3:20 EST. And at 4:15 EST Nadal wins.

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