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: July 21-27, 2008

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

Monday July 21, 2008

Here is a great example of a "mashup" and data visualization. FlowingData shows the opening of every Wal-Mart store in America since the early 1960s. I find it fascinating to watch the start in Arkansas and then see the growth along the Interstate highway system. Eventually, the map shows the population centers in the U.S.

Newspapers are shifting their content to stay alive. They are forgoing international and national news for local news. The national and international news costs too much to do. If I want to know what is happening in London, I'll go to the web site of a London newspaper. I hope that newspapers shift their web site content as well. Do hour-by-hour coverage of local news such as major traffic jams or weather events.

For the writers reading this, this is a good post about SMART goals. These are Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Relevant, and Time-bound. I learned the SMART method some dozen years ago. It works for me.

Here is a new acronym for me: NEET - Neither in Employment, Education, or Training. I don't envy anyone in that situation. I am having too much fun doing all three.

Apple's new iPhone is selling well - inventory is zero in 38 states.

The simple things in life work really well. This article is about the social weaknesses in computer security systems. I recently wrote a short story that relates one simple social weakness. There are many other techniques. The message? It is all about the people.

I saw this story in half a dozen places today. So here is one version of it. PC makers are afraid that everyone will be the netbook or really small portable computers. They have lower prices and lower profits. PC makers don't like lower profits.

I put this here because I have a Panasonic LX2 camera and I love it. Here is its successor - the LX3. The LX3 seems to have a better lens and better video capability.

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Tuesday July 22, 2008

There are a lot of Apple news and rumors today.

Apple had a great third quarter of 2008. They are going against all trends in the economy in general. Perhaps Apple could take over the home finance industry for us.

In spite of this good news, Apple's stock lost 10%.

The Apple rumors continue. This one looks great - a MacBook touch. The rumor has great photos, so... Probably not true, but a great concept.

TechCrunch is starting its own web tablet project. If Apple or Dell won't build it, rally the community and try to build it yourselves. I like the idea and wish them well.

I REALLY want to believe this apple rumor. Apply may cut the price of the MacBook portable computer to below $1,000. I am waiting to buy a Portable Apple computer for my youngest son - the music major. He used Garage Band for music. School starts on August 25th, so Apple has a month to do something like upgrade all the MacBooks or cut the prices (or both).

Now this is a good use of technology. Here is an exoskeleton that allows a person to walk. The post has a link to an impressive video.

Here is an example of why many of the projections of gloom and doom are premature. We will run out of clean energy if we don't find any more sources. The trouble is that 99% of the predictors leave off the if... part.

Microsoft is starting its $300M ad campaign to combat Apple's anti-Vista ad campaign. This shows a first look at what might be it. Not as cool as Apple's commercials.

Dell is selling more of its desktop and portable computers with Linux installed. They are concentrating on the Ubuntu distribution. Dell added some value by working to ensure that the distribution works with all their hardware. That seems to be a silly addition, but lots of people have sold hardware that was incompatible with Linux.

I am sure we will see many more of these services. Shapeways is the first I've seen that offers to "print" 3D objects for you at a low price (under $200). Some people call these replicators. They can make a part for you or a mockup of an iPod or Tablet PC or a fountain pen or ...

Here is an article on InnoCentive: a company that allows people to post their hard problems and smart people around the world to bid to work on them. I heard about these guys a year ago in the book "Wikinomics." This is a great problem and idea meeting place.

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Wednesday July 23, 2008 

I haven't seen the movie "Dark Knight" yet. It seems that many people have, which goes against many predictions. You can download pirated copies of the film free on the Internet, yet people are still paying money to see it in a crowded theatre where fifty cents worth of popcorn costs $10. Maybe there is more to piracy complaints and such than meets the eye.

A new standard is coming for home digital entertainment: Whole-house Wireless HD. Sony, Sharp, Hitachi, Samsung and Motorola are involved . Panasonic is not, which may mean yet another standards battle is coming.

This story started last week. The IT worker in San Francisco who locked everyone out of a major city system. He revealed the passwords while in a jail cell. He would only tell one person - the mayor in private. This is the stuff of legends and no doubt will be come a case study in many courses.

I don't agree with this article about " Ten Concepts Every Software Engineer Should Know." 1. Interfaces 2. Conventions and Templates 3. Layering 4. Algorithmic Complexity 5. Hashing 6. Caching 7. Concurrency 8. Cloud Computing 9. Security 10. Relational Databases What about information hiding, coupling, and people?

The Gates Foundation is building a $500M headquarters. This Foundation does a lot of good work. I hope this doesn't ruin much of that. I remember reading a book by the late Dave Thomas. He played a major role in creating Kentucky Fried Chicken and then later Wendy's.

Robert Scoble blogs about tech blogging. I agree with his idea that the tech blogs are becoming all business news like the Wall Street Journal. I find it increasingly difficult to learn about new technology. I have resorted to going to the URL del.icio.us/popular/technology(science, electronics, etc.) The story above about Software Engineers is a case in point. I thought it would be a good article given the title, but I was disappointed.

This is a treasure chest. It lists 100 reference sites. Several excellent sources for writers as well as for entertainment.

Employment for IT workers is up 10%, but IT workers think the economy is bad. This is further evidence that the news makers affect the economy. So much of buying and selling is based on emotion and not fact.

Alternative energy? This looks good at first glance, window panes that have integrated photovoltaic cells. You can run a PC and recharge your cell phone. The windows, however, cost $1,900 per square meter. Your energy savings will pay for the window in...well, probably never. Keep working at this guys, maybe one day.

Here is some good financial advice for freelance workers. I believe a key task is to lower your living and business expenses. Many people who go into freelance to be independent find that they are financially dependent on many people. They buy lots of things for their freelance life (new computer, fax machine, new furniture, new P.O. box rental, etc.). Learn to live on half your pre-freelance salary (at the most). Eat cheap, dress cheap, save your money. The key to freelance independence is the same to all financial independence. Spend less than you earn over a long period of time.

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Thursday July 24, 2008

Google has posted Knol: A unit of knowledge This is similar to Wikipedia, but there are no anonymous writings. Google claims that a knol is an authoritative article about a specific topic. I may try writing something for the site. For now, every search term I entered came back with "No results found for..." and an invitation to write something.

Jeff Atwood's post excites me (if I had more time). He shows how to build tiny, low wattage computers. This is amazing stuff. We live in exciting times.

Some people have a lot of time on their hands. There are 20,000 new pieces of malware on the net every day. Sophos reports that blogger.com is the single worst site on the net for hosting malware. E-mails promising naked celebrites are down there at the top of the list as well.

Intel is trying to move into the embedded computing market. Their Tolapai system-on-a-chip (the Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor Family) puts a Pentium M processor and support chips on one chip. Intel is aiming more at the Mobile Internet Device (MID) market than the traditional embedded systems market.

I am happy to see someone else exposing the fuel-cell hype as hype. Fuel cells are not like rechargeable batteries. Every now and then you have to replace the fuel cell.

This post discusses a five-year renewable copyright. I have copyrighted materials (actually everything I write with my name on it is copyrighted). This concept tries to keep people (mostly be corporations) from copyrighting something just to keep other people from using it. In the Libertarian sense, this proposal makes a lot of sense.

The Ubuntu Linux distribution is aiming to unseat Apple's operating system. They have a chance with all those programmers out there wanting to do something significant in their free time. I wish them the best. Maybe they can turn the world upside down.

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Friday July 25, 2008

I have discovered a bend in the direction this Day View is taking. I am inserting some of the comments from this page into the comments section of other bloggers' blogs. I love to re-use my writing. Someone once told me that is an oft-used tactic of Myers-Briggs "SJ"s.

Micorsoft has performed an interesting experiment. They gathered XP lovers (Vista haters), told them "here is a video of a new operating system." The people loved what they saw. They were looking at Vista. Microsoft is trying to decide what to do with the results of this experiment.

I like Scott Berkun's post on experimenting at work. Somewhere along the line people have forgetten about experiments. The output of an experiment is knowledge. I can always use more knowledge. I recall in elementary school 40+ years ago reading about an experiment someone did. The conclusion was, "My device failed, the experiment was a success." I don't remember what the device was, but I do remember that the experiment provided the person with the knowledge that his device would not work. It is often great to know what will no work and the circumstances and and and... Many people I meet today only want to do experiments where their device or idea or whatever is shown to work. Those aren't experiments, they are demonstrations.

I may do this at home. I have an older laptop whose monitor no longer works reliably, so use the laptop as an under-the-desk computer and connect it permanently to a monitor. I don't know how to remove the laptop's monitor, but with a little experimenting...

For fans of Apple and Virginia Tech, VT is building a new supercomputer, this time using 324 MacPro tower computers. Looks like a lot of fun.

This story appeared in several places on the web today, so I mention it. A researcher has found a way to almost double the efficiecy of converting heat to electricity. I don't usually report on such research as (1) the results are years if ever away from reality (2) there are too many to mention.

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Saturday July 26, 2008

It is Saturday, and most big blogs don't post new items over the weekend. Hence, a few different views.

Let's look at some images today. This post shows what people with various types of color blindness see.

Here are examples of tilt-shift photograph. This is a method of making real-life subjects look like little toys.

When geeks and stained glass collide.

A bit of history in ten revolutionary computers. I used an IBM 360, a TRS-80, and an original Macintosh of the ten.

Gizmodo's best gadget designs (so far) for 2008.

Fascinating visualization: a computer simulation of the Siberian asteroid blast of 1908.

These guys benchmarked the start time of Microsoft Word over the past ten or so years
. Conclusion: each new version of software is bigger and slower than the last. So maybe the conspiracy theory is true that hardware makers pay software makers to bloat the software.

Interesting furniture - the FlexibleLove chair or couch or something.

The FCC finally approved the merger of Sirius and XM satellite radio. Maybe the combined companies can make a profit - something the both failed to do individually.

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Sunday July 27, 2008

In a sense this is funny. In a sense this is sick. This the the "Obama Love" video that shows the major news people fawning all over Senator Obama. I once took journalism in school. I learned something about objectivity. Maybe that was too long ago and is irrelevant these days.

Sony is showing their new portable computer. It sure looks like an Apple computer.

This writer has tried out the Google Knol page mentioned earlier this week. The results are mixed, but not bad for a new product.

Scoble has an interesting take on blogging and comments on blogs as an editing system. The commenters on a blog fill the role of the editor in a newspaper or magazine. The blog commenters are faster than the paper editors. At least that is Scoble's thought. I tend to agree with him.

The Washington Post reports on "telework centers." These are offices that are supplied and furnished by the employer. The offices are much closer to the employees' homes. The article centers on U.S. government workers whose agencies created these satellite offices. People are happy with these. In my experience (28 years of government employment), the detractors are supervisors who don't know how to assign work to employees and cannot tell if the employee did anything. Yes, that occurs often in government.

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