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: August 4-10, 2008

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

Monday August 4, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died at 89. I remember reading some of his writings when I was in high school about life in the Soviet Union and in the gulags. Some writers change the world. He was one.

I like this post in The Long Tail about a model for making money in open-source hardware. The model is fairly simple. Some people have more time than money and will build their own widgets given plans and parts. Other people like me have more money than time and will happily pay for a pre-built widget. I met the two people discussed in the post Limor Fried and Philip Torrone at O'Reilly's Emergent Technology conference earlier this year.

Lenovo steps into the really small computer (netbook) market with the IdeaPad S10. The product seems to be little more than a rumor at this time, but Engadget has a photo of one. Prices start at $400. Let's see what this is.

This commentary from Forbes laments the non-existent "paperless office." The dream of no paper is not here yet. As Schaffner, the author, states you can hold a piece of paper in your hand, scan it with your eyes, make notes on it, crumple it in your pocket, uncrumple it, and everything else we do with a piece of paper that we cannot do with a computer.

If you have an hour (I haven't found one yet), watch this Michael Wesch talk about YouTube he gave at the Library of Congress.

No surprise here, journalists in China to cover the Olympics are not happy with the restrictions imposed on them by the Chinese government. I have yet to hear of any journalists boycotting this "Chinese tourism boosting" event known as the Olympics. I guess journalists don't stand on principles much anymore.

This story is all over the Internet today. Intel is making its own graphics processing unit (Larrabee). It is to compete with Nvidia and others.

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Tuesday August 5, 2008

Here is the experience of one person "living on the cloud," i.e. using a really small portable computer and spending 97% of his time in a browser. He found that he does quite well like this. There are many choices now about which "netbook" computer to buy with more announcement every week or two.

The Chinese government is easing its restrictions on Internet use for visiting journalists. This is a small step in the right direction, but they have miles to go.

I have not shown anything on the Apple MobileMe story, up until now. I have a .mac account. I keep meaning to cancel it, but I forget. So, I am eligible to be in the middle of the MobileMe mess. I am forutnate in that since I don't use it, I have no problems with it. It is evident that some people are trying to use it and having great problems. Steve Jobs vows to fix it. Apple will eventually fix it.

The future of blogging is called "lifestreaming." This seems to be what Jerry Pournelle has been doing for years in his day book (Current View button on the left side of his site).

Now THIS is a home office computer system. Amazing! Mr. Didak runs a software business. He writes and executes code all day.

This is a historically significant. America On-Line is about to quit offering dial-up Internet access. Like most people in the Washington D.C. area, America On-Line was the Internet in the mid to late 1990s. It was big news when AOL allowed unlimited access to the Internet instead of so many hours a month. Remember all those annoying AOL CDs everywhere?

I like Johanna Rothman's blog today related to multi-tasking and working on only one project at a time. Years ago, a manager two levels above me asked, "Do you like to work on one big project full time or lots of little projects all at the same time?" I didn't have an answer for him at the time. To be candid, his question sounded stupid to me. I later learned that he had another agenda. He wanted me to solve some of his problems by committing to something that I didn't want to do. My answer today to that question is, "I don't see life as a choice between single-tasking and multi-tasking. Life and work are too complex for such a simple question and answer. I like Johanna's idea in her blog. Try to work one thing at a time and leave your options open.

Stowe Boyd launches a few Apple rumors of his own. The one I like best is that someone will turn a netbook (really small portable computer) into a Hackintosh (running OS X). I wish Apple would stop all the rumors and announce what they intend to do. I guess there are marketing reasons behind letting the rumors run wild. Meanwhile, everyone else is grabbing the netbook marketplace. I am afraid Apple will enter that market next year, but with an $800 machine instead of a $400 one.

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Wednesday August 6, 2008 

It appears that we will have Internet access via WiFi on commercial flights. Delta is the latest airline to promise this service. They will charge for it. In tough economic times the airlines "need" any source of revenue they can get. Maybe in "better" times some airline will break the trend and offer the service for no charge. I still haven't seen what kind of access speed will be available.

This story is everywhere today: China has revoked the visa of an Olympics gold medalist. Joey Cheek won a gold medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics. He is also co-founder of Tearm Darfur - something the Chinese government doesn't like. I suppose past olympians frequent the games, but not Mr. Cheek. No surprise here, and I doubt the IOC will sanction the Chinese in any way. These olympics appear to be profitable to all, so that settles it.

I like this concept: build a $12 computer to teach computer skills in people with little money. The idea was inspired by people in India using old Apple II (1977) computers. I hope this works.

Here is another version of the story claiming that the computer is based on the Nintendo game of the 1980s. Since Computerworld's article links to photograph, I lend more credence to it. Either way, I still like the concept.

Here is another concept I like and have lived by for years: decide how you will spend your time and spend your time doing what you decided. Novelist Neal Stephenson decided that he could either write novels or answer emails. He chose to write novels. Stephenson makes a good point in that if wrote million-selling novels he could hire a staff to do his correspondence. I don't have the time to do everything I want to do. That is a blessing. I decide what to NOT do, that is tough.

Apple computer cost twice as much as Windows-based computers. This story shows that this claim is a fact. There are many other factors to consider besides initial price when buying a computer. This story discusses those factors well.

Some Russians have hijacked 100,000 computers across the Internt. This has been possible for a long time. Finally someone has done it, or finally some has discovered that someone has done it. Doing so, allows you (among other things) to turn the 100,000 home computers into a supercomputer and attempt supercomputer type proglems (like designing really large explosives).

Hewlett-Packard is working hard on touchscreen computers. HP sold lots of touchscreen computers in the 1980s. I always liked that interface, but most of the marketplace didn't. The recent Apple touch interface has brought back interest.

This story is pessimistic, but I'm afraid it is true. Millions of dollars are pouring into alternative-energy companies, and few of those will ever make a profit. The bubble will burst on the investors in all the companies that fail.

Windows Vista is gaining users compared to Windows XP. I wonder how much of this gain is by choice and how much is be default, i.e. it is the only choice at Best Buy.

I am still amazed at how physically small 4 Gbytes of storage can be. See these really small USB memory devices from Kingston.

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Thursday August 7, 2008

I have always been fascinated by ways of visualizing information. Today I viewed a site by grad student Chris Harrison. He has created several visualizations fo different types of information. I love it.

Here is a gift to educators. This site contains the periodic chart. Clicking on any element takes you to a video explanation of that element. This is far more interesting that what I was shown in high school.

I've never liked magic shows, just something about me I guess. Here are two articles about magic and how it relates to neuroscience. This is something worth exploring. This article is from the Bost Globe. This one is from Nature Reviews.

In response to the note yesterday about how Apple computers cost twice as much, this is a long, detailed article about comparing Apple's computer prices to other "PCs." This article points to the operating system as the key difference.

I like the title of this article, Note to privacy advocates: Good luck. Cameras are in every cell phone. Google drives up and down the streets with cameras. Amazon tracks your buying habits. The trend is make capturing information and then sharing it with the world much easier. I don't know if this trend will reverse. I do see more people talking about the shrinking concept of privacy.

Here is an example of shrinking privacy. If you have a FasTrak toll road device in your car, it is simple to steal all the information from it. This post reports how that can happen. Anyone can walk through a parking lot and steal all the information in all the devices.

Still more on the vein of "this was supposed to ensure privacy, but ooops it doesn't." It took a researcher all of several minutes to hack into a "completely secure" elecontric passport system.

More bytes in smaller spaces. Toshiba comes out with a 32GByte memory device for cameras, phones, and the like.

I smiled at this one. This post - an ad for an ebook - claims that a clean workspace increases your productivity. I prefer a clean workspace and I think I am a pretty productive person. I also know very sloppy people who are also very productive. At different times in my "career" I have kept a sloppy desk on purpose to give the impression that I was really busy. That always worked, which doesn't say much for some of the people who were "supervising" me.

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Friday August 8, 2008

For writers and other bloggers, this post has some useful tips - well 24 tips. Here are things to do when stuck for a topic - aka writer's block. Since working with and around Jerry Weinberg, I no longer have writer's block. I have the opposite - too much to write and not enough time. The basic concept that Weinberg teaches and practices is to always be noticing and taking notes. I have piles of notes that I can turn into papersk, books, blogs, and so on.

This post is about fitneess and exercise, but more it is about minimizing the stuff we accumulate to accomplish things. I exercise by jogging and doing pushups. It works. The same goes for many other activities like writing. Just grab a keyboard or a pencil and paper and write. Voila - you are a writer.

Here, someone agrees with me. Want to be a writer? (1) Write a lot. (2) Read a lot.

Most alternative energy products are still demo toys for the rich. This example is a $2,200 solar table that given four hours of sunlight can operate a 25-watt light bulb for six hours. You will never pay off the initial cost of the table. It is a cute toy, but again, only for the rich.

Well, this doesn't work either. Urban rooftop wind power doesn't pay. I believe people should keep trying, but let's not get silly without real experimental results. The people who make these things will try to convince you that they are great. Trying to sell products is not a crime. Believe Hype is also not a crime, but shouldn't be the basis for public policy.

Evidently telecommuters are neither personal nor business users. Hence, ISPs don't have plans that help them. This looks like a place for some ISP to make a lot of money. Actually cater to the needs of the people who are avoiding gasoline prices by working from home.

No surprise here. People who buy really small computers are using Linux more. Linux over Microsoft means at least a $50 savings. When the computer hardware only costs about $400, that $50 become a big percentage.

Almost 50,000 IT jobs were lost in the last year in the U.S. I guess that isn't bad, because a judge rejected a claim that the recent increase in student visas from 12 to 29 months would hurt U.S. workers.

And if you are using Linux, you don't have to use PhotoShop to processing your photos. Gimp is the most well known software for this, but, as this post discusses, there are other choices as well.

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Saturday August 9, 2008

I was overtaken by events today and did not  view the Internet.

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Sunday August 10, 2008

A view of the Beijing Olympics that NBC didn't show.

There is a message in this image of t-shirt sizes. I guess there are many messages here.

Here is another view of the Mac vs PC price comparison. This post sees the Macs are being more expensive with the gap widening. He predicts that Apple will have to lower their prices. We shall see.

Do you know a recent college grad who is having trouble finding a job? Try working on an open source software project to build a resume.

This video appeared several places on the Internet. It is slow motion of a lightning strike. It is impressive.

Someone has made the (not so) startling discovery that producing junk mail wastes resources. People have a right to try to make money in business, no matter how annoying it is to many of us.

Scientists have found the remains of plant life in Antartica from millions of years ago. There are many spins on this story. One is that millions of years ago the earth was much warmer than it is now, and no one was driving SUVs.

I believe that this is good advice for Microsoft and anyone else wanting to sell an operating system: do what Apple did, use Linux as a base and write a windowing system on top of it.

Lost in the Olympics and the U.S. presidential campaign is that Russia is at war with Georgia. This is a good collection of photos.

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