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 11-17, 2008

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

Monday August 11, 2008

A LifeHack post struck me this morning. This post discusses the concept of a Someday/Maybe list. Make a list of things that someday you will do or maybe do. Roy O'Bryan, with whom I wrote a book, has a friend who talked about going big-game hunting in Africa. They talked about this for some 20 years. That was on their "someday" list. About four years ago someday arrived and they went big-game hunting in Africa. These lists have a lot of value. An event is coming for me on my Someday list in the next 30 days. More on this later.

People behind the Orwell Prize are putting George Orwell's diary from August 9th 1938 to October 1942 online as a blog. This could be fascinating. I read such a diary published as a blog several years ago. I cannot remember the person, but it was a diary written in England several hundred years ago. A different way to study history.

In a new twist to conventional warfare, in additions to planes and tanks, the Russians are attacking Georgian websites. Georgians claim that the Russians now control all official Georgian web sites.

The iTunes Apps Store sold $30 million worth of software in its first month. Let people write software for your machine. Someone should chisel that into granit somewhere.

...but privacy? Apple knows what applications are running on "your" iPhone and can kill any they want.

For what it's worth, the processor that Intel was calling Nehalem is now called "Core i7." Keep for future reference. Here is a pack of Engadget stories on Nehalem.

Privacy? Apple knows what applications are running on "your" iPhone and can kill any they want.

There is a lot of talk on the Internet about NBC's coverage of the Olympics for the opening weekend and especially the opening ceremony. This story is about the faked footage of the fireworks footprints. This story is about the order that nations marched in the opening ceremony and the order they were shown. The comments section gives many different answers to the question: did NBC rearrange the order to keep up TV ratings? Recall that NBC is the network that once put exposives under a pickup truck so that it would explode when NBC wanted it to during safety tests. Whatever happened to just showing the news as it happens?

If you have time and want to remember, this site has 101 classic computer ads. I remember seeing many of these when they were new. I still don't know why the Texas Instruments computer didn't work. Those guys had good ideas and engineering, but seemed to have terrible business sense.

I like this commentary on NBC's use of the web to show (delayed) olympic events. Events are shown on the web site hours after they are shown on cable TV live. I read earlier today that very few people have been watching events online. I find two reasons: (1) so far the olympics have been on a weekend when people are at home in front of their TVs (2) the web site coverege is poor. Then they use the low online viewing to justify not putting much effort into online content.

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Tuesday August 12, 2008

George Will's editorial today discusses the Russia-Georgia war and how it fits into the bigger picture. He agrees with me that the Beijing propaganda show, I mean opening cereomony for the Olympic games, harkens back to the 1930s and the Nazi propaganda shows.

Jerry Pournelle has his Chaos Manor column up for August. He continues his recovery from radiation treatments on a brain tumor.

Recycling computers may not be such a good idea after wall. This article visits a computer recycler in Africa. This is really ugly. Recycling anything is supposed to be a good thing. Someone, however, has to do the hand labor. Hand labor is cheap in places and people in those places tend to value human life and the environment less than people in "developed" nations. I put quotes on "developed" because if we are so developed why are we generating so much garbage and then sending it to other people who get sick and die cleaning our garbage.

This computer recycling problem is an other example of what it means to NOT think things through. Computer hardware is inexpensive - well it is inexpensive if you don't include the cost of cleanup and disposal. What in the world can you do with old circuit boards? I don't know (yet). I think often of the rush to go to hybrid and fully electric cars. They use batteries to store energy; batteries are made of chemicals. What does it cost (in energy) to build those batteries? What will it cost (in energy) to dispose of those batteries? Who will do the disposing? Africa (just like the computer recycling)? What does it cost (in energy) to build all those giant windmills we are going to build in America? What will we do with the rusting hulks of those machines in 50 years?

On a lighter note, Jeff Atwood shows his (most or least) favorite music CD - 70's Party Classics. Click on his link to the Mixwit mix "tape" to listen. This strikes me as during our drive to and from Pigeon Forge (8 hours on way), my wife insisted on listeing to the 70s station on XM radio. Chewing on gravel.

Now for the Apple rumors. Crunchgear says wait until the end of September to buy an Apple computer. I couldn't wait as college starts in late August. I went to Best Buy and forfeited the free iPod Touch. It is a long story involving a special Sunday night event, triple bonus points, and a dying dishwasher.

Another fake from the Beijing Olympics. They used one girl on camera and another girl to sing. The girl on camera was lip synching. Is the Olympic flame real or a hologram?

The nation of Georgia is now a blank on Google maps.

Privacy? Some people are slowly realizing that Internet companies "spy" on them.

Here is another new "maybe" technology for harvesting energy. Maybe this one will work one day. I hope so. I think it would work better than thousands of acres of windmills and thousands of miles of power lines.

I love this visualization of data. It shows the distribution of Olympic medal winners from 1896 to today. I can see the medal tallies from each set olympics. In effect, this is a history of the world from 1896 forward. Just use this to teach world history. I know that is a simplification, but I do think is would be a good starting point. The medals won tends to cluster on two factors: (1) who is hosting the games (the host country usually wins a disproportionate share, as China hopes to do) and (2) economic strength. The second factor was skewed a bit during the last 20 years of the cold war as Soviet block countries were not very powerful economically, but devoted huge resources to their propaganda machines - international sports being a part of propoganda.

And this one is funny. A Microsoft Windows "blue screen of death" was projected on the stadium during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. You know, hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete or power off your machine or something. I hope no one sees this on their voting machine on election day in November.

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Wednesday August 13, 2008 

Here is a review of two netbook computers. The reviewer takes an ASUS 9" model and the HP 2133 mininote on a business trip. People will stare at you on the plane.

Chrysler is readying for offering WiFi in cars in 2009. The system seems expensive ($500 to buy the hardware, $30 a month for the service). The system gains Internet access through the cell phone system. This is good if you are not the driver. Certainly no one will be surfing the web during rush hour while driving, right?

And a step back or is it forwards? Polaroid is building a digital camera with one of its little printers built into it. Once again you will be able to take a photo and have a hardcopy in a minute. This may work in the marketplace.

Dell introduced a new series of small computers - the Lattitude E series. Of interest to me is the E4200. It weighs 2.2 pounds and has a 12" screen. I cannot find information on the prices yet.

Privacy? This story reports on the use of GPS to track people. That is simple enough technology. What is a bit alarming is that the Police can track a citizen by attaching a GPS device on the citizen's vehicle. They don't need a court order to do so (like they need to tap your telephone). This last part is alarming. In court, law enforcement claims that the GPS is just like following a person except it saves taxpayers' money by being cheaper. That is not true. People can tell when someone is following them. People cannot tell if a GPS device is hidden in their automobile. This will come to a head one day in a high court. I predict that law enforcement will lose this one.

This is a little different view of telecommuting. Many believe that working from home a few days a week will hurt their career. I agree with that belief. I have worked in a bureaucracy for over 25 years, i.e. managed by insecure control freaks (just kidding folks). Such managers like what they can see and distrust what they cannot see.

This is an excellent report on Microsoft's use of the document formats OOXML and ODF. The writer feels that Microsoft will back away from the standard they pushed and instead support the Open Document Format made by OpenOffice. It seems that people did not like the way ISOhandled the OOXML standard.

Scott Berkun discusses the goals for Microsoft that Steve Ballmer sent out. I am happy to see that the places I work are not the only ones that are clueless when writing goals. This is a good tutorial on how not to create goals.

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Thursday August 14, 2008

Charles Murray has this editorial in the Wall Street Journal about college education. He argues that too many people go to college, and that hurts colleges and many of those who attend. This is sure to be controversial and denounced by many. I live in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. I see too many people going to college because that is just what you do after high school. The public schools here are good and most of these kids do well in college because they were pushed a bit during high school. 

Here is a little more information on the new Dell E4200. Dell will include a feature called Dell Latitude On. This is something that some of the Linux-based portable computers are featuring. It gives a mode that comes on quickly and gives access to a browser. It is a pain to wait a minute or so for a Windows-based machine to come up. Perhaps we are becoming spoiled, but if we want something and we develop the technology to do it (without harming others) why not do it?

This presents an extension of the work on Microsoft's Photosynth. I worked in image processing and analysis years ago. This is amazing to me. Excellent work.

Intel has a new technology they call "Remote Wake." It will allow a person to reach and use their computer remotely - even when the computer is in a sleep mode. I hope it is secure.

This story appears in many places today. Here I point to Larry Lessig's blog. A court has basically upheld what the Creative Commons license says. I am not sure why a court had to rule on something in plain English, but I am not a lawyer. This is a "victory" for open source folks and Wikipedia among others.

The U.S. could be in big trouble regarding the International Space Station. After 2010 - when the space shuttle "retires" - the U.S. will depend on the Russians to access the space station. Ooooops. The events of the past two weeks show that U.S.-Russian relations have lots of little issues. Being partners with someone often has problems.

Apple will soon upgrade the internals of the MacBook Air. Look for more processor power and a bigger power supply to meet the demand.

This is a different twist on the Russian cyber attacks on Georgia. One theory gaining credibility is that the cyber attacks were done by individual Russian hackers instead of the Russian government. When in history have patriotic citizens been able to attack another nation during a war without leaving their homes? Such is "good" for the U.S. I believe that our private hackers - if motivated - can out hack anyone in the world. I don't believe such about our Government's employees.

In Print:

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Friday August 15, 2008

I was travelling today and was not able to view the Internet and compile an entry.

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Saturday August 16, 2008

Lenovo is showing the follow-on to their X300 computer - they call it the X301. It is still slim and uses a solid state disk. I have used the X300. I like that machine a lot.

And here is the oldest person on Facebook - 102 year old Ivy Bean of England. God bless her.

Viewing of the Olympics on line is only 0.3%. As stated earlier, one reason is that the online coverage is bad. NBC is sort of admitting that they made a mistake by limited what it has shown online. Other networks have shown that online video spurs interest which increases TV viewing.

Finally, I find a little information on what types of portable computer bags the TSA will allow.

And here is a little more information. Nothing startling here. I wonder why it took so much time.

I find this post to have some good advice for writers. Best advice: keep on writing and show what you write to others.

TV sales in America are way up. This could be because of the rising price of gasoline. People stay home more and want a better television. For me, this shows that much of personal spending is emotional and not logical or mathematical.

People are doing more and more with Photoshop - like editing out former spouses.

Here are some examples of how social networking is helping some people stay employed. Just yesterday, I bumped into an old friend on LinkedIn who may lead to a job interview for me.

Here is some science fiction that some people are actually considering. A solar tower that is 1 mile tall and 1,000 feet wide. Go for it guys.

I like this post on America's future with math and science. I find it sad, but true. We emphasize safety and "let's not do anything where we can get sued" so much that we have taken the fun out of the experiment. No experiment, no new knowledge.

Here is an example, the MIT students who experimented until they learned how to break into a transit system's tickets. They never broke in and made lots of money. They never told the world how to break in.  They are, however, tied up in court with lawyers and judges.

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Sunday August 17, 2008

Here is a blog about another online 3-D printing service - Shapeways. These are becoming prevalent. I see big things in 3-D printers or replicators.

Wikinomics reports on a national telephone poll about balanced editorial on blogs. This is all about the "fairness doctrine" for radio. Meaning this is all about getting Rush Limbaugh off talk radio. If it passes, a radio station would have to carry a three-hour liberal talk show to balance carrying Limbaugh's show. Since liberal talk shows fail to garner advertising dollars, no radio station would carry them. Hence they would be prohibited from carrying Limbaugh or any one of half a dozen other conservative talk shows.

The second problem with this it that it is a telephone poll. Some people - like me - never do telephone polls. They are grossly inaccurate.

Oh yes, if the fairness doctrine ever becomes law, it will eventually extend to blogs. That means that since I wrote a few sentences against the fairness doctrine, I couldn't put them on this blog without first finding someone to write a few sentences in favor of the fairness doctrine. Since I wouldn't be able to find such a person, I wouldn't be able to express my opinion. I think there is something in the Bill of Rights about this...

Johanna Rothman has an interesting blog about managers using their intuition regarding the value of a project.  A manager is managing a thing. We can measure the attributes of an thing. Use the measurements, use the numbers, we the facts.  Leaders lead people. I cannot measure all the attributes of a person, so with people I try to use intuition and such part of the time.

LifeHacker has a little interview with musician and song writer Ryan Adams. He is quite prolific when compared to most such people. His secret? "
What I do and what all musicians do is easy. All we have to do is sit down for a couple hours a week and write a song or two. That simple task is all the world asks of me, so I do it. The other musicians who don't are just lazy, because again, we aren't being asked to tar rooftops or clean out dumpsters. We just have to write a couple songs!
I agree with his statement in italics. I have managed to write 33 short stories in 33 weeks this year. Some are pretty good, so aren't. Some weeks it is easier than others. I know one thing - I cannot write any short stories until I sit down and put my hands on the keyboard.

I like this blog post from Pete Wailes of a Cross Driven Life blog. The concept is  "there’s only really one thing you can ever truly control: your intentions." I will have think about the "there is only one thing you can control" part. I do like the intentions part. There are many external factors that can keep me from accomplishing something I want. I don't know of any external factors that can stop me from intending something.

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