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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This week: September 22-28, 2008

Summary of this week:

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

Monday September 22, 2008

Here is more bad news concerning the voting systems to be used in the November elections. It seems that the Election Assistance Commission (never heard of these people) is way behind schedule in defining criteria to certify systems. Blah blah blah. What a mess. I have worked in the Federal government for 28 years. I don't think this commision could attract the talent it needed to do its job. Living in a high cost of living area, fighting traffic inside the beltway, sitting in a gray and putty colored cubicle all day, and so on. Such does not attract the type of person who loves to hack into voting systems.

Shuttle makes small yet powerful computers at reasonable prices. Here is one model. I am not sure why Shuttle is not more successful in the market.

Intel is shipping a dual-core Atom processor. More processing power, but also more electical power needed. I suppose this is an advancement, but I haven't read anything that convinces me of it.

Here is a find: in case you aren't carrying your copy of The Chicago Manual of Style with you on the road, consult The Online Grammar Guide.

The economic situation isn't hurting IT workers as much as others

This is just one such story on the Internet this weekend. Some call it a "backlash" against a financial system bailout. And many in the media are surprised to hear that people who go to work everyday and pay all their bills on time are upset about giving their money to people who borrow (or lend) more than they can afford and then get money instead of failure. I simply with the media would change the phrase "government to fund who-ever" to "politicians to use taxpayers' money to fund who-ever." The government doesn't have any money of its own. All the money comes from the taxpayers.

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Tuesday September 23, 2008

Here are pointers to ten good blogs for writers. Michael Stelzner creates this list each year. I look at most of these already and will include the rest to my RSS reader.

Daily Writing Tips has a post on generating ideas for writing. My favorite from his list is use other people's ideas. I find many short story ideas in the Bible.

Wikinomics asks a simple question, when will the phone number die? It points to the simple concept that a phone number is a translation from something a person knows (another person) to something a machine can better understand (a number). With today's computing power and low cost, why do people have to do this translation for the machine?

This points out that Intel's Dual-Core Atom processors are not for portable computers but instead for small, lower-cost desktop computers. That makes some sense to me.

Tim Ferris offers his insight into what does and doesn't work when trying to learn a foreign language.

Johanna Rothman's blog today addresses matrix management and how it is often incorrectly blamed for problems. Johanna urges people to decide which projects are more important and fully staff those. Multi-tasking is often the culprit, not matrix management. I find the root culprit is the inability to say "no" to some projects.

Here is a wind-up remote control for your TV. It doesn't use batteries, just wind it for power. I never understood why we moved away from wind up power to disposable batteries. One of the great side benefits of Y2K was the return of the wind up appliance (radio, flashlight, etc.). There is a big market out there waiting for wind up electricity.

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Wednesday September 24, 2008 

Overcome by events today.

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Thursday September 25, 2008

The growth of blogs is finally slowing. Quality or some sense of seriousness is entering.

Maybe some voice of reason here. Bill Gates is optimistic about the future of the U.S. economy. He, however, isn't running for president, so he can say things like that. People in Washington tend to invite crises so they can be a hero and do something.

Look at this Toshiba disk drive for slim portable computers. 1.8"and only 8 mm thick. 250GBytes.

ASUS is adding 3.75G chips (cell phone stuff) to its EEE PC line of really small potable computers. This, coupled with a new 8-hour battery life, will make these computers interesting again. A user can roam around all day and stay connected with high speed access.

Linux rules the world of High Performance Computing. This may be why Microsoft recently announced a deal with Cray.

NASA is upgrading one of its supercomputers to better simulate weather. Can someone tell me if it is going to rain today?

Hasselblad is making a 60-megapixel camera (around $30,000). Some people need this type of resolution. I know it will have a good lens.

Jerry Weinberg has some excellent (as usual) advice about book agents and editors. If you don't know Jerry, he has written 40+ books and made a handsome living at it.

Scott Berkun writes about picking a President. This is an interesting perspective. History has its revisions on whether JFK (or any past President) was wonderful or horrible. This reminds me of one of my favorite hobbies while between semesters in grad school. I would go to the library and flip through the "credible" news magazines from 30+ years back. It was amazing to see how they usually got the story of the day wrong. Such still happens.

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Friday September 26, 2008

I'm in a motel with a slow and unreliable connection, so I don't know how much I will have today.

Here is a silver lining in a cloud. The Wall Street woes may lead kids into computer science instead of finance. I like this.

Evidently Microsoft's documentation of its own software is incomprehensible. I don't think this is an attempt by Microsoft to thwart the courts. I just think that is the way most people write.

Toshiba has advanced the state of the art in white LEDs. Many good applications can come from this.

MotionDSP and NVIDIA have done some excellent work on real-time video processing. See the video samples in this link. This is impressive.

Here is a view of Dell's pocket projector. These little projectors can chance a lot of business and education practices.

Netbook computers - those really small portable computers - are selling well. Nine of ten of Amazon's best-selling portable computers are netbooks.

I saw this in several places today. The Chinese announced the success of their manned space flight before the flight occured. Interesting.

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Saturday September 27, 2008

Staples, the office supply store, is now entering the IT market. They are trying to sell online backup and other services. Their intended market comprises their biggest office supplies customers - small and medium businesses.

This is out of India - someone has attached a generator to a human-powered yarn spinning machine (I think this is what they are saying). The result is electricity. Look around you at anything that people move. That can be turned into electricity for various uses. Again, I don't know why we moved away from hand cranked electrical generators and to disposable batteries.

Americans are now sending more text messages from their cell phones than they are making old-fashioned talky conversations. I believe this. Most of us, me included, can read a message faster than we can listen to one.

This is an interesting post on ten different operating systems (well, they may not all be true operating systems). I like the trend towards optimizing on small size. We have way to much bloat in my opinioin.

Motorola is showing its concept for WiMax in cars. I have been hearing that WiMax is almost here for four or five years now. I hope it would get here, but I am starting to doubt it.

Yves Rossy crossed the English Channel with his jet-powered human wing machine or whatever it is. This link has a video. I do not know where this might lead. It is sort of like the jet pack that James Bond used in the 1960s. Really neat, but it never amounted to anything.

Tom Colvin discusses a subject dear to me - keeping files synchronized on several computers. There are many different home made solutions - I have one of my own. It appears that some companies are trying to offer something easier to use.

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Sunday September 28, 2008

College bookstores will start burning movie DVDs. This sounds odd at first. The goal is to bring more students back into college bookstores. Long ago when I was in college, I learned that the college bookstore was a great source of revenue for the college. That revenue has been decreasing as (1) students buy textbooks from the Internet cheaper than the college bookstore and (2) more of the college material is emailed to students or placed online for them. The universities are losing money, so they are trying something - anything - to regain that money.

Workers are spending 25% of their time online "goofing off."  The other way to say this is that their supervisors can only give them enough work to fill 75% of their time. They should be allowed to go home those two hours of the day. Another way to say this is that the supervisors are not supervising 25% of the time.

I find this good advice to freelancers: set office hours. The two extremes in freelance work that I have met are: (1) people who work far to little because something always comes up in the house, and (2) people who work far to much because in the family time something always comes up and they start working again. It is not an easy task to set and keep these limits.

This blog gives similar advice.

Panasonic has updated their line of Toughbook portable computers. One is almost a really small (netbook) portable computer with a 12" screen and weighs in at only three pounds. That is pretty light considering all the armour plate on the Toughbooks.

Here is yet another article on turning steel shipping containers into homes. Of course this works and it works really well. But it is still expensive. Recent news from Washington D.C. says bailout bill stills wants to push affordable housing by pumping money into the housing market. If you put money into the market, the price of houses rises. If you want affordable houses for poorer people, start a construction company that builds smaller houses. Smaller houses are more affordable than larger houses. I may be missing a few things here, but parts of this mess don't seem real complicated.

On the thinking front, this post asks the question, "are we asking the right questions." Questions frame our thinking. For years now, I have realized that if I can ask myself the right question I can usually find a pretty good answer. I cannot count the meetings in which I sat where people asked all the wrong questions, spent energy answering them, and went out and made a mess worse.

Venezuela has ordered a million of Intel's really small protable computers.

Larry Ellison speaks about cloud computing: "the computer industry is more fashion-driven than women's fashion and cloud computing is simply the latest fashion."

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