Dwayne Phillips ' Day Book

Items I happen to view each day. Science, Techonology, Management, Culture, and of course Writing

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 29 - October 5, 2008

Summary of this week:

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

Monday September 29, 2008

From ConfidentWriting, this post discusses keeping writing short, simple, to the point. This harkens back to Strunk and White's advice: omit needless words.

I need to investigate this service: WordHustler. The claim to take much of the work out of submitting writing for publication.

Auren Hoffman writes great one-line blogs. This week it is "Public bathroom hand dryers are really inefficient ... Especially when you wash your face" I agree. I wash my hands and face and walk out using nothing. I air dry in two minutes maximum. I have done this for 20 years and have not yet been removed from society.

Scott Berkun describes Google's Project 10 to the 100th. Google has $10 million up for ideas that will change the world. Implementation is not necessary. Design is not necessary. Google will pay for "just" an idea.

Paul Newman died. This post is a good tribute, few words and several film clips.

The bicycle industry is booming - especially bicycles with little electric motors. Improvements in battery and charger technology is making this possible. Higher gas prices are making this desirable. Once again the economy changes, and while some people lose some people win.

Iridium is receiving $500 million in cash. The satellites are still up there and being used (by far fewer people than the founders envisioned). I know government, especially defense, has been using Iridium's services (again in small quantities). There may yet be some future in satellite phones, at least in satellite data services.

SpaceX put their Falcon 1 rocket into space. This is the first sucessful such event for a commercial effort.

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Tuesday September 30, 2008

I am travelling and hampered by poor wifi service in motels. I often have to go to the lobby to have a usable signal. This morning I had to stand outside in the fog as the lobby was locked.

Ars Technica reports on advances in autonomous land vehicles. I worked around the vision community 20 years ago. There has been much progress on many technical fronts.  Many articles and posts about autonomous vehicles (land, sea, and air) are really about radio-controlled vehicles. Please pay close attention to the articles. An autonomous vehicle is told to go some place. It does the rest without a remote driver or pilot.

AMD in bringing out its quad-core processor - "Shanghai."

Many of in technology have been hoping that the housing credit crisis wouldn't hit us. Not so. Apple, for example, lost 18% of its value on paper. The New York Times also has their report. For better or worse, I fear this "crisis" that was 20 years in the making will determine this year's presidential election.

http://jrothman.com/blog/mpd/2008/09/are-loyalty-programs-helping-or-hurting-your-product.html#comment-25250 OOOPS I messed up this one. Johanna Rothman writes about how frequent flyer programs charge you a lot of money for a free ticket. I have been through the same situation. The airlines wrote checks they couldn't cash. I guess that someone calculated what percentage of frequent flyers would actually use the miles they accumulated. That person was wrong in their calculations as more people want to use their miles than estimated. Be careful about writing checks or promising anything in the future. This goes for all of us.

Someone has Apple's OS X operating system running on an MSI Wind really small portable computer.

Here is another post about how Wall Street's troubles are pushing college kids to computer science. In a way this is good as we can use more bright people in our industry. In a way this is bad as we don't need people motivated by money. I think we need people motivated by love of quality and service, but maybe I am merely old and silly.

Richard Stallman of open source code and GNU fame doesn't like "cloud computing" services such as gmail and on and on. He has a good point in that using these services locks you into a company and thier proprietary services. These companies provide ease of use, but you can give them all your precious data and lose as a result.

Oh, and when the House voted no on the bailout bill their email server crashed with the incoming load.

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Wednesday October 1, 2008 

Here is a rebuttal to Richard Stallman's rebuttal of cloud computing. I don't see him addressing Stallman's fundamental warning.

Some companies are allowing employees to choose the own laptop computer (lucky employees). Some really smart companies are giving the employees money and letting the employees do all the work. I like that latter option. Let the company concentrate on what the company should be doing.

Some people are endlessly optimistic. There is software that will track the location of a portable computer - great if someone steals your computer, but someone else could break into the system and track you. But no, someone has new tracking software that is impossible for someone else to break into. Well...

Maybe WiMax will get here. There is a system up and testing in Reno, Nevada.

A church group in England has written guildelines for church bloggers. It seems that religion, like most every other topic, is fraught with bad behavior when it comes to blogging, commenting, commenting back, and so on.

China is buying as much raw materials from Africa as it can. The result is very ugly - VERY UGLY.

Researchers in Portugal are making advances in paper-based transistors. There is plenty of metal in there as well, so I don't know what savings they are achieving.
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Thursday October 2, 2008

College students are moving strongly towards Apple products. The general idea is that today's college students are tomorrow's purchasers. I have seen that idea hold in some cases. Perhaps Apple does have a bright future.

Here is a review of the Lenovo IdeaPad S10 really small portable computer. It looks good. $439 with Windows XP.

This piece of software will transform your iPod into a PDA. Interesting.

Portable computer makers are going to install Mobile Broadband chips into portable computers. Well, it is about time. I do not understand why cell phones are not built into portable computers. There is certainly enough room for the chips, and the keyboard, display, battery, audio in, audio out, are already there.

Scott Berkun gives some tips on how to start writing a book.

Here are some interesting myths about creativity. The first one "I am not creative" comes to my mind often. I once read that people who are creative believe that they are creative. That is about the biggest different between "creative" and "not creative" people, and I am not sure what those labels mean.

This is a good post on innovating. At work, I have heard the word "innovate" in its various forms enough to...well you know. If people would have spent have the time innovating that they spent talking about it, well...you know.

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Friday October 3, 2008

Wired tests six really small portable computers - including one from Sylvania, Sylvania? I didn't know Sylvania was still a company?

I like Tim Ferris' blog about workspace and workplace design. He first visits a "no fixed desk" office that saves lots of money with its ideas. Then he shows us his own home non-office. Two points there: (1) positive emotional association with every object in his view and (2) limit misbehavior by limiting options. Don't want to eat too much chocolate? Don't have chocolate in the house. Want a paperless office? Don't have any paper or any places to put paper.

Here is an article on how millimeter wave technology (broadcast in the 60 to 100 GHz range) can send gigabits over RF.

VMWare has updated its Fusion product for running Microsoft Windows inside Apple's OS X. This author feels that Fusion is now much better than Parallels.

Here is another post about co-working. I love the line, "Then you get a little bored, and your spouse is like, 'Why haven't you gotten out of your pajamas in the past five days?'"

And another article on how the current economy is really good for bicycle makers. This tells me than two years from now you should be able to buy really good, slightly used bicycles at low prices.

What affect will the Wall Street mess have on technology? This article says not much, but this article says ouch.

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Saturday October 4, 2008

Apple settled a class-action law suit concerning faulty power adapters for their portable computers. I went through this saga. The cord broke on my power adapter for my iBook G4. I qualify, but I will not spend the two days required to filter through the forms so I can get 25 cents back from Apple. Plus, I don't have the dated receipts for the computer and the new power adapter on hand. The lawyers involved, however, will be paid lots of money. Ah, class-action law suits. What a joy to the average consumer.

Sony updated their eBook reader hoping to compete with Amazon's Kindle. Sony's PRS-700 (that name just doesn't have the same ring to it as "Kindle") costs $400. It has a touch screen and on and on. Time will tell. It seems that these eBook readers are a sure thing. Who wouldn't want to carry their entire library in their pocket. People have been saying that for years, but these things have yet to catch the market.

Red Hat's Linux distribution is doing well in Latin America.

All is not well with the netbooks sold with Linux. Those really small portable computers equipped with Linux are being returned four times as often as those equipped with Windows XP. There are many possible explanations. One is that the purchaser simply clicked the wrong button when they ordered their computer.

Delta airlines will block some web sites from its passengers when it offers in-flight Internet service. I see this as a challenge to those who would other wise not be looking at inappropriate sites. Earlier this year, airlines proclaimed that people would not be able to use the Internet to make phone calls on flights. It took about a week for people to find ways to break that. I guess it will take about a week for people to find ways to break this.

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G): the idea is that I drive my hybrid car in the day, its battery stores energy, I park it in the garage in the evening, and sell back some of that energy to the power company for use during peak evening hours. This is an interesting idea, one that would change many things. I am not sure that anyone has thought through all of the consequences here. Our current economic mess is one of those consequences of desiring more Americans to own their own homes. The economy and the electric power infrastructure are large, complex systems. Let's be careful here.

Windows XP lives on - now through July 2009. Let's see, Microsoft has a product that people want to buy. Should Microsoft refuse to sell that product?

Here are some tips on how not to do a blog. The main point? This is a conversation, not a monologue. A side affect: this takes lots of hours a day to do well.

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Sunday October 5, 2008

Toshiba now has a 256 GByte solid state drive. Bigger and bigger. I guess this is better.

Intel is pushing into a new market - smaller, less powerful computers. Even though these machines are less powerful, they are powerful enough for 90% of the market. Really, do you need a 5 GHz, 64bit  processor to edit HTML files or run a browser?

I don't usually report on Apple rumors, but this one is, well... Rumor: Apple will take blocks of aluminum and carve out portable computer cases using lasers and water. It seems that bending aluminum creates weak spots in the case. I have never seen a portable computer case crack open due to weak spots in the metal, but perhaps some have.

This is about a magazine in Argentina whose theme is simply "calm down." I see some benefits here.

The really small portable computers - called netbooks here - are gaining market share. I often read how some people just don't the idea and predict these to be a passing fad. We shall see.

The government of the state of Maine will not upgrade to Windows Vista, but instead wait for Windows 7. I have to ask, what have they seen or heard that leads them to believe that Windows 7 will be better?

Valleywag.com is cutting 60% of its staff. Some see this as a coming trend. A bad economy means fewer advertising dollars means fewer writing and publishing jobs. I think it means more bloggers and citizen journalists.

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