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.

Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page
Email me at d.phillips@computer.org

This week: October 6-12, 2008

Summary of this week:

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

Monday October 6, 2008

I am gathering these views on Saturday evening. The long walk my wife and I are doing consumes my viewing time on Mondays. Hence, I look at a lot of writing blogs on Saturday evening and post them on Monday morning.The Taking A Walk blog is here.

Here are some good quotes on writing and responsibility.

Here are some thoughts on critical thinking and how that can lead to creative thinking.

DailyWritingTips discusses writing by keyboard (computer) or writing by hand (pen and paper). I recommend switching back and forth to learn what type of writing (fiction, poetry, science) works best in what physical style. I also recommend changing physical styles when stuck on something.

This post from DigitalNomads provides advice on what to do when checking into a cheap motel room. I have spent far too many nights in cheap motel rooms. I second much of this advice.

Speaking of cheap motel rooms, my wife and I continue to walk southwards on U.S. Route 11. Follow us.

This is worth viewing. The subject of this video types only with the thumb on her left hand. She has a number of physical disabilities. Yes, there are excellent uses of computers, the internet, and associated technology.

Here are five more tips on writing. The emphasis here that I find is to finish a piece of writing. Say, "This is done for now." Come back to it if you want. If you don't want, don't worry about it.

Items given on a blog will probably never be published for pay anywhere. There are, however, other benefits for writers to blogging. Here are some.

The Writer's Technology Companion has a four-part series on gathering and organizing ideas (this link is to part four). Everyone I know does this task a little differently. Almost all successful writers I know do this.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Tuesday October 7, 2008

Jerry Pournelle has a new Chaos Manor column up. Jerry has been discussing the financial situation and the bailout a lot lately. The news is not good. Politics in America - especially in Congress - is ugly these past 20 years. Tax breaks for every one and their dog. The four-page bailout bill was padded a little by Congress - they added 447 more pages to it. Ugly.

Here is some good advice on protecting your portable computer investment. Insurance costs money, but if your computer is your livelihood, you should protect it.

And more on co-working. Get out of the house a little if that is what it takes to accomplish work.

Wind turbines in the Great Lakes would generate 321 MegaWatts of power. They probably won't be built - environmental concerns and all. People want solutions, but ones that don't bother themselves.

Big open source software releases in October. The one I am anticipating is OpenOffice 3.0.

Apple has sold 10 million iPhones in 2008. I guess this is working. Why did Apple's stock price go down?

Scoble gives some advice on resumes.

Here is a different take on the financial system bailout - many banks may decline to take any Federal money. There are too many regulations attached to the money. It is difficult to do business with the Federal government. That is one thing I learned in 28 years of working with Federal acquisition and contracts. The government is almost always its own worst enemy in these situations. Note that Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and so on do not have big government contracts. Yes, they sell things to the government, but that is different.

WiFi access helps college students get better grades. Well, no kidding! Access to information helps get better grades. I am not sure that students are learning more, but I would guess that they are. Someone at universities will have to put a stop to this. Not kidding on that one, just watch and see what happens.

It seems that airlines will be tight with their WiFi service on flights. Again, many people will see this as a challenge. They will publish the workarounds that they discover. The airlines are outnumbered on this one.

This story is everywhere today. In 2010, Ford will introduce a "smart key" that allows  a car owner to set special limits on what the driver can do. The key senses who is driving and uses defaults to limit the car. All the Internet posts are about parents controlling teenage drivers. There are other uses such as setting protections for older drivers. I think those protections will be used more often than the teenage stuff.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Wednesday October 8, 2008 

The other Apple guy - Steve Wozniak - weighs in on iPods and the restrictions Apple has on writing applications for the iPhone.

Someone has studied open-source software practices. One result is that many programmers working on open source projects are paid. I think that is good. What is wrong with being paid for work? The difference here is that the result remains open source. I think that is good as well.

People are concerned about the use of biometrics (digitized fingerprints as one example) by governments in America and privacy. Please be calm. I worked for the Federal government for 28 years. We often couldn't create and use a calendar database to keep track of half a dozen people in the office. I know the technology exists to track everyone in America, but really - do you feel the bureaucracy is that competent?

Oh, and now we have a study showing that having and mining all this data doesn't work well.

Johanna Rothman blogs about portfolio management and gettings things done. She starts with a discussion with a friend about hobbies and personal busy-ness. The one thing I like above all else is keeping the difference clear between hobbies and profession. Some techniques work great for hobbies, but are NOT suitable for professions where jobs are on the line.

It seems there are health benefits to writing - especially writing just for yourself.

There is a new bill in Congress to limit the seizure of laptop computers at U.S. Borders. Some day, someone will explain why a government seizes things entering its country at its border. George W. Bush didn't invent this one. It has been this way for centuries in countries all over the world. Border control is one of the foundations of nations. It can be a real pain, but it has greatly reduced things like killing elephants and turtles for parts of their bodies.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Thursday October 9, 2008

Today's motel lost their Internet service. I wasn't able to view anything this morning.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Friday October 10, 2008

I am back online this morning. I am not attempting to catch up as that would only frustrate me. So...

Apple will show its portable computer updates next week, October 14th. There are some photos of the new computers, but the photos are so bad that I cannot believe people are showing them. Please, just wait a week.

Here is an article about the Lenovo S10, a really small portable computer. This writer believes that these netbooks are here to stay. He also believes they will hurt Apple's market share. Apple hasn't jumped into the really small portable market. That may be a bad thing for Apple. It would be a surprise if Apple - the innovator - didn't get into this innovative market.

The Eye-Fi card (an SD card you put in your camera that connects to the Internet via WiFi) keeps growing capabilities. Now it can do RSS and Twitter feeds. The result is that other people are notified when you put up new photos. More convenience.

Dubai is building the world's largest LED screen. Will the third world ever grow weary of building the world's largest things? Al Gore needs to visit some of these places and set them on the right path.

The stock market is crashing, but sales of electronics gadgets are up. One reason is that the stock market losses hit those on pensions the hardest. Buyers are electronics are usually a long way from using their pensions, if they have pensions building.

This isn't a surprise, there is fraud in the H1-B visa program. This is the program where American companies can bring in foreign high tech workers. There is a lot of money in this, so... So many of our problems are simply caused by people who will lie to obtain what they want. The American system is based on the vast majority of the people behaving in an ethical manner.

Here is yet another example of executives lying about the financial state of their company.

O'Reilly has a new report out on the state of the geospatial web

Mainline educators are now questioning the worth of the SAT and other standardized tests. I think it is good to question these things. They are multiple choice tests, and from what I have seen the questions are written poorly. I think I would get a low score on the thing out of sheer frustration with the test writers ability to express anything in clear English.

Someone is finally writing about the real problem in North Korea - starvation. While the communist leadership lives in luxury, the vast majority of the subjects simply starve or live malnurished lives. North Korea could make colonialism a good thing. Really, how long does the world stand by and watch a corrupt government starve its subjects?

Lenovo, Toshiba, and Acer announced protable computers with built-in WiMax capability. Maybe WiMax will arrive.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks

Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Saturday October 11, 2008

The Google-financed imagery satellite is working.

Something else that is working, the international Cassini space probe flew within 16 miles of the surface of one of Saturn's moons.

And something that isn't working - the American taxpayers are paying for golf outings. This shows one of my major gripes about any Federal spending program. They all have a portion that is simple awful waste.

Here is some advice I like about the financial turmoil - put wax in your ears. This is an instance of the bigger problem of how the news media reports problems.

Why is academic achievement no prized in America? Because the media doesn't report on it, at least that is one reason. Football games are more exciting in the near term. Lawyers calling each other names on TV in the guise of political campaigns are even more reported than intellectual achievement.

Microsoft will turn down the User Account Control (are you sure you want to do this???) in Windows 7. They are listening to the users.

This actually makes sense - a sub-processor on a Dell laptop that "boots" quickly, uses little battery power, and allows you do to basic but useful tasks.

Conservation has the biggest energy payoff, but how do you maintain a standard of living while using less energy? Answer that and all will be well. We need a leader that will answer that and live it as well. We don't need any more leaders who tell us "do as I say, not as I do."

NASA is working on another mission to Mars - this one with a wide ranging robot vehicle. The trouble is they may need another $100 million to launch. Sounds bad, doesn't it. This is a $1.5Billion program. $100M is a cost growth of less than 7%. That sounds pretty good to me. These types of projects are not for the faint hearted.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Sunday October 12, 2008

Here is another article on how data mining for terrorists doesn't work. People are trying, and most of their efforts are well intentioned. I don't think it does good to question their intentions and label them as stupid.

This video shows how to try Ubuntu Linux without reformatting your disk drive. It works.

I applaud Tim O'Reilly's repeated calls for the high-tech community to work on stuff that matters. There is more to life than bling and cribs (jewelry and mansions).

Seagate will start making Solid State Disk drives (SSD).

Eee PC may introduce a really small portable computer for less than $300 in January. I like the idea. Right now I am using a sub $300 computer. I doubt that anyone would pay me more than $300 for this Apple iBook G4. So, in a twisted sort of logic, I think the sub $300 model is possible.

This story is all over the Internt - the NSA is monitoring the phone calls of Americans who are overseas. I don't know if this is true. Everyone at the NSA - everyone in the Intelligence Community - knows that it is illegal to do such. I have no idea what the people at this collection site were thinking. It sounds like they were not thinking. As the expression goes, they "caught stupid."  People should go to jail.

I like George Will's editorial this morning on Term Limits for elected office. It seems that in general (1) people in elected office don't like term limits, (2) the mainstream media don't like term limits, and (3) voters like term limits. Most term limits have been passed by voter referendum and not by elected legislative bodies. Most attempts to remove term limits are done by elected legislative bodies. So do we go with the elected representatives or the electorate?

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page