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: November 10-16, 2008

Summary of this week:

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

Monday November 10, 2008

Wired.com reviews the Fujitsu Lifebook 8010 portable computer. They call it an "ultralight" and compare it to the MacBook Air. I guess I missed the "ultralight" revolution somewhere.

Some history, on this day in 1983 Bill Gates unveiled a prototype of MS Windows. It was two years before the product was released. I used a release of Windows 1.0 or maybe 2.0 that only ran one program. I cannot remember the program's name, but it was some sort of desktop publishing application I used to work on my PhD dissertation. It was all panful, slow, and aggravating.

Advice to survive and thrive in the economic downturn? Be cheap. Some of the wealthiest people I know got that way following one rule: spend less than you earn over a long period of time.

This downtown has come as a surprise to many Net Generation people. They have been coddled all their lives. Well, that is the stereotype. I give them more credit, much more credit. My second son graduates in December. I give him a better chance at landing a job than I have because his salary desires are much lower than mine. He doesn't know much, but he and his like can learn quickly. All they need is adept managers. ooops, I may have stumbled on what is really lacking here.

Google will e-publish out of print books. I am not sure about the details here, and some courts have to make some rulings. I do like the headline. There are hard-to-find old books that are true treasures, and I doubt that I am the only person wanting them.

Daylight Savings Time probably increases energy use. That is opposite of one of its stated goals. Duh? Get up and go to bed when you want instead of when the government tells you to.

Several of the writer's blogs I follow are doing the NaNoWriMo this month.  Some, like this poster, may have lost track of the objective - simply write, write, write everyday. Instead, they are trying to make publishable novels. It may work for them.

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Tuesday November 11, 2008

Here is a review of Lenovo's IdeaPad 330. Remember with Lenovo now, Ideapad is personal machine while NotePad is business machine. This IdeaPad looks good at about $1,100.

NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander has gone silent. The mission is officially over.

Who or what will fill the gap in local news when all the newspapers go away? This post looks at some possibilities. And yes, there is money to be made in reporting local news to locals, especially elderly people like my mother who don't read the news off the Internet.

The MacBook Nano? No one is sure what these photos are, but they do look appealing - a really small Apple portable computer.

Parallels has a new release, with a big increase in speed.

Now this is good marketing and pretty good technology as well. This is a TI-based pico projector coupled with an iPod. There are many possible applications.

Sandbridge gives it another try with the software-defined radio chips. I think this is one of those technologies that will never have a big splash, but one day will just be there for many of us.

Here are some previews of Windows 7. People seem to like it. I like the rumors that it is smaller.

The future looks bright for Apple and their portable computers. They may be one of the few companies to sell a lot of machines this holiday season.

The college bubble? That is what happens when people realize that they should pay off their college loans. These loans are a dangerous trap. My wife and I are blessed in that we were able to make the sacrifices through the years and pay for our kids college education. Debt robs us of choice, so please beware.

The Washington Post admits that their campaign coverage was biased in favor of Obama. The bias is not a surprise. The admission is somewhat of a surprise. The really big surprise is if the Post (and others) make an effort to correct their ways. We shall see.

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Wednesday November 12, 2008 

Obama has announced "the strictest ethics rules in history." Well, there are many subjective words in these "rules," and we shall see if Obama has the character to enforce them or if someone will spin on the subjectives.

I find this post interesting about the C programming language. I always figured that the programmer was the key and not the language. 

Corn is the foundation of much of the food produced and consumed in the U.S. It is profitable, so why is it being subsidized by the government. We could, of course, ask the same subsidy question about much of what happens in America and about much of the people in America.

Gmail now has voice and video chat. Maybe I should try these.

Pure Digital Technologies is the fastest growing company in Silicon Valley. Their revenues have risen 44 thousand percent. Who? They make the Flip video camera.

Apple may try to reduce the weight of the MacBook Air portable computer. That makes sense to me, much more sense than trying to be the world's thinnest computer.

Here is a review of Sony's ebook reader. It seems that these things will take off some day, but when?

Dell may but the price of their really small portable computer by $50 on the day after Thanksgiving. Hmmm.

Here is an in-depth review of Windows 7.

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Thursday November 13, 2008

I love this post by Scott Berkun - Do we suck at the basics? That is a great title and great content. My answer is, "yes, most organizations I have seen are bad at the basics." We seem to want to do something really big and new and great and fantastic and quick. We seem to ignore the obvious things we learned long ago. We want those nagging things to be irrelevant to us now.

Here are some suggestions for the H-1B visa problem. How about granting citizenship to people who are highly educated and want to work? When I was in 7th grade I was told that such was the basis of U.S. immigration policy for a long time. Why did we go away from that?

President-elect Obama has already insulted India. He spoke with the Prime Minister of Pakistan on the phone, but has not done so with the counterpart in India. Being President even President-elect isn't as easy as it may appear.

A technical view of Intel's Nehalem processor.

Impressive, but Intel predicts a poor fourth quarter financially.

People are predicting big price cuts computers and other tech items on the day after Thanksgiving this year (for 24 hours only).

This post interests me as the subject is the LISP language. I still have nightmares about the AI class I took where the instructor wanted us to learn LISP in less than a week. It was awful - not the language, but the class and the instructor. His goal was to have two thirds of the class become frustrated and quit so he wouldn't have to grade as many papers. He succeeded. Your tax dollars at work.

Jeff Atwood relates The Elements of Style by Strunk and White to writing computer code. I have read many such essays. I like them all. Strunk and White's book is a classic that people should have and read.

This story appears in about a dozen places today, so I will point to one. It seems that 2/3s of the world's spam was coming from one place and that place has been taken down. We shall see if the predictions come true. That would be nice, but...

This one is also appearing everywhere. Belkin is selling software to help people move everything from a PC to a Mac. They are marketing it as a special cable, but that is just marketing. As usual, the value is in the software.

This is some good advice about business travel. Be calm, happy, don't expect much from the airlines. My best trips have been when I had no expectations and laughed at about everything I saw. Don't take it seriously.

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Friday November 14, 2008

Maybe Washington created another financial crisis in order to stem one they created years ago. It all sounds like stuff from Orwell's 1984. The government bureaucracy creates a crisis that only it can solve. That ensures the future of the government bureaucracy. Others have written of this situation many times before. We may one day learn and do better.

Online video is huge, but no one is making any money.

Microsoft now has a MicrosoftStore.com where it is easier to muy Microsoft software. I think this is a good move and one that other software vendors should follow. How many clicks does it take to buy a copy of any popular software, e.g. Adobe Photoshop? Why so many?

Here is a review of Autonet. Pay $500 to install in your car and $30 a month fees. You have WiFi access to the Internet while you drive via the cell phone system. Data rates are lower than a cable modem, but it works.

Instant Boot - use this type of motherboard and you can boot to XP or Vista in four seconds. I like that. Apple, are you listening?

A paperless world? Well, we could cut down on the paper we use by large amounts. I don't know that anyone was done a full and unbiased systems analysis of this idea. While Taking A Walk, I did not have a printer, I did not read any paper newspapers, and I used much much less paper than when at home. This is possible.

The iPhone is making some inroads into business. The Blackberry has owned that market so far.

Computerworld proclaims that tech isn't dead yet in this economy.

70% of the really small portable computer market is in Europe.

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Saturday November 15, 2008

George Will has a good editorial on Socialism in America. Plain, candid, to the point.

Obama will put his weekly addresses on YouTube. Does anyone actually listen to those weekly addresses on the radio? Anyways, this is another item in the list of how the Internet and folks like YouTube are killing the old media.

Tech job losses are coming. This is good news for Government contractors who will be able to hire all these bright people. That will lower the cost of Federal projects and raise their quality. These, of course, depend on some wisdom in the Federal bureaucracy. There are some good people in there, just not enough of them.

I like this post, How old is your work computer? In my last job, I don't know how old my work computer was. The IT department was very proud in 2008 of putting Microsoft Office 2003 on the system. Only five years behind in software. No guess as to how far behind in hardware. But again, I am typing on an Apple iBook G4 which is three or four or five years old. It still works fine.

India has landed a probe on the moon. The next people to walk on the moon will probably not be American.

Oak Ridge National Labs now has the world's most powerful supercomputer.

Here is a neat little project - a guy took the insides of an Apple portable computer that was damaged and made a really small desktop computer. Don't waste the hardware.

OpenOffice is five times more popular than Google Docs. I use and like both. Of course they both trail Microsoft by a lot. You can pay for software or you can find inexpensive software. You have the choice, and I like that.

I look forward to this - an end to those plastic packages that require a blow torch to open.

Something a little different, people ignore speed limits. What is interesting is the basic reason - people believe the speed limits are set by politics and have no real relation to safety. This is a result of people not trusting government. Hmm, and the trend in Washington is for more government that the people don't trust.

Now this is really working on the road - from a hut on a small island in the Phillipines.

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Sunday November 16, 2008

This is interesting, the government of the Distict of Columbia wants permission to stop employing the teacher's union. A similar move happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. That was fought by the teacher's unions, who are big supporters of the Democractic party and Barack Obama. Interesting.

It seems that the Ubuntu distribution of Linux is coming to ARM processors. I like it,  more choice.

When Senator Obama becomes President Obama, he will lose his Blackberry. Security concerns and all that as it is trivial for an intelligence service to eavesdrop on such devices. Yes, there are many differences between being a Senator and being the President.

Yet another informed person learns that recycling is not always a good thing.

This story has appeared in a dozen places the last few days, so here is a link to it. The French are suing people like SourceForge because their software distributes open source software. I don't understand the case. SourceForge and others like it a old old news.

We may have a wireless communications revolution coming. This is part of the FCC letting companies use the white spaces between broadcast channels. Today's technology permits people to use these odd frequencies spaces whereas in the past, they were unusable. Such could kick start large parts of the economy. We shall see.

This is fasinating to me. 10,000 hours of practice distinguishes people who are excellent at something from everyone else. That is 20 hours of practice a week for ten years. I wonder if I have been writing 10,000 hours. I have been doing a bit of it for the last 20 years. Hmmm.

A writer introduces other writers to the really small portable computer (and Linux). Jerry Pournelle often writes that, "You write on the computer that you have with you." The netbook computer would probably be the computer you have with you.

Here are five home office items you should never skimp on. The chair is one (health of your back). Also mentioned are the keyboard and monitor. I have been telling people for the past 30 years that the one thing the vast majority of computer users care about are the human input/output items - the keyboard and monitor.

Here is a writing tip I use - write the draft, wait at least 24 hours before editing it.

JuicedOnWriting is logging its progress in NaNoWriMo.

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