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: December 1-7, 2008

Summary of this week:

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

Monday December 1, 2008

There is a business connection between old rust Detroit auto and Silicon Valley high tech. And Silicon Valley is feeling some pain.

E-Commerce sales were up 1% on the day after Thanksgiving compared to last year. That isn't much of a gain, but it is a gain.

Universities may actually teach grad assistants how to teach before throwing them into labs and such to teach. You mean there is more to teaching than knowing the subject material? I think this is a step in the right direction, but it is 100 years late. Smart universities are now using Web 2.0 and other cultural and technical concepts.

SanDisk believes it has solutions to the major problems with the solid state drive.

MSI is updating its really small portable computers. Now with built-in 3G - yes!

Stowe Boyd advocates CEOs taking pay cuts instead of laying off employees. There is much merit in this idea.

More breakthroughs in generating power - this one from wind power. I cringe when reading doom and gloom stories about how the world will run out of this and that. All such stories should be prefaced with, "given we don't learn anything in the next 100 years..."

Here is a look at some of the portable computer bags that the TSA will let you use without removing the computer.

Here is another view on the government giving money to Tesla to make electric cars. At least Tesla has the ability to innovate. The Detroit automakers, well that is another story.

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Tuesday December 2, 2008

I don't like this one: the U.S. military will deploy 20,000 troups in America.

Jerry Pournelle has backed up on his note about President-Designate and President-Elect. It seems money is behind everything. The next president gets a lot of taxpayer money during the transition, and this has been happening for decades.

Apple seems to be doing well this holiday shopping season.

Conversations with passengers in cars does not dwindle driving skills; cell phone conversations do. It is odd how the mind works.

What metaphor do you use do describe creating software? Jeff Atwood prefers gardening, and he has good reasons. I like "building." I guess as an engineer at I heart I like to build things.

I am drinking coffee right now, so I was attracted to view this review of pod coffee makers. They cost too much for me.

Here is something you don't see everyday, a tour of Nokia's plant where they do stress testing on their cell phone handsets. Such testing is an important part of hardware-software systems. Few people appreciate the mechanical design of small objects like cell phones. There is much to this field.

Here is a review of the updated MacBook Air. Now that Apple has "improved" this machine for more performance, I am hoping people will be selling their original models cheap. The original Air is much more powerful than the iBook G4 I am using right now.

Johanna Rothman's blog concentrates on the differences between a project and a product. I applaud it when people articulate such distinctions. I feel that much of our problems at work stem from vague language.

The Nokia N97 is out, hailed as the world's best tiny portable computer.

We may have free wirless broadband across the U.S. next year.  This sounds nice, but since the government is involved...

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Wednesday December 3, 2008 

Jeb Bush may run for a U.S. Senate seat in Florida. And everyone believes Bill Clinton will get his wife's vacated Senate seat.

Here is another copy of the "the Net Generation is the dumbest in history" no, "they are the smartest in history" debate. My kids seem to be pretty smart. They know much more about much more than I did at thier age.

Here is a list of Top Ten iPhone Apps. If you want to make money, write games.

It appears that the Windows 7 Beta will be out in mid-January 2009. I thought I'd throw in the year just to be safe.

As part of their hisorical newspaper initiative, Google has bought 20 million digitized newspaper pages. I am happy to see this. Google and others have done a good job of building successful businesses. One fallout is the failing of newspapers. Newspapers do, however, hold much of our history.

Asus joins the growing list of computer makers to build 3G into a really small portable computer.

Here is some praise for the keyboard of the HP mini 1000. The keyboard is really important in my opinion.

Author Tim Ferris has made a pilot of a TV show for The History Channel. It sounds interesting.

Lenovo is putting anti-theft protection in their new portable computers. This has been a long time coming. There are advantages and disadvantages. Most of the advantages are for companies that issue computers to employees.

Here are some tips for managing your home while away from home. Interesting. How do I automate a robot to take the mail out of my mailbox and throw away all the junk mail?

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Thursday December 4, 2008

I love George Will's editorial this morning on the economy and "creating or saving jobs." Will has a simple genius of using numerical facts to make a point. Will contrasts Obama's goal of creating or saving 2.5 million jobs by the year 2011 with the fact that on average the U.S. economy creates 2.5 million jobs each year anyways. Will ends with being curses by brilliant economists.

As an example of brilliant economists, the Harvard University endowment lost $8Billion this year. Of course the "loss" was all on paper, but I know little about billions of dollars and endowments.

Wikipedia has received grant money to make the online encyclopedia easier to edit. I guess that is necessary?

The world now has two Android-based phones. I hope we see many more. I like the competition.

IBM has created a "Microsoft-free desktop computing environment." I recall when Microsoft created an IBM-free envrionment. IBM's latest seems to be based on Linux and some applications that IBM has written. I guess I don't see why this is a big deal. It has been almost trivial to create a Microsoft-free environment for years now.

Adobe is laying off 8% of its workforce - about 600 people.

The ultimate blog-writing guide? How about The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. I cannot argue with that one.

Here is a top ten list - best blogs for writers in 2008 - looks pretty good.

Here is a story about the too-close-to-call Minnesota Senate race. All systems are built to operate within a tolerance. The smaller the tolerance required, the more expensive the system. Elections are a system with this property. That Senate race fell outside the tolerance of the system. The system creators needed to have a "tie breaker" like flip a coin or arm wrestle or something. Of course, they could re-do the entire election.

One Sentence is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs to view. There is great stuff here, great ideas for writers, great entertainment for eveyone.

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Friday December 5, 2008

Bill Gates is encouraging Barack Obama to increase Federal spending. I don't know that I like that. I do, however, likes Gates' recommendation to focus on the long-term and not let the short-term situation trigger stupid policies.

Newspapers are passing away and local TV news may be next to go. The Net Generation contains 70  million persons, and they like to get news where they want and when they want - not a 7PM on a certain TV channel.

Scott Berkun has some good comments on incompentence in management. People want some basic honesty from those "above them" in the organization.

And Berkun comments on a possible bailout of the auto industry. He agrees in a way with what George Will wrote recently (linked in a prior daybook). Giving money to failed companies does not help the economy in the long term.

The Windows operating system has fallen below 90% of the marketplace. I remember when people did not consider Windows to be an operating system, but an application on top of an operating system. Linux is gaining in market share, but is still less than 1%. It seems like Linux would be higher than that.

CNN laid off its entire science and technology team. I guess they wanted to make more room for talk about Britney Spears.

Johanna Rothman has a good blog post that distinguished tasks from results.  I never knew a task that didn’t have a product. I guess lots of people think about tasks without caring for the product. Strange, but true.

Johanna is teaming again with Esther Derby and Jerry Weinberg to run a Problem Solving Leadership workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico in March 2009. I highly recommend the workshop. Excellent! Go to the link and contact Johanna to register.

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Saturday December 6, 2008

I guess we will see now if Mr. Obama is really for change in government. His chief speechwriter is in trouble with some embarassing photos.

Intel is searching for ways to find power for their electronic devices. For example, the energy that can be stored in a mouse device when it is moved. Another example, the heat in the room (from the human user).

If you still don't like Vista, Dell will sell you a copy of Windows XP for $150.

Every social networking site did not make millions of dollars. Many failed, and here are some examples.

Google may have its own operating system running at its offices.

The rumors keep coming that Apple will introduce a really small portable computer in 2009 for around $600. I have checked recently, and I can buy an Apple iBook like the one I am using now for around $300. I wish it were smaller and lighter.

I guess Apple is selling expensive "in ear headphones." They look like expensive ear buds to me, but I guess I never had a problem with the ones that came with my cheap iPod Shuffle. For serious listening, I use my Bose interference cancelling headphones - especially on the airplane.

And we have a study that shows if you are happy, you tend to attract happy people. And if you are around happy people, you tend to be happier.

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Sunday December 7, 2008

This is a nice article on newspapers and online content. Great content on paper is not always great content online. There are subtle differences here. Some newsprint journalism will thrive online and some will not. I don't know if we will really understand the differences.

Barack Obama proposed his new New Deal reconstruction and jobs program. Somehow nationwide broadband is in there with roads and bridges. I don't know many unemployed programmers who will jump at the chance to shovel rocks on construction projects. The same for United Auto Workers accustomed to assembly lines.

I like George Will's editorial on the backwards-named Fairness Doctrine. If that "doctrine" becomes law again I may have to ask someone to write a sentence saying they didn't like Will's editorial - in the name of "fairness" you see.

The falling price of oil and gasoline is good news to many of us, but bad news to those who want to compete with oil. Such is the marketplace.

HP is cutting the price of its really small portable computer by $40. How much does it really cost to make and market these things?

I think this is a true story, but I haven't been able to confirm it - Microsoft is going to market some clothing.

Since it is Sunday, here are a few things I've viewed on writing blogs and such.

In writing, shorter is better, enough said. So I won't say anymore, but I could, still, I won't...

As well, avoid cliches'.

Here are a few short tips to help the work-at-home person not become lost in loneliness.

This blog has several pointers related to Mind Maps.

This post gives a good explanation of Mind Maps. I have used Mind Maps for some - gosh, 20 years now. They work for me.

I don't know if I agree with all of this site Dr. Wicked.com, but it is interesting. This tool MAKES you write or it starts erasing some of your words. Again, not sure if I agree with it. I do agree with the general theme in that some times you just start typing words and you don't stop for a long time.

Here is an encouragement to write stories. It doesn't matter if the blog or web site is about rocks or silicon - tell it with a story. I agree for the most part.

And this video is funny. Even my wife laughed at it.

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