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 15-21, 2008

Summary of this week:

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

Monday December 15, 2008

I like this interview with Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams. Adams converses with many people from many industries, and has for the past 20 years. His advice for business is simple, and it sure sounds good. I wish my employer would listen.

This reporter thinks the world is about to melt. I know what is means to measure something. I know that many things are almost impossible to measure. I am not sure about the measurements people are using to predict the world wide meltdown. Here is another global warming skeptic.

Here is a review of Apple's new in-ear headphones. Is that a contradiction?

This person had more than 10,000 emails in his inbox. So he writes about how to deal with that situation. I guess I don't know enough people.

And here is another writer who has struggled with email and organizing it. I am starting to feel lonely.

This is a good example of what happens in the blogging and writing world. The blogger is now trying to publish a novel. I wish her well. Follow her adventures. If you like to learn new things, write a book and have it published.

The title of this post caught my attention "Why Climbers Die on Mt. Everest." Great title. The answer? Well, the easy answer is that they are in a place they shouldn't be. The study shows that people die on the descent and not from landslides and such. They simply are too tired to keep going.

Individual geniuses have been replaced by large, well-funded research groups.

I think this is a case of technology gone too far. Put RFID tags on all your tools in your truck so you can find them faster, and do more work in less time, and work harder and harder.

This blogger is going to try to keep his iPhone powered for 30 days using only a small, portable solar panel. If someone would sell a hand crank phone charger for the iPhone, I would use it.

Delta Airlines is joining the Wifi-on-board service. This will soon be standard on all airlines. In ten years they may stop charging for it just like they eventually stopped charging to watch the movie.

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Tuesday December 16, 2008

In print: in the December 2008 Computer magazine from the IEEE:
  1. An all too prophetic statement from T.E. Osborne in 1976 - "It is in this incredibly competitve environment (the personal computing environment) that a paradoxical demon thrives. His job is to make sure that those who take the time to do a thorough job often finish out of the money."
  2. Also, from Simone Santini - "The Web is, undoubtedly, a great convenience. However, when I see the poor use sometimes being made of it, and the poor design of certain interfaces that reveals a complete ignorance of how human beings work, well, I long for the days of paper forms...when we could squeeze things in the corner of a form..."
I like this advice on being a better blogger - ignore advice and practice every day.

Here is an optimistic freelance writer. A good point here is that writing is not specific to any industry (auto makers, newspapers, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers).

If you need more skills (most of us do), try open courseware. University training at no charge.

Portland, Orgeon will soon have WiMax services. Prices will be lower than 3G, and I suspect that data rates will be higher.

The future of the really small portable computers is a touch screen. Image the iPhone capability on a 9" screen. I'd use one.

Qualcomm will offer its Snapdragon processor next year. This will be the heart of small computers and other devices. The goal is to push out the Intel processors with one that is better able to remain "on" and connected all the time without draining the battery.

OpenSUSE 11.1 is due on 18 December.

This is the kind of post I like to view: 5 things to keep a meeting short. The basic idea here is to make the meeting physically uncomfortable (no chairs, bad chairs, cold room). The number one tip I have always used (not listed in this post) is "don't say anything."

Here is an idea out of MIT: fleets of small, unmanned aircraft flying about the U.S. Their purpose? To improve weather forecasting. I think we do well enough with that as it is. Sounds to me that someone wants to sell a lot of small, unmanned aircraft.

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Wednesday December 17, 2008 

We drove all night from Northern Virginia and are stopped here at my brother's home in Ellisville, Mississippi for lunch. He has a pretty good ISP and WiFi, but time is limited. 

I like this daily routine for a writer - one who had a 40-hour-a-week job as well as writing. Write three hours every morning before "going to work." Do this every day instead of trying to do marathon session now and then.

The OpenCL programming language promises to move much of the computational load from the central processor (CPU) to the graphics processor (GPU). Apple created the language and promises supercomputer-like performance from its computers.

I guess I haven't followed this one close enough to understand all the accusations. It seems that the Wall Street Journal printed a story about net neutrality, and everyone mentioned in the story is screaming that they were misrepresented. I wonder if the WSJ did this on purpose so everyone would link to WSJ.com with their screams (a.k.a. comments).

I find this interesting: Stowe Boyd's comments on a possible really small portable computer from Apple
. There are some neat things Apple could do here, but we shall see. I am looking at buying a used MacBook Air. I would like to find one around $500, but ....

Bad times (like the ones we are supposed to be in) can be good for innovation

Detroit's two daily newspapers are cutting home delivery to three days a week. A dying industry in a woeful city.

This is a little different method to outlining or sketching before writing - using grids.

I must try this one - a tilt shift photography  application for the iPhone.

Nvidia is now trying to move into the really small portable computer market with another graphics processor to support Intel's Atom central processor.

A good post on freelance work, isolation, not being isolated and such. Introverts - like me - need to be especially careful with working alone at home. For that reason, I usually leave the house each morning early and go to a coffee and WiFi place somewhere.

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Thursday December 18, 2008

Gizmodo did a coast-to-coast 3G data test using a portable computer and 3G USB devices. Results here - nothing really surprising.

Most online video viewing takes place at work. This will probably cause heart failure with many older supervisors. Here is a hint: tell Net Generation (Gen X, whatever you wish to call people who are under 30) people what you expect of them at the office, including what you expect in the way of going beyond expectations. If they meet and exceed your expectations, don't fret about what they do the other six hours of the day. My experience is that these young, smart people do all assigned work for the day in about two hours. The problem, if there indeed is a problem, is not with them.

I am intrigued by this post in Coding Horror. "The more accurate your digital representation of a person, the more visible the subtle imperfections become." (see the pictures in the link) This has to do with computer generated "people" in movies and video games. The same principle extends to computer user interfaces. As they become better, people focus in on the slight imperfections and magnify them. Something to consider.

This survey claims that we are in a "media democracy." No one media will dominate, but all will co-exist.

Toshiba is producing a 512GByte solid state drive.

Why should Apple make a really small portable computer when people are running OS X on those machines made by other companies?

Sprint has a dual-use device that allows you to receive both 3G and WiMax.

Rand-McNally is selling atlases for the Kindle reader. I guess I forgot that they still sell maps. There is a use for paper maps - no electricity, no 3G connectivity. Those are mostly emergency cases, but in an emergency you REALLY NEED the map - hence the term emergency.

There is much talk recently about filtering Internet traffic on airplanes and on nation-wide, government-funded, free (no cost) broadband services. Still, there are more people trying to break the filtering than there are people trying to make it break-proof. Guess who will win?

People are supposed to go to grad school during a recession. That doesn't appear to be happening this time - yet.

Here are a few places to look for freelance writing jobs.

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Friday December 19, 2008

We may never see this guy again - a CNN meteorologists (the second one to do so) has questions the man-made global warming theory. Instead, he cautions us to look out for other more catastophic things that we are affecting. Again, we may  never seet his guy again.

Obama's own party is upset with him on the choice of who will pray at his inauguration. It is harder to govern than to campaign.

And the Obama team did have close contacts with the Governor of IL concernign that certain Senate seat.

Here is a report on the use of the Internet by newspapers.

17.5% of U.S. households do not have a landline telephone. I am one of the hold outs on this one.

High-tech firms are against the card-check legislation. That legislation requires people to show union organizers whether or not they vote to have a union. That opens the door for all sorts of extortion - at least some people (like me) believe it does.

The Gates Foundation is trying to help public libraries upgrade their broadband services. I like that. I believe in the public library system. My family has used it extensively for several generations.

I don't report on rumors, but this one is all over the place. Dell is rumored to be making a portable computer called the "Adamo" that is to be thinner and lighter than Apple's MacBook Air.

Some people still don't understand the basic economics of hardware and programmers, so we need posts like this one to explain it. Nice description. Even with posts like this one, some people still don't understand...

Polaroid should ask Congress for a bailout. Everyone else who does seems to get free money. Perhpas I could...

Another "old media" outlet that is losing is the industry conference. Companies are finding it much cheaper to have an event at their building, invite all the bloggers they can find, and make their product announcements there. Same result, much less cost - no brainer. There must be a down side to this somewhere.

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Saturday December 20, 2008

It has happened again - undersea cables cut causing Internet outages.

Lenovo will introduce a really powerful portable computer. It has two LCD screens - the main one is 17" and the second one is 10". I guess someone has a use for something like this.

Obama's pick for science advisor is "serious about climate change" (the new word for global warming, since we can now see that the globe isn't warming). The phrase "science advisor is serious about climate change" seems to be a contradiction in terms, but this is, after all, government.

I don't report rumors, but this one is probably not a rumor as someone found source code to confirm that Apple has new iMacs (desktop computers) and Mac-minis (small footprint desktop computers) coming.

IBM, among others, continues breakthroughs with graphene transistors.

Here is a solar charger for the iPhone. And the same for a portable computer. These are interesting, but not solutions. The energy used to make them far outweighs what they produce. The toxic materials created in this production, well... What puzzles me is why companies are not marketing crank devices that charge these types of products. The crank devices actually work. Solar devices such as these are mere gimmicks.

Here is a reminder to authors struggling with publishers (I am one of us). Self-publishing is not a "dirty word" like it used to be.

But alas, there is no sick pay or sick leave for writers. I just finished reading Stephen King's "On Writing." In it he describes how writing helped him to heal from his accident where a motorist ran over him and almost killed him in 1999. So, there are health benefits for writers that other people do not have.

Writers tend to notice more than other people. This can be a curse as writing requires some time on concentration on the writing. All that "noticing" can break the concentration.

The Chinese government won't all its subjects to view the website of the New York Times.

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Sunday December 21, 2008

I like George Will's editorial this morning on the expanding Administrative Branch of government. It seems that the other branchers - what were they called anyway? - are sitting idly by watching. Anyone for checks and balances?

Here are some thoughts on the Intel Convertable Classmate - a really small portable computer intended for children in the classroom.

And a different view on such things - this writer feels touchscreens on such computers are a waste.

I like O'Reilly's piece on the value of learning to do something that is NOT easy. The Guitar Hero vs. actual guitar is my favorite example.

Consumers are buying simpler gadgets. See, e.g. the Wii game console and the Flip camera.

Another example of stupid design.

Finally, someone is looking at space-based solar power.

And we are looking for the best "I'm Linux" video. I would like to see Linux promoted more to the general public. It has much to offer. The Linux/Unix engine is what moved me from PC to Mac.

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