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: January 12-18, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday January 12, 2009

Tim O'Reilly expands on his urging to "work on stuff that matters."  Excellent reading, highly recommended. Then go out and do.

Here is one "Best of" list for CES 2009.

Satellite television for the car. "Are we there yet" is replaced by "It's my turn to choose the channel."

Seagate will cut 10% of its workforce.

Everything is becoming an Internet appliance. This long-predicted concept is finally happening.

Ars Technica makes the case for buying a really small portable computer. Paraphrasing Jerry Pournelle, the computer you have with you is the one you will use.

Carrying too much stuff with you? You are not alone.

Here is a "tablet format" of a really small portable computer.

Here is another report on the dangers and tragedies of "recycling" computers and cell phones.

Researchers at Boston University are building a sign language dictionary that is searchable by gesture. Excellent use of technology.

Johanna Rothman writes about the great advantage of each employee committing only 80% of their time. Allow people 20% for other things. Strangely enough, committing only 80% of your time to a project allows you to be fully committed to it. Read Johanna's explanation.

I like the message in Jeff Atwood's blog: "Don't bother improving your product unless it results in visible changes the user can see, find, and hopefully appreciate. "

Obama, as predicted, has come out and admitted, "Gee, things are worse than I thought, so I'm gonna have to cancel some of my campaign promises." Changing my mind when new information arrives is a good thing, a good thing for (almost) all of us. I believe it is a bad thing for a candidate to make promises to everyone while in a campaign when some thought would show that such promises will not hold in the light of reality. Things you say you want to do while in a campaign are not the same as things you want to cook when strolling the aisles of the grocery store. A candidate for president is in a very different situation. Broken political promises hurt the nation as more people become jaded and disinterested in participating. Someone who ran on hope and change should have known better.

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Tuesday January 13, 2009

Jerry Pournelle has a new column up with some looking back at 2008.  Everyday I look at Jerry's Daybook.

I like this article - I should have written it. "There is more to bad software than coding errors." Of course there is. I guess that is one reason I didn't write this article - I thought everyone already knew that.

School systems across the U.S. spend hundreds of million of dollars on Microsoft software, when open source alternatives cost much less. Well, maybe one day...

Here is a small practical solution to nagging cable knots - cables that stay bent when you bend them.

This one surprises me - women in the 30s mulitask with TV and computers more than any other group.

Science moves on - IBM has a new microscope - at least I think it is a microscope - that is 100 times better than what came before.

Oracle is laying off people.

And using a cell phone while driving will probably become illegal soon.

With the inauguration a week away, everyone on the Internet is writing about Obama's Blackberry. Perhaps the new president will cause the Intelligence Community to make a secure Blackberry and a secure iPhone and so on. Will taxpayers be happy about the government buying 10,000 of these things at $10,000 each (yes, that is what they will cost). If we buy 100,000 of them, the price will drop in half. What price cuteness?

This is different: someone has printed the blogs they viewed as the best of 2008 in a newspaper format. This story describes the effort. This is the source of it if you want a copy.

Scoble gives some pretty good advice on finding a job if you are laid off (or just looking for a job).

It seems that Obama will nominate a Harvard Law School classmate to be the chief of the FCC. I am disappointed tohear of a lawyer not an engineer in this post.

Here are instructions on how to obtain, install, and run the Windows 7 Beta. I have a "spare" PC at home, but it doesn't meet the hardware requirements. Rats!

The attendance at CES was down 22% this year.

Intel has succeeded so much that is so large that it hurts when the economy hurts. An example of success leading to failure.

America, a nation of savers? Saving 2.8% of income - is someone kidding?  What happened to "give 10%, save 10%, housing 25%." I guess I am too old or something.

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Wednesday January 14, 2009 

Esther Derby has a good, brief description of the Satir Interaction Model. Also good comments about the difference between stating fact and making judgments.

Western Digital is about to market a 2 TeraByte disk drive. I remember when...oh never mind.

There are all sorts of problems with porn filters. For example...

The new CEO of Yahoo is Carol Bartz.

I received this annoying text message ad on my iPhone. I didn't realize that my user agreement with AT&T entitled them to send me ads.

Ars Technica publishes a lengthy review of GIMP - the open source image, uh I mean photo processing package.

The ASUS really small portable computer is now available at Best Buy for $229. It seems to be an attempt to clean out inventory, but still, not a bad buy.

I find this piece on traditional newspapers and the new media interesting. The traditional news media did a great service to the public. If they hadn't become so arrogant and stuck to objective news instead of putting their opinion in everything. Look back at the link to Esther Derby to see how easy it is to put judgment (opinion) into every statement and the affect that has on the reader or listener.

I blogged yesterday about Obama's Blackberry on Working Up.

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Thursday January 15, 2009

I have seen these pictures somewhere on the Internet before. Here is a good collection of a family through the past 30 years.

Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave from Apple. The reason is probably not cancer, but difficulties with food absorption.

Wikipedia has increased its server storage from 2 to 48 TeraBytes. That is an increase of I think 2,300 percent.

"Innovation" is out and "transformation" is in. I agree with Berkun in that this is all junk. "Transformation" was the buzzword in 2001 when Rumsfield became Secretary of Defense. He was trying to transform everything in the DoD. He failed.

These people predict that the current economic problems will be gone by the summer of 2009. The Obama stimulus packages will have nothing to do with the recovery. I hope the are right.

Some are hoping that Obama's plan will give $30 Billion to bring high-speed internet access to every home in America. A high-tech satellite costs roughly $1 Billion to build and launch. $30 Billion is a large amount of money for a technology project. As an engineer and a user of broadband, I like the idea. As a taxpayer, there are worse ways the governement can spend my money, but often the best way is not to spend it at all. Anyways, a bunch of people are about to become rich.

News Flash: bored workers at the State Department spend some of their time browsing around in passport records. Of course they do. They live in a high-cost area, commute hours to reach the office, and then sit in gray cubicles all day watching the clock.

Sony has sold 50 million PlayStation 2s in America.

As usual, there is more to delaying the switch to digital TV than meets the eye. There are politcal plays and conflict of interest involved. Read on.

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Friday January 16, 2009

Here is another Microsoft ad that uses an Apple computer. It seem that people would....oh never mind.

Minnesota's largest newspaper has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. See my blog on dying newspapers.

This report shows which blogging software bloggers use. This simple daybook blog uses something called HTML. I use Wordpress in my other blogs.

People are starting to borrow a few processing cycles from the Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to help out the central processor. Here is an application that helps break WiFi security with the ultimate goal, of course, of helping make WiFi security more secure.

I saw this story in half a dozen places this morning, so maybe it is more than a rumor. Apple will finally release an updated Mac mini in March 2009. It will use NVIDIA's Ion platform and Intel's Atom processors.

This woman navigated computer security and sent e-mails in her sleep. Over use of sleep-aid drugs was involved.

Even Google has layed off some workers.

Atwood writes about allocating memory and freeing it later. There are automatic features in some languages that do such, but real men...or so it goes.

Sometimes programming and hardware systems can just be silly fun.

I am tired of hearing about the Bush Administration's "war on science." If such happened, the Administration must have been miserable failures in this war given all the advances we have seen recently.

Johanna Rothman discusses why senior managers like basic serial projects. Senior managers work with high-level concepts: cost and schedule in big round numbers. Step-by-step progression. “Tell me in ten seconds what you have accomplished!” They only have ten seconds to listen to you. That t is because they are mis-managing their own time and work. They need you to help them by giving simple answers. Give them a simple answer, “We will have 75% of the features done at the end of this month.” Try not to explain agile methods to them and how each iteration reduces blah blah blah. They aren’t interested. They aren’t stupid, just ignorant and lacking the time to learn.

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Saturday January 17, 2009

The European Union says that when Microsoft bundles Internet Explorer with Windows, they violate anti-trust laws. Microsoft is giving away the browser. Mozilla gives away Firefox. Apple bundles Safari with OS X. Someone please explain this to me.

A new Windows worm is working its way through the populace.

Circuit City is going out of business. At least in my county, Circuit City was a poor competitor to Best Buy, so this is not a surprise.

YouTube is rolling out a "download" button for the videos. There are ways to download YouTube videos, but require some knowledge and work. This could be great or just another thing that clogs the bandwidth.

It appears that the transition to digital TV will be postponed.

Global music sales fell. The big loser is the Compact Disc.

Given this study, I am not sure if I should drink coffee. It causes hallucinations (when will I get to have mine?) but prevents Alzheimer's.

AMD will cut 1,100 jobs and impose temporary salary cuts.

And the courts have ruled that the NSA can listen to foreign nationals' phone calls when the calls electronically transit America.

The Obama crew has sold exclusive TV rights to inaugural events. Maybe he is more of a free-market guy than he appears.

Obama believe he will be able to keep his Blackberry once in office. Well, he will be the President and can declare an executive order that either makes him exempt from all security regulations or simply ignores all signals intelligence precautions and lets everyone in the community have one. See my blog on this situation.

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Sunday January 18, 2009

YouTube is now being used for reference instead of "just" entertainment.

And the Vatican will have its own YouTube channel. The Vatican is not the first religious group to do so.

Dell has added the option of a 256GByte solid state drive to its line of portable computers.

Great photos of new construction at the Stennis Space Center.

I continue to read and recommend the DailyRoutines blog. I also continue to recommend that you find and keep a daily routine.

Here is a good recommendation: read George Orwell's works. If you don't like Orwell, read a lot of some other famous old author. I am currently reading J.R.R. Tolkien. I know, I should have read him years ago.

This may prove helpful - an eBook guide to writing that promises to hold lots of helpful links for writers.

Here is a tip I follow: write in a journal (by definition, that means write in it everyday). I do so on recommendation from Jerry Weinberg.

Here are my further thoughts on writing in a journal.

Here is an exhortation to write for real money - not a penny a word. When you are starving, you will take anything. I believe that is a bad practice in a bad situation. Stay away from both. A rule of thumb from a famous writer (I cannot recall his name at this time). When your part-ime writing equals the pay from your full-time job for two years in a row, THEN quit your full-time job and become a full-time writer.

The Renegade Writer Blog raises a good question: What’s your freelancing code? What will you NOT do as a freelancer? Try to understand yourself. This is more than business as in "if I do this and get caught, it will hurt my business." This is about possibly destroying yourself.

Wikipedia is eight years old. It seems like it is older, but I guess not. Wikipedia is an excellent source of information. I consulted it daily while I was taking a walk. I also added photos of small towns and such to Wikipedia while walking. I loved doing it.

I find today's editorial by George Will interesting. I didn't know that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 allowed the Federal government to intrude so much on how some states conducted elections. The events of this coming week do indeed show that the 1965 act worked and that its intrusion provisions are no longer needed.

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