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: January 19-25, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday January 26, 2009

On the subject of food and health - eat real food.

Jeff Atwood writes about interpreted and compiled languages.

Acer has announced a version of the Aspire One really small portable computer with a 10-inch screen. I have held the Aspire On ein my hands at stores. I am impressed with it. The keyboard is big enough for me to type and the price is low.

Alan Kay talks about computing and education. I agree with him in that the problem is the teachers - adults limiting what kids learn. Computing, per Kay, is about ideas. Put  teacher with ideas in a classroom and the computers become just something on the side. Put computers in a classroom with an teacher void of ideas and we have an expensive classroom. Tax dollars burned.

American tech companies that have done well and have lots of cash on hand (yes, they do exist) are doing something different with the money - saving it. What a concept.

People are buying things that are less expensive, yet still do the job. People are using things that are free instead of paying for alternatives. This is killing some businesses.

Yes, there are simply too many interesting things to be doing. Saying "No" is the hardest thing.

Ten idea generators for writers.

$37Billion stimulus for technology. Does anyone understand how much $37Billion spent over 18 months is? Someone out there is going to get rich. I have worked in government. I know what it means to attempt to spend $1Billion over five years. $37Billion over 18 months? That odor in the air is taxpayers' money burning. See, for example, how recently $200Billion was "spent" with nothing in return.

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

Tuesday January 27, 2009

I blog about what it means for the Federal government to spend $1 Billion in economic stimulus. It seems that the press used to call these things "government programs." Now they are called "economic stimulus." I wonder why the name changed.

Texas Instruments is cutting its staff by 12% - almost 3,000 jobs.

Barack Obama has several of the most popular web sites on the Internet. Therefore, spreaders of malware are flocking to his sites. Oh the law of Unintended Consequences.

70% of Apple computers sold are portable machines. This is the opposite of four years ago. This is another sign of wealth in America.

This post about writing and writing in a journal discusses benefits to mental health from a journal. It also pointed to this other post that reports on the benefits to cancer patients of writing.

This site shows the Best Tech Videos. Good material here in video form.

For those of you who sit all day AND can choose the chair you sit in, Tim Ferris looks at chairs.

A study shows a link between reduced calories and improved memory.

Scott Berkun has a thought-provoking essare on thought.

This post discusses ways that blogging can improve your writing. Writing - almost any type of writing - can improve your writing.

A good presentation here on science. Note the simple method of presentation. Excellent.

It appears that Apple will put quad-core processors in its next evolution of the iMac (desktop computer). More and more computing power to do something.

Congress now wants to add Telecommunications Engineer to their list of titles. They want cell phones to make a loud click when the user takes a photo. Congressmen already have the titles of Automotive Engineer and Investment Banker.

The U.S. Senate has voted to delay the switch to digital TV to June 12. Whenever the switch occurs, millions of Americans will be caught unaware and will fuss about it. That is simple numbers in a nation of some 300 million. This fussing will embarass President Obama because many of those caught unaware will be "poor." The Administration doesn't want an embarassment in February - too soon after the inauguration for that.

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

Wednesday January 28, 2009 

Amazon will show the new version of their Kindle book reader in February. E-Books may actually arrive this time. I did research into this technology ten years ago. It was viable then, but no one wanted to use it.

Michael Arrington is going to take some time off. The reason is death threats. Ugly stuff that shouldn't happen and should not be tolerated, but law enforcement does little to help.

This story is everywhere on the Internet. A man bought a used iPod and found pages of classified information stored on it. And some people really want the President to keep his Blackberry.

Western Digital has started selling a 2 TeraByte disk drive. I remember when...

A photographer hails Dell's really small portable computer (9" screen) as a great item for fellow photographers.

This post highlights a problem with solar cells for generating electricity. They are nice for a few special applications, but nothing to bet the economy of nation. We burn fossil fuel for a reason - it works.

News on the future of the GNU Compiler Collection. GCC is a great set of tools.

Here is a detailed testing of USB Flash Drives and file systems.

KDE 4.2 is out.

It appears that Microsoft will release Windows 7 in different versions. This is great if done properly. Who would want only one version of Linux out there? Apple only releases one version of its operating systems, but they control the hardware as well. Microsoft did a poor job of multiple versions with XP and Vista. Let's hope they learned a few things.

Coming, a wiki-like database containing all 500,000 elected officials in the U.S. As long as people can contribute facts, this should be excellent. As I blogged recently, however, many of us struggle with the difference between fact and opinion.

William Hurley proposes a "national computing cloud" for university researchers. This sounds a bit silly, but there is a point: a few researchers have access to really big computing resources and no one else does. If we make such resources available to thousands of researchers, who knows what innovation might occur? I would vote for $200Million for this instead of for condoms.

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

Thursday January 29, 2009

Starbucks is closing 300 existing stores. It is, however, also opening 310 new stores. The net gain is not reported in the headlines.

America On Line is laying off 700 workers.

Here is someone running the Windows 7 Beta on a Mac mini. Great.

This post discusses a writer's planning and a writer's work log. I thought I kept lots of records on my writing. This is much more than I do. It seems to work for this person, and that is what matters.

Putting a wiki up on an organization's network doesn't mean people will use it. This agrees with my experiences in wiki deployment. Many people fear writing. Sometimes the fear is internal and sometimes it is imposed by the culture of the organization.

AT&T is subsidizing the cost of really small portable computers. You buy a computer for $99, but you also buy a two-year subscription to AT&T's 3G data services. If you use the data services, the deal is worth it. If not, it isn't.

Somehow I missed this one - The Bacon Explosion. It is a mix of bacon and sausage rolled up and baked or barbequed. It does look good, but it is not good for you.

The guys who made the "Obama Girl" videos are now moving to tech satire. Yes, their videos about Obama were satire, though many took them seriously.

Here is a new one to me: Moblin. It is a Linux varient from Intel. Intel is building it to be used on machines using the Atom processors.

Google introduces the Measurement Lab. It is supposed to help people measure what their ISPs are providing in the way of data rates and such. I tried to go to http://www.measurementlab.net/ to look at it, but never reached the site. I guess too many people were trying the same.

The House of Representatives has held the February 17th date to switch to digital TV. This is confusing to me. They did vote to delay the switch, but had imposed a 2/3s majority on themselves. They didn't achieve a 2/3s majority, so ... Like I said, this is confusing to me.

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

Friday January 30, 2009

I blog about how personal preferences show themselves in volunteer organizations.

Rumors have been long and frequent about the "GDrive" - Google's online storage thing. The rumors seem to be becoming stronger.

David Pogue of the New York Times relates two weeks of experimenting with Twitter. I expect Twitter to still be in business when the New York Times closes. I don't relish that, but I do expect it.

AT&T hints that it will be selling 3G service for Apple portable computers. It isn't terribly difficult to put a 3G chip in a portable computer. This could be done, but it is up to Apple to close the deal.

Samsung has a new, fast 4Gbit memory chip that will enable 32GBytes DIMM Modules. Now to find an operating system that will use this much memory wisely. Just like the parallel processors mentioned below, it is the software that must use them.

Intel will proabably announce an eight-core processor next month. I do not know the theoritical limit is on the number of cores you can put in a processor. I once worked with a processor board that had 64 processors running on it in parallel. The key to the whole thing was the compiler that divided the jobs among the processors. That type of thing does work; it isn't easy, but it does work.

It seems that India will unveil a $20 portable computer right after the Super Bowl (that is the first week of February). Cool.

The OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) group is reorganizing itself. I admire their goals. I believe they have been instrumental in pushing commercial computer makers towards computers that "do enough" at a much lower prices. In most other respects, however, OLPC has failed.

"Teachers need to be taught about open source software." At first I thought, "well of course, the average American teacher doesn't know..." But then I recall a project I worked about six years ago in which I taught senior manager in a government technology office that Linux was not being done by a bunch of hippies in garages. It was all new to them. Then we went into open source software, and I had to give up from frustration.

A robot that seeks out biomass, ingests it, and turns it into energy. Well, finally. Perhaps 20 years ago I saw robots that would seek electric outlets, map their locations in a building, and then go back to them when their batteries needed recharging. I suppose the "biomass-eating" robots are merely a twist on that old concept.

This could prove to be something of significance - a human-powered submarine. The goal is to cross the Atlantic Ocean. If this works, it could revolutionize shipping, save the world untold amounts of energy, and so on.

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

Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Saturday January 31, 2009

Jerry Pournelle writes about "The Threat to America." Half of America's children are below average. Us parents don't want to admit that, but that is statistics for you. There are implications to the country.

Among the Microsoft employees being laid off was the guy with the blue monster tatoo. Seems to be a bad publicity move by Microsoft.

Sometimes it is enlightening to do some back-of-the-envelope calculations. These guys did and showed how much money the New York Times spends to print and deliver the paper. For that money, they could do all sorts of other interesting things. For other back-of-the-envelope or front-of-the-napkin calculations, see my blog on spending a billion dollars.

Chris Anderson, who blogs for free, writes for the Wall Street Journal on the Economics of Free.

This is something different in user interface - use motion to control a music player. No buttons or such needed.

Nortel is backing out of WiMax.

Forget about economic growth, measure efficiency instead. This could be another form of survival of the fittest, so I am not so sure about its viability.

This study reports that 11% of computer users consider the really small portable computers as their main computer - not a secondary, light, carry-around computer.  This is an example of efficiency. The vast majority of these little computers have enough power to do the job, so why spend $1,000 on a portable computer when $400 will suffice?

The Intel Atom processor seems to have a bright future in Adroid-based really small portable computers. Please, someone put a cell phone in the portable computer.

I like George Will's editorial about how the Federal government takes Social Security taxes and spends them on lots of other things. Sounds like stealing to me, but I'm not in Congress. This has been happening since the 1960s.

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

Sunday February 1, 2009

Microsoft will skip a step or two in taking Windows 7 from a Beta to a product. Perhaps Windows 7 is "just" Vista 1.1.

The U.S. Senate has passed a second bill delaying the switch from analog to digital TV. This one allows a gradual change. It will probably become law. This version sounds like someone thought about the change a bit. It seems that someone would have thought about that six months ago.

Bob Sutton writes about the perils of incentives and bonuses. Roy O'Bryan and I wrote a chapter about this in a book several years ago. Proceed cautiously with bonues. Please.

It is rare for me to point to something Jerry Pournelle writes two days in a row, but I think this is worth it. See his speculation about how big a corporation should be, and also how big the Federal government should be. I think there was a time when states did things differently. If you didn't like your state, you moved to one you did like. I think this has something to do with familiarity and the rise of the chain restaurants and stores. I will think about that one a bit.

Some thoughts about a person's simple notebooks.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell people, "I am a writer."

A recession may be a good time to become a location-independent worker.

Sometimes it is best to write a blog slowly. I have found some essays need ten years to finish.

Oh, traffic light cameras. What a source of income for cities. Safety? Accuracy? Just keep the  money flowing.

When you take Federal money, everyone in the world wants to tell you how to run your business. Strings attach money. I think that is fair. I also think some of these companies need to consider this aspect of the money more carefully. I also think Congress needs to write the strings in big bold print in the bills. It is almost like some Congressmen don't want any strings attached to their local, favorite companies. I believe in coincidences less and less.

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