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: February 2-8, 2009

Summary of this week:


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


Monday February 2, 2009

Web users using Apple computers has reached almost 10%. This is a record high.

An Internet connection can lead to a college degree. I like this goal, but it can lead to many problems.. A goal I like much better is that an Internet connection leads to learning.

It is possible to run Apple's OS X on one of those really small portable computers. Here is a compatibility chart.

The upside down fire. Well, it's not really upside down, but you build it opposite of what everyone says. This seems to work.

A Wikinomics blog post about newspapers seems to agree with my own blog post. Newspapers are going out of business because of confusion among facts and opinions - news and editorial.

A company that makes "lie detector" machines is suing researchers who showed, once again, that such machines really don't work.

Samsung will introduce a cell phone with a 12MegaPixel camera in it. I wouldn't mind it if my iPhone had a better camera - really a much better lens, but 12 MegaPixels? A bit much.

Perhaps RFID chips in passports and such aren't so secure after all.

Here is something that I told my wife would happen: it's a recession, so people are going to the library for entertainment. I also predict that book sellers will sell a lot of their cheaper fiction and movie rentals will go up. Cheaper entertainment all around.

The stock market had its worst January every - losing 8.84% for the month. I kept hearing that when Bush left, everything would be...

Someone actually listened to President Obama's inauguration speech and they found another example of the President doing the opposite of what he promised. For months, people told me that Obama was different, and he was going to be a different type of president. I had slim hopes, but hopes nonetheless. No more hopes. Mr. Obama is another politician - no less and no more. That is a shame as he had a chance to be different.

I hope this is not true, but the evidence tends toward it being so. The thermostat in the Oval Office is set to very warm. Energy? Environment?

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Tuesday February 3, 2009

The Singularity School - I am not sure what this is, but it sounds promising. It is something to watch for a while.

Google releases a new version of Google Earth. I haven't used this product much, but I know people who seem to live in it.

Paper is a pretty good tool. I use it daily. I even use the back sides of it to save money and trees.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer is down to 67% of the browser market while Firefox is up to 21%. I have used Firefox exclusively for the past 2 or 3 years.

IBM is offering to move laid-off Americans to work in India, China, and other such places. I think that working in a foreign country for a few years can be a good thing. It was for me, but then again I was paid an American salary, not a dollar a day.

Oh my goodness, this post has a photo of a Rocket eBook from 1998. I used one of those things. I tried to have my office adopt them. There was a good application - carry this thing instead of a suitcase full of manuals. No one was interested. Actually, their solution was the user called the U.S. office and sat on the phone for hours instead of reading the friendly manual. Was that TEN YEARS AGO?

American tech companies cut U.S. jobs, but still want to import more workers with H1-B visas. I know there are cases where this policy makes sense, but it sure looks bad in the headlines.

Skills still in demand: C, C++, C# programmers and Mac developers.

Construx is offering free seats in their seminars to laid-off tech workers. Nice touch, guys. I have seen this with other learning opportunities as well - notable for years is Weinberg and Weinberg. Jerry Weinberg doesn't put out such announcements, but he has always worked with people on payments and such.

2008 brought the really small portable computers. 2009 brings the second wave of them. I love it.

This one didn't work. Take care went entering the public education system of systems. The Gates Foundation failed here.

This energy saver may actually work - the garbage truck picks up the garbage, hauls it a short distance, where the garbage generates power for the next day. Some of proposed this concept for years; it allows zero net energy usage to dispose of trash. No hype about powering the world from trash.

Jeff Atwood writes about the all important keyboard. In my mind, the keyboard and the screen are the two things that computer users really care about. I have felt this way for 30 years.

Jerry Pournelle relays this quote:

"The common man, finding himself in a world so excellent, technically and socially, believes it has been produced by nature, and never thinks of the personal efforts of highly endowed individuals which the creation of this new world presupposed. Still less will he admit the notion that all these facilities still require the support of certain difficult human virtues, the least failure of which would cause the rapid disappearance of the whole magnificent edifice."~Josť Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955)

Things don't "just happen" by themselves. Not only do many "average persons" not understand this, but in my experience, many persons in management positions of government and industry fail here as well.

Here are some thoughts on the "American Cargo Cult" Biting, stinging, but I have observed most of it.

"Even the toughest rules require reasonable exceptions," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Commenting on lobbyists being given jobs in the Obama administration - which is opposite of what candidate Obama pledged.

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Wednesday February 4, 2009 

There will be six different versions of Windows 7. Sigh.

I guess the $10 computer from India was a fake.

I like this post. It compares the peformance of a really small portable computer (the MSI Wind) running OS X against a four-year-old iBook G4. They are pretty even. My interest? I use a four-year-old iBook G4 everyday - still, but I am looking for a new ...

Seagate will sell a 2TeraByte disk drive later this year.

Not everyone is being laid off. Some of those being laid off are finding other jobs. Funny how the marketplace works.

Here is a remotely controlled robotic arm that can treat wounder soilders on the battlefield. Of course this can also be used to operate on people in remote locations where an expert surgeon is not on hand. Good use of technology as it multiplies the effectiveness of an expert person.

IBM is building a supercomputer with 1.6 million processors (not cores, individual processors). Yes it costs a lot of money.

Linus Torvalds endorses the idea of many differnet Linux distributions. Duh! That is one of the best features of the open source operating system - the ability to adapt it to different situations.

Bob Sutton points to the Asshole Rating Self Exam (ARSE) which you can take here. I passed the test, or did I fail? Anyway, I didn't score to be a certified a-hole.

This is a new one on me - it seems that some people (parents) are paying companies to take their kid in for an internship. The hope is that the experience of being at a famous organization will boost a resume enough to land a future, high-paying job. I have many doubts on this one.

I hesitate to point to this, but if you want to buy a computer for less money, search on "refurbished" fill-in-the-blank. I routinely check out the Apple refurbished computers. All the major brands have the same. The key word is "refurbished."

A project to bring the Internet to remote African villages. If they first have food, water, and shelter, this is a pretty good next step.

Most user manuals are awful. Over 20 years ago I found this book by Weiss. It is a gem. I have several copies and now and then have an organization find copies of it.

Larry Lessig and the New York Times discuss "the system" that created the Daschle mess. This system has existed for years. Do you want to become a millionaire? (Step 1) Get elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for four years, i.e. two terms. (Step 2) Resign, i.e. don't run for re-election. (Step 3) Become a lobbyist and a member of a dozen board of directors. (Step 4) You are now a millionaire. Again, this system has existed for years. Only now does the press report on it - a little.

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Thursday February 5, 2009

People are using the Android operating system as just that - an operating system for a variety of computers. Windows, OS X, Linux, and now Android.

HP created its own Linux user interface for really small portable computers. It looks neat. Underneath is a Ubuntu distribution.

Intel is shifting its strategy away from more processing power and to more RF power. Go wireless young man; we can already crunch enough numbers. There will be implications to computer security down the road.

I like this post - clever. Want more time at work? Want more time in your life? Close the email.

CEO pay rarely relates to performance. Here are some studies to read.

Steve Wozniak has taken a job at a Silicon Valley startup. Why not? It sounds better than sitting at home watching TV.

Here are a few tips about doing more. "Get up an hour earlier" That sounds trite, especially for someone like me who rises at 5AM daily. There have been, however, times in my life when I rolled out of bed even an hour earlier. I did much more on those days.

A computer that uses cardboard as its case. Of course it will work. Cardboard is tougher than many of us think.

Both houses of Congress have now voted to delay the switch to digital TV.

Oh, and delaying the move to digital TV delays the creation of jobs. What stimulus? What economy?

And here is more on the debacle and loss to the economy.

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Friday February 6, 2009

Well, why not - a USB memory stick with built-in Post-Its dispenser.

Intel improves their Atom processor offerings.

RIM has sold 50 millions Blackberries in ten years. These devices changed the way people live and work.

I know some freelancers who are very disorganized and yet quite successful. I do like this photo of a messy desk.

It appears that in the House's version of the stimulus bill, half the money for national broadband access goes to the Department of Agriculture. How does the... never mind.

Windows 7 appears to be faster than Windows Vista, but Ubuntu Linux beats both of them. Granted, Windows 7 is still in Beta. Let's see the final version.

Yes, there are benefits to blogging. For me, I learn a lot. I enjoy learning. I also enjoy writing. My day goes better when I write.

How to save newspapers? Charge for the service. It might actually work, but you have to provide a real service, not just opinion disguised as news.

Some parts of the economy are already turning back upwards. A $1Trillion big government giveaway program may not be necessary after all.

Lessig simply dismantles the logic of capping executive pay at firms that receive TARP money. Am I missing something here? It seems to obvious for the Administration to miss this.

And in a never ending effort to show that they know more about business than people who work in business ;-), the Senate voted to ban H1-B Visas from companies who receive TARP money.

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Saturday February 7, 2009

I blogged about implication. This is a mathematical property that states if you accept something that is false, you can prove anything. Implication explains much of human behavior. The blog is in two parts. One and Two.

Many TV stations will drop analog broadcasts on February 17th. This is allowed under the extension passed by Congress. Delaying the switch is simply too expensive for smaller stations.

The government of Canada is looking towards open source software. Will American governments at all levels do similar?

Here is a highly paid executive asking to pay more taxes. I am surprised to hear this. I am not surprised to hear only one such person asking for this.

Intel is cutting prices on its solid state discs.

WiFi is coming to more and more airlines. Not everyone is happy. Your boss now knows that you can be connected and working, so he may expect you to.

It seems that it is impossible to verify that U.S. citizens get the jobs to be (hopefully) created by the spending bill.

I like Stowe Boyd's suggestion for the New York Times - focus on what you do best and drop the rest. The same advice seems sound for the Washington Post and all the small local newspapers as well.

Some companies have never had layoffs. Some companies have never borrowed money. Some companies have never had a losing year. Most of these companies are "conservative." Some people pay their credit card bill in full at the end of every month.

I have heard several people suggest this idea to stimulate the economy - a national gift card good for 12 months. None of the people who are suggesting this sit in Congress.

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Sunday February 8, 2009

This could save the One Laptop Per Child project and machine - market it as an eBook reader. It could work.

It appears there is some controversy lately about Wikipedia. I think the fuss is about who is editing and who is contributing or some such thing. Still, people like me visit Wikipedia in huge numbers. Why not? It is the world's largest encyclopedia. Some say it is not accurate, but what is? The New York Times? CBS News?

Wow! A really small portable computer running Linux for $250. Deal ends February 12th.

Google's Gmail is exploding is use.

Sometimes reinventing the wheel is a useful exercise for the mind.

Mark the end of the day. I sleep better when I do.

Why are good science jounalists rare? Why are good anything-persons rare? Half are below average and the vast majority are within one standard deviation of average. Whey the question?

Since it is Sunday, I am catching up on reading some writing blogs.

Writers are discovering the really small portable computers. As Jerry Pournelle says, "you write with the computer that you have with you." The smaller computers tend to be with you.

A list of 100 Creative Writing Blogs.

Self-publishing is no longer "vanity press." I self-published a book about ten years ago. It was a good experience. I am considering doing so again with a text on Systems Engineering. Publishers are reeling and are not taking chances on as many books as they once did.

And here, Writer's Digest lists dozens of self publishing companies.

These three freelance writers just moved into an office outside of their homes. There are many miscellaneous items associated with such.

57 Rules for writers, each rule written to break itself. Clever and entertaining, and a little educational as well.

This post rings for me as a writer - try managing your writing. I know successful writers who would run away at this thought. Learn what works for you and do it.

See life, write about it. Read about life, write about it. Notice everything.

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