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 9-15, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday February 9, 2009

I am working at the Johnson Center on the campus of George Mason University. I cannot use the WiFi here as I don't have a GMU email account. They will not give me a temporary ID or anything like that. Rats! I am a taxpayer and have paid lots of money to GMU. Anyways, I am standing at a public computer to get on the Internet. I am stuck with using Internet Explorer. Yuck. My son just walked by and said "Hi dad." Anytime your adult child talks to you is a bonus. Trudge onwards and see how long I can stand up.

Amazon is to announce Version 2 of its Kindle eBook reader later this morning. EBook fans are excited about this. We shall see.

Later, here is the new Kindle. Order one now and you will receive it in a month or so. Not a good way to introduce a product.

The Congress goes back and forth on how many billions of dollars to spend on national broadband something or other. Confused? Me, too.
The Acer Aspire One with 10" screen is available now.
Times are tough for many organizations. Now, more than ever, pay attention to the persons who work with you. In information technology, the persons hold all the important information. More importantly, they are persons, the rest is just a bunch of stuff that you can buy and replace.
Listed here are five mistakes a freelancer can make. These argue for congruence (see http://geraldmweinberg.com for discussions of congruence). Don't take jobs writing posts for $1 every 500 words. Don't be too eager to please. These are known as placating or putting other people far above yourself.
The U.S. government is going to build a database to track the international travel of its citizens for ten years. Worried? Only about the taxpayers' money that will be wasted. I worked for the U.S. government for 28 years. We could never build a database that tracked the whereabouts of five people in one office. Yes, the technology exists, but the competence and urgency do not.
AMD announces several new processors in its bid to be a legitimate competitor to Intel.

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Tuesday February 10, 2009

I blogged about employing Specialists - experts who, in the blink of an eye, can identify a solution and be implementing it in a short order.

Ice Race - a mnemonic for coaching a person: (1) Identificuation (2) Clarification (3) Effect (4) Repurcusions (5) Aiding-and-abetting (6) Conclusion (7) Execution.

Bob Sutton writes of the importance of being fully present.

The Europeans are about to launch the Herschel space observatory.

This is strange. Windows 7 will only allow three applications running at one time. If you want to run more, you buy a more expensive version of the operating system. The number of applications running at one time is "n" where 0 < n < infinity. Setting n=3 or n=some specific number is silly.

Johanna Rothman blogs about the "zeroth solution" - the simplest thing that could work. Her blog reminds me of the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. A group of volunteer doctors and nurses drove back and forth across the Gulf Coast for a week. They put one band-aid on one person's finger in one week. The culprit? People kept sending them to the optimum place - that place where they would do the most good. By the time they arrived at that place, the crisis was over and the optimum place had moved. Instead, they should have gone to one place where they could do good. I use that concept daily. I may not be doing the optimum, but I am doing some good on some task.

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Wednesday February 11, 2009 

Intel is bringing an eight-core processor. There is much opportunity for programmers who can use the parallel processors.

Bad economy? Intel is investing $7B in a new 32 nm process.

Samsumg shows its new wirless USB chipset. 120Mbps data rate demonstrated not theoretical.

Here is a shock absorber that generates electricity. A simple transform of mechanical to electrical energy. There are many ideas out there, and some are coming to fruition.

Dell introduces a little, hand-held color printer. Cool stuff. Teenage girls can now begin the screaming.

So maybe the stimulus bill's $10B won't help Americans have better broadband.

Here is a look at Fujitsu's competitor to the Amazon Kindle.

"U-but-not-I" - a clever collection of letters that means (1) urgent but not important, and (2) maybe important to you, but not to I.

Part of the stimulus bill passed by the Senate has a national health IT system. There are many complaints in editorials about the government telling private doctors what they can and cannot do. My biggest concern is privacy. The number of smart people who will try to prove the system is not secure will be much greater than the number of smart people who will try to make the system secure. Guess who will win? See, for example, the efforts of airlines to prevent people from using Skype and viewing porn on airplane WiFi systems. It is a simple matter of numbers.

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Thursday February 12, 2009

The future of magazines? Pay and read them online. The IEEE Computer Society has been doing this for several years now.

40% of television stations will stop their analog broadcasts on February 17th despite Congress allowing them to delay until June. There will be gnashing of teeth next week.

Dell is offering a computer inside a computer. The ARM processor running Linux will allow for fast boot without booting the other, main computer.

Here is a small, hand-powered washing machine. This works for its intended purposes.

As an aside, connect enough hamsters to it and you are rolling.

The tiny projectors keep coming.

Canon will bring out a new line of HD camcorders in March and April. Maybe one of these days, but I'm just not that interested in videos.

Microsoft is offering "buy Vista now and we will give you a copy of Windows 7 when it comes out." Good move by Microsoft.

Who knows what is in the stimulus bill? Millions will go to IT - well, sort of go to IT. As one analyst remarked, it is a lot of stuff that didn't make it into last year's budget.

Watch for Nvidia's Ion platform. It will power the really small portable computers so you can watch HD video. I think they are try to put too much power into computers that were built to be less powerful for less power-hungry applications.

The Wall Street Journal has eliminated two research librarian positions. In general, this seems to be a bad idea (see my blog on employing specialists). Perhaps the people the WSJ put in these jobs were not performing.

This story is all over the Internet. It doesn't seem to mean much, but two satellites collided.

The use of Skype continues to grow.

Here is another sign that the recession might be ending - without any giant government spending.

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Friday February 13, 2009

I blog about writing in notebooks with a photo of the large pile of notebooks I have filled.

Microsoft is going to open retail stores. This may be a good time to do it as retail space should be cheaper and there should be lots of people looking for jobs.

Wikepedia is doomed to failure. What? It seems that this prediction is a few years too late, and no one told the millions of contributors that they were wasting their time.

Ultra-Wideband is dead - I guess.

This machine prints and binds a 300-page paperback book in four minutes. Outstanding. This is a great way to cut education costs as well as many other costs. The link to locations shows that several libraries have these on hand. Great.

Tech job listings are on the rise with many new jobs for "contractors" vice full employees.

More Windows 7 software has been leaked onto the Internet. So, you can still try it.

This is not surprising, but it is disappointing - companies that helped write the stimulus bill will get a good return on their work, i.e. taxpayer's money. I don't understand how this is a change from politics of the past. I wish President Obama had succeeded with many of his campaign promises, but he hasn't.

Now it seems that a TV station can only turn off its analog broadcast if it has permission from the FCC. Is there no end to government interference?

And the stimulus bill moves forward with more arguments about network management, net neutrality, and all sorts of things hidden in the technology part.

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Saturday February 14, 2009

Today is Valentine's Day.

At least the New York Times is trying something with an "article skimmer." Good effort. Here is how it appears. I like it.

Some people were cheating with H-1B visas. It always comes down to the same thing - people have to behave in an ethical manner. Cheaters often escape prosecution of the law, but destroy good intentions by others.

You can download college lectures on YouTube. I like this. My dad quoted someone often by telling me that "education is something no one can take away from you."

Apple owns 51% of the smartphone traffic.

Here is AT&T's pricing plan for really small portable computers that are always on the Internet via the 3G system. This is expensive, unless you have to be online anywhere.

Jeff Atwood addresses the paradox that the programmers who really need to learn better techniques are never going to learn better techniques.

Samsung makes advances in its memory technology. Keep it coming.

This little USB device has 3G and WiFi communications as well as a slot of an SD memory card. Keep it coming.

DARPA has a 1.8 gigapixel camera for surveillance. Wow technology.

Writers can learn from the fast food industry. I wrote a book about what I learned from crushing rocks in the heat of the Louisiana summer. The lessons are out there for all of us.

Wiring an elderly person's home can help them to live there safely. There are privacy issues, but I know my mother would like to live in her own home until the day she dies.

Redefine "offshoring" to include "farm-sourcing" and other things. Yes, there are many places in the U.S. that have smart people who enjoy a lower cost of living.

This biggest spending bill in the history of the world passed. No one who voted on it read it before voting. There is some kind of comment on leadership buried in those facts. The 1,100-page bill is online in various places. Here is one place.

During the day Friday, web sites that held copies of the bill crashed due to high traffic. Someone wanted to read it.

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Sunday February 15, 2009

I recommend Tim O'Reilly's essay about change. He tells a lovely story about Bradford in the UK and how generations changed it. A story of hope for some and disappointment for others. Well done. I am from Louisiana originally. The story there is the same several times over. My mother's family are "cajuns." Despised in the late 1800s and and early 1900s, they became success stories during and after WWII. The "Mexicans" are now coming into Louisiana to work agriculture, petro-chemical, and rebuild New Orleans. They are despised by many old-family Acadians. No doubt, these Mexicans are building fond memories of a new start for their progeny.

I like George Will's editorial today on climate change and such other predictions by "experts." Will knows more about science than he shows. Funny, how experts who have been wrong for years are now in high places in the executive branch of the U.S. government.

A struggling economy is good for LinkedIn.

You don't have to verify that you are hiring U.S. citizens when you do stimulus-bill construction projects. This is good news for some people and bad for others.

Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 is out.

Facebook continues to grow by 600,000 users a day. All I can say is "Wow!"

There are many ways to "be published" as a writer today. Getting noticed and paid is another matter. I hate marketing, but if I want to recoup any financial cost, I better improve at it. That is one of the great things about writing as hobby - pay doesn't matter much.

Here is a group of links to other writing blogs. Many of the linked blogs contain exercises for writers. Never too much practice.

Ten reasons you know you are a writer. I am plagued with: 6.You find yourself eavesdropping and people watching more at a restaurant, coffee shop, bookstore, etc. in hopes of getting an idea for a story. AND 7.You observe your surroundings more and pay more attention to details.

Even the Washington Post sees problems with the billions of dollars to be "spent" on national broadband.

History shows that high government spending correlates with high unemployment. I wonder why Congress and the Administration are so anxious to spend record amounts. I don't understand this.

More history on the side of less government spending. Again, I just don't understand the desire to repeat history's mistakes.

And everyone is mad about baseball players taking performance-enhancing drugs? Look at college campuses - both students and professors. It is a good thing that no one in the media is doing this - not.

Here are some writing affirmations - things to promise yourself you will do. Set goals, make lists, do what works for you.

Why blog? To make money? Some people do make money on a blog, but they are rare.

And blogging helps create a web presence, far more effective than a static web page.

Here is a piece on "publising" on SmashWords.com. Is it a vanity press or legitimate? Does that matter any more? I have done a little on SmashWords. Where else can a person "be published" with a few short stories? There are the college-based journals of short stories, but wait six months between acceptance and publication and get paid $25. Oh, and by the way, the college professor that taught  us that someone else had to publish our work probably edited one of these college-based publications.

Many freelance workers and writers don't use any type of system to work and track their work. I have always used systems in my work at home. What attracted me to freelance work is that I could use more disciplined systems than we didn't use at work. I am an engineer by training and at one time used the Personal Software Process at home. In that, I kept track of the estimated and actual time for all tasks, adjusted future estimates accordingly and drew graphs and used statistics on all that. Maybe too much, but a learning experience.

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