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: March 16-22, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday March 16, 2009

The FCC prepares (again) for the switch to digital TV.

This may be a new way to prevent conterfeiting money. It is sort of medium technology in that it is far less sophosticated than what we do with paper money today.

A little different take on the shape of USB drives. They look like keys, so maybe you will lose them more often.

This could be helpful to those of us who like to get the names right on all this little portable computer things: a flow chart that takes you to the right name.

Here are some performances benchmarks on the new Apple Mac Pro under-the-desk computer.

Some thoughts on business models in the creative industries. We now pay over and over again for created content when we buy each copy of a DVD or book or music CD (does anyone still buy music CDs?). How about paying the person a big check while they are creating the content?

Newspapers may try to sell people special printers so they can print their own newspapers at home. Doesn't sound like it will make it.

The Europeans are testing a 12.5Giga-bit-per-second wireless network. I would like to see that one work, but...

Ah, the trials and tributlations of working with 20-something-year-olds.

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Tuesday March 17, 2009

I like the "in plain English" videos. This is an excellent way to provide information on a topic. Here is  Twitter in plain English on YouTube. More "in plain English" videos. The home of these "in plain English" videos - CommonCraft.

Here are some thoughts on creating a home office. One key is making the office an obvious place. When the kids see you there, they know you are in the office.

Here are some practices for writers. In addition to reading and writing everyday, this blogger urges writers to stay connected to other people. Get out of your writing chair and talk to someone.

Here is a plea to go back to basic story telling. Author and consultant Jerry Weinberg has spent the past couple of years writing novels. He wants to teach project management and other such things through stories. His stories are full of good information.

This post encourages the use of momentum. Start today on tomorrow. Make lists and other triggers so that tommorow morning you look at the triggers and you are running. You don't waste time trying to start yourself.

Lenovo may soon release this really small portable computer. It looks great.

Aim for high quality in everything. Much of what is left will tend to itself.

Stephen Wolfram is building an "answer engine" (as opposed to a search engine). This will provide answers to factual questions, not pointers to pages that may contain the answers. this could be interesting.

The government wants telephone companies to provide broadband services over twisted-pair copper cables. This seems reasonable as the government funds many of these telephone companies via our taxes (ever look at all the taxes on your phone bill?).

And just in time, DSL which uses the twisted-pair copper cables, could have speeds up to 500 Mega-bits-per-second. There are many factors that affect the speed of DSL. A major factor is the quality of installation and maintenance of the wires. That quality is usually very low in rural areas.

Dell released its first machine in its high-end, stylish Adamo line of computers. The specifications aren't very good. The style is top notch.

Scott Berkun blogs about dealing with a jerk programmer. How about reframing this. Instead of "I am trying to work with a jerk," try "I am having great difficulty working with a person who writes programs." Now I can ask myself all sorts of questions about myself (why do I think this person is difficult? why might I apply the "jerk" label to this person? What is this person doing that I dislike? etc).  I can answer questions about myself and do things about myself.  

Computer science enrollment in the U.S. is up not down. This ends a six-year downward trend. Who really knows what if anything this means?

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Wednesday March 18, 2009 

I have to drive around the Washington D.C. Beltway today, so my viewing was cut short.

Apple held its big announcement yesterday about iPhone software version 3.0. Here is one account of the new software. There are many others out there.

It appears that IBM may buy Sun. I think this is a bad idea for the economy in general. This latest round of whatever is happening in the economy might convince us that it is not good for companies to grow "too big to fail."

There are 29 million Xboxes out there. There are 30 million iPhones out there. The iPhone as  a game console? It makes some sense.

The "I'm a PC" ad campaign seems to be working. How can you argue with cute kids?

Chicago is going to the Red-light cameras to give out tickets and raise money. At least people are now admitting that the cameras are there for revenue and not "public safety."

This is a neat little project computer.

I like this, a little 1955 film called "Why Study Science?" But I always liked to study science, so this affirms my life.

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Thursday March 19, 2009

A simple and quotable admonition - get excited and make things.

Maybe, just maybe, people will start to reconsider nuclear power.

A new debate, does the brain start degrading at age 27?

Here is a "flying car" that actually flew a little bit. See the video. This is probably a bigger accomplishment than it appears to be.

This is a neat looking all-in-one luggable computer from Shuttle.

Johanna Rothman blogs about diversity of all kinds. Yes, thank you. Diversity "of all kinds."For ever in the Federal government "diversity" meant only gender and race (still does mean only that). Other types of diversity are not acknowledged - at least not out loud as that would make you sound racist and sexist.

I love Johanna's quoting of "great minds think alike" but balanced with "morons think alike, too."

Economic problems are speeding the adoption of free and open source software. This has long been predicted. I am happy to see it coming to pass.

Shell is dropping its work on solar and other such energy sources. Why? They are not economical. There is a reason that we have been burning fuel from the ground for centuires - it works. I do think it is short sighted of Shell to stop R&D on these other energy sources.

Guess what? There are errors in electronic voting systems. I have yet to see a system created by man that is error-free. For some reason, people, especially people in government, seem to think that they can make such perfect systems.

See, for example, how the Apple browser continues to have security problems.

And the source of the problems is people. We have yet to be able to have perfect software write perfect software because first some people have to write the first perfect software. Does that make any sense?

This points to a book on how to use GIMP. That is probably a good book to have.

MIT adopts an open access policy. I like this news. It makes available all work done at MIT. I hope others follow the lead.

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Friday March 20, 2009

I blog about urgency and energy.

Understanding science - a new web site to help American high school students do so. They have a nice color graphic - more complex than the old "The Scientific Process" thing that teachers would write on the chalkboard in my day. I hope there is more to it than better graphics.

A new term for me - Dependicitis - the inability to say anything other than "it depends."

A few more good terms from Jeff Atwood. I remember these from grad school, although I don't remember ever using them.

And the Prime Minister couldn't even watch those DVDs that the U.S. President gave him. Someone it never did seem to be a fair exchange of gifts seeing how the 25 movies could be bought for $100. But this gives an opportunity for digital privacy advocates or non-advocates to continue to argue.

WiMax is growing in Portland, Oregon. It would be nice if it were available anywhere else in America.

Stowe Boyd blogs about globalism and what it may bring. If enterprise is global, does it need to have global regulation? Probably, but global regulation may bring things that I don't want. Technology has made global enterprise possible. Economies of scale has made global enterprise efficient. Is it wise? Is it good for my neighbor? Is it good for the family-owned pizza place a couple of blocks from my house? Is it wise? Maybe not.

Cisco buys the company that makes the little video camera - Flip. The amazing part is that the Flip camera company was located in San Franciso - a very high-rent district. You can still hit it big.

The news media is getting really bad when you have to go to a xkcd.com comic strip to see a better representation of the news. No wonder the old media is going out of business.

People are finding security flaws in Twitter. When no one used Twitter there were no problems. Now that millions are using it, someone in there is finding problems. This is an example of success leading to failure.

The recovery.gov site isn't working well at accomplishing "transparency."

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Saturday March 21, 2009

Aha, soon video recording will be available on the iPhone's camera. I wonder if they can upgrade my iPhone to do that.

Security experts hack their way through browsers. But we can be confident that if America has national electronic health records, no one will be able to penetrate them. Some people actually believe that.

Oh look, people were changing votes on computer voting machines. Is this a surprise?

The FCC is about to kick off the $7Billion for national broadband.

Government organizations are trying to use the Internet, but often their employees have to go home because key web sites are blocked at work. Long sigh. This is true as I experienced it often in my years as a Federal employee. The problem is not technology or money, it is in the minds of a few who are trying to protect their power base or something.

The story is the same. The system will not work unless people behave in an ethical manner.

This is a great high school project. A school in Spain sent cheap baloons up to 100,000 feet and took photos with a cheap digital camera.

The sale of music CDs continues to dwindle.

Intel is try to bring fast graphics to low-power portable devices. They will probably succeed, which is good news.

Here is a thoughtful post on how the current economy may affect the thoughts and feelings of  a generation. I would change this a bit to see how the media coverege of the current economy affects people. Most of the media have a political agenda, and that agenda comes through in the reporting. All that aside, my grandmother did hide cash in the walls of her house. Many 20-something people today may never trust the stock market. Their money will go elsewhere, maybe even the walls of their houses.

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Sunday March 22, 2009

Guess what? If someone builds a Smart Power Grid, someone else could hack into it and destroy it. Predicatable and predicted.

It is Sunday, so I catch up on writing blogs and other things.

Lacie, who makes really nice looking disk drives, merges with Caleido, who has online storage. The result will probably be a new player in the cloud computing market. Hooray for competition.

National Semiconductor moves farther into the solar energy market. Sounds like a good move.

Writers need help in a lot of different ways. This blogger lists ways that the blog readers helped turn a blog into a book. If you know some writers and you want to "help," there are many ways to do so. A big one is to read what they write and tell them how their words make you feel.

The Nikon D400 camera is coming. How about 15 MegaPixels and an HD video mode? How much more can be crammed into a camera?

It seems that the makers of the portable computers will make them slimmer and slimmer. The idea is that the machines with 11" screens will compete with the really small portable computers with 10" screens. This is a bit confusing, but more competition, more choice for us. And all this without any government bailouts. How does that work?

Intel's Atom CPU is gaining some speed.

This writer is about to die writing in an academic style. I have done that as well. It is sapping, but then again one of my advisors told me that my writing was to simple, straightforward, and understandable. He hinted that I should mess it up a bit. I didn't.

Here is one writer's approach to starting a novel - steeping it like tea.

Ah those wonderful distractions. On most mornings I go to a nearby coffee shop to view the web and write these notes. That place has for me the perfect mix of quiet and noise. Very productive.

The commenters to this post provide a good list of books on writing.

This is a nice piece on travel writing - a field that fascinates me. I have done some travel blogging Taking A Walk).

There is much to learn from being around small children. There is also much to learn about the parents from small children by being around their small children. Preschool teachers are sworn to secrecy.

If you are going to write a journal or write in a blank book for practice, get a book and a pen that you really like.It is worth the expense.

Some advice for us part-time bloggers. Now that I have a full-time job again, I am a part-time writer again.

It seems that Apple has been selling its all-in-one desktop computer - iMac - with a 17" screen to education customers and no one else. Apple sells these for only $899 - a nice price. Apple has told the educators that it will continue selling this model at his price to them only.

This is a strange story of crime. Since the story is being now told, the person was caught. He scammed Apple out of 9,000 iPods by guessing serial numbers and using some type of repair and return scheme. He was making a lot of money selling these iPods.

And we end with a blog about freelancers planning recreation. There is much talk about freelancers and independence only to find that the freelancers becomes more dependent than before.
Here is one path to independence:

WARNING Few people choose this path.

. Get a job
. Save HALF of your income (this usually means live in a crummy but inexpensive place)
. Do this for ten years
. You now have five years of salary in the bank
. You are now independent and free to do whatever for at least five years

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