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 23-29, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday March 23, 2009

The President commits to plug-in hybrids. This will work in certain applications. Good.

Acer is moving towards an 11-inch screen portable computer. People are trying to build the four-year-old iBook I am typing on now.

The throat microphone is making a comeback.

I may have to try this one, using Twitter to promote your books.

Software is still struggling to keep up with hardware advances. Windows and Linus won't see any performance gain with newer eight-core chips. I don't know why programmers aren't programming for n-core chips instead of specific 2, 4, 8, ... Someone forgot the Zero-One-Infinity Principle.

The world may be flatter with the Internet, but it isn't flat yet.

In-wheel electric motors are moving out of the lab and onto the streets.

People are complaining about how IBM behaves in the mainframe computer market. I didn't know that the mainframe market was big enough to want. I guess it is.

This blog post claims that advertising on the Internet will fail. There is pretty good reasoning here. People use the Internet to do something and while they are doing that something they don't want ads flying at them. They are busy.

CBS draws millions of online viewers to the NCAA tournament. That tournament has become a media giant. It falls between the end of football and the start of baseball. John Wooden where are you?

Another angle on the AIG situation. Try to follow this:
  1. The Federal government cannot let AIG fail
  2. The Federal government sends about $150Billion to AIG
  3. The Federal government writes into law that AIG will pay bonuses that it has contracted
  4. The Federal government gets really made when AIG pays bonuses that is has contracted and that the Federal government put into law
  5. Investors sense all this anger at AIG, so they don't invest in AIG
  6. AIG will fail because no one will invest in it
Hmmmm, the government wants one thing, but its actions and reactions lead to the opposite. Meanwhile, taxpayers' money is burned.

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Tuesday March 24, 2009

I blog about trying to bring about change in an organization via an old fable.

I highly recommend reading this post on "the declaration of interdependence for modern management" on Alistair Cockburn's site. There is much in it.

Lenovo is offering workstations with Intel's latest quad-core processors.

President Obama is moving an FCC commisioner over to the Department of Agriculture to help work the $2.5Billion Ag has for rural broadband. I hope this works. My mother could use much better broadband service than she has now.

Here is yet another discussion of the rural broadband program. I love the title of one of the sections "Who wants some money?" Perhaps I could...

I think I like this idea, guys in pubs in Australia are helping to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border via webcams. There is much that can be done with simple webcams and a little bandwidth.

Perhaps a new iPhone is coming?

A new Linux kernel is released.

Someone else claims to have done cold fusion. It would be great if one of these times they were right.

The signal to noise ratio in hiring goes down in tough economic times.

Computers running Linux take far less time to turn on and become usable than those running MS Windows. This is not a surprise.

This is a good title for a blog "Oblivious Rich Assholes." I have more money than I ever dreamed I would have, but I remember when I didn't go to lunches at work because I didn't have the money. I remember wanting to take my wife to dinner at McDonald's, but didn't have the money to do so. I guess my recommendation for us who have achieved some financial well being later in life is to remember what it was like earlier in life AND don't assume that everyone is like me.

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Wednesday March 25, 2009 

This one takes a moment for me to digest: Skype is doing more international phone calls that AT&T. After a moment of thought, why not?

Hooray for Mississippi - they have banned traffic-light cameras. Now that most acknowledge that the cameras are all about money and little about safety, perhaps other states will follow.

I continue to follow the rural broadband story. As expected, people want to participate and don't want the other guy to participate. There is too much  money here for people to be nice and logical. More fighting and corruption to follow.

Revenge, revenge, revenge. How about a little forgiveness?

Dell shows off some new workstations - powerful! I guess these are for making movies or playing games. Powerful!

T-Mobile introduces their first 3G modem.

This picture tells it all - a wooden bicycle. Note how he propels it with levers instead of a chain. Wow.

I love this article about ten old operating systems. The first page shows a screen from a Kaypro computer running CP/M (control program microcomputer for those who wish to know). I have such a computer in my closet. I take it out once a year or two and power it up. It still works. It has one of the best keyboards I have ever used as well as a great display for only 9".

Facial recognition continues to spread. At one time this was science fiction.

Is California set up for a brain drain? Absolutely! People can only pay so many taxes.  Workers can only support so many non-workers before they look elsewhere to live. Some of this isn't exactly rocket science to figure out.

Digital cameras just keep getting better. See this one from Canon.

Apple has slipped (a lot) in its reliability ratings.

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Thursday March 26, 2009

I was driving around the Beltway today and didn't view much.

Some good economic news - Red Hat's customers don't see a depression ahead. They see a recovery instead. Actually there is much good economic news. Most of the bad news is coming from Washington in an attempt to justify things.

The top three people at Google work for a dollar a year. Granted, they are all "rich," but they actually do work for a dollar a year with no bonuses or stock options.

Apple's next release of OS X is to have a major change in its user interface. Is that a good idea? How about leaving well enough alone?

For some reason, the number of Facebook users in the U.S. over age 35 has doubled in the last 60 days. That corresponds to the length of the Obama administration. I find a link between the two events.

This is enlightening. Companies leave 100 million computers powered on and unused. That costs a little money. That costs a little money.

At least one person other than me thinks that computer voting systems have, shall we say, problems.

Here is a clever idea - use a heat exchanger to help heat the water in a home. This is really simple, given you can find a plumber to install one.

Here is a 2 TeraByte disk for under $500. That is two thousand gigabytes. Again, I guess these are good for making movies. How many pages of text are needed to fill this disk. Let's see, 80 characters per line, 50 lines per page, 400 bytes per page, make it 500 bytes per page to ease the calculation. 2,000 pages fill one megabyte. Multiply by 1,000 and then 2,000...I come up with 4 times 10 to the 9th pages. Start copying and pasting now.

I am ashamed to admit never having thought about this until today - only 10% of blind people can read braille. The implications are staggering.

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Friday March 27, 2009

Here is another way for the price of portable computers to fall - 3G providers subsidizing the computer purchase. I have seen this for really small portable computers that had 3G built in. This one is for a computer that can use the 3G-provider's 3G modem.

One security expert recommends Apple computers over those that run MS Windows.

There is some hope for open-source college textbooks. This is long overdue. College textbooks are grossly overpriced.

How about 192GigaBytes of RAM?

Computerworld reviews the latest updated to the Mac mini.

This company uses Apple computers to develop software for MS Windows computers. They claim cost savings with reliability and less-expensive support.

Less than 2% of the hospitals in America use electronic health records. That may be a bit of an exageration, but it provides a glimpse of how difficult it may be for the government to computerize everything. It also shows a glimpse of an economic opportunity for a small, agile, technology company. Please someone, get the government out of this "problem."

Ahhh, for a good old keyboard like they used to make.

Here are some good thoughts on requirements. I agree that the book "Exploring Requirements" is excellent.

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Saturday March 28, 2009

I like visualizations. Here are some good ones - Wordles from Congress.

House concerts - a way for music acts to "tour" at low cost and raise enough money to get into a recording studio. It has worked for some.

Microsoft is running ads that highlight price differences between PCs and Macs. I am sure the accuracy of the ads will be debated because "all other things are never equal."

A wind-powered land vehicle hits 126 miles per hour with only a 30 MPH wind.

Intel is updating its processors for portable computers next week.

In June, GM is going to being low-rate inital production of the Chevy Volt. That car is supposed to save the corporation when people can actually buy then in 2010.

Sun has put the Internet Archive in one of its shipping containers. I like their shipping container concept.

The economy goes down, companies look for ways to save money, Red Hat Linux makes a lot of money. The money is out there. Some people lose it while others make it.

What's the point of running a university computer lab when all the students bring laptops anyway? That is the question posed in this article. As a parent, I have another view. My son is taking a computer science class. Half of the work he does for the class is downloading and installing various disparate tools on his machine. I wonder why I am paying the university so much money when my son is doing their work for them. There are many things the university could be doing to make the administration of my son's computer much easier on my son. The arrogance is demeaning.

Bosses act differently when they know bad news is coming. Employees pick up the signs. Bosses hire people because they think the people are smart. Then at some point, the bosses act like the people aren't smart.

Dell has a new line of portable computers coming in May. They are aimed at the school market.

Make local newspapers non-profit?  A Democratic Senator is proposing this. Most local newspapers favor Democrats, hence Democrates are trying to find ways to keep them alive. Since I blog, can I become a non-profit? Huge tax advantages.

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Sunday March 29, 2009

Alistair Cockburn contributes this food pyramid. Notice that vitamin water is in it. At least one "good" thing.

Instead of yelling at people, tweet at them. You get it off your chest, and they don't really hear it. I guess this is the Web 2.0 way of being passive-aggressive.

Verizon will start selling 3G-enabled really small portable computers. No word on who will make those computers. The computer and communications industries continue to merge. This indicates that HP will be the partner.

I had never thought of this before, but the Windows start up and shut down times are like the old vacuum tubes warming and cooling.

I guess this makes sense - a wooden wrist cuff that you use as a coffee cup sleeve. On second thought, no, it doesn't make sense.

This story is everywhere on the net. A vast, international spy network call "GhostNet." The source seems to be China.

It is Sunday, so as usual I catch up on reading blogs about writing.

Define what you want to say to the world, and put it in a sentence to be displayed in your writing area. That is pretty good advice for writers and everyone else.

Here are some comments on why people write. I like the quote, "The moment a person finds their voice…is the moment their life takes on grace."

Six tips to improve your writing. My favorite is of course #6 - Do what works for you.

The number one rule of blogging - post consistently.

From Stephen King (relayed via this blog): “If you are serious about wanting to be a writer, your days of being a member of polite society are numbered.”

This sounds like a pretty good productivity tool. Every hour, call a fried, talk for only five minutes, and say what you intend to accomplish before the next hourly phone call. This seems to push you to go go go before the hour ends. The blogger tried it and was astounded at the accomplishments.

George Will writes about the continuing trend to set aside the Constitution for ... well for something or other. I always found the Constituion worthy of study and discussion, and they way people use it discouraging. I know I am in the minority on this one.

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