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: May 11-17, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday May 11, 2009

The number of Americans using cellphone only in their homes continues to rise. It is now at 20%.

Rural ISPs feel that rural Americans want broadband in spite of studies to the contrary. This is getting interesting. My experience is that rural Americans want better service (better customer service) than rural ISPs have been providing. That comes from a small but close sample size (my mother and two brothers).

Ground rules for meetings and enforcing those ground rules. Sigh, smile, frown. If only people would actually do what makes sense.

The Wall Street Journal will move to a micropayments model for online readers. Let's see how this experiement works.

Dell's new 20" monitor for only $120.

The Location Independent is back "home" in the UK to have a baby. She continues with her lifestyle by throwing about "stuff" - good advice for all of us. A friend of my son will be staying with us a while this summer. One of the many good outcomes here is that my wife and son are removing many of my son's unused stuff from the house.

Perhaps the LED will save us from those mercury-laden, flickering flourescent bulbs. At least LED is much easier to spell.

Hyperlocal journalism - one attempt to save the newspapers. This may work, but it may be too late. Put a coffee shop in the news room where "citizens" can mingle with reporters.

More on the decline of newspapers. Let's all listen here. Newspapers were doomed when they ignored what citizens in the marketplace were telling them. Go off and wall yourself away from all those pesky people "out there" who really don't know what they are talking about. With such actions, you sign your own death warrant. This can happen to anyone in any endeavor. Perhaps that is why I see some hope in the above hyperlocal stuff. Become neighbors again.

A look back at a really small portable computer from 1996.

And some predictions for the future of these. This person feels Windows 7 instead of Linux. Well, everything in the future cannot be rosy.

Robert J. Samuelson gives an analysis of ending the "great tax dodge" of U.S. corporations operating outside the U.S. Clamping down on these dastardly deeds will pay off 1/5th of 1 percent of the looming budget deficit. How dare those corporations go where governments want them to Igo so that U.S. shareholders can earn money on their own person investments. The nerve of some CEOs.

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

Tuesday May 12, 2009

Jerry Weinberg writes about bad habits and how some tools help overcome those habits.

A college degree isn't worth what it used to be worth. Still, I believe it is worth the resources.

Ooops, someone just emailed out a lot of personal financial information. Is everyone ready for national electronic health records?

Here is a different form of robot locomotion - tumbling.

Baby monitors are clobbering WiFI. The subjects are called EMI and EMC (electromagnetic interference and electromagnetic compatibility). Please consult the appropriate references.

Microsoft is creating a new programming language called Axum. It is made to help programmers make better use of parallel (multi-core) processors. Again, the name of the language is Ada. It was invented to do much the same some 25 years ago.

Darren Rowse on how NOT to promote your blog.

This study showed that placebos had the same effect as real caffeine. Too bad for the coffee industry (not).

Here are some predictions on the really small portable computers from Lenovo. Look for touch screens and Windows 7.

I didn't know this one: The URL area on browsers behaves much like a command line. Great!

GE is investing $100million in a battery factory in New York state. Somehow this falls under the title of "Green Tech." Batteries? With all those toxic chemicals?

I don't know how they created these maps, but since they are of the seven deadly sins spread across America, they are interesting.

Here are a lot of good writing tips submitted by readers. From me: (1) read a lot (2) write a lot (3) try a lot of things, learn what works for you, do 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 May 13, 2009 

I am disappointed but not surprised - the bailout of newspapers has begun. This story also lists reasons why this is bad.

The people behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution are about to offer a file sharing service - Ubuntu One.

There is a lot of discussion about the state putting a GPS tracking device on a citizen's car - with a warrant from a judge. This saves money as the state doesn't have to pay someone to follow you. What price liberty? $$$

Microsoft is about to attach a motion-sensing system to its game console. This will allow it to compete with the Wii hand-held motion detector. I find it amazing what the field of computer vision research is putting into the commercial market these days. The reason is much more powerful and cheaper processors - along with some knowledge gained by researchers working in dimly lit corners for decades.

A small update on the Apple operating system.

Look at this HD camera module from Sony. It is smaller than a quarter. Amazing stuff.

I like the looks of this. Someone wrapped an external disk drive in old leather so that it fits well on the book shelf. I need one of these. Who needs brushed aluminum and chrome everywhere?

Ah the world of advertising. Apple strikes back at Microsoft on the shopping for a computer saga. One of the appealing things about the Apple ads is that there are a couple of quiet guys standing in a clean, white, quiet world. Things can be simple, but you pay more money for that simplicity and peace of mind. Sometimes peace of mind is worth the extra money.

The EU has fined Intel $1.5Billion in an anti-trust case.

Some McDonald's have free Wifi access. The result? Some people stay longer. Who would have thought of such a thing?

Face-to-face conversations increase productivity - so says a coming study report. This could kill telecommuting once and for all. Someone I doubt the absolute validity of the study.

Wolfram Alpha will use a supercomputer to keep up with demand once it goes online. 39 teraFlops. Wow.

Dell cuts its price of a really small portable computer to $300. No strings attached. Cool.

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

Thursday May 14, 2009

Check out the USB Office - a suite of applications that only take a couple of megabytes on a USB drive.

Ars Technica reviews USB thumbdrives.

And the world turns upside down (again). See the graphs on the capital of the world's largest banks then and now (1999, 2009). Who are the capitalists and who are the communists?

The Kindle opens itself to all blogs, not just the big ones.

A review of the Verizon MiFi. Verizon needs to work on how the make money from this. If you don't use it everyday, the monthly bill is a killer. They need some short-term subsription policies.

Scott Berkun on the paradoxes of lectures. I am sitting in a two-day lecture this week. Sigh. There should be a better way?

Internet Explorer loses 5% market share every year while Firefox  gains the same annually. Guess what happens in 2013?

Here are the obesity trends in the U.S.  The numbers paint a terrible picture. Gluttony is a sin - there, I wrote it.

The calendar, laser etched onto fingernails.

In case you were wondering, the new starship Enterprise is bigger than the Battlestar Galatica.

Some people still don't backup their computer. I just don't understand.

This portable computer from Dell has a 15" screen and sells for $400. This is a real computer for $400. Amazing. I took a closer look at the Dell Mini10V yesterday. It also is a real computer for $300. Amazing.

Computers are still bad at math. Beware of floating point numbers.

George Will writes about the Obama administration's lack of respect for contract law. What strikes me as odd is that even the Washington Post editorial sides against Obama on this one.

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

Friday May 15, 2009

Here is a video from Wolfram Alpha. This looks impressive. We shall see.

It seems that people at the FCC were less than honest about the interference caused by Broadband over Power Line systems. This is not good, but since the technology has failed in the marketplace, it may all be no more than trivia.

Here are comparisons of 50MegaPixel cameras - high end stuff - really, good cameras. Nikon and Hasselblad are not the winners.

Microsoft comes back with another citizen-on-the-street shopping for a free computer.

Google is using at least one human-powered tricycle for its street view cameras.

I love reading the OneSentence stories.

Some thoughts on a consistent blogging schedule. I know some people cannot associate schedule with any type of writing, but it is quite helpful to some of the rest of us.

Yet another good reason why micropayments for online newspapers won't work. There seems to be a total failure of people to think things through and understand the intended and unintended consequences of their policies.

In 2010, Intel will release a graphics processor with 32 cores. Keep it coming.

Google had $210K profit per employee in 2008. And the U.S. government is going after Google and at the same time giving companies to the UAW. There is something here that my naive mind doesn't understand.

This one surprises me - Google has held meetings with the New York Times. Speculation abounds.

Evidently, someone challenged the results of a breathalyzer test and wanted to see the source code for the device. In the end, they saw the code, had it analyzed by someone and - this is not a surprise - the analysis concluded that the code is a mess. Eveyone ready for national electronic health records? Everyone ready for national electronic voting?

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

Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Saturday May 16, 2009

Some thoughts on using gmail as your main tool. I center my work on gmail as the people at Google have done a good job of integrating tools into it. I center all my research on Delicious.

A list of the top ten tech failures of the last decade. Microsoft is on there twice (Vista and Zune). Google is sort of on the list once for YouTube (popular but not profitable).

It appears that we are still learning about how the earth's oceans circulate. Will the climate-change folks consider this new knowledge in their models?

Open source software battles Microsoft in Africa. There is good on both sides. I think that the education that comes with open source has a hidden, but long-term benefit. A generation of programmers can grow up on open source software. That generation would be of great benefit.

Wolfram Alpha is up. The coming days and weeks will show what it can do.

I like George Will's ideas on how the market regulates greed all by itself. I tend to believe the idea that when government intervenes the unintended consequences of good intentions take us places we regret.

It seems that there was a lot of money spent to ensure that the current administration is spending tens of billions of dollars on electronic health records. This is not a surpise. It is disappointing in the era of "change," but it is not a surprise.

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

Sunday May 17, 2009

It is Sunday, and as usual I catch up on some of the writing blogs I like to read.

Here are some tips for generating story ideas. I like the one about tension and conflict.

Someone is studying if lack of sleep can kill you. This one doesn't seem to need a study.

A photo of the space shuttle taken from earth.

Bob Sutton writes about being creative with new ideas. Gerald M. Weinberg wrote years ago that ideas come from three sources:  (1) mistakes, (2) borrowing, and (3) mixing. He didn't use those exact terms. Sutton's post highlights the mixing component. I have been called a "creative" person because I follow Weinberg's advice. I sit around and think of ways to mix old ideas and new situations. I make lots of mistakes (the easy one). I do extensive research (a kind way of saying I borrow a lot).

Apple and backers of Apple continue to fuss about Microsoft's PC-buying ads. This all shows that Microsoft's ads are pretty good. They accomplish what ads are supposed to accomplish: spur people to talk about the product. Sometimes ad agencies get it right.

This may upset a lot of people - correlation between the size of a part of the brain and a measure of intelligence.

Here are some plots show climate change model predictions and actual measurements. The earth didn't get the memo about climate change. There is an old saying about when the map does match the terrain, you should believe the terrain - unless you are trying to get a government grant proving the map is correct.

Homophonophobia - an extreme negative reaction to the wrong word of a homophone pair. I didn't know such existed, but here it is. My problem is that I read the offending sentence and didn't notice the error.

A good question for many writers - what project are you most proud of? I keep a directory on my computer titled "Justwrite." Now and then, I write something just because I want to write it. I doubt that anyone will read it or want to read it; I just write it. Two pieces in there: one about buying a car and another about a meal I shared with my middle son.

Some tips on creating a new workspace that "inspires" you. I like the simple look of the space shown in the blog. It is neat and not cluttered - things I like. Where do you put the guitar?

Here is a recommendation for bibio.com - a great source of used books. I found several older books I know - only $1 each. Wow. Biblio's web site is here.

This writer writes for magazines in Second Life. I guess that would work. Seems strange, but...

Here are some good examples of typography and how to send messages.

Stop employee theft by letting employees borrow the things they have been stealing. This is from Bob Sutton, so it is from actual practice and not just theory. Think about it.

This links to Alistair Cockburn's presentation on 21st century software development. This is a fine presentation containing more useful information than I could swallow in one sitting.

This post is about distraction-free writing. There are "word processors" out there that block everything on your screen except what you are writing. They kill all on-screen distractions. I have used some, and they are effective. I recommend looking at this post and trying some of these.

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