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 18-24, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday May 18, 2009

You may be able to buy Verizon's FIOS from another ISP - cheaper.

Some people aren't very impressed with Wolfram Alpha so far. We shall see.

It appears that Windows 7 will cost more than VIsta and XP. That is a little surprise. What is not a surprise is that the higher cost will keep customers away.

When ranked by revenue, the biggest software companies in the world are Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle.

Dell will use some of Via's processors to run some of its lower-power servers.

These guys will be driving a Chevrolet Volt for a few days. Look for their reports. The comments and questions already show a lot of skepticism.

This looks neat. Someone recreated a guitar amplifier in legos. Great detail work.

Here is a peak inside the world of house sitters.

Some tips on breaking into big time magazine writing. A big point is to work really hard on the proposals. This writer does a third of the research for the article just for the proposal. This isn't as easy as it looks.

Jerry Weinberg writes about why different types of people like different types of meetings. A friend of mine loves meetings. His favorite saying is that he would rather go to a meeting than to a movie. I have attended a few meetings that were more entertaining than most movies. I have not attended many productive meetings.

Jerry Pournelle has a solution for several sticky issues: let the states decide. I agree, but it seems that most politicians (especially those holding Federal office and sitting in Federal courts) think such a concept is silly.

A California company is adding some smarts to solar panels. They are using processors to monitor individual panels and generate more power. This is helpful technology. I don't know how far from reality it is.

I guess there is more to this than I can see. People are not reading the San Jose Mercury News like they used to, so it is time to charge for it. There is a step missing in the logic somewhere.

Here is a different perspective on the newspapers-and-bloggers story. This writer makes some excellent points. He considers himself a real journalist; he publishes on the Internet instead of on paper, but he is a real journalist. I tend to agree with him. Society, politicians, and so on tend to give things to "media" people far out of proportion to their audience.

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 19, 2009

Johanna Rothman writes about some classes she has been teaching. It is amazing how people aren't able to attend the entire class because of multitaslking and part of the point of class is to learn about how multitasking keeps you from being effective. I was in a course last week on proposal writing. Several people were in and out, in and out, in and out because they were (you guessed it) writing a proposal. Much of the class was about being organized and disciplined so that you could write a better proposal in less time without so much in and out in and out.

The really small portable computers aren't so really small anymore. Two-thirds have screns over 10". Where is the lost 7" ASUS eeeee? It seems that everyone is trying to reinvent the 11" screened iBook G4 that I am still using after four years.

Some programmers seem ecentric. They do unusual things before actually writing code. And those rituals work. Some writers do the same, and their rituals work as well.

In 2016, American cars must acheive 42 miles per gallon. Let the fudging of the figures begin. Automakers (like all companies) have better lawyers than the government. They will find a way around this. See, for example, the birth of the SUV.

"Secret" security questions aren't so secret.

There is some hope for less expensive textbooks, creative commons.

Stanford University put its iPhone programming course online for free downloads. It has been downloaded one million times. Now that is a less expensive textbook!

Iomega updates its line of USB-based disk drives. 500GBytes of storage and - ready for this you geeks? - four colors! Wow. I am impressed by the storage capacity, the colors, not so much.

Engadget test drives an HP really small portable computer with 3G built in.

LG has 40"+ LED screens that are less than a quarter inch thick. Amazing technology.

Look at Dell's 2100 series of portable computers. These are full computers at less than $400. And yes, they come in colors, but also have other features that are nice for the "education" market. My brother-in-law is a high school principal. He has lived through the "free computer" era. Computers in schools are NEVER FREE. They are like a free puppy. Lots of not-so-hidden expense.

There is a version of Vim (a variant of Vi) on a GUI for OS X. I didn't know that. I also didn't know that so much was available at Google code. A really good morning of learnings.

Apple will probably experience its second-straight down quarter for computer shipments.

Here is another look at that Google street views tricycle. They built it to photograph the foot paths in Britain. Good idea.

WiFi on airlines works okay - in the electronics sense. The seats are still too cramped for a portable computer.

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 20, 2009 

Some kudos for the Eye-Fi video card.

I really like this post about metrics. The quote: "The only metrics that entrepreneurs should invest energy in collecting are those that help them make decisions." summarizes it quite well. Every few years in government, someone would decide that we needed to do some metrics. So, we did some metrics. Nothing came of it all except a waste of taxpayers' money, but the someone was satisfied because he caused people to do some metrics.

Someone at the Federal Trade Commision wants to regulate bloggers who write about products. Someone doesn't have enough to do in their regular job.

Microsoft Word 2010 will be able to do what TeX has done for decades. TeX is an electronic typesetting system created by Knuth from Stanford many years ago. I once wrote a book and a few dozen papers using TeX and LaTeX. Nothing compares to the look of the output of TeX, until maybe Word 2010.

This is just plain wierd. Wolfram Alpha's Terms of Use: "it's a computational service. The legalese says that they claim copyright on the each results page and require attribution." Whoa. HP and TI should have jumped on this one years ago. They could have claimed copyright on the result of every calculation performed on thier computational calculators. This nonsense may kill Wolfram Alpha.

HP's profits fall, but it is still profitable. HP will also lay off 2% of its workforce (6,000 persons).

Germany's privacy laws collide with Google's Street View cameras.

Johanna Rothman offers some good questions to ask job applicants in this economy.

Ionic breeze instead of electric fans. This is now appearing in real portable computers, not just the lab.

Seth Godin on the triumphs and perils of a clean sheet of paper.

Engadget reviews compact digital cameras all under $400. This is a good snapshot of the state of the market.

Photorealistic models of cities. Yes, these will help tourists and other travellers. And as the headline says, it will also help terrorists and other evil doers. Such is life.

Intel continues to evolve its line of Atom processors. This is all for the market for really small portable computers. I may need to buy one of those things - finally.

And on the other end of the spectrum, Intel is announcing an eight-core processor for servers. Power.

Financial records let out by accident. Ooops. As I always ask when looking at such stories,  everyone ready for national electronic health records? How about computer voting?

A doctor generation gap? Younger doctors want computer systems while older doctors don't. Perhaps the older folks know something. A close friend works in a doctor's office - an older doctor. They don't have a single computer in the office.

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 21, 2009

I put in quite a long day and didn't have time for viewing.

My wife and I are visiting my mother in southeast Louisiana for the weekend. Internet access may not happen. We shall see.

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 22, 2009

I have Internet access this morning in a little coffee shop in Amite, Louisiana - the Loco Java. Nice place. I am too far behind on viewing to recover. This is a good problem to have, life has so many interesting things to learn.

Americans playing more video games and going to the movies less.

Congress wants the auto industry to publish their diagnostic codes. Google and Microsoft and others would gladly do the same, right? You take money from Congress, they come calling later.

Wolfram Alpha has been out one entire week. People still aren't sure what it is and what to use it for.

Perhaps Apple is bigger than Microsoft.

On battery packs and portable chargers. We have to have those electrons moving for any of this stuff to work. Give me a hand-crank or foot-pdeal generator - please someone.

The Climate Industrial Complex. Interesting. The story is the same, follow the money.

Some meeting thoughts (not rants) from Johanna Rothman.

Scott Berkun on why we say ummmmm while speaking in public.

Auren Huffman calls for probability training for computer scientists. I thought all scientists had to take at least one course in probability and statistics. I guess that was in the old days.

Someone should address this one - the FCC claims the right to search my home without warrant because I dare to use FCC-licensed things like a garage door opener (not to mention a WiFi doo-dad).

The White House has yet another new web site to boost transparency yet again. Maybe this one will work better than all the other new web sites that are supposed to boost transparency.

The D.C. government is spending more than its "income." The solution is obvious - more parking tickets.

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 23, 2009

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 24, 2009

My Internet blackout continues. This morning I am in PJ's Coffee in Hammond, Louisiana. This is an excellent coffee and WiFi chain in Louisiana. Anyways, I only have a short time here this morning and other things have taken priority. Perhaps Tuesday life will return to normal.

The trip to Louisiana has been excellent.

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