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: June 8-14, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday June 8, 2009

Sony is set to build Walkman-type products based on Google's Android.

And it seems that Android was a big hit at Computex.

The Chinese government wants even more control over its subjects and is asking (demanding) PC makers for their help.

Michael Arrington writes about evolving stories on blogs. Newspapers feel that to update stories is a weakness. Updating stories as new information arrives is standard practice in blogs. The marketplace is deciding.

Apple's WWDC is today. The rumors keep flying. I will wait to hear the actual news.

Low-power FM radio "stations" won a victory in court.

Perhaps this small wind turbine generator is practical for homes. We shall see. I hope such works.

Here is another look at Apple's lowest priced portable computer. The recent quiet upgrade to components has caught a surprisingly large amount of attention.

Cell "phones" place knowledge at our fingertips. So why study ahead of time? Interesting questions. We should stop calling them phones and start calling them what they are - radios and computers. Phone is easier to say.

A warning about accepting everything you see on the Internet. The old saying stays, "Don't believe anything you read and only half of what you see."

Another interesting look at college rankings. I have always felt that such rankings and worrying about going to a highly ranked school were blown far out of proportion. After college you get a job and people want results, not talk about how good your school was. After all, I attended Loranger High School. A great community and great kids, but not much on "academics."

Perhaps we have discovered a huge new source of energy - methane hydrate.

A map of the world of social networks.

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Tuesday June 9, 2009

I like Jeff Atwood's tribute and look back on Unix. Unix is for programmers while Windows is for users. That summarizes much of the difference. I use Apple computers because the operating system has Unix under the hood.

Apple opened its World Wide Developer's Conference yesterday with product announcements. They improved their portable computers and lowered the prices. They also introduced a new iPhone. There are lots of posts on these things all over the Internet today. Apple Insider is one source. I hope that Apple has plans for what to do with all those "sealed" batteries in two, three, and four years from now when people start throwing away their computers.

A different perspective on the event - why can't Apple hire a good stage presence? They certainly have the money.

Will the price cuts help Apple overcome its image of "too expensive?"

One result of the announcements is that the white plastic portable computer is the only one left with the name "MacBook."

Apple violates the naming standard that you add an prefix or postfix to the unusual model, not the usual. When there is one MacBook and three MacBook Pros you have a problem. Just like Congress calls standard time what exists for five months and special time exists for seven months. I have to wonder sometimes about other adults.

The FCC has received plenty of comment on national broadband plans. Deciding and acting are tougher than collecting.

Here is a study on vehicles and transportation. The conclusion is that this is all pretty complex and trying to consider ALL the factors will produce a headache.

Now this, I really like - build your own 130-megapixel camera. Take that Kodak and Sony or whoever makes cameras these days.

HP has newer, less expensive portable computers as well. Some of them are really ugly to me. Someone must like these designs.

I learn that this Daybook is an example of Link-blogging or Clip-blogging.

Oooops A software error adds 5,000 votes to a small, local election. Everyone ready for national electronic health care?

The manned space flight program has its budget cut by Congress. This is another round of "ready, set, g...g...  no wait a while."

The Twitter hype is just that - hyperbole. The vast majority of "users" never use it after creating an account. Such is human nature. Is anyone surprised?

I like this idea for travellers. Make a stand-up desk by putting the hotel room chair on top of the hotel room table. The result is the right height. For some reason, hotel room chairs and tables are terrible heights. Another tip is to raise the chair by putting all the pillows from the bed on the chair and sitting on them.

The White House says it will save 600,000 jobs this summer. This is nice since no one can tell what this means or measure it. This is right out of Alice in Wonderland where if you don't know where you are going, you can claim you are there. I had some hope for real change, but am just disappointed that these guys are just like the rest.

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Wednesday June 10, 2009 

We can pull electric power from "the air" - actually from the RF energy flowing through the air. Up until now, we couldn't pull enough power to do much of anything useful. Nokia thinks they can recharge cell phones from this source.

I usually dont' note research reports here as they are too far from practice for this venue, but this one is interesting. Mining information from millions of web pages. This is assuming that there is useful information out here on the web ;-)

California is going to online textbooks. The reason is money, not better education. We shall see how this works.

Here is a report on 26 processors for desktop computers. I like competition and choice.

As it says, moisture traps may become a reality. This would be a big boost to life in arid parts of the world. I wonder if anyone has thought this through as in, "what would be the effect of pulling every drop of water out of the air?"

Darren Rowse writes his 5,000th post. It is about - what else - what he has learned so far.

Oh, and one of the lesser publicized outcomes of Apple's announcements Monday is that if you - like me - are using an old Apple computer without an Intel processor, you cannot upgrade to the newest version of OS X. Alas, time marches on and Apple waits for no one, or something like that.

An electric motorcycle from Brammo.

A robotic snake from Israel. These things are no longer research projects, but are real and are deployed.

Fedora 11 is released. Will people actually start using Linux in business?

Chinese and Russian students are dominating software and algorithm contests. There are many reasons. I don't cry out that we need more tax dollars spent on education.

The pricing scheme for current iPhone owners wanting to upgrade their hardware doesn't make any sense.

In a similar vein, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that will pay you to trade in you vehicle for one that gets better gas mileage. There are many things wrong here. (1) Car sales have been slow. One reason that people hear all the chatter about such pending bills and are waiting for them to pass before buying a vehicle. (2) We reward people who have "misbehaved" by driving gas guzzlers. (3) Congress knows that people won't buy such vehicles without a bribe. (4) A little thought would provide more...

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Thursday June 11, 2009

Three-D printers (replicators) are coming to the home. This is a notable advancement in science, industry, home business, and many other areas.

Apple has cut prices on the remaining stock of "old" portable computers as the new models arrive.

And if you want to disassemble your new Apple portable computer, see here. Nice photos.

Ubuntu is working on reducing the boot time of its next major release. Version 8 booted in 65 seconds, version 9 in 25 seconds, the goal for version 10 is 10 seconds. Go forth.

A USB drive that looks like a penguin. Is this for Linux only? Sorry, but anways. USB drives are fast approaching commodity status, so people try things to generate sales.

HP's latest really small portable computer is now available. This much computer for this small a price was not imagined two years ago.

You can now get WiFi in your own private jet. Wow, what a great deal. I was waiting for this feature before buying my own private executive jet. Where did I put my checkbook?

Panasonic has two new HD camcorders. More great technology.

Craigslist is set to bring in $100Million in ad revenue this year. Newspapers cannot sell ads. There is something happening here folks, and denying it won't acheive anything for the newspapers.

The Linux kernal 2.6.30 has been released.

I like George Will's editorial about how the habits of individuals affect the economic health of a nation. If individual Americans would live prudent and healthy lives (and those are loaded, subjective words), the nation would be in better shape. I believe that the most important task of a President is to inspire individual citizens to live such lives. We, however, are in a situation where the President is so far detached from the average citizen that his words ring hollow. The average citizen doesn't have a $5million book deal, didn't make millions owning a pro sports team, wasn't married to the wealthiest lawyer in the state, and so on. When a millionaire advises a $10-an-hour clerk to "pay off your credit card balance each month and give a little more to charity," well, you know how it goes. Enough philosophy and culture for one day.

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Friday June 12, 2009

Jerry Pournelle's June column is posted here. I am always interested to read what Jerry writes.

Microsoft will ship Windows 7 to Europe without Internet Explorer. The Europeans don't like this. It must be nice to have a foreign company that you can fine $1Billion when you feel like it.

Touchscreens come to little digital cameras.

The digital TV switch is tonight. I don't like the photo of the elderly woman. Computerworld, like almost everyone, also has a story.

The Kindle DX is sold out. This thing costs almost $500. You can buy a complete computer for that price. Sometimes a special purpose device is better for some people than a general purpose device.

Here is an early test drive of the GM Volt.

Intel adds more dual-core processors (CULV Consumer Ultra Low Voltage). How do you pronounce CULV? s-ulv? k-ulv? Cool-V?

Video game sales are down this year. Still quite profitable, but down.

The updated Apple portable computers have a slot for SD memory cards. You can boot the computer from an SD memory card. One use is to have an emergency copy of Apple's OS X on the card to boot the computer if there are problems with the disk drive. Another use - and I will be looking for instructions on the Internet - would be to boot a Linux system from that card. You can do such now with PCs and Linux installed on USB thumb drives.

There seems to be much excitement about Newt Gingrich declaring that he is not a citizen of the world. Here is one of many stories. I am disappointed that everyone is throwing a fit. Please consult the definition of words like citizen, serf, subject, vassel, and so on. Citizens have rights, while subjects, serfs and so on don't. For example, America has citizens, North Korea (just one) has subjects. I expect better from the media; perhaps I should adjust my expectations.

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Saturday June 13, 2009

Cyber warfare, intelligence, security, privacy - we live in interesting times.

It appears that there are all sorts of problems with the censor software the Chinese government is to use. It is no surprise that most of the problems will be felt by Chinese subjects, not the government.

Is it the only lesson of history that man is unteachable?-- Sir Winston Churchill

Cash for clunkers The best of intentions in Washington usually go in the wrong direction.

A floating wind turbine is online off the coast of Norway. I like this type of experiment. It costs a lot of money, but the potential is vast.

And some kids in high school build their own.

The default password is Password!. It is also the hole that hackers exploited to get $12M of telephone minutes.

Next year will bring SD memory cards holding 64GigaBytes. What will we put on them? Three or four hours of video I guess.

Nintendo sold 20 million Wiis in 31 months. That sets some kind of record in the U.S.

The stimulus isn't very stimulating.

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Sunday June 14, 2009

Stories like this pull long sighs from me. A student wanted to post the program he wrote for a course. The professor didn't want to let that happen. Lawyers become involved, and so on. The code was posted. The kid wanted to share knowledge, the college didn't want that to happen. Oooops, colleges not wanting knowledge to be shared. Who would have thunk it?

Here is another perspective on the Apple's computer announcements this week. Apple hasn't done anything new since the MacBook Air a while back. Where is that really small computer? Where is that tablet combined with something else?

But all the new iPhones 3G S are sold out.

And this test shows the battery in the new 15" MacBook Pro lasted eight hours.

The next revolution will come via Twitter. See these tweets from Tehran. As writted earlier, months ago I encouraged my employer in vain to adopt Twitter as an emergency communication network. It works well as such.

The digital TV transition occurred, and the sky did not fall.

Shuttle brings out yet another impressive computer. The price tag, however, is a bit much at $4,000.

I see potential in this new group - unithrive.org - they try to connect college student with alumni for direct loans. Harvard is probably not a good example as it involves rich people loaning money to soon-to-be rich people, but this is a good concept.

Wikimedia is working on improving the user interface of this product. This is the engine under Wikipedia. It is also powerful software for collecting and organizating information for individuals and thousands of people.

Some examples of how data can shed light on what is happening and not happening in Washington D.C. Perhaps something good will come of this.

Even a college kid in the 1980s could see the future of news delivery. You really have to wonder about those people managing the newspapers.

Turn information into knowledge by organizing your thoughts when you write. I thanked the blogger for not using that string of letters "actionable" in from of the word "knowledge." I think "actionable knowledge" means "knowledge that enables me to do something," but then why wouldn't someone just say "knowledge that enables me to do something." Anyways, not all valuable knowledge enables me to do something. Some knowledge is valuable because it exercises my mind and causes me to think.

It seems that agents and editor can tell much by only reading the first five pages of a manuscript. Duh! That's what I did wrong.

I love this blog post - no words and one simple photograph.

As bad as things seems sometimes, it is nice to read that we are improving a bit in this software development world.

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