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: July 20-26, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday July 20, 2009

A look at high-end computing and graphics on an Apple Mac Pro (the machine that stands on the floor under you desk).

Several companies are working on integrated circuits that greatly reduce the power they draw in "standby mode." Hailed as some new concept, it appears to be an improvement on an old concept.

This car is supposed to fly. It appears from other photos that it uses a type of para-sail. It is to be available for street use in 2010 for about $100,000.

Wikipedia only uses photos that anyone can use (copyright issues). That is why, in the opinion of some, the photos are so bad. Photographers who want to make money on their photos don't put their photos on Wikipedia. I think that is short-sighted, but I am not trying to making a living taking photographs.

Something may have hit Jupiter.

Microsoft's profits decline last quarter. Still profitable which makes it in much better shape than the American government.

Transparency and objectivity. This makes sense after a while. It makes a lot of sense. Transparency - letting me see all of you - cuts down on hypocrisy.

Control is often an illusion on software development projects. Or maybe software engineering is dead. Something else to sit and ponder.

The freelance life is often feast or famine. Save cash during the feasts. That is an understatement. Save most of your money during the feasts. Jerry Weinberg has written and spoken much about this. He is still a freelance author and consultant in his 70s. Many people he knows went into consulting to become "independent." Most did not handle their finances well and found themselves dependent on a few clients.

All kidding aside, the American government is spending on average $11Billion a day. And Congress isn't sure where the money is going. This is bad news folks.

Controversy continues in the UK about the scanned images of museum paintings.

The Symbian operating system for cell phones is going the way of GM and the newspapers. They aren't telephones anymore. They are radios and computers and a bunch of sensors that fit in my pocket.

Excellent subtitle: Architects and engineers don't get along.

On multi-tasking and task switching. No, we really cannot multitask, i.e. do more than one mental task at a time. Computers don't really multitask. A computer does one task at a time. It switches between tasks quickly, but it is a machine built to switch between tasks quickly. With practice, I can become better at switching among tasks. If the mental tasks aren't difficult, I can almost fool myself into believing that I am good at it. Trouble is, for difficult tasks, it takes a long time to switch.

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Tuesday July 21, 2009

On the collaborative enterprise. The challenge of this century.

Our space exploration has wallowed for 40 years. I am amazed that the economy has been terrible since 1969 - nothing available for real space exploration.

Yahoo changes it home page tomorrow. This must be a big deal as several of the feeds I view mention it.

This sounds like an interesting experiment: a server farm powered by wind. I hope they build it and learn from it.

Here are seven free, open source alternatives to Photoshop.

Venture capital is less than half of what it was a year ago. This may not be all bad news. Perhaps it is a good thing to risk less (for a while).

A helmet mount for a camera. There are some applications.

AT&T subsidizes really small portable computers. But there are the monthly bills and such.

A 256GigaByte thumb drive.  And a 256 GigaByte SSD. Ah, memories, in the corners of my mind,,,misty water-colored memories...

Apple had its best-ever June for computer sales. What are they doing right?

Vogue - yes that fancy fashion magazine - visits Google. Will the world end tonight?

Barnes and Noble to go back into the eBook market.

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Wednesday July 22, 2009 

The New York Yankees are in first place this morning. Strange.

Apple prepays for $1/2Billion in flash memory. I can remember a time when we didn't talk in billions of dollars, just hundreds of millions.

This story is making the rounds - someone at a factory lost an iPhone 4G and committed suicide.

Intel updates its solid state disks. They didn't boost the amount of storage. Instead these models are faster and cost less. I think those are good areas to optimize.

And Intel keeps bringing out more powerful processors.

Intel continues to clobber AMD in the marketplace. AMD is still losing money.

Samsung has the "world's thinnest" watchphone. Dick Tracy where are you?

Las Vegas has WiMax service. Now if we could just cover the other 99% of the U.S.

Hey, we are building one nuclear reactor in America. When did we lose our way in energy and space?

Record Labels? Record contracts? What are they?

Canon improves its image stabilization for cameras. Why don't people just hold still anymore?

Dell drops the price on the Adamo. Something about the law of supply and demand, er, uh no demand for the Adamo forced a price drop.

But some people in Washington have never heard of this supply and demand stuff. The new healthcare plan, which no one has read, will increase demand and reduce cost. No one can explain how this one piece of legislation will be unique in the history of mankind and break the law of supply and demand. This could be interesting.

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Thursday July 23, 2009

Here is an excellent post on grants, requesting grants, and organizations that give grants to writers and others.

I want to see this work - a solar-powered lunar rover that may visit the Apollo landing sites.

"Power capping" a data center. There may be something of value here.

MIT students may build a practical electric car. All this talk about the end of the world assumes no technical innovation anywhere. I am baffled by such assumptions.

On cloud computing and intelligence analysis.

Windows 7 has been released to the PC makers.

Johanna Rothman continues to post. I describe what Johanna writes as, "these are the things good managers do." I encourage managers to read her posts and do what she describes.

A 49-port USB hub. I guess there is a use for this somewhere.

An HD helmet-mounted  camera. Again, there must be a use for this somewhere.

Apple's financial success is riding on consumers. They aren't doing so well in education and business.

A teenager writes about the habits of peers and CEOs go bonkers about it. Where have these old guys been?

Jerry Pournelle describes some of what a rational discussion of health care would be. No, we aren't seeing such at this time.

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Friday July 24, 2009

More thoughts on newspapers dying from simply doing a poor job of reporting news.

Apple rules the marketplace of computers costing over $1,000. They have 90% of that market. I am breaking down today, finally, and buying a new Apple portable computer. The one I am using now is the one I used five years ago.

There are many details in building wind power. One little detail is moving the giant parts to the isolated locations where you erect the towers. Oh well, nothing is easy (unless you have someone else do it for you).

East Africa gets broadband access via an undersea cable.

High-speed trading. It seems that some investors are able to buy-sell-buy-sell stocks much faster than everyone else. That enables them to "make money" by buying and trading paper. Nothing is built, nothing is generated, it is all paper or electronic, and it seems to legal.

Location Independent discusses travel bags. One of the best travel bags I ever had (I think it is in a closet somewhere) was a red duffle bag from Eddie Bauer. I bought it in 1980 and traveled around the world seven times in three years. My best bags today are from Filson. Filson bags are expensive and heavy. They are also indestructable.

Microsoft is suffering financially - at least for Microsoft. Much of Microsoft's income comes from Windows which is connected to the sale of PCs which is connected to the economy which is...you get the idea.

The price of "regular old" portable computers is dropping. These prices are fast approaching the prices of really small portable computers.

And HP builds a really small portable computer aimed at executives
. It does look nice.

More people are pushing more open source software use in government. The trouble is that buying Microsoft is the default answer for the average government manager. Please note that the best thing a government manager can do is whatever his predecessor did. His predecessor is now his boss, and making changes is seen as a disagreement with your boss. Not good for your rise in the bureaucracy.

This idea might work: two USB thumb drives in one little package.

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Saturday July 25, 2009

I took at ten-mile walk with my wife. No viewing today.

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Sunday July 26, 2009

The rumors of an Apple tablet portable computer continue to grow. Now it is due in early 2010. One of these days Apple will sell something like this and people will proclaim, "See, I told you about this years ago!"

And some people think this tablet will be the next major thing.

This portable 8-track tape player never was a product. Sorry.

I like this: an electronic length measuring device buried in a wooden stick. It looks and acts like a ruler.

Hubble provides a good photo of the earth-size scar on Jupiter.

A new portable from Dell. It continues the trend towards no optical drive and slim, slim, slim. $750. Good deal.

AMD is building a factory in upstate New York. Hurray!

Electricity from mixing salt and fresh water. We've known it would work, but maybe now the technology to make it practical is here.

More bad news for the electric smart grid. Mischief and mayhem may abound.

The Washington Post discovers digital nomads. I think this meets the oxymoronic definition of "old news." No wonder the newspaper are going bankrupt.

Ten tips for freelance writers. Do something of value for your clients. Don't just write - add value.

Are you using Google Docs and other online word processors and spreadsheets and such? Are your files safe from prying eyes? Maybe not.

Want a job related to writing? Be an author's virtual assistant. Here is part 2 of the same post.

This is a wonderful little post about using short, simple, old words in writing. Amen. The End.

Food and sleep do wonderful things for productivity. Try them.

It is possible to accomplish work in strange, out of the way places. Just last night I wrote for an hour in an empty classroom while my wife conducted a class down the hall. I walked into the room, turned on the light, shut the door, sat, and wrote. It works. The linked blog post has some good tips.

This is interesting - how to get more out of your home network. Like a lot of people I have a WiFi in my house and that is it. This post has some good tips to do more without being or hiring a certified LAN admin person.

I find this to be an excellent post. It discusses the differences between a manager's schedule and a "maker's" schedule. A maker being a programmer or writer or someone like that. A manager's schedule is broken into one hour pieces. Just make a calendar and keep the appointments. The Maker's schedule is broken into half-day pieces. You cannot make something worthwhile in less than three or four hours. Meetings are easy for managers. Meetings kill half a day for makers.

Some tips for those wanting to write a novel. First, five things to know before you write a novel.Second, six elements to master.

I laughed out loud when I saw this cartoon about estimation. It is a keeper.

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