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: August 17-23, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday August 17, 2009

The Google tricycles - with nine cameras each facing all directions - are roaming the world. This is an interesting dance. It is helpful to look at Google's Street View to orient yourself, but how do you have those photos without invading privacy?

Tragedy - the inventor and test pilot of the Jetpod flying taxi dies in a test flight. There are no technical details yet.

Here is a breakthrough in shrinking the size of lasers. Such could lead in many directions. Several include computer storage and processing units that dwarf the capabilities we have today. These are exciting times.

Fatty foods are bad for the brain in the short-term. We already know about the long-term affects.

This story could have many ramifications for policy and technology and the internet and blogs and who knows what else. A woman arrested for blogging about an undercover police unit.

Boeing continues to have problems with its 787. Foreign suppliers seem to be the source of many of the troubles. 

Usain Bolt set a new world record in the 100meters. What he is doing is nothing short of amazing.

America On-Line is succeeding. They are doing what the failed merger with Time-Warner didn't do - provide good content. This time they are hiring known talent (writers and photographers).

Aha, I have found a place to get the Chrome browser for Mac. These are "builds" and not products, so...

Stowe Boyd on another reason why newspapers are failing: confusing "news" with items that are of some interest to some people. Maybe it is the distance from the newspapers that makes it so easy to see their folly. They should know this stuff.  For example, Sports Illustrated magazine. A publication that covers one topic and almost nothing else. It seems to me (I don't have facts and figures on this one) that magazines exploded in the 1980s and 1990s. There are (or were) magazines for every little topic. Many of these magazines went away in paper form and are now online. I feel these magazines were the precursor to the Internet or the "horizontal" as Boyd calls it. How could the newspapers not notice this? I mean, no one was hiding Sports Illustrated under a rock.

It seems that people are looking to other types of "biofuels." I hope that we don't go back to the burning food for fuel concept. Corn is good food, not so good fuel.

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Tuesday August 18, 2009

I identify with the title of this blog, "I want to like Linux, but it keeps failing on me." I am learning with a Fedora distribution. I have to disable security features to allow my printer to work. That should just work, right?

The annual iPod update is coming in September.

Microsoft introduces an HD web cam. These things are great for letting loved ones separated by distance see one another. The YouTube and other stuff are nice, but not nearly as important.

Ultra personal pods at Heathrow airport. I guess these are substitutes for trains or buses.

I like this blue jeans iPod case. It is like the blue jeans sleeve that I carry my portable computer in.

Microsoft's Bing continues to gain market share. I like the bird's eye view on its maps.

This is crazy: a policy that bans all spread of information from an event by the spectators.
The obvious answer is to boycott these events until they change the policy. People won't stop going to football games. People will also not obey the policy. They will ignore it. Maybe someone will try to enforce the policy in court. The national publicity will kill the policy. If I read the policy correctly, I am not allowed to talk to anyone about the game after I have left the stadium as that would be "disseminating information about the event" to someone who didn't buy a ticket to see the event. Perhaps I am too optimistic about these things, but I believe that sanity will prevail.

A glue that may hold shattered bones together. My sister-in-law shattered her ankle last year. It will never fuse together. Such advances are a welcome sight.

Using the white spaces in the RF spectrum. This is what all the fuss was about in the switch from analog to digital TV. I hope to see something real here real soon.

Use of broadband in the US is still growing, but the growth is slowing. Are we saturated already?

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Wednesday August 19, 2009 

What will college students buy in the way of a computer? Mostly regular portable machines, then the really small portable machines, then Apple portable machines. Does anyone use a desktop computer any more? Well, I am sitting here now outdoors at a cafe using a portable Apple computer.

iTunes accounts for one quarter of all music sold in the U.S. This is an amazing story. Go back ten years and it didn't exist. The world turned upside down that fast.

Big business is the major writer of Linux code - not individuals in their basements. I suppose this is part of the evolution of a successful open-source software product.

Dell continues to play in the really small computer market, but some of these aren't so really small. Here is one with a 13" display.

For some reason, Windows 7 will cost less in the UK than in the US.

And Starbucks in the UK is about to offer free WiFi to everyone - not just at&t phone users. Wow, how does the UK get so many breaks?

The Washington Post closed its hyperlocal news experiment. Their's was one of the first attempted. Many people are strill predicting that local news will be a big money maker. Is the Post seeing something that others don't see? Is the Post making yet one more in a string of financial mistakes?

Blame the last generation of Economics professors? Well, they did teach all those finance types who loaned money to people who couldn't pay it back.

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Thursday August 20, 2009

Things are changing in digital cameras. It seems that the race for more megapixels is over. Instead, the camera makers are adding features that actually help you take better photographs.

Oh guess what, time proven techniques of handwriting analysis can be easily fooled. So can the polygraph, and so can lots of other time proven techniques of judging people (they look up it means...)

People are dropping their traditional telephone service for cell phones. Revenue drops (so do taxes collected), and someone needs to adjust their model of operating. Look for the old phone companies to go bankrupt and seek government bailouts.

This is smart and practical - information-gathering robots that weigh 10 pounds and can be thrown. The USMC are in the lead here.

Videos in print magazines are coming in September. This is a gimic for magazines. I see real, practical uses in manuals for work and even things like cookbooks and auto repair books - applications where it is much more effective to show a physical technique in action.

Another smart move by Google, allowing the people to edit maps instead of paying employees to do so. This is really important for areas hit by disasters. People on the spot can mark bridges and highways that no longer exist. That will help emergency resonders immensely. Good move.

Let's drop the term "netbook." I agree. This is why I have always called them "really small portable computers" and the notebooks "portable computers." Those other things are marketing terms that come and go. I prefer trying to call things what they are. It is a personal problem I have.

Here is a portable computer with a 15" screen for under $300. No, it won't simulate nuclear weapons or run climate change models, but I don't know many people who do those things at home.

Here are some tips on how to write an outline. I know some very successful writers who do not make outlines. I sort of make outlines - sometimes. Outlining is, however, a skill a writer should learn (caution there folks). A writing doesn't have to outline, but I think it is a good idea to know how.

George Will on abuses against Freedom of Speech.

A couple of stories about the U.S. Federal government. Hundreds of car dealers are dropping out of the cash from clunkers program. The government is not reimbursing them fast enough (or not at all). The dealers are loaning people money, and the government is too slow with the paybacks. This is a program created by the government. The government decided when it would begin. The government did not wait until it was ready.

Next, Fred on Everything writes about the TSA. The general theme is that the government is making itself to appear as a bad guy to the American public. The public isn't making the government act poorly, the government is deciding itself to act so.

To me, these are cases where well meaning people at some high level in Washington wanted to do something good. A problem is the government isn't capable of doing what the well meaning people wanted. I don't know if these well meaning people will ever learn about how the government actually operates on the street and what it is incapable of doing.

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Friday August 21, 2009

Jeff Atwood on failed projects. I agree with the conclusion, the only failed project is one where you didn't learn anything.

The Army is trying for a 2.3 GigaPixel camera for aerial surveillance. I hope they have the bandwidth somewhere to move that data after snapping the photos.

Here is an idea to boost the use of good old fashioned desk phones - an Android computer with a real screen.

It seems that Windows 7 is causing a rush to make touch-screen computers. For 30 years I have wondered why touch screens didn't take off in the marketplace. It seems so natural, but that is just me.

We now have a place to recover from Internet addiction. This isn't funny. Addiction is everywhere in almost everyone's life. Some forms of it are more destructive than others, but most are harmful.

Life expectancy in the U.S. has peaked. The culprits are smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity. These seem preventable, but at the level of the inidvidual, not the state.

Usain Bolt continues to do things that humans aren't supposed to be able to do(?).

This is a big deal in my neighborhood - Northrop Grumman to sell The Analytical Sciences Corp.

Bendable, transparent LEDs.

WiMax is used in developing countries where the infrastructure is bad. Sometimes it is best not to be "modern." That allows you to leap frog technology and be ahead when you used to be behind.

The USDA did a study on rural broadband and came to some amazing conclusions (NOT). Fewer people in rural areas use broadband than in cities. It is more expensive to string wires long distances in rural areas than it is to string wires short distances in cities. I am sure glad we paid for this study.
And the FCC wants people to help them define the term "broadband." These are the regulators, and the regulators are the primary reason that many Americans disdain government.

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Saturday August 22, 2009

This doesn't make sense, but anyways, obstacles in fire exits increase the speed of evacuations.

Larger Solid State Drives seem to have faster data access than smaller ones.

Northern Michigan University gets campus-wide WiMax.

Another example of robotic research for rescuing people from hazards. This is good work.

Intel is buying software companies with expertise in utilizing parallel processors.

Here are ten common ways in which people have damaged their computers. Most come from a fit of anger by the owner.

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Sunday August 23, 2009

Southwest Airlines is putting WiFi on ALL its planes next year. I guess that means all the flights will have it.

There has been a lot of chatter this week on the Internet about Apple, AT&T, Google, and the FCC.  I don't see the import of all this. Perhaps I should pay closer attention?

Linux is big business - I agree. I think what a lot of Linux companies want to read is "Linux is big in business." We are always just around the corner from Linux taking off and having a third of the market or something like that.

Do one thing, and do it well - Happy 40th Birthday to Unix.

Stowe Boyd calls himself an "onfovore." He is on the Internet all the day, he passes on everything he learns.

I love this one - listen to the school's automated answering machine. Perhaps we would all get along a little better if we were this candid.

I do not like this one - IBM and other big U.S. companies are moving their research centers to other countries. It really is a simple matter. Governments in other countries aren't telling the companies how to run their companies. The companies can hire PhD's from anywhere in the world and set them at a desk in Canada or India. They cannot do that in the U.S. because the U.S. won't grant the person a visa. Some people - including the current American President - call these moves "greedy." Imagine, the company doing what will make money. Imagine, the company bringing together the best minds from across the globe into a research center (that is less often in the U.S. and more often somewhere else). Are these foreign PhDs taking jobs away from Americans? Are these foreign PhDs adding jobs to America? Someone has to cut the grass and maintain the air conditioner at the research center and sell houses and cars to people who work there. America is experiencing a brain drain. Much of it do to well meaning but misguided people in our government.

Wikipedia now has three million articles in English - 13 million overall.

I cannot stress this blog post enough - writers and others who sit at a computer all day need physical exercise. Be healthy. If you are a freelancer you health is the most important thing you have. When a freelancer is sick, he doesn't work, he doesn't have income. Pretty simple. What is more, a healthy person works better.

As a writer, don't just provide benefits to an editor, provide value as well. In this blog, that added value is ideas that the editor can use. Help the editor with their job.

I love this question for writers: are you balancing writing for others and writing for yourself?  I have a folder on my computer titled "JustWrite." In it I put things that I just write. They aren't intended for any publisher, magazine, blog, tweet or anything. They are things that I feel like writing, so I do. I just write them and put them there. It is all quite satisfying.

This is an interesting vision of the future with maps appearing at will.

I like this visualization of caffeine, calories, and exercise. It seems that jogging half an hour would burn more calories. Yikes.

A beautiful workspace. Simply beautiful.

This is a great before-and-after view of a home workspace. Clutter. Yuck, but I do have too much of my own.

And this is an impressive attic-turned-into-a-workspace. Great computer too.

Another take on writing in a journal. I highly recommend the practice.

The web worker hotel of the future - looks good to me.

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