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 31-September 6, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday August 31, 2009

And more on the emergency powers bill that would grant the White House many powers over the Internet.

Why not offer desktop Linux to people with Vista clunkers? A good question. It is also a good thought that Microsoft offer Vista users a free update to Windows 7.

Someone is shipping laptop computers to state governors. This is a mystery. Not so much the computers themselves, but why politicians aren't eager to grab hand outs.

It seems that many programs won't run on Apple's latest release of OS X. That is not good. I am wondering about upgrading the three Apple computers currently in the family. Maybe I will ponder this a while longer.

Computer makers are bringing out more "ultra thin" portable computers. I don't understand this infatuation with "thin" in computers started by the Apple MacBook Air. I would rather have less weight and other things, but that is just me.

Stowe Boyd remarks that no matter what else studies show and journalists report, there is still a jab at people who spend time online instead of reading the real newspapers.

India - with the help of Russia - will have a stealth fighter in four months.

George Orwell's diaries from 70 years ago are now becoming chilling. We are about to enter September 1939. I am amazed at Orwell's insights into the news just from newspapers.

Wikipedia will use color coding to mark the "trustworthiness" of text. Wikipedia is undergoing changes. I think that is a good thing as it has reached the age where it either changes or dies. I like Wikipedia, for a lot of different reasons.

Another look at the brain drain in America. I don't like this - at all. "American jobs for American workers! cry the protectionists, as they always do when the going gets tough. Go back to where you came from! cry modern-day Know Nothings, as they always do when people are scared enough to listen. And for the first time in American history, the immigrants are going back..." Well stated. I don't like this.

I do like this idea - local news sites using anyone with an iPhone. Yes, someone can abuse this, but then comes the wisdom of the net. People will take care of the abusers by removing or discrediting their content. We cannot do the same with the questionable content in the traditional media.

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Tuesday September 1, 2009

Germany invades Poland today in 1939. WWII begins.

In the UK, small businesses are moving away from Microsoft applications towards cloud applications. Time will tell if this is a trend.

It may be difficult to make babies in space. The problem is in the weighlessness.

Disney is buying Marvel Comics for $4 billion.

Which is the best operating system? No surprise - no clear winner.

Instead of hating something, spend energy loving the opposite of what you hate.

Teenagers live in social networks online. No news there. Parents don't know this about their teenagers. I guess that is news, but probably  not. This is one of the major reasons teenagers live there, because their parents are not there.

Some "reality" from the Location Independent Professional: "You can’t escape the root cause of your problems – they’ll always be there until you deal with them once and for all." Amen.  Deal with yourself first; the rest will follow.

The sales of really small portable computers grew 40% in the past year. The traditional protable computer sales grew 22% - which isn't too bad either.

Ars Technica on OS X 10.6.

The Opera 10 browser is here.

And Google's Chrome browser for OS X 10.6 is here also.

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Wednesday September 2, 2009 

The Nokia Booklet 3G. Sometimes I have the feeling that this is what we've always wanted to have. Something small, not so powerful, but we don't need much powerful to do the needful things.

NASA will oursource space station resupply missions next year. I like this as long as NASA lays off an equivalent number of government employees. If we are going to commercial space hauling, let's go to it.

Sony and Google have a deal where Google's Chrome OS comes loaded on Vaio machines. The deal says that the machines are already on sale, but I haven't seen anything like a review yet.

Some thoughts on the "Library of the Commons." No one really set out with a design for a place where the whole world would put its videos, but YouTube happened. Same thing with Flickr and Wikipedia and Craigslist. These things came along at the right place and the right time. We now have these "libraries." They can be quite useful.

WiFi on airliners will soon be the norm. I guess in five years we will know if this worked or not.

I will have to try this one - a SIMPLE To-Do list application that runs in the BASH shell on the Apple computers. The underlying Unix ooops Linux engine and BASH are what caused me to move to Apple computers 5 or 6 years ago.

As scheduled, Clearwire has open ten new WiMax markets today. My town is not one of them.

An 85-inch plasma TV from Panasonic - and only $30,000. In a year or two Wal-Mart will be selling these for $1.98, maybe not.

MIT continues to evolve their robot fish. There are applications for good here.

A body sensor network built into a bed. This has practical applications for the remote monitoring and care of the elderly and others with special needs. I see many applications of inexpensive technology to help people live in their own homes much longer than they can do today. Let's hope so.

A tiny 640GigaByte disk drive. At 2.5", it will work in portable computers - even really small portable computers.

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Thursday September 3, 2009

An analysis of the Microsoft and Apple ad campaigns. While humorous, there is a lot of money spent on these things. Money that would probably be spent better in other places.

Infomration on IBM's Power7 server processor. These processors have eight cores, but fewer transistors than lesser-powered competitors.

Here is a telling of an old story about putting things into a bowl. The only way to get the big things in the bowl is to put them in first. The same is mostly true in life. Handle the big things first. The trouble is sometimes descerning what things are the big things. And size is not the measure of importance.

Running Linux on the Kindle. It is, after all, a computer with a big screen and a radio.

Good security camera footage of burglars cleaning out an Apple store in 31 seconds.

The latest OS X release has a different keyboard viewer. This is lending credance to the rumors of the Apple tablet computer coming real soon now.

Here is something different from Microsoft. To help the introduction of Windows 7, Microsoft will give you things if you hold a Windows 7 party. I don't know if this will work, but it show signs of some ingenuity at MS.

Among other items, Jerry Pournelle discusses controlled burns of brush in California instead of disastrous fires. Alas, the potential of law suits prevents such good sense.

Server sales are down 30% from a year ago. According to this study, they are at the lowest point since people tracked them in 1996.

An airborne laser destroys a target on the ground - test only.

The governments USAspending.gov transparency web site is "almost a parody of a transparency site." This is disappointing and surprising. The Obama crowd did such a good job with technology during its campaign, but has stumbled with technology once in office. I guess there is a difference in the quality and earnestness of people who volunteer for a campaign and those who work for a company on a government contract. That is a shame.

Astronomers have found a spot in the Antartic that is the best place on earth for a telescope. The night life is a bit bland, but those interested in the stars can cope.

Speaking a quiet night life, how about a one-way manned mission to Mars? There are many good reasons for this. And there would be many qualified volunteers as well. Let's think a little outside the box here folks and do something bold.

Gizmodo is seven years old. It is hard to imagine, but that was a wild experiment when it first started.

Google received a patent for its home page. Are they kidding in Washington?

Seven Japanese companies are teaming to build processors as a single competitor to Intel. In a sense, this should be illegal. So now what do we do? Does America allow a national consortium to put an American company out of business? Do we use protective tarifs? Do we allow Intel to become to big to fail? Many other questions.

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Friday September 4, 2009

57% of U.S. Internet users watch TV while surfing the web. Much of both activities requires little concentration, so why not? I do this often. I surf and listen to the TV, when something of high interest appears on either, I concentrate on that and ignore the other.

Micorsoft is still selling Word despite their court troubles. This is not a surpise, and I hope all the parties work this one out quickly.

The Indian lunar probe has taken photos of the Apollo 15 landing site. I hope they have better photos than the ones Gizmodo shows in the linked site. I can't see anything in them.

Mexico's largest airline will allow cellphone use in flight. This little article gives no details on how this will work technically.

This doesn't bode well for men, and probably confirms what many women have known for years. After being in the presence of an attractive woman, men perform less well on mental tasks.

A European commission is investigating Oracle's plan to buy Sun. It must be nice to be able to tell foreign companies what they can do.

Chrome is the fastest browser followed by Opera 10 then Firefox. I have been using all three. I haven't pulled out a stopwatch on anything yet I am happy with all three.

There are many changes in the future for "college" education. This one offers all the classes you want for a flat fee of $99. Universities may go the way of the newspapers. One thing the universities have (supposedly) is a large group of smart people who can see what is happening and do something in time. We shall see.

Some nice work by Microsoft. Their Education Labs is providing easier to use means for teachers to send items to students without using so much paper.

And here is something called inDegree. It is liked LinkedIn for graduate students. Grad students need all the help they can get. Perhaps a social networking site aimed at them can be of some assistance.

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Saturday September 5, 2009

The Frankecamera has been on the Internet this week. The idea - from Stanford - is to build an open source camera. It will have open hardware and software. This will provide researchers and others to put image and video processing research results into something. You won't have to convince Nikon or someone that your algorithm is a great idea. I hope this all works.

The software that has crippled Prince George's County (Maryland) schools has done the same across the nation.

Climatologists are surprised by the affect of water vapor on the planet. Jerry Pournelle commented on this earlier in the week. If we don't understand water vapor, how do we understand everything else and know that people are heating the earth? This does not add up.

I think this is an excellent use of technology - beach wheel chairs. They allow the elderly and the infirmed to go places they couldn't go before.

Another fine home office from LifeHacker. This one emphasizes doing things with little money.

Outstanding time-lapse photography of the southern California fires.

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Sunday September 6, 2009

There is a awful lot of stuff here for today...not sure why.

A good message from Jeff Atwood - if it looks "professional" change it. I hate to show this, but look at the cover of one of my books. It looks professional. I tried to change this, honestly, but the publisher insisted.

The jobs in Silicon Valley have changed. Most are down. Those that are up include pharmaceuticals, aerospace and scientific research.

This may be work investigation: uzbl a browser based on the Unix philosophy of do one thing and do it well.

Fifty things the Internet has killed. This is an interesting mix of technology and culture - one reason I really like this article.

Some essentials for writing. Well, maybe not essentials. My own partial list of essentials is here.

Here are some great ideas on removing creativity from the office. I have seen most of these in action. They really work.

The academic reading journal. This is one of those things that if a college student did it they would be in much better shape. I don't know of anyone who actually did this. Sort of a great idea with poor execution. I do a form of this and have for the last ten years. It is from Tony Buzan and is called a Knowledge File.

I have always liked to use Post-Its, but this is too much. Great stuff!

How does writing make things possible? My answer: Things come from thoughts; writing distributes thoughts to others; others make the possible real.

Here are some style guides available online. Some are free while others have an annual subscription. The Chicago Manual of Style is excellent.

This workspace is different. It is built inside a homemade climbing wall of sorts. A custom-built workspace inside a custom built climbing wall.

Create your own font patterened after you handwriting.

And here's an idea: create a sleeve for your portable computer from a newspaper. I call these things "dust covers" instead of "sleeves," but that doesn't matter much. You could also use the old book cover idea to make a sleeve.

Here is an good writing exercise - write with only one-syllable words.

Some tips on how to take "vacation" without killing your freelance and writing business

Microsoft is training Best Buy employees how to talk about Linux. Something tells me that Linux does not come across well in this discussion.

An economic view of cloud computing. You see, believe it or not, some people are trying to make a profit. They are not providing cloud resources for free.

Unschooling - aternative to school and even home school.

Andy Grove extols the "innovative and relatively government-free history of computing
." He has a point there.

A pointer to instructional videos for writers

On outlining and not-so-outlining
. Before writing, I do a non-Mind Map. It sort of looks like a Mind map, but it isn't as neat and organized as the Mind Maps I see people "publish." It helps me.

Oh look, the government is trying to help business again. The results are predictable. With good intentions, some in Congress are proposing legislation that apply stricter regulations on finance. That may be good in some cases, but won't be good in the technology venture capital case.

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