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: November 23-29, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday November 23, 2009

These Australians have built a supercomputer from Intel processors and Tesla graphics processors.

People are still sending messages out into space. Is anyone listening?

Controlling computers via a chip in your brain. This is coming sooner rather than later. This would be a wonderful thing for those who are physically disabled.

IBM's n.fluent project is working on quick and accurate language-to-language translations. IBM is harnessing its employees in 70 different countries who speak all the different languages.

OmmWriter is another for-the-Mac full-screen writing program. I have been using FocusWriter. It works well, but is a bit cumbersome at times. Perhaps I will give OmmWriter a try as well.

Something else to try - Google Alerts. This keeps running a search and emails you when something new pops up.

Another neat workspace from LifeHacker. Note the glass desktop that allows reading.

What can you do with brains and software? Turn a simple webcam into a 3D scanner. Excellent.

Ah, something almost all writers fight: get it done or get it better (and better and better and...). Sometimes you finish a piece of writing. The best I have heard this expressed is, "this is finished for now." I can always come back to it later (sometimes 40 years later). The latter advice is from Jerry Weinberg.

The "smartbook" - put a cell phone into a portable computer. I don't know why this wasn't done years ago. Probably something to do with monthly bills and such.

People are buying devices to put in cars that will turn off their cell phone. Can't people turn off their own cell phone when in a car? No they cannot turn their own cell phones off. Think of it, we pay money to have a phone with us; we also pay money for a device to turn off the phone. Great. Most days I go to a Starbucks next to a health club. People pay money so they can exercise and burn a thousand calories. Then they pay money for a thousand calorie drink. If they had stayed home on the couch and saved their money... People are the most fascinating creatures. Life would be so boring without them.

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Tuesday November 24, 2009

What recession? Mozilla's revenue rose 5% in 2008.

An old saying, still has lots of meaning - "your lack of planning is not my emergency."

Intel's Pine Trail Atom processor - they are placing the graphics processor on the same little chip as the main processor. New models of really small portable computers should have this in January 2010. I still don't understand the names of these things.

In New Zealand, a robot is helping at a home for the elderly. There is much good that technology can do for the elderly.

Wikipedia is losing volunteers. It seems that one reason is the bickering about the content of pages.

The next Intel processor is 50% faster than the current one. The current one just arrived. The previous one was fast enough for 99% of users. Core i5, i7, i9, I guess i11 is next?

This Solar Impulse - this solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe in 2012.

There appear to be quality issues with the latest Apple iMacs.

If the economy improves, 61% of employees will try to leave their current jobs for a new one. I guess this says something about how happy people are with their jobs.

And as people leave their current jobs, they are taking company data with them as it will be useful in their next job.

Microfluidics - interesting, never seen this one before. IBM is building a chip that can run a dozen diagnostics on a drop of blood.

One person's experience with a really small portable computer. He didn't use it as expected.

Sales of PCs for 2009 appear to be growing by a couple percent. This in the face of the predictions of double-digit decline. So the PC market didn't collapse this year. A big help were the sales of the really small portable computers (inexpensive).

Are you a writer looking for a topic. Here is a book with over 4,000 topic starters.

President Obama kicks off a new campaign for science education. Sigh, there is only so much money to go around. If you want to boost science and technology education, you take money from liberal arts education to do it. Make a decision and stand for something. That means that something else loses. A similar solution is in the wings for health care, but standing for one thing over another thing doesn't seem to be popular in politics.

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Wednesday November 25, 2009 

Some advances in micro-robotics. Someday these things may crawl through our bodies repairing tiny defects before they become problems.

Those kids who pasted their photos all over the net are now running for office and trying to explain those photos. The "I was just a kid" excuse isn't as easy to to use as expected.

Exposure to lots of germs make children more resistant to germs. This is yet another proof of "if it doesn't kill me it only makes me stronger." If I had gone to a top-notch high school I would give you the Latin version of that one.

The Commonwealth of Virginia spent $2.3Billion on an IT system, but forget to specify backups. The result is as expected.

The most influential web sites as determined by the number of times they are mentioned in blogs. (the number in () is last year's ranking). Twitter and Facebook are rising.
#1. en.wikipedia.org (1)
#2. youtube.com (3)
#3. flickr.com (2)
#4. twitter.com (9)
#5. google.com (4)
#6. myspace.com (6)
#7. facebook.com (-)
#8. imdb.com (5)
#9. nytimes.com (7)
#10. apple.com (8)

Coming, an "iTunes for magazines."

Stop rebooting my computer, ah the trials and tribulations of a multi-tasking operating system. Things are always happening in the background.

Another fine WorkSpace from LifeHacker. This one uses a blue neon light. I don't know if that would really help me accomplish anything, but it is nice to show off.

The U.S. Air Force has bought a few thousand Sony PlayStation 3 units. They want the graphics processor inside to do computing research.

I will have to try this one - run Google's Chrome OS from a USB stick.

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Thursday November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.

Finally, scientific proof that driving a sports car does make you feel more "manly."

Some items on the Chrome operating system. I tried to try the Chrome OS on a USB stick. I couldn't manage to have it install or anything. This reviewer doesn't like the design. Five things that Chrome OS isn't. Number one is "Ready."

If you are going shopping the day after Thanksgiving, you might as well shop the best deals.

And some guidelines for shopping on that day. I like number five: People are crazy, but you should be nice. Remember folks, you are out there finding something that you will give to someone you love.

Some thoughts on buying stuff and what to do with it from a minimalist's perspective.

I like George Will's editorial on Christmas buying. Christmas buying has been declining since the 1930s. That sounds strange, but seems to be true.

Some more advances in exoskeletons in Japan.

This workspace features a mouse pad that looks to be three-feet square. Its pattern matches the of the screen saver.

And some advances in flexible display materials.

The CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception still exists and is on sale at (where is but) Amazon.

The Obama administration doesn't like courts limiting its powers to sieze information - about baseball players and steroids. I guess this is related to national security in some way or another.

If you are doing anything of any value,  some people will probably become angry. Anger is not the goal, but often the result.

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Friday November 27, 2009

This could be an intriguing story - Microsoft may be trying to have newspapers link to Bing instead of Google.

An osmotic power plant opens in Norway. Actually it is a prototype with the hope of providing information that will make this type of power practical.

FreeBSD 8.0 is released.

Revolution 4.0 is released. This is yet another attempt to enable non-programmers to program. There is something wrong with that logic. Anyways, this concept has been around a long time. It began five minutes after the first annoying programmer annoyed a business analyst and the business analyst walked away wishing he could get rid of all programmers.

Wow, look at this. A collection of historic documents on programming. Look at the FORTRAN coding sheet. I used ones similar to this. The idea was that you wrote your code with a pencil on such sheets, turned them in to the computing center, and a professional key puncher would type your punch cards for you much faster and more accurate than you could. It actually worked in some places.

James Bach has written a book about how he dropped out of school and became the youngest manager at Apple. I have met James a few times at conferences. He is an excellent software tester and teacher of such.

The post-employee economy? Maybe.

The Chevrolet Volt (much written about a car that doesn't really exist yet) will have a system to make noise and notify blind people that "here it comes." This sounds nice on the surface, but the engineers are putting a lot of effort into nice-to-have features. They need to focus on putting a car on the road instead.

This might work. A camera in a pen. You write something, push a button to take a photo and send the photo to a database. Yes, this could work.

IT spending is predicted to recover in 2010.

Some medical professionals demonstrate what many have already known - you can kill people with the little items that you are permitted to take on airplanes. Security theatre reigns at the TSA - put on a show of security while providing none.

Does the computer make writing too easy? I don't know, but this piece caught my eye as the writer once used WordStar on CP/M. So did I.

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Saturday November  28, 2009

I hope that today's viewing makes sense. I am sitting in a Panera Bread and I forgot my reading glasses.

It seems that there were plenty of shoppers out yesterday - a media event, but most were cautious. I don't own a store or depend on holiday sales for my income, that is the disclaimer, I think it wise not to spend much money at Christmas.

Several states are considering California in restricting the power consumption of televisions. The next thing you know they will be telling us what kind of light bulbs we can use, ooops they already do. Ah, what would the average person do without someone in the legislature telling them how to live?

Twitter and the Internet once again beat "the news" on breaking news. This time it was the Tiger Woods car accident. What surprises me is the news came out about ten hours after the event. I am surprised it took so long.

Apple was forced to change its Terms and Conditions on its store site in the UK.

Here is the first video of the northern lights of Saturn.

More intrigue with Google, Microsoft, and newspapers. Throw in a little game theory, and the only way the newspapers win is if they all suddenly start to cooperate against. Google.

Facebook is following Google's lead in hardware - putting backup batteries on the servers themselves.

80% of females who play video games play the Wii. There must be a point here, but I cannot see it yet.

Dubai's "tallest building in the world" is struck by lightning just about every time lightning appears there.

This story has appeared in several places on the net - a Roomba vacuum cleaner killed a viper snake.

The Call of Duty games have more than $3Billion in sales. This is a game, $3Billion!

The dual-screen portable computers are coming.

ClimateGate (the releasing of emails that show some less-than-ethical behavior in the climate research community) produces a call to ethics and openness in all scientific research. I concur. My experiences in a university research lab showed me some lets-keep-this-to-ourselves-so-we-can-get-ahead behavior. I didn't like it.

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Sunday November 29, 2009

An inexpensive iPhone - refurbished from AT&T.

Comparing the HP Envy 13 with the MacBook Air. The Air is a little old now. It pushed technology in the "think" direction, always a puzzle to me, and many portable computers have taken advantage of that push since then.

Some more possible breakthroughs in batteries. Maybe one of these will come to fruition.

There is something that I like about this post. Technology comes, it pushes out some occupations, and we move on. We can mourn the lost past without apologizing for the present.

I love this title, "Do you hate being called an 'IT guy'?" It is much easier to label people and stop thinking. That doesn't accomplish much for anyone, but it is easier.

Wikimedia answers back on the numbers of declining Wikipedia participants. I use Wikipedia everyday. I contributed dozens of photographs of small towns. I find great value in it.

On writing a series of novels based on one character. This is one way to be published as publishers seem to want a series.

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