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: December 14-20, 2009

Summary of this week:

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

Monday December 14, 2009

My region, Northern Virginia, gains some infamy as we are the source of the five terrorists arrested in Pakistan.

Some details of how they were recruited via YouTube. You would think that someone in Homeland Security would be watching those things, but...

Despite the economy and cries of piracy everywhere, Hollywood will gross more money than ever.

Another home-built book scanner. Great idea.

Being a location-independent professional and "swallowing your pride" sometimes. There are times when you "have to" take a regular paying job to finance your dreams. (Side note, when did having a job become a bad thing?)  I don’t see it as “swallowing pride.” Being a location-independent professional is a business. In business, you have a plan and include contingencies. If such-and-such (does not) happens, we will do this-other-thing a while. These are exit strategies, not pride swallowing or sacrificing or other emotion-laden phrases. Perhaps it is just a twist on the words, but sometimes changing the words changes everything.

I like this PC design. Yes, it looks like it is from the 1950s and it is all superficial, but why not? Watch the video, I really want one of those keyboards. Maybe I could make one.

Bob Sutton writes about the "good cop, bad cop" ploy of managing. For 20-something years I was an engineer in the Federal government. We would visit companies that were making systems for us. Many in my office advocated the good cop, bad cop approach. "You act ugly and I'll act nice, that'll shake 'em up." Several problems:  (1) We weren't good actors. Any moron could see through the ploy. (2) This ploy caused us to lie. Once you lie, you are a liar and no one should ever trust you. (3) All the ploys in the world didn't make the electrons flow through the circuits the way we wanted them to. Only good designs would do that. The ploy didn't make the designers any smarter. (4) It was just plain stupid.

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Tuesday December 15, 2009

Apple is the "Brand of the Decade" according to Adweek.

Apple computer sales were up 20% in the fall over the previous year. Bad economy?

Apple will sell 10 million iPhones this quarter. Bad economy? Someone hasn't heard that we have a bad economy. I wish someone would explain all this to me. Really, I don't get it.

The broadband stimulus package (was it $7B or $8B) will have almost no affect on broadband use in the U.S. Government shines again.

One reason? Complex forms. The Gates foundation has spent $2Million to help libraries learn how to fill out the Federal forms. $2Million to learn the forms! Not a penny to have more broadband, just to learn how to fill out the forms. Should the creators of the forms be fired? No, the work for the government.

Coming soon, 64GigaByte memory for the iPhone and other such. Finally, I can carry a copy of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (the movies in HD, not the books) in my iPhone.

158 lenses in one camera. Sure, it is sort of a stunt, but it is being used in research. Something practical may come of what they learn.

And more from research labs - put 13 graphical processors into one chasis, connect them smartly, and you have a low-cost supercomputer. Great stuff.

How to use LinkedIn to help find a job. I found my current job through LinkedIn, so it can be done.

When is enough enough? Sigh, the things we do to ourselves sometimes are far worse than what anyone else could do to us.

MIT has built a wheel for a bicycle that captures energy and uses that to power the bike. Yes, there are answers out there.

The current administration is looking for someone to be the Cybersecurity Czar. People have been asked, but no one wants the job.

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Wednesday December 16, 2009 

I spent my morning meeting and eat with various people and did not view the Internet.

This will probably happen a lot in the next two weeks, so this daybook may be sparse.

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Thursday December 17, 2009

The U.S. House of Representatives, fresh from emabarassing electronic leaks, is taking strong measures to ensure this won't happen again (until the next time it happens).

Boeing's 787 finally takes flight. This was once called the 7E7 and the Dreamliner. Well, it still has a chance to be a great success despite all its delays. I hope it works as America needs to have at least one good airplane maker.

If true, terrorists are watching the live video from American UAVs.

It appears that Google will be selling its own really small portable computer powered by their Chrome OS. This is interesting.

This story is in several places on the net today. The Russians are pointing out that climate researchers used only parts of Russian weather data in their climate change models. It is not a suprise that they used the portions of the data that reinforced their ideas and ignored the less convenient data.

The different Linux distributions are actually different. Linux is not Linux is not Linux...

For something completely different, Israeli border official shoot bullets into an American student's computer.

Technicians have found 22 million missing emails from the Bush Administration. 22 million? Were those guys doing anything but emailing one another? Then again, now what is anyone going to do with the 22 million emails, print them?

I like this sentiment - find someone you don't like and break bread with them. I have tried this and it works.

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Friday December 18, 2009

The great trip in the snow storm...

Every Christmas we travel to Louisiana to visit family. We drive over night because traffic is much lighter and such. This drive-overnight practice started when our kids were little and it was much easier to drive at night while they slept. Habits die hard, so we still do this.

We left Northern Virginia Friday afternoon as usual. We knew we would drive into a snow storm, so we prepared as best we could. "We" included only my wife, youngest son age 20, and me. Two hours down the road, all was okay. 2 1/2 hours down the road we hit the northern edge of the snow storm. Traffic on Interstate 81 slowed to a crawl and then stopped. There were accidents ahead. That is a vast understatement as there were several dozen accidents ahead.

We sat still on I-81 for three hours. All was okay as were were safe and warm in our van. Some emergency workers asked us to use a nearby cut-across to move to the northbound side of I-81, go back a few miles, exit I-81 at Lexington, Virginia and try U.S. Route 11. Ah, I knew U.S. Route 11 (see taking a walk). I should have tried the motels in Lexington, but we instead tried Route 11.

We found ourselves stuck on the side of Route 11. We crossed a creek that I remembered from taking a walk. Creeks are at the bottom of the landscape, and we tried to drive up a steep hill. Vans have bad traction. Two young men in a large truck pulled us up the hill.

We drove another mile or two to a Shell station at I-81. This is the exit just north of the Natural Bridge exit. It was midnight.

We parked at the Shell station for nine hours. Now and then police and others would pull into the station to have coffee. Accidents rendered I-81 impassable. Being at the Shell station brought several benefits. (1) We were safe. (2) We could buy gasonline and keep the van running (warmth). (3) There was a bathroom. (4) There was food (we had lots of food and drink with us, but variety helps pass the time). (5) There was information (police, rescue, plow trucks, etc. passed through chatting about what they saw).

We left the Shell station at 9:30 Saturday morning. I-81 was passable, but just passable for the first 20 miles. Slowly, the road conditions inproved. By Blacksburg, Virginia the road was cleared and we could drive the speed limit. The rest was time on the road.

We reached my mother's house at 1:30 AM Sunday. What is normally an 18-hour trip required 36 hours.

News from Reston, Virginia is about 20 inches of snow on the ground. No one is moving anywhere until a plow comes down your street.

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Saturday December 19, 2009

See above.

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Sunday December 20, 2009

Visiting relatives in Louisiana. Internet access at my mother's house is sparse - especially on the weekends.

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