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: January 11-17, 2010

Summary of this week:

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

Monday January 11,  2010

Three writing tips from Louis L'Amour. Good ideas.
   1.  Don’t waste the reader’s time.
   2. Keep it simple.
   3. Simple doesn’t mean drab.

Here is a good idea: less technology and more sleep. I don't know that this gaurantees more productivity (what does?), but life would be easier.

Making gestures on the touchpad of a portable computer. Sure it would work.

SpaceX is moving towards a successful space launch vehicle of its own.

A description of the pneumatic tube system at Stanford Hospital. This is a new system based on 19th-century technology but updated. It is used 7,000 times a day. You cannot send lab samples electronically. The samples are physical with a mass, and need something else.

This one is no surprise, the drones in the middle east are collecting far more video than anyone can analyze.

Blogging can still change the world - one person at a time. I have written in a journal (a blank book) for almost ten years now. It is a place to think. The blog or weblog or web journal is another form of the paper journal. There are things I would not put in one of my blogs that I do write in my paper journal. Speaking to other people doesn't happen in the paper journal. It can happen in the blog. Different tools that accomplish different things. Yes, you don't need 10,000 people reading your blog everyday to make a difference in the world.

Microsoft has modified Word to comply with a court order. They have removed some XML functions. So now they can keep selling their product.

China is starting to oursource some manufacturing to other countries. Huawei going to India.

Confident Writing has as its January theme: starting. Here are links to ten posts to help you start. Number one is "write." Here is a tip that has worked for me. Seat in chair, hands on keyboard, start typing anything even if it is "blah blah blah blah Oh why am I typing blah blah blah..."

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Tuesday January 12, 2010

On the lighter side, see the You Drive What? website.

Is the online labor market a sweat shop? It allows people like me in America to hire people in India for a few bucks to do something that would take me a few hours. That is a good deal for me. I trust that it is a pretty good deal for the person I hire. Like most things, there is lots of room for abuse from abusive people.

Some schools want to own the lesson plans that their teachers create. This is pretty simple, though many won't LIKE it. The school pays the teacher to create the lesson plan. The school owns the lesson plan. If a teacher wants to sell lesson plans, create those for-sale plans at home on your own time. I repeat, this is simple though many won't like it.

Some thoughts on the collision of the copyright and the Internet age. An entire generation has ignored copyright. Can the masses overturn the law by their behavior. We live in interesting times.

Google has stopped hosting news from the Associated Press. This hurts the AP far more than it hurts Google. The AP forced this, now they have to live with it.

Those full-body scanners can store and transmit those naked images. Oooops, perhaps the TSA mis-spoke. Of course the scanners can do this. How else would anyone trouble shoot problems and fix the things? Why oh why would the TSA not be candid?

Games cost over $20 Million to build. The game industry does not play around. It never has.

Some thoughts on carpal tunnel syndrome - especially for writers. I thought this went out with the 1980s, but recently my sister-in-law had the surgery, so I guess doctors and others are still pushing this idea. The cure? Variety.

Want to read about fishing? Want to post stories, photos, and videos about fishing? Some people live for this. Here is a site just for you.

Want to make money in computers? Target the medical industry. The government will soon force doctors to adopt computers. I don't think that will improve anything, but there is a lot of money there to grab.

Take a look at OmmWriter. It is a full-screen text editor that removes all the distractions. It even has sound tracks (music, nature, peaceful things). If you want to write, distractions have to go. As Steven King wrote, a write needs a room with a door that you can close.

A great glass-desk workspace from Life Hacker. Notice how all the cables go through a single tube.

Ooops, it seems that Microsoft wasn't able to modify Word as quickly as it hoped. They have pulled it off their online store. Yes, Microsoft is NOT selling Word. This all stems from court cases.

The next evolution of Apple's low-end portable computer will have the newer Intel chips. The graphics processor will be on the same chip as the central processing unit. Lower power - longer battery life - and higher performance.

The White House visitor logs show which tech executives have been lobbying the President. The next thing you know, lobbyist will be paying to spend the night in the White House. Ooops, someone already did that.

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Wednesday January 13, 2010 

Google is learning what it means to do business with a communist government. For all the hoopla and such, we come back to the basics - the government of China is run by communists. It has been that way since 1948.

Here is a news flash: coral reefs "bounce back." Coral is a plant that grows. If you cut it, it will grow back. It may take longer than you wish, but it will grow back.

This looks odd, but it may work. A folding electric bicycle. It does have two wheels, so you can call it a bi-cycle, but it doesn't look like any bicycle I have ever seen.

On being a minimalist. Less is much better.

Microsoft and HP are moving closer together. No doubt the FTC will have to look into this as far as anti-trust laws go. The government is always willing to help the rest of us.

A vertical takeoff and landing UAV. This is not a helicopter. And this is not an autonomous vehicle and the vast majorit of unmanned autonomous vehicles are not autonomous. They are radio controlled by a distant human. Ah, if we could ever just say what we mean and mean what we say.

A scuba-mask camera. Kind of silly, but this is just the thing for some people. During the late 1980s, we lived in the Bahamas. We didn't do a lot of snorkling, but what we did was fun. This would have been nice to have.

UK's government is buying laptops and broadband for 270,000 families. I like the concept, but I fear that this is just another government program that will become wasteful.

Samsung is boosting the amount of memory on little circuits. 64 GigaBytes on NAND and 32 GigaBytes on MicroSD. You can record a three-hour movie on a 32 GigaByte card (back-of-the-envelope calculation).

A great home office in Malaysia. Click through to all the photos on Flickr.

The daily rituals of 25 famous thinkers and writers.

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Thursday January 14, 2010

A large earthquake in Haiti has killed tens of thousands. The suffering will be hard to imagine. Manna Global Ministries is one group that will be sending people and enabling cash gifts to aid the suffering.

A group of corporate CEOs are visiting the White House today to help explain how the government can run better. Maybe the current administration would ask current government employees the same question, but I doubt that would work either. How about (1) Hire competent people, (2) Let them use their judgement instead of rules, (3) Pay those who do a good job. What breaks down in all these schemes is that someone in some position at some time makes a judgement as to the merit of some action by some other person. In my experience, the people making those judgements were really bad at that.

A new device to stop bleeding on the battlefield and on the highway - a balloon.

More on Google's experience with the Chinese government.

The latest HP-Microsoft deal - invest $250Million in cloud computing.

Few companies are using encryption. More companies are allowing employees to access the corporation remotely. There is a train wreck coming.

Using eBook readers discriminates against the blind - so says several lawsuit settlements. I agree that it discriminates between those who can see the screen and those who cannot. Against those who cannot see? I don't know. To my knowledge, no one ever sued someone for using a computer that has a visible screen. Why now?

This Intel promotion sort of reveals the next evolution of the Apple portable computer with a new Intel processor.

George Will on how requiring people to buy health insurance goes against the U.S. Constitution.

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Friday January 15, 2010

Someone offered a $100,000 "bounty" to the first person who brought in an actual Apple tablet computer. Apple is now sueing them over some trade secret violation. This is really a fun industry. It is half Hollywood, half MIT.

Intel is recovering back to the level of 2007. Still, it is a recovery and a much better year than 2008.

Here are the fourth quarter percentage sales figures for 2009. Apple slipped a bit from 2008. I think that is a result of the release of Windows 7.  People stopped buying PCs in anticipation of 7. Once it was released, they bought. And Christmas had something to do with it as well.

Speaking of Christmas sales - December 2009 was the best month for video game sales - EVER.

This is a great title for a post: Why is the news media comfortable with lying about science? There is no real answer to the question other than the journalism majors are far more smooth than the science majors. This is one more chance to stick it to the sciene guys.

Overhead photography of the remnants of Haiti. I keep hearing calls for people to go to Haiti to help rebuild the infrastracture. The word "rebuild" implies that an infrastructure existed before the quake. I am not sure where anyone got that idea. The situation in Haiti is horrible as opposed to the awful situation before the quake.

A video camera hidden in a sweater's button. This is a commercial not a spy agency product.

GSM encryption is broken again.

Look back, a 1983 review of Sony's first CD music player. Cost: $1,000.

Chrysler is trying to sell one of their buildings: 3 million square feet. Let's see, we (the good old American taxpayers acted upon by Congress) gave Chrysler billions of dollars so they could do this.

Here is some of what the Chinese government doesn't allow its subjects to view on the Internet. Do you get the message?

A really simple, temporary standing desk for your computer. This all makes great sense and it works.

German airport security has been hacked. It is all a simple numbers game: the number of people available (as hobbyists) to try to break the scheme is much larger than the number of people paid to make the scheme. This is not new.

Aha, someone is getting it - augmented reality to help mechanics fix things. This has been THE application for eBook readers and such for the last 30 years.

Yog's Law: All money flows to the author. It is easy to forget this.

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Saturday January 16, 2010

Organizing your space? Don't buy boxes, use free ones. That reduces waste.

News Flash: The Federal government is using outdated computer systems. Wow! I hope no one spent much money to reach that conclusion. Yes, we could spend a lot of taxpayers' money to update all the computers, but we would still have the same people doing the same things they have always done. IT doesn't solve those problems.

Are the really small portable computer wonderful or a waste of time?

I love this announcement: starting today, McDonald's is making its WiFi service FREE!

Due to budget cuts (what budget cuts?), the U.S. military is ending some of its robot-soldier programs. Again, what budget cuts?

Many American companies fail in China. Well, China is a communist country. Do you want to suceed in a system where the people are subjects and not citizens?

Counter-terrorism isn't working well. Why? Well, let's reform all the bureaucracies. Then again, maybe we should hold individuals (no matter who they are) accountable for their (in)actions.

Bing is gaining slowly and surely in the search engine market.

The American Red Cross has received about $10 million in donations via $10 text messages.

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Sunday January 17, 2010

Some of the equipment used to find people buried under rubble in Haiti. There is lots of talking of "rebuilding" Haiti (how to you rebuild something that did not...never mind), but crucial in a situation like this is finding people during the first 48 hours. The best tools are dogs as they can find people.

Interesting, put a log facade on a steel box, and you have, well this thing.

A hybrid electric bike that may move Americans out of there cars. Oooops, it cost $2,300. Still at the stunt stage.

Ah, trying to find WiFi while on vacation. I had no trouble with WiFi while taking a walk as the Days Inn and such all have it (no extra charge). On vacation, however, that is a different matter.

The town of Sandy, Utah has the fastest broadband speed in the U.S. - 33.5 MegaBitsPerSecond. That is really fast. I think that is faster than standard ADSL2+.

Ah, what computing power - and an UPS - can do for researchers. This CMU project is crawling through the web continously learning the English language. I recall back in the good old days...well, they were fun, but not nearly as good as today. We had a computer run for 28 hours straight on one image processing problem. It was a 16-bit minicomputer, and we stretched it to its limit. We did not have an UPS, but got lucky with the campus power.

Here we go once again - the U.S. is facing a critical shortage of scientists and engineers. We have a shortage, but we export computer programming jobs to India. The solution is for every natural-born American citizen who has a computer science degree to go to work for the Department of Defense. Wait, maybe that won't work, so intead...

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