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: February 22-28, 2010

Summary of this week:

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

Monday February 22,  2010

For fans of open source and cars - see how the community designed a few special-purpose autos.

Are copyright laws morally justified? This high school student thinks not. Oh, by the way this essay won first prize in an ethics contest. Yes, there is a generation out here that has ignored copyrights. What do we do now?

And with the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) being secretly negotiated...In this day and age, a secret treaty? Anyways, the contents do not agree with the insiders claim it says.

Flying over Afghanistan while never leaving Las Vegas. The world of drone pilots. These machines are NOT UAVs (autonomous), they are radio controlled airplanes. I guess it is too much to expect people to call things as they are.

Hmmm, this is new to me - allowing teachers to edit textbooks.

Some tips on dropping out of the 9-to-5 and generating passive income. It is a lot of hard work and sacrifice. Nevertheless, this lifestyle fits some people well.

GadgetTrak is retrieving 95% of lost and stolen gadgets. This is a service you buy. Of course it works, everything is connected to the Internet at some time or other.

Another miracle energy source - the Bloom Box. Maybe one of these things will actually work. If there are enough of them out there our odds are good. Instead of bailing out failed auto companies and paying mortgages or people who default, maybe our Congress would use taxpayers' money to...Oh never mind.

When you interview someone for a job, always ask if they know how to do that job. It seems that many applicants for programming jobs cannot write programs. I would have never thought of that one.

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Tuesday February 23, 2010

Look at this artwork in Moleskine notebooks.

Microsoft and Amazon have agreed to share details of each other's patents

Google is moving to HTML 5 and away from its own Gears. I hope offline access to Google Docs and other things that Gears provides still work.

Lenovo isn't making a tablet device because its research shows that businesses don't want tablets. That is probably true. I think Apple is going for the non-business crowd with the iPad. There are, after all, more people not in business than there are in business.

One person goes one week without using any Google services.

The FCC has concluded that one third of America doesn't have broadband Internet access because it isn't affordable. Two things: (1) I hope they didn't spend much money to reach this obvious conclusion and (2) don't you just love it when a Federal regulator uses a subjective term like "affordable."

Fraud in reporting is not new with bloggers as it has existed forever in "legitimate journalism." See here for examples.

BMW has commited to an all-electric car by model year 2012 or 2013.

Look at the basic specs on this new Seagate hard drive: 3.5 inches, 2 TeraBytes, 6 GigabitsPerSecond speed. Oh yes.

And a 64GigaByte SDXC card from SanDisk. But, who needs this?

Another great workspace from LifeHacker. I still cannot figure out how this monitor "floats" in air.

A 1938 Superman comic sells for $1 million. WOW!

A new site translates English to Arabic and back (text only). You can chat online with someone across the world. I like this.

A systems approach to the problem of obesity.

The Charles de Gaulle international airport in Paris has installed the full-body scanners. The French seem okay with this.

Samsung leads the world in the sales of flat televisions.

Yes, you can generate heat from decaying matter. It stinks, but it works and people have known this for centuries.

Story writing 101.

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Wednesday February 24, 2010 

Half of the tweets on Twitter.com are in English. English usage is down, which is another way of saying that non-English use of Twitter is way up.

The most popular photo processing programs have an error in the way they scale photos. It is odd that all these programs have the same error. It is almost as it they copied each other's source code. More likely, programmers wrote their own code but wrote so that their output would match the output of some other program. I once worked a project where we were told to reproduce the output of one piece of software in our own version of similar software. (This was all legal as the software was all owned by the government.) In doing this, I discovered a number of errors in the original software. I was told to forget about the errors and just make the output match. It happens.

We are reminded again that all this digital data we store will probably not be readable by anyone a hundred years from now. This is both a blessing and a curse.

Extending the PhotoSynth program to work with hundreds of thousands of images instead of just hundreds or thousands. Photosynth and this project are remarkable achievements.

AT&T wins a 3G performance study.

Maybe I can pre-order ("pre-order"?) an iPad tomorrow.

That isn't a microphone out in front of the lady, it is a display. The wearer can glance at the device and see a full computer screen display. I like this. Yes, it looks funny, but...

Here is another LIDAR yielding robot that can make 3D maps of spaces. These could be great additions to exploring caves, pyramids, and other things where people cannot safely go. It could also be a great help to finding people in collapsed caves and buildings.

Polaroid keeps trying to make a digital camera that has a printer built into it. Maybe one day.

NVIDIA's advances are probably coming to the Apple portable computers. This all makes for better graphics, and in this day and age that means better video.

The movement of any given person in a day is predictable 93% of the time. Some are finding this to be remarkable. Industrial engineers (efficiency experts) have noted and used this for decades. I don't know what the surprise is here.

Are you brave enough to run a "stupid rules" contest in your organization? What you learn could be immensely important and valuable.

Want to make more money for your municipality? Install red-light cameras and shorten the duration of the yellow lights. You are sure to catch more "criminals." Public safety? No, this is bound to cause more accidents, but money is more important than...ooops.

The TSA has opened an IDIQ (indefinited delivery, indefinite quantity) contract with L3 Comm for full-body scanners.

Here are some great photos of the planet.

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Thursday February 25, 2010

Some news about Apple:

The iTunes store has sold 10 billion songs (with a B). At a dollar a song, that is...and they did it without any government bailouts!
The MacBook Pros are in short supply. This portends an update to that line to separate it from the MacBook line. I have written about this backwards naming convention. There are three MacBook Pros and one MacBook. The MacBook is the exception, so it should have the adjective appended to it, not the other way around.
Apple has 5% of the number of computers sold and 10% of the money in computers sold. They have succeeded in selling a premium brand while others are in a commodity market. That is a pretty hard trick to perform.

If you want to extend the range of your WiFi, plug this into your portable computer. Of course it works, it is simply a better antenna. We have had better antennas for decades.

I don't see any practical use in this thing - a solar energy collector that you place on the top of your cubicle.

Samsung now has a 4GigaByte memory chip. Now double the amount of memory you can put in a small computer. That means 8GigaBytes of RAM for a portable computer. There are practical uses for that.

A few comments on the production of SD memory cards. One rule of thumb that I recommend - if you can buy it at Best Buy, beware of using it in a life-critical system. There is a great variance in the performance of commercially available components. They are "cheap" for a reason.

Some realism regarding this Administration's attempts to bring broadband to rural areas. I agree with this writer in that the $7Billion will probably be used in the suburbs, not in rural areas. Just more hollow promises from politicians.

One of Saturn's moons may be hospitable to life as we know it.

Someone estimates the cost to develop the Linux kernal at $1.4Billion.

Maybe Congress will do something good for America and the economy. I know that sounds odd, but here we have an attempt to create a special VISA for someone attempting to create a business and hire people. I have wishes for a good outcome; we shall see.

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Friday February 26, 2010

Breakfast with some associates kept me from viewing the Internt in the morning. Then a visit by my grandson occupied my evening. Both fun events.

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Saturday February 27, 2010

Sometimes we learn things while on travel that, if we allow ourselves, can shape our lives at home.

Oh, we have to defend against UAVs as well as use them on the offensive. I am glad someone thought of that one.

Perhaps it would be much cheaper and faster to put remote-controlled robots on the moon instead of people. It would work faster and cheaper, but probably not as effective. Still, some effect is much more than no effect.

This story is hard to believe, but probably true. The U.S. Secret Service's main computer has 68% up time.

PC-BSD 8.0 is now available.

Point your cell phone camera at a product and buy it, even when the store is closed.

Sirius XM radio actually made a profit.

Pedal-assisted electric bicycles - great idea, but for $3,000? This is not practical.

A different twist on getting 3G access to the Internet. You pay buy month for access, but you don't have a long-term contract.

Shuttle continues to shrink the "nettop" computer. This one is about an inch and a quarter thick.

Google claims to make advances in the mirrors used in solar energy. These advances won't be on the market for a couple of years.

Acer will release a line of thin portable computers in the second quarter of 2010. These will be less than one inch thick at the thickest point.

Intel will present a newer, faster Atom processor on Monday.

The treadmill desk. This is not a stand-up desk. It is a walk desk. I guess this makes some sense.

Verizon to open 60 markets to 4G (LTE) service by the middle of 2012. That is too far out into the future to hold your breath or believe it.

OS X keeps gaining the the operating system market.

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Sunday February 28, 2010

This was a big story  most of the week - Apple banning thousands of apps because of sexual content.

A computer science major - one of us geeks - won a gold medal in the Olympic bobsled.

It seems that Apple tries to have good working conditions at its factories outside the U.S. (Do they have anything manufacturing inside the U.S.?) It also seems that working conditions in the factories are not good.

Parts of an American Delta rocket crashed in Mongolia. I guess these things are supposed to crash in the ocean after doing their jobs.

The good old serial port is still being used as a console connection. This may die one day, but it has lived a long life. It is simple and it works.

Even if you are the President it is difficult and costly to cancel government contracts. It could cost $10Billion to cancel NASA's Constellation program. The government forces itself to pay off existing contracts. There are shut-down costs and other costs that most of us would ever imagine. Often it is cheaper to have a company finish the contracted work, deliver things that will never be used, and store them in a warehouse for 20 years. Ask a contract-law lawyer to explain all this. I just know that it happens, I don't know why.

And now to the writing and such blogs of the week.

Want to do more great work? Focus and make choices. The idea is simple; the execution can be excruciating.

A similar sentiment - STOP MULTI TASKING.

And more similar sentiment - again it is about choices. Saying "no" is a choice and a way to announce the choice.

Some lessons learned from failure. One point: you know a lot more than you think you do.

A look at commercial writing - freelance writing for companies. It can be done, and a writer can make a good living from it. Novels? Short stories? No.

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