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: March 8-14, 2010

My notes show that I have been doing this daybook type of blog for two years now.

Summary of this week:

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

Monday March 8,  2010

More studies on why a sizable portion of Americans dont' use the Internet. Lack of money is a bigger factor than lack of interest.

And maybe people in North America use the Internet much more than estimated. Guess what, many studies are flawed.

And here comes 100MegaBitsPerSecond service to your home. It will, however, cost you more money. The cost is in the equipment needed at the central office. Most existing lines can provide the bandwidth.

America continues to suffer in educating STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). This is a big subject, and a thorough discussion will anger many. Jerry Pournelle writes on this topic from time to time. A major part of the problem is that much tax payers money is siphoned from STEM to voodoo sciences. If you want to major in English literature or art history, fine, do it, but don't expect a penny of taxpayers' money along the way. I told you the discussion would anger many.

LG releases their thin portable computer - less than 3/4" thick.

I would like to see this one come true - a "frameless" portable computer. It is all display, I mean A L L display.

This is being reported in several places this morning, so it must be big news. Apple showed an iPad commercial last night at the Academy Awards. I missed both the show and the commercial. It is easy to watch the commercial today on Apple's site. I think the message is that the iPad is for those who like to watch movies and the Academy Awards. Any other geeks and engineers watch?

Insomnia? Go to Facebook. Is this a good thing? Perhaps it is.

Someone has developed a fuel injection system that improves gas mileage by 50%
. This makes regular cars more fuel efficient than hybrids. I am glad this happened before Congress required everyone to buy a hybrid, or have they already done that? I can't keep up with them. I hope they won't regulate until this fuel injector is illegal. Let's see it on the market in two years. This is yet another example of technology changing a done deal. Please folks, always replace "We will run out of energy" with "Unless someone develops a new technology, which often happens, we will run out of energy." I know the statement is longer and take a few more seconds to say, but it is far closer to the truth.

Perhaps the New York Times will survive as they hire engineers and web designers.

AHA! A cell phone that runs on AAA batteries! Wow, why so long?

This is a nice read or look - 30 dumb inventions from Life magazine.

Lots of practical wisdom here - the freedom of contentment.

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Tuesday March 9, 2010

The BBC surved people in 26 countries and found that most adults believe that Internet access is a fundamental right. I am not sure how to react to this one. I like the idea that so many adults realize how valuable Internet access can be. I am concerned about the notion of it being a "fundamental right." I guess that depends on your definition of "fundamental right."

How to beat 1,024-bit RSA encryption. Twiddle with the power supply of the computer. Is that cheating?

Cisco is pulling out of WiMax. I don't know if WiMax will every make it. The same goes for any "4G" technology.

And here Verizon proves that LTE 4G is faster than 3G. Well, I am happy to see that we are getting someing by incrementing the G.

I am not sure what the point is here, but this is an interesting video of a home-made centrifuge (built from an erector set I think) spinning a lava lamp. Cool project.

Another clever workspace from Life Hacker. You can see through this one.

The NSA holds a slight lead in crypto technology over everyone else.

In 1995, Newsweek carried an article that predicted all sorts of failures for the Internet. They were wrong on everything. At least they admit it. A favorite hobby is to look at old issues of magazines in libraries and see how wrong they were in reporting stories in WWI, WWII, and just about every time else as well. Then I wonder what has changed and why magazines and newspapers would be any  more accurate today.

I like this idea - a disposable "toilet." It turns human waste into usable fertilizer and seems practical for the people of the world, some 40% of us, who don' t have the indoor plumbing infrastructure.

Thermopower waves - a discovery at MIT - is a new way to produce electric power. Maybe one day...

I like this one: Edward Tufte has been hired to help explain and show what is happening with stimulus funds. The people hiring him may not like the results.

Pushing back the boundaries of ignorance: universities are banning portable computers from classrooms so that students will pay attention to the professors. If the "lecture" is engaging, students will pay attention. Computing and communications technology have brought many changes to our world. Some of us are struggling to adjust to those changes.

Oh look, a company stopped doing business in a state because the state introduced new taxes on them. I guess that makes the company an evil tax dodger. That state should have passed a law that said you couldn't leave the state because of the new tax. Perhaps Amazon is trying to make money so it an continue to pay its employees. Funny how all this works.

I see that President Obama is attacking health insurance companies. It seems that the president wants health insurance companies to be non-profit and insure eveyone regardless of existing conditions. Health insurance seems to be a pretty simple concept. A group of people pay into a fund. When someone is sick, money is pulled from the fund to pay the bill. If a lot of people become sick in one year, everyone has to pay more into the fund to cover the expenses. If few people become sick in one year, fewer funds are withdrawn from the fund and people don't have to pay as much that year. There are expenses to managing the fund and collecting the contributions.

I think it is legal to start such a non-profit health insurance company. I am surprised that President Obama does not start such a non-profit health insurance company himself. At least he could use his position of influence and leadership to inspire others to start such non-profit health insurance companies. Pardon my ignorance, but I think that is what a President of these United States should do - state his beliefs and inspire others to follow those beliefs. History shows us that it is incredibly difficult to pass legislation that requires people to be good. There are also many unintended consequences of such laws. Just a thought. I will now stop commenting for today. 

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Wednesday March 10, 2010 

High school kids are still hacking into the grade database. Is everyone ready for national electronic health records? These are kids in high school.

Congress may pass a law requiring all U.S. citizens to have a biometric ID card. This is also known as a passport, but America has never required its citizens to have a passport. I am sure this will all be secure and privacy assured, ahem, see the story above. And by the way, who will pay for these cards?

In the line of "maybe this work turn into something real" - gasifying biomass may work with sun light. People have used the sun to accomplish work for centuries.

The FCC is considering reserving some of the frequency spectrum for free broadband. Oh, as this post mentions, that free-from-the-government spectrum would probably be monitored by the benefactor.

Now you can buy your own jetpack for $86K. I don't want one, but there are people I know who...

Fifty different tablet computers will hit the market this year. I hope these guys know what they are doing.

Pentax introduces a 40 MegaPixel medium format camera. Only $9,500.

Wear this little robot on your back then deploy it. This is a bit odd, but I can see some applications in rescue.

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Thursday March 11, 2010

Intel previews a six-core processor that could be in Apple's Mac Pro computers in a week.

Ah, 12% of employees knowingly violoate corporate IT policies. Why would any one do such a thing. The number one reason is to accomplish the work for which they are paid. Perhaps those who create the policies are not regularly involved in accomplishing work.

Statistics show that we are winning the war on cancer. This post doesn't offer enough details to analyze the statistics. People are involved in generating statistics and we people often have a point to prove.

HP is about to start a big advertising campaign called "Let's do amazing." Sometimes campaigns like this do much to boost morale inside a firm and boost sales outside of it. Sometimes, however, the opposite occurs.

The slate or tablet or whatever we call these computers keep coming. Toshiba will introduce a complete line of them next year.

Some predictions on the next two years of such computers or appliances.

The price of solid state drives continues to fall. This one has 32GB at less than $100.

Boeing's latest 3D camera is one-third the size and uses one-tenth the power as prior models.

Noise cancelling ear buds from Sony work well. They also cost $300.

I don't know about this one: Compressed Air Energy Storage. In theory it sounds good, but it also sounds like we are expending enormous amounts of energy to save a little energy.

This has happened before and will happen again - advances in computer hardware outpace those in computer software. The disk drives that will appear in 2011 will not be usable with Windows XP.

I like George Will's editorial on progressives and the desire for government by panel of experts. It is unfortunate, however, that experts are like the people mentioned above who use statistics to prove one point over another. Our current president likes the panel of experts type of government. Someone should explain to him that our system of representative democracy is exactly that. We in America do not have pure democracy; we have representative democracy where we the people send experts to Washington to govern. I guess people disagree on who the appropriate experts are.

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Friday March 12, 2010

The Apple store has been down this morning. I suppose they are updating it so they can take orders for the iPad. I thought they would have done that before midnight - seven hours ago.

The book business is thriving? I would say that the book world is thriving as there are more books than ever, more ways that book writers can "publish," and more ways to read books. As far as the business goes - that is another story.

The FCC was scammed out of millions of taxpayers' dollars. Ah government, we can do such great things in government, or is it, well never mind. Why do people rob banks? That is where the money is. Why do people scam the government? Same answer.

The problem of abundance. We know how to deal with scarcity as we have practiced that for centuries. We try to turn abundance into scarcity so that it will be more familiar. See, for example, health care in America.

A Congressman wants to ban the use of salt in restaurants. Clearly he does not have enough to do. Perhaps that is a bit harsh. No doubt he has the best of intentions, but someone close to him should have a private conversation.

A new use of technology in medicine - the virtual visit. This could work and could cut costs. I hope so.

No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar. ~Abraham Lincoln. Yes.

More bicycles with electric motors. But at $1,700 these are not yet practical.

The Xbox is now the best-selling game console in the U.S.

Barnes and Noble will offer a free eBook reader application for the iPad. Now if Apple would just open the store again so I can order...

Take the liberty of writing poorly. Just write something. Revise it later. For me, this is called writing blog posts. Usually, after posting to my blog(s) I actually know what I want to write and how to write it. I think a lot of people take blog writing too seriously. They want each post to be perfect.

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Saturday March 13, 2010

Apple pre-sold a lot of iPads yesterday. I reserved one for purchase at the Reston store.

The iPad will read books aloud. Well, we shall see as the Kindle did this for a while until the lawyers jumped in.

Skip the iPad and get a Linux tablet instead?

The GuitarBud - an adapter that allows you to connect a guitar to an iPhone. Add a few free apps and you can do all sorts of things with this.

Undersea homes coming? Maybe one day.

JPL scientists are fighting background security checks all the way to the Supreme Court. Such checks are common place in the Homeland Security arena. I guess the JPL folks did not have such as a pre-condition for employment.

Video chat is prohibited on United Airlines. Let's see, you can access the Internet, send and receive email, and text chat and talk on the phone, but somehow video chat would be catastrophic. I guess there is some logic here.

Microsoft loses its appeal regarding Word and those XML features.

Firefox 3.6 has 100 million downloads.

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Sunday March 14, 2010

There was a day when some of us understood everything about the machines we programmed. There was a day when I would buy the Intel book describing everything about their newest microprocessor. We don't even use the term "micro"processor any more. There was a day...

Adding to the criticism of NASA's latest redirection are two former astronauts. Eugene Cernan is the last man to walk on the moon - he is now 76 years old. We are approaching a day when there will be no one alive who walked on a different place than earth. How did we ever reach this pathetic state?

Okay, maybe this is silly, but you can turn an old PC into an aquarium.

It is Sunday, so I view some of the writing blogs that I neglect during the week.

Just in time for the iPad is a new app called PadNotes that allows you to draw on top of a PDF file. It treats the PDF as an image and the image plus your notes is a new image. Simple idea that could be of use.

A bunch of rules for writing fiction. There are some interesting points here.

Some ways to find time to write. This is the heart of most heartaches for "writers." I know several writers who "are going to write," but never seem to write much. They are busy with other good things. And these other things are good. Writing takes time, and time is  a previous item in our lives. Why can't God give writers an extra hour in the day or allow us good health on half the sleep that everyone else needs?

Some good advice on writing your life story.

Tips for preparing your taxes. I have seen several such blogs this week as we approach April 15th. I am always surprised to read these things this time of year. I completed my taxes by mid-February, sent in the papers, got the refunds, paid the dues and all that. Is there some reason why people don't do this until April?

Some lessons learned from one author on creativity and writing.

And this is a good tip - make a video about your book and post it on YouTube. I struggle to find a decent reason why I shouldn't do this.

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