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 29-April 4, 2010

Summary of this week:

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

Monday March 29,  2010

I am trying a new way of marketing what I write - I am giving away a text I wrote on Systems Engineering. See this page for information and the link to download the PDF.

The cycles continue - enrollment in Computer Science is going up at this time. This and the various types of Computer and Software Engineering majors are great IMHO. Lots of math, science, creativity, innovation - and what is best, you build things.

Some people have received notes indicating that their iPads have left the factory. I guess it is possible that some iPads will reach homes before April 3rd unless Apple can tell UPS and others "not to deliver until..."

Shaoxing, China is the malware capital of the world. How do you achieve such? What else, government policy.

So now Google is operating out of Hong Kong instead of mainland China. The Chinese government still blocks it subjects from informatoin, for now at least.

For those who can't get enough of telling other people how to live, yes, it is technically trivial for your car to detect that you are on your cell phone and remind you to stop or hang up for you.

Yes, "smart meters" are full of security holes. There is no end to the fun that some people will be able to have with these. And what some people consider to be "fun" may surprise you.

A network of small, power-efficient processors will out-perform larger processors. That seems to be a good concept, and now these researchers have the experimental results to prove it. Let's hear it for processors that have enough power and nothing more.

Work continues in converting plants to fuel. At least some people have learned that for now it is a bad idea to convert food into fuel. There is plenty of other "biomass" out there that we might use.

You can buy a new Polaroid camera to go along with the recently released Polaroid film. This is a fascinating experiment at bringing back a rejected technology. The Polaroid system has not been duplicated in digital form. Perhaps there is a market for this.

NASA has a $500Million rocket launch platform with no rockets. The recent administration (yet another) redirection eliminated the rockets that were to be launched here. And by the way, it isn't portable, so I don't know what you can do with it. Perhaps some engineers will figure out a way to retrofit it for some use. By then, however, NASA will have yet another redirection and...

And now for a few different items:
This guy built his own flashlight that has 500 LEDs. Yes, it is big and bright.
This guy is playing Modern Warfare on six 20-inch monitors. Yes, it is big and bright.

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Tuesday March 30, 2010

NASA will be using second-hand UAVs to monitor the earth's atmosphere. Of course, the data gathered cannot be compared to data from 500 years ago to justify global warming as that would be introducing too many variables. And then I have to wonder what NASA is doing monitoring weather. There is a weather bureau in the U.S. government. I thought NASA was supposed to get us back to the moon or something.

And the U.S. military wants more and more and more UAVs. As predictable, there are problems of scale.

In Europe, all the excitement is over the WePad vice the iPad.

I find Scott Berkun's thoughts on the iPad to be thoughtful. Really, another perspective on the coming device as it relates to innovation in general and how people adopt or don't adopt new items.

A new iPhone coming this summer? It seems so with several different models and the inclusion of Verizon.

Apple's stock continues to rise. The company is now within $50Billion value of Microsoft.

The creator of the iPod leaves Apple. I trust that he was well paid for making a system that changed much of the entertainment world.

The low-price high-quality digital camera has changed the world of professional photography. Now almost everyone can take "professional quality" photos. The result is that more people are making a little money and few people are making a living at photography. The world of writing for a living preceeded this by maybe ten years.

Permute is a video converter program for Apple computers. It does the same functions as everybody else's program. What is wonderful is the user interface. See for yourself. What is the saying, "delight your users."

"People use equipment as a crutch." Amen. I wrote several books using an ASCII text editor. It suffices.

Some photos of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011. We still use Office 2003 at work. That is because our customer is the U.S. government and that is what they use. Change you can believe in.

U.S. Customs brought a company to court for visa fraud, but it seems they have botched the case and it is all going away.

So far so good for Windows 7.

Tips on effective meetings. I agree with the concepts here. Good stuff.

A practical, usable, and inexpensive standing desk - two file cabinets. Think about it. A file cabinet has both horizontal and vertical flat surfaces. Perfect.

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Wednesday March 31, 2010 

A perspective on computing power and inflation. The Apple Lisa, released in 1983, costs about $10,000. That is about $21,000 in today's inflated money, which would buy 40 or iPads. I actually saw a few Lisa computers. They were really slow.

And if you really want some processing power in a portable computer, see this new model from Dell.

This is a surprise to me - the employees of the Apple stores have not yet seen the iPad. I thought they were practicing with the iPads all this week.

Perhaps people who test and report on broadband speeds are reporting data rates slower than actual. Let us begin the arguments. Although more difficult than making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, measure a data rate is not that hard. I would think that this wouldn't be an argument.

This is great. Like to toss water balloons but don't like to fill them? Buy this device.

The Lenovo Thinkpad X100e - a portable computer with an 11" screen. Finally, someone has reinvented the Apple G4 iBook that I used for four years. A glorious step back to the future.

I am a bit behind on these technologies, but excited to see them. They are a big help to the visually impaired. They take photos of text and objects and then play the text as audio. Here is an example from Intel. Here is an example from LookTel. Google Goggles does similar things, see here.

Engadget test drives the Chevy Volt. At least they have one prototype that can go down the test track.

Western Digital has a 750 GigaByte disk drive that is the standard physical size for portable computers. I guess I could use one, but I don't know if I would fill it in 20 years. Maybe if I made movies every day.

Playing mind games with drivers - you can design the side of the road so that people just drive slower.

Open Course Ware - putting the content of a college course on the Internet - is just a few years old. We haven't yet figured out everything about it. It does cost someone money for the servers and bandwidth. Some schools are dropping it because they cannot "afford" those expenses. Some companies are charging for the same content (they have to pay their bills). And why do universities still exist? The experience of being there with other people. Like I wrote, we haven't yet figured out everything about it.

A great office makeover. One of these days, and one of these days is getting closer.

If only the world was ruled by benevolent experts, we could manage climate change and health care and all sorts of ills.  It seems that I have heard this dream before, I was in a Communist country at the time. Oh, by the way, that country no longer exists.

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Thursday April 1, 2010

Today is April Fool's Day. I think I have weeded the real stories out of the phony ones. I may have missed on some of them.

Portland, Oregon has a pretty good case for being a test bed for Google's fiber optic broadband. I think Reston, Virginia has a better case, but I am biased.

An entire episode of "Modern Family" was devoted to the iPad. I don't know anything about that show. This article says it is a sitcom on ABC.

And ABC is not the only one to have advance copies of the iPad. Several reviewers have had them long enough to write previews.

Another link to another preview.

ABC and CBS are preparing their TV shows for the iPad.

Tiny electronics? Here we have an RF transceiver in a pill that you swallow. You can also put medicine in the pill. Yes, this could be a huge invasion of privacy. It could also help the elderly, like my mother, live in their own homes longer.

Rugged external disk drives. These are important for some applications.

I am not sure what I think about this opinion. Forget all the green stuff, the planet will survive or not, but there is nothing humans can do about it. The same goes from global warming, we don't understand the situation - at all. I agree with much of this.

More video on Honda's U3-X ... uh I don't know what you call it. It looks like a unicycle, but it balances itself and can move in any direction. I find it amazing. Applications? I don't know. It does look like it would be a great help to people whose legs no longer work. I know a few people who cannot walk nearly as well as this device moves.

I don't know if this is practical, but I like it for some reason. Google envelopes - prints an email that you wish to snail mail to someone. It also prints an envelope with a map on it.

The Leica M9 camera. Oooh. I wish I had one, but just a wish.

Many universities have stopped issuing there own me@big-state.edu emails and have gone to gmail instead. Yale University has delayed their move to gmail and may forget the whole idea.

Google and experiments with nuclear energy. I like this.

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Friday April 2, 2010

I'm late posting today. I had breakfast with friends, great fun.

When the Fall rolls around, Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania will give every student an iPad.

I'm getting an iPad this Saturday (at least I am supposed to). I am looking for what it is all about, all the excitement, all the revolution. I look forward to the experience. Here are some thoughts on the iPad and the move from "Cloud 1" to "Cloud 2."

These are great computer desks - all of these happen to be Apple computers, but the brand is not the important thing. Great stuff.

Google has become a big player in Washington D.C. lobbying.

The CEOs of Google and Verizon agree that in the area of broadband, "minimal government involvement should continue." I concur.

Some developers are already forgoing the iPad for the Android platform. Still, I don't see any Android platforms with 10" touchscreens.

Some thoughts on being a leader. If no one is following you, you are a lone nut.

Living in and working in Ghana. It is different in West Africa.

Wow! Talk about a before and after of an office. Look at this one. Hint: buy furniture that matches the color of your computer equipment.

CrunchGear gives seven alternatives to the iPad. And then gives seven more alternatives.

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Saturday April 3, 2010

Listen for less music on the radio. The Obama Administration has backed a new bill that will change everything. It calls for radio stations to pay more money for the music the (used to) play. I am not sure how this - less music on free radio - will help the poor.

And we have new fuel economy rules. Gas will cost more, cars will cost more - all to have us all drive less. I am not sure how this will help the poor either.

npr.org wins a Peabody Award - an award for broadcast journalism. Perhaps the world is changing.

Apple buys another hardware design company. It seems they will be making their own processors.

Windows 7 climbs past 10% market share.

Microsoft is (sort of) giving away Office 2010. Just do it boys, just do it.

It seems that Google has been able to hire lots of smart engineers that also have a social side.

Ed Roberts dies at 68. He created some of the early PCs and lent a lot of help to a young Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Gates and Allen admired him greatly.

The Chevy Volt has passed a few more pre-production milestones. It appears that the U.S. government will buy the first 100 production vehicles. Do we have to pay for them? I mean, we did buy the company, right?

Do we need another Federal Agency? The Department of Energy thinks so, one to protect the electric grid from cyber attack.

Java becoming the next COBOL? I hope this isn't true. I may be too far behind the times.

Weather satellites are 50 years old. They seem older, but I guess we have come farther in less time than I recall.

And consider where we have come with telephones in the last 50 years. At one time I had an account with "the phone company." I didn't have a phone number, but I had an account number. I would pick up a phone - like say in a college dorm room or somewhere that didn't have "long distance" service - punch a lot of numbers (12 or 15 or so), and make a long distance call. I would get the bill eventually. Come to think of it, in another ten years 18-year olds will make a quisical face when some old person says the words "long distance."

"Essential iPad apps." It is not 9:30AM, the local Apple store opens in a half an hour. I may have to stand in line a while.

I like this - A Story Before Bed.

And now off to the Apple store. 

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Sunday April 4, 2010

A great story about giving something away.

How I Improved Productivity by Canceling My Home Internet Connection. Great title and great post. The main point - the writer thought back to an event where he was productive. He then used that technique. Basic lesson - try a lot of things and use what works for you.

I like these tips on making your work day simpler AND more productive AND making your life more pleasant.

A news writer moves to a college classroom and learns a few things from the students.

I find these to be ten excellent tips to help you start your writing on any old day when you just don't feel like it. One thing I do is look at photos on flickr.com. I found many short stories in those photos.

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