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: April 5-11, 2010

Summary of this week:

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

Monday April 5,  2010

Putting the recent national broadband plan into a new light. There are historical precedents for a "takeover" of everything by "the phone company."

And the iPad is "jail broken." I am not sure what that means, but his post shows a Linux terminal running on an iPad. I want to be able to do that. Sorry, it it the old programmer in me. And here is more on this "jail breaking."

Lebron James, New York Yankees, iPad - there all in one little phrase.

And more little solar chargers appear. Perhaps some of these will work in the real world. I hope so as we can use them.

This workspace looks good, but a little too fashionable for me. This one is more my fashion, using a kitchen table as a standing desk.

I suppose we have a long history of internships in the U.S. - jobs that people do for the experience and no pay. This may be illegal in many circumstances.

Guess what? Many U.S. companies pay little or no tax to the U.S. government. This is legal. Well, if it is legal of course these companies do it. Why pay more tax and have to raise the price of goods sold to Americans and cut the number of American jobs. Businesses don't pay taxes - they pass the tax expense along to someone else. I don't understand how this shocks some people. Let's back up a step or two and state something that should be obvious - businesses are in business to make money. Yes, there are other ways to do things, but that is the way business operates.

Warrantless domestic wiretaps go back to 1974.

How about lighting buildings with sunlight? I can see how a system of lenses and mirrors would be able to do this. You would have to use the light bulbs at night, but there are good applications for this concept.

Please stay away from the "smart grid." The computing resources used are not secure, and I don't know how they will ever be secure.

For future referece, lots of how to information for the iPad.

Popular Science magazine for the iPad. Rats, it is $5.

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Tuesday April 6, 2010

More companies leaving China. So far there has been only a handful, but maybe this will start a trend. I hope so.

We soon could have a portable, briefcase-size x-ray machine. This would work wonders at accident scenes.

Some news on the iFund. They are doing things, good things.

Microsoft is 35 years old; Apple is 34. Many see Microsoft as fading away, much like IBM has faded. Given the amount of business and profit that IBM still has, I wouldn't mind fading a little.

IT salaries are flat and the amount of work demanded is rising. I think that people start in IT in their early 20s and move out of it by their late 30s. It is a demanding job where you must constantly work and read and innovate and work and read and... I see little surprise in that people tire of the job and move to something else.

A new technique for using parallel processors like the ones found in these multi-core processors of today. The benefit is a 20% gain in speed.

Here is a sonar image of an old Soviet submarine resting at the bottom of the ocean. I have to wonder what people will be wondering in a few thousand years when they find this thing and others like it.

Some thoughts on the iPad, video, and text. This comment stuck with me and I will have to dwell on it a while: The most important way that the tablet is different from the computer is that it’s optimized for analog, not digital, input. Whatever the applications are that are best driven in an analog way, those are the ones that will drive the tablet ecosystem.

Yes, this is the iPad and this is the future. A wonderful little photograph. My grandson (17 months old) was also fascinated with the iPad on Sunday. Where was my camera? He is the most adorable kid you've ever seen (opinion biased).

The iPad killer? Coming from ICD, this tablet computer has everything. Price and availability unknown. ooops. And the Dell Slate is on its way as well. And the JooJoo (formerly known as the CrunchPad) is here as well as well.

Clothing for engineers, who have the self-confidence and self-esteem to dress the way we want inspite of the jeering from the fashon conscious preppies of the world, in the form of a vest with an iPad-size pocket. Let them laugh. Us engineers know that they are merely jealous.

Despite all this iPad and slate and tablet broo-ha-ha, there remains much money in desktop computers. Here are new ones from Dell.

Apple is not standing still in the glow of the iPad launch. Updated portable computers are coming at the end of this month - more powerful processors. The iPhone operating system version 4 is to be shown this week as well.

The weakness of wind-generated electicity is unpredictable fluctuations, i.e., sometimes the wind stops blowing. Solution: create a huge grid along the length of the Atlantic coast. If the grid is large enough, the fluctuations will average out.

People quit bosses, not organizations. Absolutely! My best jobs were ones with good bosses. I currently have a good boss. I really don't know much about the greater corporation that employs me, but I know enough about my boss.

Live in the here and now. A few tips that may help.

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Wednesday April 7, 2010 

This could be most significant: a Federal Appeals Court ruled against the FCC in a suit with Comcast.  The court ruled that Comcast could slow the data rate of a user using YouTube or something that competes with one of Comcast's own services. This could mean that the FCC has no ability to regulate broadband over cable. That would kill much of the Administration's National Broadband Plan. We shall wait and see.

Something missing from the iPad is printing. How did they leave that one out? But there is hope that software will come real soon now and...

The TSA, those "thousands standing around" at airports, are adapting to the iPad. For now, they are letting people go through security without removing the iPad from their carry-on bags.

Chinese hackers are targeting the government of India. Are there any governments the Chinese are not hacking? Probably not.

Here is a camcorder the size of the old beepers we used to wear on our belts.

More on Honda's U3-X. It looks like a unicycle, but is so much more. It could lead to devices that would be wonderful for people whose legs don't function properly.

A WiFi router that takes in signals from just about any 3G or 4G or xG cell phone system. You can have a WiFi hotspot just about anywhere in North America.

What will we do with the iPad? Some new ideas. For example, these guys fitted theirs into the dashboard of a car. Cool.

A Lenovo IdeaPad portable computer becomes slimmer. I give up; I guess there is merit to having a thinner computer.

A tablet computer coming from a company called Notion Ink.

A space shuttle shooting through the sky at night. Nice video.

Morocco will have 40% of its electricity from solar power by 2020. At least that is the plan. I am guessing there will be technical and managment problems along the way as that is normal.

I like these tips on "dejunking" your life. The best ideas for me are to make lists of the people and things you really  must keep.

Every user should have three monitors. I'll go with that one. Here is a simple way to do it thanks to some new products.

More simple and beautiful desks. Ahhh, so peaceful.

Something for my grandson on the iPad? Drawing is fun.

In spite of predictions to the contrary, ham radio use continues to grow. It is 60% greater than it was in 1980.

This one surprises me - C is the number 1 programming language. I hated C at first (1984), but then a standard appeared and many of the initial problems went away. The good thing about C is that you can do just about anything. The bad thing about C is that you can do just about anything.

A house-sized battery powers a town in Texas. It is called BOB for Big Old Battery.

The femtocell - put one in your attic and get good cell phone access in your basement.

Why didn't I think of selling my iPad on eBay?

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Thursday April 8, 2010

Well, here it is. The iPad is the ultimate kitchen computer. Now, how can I convince my wife of this one? A demo is in order.

A dozen and more uses for an old Apple computer.

I wish Jerry Pournelle would be a bit more positive about the news, but he is right. He writes about the mess in California and Los Angeles and the awful, but legal, decisions made by elected officials over the years. How can people do such stupid things?

Manassas, Virginia has had access to broadband over power lines for a few years. Not so any longer as this is being terminated. That technology has never caught on in the U.S.

I like this story - the Saudi's are opening a new solar-powered desalination plant. They have lots of undrinkable salt water and lots of sun. This should work and should teach IBM (the builder) valuable lessons to apply in many other parts of the world.

And a solar-powered airplane flies in Switzerland.

There has been lots of commentary on the ruling against the FCC in the Comcast net neutrality case. Here is some. The FCC is now admitting that this ruling will affect their recent national broadband "plan."

This sounds like a smart decision - some Wall Street firms have many servers running during the day for high-frequency trading. When the market closes at 4PM, the servers do nothing but hum. Someone got the bright idea of leasing the computer power over night. It seems they would have been doing that from the beginning, but then again I don't work on Wall Street.

Ubuntu claims 12 million users for its Linux distribution. That isn't many compared to MS Windows, but if you have a dollar for each user...

It seems that HP researchers have made progress with their memristor idea.

And now to the, well, uh, the silly? A mouse you move about with your toes.

I like this concept - SENS from Intel.

Dell updates its enterprise line of portable computers.

Another self-balancing, electric-powered thing that a person can ride. Maybe in ten years something like this will be practical. For now, they are certainly neat to watch, and I would love to have one to test.

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Friday April 9, 2010

Volcanoes on Venus. Fascinating.

Snipers practice using Segway bots. Some will find this awful, but if the good guy snipers practice better, we will save more of the good guys. That seems okay to me.

And the beat goes on. Alienware will be updating its portable gaming computers this summer with the latest chips from Intel and Nvidia.

Apple held a big press conference and announced the OS version 4 for the iPhone. Multi-tasking was one of the big announcements.

New optical sensors from Samsung.

Build your own book scanner with a digital camera and some hardware. The trick is building a frame that holds the book flat and also holds the camera. Here is another method of doing the same thing.

Technology advances science which advances technology (repeat). An anthropologist uses Google Earth to find caves containing valuable fossils. I doubt that the guys who created Google Earth had this in mind when they wrote the software. I doubt that the guys at Intel had this in mind when they built the hardware. It all keeps adding and multiplying. I am a bit distressed that we don't hear more about what is happening in technology and how the advances are enabling everything.

Should a college student (i.e. the parent) buy an iPad instead of a "notebook?" My answer at this time is, "NO!" The iPad is not for typing and writing papers - things college students still tend to do.

Facebook is still dominated by college kids. Look at the numbers. I am on Facebook as are "a lot of" friends my age. Well, I guess "a lot of" doesn't sum to 20 million.

We may soon be making phone calls from our computers via Google Voice.

Watch this video of running an iPad through a blender. Four million people have watched it.

"Folded" solar panels may be more efficient as at any time at least one part is facing the sun at an optimal angle.

NASA shows its latest new plan. Sigh.

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Saturday April 10, 2010

Some iPad hardware hacks. How to connect this to that to give presentations with an iPad.
And there is nothing like duct tape to make an iPad sleeve. So far, I have used a mailing envelope to carry my iPad. It doesn't look like anything valuable is inside.

And people are closer each day to hacking the iPad. Perhaps some good will come from that.

How to recruit bad programmers. This would work fine if you do it backwards. (1) Gather all programmers in the world. (2) Recruit bad programmers. (3) Hire the remainder.

Yes! Intel is to soon ship 48-core processors to researchers. I once worked on a machine that had 48 processors made by Intel on a single board. It was great.

An underwater robot that obtains its power from the thermal differences in ocean water. Hence, it can last forever.

The mayor of Chicago wants a "brainiac" high school. Why Chicago doesn't have such is beyond me as most other cities already have these. The mayor blames wars abroad for precenting the Chicago school. Amazing stuff, but then he is an elected office holder.

This is a GREAT video made from Post-Its and a still camera. How long did it take to make this?

Make a stylus for your iPad. The key is anti-static fabric.

Microsoft is to have a "big event" Monday and introduce "Pink." I have no idea what this is about.

Some organizations can save big money by using fonts that use less black stuff (ink or toner). Back a few years ago, HP's printers would print in "draft" mode - press a button on the printer to turn it on. Simple stuff and it saved a lot of ink. Alas, that went away and now people are inventing ways to do the same in software.

I like George Will's editorial. There are a few elected officials who do not deny simple math
, but so far only a few. The vast majority prefer fantasy.

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Sunday April 11, 2010

A mathetician has his wife's traffic ticket thrown out of court. He proved that the yellow light at the traffic signal was on for too short a time. Was the light shortened on purpose to catch people and increase revenue. That item is being investigated quietly.

A 60-year-old "solar panel" still works.

A different look at the iPad. Take it apart, hack it, void the warranty, learn.

T-Shirts become bullet-proof. Just splice in a little boron. There are other applications for this technique.

Is there collusion among the tech companies? The Department of Justice wants to know. Our tax dollars at work.

Now this is a tech challenge! Build an autonomous car that will drive itself from Italy through China.

Eliminating non-essential tasks. It isn't easy, but it pays.

How one family eliminated their debt. It is the spending, not the earning.

Is there a cyberwar in progress? Or is this just another instance of crying wolf to boost spending for a few companies?

Bans on cell phone use while driving: safety or money? It seems to be about money. That is too bad.   

"Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution." This is another way of stating Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy. It is, unfortunately, all too true.

Why do you write? Answer this question and proceed. Writing to benefit others is one of the better answers.

Ten things you should NOT ask a freelance writer. Yes, there are many misconceptions out there, but that is expected. Writing for a living isn't easy - I  know and that is probably why I don't write for a living.

Sometimes writers write about dark secrets.This secrets can harm the writer in real life.  No one says that everything you write has to be shared with readers or that it has to be shared with readers with your true name on it.

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