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: July 12-18, 2010

Summary of this week:

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

Monday July 12,  2010

My blog posts on the Grand Canyon rafting trip continue.

Restaurants often play music without paying fees to the record companies. The coffee shop I am in right now is playing music. I don't know if they paid anyone royalties. I am pretty sure they paid for the CDs. This makes sense, but could cost a lot of people a lot of money one day. I don't see how all these fees and fines help people listen to music.

Stanford removes 70,000 volumes from its engineering library. Most of these are "books" of older periodicals. Those periodicals are are now available electronically. I wonder where they put all the paper books. Surely they didn't put them in the trash. One of these days someone will be searching for that paper.

This bicycle bends itself around a pole for safekeeping. This may become something one day.

Another great home office. This one in a small loft. It is amazing how little you need.

These don't look like duct tape wallets, but they are duct tape wallets.

News flash from the New York Times: Most smartphones are underused. Those guys at the Times are right on top of things.

The world's fastest graphics card from Asus.

People want others to be open with their data and information. Climate gate - those damaging emails in and around the climate change researchers - is an example. I've worked in a research lab. Money is at stake in most such places. Some people take shortcuts some of the time.  Openness is shunned in some cases. The result is predictable.

Wind-generated electicity in Europe remains on track despite all the other economic problems. Plan your work, work your plan. Act like an adult and show some patience instead of giving a knee jerk reaction everyday. Hmmm. Maybe I could write a book about such.

While happy to have a job, about two-thirds of Federal employees doubt that promotions are based on merit. This is another subject on which I could write a book, but then they might take away my pension.

Simplified computing via Google and Apple. They provide services and products that allow the user to just do what they want to do. Sort of like a toaster over - in a good way.

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Tuesday July 13, 2010

This past week, Bob Sheppard, stadium announcer for the New York Yankees for over 50 years, died. He was revered in his field.
His moto: clear, concise, and correct. Well stated, well done.

Should government, using taxpayers' money, compete with private industry, i.e. taxpayers? The answers become sticky when we are discussing government, i.e., taxpayers, paid municipal WiFi networks.

The plight of the local newspaper. The times are changing and it takes time for people to adjust. There is no doubt great pain for some.

There are often unintended consequences when the government tries to do good. For example, a telephone company was paid $17,000 per line to provide phone service to a little town. The big service providers each receive about a billion dollars a year in taxpayers' money each year. Look at all those charges on your local phone bill.

These little helicopters at Penn are working together and flying in swarms. Fascinating.

Three quarters of PCs in offices are still running Windows XP. Where I work, we still run XP. We still run Office 2003. We do so to be compatible with our main customer - the U.S. government. Taxpayers' dollars?

Britain unveils an unmanned combat aircraft. It looks to be the most advanced in the world.

Recharging all those soon-to-be-here electric cars won't tax the power system. I wish this report to be true. I am not certain.

Bad teachers are good for students. The idea is that society has lots of people who are not any good at their jobs. This is somethign that kids should learn in school. I wish schools would concentrate on teaching reading, writing, and math. Leave the rest for society to teach. Once the school master teaching the basics, they can branch out a bit.

Congress and the White House continue to fued over NASA's future direction. Meanwhile, NASA continues to burn taxpayers' money without accomplishing anything but creating new plans for the future direction of NASA.

The Atlantic explains why The Atlantic will no longer be free online.

On Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 graphics processor.

Microsoft wants to study iPad users.

More people are using Microsoft's Bing as a search engine. Google's share is actually declining.

The city of Chicago has a new gun-ownership law. It will cost a citizen about $500 in fees to be able own a handgun - something the U.S. Supreme Court says that the Consitution says is a right of citizens. At one time in some places in America, localities charged large fees to voters. The goal was to keep poor people, i.e. black people, from voting - a right of citizens. See the similarity?

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Wednesday July 14, 2010 

A trip around the beltway curtailed my viewing.

Apple is now in all sorts of trouble with the iPhone 4 and the antenna problem. Consumer Reports described the problem, the stock price fell, and people are now murmuring about a recall of the phones. There are many stories online about this. Here is one.

Microsoft stops supports Windows 2000 and XP (service patch 2) tonight.

Thomas Drake is awaiting trial.He worked at the NSA, didn’t like what was happening, exhausted all his in-house options, and then went to the press. Is he a whistle blower or a traitor? Probably something in between.

Nuclear energy is making a comeback. I think that is good.

RIAA pays its lawyers $16M so that it can collect $400K in fines.I suppose this is funny. Is RIAA a part of the Federal government? One of the fundamentals of going after someone for copyright or similar infringement is that they have the money to make it worth the effort. It seems that RIAA didn’t know that, or as we always said in the government, “that is a different pot of money.”

Creative accounting makes Harry Potter movies look unprofitable and allow record companies to pay no royalties to music artists. Sigh.

Google's maps pull Google into all sorts of trouble. It seems that some countries, cultures, and people become quite agitated about which side of a political line they are placed.

Ah, here come the national electronic health records. The Feds will reward hospitals and doctors who abide by Federal rules. Oh, by the way, the rules were recently issued again as the first round was denounced as unrealistic.

Five stress relievers. For me, spend time with my grandson.

Lacie has a rugged, and I mean RUGGED, USB thumbdrive.

And a great idea for a USB memory stick - this one is in the form of a paper clip. Attach the soft copies of reports and such to the hard copy with this thing.

An iPhone 4 can make a phone call from an airliner using in-flight WiFi. A good way to save money.

Intel made almost $3Billion profit in the last quarter. That was the best quarter in the company's history. Bad economy? Where?

GPS-guided parachutes to bring blood to troops in the field next year.

Photos of the Apollo 16 landing site on the moon.

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Thursday July 15, 2010

This story is everywhere - Apple will hold a press conference on Friday to discuss the iPhone 4 problem.

Life after winning a Nobel Prize. There is some good and some bad.

Amazon offers grid as well as cloud computing. This article does a fine job of explaining the differences.

"Tabs on top" coming next week to Firefox on the Mac. This is a twist in the user interface that some people just love. I'm usually behind on new user interface tweaks.

IBM is making a big push into the health care industry.

Asus breaks into the top five of PC makers in the world. Asus tied Toshiba for 5th behind HP, Dell, Acer, and Lenovo.

This is an excellent use of technology - this exoskeleton from New Zealand can replace wheel chairs and allow those with disabled legs to "walk." The first units cost $150,000, but the price will fall as the possible becomes the actual.

The Fed agrees that the economy in the U.S. is in bad shape. Their remedy, however, seems worse. They suggest another stimulus package. It has been suggested in several places that the best course is not to spend money that doesn't exist, but instead to stop taxing producers (individual and groups) for a while.

This is a great graphic showing how Apple became a giant in the cell phone industry.

The Washington Post acquire iCurrent - a small news aggregator. Will the Post survive?

The batteries for the Chevy Volt will be guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles. Now if they will just sell the car. As a taxpayer and therefore part owner of GM (Government Motors), I am anxious to see my investment.

Here is Yamaha's all-electric scooter. You go 26 miles on a six-hour charge. I want one, but no doubt there are use road regulations that outlaw this for us. Maybe if Yamaha goes broke, the U.S. government will bail them out and then allows this scooter on the road. Just a thought.

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Friday July 16, 2010

Apple held its iPhone 4 antenna press conference. After lots of testing, there is no inherent problem with the phone. All the data show that consumers are happy with it. If you want, Apple will give you a full refund on your iPhone 4. I tend to believe Apple on this one. They do test these phones in the right kind of RF chambers. All cell phones have drop outs in reception when held a certain way.

WiFi Direct is almost here. In this system, any WiFi device works with any other WiFi to create a network. I like the idea.

Updates for Apple computers? The MacBook Air to go to a smaller screen and be even thinner. That would make for one really small portable computer. Then there is the big under-the-desk machine, the Mac Pro which will get a small update.

Microsoft builds the as yet largest image of the night sky.

Five videos of the advances in robotics.

More devices to keep the elderly connected and living in their own homes.

Wow! Look at the advances in Nerf gun technology. What happened to the old Nerf ball that you just threw at your brother?

This device is the size and shape of a AA battery, but you shake it and it can charge a AA battery. Simple technology and great packaging leads to practicallity.

Good books about being a freelance writer.

The Xbox 360 was the number one selling game console in the U.S. in June.

Subaru has a vehicle with built-in WiFi.

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Saturday July 17, 2010

An exoskeleton built for the Army is almost ready to use. This is good for the Army, but the civilian model is the one I would love to see.

Fascinating - a knife chipped from fiber optic glass.

New photos of the planet Mercury.

The U.S. is deploying its "heat ray" gun in Afghanistan.

Some people want to be able to fly unmanned aircraft more in the U.S. One little catch: the accident rate for unmanned aircraft is sevn times higher than that for manned aircraft.

All this new national health stuff will require at least 50,000 new IT workers. The government is spending money to help train these people.

Net neutrality means different things to different people. And then the fun starts when the FCC tries to write regulations. They have good intentions, but I doubt that many will be pleased with the results.

The New York Times wants Google's search algorithm to be "fair" and has recommended that the government regulate it. How about the government regulating the New York Times?  That would be unconstitutional, and so would regulating a search algorithm.

People do like to read long, in-depth stories on the Internet.

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Sunday July 18, 2010

This one Apple user is selling his iPads on Craigslist. Among his reasons is that he cannot use Google Docs or other online tools with his iPad. I can't either and I don't know why Apple doesn't fix that.

Apple has let a few people inside their anechoic chambers. These are interesting rooms, and I have had the privilege of being in such rooms at different companies over the years. These are also costly facilities. No, after a while you cannot hear your heart beating, at least I could never claim that.

There has been much reaction to Apple's press conference. Let's pause a moment. Cell phones works by receiving and transmitting RF (radio fequency) energy via antennas. The human body blocks RF energy, hence, degrading the performance of cell phones in certain circumstances. Cell phone systems engineers trade RF performance for the physical form factor of the cell phone. They cannot optimize both at the same time. Regardless of claims by marketers, no RF engineer is 100% satisfied with the result. RF engineers outside of Apple, and I know a lot of RF engineers outside of Apple, can speculate about what Apple did or did not do. The iPhone, and all other cell phones, can be held in such a way as to degrade RF performance. The entertainment begins when company CEOs and marketers step in front of the engineers and explain physics.

A back-to-the-future story: engineers have relearned how to make tiny wires. This is a big help in making tiny electronics like cell phones and such.

Scientists "x-rayed" the Mona Lisa to discover how Da Vinci did it. Da Vinci was as much chemist as he was artist. He made his own paints. They didn't have Michael's in those days.

Excellent post from Seth Godin: "the only possible response...isn't." There is (almost) always one more solution that we don't know - yet. Seth's statement is a sign of many things. When someone says, "the only possible response..." they are telling you (among other things): (1) I am tired, (2) I have a headache, (3) I want to go home and take a nap, (4) my boss is killing me, (5) my wife is ill and she needs me at home, (6) I hate this job and I want to quit and get another one, (7) I have an artificial timeline that is stopping me from thinking, (8) well, you get the idea here.

This is a good writing exercise: take something that is written and finished and remove 10% or 20% or X% of the words. The piece of writing could have been written by someone else. Actually, that is a good idea. Perform this on something that someone else wrote and published. It is easier to see and cut needless words written by someone else.

Great ideas on cutting your "overhead," i.e., you monthly bills. This person did so to change his life. Most people can do so just to make life simpler, less stressful, more enjoyable. For example, "life is easier when you make it easier."

Writing when you think you can't.

Writing when the subject seems boring.

This is odd - Wired magazine predicted the iPad by name 11 years ago.

Write for pleasure, learn, and be paid. Tips on finding a writing fellowship.

The above also points to 25 journalism fellowships.

Is writing still taught in the public schools? Many feel that it is not. Writing is not usually taught by writers. It is usually taught by school teachers who have never written anything.

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