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: September 13-19, 2010

Summary of this week:

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

Monday September 13,  2010

In September 1940, WWII is well underway, and the diary of George Orwell is fascinating reading.

A call for simplicity in business.

Can Russia build a Silicon Valley? Why not. They are hungry enough and don't have many government regulations in their way.

I like Stowe Boyd's comments on "the right way to learn" and what people are learning about learning. It comes as little surprise that the way students are told they "should" learn is pretty much wrong. Alas, schools created to create assembly line workers no longer work in the 21st century. And they didn't work all that well in the last half of the last century either.

Grow algae at home; save the world. Maybe this will help a little.

If you tell the entire world (Facebook) that you are not home, someone may visit your home and rob it. Think a little folks. Tell your teenagers about this as well.

India maintains progress towards a $35 tablet computer by January.

Who will have the fastest Internet service in America by year's end? Chattanooga, Tennessee. My wife's aunt and uncle and and cousins all live around and about Chattanooga.

This is a clever idea for a home desk - the loft over the desk, but for adults.

Coming real soon now, a 22MegaPixel camera from Canon.

Also coming real soon now, the FCC will allow someone to use those frequency spaces vacated by analog television.

The Fax is still alive and well. Here are five fax services. I used eFax for several years until the charges were more than they were worth to me.

This only costs $6,000, but it is a nice video camera from Panasonic.

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Tuesday September 14, 2010

Super Mario Brothers is 25 years old.

Intel has a new scheme for an anti-virus world - only software from trusted vendors can run on an Intel processor. That means that if I want to write software at home to run on my computer, I would have to become a trusted vendor or something. I am not sure about this.

A study indicates that people who play action games make decisions faster and just as accurate as non-gamers. The study was not sponsored by a game company, and I tend to believe its results.

Evidently this lady was not involved in the study. She was so addicted to gaming that she stopped cooking for her three kids and stopped feeding her dogs. The dogs died.

Pop star John Mayer quits his Twitter account with its 3Million-plus followers.

Some camera news: Samsung's new 14.6MegaPixel model (nice lens). The Olympus E5 with only 12MegaPixels (what a shame, but plenty pixels).

India's $35 tablet computer is actually a $100 tablet computer from a Chinese company. Now we have to wait and see if India will sell it for $35. I hope so.

This is priceless (actually probably cost a million bucks to create). The "Integrated Defense Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Life Cycle Management System" from the U.S. Department of Defense. I doubt that few people can understand this, but that is okay. There are enough people who are still at a low enough level in the bureacracy to know how to do their jobs and know how to stay clear of this mess.

A wiki can be a big time and money saver at work - in any organization even the U.S. Department of Complicated Charts, uh, I mean Defense (see above). See this link for examples of what wikis can do for an organization.

Interesting how some organizations have built search engines tailored to religious organizations. This can be extended to tailoring search engines to any special interest group. I am surprised that Google did not think of this themselves.

The new Intel Sandy Bridge architecture. The graphics processor is integrated with the central processor on the same die.

Microsoft will issue blanket licenses to non-profit groups. Some such groups have been raided lately with the charge of software pircacy being used as an excuse to destroy the groups.

This story is all over the Internet. Wal-Mart now is selling a broadband plan. It is easy to use, but costly. They are charging people for simplifying the technology. That is a service that some people will choose to buy.

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Wednesday September 15, 2010 

Whoa! Stop what you are doing and look at this prototype portable computer from Dell. It is a tablet; flip, swivel, and such and you have a full-function keyboard on your tablet. Must see the video and photos. Great mechanical design.

Jupiter is coming close to Earth this month. Closer than at any time in a 60-year period.  Look low in the east after twilight.

High-tech jobs have rebounded a little bit. Closer to home, thier are predictions that large defense spending cuts will damage the Washington D.C. area's economy for a decade. In the opinion of many, the D.C. area has benefited too much from the growth of the Federal government in the last decade. The government bubble is about to burst.

Twitter has updated its application. I haven't seen it yet. I guess they haven't rolled it out to me.

Here is a nice, fashionable, wearable, affordable camcorder. Only $200 and you hang it on your ear. I guess there will be applications for this.

What a mess. Some journalists "learn" about Haystack - an application that allows you to communicate securely. And these "journalists" "learn" that Iranian dissidents are using this technology to communicate securely. Well, upon further review, there are many security holes in Haystack, and thanks to the "journalists" these dissidents are being arrested one by one. Sigh. Aren't "journalists" so helpful to the world?

Old films are being eaten by fungus. One solution is to allow people to digitize the films and keep them on servers spread about the Internet. That solution, however, brings in the copyright lawyers.

Coming real soon now (well, in maybe three years) from Microsoft will be a tablet computer the thickness of a sheet of glass. Of course sheets of glass come in different thicknesses, but you get the idea or at least the idea of the promise.

Also coming real soon now will be cell phones that are powered by speech. This is yet another example of change mechnical energy into electrical energy. There are plenty more examples waiting for use.

Linus Torvalds becomes an American citizen. I guess the State Department got at least one of these right.

Shoot a thousand frames per second with this Canon camera. Normal, average, every day people can buy these cameras and make these videos. This is an amazing time in which we live.

A nice "tough" portable computer from Sweden.

A little side story about Marybeth Peters - the outgoing Register of Copyrights in the U.S. What astounds me in the story is that Ms. Peters has been in this job since 1994. No one should be in one Federal job for that long. No one, no job. There is far too much opportunity for bad things to happen in such cases.

Sony introduces 12 new models of the Walkman. I still have the original Walkman in the closet somewhere. The motor died years ago, so the cassette tape doesn't move. Anyone know how to repair that?

Options for back-to-college printers. What fascinates me is the photo of the dot matrix printer. I didn't have that exact model, but I did buy an IBM dot matrix at the LSU bookstore in 1983 for grad school. It served me well for 5 or 6 years. I used it alongside my Kaypro CP/M computer. I later bought a piece of software that caused the printer to make six passes per line instead of two. The print quality was much improved, but compared to today's printers it looked like scribbles on the wall of an ancient cave.

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Thursday September 16, 2010

Some movement in the cell phone market - Apple declined a bit while Android continues to grow.

Some news of experiments in the white spaces that one day real soon now the FCC will permit. They are calling this "WhiteFi" as opposed to WiFi. Cool name. This should work once the Feds get their act going.

Something you have to see to believe - these little quadrocopters are flying autonomously through thrown hoops. No, I don't know how they do it. Amazing advances in autonomous flight. Let's see one of these machines that is 50 feet across and can carry tons of cargo and medical supplies.

A high-tech wallet. Only you can open it (biometrics). If it is lost, it will tell you where it is. I suppose there is some use for this.

Two new pico projectors from 3M.

A cute video of the bundled packing method for packing your clothing wrinkle free. What I don't understand is that this guy has jeans and tee-shirts. With that wardrobe, why is anyone concerned with wrinkles?

A comparison of Windows 7 and the latest Ubuntu
. Ubuntu is pretty good. What upsets me is that these Linux distributions require so much hardware (RAM and disk). We used to run UNIX on 1 MegaByte of RAM and ten megs of disk space. What happened?

"High Fructose Corn Syrup" to be renamed "Corn Sugar." As silly as it seems, sometimes giving something a new name makes a big difference.

Being an old baseball player of some sorts, this is an interesting piece of the wisdom of "corking" a bat.

How far can an interfering, all-wise Federal government go? Read George Will's editorial for one example. For many more examples, see Amity Schlaes history of the Great Depression. All those New Deal experiments - and there were lots of them - did little to help the country recover during the depression. Sort of like the ineffectiveness of all this thousand billion packages we see today.

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Friday September 17, 2010

The Bodyweight Support Assist exoskeleton from Honda. If they can bring this to the market at an affordable price, it may be the single greatest achievement in the last several hundred years in science and technology. The disabled will be able to walk.

Why are terrorists often engineers? Because engineers know how to do things. Because engineers know how to solve technical problems. Now you can also giggle and throw in the stuff about how engineers could never get a date so they are mad at the world.

Now official, the Samsumg Galaxy tablet computer. It is a little smaller than the iPad. The market wins as we have competition and choice.

The X Prize winner for 100 mpg performance. Oh, and the winners were not from a Detroit-based auto company.

I would like to see this one happen - Boeing will attempt to build a solar-powered UAV that can stay aloft for five years. That is FIVE YEARS.

To a tech guy like me, there is something oh so attractive about this $35,000 Hasselblad camera. It isn't so much that I am a great photographer or want to be a great photographer or anything to do with photography. This is a well-designed and well-built system. Being around such systems is a pleasure and an education.

This document scanner scans 170 pages per minute. The next version will work at 500 pages per minute. Then they will have a robot flip the pages instead of a person. I can barely wait. I love my bookcases full of my books. One of the reasons is that I have made lots of notes in the books and the notes are just as valuable as the original content of the book. I would pay a few bucks each for scans of my books. A few bucks, not hundreds of bucks.

Intel continues to shrink its Atom processors. The market wins again as we have more choice.

The wearable computer display. This is finally becoming a mature technology. This form of augmented reality aims at people who repair physical items. They can see all the reference documents hands free while working on things like car engines and people's hearts. Yes, medical applications for everyone.

According to Best Buy, the iPad has cut the sales of really small portable computers in half. More on this story with a bar graph (so it must be true).

3M puts a video camera and a pico projector into one little package.

A nice, thinner display from HP - at only $289.

Having been born and lived many years in Louisiana, I love this illustration of how the Mississippi often changes its location.

In the realm of "I hope these people know what they are doing, but I doubt it," we have a great fanfare about using big new batteries to store energy for the electric grid. Okay, you store excess energy in batteries so you have that energy when demand rises. Simple idea. Often, however, simple ideas don't consider all the parts of a complex situation. How much energy was required to make the batteries? How much energy will be required to dispose of the batteries when their useful life is over? And then you can't set batteries out in the weather. You have to build a shed or something over them. How much energy was required to manufacture and install the shed? And so on, and then we consider the energy costs of the operations and maintenance of the energy storage, and then we could go on for a long time here and as I started, I doubt that the people touting this great thing considered all these on and on and on items. Sigh.

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Saturday September 18, 2010

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Sunday September 19, 2010

Another look at Dell's tablet and laptop computer combination. Very clever.

And something similar from Lenovo. LePad.

An island nation bans fishing. This will eliminate its major source of revenue, but they claim they are doing it for their grandchildren. Perhaps they are. Perhaps integrity and forethougth still exist.

Here we go again - a couple is arrested for trying to sell U.S. nuclear secrets.

The credit card is becoming the next form factor for a computer. I suppose this is a logical progression. The book became a computer, the telephone became a computer, so the credit card becomes a computer. One day the watch, the ring, the finger nail will become computers.

Flickr now has five Billion photos online. This pales in comparison teh Facebook's claimed 15 billion. The quality on Flickr is generally higher, although there are some excellent collections on Facebook as well as about ten billion awful red eye, pale face, dark background party photos.

I sometimes wonder about the "adults" who hang out at schools these days. This teacher confiscated a girl's phone when she used it in class. Then the "teacher" (I hate to apply that noun to this person) thumbed through the phone to find personal photos of the student, and the result was predictably bad.

Looking for the white space in life. This is the space where there is nothing. Sometimes nothing is boring. Sometimes it is refreshing.

Some tips on improving the look of your blog and making it easier to read. Yes, content is the most important thing, but effective use of white space helps people read what youz are trying to express.

The worst mistake a write can make. No, it is not the split infinitive or even the passive voice. It is killing ourselves physically. Here are some tips for helping your body. Please heed.

Starting a writing career. Two tips resonate with me: (1) you need perseverance and (2) be ready for rejection.

And some similar advice - you have to stick at it.

A few tips on beating writer's block. My favorite one is "Write something else that you don’t really care about for a few minutes."

How can you make a lot of money as an author? Two points here: (1) it takes years to build an audience and (2) write popular fiction. I cannot overemphasize (2). You can make all the art you choose. If you don't sell any of it you won't have any money. Duh.

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