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 27-October 3, 2010

Summary of this week:

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

Monday September 27,  2010

I am having trouble this morning with the Internet link here at the Community Canteen in Reston Town Center. This may be limited today.

Turn your older iPod Nano into a head-mounted camera. Why not? It looks fun.

Google is buying a new company every two weeks this year. Google has lots of cash and is investing in jobs. Too bad the same cannot be said for the government of the richest nation in the world. Sigh.

A good post on data science. This is big now and will be bigger.

RunKeeper - a little software company that has competed with Nike and Adidas. Good for them.

Several actors' unions are trying to boycott Peter Jackson's attempt to make a Hobbit movie. Everyone seems sincere, but step back and look at this folks - adults screaming and yelling over a movie about creatures that are four feet tall.

Our Department of Defense actually bought 10,000 copies of a book and burned them all. This sounds stupid. The background story sort of makes it all make sense, but this sounds stupid.

This story is everywhere - the stuxnet virus has infected all the computers in Iran. Some speculate that Israel spent millions of dollars (equivalent) to build this sophisticated virus so they could disable Iran's attempts to build nuclear weapons. If that is true, I think it was a good idea. After all, no one dies (from a pre-emptive air strike) and then no one dies (from a nuclear strike).

This is kind of an odd thing to mark in the daybook. It has photos of the USS Iwo Jima in the Caribbean. The Iwo Jima is one of those vessals that opens its end without sinking (I am not up on nautical terms as if you couldn't tell). Here are photos of sailors swimming on an afternoon when they didn't have anything else to do. I once had a job where I was a million miles from home in a strange land with a few colleagues. We would toss a Frisbee around a small courtyard while Linda Ronstadt blared "Back in the USA" over a cheap cassette player. Precious memories in an otherwise boring existence. Those were the days.

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Tuesday September 28, 2010

There is a proposition on California's November ballot that would repeal a cap-and-trade law that the legislature passed. Those propositions in California are interesting. The people speak, and then the lifetime politicians spin.

I am ready for this one - HP is developing software that allows you to print a web page without most of the junk that clutters and wastes paper and ink.

I'll have to look for this iPad application coming real soon now. It is a guitar teacher that listens to what you are playing and adapts its display accordingly. It is called Miso Music.

Stowe Boyd on Hyperlocal social networks.

NASA is still using Intel 80386 processors to control the space station. I guess they work as the station has not fallen out of the sky. Your tax dollars at waste.

NASA data shows the world how much pollution China is producing. It is nice that NASA has data, but again, NASA's mission is to get us to the stars, not monitor someone's factory. Your tax dollars at waste.

I love this one. The EU has banned old fashioned light bulbs because those things are evil. This company is now marketing the light bulbs as "heat balls" instead of light-producing devices. The heat balls just happen to give light as a side effect. Great. Once again, the lawyers who work for the companies are smarters than the lawyers who work for the government.

The offering of WiFi on domestic flights is growing.

This is a different featured workspace from LifeHacker. This one is in the laundry room. Note, however, the reason the user put it in that room - it had a door he could close. Writer Stephen King wrote that the one thing  a writer needs is a room with a door that closes.

This is a tragedy and it is all over the Internet. One version, the owner of Segway died when he drove his Segway off a cliff.

Raytheon improves its exoskeleton. This is a military model. Like many things built initially for the military, this can have wonderful applications to teh disabled everywhere.

People are resisting the technology imperative and keeping their little gadgets longer. I must have been ahead of this trend. In the old days I was called "cheap" for doing this.

The price of solid state disks is now down to $1.58 per GigaByte.

More folly in the U.S. Senate. Senators Leahy and Hatch don't have anything useful to occupy their time.

Under Federal law, telephone and cell phone companies must provide the technology that permits law enforcement agencies to listen to phone calls given a court order. These laws fall under what is called CALEA. The Obama administration is pursuing legislation that would require social networking sites to provide similar technology. And thought the evil George Bush was no longer in Washington. More on the story here.

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Wednesday September 29, 2010 

Big news: OpenOffice is now called LibreOffice and is being developed by The Document Foundation.

America Online has bought the TechCrunch blog. Two things here: (1) people are paying big money for blogs, i.e., the blog has become a big-money product, and (2) America Online is still trying to have good content.

Those bans on cell phone use and texting while driving are not having an affect on accident rates.

To mark this point in time in computer technology, the Ars Technica system guide. They build three systems at three price points to illustrate what is out there at this time.

25% of Americans are downloading multi-media. This of course means that 75% are not.

It is becoming much simpler and cheaper to monitor your home remotely via video cameras. You can even watch the video on your iPhone.

The Dell tablet computers will be with us real soon now - just a few weeks.

Someone has Google's Chromium OS running on an iPad. Wow.

Bose has integrated its speakers into a flat-panel television. I have no doubt that it sounds great and is easy to use. Bose gets those things right.

George Lucas is transforming the six Star Wars movies into 3D - coming in 2012. I don't know if this is going to work.

GameCrush - where for a few dollars they will hook you up with a woman to play online games with you. As they say, if you can buy a woman a drink, why not be able to buy here a few minutes in an online game?

Here is the Espresso Book Machine. Xerox is trying to sell these to book sellers. The machine costs a lotof money no doubt. The use? I can download a copy of Mark Twain's writings free (copyright expired), but if I want to read them on a flight I have to print them and staple them and ... well you know. So how much is it worth to have someone give me a printed and bound copy? And then maybe I'll just go to Barnes and Noble and buy the $5 printed version in their classics section.

And then here is a study that shows that kids would rather read an eBook than a printed one. Kids these days.

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Thursday September 30, 2010

This is a local story for me: The Washington Redskins have issued a media policy that states what reporters can and cannot do. One no no is tweeting while at a practice. Note, the team is not banning players from tweeting, it is banning reporters from tweeting reports. Professional sports in America could get itself into a lot of legal trouble if it were anything more important than a game.

Mike Hayden, former Director/CIA, says the President should have the authority to turn off the Internet.

The Commerce Department has issued the last of its $4Billion in broadband stimulus grants. (Since I am not in the Administration I can still use the word "stimulus.") People are not sure if these grants will do any long-term good. Just burning some money that was printed over the weekend.

Note to every newspaper reporter out there - a patent is not the same as a copyright.

Sometimes we have to state the obvious. "I don’t need business intelligence, I need my business to be intelligent." - Stowe Boyd

A Chinese train hits 416 KPH. This is some type of world record.

Stanford researchers have found a way to induce muscle movement with light. Maybe, just maybe, one day this can be used to restore movement in paralyzed people.

We find a planet that appears suitable for life. It is only 20 light years away, so we won't colonize it any time soon.

It seems that the stuxnet malware is making a big mess in Iran. The Iranian government is asking outside security experts to come and save them.

This site has 52 lessons for learning to program in Python.

The New York Times discovers the 3D printer. Always on top of things they are at the Times.

This long-exposure photo shows the path taken by one of those robotic vacuum cleaners. Not very effecient.

A Lego wedding ring. No, I don't think so.

A look inside the new Apple TV.

And a review of the Apple TV.

Textaurant - we used to call a restaurant for a reservation. I guess this is better somehow.

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Friday October 1, 2010

According to this study...few parents realize that their kids are playing games online with someone in another part of the world. The danger in all this is that your child could be playing games with a child molester who is playing with kids online as a first step to meeting them in person, and so on...

Several years ago, Nvidia sold a bunch of bad graphics processors to a handful of well known portable computer makers. This costs Nvidia $450 Million.

Here are some neat bicycle designs for the near future. Great photos. There are several themes: equipping a bike to carry things, preventing theft of you bicycle, and of course incorporating 3G, 4G, GPS and the like.

Leo Apotheker is the new CEO of HP. He has been with SAP for 20 years.

Someone has already broken into the new Apple TV. Here is the Linux command line interface.

Some Russians are going to put a luxury hotel in orbit by 2016. Here is the problem: you must have a lot of money to afford to go to this thing. Most people who have this kind of money also have a lot of people depending on them. What will Apple stockholders think about Steve Jobs hopping on a Russian space-lift vehicle going to a Russian-built hotel? Would they want him to take the risk? Then there is the other thing about what you call this hotel. Since it is in space, is it called a Sotel or OHotel (orbitting hotel) or what?

How to use DropBox to print files on your cell phone.

Okay, you have a car, a strong cable, a pole for a pivot point, water skis, and a fountain in a city. This could be lots of fun or a quick trip to the hospital.

Some interesting work on de-blurring images.

Video games and cloud computing. Gaming has become a service, not a product. In the product area, more games are bought online and downloaded than bought in a store. That line was first crossed in 2010.

Google's Street View hits all seven continents.

And Google wants to introduce a new image file format.

I guess America has no problems. Congress is working on a bill to rid TV of commercials that are louder than the programs. Yes, these are annoying things these commercials, but really, legislation? On second thought, if Congress occupies itself with such nonsense, maybe they will be so busy that they will stop ruining our lives by requiring us to buy things from the government.

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Saturday October 2, 2010

I am in Louisiana and Mississippi for the weekend attending my nephew's wedding. This is great fun.

Mercedes puts an electric car into production. We shall see how all this works out in the marketplace.

Want a portable game computer - see this MSI with cores and cores and CPUs and GPUs.

I must have one of these. Moleskine has covers for the iPad and iPhone. The covers include the usual black hardback Moleskine outer shell and some paper and a spot for the device. I must have one of these. Where is Santa Claus?

This is it - a PC with a cardboard case. Who needs metal and plastic?

Your tax dollars at waste. The city of New York is replacing street signs that only have capital letters, e.g., STOP goes to Stop. I have to sit here a while to try to think of any sillier way to waste tax payers' money. This may be the all time number one stupid thing that a government does.

NASA lays off 1,200 people. This is only a part of a 9,000-person layoff program. I often criticize NASA for doing things other than trying to go into space. These people all worked to put man into space. NASA, however, will continue to employ people who are building air bags for helicopters and looking at methane in ice cores. Somewhere along the way, the bureaucracy lost its way.

China's space program, however, continues to advance. They just launched their second moon probe. The next people to walk on the moon or an asteroid or something will not be American.

Some analysis of the stuxnet virus that is currently clobbering Iran. The idea that the government of Israel funded the development of stuxnet is gaining credibility.

The US Postal Service will lose $6Billion in 2010. The situation is simple in that people are using the mail less and less, but the USPS won't lay off employees to match declining demand for services. Wal-Mart and all the other businesses know how to deal with these things. The USPS also knows how to deal with these things - beg Congress for a bailout. Since there are postal employees in every Congressional district in the US, the bailout will probably come.

"The Social Network" is a movie about the creation of Facebook. Guess what? They took come artistic license, i.e., the movie bears only scant resemblance to reality. This creative license thing is a shock to some people.

Google acquires BlindType. I had not heard of BlindType until this morning. They have a typing technology for touch screen devices. A "keyboard" does not appear on the screen. Instead, you put your fingers on the screen and start typing. The software recognizes the relative positions of the taps. It knows something about the positions of keys on a keyboard and also knows something about the words that peope usually type. Fascinating.

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Sunday October 3, 2010

It appears that neurosurgeons now have a new technique for removing brain tumors. This uses MRI to guide special lasers. Wonderful. I had an uncle who died some 35 years ago from a brain tumor. Perhaps...

The state of Minnesota is moving much of its applications to Microsoft's cloud services.

Here is an excellent writing tip. Write something. Then tell another writer the content. Don't read what you have written, but have a conversation about it. Have them write what they heard. Compare the two pieces. Adjust accordingly.

And here is another one - read your writing out loud.

A wonderful morning routine. Before diving into the day (1) sit, (2) read, (3) write. Wonderful.

Freelancing, parenting, and housework. This isn't easy to do, but it is possible.

Some notes on fixing writer's block. That is not my problem. Mine is not enough time to write everything I want to write.

A few practical tips for writing better. Two I really like: (1) breathe and (2) what mean you, what say you? For number (2), I work with grad students in engineering and computer science. The question I ask them most is, "What do you want to say here?" I tell them, "Don't look at your paper. Look at me. Now tell me what you are trying to say." They usually tell me in clear, specific, concise terms what they are saying. I then tell them, "Great. Write those words."

Ten ideas of things you can give to a character in your fiction.

Changing your writing routine.

A few notes on copyright. Part 1 and Part 2.

November is just about 30 days away. I have never done the NaNoWriMo (write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days) before. I have yet to think of an excuse for this year. Perhaps...

How one person makes a living as a freelance writer.

50 online applications that replace those on your desktop. Among those listed are:
Splashup - a good image editor.
Gliffy - draw pictures like in Visio.
Screen Castle - record video from your screen.
MovAvi - video file converter.
Liquid Planner - project management software.
LiveMocha - learn a foreign language.

Eric Schmidt of Google is shocked to learn how Washington D.C. actually works. Sigh. But then again, maybe if enough famous people tell everyone about the dysfunction that is the Federal government enough people may become angry enough to do something. The current purveyor of hope and change certainly didn't change anything.

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