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: January 24-30, 2011

Summary of this week:

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

Monday January 24,  2011

How about an 80 MegaPixel sensor for your digital camera? Why not? As long as you have a real lens in front, go for it - only $45,000.

The "Tank Chair" deemed illegal for street use in the UK. Innovation always runs into government regulation. Sometimes the weight of the innovation triumphs. I hope it does in this case.

Interesting, an electronic anti-migraine patch. This is a single-use device that pumps medicine into your system to avoid the nausea that often accompanies oral medicine.

NFC - no, it's not National Football Conference of the National Football League. NFC is Near-Field Communication, and it could turn your cell phone into a credit card. That alleviates the need for carrying a wallet and also makes you cell phone much more attractive to theives. And McDonald's in the UK will bring out NFC use to special VISA cards this summer.

This is remarkable - a system that balances a pencil on its point by "seeing" it and controlling a x-y-movement machine. A combination of computer vision, computing, control theory, and mechanics. A cute trick, but also an advance in artificial intelligence research. Please see the video. Remarkable.

Coming, WikiLeaks the movie. That might be an interesting tale.

I don't like this statement, but it is true: "In China, eight of the top nine political posts are held by engineers. In the U.S., almost no engineers or scientists are engaged in high-level politics, and there is a virtual absence of engineers in our public policy debates." The lawyers and journalists have made public discourse in America so distasteful that the engineers stay away. That is a shame and could be a disaster for America. I don't know if these people will ever realize the harm they are doing to the nation.

I love this one - Facebook has a huge data center near a small town in Oregon. Facebook gives free dental care to all the kids in town, uniforms to the high school, and all sorts of other things. Smart. Smart. Smart. And more importantly, they are treating people like people should treat people. Big business are not evil. The people who work at big businesses can be loving and caring just like anyone else.

More and more IP addresses across the globe. Interesting map of where these IP addresses orginate - North America, China, and Europe. But that is about it. What about the rest of the world?

I need to look at this one - The Wayback Machine.

And one more quirky item - attach this "robot" to a safe combination dial and it very quickly tries every possible combination. It opens any safe in a couple of hours. I love it. What imagination.

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Tuesday January 25, 2011

There has been some study on preschoolers and technology. "kids can grasp new tech skills long before they even learn how to do normal kid things, such as swimming or tying their shoelace." Well, of course. Swimming and tying shoe laces take a lot of physical coordination, the type that develops later. My grandson, 2 years 2 months, can flip through the photos on the iPhone and iPad. That doesn't take much physical coordination. That is why Apple made them the way they made them.

Americans are holding $30Billion in unused gift cards. That is taking a lot of activity out of the economy. Please, no one tell the government or we will soon have a law about this.

I don't like to mention Apple rumors, this one may be important - near-field communications coming in the next iPhone and iPad.

Google is now shipping its CR-48 beta test machines with decals. My grandson would like this one.

Jack LaLanne died at 96. As a kid in the late 1960s I watched him exercise in "normal" clothing. He gave recipes and his german shepherd dog would appear on the show. A great personality.

Two-thirds of U.S. broadband connects are less than 5Mbps (slow).

This is bizarre - Microsoft bundles software in Italy, you get a rebate if you delete some of it. People are suing for their money back and calling it a Microsoft tax. Odd.

Finally, The Art of Computer Programming volume 4(A) from Donald Knuth. I have the first three volumes somewhere. Perhaps I will buy the new boxed set.

Our government is trying to help us again. The Justice Department wants laws requiring Internet Service Providers to store everything so that law enforcement can look at it later. Do disk drive makers fund the Justice Department? No, that's a silly cynical attitude. I thought all this craziness left Washington with the evil Bush.???

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Wednesday January 26, 2011

This one takes me back - The game Oregon Trail has turned 40. My kids played this educational game when they were in elementary school. They especially used it at the American International School in Lagos, Nigeria during 1996-1997. That school was Apple-computer-based back when Apple was greatly discounting computers for elementary schools.

Google is expanding. They are leasing 100,000 square feet of office space in Venice, Ca. And they are hiring 6,000 people in the U.S.

There is less optimism today at Microsoft. A year ago Windows 7 was released and there was lots of cheering. Still, Microsoft is a large, powerful company that makes a lot of money.

Google buys a company called SayNow. This is related to Google Voice and much wanted improvements. This is one of the problems with having a successful software company and product. You much continue to improve everything.

Pixelmator, an image editor on the Apple app store, has grossed $1Million in 20 days. There are still fortunes to be made out there.

O2 is launching a free, nation-wide WiFi network in the UK.

Why 3D is dead. This post surprised me. I thought it would be a decrying of the lousy movies that think they can be great because of an optical illusion. This post is much deeper. I recommend reading the entire thing. Excellent physiological reasons why 3D movies just doesn't work with humans.

Congress is helping us again. There is new legislation to put new labels on video games warning us about what we are doing to ourselves in our own time with our own money.

Someone hacked into the Fedora system. Officials claim that there was no damage. Is everyone ready for national electronic health records?

LibreOffice 3.3 was released. This used to be called OpenOffice.

A long article from the Economist about inequality in income in the world. Also notes about how the value of education is growing more valuable.

Ooohhh, I love this home office. A bit pricey, but nice. And I also love this one which is about as far away from the first one that you can go.

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Thursday January 27, 2011

Nintendo had a bad quarter. Their numbers are all down. What happened to the Wii? It changed the world, but wasn't upgraded soon enough and well enough.

The new Sony PSP. It connects to everything via RF.

Netflix has passed 20 million subscribers.

This is neat, controller remote-control cars and helicopters with my iPhone. Yes, it is silly, but fun.

Samsung is trying to take market share from Apple in portable computers. This is a lofty goal, and they may succeed.

Television is 85 years old today.

This is not new material, but I guess this is a recent study. Self-control in small children appears to predict "succes" in life (whatever success is).

Some comments on the State of the Union speech from an engineer's view. I guess that speech was this week sometime.

Ford and others are working on vehicle-to-vehicle communication. This is similar to the Volve story from last week on road trains. There is much that could be gained from such technology. Alas, there are probably going to be security problems, and that would lead to ...

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Friday January 28, 2011

The Egyptian government has effectively turned off the Internet in Egypt. I am sure there are some ways around this for some people, but nothing available for most. Let's see if other such governments follow this practice.

Kindle books are outselling paperbacks now at Amazon. I can understand outselling expensive hardbacks, but paperbacks is a big deal.

The tablet market begins to take shape. Samsung has shipped two million Galaxy Tab units in three months. Next comes the iPad 2 and lots of other tablets from other makers.

Jerry Pournelle, as is usually the case, has some deep thoughts on education.

Microsoft isn't dead yet. They had record earnings in the last quarter.

Why didn't someone do this sooner? NeverWare lets old computers, those without enough RAM etc., run new operating systems and such over a server. This is a simple client-server setup. Again, why didn't someone think of this sooner?

KDE version 4.6 is released.

It appears that SourceForge was attacked with some success.

This story is making the rounds of the net - a catapult was found in Mexico. It's apparent use was to through drugs across the border to waiting customers.

Well, this jacket has an iPad holder in it. Silly? Maybe, but I can see military and police applications.

Speaking of holding your iPad, this leather case is the best thing I've ever seen. It too is a bit silly when you think about it.

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Saturday January 29, 2011

The first Smart electric car is delivered in the U.S.

I like this idea: Apple needs phone help, Apple would prefer hiring Americans, there are lots of Americans of college age. So, Apple hires college kids part-time to answer phone calls. The kids get full benefits as well.

To create some interest in the week's Pro Bowl game, the NFL strapped little cameras to players' helmets during practice. Those who cannot get enough football will enjoy the video.

Researchers at USC are developing a smarter fence for facility security. Yes, this research is funded by the government.

George Will on the growing government program to bribe Americans to buy cars they wouldn't otherwise touch. And then some politicians complains about corporate welfare.

This is a neat idea with a clever implementation. PirateBox allows trivial setup of local file sharing. The disk itself sits in a lunchbox with of course a pirate skull and cross bones on it. Ooops, you can't buy the product, you have to build it yourself. Here are the intructions. Parts cost about $100.

Apple is now the world's most desired brand.

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Sunday January 30, 2011

Writing with smothered verbs, finding them, and unsmothering them. Good tips.

A prediction of what it will be like to publish a novel in ten years.

I love this simple workspace.

Neat, digital wallpaper. Of course you have blank walls and projectors that change what you see.

12 steps to get things done. The title is a cliche. The content is pretty good.

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