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 31-February 6, 2011

Summary of this week:

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

Monday January 31,  2011

Put this camera system at your front door. Anytime some approaches your door, you are notified on your cell phone. Why didn't I think of that (actually I did think of that a couple of years ago, but...)

Excellent use of technology - allowing the mute to communicate via sound.

If you only read one blog post about writing or working or living, read this one from Jerry Weinberg:
"Fieldstoning is about always doing something that's advancing your projects. As a Fieldstone writer, you will have a variety of keep-moving activities, a handy list of tasks of all sizes, plus the knowledge to match each task to your mood, your start/stop time, your resources, and your total available time. As a Fieldstone consultant, you will have a second handy list of keep-moving activities—a list with your writing list as one of its sublists."

I may look at this one - SynthCam. It uses computational photography techniques to provide vastly improved photos from the little cell phone cameras. It may not, however, improve my photos of my grandson.

A fascinating article on aerial ropeways to move cargo. There is lots of history here and lots of potential for future use.

Has the FBI routinely violated the rights of American citizens since 9/11/2001? This report suggests that the answer is yes.

Are some in the American government taking tips from their Egyptian counterparts? The Internet-kill switch legislation has been re-introduced.

There are less-contructive things for teenagers to do with their time. This one glued 5,800 mirrors to a parabolic dish to create a solor something or other.

Neat - a radio-controlled tri-copter carries a video camera and bottle rockets. It pops balloons. This is silly and fun, but you can take the same items and build a serious killer for little money. That thought is sort of scary.

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Tuesday February 1, 2011

  A Federal Judge rules the entire Obamacare health law unconstitutional. This differs from earlier rulings by other Federal judges in that this judge could not separate the law into portions that would be consitutional and not. The law is too intertwined to make sense of it.

Google has rolled its Street View tricycle through some of the world's best art museums. Wow. Here is the site for the Google Art Project. Excellent.

Mozy discovers that it cannot offer unlimited backups at any price.

Intel finds a flaw in its Sandy Bridge chipset. They believe that not-too-many flawed chips are already out there in systems.

Google spent $5Million in lobbying Washington D.C. in 2010.

This is fantastic. Researchers at Virginia Tech are building a system will one day allow blind people to drive like (hopefully better) everyone else. They run a demonstrations at Daytona.

Solar powered light source and phone charger for the developing world - under $20. The price continues to fall. Excellent.

Here is a new term - the Notbook. This is not a netbook and not a laptop and not a tablet. It seems the 10", Atom-powered netbook is dying. It wasn't very old.

A new toy for the lakehouse. A water-powered Jet pack. Fun at only $100,000.

Stowe Boyd discusses the merits of Apple's latest MacBook Air and how it changes portable computers.

The Chinese government doesn't like its subjects dicussing the Egyptian uprising online. Too close to home I guess. China has had popular uprisings of one type or another for several thousand years. One of the goals of Communism is to halt the cycles of history now that the Communists are in power.

The Egyptian subjects cannot tweet or blog, but they can still use the telephone. Google worked over the weekend to create way for them to speak a phone message and have that appear to the entire world as a tweet. Interesting move by Google to enter this political situation. Odd that they don't do the same in China. Maybe they will. I hope so.

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Wednesday February 2, 2011

Google has updated the appearance of its Google Docs application. As people put more information on Google's "cloud," the old interface became to cumbersome.

And IBM finally moves its Lotus office applications to the cloud - LotusLive Symphony.

Oooops, Flickr deleted a user's 4,000 photos and can't recover them. The user says he has his own backups. Ah the fun of the cloud.

The TSA is changing its display software for its full body scanners. The display is cartoon like. This is just the one display folks. The data (naked bodies) is still on the disk and can be seen when wanted.

And speaking of the TSA, this is a huge loss in court for the TSA. A Seattle jury dismissed all charges against a man who did not cooperate with the TSA. The outcome is that the TSA is NOT a law enforcement agency and cannot assume the powers of such. Now, this was one court, one jury, one case, but there is hope.

The Internet has been restored in EgyptFor a sensical view of what is happening in Egypt, see Jerry Pournelle's comments.

Wi-Fi HotZones - these are larger, more powerful Wi-Fi areas. The cell phone carriers are installing these in places where large concentrations of cell phones are killing the cell system's ability to meet demand. The idea is that my iPhone would access data via the Internet instead of AT&T's cell network.

IPv4 runs out of addresses tomorrow. Will we ever learn about these simple mistakes?

One bloggers story - writing five posts a day for $5 each at AOL to a full-time job. The cheap blogging job was a major step up from working at a convenience store. The American dream lives. The dream I mention is the ability to use your brains and your sweat to improve your life. Please note, "improve your life" takes many forms.

Google's Chrome becomes the third browser to acheive at least a 10% market share. Internet Explorer and Safari are the other two. For all the complaining about Explorer, it is still the market leader by a large margin.

The FBI's national crime database is evolving. I guess this is a good thing - sharing information among local, state, and federal law enforcement.

Plug Computing advances. More computing power, less electrical power, less size. Here is some background on the concept from Wikipedia.

I hope this works - a cell phone charger that gets power from your bicycle as you ride. Of course, why not?

BMW pushes into Near-Field Communications.

And so is LG.

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Thursday February 3, 2011

The Daily, the first iPad-only newspaper, made its debut yesterday.

The DropCam home security camera system now beams video to the Android phone.

Airlines are offering free in-flight Facebook access. Why? I guess I don't use Facebook enough to be excited about this.

Oxford will now offer an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Philosophy. This is the Oxford in England, not the one in Mississippi.

Dell now selling Ubuntu-based cloud servers.

This ill teen attends high school via telepresenence. This is fantastic. The unit is expensive, but the prices will fall in this technology. Excellent use of technology. There are many such applications.

A look at Google's Honeycomb - an Android variant for tablets.

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Friday February 4, 2011

A dating site pulls openly available data on 250,000 people from Facebook. The data is there, all you have to do is write some software that gets it.

Google said it would hire 6,000 people, so 75,000 people applied for jobs. Growing your workforce isn't easy. You can quickly ruin your company.

This post has a goofy title, but it points to an important development in natural language understanding. Topicmarks summarizes large bodies of text for you.

Microsoft's Hotmail adds a feature that makes it easier to create thow-away email addresses.

Verizon will slow down their high-data users. Bandwidth isn't free to Verizon.

This story is odd - a city is considering a law that would allow them to monitor what city employees said on their personal Facebook pages. If an employee criticized the city on their own page on their own time, the city could fire the employee. Surely there is something being lost in the translation here. They can't mean what they are saying.

Some notes  on how the Egyptian government shut down the Internet in Egypt. There was no fancy technology or kill switch in the halls of government. Some politicians made a few phone calls to the ISPs and the ISPs shut off the service. Pretty simple really as long as people in business obey politicians. The entire story is not as simple as the "popular uprising" stuff reported in the media. There are many people in Egypt who want things to stay the same. If, for example, you are running a successful ISP and making lots of money, you don't really want to see the world turned upside down. This isn't that complicated.

People are wandering into desolated areas of America trusting their GPS units. Death is often the result. It is called "Death by GPS." I went through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River this past summer. One of the guides told us something like, "this isn't a ride at Disneyworld." Strange how some people behave.

A site I will RSS - engineerblogs.org. I love the top image - a slide rule.

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Saturday February 5, 2011

This machine has sense-through-the-wall technology - a type of radar - to do just as it claims.

Hackers break into the Nasdaq computer system. Is everyone ready for national electronic health records?

And someone uses an iTunes account to empty a person's bank account. Again, is everyone ready for national electronic health records?

Why wait for the Super Bowl to see the Super Bowl commercials? Thanks to the net, the commercials are already out. I like the Kenny G commericial.

All sorts of numbers about engineering occupations. Most of the numbers say nothing. There is one thing that is clear - biomedical engineering (what ever form that may take) is the place to be. People are older and creative ways to improve their health via technology is a big deal.

Meetings. Sigh. One good thing about being out of government and into private industry is that we have about 1% of the meetings in industry as suffered in government. That number is not an exageration.

Facebook is seven years old today.

It is difficult to fly over large parts of Saudi Arabia - the government does not permit such. Using Google Earth, however, an archeologist has found several thousand-year-old burial sites.

DVD sales are falling - fast and deep. Most movies aren't worth owning. I own about a dozen movie DVDs. None of those movies were made in the last 20 years, but that is just me.

I am surprised at this one. This guy wants to build this Braille watch, but doesn't have the technical know-how and financing. I would have thought that such a thing had already been built. I am surprised to learn that people are still using Braille watches like this one from Seiko. I think this falls under the heading of Biomedical Engineering (see above about engineering occupations).

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Sunday February 6, 2011

Here's a good tip for writers: after the first draft, start cutting.

At least one other person thinks that paper notebooks are still useful. Actually, as I look around at work, everyone here carries a "National Computation Notebook" to take notes. This is an engineering company, so that makes sense. And then I wander through the bookstores and see all those Journals and Moleskines and blank books on the shelves. The stores seem to sell a lot of those. I guess people write in them. I certainly do. Here is a blog post of my own on notebooks.

One writer's top ten tips for writing. These all make good sense to me.

Some notes from an actual book editor.

Here is one writer's way of revising a draft - retype the entire thing. I would hate to do that, but I have to admit that it is probably a good method, i.e., the result would be good.

On developing a writing practice. Calling it a "practice" was liberating for this writer. It may be also true for many others.

Do you think you are alone in struggling to write? Here is one writer's struggles (Tim Ferris) on the way to a best seller. It isn't easy folks.

More tips on overcoming writer's block. Try these; use what works, and forget the rest.

Ways for writers to save money. I like this list. For years, I have bought used books instead of new ones and recycled paper by printing drafts on the back side of paper that holds old drafts. Good stuff.

I like this post: do writers need writing degrees? The list of successful writers who do not have writing degrees is ... well, it is long. A degree, however, can help you get a job that pays the bills while you write and write and write and ...

And right on cue, a post about how a day job relieves the money pressure from the writer. I have lived this one - a day job brings in money so that I don't have to make money from writing. That is freeing in many ways.

Neat, diaries and journals in a museum.

This post calls it the "heater syndrome." I call it "warming up." It is those first 5 or 30 minutes of writing I have to do before I write better. I hate that period of time, but I have yet to find a way to avoid it.

A few thoughts on R E J E C T I O N. As a writer, I have become accustomed to this. It is amazing sometimes how fast a publisher can review a 400-page manuscript in full and reject it. My record? Less than a half hour.

Some thoughts on writing T H A T novel. You know the one. Good tips here. I like the idea of working on it one hour per day - no more and no less. I also like the idea that publishing the novel is not in your thoughts.

Some thoughts on writing technical reports as an engineer. I like and use one of the ideas given here. Put the outline of the report on the wall - most engineering reports have the same outline. As thoughts come to mind, and they may come to mind over a period of hours, days , or even weeks, put the thought on a Post-It and stick that Post-It onto the outline where you think it may fit.

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