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.

Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page
Email me at d.phillips@computer.org

This week: February 21-27, 2011

Summary of this week:

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

Monday February 21,  2011

Some reasons why tablet computers just don't work. I have to admit that I didn't use my iPad much until I bought a Bluetooth keyboard for it. Now my iPad is a little portable computer. It is nice to be able to run my finger across the display to move things about. I guess that touchscreen feature will be in the next generation of really small portable computers.

Huawei offers to put cell phone service in London's Underground - no charge (an $80Million job). Beware of Chinese bearing gifts.

The speed of change examplified - Dell pulls a four-month-old laptop and puts something newer in its place.

This Virginia Tech robotic hand can type 20 words per minute. That is a cute trick to demonstrate the technology. Much more significant things can come of this.

It appears that Apple and Intel will show the new "Light Peak" interface technology on the new Apple computers. This gives 1 GigaBitPerSecond speeds. I don't have any devices that can input or output at that speed, but they will come.

Evidence that tourists all stand in the same place to photograph famous places.

There is something about this desk that reminds of a simple desk with a typewriter on it.

There is a movement to push British clocks ahead two hours this summer. That is something like double daylight savings time. The goal is of course to stimulate the economy. It seems that governments will try just about anything except reduce themselves.

Something really beneficial for UAVs - software to detect life jackets and other castaways.

It appears that for years Federal agencies spent millions on bogus software that didn't catch terrorists - this after it was proved that the software was bogus. No one wants to prosecute the software producer from fear of public embarassment. Yes, this is a great example of Your tax dollars at waste. And the current proposed budget will spend a trillion dollars more than revenue. The government(s) have enough money. They don't have enough brains, i.e., competent managers.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Tuesday February 22, 2011

This week's autocrat who is about to lose power is in Lybia.

The U.S. military is researching ways to have its own cloud of computers that is secure.

Lots of people are doing research and development in energy products. Perhaps, just perhaps, someone will hit something that actually works. The current administration's dream of millions of green jobs is just that - a dream. Maybe in ten or twenty years...

This post predicts the next Internet bubble bursting. Yes, we want free services on the Internet. Those free services are like free television - funded by advertising. How long will the advertisers keep paying the bills?

This is an encouraging post about how a few people are creating jobs in the third world and in America with new types of online work. Stimululs money? What a waste.

HP will start selling its tablet computer real soon now - April.

The rumors of Apple's portable computer update are becoming more specific. Here we note a bigger trackpad (who cares) and some real news - the operating system and the applications reside on a F A S T SSD. Finally, someone is using the memory hierarchy to give us quick-start computers - maybe, remember, it's just a rumor.

Android is growing fast. Now it has over 1% of the market. It is a start.

Lenovo shows a new line of portable computers - one runs 15 hours on its battery. That is a good feature.

The German Foreign Office is switching back to MS Windows from Linux.

The BP oil spill oil may be sitting on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Python 3.2 has been released. If nothing else, Python has become the Pascal of today - the language that schools teach first to teach the basics of computer programming. The language, development tools, and millions of line of running code are freely available.

Neat, build your own printer out of scrap parts. Of course it is not practical, but it does look like fun and the builder will no doubt learn a few things.

Military-grade iPhone cases. These aren't useful to many people, but for the people who can use them, they are almost essential.

Look, NASA has made a music video about its new robotic device going into orbit. Now that is a really good use of taxpayers' money (NOT). Budget crisis? Not enough budget? Are you kidding?

Microsoft will release a Kinect SDK for Windows real soon now. That is a good move for Microsoft. Make your devices easily programmable and the crowd will invent great things and create jobs. Stimulus dollars? Those are for failed companies only and music videos for failing government agencies.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Wednesday February 23, 2011

This is a really neat toy, pricey, but good for rich people and rentals at resort areas. It is a semi-submersible vehicle. Great.

Apple to start new service aimed at small businesses. Sounds like a good idea.

HP is profitable and growing, but not as much as expected.

Thunderbolt! It seems that is Apple's name for their implementation of the Light Peak high-speed data interface. Cool name. The logo shown here needs some work.

HP updates it laptop computers with newer Intel processors. Time marches on, and people can do their little spreadsheets even more faster than they can notice.

This is an interesting interactive graphic. I really don't understand it though. It is supposed to illustrate how movies are becoming worse year after year. The point is that Hollywood is producing more remakes and sequels to hits. Those things are low risk.

Consumer spending on "computers" is down a bit. Is it the economy or is it Apple? Good question. I go with Apple as the answer.

A good look at the world's largest telescope. It is an array of antennas connected by computers. Good idea and implementation. I love the video of the guy standing in front of 19" equipment racks with good old rats nest of wires dangling from the front of the equipment. Nice touch if you want to convince people that hardware tech geeks still live.

Those really expensive and invasive full-body scanners - well, they don't work. A TSA agent tested the system and carried a gun undetected through the system many times. Oh well. Someone made some money. Your tax dollars at waste.

I guess I just don't understand politics and politicians. I thought Obama was going to correct all the evils of the Bush Administration. Instead, Obama's crew is appealing a Federal Judge decision against a Bush policy of surveillance.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Thursday February 24, 2011

I'm waiting for the big Apple computer update that everyone has promised for today. At 7 a.m. EST, the Apple Store was down.
And now it is up again with upgraded MacBook Pros. Better processors, graphics chips, high-speed interface, and optional solid state disk. Here are more details. Now, what can I buy that has 10GigaBitsPerSecond data transfer?

Apple is going to open its data center in North Carolina real soon now. It seems that it would have opened by now. The purpose, just revealed, is that it is to serve iTune.

I like to see this - Jolicloud is modifying its Linux distribution to work with older and older computers. Perhaps the world will benefit from this. It seems it is something the government might fund instead of failing auto companies.

NEC now has a contact-less finger print sensor. It takes a photograph of your hand with enough resolution to detect your finger prints.

The little MacBook Air as a photographer's tool.

Voice recognition applied in automobiles. Of course, why not? Why has it taken so long?

The trials and travails of having an IT department. It is a tough job. It seems that most people have "better computers at home than we have in the office." Office workers don't need much in the way of computing power. There are exceptions - people who create graphics - but really, it doesn't take much power to write one-page memos. People in the office need big monitors and high-speed data access. The rest is fluff.

WordPress 3.1. is released.

DARPA is running a sort of open-source military vehicle design competition.

How many computers can you fit on the head of a pin? For now, the answer is one. This is a big advance. There will be excellent applications in medical and elderly care.

Techniques of someone who has practiced his memory to the point of amazing. This is just like learning to play golf or something else. The techniques exist, practice improves performance.

The TSA continues its...well I don't know what you call it. See this post for maybe a new low in the TSA's history. Your tax dollars at waste.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Friday February 25, 2011

Apple's upgrade to their portable computers didn't look like much. There is, however, much improvement under the hood. These benchmarks show about an 80% improvement over the previous models. The low-end machnes are better than the previous high-end machines. Most of the portables are more powerful than the current desktop Apple computers. Time for the desktop models to continue the leap frogging.

Some tech details from Intel on Apple's Thunderbolt interface. And more on the same.

And there are already some external disk drives that use the interface. Now if Comcast would only up its cable modem service to 10GigaBitsPerSecond...

Sony builds the next generation in CMOS sensors for cameras. The advancement is that the sensor can move the data much faster than before. Hence, you can click photos much faster.

The Motorola Xoom was hacked two hours after it was released. Now everyone is free to install their own OS and start experimenting.

Barnes and Noble claims that it has a quarter of the U.S. eBook market with its nook. The Kindle had a big head start on this market. Barnes and Noble, however, has stores. You can walk in and try a nook for hours before the sales people grow weary of you.

Simple can be wonderful. See, for example, this exquisite little Swiss Army knife from Victorinox.

And speaking of simple, ahhh.

Electric bicycles continue to improve. This one includes some USB charging ports. Why not? You have that big battery and generator, so why no recharge your cell phone while riding?

This featured workspace definitely falls into the interior decorator category. Or is the exterior decorator category. The wood, the glass wall, it makes me feel like I'm in a tree house - for adults of course. Great.

One thing leads to another thing of interest: This post describes how repressive regimes can use Facebook against the revolutionaries (also warns revolutionaries about what can happen to them). The post is part of research for a dissertation. The progress of the research is being blogged. I like that.

Apple and Google are working on new music services. The idea is that you backup your music to the cloud and then listen from anywhere. I like the idea of backups in case the iPhone or iPad or whatever dies. Listening from anywhere? I don't know.

FreeBSD 8.3 is released.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks

Go to Dwayne's Home Pag

Saturday February 26, 2011

Engadget gives the iPad the gadget of the year award for 2010. Is there such an award?

Two iPad 2 videos - funny, not real, but really well made.

Middle East protests and the Internet. The Internet has played a part. Still, all political power comes out of the muzzle of a gun.

Google changes it search algorithm (daily). Recent changes are aimed at not taking searchers to content farms.

Here come the new top-level domain names (.com, org., etc. - no, there isn't a dot-e-t-c, it's just a ... never mind). .ibm .nike and so on cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

New technology is disliked - it goes back to the printing press and beyond.

NASA is working on space ships that can return from Mars. I guess this makes sense, but it sounds funny.

A robot marathon in Japan. The knee-high robots are walking indoors. This is an interesting endurance test. Here is a live video feed from the event.

Incandescent light bulbs will be banned in the U.S. in 2014 - those evil little fellows. Some new Congressmen want to let the American people decide for themselves what they want to buy. What a concept.

Intel has been building Atom chips just for tablet computers. It seems that some of these tablets from different companies will arrive real soon now - in March. Hey, March starts next week.

It appears that Boeing has finally won the contract for the next generation of fuel tankers. The entire competition is perplexing to me. Was America going to hire a foreign firm to build its military aircraft? Was someone seriously considering that?

Cool - someone hacked a Barnes and Noble nook and made a car stereo.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page

Sunday February 27, 2011

So here we go with a possible outcome of new technology from Google and others. Someone grabs an image out in public on their cell phone and wants to know who is hanging out in front of you-fill-in-the-blank-with-an-embarassing-place. Google, or someone else, grabs your face from this place. You have your photo on Facebook or something similar. Google matches this embarassing place photo with your Facebook photo. Aha! Now we know where you have been and what you are doing. Technically, this will work. I think it will be working within six months.

Is the optical disk dead? Maybe, but we are pretty sure that distributing software on the optical disk is dead.

I like this cartoon about software updates.

Apple's OS X 10.7 "Lion" is coming this summer. There are several posts up this week on the new features. Some of the technical niceties involve working with the solid state disks. Those things do behave a bit different from the spinning disks we know so well.

At the current rate, the Amazon Kindle will be free this summer. Things, it seems, rarely continue at the current rate. Instead, the vendors tend to keep the price the same and raise the performance. Still, there are many reasons why Amazon would make the Kindle "free" or $20 or something.

Here is a closer look at Apple's updated portable computers. Four cores in the CPU and so on. As the review says, this is the fastest laptop they have ever seen.

A few reasons why computers are still morons.

I find this interesting - there is a growing gap between what the Academy (the one that gives Academy Awards to movies) thinks is good and what the public thinks is good. I don't like this trend as members of the Academy make the movies and try to decide what the public should see. I guess I don't trust those people (the ones in the Academy).

Here is a funny, sad, and true story about company executives, Christians, and cookies. Ah, we people are an odd sort.

Here are a few thoughts on military uniforms from someone who remembers WWII and everything since. I too think the current pajama camo uniforms are just plain ugly and somewhat degrading to service for your country. Perhaps those who decide on uniforms have something in mind.

And since this is Sunday, I look at several posts on writing.

A writer looks back at 20 years of writing. The technology has changed drastically, but it is still the same effort. At least in some ways.

If writing competitions interest you, here are 25.

100 whimsical words. I don't know if all of these are actual "real" words.

Book publishing or having a book you write published can be tough. I constantly advise people, "Don't quit your job to write a book." Little money is paid for the vast majority of book writers. That means Y O U won't make money worth mentioning. You might earn a couple of hundred dollars for a book you write. That is all.

I like this - places to be while blogging. I go to a lot of these places, but I guess I do 98.6% of my blogging in front of my iMac in my home office.

Write everyday or let things build inside you and write a lot now and then? Try both, use what works for you, don't let people annoy you by telling you to do the other things.

Travelling all the time can cost much less than you might expect. Here are the annual expenses of one person. Note, this person seems to have friends who will let her stay with them for free. Also, she gets lodging as a trade for work in several places. Good ideas both.

This writer finds article ideas in what she calls the footnotes of blog posts. These are the  juicy little tidbits of information thrown in like a footnote.

Story tellers will rule the eBook future. This tends to make sense after reading the entire post.

Email me at d.phillips@computer.org
Go to Day Book Home and pointer to previous weeks
Go to Dwayne's Home Page