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: March 7-13, 2011

Summary of this week:

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

Monday March 7,  2011

Some of my thoughts on what can happen when we combine facial recognition with cameras everywhere.

Apple sold one million of the new MacBook Air models in their first quarter of availability. The Air is the even smaller and thinner portable computer. That is what a really small portable computer should be. I would love to have one.

An interesting tidbit about the new iPad 2 - it is the only device whose display is better than its camera.

A new Lenovo ThinkPad portable computer comes with a battery that lasts 15 hours. Battery life is still the most important factor in portable computers. We are finally seeing some progress in battery life, but not anywhere near the progress in all other attributes.

GM (government motors) sold 281 Chevy Volt cars in February. In normal situations, this would be a catastrophic failure. Given that the governemnt will pay you $7,000 to buy a $42,000 car (that is a 16% bribe) this is a disaster. The news, however, is being reported as some sort of triumph. I guess I just don't understand the situation properly.

A college in Australia wants to give an iPad to every student. This is based on the outcome of a trial study. Actually, you simply raise tuition by $500 and thereby force the students to buy their iPads. Why not? Colleges require students to buy books and many have requried students to buy particular types of computers. My oldest son was required to buy a laptop computer with WiFi some eight years ago.

Increasing the output of solar energy by using concentrators - really good magnifying glass. It works quite well.

Here is another report on America's amazing immigration policy. People who want to start businesses and create jobs are being deported while people who have no skills and want to use our resources are allowed to stay. It seems this is backwards, but what do I know? I smell someone wanting to buy votes.

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Tuesday March 8, 2011

Once again, someone claims to have found water on Mars. Call me when they are making coffee there using Martian water.

Warner Brothers is now renting movies on a Facebook application.

I once wrote a short story about a guy who did this: a student hacked into the school's grade system and improved the grades of his friends.

People are buying the original iPad quickly while supplies last. I guess they liked it and didn't want to stand in line for iPad 2.

Apple is removing some physical items from its stores. In their place will be more person-to-person services. This has always been a drawing point of the Apple stores - people who actually know what they are doing sitting their serving customers face-to-face. What a concept.

I like this post about one person's perspective on getting an PhD.  "In my view, the ability to perceive one’s life as a series of learning experiences is one of the most important outcomes of getting a Ph.D. It is certainly possible that some have a similar outlook on life, acquired innately. Nevertheless, in my case, I credit my Ph.D. training for this ability, for which I am extremely grateful." I like it.

 Some Cold Warriors are warning of the continued practice of keeping nuclear weapons about. Are nukes useful any longer? What risks are there of having useless and incredibly destructive devices?

Most media piracy occurs in developing countries. That makes a lot of sense. A song on iTunes costs 99cents. Big deal? It is if you live and Nigeria where that is a day's wage. Could Apple figure out how to sell songs for 9 cents in some countries and 99 cents in others?

This is just plain cool and fun. They built a scaled-down house and floated it with baloons just like in the kids movie.

This is an excellent post from Amanda Hocking about her financial success as a writer. The best writers don't always make the best money. In the field of entertainment, luck and chance play major roles. As the Bible says, the race is not always to the swift.

This nylon bicycle was "printed" from a 3D printer. If we can perfect such, we can change a lot of things.

Another all-in-the-screen computer from HP. Why can't HP make the edges of the screen smaller and more attractive the way Apple does? Still, I find little wrong with these types of home computers. Why have all the space and all those chords?

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Wednesday March 9, 2011

Here are some thoughts on using cow manure to generate electricity. This article misses in a couple of places. One: hauling manure to the power plant. No, the hauling burns fuel; the power plant needs to be on the farm. Two: why stop with cow manure? How about people manure as well? Hmm?

The biggest risk in computer security is people. This is a shock to some people.

Microsoft issues some critical security hole fixes. That is good, but see above.

New audio headphones from Philips that use memory foam for comfort and sealing out noise.

Intel is building physical security into its processors in ever increasing measure. If your laptop is lost or stolen, you send a text message and it is locked.

Here is another example of generating electricity via water moving through a shower pipe. Come to think of it, that is how they generate power at dams - water moving through piples.

This little device relays your medical signs to a doctor via WiFi and so on. Silly? Not, it could be a great way to help the elderly and the ill stay at home instead of in expensive care facilities.

This odd "tricycle" is powered by two electric drill motors. It will go 18 miles per hour. Silly? Yes, but it shows what you can do with parts that are already here.

Ah, a peaceful workspace from LifeHacker. I love these.

This is a video of a robot, not a person. If you watch it long enough, you can see the unhuman faults. At first glance, however, you wouldn't know the difference.

A new "intelligent" magazine for the iPad - ZITE. It monitors what you view on the Internet and adjust the content it shows you.

Google releases Chrome version 10.

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Thursday March 10, 2011

Double the price of your new MacBook Pro by adding 16 GigaBytes of RAM.

This is another, it's about time item. The military is coupling generators with batteries. Generators are grossly inefficient in that they bur lots of fuel regardless of how little power is actually being used. Run the generator as needed to charge batteries. The batteries output only as much power as is needed.

TechCrunch looks at the iPad 2. The conclusion is "buy one."

And Engadget looks at the iPad 2, too. The conclusion is the same.

I tried the Zite magazine on my iPad last night. Wow. I like it. And it doesn't cost a penney. How did they do that?

So Flipboard, another great iPad magazine, is about to release a big update.

There are six Facebook Billionaires with a $$$ B.

And yes, Apple computers have security holes in them as well.

Microsoft has sold ten million Kinect sensors. This sets some kind of world record for most consumer devices sold in a span of time. It beats the iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. Good one Microsoft.

In bad news, America On Line is laying off several hundred employees.

I like this one, it is only research so far, but we may be able to get off that stupid ethanol in gasoline.

NVIDIA may move out of "just" graphics and into supercomputing. I think that is smart of them.

It appears that students in Utah will be taught that America is a republic, not a democracy. That is true - we are a republic and not a democracy. Look up the definitions. Why all the controversy? The controversy is why we have been teaching wrong things to kids for since forever.

Lenovo and Intel show a new Classmate PC for kids K through 8.

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Friday March 11, 2011

A large earthquake off the coast of Japan. Thankfully, the loss of life is under a hundred.

Canon has joined Apple in using the Thunderbolt interface.

People are buying Wall Street Journal iPad subscriptions - 200,000 so far. The "it's too expensive" argument doesn't seem to apply to the WSJ. It has always been a more-expensive newspaper, but it caters to a rich crowd.

Here is a working exoskeleton arm. We shall see how these are used, but they look great for someone whose arm muscles no longer function well.

The International Space Station is now essentially complete. I don't know the comparisons of planned and actual budget and schedule. I don't think they are very good. Oh well, at least it is up there before the space shuttle fleet is dead. Now, how are we going to get up the thing?

Thirty million tablets and eBook readers were sold in 2010.

The iPad 2 will be in stores today 5 p.m. I think it is available for order right now on the Apple store. I guess that means there will be lines outside the doors.

A one cubic millimeter endoscopy camera. Excellent.

openSUSE 11.4 is released.

SourceForge releases its code as open source.

WiFi on an airplance can interfere with the plane's navigation system. Okay, fine, now fix the systems so that it doesn't.

I like this - trusting people pays.

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Saturday March 12, 2011

Now be ready to be amazed - this is early, but here is a little robot swimming around in a pig's eye delivering medicine. One day (soon) little robots will swim around in my blood stream making tiny repairs before major problems develop. The same will happen in my mouth as robots find and correct tiny defects. Yes.

The site sun.com goes away on 1 June. During the 1980s, Sun was one of the hotest minicomputer and workstation companies. Alas, the network did become the computer, but not the way Sun forecast it.

Learning about the Japan earthquake in real time via Twitter. This is an amazing time to live.

It seems that the Japanese didn't plan for earthquakes when they built their nuclear reactors. I cannot understand the oversight.

Here is a solar-powered, wireless charging table from Panasonic. I guess this will work from the room lights. I doubt anyone will set it outdoors, though it may catch enough light if it is next to a window.

Someone has already disassembled an iPad 2.

This is not a surprise - there are many advantages to working from home. I have two cousins who work in the medical industry from home. Now that gasoline is climbing back to $4 a gallon ($3.63 a gallon for me today), working at home makes lots more sense.

This is fun. A duck hunter attached a small video camera to his dog's collar.

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Sunday March 13, 2011

I don't know what is worse, the tragedy in Japan wrought by quakes and water or the ignorant rants of the "journalists" decrying nuclear power.

More international copyright treaty angst. What a mess. I thought all this secret treaty stuff left town with Mr. Bush. Mr. Obama was different and was bringing change. Perhaps it was all political huff the entire time?

It seems that Apple did not stock enough iPad 2 units in their stores for the big opening weekend. That is a great success and a great failure all at the same time.

The TSA is going to test all of its already fielded machines for radiation. It seems the machines emit more than expected and there were math mistakes in the original tests and all sort of other folly. Your tax dollars at waste.

Here we go again - are the math requirements of computer science degrees necessary? You have to take calculus and such. Kids debated this in the 1980s. I know that as I heard them first hand. I suspect that the debate goes back farther. Calculus is good for you, but maybe it isn't needed if you are parsing text input. I liked it, but then again that is just me.

These researchers hid malware in a song file and hacked into a car's control system. Of course you can do that. There are lots of security holes in the computer system of a car.

NASA will host an open source software summit. Yes, there is lots of software in space exploration. Yes, I think this is a waste of taxpayers' money.

And now that it is Sunday, I catch up on many of the writing blogs I view during the week.

Here is a list post that I really like - 50 items for rhetoric to use in writing.

Good ideas on critiquing someone else's work and receiving critique on your own work.

Finding your passion as writer.

Do you want to telecommute? Do some of your employees want to telecommute? How do you set guidelines?

Tools for remotely controlling your home computer from the iPad.

Struggling for time for writing - try some of these time-management tips. They work. If you don't try them, perhaps you really don't want to write.

Do you write lots of books or do you one a few and spend lots of time blogging, socializing, and speaking? Well, what do you want to do with your life? Decide for yourself.

Some thoughts on how Apple builds its products. They introduce and every year improve the product. See, for example, the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and so on.

Are college students learning much? I tend to agree with this post in that they do learn and they learn a lot.

I didn't know this - the next version of Apple's OS X (Lion) will have a feature called "Versions" which saves versions of every file on your computer. It would be a history of a writer's writing. That could be an excellent thing depending on how exactly it works.

Do you forget many of the writing ideas that you have? Here are some ways to keep a record of them. I keep 3x5 cards in my pocket as well as a pencil. It seems to work pretty well.

Some traits of top writers. Here is a tip: have fun. If you want to write about terrible people, do it. If you want to live a life you never lived through your writing, do it. There are no rules. If people disapprove of your characters, tell them, "it is just a story."

Notes on blogging and such from an Internet millionaire. One good tip - you won't get rich quickly.

I love to see the desks people use - this is simple and probably effective.

Here is a positive outlook on the writing world. I tend to agree with this outlook. I write more now than ever. It is great fun. I am not making much money, but since I don't need the money, I am not really trying for the money.

This is a fantastic drawing of the history and origins of science fiction.

A list of books to help fiction writers. I have read maybe five or six of these - good books. The danger is that you spend lots of time reading and not enough time writing.

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