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: April 4-10, 2011

Summary of this week:

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

Monday April 4,  2011

Someone has figured out how to use the Microsoft Kinect to "enhance" video chat.

The U.S. is moving towards fewer UAVs and more balloons over Afghanistan. The intelligence-gathering balloons are cheaper to use than the UAVs and provide longer coverage. This continues a long history of using balloon for intelligence going back to the U.S. Civil War.

Google's Android continues to gain market share in the smartphone world.

AOL buys Engadget. Now the staff at Engadget is leaving and joining something called SB Nation. I looked at SB Nation, it appears to be a newspaper. Where is the gadget news? I must be missing something here.

I like this one from Seth Godin:  "We train kids to deal with teachers in a certain way: Find out what they want, and do that, just barely, because there are other things to work on. Figure out how to say back exactly what they want to hear, with the least amount of effort, and you are a 'good student.' Then we go to work as adults and act with our bosses just like we act with our teachers. Not everyone is like this all the time, thankfully.

Your tax dollars at waste. This seems to be a complicated story about the U.S. government's attempts to close pirate web sites. Someone spent a lot of our tax money and accomplished almost nothing.

Guess what? President Obama will run for re-election. Guess what number two? He will use Facebook as the center of his campaign. I would have hoped that he learned that governing is much more difficult than campaigning. I guess campaigning is much more fun. After all, you can say lots of things, but none of them have to actually work in a campaign.

Several "open government" web sites will close soon. They aren't receiving enough funds to stay open. What is amazing, even for government, is the cost to keep the sites open. $4Million a year to keep a web site operating? That is about 15 full-time people. For one web site? You tax dollars at waste.

And here is something different about social networking and writing and learned helplessness. Author L.M. May has written a post on learned helplessness. May doesn't want to delve into the comments and discussion that is  to follow. So, May is being helped by writer and computer professional Jerry Weinberg and write Dean Wesley Smith.  The topic is about as important as you can have for writers, computer professionals, and just about every other human being I have ever met.

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Tuesday April 5, 2011

Excellent - this microchip can be implanted in a person's eye. Yes, it will enable the blind to see. Everything else today is mundane in comparison.

I like this electric motorcycle. It looks good and has some practical features. The price - $6,000 - is still not practical. We are getting there, though.

An easier way to turn a second Macintosh into an extended display for a PC or a Mac.

Perhaps I should buy one of these - the Zeo monitor tracks a person's sleep patterns. Most of the things I read about how people sleep and dream and such do not apply to me.

Perhaps I should try polyphasic or biphasic sleep. My employer probably wouldn't like me taking naps every four hours, but maybe I could do the biphasic routine.

Sometimes the marketplace can be toough, sometimes brutal. This post discusses what is happening at Huffington Post, AOL, and other places. Still, people line up by the hundreds wanting their writing to be posted on major outlets for no pay. They may be stupid, they may be altruistic, or maybe they know what they are doing and are looking to be noticed and have their one big break.

Texas Instruments buys National Semiconductor for $6.5billion. As this post says - Wow!

VMWare takes over the Mozy on-line storage service.

Don't look now, but the Apple MacBook Air is a big hit in the marketplace. It is the ultimate, really small portable computer for those of us who need a real keyboard. Small, light, thin, and quick to come on.

Ubuntu switches from GNOME to Unity as the default desktop.

Steve Wozniak tells us that the iPad is what he and Jobs wanted all along. It just took 30 years to get here. The iPad is the computer for the normal people in the room. That makes a lot of sense. I think the smartphone is the computer for the normal people in the room.

I didn't know they called my life "the old-man schedule." I go to bed at 9 p.m. and roll out of bed at 5 a.m. seven days a week. Some people would consider my to be a productive person. Lots of people would consider me to be boring.

Speaking of being a boring old man, I carry 3"x5" cards in my shirt pocket. Seagate is about to release a portable disk drive that is 3"x"5 by about a third of an inch thick. It will store hundreds of GigaBytes of data - much more than I need.

And while we are on portable storage - later this month, Panasonic will sell rewritable 100GigaByte Blu-Ray disks.

WOW! This is a neat blog. They post high-resolution scans of old map posters. Love it. BigMapBlog.com

AMD is shipping a new quad-core APU.

Kenneth Davis has some ideas on editing drafts written by other people.  Jerry Weinberg, who has written a few dozen books with other people, suggests this: One person drafts a section and sends it to the other person. The second person turns on the "change bars" is MS Word (or whatever) but not the detailed change display and revises. The first person sees the draft with change bars. The first person now revises with the same settings. The section of writing keeps going back and forth until there are no more change bars.

The state of California may rid their libraries of paper-based books. This would save money and have other advantages and all that until the electricity goes off and all the electricity-based books go dark. There are lots of dry places in the U.S. southwest where some nice people could stockpile all the paper books until the day when we reach our senses or something.

Arizona's Governor is proposing a fat-person tax. Perhaps we could have a tax on people who desire to tell other people how to live. But seriously folks, I don't understand why taxpayers should fund health care for people who shoot themselves in the foot. That sounds mean, doesn't it? Yes, it does, but I haven't found a nicer way to write it, yet.

This will really help the economy (N O T). The U.S. government is investigating Google for antitrust violations. Perhaps Google can make a series of terrible business decisions, be declared "too big to fail," and receive tens of billions of dollars in taxpayers' money. Maybe we can just leave well enough alone. Your tax dollars at waste.

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Wednesday April 6, 2011

This is a fascinating question. The coming of age of 3D printers will bring questions about copyright and stealing ideas and designs and such.

And what do you get when you combine a 3D printer with a Kinect? A little replica of yourself.

Apple owns the teenager market with its various products. Teenagers grow up to be adults with jobs and money to spend. Trust me, if you are a parent of teens, this will happen to your kids. If my kids did this, yours will as well.

A new visualization system from Honeywell could allow commercial airplanes to land with as little as a 100-foot ceiling.

Sprint's MiFi 3G/4G hot spot will be in stores in ten days for $80.

Intel just released a new line of processors aimed at high-end servers - Xeon E7 and E3.

This gadget may turn out to be something special - you attach it to your iPhone and you can make 360 degree videos.

SpaceX reveals their plans for a heavy-lift rocket.

Bruce Schneier relays some news on counter terrorism efforts since 9/11. I am afraid the concept is correct in that we have wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on securing everything from everyone or no one or something like that.

The New York Times claims that it didn't spend $40Million on its paywall. They declined to provide any specifics on the cost and benefits and all that. So, the world is left to speculate.

I like this note from Seth Godin:  In my experience, most of the problems are caused by ignorance and isolation, not incompetence or a lack of concern.

This is a big number - 10,000 shipping containers are lost at sea every year. They slip overboard and sink. Toxic materials?

ZeroPC provides an online desktop through a browser. It let's you link to all your online storage and apps. This may work.

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Thursday April 7, 2011

The Japanese are sending 23 new "robots" into their damaged nuclear facilities. These robots are more resistent to radiation.

The Motorola Xoom tablet is not selling. I was in a store yesterday and found a display of Xooms. No one else was standing there. No one else was even slightly interested.

In contrast, Apple shipped 2.5 million iPad 2 units in March.

Android is gaining in the market as Symbian falls.

This group estimates that every person on the planet passes 3TeraBytes of data a year throught the Internet. It seems that I don't do that much, but I have never measured it.

YouTube (Google) appears to be going in to the entertainment business. They are creating "channels" on YouTube and developing their own shows to put online. We shall see. My guess is that in a year or three they will by chance have a "hit show." The world may not be ready for this. And by the way, they are investing $100 Million into this project.

Reliving the past, reviving the keyboard computer - The new Commodore 64 computer is coming soon.

DARPA tries to build the universal language translator.

A simple yet powerful desk. That is an Apple Mac Pro, what I tend to call the supercomputer under your desk.

If the Federal government shuts down this weekend, government web sites won't be updated. I think they will still be "on the air." A government shutdown is the ultimate show of incompetence and lack of leadership. This is pathetic.

This story is everywhere on the net, a 75-year-old woman in Georgia cut a cable while digging about. That cut off Armenia from the Internet.

It seems that America has too many biomedical PhDs. There isn't enough funding to support research for all these people. A big problem is that they are not learning enough general skills to find jobs.

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Friday April 8, 2011

This could be huge. Researchers have connected the human brain to a computer. People can move the cursor about by speaking. They can also move the cursor by speaking to themselves. This may allow those whose speech mechanics no longer work to speak again. It could also permit handless, silent control of computers - another boost for the disabled.

Half the use of pirated software in the U.S. is concentrated in six states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and Michigan.

Larry page does a complete reorganization of Google.

All Google employees will have their annual bonuses tied to the success of Google's social media push. This means that everyone is expected to do everything they can to promote the push and use the products and so on. Interesting twist on responsibility and accountability.

Google has improved its speech recognition capabilities.

Facebook is revealing the "secrets" of its data centers and servers. Their machines seem to be more efficient than most.

The New York Times' paywall didn't cost $40Million, only $25Million. That still puts the Times on a par with the Federal Government.

The Obama administration wants the ability to read email stored in the cloud (where most of it is stored these days) without court order. I thought all this evil spy-on-Americans stuff was supposed to stop as soon as whats-his-name left office. I guess I was wrong.

Linux turns 20 this year.

Yes, it is possible to locate your computer when it is connected to the Internet. Of course, if someone wanted to located me, they could find my address in the telephone book.

I am not sure I understand all of this one, but Intel has put money into Kno - a company that has built some open-like-a-book educational tablets.

Almost too bizarre to believe - police "robot," naked man, AK-47.

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Saturday April 9, 2011

Something surely silly - a Ralph Lauren backpack with solar panels - only $800.

Cessna is helping NASA develop a new aircraft skin. This is interesting science and may be helpful to people one day. Nevertheless, this has nothing to do with NASA's mission of space exploration and is just a waste of taxpayers' money.

HTC continues to break all its sales records with its smartphones. I guess Apple isn't the only company growing and growing.

Spider-like robots - and this is a kit you can buy - less than $1,000.

I love looking at the index card commentary on the Indexed blog.

The most popular use of all those iPads is playing games. I would have thought watching movies and such, but whatever.

An Alabama professor achieves tenure in part due to 60,000 Wikipedia edits. I like this. Wikipedia spreads knowledge, and I think that is one way that college professors can profess knowledge.

I can't get the link on this to work this morning (???), but there is a new site called 3dtubeme.com that does much of what Microsoft's Photosynth does with all open-source software.

Someone found 14,000 unsaved votes in an Wisconson election for state Supreme Court. Sigh. Let's go through this one again. Systems are designed with a degree of error that is greater than 0. Designing for 0 errors would drive the price through the roof. When an election's margin is less than the systems design error - well, you might as well flip a coin or do the election over or something and not waste time  digging through all the records, recounting the votes a thousand times and such. That is unless you are a lawyer and are making tons of money sitting in court.

More on why our government doesn't want the fourth amendment of the Constitution to apply to emails.

If you haven't heard, the Federal government didn't shut down. Through heroic efforts, Congress critters did their job. Let's see, the budget is supposed to be in place on October 1, 2010, so they are six months late. They have 12 months to do the budget, so they are 50% over schedule. Wow! And we chose these guys and gals. And lest we fail to forget, during the months leading up to October 2010, one political party controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. That one political party someone couldn't agree with itself.

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Sunday April 10, 2011

GE says it will build the largest solar energy plant in the U.S. Few details are given.

The social gaming industry is expected to grow 5x in the next four years.

Google buys a mobile music company - PushLife. It appears that everyone wants into the music and entertainment world.

This is a clever piece of software that allows people with motor control issues to use a mouse. It turns the mouse pointer into a large circle. The user moves that circle to the general area they wish to click. A click then magnifies everything in that circle. This gives the user a second chance to put the cursor in the right place before clicking. The software comes at no cost. Excellent.

Researchers have built a new gasoline-powered engine for use in hybrid vehicles. The engine is far more efficient than current ones.

Stealth is a company that makes powerful computers in small boxes. The crunch is the price tag. These things are relatively expensive.

This device detects objects that are inside walls as opposed to objects on the other side of walls.

I like this post on newspapers and paying for newspaper delivery. Newspapers have always paid their bills by selling advertisement space. The subscription cost paid for delivery. Online, we the consumer already pay and pay and pay for delivery (little things like computers, modems, ISP fees, and the like). The news reporting organizations need to sell ad space to pay their bills. Same as always. Nothing new here folks. The Washington Post is going out of business because of bad business decisions - not the Internet.

Here is something simple and important - what has your attention? Are we doing the things that we should be doing to bring about what we desire? Or are we scrolling through little items that take us no where?

You start a business. You are succeeding some. You are making some money and paying your bills. And now your friends all want you to help them do the same. Do you have the time? Are you a heartless, stingy fiend for saying no? Can you say no? This post has some suggestions.

Here is a video that I encourage you to watch. Wonderful idea, excellent execution. This is sort of like dominos falling and making music in a forest. This had to have taken tens of thousands of man hours to produce.

And this is another of the best videos I have ever seen - tilt shift photography made into a video of skiing at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Here is a good post about using notebooks - the actual paper kind.  I love notebooks. I use several different kind for different applications. See my post on this topic. My question is how to convert these to digital. I want to scan my notebooks, but my home scanner would take years to do this.  Anyone know of where I can get my notebooks scanned for a penny a page?

Here is a post from a full-time writer  on writing full time. One big point - spend 50% of your time marketing.

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