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: August 8-14, 2011

Summary of this week:

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

Monday August 8,  2011

The best item of the day or week or month - Scott Adams on the wonder of boredom.

The office is changing - shrinking for one thing. It is far more mobile and less private.  The people at Facebook  agree with me about the cost of computers and how to dispense IT services.

Microsoft thinks it can build a cloud server that is secure.

Apple will have an education-version of their iMac in mid-August for less than $1,000.

45,000 Verizon employees on the East coast are on strike. In an age of high unemployment, I hope they know what they are doing.

This is a great idea. Put a camera in a 40mm grenade casing, shoot it 500 feet in the air, and watch immediate tactical video for eight or so seconds.

And I like this one too - software that grades essays without bias.

The benefits of charity. They are HUGE.

It seems that Holland has moved from post-Christian to post-secular.

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Tuesday August 9, 2011

Why are national electronic health records (and other large, online databases of important information) such a terrible idea? It takes 125 lines of code to create mischief. It takes about 10 million lines of code to guard against mischief. I don't understand why some policy makers and politicians don't understand. Is the math too hard?

This story has been all over the place the past couple of days - the things that smugglers will try to send new Apple products into China.

Apple made a big deal about their online rescue if your disk crashes. Then they learned that the online solution will not work for some users, so they have announced other means.

Fastest broswer in the world? Chrome. See the test results.

Amazon web services goes down again. It is back up again.

All models are wrong, some are useful - George Box. True.

Facebook is now using a type of natural language processing to effectively tag posts.

Don't carry scientific instruments through airports. The TSA isn't trained to recognize the difference between a thermometer and a bomb, so they will likely confiscate and destroy what you are carrying.

It seems that Second Life is profitable.

Finally, someone has figured out how to control a good camera via a smartphone. Remote controlled cameras were pretty easy to find back in the chemical film days, but why don't we have them in the computer days?

BlueLounge - interesting designs for Apple and other products.

The Ultrabooks are coming - here are photos of a probable entry from Acer.

Here are eight tech companies who are sitting on large amounts of cash until ... well until they aren't. Why are companies sitting on cash instead of hiring people? Uncertainty. What will happen with healthtax, I mean healthcare? What will happen with regulations on business? Taxes on business? There are too many question marks.

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Wednesday August 10, 2011

This is an excellent xkcd cartoon - and it is true. Through 20 years of effort, we've successfully trained everyone to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember, but easy for computers to guess.

Apple claimed that Samsung stole its tablet ideas. A German judge agrees with Apple. Samsung may be out of the entire European market for years.

The tidal wave that hit Japan broke off a couple of huge icebergs from Antartica - 8,000 miles away.

Sony shows a new battery - a big battery. It can power ten average desktop computers for a few hours.

Lenovo shows its new all-in-one desktop computer. Nice, very nice.

A great time-lapse video of Post Offices in the United States from 1700 to 1900. One thing to note are the great unpopulated areas in 1900.

A workspace built only from cardboard. Need I write that smoking and other forms of fire are not allowed.

Looters in London plus facial recognition software. Hmmm.

From the Black Hat conference - once you put Macs in a network they become vulnerable to security attacks.

Maybe, just maybe, some semblance of sanity will sneak into the TSA and the airports.

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Thursday August 11, 2011

In Louisiana today.

DARPA will launch a hypersonic aircraft today - 22 times the speed of sound.

Cool toys from a 3D printer. Entertainment is often the first use of technology. Later, the real uses come from the funds generated by amusement.

Panasonic ToughBook computers are getting better processors from Intel.

Solid State Disks continue to provide more bytes and high data rates.

I don't view much camping equipment, but couldn't pass this one. These tents weigh less than two pounds and roll up to about the size of a water bottle.

For the first time, fewer Americans are paying for television (cable and satellite service). The bad economy and TV on the Internet are to blame. Jobs? Are you kidding?

Federal law agents use radios that can be hacked, jammed, and rendered useless.

Computing in the cloud may be the best thing that ever happened to Linux. Of course, the Linux fans may kill one another before that takes hold.

Politicians and their friends tend to exagerate the economic gains and losses of events both real and possible. Trust? Are you kidding? (Have I already used the "are you kidding?" phrase today?)

The Hong Kong stock exchange web site was hacked. Is everyone ready for national electronic health records?

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Friday August 12, 2011

It seems the Chinese Government can't take a joke - the are finding and closing the fake Apple stores.

This is a new idea, maybe, and maybe a good one. Do something in the office to make sit-at-a-desk employees stand and move frequently.

Coming? The iCloud iPhone that might cost nothing to buy, but you have to pay the monthly access fee.

Well, maybe the Ultrabooks won't appear. The makers want more subsidies from Intel so that they can bring their prices below the MacBook Air.

It seems that the government has approved a method of extracting oil from shale. That was nice of them. I guess we won't run out of petroleum this weekends. That, I am sure, is bad news for some people.

The Obama administration quadrupled the number of government-owned datacenters. Now it is closing many of them. As this post asks, what happens with all that computer equipment? Your tax dollars at waste. Why isn't there a Congressional investigation into this waste?

DARPA launched its hypersonic vehicle yesterday; the test failed. Note, I don't call that a waste of taxpayers money. DARPA is supposed to be doing high-risk research projects. This is what happens in such projects. The item with the datacenters is just plain stupid.

Microsoft doesn't seem to know how to make and market a phone. The Windows phone is a flop.

On the other side, if you want an example of world domination, look at Apple and the tablet market.

Are we recycling old electronics or just sending them to Chinese junk yards? I think the latter. China is taking money and poisoning itself.

Great slow-motion video from a day in a city.

This idea might work - a second screen that connects to a portable computer via only a USB cable. It is from Lenovo.

Samsung Solid State Disk with 6 GigaBitPerSecond transfer rate.

This could be important. Tiny (what else) electric circuits applied to the human skin via a temporary tatoo method. These circuits can do the job of bulky, impractical sensors that we use today.

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Saturday August 13, 2011

Dell released three new portable computers. They are continuing Dell's move to aluminum instead of "plastic" cases.

Six percent of smartphone users are scanning QR codes. That is small, but growing.

I like this, Audi has built a monocycle. It balances itself and has a seat and handle bars. Of course it isn't practical.

The IBM PC is 30 years old. I used one in grad school in 1983 and in a government office in 1995 - yes, 1995. The government always was a bit behind the times.

Every year we have thousands of Maple seeds fluttering through our yard like one-wing helicopters or boomerangs or something. Here is a UAV based on the same shape.

The Dutch government is testing a GPS-based system to tax car owners on how much they drive. I am not sure if the Dutch got this idea from us or if we may copy them later. I am also not sure which alternative is worse.

The TSA is allowing airline pilots to bypass security. That is okay, but as Schneier notes the TSA is allowing people who look like airline pilots to bypass security. There is a big difference. See, for example, that cute movie with Tom Hanks about the guy who impersonated airline pilots.

This story is all over the net today, so it must be important. It seems that BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) thought that protestors were about to storm BART stations. To interupt the threat, BART turned off cell phone service at the stations.

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Sunday August 14, 2011

This is news to me: there have been large protests in Israel in the past four weeks. I guess the reason this is news is that all the protest are peaceful. There have been no rioting and no looting. Peaceful, civil disobedience doesn't get much press.

Here is more information on Apple's planned campus in California. I hope they know what they are doing. Building a huge central office is often the first step in the decline of an otherwise good company. This post has many images. If the actual building looks like the drawings, it will be beautiful. One of the problems is that actual buildings rarely look like the artist's drawings that precede them.

One writer's reference shelf.  I have several of these including Dwight Swain's "Techniques of a Selling Writer." “This book provides solid instruction for persons who want to write and sell fiction, not just to talk and study about it.”

Firefox 6 is out (a few days early).

This lady has a PhD in Statistics. She has also won a million-dollar lottery four times. Accidental co-occurrence?

Some thoughts on the New York Times paywall. It seems that people are paying to read the NYT. The wall is ineffective as I read some o the articles on a regular basis without paying. Am I supposed to be paying someone?

Writers, is perfection holding you back? Write a short story, but you don't like it. Don't fix it. Instead, write another short story and another one and another one and another. Pay attention to moving in a direction of writing better, but don't aim for perfect. "This isn't good enough," i.e., "this isn't perfect" is the one excuse I hear more than all others combined.

In a similar vein, don't wait for the perfect time to start writing. The perfect time will never come.

Finding the time to write a book. And then the discipline. I agree that writing a book takes time. Some people I know who have written many books disagree about the discipline. I half-way agree or disagree about discipline. If the book is fun and exciting to the writer, discipline is not necessary. And a little more in the series - structure.

The notions of talent and practice (practice practice practice) when it comes to writing.

Ten good writing quotes.

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