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: October 24-30, 2011

Summary of this week:

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

Monday October 24,  2011

A gallery of self-driving cars. We are moving in this direction at surprising speed.

Apple sells four million iPhone 4S units in the first weekend. Success has been redefined. If they had "only" sold one million, people would have declared that Apple with Steve Jobs was dead.

Apple's R&D spending as a percentage of sales is quite low - 2.2%.

The iPod's tenth birthday was yesterday. The iPod changed everything. It was a pocket computer that had content - music.

This is amazing image processing - a new technique to place an object into an existing photograph. See the video.

It is still difficult to develop new software. People develop software. Hence, and this is not a new declaration, the problems with software development are (1) people, (2) people, and (3) people.

Cray is to (attempt to) build a 20 PetaFlop computer for Oak Ridge National Labs. This is $100Million of taxpayers' money. Oh boy.

Fascinating video from NASA that is about tracking fires across the globe in the last ten years. What I find more intriguing is how the green vegetation and white snow grow and shrink.

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Tuesday October 25, 2011

Here is an old Frigidaire ad. Notice what is in the refrigerator - lots of fresh food. This was the American dream - plenty of food.

Hackers release personal information on Robert Rubin - former Secretary of State and CEO of various Wall Street firms. This is the danger of national electronic health records. If someone doesn't like you, they will get your health care records and abuse them. It doesn't matter if you have nothing to hide, they will create something phony that will hurt you. Your best efforts to set the record straight will be in vain.

John McCarthy, creator of the Lisp programming language, dies at 84. He invented LISP in 1958. I hated that language, but I guess more than anything I hated the way it was crammed down my throat when I was in graduate school. I met McCarthy at a conference several years ago. He had some fascinating ideas about programming languages being like elephants - good ideas. Computing is reaching the age that many of its pioneers are dying.

Japan's Defense Ministry has built a ball-shaped drone. The flying vehicle is surrounded by a spherical skeleton. That allows the vehicle to bounced off things and keep flying. Ingenious.

ARM's third quarter profit doubles over last year.

Sales of tablets surpass sales of netbooks for the first time. Of course, this all depends on how you label computers.

Turn your neighborhood into a wireless hotspot with this repeater. It boosts WiFi distance to 1.5 Miles. This could be wonderful. If a shopping center had one hotspot, not one for every cafe and coffee shop...I think that would be better, but that is just me.

A custom-built table that hides all the power cords. Nice.

A few calculations show how using LEDs can save more electricity than solar energy can produce. Oooops, it seems that U.S. government policy is headed in the wrong direction (again). How many LED "light bulbs" can a few billion dollars of government insured loans to failing solar companies purchase?

Netflix is have a bad time with the financial numbers lately.  A board of directors can kill in a month what has taken years to build. That goes for non-profit organizations as well as companies.

It is official, we now have seven billion people on the planet. And people are going nuts about global warming and other theoretical issues that consume vast resources. Let's talk about real, current issues.

Bill Gates has been working on measures of effectiveness of teachers. Here is a measure - do you dread going to school knowing that you have to face this teacher today? Educators hate such a question, but really, it goes to the heart of learning. If my teachers brings dread, I won't learn anything. Teachers don't have to by your best friend, but meanness should not be allowed.

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Wednesday October 26, 2011

Virginia Rometty becomes the first female CEO of IBM.

A Kenyan company launches Africa's largest local cloud service.

IBM has software that is helping utility companies stretch their power resources. This means more money for the utility companies. It should be noted that all conservation efforts mean more money to utility companies.

This book contends that IT advances cost more jobs than they create. I agree. The result is that people need to find new jobs instead of depending on the old jobs. It takes time to adjust to change.

93,000+ passwords are leaked in Sweden. Is everyone ready for national electronic health records?

Apple and Amazon will both see record sales next quarter with their tablet computers. Apple will make record profits, while Amazon will probably lose money. ooops.

It appears that Apple will build a solar power farm at its data center in North Carolina.

The chart shows the dominant Internet companies of the 1990s. Some people mumbled at the time about regulating these companies as part of trust-busting. That is laughable. Once the government want to break up IBM as a monopoly. Once the government wanted to breakup Microsoft as a monopoly. Those items are also laughable. And now some people want to regulate Google and Apple and ... Some people never learn.

Speaking of the mid-1990s - the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN) is 16 years old. More important than the birthday is the idea of programmers sharing all their work with other programmers so that everyone can stand on each others' shoulders, not on their toes. Wonderful.

Government to the rescue again. The fallacies and foibles of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

Some thoughts on technology and possible innovation in education. It is much needed - innovation in education - but I have little hopes of moving any of this through the teacher's unions.

The Royal Society is putting 350 years of scientific papers on line. Bravo!

Windows XP is ten years old (yesterday was the birthday). I didn't know this, but the XP stands for eXPerience. It has been one of the best products ever from Microsoft.

Amazing - these robot legs walk with a motor or power. They are basically walking downhill. Must see the video.

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Thursday October 27, 2011

Google releases version 15 of the Chrome browser.

Apple now has 60,000 employees. Try to understand the revenue and value that Apple has with only 60,000 employees. I don't know if there ever has been a more financially successful company in the history of the world.

Government to the rescue - the absurdities being discussed in the Protect IP Act.

Breaking news - this law has been renamed the E-PARASITE Act. That is an acronym. I won't lend it any credit by spelling it out. It too is absurd.

I like this one - a guy uses a 3D printer to print the parts for a mechanical computer.

Steve Jobs never had license plates on his car. In California, you have six months to put plates on a new car, so Jobs bought a new car more often than every six months. I find it fascinating that the 99% is railing against the richest 1%, but Steve Jobs, a member of the 1%, is  loved and praised with books and television shows and everything else.

This is unusual - a prosthetic arm that has enough electronics inside it to serve as a cell phone docking station.

An article about the insecurities inherent in the Internet and email and such. And is everyone ready to put thier health records up there on a "secure" site?

Perseverance. It isn't necessary, but it sure helps when writing songs or novels or anything else. Volume. Write, write, and write more.

Facebook's first European data center will use natural cooling (artic circle style). Finally, people are "getting it." I went to high school and college in Louisiana. The first time I went to a cold place, I would turn off the air conditioners and open the doors in the winter to cool the equipment. Senior managers chastised me. I never understood their logic, but then again, they probably didn't have any logic as they were mid-level managers in government.

I like this idea - go to different places for different types of tasks. If you can, make different areas in your office for different tasks. Other ways to do this are: go to the coffee shop for general web viewing (like I do), go to the library to write your novel, and so on.

Some experience with the $35 Indian tablet (the Aakash). You can reportedly buy one of these for $60 (non-education, education costs are $35).

Tech skills have a two-year half life? Maybe some of them do. Problem-solving skills and the ability to think have a longer useful life.

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Friday October 28, 2011

Samsung passes Apple as the world's largest cell phone seller. Funny, I thought Apple was a computer company.

But Samsung promises to sell cell phones next year with flexible displays.

It appears that HP will continue to make and sell personal computers.

Bill Gates spent a recent afternoon at the University of Washington. That's nice. He should do that often as should other tech-company CEOs and such.

Redbox raises the price of a one-day DVD rental to $1.20. Disaster to follow?

The government is here to save us. The FCC will move tax money from one telephone program to a rural broadband program. How about just eliminating the old, outdated tax?

Motorola shipped 100,000 tablets last quarter. I'd take the royalties from that, but Apple sold 11.1 million iPads during the same time. The definition of success has changed.

Google has already bought more than 50 companies this year.

Play your electric guitar into and through an iPad or iPhone or Mac with the Jam adapter.
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Saturday October 29, 2011

The St Louis Cardinals win the World Series.

CNN has decided to call Mike Arrington a racist. I guess it's a slow news week or something.

Is the "cyber war" just an excuse for government regulation? It is difficult to tell. This is all part of the drag that comes from distrusting the people who are in government.

Some people believe that at one time in 2000, the U.S. was running a budget surplus. No we weren't. We were still taking money out of Social Security and spending it on all sorts of other things. That is why the system is in such trouble. It is called misappropriation of funds.

HP reports that it is officially out of the $99 TouchPads. Go to eBay if you want one.

600,000 Facebook logins are compromised everyday. Is everyone ready for national electronic health records?

Nepotism at the CIA. Yes, in government bureaucracy connections count more than merit. This is nothing new; what is new is that it appears in the newspaper about a national security agency.

The President is now using the powers of the imperial presidency instead of bother with those pesky congress-critters. By the way, those congress-critters were all elected by Americans to represent them. Funny thing, a person proclaims, "if elected to Congress, I will never vote for this and that." They hold to their word and are criticized for it. Yep, integrity is a funny thing.

Government agents are going to kill every single nutria (swamp rat) in Maryland. What folly. And if they succeed, do they really know what will happen next?

An attempt at urban camoflouge. It appears too conventional to work. Effective camoflouge looks wierd.

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Sunday October 30, 2011

Career advice for technical people - don't call yourself a programmer. Years ago we did call ourselves programmers. Today, you are a this or a that, and if you can write programs, that is a nice skill to have. Thirty years ago, typing was a nice skill for an engineer to have. I guess it would have been stupid for us to call ourselves typists 30 years ago.

Writers have gaps. Early in a writing life, the product isn't good. Keep writing. The product will improve with time. One of the first pieces of writing I attempted was a review of a piece of software (what people call an app today). My review was 14 pages long, some 7,000 words. Reviews are supposed to be 500 to 1,000 words. I couldn't figure out how in the world to describe a product in such few words. I kept practicing and I learned.

A solar charger for your cell phone. This one has a big suction cup that allows you to stick it to the windows of your car and an airplane to get all the sun available. And it only costs $40.

Someone does the math on the President's latest proposal to bail out college student loans. It is a great program if you borrowed money for college because you won't have to repay much of it. Some other taxpayer will pay for it, or we will just keep putting green ink on paper and calling it money.

Apple has more employees in China than in America. Government regulations in America ensure that. Is there some way we can move out of this mess? Surely there is some ground in the middle.

Speaking of China, they have a new supercomputer that uses chips designed and built in China.

The Syrian government used an American filtering product to block the Internet from its subjects during protests. The product wasn't sold to the Syrian government directly, but made its way there in a round about  manner.

It appears that Apple is working on its own mapping service to compete with Google and Microsoft.

106 excuses. We will never run out of excuses. If nothing else, I can't recite all the excuses correctly, so I can't...

A simple productivity system that Charles Schwab claimed earned him $100Million. Make a list, set priorities, and work the #1 priority until it is finished, then #2, and so on. Start with the most important task. Make a new list everyday.

Excellent, and I do mean excellent, tips on writing better.

The incurable disease of writing.

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