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: January 9-15, 2012

Summary of this week:

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

Monday January 9, 2012

CES is this week, so lots of new products are previewed and such.

DropCam has a new model of their cloud-based home surveillance camera.

Acer shows the world's thinnest portable computer yet. But, since this is only Monday, we may see something thinner later. This model is only 15mm thick at its thickest point. That is just under 0.6 inches.

Happy Birthday to the iPhone. It is five years old today.

Lenovo is putting Android 4 on phones, TVs, and tablets. Is the world ready for "smart" televisions?

The Victorinox Swiss Army Knife solid state disk drive. These look great, but are expensive.

Terabytes of backup storage from IOMega and EZ Media.

And this from LaCie. It has a super-fast Thunderbolt interface.

3M shows a 46" capacitive projected touch screen. All great stuff. This is only a prototype, so the real thing may be a year or so away.

There are devices at CES carrying the logo of the Radio Company of America (RCA).

I like portable power solutions. This one is from Goal Zero. It is called the Sherpa 50 (why?). See goalzero.com for lots of solutions.

This is known as airplane porn: the P-51 Mustang. This is maybe the best propeller driven plane ever made. I would take one.

LG ultra-definition 84" TV.

openpilot - open source control for surveillance aircraft.

maui-indexer - captures the topic of text documents.

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Tuesday January 10, 2012

CES is the week, so the gadget announcements continue. Engadget has over 200 new items today (the usual is about 40 per day).

This skateboard is powered by an electric motor and controlled by combinations of voice and gesture. This is cute and looks like fun. The real benefit, however, would be to put these controls on vehicles for the disabled.

And Intel is pushing touch, voice, and gesture control in the new ultrabook portable computers. Changing the way we send information to the computer (the "I" of "I/O") will enable many handicapped people, and handicaps come in many forms.

Texas Instruments is in the news (it has been a while since that was true). Here is a Windows 8 tablet they made with their own processor.  And here they have built the Jacinto line of processors for automotive use.

ViaSat has its new satellite online and is offering a highe-speed broadband service for most of America. This might work at my mother's house in rural Louisiana. And Dish Network is partnering with ViaSat for some services. This isn't cheap as it costs between $50 and $100 a month.

One Laptop Per Child shows a hand crank power source for its new tablet. These hand crank and pedal crank etc. power sources are very important. I am surprised that we are not seeing lots of these. I am also surprised that Apple and Samsung are not providing these or at least interfaces to these.

Microsoft creates WiFi-NC. This is a WiFi network that hops among the narrow bands between television station broadcasts. This looks good.

The iPhone is closing the gap with the Android smartphones in the U.S. market.

TV news isn't discussing the SOPA because TV news channels are owned by the people who wrote the SOPA and want it passed.

JRR Tolkien never won a Nobel Prize in Literature because his prose was of low quality.

Data Hogs - the top 1% of mobile users consume half the available bandwidth.

Cognitive decline begins at age 45. Rats. I read this before somewhere, but I can't remember where.

A look at how Google holds its meetings. These are simple items. Meetings are for decisions. Small groups with every attendee having information required for the decision. If you have no such information, you don't attend.

Bad economy? BMW has record sales of luxury cars.

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Wednesday January 11, 2012

This is important tech for this week: A glove that translates American Sign Language into text.

Intel begins its latest push with processors for smartphones. Here is a look at Lenovo's smartphone powered by Intel.

Interesting comment from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on broadcast television: broadcast TV is living on borrowed time.

ASUS shows a 7" tablet with a four-core processor at $249. At least they have the price in the right area.

A summary of the first day of CES. Ultrabooks are everywhere.

Coming in six months from Targus: the iNotebook. You write on a paper pad. What you write appears on the tablet computer. We've seen similar things to this before. Maybe this time it will work.

Samsung updates its Chromebook portable computer that runs nothing but the Chrome OS. They have sold a few of these. We still don't know if the browser only computer will make it.

I smiled with this video. The maker used stop action photography of books on shelves and tables and such. Watch.

Some tech trends for 2012.

It seems that several hundred Apple employees are walking around CES while Apple the company is not at CES. It also seems that this is a big news item for some reason.

Manufacturing begins on the $25 computer from Raspberry Pi.

One in three US military aircraft is a "drone."

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Thursday January 12, 2012

A summary of CES Day 2.

Western Digital previews some Thunderbolt-equipped external disk drives. They come in either four or six TeraByte sizes. Big and fast and not expensive.

The Mac mini is seven years old. These are great, small form factor computers for experimenters. They are still a bit high-priced, but a good product.

The big hotel chains in America have combined to create the Room Key site to search for motel rooms. See roomkey.com

A look at warehouse computing from one of Google's leading engineers.

There are now 500 million Internet users in China.

For the 19th year in a row, IBM receives more patents than any other American company.

Apple will hold a big event in New York City on January 19th. Education is the topic, and Apple is expected to do something in the textbook market. Education is a big market with lots of money, but it is also fraught with politics and labor unions. We shall see what happens.

Apple is holding $54Billion in cash outside the US. Why not bring it back to the US? Taxes. Some people call this corporate tax dodging. I call it common sense. Taxes are an expense, and you work where expenses are lower. I don't understand how US lawmakers don't understand this. I guess I am just too simple.

The solid state disks used in the MacBook Air are about to become twice as fast.

Microsoft's Bing has passed Yahoo as a search engine.

The FAA knows who is flying "drones" in the US, but won't tell, even in response to FOIA requests.

Apple Mac computer sales are up 20% over last year while everyone else's sales fell.

Hacking into smart meters to learn what you are doing in your home. Of course these things have security holes. They have software written by people. Is everyone ready for national electronic health records?

Another computer built into a transparent table so you can see all the blinking lights.

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Friday January 13, 2012

A list of links to items from this week's CES. A general feeling is that CES was boring this year. With the Internet and all the tech blogs, companies announce products year round. The "wait until the big show to announce the big product" trend may be over for good.

Target confirms that it will have little Apple stores inside its stores in 25 locations.

Apple started selling the iPhone 4s in China. They crowds were too big; the store didn't open, and there was a riot. Now what to do?

Facial recognition was once a thing of science fiction and hollow promises from researchers. Today's cameras have enough processing power to recognize faces and focus on those.

An excellent use of a 3D printer: making cupcakes.

And now for more "traditional" uses of a 3D printer, the state of the practice is advancing nicely.

The Irish government proclaims that 7,000 eVoting machines are worthless. Good for them. These are computers running software that has security holes. I wish governments in the U.S. would do the same.

Another look at how Americans don't take vacations. Many people are afraid of looking like slackers. Many are also afraid that they will be punished if they use their paid time off.

FreeBSD 9.0 is released.

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Saturday January 14, 2012

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga. It is a 13" laptop computer that runs Windows 8. You can also fold the screen backwards (see video) to make it a 13" Windows 8 tablet computer. This might work well.

The rumors about the iPad 3 keep coming and they seem to be more reliable. It has a multi-core processor, high-resolution display, and LTE.

If iPads are computer, Apple is the world's biggest computer company.

A look into how much unused code is connected to working software. LibreOffice is the subject of this post, but unused code lurks in most software. The most used way to find such code is by inspection.

The TSA annually finds $400,000 in change that passengers leave at security checkpoints. The money goes into the TSA budget to buy stuff.

The computer is replacing the middle class (?).

A tour of the 15 coolest offices in tech. Wonderful appearance, but that can be deceiving.

The SMILE Plug creates a small, local WiFi cloud for education. SMILE is Stanford University's Mobile Inquiry Based Learning Environment.

New York City opens a new high school: The Academy for Software Engineering. I like this.

An introduction to big data.

December video game sales were down 21% from last year.

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Sunday January 15, 2012

The current administration has said something about SOPA. I think they don't like it, but it is hard to tell. Politics.

A year travelling the world with an iPad.

All this emphasis on collaboration has overlooked the value of one person sitting alone producing content.

The Department of Homeland security is monitoring the Internet for "political dissent", i.e., criticism of the TSA. I guess I fall into the political dissent category as well as a lot of people I know.

Characters for stories are all around us as writers. Do we take the time to collect them?

Apple becomes the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association. One of these days, Americans will learn how their standard of living was built on the backs of people in other countries.

Here is a blog post idea that just about anyone can use: pick a problem you had three years ago and describe how to solve it.

What does an online writer do all day? Follow this blogger in February.

Want to be a better writer? Find a peer to act as your editor. This works, but it is almost impossible to find this person.

Learning to draw can improve productivity. You don't have to become an artist. Learning how to draw squares, circles, triangles, lines, and arrows is quite helpful.

In writing, start with something to say.

Five basic writing prompts.

Here is another form of the question that I think writers should answer for themselves. Why do you write? Be happy with your answer.

This is a big tip from people who have written books. Want to write a book? Write it.

The difference between authors and writers. Writers keep writing. Authors have written in the past and may or may not be writing now.

This is important for those writers who want to be published: stop waiting to be picked. Write that manuscript and send it to publishers. I needed years to realize that publishers offer book deals to many authors who then do not write. I couldn't understand that as I wanted so desperately to be published that when someone offered me something I wrote like mad. Still, the vast majority of writers, when offered a spot, freeze. They think really hard about their writing, but don't write. There are plenty of people who don't like me and don't like my work. So what if one more person, a publisher, joins that group? Write.

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