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 1-7, 2012

Summary of this week:

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

Monday October 1, 2012

Welcome to October.

A look at HP's ElitePad 900 Windows 8 tablet. They have several docking "jackets" that expand the I/O ports. That is a clever idea, but let's see if it sells. LATER - I have seen several dozen stories about this device on my RSS reader. It must be significant, but again, will it sell? By the way, where do they get the names for these things? Is this an improvement over the ElitePad 800 or something? I don't understand.

An Apple software "mistake" grants iCloud users an extra 20 GBytes of space. I still don't understand all the fuss about a few gigabytes of storage in a server farm. Nothing is cheaper today than disk drive storage.

Apple claims that 97% of the people at its parts suppliers are not working 60 hours a week or more. Question: How many of Apple's engineers and programmers are working 60 hours a week in California and other U.S. offices? How many engineers and programmers across America are working 60 hours a week?

Buy hardware from FreedomPop and receive some "free" bandwidth everymonth of WiMax.

A closer look at the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.

SlingBox quietly updates it line of placeshifting boxes.

The PC industry has finally recovered from last year's floods in Thailand with big shipments of hard disk drives. Expect lower prices.

I like this: Flightfox - instead of algorithms, you let people search for a good airline flight for you. Then you pay the winner.

Please, WTFM - Write The Friendly Manual. If you don't want to do that, hire me to do it for you. I don't work cheap, but I work pretty darn well.

Finnish mathematicians et al write an open textbook in three days. Great stuff.

Should we be building new, cool office spaces? Should we be wasting our time with offices? Work is something we do, not someplace we go. I agree.

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Tuesday October 2, 2012

The Ultrabooks are outselling the entire line of Apple portable computers. This shouldn't be a surprise and shouldn't be some sort of dire warning to Apple or anyone else.

The gunsmith who was using a rented 3D printer to build a gun is stalled. The company that rented him the printer took it back. That is of no use. The secret is out, and we will have 3D printed guns everywhere in ten years. A firearm is a relatively simple mechanical device. The chemistry is in the propellant (gun powder).

Half of U.S. adults own a smartphone or a tablet.

Is everyone teaching computer programming wrong? (excuse the grammar)

Good for Tim Cook. He is allowing Apple employees to take off all of Thanksgiving week with pay this year. Even the Apple retail store employees receive this benefit. Again, good for Tim Cook.

Americans are saving more now than at any time since 1945 (when the government started tracking this). I think this is wonderful, but others see this as bad. We are not risking money in the stock market and in housing. Why? Uncertainty. The same story as in business. The uncertainty introduced daily by the current administration causes people to sit on money. I think that is good for individuals. I think that is bad for companies because companies are hiring people from fear of uncertainty.

And then there are the coming Obamacare taxes in 2013. We have to save up to pay those taxes. What taxes? Oh, the media didn't tell us about those things hidden in the 2,000-page law? Oh well. See the note below about questioning Congress.

Another example of the best intentions of government producing the result that is opposite of which is sought. Requiring helmets to ride bicycles reduces the number of adults riding bicycles.

PCMag tested ISPs nationwide for speed; here are the results. Hmm, my home provider, Comcast, doesn't rank high.

Linux 3.6 has been released.

In a couple of years, IKEA will sell nothing by LED lights. Hmmm, a few years ago Congress declared that flourescent lights would save the world or something like that. Perhaps those Congress critters were wrong (again). Hmmm, maybe we should question the decisions made in Congress a little more often.

Dark chocolate boosts the memory of snails. Now we have to decide if we can apply that lesson to humans.

Here are two excellent graphics showing the growth of photography and where we are keeping our photographs.

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Wednesday October 3, 2012

A look at HTC's new smartphones.

And a preview of the ASUS Windows 8 Ultrabooks coming real soon now.

We now have a second generation of the Nest learning thermostat. It is slimmer and has a few new functions. No news about better security.

The rumors of the iPad mini are growing stronger.

This story is everywhere on the net, so it must be important. Samsung claims that the jury forman for its lawsuit with Apple lied about his past so he could be on the jury. If this is true, the result of the court case will probably be tossed and a new trial will occur.

Monitor technology continues to improve for the consumer. AOC has a new 27" IPS monitor for only $350.

Sony updates its line of headphones.

The Tokyo University of Science shows its newly improved exoskeleton. This demo video shows how the wearer can easily lift more weight with the device. We are still waiting for the practical, affordable exoskeleton that enables the disabled.

Another win for the state of North Carolina - Lenovo is about to open a PC production facility there.

This is new to me - The University of Reddit. I like it.

These things are called paramotors, and this looks like a lot of fun.

Google isn't the only company working on self-driving cars. Nissan shows a car that drives and parks itself. The parking part may be the most useful feature.

I like this one. Save space in your home by putting your bed under your desk. See the photo. Americans in particular have become expert at wasting space in our homes. It didn't use to be this way.

One quarter of tech startups are started by immigrants. Yet the U.S. government can't seem to figure this out and reform immigration policy. Why do what is good for the country when you can do what is good for your own skin in the short term? Politics in America have become so much garbage.

All these $200 Android tablets are changing the reading habits of Americans.

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Thursday October 4, 2012

A list of all the Angry Birds games and spin offs. Silly? There is huge money here as well as big technology to back up all the app downloading. Gaming is not a game.

A look at how much of America does not have access the 3G phone service. Yes, they are sparsley populated areas, but people do live there.

Fascinating - an educational technology "map" showing the areas of interest and who is working in them currently.

I don't like this one. It is an example of government competing with private industry. Government will always win because they can operate at heavy losses forever. This example is with the state of California creating free college textbooks. While on the surface that sounds good, it will kill people who earn a living writing textbooks.

An example of how 3D printing is startig to creep into real life.

Government doesn't have to surveil people - people do that. Want to see inside a building where the guard won't let you enter? Go to Worldcam and it will find the Instagram photos taken there.

There were 10 million tweets during the Presidential "debates" last night. Even the Washington Post editorials said that Romney was much better than the President.

More news on the ModBook - $3,500. I guess these guys buy an Apple portable computer, disassemble it, and reassemble it in a "tablet" package.

HP is working towards a change of fortunes in 2016. I hope they can hold on that long. HP's stock fell sharply yesterday.

Consider Mind Maps to help design software. I have been using Mind Maps in one form or another for about 20 years. I guess that means I like them and find them useful. Your mileage may vary.

Facebook now has one billion active monthly users. This is the redefinition of success.

Here is a micro-vibration power generator. Yes, there are mechnical movements everywhere that can be converted into electrical power. See, for example, any highway or city street. Let's hope some of these things become practical one day soon.

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Friday October 5, 2012

A look at Intel and the Haswell architecture.

A few months ago our government siezed servers from Megaupload. Well, it seems that a lot of perfectly legal data was held in those servers and some perfectly legal citizens would like it back plus a few damages they suffered from our government's actions. Sigh.

This may be the ultimate toy from a company named Razer - a Windows 8 gaming tablet - see the photo.

The use of sound waves to see inside organs. We keep inventing new ways to keep our health. Hence, the cost of health care rises. Is there something mysterious about this cause-effect situation that I am missing? Rising health care costs is not all attributed to some evil monster lurking in the hallway.

And then we have this health-related matter: "Breast cancer has become a product, not just a disease."

Fraunhofer evolves the infrared transceiver - 1GigaBitPerSecond data rate in the size of a child's fingernail.

Ads in QR codes are driving more responses than traditional ads.

The "agent economy." Startups often have 2 or 3 "employees" while everything else is done by others who are part-time and distant.

Google and the Association of American Publishers have reached an agreement over Google's scanning of books. It took seven years to reach the agreement. It sounds like they could have done it over a weekend, but that's just me. More details from the International Business Times. And more details from the BBC. And more details from the Chicago Tribune.

The present and growing plague of dementia. It has affected my extended and close family now for at least two generations.

Mark your calendars - Microsoft to unveil the Surface tablet at midnight on October 26th.

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Saturday October 6, 2012

Why can't you get your iPhone in upper middle class America? Becuase there is a strike in China. This is globalization. Funny how Foxconn, a manufacturer no on ever sees, determines much of the commerce of the world. Foxconn denies there is a strike.

This one is clever. Malware uses your smartphone to gradually build a detailed map of the interior of your house. Is everyone ready of national electronic health records?

An informed argument against building new roads.

Google is putting neural networks to work on more projects. My feeling is that this is long overdue. The one thing we have these days is an almost limitless number of inexpensive processors.

A look at Apple's stock price in the year since Steve Jobs died. Up, up, up.

A less-than-glamorous look at the life of one digital nomad. Reality is not as pretty as fantasy.

Lenovo's coming Windows 8 tablet will cost over $600. I don't think it will sell at that price.

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Sunday October 7, 2012

I like this - a stiff coil that is an iPhone charger. It holds your iPhone up in the air in an easy-to-view position while it charges.

An interesting commentary on congruent desires - shameless, fearless, guiltless.

You can make yourself smarter.

The Pentagon continues to work toward a practical military laser. I've been watching these stories for 30 years. We are always closer, but never there. It seems to me (here it comes) that we want to have laser guns to prove to us that the future is here. We did not fail all those science fiction writers who predicted the pocket laser that would destroy buildings. Star Trek had the phaser; how hard could it be to build one? Science fact is amazing, but one of its problems is that the advances often come in areas not predicted by the science fiction writers. What sci fi writer predicted Facebook? Huh? Oh well, but coming real soon are laser guns ;-)

Tips on writing from Neil Gaiman. (this post also contains pointers to other similar posts) I like "The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." Well written.

No matter how wonderful your idea for a story might be, someone else probably has the same idea.

Here are two stories on health. Why? Because as a freelancer or writer, your health is the most important thing you have. If you are sick, you don’t write. If you don’t write, you have no money to buy things like food and shelter. First, Alzheimer’s could be a form of diabetes caused by diet. Second, watch out for corn syrup hidden in all kinds of odd places. The corn syrup could be bringing on the diabetes and the Alzheimer’s.

Some notes on how to become an exceptional writer. Here is one critical element - park your bottom in front of the keyboard.

It is hard to write what you aren’t living. I agree. I write about things that I have done and that have been done to me. That is much easier than writing about other people.

Transforming your writing income.

Here are several online plagiarism checkers.

Thoughts on the idea of completely clearing your desk before leaving the office at the end of the day. I always did that until people started murmuring about how people with a clean desk weren’t working hard enough. Sure, that was a stupid thought, but those stupid people were determining my salary. As a result, I started putting stuff on my otherwise clear desk at the end of the day so the stupid people would give me credit for working hard.

What is the one thing you can accomplish today that will make the day worthwhile?

How one freelance writer avoids distractions. Simple tips: (1) go somewhere else (like the library) and (2) set a 90-minute timer where distractions are not allowed.

The affect of a workspace on creativity is probably over rated. See the examples in this post of innovation in lousy places. Still, for those of us who aren’t inventing a world-changing mode of transportation (powered flight for example), but just trying to make a little change, the workspace may be a big deal.

A 1962 letter from Robert Heinlen to a writer who had run out of ideas. This letter contains great ideas. It also shows ways to think of new ideas. Excellent material.

Not as useful as the Heinlen letter (what could be?), but a pretty good list of links to help writers improve.

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