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US Army To Transport American Ebola Victim To Atlanta Hospital From Liberia

sirwired Of COURSE it's a good idea. (289 comments)

Better to study Ebola in a large, properly-equipped research facility where we know exactly who has it (this one guy), and can take appropriate precautions. The precautions needed to keep the infection from spreading in a hospital setting are not particularly elaborate; better than what's available in BFE General Hospital, but nothing fancier than the isolation unit present in just about every major academic medical center in the US.

That's about 1000x better than somebody bringing it over here and spreading it to some other people before somebody recognizes it for what it is, and that being the first chance to run real research on a live patient. This way, we bring over one guy, and the best infectious disease doctors in the world can all be treating him at once in a facility designed for exactly this purpose, with virtually zero chance of this not-particularly-communicable disease going anywhere.

Or, we could have a surprise panic when this shows up in a family somewhere in flyover country, or somebody spreads it to patients in the waiting room of the Metropolis General Hospital ER... yeah, that's LOTS better.

Or not.

5 hours ago
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US Army To Transport American Ebola Victim To Atlanta Hospital From Liberia

sirwired Remember the facilities (289 comments)

This guy had limited equipment, and was treating patients in a facility that would make a highway rest stop look like a model for cleanliness. I expect he was taking every precaution he could, but that's not necessarily a lot.

The CDC has purpose-built facilities designed precisely for treating patients with deadly diseases a lot more communicable than this. This seems like a good use for them.

5 hours ago
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US Army To Transport American Ebola Victim To Atlanta Hospital From Liberia

sirwired It's not the flu or a cold. (289 comments)

If you could catch Ebola by touching the sweat somebody left behind as they passed through a room, it would have spread a lot farther than it has. I'm pretty sure they'll be testing everybody that comes into contact with this guy for the virus, and even if the tests miss it, the symptoms are not subtle, it being a hemorrhagic fever and all...

Not every virus acts like the flu or cold viruses. Ebola isn't particularly virulent, even if it is pretty nasty if you come down with it. Being able to perform tests on a live patient in a state-of-the-art facility (as opposed to a 3rd-world heap whose "hospitals" are about as sanitary as a mid-grade highway rest stop) is invaluable in researching treatments. Just like the movies, the CDC has on-site facilities specifically designed to treat people with scary diseases we don't want in the population at large; this seems like an excellent use for them.

5 hours ago
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Is the App Store Broken?

sirwired This isn't Apple's fault or their problem (241 comments)

Apple's job is to sell devices, and to a lesser extent, sell some apps to skim off the top. Apple doesn't owe developers a living.

A torrent of Shovelware seems to be a phase each new platform goes through (I remember when CD-ROMs became popular, you could literally buy Shovelware from K-Mart that was sold by the foot), and this phase eventually pass here too. Those that suck at it will figure out that app development isn't an easy goldmine, and they'll be less me-too-ware.

And I'll echo what somebody else said: If your "marketing plan" consists of "upload and wait for the money to roll in" it's no wonder you can't make any money. You have to figure out a means of getting the word out beyond sticking the thing on the proverbial shelf.

2 days ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

sirwired Seriuosly? (192 comments)

I wasn't talking about small-press-run reference works, or college textbooks. I, and everybody else in the whole debate, is referring to general-interest fiction and non-fiction works.

That said... why, nearly 30 years after the last time it was edited (or even typeset), does K&R cost $50? For that kind of money, they could at least typeset the thing using technology more recent than what was available in the mid-80's!

about two weeks ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

sirwired I believe this is how capitalism works (192 comments)

If publishers choose to charge more than I'm willing to pay for a book, that's their business. And if I choose to not buy said book, that's my business.

Clearly I am advocating for the collapse of civilization as we know it, suggesting that authors get paid more at the same time readers get to pay less.

about two weeks ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

sirwired It seems like a reasonable number (192 comments)

Given that there is a wealth of high-quality material (more than enough to completely fill how much time I have to read) for less than $10, why pay more?

about two weeks ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

sirwired Price effects MY decisions! (192 comments)

I can't speak for everybody, of course, but I DO let price dictate if I buy a book or not, even if it's an author I love. And if it's a debut author, or one I haven't read before, I'm unlikely to be thrilled with paying $8+ for a book.

The vast majority of the books I read are on the Kindle. The vast majority of those books are either carefully-chosen self-published authors or books either Amazon and/or the publisher is selling for no more than $6. Publishers that want to continue to insist on "charging" more than $10 for a book are collecting precisely $0 of my reading dollars. (Meaning that they'll collect the same amount of money from me pricing e-books at a $1B/copy.)

Self-publishing is really the way to go these days for new authors. The average traditionally-published manuscript makes $0, as the average manuscript isn't picked up by a publisher at all. And the ones that do get published receive far less support from publishers than they used to, as they have so many imprints now that the effort that can be expended on a random debut author is just about zilch; they get a few review copies sent out, minimal editing services, and maybe a short blurb in a trade rag. With that limp level of support, it's not surprising few debut authors clear their initial advance, when they are only clearing 15% royalties.

Contrast that with the 70% (of a lower price) Amazon is offering on anybody that chooses to post a book. The only additional effort authors must expend is doing their own cover and editing. They were already largely responsible for their own promotion anyway, so that doesn't really change.

In the "good 'ol days" publishers served a real function. They provided substantial editing support, decent promotional effort, and were, in any case, the only game in town. Now the number of books published per year by the traditional publishers has gone up, and the services they provide authors have gone down. They have reduced themselves to nothing more than middlemen between authors and retailers. Nowhere but books and music do we tolerate the middlemen taking such a large chunk of the available money for little more than distribution.

about two weeks ago
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Is the Software Renaissance Ending?

sirwired Professional Coder != Indie Developer (171 comments)

Yes, the viability of mobile as a platform for indie development is now less. But bottom-grade shovelware has been a problem since the dawn of consumer computing. (Anybody remember when PC shovelware was literally sold by the foot at K-Mart? i.e. "Six Feet of Games!" as a chain of CD-ROMs.) It has nothing whatsoever to do with the viability of coding as a profession. The vast majority of developers making a living always have been, and always will be, IT drones coding database applications. Mobile is just another platform for those folks...

about two weeks ago
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Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

sirwired Not major news (242 comments)

In most of the country, treated sewage is simply piped into the nearest creek/river/lake, and then at least some of it gets pulled in by the intake for the next municipality down the line... the only real interesting bit here is the fact that it's getting piped directly into the freshwater plant instead of floating downstream first.

about three weeks ago
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Ninety-Nine Percent of the Ocean's Plastic Is Missing

sirwired BPA isn't in grocery store water bottles (304 comments)

FYI, BPA is not present the the PETE plastic used in water and soda bottles. It WAS present in polycarbonate bottles (rigid clear bottles) such as those used in reusable 5-gallon bottles, and other rigid clear bottles.

about 1 month ago
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Funding for iFind Kickstarter Suspended

sirwired Well, in all fairness... (104 comments)

If you do some Googling for a Paul McArthur locator patent, you get two patents. That doesn't say he exist, but if he doesn't, somebody's gone to an awful lot of trouble to pretend he does, as one of these patents were filed 12 years ago (not Bluetooth at the time, obviously.)

about a month ago
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Funding for iFind Kickstarter Suspended

sirwired Apple has a required "ping" rate (104 comments)

Yes, I suppose you could drive an intermittent Bluetooth beacon, but I read somewhere else that Apple requires check-ins every three seconds.

about a month ago
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Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

sirwired "The law" discusses shared antennas? Where? (484 comments)

The law which applies is 17 USC 101, 106 and 111. The word "antenna" (much less "shared antennas") appears in none of the three. So when you say "the law" "specifically talks about shared antennas", which part are you referring to? Not even the dissent refers to any statute about shared antennas.

101 has many of the the definitions for copyright law, including that for "performance" which was amended by the copyright act of '76, which was designed to stop the old "community antenna" cable systems, but it did so without using the word "antenna". Read the Aereo decision if you want the gory details on how the definition was amended.

106 says the copyright holder calls the shots for reproduction, performance, distribution, etc.

111 Defines "Cable Provider" and details the must-carry / compulsory license rules that apply to them. (f)1, 2, and 3 are the relevant sections in play.
1, details what a "primary transmission" is.
2, a "secondary transmission" what Aereo is accused of doing.
3 defines "cable system" which Aereo has now been judged to be. It would certainly seem to fit... to wit: "A “cable system” is a facility, located in any State, territory, trust territory, or possession of the United States, that in whole or in part receives signals transmitted or programs broadcast by one or more television broadcast stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, and makes secondary transmissions of such signals or programs by wires, cables, microwave, or other communications channels to subscribing members of the public who pay for such service.

about a month ago
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Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

sirwired Aereo was wrong. Full stop. (484 comments)

Firstly, let me re-state that I think that the law itself is wrong and unjust. But that's different from saying the Supreme Court interpreted the law incorrectly. I don't see why it should matter how a customer receives a broadcast within the service area of that broadcaster. However, given that legislation for this sort of situation exists, I think the Supreme Court reasonably interpreted the law.

Aereo thought that their setup with individual antennas was a workaround for retransmission fees. Turns out it's not. When the law has any ambiguity, the courts (and certainly the Supreme Court) gets to decide what the law is. Which means their legal interpretation may have been plausible (I think it wasn't) but the losing side in a Supreme Court case is, by definition, in the wrong (until the law changes, anyway.) That means cable providers can't avoid fees the way Aereo did; because Aereo was blowing smoke.

The law (written in the 70's by Congress) said that taking the signal and retransmitting it was a "performance" requiring the licensing of the content. It originally was written in response to "community antennas" that filled in gaps in broadcast reception, but over the years, it also applied to Cable TV systems, satellite providers, and IP-TV providers like VIOS and U-Verse. The court decided that capturing the signal remotely and packaging it up over the internet qualifies as a retransmission, no matter how many antennas you use. This is not an unreasonable decision here. Frankly, I'm not sure why Aereo thought that an array of tiny antennas was a "magic wand" to let them avoid fees that a provider like VIOS or U-Verse, (which produce the same end-result (an individual video stream of a broadcast over the internet)) must pay. Courts generally don't like the "magic wand" way of resolving legal responsibilities; they frown on cumbersome things that make no sense outside circumvention of a legal requirement. (In a similar vein, a tax shelter must have a genuine economic purpose to be ruled valid; otherwise it's tax evasion. And it's still money-laundering if a bank sees a depositor split up payments to each be $1 below reporting thresholds.)

(As a side-note, that law in the 70's was written in response to a specific court case where the court said re-transmission wasn't a "performance" under copyright law. So Aereo would have been correct prior to that law being written, but they were bitten by the clear intent of the law.)

This decision reminds me of the shop a few years ago that thought they could set up a Video-on-Demand service by plugging up an array of physical DVD drives in their data center, thinking they could get around continual performance royalties through the one-time purchase of a DVD. They lost too. Again, the court frowned on a cumbersome setup that made utterly no technical sense put in place just to try and avoid the law.

And the court was careful to narrowly scope the decision to prevent it from being used to stop people from doing things like backing up their music collection to Dropbox.

Ranting about bought and paid-for law isn't really relevant here. Since they are Supreme Court justices, they can utterly ignore political and corporate pressure and rule any way they damn well please. That doesn't mean justices are always right, but criticisms that might normally apply to Congress and elected justices aren't really relevant to judges with lifetime appointments.

about a month ago
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Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

sirwired Yes, and...? (484 comments)

Ok, cable companies can Betamax (as in the court case) their way to OnDemand capabilty and/or delivering TV over the network. (And delivering TV over an IP stream is actually what VIOS/U-Verse do.) What, exactly, is your point?

Aereo thought that because they were pulling the feed off of an individual broadcast antenna, they didn't have to pay the same fees somebody pulling a single licensed feed for everybody from the station would.

They were wrong.

End of story.

about a month ago
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Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

sirwired No; "the law, as mis-interpreted" (484 comments)

Judges resolve ambiguities in law all the time (in this case, deciding Aereo fit the definition of a re-broadcaster); in fact, that's almosts all the Supreme Court does. So yes, you do need to predict how a judge will rule; Aereo gambled, and lost.

The intent of the law, as written, was quite clear. The Supreme court, long ago, issued a decision that Aereo could have hidden behind. Congress clearly overrode that ruling via a subsequent law, which required those that re-transmit broadcast content to obtain a license. Aereo tried to get around that law with pretending that "But... Internet! And... Cloud!" was a magic wand that would let them get around that law. This ruling is consistent with last week's patent exclusion, which held that "But... Computer!" was also not a magic way around patent law...

about a month ago
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Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

sirwired I would have ruled the same way, but... (484 comments)

The Supreme Court was (rightfully, IMHO) unimpressed by a technical loophole allowing Aereo to essentially run their own cable provider without paying the fees cable and satellite providers must pay. But...

Personally, I don't think the retransmission fees should be legal. If a user is within the service area of a broadcast station, anybody should be able to use whatever means necessary to obtain that station; this seems to be a logical extension of the broadcaster's license to use the radio spectrum to service a certain area. After all, somebody with poor reception, but still within the service area, is still excluded from using that spectrum for other uses. (Outside the broadcaster's licensed service area, retransmission fees make a whole lot of sense...)

But since the fees ARE legal, Aereo's workaround creates an inherently inequitable situation where cable and satellite providers must pay retransmission fees, but Aereo avoided them.

about a month ago
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$500k "Energy-Harvesting" Kickstarter Scam Unfolding Right Now

sirwired Why is that not good enough? (448 comments)

Why is "Well, it wouldn't get enough power from the air" not good enough? This is basic physics here... broadcast RF has a certain total power level over any given antenna area based on the power of the transmitter(s) and the distance from the broadcast RF source(s); this device, in order to meet Bluetooth tx power requirements for their required transmit interval, along with the power for the chips, etc., requires more than that. Done.

The math and physics required here are not complicated nor do they take much space to explain. What exactly are you looking for?

about a month ago
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Amazon Announces 'Fire Phone'

sirwired This reminds me of the ROKR E1 (192 comments)

This phone strongly reminds me of the Motorola ROKR, a pre-iPhone device whose sole redeeming quality, vs. any other dumbphone of the time, was that it could play tracks you downloaded from iTunes and manually transferred to the phone over USB 1.0. It would only accept 100 songs and/or 1GB of files, whichever limit you hit first. It wouldn't play MP3's.

Amazon has released a phone that has nothing to distinguish itself from the competition other than the fact it is hog-tied to the Amazon ecosystem. It's does not have any particularly interesting features that could not be implemented in pure software, and the price is nothing to write home about either.

I don't see any reason why anybody would purchase this over the Moto G LTE, or any number of other smartphones that are available for a heckava lot less money. If you really don't mind being tied to a contract, there are better phones for less than the $200 they want.

about a month and a half ago

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