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Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

sirwired A rational response, more-or-less. (359 comments)

Okay... you are an uneducated person who's never had any experience with modern medicine before (Liberia has 250 doctors (and heavens knows if their training is any good) to serve the entire country of 4M people; the US has 834,000 doctors to serve about 100x the people.), your family member is ill, and a bunch of people in really scary outfits right out of a Hollywood movie just grabbed your sick family member and loaded him/her in a truck to a quarantine facility. You are naturally suspicious because lots of people have died in your village before, and the authorities (who have a well-earned reputation for being a bunch of useless kleptocrats) have never given a flying *bleep!* before. But you certainly do have plenty of experience with the thugs hauling your family members off in trucks, never to be seen again.

Deciding you want your family member back home is not an unreasonable thing to want to do, in the face of whatever sinister purposes you think the central government might have in mind.

That said, I'm sure more than enough of them, like many rioters and protestors everywhere, were there for the looting. Because nothing says "Fight The Man" like taking a bunch of swag.

about two weeks ago
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Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?

sirwired And if you think small devs are upset now... (249 comments)

If you think small-time developers are upset now, I can only imagine how furious they would be if Apple started doing "pay for play". BillyBobIndy would have even less of a chance to make it.

Really, Apple wouldn't make that much money from it, and the reputational costs would be too great. I could see a "sponsored" category being set up, but nothing beyond that.

about two weeks ago
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A Thousand Kilobots Self-Assemble Into Complex Shapes

sirwired What's the additional challenge here? (56 comments)

Other than the fact that fabricating that many 'bots is painful and expensive, what makes this different from The Game of Life (albeit with an algorithm that takes more than a couple of lines.) I just don't see how this is any different from running a simulation of robots forming "any 2-D shape"... what was learned by actually building them?

about two weeks ago
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Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?

sirwired Why is this Apple's problem? (249 comments)

When Wal-Mart decides to sell a new brand of dish soap, it isn't their job to ensure the product is a smashing success. All Wal-Mart cares about is that when you need dish soap, Wal-Mart is where you buy it; it doesn't really matter to them which one you buy. If DishSoapCo is depending on Wal-Mart to convince consumers to buy their soap, they will be sorely disappointed. (Of course, with no marketing plan, Wal-Mart is unlikely to carry the product to begin with, but that's because they have limited shelf space; the App store has no such limitation.)

In the same vein, as long as you keep buying devices and apps from Apple, they don't really care which ones you buy. Developers that are relying on nothing more than the App Store storefront to do their marketing for them are probably not going to succeed, and they have nobody to blame but themselves.

about two weeks ago
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Larry Rosen: A Case Study In Understanding (and Enforcing) the GPL

sirwired But Ameriprise is vulnerable to patent claims (191 comments)

"Good Faith" helps reduce your damages in a patent claim, but mere use of patented software (much less distribution) leaves you open to patent claims, independent of copyright claims.

And yes, this is a problem with software patents. Both the distributor and end users are vulnerable to claims.

Android is indeed tied up in all sorts of patents, and every phone vendor has to pay up licensing fees, including to Microsoft. (As of a couple years ago, MS made about 10x their Windows Phone revenue just from Android lic fees.)

about three weeks ago
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The Doctor Will Skype You Now

sirwired I tried it a couple days ago; I liked it (97 comments)

I saw a notice on my company's intranet last week advertising this program. As a pilot, it was offering free "visits" (PCP visits are free under the regular program.) Tuesday morning, I needed to leave on a business trip just after lunch, and I had my colon acting up (nothing disgusting, just inconvenient.) Several years ago, the same thing happened and an Rx for Hyocyamine fixed the issue. I didn't have time to see even a Doc-in-a-box, much less my PCP.

In a few minutes, I registered for the program, picked one of the four physicians currently online, and after about a five minute wait, she popped onto the screen. She went through a quick history, had me prod various parts of my abdomen to make sure it wasn't some serious organ problem causing my colon issue, and sent the Rx to the K-Mart across the street. She reminded me that she was no substitute for regular physical exams, and that if the problem continued I should see my regular doctor. I cannot imagine a doc-in-a-box visit for the issue would have been very different.

In short, this is exactly the sort of issue telemedicne works for. It saved me the hassle and time of a doctor's visit, it worked for my employer since I didn't have to cancel my business trip, and it worked for my primary doctor, who didn't have to work me in at the last-second.

Really, I think it's best for the sort of issues that you'd handle yourself if the drugs you need to treat it were OTC, but for whatever reason, are not. It ain't going to make a whole lot of sense for most problems.

about three weeks ago
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US Army To Transport American Ebola Victim To Atlanta Hospital From Liberia

sirwired No patients (409 comments)

Having access to a live patient that's not in sub-Saharan Africa is kind of handy.

about a month ago
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US Army To Transport American Ebola Victim To Atlanta Hospital From Liberia

sirwired Yeah, well BS L4 labs are... (409 comments)

Check out this video: http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/v... It's not the CDC, but for a similar lab at Boston University.

It's EXACTLY like the movies, including the positive-pressure plastic suits.

about a month ago
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Law Repressing Social Media, Bloggers Now In Effect In Russia

sirwired "Must"... you keep using that word... (167 comments)

Anonymous bloggers "must" register if they get over 5,000 readers? Yeah, I'm sure all the bloggers hosted on foreign sites will get right on that... Russia has not yet set up anything like the Great Firewall of China, so this requirement is utterly impossible to enforce.

about a month ago
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US Army To Transport American Ebola Victim To Atlanta Hospital From Liberia

sirwired Of COURSE it's a good idea. (409 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.

about a month ago
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US Army To Transport American Ebola Victim To Atlanta Hospital From Liberia

sirwired Remember the facilities (409 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.

about a month 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. (409 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.

about a month ago
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Is the App Store Broken?

sirwired This isn't Apple's fault or their problem (258 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.

about 1 month 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 2 months ago

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