Copyright ©1997-2011 Glenn Fleishman except as noted otherwise. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact Glenn Fleishman at glenn at glennf.com. Photo © 2008 Laurence Chen; used with permission.
Turning technology from mumbo-jumbo into rich tasty gumbo
So I have pneumonia. Great. I don’t feel all that awful, but it explains the slightly bizarre bubbling sound I was getting while breathing in my chest, which can be a symptom of bronchitis (so it was slightly familiar), but the chest X-Rays don’t lie. Fortunately, my doctor’s practice is a good one, and based on my Saturday afternoon fever of 104, they started me on a good, reliable antibiotic, so I’m already on the mend.
Still, geez, I’m in good health, have few risk factors…pneumonia! Ah, well, that’s probably why it hasn’t seemed so awful. I’ve heard this from a lot of people when they’ve had a certain part or system in their body go awry: like ____ ________ and his arterial trauma — you’ve got a strong heart, but you could have had a heart attack. Eh? You’re healthy and you’ve got cancer. What? The body has both holistic and reductionist elements to it.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the diagnosis of sleep apnea I’d received, and the machine I sleep with nightly, noting that I was up to three serious illnesses in my life solved by modern medicine. Hey, I just reached four!
The organizers of the Macworld trade show have apparently told Apple it can’t come to SF if it don’t come to Boston! I’m slightly stunned. I know this is a game of brinksmanship, but if there’s no Jobs keynote at Macworld San Francisco, then there’s no reason for me to fly down for the event at all. The same is true for most other print and broadcast journalists I know: Jobs is the draw, and the trade show floor is where Apple displays its new stuff. Without those items, the rest of the show is interesting, but these days, there’s not enough new at them.
I find that with broadband access to public betas or press review copies, phone briefings, and the increasingly frequent Seattle-fly-throughs of software vendors, I really don’t need a trade show to learn about what’s what. If I were in the print and publishing world or covered scanners and digital cameras closely, it would be different, as there are so many models, and it’s hard to get hands-on time like you can at trade shows.
The IDG folks might be highlighting that trade shows for some industries are outdated. Macworld has always been a social occasion, a rallying event, and a geek out. If you take out Jobs and Apple, there’s just not enough compelling to go, and the show will receive virtually no coverage.
Update: IDG blinked? We’ll never know.
In day two of antibiotics (Zithramax/arithromycin), my temperature swings are now from 98.6 to just 102 instead of 104. This is the strangest fever I’ve ever had: the only real symptom of sickness is the fever. Just started to get a little wheeze in the lungs (bronchitis) but as I’m on antibiotics, if it’s bacterial, that’ll get beat. Even at 104 degrees, which is often productive coughing, wheezing, can’t sleep fever, I’ve been clear headed and just tired. My body has probably never been so strong and well; I can’t imagine what this fever would have felt like even a few months ago. Go body, go!
I engaged in a lot of productive visualization when I was going through chemotherapy. Some of the books and articles I was reading said to think about chemotherapy as a positive force: don’t reject the drugs (or the later radiation), but embrace it, and convince your body to work with it. I did, and I can’t say it actually helped, but it made me feel better. Overall happiness contributes to the immune system, and I would argue that visualization contributes to systemic well being. (I picture radiation as a healing white light, which is sometimes difficult. I was just looking at my tiny positioning tattoos, four blue dots, the other day and thinking about how far out I’m at from the treatment.)
Apparently, researchers have discovered a statistical problem with cancer survival rate predictions that matches what I thought, intuitively, even though I didn’t have the math. When I looked at 5-, 10-, and 20-year survival rates for Hodgkin’s Disease, in my mind I thought: these are a few years out of date (I was treat in 1998 and some of the figures were no more recent than 1995), and they’re based on people who got treated 5, 10, and 20 years ago. Two of the major improvements in Hodgkin’s Disease happened in the last 10 to 15 years.
I cut myself some better odds: I knew that given the current treatment and the current five-year survival rates that I had pretty good odds. When you add in the fact that many people get Hodgkin’s when they’re older and/or when they have compromised immune systems, my otherwise generally healthy body gave me extraordinary odds of getting through it.
The new statistics will use some kind of methodology to offer advice backwards in time relying on results from newer treatments. This doesn’t mean that cancer treatment has become, overnight, more efficacious: each year, some number of people have cancer, and some number die from it. But it does mean that you can face your own odds with more certainty when considering courses of treatment.
I’m sure it’s pie in the sky of me to believe it, but I think the day is less than 20 years off, and possibly less than 10, when many forms of cancer will be staved off or cured with chemotherapy that’s substantially more intelligent than today’s stuff. A few pills, a few injections, and you’re done. Ten years ago, estimating 20 to 30 years made sense, and I do believe we’ve moved closer.
When I hear all the criticism about Big Pharma (the major pharmaceutical companies), I say, yes, they pushing too many pills to too many people; yes, they need to change their marketing; yes, they need to understand how to charge for what they sell; but Big Pharma saved my life. They probably didn’t invent much of my treatment; I’m sure a lot of it originated with doctors at cancer institutes and academic institutions. But Big Pharma threw giant heaping piles of cash beneath it and lit bonfires, producing large, stable, high-quality supplies. I’m no apologist for the industry, but I do thank it.
I wrote my regular biweekly column yesterday for The Seattle Times about encountering the growing convergence of Mac OS X and Unix/Linux uses. At the O’Reilly Mac OS X Conference back at the beginning of the month, it was pretty extraordinary to see Titanium after Titanium running mostly OS X, but quite a few with single or multiple boots into flavors of Linux and (mostly) BSD Unix.
I’m not the only one charting this convergence: Doc Searls has written about it extensively, and in InfoWorld this week, Jon Udell, who was also at the conference, checks in on the same subject on the developer and technical side of the fence. (InfoWorld devoted a big chunk of the current issue to a special feature on Apple in the enterprise.)
The Seattle Times reports (via AP) that a judge has produce a summary judgement of nearly $100,000 against the first person convicted of sending spam that violates Washington State’s excellent rules regarding UCE.
Story within a story: My friend Adam Engst was one of the first people to bring suit against a spammer in Washington, but the spammer ran and hid. It stopped the spam (Bullseye Gold), but TidBITS spent $3,000 and was never able to retrieve the money. The fellow who had the judgement against him today apparently only made a few hundred dollars from his spam, but other folks will have deeper pockets.
Story about a story: The last time I posted a link about spam and Washington State, I linked to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. I write freelance for the Seattle Times. My editor actually reads blogs, and gave me some polite ribbing about linking to the competition. He gets it — hi, Mark! — and thus this time, even though it’s just an AP story, I linked to my home base.
Had a 104 degree temperature a couple times in the last two days. Advil has helped. My doctor’s putting me on antibiotics. Can’t figure out what slammed me so hard! Very entertaining to have a temperature that high. The body is a wonderful thing.
Apple is offering K-12 teachers a free copy of OS X 10.2 Jaguar: tell your teacher buddies and school IT people!
I was happy to read this interview with SonicBlue’s new CEO, Greg Ballard. In the interview, he speaks the shibboleths, meaning that he says the right words (although does he mean them?) to be part of our club. Those of us who joined the suit against the media companies suing SonicBlue about ReplayTV should get a boost from his remarks.
It’s clear he’s hedging on the restrictions about sending programs from one ReplayTV to another. This is part of our case, that the studios and other copyright holders can’t preemptively disallow the exercise of fair-use rights because some users might violate copyright through this technology. However, Ballard’s remarks indicate how he hopes to find a middle ground that doesn’t offer absolute sovereignty to either side. We’ll see how that works out.
But he defends Commercial Advance, one of ReplayTV’s great features. I’m sure it causes networks and advertisers to shudder when I say that I don’t watch 99 percent of the commercials, but, of course, I used to mute or leave the room when commercials came on, anyway.
ReplayTV has retrained me in a couple of odd ways, too: I try to pause the radio now … why doesn’t that button work! … and I’m not sure how to operate a TV when I’m in somebody else’s home.
poop on you
Mark Frauenfelder is delivering the last talk at Mac OS X Conference about his short-lived celebrity as an Apple Switcher. One person asked him, “Have any Windows users bitchslapped you?” He quotes John Dvorak on him as saying he looked like the kind of guy who wants to spread cream cheese on a camel. Frauenfelder rejoined, “I’m a llama and peanut butter guy.”
People have asked him for Ellen Feiss’s email address. He gave them the address of Andrew Orlowski, a critic who wrote that “Frauenfelder is the kind of twitchy, self-loathing bore from whom women flee.” Mark said he runs faster than his wife.
Heard in Rob Flickenger’s Omnipresent Wireless Cloud session here at the last day of Mac OS X Conference. Rob was talking about bringing out a big dish to do some point-to-point wireless networking with Wi-Fi and an older vintner asks him and his buddy what they’re up to. They explain it, and he says, “As if that’s legal!” Rob says,
There’s something about whipping out big dishes that make people think you’re doing something illegal….it must be illegal because you’re not paying for it. What do you mean we’re not paying for it? We’re putting in a lot of time and equipment.
Another story: Rob describes a family living out of a town on a hill in Sonoma. He loans them a high-powered telescope to see line-of-sight to houses that were close enough to get high-speed DSL. The guy starts knocking on doors, “Hi, I’ve been looking at you through a high-powered telescope…” After a few times of that, he took a different tack, and offered free service to someone who would let him put a re-transmission dish on their roof. It worked fine, and instead of multiple-year estimates for service, they were up in a few weeks. Over 20 families are now hooked up across this area using relays and routing.
Some folks are pointing to my blog as if I coined the phrase — I should have noted that Fair Use Has a Posse is on a bumpersticker being sold here at the OS X Conference by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Watching the panel discussion following Jordan Hubbard’s talk this morning, I realized that the commonality between Mac and Unix users — almost all hands raised when Tim O’Reilly asked about previous primary Mac desktop users and any Unix users — was that Windows users toss their old machines, as old Windows hardware rarely handles upgrades smoothly for more than a version or two of Windows. You dump the system, resell it, give it away.
Meanwhile, Mac and Unix users wind up using machines til they die or get really really old. Most of the medium-power users I know wind up with networks of computers, running services or just as backups, given to kids or grandparents or neighbors. Adam Engst just mentioned on stage that he just turned his Mac SE off the other day, because it finally got to a point where he didn’t need it.
I upgrade my Unix machines because the commodity PC hardware has actually died or gotten too slow for some of the intensive servers I use, but I’ve sold off or given away three of the old machines out of about seven servers. (Two are still running; two burned up, practically, and died.)
On the Mac side, a collection of friends and eBay users have all my old technology, much of which is still in use. My wife Lynn asked me how many Macs I owned the other day, and I said, “four, no five…wait, six. Okay, seven…eight if you count the Mac Classic II and the Quadra 700 that aren’t running but are sitting in my office.”
Jordan Hubbard has been keynoting this morning at the OS X Conference about the history of Unix, and his history with BSD. He joined Apple recently, and speaks eloquently about the scope of Unix. But his best line was about playing DVDs on the desktop under Mac OS X. He said,
You can play DVDs under BSD and other Unix flavors, but “you have to break about 12 laws to do so, one of which is just thinking about it.”
The Mac OS X Conference thrown by O’Reilly and Associates is where I’m at, currently attending the panel on “Mac OS X: A Digital Rights Management Operating System.”
Dan Gillmor, technology columnist at The San Jose Mercury News, is moderating. Hollywood sees Internet as a TV set, he says, with one button. (Tim O’Reilly interjects: not one button - lots of rollovers for products) Audience member shouts out: “Buy All!”
Dan goes on, one company said, “Rip mix burn” but staying out of the conversation is Apple. Apple, industry, Microsoft wouldn’t participate in today’s panel. “Can it last? Can Apple hold out as a company that more than not is thinking about or acting in the interest of the customer in this issues.”
“Reasonable paranoia”: “it is not an unreasonable thing for [current major media companies] to be paranoid. They are potentially seeing the end of a business model that has been very good to them….If no one has to pay for anything that’s digital, why would anyone pay for anything that’s digital…
J.D. Lasica, an online journalist, says we’re not all just passive consumers. He’s working on a book about the issues of digital rights.
Apple gets a good score on the digital rights. He asked for an interview with Apple about digital hub rights management issues, and after several phone calls, they said they wouldn’t talk to him (or anybody) about this.
“From what I’ve read in the press, Uncle Steve is on the side of the users.” Burned by Washington developments. “To a clueless congressperson, rip, mix, burn, probably sounds controversial.”
Attended Digital Hollywood a few days ago: big issues this year, how to fight piracy. VP of MPAA said, basic challenge is how to we turn “a personal computer into a trusted entertainment appliance.”
Tim: They’re looking for the users to trust it or the studios to trust it? (Laughter.)
JD: Not worried about movie file trading, eight hours to download a single film. But just over the horizon, terabyte hard drives, home entertainment hub/center gets turned into this machine that can make “perfect copies of digital TV, movies, and retransmitted into anyone on the Internet.”
“Piracy is wrong…but there are different ideas about what constitutes piracy.”
Apple made iPod so you can’t copy music back and forth, but let me know if you figure it out as it would be really cool. (Laughter.)
Couldn’t make a screen capture from the DVD player. Cory Doctorow: Built in feature (screen capture) that they disabled. JD: When the lawyers get involved, we know we’re in trouble.
DRM = digital rights management. Notes that David Pogue didn’t know the acronym this morning, which indicates we’re still in an age of innocence, but all consumers will know the acronym in a few years.
Systems will prevent copying of content that’s copyrighted, like digital flag. Congress is looking at a bill that would enable this to prevent any unauthorized transmission.
Suggestions: First, visit digitalconsumer.org, Google and type “copy fight” (first result), and the third is eff.org. Second, get active: write or email or fax Congress. Email Uncle Steve and tell him not to knuckle under. Third, become power users of convergence appliances or digital convergence. If we buy iTV, Philips DVD recorder, these are empowering devices for the user. The faster the public embraces these technologies harder to take away these rights.
Dan: Tim, you’re a “content or copyright holder…talk about these issues.”
Obscurity can be a tool. Something like 100K books published in the US. Most books are forgotten after publication. Ravening copying theft is wrong: most aren’t pirated. Publishers puts book that someone sweated over for years on shelves for three months, doesn’t sell, that’s it, and the author has no rights. Publishers keeps rights til out of print, etc.
Oblivion is fate of most books: “Piracy would be the best thing for those books.” People wouldn’t pirate them in general, because people generally like to respect the rights of creators. “Piracy is a marginal act; it takes away some of the cream.”
Publishing won’t go away, but it will change the idea of who is a publisher. Early on in the Web, the idea was that everyone could be a publisher. The way in which Web sites interact with publishers is often very much like the way that book publishers try to get placement and position in bookstores.
Publishing is aggregation. People will re-emerge as publishers. Will Hollywood be the publishers of the future or will someone else?
Users are voting by their use of programs like Kazaa. Eventually, media companies will adopt. But if the changes are hardcoded into law, then we’re stuck for a long time with “some mistakes.”
Victor from El Gato: we spent time figuring out whether we could release this product and not be shut down with lawsuits. “We believe that most people who bought iTV are using it for legitimate purposes.” Record TV show and watch it when it’s convenient to them.
Some gamers use it to record their games while playing so they can review them later or show off their great moments.
Dan: Have you heard from lawyers? Victor: No. Dan: Does that surprise you? Victor: In a way. Dan: How about after this panel?
Cory Doctorow: EFF defends rights and actually sues people. Such as ReplayTV suit (which your transcriber here, Glenn is a plaintiff in).
By 2006, US wants digital TV (DTV). Lots of reasons, including expensive auctions of old TV spectrum. So any way to speed up adoption of DTV is good. Hollywood says no one will buy DTV sets without high-quality content.
Gibson says in Idoru: two studio executives sitting around. “Imaging something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a boiled potato…” covered with eyes, sweats constantly. Can only express mute extremes of anger and desire by muting, changing channels, and voting in presidential elections.
Interested in using TV to do all kinds of interesting things. Hollywood has convinced people that Hollywood movies will only be available to make sure that only tech that they touch can pass digital content.
Convened a broadcast discussion group, Apple was member and didn’t raise objections. Microsoft did.
The broadcast flag would prevent you from having technology in a Mac, VCR, etc., without their approval, more or less. If you make tech that is on the banned list or not on their approve list, you’ll violate the law.
Device must be able to call home and confirm they can still operate as designed. If not, features can be remotely turned off.
Also, bans open source because you can’t write code that can be shared that meets the spec.
Computer industry hasn’t been good about disputing, but computer industry much bigger than Hollywood, and tends to get its way when it raises issues.
Dan: I’d say Cory for congress except he’s Canadian.
Question (by Adam Engst): Is copying a program and giving it to someone else illegal? Dan: If it is, I’m in trouble, because I’ll be Hong Kong this fall and my brother is taping West Wing for me.
Tim: Advertising doesn’t support programming to the extent believed. DVD sales, etc., drive the market today. Upselling from bad copies to high-quality copies.
Question: “It seems to me that you’re already completely covered by the betamax case” to Cory? Cory: Lots of challenges, so would like to think so. Tim: We used to think we elected our president, too.
Continued question: “We have a previous model” which was software. Response: issues of control.
Question: Solution lies in distributed reputation. Cory is great because he blogs and is known. Buys something from Cory who signs receipt, and that pass on winds up increasing his reputation. Tim: Great sci-fi book with reputation management as part of story.
Missed a few q with network problems.
Question: Cory, what else should we do? Cory: Give us $10 or more than $10 (EFF.org that is). Visit action.eff.org, and you can find the information about your congresspeople so you can create letters to send. You can tell five friends.
There are three separate onslaughts: internationally, in Congress, and in the FCC. Technology will be destroyed by these efforts. A million Slashdot readers who actually care about is what’s needed (not care about Nathalie Portman or hot grits).
Fair use has a posse.
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