Flu vaccines and government regulations

December 13, 2003 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Rants | Leave a comment

A CNN article describes the process used last March to decide on the flu vaccine to be used this year. As most of us know, they picked the wrong strain this year, causing an increase in the number of flu cases and deaths, especially those of children. The interesting quote in the article is this:

Nancy Cox, chief of the influenza branch at the CDC, told the group that manufacturers had been unable to grow the Fujian strain in chicken eggs — the only FDA-approved method of reproducing the virus for use in vaccines. “It’s just not working this time,” she said. “We don’t know why.”

I’m no biologist, but it does seem to me that as a result of evolution and adaptation, flu strains that survive are the ones that cannot be easily grown in chicken eggs, since over the past 30 years, we have been effective at making ourselves immune to such viruses.

At the very least, we should use the lessons learned from this years’ flu season to aggresively figure out how to deal with such threats in the future. I would consider this threat to be as important as the war on terror, as far as lives are concerned.

I Left My Free WiFi in San Francisco

December 13, 2003 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Technology | 2 Comments

Last January, I was able to get free WiFi access on my laptop in the Cole Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. During the last year, the area served by free wireless in The City has greatly expanded. Next month, free wireless may be available in the Moscone Center for Macworld Expo attendees.This is a great middle-finger to give to pay-for-access wireless ISPs such as Boingo and T-Mobile. Kudos to all those involved in this project; I hope other cities follow-up on this experiment.

Cocoa Programming Classes

December 11, 2003 at 9:40 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

I have a couple of Cocoa programming books, but haven’t found the time to start. BigNerdRanch.com offers a 1-week Cocoa Programming Course. At $3500, I thought it was rather steep, even if it includes room and board.Of course, if you really have money to burn, a similar class is taught at Stanford. For only $1000, you get to audit the course, but you’ll have to pay extra for the ability to take it remotely. Oh, you want to take the course for credit? Then that’ll be $3000.

CHP Pursuit of the day

December 10, 2003 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Fun Outdoors, General, Humor (G- and R- rated) | Leave a comment

I live in Los Angeles, the pursuit capital of the world; we average about one per day, and most aren’t televised. Fortunately, someone decided to run from the police during prime time. I saw the pursuit on my EyeTV PVR. It lasted about an hour; what made this one interesting was three things:

  • The California Highway Patrol performed a PIT maneuver on a car running on 4 rims at about 40 mph. The car spun around 360 degrees and continued on its way
  • Near the end of the pursuit, the bottom of the car was a flaming roman candle
  • The name of the KTLA reporter

Sun one-ups Apple on the Desktop

December 10, 2003 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

Check out this preview of Sun’s new desktop envrionment – Looking Glass (QuickTime/MP4 required). It looks like Sun took Apple’s OSX Dock and then added 3D capabilities. It certainly looks as impressive as ExposÈ. Given the fact that Sun’s Sparc CPU architecture is lagging behind that of Intel’s x86 and IBMs PowerPC, this is a nice demo, assuming they ran it on a Sparc/Solaris box.What makes me disappointed is that Sun’s track record for following through on this kind of innovation is spotty at best; they’re at their best when trying to do things for businesses and developers, not desktop users. Well, at least Apple or MS will certanly try to copy some of what they have shown here.

Oh Canada!

December 8, 2003 at 7:15 pm | Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

“What bugs me about Canadians, if I may, is that they wear that damn patch on their bags, the Canadian flag patch. That way, they differentiate themselves from us.”

An interesting article describing the way Americans feel about Canadians showing the Maple Leaf Flag when they travel overseas. I really can’t blame them – the way the United States has behaved under the Bush II administration, it’s no wonder anyone that might be mistaken for an American is going to great lengths to make sure that they are not. Personally, I’ve travelled overseas with a Canadian flag on my backpack; it gives someone one less reason to heckle, confront, argue, or shoot me.

Buying CDs

December 7, 2003 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Fun Indoors, Politics, Technology | Leave a comment

Ever since the RIAA started to wage war on their customers, many of us have boycotted and refused to buy any music released by RIAA members, even those found on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. The RIAA Radar site enables you to find CDs not released by RIAA members. These are still copyrighted works and should not be shared online, but at least buying these CDs will ensure that none of your money goes towards prosecuting fellow music lovers. For this holiday season, they have generated a list of RIAA-safe CDs you can buy for your friends and family. There are many successful artists in this list, including Roy Orbision, Steve Winwood, David Bowie, and Natalie Merchant. Heck, there’s even one by Michael Bolton 🙂

Is the DVD Format War Over?

December 6, 2003 at 7:33 pm | Posted in Technology | Leave a comment

If this article is any indication, the format war between DVD+R and DVD-R may be over. The Asian OEM manufacturers have created the first DVD+R burner to retail for less than $100, which probably means a street price of $50 by the middle of next year. This will allow DVD+R burners to replace CD-R burners on both name-brand and white-box PCs. If the DVD-R consortium does not respond to this challenge, the only question is where Apple stands on this matter; they are shipping dual-format SuperDrives but only support DVD-R in their iApps. It may be a matter of time before they have to make a decision to “switch”.

Battlestar Galactica returns

December 3, 2003 at 7:46 pm | Posted in Fun Indoors | Leave a comment

As a young ‘un, one of my favorite series was Battlestar Galactica. Looking back, the show was cheesy, but the storyline of humankind endangered and pursued by technology was compelling (maybe on a subsconscious level). The Sci-Fi Channel has decided to create a new BG series, but early on, they did warn that it will not be a remake of the original series, but rather, they plan to making a well-written space opera, implying that Babylon 5 was not worthy. After seeing this article, it may be the new BG that is not worthy. I can understand changing the gender of my favorite BG characters like Starbuck and Boomer, but for heaven’s sake, is their budget so low that they can’t afford to make real Cylons? BG fans should put up a collection to get the new BG producers a couple of Linux boxes and some 3D/CGI software.

I’ll watch, but until then, check out this video game that, at the very least, understands how important real Cylons are to BG.

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