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Comment: Re:Not a good move (Score 1) 129

by grcumb (#48481037) Attached to: Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

I can't speak to Facebook, et. al., but please don't lump Wikipedia Zero into your attack above, it's a very different animal. WP Zero is the brainchild of some very smart, idealistic people whose primary mission in life is to spread as much free information around the globe as possible, and that in turn is just a facet of a deeper ideal that information is empowering, and lack of information is oppressive.

Whose brainchild, specifically? I'm very interested in knowing. Because I think you'll find that the idea did not originate in Wikipedia, but that it was presented to them by others.

I know some of the individuals involved in the WP Zero movement from the get-go. These are the in-the-trenches activists. They physically went to these developing nations to examine the situation because they saw a disturbing trend in their own analytical data: the most oppressed people on the planet, who had the most to gain from free information, were not taking advantage of Wikipedia's free information as much as expected.

I hope you'll forgive my cynicism, but 'physically going' to the developing world teaches very little indeed about the broader truths of living in poverty. I say this having lived the last 11 years in a Least Developed Country, and having worked for half a generation with a parade of well-intended people who, to put it bluntly, haven't got a fucking clue, but who suck up all the oxygen in the room, making it impossible to get real, meaningful work done.

Do I sound bitter? Yes. I believe I've earned that right. Does that diminish my determination to work on real issues? Not one iota.

What they found on the ground was that in many of these developing nations, school-aged children and young adults had access to cell phones (but usually not tablets or home computers), and these cell phones had browsers and data capabilities, but the carriers are charging an arm and a leg for bytes of data over the cellular network, and that's why they're not surfing Wikipedia (or anything else much either).

Yes, and instead of helping to fight this phenomenon through better policy and changed attitudes among the global institutions, what we get instead is people perpetuating the problem by empowering the very telcos who prey on those children.

Let's be perfectly clear about this: asking telcos to make a special exception for one or two services is probably the worst possible response to the situation. It's short-sighted, it generates little real benefit, and worst of all, it creates the impression that people are actually doing something, when they're doing less than the minimum needed to move the development markers.

You can defend these people all you like. I still maintain that:

a) They were misguided and wrong; and
b) The basic idea was inspired and promoted by a number of very cynical individuals to a bunch of very naïve (if well-intentioned) people with little meaningful experience in actual development work.

Comment: Re:Not a good move (Score 1) 129

by grcumb (#48476113) Attached to: Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

"We have a complicated relationship to it. We believe in net neutrality in America," said Gayle Karen Young, chief culture and talent officer at the Wikimedia Foundation. But, Young added, offering Wikipedia Zero requires a different perspective elsewhere. "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."

Let me state things clearly. These {facebook|wikipedia|whatever}.zero campaigns are a direct and unequivocal attack on Net Neutrality. They are the brainchild of some very smart, cynical people who know exactly how insidious the whole idea is, and whose job it is to set Open Data people against Open Networks people.

This is not an unintended consequence. This is the consequence.

My part of the world consists pretty much entirely of developing nations, and when we discussed these zero initiatives, we pretty quickly came to the conclusion that having offline versions of wikipedia (commonly available) was a more desirable thing than having a zero-cost version of it mediated by our friendly neighbourhood telco.

And Facebook zero was scoffed at when it was touted as a social Good.

Medicine

Health Advisor: Ebola Still Spreading, Worst Outbreak We've Ever Seen 237

Posted by samzenpus
from the like-wildfire dept.
Lasrick writes After four decades of confining Ebola outbreaks to small areas, experts acknowledged in an October 9 New England Journal of Medicine article that "we were wrong" about the scope of the current situation. At the present transmission rate, the number of Ebola cases in West Africa doubles every two to three weeks. Early diagnosis is the key to controlling the epidemic, but that's far easier said than done: "And there are several complicating factors. For one thing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 60 percent of all Ebola patients remain undiagnosed in their communities." A transmission rate below 1 is necessary to keep the outbreak under control (instead of the current rate of 1.5 to 2), and the authors detail what's in the works to help achieve early detection, which is crucial to reducing the current transmission rate.

Comment: Re:"Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say" (Score 1) 148

by grcumb (#48469815) Attached to: Clarificiation on the IP Address Security in Dropbox Case

Don't you wanna read about "clarificiations"?

Indeed. Now, most of you are out in the world seeking clarity. But, as long-time contributor Bennett Haselton writes, much more important than that is 'clarifice', the ability to explain truthiness without resorting to expertise or insight. Keep reading to see Bennett's clarification of how over two hundred years or jurisprudence can be usefully transposed onto decades-old technology....

Comment: Re:Fuck That Shit (Score 1) 64

by grcumb (#48464235) Attached to: The People Who Are Branding Vulnerabilities

You don't get points for media mentions.

You're right. You don't get points. You get funding and awareness which is far more important.

Not necessarily. If the vulnerability du jour is catching media attention the way Ebola did, then you're probably not doing work you should be doing because you've got a CEO who just publicly pronounced that not one of your customers ever is going to get $EBOLA because of you. And suddenly your entire development cycle is in ruins, every manager everywhere has to explain in voluminous detail why his business unit will not be the cause of the next $EBOLA crisis, consultants will be hired to waste your time confirming that you really never were going to contribute to the global $EBOLA scare anyway....

... and meanwhile, your maintenance cycle is fucked, you have no budget left to do the upgrades that you need to avoid good old-fashioned data loss due to hardware failure, your children have forgotten who you are, and your wife just accidentally emailed her entire carpool pictures of her naughty bits (instead of her little piece on side, as she intended).

And your dog ran away.

NOW how does all that funding and awareness feel, eh kid?

Comment: Re:Sure, but speed... (Score 1) 430

by grcumb (#48462663) Attached to: How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

So you would pay $1200 for a hard drive "without hesitation"?

Don't scoff. There are a number of scenarios where even several thousand bucks can go over the board without a second thought as long as there's some demonstrable benefit. In photography or video editing, your billing rate can be such that a couple of hours saved waiting on disk I/O can be sufficient to justify some serious spending on storage.

I've got 10 TB on my desk at home, and photography is not my primary work. It was nothing to me to drop over a thousand bucks on a decent hardware RAID controller and disk array. I'd seriously consider moving to SSDs as my primary storage medium if the price got down to 2-2.5 times the cost of a traditional disk.

Comment: Re:To America? Yes. To the GOP? No. (Score 1) 246

by Layzej (#48431465) Attached to: Does Being First Still Matter In America?

But the GOP has become obsessed with the idea that government is evil. They will not fund anything except military and espionage. That includes weather forecasting.

Apparently especially weather forecasting. They are concerned that we may learn something about climate while investigating the weather, and apparently they are ideologically opposed to learning about the climate. - http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad...

Comment: Re:Heh... (Score 4, Informative) 108

by Layzej (#48422785) Attached to: The Software Big Oil's PR Firm Uses To "Convert Average Citizens"

Guys like Spencer are playing the same game with their discipline that Intelligent Design-advocate Michael Behe plays with his

There may be more similarities between the two: Spencer concluded that the "theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution". He also claimed that science had "hit a brick wall in its attempt to rid itself of the need for a creator and designer". - http://www.theguardian.com/env...

He is signatory to "An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming" that dismisses climate change because “Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence—are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting”

Comment: Re: Check your local community first (Score 1) 112

by grcumb (#48395371) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who's the Doctors Without Borders of Technology?

Heyya - just a quick tip of the hat - sounds like we got started much the same way. What part of the Canadian frontier you tame? Yukon here, early 90s with a NPO.

Eastern Arctic, at about the same time. Worked with Jeff Philippe a bit, too. He was operating out of Yellowknife back then. We set up what was at the time the most remote commercial ISP in the world. It was a great lesson in doing more with less, but still operating in a place where the broader context was more or less sane.

The thing that people forget when they're working in developing countries is that you can't take even the smallest things for granted. The movement of goods can resemble Brownian motion more than anything else. I've been in situations where the tool (or part) I needed simply didn't exist in the country. And I'm not talking about arcane, hard-to-find items - I mean things like the proper allen key to mount drives into their enclosures in a rack mount server. Power is abysmally poor, and UPSes degrade about as fast as bread on a hot day - and they're all hot days.

Long story short: It's tedious, difficult work with few rewards. Often you measure success in disasters averted. I wouldn't recommend it for most people, and I wish that some well-meaning people would stay the fuck away. But those who end up here, end up living a life to be envied.

Comment: Re: Check your local community first (Score 4, Interesting) 112

by grcumb (#48393153) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who's the Doctors Without Borders of Technology?
Stay home. Seriously. As someone who has spent the last decade working on technology in the developing world, I can tell you that most of what I do is clean up after well meaning people who don't know enough about technology to avoid making simple mistakes, and who know next to nothing about local conditions. I cut my teeth working on the Canadian frontier, and I suggest you do something similar. Don't try to help until you're confident you can.

Comment: Re:WORST DEAL GOING (Score 1) 285

by Layzej (#48372245) Attached to: U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

Want to decrease CO2? Work on storage batteries, better nuclear fission reactors, and better, cheaper MPPT solar charge controllers,

Would you rather pick winners and losers or let the market sort out the details? A revenue neutral carbon tax is one method that allows the market to drive the required technological advances. It also allows you to lower income and sales tax.

Comment: Re:Quite the poker player (Score 1) 285

by Layzej (#48368015) Attached to: U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

China just went on record saying that they're at least going to attempt to reduce their emissions in the future. That's something that they were never willing to say before.

Not so. It looks like there was already some momentum. Here's an article from June: China, the world's biggest emitter, will set a total cap on its CO2 emissions when its next five-year plan comes into force in 2016, He Jiankun, chairman of China's Advisory Committee on Climate Change, told a conference in Beijing. - http://in.reuters.com/article/...

It is good to see that the momentum is continuing to build.

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