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Comment: Re:Protocols (Score 2) 415

by david_bonn (#48124219) Attached to: Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

I think a lot of what is going on is that healthcare workers in rich western countries have very little actual experience with an 80% fatal infectious disease.

While they may have training on protocols for dealing with such a disease, they undoubtedly are too busy to actually practice enough to keep current.

With the exception of SARS (and SARS didn't get most places it quite positively could have), we haven't had a real, o my god outbreak in living memory in the western world. So our health care professionals are going to be a little out of practice.

Yes, people die from the flu. Most doctors and nurses get flu shots. Most doctors and nurses are neither extremely young nor extremely old, so the worst case outcome if the get the flu is that they get the flu.

Comment: Re:The Conservative Option (Score 1) 480

by david_bonn (#48098845) Attached to: Texas Ebola Patient Dies

So, I can use one passport to go in and out of Cuba, Africa, Iraq, or wherever, and use the US passport for going in and out of the USA. How would they track that?

The United States government has no constitutional power to ban travel of its citizens, except in specific cases (for example, when the government reasonably believes an individual is trying to evade prosecution -- it isn't exactly clear they would even have legal authority to stop you from leaving if you were going to join ISIL though, although they would probably throw you in jail and sort it out much later). This has been beaten to death by the Supreme Court since the 1950's. The Trading With the Enemy Act prohibits U.S. citizens from spending money in Cuba, but the United States government has no authority to prohibit its free citizens from traveling there.

The State Department does issue travel advisories, and if you have any brains at all, you will at least check those out before traveling anywhere sketchy.

Comment: Re:Why do people still care about C++ for kernel d (Score 5, Insightful) 365

by david_bonn (#48058749) Attached to: Object Oriented Linux Kernel With C++ Driver Support

One of the real powerful things about C, especially for writing an operating system, is that a good C programmer can look at a piece of C code and have a pretty good idea of the machine code being generated. In the presence of C++ inline functions, implicit type converters, copy constructors, and assignment operator overloads that ability goes right out the window. If you were managing a project that involved lots of small contributions from a large and widely distributed group of developers that inability to see what a small patch does would be fatal.

On a more subtle level, C++ rewards a well-thought out design that doesn't change very much, and mercilessly punishes a design that is produced incrementally in an evolutionary fashion. Given how Linux has developed over the years, C++ would have been a brutally punishing language for Linux.

I like C++, I've used C++ in quite a few projects. I will probably use C++ again. But I can easily see why the Linux kernel is not a great place to use C++.

Comment: Re:Inverse Wi-fi law (Score 1) 278

by david_bonn (#48058585) Attached to: Marriott Fined $600,000 For Jamming Guest Hotspots

this holds true across the board for hotels.
cheap hotels give free breakfast, nice hotels charge a small fortune
cheap hotels give free parking, nice hotels charge a small fortune
nicer hotels (like the gaylord mentioned) charge a resort fee of $25 per day for basically no services at all.
cheap hotels though are competing on stuff like free wifi, free breakfast, etc
where the nicer hotels are competing on location, beautiful facility, etc.

i still don't understand though the $1k fee. i have stayed at that gaylord many times. its not a $1k fee for internet, ever. more like $20 per day (unless your marriott gold or platinum, then its free).

Sort of.

I've seen some really horribly disgusting free breakfasts at cheap hotels -- so I don't think it is fair to compare "free" and awful and "spendy" and palatable. And some higher-end hotels include breakfast in the tariff, as long as you aren't getting it delivered to your room.

Whether parking is free or not seems to depend on location. If your hotel is in San Francisco or Manhattan you will pay an arm and a leg for parking whether you are at a Super 8 or a Ritz-Carlton.

I do agree about cheaper hotels giving out free wi-fi and the higher-end hotels charging for it.

And resort fees are almost always a rip-off.

Comment: Re:I feel like we are living in an 'outbreak' movi (Score 1) 258

I agree completely.

Emergency rooms aren't really set up to deal with flu-like symptoms. Which can be from a lot of causes other than travel to Liberia. I can easily imagine a situation where between the bloody messy auto accident and a gunshot wound and two or three heart attacks the dude with flu-like symptoms just slips through the cracks.

When I took an EMT class so many years ago, one night a week I had to either ride around with a volunteer fire department or be at the emergency room of a small-town hospital. The amount of stuff that comes into the emergency room of a small-town hospital on Friday night would probably amaze you. I almost exhibit flu-like symptoms myself thinking about a big-city hospital.

Which gets to the other catch here. The initial presentation of Ebola is "flu-like" symptoms. Most people are highly suggestible and can practically think themselves into such symptoms if they are panicked and freaked out about possibly being exposed to an extremely fatal disease. So I suspect we will have a wave of people from Dallas or from Dulles Airport or from the flights this idiot was on who think they might have been exposed turning up at emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, and even their own doctors thinking they have Ebola. It is going to be quite a sorting job finding the tiny number of people who really are sick. I really hope someone has a fast, reliable, and relatively inexpensive test kit for Ebola that can be rapidly deployed. Because we are going to need it. Not because I expect a lot of people to get Ebola, but finding those needles in a haystack of hypochondriacs is going to take some work.

Comment: Re:Contagiousness (Score 4, Insightful) 475

by david_bonn (#48031329) Attached to: Ebola Has Made It To the United States

Yes, the point has came up again and again that ebola has mutated to an airborne form before. In 2012 Canadian researchers showed that Ebola Zaire could be transmitted in an airborne fashion from pigs to monkeys. Being transmitted between humans that way doesn't seem like a very large leap.

My thoughts are that it wouldn't exactly have to "go airborne" to become a catastrophe. MRSA isn't exactly airborne, but its nasty, sometimes fatal, and endemic to hospitals and health clubs all over the pretty sanitary (compared to Liberia) United States. Replacing MRSA with something that is essentially untreatable except for supportive care and is 80 percent fatal would be pretty damned heinous.

Past ebola outbreaks tended to burn themselves out pretty quickly. This one hasn't. Maybe that is because ebola finally got into an urban area. Maybe it is because all three of these countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea) have dysfunctional health care systems and are recovering from horrific civil wars -- on the other hand, that sounds a lot like The Congo and Zaire before it. Something sure seems to be different this time. That should keep people up at night. I'd feel better if some smart people from the CDC or WHO or USAMRIID were trying to figure out what us different this time.

Another thing that comes to mind is that quality, up-to-date information about this outbreak is hard to find. About the most reliable source is the wikipedia page on the outbreak. I am kind of worried about the bland reassurances that we have nothing to worry about, and then reading opinion pieces like this one:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09... ... which to me, translated from epidemiologist-speak, seems to be saying, "run for the hills."

Comment: Re:Is it actually a bug at all? (Score 2) 208

by david_bonn (#48010095) Attached to: Apple Yet To Push Patch For "Shellshock" Bug

I'd heartily agree with the above remarks.

To be honest, using bash for running scripts, especially on something public-facing like a web server, is just driven by laziness and stupidity. Most scripts would run perfectly fine on a lightweight shell without all of bash's features.

If you are talking an embedded system or even a dedicated server, I really don't understand why you'd want (or need) bash on your system at all. For that matter, for a lot of embedded systems I know there is no good reason to have a shell on your system, except possibly for testing or debuggery.

The cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components of any systems are the ones that aren't there. Oh, and the most secure as well.

Comment: Re:This exposes systemic insecurities (Score 1) 318

by david_bonn (#47997241) Attached to: Flurry of Scans Hint That Bash Vulnerability Could Already Be In the Wild

I really don't get why an embedded system needs to have *any* shell in the first place. From both a security and reliability standpoint you don't need to stress about components that aren't there.

Or you could take a hint from busybox and have one statically linked executable that does everything you need, AND NOTHING MORE, on your system.

It isn't that hard to write your own version of init to parse a config file and do whatever your system needs to do. And it is a hell of a lot more secure.

I've only been building shell-less (and root-less and passwd-less systems) for twenty years.

Comment: Re:Worse than it seems. (Score 1) 221

by david_bonn (#47935141) Attached to: Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

I would agree with you except that in the past Ebola has became airborne amongst monkeys and amongst pigs, of all things. That makes me suspect that it could happen in people, too.

Having ebola become airborne is probably a lot less likely than any one person being struck by lightning tomorrow. Probably those odds (ballpark) are around one in a billion for any one person to be struck by lightning. But each time ebola is transmitted to another host there are literally trillions of reproductive events that represent a chance for ebola to mutate in a bad way. So the odds that we will get the wrong kind of mutation, over time, actually go way up as more people become infected.

Comment: Re:Worse than it seems. (Score 4, Informative) 221

by david_bonn (#47932229) Attached to: Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

Best article I've found on this topic (they are estimating between 77000 and 278000 cases by the end of the year):

http://www.eurosurveillance.or...

And the wikipedia page on the outbreak is also quite good:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E...

This is an extremely scary situation. We have a 77% fatal virus with the caseload doubling roughly every three weeks. We might get lucky and this might burn itself out before it goes airborne or global some other way. Then again we might not.

My concern is what we are sending to Africa is probably not going to be nearly enough. And by the time it all gets there we might be looking at 10000 or 30000 cases, not the few thousand we have today. I also agree that it is very likely that the official figures substantially understate the number of infected.

Comment: Re:So, go ahead, create a bio-weapon at home (Score 1) 68

by david_bonn (#47875477) Attached to: The Grassroots Future of Biohacking

I am getting very skeptical about the home-made bioweapon that ends the world.

It isn't unreasonable to think that some lone idiot could make a new version of smallpox or bubonic plague or bird flu that goes the distance. My question is how in heck would they test it? DNA is like the worst imaginable spaghetti code, so it isn't like you just flip this one sequence here and your ordinary flu bug is 99 percent fatal. And if you combine in other stuff you have no real idea what unintended side effects might make your world-killer fizzle out. And given the very large number of angry people with guns who would be looking for me, I would want to be DAMN sure that my world-killer would really kill the world.

If I wasn't suicidal, I'd also want a vaccine. How are you going to make that vaccine without testing? I mean like really infect people, vaccinate some uninfected people, put them together, and see who dies. And for your potential world-killer to go the distance, it would have to be easily transmittable -- so that implies that you would need wicked good biocontainment and someplace very private to do your evil deeds.

Now, there are still some awful things you could do without needing to worry about testing so much. Making a hypothetical virus that would be asymptomatic (or just very mild) for nearly everyone except some small group with specific DNA markers, or just one person, would be possible. It would sure suck to be president or even a university professor who gave the wrong little snowflake a shitty grade.

Comment: that gets the salmon upstream... (Score 3, Interesting) 147

by david_bonn (#47851197) Attached to: Restoring Salmon To Their Original Habitat -- With a Cannon

The problem is that you kill just as large a percentage on the downstream trip, largely due to dissolved gas bubbles in their flesh due to dramatic pressure changes. So even if you can get the adult salmon upstream to spawn, the baby salmon can't survive the downstream trip because they get the bends.

Even if they get past all of the dams, they have to go past the mildly radioactive section around Hanford and then the rather polluted Columbia River Estuary below Bonneville Dam.

Comment: Re: No one will ever buy a GM product again (Score 2) 307

by david_bonn (#47181371) Attached to: GM Names and Fires Engineers Involved In Faulty Ignition Switch

Anecdotal evidence.

I have never owned an American-made car. I have owned various Toyota or Lexus products for the last fifteen years.

My rigs always come with rubber floor mats. After Toyota redesigned the floor mat I had the very exciting experience of the accelerator sticking under the floor mat while boarding a ferry. Lots of luck and quick thinking prevented an accident. I pulled the floor mat right then and called the dealer and Toyota of America and told them they were murderous dumbfuck morons.

I found out later that the dealer started pulling rubber floor mats out of all of their customer's cars. This was about a year before all of the hype about sai's. The fact that my dealer took it that seriously did a lot to win back my confidence.

I do know that rubber floor mats could easily produce a sticking accelerator in some Toyota models. I never had any other experiences with sudden acceleration so have no opinion about whether or not firmware bugs could also cause such incidents.

Comment: just floating-point errors... (Score 1) 422

by david_bonn (#47111541) Attached to: Why You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets For Important Work

A lot of spreadsheets have formulas that are dependent on calculated values from the preceding row or column. In fact, the replication functions most spreadsheets have encourage you to do this.

The problem, as any well-trained computer scientist knows, is that floating-point errors can rapidly accumulate using these kinds of calculations. Very. Rapidly. That means that your answers fifty or eighty rows along might well be gibberish.

I've been to three separate meetings at three separate companies whee different people's spreadsheets gave hilariously differing answers. Faces got red, voices got raised. The reality was that no one had numbers that were even close to right.

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