Author Archives: phandrens

Only Four Countries have more COVID-19 infections per day than Australia!

I I’m shocked, and to be honest a little afraid, but in Australia we seem to have just decided that we have to live with COVID-19.

For two years Australia live the world in keeping COVID at bay. We closed borders, focused on vaccinating citizens and ensured masks, sanitiser, and distancing rules and were to protect Australians from the virus.

It succeeded, despite a few mistakes, but with a election drawing near, and the public getting restless, state and federal governments chose to abandon most restrictions and throw their country open to travel and to visitors.

The results are graphic and clear to see. Uur medical system is staggering under the load of people being infected on a daily basis.

Most of the infections are relatively minor because the majority of the Australian population has been vaccinated and many have also had a booster shot meaning that most cases are quite mild.

However the number of infected medical staff and ambulance crew is so high that hospitals all are struggling to maintain adequate services under the load of incoming cases.

Are we really so selfish that we can’t wear masks in public, especially at “spreader events” were large crowds gather in the interest of the lives of our elderly and at-risk friends and family?

Thanks to the ABC for an excellent discussion of the issues here:

Are we at a point where Australians tolerate people dying from COVID-19? – ABC News:

“We seem to have closed our eyes to the suffering and the deaths that are still occurring due to Omicron, so I think it’s bordering on irresponsible,” Professor Toole said.

Unvaccinated People Ordered to Stay Home or Face Jail in City of 14 Million

Unvaccinated People Ordered to Stay Home or Face Jail in City of 14 Million:

On Monday, Metro Manila’s governing council announced it is requiring unvaccinated people to “regulate their mobility” at least until Jan. 15, when a heightened alert order imposed on the metropolis is set to lapse. The restrictions may be reimposed if daily caseloads do not ease by then.

Under the order, unvaccinated people must stay at home except to buy essential goods or for medical purposes. They are banned from all restaurants, malls, hotels and all other leisure establishments. They can’t take public transportation, and they’ll have to be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks—at their own expense—to be allowed at on-site jobs. Violators will be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to six months, or both.

Christine Negroni » New Book on 737 MAX Explores Boeing’s Phenomenal Descent

Christine Negroni is an amazing aviation reporter, so to see her offer such a glowing review of this book makes it a must for me!

Thanks Christine, and thanks Peter Robinson.


Christine Negroni » New Book on 737 MAX Explores Boeing’s Phenomenal Descent:

In the world of air accident investigations, finding out what led to a crash is followed by finding out why.

Why is critical. That’s one reason I often write about the fallacy of attributing an accident to “pilot error”.

Pilots (mechanics, designers, schedulers, dispatchers, flight attendants, etc.) will make mistakes, that is inevitable. Tracking those errors upstream to see what in the system led to those mistakes is how aviation gets safer. Or, as Key Dismukes, one of my favorite human factors scientists once told me, “The airplane, the designer, and the pilot are part of a complex system. Under certain circumstances, things happen that leave the crew trying to figure out what’s going on.”


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This Windows laptop almost (YES ALMOST!!) rivals the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and it’s 45% cheaper | TechRadar

This Windows laptop almost rivals the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and it’s 45% cheaper | TechRadar:

Almost every time Apple launches a new product, it often instantly becomes an icon, whatever the niche. The 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro is a fine example of that, but with excellence comes a hefty price tag.

Yes, the 16” MacBook Pro requires oxygen if you are buying a high end version. I am planning to do that in the next month or so…

It is the ALMOST part that gets me…

My 2015 MacBook Pro 15” is ALMOST as good as the 2019/2020 version, but not really. The package Apple is offering is powerful, well designed, has great GPU performance for video editing, and the longest battery life possible in a laptop of this size. And it uses macOS, a far cry (as I have learned over the last 3 years) from Windows.

After using, programming and supporting Windows laptops from Windows 3.11 to Windows 10, I have discovered the power of a beautiful and simple OS that allows everything to work with everything else.

Simply hitting Command + Space allows me to find almost any file using a word of phrase. How do you do that in Windows?

Learning the different key layout is a pain, but macOS is superior and much more consistent and reliable that Windows 10.

I own a Dell XPS 13, and every time I boot it up, I have to wait fo 10-30 minutes while it installs updates and reboots.

On the Mac, this happens every 6 months or so, and takes far less time. And I can decide to put it off until…

So, if you are cheap, get the cheap Windows option, I you want something that is powerful, light, and reliable, get Apple to build the machine you really need.

This leads some in the Windows sphere to see an opportunity to offer a competitive yet affordable alternative. Enter HIDevolution, a company that builds bespoke mobile workstations based on existing laptops.

HiDevolution has taken an MSI Prestige 15 A10SC laptop and upgraded it heavily. You could do this at home, but using an authorised built-to-order seller means there’s less chance of frying your laptop or having to return components because of incompatibility issues.

Sydney’s airport deserted during coronavirus, becomes ‘eerie’ ghost town with few travellers – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Sydney’s airport deserted during coronavirus, becomes ‘eerie’ ghost town with few travellers – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):

Australia’s busiest airport normally handles around 1,000 flights daily.

“We’re now doing 10 flights a day, 20 if we’re lucky,” Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert says.

“150,000 people were coming through the airport every day, we’re now seeing 100, 200 people a day.”

The normally bustling kerbside drop-off area is deserted, with cleaners and security guards pacing.

To even enter the departures hall, you must have a ticket to fly that day.

Only a few food outlets remain open and on the other side of customs and security, duty-free shops are fenced off.

Staff are removing luxury goods from the shelves to stop them gathering dust and Australian souvenirs are piled into baskets.12343762 4x3 940x705

Surgery Tomorrow – For Palmar fibromatosis

I have been suffering with Palmar fibromatosis for some years.

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The middle fingers of my right hand have been slowly curling inwards for about 20 years. Finally it has reached a point where I need action. I am at the point where I can barely open my hand to a 90 Degree angle.

I am having surgery tomorrow. The first surgery I have had since having my tonsils out 53 years ago. I am, naturally apprehensive, but it is necessary.

Palmar fibromatosis (Dupuytren’s contracture) is a condition in which tissue in the palm of the hand covering the finger tendons thickens and scars. The affected tissue, called the palmar fascia, becomes tight and shortened, contracting the fingers inwards toward the palm.

I am told it is prevalent among people with Viking ancestry. Take from that what you will.

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Copyright, History and Disappearing Books

Copyright is a legal device to protect the creator of a work from having that work copied and devalued without his permission. The definition is: The exclusive legal right to (publish, distribute, sell, perform) a literary, musical or artistic property.

There was no need for copyright before the printing press, because the only way to copy anything was by hand, and the process was slow. If you wanted a copy of the Bible, you hired a scribe, who would then work for three years making an (error prone) copy. The cost was high, and the results were in themselves an original work of art.

Early Copyright

The republic of Venice granted the first privilege for a book in 1486. France followed in 1503. The first copyright privilege in England bears the date 1518.

in April 1710 In Great Britain the Statute of Anne marked the world’s first copyright statute. It granted publishers of a book legal protection of 14 years with the commencement of the statute. It also granted 21 years of protection for any book already in print.

American publishers regarded the work of foreign (i. e., non-US) authors as unprotected ‘common’ property. Thus, numerous unauthorized American re-prints appeared until 1891, when the United States finally stopped sanctioning literary piracy. In 1896 the American Congress joined the international copyright union, despite petitions by such noted British novelists as Charles Dickens, far earlier, in 1837.

It was not until complaints by American authors such as Mark Twain, who was fed up with publishers’ ignoring American writers in favour of English writers whose books could be re-printed more cheaply because there were no royalty costs. A further point of aggravation for Twain was the Canadian piracy of his work. This resulted in cheap copies of his books flooding across the border within days of their release in the US.

He was hurt badly in 1876, when a Canadian publisher issued Tom Sawyer before the American edition even appeared.

Concerns about Canadian piracy of works by American authors lead to the U. S. Copyright Act in 1886.

The 20th Century – Things Start Going Bad

In 1998, the Walt Disney Company realized Disney’s copyright on Mickey Mouse was due to expire in 2003. Rather than allowing Mickey to enter the public domain, Disney campaigned Congress for an extension bill. (I’m sorry but who really cares about mickey any more? I don’t see Mickey Mouse comics in the news agent, and I doubt children really have more than a passing interest. It is the 21st century. The Mickey Mouse Revue, an automated musical tribute to Disney songs that opened Walt Disney World in 1971, was sent to Tokyo’s Disneyland in 1980 and was warehoused for good in 2009. I think people go to Disneyland/world for more modern attractions, despite THOSE ears)

Disney’s campaign donations – more than $6.3 million in 1997-98, helped Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. This extended the term of protection by 20 years for works copyrighted after January 1, 1923. Works copyrighted since 1978 got “life plus 70” rather than the existing “life plus 50”. Works made by corporations got 95 years. Works copyrighted before 1978 were protected for 95 years.

The Modern Context

Instead of Copyright protecting an author or publisher long enough for him to ensure an income from his work, Copyright law has become a stranglehold on invention, creativity and thinking.

I live in Australia, so America’s recently found righteous indignation over copyright law should have little impact. But that is not the case.

America has used the DMCA to shove its intellectual-property laws down the throat of every country it does business with.

A Cnet article says, in part:
Australia will be required to adopt U.S. intellectual-property rules, including laws covering the “circumvention” of copy protection, and software patents that have alarmed advocates of open-source software, according to a trade agreement that President Bush signed on Tuesday…

A less-noticed section of the free-trade agreement deals with copyright.
“The agreement strengthens protections for intellectual property and promotes electronic commerce,” Bush said, before signing a bill committing the United States to the arrangement. “Our two nations are committed to the reduction of trade barriers and other restrictions that are keeping too much of the world from the kind of prosperity and opportunity that the developed world takes for granted.”

The agreement requires Australia to recognize software patents, to extend the duration of copyrighted works and to essentially adopt key portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That 1998 law has been attacked by computer scientists and open-source programmers in the United States as stifling innovation and outlawing legitimate activities like making a back-up copy of a legally purchased DVD.

Australia will be required to enact laws punishing anyone who “circumvents without authority any effective technological measure that controls access” to copyrighted work or who distributes hardware or software that is designed for circumvention or is marketed that way. As in the DMCA, some limited exceptions permit such activity by authorized researchers and government employees for “the sole purpose of preventing the access of minors to inappropriate online content.”

One section goes further than existing U.S. law and commits both nations to enacting bans on tinkering with “rights management information.” A related bill is pending, but has not been approved, in the U.S. Senate.

A more opinionated comment is here:

The Australian Governments version:

The short description is that this law is forcing the rest of the world to enact the seriously broken American copyright laws.

Down to today.

This article by The Atlantic highlights the problems with these modernized copyright laws. They make it almost impossible to print or reprint works from the near past. The fear that someone who holds copyright (for 90 years in some cases) makes it an exercise in terror to print anything.

If an author has died or disappeared (or if a publisher has folded, and not passed copyright back to the author, a common problem) it is difficult if not impossible to track down the copyright owner for the years or decades involved.

If I want a copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau (I have an electronic copy on my Kindle, and a paper version here beside me) published in 1854 it is not a problem. If I want something from the 1950’s I can always find Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye or Fahrenheit 451. But most books from that period are gone.

The Missing 20th Century

The Article published by The Atlantic suggests that the books written from the 1920s to the 1990s are now a disappearing breed. Why? Because the copyright laws described above are making it almost impossible to print or distribute these books.

This article looks at 2500 newly printed (paper) books selected at random. These are new books. They are not eBooks, or used. They are in the Amazon warehouse (or close by).

Books published before 1923 are free of copyright, hence they fall in the public domain and can be re-printed. The graph comes from University of Illinois law professor Paul Heald.

The Conclusion