Obamanet, Bug in Office 365, Superbugs, and Watson

View from Chaos Manor, Monday, February 23, 2015


It’s chilly out. I’m still trying to get things regularized in here as I adjust to being downstairs in my old office. Now it’s lunch time, possibly a bit more later. I think I mat need a new and more powerful Wi-Fi router/broadcaster. The present one is seen by the Surface Pro but the signal isn’t strong enough.  At Kaiser the Wi-Fi worked well enough, so it isn’t the Surface. Apparently my downstairs office has just enough walls between me and the upstairs router. Anyway we have to do something.


From Internet to Obamanet

BlackBerry and AT&T are already making moves that could exploit new ‘utility’ regulations.


L. Gordon Crovitz

Critics of President Obama’s “net neutrality” plan call it ObamaCare for the Internet.

That’s unfair to ObamaCare.

Both ObamaCare and “Obamanet” submit huge industries to complex regulations. Their supporters say the new rules had to be passed before anyone could read them. But at least ObamaCare claimed it would solve long-standing problems. Obamanet promises to fix an Internet that isn’t broken.

The permissionless Internet, which allows anyone to introduce a website, app or device without government review, ends this week. On Thursday the three Democrats among the five commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission will vote to regulate the Internet under rules written for monopoly utilities.


We have yet to see how the new rules will apply under the Executive Order placing the Internet under the FCC, but experience has shown that if regulators can charge a fee without going to Congress to raise taxes, they will do so. Welcome to Net Neutrality otherwise known as Obamanet.


Pledge week continues, which means I get to bug you about subscribing. This site is free to everyone, but if we don’t get enough subscriptions I can’t keep doing it. We conduct rational discussions on current issues, mostly high tech, plus we try to find items of wide interest to educated people. By educated I don’t necessarily exclude academics, but many of you didn’t go that route. After all, when did the BYTE column, it was for users. Anyway, I bug you about subscribing when KUSC, the LA good music station, holds their pledge drive, but we don’t have advertising, and usually I leave you alone.

I’m not after eating money, and if you can’t afford to be one of my patrons, I still want you as a reader; but do consider subscribing if you have not, and if you haven’t renewed in a while this would be a good time to do it. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/paying.html

And that’s enough on that.


The new WinBook is a very cheap full computer and is recommended at the price, but we hope many buyers will bug Microsoft about the new Office 365 that comes with it.

My new laptop from Microsoft has a year trial of Office 365. It has one glaring loss of function: you can’t get to Autocorrect from a right click. You have to put the button on the Ribbon. Then when you hit a word you don’t like, you double-click it to select the word, Control-C to copy it, then open Autocorrect on the Ribbon, then Control-V to paste it, then type the word you want it to be. All so cumbersome. That missing feature alone will be enough to send me to OpenOffice when my subscription expires.


Of course it isn’t just WinBook, but all computers with Windows that come with Office 365 that have this problem. Office 2010 does not have the problem, and you own it without further payment. Renting software puts you at the mercy of the publisher; of course you sort of are because of the need for support. I like some of the Office 365 concept but the improvements over Office 2010 weren’t.


When Medical Devices Spread Superbugs

By THE EDITORIAL BOARDFEB. 23, 2015    nyt

Germs that are resistant to antibiotics are cropping up with alarming frequency at American hospitals. A lethal “superbug” known as CRE infected seven patients at the Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center and killed two of them. The germs were apparently transmitted on inadequately sterilized medical scopes.

When I briefly apprenticed at a medical lab (I was still in high school – things were simpler then) we were taught to be careful about sterility: which in those days meant Phenol – carbolic acid, which was thought to be the ultimate. It’s not used much now, probably because it is toxic as hell — if you got possible exposure to bio hazards you reached for the carbolic; we kept it in carboys – but then you used lots of soap and water to get the carbolic off. I hear that UCLA is sterilizing their bio probes with a gas process that is very toxic.


IBM’s Watson morphs into big business (USA Today)

Tom Walsh, Detroit Free Press 11:24 p.m. EST February 22, 2015

DETROIT — IBM Watson initially won fame as the artificially intelligent computer system that won $1 million for whipping former Jeopardy! champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on the televised game show in 2011.

Since then, under the leadership of 1984 University of Michigan graduate Mike Rhodin, Watson has morphed into a muscular big business with lots of tentacles and more than 2,000 employees.

Earlier this month in Ann Arbor, I interviewed Rhodin, the New York-based senior vice president of IBM Watson who was in town to speak with two groups of University of Michigan business students and budding entrepreneurs.

Rhodin smiled when I asked the sci-fi question he hears often: When will machines turn on humans and take over the world?

“I haven’t seen any technology that could lead to that outcome,” he said.

Perhaps we won’t reach the singularity so soon?  Of course AI expert systems have been with us since the 70’s, and many are better than Old Sam at such tasks as determining the “staple” of cotton, sex of baby chickens, and wear on railroad wheels as the train goes by. That sort of AI is vastly improved in the last decades, and now is moving strongly into health care – and short order cooking.  Few repetitive jobs are safe, and many “expert” jobs are being automated; after all, if one AI knows how to do something, then nearly all can know it without having experience learning. One thing computers do well is transfer knowledge. 


I am forever looking for odd creatures I can morph into even odder alien life forms,  Here is one;

http://marinelife.about.com/od/invertebrates/tp/Facts-About-Nudibranchs.htm which is pretty odd…


Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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