Read: How we can “Curb…Pandemics”


Read: “We can curb potential pandemics by investing in prevention tactics | TheHill”

Ultimately, the most effective way to curb a potential pandemic is to invest in prevention tactics. We know what works: CDC investments in stronger surveillance systems, laboratory networks, and bio-containment capabilities helped West Africa stem Ebola in 2014. The World Bank says a severe pandemic could cost up to $3 trillion. Preparedness costs, on the other hand, are roughly $4.5 billion annually — globally, that is just 65 cents per person per year.

Source: We can curb potential pandemics by investing in prevention tactics | TheHill

“Thousands of Philly students still without permanent teachers” by @newskag


The private contractor hired to find subs at minimum wage has failed. (h/t Atrios)

Seven weeks into the school year, thousands of Philadelphia school children have yet to be assigned permanent teachers.On top of a substitute-teaching predicament that leaves hundreds of jobs unfilled every day, the Philadelphia School District – with 190 vacancies – has created a crisis, “either through neglect or incompetence,” union president Jerry Jordan said Monday.

Source: Thousands of Philly students still without permanent teachers

flight pattern coordination sounds like a problem for


The “pre-departure clearance” computer software designed to automate the filing and amending of flight plans and the delivery of departure clearances isn’t capable of flagging or identifying multiple plans that have been filed for the same flight, the letters said. This can result in a controller clearing a flight for departure based on an outdated plan, and the pilots flying a route not anticipated or planned for by the controller.To try to catch the problem, controllers have to go through the time-consuming process of reviewing flights plans, calling pilots and searching through paper strips that are passed among controllers and marked to track a plane’s progress from taxing to takeoff. Then they compare the information on the paper strips to data displayed on computers.

Source: Whistleblowers Expose Problem That Could Cause Plane Collisions

Sounds like this is an application needed for this “Silicon Valley* for Government” startup that Obama has built 140 deep and wants to grow to 500. I hope they have a whistle blower’s queue: here’s what’s wrong or repetitive busy work in my agency, please fix it.

*note: silicon valley growth was pushed along by government investment.

talk bots


Out of 70,572 hosts, 70,529 were female and only 43 were male. So we can say for sure that roughly zero percent of bots on Ashley Madison are male. The bots also tended to have email addresses, though other popular addresses included things like,, and And finally, tens of thousands of the bots had IP addresses that suggested the accounts had been made by people working at the Ashley Madison office.

Source: Ashley Madison Code Shows More Women, and More Bots

Her is real.

Gizmodo: “A Little Lead Can Make Graphene Magnetic”


That’s quite something. And it also has some very real and plausible applications. Magnetism lies at the heart of a lot of digital storage, and graphene could provide a bomb-proof material to make such devices from, or it could be used to create robust, nano-size magnetic sensors.

via A Little Lead Can Make Graphene Magnetic.

Is graphene the super “clean” material we need to help stem climate change? where do we put it? Is this more toxic than current alternatives if disposed of in the worst possible way? (Because as human beings have gone that’s what can we expect)

Tech Indentured Servancy


Labor Brokers are conning Indian tech workers into indentured servitude…

One of them is software engineer Gobi Muthuperiasamy, who came to the United States from the southern India city of Madurai in 2007 to work for one labor broker. In 2010, while he was contracted to a project at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, he decided to switch labor brokers, to Softech International Resources Inc.

The rural Georgia staffing firm boasts online of providing tech workers to IBM, Bank of America, Verizon and other companies. Softech agreed to pay Muthuperiasamy $51,000 a year to continue improving Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation database. Instead, he changed his mind, taking a better-paying job in Ohio.

When Softech sued him in 2011 for more than $20,000, saying he had agreed to it when he signed his employment contract, Muthuperiasamy was astonished.

“You should treat people like human beings,” the 32-year-old said, “not like animals, creatures that you make money off of.”

He decided to fight back, spending more than three years and $25,000 in legal costs. That makes Muthuperiasamy unusual: In the vast majority of court cases reviewed by CIR, workers naively and ineffectively represented themselves, didn’t show up for their court date or gave up and returned to India.

Softech is a case in point. Owned by Krishnan Kumar, Softech has filed 32 lawsuits against employees in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Many of those lawsuits name workers who complain that they quit because they weren’t being paid. Yet most of the workers ended up on the losing end, through settlements or mediations or in court.

via Job brokers steal wages and entrap Indian tech workers in US | US news | The Guardian

I’m a software developer. I know the wage ranges. I know the job market. There is a shortage of developers. We can command higher salaries because we are in high demand. Put a resume online for a database developer and recruiters will call you.

51K/yr for a database software developer in this hiring environment before taxes is very, very cheap. On the job search and labor info site “” 57k is listed as a minimum for that role. 80k is the national average. That means 51K is intern or recent collage grad in a rural low cost of living who had to settle prices. The labor broker is most definitely charging at least twice that. I’m not surprised Muthuperiasamy looked for a new job. He was being severely under valued.

Also problematic:

Yet software engineer Muthuperiasamy tried in vain to get the US government to help. He complained to the Department of Labor, Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service that Softech was abusing the legal system by pursuing him for quitting.

The official response: a letter from the Labor Department saying it would not investigate Softech because the company technically never had employed Muthuperiasamy – even though Softech’s lawsuit was based on him being an employee who left the labor broker in the lurch.

“They said it was not a DOL problem,” Muthuperiasamy said.

Here is the DOL’s mission statement:

To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

It sure sounds like it’s the DOL’s problem.

“Not our problem” is something no one wants to hear from any government department. Non-political management and political appointees leading these organizations need to learn that soon.

Surprisingly little hiring in government is political, but a lot of government firing and downsizing is. Outrage is embodied by hash tags and white on red “breaking news” 24 hour news channel tickers. This kind of “not-it” bureaucracy will be targeted by conservatives and abandoned by liberals.

iTunes is Eating my Purchases


On my iPhone:

On Saturday night I updated to 8.0.1 before going to a friends apartment to visit. Imagine my surprise when songs I purchased, ranked highly and were in playlists on that iPhone were deleted from the iPhone. Songs I was literally listening to hours before and expected to have with me disappeared from my phone.These songs are all songs I purchased through iTunes.

On my Windows 7 laptop:
For a long time iTunes progress bar crawled across a dialog box as it “updated my iTunes Library”. What updating means is that songs that were in my library are no longer there. These songs are all songs I purchased through iTunes.

I didn’t tell my library to do this. I am not using iTunes Match so I have not checked a preference that I want my music stored in iCloud. I use the star rating system to organize my music but when songs have to be re-downloaded, my ratings have to be redone.

This is a problem for a variety of reasons…

  1. iTunes (you must Match) is turning these disappearing purchases into rentals: I’m not enrolled in iTunes match. But it’s treating me like I am. When the songs disappear from my library, then what happens is that if Apple loses rights to a song, I won’t be able to re-download it. What if an album i loved, i paid for was stripped off my device and then pulled from the iTunes store? Then I lose it because they took it out of my library.
  2. I’ve invested hours of time into my iTunes Library: I pay for iTunes. It’s a free download, but I buy content that can only be downloaded through iTunes. I buy iTunes connected devices because I’ve accepted iTunes as my media manager for my home and my personal use.
  3. These are my devices: Apple is using iTunes to modify my devices without my permission. Again, this means they believe that my phone is a rental item as long as I use iTunes. And they also believe that since I installed iTunes on my PC, that my PC and my network drive are also within their rights to unilaterally modify.
  4. Re-downloading files has a material and temporal cost: if i want to listen to a song that is stripped from my iPhone without my knowledge, iTunes would re-download the item. This impacts my data plan limits. In addition, it wastes my time. I already downloaded a song. I already synced devices. I should never have to download it again unless I purposefully delete it from a device or my library.

The solution I want:*

I want to find some sort of alternative app/application ecosystem I can use to decouple my mp3’s from iTunes store/iTunes match/iCloud scheme. From iTunes support threads, I think a lot of iTunes users may benefit from a non Apple music App. The Apple “music” app is designed to support the iTunes Store. I need a music app that is mainly about me being able to play music and doesn’t care where I get the audio files from. A great example is the Overcast App for Podcasting: it has better features than the perfectly fine Apple Podcasts app. I don’t need to sync it with my desktop. I need to find something similar for music. I need to be able to rate music, make playlists and sync it with a library on my phone. It needs to be local file based, not cloud or streaming based. Data charges make cloud based or stream based music services problematic for me. I would pay for this app and pay for this application.

*And no Spotify, Google Music are not viable solutions. Neither is anything from Amazon. They are all fine, but they have stores as well.

Has Google been skimming info from Apps for Education (aka children)?


As part of a potentially explosive lawsuit making its way through federal court, giant online-services provider Google has acknowledged scanning the contents of millions of email messages sent and received by student users of the company’s Apps for Education tool suite for schools.In the suit, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company also faces accusations from plaintiffs that it went further, crossing a “creepy line” by using information gleaned from the scans to build “surreptitious” profiles of Apps for Education users that could be used for such purposes as targeted advertising

via Google Under Fire for Data-Mining Student Email Messages – Education Week.

Stupid Question: shouldn’t we demand all companies begin using creative commons software agreements?
It should kind of be the standard for software. It’s past the point where we can trust an software, OS or hardware makers and these twenty some page legal notices are just deterrents to us understanding what a software vendor is trading access to our personal information or software fees for.

iOS 8 is bringing more Apple Maps Fixes


iOS 8 is bringing more Apple Maps Fixes. Being that I can’t make Google Maps my default map app, I’m hopeful, but not holding my breath. I used Apple Maps instead of Google Maps a few weeks back for turn by turn directions while driving and ended up a full city block away from my destination. Points A and B were both inside Philadelphia. I realized my error, punched up Google Maps and got the right location. It was a sketchier neighborhood and accuracy would have been appreciated.