You Can't Spell Pneumonia without P.U.

So I have pneumonia. Great. I don't feel all that awful, but it explains the slightly bizarre bubbling sound I was getting while breathing in my chest, which can be a symptom of bronchitis (so it was slightly familiar), but the chest X-Rays don't lie. Fortunately, my doctor's practice is a good one, and based on my Saturday afternoon fever of 104, they started me on a good, reliable antibiotic, so I'm already on the mend.Still, geez, I'm in good health, have few risk factors...pneumonia! Ah, well, that's probably why it hasn't seemed so awful. I've heard this from a lot of people when they've had a certain part or system in their body go awry: like ____ ________ and his arterial trauma -- you've got a strong heart, but you could have had a heart attack. Eh? You're healthy and you've got cancer. What? The body has both holistic and reductionist elements to it. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the diagnosis of sleep apnea I'd received, and the machine I sleep with nightly, noting that I was up to three serious illnesses in my life solved by modern medicine. Hey, I just reached four!

Staring Down Apple

The organizers of the Macworld trade show have apparently told Apple it can't come to SF if it don't come to Boston! I'm slightly stunned. I know this is a game of brinksmanship, but if there's no Jobs keynote at Macworld San Francisco, then there's no reason for me to fly down for the event at all. The same is true for most other print and broadcast journalists I know: Jobs is the draw, and the trade show floor is where Apple displays its new stuff. Without those items, the rest of the show is interesting, but these days, there's not enough new at them.

I find that with broadband access to public betas or press review copies, phone briefings, and the increasingly frequent Seattle-fly-throughs of software vendors, I really don't need a trade show to learn about what's what. If I were in the print and publishing world or covered scanners and digital cameras closely, it would be different, as there are so many models, and it's hard to get hands-on time like you can at trade shows.

The IDG folks might be highlighting that trade shows for some industries are outdated. Macworld has always been a social occasion, a rallying event, and a geek out. If you take out Jobs and Apple, there's just not enough compelling to go, and the show will receive virtually no coverage.

Update: IDG blinked? We'll never know.

He Can't Be That Sick -- He's Blogging!

In day two of antibiotics (Zithramax/arithromycin), my temperature swings are now from 98.6 to just 102 instead of 104. This is the strangest fever I've ever had: the only real symptom of sickness is the fever. Just started to get a little wheeze in the lungs (bronchitis) but as I'm on antibiotics, if it's bacterial, that'll get beat. Even at 104 degrees, which is often productive coughing, wheezing, can't sleep fever, I've been clear headed and just tired. My body has probably never been so strong and well; I can't imagine what this fever would have felt like even a few months ago. Go body, go!

I engaged in a lot of productive visualization when I was going through chemotherapy. Some of the books and articles I was reading said to think about chemotherapy as a positive force: don't reject the drugs (or the later radiation), but embrace it, and convince your body to work with it. I did, and I can't say it actually helped, but it made me feel better. Overall happiness contributes to the immune system, and I would argue that visualization contributes to systemic well being. (I picture radiation as a healing white light, which is sometimes difficult. I was just looking at my tiny positioning tattoos, four blue dots, the other day and thinking about how far out I'm at from the treatment.)

Apparently, researchers have discovered a statistical problem with cancer survival rate predictions that matches what I thought, intuitively, even though I didn't have the math. When I looked at 5-, 10-, and 20-year survival rates for Hodgkin's Disease, in my mind I thought: these are a few years out of date (I was treat in 1998 and some of the figures were no more recent than 1995), and they're based on people who got treated 5, 10, and 20 years ago. Two of the major improvements in Hodgkin's Disease happened in the last 10 to 15 years.

I cut myself some better odds: I knew that given the current treatment and the current five-year survival rates that I had pretty good odds. When you add in the fact that many people get Hodgkin's when they're older and/or when they have compromised immune systems, my otherwise generally healthy body gave me extraordinary odds of getting through it.

The new statistics will use some kind of methodology to offer advice backwards in time relying on results from newer treatments. This doesn't mean that cancer treatment has become, overnight, more efficacious: each year, some number of people have cancer, and some number die from it. But it does mean that you can face your own odds with more certainty when considering courses of treatment.

I'm sure it's pie in the sky of me to believe it, but I think the day is less than 20 years off, and possibly less than 10, when many forms of cancer will be staved off or cured with chemotherapy that's substantially more intelligent than today's stuff. A few pills, a few injections, and you're done. Ten years ago, estimating 20 to 30 years made sense, and I do believe we've moved closer.

When I hear all the criticism about Big Pharma (the major pharmaceutical companies), I say, yes, they pushing too many pills to too many people; yes, they need to change their marketing; yes, they need to understand how to charge for what they sell; but Big Pharma saved my life. They probably didn't invent much of my treatment; I'm sure a lot of it originated with doctors at cancer institutes and academic institutions. But Big Pharma threw giant heaping piles of cash beneath it and lit bonfires, producing large, stable, high-quality supplies. I'm no apologist for the industry, but I do thank it.

Convergence: Mac, Unix, Linux

I wrote my regular biweekly column yesterday for The Seattle Times about encountering the growing convergence of Mac OS X and Unix/Linux uses. At the O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference back at the beginning of the month, it was pretty extraordinary to see Titanium after Titanium running mostly OS X, but quite a few with single or multiple boots into flavors of Linux and (mostly) BSD Unix.

I'm not the only one charting this convergence: Doc Searls has written about it extensively, and in InfoWorld this week, Jon Udell, who was also at the conference, checks in on the same subject on the developer and technical side of the fence. (InfoWorld devoted a big chunk of the current issue to a special feature on Apple in the enterprise.)

Sending 10 million email messages? $500. Getting caught? Priceless.

The Seattle Times reports (via AP) that a judge has produce a summary judgement of nearly $100,000 against the first person convicted of sending spam that violates Washington State's excellent rules regarding UCE.

Story within a story: My friend Adam Engst was one of the first people to bring suit against a spammer in Washington, but the spammer ran and hid. It stopped the spam (Bullseye Gold), but TidBITS spent $3,000 and was never able to retrieve the money. The fellow who had the judgement against him today apparently only made a few hundred dollars from his spam, but other folks will have deeper pockets.

Story about a story: The last time I posted a link about spam and Washington State, I linked to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. I write freelance for the Seattle Times. My editor actually reads blogs, and gave me some polite ribbing about linking to the competition. He gets it -- hi, Mark! -- and thus this time, even though it's just an AP story, I linked to my home base.

SonicBlue's New CEO Speaks the Shibboleths

I was happy to read this interview with SonicBlue's new CEO, Greg Ballard. In the interview, he speaks the shibboleths, meaning that he says the right words (although does he mean them?) to be part of our club. Those of us who joined the suit against the media companies suing SonicBlue about ReplayTV should get a boost from his remarks.

It's clear he's hedging on the restrictions about sending programs from one ReplayTV to another. This is part of our case, that the studios and other copyright holders can't preemptively disallow the exercise of fair-use rights because some users might violate copyright through this technology. However, Ballard's remarks indicate how he hopes to find a middle ground that doesn't offer absolute sovereignty to either side. We'll see how that works out.

But he defends Commercial Advance, one of ReplayTV's great features. I'm sure it causes networks and advertisers to shudder when I say that I don't watch 99 percent of the commercials, but, of course, I used to mute or leave the room when commercials came on, anyway.

ReplayTV has retrained me in a couple of odd ways, too: I try to pause the radio now ... why doesn't that button work! ... and I'm not sure how to operate a TV when I'm in somebody else's home.

Llamas and Peanut Butter

Mark Frauenfelder is delivering the last talk at Mac OS X Conference about his short-lived celebrity as an Apple Switcher. One person asked him, "Have any Windows users bitchslapped you?" He quotes John Dvorak on him as saying he looked like the kind of guy who wants to spread cream cheese on a camel. Frauenfelder rejoined, "I'm a llama and peanut butter guy."

People have asked him for Ellen Feiss's email address. He gave them the address of Andrew Orlowski, a critic who wrote that "Frauenfelder is the kind of twitchy, self-loathing bore from whom women flee." Mark said he runs faster than his wife.