O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference

I'm off on Sunday to four days and four nights in Santa Clara, for the O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference, an interesting grab-bag of technology and system admin detail for programmers, network workers, advanced users, and anyone with a yen for knowing how to put lots of kinds of things together in interesting ways. I deliver a 3 1/2 hour tutorial first thing Monday morning, and then am at liberty to attend a couple dozen sessions the rest of the week, which I'm very much looking forward to. If you're there, please say hi!

A number of favorite people will be there, including Adam Engst, Dori Smith, Rich Siegel, J.D. Lasica, Randal Schwartz...I'd better stop or I'll offend someone by not including them. Too many cool people to mention, plus a number I've been looking forward to meeting for months or years. As a technology guy who runs in some different circles, it's fascinating to see how many people from different milieus are collected as speakers; it'll be even more interesting to see who comes.

Blogging and Journalism

J.D. Lasica posted a partial transcript of a panel discussion that he, Dan Gillmor, Rebecca Blood, Meg Hourihan, and Scott Rosenberg were on in front a group of journalism students. The discussion is terrific, because these folks represent a nice cross-section of journalists who blog and bloggers who have become journalists in a more traditional sense. (I'm also mentioned in passing, thank you, Dan.)

One of the points that I come away with from this discussion is that the real crux of the difference between journalism and personal blogging is a very fine amount of intermediation. Instead of the heavy intermediation that happens between a newspaper journalist writing and the account that appears in the newspapers, blogging journalism involves fewer people and fewer changes.

What's interesting about the nice reference to me in the article is how Dan puts a face on a point he's making: I like what was just mentioned about the individual expert who does something so well that in effect they become journalists in the traditional sense. For me, it's gone both directions: my blog has given me the credibility that's extended me back into a variety of print publications, including InfoWorld (see this coming Monday's edition), Macworld (Bluetooth knowledge), and The New York Times (although I was writing occasionally for them, the Wi-Fi blog has resulted in stories they've asked me to write or that I've pitched).

For freelancers, a blog like mine, on a focused topic, can truly change your career.

Strike Three, But I'm Still in the Game

About a week ago, I received a not unexpected diagnosis of severe obstructive sleep apnea. This form of apnea (Greek for "without sleep") means that many times an hour, I stop breathing because of relaxed soft tissue in my throat. In yesterday's New York Times, by coincidence, Jane Brody's regular column was devoted to sleep apnea, so I learned that as many as 18 million people in the US have apnea and only 10 percent are diagnosed.

This is the third major health problem I've had in my short thirty-four years. The first, well, despite my well-known openness, I'd rather not discuss, but it involved minor surgery and a long uncomfortable recovery. The second was Hodgkin's Disease, which I've documented all over my site. Sleep apnea may be one of the easiest and most annoying, because there's a simple cure: a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

The CPAP pushes a very small amount of positive pressure through a mask you wear just over your nose and that small pressure--8 cm in my case--makes sure that even when you lose all tonality in your muscles in deep sleep that your soft tissue doesn't obstruct your ability to breath.

The medical technician who advised me and my wife Lynn on the equipment said that insurance companies won't pay for outright purchase, but insist on a 30-day lease, followed by a purchase. Why? Because even though a CPAP machine works for almost everyone--surgery is painful, not a complete solution, and often not successful--it takes some adjustment. Twenty percent of people who get a CPAP return it, even though they're signing off on a reduction in their lifespan by 15 or 20 years or more, as well as a declining quality of life as they approach that shorter end.

The machine isn't hard to use, and after a night in the hospital's sleep study area on Monday night to get the titration--the amount of pressure I needed--I used it for the first time on my own last night. It felt a little strange, mostly good. I got to sleep right away, and slept better than what my sleep experts tell me has probably been 15 years. Who knew?

Friends ask me how I diagnosed, and I credit two people: my wife and my doctor. My wife was somewhat fed up with my snoring, but also worried about how severe it sounded. My doctor listened to symptoms and sent me home with a portable sleep tester: an oxymeter that measured my blood oxygen level over two nights. The sleep clinic analyzed this, found a few disturbing but small signs, and sent me off to a full night sleep study.

During the sleep study, they cover you with from head to toe with electrodes and sensors: polysomnography! They monitor you while you sleep to see whether you wake, what level of sleep you descend into, and your body movements. Apparently, when on my left side, I have virtually no apnea, but it's impossible to always sleep on one side, as nicely as that might solve the problem.

The sleep study was interpreted by a sleep doctor, and I met with an APRN (advanced practice registered nurse, otherwise known as a nurse practitioner) who went over the results and recommendations.

It was a good process, and I recommend it highly to anyone who has been unable to get a good night's sleep, has snoring reported (a symptom but not exclusive to those with apnea), and has frequent problems with alertness during the day. Apnea can also cause memory loss or disorientation.

Dropping Spammers from Great Heights

Good news! The state of Washington won its first anti-spam case! Huzzah. The law here says that unsolicited email is not per se illegal, but rather is a civil violation if it fails to include a legitimate return address, has a misleading subject line, is mailed to Washington state individuals who have opted out from receiving UCE, or misuses Internet resources, like relaying through mail servers that don't allow this (even if they're technically set up to allow it). Here's the law.

Attributing Einstein

I'm such an Internet-based human being now that I don't quite know how to authoritatively source a quote attribute to Einstein: The wireless telegraph is not difficult to understand. The ordinary telegraph is like a very long cat. You pull the tail in New York, and it meows in Los Angeles. The wireless is the same, only without the cat. It sounds genuine. You can find this quote all over the place. But I want to cite the newspaper, book, or other account it comes from. It can't have come from thin air. I'd dig up some print biographies, but I have doubts that this quote would be indexed in the back.

Is It Coulter's 15 Minutes Yet?

Ann Coulter is one of the most repulsive media figures to ever emerge, dripping, from the slime pit of venom and hatefulness that creates mass-market screamers. Despite the fact that everything she says is coated with hostility, she maintains that conservatives are the nicest people around (I don't make a distinction on ideology for whether people are good, bad, nice, or nasty), and that liberals deserve a lesson or two.

After September 11, she said we should bomb Afghanistan into the ground, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity. A conservative Jewish publication had that column posted online for a few hours before they realized what it said. She later claimed she was using rhetoric, but it didn't sound like allegory to me.

In some of her worst comments recently, she promoted the notion that the New York Times building should have been blown up by Timothy McVeigh. Every time I read that, I think, it must have been misquoted. But, no, she said it, and she meant it. The Wall Street Journal's execrable, craven editorial opinion page defended her in a variety of inane ways that don't even hold up to basic logical analysis.

But Howard Alterman puts a number of nails in the coffin of this undead talking head: Coulter jokes about McVeigh blowing up the Times, and the Wall Street Journal--which was blown up by terrorists on September 11--rushes to her defense. Their man, Daniel Pearl, was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan. Have they no shame? At long last, have they no sense of decency left?.

Unfortunately, the words that helped destroy Joe McCarthy are as ineffective as tinfoil bullets against a werewolf. We hoped and prayed it would work, but they just bounce off, as she marauds on.

Nuptialed

To follow up on the previous post, yes, I am, in fact, a married man. The whole weekend wedding celebration went wonderfully, and nature itself complied by turning a rainy, dismal morning into a perfect, beautiful afternoon. Nature got a little kitschy when it sent over three deer to walk by and entertain the children. (Not making that part up.) But I give nature 3 thumbs up (she gave me an extra thumb to signify my enjoyment), and married life so far an A+.