Two quick updates: flu in China, 64-bit code

Flu: Over the months, I have frequently remarked on the difference between the Chinese government's approach to H1N1/swine flu and that of many other countries. Difference in brief: the Chinese government has applied sweeping quarantine measures to try to keep the disease out of the country and then to limit its spread; many other countries have viewed the spread as more or less unavoidable and have tried to cope with the consequences.

Thumbnail image for Quarantine.jpg

(Photo from this previous post, about visiting Americans quarantined in Shanghai.)  In all countries the emerging view seems to be: the flu has not been that dangerous so far, during this atypical, spring time emergence (in the Northern Hemisphere). But it might be a more serious problem when it comes back in new form during the regular flu season, as the weather gets cold.

A reader who has recently been in Beijing writes to make a point I have heard from a number of health professionals too:

"I'm not an immunologist or anything remotely close.  But I wonder if China is actually hurting themselves by so aggressively stopping the spread of H1N1.  The current incarnation of H1N1 seems to be less lethal than the variants that we normally deal with.  Wouldn't it be better to let this variety of H1N1 spread so that people build up immunity to this mild version of H1N1 and then if H1N1 becomes more lethal they will already have some immunity?

"By the way, while I was at university this summer in Beijing, a student living on the sixth floor of a dorm became ill with H1N1 and the police came with buses and removed about 60 people from that floor."

The argument from the Chinese authorities is that in a big, poor country with a shaky public health network, they have no choice but to fight a new disease with everything they've got. Memories of the under-reaction to SARS in 2003 also have a Hurricane Katrina-style "let's not make that mistake again" effect. Given the inconvenience many people, Chinese and foreign, have already suffered in the name of flu control, I hope the hyper-aggressive early response to the flu doesn't backfire.

64-bit code: Last week, I declared a moratorium on discussion of "huge pages" in Apple's operating systems. (Hey, it was interesting at the time.) The reply below, for nerds only, qualifies in the spirit of fair-response. A reader writes:

"I have nothing to add to the "huge pages" discussion. I promise.

"But I would like address Mr. [Ken] Broomfield's closing statement which, I believe, is misleading:
[Broomfield wrote} " 'For regular users out there, you may want to ask why Photoshop is 64- bit on Windows and not on the Mac. Apple's been touting 64-bit computing for a few years now, somewhat dishonestly, but has dropped the ball in a couple of areas. Some of this goes back to the origins of the Mac, 25 years ago.'

"The short answer is that Photoshop CS4 for Mac is not 64-bit... because Adobe didn't have time to make it 64-bit before it shipped. Apple did not "drop the ball. Photoshop CS5 _will_ be 64-bit when it ships in 2010.

"Aside from time, no reason Photoshop CS4 could not have been 64-bit.  Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 (or simply Lightroom, as most people call it) was 64-bit from the get-go. And it shipped over a year ago.

"There's a longer answer why Photoshop CS4 is not 64-bit that involves things like Carbon and Cocoa and APIs and bickering between tech giants. But let's just leave it that Adobe had only so much time to work on CS4. And that they chose (wisely, I think) to devote their 64-bit efforts for Macintosh to Photoshop CS5."

For those who might want more on the subject (!), here you go:

- A 2008 blog entry from John Nack of Adobe, the senior product manager for Photoshop CS4, on why it's not 64-bit on the Mac;

- Another entry by Nack last month, on some of the hype surrounding 64-bit computing;

- And from another reader: "Simple answer: Photoshop came over to Mac OS X as a Carbon application, and at a fairly late date Apple decided/announced that this framework would not
be completely converted to 64-bit. So in order to get 64-bit Photoshop, Adobe needs to re-work Photoshop so that it is a Cocoa application and only calls Carbon functionality through Cocoa's integration tools."

Now we know.