Antibiotics, Sewage and Superbugs

>Do you know where the next plague will come from? Neither do I, but the smart money might be on the sewage treatment plant around the corner from your house. The medical establishment has known for a while that the over prescribing of common antibiotics has created a series of newly resistant bacteria. I submit that the sludge slithering under your street may be a bigger problem in the long run.

Very few antibiotics are fully metabolized. You excrete some amount whenever you use the toilet. When you are sick, you excrete some of the bacteria as well. Plus, there are many types of moderately harmful bacteria that exist in even the cleanest bathrooms such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, E-coli, Salmonella and Campylobactor. All this is floating around in raw sewage, which is a fantastically rich growth medium.

So what you have here is a large, open air petri dish. Bacteria are free to grow, divide and mutate at will. Combine multiple strains of bacteria competing within this medium and you have a little evolutionary microcosm, with weaker strains dying and the stronger flourishing. Just wait until one of the winners hitches a ride out of the plant and makes its way to the general population.

Is the risk small? Certainly. Is it zero? You wish.

Android and the Linux Desktop

I’m going to break one of my own rules by making a prediction. The year of the Linux desktop will be in 2014. Now, let’s talk about how I’ve arrived at this conclusion.

Android is picking up steam, and from what I’ve seen, I don’t think there will be anything to stop it. Apple currently owns more market share and the iPad will give Mr. Jobs a momentary boost, but the problem is this; Apple controls the hardware and the software. There is no room for any other company to make money. And companies love money.

In the past, this would have meant that Motorola, Samsung, et al would have gone it alone to attempt to control a piece of the market. But, with android they can join forces to an extent and take advantage of a huge development community. This “friendly” competition will push prices down and keep android more affordable than the iPhone. Also, this results in Apple vs. the world, AND Apple doesn’t have significant vendor lock in. Additional factors are: AT&T’s quality of service, and the Google factor. There should be a strong and steady migration to the android smartphone platform with a strongly superior market share by mid 2011.

The Ipad may revolutionize computing, but my bet is more like a solid selling niche product. However, android is hot on it’s heels in this market as well, with a number of tablets soon to be released at significantly lower price points. Based on early price projections, the rest of the market is aiming to undercut the iPad significantly. At the current estimates, I would expect for android to surpass the iPad’s market share by late 2012.

With one or two important computing platforms invading people lives, it will eventual become necessary to get more serious with some of the data and applications. While touch interfaces are a leap forward in usability in the mobile arena, they aren’t very information dense compared to a keyboard. Imagine writing a book using gestures. Therefore, there will be a natural progression toward systems that allow the user to more fully utilize the android environment.

This may come in the form of an android based netbooks or a full linux distro. I’m expecting android netbooks to hit the market around mid 2012. If the price point stays in line with the currnet android tablet projections, there should be significant market share by early 2014.

Thus, we have the year of the Linux Desktop (er, netbook)