Monthly Archives: November 2020
We’ve had a flurry of Good News announcements from developers of Covid vaccine candidates. The fact that one announcement has provoked more highlights how competitive the race is.
At the same time, we hear that governments are going to come down hard on antivax (is that how you spell it? – I don’t want to google). With drastic potential penalties on platforms, it’s inevitably going to be enforced as one of those taboos that may be used to shut down not just nutjob conspiracy theories but also legitimate discussion. That (always) bothers me.
I’m not anti-vaccination myself. I’ve had the flu jab for two or three years, and would have had it this year if Stuttley’s ultra-centralised crony-driven Soviet-lookalike system hadn’t proved itself incapable of delivering it. Yes, they’re going to roll out this massive Covid programme, but they can’t even manage a routine flu jab for those deemed vulnerable by the NHS!
In terms of the covid candidates, I have no doubt whatsoever that their inventors are working in good faith in the hope of protecting us – the people – from covid. There’s no sinister agenda of mind-control or anything like that. Where there’s a risk it’s cockup – the vaccination does something unintended – not conspiracy. On the basis that that risk will be lower than the risk of covid, I shall get it if offered.
Sadly that’s not the whole story. The risk is that under immense commercial pressure, corners get cut. Or – worse – adverse information is suppressed, and tests that raise red flags get redesigned to suppress it. No fewer than two news stories this week remind us of the real-life risks of suppressing adverse information: the Boeing 737 max being re-licenced after its disastrous history, and the Grenfell tower inquiry’s evidence of how highly flammable material was used in full knowledge of the danger.
The vaccine candidates are coming up for regulatory approval. Which begs a number of questions:
- To what extent is regulatory approval a rubber-stamp exercise?
- I understand the EU single market serves to save producers of regulated products (like medicines) a lot of per-country red tape. How far does EU approval go towards making a vaccine automatically legal/available in member countries?
- Does anyone have a clue whether and how brexit affects this?
- Do we have mutual recognition – or something approaching it – of medicines with any other countries, such as the US?
- Is there jurisdiction-shopping by pharma companies seeking regulatory approval for a drug? If so, what jurisdictions are commonly favoured?
All in all, I’d have the greatest confidence in a vaccine developed in a politically-unloved country. With a Russian or Chinese candidate, I’d have that little bit more confidence that it hadn’t got through an EU or UK regulator on-the-nod at some level. Though that expectation is based on ignorance of the system: the argument for it is that humans are involved and will always come under pressures that may differ for drugs of different origins.
Who knows what the suppression of anti-vax disinformation will take with it? One of the first casualties will be any would-be whistleblower on adverse side-effects. Like flammable cladding, or flight control that causes crashes. Of course the counterargument to that is that most of us (certainly including me, and more importantly those tasked with the censorship) would stand little if any chance of telling whistleblowing from a conspiracy theory. But it’s no less concerning for that.
Crippled Voip (Motorola/Android)
Question 1: Is there any SIP softphone that works on today’s Motorola phones? Note, this is not at all the same question as working on Android: Motorola has, it seems, crippled both the native Android SIP capability and third-party softphones available from the play store (see for example nerdvittles or motorola’s own fora). Non-SIP communications – like voice calls, jitsi, zoom, sylk, skype work just fine, but not SIP.
Question 2: When buying an Android phone from A N Other manufacturer, how do I find out ahead of time whether SIP will be available or crippled?
The long story …
My first Android phone was a Moto G, from before the days when the Moto G had numbers – though as I recollect it did call itself 4G to distinguish itself from those with no 4G capability that were still available at the time. I was pretty happy with it, though there were occasional problems such as activating unintentionally whilst in my pocket.
When I moved house in 2013 I moved my old “landline” number to VOIP with a sipgate account. I installed CSipSimple on the Moto G, and it worked like a dream – reliable and with excellent call quality anywhere I had wifi and/or adequate phone data signal.
Fast forward to 2019, as I was in the throes of buying my present house. I lost that phone when it slipped out of my pocket on the bus. It was the worst possible moment to be without a phone, and I couldn’t wait to ask lost property. I used the web to disable the SIM (in case it was stolen), armed myself with proof of identity, jumped on the bike, and went into the O2 shop to get a replacement. They could do the SIM, and Argos just down the road could sell me a handset. They had Moto G in stock, so I bought it and fitted the new SIM.
The new handset (turns out to be G6) is annoyingly bigger and heavier than the old one, but does the job, and is in some ways an improvement. However, I found myself unable to get a SIP client working adequately on it. CSipSimple being discontinued, I first tried Zoiper, but found it highly unreliable and the call quality was poor. I’ve tried several other softphones, and none of them works adequately. The problem is the same whether I’m on wifi or 4G.
Googling is difficult here, because it turns up lots of results for Android that simply don’t apply on the Motorola. With “motorola” as a keyword I get a few results such as the links in the first paragraph indicating it’s not just me being inept!
The good news, I got my old Moto G back from the bus company’s Lost Property. It has no SIM, but I can still use it around the house with wifi, and with CSipSimple it still gives reliable calls and excellent quality. But that’s only a partial solution: without a SIM it only works around the house, and when a very elderly phone battery is charged!