10 years on, SARS survivor Cathy Kong is still haunted by the outbreak.
Outside the Amoy Gardens housing estate, her former home and site of the biggest community outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong, Cathy tells me how she used her willpower to cast the virus away.
“I talked to the virus,” she tells me. “I talked to the disease: ‘go away, go away.”
The SARS outbreak killed 780 people and infected over 8,000 more. It crossed borders and triggered an international health scare.
A decade ago this week, the World Health Organization first named SARS - the deadly virus that would infect 29 countries before it was finally contained four months later.
And, looking back, what was the most indispensable tool that ended the outbreak?
According to Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, WHO Director of Global Capacities Alert and Response, it was data.
Inevitably, I met a booth babe with a t-shirt that read, “Call Me Maybe.”
I’m at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona - home of fine food, football and phones with the biggest mobile industry gathering of the year.
Why am I here? Our world is changing fast. We are at a critical inflection point as desktop computing shifts to mobile, and smart mobile devices become more and more ubiquitous. We are ushering in a new digital era where everyone will be on the move and always connected.
The change is happening so fast, blink and you may miss it. It’s already challenging the authority of established computing giants like Microsoft and pre-smartphone era stalwarts like Nokia.
Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE are chipping away at the authority of BlackBerry. Open-source operating systems are emerging as players in the race for mobile OS supremacy. Messaging apps like WhatsApp are stealing revenues away from network providers.
So I’m here to determine what’s happening and try to anticipate what’s next before reality slams me in the face.
So, here goes. These are the three top emerging mobile trends I’ve picked up here in Barcelona:
Ongoing violence and shelling - just one of many challenges facing the World Food Programme in Syria.
"Our food trucks have been attacked, we've seen rising number of attacks on trucks in various areas in the country," WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin tells me.
"The reality is we have conversations with everyone - the opposition side and the regime side to ensure that everyone recognizes we are not favoring one community over the other. Our goal is that we get assistance to every community."
It's been 8 years since the U.S. Army spent $5 billion (!) on camouflage that critics say didn't fool anyone.
What will next-generation camo look like?
Think: digital patterns, 3D layering, and... (it's not too far away)... something close to the Harry Potter invisibility cloak.
Imagine news as a filter in the age of information overload.
"A TV news show has a finite length. So I can’t show you every single photo of Superstorm Sandy’s power. I have to select the most powerful ones, the most important ones, and I can try to explain to people who might not necessarily know anything about New York why a particular image is so striking."
If you too are a media junkie, read on. It's a great discussion piece.
China just had its own November of change.
Earlier Thursday in Beijing, an elite group of seven men were named to the Politburo Standing Committee - the top decision-making body of the Chinese Communist Party.
A lot has been reported already on Xi Jinping, the new General-Secretary of the Party and the presumed next President of China. But what about Li Keqiang, the man destined to be China's next Prime Minister?
Today on News Stream, I spoke to Victor Gao - a former top official in the Chinese Foreign Ministry (and English interpreter for the late Deng Xiaoping) about Li and the prospects for reform in China. Gao said the leader has some powerful patrons but must learn to be an "effective second fiddle" to Xi Jinping. As for change, the Standing Committee as a group must come up with solutions for new problems.
Achieving both stability and solutions in an ever-dynamic and demanding China. It will be delicate dance for China's new leadership.
That rare once-in-a-decade leadership transition, or the 18th Party Congress, is still taking place in Beijing.
It's a major political moment in the world's most populous country. But what do the people of China make of it?
I posed the question to social commentator and author Lijia Zhang, and her answer is one big collective shrug:
"Many ordinary people don't feel so excited or joyful about what's happening. It's the party's business and has nothing to do with us."
Click on for the full interview.
I spoke to CSIS Senior Adviser Chris Johnson about how China's leadership transition will affect the U.S.- China relationship.
But I was particularly intrigued by his final thoughts of the lingering presence of Jiang Zemin and what is says about governance in China.
Commenting on the power the ex-leader of China still wields, Johnson says:
"He has a considerable amount of influence as we're about to see a week from today when the new leadership lineup is rolled out. All indications are that several people who have close ties to Jiang Zemin will be promoted into the Politburo Standing Committee."
"There's been substantial rumor (when I was in Beijing last week I heard a lot about this) he's playing a huge role behind the scenes... interestingly, not just in personnel but also on policy. He's been pushing for a more reformist tone to Hu Jintao's Work Report that was delivered yesterday, and dressing up his involvement in the personnel process as a criticism of the lack of reform and movement especially in the economic space during the last 10 years of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao's leadership."
"So I think we're going to continue to see Jiang's influence felt strongly. It's sign the system still has a lot of work to do in terms of its political maturation - that an 86-year old who effectively hasn't been in office for 10 years has that much power and influence over the new lineup."
If you have a moment, please watch the full clip below:
The medium is decidedly low-tech, and known more for depicting sunsets than civil war.
But British artist George Butler turned to watercolor to document life during wartime in Azaz, Syria.
His subject matter includes a child posing on a destroyed tank, a bread line outside a bakery, and a rebel-run prison - its thick bars and large metal lock in full focus.
"I felt like I was an intruder," says Butler about creating the image of the prisoners. "It's an odd feeling, to draw people you don't know... essentially in a cage, and sitting so compliantly."
Powerful images of the human conflict inside Syria have been taken by photojournalists like Robert King. But what can a water colorist capture in a war zone?
"Time lapse is a great advantage," says Butler. "The idea is not to compete with photographers, but to offer something different by sitting on the street, and getting to know what you're drawing for an hour."
The young artist advances the heritage of traditional artists working in hostile environments, such as the war artists in World War II who worked in oils or pen and ink like John Nash or Ronald Searle.
Butler says the medium is even more relevant today because it stands out from the massive trove of modern-day war video and photography now available online.
And it's true. In the era of YouTube and Bambuser, his watercolors offer an entirely new perspective of life inside Syria.
"This is for everyone."
That was the tweet from Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee which was displayed to the world during the London Olympics opening ceremony.
I spoke to Berners-Lee about his commitment to a World Wide Web that is both open and accessible. Although he defended the removal of unauthorized online video by the International Olympics Committee, he didn't mince words about countries where active online censorship takes place.
Berners-Lee said, "Censorship is generally a bad thing. Weak governments worry they need to control information."