Sunday, March 29, 2020

COVID-19 Soundtrack

The purpose of a soundtrack is to pair the mood to events through music. My favorite composer of the late 20th century is Philip Glass. His compositions arouse deep, longing emotions. When listening, I envision a great hero reaching for the heavens but falling painfully short.

Until the number of active cases dramatically decreases, this will get worse before it gets better. What gets me through each day is the knowledge that there's absolutely no doubt this first wave will end by summer. At one point, either enough people have contracted COVID-19 so there are no new hosts to infect, or we contain it through isolation and quarantine. Regardless, each day puts us one day closer to the peak and one day closer to resuming social activities.

COVID-19 Soundtrack

Looking back at how much better off we were last week elicits Opening:

Thinking about this current week evokes Facades:

Wondering about next week feels like Closing:

Here are all three compositions, just shy of 20 minutes, in a single track:

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Good Digital Hygiene

In the past ten days, nearly the entire knowledge workforce has moved into a virtual environment. Now is the time to begin practicing good digital hygiene. 

I'm lucky to work for a small data analytics firm where our workforce of two dozen people work from home. We have no corporate office. How good are we at working virtually? World class. Earlier this week we attended our annual offsite retreat. Originally planned for Pennsylvania, we moved, at the last minute, to cyberspace without skipping a beat. We even had a virtual happy hour at the end of each day.

Digital hygiene goes beyond cybersecurity. Security is a subset of safety that deals with protection from a conscious attack. Safety deals with more. It deals with protection from anything and everything – it's about being safe from harm.

Single Points of Failure

With many Stay at Home orders going into effect, it's important to recognize and think about options for newly emerging single points of failure which had previously been redundant.

What if my Internet goes down or my wireless router breaks? I no longer have an option to go to a cafe or coffee shop.

What if my computer breaks? I no longer have the option of going to the library.

What if my phone breaks? I can't schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar. 

Take care of your technology so it can take care of you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Happy Hour

Happy hour with friends, lovers, and coworkers. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Getting the Message Across

The New Yorker published an article, yesterday about convincing Boomer parents to take the coronavirus serious.

I've had conversations with my octogenarian mother, but it's not really sinking in. My cousin and I have been discussing the same issue that our other cousins are facing with their parent's. It's the same response we're hearing from our parents, "We can't just stay at home. We need to go out" and "We get stir crazy if we sit home too long."

A number of memes have begun circulating to address this.

We're not asking you storm the beach on D-Day. We're just asking you to stay home and sit on the couch.

Do you really need to go out to buy such-and-such? Would you go out to get it in the middle of a hurricane? Would you go out to get it in the middle of a blizzard? We're in a blizzard right now where the snow is invisible and it can kill you.

For anyone to go in public either means infecting others or getting infected themselves.

I told my mother that, if she wants to be alive at the end of this summer, she needs to stay inside.
Secretly, though, I fear it's too late for her. Last night, I had a Last Supper of sorts with my mother. The COVID-19 cases we see reported, today, in real-time, are actually from a about week ago since the virus takes four to 14 days to incubate. 

This past weekend, Italy updated their medical protocols so that people over 80 years old do not get a ventilator; instead, they get morphine. There simply aren't enough ventilators and there's no reason why that can't happen here once we run out.

Monday, March 16, 2020

What is Germany Doing Differently?

What is Germany doing differently with COVID-19?
If you know (and I mean know, not speculation), then tell me at on Twitter @JoeMoreno.

Germany: 7,272 confirmed cases with only 17 deaths.

France: 6,650 confirm cases with 148 deaths.

United States: 4,287 confirmed cases with 74 deaths.

Is Germany under reporting? Are they providing a different protocol for treatment? Or, are they simply a statistical anomaly?

Click to enlarge.
China has reported single digit new cases for the past few days. Their seemingly draconian solution was lockdown. As of this moment, I am only aware of one municipality that's done this in the U.S., which is San Francisco with a shelter-in-place order effective at midnight. The New Jersey governor is encouraging a statewide curfew going into effect 8 PM – 5 AM.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

What Could Lockdown Look Like in America?

This evening, a green card holding friend asked me, "So, it looks like there will be some sort of martial law forced on us in the next few days." This was obviously a concern arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For starters, it wouldn't be referred to as martial law. But, no matter what it's called, it would probably be modeled after what we're seeing in Italy and Spain, which is much less draconian than China's approach to contain COVID-19.

Ultimately, the right to life transcends human rights. 

If we do reach the point of lockdown, it probably wouldn't go into effect immediately, so people can relocate. In practice, it might start with a curfew and then lockdown might go into effect at midnight on such and such date.

But, the reason for her question was, what if she ends up at home, alone? The thought of that was making her feel at bit vulnerable. That led to a conversation about the 2nd AmendmentMost foreigners are puzzled by America's love of guns and she feels that, since "everyone" has them, it puts her at a disadvantage.

Second Amendment

In theory, I've always envisioned our Forefathers's primary intent of the 2nd Amendment as a way for citizens to keep the government in check. This is no longer practical given the disproportionate balance of power between citizens and the government. Citizens, at most, have semi-automatic assault rifles whereas the government has tanks, bombs, planes, weapons of mass destruction, etc. 

In practice, I see a more likely purpose for the 2nd Amendment would be if the country, state, or city moves to lockdown and law enforcement can't respond to crimes. 

This thought comes to mind after a friend, originally from another country, asked me about what lockdown could like as she voiced her concerns of being alone if movement was prohibited.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

My Thoughts on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

COVID-19 has a mortality rate about 40 – 60 times greater than the flu with a virus contagion rate greater than the flu. (Mortality rate for the flu is 0.07%. COVID-19 is approximately 2 – 3%)

A key difference between the flu and COVID-19 is that COVID-19 requires a higher rate of hospital stays. 1 in 5 people with COVID-19 require a hospital stay, the medium length of stay is two weeks. The flu, on the other hand, can typically be treated at home.

However, these statistics are based on reported cases of both the flu and COVID-19 and, for both, many cases go unreported. 

Conservative indications are about half a million deaths in the US, this season. That means someone you know will die from this. 

This will get so much worse before it gets better and I am not a doom and gloomer. Good luck. Hang tight. See you at the end of summer for the first wave. 

I cannot express how bad next week will be. 

I'm posting this so I came come back in a week, month, or year to see how today's expectations match the reality of this season's pandemic.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Music in my Soul

Today, I gained back a piece of my soul.

Five weeks ago all of my music (iTunes/Music) playlists went missing

My music was in my library, but my playlists were all duplicated, in name. One playlist had all of my music and the other was empty. After opening and closing the macOS Music app several times, the duplicate playlists remained. So, I deleted the empty playlists... all 85 of them. Over the course of the next ten minutes, all of my playlists disappeared on my iPhone, iPad, TV, and HomePods (thanks to iTunes Match, Apple's music cloud syncing service). My playlists remained on my Mac, but clearly there was a problem, so I called AppleCare for support. While I was on the phone with them, all of the playlists disappeared from my Music app on my Mac. That's nearly two decades of curated music that went missing an all of my devices.

The senior Apple advisor I was talking to was extremely sympathetic to my issue. Over the course of a couple hours, we tried a number of different things, including recovering my music library from my Time Machine backups. But, to no avail. It seems iTunes music libraries used to get backed up via Time Machine, but the new macOS Music app, released in October 2019, doesn't backup the library.

Over the following few weeks, things were a mess as I was transferred around amongst different senior advisors throughout AppleCare. There was a lot of confusion over the proper description of the issue in my trouble ticket. Many were describing it as "missing music" instead of "missing playlists."

Throughout these steps, there were times when I could restore an iTunes music library playlist into the macOS music app. But, while the playlists remained, all of the music in the playlist would quickly disappear (within in a minute or two) as iTunes Match thought the playlists were stale, and deleted them.

Playlist Solution

I finally figured out a somewhat tedious workaround to restoring my playlists that AppleCare confirmed with me as my best option on our next, and final call.

1. Uncheck Sync Library in macOS Music General preferences.

2. Close the Music app. 

3. Restore my last iTunes music library backup, from September 2019. 

4. While holding down the Option key, open the Music app and choose the old iTunes music library. My playlists appear, although, without any songs.

5. Choose each playlist, individually, and choose File –> Library –> Export Playlist. (I had to do this 85 times.)

6. Once complete, I went back to my Music General preferences in step one and checked Sync Library (and then my playlists disappeared). 

7. I then imported all 85 playlists, one at a time, by clicking File –> Library –> Import Playlist. Here's what that looked like.

One gotcha was that, when I double clicked on most songs in my playlist, a modal window popped up saying that Music couldn't locate that song. Once I clicked cancel, to dismiss this modal, all was fine.

The other gotcha was that I lost any playlist updates between September 2019 and the beginning of January. Luckily, that was a small amount of edit, especially compared to the last 19 years.

On 3 Jan 2020, I lost all of my macOS Music playlists. That's 19 years of curated music that was wiped out on all of my devices since iTune Match syncs my music.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Celebrity Server Overload: Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant died in the crash of a helicopter he owned, this morning. broke the news and the load brought down the TMZ servers... they couldn't respond to the traffic. And now, hours after his death, his Wikipedia page is highly unresponsive as people visit and edit it.

I got my first taste of managing extreme server load when I worked at Apple, after a Steve Jobs Keynote speech. But we always anticipated that load. When Michael Jackson died, in 2009, I was working with my Adjix startup and even simple URL redirects overloaded my servers.

When a celebrity unexpectedly dies, server load goes through the roof. I call it Celebrity Server Overload. You can plan for it to happen, you just don't know when it will happen. But you can scale up as the traffic grows.

The other end of the spectrum is when a business is brand new – they have no experience on scaling up. Facebook could manage their growth, in the early days, because they brought on new users one college campus at a time. But even smart developers can't handle a high load, off the bat, without any past data points. We saw this with Twitter's fail whale and the launch of Obamacare. Semper paratus, or as we used to say in the Boy Scouts, Be Prepared. 

Kobe Bryant: August 23, 1978 – January 26, 2020.