Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Intro to Quantum Computing (Everything I know)

Quantum computers are vastly different than digital (classical) computers. Let's start with the basics in this blog post.


Bits

Digital computers store information in classical bits. A bit can only be a zero or one.

Quantum computers store information in quantum bits (qubits). A qubit can be a zero or one or negative or both zero and one at the same time due to the wave nature of superposition (Yes, this is a real thing... more on this in another blog post).

Storage

Digital computers store bits using voltage / charge.

Quantum computers store qubits using electron spin.


Logic

Digital computers perform operations using logic gates governed by Boolean algebra (AND, OR, NOT, XOR, etc.).

Quantum computers perform operations using quantum logic gates (X, Y, Z, CNOT, etc) governed by linear algebra (matrix algebra).


Behavior

Digital computers use simulation to solve problems.

Quantum computers use imitation to solve problems.


Output

Digital computers are deterministic. The same input always yields the same output.

Quantum computers are probabilistic. Repetition of the same inputs gives probabilistic output.


Architecture 

Digital computers use a von Neumann model with a CPU, ALU, and memory to store instructions and data, all made up of transistors. Physically, bits are stored in integrated circuits (chips) at room temperature.

Quantum computers store and process data using quantum error correction to manipulate quantum objects (electrons, photons, nuclei, etc). Physically, qubits are stored in quantum objects at less than 1 Kelvin (about 0.015 Kelvin) to remove any thermal noise that could disturb them.


Performance

Digital computers increase performance by a factor of two for each bit added (2n).

Quantum computers increase performance exponentially for each qubit added (2ⁿ).


Processing

Digital computers process data in series.

Quantum computers process data in parallel.


Reversibility

Digital computers’ logic gates are not all reversible.

Quantum computers’ logic gates are all reversible.

There are four operations that can be performed on a single bit: NOT, Identity, Set 0, Set 1.

1. NOT: Flip zero to one or one to zero. Think: clicking on a checkbox on a web page.

2. Identity: Multiply by 1 to keep the same value (identity). Think: core memory readout, which is destructive so the bit must be saved back into memory when reading.

3. Set 0: Force a zero into memory. 

4. Set 1: Force a one into memory.

With digital computers, only the NOT and Identity are reversible gates. Quantum computers have other gates to make non-reversible operations reversible.  

Since all quantum computer operations are reversible, output from one operation can be fed back into the same circuit to recover the original input.


It seems, before 2020, researchers viewed quantum computing as primarily a scientific goal, with relatively little immediate bearing on the future commercial viability of quantum computing. However, that has quickly changed with Honeywell, Amazon, and Microsoft entering the market.


Thursday, December 3, 2020

My Cousin's COVID Story

A guest blog post from my cousin, Joe Cuiccio, who's spent a life time devoted to health and fitness. 

Now that 2020 is soon coming to an end, I wanted to take the time and share some key events which I’ve experienced during this pretty awful year. I contracted COVID-19 in mid July. My symptoms were pretty mild and I was able to return to work after my 14 day quarantine. Other than feeling pretty tired, I was more or less able to function normally. About two weeks after that, though still tired, I decided to get my first workout in after 4 weeks of inactivity. I went easy not knowing what to expect but it felt pretty good and I was relieved. For the next two weeks, I progressed, got stronger and regained some endurance. I was feeling a lot better. That is until one evening in late August. 

Soon after a late night workout, I didn’t feel right. After a bite to eat and a shower, I'd gotten into bed and noticed my heart was racing and felt unwell. I figured I’d try to get to sleep and hopefully feel better in the morning. No such luck. My heart was still racing and I felt even worse - chest and back pain, tightness, palpitations, nausea and a bit light headed. Becoming concerned, I started to wonder could I be on the verge of a heart attack? It persisted through the morning and I decided to go to emergency care. My EKG was normal but my pulse was still rapid and my blood pressure was 160/89! I was told to see my doctor ASAP. 

I get in to see my regular doc a few days later and given my symptoms and that fact that I’ve had COVID-19, he recommends I wear a 48hr Holter monitor. It reveals a series of PAC’s and PVC’s (premature heartbeats) and some arrhythmia. These results get a me a referral to a cardiologist. Long story short, after 3 long months of tests, very anxious waiting, feeling like shit, abstaining from exertion, caffeine & alcohol, I finally get my diagnosis: a cardiac MRI revealed scar tissue on my heart which is a remnant of damage caused by the coronavirus. The good news is it’s minor enough to not require any treatment at this time and is not likely to effect me in any major way. I should feel better as time goes on. I will follow up in 6 months. 

I’m sharing this because every single day, I encounter people who either think the coronavirus is a hoax, blown out of proportion, a government plot, no worse than the flu, only affects the elderly, has a 99% recovery rate and similar kinds of ignorant nonsense. As you could imagine, I’ve done a lot of research regarding COVID-19 related heart damage and it’s really scary stuff. I am beyond grateful that I was lucky enough to have dodged a serious bullet. But there are people much younger and healthier than myself who have sustained a far worse degree of damage than I. What research has found so far is that the immune system goes into overdrive to fight the virus and continues fighting long after the virus is gone. This sustained immune response can cause damage not just to the heart but other organs including the brain and nervous system. It can cause erratic spikes in blood pressure greatly increasing the risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack. And even though not life threatening, many are experiencing chronic fatigue months after recovery preventing them from working, performing simple daily activities and greatly affecting their quality of life. The gamut of ill effects is very wide.

So, when I hear someone quote survival rates without taking into account the huge gray area of complications that can arise in recovered people, it makes me sad, angry and frustrated beyond measure. I hope that in sharing this, it may shed some light and get some of the more close-minded individuals out there to try a little harder to think outside of the box and band together to defeat this. ❤️ 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

macOS on AWS. Finally!

One of my "server farms" (more like a garden)
with 4 Macs and 1 GSM modem
Finally, after nearly 15 years, macOS comes to AWS. I used to maintain two server farms totally 11 Macs, mostly Mac minis, running OS X Server with 10 static IP addresses. Configuring and replacing Mac servers was my least favorite and most expensive task.

Amazon's AWS VP for EC2 shared a fun video about how macOS on AWS came to be.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Why Do Apple APIs begin with NS?

Most developers mistakenly think NS stands for NeXTSTEP. (NSApplication, NSArray, NSMutableDictionary, etc).

NS actually stands for NeXT-Sun. It came about when NeXT partnered with Sun Microsystems to develop OpenStep, which was an API specification for developing applications on non-NeXTSTEP operating systems.

Before the partnership, NeXT's APIs began with NX. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Honda Radio and Navigation Anti-theft PIN

If you need to find the PINs to unlock your Honda's radio or navigation system, then visit radio-navicode.honda.com to retrieve the PINs. But, you'll need your VIN and the devices' serial numbers, first.


Yesterday, I took my Honda Accord in for servicing at a local repair shop. A few hours later, the owner of the shop called me to tell me that my car was ready to go, with a new battery.

When I started my car, I noticed that the car's dashboard touch screen was asking for a PIN since the power had been removed. I found a piece of paper, in my glove compartment, with a four digit PIN that I tried a few times until I was locked out of the system.

I took the car to a local Honda dealer where a customer service rep explained the differences between a radio unlock PIN and a navigation PIN. Basically, the radio PIN is entered using the knob that tunes in radio stations and the navigation PIN is entered through the dashboard touch screen.

Since I had locked myself out of the navigation PIN, I had to disconnect the battery for about ten minutes and then try again. An audio technician, who had done work on my navigation system, sent me the serial number for my unit. Then, using my VIN and serial number, I was able to retrieve my four digit PIN to enable the navigation system.

The key lesson I learned was, obviously, to keep my PINs and serial numbers handy. If Honda didn't have them on record, I'm not sure what I would have done. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Happy Birthday, Marines

Circa Feburary 1987
Today is the Marine Corps Birthday. It's kind of a big deal.

On 10 November 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved to raise two battalions of Marines. The birthplace of the Marine Corps was Tun Tavern, in Philadelphia, where the first recruiting drive was held.

The Marine Corps birthday is recognized with a cake cutting ceremony. While standing before a formation of Marines, three pieces of cake are cut. The first piece of cake is given to the guest of honor. The second piece of cake is given to the oldest Marine present. Upon receiving the second piece of cake, the oldest Marine will pass it on to the youngest Marine present, without eating it, signifying the passing of experience and knowledge from the old to the young of our Corps. The oldest Marine will then receive the third piece of cake further emphasizing the fact that we care for our young Marines before we look to our own needs.

"And so it must be."

Semper Fidelis

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Why the App Stores Takes a 30% Commission

Why do both the Apple App Store and Google Play stores take a 30% cut from apps they sell?

The answer is simple. When the Apple App Store launched in 2008, the going revenue share comission for content delivered to mobile phones was about 50%, give or take a few percent depending on the mobile network.

Back then, a 99¢ ring tone or $1.99 wallpaper, delivered over-the-air for mobile phone consumption, would net the developer about half of the price paid by the cell phone subscriber. The other 50% went to the mobile network provider. These charges would show up on a subscriber's phone bill as a premium SMS (PSMS).

In 2008, the PSMS market was worth about $5B/year. So, Apple's 30% take was a welcome 40% savings compared to PSMS.  

Friday, October 16, 2020

Steve Jobs User Stories: Start With the Customer Experience

Agile software development typically begins with user stories which are informal descriptions of software features from the customer's perspective (UX). When I worked at the Apple Online Store, my boss's boss would meet with Steve Jobs. Steve would tell us the user experience he wanted without trying to solution it, himself. In other words, he left the development details to the talent (developers and designers).

You got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can't start with with the technology and try to figure out where you're going to try to sell it. And I've made this mistake probably more than anyone else in this room and I've got the scar tissue to prove it.

– Steve Jobs



Start With Customer the Experience

In 2006, the iPod was booming along with the third party ecosystem it created. In a meeting, Steve Jobs let it be known to us that, when he was at the Apple Online Store website, he wanted to be able to see any product within three clicks. How long and how many clicks it takes to find what you're looking for is a good base metric for usability.

The challenge with three clicks, back then, was that Apple sold about two hundred different types of headphones. Displaying all of the headphones that Apple carried, at once, on a single web page would overload our servers. (Back then, there was no cloud computing.) Alternatively, paginating the results into batches of 10 or 25 wouldn't satisfy Steve's customer experience requirement. So, what to do?

One of my coworkers came across a new UI solution, infinite scrolling. Infinite scrolling allows content to load continuously as the user scrolls down the page, below the fold, eliminating the need for pagination. We now take infinite scrolling for granted on account that it's ubiquitous on popular social media sites. But, back then, it was new and it turned out to be the perfect solution for Steve.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Section 230 Solution: My Thoughts On Content Service Providers vs Publishers

Summary

The current state of social media reminds me of the early days of e-mail in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. E-mail was a godsend in that we could communicate with people around the world in a matter of seconds; but security and spam were out of control. It was the Wild West. Now, we have an opportunity to fix social media the same way we fixed e-mail, through laws, technology, and regulation


Background

Section 230(c)(1) provides immunity from liability for providers and users of an "interactive computer service" who publish information provided by third-party users:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

This protects social media websites since they’re not generating content like a news service. But, there’s obviously a problem since misinformation can be promulgated as truth, typically faster than fact. Also, the more content is amplified, the more authority it has, even if it’s false information.


Solution

Here’s my solution that doesn’t violate the First Amendment:

FCC Section 230 should differentiate between platforms that amplify content (e.g. retweeting on Twitter, resharing on Facebook, etc) and platforms that don’t allow amplification (e.g. Instagram, WordPress, etc). If a platform allows amplification, regardless if it’s done through manual curation or via an automated algorithm, then it’s no longer a service provider but rather a publisher.

If this degree of editing and censorship sounds like an administrative burden then take a look at the lack of child porn found through search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. There is none, but certainly not from a lack of trying. And while the CAN-SPAM Act doesn't eliminate all spam, it does a great job (certainly much better than the wireless network providers when it comes to spoofing caller ID, etc).

Just as a news service doesn’t pass along fact as fiction without liability (libel) neither should social media. This clarification to Section 230 will cut into the profitability of social media companies, but they’ve reaped the benefits (and revenue) and it’s time to be more responsible now that we understand its impact on our way of life.  

This post began as a tweet, but Twitter is down.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Elegant R Runtime Solution for Multithreading

 The Problem

The R programming language is a popular open source environment for statistical computing. CANA runs multiple R algorithms on a server using the Plumber framework, which converts existing R code into web APIs by adding a couple of special comments. A key issue with R is that it is single threaded, meaning that only a single block of code, inside an application, can execute at any given time. In other words, while that single block is executing, all other code is blocked. This is not typically an issue unless there is a block of code that takes a long time, such as a complex algorithm or a call over a network. CANA’s application performs both, and supports multiple users concurrently, so being single threaded does not scale for us.


One solution I pursued over the last year was to use the AWS Lambda service which allows standalone functions to execute in the cloud. The challenge with Lambda is it does not natively run R code and is better suited for Java, Python, and other languages. While it is technically feasible to run R inside of Lambda, we had not yet implemented it because it is non-trivial, requiring that R run inside a Python container with supporting frameworks and libraries.

R Multithreading Solution

A coworker came up with an elegant solution to this programming problem. The solution is to run a Node.js server that simply makes calls to shell scripts (R scripts) running on the host operating system. Each shell script runs in its own process, so one won’t block another. And, even though Node.js is, itself, single threaded, it uses non-blocking input/output calls (“callbacks”), allowing it to support tens of thousands of concurrent connections without incurring the cost of thread context switching.

Simple, elegant, and trivial to implement.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

iOS Feature Request

I use Siri and dictation frequently. My biggest frustration is when I go back to review my notes and I have no idea what I meant because I said, “Particularly nasty weather, ” and she heard, “Tickle your ass with a feather.”


Wouldn’t it be great if iOS also recorded and stored my voice recordings, along with my transcribed notes, so I could replay it to hear what I actually said?


Can I get an Amen?


Monday, August 31, 2020

COVID is a Lot Like Driving

COVID-19 is a lot like driving. We look at the threats and calculate our personal risk vs reward.

I compare Coronavirus to a hurricane or blizzard. It is a blizzard where the snow is invisible and it can kill you; just like driving can kill you, even if you’re a pedestrian simply crossing the street.

If I’m jonesing for coffee, fresh fruit, etc, do I go out into the badness to get it? Most times... maybe nearly always... I’ll choose to say home rather than face the elements. But, every so often, I... we... go against our better judgement by increasing our risk to obtain a reward.

And, just the way we judge bad drivers, we judge bad citizens who take bigger risks than we’re willing to take, especially since their judgement can be our consequences.

One final thought I had about the car vs COVID analogy is that, a century ago, automobiles were more dangerous than they are now. No seatbelts or air bags with lousy intersection controls, etc. Today, we know how to deal with that when it comes to driving and the same is beginning to apply to COVID. We're learning how to navigate in a world with COVID until it passes.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Tips Following a News Interview

From time to time, we're fortunate to be interviewed by a news media outlet on topics related to our profession. Whether it's a big media company or a small outlet, you should share and save it. Save the written article as a PDF or download the audio/video to build your CV. Also, be sure to have the Wayback Machine archive the webpage.


After your media interview:

1. Post it to LinkedIn

2. Save it as a PDF, audio, or video

3. Archive the content in the Wayback Machine (archive.org)

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

How to Download and Save a Facebook Video

Click to enlarge
Sometimes you want to save and share a video from Facebook, but it's not sharable. 

Typically, on macOS Safari, you could simply right-click (or control-click) and save the video. But Facebook intentionally blocks this by running interference with JavaScript.

So, to save a Facebook video requires two steps, instead of one.

1. Disable JavaScript

2. Right-click on the video and choose Download Video which will be saved to your file system.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Wrong Airport: Not Pilot Error


Occasionally, pilots will mistaken one airport for another, and even land at the wrong airport.

Today, though, an air traffic controller mistook another airplane for mine. It's an honest mistake by the controller and it wasn't a safety issue.

You can hear us discuss which airport I'm looking at in this two minute audio clip. (I compressed seven minutes of audio down to a couple of minutes by removing dead air and conversations with other aircraft.)

Here's what's happening in this audio clip from this morning...
(My call sign is "Skylane November Niner Three Bravo Zulu," sometimes shortened to "Three Bravo Zulu"):

1. I check-in with the tower controller at Palomar Airport in Carlsbad by letting him know that I'm 4,500' off the coast of Encinitas, south of the airport (heading north) and I ask for landing instructions.

2. He tells me to make "left traffic" (left turns) to runway 24 (two four), which makes sense based on my position.

3. About six seconds later, the controller changes his mind and tells me to continue north, up the coast, past the airport. He tells me that I'll be making "right traffic" (right turns) to the runway which makes sense since I'll be north of the airport. He clarifies that he'll tell me when it's time to turn in to the airport. This procedure isn't uncommon if there's other traffic congestion and the controller wants some extra time before having me join the airport's traffic pattern.

4. The controller tells me to turn right when I'm over the (Carlsbad) power plant.

5. The controller then tells me to turn right a minute or two later, which I do.

6. The controller then tells me that it looks like I'm heading to the wrong airport (Oceanside Airport).

7. I tell him that I'm looking at Palomar Airport and he tells me that I'm looking at Oceanside Airport.

8. I tell him that I'm lined up perfectly with the runway's centerline. At this point, I'm only a couple miles from the correct airport in Carlsbad (Palomar).

9. He asks me to "ident" which means he wants me to press a button on my airplane's transponder to send out a signal that will flash on his radar screen.

10. He sees my ident and realizes his mistake by saying, "Roger," and tells me to continue flying the traffic pattern I'm flying. He briefly asks me to maintain my current altitude before letting me descend. He points out some other traffic which he wants me to follow into the airport and then clears me to land.

Tah-dah! That was my Sunday morning. All's well.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Seven Weeks of Solitude

It's been more than seven weeks since I last left my home for any reason. (Technically, I did venture a few feet into the street to put out the trash.)

As bad as it seems to be cooped up for several weeks, it pales in comparison to spending a year out at sea. But, I can’t really complain since I have everything I could need or desire in my home and yard.

So, it was time for me to finally venture out. There's only so much sun I can get on my hammock.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Operation: Grocery (Prime Now vs Instacart)

I haven't left my home in more than four weeks. I can count on one hand the number of people I've interacted with, in real life. All of my face-to-face interactions have one thing in common, they bring me food, groceries, and other things to eat.

For me, it's not as bad as it sounds. I have gone days without seeing daylight, while under the ocean in a submarine. Plus, I spent a year out at sea and I've gone many weeks without standing on land or venturing more than 200' from my bed. So, I can sit still. I can be a human being instead of a human doing.

Since I work from home, I see my coworkers everyday in face to face meetings, online. And, like many others, I attend online happy hours with friends and coworkers on most days of the week.


Amazon Prime Now vs Instacart

The only thing I need, from time to time, is food. My best option is to have it delivered which has been working well with Amazon Prime Now and InstaCart. I've noticed a couple key differences between these two services.

I've been using Prime Now for several years. Amazon always seems to know what they have in stock, so what I order is delivered when I place my grocery order. However, it's been a couple weeks since I've been able to get a delivery window with Prime Now. So, I moved to an alternative, Instacart.

I've had a couple deliveries through Instacart. They don't always know what they'll have in stock, a couple days out. But they have a shopper who alerts me when they start shopping. Through the Instacart app, I can chat with my personal shopper regarding replacements. It works very nicely, albeit, Instacart is more expensive than Prime Now. 

The best part is that I can continue to add items to my Instacart order up until the moment my shopper begins filling the cart. That's come in very handy as I've realized that I've forgotten items in the days leading up to the delivery. More expensive, but more personal. That works for me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Are You or Your Clients New to Working From Home? (Eye contact)

Click to see "Working Virtually Part 1"
Is your company new to working-from-home via teleconferencing?

One important point I can't stress enough, to set the tone for a close culture while apart, is to insist on using video.

I'm surprised how many people go out of their way to not use video. Look people in the eye. There's a lot more value than people realize.

Before entering a crosswalk, you'll look at a driver in the approaching car to make eye contact. The silent conversation goes something like this.

"Do you see me?" asks the pedestrian.

"Yes, I see you," answers the car driver.

"Great. Now I'm stepping out into the crosswalk in front of your car. Please don't run me over."

That entire conversation takes place with a momentary glance. That value also translates to teleconferencing. Do it via video.

We spend a lot of time looking at e-mail, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, computer code, etc. People are a company's most important asset, so don't forget to look at them, too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Moderating a Panel


Moderating a panel of crowdfunding entrepreneurs.
Over the years, I've moderated and spoken on dozens of panels on entrepreneurship and tech. As a moderator, I've learned a few key points to make a panel run smoothly.


Do


1. Advocacy
For starters, the moderator is an advocate for audience. Don't be afraid to dig a little if it'll benefit the audience. You are the voice of the audience.

2. Questions
Hold audience questions until the end.

3. Panel Prep Process
Prep your panelists with basic guidelines by telling them:
a. Be succinct with answers.
b. Do not repeat another panelist's answers


Me, being introduced as panel moderator by Jerry Sanders,
CEO of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and
former San Diego mayor and chief of police.

Don't


1. Don't moderate from a podium. A panel moderator should be seated with the panel.

2. Don't speak for a panelist. A good panel moderator can ask a question, even though they may already know the answer. The moderator should not show off how smart they. 

3. No PowerPoint during a panel unless it's virtual (online).

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:
http://mobile.joemoreno.com/Opening.mp3

Thinking about this current week evokes Facades:
http://mobile.joemoreno.com/Facades.mp3

Wondering about next week feels like Closing: http://mobile.joemoreno.com/Closing.mp3



Here are all three compositions, just shy of 20 minutes, in a single track:
http://mobile.joemoreno.com/CovidSoundtrack.m4a

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.

https://youtu.be/xkL_f4KVSsw

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Celebrity Server Overload: Kobe Bryant


Kobe Bryant died in the crash of a helicopter he chartered, this morning. TMZ.com 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.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Interchangeable Words? (Part 2: Honesty vs. Integrity)

This is an extract from an article I wrote for the Marine Corps Gazette about when it's okay to lie. Part 1 of this post addresses data vs. information.

Honesty and integrity are frequently used interchangeably – but these two words have a nuanced, yet important difference.

Honesty deals with the past.
Integrity deals with the future.


Honesty

Honesty means making your words fit reality. More specifically, it's speaking the objective truth about the past without any intention to deceive.

For example, George Washington's father asks him, "George, did you cut down that cherry tree?"

"Father, I cannot tell a lie. Yes, I cut that cherry tree," replies George Washington.

In this example, at least according to fable, George Washington's words fit reality; therefore, his response was an honest one.


Integrity

Integrity means making reality fit your words. Simply put, it means that you do what you say you are going to do.

George Washington's father tells George, "George, as part of your chores, today, I want you to cut down that cherry tree."

George replies, "Yes, father, I shall cut down that cherry tree."

At the end of the day if George has cut down the tree then he had the integrity to make it happen. In other words, he got results. Integrity is the ability to do what you say you're going to do. It's about executing on your plan.

Interchangeable Words? (Part 1: Prediction vs. Forecast and Data vs. Information)

Part 2 of this post addresses honesty vs. integrity.


Prediction vs. Forecast

Some words are used interchangeably, such as prediction vs. forecast. I like to think of a prediction as when we take historical observations and apply it to the future (winters are cold, summers are hot). But that doesn't tell us the weather for tomorrow. For that, we need a forecast where we apply a system of equations to process data for trend analysis.


Data vs Information

Information is processed data. Recording the average temperature, every day, gives us data. Examining that data (processing it) yields the information that summers are hot and winters are cold. In turn, that information can become data in yet another system. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy 2020! It's Good to be Alive!

Sometimes it's good to be "unremarkable."
As I labored through my sunset run, today, I recalled the military axiom, "Pain's a good thing, it means you're not dead.” Which reminded me that 20 years ago I had just finished my final round of chemotherapy for late-stage, widespread cancer (stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma).

My last chemo treatment was in December 1999 and, after five years of checkups, my prognosis was cured --- not remission, but fully cured --- to the point that I went back on active duty in the Marines in 2003 and deployed with them to East Africa in 2005. Today, it’s literally like I was never sick. I am lucky.

Human Being, Not Human Doing


Cancer, and my father's unexpected death in 2007, gave me a deeper insight and
perspective on life. At that point, I realized I could take two or three years off from corporate America. But I didn't expect a few years to turn into more than a decade of retirement.

People ask me, "What did you do during all that time off?"

My answer's simple, "Nothing," followed up with, "What do you do on weekends? That's what I did most everyday."

Looking back, from one mile high.
Looking back on all that time off, I see that I learned how to be a human being instead of a human doing. While I did focus on my own personal projects like learning to fly, creative writing, and volunteering, it was my ability to be fulfilled while not accomplishing a single task, in a day. Some might call that lazy; I call it the simple life. La dolce vita.

While the pursuit of happiness is our unalienable right, it does require more than that to be fulfilled. It requires meaning and here's how to make meaning.

Carpe diem and live the dash.


Update: Something I completely failed to mention was I always knew my retirement wouldn't be permanent. Sooner or later, I'd have to return to full time work which I just did in August, and I'm loving it.