Quarantine life.

23 March 2020

We're rapidly nearing the end of our first month of quarantine due to the covid-19 pandemic.  I've been working from home since the last week of February, which isn't anything particularly new to me because we have mandatory work-from-home days at least once a week at my day job.  Coincidentally, a few days in was when our landlord's scheuled demolition and renovation of the kitchen began.  This meant that we were down three rooms in the house - no kitchen, no dining room, and no living room - due to having to relocate everything.  Lyssa and I also had some amount of stuff in our respective offices, which made life less than fun for a while.  However the kitchen is back online, so we've been cleaning up the aftermath of the construction work and shaking down the new appliances.  Not only do we have more room in the kitchen, but we now have a dishwasher and a sink that's not painfully tiny.  The first pot of coffee and the first dinner were made in our new kitchen on Saturday.

Shopping for supplies in the Bay Area has been both easier and harder than expected.  Easier because people have on the whole been pretty cool toward each other.  No pushing, no shoving, only one instance of almost-violence and that was some weeks ago.  On the other manipulator, it's been harder because just about every shelf has been completely denuded of everything from toilet paper (the butt of many jokes which write themselves) to cleaning agents to vitamin supplements.  It's one thing to hear people talk about this happening, but it's quite another to actually see it in every store you visit.  It's a vicious cycle.  While I don't know for sure I think I can reconstruct the overall pattern of thought here: People are afraid that there will be runs on everything essential, from food to distilled water to stuff they might be running low on (such as salt or dishwashing detergent).  They don't want to get caught out.  So they flock to the stores to stock up on everything before there is nothing left.  Unfortunately, this is the very cause of those shortages.

So it goes.

This means that we've had somewhat more free time than we usually do, largely due to not having to commute to and from work.  Much of yesterday was spent cleaning and setting up the new kitchen.  I've been hacking around with quite a few different things lately.  This means that I've got a few more tutorials to write in the near future.  Probably surprising no one, I built a network of Huginn agents to collect and analyze covid-19 news.  rrdtool has been driving me up a wall, but what else is new.  I've been working on some of my more problematic locks, too.  Let me tell you, top of the keyway tensioners are amazing for padlocks.

We've been keeping touch with the outside world as best we can through just about every channel you can imagine.  Slack, Discord, IRC, Matrix, Jitsi Meet, XMPP, SDF... they're all in heavy use around the world right now.  Anything to keep the lines of communication open.

Earlier this month the Folding@home project reprioritized their work units to send out as much covid-19 data for processing as possible.  Around the same time the_gibson set up a hackers.town f@h team to pool our not inconsiderable processing power and assist the effort.  If you want to join us it's quite easy to install a copy of the Folding@home client on your machine. Once the client's installed set it to "Any disease" and your team ID to 236421.  If you have a couple of spare machines handy (no RaspberryPis, unfortunately) one of our team members wrote up how to set up a bootable USB drive to run the client.  Just so you know, most of the project work units are GPU optimized (projects 11741, 11742, 11743, 11744, 11745 and 11746) but there are a couple that don't need a powerful graphics card (projects 14328 and 14329).  As of right now the biggest problem has been f@h not having enough work units to distribute but if you're patient you'll get a few.

When I sat down to write this post I thought I had a lot more to talk about.  I guess I don't.  I've been trying to stick to as normal a schedule as I can.  I'm working my way through a backlog of stuff I've been meaning to read, clean up, watch and listen to.  It's raining right now so it's not realy feasible to go for a while, as much as I could use some fresh air.  I really miss going to the gym regularly and I don't have enough room for my usual workout.  I can't really go anywhere to hang out because there is nothing open.  Not really sure what to do with myself when I'm not tinkering with something.