End of year disorientation?

15 December 2020

Once again it is the end of year crunch at work and we're all scrambling to get things done before holiday break. That we even get a holiday break is something that I'm still not quite used to, though I'm certainly not going to complain about it, either. I spent most of the week pulling almost all nighters and cursing specific ways of getting things done that aren't anything like what anyone else does. Oh, well. So it goes. Everybody does it differently, nobody does it right.

Covid-19 cases still going up around the country. Plagues do that. Of course there are the usual spikes due to folks who don't have the good sense to stay the hell home. That's what we've been doing out here in California, as best we can. Nevermind the fact that a lot of places aren't open (or even in business anymore, if we're going to be completely honest), there's really no point to it. The risk is too high and we're as locked down as we can be.

As you might imagine I've had an agent network monitoring the general state of the covid outbreak around the world from the best sources of data that I can find (which, given the state of the Centers for Disease Control these days has been difficult at best). As one might reasonably imagine it's been depressing to watch the numbers this year, which is why I haven't posted anything about them or my source code this year. I didn't think that anybody else's mental health needed that kind of hit right now. It was probably not a good idea but I decided to export the data I had for this month and run it through some software called jp to see what it looked like.

covid-19 infection cases in the Bay Area, December 2020. Source data

covid-19 infection cases in the United States, December 2020. Source data

Command used: jp -input json -type line -x "../date" -y "../cases" < [local, us]_covid_stats.json

I don't think I need to say that this isn't good. Unsurprisingly, folks around the country got together for Thanksgiving even though they were told not to, which caused another spike in virus transmission and outbreaks.

Maybe I'll export and post Forsythe's source code so other Huginn users can monitor the situation, but I don't know if it'll be worth it or not. Folks know how bad things are and keeping on top of the numbers doesn't really do anyone's mental health any favors. Speaking of mental health, we're back to the "everything we do is wrong" stage of the pandemic. Masks alone aren't enough. Gloves aren't enough. Hand sanitizer and washing isn't enough. All we can do is stay home and hide. Or at least the folks who have the luxury of staying at home can. There are lots of folks out there who don't have that option.

Corey's memorial was last week. I didn't get to watch it remotely. I hope somebody recorded it.

Cyberpunk 2077 finally came out last week. In all probability I'm probably not going to play it. I don't have any particular personal objection to it (though I do love the idea of the game itself), I've just no patience for video games. I more or less stopped playing them in high school (and, to be fair, I kinda suck at them) and after that they just don't keep my attention for very long. Even the ones I backed on Kickstarter (Wastelander 2, Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun: Hong Kong, The Bard's Tale IV) I did so specifically so that they would exist for other folks to enjoy. Maybe I grew out of video games, I don't know. Besides, I don't have the money or frankly the inclination to build a dedicated computer just to play a video game.

In other news, I upgraded YaCy on Leandra a couple of weeks ago, and immediately ran into a particular bug that broke everything. Not only did it hose searching my library (though I found a better solution for that), but my ongoing index of the Net broke. I finally fixed it, which I'll write up later. I've got a bunch of stuff I need to write up but I don't want to flood this post with lots of "here's what I installed and how I configured it."

While I'm on holiday break next week (until the new year) I'll need some stuff to keep myself occupied. So, I decided to take on another retrotech reconditioning and restoration project. Folks from the old school may remember a piece of technology called a touch tone dialer, which was used for dialing telephones before touch tone dialing was widely supported on telephones. (Yes, I know I'm dating myself. Get offin' mah lawn.) They've been an obsolete technology for decades, even for phone phreaks (which happened in the latter half of the 90's). I bought one on eBay to recondition and restore to add to my collection. I'll post a writeup as things develop.

Overall, tinkering on things has been good for my mental health, even when I'm mentally too tired to read. I feel like I can actually accomplish something tangible. It's nice to not have to worry about work for a little while. Also, it's nice to work on something where the consequences aren't "outage, angry customers, get on a conference call because it's an all nighter." If I screw up, it's my own stuff, and there's much less scurry to fix it. While I'm at it, I really should get back to reading more physical books. Wiki wandering has lead me to the end of the Internet more times than I want to admit in recent days when I have all of these perfectly good dead trees all over the house. Another habit to change, I guess.