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taint.org: Justin Mason's Weblog Posts

Links for 2020-11-25

  • Gnome launched into space in a real-life reenactment of a Half Life 2 achievement

    A new achievement called “Gnome Alone” was added to [Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Half-Life: Alyx, and Left 4 Dead 2], and the description sums up exactly what’s going on. “If you are reading this achievement, Gabe Newell has successfully launched Gnome Chompski into space. If you did not also receive the achievement ‘Manufacturing Ascent’, Newell has abandoned his plans to shoot Noam Chomsky into space.” …There’s an Amelie-inspired achievement for picking up the gnome at the start of [Half Life 2: Episode Two] and bringing it all the way to the rocket at White Forest Base, an arduous task involving lots of item juggling and repeated cramming of the gnome into a crevice in Episode Two’s muscle car. Similar challenges made their way into Alyx and Left 4 Dead 2 as well.

    (tags: garden-gnomes gnomes funny noam-chomsky achievements games half-life history gabe-newell rockets space)

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Links for 2020-11-24

  • Home Assistant Data Science

    Great feature:

    The Home Assistant Data Science portal is your one stop shop to get started exploring the data of your home. We will teach you about the data that Home Assistant tracks for you and we’ll get you up and running with Jupyter Lab, a data science environment, to explore your own data.

    (tags: docs data home-assistant iot data-science graphs o11y home han)

  • Excel error causes 1,500 deaths

    Excerpted from _Does contact tracing work? Quasi-experimental evidence from an Excel error in England_: ‘we find 120,000 COVID-19 cases & 1,500 deaths linked to those cases that were not referred to contact tracing in time. This represents ~20% of all new COVID19 cases [in England] during weeks 39-44.’ Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/fetzert/status/1331139902965227520

    (tags: excel fail public-health contact-tracing england nhs covid-19 deaths papers)

  • misleading reliance on pointing to “household transmission” for COVID-19 in Ireland

    This article is a perfect example. It’s headlined: “Virus spread: How a single household transmission led to 46 Covid-19 cases”

    A team of public health specialists in the midlands traced how a case of household transmission led to 26 cases of Covid-19 in a manufacturing plant and a further 20 cases in other households, a nursing home and a school. The first case, or “index case” they became aware of was a woman who worked in a manufacturing plant. Household transmission of the virus occurred when a person she was living with, who had acquired Covid in a pub, passed the virus to her.
    So in other words — the true index case was the person in the pub, or at the very least, her housemate who picked up COVID-19 in the pub, and this was a case where the pub was the initial cluster location, leading to 47 further cases. But for some reason, the article chooses “household transmission” as the headline…

    (tags: pubs restaurants covid-19 safety epidemiology ireland contact-tracing public-health households transmission)

  • What Facebook Fed the Baby Boomers – The New York Times

    The feed goes on like this — an infinite scroll of content without context. Touching family moments are interspersed with Bible quotes that look like Hallmark cards, hyperpartisan fearmongering and conspiratorial misinformation. Mr. Young’s news feed is, in a word, a nightmare. I know because I spent the last three weeks living inside it.

    (tags: grim-meathook-future facebook newsfeed america nytimes)

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Links for 2020-11-24

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Links for 2020-11-19

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Links for 2020-11-18

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Links for 2020-11-16

  • OSHA issues ventilation guidance to workplaces for airborne SARS-CoV-2

    OSHA issues ventilation guidance to workplaces for airborne #SARSCoV2: – HVAC systems should be fully functional; – Prevent personal fans from blowing air from one worker to another; – Use HVAC filters w/MERV rating 13 or higher; – Increase HVAC’s outdoor air intake; – Open windows/sources of fresh air; – Be sure exhaust air isn’t pulled back into the building from HVAC air intakes or open windows; – Use portable HEPA fan/filtration to increase clean air; – Restrooms fans should operate max capacity, and remain on.
    These are all eminently sensible. Now to see if anything equivalent happens on this side of the pond.

    (tags: aerosols covid-19 airborne diseases sars-cov-2 transmission air fans hvac air-conditioning workplaces work)

  • Can’t open apps on macOS: an OCSP disaster waiting to happen | CryptoHack Blog

    Finally, a good take on Apple’s OCSP crapfest over the past weekend.

    If Apple’s OCSP check was built to soft-fail [which is apparently the case], then why did apps hang when the OCSP Responder was down? Probably because this was actually a different failure case: the OCSP Responder was not completely down, it was performing badly. Due to the load added by millions of users worldwide upgrading to macOS “Big Sur”, Apple’s servers slowed to a crawl, and although they weren’t properly answering OCSP queries, they were working just enough that the soft-fail didn’t trigger.
    IMO — this is a big fail by Apple. Network callouts to perform OCSP checks on app startup are a critical case where a Hystrix-level infrastructure of timeouts and short-circuits were appropriate to fail safely in as many situations as possible. The article goes on:
    By adding several mundane failure modes to the verification process, OCSP spoils any cryptographic elegance the code signing and verifying process has. While OCSP is also widely used for TLS certificates on the internet, the large number of PKI certificate authorities and relaxed attitude of browsers means that failures are less catastrophic. Moreover, people are accustomed to seeing websites become unavailable from time to time, but they don’t expect the same from apps on their own devices. macOS users were alarmed at how their apps could become collateral damage for an infrastructure issue at Apple. Yet this was an inevitable outcome arising from the fact that certificate verification depends on external infrastructure, and no infrastructure is 100% reliable. Scott Helme also has concerns about the power that Certificate Authorities gain when certification revocation actually works effectively. Even if you aren’t bothered about the potential for censorship, there will be occasional mistakes and these must be weighed against the security benefits. As one developer discovered when Apple mistakenly revoked his certificate, the risk of working within a locked down platform is that you may get locked out.

    (tags: apple ocsp fail fail-safe hystrix osx macos)

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Links for 2020-11-13

  • Risk Assessment and Management of COVID-19 Among Travelers Arriving at Designated U.S. Airports, January 17–September 13, 2020 | MMWR

    MMWR from the CDC on passenger entry screening at US airports (via Anthony Staines):

    Passenger entry screening was resource-intensive with low yield of laboratory-diagnosed COVID-19 cases (one case per 85,000 travelers screened). Contact information was missing for a substantial proportion of screened travelers in the absence of manual data collection. What are the implications for public health practice? Symptom-based screening programs are ineffective because of the nonspecific clinical presentation of COVID-19 and asymptomatic cases. Reducing COVID-19 importation has transitioned to enhancing communication with travelers to promote recommended preventive measures, strengthening response capacity at ports of entry, and encouraging predeparture and postarrival testing. Collection of contact information from international air passengers before arrival would facilitate timely postarrival management when indicated.

    (tags: screening travel air air-travel airports via:astaines cdc mmwr covid-19)

  • Inky Impression

    Wow, this looks spectacular!

    5.7″, 600 x 448 pixel 7 colour electronic paper (ePaper / eInk / EPD) display for Raspberry Pi. plenty of screen real estate for text or graphics. The low power consumption e-paper display is crisp and readable in bright sunlight and the image will persist when unpowered. In a first for the Inky series, we’ve also added four tactile buttons on the back, so you can control what’s on the screen without the need for extra hardware. But the best bit is that this time you get seven whole colours to play with, which means this Inky is very suitable for displaying graphics, drawings or art – we’ve found pixel art, panels from comics and retro video game art look particularly good.

    (tags: e-ink displays raspberry-pi hacking video devices e-paper)

  • Charles proxy for web scraping

    wow, Charles is nifty. must give it a go next time I’m scraping something

    (tags: scraping mitm charles web http proxies web-scraping automation)

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Links for 2020-11-13

  • Risk Assessment and Management of COVID-19 Among Travelers Arriving at Designated U.S. Airports, January 17–September 13, 2020 | MMWR

    MMWR from the CDC on passenger entry screening at US airports (via Anthony Staines):

    Passenger entry screening was resource-intensive with low yield of laboratory-diagnosed COVID-19 cases (one case per 85,000 travelers screened). Contact information was missing for a substantial proportion of screened travelers in the absence of manual data collection. What are the implications for public health practice? Symptom-based screening programs are ineffective because of the nonspecific clinical presentation of COVID-19 and asymptomatic cases. Reducing COVID-19 importation has transitioned to enhancing communication with travelers to promote recommended preventive measures, strengthening response capacity at ports of entry, and encouraging predeparture and postarrival testing. Collection of contact information from international air passengers before arrival would facilitate timely postarrival management when indicated.

    (tags: screening travel air air-travel airports via:astaines cdc mmwr covid-19)

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Links for 2020-11-12

  • Covid Winter is Coming. Could Humidifiers Help? | WIRED

    Add humidity to the list:

    after three months of data crunching, they found that the most powerful correlation between national numbers of daily new coronavirus cases and daily Covid-19 deaths was indoor relative humidity. Even controlling for dozens of other factors, the data showed that as indoor relative humidity went up during the summer months in the northern hemisphere, deaths plummeted. In the southern hemisphere, the opposite was true—as humidity fell during those nations’ winter months, deaths began to climb. “It’s so powerful, it’s crazy,” says [Stephanie] Taylor. That work has not yet been published. But Taylor believes it’s the strongest evidence yet that humidity needs to be as much a part of the conversation about containing Covid-19 as is discussion of ventilation, masks, and hand hygiene. “It’s hard to prioritize one intervention over another; we need all of them,” says Taylor. “Humidifiers aren’t a replacement for masks or social distancing or ventilation. But when you have more humidification, it enhances all these other things we’re already doing.” At higher humidities, respiratory particles grow faster and fall to the ground earlier, so there’s a better chance that staying 6 feet apart from infectious people really will dilute how many bits of their aerosolized virus you might happen to inhale. In a recent modeling study, Japanese researchers found that air with 30 percent relative humidity can carry more than twice the number of infectious aerosols, compared to air with relative humidity levels of 60 percent or higher. That also means masks are more likely to block more of the particles coming out of people’s noses and mouths, because they tend to be better at trapping bigger particles than smaller ones. And it means that air purifiers (even cheap, DIY ones) will filter out a larger proportion of potentially infectious particles.

    (tags: covid-19 aerosols humidity humidifiers air air-quality health infection)

  • 50 beautiful Irish crafts to buy, and the people who make them

    so many good things here

    (tags: crafts art ireland irish gifts xmas)

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Links for 2020-11-09

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Links for 2020-11-09

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Links for 2020-11-03

  • COVID-19 IFR is estimated at 0.97%

    Florian Krammer on Twitter: “Our NYC serosurvey paper is now out in Nature: if extrapolated to the NYC population we found [more than] 1.7 million infected and IFR at 0.97” That’s high! Nearly 1 in 100.

    (tags: ifr covid-19 florian-krammer mortality deaths pandemics)

  • Fault in NHS Covid app meant thousands at risk did not quarantine

    Somebody, somewhere, will have died needlessly due to this bug.

    The root of the error, the Guardian has learned, was a decision to incorporate a measure of “infectiousness” into the app’s code. While the app was undergoing testing in the Isle of Wight, it used a simple metric that recommended isolation for anyone who had been in contact – closer than 2 metres – with a potentially infectious person for 15 minutes or more in a single day. But shortly before the app was launched nationally, it was updated to account for the fact that people are most infectious shortly after their symptoms show. The maths was changed so that people outside that period of peak infectiousness counted for just two-fifths of the risk. Since that meant the overall score was likely to be lower, the intention was to reduce the risk threshold correspondingly to ensure that someone of maximum infectiousness would need just three minutes of contact before they triggered an alert. But that change never happened, and as a result, users were only told to isolate if they had spent 15 minutes close to a very infectious person, or nearly 40 minutes near someone who was pre-symptomatic but still thought to be shedding the virus. The error was only discovered when a new version of the contact-tracing app, which can better account for exposures at mid-range (over a metre away) was created. The unfeasibly high risk score also explained another problem plaguing the app: “ghost notifications” warning users that they may have been exposed to someone with Covid, but which never resulted in advice to isolate. The app’s initial advice to users was that these notifications could be safely ignored, since they reflected a contact below the risk threshold; now that the NHS risk threshold is known to have been artificially low, one insider said, it is likely that the vast majority of those ghost notifications should in fact have been advice to self-isolate.

    (tags: bluetooth nhs bugs failure ble covid-19 uk)

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Links for 2020-11-02

  • I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There. | by Indi Samarajiva

    In the last three months America has lost more people than Sri Lanka lost in 30 years of civil war. If this isn’t collapse, then the word has no meaning. You probably still think of Sri Lanka as a shithole, though the war ended over a decade ago and we’re (relatively) fine. Then what does that make you? America has fallen. You need to look up, at the people you’re used to looking down on. We’re trying to tell you something. I have lived through collapse and you’re already there. Until you understand this, you only have further to fall.

    (tags: collapse usa politics columbo sri-lanka history civil-war)

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Links for 2020-10-27

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Links for 2020-10-23

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Links for 2020-10-22

  • One in 20 people likely to suffer from ‘Long COVID’

    Overall, the team found that while most people with COVID-19 reported being back to normal in 11 days or less, around one in seven (13.3%, 558 users) had symptoms lasting for at least 4 weeks, with around one in 20 (4.5%, 189 users) staying ill for 8 weeks and one in fifty (2.3%, 95 users) suffering for longer than 12 weeks.  Extrapolating out to the general UK population, which has a different age and gender makeup compared with the COVID Symptom Study app users, the team estimated that around one in seven (14.5%) of people with symptomatic COVID-19 would be ill for at least 4 weeks, one in 20 (5.1%) for 8 weeks and one in 45 (2.2%) for 12 weeks or more.  
    (via Valen)

    (tags: via:valen long-covid covid-19 health)

  • intercom/lease

    ‘Lease is a general DynamoDB-based lease implementation, ideal for long-lived work items, with coarse-grained leases’, in Go, by the inimitable ex-Swrver Rob Clancy

    (tags: golang go leases dynamodb aws locking libraries open-source distcomp)

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Links for 2020-10-21

  • q – Text as Data

    ‘a command line tool that allows direct execution of SQL-like queries on CSVs/TSVs (and any other tabular text files). q treats ordinary files as database tables, and supports all SQL constructs, such as WHERE, GROUP BY, JOINs etc. It supports automatic column name and column type detection, and provides full support for multiple encodings.’ Awesome!

    (tags: csv database sql cli data tools unix tsv)

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Links for 2020-10-20

  • r/Ireland Christmas Market

    The denizens of r/Ireland pipe up with their favoured sources of online gifts for Xmas

    (tags: reddit ireland shopping christmas gifts shops)

  • WHO: US, Europe need to get better at quarantining – Business Insider

    Now _this_ is a good point.

    Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19 said during the meeting Monday that she’s had lots of friends and family asking her in recent days what, exactly, quarantine is. Essentially, it’s complete isolation from other people, including those you’d normally live with and breathe around, to the fullest extent possible.  “That means not going to work,” Van Kerkhove said. “It means not going to the grocery store. It means not socializing with friends. It means not having people over at your home.” Ideally, quarantining is a disease-fighting measure that is supported by local health programs and government support that can allow people to continue making a living and feeding their families while in quarantine, she said. 

    (tags: quarantine covid-19 infection isolation pandemics public-health)

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Links for 2020-10-14

  • RangeTherapy

    Muxsan are a Dutch company selling range extension kits for Nissan Leaf EVs, increasing their range from a Gen 1 Leaf’s 110km to a typical 238km; 440km is the max. ‘The extension pack consists of many Lithium-ion cells [NMC], which are of the highest quality, bound by aluminum casing into modules and each module comes with a German built Battery Management System [BMS].’

    (tags: nissan cars leaf driving evs muxsan batteries hacking)

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Links for 2020-10-12

  • The top 100 BBCMicroBot tweets

    these are _amazing_. Huge respect to all the contributors who wrote these great little demos-in-a-tweet

    (tags: demoscene demos bbc bbc-micro coding)

  • How Brain Fog Plagues Covid-19 Survivors – The New York Times

    “It scares me to think I’m working,” Ms. Mizelle, 53, said. “I feel like I have dementia.” It’s becoming known as Covid brain fog: troubling cognitive symptoms that can include memory loss, confusion, difficulty focusing, dizziness and grasping for everyday words. Increasingly, Covid survivors say brain fog is impairing their ability to work and function normally. “There are thousands of people who have that,” said Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious disease at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, who has already seen hundreds of survivors at a post-Covid clinic he leads. “The impact on the work force that’s affected is going to be significant. Scientists aren’t sure what causes brain fog, which varies widely and affects even people who became only mildly physically ill from Covid-19 and had no previous medical conditions. Leading theories are that it arises when the body’s immune response to the virus doesn’t shut down or from inflammation in blood vessels leading to the brain. Confusion, delirium and other types of altered mental function, called encephalopathy, have occurred during hospitalization for Covid-19 respiratory problems, and a study found such patients needed longer hospitalizations, had higher mortality rates and often couldn’t manage daily activities right after hospitalization. But research on long-lasting brain fog is just beginning. A French report in August on 120 patients who had been hospitalized found that 34 percent had memory loss and 27 percent had concentration problems months later.

    (tags: brain-fog covid-19 sequelae inflammation side-effects)

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Links for 2020-10-08

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Links for 2020-10-07

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Links for 2020-10-06

  • Marc Bevand’s cases-vs-deaths graph for Florida

    “deaths can lag up to 1 month after cases” — clear dataviz. Going to be sadly very relevant in Ireland in about a month’s time

    (tags: ireland covid-19 pandemic via:firefoxx66)

  • Timeline of COVID -19 and Vietnam policy actions at a glance

    Vietnam’s policy actions regarding COVID -19 are recapped in a timeline together with the outbreak’s movement and in context with other Asian countries from the start of 2020 to early of August 2020. Quick and decisive actions including touch control on travelling, intensive quarantine for overseas arrivals and suspected cases, massive testing and aggressive contract tracing, sealing off virus hot-spots and timely communication from very early on are considered to have contributed to Vietnam’s performance given its vulnerable position to China, a population of 100 million people and a comparatively under-developed healthcare system.

    (tags: vietnam lockdown pandemics covid-19 public-health)

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Links for 2020-10-05

  • Dr Zoë Hyde’s latest Twitter thread on kids and COVID-19

    With an Aussie perspective — Dr. Hyde works in Perth. ‘Summary: further evidence children & adults are equally susceptible & equally likely to transmit; school clusters are increasing; precautions needed in schools.’

    (tags: schools education covid-19 transmission)

  • Selling Our Genes: Government inaction allowing private sector to take control of our DNA

    Genuity Science, the main company involved in DNA sequencing in Ireland, has at least 25 links to facilities around Ireland. These include funding and collaborations with major hospitals, universities, research facilities and charities. A collaboration agreement signed between Genuity Science and UCD is “restrictive”, according to an academic expert, though Genuity Science Ireland disagree with this assessment. We have the full details in this breakout article. Hospital clinicians have become “agents of a company” due to the nature of agreements in place, according to experts. Researchers are making “the best of the situation” in Ireland by working with the private sector but most would prefer a public system due to data access concerns. Lack of Government policy and adequate regulation means that private companies have no limit on how long they have exclusive access to the data they collect from Irish patients. Researchers and patient representatives are concerned about a potential erosion of trust in genetics research in Ireland.

    (tags: genomics genuity genetics ucd gmi ireland data-privacy data-protection research)

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Links for 2020-10-01

  • WebPlotDigitizer

    Extract data from plots, images, and maps:

    It is often necessary to reverse engineer images of data visualizations to extract the underlying numerical data. WebPlotDigitizer is a semi-automated tool that makes this process extremely easy: Works with a wide variety of charts (XY, bar, polar, ternary, maps etc.) Automatic extraction algorithms make it easy to extract a large number of data points Free to use, opensource and cross-platform (web and desktop) Used in hundreds of published works by thousands of users Also useful for measuring distances or angles between various features

    (tags: data-extraction scraping tools data charts)

  • ‘Only aerosol transmission can explain’ the Skagit Choir transmission incident

    Jose-Luis Jimenez on Twitter: The “Skagit Choir” incident of mass spreading of COVID-19 indicates aerosol transmission: ‘Only aerosol transmission can explain how 1 person infected 52, including people who were 13 meters behind the index case.’

    (tags: aerosols covid-19 sars-cov-2 transmission infection air)

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Links for 2020-09-30

  • inside the LAPD/LASD usage of Palantir

    Much of the LAPD data consists of the names of people arrested for, convicted of, or even suspected of committing crimes, but that’s just where it starts. Palantir also ingests the bycatch of daily law enforcement activity. Maybe a police officer was told a person knew a suspected gang member. Maybe an officer spoke to a person who lived near a crime “hot spot,” or was in the area when a crime happened. Maybe a police officer simply had a hunch. The context is immaterial. Once the LAPD adds a name to Palantir’s database, that person becomes a data point in a massive police surveillance system. […] At great taxpayer expense, and without public oversight or regulation, Palantir helped the LAPD construct a vast database that indiscriminately lists the names, addresses, phone numbers, license plates, friendships, romances, jobs of Angelenos — the guilty, innocent, and those in between.
    This is absolute garbage — total bias built-in. No evidence required to get a person in the firing line: “The focus of a data-driven surveillance system is to put a lot of innocent people in the system,” Ferguson said. “And that means that many folks who end up in the Palantir system are predominantly poor people of color, and who have already been identified by the gaze of police.”

    (tags: palantir databases privacy law lapd lasd los-angeles surveillance big-brother police crime gangs)

  • Everything you wanted to know about the Hydrogen economy but were too busy to research

    Informative Twitter thread: ‘International hydrogen markets could be a thing, but don’t bet on hydrogen shipping’; ‘H2 future looks good regardless’; and ‘distributed plants could satisfy local industry and power markets while relieving electrical grid bottlenecks. The benefits are more likely to remain local rather than exported. So important for a just transition.’ (via Forge The Future)

    (tags: h2 hydrogen green climate-change future eu europe twitter via:ftf)

  • AWS CRT HTTP Client in the AWS SDK for Java 2.x

    Interesting — a new, high-performance, high-concurrency HTTP/1.1 client library in the AWS SDK, outperforming other Java HTTP client libs

    (tags: java libraries aws http http-1.1 clients)

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Links for 2020-09-29

  • Covid: The libertarian population immunity strategy is wrong-headed & dangerous

    +1 to this —

    As cases of covid in the UK surge once again, the debate has restarted about whether to suppress covid until a vaccine becomes available, or whether to pursue a deliberate strategy of achieving population immunity without a vaccine. The assumption is that vulnerable populations can be protected while the rest of the population, who are at low risk of hospitalisation and death, can be safely encouraged to live life normally and be exposed to the virus without a vaccine. Some even advocate that younger people, because they are at lower risk, should be the first to actively seek infection. “Not only is it a good thing for young people to go out there and become immune,” one commentator said, “but that is almost their duty”. It is this deliberate strategy which I find so troubling, for six reasons. [….]

    (tags: uk politics covid-19 herd-immunity immunity risk pandemics)

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Links for 2020-09-24

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Links for 2020-09-23

  • Feh/nocache

    minimize filesystem caching effects:

    The nocache tool tries to minimize the effect an application has on the Linux file system cache. This is done by intercepting the open and close system calls and calling posix_fadvise() with the POSIX_FADV_DONTNEED parameter. Because the library remembers which pages (ie., 4K-blocks of the file) were already in file system cache when the file was opened, these will not be marked as “don’t need”, because other applications might need that, although they are not actively used (think: hot standby).

    (tags: cache linux memory performance filesystems backup k8s unix fadvise)

  • Now 11 reported SARS-CoV-2 reinfections

    4 cases were more serious the second time around

    (tags: reinfections sars-cov-2 covid-19)

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Links for 2020-09-21

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Links for 2020-09-17

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