Corona Cancels Cons

As you read this, the Open Hardware Summit is taking place, but differently than in previous years. This year, it’s taking place in cyberspace! To what do we owe this futuristic development? Unfortunately, COVID-19, the corona virus.

And OHS isn’t alone. Vintage Computer Festival Pacific Northwest was cancelled outright. In Germany, where I live, the national health board has recommended cancelling all events with more than 1,000 attendees, and both the Maker Faire Berlin and the Chaos Computer Club’s 20th annual Easterhegg have been called off.

And just announced yesterday, our own Hackaday Belgrade event is going to be postponed and rescheduled for later this year. It’s truly sad, but we’re still looking forward to seeing you all a little bit later in the summer. If you can’t make the new date, tickets will of course be refunded. We’ll keep you informed when we get a new venue and time.

The best way to slow the spread of a global pandemic, according to the WHO who should know best, is washing your hands and avoiding contact with other people. “Social distancing” is the new catch-phrase, and that means keeping a few meters away from other folks whenever reasonable. And clearly, gathering people from all over the world, packing them into a single auditorium, and spending quality time together doesn’t meet this requirement.

So we’re all probably going to be laying low globally for a little while. On the positive side, this means more time for hacking here in the lab, and I’m excited to be able to watch the online version of the Open Hardware Summit. If you’re working from home, it’s that much easier to keep up to date with Hackaday. Still, I can’t wait to be on the other side of this thing, and it makes me appreciate the various social gatherings that much more.

And of course I have Isaac Newton in my thoughts, who developed the groundwork for his Calculus and laws of gravitation while at home because Cambridge was closed to stop the spread of the Great Plague. Wash your hands!

This article is part of the Hackaday.com newsletter, delivered every seven days for each of the last 210 weeks or so. It also includes our favorite articles from the last seven days that you can see on the web version of the newsletter.

Want this type of article to hit your inbox every Friday morning? You should sign up!

32 thoughts on “Corona Cancels Cons

    1. Side benefit, running a gpu or three at full bore, you’ll soon have your indoor air temp up to 30C or so, which could reduce virus viability time in the local environment.

  1. According to the CDC, there are about 2000 confirmed cases in the US, which is about 2**11. One million is 2**20, and 256 million is thus 2**28, so if the infection rate is 2 (one person infects 2 others) and the incubation time is 4 days, to blanket the entire US will take 17 doublings at 4 days per, or 68 days.

    If the infection rate is closer to 4 (one person infects 4 others) then there will be about 8 quadrouplings at four days each or 34 days.

    If the number of people already infected is much higher this will reduce the coverage time accordingly, but not by much. Ohio estimated that they may have 100,000 infected right now. Taking that as the national number, 6 quadrouplings would cover the US population in 24 days.

    Most people will get it at the very end (75% in the final quadroupling, and 94% in the final two)

    So overall, expect expect everyone to have it in about a month, with everything returning to normal about 10 days later.

    Also, vaccinations – and any other tactics that take more than a month – won’t be available in time to do any good.

    Charts of the Spanish Flu infection rates (available online) show peaks of a little over a month duration (in three waves, from three virus variants).

    1. What a ray of sunshine!

      While everyone else has been stocking up on bog roll, attempted to stock up on chocolate and wine. It seems chocolate and wine has a rather short half life in this house. On the bright side, as the end of the world is neigh, it’s time to splash out on good chocolate and excellent wine.

      1. How is the end of the world gonna happen for you if you virus harden your metabolism with all those polyphenols. Get the low cocoa mass cheapo chocolate, avoid the decent red wines.

    2. Fortunately, it’s not quite that bad. The world is not a uniform grid of people, so some “islands” form and then burn out, and some sufficiently restricted but not fully isolated places will grow slowly enough to “feel” linear (because people come in discrete, integer units, motorcycle accidents notwithstanding). But yeah, it’s still in an exponential growth phase.

      1. Since I’ve screwed around with Conway’s Life a few times, I’m practically an expert, and the Pacific Rim population concentrations kinda look like a glider cannon, so Cali is screwed. ;-)

    3. “Ohio estimated that they may have 100,000 infected right now”

      At the time of the statement (thurs), this was almost assuredly not correct. It is likely still not correct. (see Dr. Tara Smith’s twitter feed for details)

      Otherwise this is a nice analysis IF no appropriate controls are in place. Appropriate controls reduce the transmission rate, not feed panic. Accurate numbers to build on are, unfortunately, not available.

      On that note, given social distancing being the key control method, I have been preparing for this my whole life.

    4. Things won’t be returning to normal for the 4% of infected people who will die.

      I’m immune compromised and have a respiratory condition so I’m potentially in that 4% and take this matter more seriously.

      Unfortunately my survival is more dependant on how seriously OTHER people take this matter.

      1. This will, eventually, infect nearly everyone. If people don’t act like self-centered *****, then the rate will be controlled, and appropriate care will be available for those that need it. The people most likely to have seriously negative outcome can get the care needed, and, hopefully, delay or prevent infection until treatment is available (not in the field, but the people I know who are say that there are several lines being explored in addition to vaccine)

        In my area, the health dept would not give clearance for schools to close (a requirement to avoid penalties in funding) until forced by the state. Many of my neighbors think this is a conspiracy as prelude to a coup. One was complaining that he couldn’t get more ammo (only 20K rounds of 0.223 on hand and a case for the 38. Gotta have more), but he has no problem going to the mall.

        I, on the other hand, am hiding. I will need to go out tomorrow to get groceries (I don’t want my stock to deplete, either for me or for the animals), but early out, early in, as fast as I can. I have a week before I need to get back to work (online– I have machine work that requires no human contact other than shipping as well), and am using htis as bonding time with the animals and a chance to do tractor overhaul, and finish some special tooling for the lathe.

        I hope all goes well with you. Take care.

      2. Well that sucks, if the worst happens I would whack up my vitamin C to 2000mg a day and take every herbal/natural with antiviral effects known, ginger, licorice, anise, chicory, lemon, garlic, onion, cinnamon, turmeric, eucalyptus, echinacea, goldenseal, pomegranate, shiitake mushrooms… good support ingredients, blueberry, raspberry, grapes/raisins. There’s a lot of herbals teas/chais advertised for other purposes that will have 2 or 3 of those in. One can switch hit and get a full menu of things attempting to hinder viral replication or virulence throughout the day. Start up with cinnamon and raisin loaded oatmeal, have a chicory/licorice/green tea chai with it, hydrate mid morning with grenadine syrup (pomegranate) in ginger ale, lunch on a mushroom/garlic/onion/turmeric soup, more herbal tea, make something thai style stir fry maybe for supper, lots of onion, garlic, ginger, peppers, squirt of lemon. Constant barrage, everything you put in your cakehole having something in it that virii ain’t gonna like.

        1. Short of chemically killing yourself, there is nothing you can take to make your body more antiviral.

          All you can do is take things to boost your immune system.

          However, these things will have no significant effect if you are immuno compromised and that is why it’s s high risk group.

          1. Well hopefully you’ll have the full attention of properly equipped doctors. For the ppl that don’t though, I’ll throw out these suggestions even if they only have 10% chance of success, because that’s 10 more people per hundred we get through this.

  2. COVID-19 is the disease not the virus. Furthermore I’m very sceptical about using house and work computers for calculating crowdsourced computer power. It can’t be more efficient than just renting a large server. Or are people just very unlikely to donate money?

    1. It cost me nothing but 5 minutes and a little electricity to set that running on my gaming rigs when I’m not using them, I have completed a few work units between my first post and now, that’s not a lot on its own but if you get thousands of gamers running it on their high end GPUs it adds up.

    2. We went through this exercise at work. Amazon’s markup on AWS is so high, and in most of the country power is cheap enough, that it’s cheaper to own your compute and run it locally. The exceptions are (a) very “bursty” workloads, (b) Manhattan, where power is 20+ cents/kwh, and (c) when you’re so small the “full service” aspects of a cloud provider keeps you from having to hire more people. There are exceptions, sure. “Hybrid cloud” is a thing because sometimes you only want to farm out your peak-period marginal workload. Outsourced email can keep you from having to hire a dedicated Outlook administrator. Our analysis suggested that if your Cost of Capital is above 120% or so, then you also want to rent. Also a few niche corner cases where slipping up into the next regulatory threshold would get expensive (adding your 21st employee increases the cost of running your 401(K) significantly, I’m told).

      Azure seemed to beat AWS more or less across the board. AWS Spot Instances were quite competitive with running locally, at least at times, if you could deal with sudden downtime. It doesn’t surprise me – why would somebody pay much more than than the marginal cost of more compute for… more compute? I haven’t looked at Google’s GCS in a while, but it looked like they were, to paraphrase, willing to get between AWS and their air supply, as it were.

  3. Damn! And I came up with a badge that has an arduino, blue led’s, nixie tubes and 6000W of UVB light. They not only sterilize everything within 50 feet of you, but give your friends who are not wearing welding helmets and gas masks really nice tans.

    1. WELDING, holy crap, in all the UV sterilisation mentions I’ve seen, nobody has mentioned welding arcs, just need to bust a couple of batteries for carbon rods to make an arc torch for the buzzbox if I need to UV sterilise anything.

  4. Re: Newton and Cambridge: those lucky, lucky theoretical scientists who can keep on working without access to labs. Pity all of us applied and practical folks for whom closures, should they occur, are probably a bigger personal threat than the virus itself.

  5. “It’s truly sad, but we’re still looking forward to seeing you all a little bit later in the summer.”

    This is Hack-a-Day. You’ll be seeing our makeshift robotic avatar. 5G compatible.

  6. Oh and the droid behind going along with Seattle for cancelling VCF PNW has gone ahead and moved VCF East to the three day weekend in October normally assigned to a klutz of a navigator.

  7. just checking in from Norway.. What are most of the HA readers from the US doing right now?? Are you no aware that most of Europe is in total lockdown? Things happen at lightning speed, and public measurers are on the defensive since they underestimated the airborne factor. Time to hack! Respirators. alcoholsanitizer (pure etanol and glycerine) in high demand) , UV lights and ozon. improviced masks!! food supply and toilets ( TP is panic shopped as usual…) THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

    1. From the Netherlands. This is mission : “Let there be grandparents in the summer”. Which comprises of two key mission goals. The first is to protect the elderly and those with health problems. This is the group that is at risk if we do not act.

      The second is to do every we can to lower the infection rate below 1. So keep your distance, avoid any contact if you can but try and help the risk group in a clean and safe manner. If you have any symptoms, quarantine yourself and if you test positive, warn people you came into contact with the last week.

  8. My Aunt is trapped in Egypt waiting to see “if” she can get home to Germany. They closed the borders there to stop the rapid contamination. I have been listening to the foreign newscasts from surrounding countries (being tri-lingual), and it is a bit scary. The local Hamfest was cancelled 2 days prior to the event happening (along with Dayton Hamvention [in Xenia, Oh]). Luckily, my state (West Virginia) has won the bracket on no infections…so far. Please be safe, stay hydrated, keep humidity above 50% in your home. Disinfect what you can with diluted Hydrogen Peroxide (or bleach) to keep contamination down. Please restrict travel unless it is necessary. Just be vigilant, keep communications open, be safe. I hope that we, as a community, can do our part in showing some “hacks” that could help others combat this COVID-19 and keep it at bay. 73, and stay safe

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.