Living In Corona Times

This week the new coronavirus has spread like wildfire. The good news last week has been the success with which China, Taiwan, and Singapore have handled the epidemic, and that western nations are just beginning to emulate their approach of reducing person-to-person interactions as much as possible to slow the rate of infection. The bad news, however, is that countries like Italy currently have a number of cases that is overwhelming their health system, and that the disease seems to be spreading rapidly in other countries. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Our sincerest thanks go out to all of the medical professionals who are providing care in this difficult situation. But also to those who are providing public infrastructure in less obvious ways: the cashiers who subject themselves to hundreds of contacts per day just so that you and I can buy toothpaste, for instance. The rest of us are staying at home as much as possible, washing our hands, and slowing the spread as much as possible simply by not catching or passing on the virus.

The original part, left, with its 3D-printed counterpart.

Of course, everyone wants to help, and there have been some heroic hacks. The fablabs and hackerspaces in Italy who’ve been 3D printing respirator parts for instance, have directly and obviously helped save lives. With respirators being the limiting factor in many hospitals, we’ve also seen an effort to design an open source ventilator, adapt one to serve multiple patients, and even a start towards converting a CPAP fan into a ventilator for emergencies.

But most of us don’t have medical expertise. If you have spare CPU cycles, consider donating them to the folding@home effort to simulate the proteins in the virus. And any hack to make the lives of those stuck in voluntary quarantine more “normal” is perhaps as important in the long run. I made a simple clock to help my son who’s stuck at home and can’t yet tell time, adjust to his new daily routine. Others have made more obviously whimsical devices. We like this computer-vision face-touching alarm. If it makes people smile while slowing down one transmission vector, it’s a win.

If you have the expertise, consider helping out your local schools with telepresence and online education. While a number of colleges are already geared up for distance learning, it’s uncharted territory for primary education most everywhere. I’m sure you can also think of other ways to help out locally. If so, don’t hesitate to tell us your success stories.

For the rest: simply washing your hands, staying healthy, and not passing the virus on to others is a quietly heroic act that we think shouldn’t be overlooked. Thanks.

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16 thoughts on “Living In Corona Times

    1. Can confirm that online-learning for universities is not perfect. While homework and lectures aren’t too bad, the real problems are labs and exams. I really don’t know how my professors are going to handle those. Some labs are spared by simulations, but for one of my classes, the whole point of the class is getting in there and learning about all the quirks of working with high frequency devices. The best proposal seems to be simulating as much as possible but delaying some work until next semester when this thing will hopefully be over with.

  1. If we succeed in minimizing the impact of the pandemic through use of the Internet, that would be a rather significant evolution of the human species, those space aliens watching us from distant galaxies will be impressed.

        1. The only trouble is there are groups that professes their unwavering belief in evolution yet do everything they can to prevent it. Shunning survival of the fittest preferring survival of those that are more easily manipulated and controlled ….

  2. Looking at the other post about hacking a cpap blower for ventilation, it occured to me that for non-heavy duty use a cpap/bipap could be a useful tool for those needing breathing assistance, perhaps as a community we could help design adapter parts to also inject oxygen where available.

    also the facemasks for CPAP machine could be useful as well, one N95 filter could theoretically be used to make multiple inserts (example Resmed Airtouch fackmasks etc) while not optimal, surely it has to be better than just sewing masks out of cotton or wrapping a shirt around you face when there is nothing else available?

    i realize I’m not a medical professional, and surely there are factors I’m not aware of/educated in, but either of these options have to be better than zero protection at all, or are they just a placebo?

  3. Really pleased to see some macro content from hackaday to try and focus on where / how people can help, rather than leaving it to the comments section (which is hard to navigate if you are looking for these kind of links).

  4. And let’s not forget that regardless of how the corona virus turns out we will be facing another flu season this fall (in this hemisphere) and the flu kills 250,000 – 500,000 people globally every year. Hope all those deaths don’t get lost in the noise of the current panic…

  5. I wonder if isolation is such a good thing. I don’t know about you guys. But when we fly to different states, sometimes we ‘catch’ bugs they have, and/or we transmit a bug to them. So if try to isolate in smaller groups … I wonder if it will cause more problems over time. Time will tell. And as above just the flu kills more of us every year than this China Virus has. Shoot even car accidents are more. Over 2000+ deaths a month in the US… Media isn’t ‘hyping’ the flu or cars, or you name it that terminates lots of us every day.

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