COVID-19: Day 230

I said that I was going to stop posting so much about the pandemic, but I do want to keep posting periodically so I can look back at the stats. So here’s a quick checkin on where we are now.

Global deaths: 1.2 million
US deaths: 228 thousand

This has been a rough stretch for the US. Seven states set a record high for daily deaths and the Progress to Zero (P0) metric has fallen from 34% to 0% in the last three weeks. The upper/central part of the country is are getting hammered. The percentage of positive tests are going up too so it’s not just a matter of states doing more testing.

For many states, this is their first big wave. User Gullyn1 on the dataisbeautiful subreddit made a map showing what percentage of a counties total cases were discovered in the last month. This is somewhat similar to the P0 metric and I like these maps because they apply well regardless of the size of the county.

Locally we’re doing a bit better but we’re on a similar upswing. The R-value in King County is estimated at 1.3, the highest it has been in quite a while.

Just to the north of us, Snohomish is seeing more active cases per 100K people than they did in July. (Note that this chart in particular can be a little deceptive since it is directly related to the number of tests. It’s generally safer to rely on this specific chart for local trending more than for comparison of peaks.)

That Snohomish outbreak is particularly on my mind since that’s where Elijah goes to school. The school is amazingly still chugging along with only a couple quick shutdowns of specific classrooms for false alarms. Everyone seems to have fallen into a routine with the daily health attestation, new dropoff/pickup rules and the removal of any intermingling between classrooms. So far so good but I don’t expect it to continue forever, especially with the spike we’re seeing now leading into cooler temps (more people indoors) and holidays (more people getting together in groups.)

My company has said that the workers in this area won’t have to return to the office until July 2021 at the earliest. The previous date had been January so it’s nice to see them push it out to something that is hopefully more realistic. It seems like it will probably move out again but we’ll see how things go with vaccine approval, production, and acceptance by the general population. Personally I’m happy to keep working from home. I feel plenty productive and I love not having the commute! Although I do spend more time looking at opportunities to move out of suburbia if I’m not tied to the commute anymore…

Azure Data Explorer Overview Talk

I’ve written about Azure Data Explorer (aka Kusto) before, and I realize that many of you aren’t geeks, but for those who have geek-ish tendencies, I want to share a great talk from our Israel team. (These are people that I met on my trip last February.) It’s a couple hours long, but if you watch the first 45 minutes, it will give you a great overview of the product and maybe help you understand why I’ve been so excited to work with it for the past years.

My job revolves around petabyte datasets and analyzing new data within minutes of it getting created at the source. This product was a game changer in what we were able to achieve and promise to our users. I realize that 45 minutes is a non-trivial chunk of time, but if you’re in the data space, I think you’ll find it valuable or at least intriguing.

My News Source

Staying informed is tough. For a long time, I’ve stayed away from the news because it riles me up. So when I heard about NewsNation from WGN, I was intrigued. They’ve gone to great lengths to take a legitimate shot at being unbiased with a team of rhetoriciansĀ that analyze every story. I realize this sounds bogus and lots of other sources say they do similar things, but after using their app and reading their articles for the last month, I give it the thumbs up. The articles almost feel dry… which is a good thing in this case. I find that I’m able to stay up to speed on current events in less time with less emotion. All that means I expect it will fail before too long. You can’t open a brussel sprout business next to a McDonalds and expect succeed, but I’m enjoying my brussel sprouts for now.

I’ve also been running through some candidate quizzes. I don’t necessarily trust any specific ones more than others, but I take a few of them and compare the results. My only criteria is that the quiz needs to have more than just the two main candidates. When I take these quizzes, it’s interesting to see how much the candidates overlap on many issues. It’s easy to think that candidate A is a 100% match and the others are 0% but that’s never the case for me. So I will continue to woosah. It’s going to be ok.

Chest of Drawers

I wrote previously about the culmination of a year-long project (previous post). Now I’ve also completed the video showing some of what it took to get there. I edited that year down to about 17 minutes. Apologies for not wearing a mic during the speaking parts but hopefully it’s good enough to convey the basic idea.

This was a labor of love and I hope that it serves Elijah for many years to come. And Elijah, by no means are you required to keep this around forever, but if you decide to replace it, please let me know so I can come retrieve it!

Denon AVR-S540BT Review

Believe it or not, it’s been quite a while since we’ve had good surround sound in the theater room upstairs. It’s mainly used for watching a sitcom episode or two with Tyla in the evenings, but still, it would be nice to have when we watch a movie. I never paid much attention until recently when I figured out that all the streaming services are using Dolby Digital Plus and my old receiver can’t decode that. So unless I’m running it through the Xbox One (which has been moved downstairs), there’s nothing to transcode it down to something simple enough for my receiver to handle. On top of that, I have dreams of moving all these electronics to 4k over the next couple years and this receiver can only do 1080p. It was time for an upgrade.

After some research, I landed on the Denon AVR-S540BT. It’s a fairly low end receiver from a good company. It’s not going to set any records for specs, but it fits the bill and doesn’t make too big of a dent in my wallet. It has 5 HDMI ports which makes it much easier to handle the various devices, will support 4k video and handles most of the latest codecs except some of the very latest extra-speaker codecs that I’m highly unlikely to use. And the nice thing about it being on the cheaper end is that I won’t feel bad if I need to replace it in 5 years.

One bonus feature that I wasn’t expecting to use much is the Bluetooth support. The receiver turns on automatically when a Bluetooth connection is made and then shuts off after 15 minutes of no use. I have my office in this room so I can just connect from my phone and play music on the nice sound system. It’s a good setup.

This has always been a budget theater room so I think this new receiver fits right in, and honestly, I’m not enough of an audiophile to know the difference. This one is a winner in my book.