COVID-19 Dashboard Tracker

Incredible COVID-19 tracker at: 

https://ncov2019.live/data


Developed by a 17-year old Jewish kid from Seattle. 


There is a page for data by continent, country, and state. 


And another tab with an interactive map of the cases. 


Also, a page of useful information from The Center for Coronavirus Information.


The information updates every minute by scrapping information “from reliable sources from all over the world.


I think it would also be helpful to add an aggregator of top news stories on the Coronavirus.


I find this to be a very simple, straight-forward dashboard to keep up with the developments of this virus. 


Thank you Avi Shiffmann–job well done!  😉


(Credit to Minna Blumenthal for sharing this with me)

613 Menu

Menu 613

So for those of you following my blogs about 613 (the number of commandments in the Torah)–this is blog 6 in the monthly series. 


And here it is again, on the menu for a simple Caesar Salad–depending on the size, it’s $6 or $13.


I’m sorry but I don’t need a statistician to tell me that the number of times and places for the revealing of 613–without even looking for it (seriously)–is extraordinary. indeed. 


G-d has a message for us of hope and faith–613–I plan on listening. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Risk In The Eye Of The Beholder

Risk
Should I do it or is it too risky?

 

That’s a question we ask ourselves many times a day.

 

– Open our mouths at work or keep a lid on it.

 

– Run to catch that train or bus or slow down and go more carefully.

 

– Eat that greasy burger and fries or opt for a salad and smoothie.

 

– Invest in that highflier stock or put your money in the “G” fund.

 

The Wall Street Journal presents risk management as both quantifiable and qualitative.

 

For example, a MicroMort (1 MM, and sounds like micro fart) is “equal to one-in-a million chance of death.”

 

An average American has a 1.3MMs chance of a “sudden, violent end” on any given day.

 

However, climb to the base camp at Mount Everest (at 29K feet), that’s over 12,000 MM, base jump at only 430 MMs per jump, parachute 7 MM, and go on a roller coaster at only .0015 MM.

 

So there you have it–statistics tell the risk story!

 

But not so fast, our risk calculations also take into account our qualitative values. For example, we tend to lower the risk in our minds of postpartum depression (10-15% or higher) because we value having a baby.

 

Similarly, we tend to think driving (1 MM per 240 miles) is safer than flying (1 MM per 7,500 miles) because we believe we are in control of the automobile, as opposed to a passenger jet flown by a couple of pilots.

 

The result, “Scariness of an activity isn’t necessarily proportionate to its risk.”

 

That means that you can easily make a mistake and underestimate risk, because of your personality or cultural and social biases.

 

Rock climb at your own risk…BUT do you really understand what that risk even is or are you driven to do something overly dangerous and maybe stupid. 😉

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dirty Little People

Dirty Little People

Popular Science had some scary germy statistics about how few people wash their hands well when coming out of the bathroom.

Take a guess?

Only 5%!

And that’s based on almost 4,000 people they observed–but how many would’ve washed correctly if they thought no one was watching?

The dirty stats (while under observation):

– 23% didn’t use soap.

– 15% of men and 7% of women didn’t even use water.

– Average washed for just 6 seconds! (CDC says you need at least 20 seconds with soap and water to kill germs)

From what I’ve seen, unless their is a touchless water faucet and automatic towel dispenser, not too many people wash their hands–they don’t want to get them dirty by touching the same bathroom devices that the other people just touched.

Another no-no for people is touching the bathroom door handle–more germs!

What do some people do–they use (wads of) toilet seat protectors to pull the door open–then guess what’s missing for the next guy or gal?

Most public bathrooms are disgusting–if everyone could just have their own, they would keep it clean out of self-interest and maybe wash their hands a little more too.

Next time we have a recession and need to invest in “shovel ready” infrastructure projects to keep America working–how about we build some (read lots!) clean bathrooms and throw in the automatic wash features, pretty please. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazing Internet Statistics 2012

Star_wars

So what happens in only 1 minute on the Internet–this cool magazine Ideas and Discoveries (October 2012) provides some amazing examples:

– Information Sharing–639,800 gigabytes of data are exchanged

– Information Generation–6 new Wikipedia articles are created

– Information Visualization–20,000,000 photo looked at on Flickr

– eMail–204,000,000 emails are sent

– eCommerce–$83,000 of sales on Amazon

– Social Networking–320 new users on Twitter and 100 on LinkedIn (wonder how many for Facebook…)

– Cyber Crime–20 new victims of identity theft

And in the same month, Harvard Business Review reported on the growing significance to commerce with the Internet contributing to GDP (in 2010) as much as:

– 8.3% in the UK

– 7.3% in South Korea

– 5.5% in China

– 4.7% in the US

– 4.7% in Japan

– 4.1% in India

Moreover in HBR, this is what was reported that people are willing to give up instead of the Internet for a year–and the numbers are pretty startling–check this out:

– 91% of UK would give up fast food

– 89% of Indonesians would give up smoking

– 86% of Japanese would give up chocolate

– 85% of Chinese would give up coffee

– 78% of Indonesians would give up their shower

– 60% of Japanese would give up exercise

– 56% of Chinese would give up their car

– 56% of Japanese would give up sex–go figure! 😉

While this is all sort of light, there is also a very seriousness dimension to this. For example, in the Wall Street Journal today, it quotes Secretary of Defense, Leon Paneta warning that with Iran’s digital assault on the U.S., the concerns of cyberwar are growing with the SecDef going so far as to say “Is there a cyberwar going on? It depends on how you define war.”

Yes, the Internet is amazing for so many reasons and we can’t take it for granted–we need to be vigilant and defend the Internet (cyber) with the same zeal and commitment as the other domains of war–land, sea, and air–all are vital to national security and for the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This is a lesson we need to learn quickly and decisively–before the old Star Wars is passe and cyberwar turns deadly.

Stark Raving Internet Crazy

Internet_crazy

An article in the Daily Beast/Newsweek called “Is the Web Driving Us Mad?”postulates that we are addicted to the Internet by virtually every definition of the word.

Physically:
– “Americans have merged with their machines”–literally starring at computer screen “at least eight hours a day, more time than we spend on any other activity, including sleeping.”
– Most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unableto be without their media links to the world.”

Psychologically:
– “Every ping could be a social, sexual, or professional opportunity” so we get a (dopamine) reward for getting and staying online.
– Heavy internet use and social media is correlated with “stress, depression, and suicidal thinking” with some scientists arguing it is like “electronic cocaine” driving mania-depressive cycles.

Chemically:
– “The brains of Internet addicts…look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts.”
– Videogame/Internet addiction is linked to “structural abnormalities” in gray matter, namely shrinkage of 10 to 20% in the areas of the brain responsible for processing od speech, memory, motor control, emotion, sensory, and other information,.”
– The brain “shrinkage never stopped: the more time online, the more the brain showed signs of ‘atrophy.'”

Socially:
– “Most respondents…check text messages, email or their social network ‘all the time’ or ‘every 15 minutes.’
– “Texting has become like blinking” with the average person texting (sending or receiving) 400 times a month and the average teen 3,700 times!
– “80% of vacationers bring along laptops or smartphones so they can check in with work while away.”
– “One in 10 users feels “fully addicted’ to his or her phone,” with 94% admitting some level of compulsion!

At the extreme:
– “One young couple neglected its infant to death while nourishing a virtual baby online.”
– “A young man bludgeoned his mother for suggesting he log off.”
– “At least 10…have died of blood clots from sitting too long” online.

These are a lot of statistics, and many of these are not only concerning, but outright shocking–symptoms of bipolar disorder, brain shrinkage, and murderous behavior to name a few.

Yet, thinking about my own experiences and observations, this does not ring true for the vast majority of normal Internet users who benefit from technology intellectually, functionally, socially, and perhaps even spiritually.

Yes, we do spend a lot of time online, but that is because we get a lot out of it–human beings, while prone to missteps and going to extremes, are generally reasoned decision-makers.

We aren’t drawn to the Internet like drug-abusers to cocaine, but rather we reach for the Internet when it serves a genuine purpose–when we want to get the news, do research, contact a friend or colleague, collaborate on a project, make a purchase, manage our finances, watch a movie, listen to music or play a game and more.

These are not the benefits of a drug addict, but the choices of rational people using the latest technology to do more with their lives.

Are there people who lose control or go off the deep-end, of course. But like with everything, you can have even too much of a good thing–and then the consequences can be severe and even deadly.

Certainly people may squirrel away more often then they should for some un-G-dly number of hours at a computer rather than in the playground of life–but for the most part, people have taken the technology–now highly mobile–into the real world, with laptops, tablets, and smartphones being ubiquitous with our daily rounds at the office, on the commute, walking down the street, and even at the dinner table.

Is this a bad thing or are we just afraid of the (e)merging of technology so deeply into every facet of lives?

It is scary in a way to become so tied to our technology that it is everywhere all the time–and that is one major reason why cyber attacks are such a major concern now–we are hopelessly dependent on technology to do just about everything, because it helps us to do them.

From my perch of life, the Internet does not break people or attract broken souls except on the fringes; more typically it puts people togetherto achieve a higher individual and social aggregate capability then ever before.

If the pressure to achieve 24/7 would just come down a few notches, maybe we could even enjoy all this capability some more.

Now I just need to get off this darn computer, before I go nuts too!  😉

(Source Photo: here adapted from and with attribution to Cassie Nova)

To Follow Or Not To Follow

Theskystallione

Twitter is a great streaming feed for news and information, but what you get depends on who you follow.

While Twitter does provide suggestions based on whether they are “promoted” or who you already follow (i.e. follow Joe because they are “followed by” Julia), it doesn’t tell you a lot of information about them except their Twitter handle, short profile, location, basic stats, etc.
A new service called Twtrland helps you decide who to follow by providing lot’s more information and displaying it in an organized fashion–simply plug in the Twitter handle you are interested in knowing more about and you get the following:
1) Basic Info–Picture, profile, stats on follow/follower/tweets
2) Top Followers–Let’s you know who else (from the who’s who) is following this person.
3) Advanced Stats–Provides measures on how often he/she gets retweeted, tweets per day, retweets, etc.
4) Graph of Content Type–Displays in pie chart format the type of content the person puts out there: plain tweets, links, pictures, retweets, replies and more.
5) Samples of Content by Category–Examples of this persons tweets are provided by category such as: famous words, plains tweets, pictures, links, retweets, and mentions.
I like the concept and execution of Twtrland in organizing and displaying tweeters information.  However, I cannot really see people routinely taking the time to put in each Twitter handle to get this information.  Making a decision a who to follow is not  generally a research before you follow event. The cost-benefit equation doesn’t really make sense, since it doesn’t cost you anything to follow someone and if you don’t like their tweets, you can always change your mind later and unfollow them if you want.
Overall, I see Twtrland more as a profiling tool (for research or interest) by getting a handy snapshot of what people are doing/saying online in the world of micro-blogging, rather than a decision support system for whether I should add someone to my follow list or not.
(Source Photo: Twtrland Profile of Sylvester Stallone, Rocky!)

Federal Register On Steroids

Now, here is a new way of looking at the information from GovPulse, a site developed to “make such documents as the Federal Register searchable, more accessible and easier to digest…to encourage every citizen to become more involved in the workings of their government and make their voice heard.”  The site is built from open source.
You’ll see that there is a lot more information readily available, organized in multiple ways, and really quite user-centric; some examples:
1) Number of Entries for the Day: The number of entries for the day are listed right at the top.
2) Calendar for Selecting Day of Interest:  Next to the number of entries for the day, you can click on the calendar icon and get an instant 3 months of dates to choose from or enter another date of interest and be instantly take to there.
3) Statistics for the Day: The right sidebar displays the locations mentioned on a map and the types of entries and reporting agencies in pie charts.
4) Department Entries are Prominently Displayed: Both the number of entries for each department are identified as well as identifying their type and length along with an abstract for the entry. Each Department’s entries can easily be expanded or collapses by clicking on the arrow next to the department’s name.
5) Entries are Enabled for Action: By clicking on an entry, there are options to share it via social media to Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and Reddit to let others know about it and there is also a listing of your senators and representatives and their contact information to speak up on the issues.
Additional helpful features on the homepage–immediate access to areas that are last chance to act or what’s new, such as:
1) Comments closing in the next 7 days
2) Comments opened in the last 7 days
3) Rules taking effect in the next 7 days 
4) Rules proposed in the last 7 days 
Moreover,  you have another map with bubbles showing mentioned locations or you can enter your own location and get all the entries subdivided by 10, 15, 20 miles and so on up to 50 miles away.
Another feature called Departmental Pulse, show a trend line of number of entries per department over the last year or 5 years.
At the top of the page, you can quickly navigate to entries in the Federal Register by agency, topic, location, date published, or do a general search. 
There are other cool features such as when you look at entries by department, you can see number of entries, places mentioned, and a bubble map that tells you popular topics for this department.
Overall, I think GovPulse deserves a big thumbs up in terms of functionality and usability and helping people get involved in government by being able to access information in easier and simpler ways.
The obvious question is why does it take 3 outsiders “with a passion for building web applications” to do this?
While I can’t definitively answer that, certainly there are benefits to coming in with fresh eyes, being true subject matter experts, and not bound by the “bureaucracy” that is endemic in so many large institutions.
This is not say that there are not many talented people in government–because there certainly are–but sometimes it just takes a few guys in a garage to change the world as we know it.

Federal_register Govpulse