Categories: misc

COVID stats for QC

I’ve been doing this on Facebook for a while, but maybe it’s better on the open web:

Latest QC COVID data as we go back to school on Thursday.

A couple of notes on data I’m showing:

1. I’ve added “test positivity %” as a metric. That is, what percentage of COVID tests are returning positive results? According to the American Association of Paediatrics, you want your positivity rates at or below 1% before opening
schools. We are there, so that is a good thing.
2. I’ve changed the hospitalization metric to “how many hospitalizations” instead of “change in number of hospitalizations.” I think this gives a better idea of how things are going now.

Anyway, here are the numbers:

QC COVID DATA:

NEW CASES/day (7-day average)
6 weeks ago 95
5 weeks ago 153
4 weeks ago 166
3 weeks ago 132
2 weeks ago 122
1 week ago 83
last 7 days 75

TOTAL CASES: 61,741
Total cases since June 24: 6,804

COMMENTS: Fewer cases per day is better than more. Like Evan Prodromou I would like to see 0 cases per day. But we are not there yet, and I guess school opening will make things worse. (Please mandate masks for all students/staff at all times).

TEST POSITIVITY RATE (7-day average)
6 weeks ago 1.51%
5 weeks ago 1.60%
4 weeks ago 1.63%
3 weeks ago 1.36%
2 weeks ago 1.16%
1 week ago 0.87%
last 7 days 0.81%

COMMENTS: A new stat! And a good one. Note that at the height of the pandemic here in early May we were seeing positivity rates of 20% and more. This may be the key stat to watch, if positivity is going up then a response is needed. But, we’re under 1% positivity, which is where we want to be. (Note: Looking at these numbers going back to the beginning of the pandemic, I think this metric might be driving a lot of decision-making at the policy level).

TOTAL NUMBER IN HOSPITAL (7-day average)
6 weeks ago 305
5 weeks ago 251
4 weeks ago 200
3 weeks ago 172
2 weeks ago 157
1 week ago 145
last 7 days 115

COMMENT: I changed the stat here to track number of people in the hospital for COVID (previously was tracking change). We can see that the hospital situation continues to improve, and continues to be completely manageable. Good.

DEATHS/day (7-day average):
6 weeks ago 3
5 weeks ago 5
4 weeks ago 4
3 weeks ago 1
2 weeks ago 1
1 week ago 2
last 7 days 2

Total deaths: 5,737
Deaths since June 24: 208
Deaths/million: 675
Death rate (since June 24): 3.1%

COMMENTS: Things are getting marginally worse here, but I’d say still manageable and acceptable. Keep in mind that in May there were ~100 deaths per day. Note that a 3% death rate still seems very high compared to elsewhere.

Overall:
Please urge the government to mandate masks for everyone everywhere (including classrooms) in schools.


Categories: misc

Why #socialdistancing is life or death

(I haven’t written anything here in a long while, I guess the apocalypse is as good a time as any to get back at it.)

Taking social distancing very seriously helps reduce the spread of COVID. The impacts are huge. The “natural” growth of COVID before major social distancing measures are in place is around 30% per day. This is true in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and other countries that are further ahead in life with COVID. Typically once major social distancing measures are in place, the growth rate drops to 20% a day or less.**

Other important data: about 10% of COVID cases need hospitalization; about 1% of cases die.

Currently, the daily % increase in COVID cases in Quebec (average in last 5 days) is: 38.9%

Here are the projections for 30 days (by April 19) if we don’t slow the spread, and continue growing at 38.9% / day* ..

If spread continues at 38.9%/day:

If we reduce spread to 30%/day:

If we reduce spread to 20%/day:

Here’s my spreadsheet, with links to data. If you are interested in making something webby & pretty with this model that will help people understand the implications, please let me know, I guess on Twitter? @hughmcguire.

*NOTE1: This number is high, likely because as testing ramps up we are just finding more cases that were there rather than detecting spread.

**NOTE2: It’s possible that the natural growth rate would drop anyway. Do you want to be in the place where that theory is tested?


Categories: misc

Well, nice in the same breath


Categories: misc

Nanowrimo Chapter from 2006 & the NSA

Back in 2006 I participated in a collaborative Nanowrimo novel, with a bunch of other LibriVox folk. Here is my chapter (from 2006)…which I resurface now for “fun” in light of all this NSA stuff. You can find the audiobook and links to the text here. I can’t remember how it ends!

I guess we should all file this under: “Well, what did you expect?”

The Mystery: Chapter 15

The room was stuffed with books and papers, piles of them, and it had taken Prazak five full minutes to clear the little table of debris and find the envelope with the manuscript that Trevor had sent him.

“The work,” Prazak said, waving his thick hand at the pages with a kind of disgust. “The work it is … untidy. You should see the office in Prague.” He shook his big, grey head, and stared at Trevor with those dark eyes as if he couldn’t bear thought of the mess in Prague. He found the envelope, addressed in Trevor’s writing, with Egyptian stamps.

“Here,” he said, handing the document over. “It’s all there.”

“And the computer?” Trevor asked, indicating the laptop Prazak had offered him.

The old man smiled. “Always with the computers,” he said. “I don’t even know how it works. Brand new… Always these new tools. I don’t trust them.” He seemed to have as much disgust for the laptop as he did for his office in Prague.
Trevor thanked Prof Prazak, told him he would get the computer back as soon as he could. Then the professor laughed, taking Trevor’s hand. “Please,” he said. “Keep that thing. They are evil.” He smiled at his joke and then gestured towards the door. “The lady seems impatient.” Hazel stood there waiting, and indeed she was impatient. She was afraid GLOBAL’s agents would be arriving soon.

***

Twenty minutes later, in a far off corner of the University library, Trevor opened the computer, got out the manuscript, and his iriver, and got to work.

He was there two hours later, and then three and finally he stood to stretch his legs.

Hazel appeared: “Anything?”

“Closer,” Trevor said. “Can you tell me anything more?”

“You won’t believe me,” she said. “Just keep plugging away, we can talk after you’ve done some snooping in the system.”

She left him to work, and continued her patrols, searching for GLOBAL agents, agents they both knew would be here soon, looking for Trevor.

Trevor focused on his work. He shook his head in disbelief. He was a good hacker, maybe a great hacker, but he would never have been able to get into the system without the roadmap provided by the errors in LibriVox, decoded by putting the manuscript and the audio of the Mystery together. The system was air tight, but someone had left a trap door in the security, a door that let him in.

And once in, he couldn’t believe what he saw, couldn’t believe what was behind this security. What was emerging from his analysis seemed too big, seemed impossible. How much did Hazel know about this, he wondered? All of it? None of it?

***

He was not completely finished, but he was finished for now. There were more hours of work to do, but he needed to think.

“What do you know about this?” he asked Hazel.

“What do you know?”

“It’s impossible. I can’t believe what this system does.”

“And what is it that it does?”

Trevor didn’t know what to say. It seemed incredible, outlandish, bigger than anything he could have imagined. They recorded everything. Everything. Every email, every blog entry, forum post, every bookmark, every photo posted, everything done online was recorded, associated with individuals. Every online game played, every move, every instant message. It was all here. The scale of the information was bigger than he thought possible. He searched for his own information, and erased what little was there. He was a careful, skilled, long-time hacker, and he did what was necessary to keep himself invisible online, but even with his skills and caution, so much had slipped through. Most of the online stuff was gone, but not the other traces: his bank transactions, interac purchases, visa transactions. Cell phone calls. They even collected voting records from the Diebold machines in the US. And there was more, more than this frightening array of digital information. There were digitized versions of letters he had written, hand-written letters, from his youth. A thank-you letter to his aunt Ada (she’d bought him a baseball glove when he was fifteen).

What was all of this for, he wondered? His brain was still processing what was there, he didn’t have enough energy to answer that question. Yet.

And if his own database entry in the system was relatively slim (huge as it was), the others … the rest of them … the rest of humanity … it was more than he could comprehend. The database was massive, a scale beyond anything he could have imagined. Greater than the climate modeling systems he had worked on. Greater probably, no, certainly, than any military computers his friends had worked on. He could not imagine another system that could track so much information, in real time. It was so far beyond the biggest processors he’d ever seen, ever heard of, ever even conceived of. The chinchilla was positively gnawing at him. He felt light-headed, thought he might faint.

It was too much.

And there was more. Behind other security that he couldn’t crack. There seemed to be no trap door there.

Hazel nodded as he explained what he had found.

“They are recording everything,” he said, incredulous.

“That’s right,” she said.

“Everything,” he shook his head. “It’s impossible.”

“Except it’s not impossible. They are doing it.”

“What for?”

“Control.”

He considered what she said.

“Blackmail? … No it’s too big for that. Too comprehensive.”

“Nothing to do with blackmail.”

He pondered. “Marketing data. To know what you’ll buy. But bigger.” He considered more. It wasn’t just for marketing, it was for everything. Data like this was collected to know what you would think. What you would do.

“What’s behind the wall?” He thought he knew, but hoped he was wrong.

“It’s a modeling system.”

He wasn’t wrong at all. He was right. If they could collect all this data, if they had the processing power to collect it, they could do more with it. If they collected and processed every email, every exchange, every transaction, if they could process all that information, they could make predictive models. They could say: if you got such and such message under certain circumstances, they would know how you would react. They could model the system, the whole system, they could model how groups would react, they could model individual behaviour, they could model every decision that you made, that anyone made. They had at almost complete Newtonian map of humanity here.

“Web 2.0,” Hazel said, “was invented to better collect the data to control everything.”

“So this is a predictive modeling system?”

“More,” she said. He waiter for her to go on: “What does a predictive model help you do?”

“You know how people will react…so you can model reactions based on certain things. You can test different scenarios.”

“Right.”

“It’s used to … what? … to make decisions?”

“Right.”

“To decide what?” he asked.

Her blue eyes were hard and unforgiving. “Everything. Almost.”

“Why didn’t you just tell me when we met?”

“Because you wouldn’t have believed me. Without proof. And we needed someone from outside the Order to break into the system. Our organization is filled with spies. There are only a handful of us who can be trusted. There are hundreds who are not spies, but …finding those hundreds among the thousands would be impossible. GLOBAL has infiltrated the Order just as we have infiltrated GLOBAL.”

She told him the history of GLOBAL. It started as a small group of higly placed Catholic clergy and European aristocrats, technocrats, a number of Sufi scholars, Mongol lords, and the King of the Yoruba peoples. A small congress of the most powerful men in the world. They met and established GLOBAL in 1215, the year the Magna Carta was written, to discuss the future of humanity. They could see what was coming, the march of history. And decided among the group of them that there needed to be an informal (but final) means of control beyond the usual systems of diplomacy, politics, war-making, peace-making and trade. GLOBAL continued to be a small group of powerful men, and the occasional woman – this was a question of control, not politics – for a few hundred years. Deals were struck, hands shaken. Often warring parties shook hands and smiled behind the scenes: these wars were sometimes necessary for reasons everyone acknowledged. But GLOBAL grew over the years. In addition to the main assembly, the decision-making body, they created a sort of control mechanism, an advisory committee, tasked with giving direction to GLOBAL while GLOBAL continued the day-to-day decision-making. The Order was born.
GLOBAL’s power and control grew over the course of the next few hundred years. They consolidated control of most universities, police forces, military. The postal systems, of course; banks, schools. They were everywhere. But with the railways, a new breed of GLOBAL delegate came: the science men, men who realized that control of world order was about more than political manoeuvering. Who realized that true control, a Newtonian kind of control, would come when they had enough information about the mass of humans, who, since the Magna Carta, had exerted more and more influence on the affairs of the world. As physics and chemistry was harnessed in the industrial age, so too the affairs of humans would be, when the experiments could be performed on a grand scale, when the data collection would be sufficient, when true classifications could be made.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Order stood behind GLOBAL and their ever-ambitious program of control. But the grandiosity of GLOBAL’s experiments made some in the Order nervous. Chief among them T. Missous, who saw danger in the proposed system. That all this control might mean rigidity. Though GLOBAL argued it was all necessary, all for the best, in the name of managing humanity’s place on the Earth. But the Order issued a secret warning: if GLOBAL’s research teams looked forward to what they could do with telephones, telegraph, Missous saw what the end game was, where communication was going, realized that eventually the project would catch everything. And he worried about that. He issued a secret Mandate to the Order, that in the case of several events in the future, the destruction of GLOBAL and its apparatus must happen.

All those events had now come to pass, and in the meantime, GLOBAL had extended its reach and power to levels unimagined in 1215, and still only surmised in 1923, when Missous issued his edict to the Order.

Trevor was lying on the ground, under the table. He did this when he had to think. In any other circumstance, he would have believed none of this. But he had seen inside the system. He had seen what they were doing. If they could collect that mass of information in one place, anything was possible.

“But why am I here doing this?” he asked. “Why me?”

“Because you can help. You can help dismantle it. But you aren’t alone. Hundreds of other hackers have been given similar tools.”

“So what, exactly, is happening now?” Trevor asked.

“The Order wants you to get into the system. To destroy it.”

“And?”

“Almost all of the other hackers are dead. You and a few others are still alive, but as far as I know, you’re the first one who has been inside.”


Categories: misc

Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013

I posted my remembrance of Arron Swartz over at LibriVox


Categories: misc

PressBooks to Go Open Source

Some news from my professional life … we’re going to release PressBooks (our online ebook/printbook/webbook publishing tool) as an open source WordPress plugin:

PressBooks Going Open Source

PressBooks is going open source. We will be releasing PressBooks as a WordPress plugin (to be used on a stand-alone WordPress install), under the open source GPL license, target release date: end of January, 2013.

See below for more info, and some answers to questions you might have. And please get in touch if you’d like to know more.

What is PressBooks?

PressBooks is a simple online book publishing tool, built on WordPress. We help publishers and authors create ebooks, typeset/print-ready PDFs (to be turned into real books!), and webbooks (which can be public or private). For publishers, we can provide not just book production toolset, but also an online catalog and website (for examples, see: The Rogue Reader and AskMen Books). [more…]


Categories: misc

Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto – Available Now!

Book: A Futurist's Manifesto Cover

More than a year ago, I pitched a book idea first to Brian O’Leary (who became the co-editor), and then to Joe Wikert at O’Reilly Media. It was indeed a “book idea” in every sense of the word(s), and I am thrilled to announce that the “final” product is available today.

“Book: A Futurist’s Manfiesto” launches

Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto, is finished, and you can now find in print, ebook, and online … at: AmazonBarnes & Noble, and of course at O’Reilly. (Coming soon: iBooks and Kobo and others).

Behind the Book

The “idea” of this book was to explore “the idea of a book.” We wanted to get away from the abstract or philosophical, and make a practical guide for the publishing world — for someone just starting a publishing enterprise today, for people in the business already, and for authors and self-publishers who want to think beyond “upload my book to Kindle.”

See the PressBooks blog for more info


Categories: misc

table

[table id=1 /]

 


Categories: misc

Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto

I co-edited this book!

Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto

A new book about the future of publishing, built on the PressBooks platform, a new way to make books.

Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto: Essays from the bleeding edge of publishing (buy ebook / read free online), a handbook for publishers of the future, has been released by O’Reilly Media. It was built on the new, simple book production platform, PressBooks.com. Edited by PressBooks founder Hugh McGuire, and long-time publishing thinker and doer, Brian O’Leary, it contains essays from leading practitioners in the trenches of books & technology, including Liza Daly, Craig Mod, and Laura Dawson.

More info

We are pleased to announce the first published book produced using the PressBooks book production platform, suitably titled: “Book: A Furturist’s Manifesto (Part 1) … Essays from the bleeding edge of publishing.” The book is published by O’Reilly Media, and edited by PressBooks founder Hugh McGuire, and long-time publishing thinker and practitioner, Brian O’Leary.

Says the book’s co-editor, Brian O’Leary: “We wanted to bring together resources that would be immediately useful to publishers and future publishers as they make decisions in their everyday life about how to approach the making of books. It’s a kind of handbook you’d want to give someone who is starting a publishing house today.” Adds Hugh McGuire, “We really wanted to get beyond the abstract, and take a look at some things that are happening right now, some real technologies and real projects that are shaping publishing. It’s meant to be practical and applicable right now, as publishers prepare themselves for the digital future.”

This release is Part 1, with Parts 2 and 3 to be available in the coming months (those who buy now will get Parts 2 and 3 for free as they come out). Essays in the book are written by a collection of thought leaders and practitioners on the “bleeding edge of publishing,” including:

* Introduction (Hugh McGuire)

* Context, not Container (Brian O’Leary)

* Distribution Everywhere (Andrew Savikas)

* What We Can Do with Books (Liza Daly)

* What We Talk About When We Talk About Metadata (Laura Dawson)

* Analyzing the Business Case for DRM (Kirk Biglione)

* Tools of the Digital Workflow (Brian O’Leary)

* Designing Books in the Digital Age (Craig Mod)

The entire book production process — authoring, editorial, copyediting, and proofreading, as well as ebook production (and typesetting and print production to follow), took place on PressBooks.com, a new publishing workflow tool, built for anyone publishing books and other long-form structured documents.

Says Joe Wikert, Publisher of O’Reilly Media: “We were really excited about testing out a new, easy-to-use platform for making books. And the subject matter is perfect: We are practicing what we preach, writing about the future of publishing while experimenting with new ways of approaching production and customer interaction.”

* You can buy the book here.

* Or read it online (for free), at book.pressbooks.com.

* You can find out more about PressBooks here.

For more information, please contact Hugh McGuire:
hugh@pressbooks.com
+1.514.464.2047


Categories: misc

I’ve Been Busy

I’ve been a bit busy lately. Sorry I haven’t posted here in a while. I think Beatrice might have something to do with it:

Beatrice
Hi. I'm Beatrice. You can call me Kiki, though. My parents do.