Rodney Gedda's piece of the Web

August 31, 2020
by Rodney Gedda

As the game of Whac-A-Mole continues, time will tell if we need stronger countermeasures

Okay, so it’s been exactly one month since my call to #lockdownNSWnow. Let’s go over what’s changed, what risks remain and the missed opportunity.

First, a big shout out to all the staff at NSW Health who are doing a great job testing and contact tracing. Testing is one of the best weapons in the arsenal and let me make it quite clear it should continue on even after any strategic lockdowns.

Let’s look at the achievements of the past month:

  • We’ve so far avoided large scale community transmission
  • Masks are now well accepted in the community
  • The Victoria border closure has been upheld, stopping any further outbreaks
  • Moderate to high rates of testing have, on some days, uncovered only a few cases

NSW has “held the line” and kept transmissions under control without a lockdown, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

Risks remain

On the flip side, since we didn’t lock down at the first sniff of community transmission, NSW continues to carry a risk of a spike in community transmissions, which can then snowball in the current environment.

To illustrate how quickly the situation can deteriorate, see the number of community transmissions in Victoria before the curve shot up.

Victoria had days with zero community transmissions immediately before it’s rapid spike.

Within two weeks of recording some days with zero community transmissions Victoria was in the midst of an uncontrolled outbreak.

Notice how Victoria did not have a sustained period WITHOUT many days of zero community transmissions during a time when restrictions where being eased. Perhaps the authorities need to pay closer attention to this type of trend?

This is what NSW’s pattern looks like:

NSW had a pause in community transmission before this outbreak.

Granted, we’re more aware of the dangers than Victoria appeared to be at the time of its large scale outbreak, but that doesn’t mean we’re not carrying a number of risks:

  • The virus has been seeded over a lot of different parts of the Sydney region. The geographic dispersion is wide.
  • Quite a few cases have been found in schools and this farce of random school closures doesn’t appear to be curtailing it.
  • It only takes one spreading event to lift case numbers drastically
  • While the testing rates are okay, they often don’t tell the full story. People are much more inclined (and being directed to) to get tested only if they have symptoms. This is another game of catch-up and misses the asymptomatic carriers. Some estimates put the true number of cases to be anywhere between 5-10 times the positive infection counts.
  • Without a lockdown there will be many more cases circulating in the community waiting to flare up.

Opportunity knocks (and locks)

As we saw over the past month, most of the outbreaks were linked to gatherings that wouldn’t have happened during a lockdown.

If NSW had a four week lockdown today would be the final day of it. We would have:

  • Eliminated community transmission
  • Allowed contact tracers to catch up
  • Restored business confidence
  • Booked in a hell of a lot of domestic NSW tourism for the summer
  • Re-opened the border with Queensland
  • Possibly opened the borders with other states as well (they are not too keen)

But we didn’t so we’ll just have to wait and see what September holds. Again, I hope that I’m wrong and we can bring it under control.

Time will tell if it’s possible to win at Whac-A-Mole.

August 11, 2020
by Rodney Gedda

Great minds think alike #lockdownNSWnow

Then again fools rarely differ. It’s good to know you’re not alone in this world, and when a professor shares your sentiment your day only gets better.

A week after my last post about locking down NSW, a Sydney Morning Herald report included this commentary…

Infectious diseases physician and professor at the Kirby Institute UNSW, Greg Dore, said the state government had the capacity to modify the community’s behaviour by closing high risk venues.

“A four-week closure of pubs, clubs, and restaurants, through to early spring, would be economically more advantageous than a longer closure due to rising infections, that could extend until summer,” Professor Dore said.

Moreover, AMA NSW president Dr Danielle McMullen agreed.

As we see in today’s news:

  • A school is the centre of a latest cluster
  • And, more disturbingly, two new cases were found in Batemans Bay – a whole 28 days after the last confirmed case.

So, back to what does matter – evidence. Simply locking down pubs and clubs won’t be enough to stop clusters forming, and a full month is needed to curtail latent transmission chains as we see in Batemans Bay.

Playing a game of “wait and see” with Coronavirus is akin to playing a game of “wait and watch the horse bolt”.

Again, I really do hope that I’m wrong, but when faced with a choice of lockdown or “wait and see” I choose lockdown.

July 31, 2020
by Rodney Gedda

A stitch in time: what if NSW was locked down NOW?

And what if Australia wasn’t run by duck heads who care more about stimulus packages than problem solving?

Note the date of this post – July 31, 2020. I want you to compare it to what’s happening on August 31, 2020.

Today NSW has been bubbling at around 10-15 corona virus infections per day for about three weeks with a total of around 200 active cases.

I sincerely hope it’s zero in a month’s time I really do, but the situation might also be very different. If you had a choice of taking action or playing wait and see with people’s lives AND the economy, which option would you take?

Now let me tell you what my choice would be. If I was in charge I would – from midnight tonight – close all:

  • Pubs
  • Clubs
  • Schools (exemptions apply)
  • Universities
  • TAFE colleges
  • Places of worship (I’m sure a choice of deity wouldn’t mind if it was worshiped from home)
  • Non-essential business
  • Malls (except for essential shops)
  • Food courts
  • Restaurants (take away or delivery only)
  • Cafes
  • Gyms
  • Community Sports
  • Weddings
  • Funerals
  • Any type of business where people gather (permits apply)
  • Access to hospitals (permits apply)
  • Access to nursing homes (permits apply)
  • Access to prisons etc (permits apply)
  • Social gatherings in homes
  • Social gatherings in public

For one month. The whole month of August, give or take a few days for notice. Read: A FEW DAYS, not weeks or months it needs to be done NOW!

Doing this NOW, for one month only, could mean the difference between controlling the fresh outbreak or seeing the horse bolt up the bell curve.

From September we could then reopen with more confidence, keep up with social distancing, continue high rates of testing, and return to the state we were in before the outbreak spilled over the border.

We’ll just have to wait and see where we end up in a month’s time. Who knows, the suppression “strategy” might yield the wrong outcome of its possible results.

Let me make it quite clear. I’m not writing this post to try and be “right” or to say “I told you so”. I’m saying this is exactly what I would do given the unfolding situation based on the evidence at hand.

There’s and old saying: it’s better to be safe than sorry. And today is no better time to practice that preach.

If I seem polemic that’s probably because I am. The way the Australian authorities have handled this crisis has made me so annoyed and frustrated I could eat gravel.

More on that later, for now I’ll mark today’s date with an air of tension.

June 15, 2020
by Rodney Gedda

New Android email client: FairEmail

I found while searching for an alternative to the stalwart K9 Mail on the F-Droid store.

My first impressions are very favorable. It’s nice and easy to use and packed with features.

For example, I couldn’t get folders to display properly with K9 and FairEmail does it with ease.

It’s open source but I went ahead and donated to the developer to get access to the pro version.

I think it might be my new default mail client.

May 21, 2020
by Rodney Gedda

KDE Connect call notifications hang around

KDE Connect is awesome!

One of the most useful features is a functional replacement to “click to call” on Web sites. With KDE Connect, when you connect your Android device to your desktop, you can send a phone number on a Web site and instantly tap to call.

Google Chrome will do a similar thing, but you have to be running Chrome on both devices.

Phone notifications will display on the desktop as well. One thing I’ve noticed is the desktop notifications for an in-bound call don’t time out, but stick around.

KDE Connect (desktop) incoming call notifications.

Might be a bug, will have to ask Nate :-).

January 17, 2020
by Rodney Gedda

Thunderbird’s profile manager

If you experience the Thunderbird or packaging bug where after an update your mail account no longer appears, you should be able to recover it with the profile manager.

In a terminal:

# thunderbird --profilemanager

and you will be presented with all the profiles Thunderbird has created when first run.

Select your one (probably the first) and then click “Start Thunderbird”.

You should be back in business. You can remove redundant profiles – just be careful!

December 31, 2019
by Rodney Gedda

Happy holidays 2019

All the best for the holiday season and I hope 2020 is a good one.

Of course, this season has been a difficult one with the drought and bushfires. Our thoughts are with all those affected.

Earlier this month we made a donation of a hamper with mostly artisan produce to a farming family in North western NSW.

Their gratitude was pragmatic, yet heartwarming – it will rain one day, but in the meantime it’s good to know people are thinking about you.

Let’s hope 2020 breaks the vicious dry cycle.

September 3, 2019
by Rodney Gedda

Thunderbirds are gone

Warning to all you Thunderbird lovers out there.

Upon upgrading to the latest major release (68.0) all my email accounts were summarily trashed.

The latest major release of Thunderbird

Sure, it’s recommended that you backup your profile before upgrading, but when it’s part of routine package updates it can catch one off guard, as it did me.

A lesson backup your profile routinely. Good thing I needed to do some account housekeeping anyway!

June 10, 2019
by Rodney Gedda

Well done brilliant Barty

As a former budding tennis player it’s always great to see an Aussie win a grand slam tournament.

Ash Barty nailed the 2019 French Open – well done and then some!

Ashleigh Barty (AUS) (9633237520)

It has only been 46 years since Australian Margaret Court won the French Open, so it was good to see the drought broken.

Ash is a great role model for not only women players, but Australian Aboriginal players too.

Let’s hope she does well at Wimbledon.

March 31, 2019
by Rodney Gedda
1 Comment

App-aling pricing

A family member recently downloaded the Drum Pad Machine Pro app from the Apple App Store with a price tag of around $11 per week.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the yearly subscription cost wasn’t about 90% cheaper at around $65.

Once you commit to $550-odd per year the subscription auto renews weekly. Would it be nice to shout out HEY you have another option that is much cheaper?

I quickly cancelled the weekly sub, tried to login and use it with the few days I had left, and all I got was another paywall demanding a new subscription.

Isn’t it true the best scams in life are perfectly legal.