Here is an interesting, if somber tracking of COVID-19.
Home with the kids for the next two weeks. They get an early spring break, then start online learning next week. Picked up their books from school yesterday. All meetings more than 10 people are strongly discouraged. Many restaurants are only doing take out orders, hotels are nearly empty. Yet flights from South Korea, Japan continue. Go figure. Manila is on lockdown. My employees there are all at home – some in the provinces outside Manila. Trying my best to work from home. Lots of Zoom and GoToMeetings right now. Our VPN is terribly slow – probably because so many people are on it right now. It is painfully slow just trying to connect and get some files. I was trying to use RDP yesterday, and there was about a 10 second delay in the response time.
Yesterday, the first cases of COVID-19 were reported on Guam late in the afternoon. Three cases at GMH. About ten minutes later, my son’s soccer league was suspended. This morning school is suspended until further notice, UOG is closed, the hospitals are not letting visitors in, and GovGuam has shut down all non-essential services for two weeks. On Saturday, the governor declared a health emergency and cancelled all events with 100+ people. Today that number is down to 50. And we are making up our plan forward at work right now. I am designating critical employees and probably sending the rest home for two weeks.
Concerns about the rapidly exanding Coronavirus has prompted organizers in Hawaii to postpone the 13th Festival of the Pacific Arts, or FestPac. Guam hosted the 12th FestPac in 2016, it was an amazing opportunity. Here on Guam, news broke today that the United Airlines Guam Marathon, set for April 15, is postponed until September. Lots of speculation about the Olympics being postponed as well. I have to say that the tourist spots on Guam are a ghost town right now. Arrivals are down by 33% from what I heard.
I got some sad news today; the SETI@Home project is coming to an end on March 31. This is the message I found in my BOINC Manager software this week:
SETI@home: SETI@home hibernationWell that’s a bummer. I started participating in SETI@Home back in 1999, and I have been running the software on every computer I’ve had since. Well almost: In 2005 SETI@Home moved to a new architecture called BOINC, and I was hesitant to sign up for a few years. Instead I doubled down on another distributed computing project I joined called Folding@Home; I felt bad that I could be using my computer’s spare cycles to work on the cure for cancer instead of looking for little green men. The idea of doing all this distributed work around the world on a common goal really interested me, both intellectually and technically. I actually got a bit obsessed with my ranking amongst all the users. Seems like a lot of other people did too... Around 2008, I started reading about another distributed computing project, something called BitCoin. The idea was to distribute the ledger amongst all the participants, and reward their efforts in computing the transaction with digital BitCoins. I was really intrigued by the idea, but I didn’t want to sacrifice my standings in SETI@Home and Folding@Home rankings, especially for something that had absolutely no value at the time. Man, I am still beating myself up for that decision. I actually started up with another BOINC based project a couple months ago, Einstein@Home, but I am not as enthused about that project. Primarily because Einstein@Home really bogs down my computer. I signed up for ClimatePrediction.net as well, but they seem to be a mothballed project like SETI@Home will soon be. So I guess I will just be folding proteins now full time instead of splitting between two projects. Till then I can admire my stats page for SETI@Home and Folding@Home.
On March 31, the volunteer computing part of SETI@home will stop distributing work and will go into hibernation. We’re doing this for two reasons: 1) Scientifically, we’re at the point of diminishing returns; basically, we’ve analyzed all the data we need for now. 2) It’s a lot of work for us to manage the distributed processing of data. We need to focus on completing the back-end analysis of the results we already have, and writing this up in a scientific journal paper. However, SETI@home is not disappearing. The web site and the message boards will continue to operate. We hope that other UC Berkeley astronomers will find uses for the huge computing capabilities of SETI@home for SETI or related areas like cosmology and pulsar research. If this happens, SETI@home will start distributing work again. We’ll keep you posted about this. If you’re currently running SETI@home on your computer, we encourage you to attach to other BOINC-based projects as well. Or use Science United and sign up to do astronomy. You can stay attached to SETI@home, of course, but you won’t get any jobs until we find new applications. We’re extremely grateful to all of our volunteers for supporting us in many ways during the past 20 years. Without you there would be no SETI@home. We’re excited to finish up our original science project, and we look forward to what comes next.