UK smart phones display feature update for contract tracing – but its confusing as its not actual contact tracing

Update: The UK government terminated its contact tracing app trial, on going since the beginning of May and will now develop a new contact tracing app based on the Google/Apple Bluetooth tech.

More confusion and incoherent messaging in the public health domain:

A Covid-19 tracing software tool has appeared in the settings of both Android phones and iPhones as part of an update of their operating systems.

….

In the UK there is currently no available contact-tracing app.

The update has caused some confusion, with people querying the new addition to their handsets on social media.

Source: Coronavirus: New Covid-19 tracing tool appears on smartphones – BBC News

Sounds like the UK is starting over. Their original app used a central cloud-database and now they will develop an app based on the Bluetooth, no-cloud storage model.

Australia’s Bluetooth-based contact tracing app deemed largely irrelevant

Says they’ve identified a total of … one person:

The PM told Australians in April the contact tracing app was key to getting back to normal but just one person has been identified using its data

Source: How did the Covidsafe app go from being vital to almost irrelevant? | World news | The Guardian

Remember, Singapore pulled their Bluetooth app. Norway used both Bluetooth and GPS and pulled their app for EU privacy problems. The UK’s been testing their Bluetooth app on the Isle of Wight – was supposed to have gone nationwide more than a month ago but since then, things have gone quiet.

EV Charging issues

If you live in California, you can pretty much charge any EV, nearly anywhere. About 1/3d of all EV charging stations in the U.S. – are in California.

This is not the case, though, in other parts of the country. The other 49 states have only 2/3ds of all available charging stations in the country!

I have been researching EVs since last fall. One EV I like uses the J-1772 standard plug for Level 2 charging (up to about 7 kwh or may be 25 miles per hour of charging) and the CCS/SAE (or Combo) standard for up to 50 kwh charging (up to 90 miles in 30 minutes of charging).

Looking around, I discovered in my area, CCS/SAE chargers do not exist. In fact, there are none at all in my town. There are 4 chargers at one location in the next town, 20 miles to the south, and 1 about 35 miles to the north.

If I were to head south from my house, the next fast charging station is about 230 miles down the road – which may or may not be do-able due to crossing mountains. The alternative is to stop for quite a bit at Level 2 charger. Do-able, but not a quick trip.

Continue reading EV Charging issues

T-Mobile explains what went wrong this week

Good explanation: Update on T-Mobile Network Issues | T-Mobile Newsroom

For reasons unknown, utilities, communications and airlines are always incredibly vague when problems occur and mostly say “We had problems. Top people are working on it.”

T-Mobile initially took that approach too with this week’s nationwide network outage, cutting off phone service for up to 86 million people. But they appear to have listened to customers who sought a more complete explanation.

Their explanation (see link) concurs with a network manager who said a cut fiber line in the south had caused a rerouting of data on to other links, overwhelming them and ultimately crashing the system. Basically, it led to an IP data traffic storm that took down the network.

T-Mobile’s nationwide outage blamed on “5G rollout” upgrades

The network outage was related to the company’s 5G rollout, Deutsche Telekom AG Chief Executive Officer Tim Hoettges said in a press conference.

Source: T-Mobile outage, now resolved, related to 5G rollout – HoustonChronicle.com

Update: T-Mobile itself says a fiber line went down and led to an IP traffic storm as data flowed onto what were supposed to be redundant circuits. It’s possible there was a 5G issue in this too, but that is not clear.

Six former eBay senior managers harassed a couple who ran a news site critical of eBay, now charged with Federal crimes.

These were very high level – executive level – staff who undertook a vicious harassment campaign:

Ex-execs arrested for alleged harassment of couple who run e-commerce news site.

Source: eBay execs sent roaches and “bloody pig mask” to harass journalists, feds say | Ars Technica

Wow. What sort of internal corporate culture leads to this type of behavior? eBay says all six were fired last fall and the CEO of eBay resigned at the time.

7 in 10 Americans won’t use contact-tracing apps

No surprise: More than 7 in 10 Americans won’t use contact-tracing apps, data shows | Ars Technica

With 30% agreeing to install such apps today, that means just 9% of potential contacts could be detected.

The apps have a host of real problems:

  • insufficient users to be useful. At 50% adoption, we can detect only 25% of potential contacts.
  • unreliable signal strength-based distance determination, which fails in radio signal multi-path situations
  • unable to detect when a barrier separates contacts. You sit outside at Starbucks and someone sits inside at a table. The inside person later tests positive for Covid-19. You receive a message. But they give you no indication where or when the contact occurred – so you have to go into quarantine for 14-days, delivering no benefit to anyone. This error can occur in buildings (through walls) or even between cars stopped at traffic signals or heavy traffic.
  • unable to detect “across time” contacts. Person sits on bus, coughs, gets up, exits bus, new passenger sits in coughed on seat. These apps cannot detect this. Person sits at Starbucks tables, coughs, gets up and leaves, next person sits at contaminated table. None of these parties will be in Bluetooth contact and the apps will miss these contacts.

Bluetooth-based apps are not going to be effective. Singapore pulled the plug on their app due to insufficient users. The UK has been testing a Bluetooth app that was to have rolled out nationwide in mid-May. It’s still in testing and public information about the app has gone silent; it has not been rolled out yet. Norway has an app that uses both Bluetooth and GPS data, and used a central cloud database. This app  was just ruled as violating privacy laws and has been pulled. Public health enthusiasts thought it was okay to violate privacy laws because laws do not matter to public health enthusiasts.

  • I do not plan to install a tracing app on my phone.
  • I do plan to be vaccinated as soon as vaccines are available.
  • I was sick with Covid-19-like symptoms during almost all of March. Antigen tests were not available to normal people, only those who were already hospitalized with pneumonia and to the elite (like the Governor and her husband). My doctor suggested getting an anti-body test (end of May) but I declined as the accuracy is not sufficient (when the real world incidence is very low, the number of false positives will exceed true positives), and knowing if I was sick is not, at this time, actionable information.

Plate tectonics vs. erosion—what sets the height of a mountain range? | Ars Technica

Cool stuff: Plate tectonics vs. erosion—what sets the height of a mountain range? | Ars Technica

And the answer is: mostly plate tectonics, speed of movement, nature of the materials involved.  Erosion (and hence climate) play a tiny role but not much

This is why I read ArsTechnica.com and why you should too. Their news reports are written by people actually trained in their field, in this case, by a hydrogeologist. Their reports on public health are written by actual microbiologists and molecular biologists.

Continue reading Plate tectonics vs. erosion—what sets the height of a mountain range? | Ars Technica

Norwegian Institute of Public Health cancels their smart phone tracing app due to privacy issues

One of the first national coronavirus contacts tracing apps to be launched in Europe is being suspended in Norway after the country’s data protection authority raised concerns that the software, called ‘Smittestopp’, poses a disproportionate threat to user privacy — including by continuously uploading people’s location.

Source: Norway pulls its coronavirus contacts tracing app after privacy watchdog’s warning | TechCrunch

It had been downloaded by 16% of the population over the age of 16. That means it could detect .16 x .16 or about 2% of potential contacts. It appears their app was based on location data, centrally stored, plus used the ineffective Bluetooth RSSI method of detecting potential contacts.

It appears that public health enthusiasts had used the “laws don’t matter in a pandemic excuse” to justify violation of EU privacy laws.