The “No Code” applications phenomena

Software development tools have enabled more people, with less training, to develop software solutions.

Few topics garner cheers and groans quite as quickly as the no-code software explosion.

While investors seem uniformly bullish on toolsets that streamline and automate processes that once required a decent amount of technical know-how, not everyone seems to think that the product class is much of a new phenomenon.

Source: Five VCs discuss how no-code is going horizontal across the world’s industries | TechCrunch

When I started in software and computer engineering we took digital electronics design classes. We learned how hardware works and learned to program in machine and assembly language (and I did some large projects in assembly language). But later on, assembly language was replaced with the easier to use C programming language.

Applications developers soon had access to even simpler BASIC, and a bit later, Visual Basic, to create solutions for customers. Then a long came Excel with the ability to create complex worksheets and data analysis – and its own embedded Visual Basic for Applications, enabling non-programmers to begin programming.

In the 1990s we began to see visual programming environments and eventually “drag and drop” programming models.

Today, we can develop Android apps using MIT App Inventor – which makes app development far simpler than using the Android SDK!

This trend will continue – to the point that nearly everyone is able to be an “app developer”.

What if public health disease mitigation does not work or does not work well?

We have social distancing, physical distancing, six foot spacing, face masks, schools closed and more.

But what if these public health measures do not work or do not work well?

Many public health measures seem “intuitively obvious” but that does not mean they work in the real world, with real people.

A journal paper, co-authored by 4 epidemiologists, asked this question in 2006 – and claims many of the public health measures we are using today did not work well, or did not work at all, or have no evidence to support their use.

Who would write such a journal article? One of the co-authors is Donald Henderson, the doctor credited with eradicating smallpox from planet Earth.

Continue reading What if public health disease mitigation does not work or does not work well?

Nature Conservancy: “California: Let’s Stop Making Wildfire History”

Some of the factors that shape the frequency and severity of wildfire in California, like drought, record high temperatures and strong winds are beyond our control and in many cases, exacerbated by a changing climate. Other factors, such as how we manage our fire-adapted conifer forests, where we build homes and how we prepare and protect our communities are within our control.

Source: The Nature Conservancy – California: Let’s Stop Making Wildfire History

Media and social media have been quick to blame California’s fires (including recent years and the present) on climate change. Social media instapundits proclaim that “only if we had done X on climate change” this would not have happened. Or if “Politician X was not in office” we would have solved climate change and this would have prevented the fires.

But that makes no sense – what could have been done on climate change, last year, or five years ago or ten years ago or even 20 years ago that would have effected forest fires this year? If we magically ended all fossil fuel usage 20 years ago, the forest fire risk this year would have been exactly the same.

While dealing with climate is an issue, it would have done nothing vis a vis current fires. Nor will spending trillions on climate change in the next 10 or 20 years resolve California’s fire problems – since spending trillions diverts enormous sums to climate change, it  diverts money away from measures that would reduce California fire risk now.

We need to  control what we can control – now. And that is what this Nature Conservancy report says.

Update: More here on how building codes evolved to create safer structures in earthquake prone areas, whereas we have not evolved building codes to make safer fire proof structures in fire prone areas. Fire is a natural part of the California ecosystem – and now, millions of people are living within areas that are dependent on fire.

Continue reading Nature Conservancy: “California: Let’s Stop Making Wildfire History”

Hypothesis, not conclusion: “In the US, switching to EVs would save lives and be worth billions”

With a confidence interval between zero and infinity:

A team led by Northwestern’s Daniel Peters decided to have a particularly detailed look at this issue, examining several scenarios of grid generation and EV adoption in the US. The results show that even with today’s grid, switching to EVs produces significant benefits.

The researchers used simulated hourly air pollution data from vehicles around the country, along with emissions data for power plants. This went into a model of weather over the course of a year (2014, as it happens), which also simulated important chemical reactions and natural emissions of compounds that interact with pollutants. The resulting air quality simulations were applied to an EPA population health model to show the expected impact on human health.

Source: In the US, switching to EVs would save lives and be worth billions | Ars Technica

And this was pushed through climate models afterwards.

No matter how you slice it, when your model is based on assumptions, simulated values, multiple models, all applied on top of one another, you have created an interesting video game simulation.

Perhaps you can use it to produce multiple hypotheses. But one thing you cannot do – in any way, shape or form – is produce a useful forecast of anything. Claiming this pile of models produces definitive conclusions is scientific fraud.

Continue reading Hypothesis, not conclusion: “In the US, switching to EVs would save lives and be worth billions”

Renewable energy confronts reality in California

Millions of homes in California are enduring rolling black outs. The power system operator acknowledged that as demand spiked, due to high temperatures and AC demand – they lost 1 gigawatt of wind energy and nearly 1/2 gigawatt of a conventional power plant.

Peak energy use occurs late in the day – when solar power production is in decline relative to peak demand. Related – the internal resistance of solar panels goes up in high temperatures. From personal experience, I lose up to 10% of potential solar array power production during extreme heat events versus “normal” temperatures.

Because solar and wind cannot be “revved” up on demand, like conventional power plants, the utilities have to reduce demand by shutting off power to customers.

This is a well known engineering problem –  one that California  pretends does not exist. This week reality and physics intervened and they discovered that it does actually exist. Yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged that California’s heavy reliance on renewable energy is a significant factor in their current rolling shutdowns.

Continue reading Renewable energy confronts reality in California

Interesting observations about the current pandemic, progression and mitigation strategies

I would not have chosen the title “Lockdown Lunacy” but this long blog post conveys that the virus does what viruses do and the data do not support most of the mitigation steps that were undertaken…

“Government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of COVID-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.”

Source: LOCKDOWN LUNACY 3.0: It’s over — j.b. handley blog

I will soon post links to a 2006 paper written by eminent epidemiologists, including co-author Dr. Donald Henderson, credited with eradicating small pox from the planet. In their paper they noted, based on real world experience of pandemics that lock downs accomplished little and are not sustainable.

They noted that in a half century of trying, travel restrictions have never worked (look at New Zealand and Hawaii today). They note there is no scientific support for many things we do, that seem intuitive – for example, they note there is no scientific evidence that hand washing or face masks when used by the general community, have any effect on the spread of an infectious disease. (Many people confuse hypotheses and computer models with real world confirmation – the former prove nothing – the hypothesis is answered with measured outcome data that determines if the “treatment” works in real world or not. For many reasons, what works in “theory” may not work in the real world.)

Continue reading Interesting observations about the current pandemic, progression and mitigation strategies

I’m so old, I remember when Florida, Texas, Arizona and Sweden were in the news

What I have learned in watching news reporting on Covid-19:

  • Places that do well tend to eventually do badly . The time dimension is an important component in a pandemic, frequently ignored
  • Places that do really badly receive saturation coverage with much gloom and doom reporting. When their situations resolve, news coverage – including the good news that their situation is resolved, vanishes.
  • UPDATE: New Zealand, which did everything right and was at zero cases, has surged from 0 to 69 in the past 4 days. S. Korea is re-establishing social distancing mandates after a rash of new cases. Hawaii, which has had a mandatory face mask requirement since April 17th, interisland travel restrictions including quarantines, loss of 90% of travel to the island and quarantines/testing of all arrivals, and was doing so well – now, as of mid-August HI has the highest R-0 value of any state and is seeing a surge in hospitalizations.

I’m so old, I remember when Florida, Texas and Arizona were spiraling out of control and each day brought scary news headlines. Now that the situation has reversed, good news stories have apparently been banished from the news.

Florida 8-15-2020

Texas 8-15-2020

From Texas Tribune

Continue reading I’m so old, I remember when Florida, Texas, Arizona and Sweden were in the news

Spread of Covid-19 in Hawaii, worse than all other states

Update Sep 3, 2020:

Oahu established a new 14 day lock down effective August 27th. Their Department of Public Health asked for a 28-day lock down. Remember, this is the state that did everything right, with hard nosed travel restrictions, quarantines, arrests of those violating quarantine, and mandatory face masks since April. None of that appears to have worked.

There are now over 5,000 active cases in Hawaii.

Update August 22, 2020:

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The  Department of Health recorded 284 coronavirus cases on Saturday, Aug. 22, and the state’s lieutenant governor said that the new restrictions haven’t curved the spread as much as he’d hope for.

There are now 4,202 active cases in Hawaii and Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green said he doesn’t anticipate numbers to decrease any time soon.

COVID-19 cases continue to soar, restrictions likely to level up

Hawaii Did Everything “Right” 

Hawaii has had a mandatory face mask order in effect since April 17th. and travel restrictions and social isolation and arrested people for violating quarantine orders.

Apparently it did not work, just as in California where face masks have not worked. We need to understand why before randomly doing the same thing over and over again.

Hawaii tried to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Now, it faces a dire situation

Source: Coronavirus: Hawaii spreading COVID-19 more than any other state – Deseret News

Hawaii is planning for new restrictions and is unlikely to re-open the state to tourists (tourism is now effectively closed).

The evidence – and past published research papers – indicate that viral outbreaks do what viral outbreaks do. All of the public health mitigation measures slow the progress – a bit – but do not prevent or end the pandemic. Places that were doing really good eventually do really badly – until herd immunity is reached, or a vaccine is available, or the virus mutates to a less dangerous form.

All these restrictions are largely ineffective – or in the case of strict lockdowns, are not sustainable. Top epidemiologists have said that in the past. But for some reason, they – and everyone else – think “it’s different this time”. 

Continue reading Spread of Covid-19 in Hawaii, worse than all other states

Bloomberg argues we must involuntarily detain those ordered to quarantine in “Quarantine centers” for weeks

About 1/3d of people told to quarantine, don’t – so next up is arresting them and forcing them in to quarantine detention centers for weeks.

Flare-ups from Australia to Japan show the world hasn’t learned an early lesson from the coronavirus crisis: to stop the spread, those with mild or symptom-free coronavirus infections must be forced to isolate, both from their communities and family.

Source: Forced Isolation May Be the Only Way to Stop Resurgence of Virus

Just imagine government troops removing children from homes and placing them in quarantine (per the story this has occurred in other countries). That is what Bloomberg is advocating (see the link).

That will surely encourage the asymptomatic to get tested – not.

All pandemics eventually end – but not all have a known reason for ending. They generally ended due to:

Continue reading Bloomberg argues we must involuntarily detain those ordered to quarantine in “Quarantine centers” for weeks

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