Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What happens if you do get Covid doing a gig job (Instacart story)

Do people with gig jobs get sick pay if it turns out the job was more dangerous (in Covid exposure risk) than they had thought, of it the COVID risk in creases with time?

Here’s a fable with a woman who worked for Instacart, shopping for others (Russell Brandon and Willian Joel for The Verge). 

.At 76, I haven’t had to ask for shopping help.  Really, I don’t like spreading my own risk.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Why does a Macbook Pro screen go black?


Another little glitch today: My Macbook (2019, with no power button) suddenly went dark today (the screen) as I tried to update an AOL password.

I’ve had it behave oddly trying to save passwords before (as with Avid) and wasn’t sure what was going on.

This Macbook you turn on merely by opening it.

I thought it might be power, but it would turn out it was 80% charged.

I drove over to the Best Buy (1 mile) and was told now you have to make an appointment even to trun it in under warranty because of Covid. (There were huge lines to get into a nearby Trader Joe’s).

I got home and this time it worked (opening it again, with power connected).  Maybe when it goes to sleep there is some kind of timer that lets it come back on after enough time but that doesn’t make sense.

Then I found the audio had been turned off, and reset it under Preferences for Sound.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tech headhunters are now recruiting contact tracers for states


At least one tech recruiter ,Ajay Rhajur, has sent me an email with very detailed specifications for a job as a contact tracer.  While there is great emphasis on people skills and ethical judgment in the job, it’s interesting that this seems to come from a technical recruiter.

It seems as though the headhunters are trying to get in on the states’ need to hire contact tracers, even though other agencies say that there are plenty of applicants.

I have started taking the John Hopskins Coursera series, and should get a certification at least.


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Johns Hopkins University offers contact tracing course, apparently for free, for anyone


Dana Brownlee explains for Forbes that Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, which also runs a major coronavirus public database and website, has a 6-hour online course for free in contact tracing. Apparently it’s free for now, and registration started today.

I will look into this for myself Monday.

The JHU link for the course is here.

The source is administered by Coursera.


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Effective contact tracing in the US will be very difficult unless you take draconian steps against presumed infections


I am seeing different opinions on whether massive contact tracing can really stop the virus and let us reopen the economy.

MIT Technology review argues (Patrick Howell O’Neill, April 28) that we need to hire 100,000 manual contact tracers and work smart.   He doesn’t fully reconcile how we will get things done when we can’t go to the extreme that China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore have gone to hunt down infected people and lock them up as if they were cancer cells.  Work smart.  I think he sees the 100,000 hires as social workers, not just as technologists gathering data at home.  A lot of older and poor people don’t have smart phones, they admit.

But Betsy McCaughey had argues in the New York Post April 22 that contact tracing won't end lockdowns.  The problem with it is that with this disease most transmission seems to happen before symptoms, so it is simply too late to work.

But in South Korea, for example, the dragnet rounded up people caught by cell phones (mandatory) known to be near people infected and separating them in facilities.  Do the phones know if walls were between the people?


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

I looked into the possibility of working as a contact tracer in Virginia; here is what I found out so far


I’ve looked into the possibility of working as a contact tracer.  This is a case of seeing if there is a situation where I could “take action” and make my own contribution rather than just investigate and write.

The major media have reported on the idea that localities and states will start mass hiring contact tracers, as work-from-home jobs calling people identified as Sars-cov-2 positive and then calling their contacts down a topological chain. Presumably they would enter the results in a database after talking from a script.  With working from home on one’s own computer and wireless or Internet connection, there would be obvious security and privacy issues.  Probably these workers would refer ambiguous situations to health department managers with more authority.  Generally, hiring for these positions are being managed by some outsourcing companies, mostly at the state level. There is some question as to how much need there is for people speaking Spanish or oriental languages, and for persons with experience in social work dealing with disadvantaged populations, rather than just for people with the skill to manage the job technically.

I emailed my own health department (Fairfax County) and was told they were not hiring these as a county, but were trying to get medical volunteers.  It appears that they are depending on the state to provide the real tracers, and the websites at the state, despite Gov. Northam’s briefings, leave one confused as to what the real needs are; there are two or more contractors handling the applications at the various counties.  

This post follows an earlier post April 24.

Embed from Facebook and WHDV. 


Sunday, May 10, 2020

Can Airbnb (and its owners) survive coronavirus?


CNBC asks whether Airbnb (and similar companies) can survive coronavirus?

I have never stayed at one because I don’t want a social media record as a customer.

Many owners got stuck by cancellations because of coronavirus, and it became complicated.  (I lost about $3000, depending on how you do the accounting, on a big February cancellation too early to be covered.  Now the promoters of the event know I was right.)

I hadn’t realized how many people own multiple properties and expect to make a living on rentals.  That’s also common in Europe.

Update: May 11

Wall Street Journal (Tripp Mickle et al) has an article "A Bargain with the Devil --Bill Comes Due for Overextended Airbnb Hosts", who have borrowed money to set up their properties, long before Covid happened.  


Many owners have made up some ground by renting to health care workers in hard hit areas.