Where Kinsa says it’s getting hot

Here is the current US map with green showing the highest percentage of feverish people in March and April, blue showing May, and red showing June so far, to the 8th.

Notice California (e.g. Alameda County)

and Florida (e.g. Pasco County)

seem to be heating up in May/June (red and blue – orange), and western Utah (e.g. Beaver County)

has come alive in the last, red week – June, that is. I wonder if anything is going on in these places.

By way of contrast, consider most of Texas (e.g. Nolan County)

which was particularly feverish (compared to other places in the US) only in May. That drop-off in Nolan County, Texas is peculiar, too. Neighboring counties have a similar, but not so dramatic drop-off. Probably some peculiarity of data processing. … Or is it? Dum, dum, dum, dummm. Suspense!

Seeing Kinsa thermometer time-period fever profile similarities.

This Corona Virus thing is, ignoring dead people, a lot of fun.

Why?

Well, because it’s so interesting. The progression of the disease is interesting, the reactions to the disease are interesting, and speculations about the post-virus future are interesting.

One interesting thing is the quantity of blather from the babble-world. Where are exceptions to misstatements, lies, confusion, and overall silliness?

One exception seems to be a company named Kinsa. They sell an Internet connected fever thermometer. $30 and $50. Currently sold out.

But, talk about perfect timing: Kinsa has data for much of the US showing when people were, and are, running fevers. Their data correlates pretty closely to flu season.

So, come Covid19, they moved fast and created https://healthweather.us. This web page shows in color and graphically which counties in the US have been affected by fevers and when, post February 16th.

The good, the bad, the ugly:

The Good: A couple minutes in the Firefox Web Developer says the data underneath the web page is remarkably clean and accessible. (OK, they’ve made breaking changes to the data a couple times in the last few days, but life is tough. Boo. Hoo.)

The Bad: Starting Feb 16? Why not Nov 1, 2019? I know why. But why?

The Ugly: Sorry, Tuco. You’re written out of this script. It’s a pretty web page.

Can the web page and data reveal outbreaks of fever in near real time? Kinsa sure hopes so.

As it turns out, the famously big US Covid19 outbreak (NY city) does show up in Kinsa’s data.

But, it remains to be seen what happens over the next few weeks as people wander out of stay-at-home. Thermometers don’t inherently pay attention to political spin, and don’t inherently serve to confuse. So, I’m rooting for Kinsa.

Now, this is all very nice, but what does it lead to?

Well, look at the orange/red line in the NY County image above. Notice its shape – its profile. Call that shape the “fever profile”.

I was clicking around some counties on the web page and noticed an odd thing: Most counties had a fever profile from February to May that looked like neighboring counties. Like, say, county A had a spike of fevers around March 17th, and so did bordering counties B and C. Not counties two states over, though.

Fair enough.

But, sometimes there seemed to be sharp transitions between one county and the next with respect to their curves. Maybe my imagination. Maybe not.

I wanted to see the whole country’s county-time fever profile similarities at a glance. If two counties had a similar fever profile/curve from February through today, the two counties should look similar in a picture. And if their fever profiles were different, they should look different.

So, I whipped up a program to color counties based on the total fever-percentage-of-people numbers in 3 bands of time. E.g. Feb 16 to the end of February. The first half of March. And the third band for mid-March to the present. Then the larger the totals a county has in fever percentages in each band, the brighter a color is. The first band is red. The second, green. And the last, blue.

And, here is a picture of the US with counties colored based on fever percentage profiles as of today:

It looks like if you really didn’t want a fever, you should have been in a dark area – Arizona, New Mexico, or the Knoxville Tennessee area. That latter area is quite the surprise.

And if you like Covid19, you wanted to be in the bright blue (mid-March and later) Florida or the New York City areas. Don’t forget to be old!

If you want the flu (in red February), go north-central (ND, WI, MN, northern MI, … or … Canada?).

If you do like your body hot, go to where the colors are bright: downstate Illinois, Indiana, western Kentucky, and Missouri. Maybe Ohio. Or maybe California! Though in California a hot body could be taken two ways.

Here is a picture based on the fever percentages minus what Kinsa expected them to be given historical trends:

Bright New York is pretty clearly where the unusual fever has been. And I love the West Virginia hole in the picture. Examining the (Fever Expected) profile for a county there:

shows they dodged the flu.

Another bright spot I didn’t expect was downstate Illinois. The bright purple says they probably had a bit more flu and Covid19 than Kinsa‘s expectations. Or something.

You want movies? You got ’em:

Percentages of people running a fever stepping “today” from February through May:

Fever percentages minus what Kinsa expected:

All in all, it’s been a fun program to write. It shows the fever profile of the county your mouse hovers over so you can quickly see the profiles of lots of counties in a geographical area. I’ve found that handy and kinda informative.

 

I learned something about keyboards

As it turns out, the empty space between the Alt and Ctrl keys seems to be there for a reason:

The side of the hand needs room here.

On a real keyboard, one with real key travel, if you don’t put your hands on some kind of padding, the meaty side of your right hand will fit in this space!

I learned this when, on a whim and with only one usable keyboard left (a sad Model M) I picked up a little 82-key AJazz AK33 board. This board sports the modern world’s unserious attempt at approximating buckling keys – Cherry Blue-esquers. But, hey, it’s small. Or something. And lighted. And has some key roll-over.

Ajazz AK33 with no slot for the right hand to fit in to.

But it didn’t work for me. Turns out, my right hand would push the left arrow key at random – usually when hitting a burst of keys.

Luck was good, though. I got one of my ~30 year old NMB buckling spring boards working again. They aren’t the best keyboard ever made (i.e. an IBM AT board), but they are up there.

Culture Change on Display

Culture-tied snippets from old media are fun and informative.

Consider the ad in which “nine out of ten doctors prefer Camels.”

Most old movies are filled with such oddities from customs of the day.

For real fun, look for pairs of things that only make sense paired together in today’s culture. Tomorrow, culture will change. But laugh today.

That all said, I give you a recent screen capture from the south east corner of an Ars Technica page:

Science on display

A New Heartbeat Picture

Over the last few months I’ve had reason to watch my heartbeat using information from a CMS-50D Pulse Oxi device. When all is normal, a display from a web app I’ve written to show the Pulse Oxi’s output shows something like this:

Normal heartbeat 12/29/2017 13:51:55

All well and good.

But, currently, if I put my heart under a bit of load, it doesn’t just speed up as it should. Instead, it does something like this:

Loaded heartbeat 12/29/2017 13:46:18

OK. What is “this”?

“This” is the pattern of 1 over-sized beat followed by 3 to 5 fast, weak beats followed by a delay of a beat of so. This is an unpleasant, very breathless pattern.

The thing is, this pattern isn’t all that’s going on. And, it raises the question, “What about a longer view?” The waveform display shows about 10 seconds of heartbeat. That’s great for general use, but you need to watch the display carefully to see trends and changes that happen over 10’s of seconds, let alone minutes.

A normal waveform display is also unsatisfactory in another way: The beats-per-minute number lags. In practice, BPM displays tend to be averages over 15 or more seconds. Fine for when all is well, but easily misleading when not.

So, examine the smaller graph in each of those two screen shots.

It shows a histogram of the last 120 peak-to-peak durations in beats per minute. Both the low and high peaks are counted, so this histogram shows the last 60 heart beats. The first graph above shows each half-beat has been plus or minus 5 or so BPM of the average heart rate. Normal.

Histogram details:

Tall lines show where many peak-to-peak durations have been at a single heart rate.

Short lines show heart beats of rarely seen durations.

Each peak-to-peak half-beat in the histogram is given a short line segment. Fully colored segments are recent beats. Faded segments are older beats. Segments are stacked in each beat-per-minute “bin”, oldest first, to make the histogram.

Ticks are painted at 10 BPM intervals along the bottom.

The yellow line marks the current, average heart rate. It is usually close to the tallest area of the histogram.

The second graph above shows when the heart does not beat consistently – misses or adds beats.

This histogram says, “Look carefully at this heart.”

Over time, you can watch a heart go in and out of sync. And it’s fun to watch the heart speed up and slow down, what with the columns marching back and forth on the histogram.

Here is a screen shot of when the heart beat was bad, but is now looking good:

Improving heartbeat 12/29/2017 13:47:08

Anyway, it’s been amusing to play with this stuff. And such a FIFO histogram could certainly be used in other applications.

A real-time display of either my current heart beat or a random, historical recording is at Alex’s Pulse – if the special, heartbeat server is running … which it rarely is, given the bandwidth this server consumes.

Drive the World – A Five Day Binge

Have you ever wondered what driving in Lesotho is like?

Me neither.

But now I can say, without having been there, it’s a lot like the altiplano.

You know the altiplano. Well above tree level and not a thing to see after the first glance. But curiously entrancing. People live at this altitude? Well, with lots of thick wool and really red blood … apparently.

Or go a little north to Botswana. Mad Max country. The Australian out-outback. English on the wrong side of the road and miles a miles of … miles and miles.

Dropped to these places by spaceship without knowing where you are? How do you find yourself?

In Holland, such questions are answered immediately. The Dutch apparently even label their bus stops with unique names, available for decoding 24×7 through Google’s super-computer. As are the names of little Estonian villages, in case the spaceship dropped you there.

The spaceship is at MapCrunch

Click on “Options” and check “Stealth”. Then make sure all the countries are either highlighted or none of them are. Toggle “Options” off. Punch “Go”. Welcome to somewhere in the world’s farmland as shown in Google’s Street View.

Right now, click maps.google.com and click on the street view thingee down in the lower right. It toggles showing where street view covers. Zoom a bit in and you’ll see where the real coverage is. Germany, Austria, India, and China have only isolated 360° images. They are not street-viewed.

Apparently, a popular MapCrunch challenge is to get from your drop point to an airport for a flight home. No outside help. No Googling. No other Internet tools. Just drive and look. I can advise you not to accept this challenge. Airports are few and far between and driving even 30 miles is really, really slow and RSI inducing (make the window small for fast refreshes). Maybe it would be better to just drive to somewhere you can get some food. Restaurant or store or whatever.

I binged for several days on an alternate game: Figure out exactly where you are using outside help. This game can still be slow. You can open the real Google Maps Street View in another window and find the location you’re at by matching the cloud pattern in the sky. Desperate times call for desperate measures. When you’re cruising south on some road in scrub-land Bolivia, not a town in sight, you gotta do something.

http://www.lexilogos.com/keyboard/russian_conversion.htm is very helpful when you’re in Cyrillic-land and don’t have a Cyrillic keyboard.

You’ll want Flag Finder for when you just arrive and see a rural police station’s flag.

Which way to go at the start? Down hill.

Is the sun north or south? You’re below or above the equator. If it’s to the west, consider driving the same direction as the Google car. He’s headed home for the day.

Satellite dishes point to the sky above the equator.

Driving on the left narrows things down.

The script in signs can peg the country. Korean is easy to spot, for instance.

Signs may be in indecipherable script, but URLs are on those signs. URLs have country codes.

You may even find LAT/LON values on signs. My little LAT/LON interpreter is handy to get to those locations.

Mileposts are give-aways. They have the highway number and, usually, a kilometer-to-some-town/bridge/landmark on them. Go to the direction of the lowest kilometer number when first orienting.


After a while, some things stand out:

New roads. New houses. New factories (P&G in countryside Romania). All over the world.

Cell phone towers everywhere.

Contrasts: Bleak, bedraggled Bulgaria and Kyrgyzstan. Sunny Albania. Thriving Slovakia and Serbia.

Deep red dirt of Uganda.

Frosted Polish trees.

Rebar sticking out of Latin American buildings.

Concrete of the tropics.

Pristine Scandinavian buildings. Red.

Road signs with weirdly chosen destinations. Why is that town on this sign?

Highway numbers that make little sense. But are still able to be found in a Maps window overlooking the country.

Many, many one lane roads, indistinguishable from American bike trails.

If your body has some miles on the odometer, play this game: Erase cell phones and scale the car quality back. What year in America are you looking at? Countryside Panama in 2010 looked like the ’50’s to me.

Ignore country-specific things like languages, zoning laws and building style. Notice the big differences you see between places in the world are rural/urban, not country/country. Cities look the same everywhere. Same stores. Same brands. Same way things are built. Houses are built for the climate and culture. American houses are surrounded by toy farms, for instance. We call them “lawns”. Other places have their oddities. Walls around the house, for instance, are common.

Notice you can’t peg a location by the highway, itself. Yes, guard rails and such do vary, but the road engineers of the world seem to be in close contact. New roads are especially generic. I was sure I’d hit Nevada when I dropped in on a desert highway in Botswana. It took a couple trucks going by (“Anderson Trucking”) before I noticed they were on the wrong side of the road. … The road, whose lines and signs were clearly ‘merican.

In case you think it’s just a couple of odd, Brit holdovers who drive on the left, what with #1 and #3, China and US being right-siders, consider #2 and #4, India and Indonesia on the left.


Final advice: Don’t binge on this thing. After a 34 hour session, I slept fitfully with more than a little pain and porcelain throne facing for 22 hours. And then wrote this advice.

A Better Way of Scoring

Racquetball’s official scoring method is a millstone around the game’s neck.

What’s better?

Let’s score to make games more even, with longer rallies.

How?

First: Rally scoring. A point is scored on every rally, not just when the server wins a rally. Volleyball went to rally scoring a couple decades ago. Big improvement.

Second: Who serves? The person with the lower score chooses. If the score is even, the person who did not have the serve-choice the previous serve chooses the server.

Third: Single serve. A fault is a point for the opponent. (I prefer two serves in racquetball, but that’s probably not the best way to do it. Most probably not the best in other sports.)

Fourth: The serve rotates in team games, doubles, etc., when the serve-choice changes. And the serve-choice side can force a single rotation of the serving side at any other time.

Fifth: Game is to 15 – win by two.

The result: Short, competitive games between players of differing skills. Longer rallies because the weaker player starts more rallies with an edge.

Bonus: Faster games. More action in a match. More fun to play. More fun to watch.

Applies to other games: Volleyball, ping-pong, badminton, squash. You name it.

Racquetball is inherently fast and action-packed. Why should it have a plodding scoring system? Why not a system that fits the game?

Which leads to how games will change when judging and ref’ing become automated. Why should points only be counted once a rally? But that’s another subject for another day.