Considering Demobilization

In a disaster situation, the process of demobilization relates to coming back to a normal steady state. Some disasters are relatively short-term events such as a multiple car crash on a roadway. The current pandemic is one of the longer term events.

I end up looking at things from a bit of a narrow angle when it comes to economic impact right now. In part this comes from my present isolation. Of course, this isolation is expected to be extended for an unknown period per Ohio’s Governor.

Newspapers and radio stations across the country are collapsing financially right now. Big chains like Lee Enterprises and Gannett are laying off personnel to the point that their newspapers are unable to function. In Gannett’s case they could conceivably swap customers of their local titles over to receiving USA Today for the duration of the emergency but Lee Enterprises doesn’t have such a readily apparent fall-back. Radio stations have been applying to the Federal Communications Commission for “special temporary authority” to go silent due to advertising disappearing and some are going out of business entirely such as WTME and related stations in Maine.

Why on Earth does this matter for somewhere like Planet Ubuntu? In this time of crisis while so many are confined inside it means everything. We’re not going to be moving to a streaming-only world as we are finding just how much throughput the world’s networks happen to be able to handle. Radio New Zealand reported that New Zealand measured 2.82 terabytes of data transferred per second on the first day of their lockdown.

Today’s infrastructure has trouble handling capacity surges. Those aren’t going away any time soon. We have to plan for what we want our world to look like on the other side of this crisis. Building up things undergirding Ubuntu Studio would be great as we’ll likely need ways to reboot newspapers and radio stations or create new ones. There is at least one random list of station automation software out there that I found to evaluate for packaging. Prior to the current unpleasantness packaging such software would’ve been thought of as an exercise for setting up a streaming audio service but with the number of broadcast radio stations going dark there is a market niche possibly opening up.

None of us knows how this crisis is going to play out. It is never too soon to plan for life on the other side of it. As my streaming television services end up buffering even on the ads and downgrading video to unintelligible messes I can only hope regular mass media survives in some form. The constant COVID-19 PSAs across all platforms are driving me batty…

Trying To Help

To a certain extent I want to be as helpful as I can to the members of the congregation of West Avenue Church of Christ. Originally this was going to be a circular letter that was going to be mailed. Since electronic means have become available the letter will be dispensed with and this post is essentially directed to them.

Members of the congregation wishing to vote in the primary election that was moved from March 17th to April 28th need to take specific steps. Except in extreme circumstances this is a vote-by-mail only election. Members who have not already cast a ballot and who are eligible to vote should go to the board of elections voter registration lookup, search their name, then click “Print Absentee Request”. The website will fill in most of the blanks for you and you need to only fill in a few yourself on the resulting form. When done follow the directions to print your completed request then sign and mail it to the board of elections. Their facility is closed to the public until April 6th so nobody can drop off a request for you nor can they pick up a ballot for you. There is an extremely narrow set of exceptions for voting in-person on April 28th but most members of the congregation do not meet any of those exceptions. If you are unable to print a form please let me know and I will help you take care of the matter.

Federal, state, and municipal income taxes are not due until July 15th now.

All the public libraries are closed with no estimated recovery dates. They do have services available for checking out ebooks as well as movies/TV shows. Ashtabula County District Library has its digital library offering, Harbor-Topky Memorial Library lists their offerings, Kingsville Public Library announced a very aggressive set of online offerings including a YouTube channel with storytime, and Madison Public Library has a wide range of electronic services too. Don’t feel as if you need to spend lots of money on ordering from Amazon or Barnes & Noble as you’ve already paid for quite a lot of electronic stuff at your libraries through your property taxes already.

The Christian Chronicle has a list posted of live streams of services for across the country. They likewise have a list of podcasts by fellow church members in addition to blogs by fellow church members and YouTube channels maintained by fellow church members. There is a wide world of resources out there.

There is going to be life on the other side of this crisis. We just have to remember that this is a marathon rather than a sprint.

Looking to the Passion Week

“You don’t have to win every fight. You don’t have to fight every fight. But you DO have to stand for something.” — US Senator Ted Cruz

In no particular order:

  • Lockdown continues. Technically it will intensify as of April 6th. The next review point is May 1st. May 1st is not a termination point for this.
  • Tech-wise my laptop is falling down the curve further to total failure. I’ve got everything I can migrated off it. While it is somewhat usable for the moment the USB chassis is seemingly toast. I can hook up a stick, try to copy data to it, and get intermittent errors that increase the longer the laptop is running. The fans also run up to maximum quite a bit more easily at the moment. If anybody can procure me a pi-top 3 I can slap a Raspberry Pi 3B+ into it and have a working replacement until the end of the crisis.
  • The media scene is imploding. Gannet is closing newspapers in both their print and online formats. Lee Enterprises is closing newspapers in both their print and online formats. Beasley Broadcasting is staffing radio stations at a skeletal level. Entercom is staffing radio stations at a skeletal level preparatory to throwing some on automation. There is an “all podcast” format launched by iHeartMedia which is essentially complete automation which they did to one of their stations in Erie. Prior to COVID-19 iHeart already did a massive round of cuts and reductions moving stations in several markets nation-wide to skeletal staffing. Radio stations are closing in several markets if not owned by one of the medium to large conglomerates. Every TV station that has their newscast dispersed with most if not all anchors at home is likely canning technical staff that they might not ever hire back. Traditional news media is going to die if this stretches on all that much longer as advertising revenue is going to crater.
  • The movie known as Alpha Gateway in the STIRR on-demand Sci-Fi selection needs nomination for handling by RiffTrax. It wasn’t bad but is an Australian take on Sliders.
  • If you aren’t watching STIRR, why not?
  • Although Erie Looking Productions was apparently eligible to apply for bailout funds under the CARES Act I am saying no to that. There are ways to proceed and that isn’t it.
  • A goal this week is to build a mount adapter to be able to put my smartphone on a tripod. We are going to try to film something for Easter. Watching church services from Central Christian Church in Henderson just isn’t the same.
  • The Pawmunkey action is delayed.
  • The Red & White Thunderbirds action is delayed.
  • Broadband keeps crashing here to where telehealth has difficulty functioning. That will have consequences.
Posted
License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
Abbreviated Easter 2020 Service

An abbreviated service for Easter 2020 was posted to the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/easter_20200412. We had significant technological failures in trying to get this accomplished. Recovery from these tech failures is hindered during the COVID-19 crisis.

Notes From Damage Control Central

In no particular order:

  • Systems continue crashing around me. Rare error messages have been commonplace instead. I have been taxing surviving hardware to the limit as field expedients to keep things working. There is an endpoint to how far I can take field expedients before they fail too. I have to figure out what I am going to upgrade/replace in short order.
  • The conduct of recorded church services continues. People are watching what’s posted. I suppose that’s okay?
  • I did do-release-upgrade -d to take the install of Ubuntu MATE on the Raspberry Pi 3B+ to Focal Fossa (soon to be 20.04 on Thursday if all goes well). It functions rather nicely. It is also my main desktop machine at the moment.
  • One of the previously paying clients is looking to resume operations if Governor Mike DeWine proceeds with loosening up lockdown as of May 1st. In the realm of governmental actions, 11 days might as well be an eternity where outcomes can potentially change endlessly. I’m still trying to see what to do to anticipate their needs which is either going to be looking for logistics gear to facilitate changes in how they conduct business or ways to set up video streaming gear that are grunt proof.
  • I sent the draft proposals to city council on how it might break its impasse relative to fixing the budget shortfall. They’ve had some spectacular media coverage of them not being able to work together. Lockdown gives me way too much time to think and I kinda like having fire and police protection so offering help seems like a good idea.
  • Tinkering in LaTeX2e continues.
  • With luck I should be better available for the G cycle.