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[Axis of Easy] Got A GPU Crypto-Miner? Repurpose It To Help Fight The Coronavirus

by on March 25, 2020


Weekly Axis Of Easy #138


Last Week’s Quote was  “There are decades when nothing happens, and then are weeks when decades happen”,  I thought it was Lenin, but it turns out it could be apocryphal. James Candon was first with Lenin, but Luke McCarthy dispelled the assumption. We’re awarding it to both of them. 

This Week’s Quote:  “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming” by ????

THE RULES:   No searching up the answer, must be posted to the blog

The Prize:   First person to post the correct answer gets their next domain or hosting renewal on us.

If the situation wasn’t so dire I would bill this as the “All Coronavirus, all the time” issue. But instead I will apologize if this week’s note seems overladen on this theme. It is the elephant in the room and the defining issue of this time.

#AxisOfEasy 138: Got a GPU crypto-miner? Repurpose it to help fight the Coronavirus from Mark Jeftovic on Vimeo.

 

In this issue:
  • Got a GPU crypto-miner?  Repurpose it to help fight the Coronavirus
  • Patent troll sues to prevent COVID-19 testing
  • Privacy concerns amid the pandemic panic (continued)
  • Turkey arrests 64 citizens because of their social media posts about the virus
  • Justice Department orders takedown of first Coronavirus scam domain
  • Can the internet handle the load if the entire world works remote?
  • Welcome to The Jackpot: Four possible post-pandemic scenarios 
  • Worse than COVID-19? DKE-19 sweeping social media
  • The obligatory easyDNS Coronavirus preparedness statement   
  • Activists use Minecraft to stash banned books in a virtual library
  • Trying to get virtual? Talk to us.

Got a GPU crypto-miner? Repurpose it to help fight the Coronavirus

If you have any GPU processing power kicking around, like a computer with a graphics card, or a GPU crypto-miner, you can use that CPU power to contribute toward finding a cure for Coronavirus.  It works like any other distributed computing application, like crypto mining, or the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI@Home).  In this case we’re talking about Folding@Home from Pande Lab at Stanford University.

The project has been running for 20 years, using your spare CPU cycles to simulate molecular dynamics to contribute to a giant dataset in an effort to find a cure for various diseases.  Historically, you can assign your calculations to your choice of disease (anything, Alzheimers, cancer, Huntington’s or Parkinson’s) and now…. they’re using it to run molecular calculations for Coronavirus.

I just installed it on my laptop and it was a breeze to install, when I get to my podcast studio tomorrow to do this week’s episode my plan is to repurpose the ethereum mining rig I have there.

Read: https://foldingathome.org/

We’ve set up a Team easyDNS folding crew, so if you decide to participate and want to join our team, use team name “easyDNS” and team number 248458.  Let’s get to it.

Patent troll sues to prevent COVID-19 testing

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:  Softbank, the company that funded the WeWork debacle, has another investment in a patent troll outfit called Fortress Investment Group.  You may recognize that name because they once asserted they could represent a monkey in a copyright infringement case.  More recently, they acquired the patents of Theranos, the overhyped, fraudulent unicorn that crashed in disgrace and whose founder still faces Federal charges.

Fortress spun off a shell company called Labrador Diagnostics LLC, gave it two of the patents from the Theranos portfolio.  Then they launched a patent infringement lawsuit against another company called Biofire, who is currently engaged in (wait for it), …development of a COVID-19 test kit.

It all sounds like an absurd, vomit inducing joke.  Instead, it’s just another day at the office for Softbank.

Privacy concerns amid the pandemic panic (continued)

Continuing on a theme we’ve been following for a few weeks, at what point does a pragmatic response to an unprecedented situation overshoot into an oppressive, authoritarian power grab at the expense of your rights and privacy?

That, I think, will be the defining question once all this is over.

Pervasive surveillance through digital technologies is the business model of Facebook and Google. And now governments are considering the web giants’ tools to track COVID-19 carriers for the public good.”

As I’ve pointed out before, there is no such thing as a “temporary government measure” so whatever rights we concede here will probably be gone forever.

Also:

  • Israel’s PM in the spirit of “never let a good crisis go to waste” granted himself the power to eavesdrop on Israeli citizen’s telephone calls, in order to combat COVID-19
  • India is stamping the hands with indelibel ink of persons arriving at airports suspected to be infected with COVID-19
  • Police officers in Spain are using drones to tell people breaking quarantine to return home
  • Businesses struggle with what they can ask employees about their health in a crisis (via DarkReading)
  • For awhile Facebook was blocking all posts about Coronavirus across the entire platform, they later said it was bug.

Turkey arrests 64 citizens because of their social media posts about the virus

In Turkey, authorities are tracking down people suspected of making “baseless and provocative posts” about the Coronavirus on social media and arresting them.

So far 64 citizens out of 242 suspects have been detained by Turkey’s Interior Ministry.

 

Justice Department orders takedown of first Coronavirus scam domain

As one would expect, Coronavirus has brought out the scammers in full thrust.

There have already been a few Coronavirus themed domains that are using drive-by malware installers to infect the devices of hapless visitors.  The US Justice Dept has issued its first restraining order against parties unknown who are operating a fake Coronavirus vaccine website.

I’ve been using Domainsure to track the proliferation of “Coronavirus” themed domain names, and I think it’s been registered in every single delegated TLD, not to mention myriad variants of “cure”, “test”, “vaccine”, etc.

Can the internet handle the load if the entire world works remote?

Last week while I was trying to organize an online meeting for a community group I’m a part of, I heard through the grapevine that both Zoom (free level) and Skype Canada crashed on Thursday under the load.  I was trying to setup a free account on Webex and it seems like they’re not taking on, or throttling the rate of, free users.  I ended up going with a premium account.  (It’s one of the reasons why we’re working on tools you can use for your own domains to facilitate online collaboration, see below).

Netflix announced they will be reducing the bitrate of their streaming to Europe in an effort to reduce the load on the global internet during the pandemic.

In case you’re wondering, our upstream providers have plenty of bandwidth, as we outline in our own Coronavirus preparedness statement below.

Welcome to The Jackpot: Four possible post-pandemic scenarios 

My latest piece over on Guerrilla Capitalism is looking out past this pandemic to try to see what is on the other side.  I personally don’t expect some sort of “return to normalcy” in the sense we would have understood that to mean a scant few weeks ago.  Rather, I think we’re in for “a new normal” and while I don’t deign to predict what that would look like, I run through four possible scenarios.

Worse than COVID-19? DKE-19 sweeping social media

I saw a post on Medium last week making the case that the Coronavirus panic is one big hysterical overreaction which I have to admit, I would love to be able to believe that were true… (casts sidelong glance at Italy).  It was written by a self-described “growth hacker”, basically a guy who uses data and metrics to rapidly scale a start-up (often unicorns).

It spawned a lot of snickers on Twitter along the lines of “debugging JavaScript does not make one an epidemiologist”.

This other Medium post looks at something, if not worse than COVID-19, at least more annoying than it. That’s the epidemic of Dunning-Kruger Effect ravaging the populations of large populations outside of the medical profession.

Read: https://medium.com/@noahhaber/flatten-the-curve-of-armchair-epidemiology-9aa8cf92d652

On a more serious note, Medium took down the original post of the guy who wrote the original “COVID is overhyped” post, and I do find that rather troubling.  The post was rapidly archived here if you want to read it, and Zerohedge ran it after Medium spiked it.  Also note, ZH posted to the top of the post a link to a comprehensive Twitter thread from a medical professional that refuted the post, point-for-point.  A far better way to handle such matter, IMHO.  The incident proves the point I make in my book: Deplatforming doesn’t work and just fuels the fire you’re trying to extinguish.

The obligatory easyDNS Coronavirus preparedness statement

Under most circumstances, we typically avoid piling on when every other vendor under the sun is sending the same email to everybody.  In this case, you may legitimately be wondering how well we’re positioned to weather a protracted economic downturn, which is assured concurrent with a fast moving global pandemic.

We are fortunate in that we had already moved to a remote work model last year, when we shut down the physical office.  We are well positioned to ensure continuity of services for your mission critical domains and other web properties and in our preparedness statement we go through three key areas of our positioning:  personnel, infrastructure, and financial.

Activists use Minecraft to stash banned books in a virtual library

It felt like I should have at least one item that was about something else and remembered this one which was supposed to be in last week’s edition.  In some parts of the world, media censorship is more blatant and heavy handed, where citizens are completely blocked access from certain sites over the web and journalists are imprisoned or worse.

Activists from Reporters Without Borders figured out a way to sneak such material past the gatekeepers of these regimes by stashing them in an online library embedded within a virtual world of Minecraft, which for the most part is not blocked in those same countries.

The RSF Uncensored Library sits on an island within a virtual world of Minecraft, and can also be downloaded for offline use.

Read:  https://uncensored-library.com/en

Trying to Get Virtual?

A lot of businesses and individuals have been forced into a position of working remote and running their companies as fully remote organizations. This may come naturally to those of us already in tech and adjacent areas, but it’s not always easy.

If you haven’t been planning for this eventuality, and you’re not sure how best to transition to remote teamwork, we may be able to help.

We are working feverishly to roll out tools that help you make this transition, and we’re designing these services in line with our core ethos to kill lock-in.  Thus, we want to you to be able to run video conferences, mailing listservers, project management and group chats at your domain.

You can help us deploy faster by telling us what your challenges are, your bottlenecks and pain points with respect to either:

A) Functioning as a remote / virtual organization, or

B) Transitioning your existing business model into an online one

Just hit “reply” to this email and tell me all about it.

 

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