Life with Rona – Day 11

Woke up in time to do an Isabel & Marcus workout. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Read a bit. And will keep today short as I’m going to watch Ozark Season 3 — been a while since I used my Netflix account. I notice Better Call Saul is back too. Pity Ray Donovan is missing from the lineup. Today is the one day of rest I’ll take before working again tomorrow (who cares if it is a Sunday?).

Malaysia’s situation is interesting. We are going to test a lot more for COVID-19. 100,000 kits came in from China, 200,000 from South Korea. Rapid testing should be great. But worryingly, they’ve got the equivalent of an NHS Nightingale Hospital at The ExCel Centre; it is at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS). 600 beds, and they are worried about a spike mid-April (read for stats: Health Ministry: Serdang exposition centre set up as makeshift hospital in preparation for worst-case scenario). Does this mean the MCO will get extended?

World over, we are seeing more borders close. Japan is being picky with the foreigners they let in (Singapore, Malaysia and most of South East Asia, now affected). We also see Tokyo sort of having their first day of a shutdown (First day of Tokyo shutdown to stem coronavirus spread begins). There are medical trials that the WHO is approving, and Malaysia is participating (primarily at the Sg. Buloh Hospital — and it is not limited to Remdesivir); Japan has their own with Avigan.

Just yesterday I said we have to prepare the Malaysian public to get information no matter what controls exist. It is beyond porn, obviously. Today we can see a chap tweet: “Welp, 2 news outlets have either pushed back my commentary on Pakej #PRIHATIN , or told me I couldn’t appear unless I was willing to talk it up positively only. Instructions from above. I said no to the latter because I’m an economist, not a shill.” I encourage sources to go direct, publish on WordPress or Medium because social media will ensure that at least a huge chunk of the population gets to read it. But again, maybe that’s only the “T20/M40”, we still have to disseminate information to the B40 (which is maybe why Claire Rewcastle-Brown’s Radio Free Sarawak was such a game changer).

More now than ever, I am realising I need to go out into the heartlands of Malaysia, and speak to my fellow brothers and sisters. I’m reminded of what I learned at Asia Source, and the other bits of stuff I did with TacticalTech. I’m also thinking how we can make everyone a “smarter Malaysian”. More informed.

Life with Rona — Day 10

Two workouts done — one with Ping, the other with Isabel and Marcus. Both great.

Stimulus announced for Malaysia. Started with RM250 billion. The reality is it is maybe a tenth of that that is cash. The B40 group got the most. M40’s get a little. Everything is very one-off (which is great for an announcement, but really, terrible for being effective). Grab drivers get a stimulus. Reality is, this seems like an election stimulus. It is not a real stimulus. Even the RM600 wage if the company can prove a 50% decline for a few months is weak. Of course, the T20’s only got the last 2 paragraphs in English…. so I think overall, an underwhelming stimulus, but not a trivial one. I wasn’t going to link to stuff (I guess Life with Rona is getting a marked change from today), but the T20 got nothing, besides this tweet.

Ended up getting GrabFood delivery today; you can now tip RM2,4,6,8,10,12. Pick the maximum, it is worth it.

World over, the Covid-19 scare is getting more real. Hong Kong does not want you to gather in groups of 4 or more. Singapore has something similar (with the stick of the law waved at you). Boris Johnson has tested positive and is self-isolating at 10 Downing Street. I think this is a good thing, because as he gets better, people will start to realise that maybe the scare isn’t all too bad; become a bit more rational, because let’s never forget that panic is dumb.

Malaysian’s got the last laugh maybe over Mont Kiara… over a 2 hour span, the police arrested 11 folk, for jogging. 4 of the 11 were Japanese. The Japanese are known to be obedient but does Malaysia make anyone with a shred of decency, corruptible? I feel we are terrible at social capital, and I don’t see it improving anytime soon. Overall all this exercise bans I think are 100% a mistake, and social media just has people who are experiencing schadenfreude.

In the end, one has to ask, do you trust the government that has implemented such rules? Are the rules right, to begin with? Here’s an example that I’m not personally affected by, but I think is important: porn sites blocked via IP address instead of the usual DNS hijacking. CDNs help. And the VPN is the only way out. Now think about this for a moment. First they come for your outdoor activities. Then they come for your porn. What could be next? Parts of this government has blocked access to in the past…

The way I see it is that we need to build capacity for people to have easy workarounds and store this information everywhere. On GitHub. On the Ethereum blockchain. On services that they’d find hard blocking. I mean it would have been unfathomable to block Medium before… but I might be in a tech bubble clearly. I still remember when my father showed me that he installed the Tor Browser to read The Sarawak Report. All I can say is that we need to think ahead. Think a little like Chinese activists: #MeToo activists in China are turning to the blockchain to dodge censorship. Go on, take a look see: Etherscan transaction hash 0x2d6a7b0f6adeff38423d4c62cd8b6ccb708ddad85da5d3d06756ad4d8a04a6a2; go to Input Data, View Input as UTF-8 and see a message in both English and Chinese. My thinking is we better get the workarounds in the hands of people now, long before they’ll need it when the political situation eventually does take a turn for more censorship and control.

Life with Rona — Day 9

A day filled with mostly a lot of work. I did enjoy the usual breakfast, a lunch of chicken+cheese+cucumber croissant, and a dinner of some cencaru fish, cincalok omelette, and rice. I also did Nick & Ishaq’s cardio workout at home (I don’t know if Open Cardio on Apple Watch records less than HIIT?). But most of the day has been hacking away at the keyboard.

Malaysia has had a great spike in cases today, despite the MCO. We’ve also seen 2 areas in Kluang, Johor go under a total lockdown (“Enhanced Movement Control Order”). Thailand has basically said they’re done with foreign tourists for now under their emergency orders. We see Bali trying to extend Nyepi (maybe they will act before Jakarta does). I guess Malaysians have to brace for more impact under the MCO going forward.

US jobless claims are out. The numbers are scary. From a couple hundred thousand to over three million. Singapore has announced an amazing stimulus package (some 11% of GDP?). Cabin crew get up to SGD$4,500 (up to 75% of salary) which I think is amazing. They even catered for the self employed.

This is what people expect from their governments. Some kind of social safety net. Not “please withdraw money from your retirement savings”. I don’t know if it is the woke on Twitter that see things, or it is the general consensus, but so far the Malaysian efforts seem paltry in comparison. Speaking of Twitter, Mont Kiara was trending all day today; sure there are some joggers there… but the vitriol for the rich (T20) is also really shocking. I wonder if many on Twitter realise they’re richer than they think compared to many in Malaysia? We after all have a terribly high GINI coefficient.

Stimulus. Everyone needs cash. It seems Malaysia’s MyKad (identity card — every citizen has one) is still an active ATM and MEPS card (Not just MEPS Cash which was this one time failed experiment). I know the MyKad is also a Touch N Go card. So Shawn Tan did wonder if this is the best stimulus mechanism? Maybe it is. Can it just be enabled that every IC gets RM1,000, so anyone goes to the ATM, pops their IC in, and gets RM1,000 cash? This could be the best cash transfer mechanism, ever… e-wallets (I’m no luddite, I use them regularly) is really not the solution. There was just a little over 50% usage (probably; last I read it was 7.4 million out of 15 million eligible that got it) for the last stimulus (e-Tunai rakyat) the previous government gave, of RM30 for anyone earning less than RM100,000 per annum. The argument there was it is money that expires to ensure people spend it. Spend it where? Not at your nasi lemak seller…

Let’s see what March 30 brings Malaysians. A stimulus that will shock us all?

Life with Rona — Day 8

I rebooted (or was forced to reboot) my 16″ MacBook Pro and I am pleased to inform that I can stream music and have audio playback in Chrome without it breaking. It had an uptime of nearly 90 days… so basically I’ve not rebooted since moving to it.

WordPress Gutenberg is better than I expected. I have been writing in Markdown in BBEdit and then just copy/pasting into Gutenberg. I have not used MarsEdit once to write this new series of blog posts… I know Gutenberg received a lot of flak, but I know the lead behind it (Hi Pento!) and I think it is a great editor. I should start looking at the WordPress mobile apps again. The last time we spoke, we had a long conversation at the BA First Class Lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 5. Which is such a cliché place for me to meet folk, isn’t it? While I can’t regale the conversation, there was a lot of me suggesting what I’d love to see in WordPress and how the opportunities should not be missed.

Today, the Prime Minister announced a further extra 14 days of Movement Control Order — this basically means a 28 day partial lockdown. It also translates to the fact that I would spend 1.5 months in Kuala Lumpur, longest time I’ve been here, and most of it, at home. I quite miss the lifestyle I am used to having.

Keeping active via a yoga mat, and HIIT workouts is still something I can do; today it was Nick and Ishaq, very fun overall. Markets are up, up, up, everywhere… so to celebrate, I had the usual breakfast (soft boiled eggs, a slice of bread), a lunch of steak & veggies (loving the fact that I stocked up on meat), and a dinner of bihun (noodles) with a side of ice cream (also glad I stocked up there).

A sad note that O’Reilly Media (ORM) laid off a lot of their staff. No more conferences. Even editors (like Andy Oram) I have known are gone. This is a terrible time for this to happen and I think their events really made a difference in my professional life. I will miss Gina Blaber, Suzanne Axtell, Audra Carter, Patrick Dirden, Sophia DeMartini, Vee McMillen, and many more who this move affected.

I worked with the crew extensively for the MySQL User Conferences, and I’ve spoken at multiple OSCON’s, Velocity’s, and so on. It truly is the end of an era. I’ve made friendships, found fellow Malaysians (Shirley, now at Amazon), and it has been one hell of a ride. Not doing events, say OSCON in Portland is probably also horrible for the economy of Portland (it was always enjoyable; I consider OSCON like I do FOSDEM – a must go for; and now I regret not finding time to go last year. My last OSCON was 2018 (and I was planning on a 2020 return); 2019 was me sitting in London for a couple of weeks that clashed. All in, I know I’m going to miss their events.

Covid-19, the coronavirus, I talk about it to folk, saying it is going to change a lot for us, because things we think are coming back, may not. And today, I see something that affects, even me. On a much larger global scale. Shutting down an economy is remarkably easier than starting it back up. We made open source just fine without conferences (1998+ for me), but the reality is that the moment I went to my first, and before that, Linux User Groups, it became abundantly clear that we could learn a lot by sitting down and focusing, as well as chatting to people, affectionally known as the hallway track.

I don’t know how else the coronavirus is going to change, but today’s Life with Rona truly was a bit of a bummer.

Life with Rona — Day 7

Day started early, to start on work, have breakfast, and also do Ping’s booty popping class. Who knew an Instagram live stream would be so fun? I’m going to do Ishaq & Nick’s class tomorrow as well (both are in my top 5 instructors at flycyle).

Lunch was yesterday’s nasi lemak, fried up like fried rice (nasi lemak goreng). Tea was a slice of cheesecake. Dinner lately is becoming a thing of the past, but I will be up early tomorrow and there would be no IF or anything.

Been looking at the 2020 iPad Pro’s and it looks like from a performance perspective, I don’t need it. This is great, because I’ll only be buying the new keyboard, so some expenses in May then.

We see London practically lockdown like Malaysia, but you do get to go out once for exercise! Paris has pretty harsh lockdowns. Singapore is also more or less moving towards a lockdown. Been talking to friends about ensuring we continue our Cambodian house build later in October; so far all is as per plan.

I saw Malaysia’s Health DG, Hisham today on TV. Articulate, and he’s not just a good health DG, he could easily be the Health Minister, or heck, even the Prime Minister. He handled the press conference very well. We’re at 15 deaths now. I view that as a great use of thirty minutes.

Stocks… markets seem to be up today. KL. USA. Everywhere. REITS are not the safe haven they once were… we’ve seen Invesco Mortgage Capital say they can no longer fund margin calls. Malaysia’s Bank Negara has told banks that there is an automatic moratorium to be applied for all loans; and credit card debt can move to a 3 year max term loan with a max interest of 13%. This is going to free up a lot of liquidity during the time of Covid-19, and will ensure that defaults reduce (they’ll happen, just not as soon as you think).

Time to read and hit the sack, early morning again.

Life with Rona — Day 6

It’s just another manic Monday.

Singapore Airlines has joined Cathay Pacific in slashing 96% of their routes. AirAsia is probably going to ground planes, MAS hasn’t provided a plan, but AirAsia is clear that they can’t even guarantee jobs. I guess we should expect some form of bailouts. Hong Kong just said there was a huge chunk of change for affected airlines (as they have locked down borders too; Hong Kong’s current wave is coming in from foreign imports).

Miss Wong’s in Siem Reap has shut her doors; I used to go there a couple times at least once a year, when I go to build a house for the poor. Siem Reap tourism was already dropping a little last year, so I guess Covid-19 just accelerated the process this year.

Malaysia got an address from the Prime Minister today (we recorded more deaths at 14, a huge spike in cases). He basically said you get stimulus of up to RM500 from your EPF Account 2. So rob your future self, by taking out money today. Sure it will unlock over RM40 billion if all take it out. But really? This is such a bad idea. It is also abundantly clear that many EPF contributors don’t have enough stashed in their Account 2 to even be benefitting from this.

I read a good article about families in low cost flats finding it hard to socially distance themselves (something like 7 people share 600sqft of space). On cable TV, there were interviews of people who live for the day up north, finding it hard to eat more than a meal a day, and now it consists of rice and soya sauce because they’re so poor and the MCO is affecting their livelihoods. I am speechless this is happening to fellow Malaysians.

In further news, we see the Prime Minister say that foreigners (think illegal workers too) will have to pay for their Covid-19 tests; takes DG Hisham to make another statement contrary to that. He seems to be the hero we all need. Singapore has agreed to open source their TraceTogether app (Bluetooth based contact tracing); let us see when the code gets released.

Unifi (Telekoms broadband) is having issues accessing some stuff on Amazon S3. It is clearly affecting my work. Routing issues because Maxis seems to be fine.

Work front, the only thing to say is: So much to do, so little time.