“The US has 4% of the world’s population but 25% of its coronavirus cases”. Based on our trajectory the rest of the world is going to start calling it the “American virus”.

Drone Interview from Work

“A friend of mine joked once about me having eight drones…” - Keegan Sands

This month, we talked to Keegan about DRONES!

When did you get into flying drones and how did it all begin?

In the summer of 2016 my son, told me he wanted a drone. We researched a few different types and settled on a cheap $40 drone from Amazon, it had a camera and would be good for learning. He quickly got bored of learning how to fly, but I really liked the challenge of learning the controls and also flying up over the trees to take pictures and video. It all changed one day when I was browsing Periscope and I came across this guy, Mr. Steele, setting up a drone to fly in a mall parking lot and he had these weird goggles he would wear while flying. I learned the goggles were used for first person view (FPV) flying. The drone has a camera mounted on the front and a video transmitter sends the video signal to the goggles and you get a bird’s eye view of the flight. After watching some of Mr. Steele’s videos I was hooked. He is a freestyle pilot and mounts a GoPro on the onto the drone to capture some of the most amazing video footage I have ever seen.

Tell us about the drones you have and What makes each of them special?

A friend of mine joked once about me having eight drones and then I had to correct him and sheepishly point out it was actually more like ten. My first few came from Amazon and are about the size of my hand, they helped me learn to fly, line-of-sight (LOS) and FPV. My next two were pre-built racing drones, they are very similar to what the pros use but not quite as powerful, although they did require all the other gear like the googles, transmitter and special batteries. I really started doing tricks at this point and flew these drones to their limits. My next drone was the first one I built myself, which meant researching and buying all the different components as well as taking a soldering class. My favorite drone is by far my Alien, which I built using all the same components as Mr. Steele. It is rock solid and flies like a dream.

I also have a couple cinematic drones from DJI, those are more common and probably what most people think of when they think of a drone. The Spark is super small and very portable so it is great for hiking and traveling. The last drone in my hangar is special because it was my father’s most prized toy before he passed away. He always loved technology and bought it to celebrate his retirement. It is a pretty big drone and comes with all the bells and whistles like GPS positioning, Return to Home mode, and records 4K video.

Where does one get a drone and what are the benefits of building v. buying?

You can buy the most of the cinematic drones at big box retailers like Best Buy, Wal-mart or Target. If you want to buy or build an FPV drone you have to go through a specialized online store. Buying a pre-built drone is obviously much easier, but building your own lets you hand pick the various components so you can get the exact flight characteristics for the type of flying you want to do.

Do you have advice for anyone interested starting to fly drones as a hobby?

Start small and just get a $30-$40 drone off of Amazon and see if flying is for you. As you learn to fly just focus on the basics first like just going up and down slowly. The biggest mistake I see for new pilots make is they immediately jam on the throttle and go to the moon. Once you are able to fly away from you the real challenge is flying towards you. If you have the patience to learn how to fly in a circle then you should consider getting one of the smaller DJI drones like the Mavic Mini. They are amazing pieces of tech and can stop you from doing a lot of stupid things, but knowing how to actually fly first is huge in case the tech fails.

Other than flying drones, do you have any other fun or interesting hobbies?

I have been skiing since I was about 7 years old and spend every other weekend of the winter at Sunday River in Maine. I love skiing moguls and even entered the annual Bust’n’Burn competition a few times at the turn of the century.

You can check out some of Keegan’s Drone Footage here.

Homemade Deep Dish Pizza Trials and Tribulations

A friend of mine posted some pictures on Instagram of an amazing looking deep dish pizza she made and I immediately knew I had to try it so I asked for the recipe. She sent me Giordano’s Famous Stuffed Deep Dish Pizza recipe.

Eventually I gathered all of the ingredients and started by making the dough. The hardest part was remembering to make it the day before I wanted to actually have the pizza because it takes 1 to 2 days for the dough to rise. On the day I was going to have the pizza I made the sauce in the early afternoon so it would have a chance to cool and that was super simple too.

Finally construction of the actual pizza began one evening, I flattened out the dough and carefully laid it in the pan. Next I grabbed the special mozzarella cheese so I could freshly shred it, I wasn’t sure what to kind of cheese to get, but they insisted I don’t use the pre-shredded stuff because it won’t melt properly. The layer of dough went on next followed by the sauce and I popped it in the oven. I had a little bit of dough left over and made a miniature version in a muffin pan, which I baked for half as long and was able to get a preview of the main course.

After 40 minutes of patiently waiting I took the pizza out of the oven and tried to pop it out onto a cutting board when I was splashed with a ton of hot water. It turns out the cheese I used was too wet and just created a pool of water in the bottom of the pie, which made for a soggy crust. I poured a bunch of the water out into the sink and ate it, but while it was good it just did’t taste right.

Last night I made this pizza again, except I used pre-shredded cheese and this time it turned out perfectly. The cheese melted nicely and the crust stayed dry and crusty. It also received broad approval from the family so I think I will definitely be making this again soon.

Finished importing my full blogging history including LiveJournal and Blogger into micro.blog. It feels so good to have 18 years of posts in one place. Thanks for the help getting me across the finish line @manton

Quarantine COVID-19 Charts

Every day after 4pm I go to the Massachusetts COVID response reporting page and enter the new numbers into a spreadsheet. Initially the data was simple with just new daily cases (remember when they used to say “presumed cases”) and no colorful charts so I created my own charts. They now generate a super detailed report daily with charts, testing, breakdown by hospital, etc…  

My spreadsheet still has some stuff that they don’t provide. First is an average of the daily change for the last seven days which really smooths out the chart and gives a clear picture of the trend. Second is my favorite though because it attempts to back into the number of actual cases based on the total number of deaths. The number of reported cases is problematic because you still have to meet a certain set of criteria in order to be tested. As of 5/2 there were 298,994 tests done in MA, we have about 6.893 million people (that is tests taken not number of people tested).

The Infected Fatality Rate(IFR) for COVID-19 is a controversial subject, it most certainly is not the total deaths divided by the total cases, because that bottom number is missing a bunch of people (MA would have a 16% mortality rate if that were the case). In my models I assume an IFR of 0.66% (I will include calculations for 1% for comparison), which last I checked was somewhere in the middle of the road. So as of May 2 there were 3,846 deaths in MA, which gives us about 582,727 calculated cases (384,600 if using an IFR of 1%). However, since it takes a few weeks for people to pass after catching the virus that is the calculated cases from April 11th. On that day MA reported 22,866 total cases or just 3.92% (5.95% if using an IFR of 1%) of the calculated cases. You read that right the number of cases we saw on the news back on April 11th captured somewhere around 4-5% of the total cases. The good news is that percentage has been consistently rising by about .25% each day. If that trend continues the number of cases reported today 66,293 represents about 9.17% of the total cases (11.17% if using an IFR of 1%) which is a range of 722,000 to 1,688,676 total cases in MA. So 10-24% of the people in the state may have had it. Recent antibody testing in New York and Santa Clara showed very similar numbers.

What does it mean? Damned if I know, but at least it gives me a distraction everyday. #mathiscool#numbersftw

Quarantine Day 35: The Nest thermostat still hasn’t learned that I don’t want the heat to go down at 9AM.

Finally, took a night off from Fortnite to record a new episode of the Kilobyte podcast. 33: Zoom Newbies where I talk about Coronavirus and how people and our society have already adapted to our new world.

My only annoyance with Apple Watch at this point is accidental volume change on whatever I am playing. I suppose this is mostly a winter thing, thanks to coats and long sleeves, but it constantly happens to me.

Happy 13th birthday to my boy! So proud of the person you have become and wishing you the best of luck in the teenage wasteland. @kaleb_sands

Happy 13th birthday to my boy! So proud of the person you have become and wishing you the best of luck in the teenage wasteland. @kaleb_sands