Sunday, 17 January 2021

Cyberpunk 2077

After all the negative rehtoric concerning the launch, what are the best bits of Cyberpunk 2077? All of it.

A Night City that feels alive. Walking around Cyberpunk 2077's world is evocative of being in a real city and actually exploring its streets. In Night City, pedestrians stroll around in unique clothes and have personal conversations that V [this is the character that we play] can catch snippets of. Everything has a sense of place and scale as getting from point A to B takes time, particularly on foot. The city's layout does not feel condensed or compromised for the player's benefit.

There are copious advertisements that V will walk past add immersion, convincingly showing a Night City that people actually live in, instead of being a simple facade.

Vehicles play a large part of the game as the world map is enormous, and one of the features of vehicles is the radio. There are over a dozen radio stations and each one is unique. There is a real temptation to spend longer than necessary in the car, doing laps around Night City to listen to more music, or staying parked at a destination to let a song finish.

Dialog, the amount of voice over text is phenominal, and the thing about Cyberpunk 2077 is we are playing our own character, not a pre-made one like Geralt [reference to the main protaginist in Witcher 3]. One of the most difficult features for me to do is side quests, because the main story just carries you mercilessly along. As you finish one part, the game will give you a break to deal with side quests, however, the story you have just finished continues, and you know you cannot leave it.

The districts are very distinct, as you would expect, but the contrast between each area in look and feel as well as the NPC's that inhabit the place are incredible. From rubbish in the street to local police lockdowns, it is easy to realise that you have just strolled into another district. In Charter Hill, around the middle of this section of Night City, you will see a skyway hanging over the road. It was a surprising find to see that you could, in fact, get up to this rather high enclosed bridge. Another surprising part was just how peaceful and especially atmospheric this little area is, with tons of people hanging out, interacting, and living their lives. A couple in each others arms, busy workers on their way to their job.

This has not really scratched the surface, there are the vehicles, the weapons, the clothes, the perks [skills that can be earned] the relationships with major & minor NPCs, I consider there is a lot more good than bad in this game, and shall happily keep playing it.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Trump is unhinged

Donald Trump has been suspended from Twitter & Facebook for incendiary comments.

After last nights attack [physical] on the senate, it is hardly surprising, but think about how America stands at present and what is really happening.

President Donald Trump incited his supporters on Wednesday [6-Jan-2021] to storm the U.S. Capitol, where they ransacked the temple of American democracy in a violent crescendo to Trump’s coup failed attempt that disrupted a vote to confirm Joe Biden’s election as the next president. The mob at one point occupied the floor of the Senate and threatened to break into the House chamber but was held back by a barricaded door and guards with pistols drawn. Rather than writing this off as some small protest, perhaps it should be seen as a coup?

The stunning attack, which drew condemnation from world leaders, began around 1 p.m. [local time] while Congress convened to certify Biden’s election, an effort met with opposition from many Republicans. Around that time, during a speech outside the White House, Trump called on his supporters to head to the Capitol and protest the certification. They followed his command, posting on Gab and Parler “directions on which streets to take to avoid the police and which tools to bring to help pry open doors,” according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, a group of thousands on the western expose of the Capitol crashed through metal barriers and stormed up the steps, where they quickly overwhelmed Capitol Police, leading to immediate questions about why law enforcement was not apparently better prepared. It has now come to light that several senators have been worried for days that an incident like this could occur.

The mob surged inside, then fanned out throughout the building. Unknown numbers of people were injured during the act of insurrection, including a woman shot outside the House chamber as the mob tried to breach the doors. The woman is said to have died.

The 2020 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. The official result was Joe Biden [Democrat] 306 Donald Trump [Republican] 232 and ever since this day Donald Trump has been in denial, however, last night he took his first step towards enciting anarchy. On Wednesday 20 January the Inauguration of Joe Biden will take place, and he should seriously consider putting charges before Donald Trump for insurrection.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Lockdown Three

I cannot believe after the horrible year we have just endured, we have started another national lockdown on 6th January, 2021.

Highlights of the day:-

The PM Boris Johnson said 1.3 million people across the UK had already been vaccinated for Covid, and that the government would provide daily progress updates from Monday 11th January.

About 1.1 million people in England had Covid-19 between 27 December and 2 January, the ONS [office of national statistics] estimated.

A record 60,916 people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, with 830 further deaths involving Covid.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said there would still be some restrictions in place next winter. [we are already talking about next Christmas]

Lockdown3 is about staying in again, no contact, the only travellers are key workers, we can only go out to shop for food and/or medicine for yourself or a vulnerable person. Exercise has special rules too [Outdoor exercise such as walking or running can be done with your household or bubble, or with just one person from another household. Exercise should be limited to once a day and you should stay in your local area.]

Finally all schools to shut after all the work involved in trying to keep them going. Sad Day.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Mutated Virus

Coronavirus seems to have taken a turn for the worse, with the latest announcment creating Tier 4 as the science stresses the point of no return. It seems a bit apocalyptic! However, humans have had to face strengthening viruses before.

Take TB [tuberculosis] for example.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. It mainly affects the lungs, but it can affect any part of the body, including the tummy [abdomen], glands, bones and nervous system.

Tuberculosis is spread from one person to the next through the air when people who have active TB in their lungs cough, spit, speak, or sneeze. People with latent TB do not spread the disease. Active infection occurs more often in people with HIV/AIDS and in those who smoke. Diagnosis of active TB is based on chest X-rays, as well as microscopic examination and culture of body fluids. Diagnosis of latent TB relies on the TST [tuberculin skin test] or blood tests.

In 1869, Jean Antoine Villemin demonstrated that the disease was indeed contagious, in 1882, Robert Koch revealed the disease was caused by an infectious agent, in 1895, Wilhelm Roentgen discovered the X-ray, which allowed physicians to diagnose and track the progression of the disease, and although an effective medical treatment would not come for another fifty years, the incidence and mortality of tuberculosis began to decline.

What I am trying to point out here is that eventually coronavirus will be beaten by mankind, and the current situation does not have to look so bleak.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Tier 4

A new tier created for Christmas, well not exactly.

The following areas were moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4:

Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey [excluding Waverley], Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings;

London [all 32 boroughs and the City of London];

the East of England [Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring].

Monday 14th the Prime Minister announced that as things were going, Christmas would not be cancelled. This appeared to be a PR statement after speculation that the 5 day break was frowned on by scientists.

Friday 19th the Prime Minister announced Tier 4 because a 'NEW' strain of coronavirus has appeared. It is stronger and faster than the original. A lot of what has been happening during November & December seems to have been media lead rather than science lead. The media love U-Turns by a government, however, a virus doesn't care what the media thinks, unfortunately people believe what they read.

The public decided that the announcement affected them personally as the panic that happened at railway stations air & sea ports of Friday 19th was nothing like we had seen before. During the day air fares rose at an exponential rate. At a later broadcast, the scientists tried telling people to unpack their bags and not to travel. It was paitently obvious that they were not listened to as the public moved like a plague.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

No Deal Brexit

With the prime minister Boris Johnson and the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, due to decide today whether to halt stalled talks and make the momentous decision to accept no deal, an outcome that would lead to tariffs and quotas on UK-EU trade and rising prices.

The use of gunboats to patrol UK fishing waters in the event of no deal was backed by Admiral Lord West, a former chief of naval staff. “It is absolutely appropriate that the Royal Navy should protect our waters if the position is we’re a sovereign state and our government has said we don’t want other nations there,”.

Greg Clark, the former business secretary and current chair of the Commons science committee, said: “It is clearly unacceptable for the UK to be expected to agree to be unilaterally punished if we declined to follow future EU policy.”

So what would change? [probably]

Prices could go up for the goods the UK buys and sells from and to the EU. That is because the UK and EU would trade on WTO [World Trade Organization] terms, the basic rules for countries without trade deals. The EU would impose taxes [known as tariffs] on goods coming from the UK. The average is about 2.8% for non-agricultural products, but 10% for cars and more than 35% for dairy products. That would put some industries under pressure.

Co-operation on security and data-sharing will become more difficult, causing problems for cross-border investigations. The UK would immediately lose access to databases of things like fingerprints, criminal records and wanted persons. There are big questions about services. The UK has been waiting for a decision about whether the EU will recognise UK rules for financial services. Without that it will be difficult for UK firms to operate in the EU. Some banks have already moved offices and staff to EU countries.

If the UK gets to the end of the year without a trade deal with the EU, that does not mean there will never be one. It has been suggested all the problems it would cause for both sides would focus minds on reaching a deal as soon as possible in the new year. But there are those on both sides who say it could be many months into 2021 before talks were to resume in this scenario.

With the 31st December 2020, deadline for a trade agreement between the European Union and United Kingdom approaching, the risk of a "no-deal Brexit" is mounting. When the U.K. initiated Brexit [its exit from the EU] on 31st January 2020, the Withdrawal Agreement provided 11 months for negotiating a new trade relationship and extended U.K. participation in the EU single market and customs union during the transition. If no deal is reached by the deadline it will trigger what is called a no-deal Brexit. In this case the U.K.-EU trade relationship will be governed, by default, by the trading rules of the World Trade Organization.

The sudden switch to WTO rules would greatly increase tariffs and other trade restrictions, raise the cost of goods, and complicate regulations, greatly increasing financial and administrative burdens for companies. A no-deal Brexit will greatly impact the U.K., causing an estimated 8.1% reduction in its GDP [gross domestic product] after 10 years.

Outstanding issues include the allocation of British North Sea fishing rights to EU countries. Although fishing is minor part of the EU economy, this issue is politically significant in Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, and especially France. Also unresolved is the extent of permissible government subsidies for business for which the U.K. has sought expansive latitude. For a time the prospect of an agreement was severely threatened by the Prime Minister submitting to Parliament a proposal to disregard the Irish Protocol. The U.K. proposal would re-establish a border between the areas of Ireland. Faced with strong opposition by EU members, and especially by the United States, whose politicians threatened that violating the Irish Protocol would bar any U.S.-U.K. trade agreement, the Prime Minister announced that the U.K. would comply with the Irish Protocol.

On Thursday 23 June the referendum took place and the talks have so far lasted four years.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

False Negatives

This week has made "false negatives" trend.

A negative test, whether or not a person has symptoms, does not guarantee that they are not infected by the virus. How we respond to, and interpret, a negative test is very important because we place others at risk when we assume the test is perfect. However, those infected with the virus are still able to potentially spread the virus.

Using RT-PCR [reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction] test results, along with reported time of exposure to the virus or time of onset of measurable symptoms such as fever, cough and breathing problems, researchers have calculated the probability that someone infected with SARS-CoV-2 would have a negative test result when they had the virus infection.

Scientists have warned the government’s multi-million-pound plan to mass test everyone in Liverpool for Covid-19 in a bid to bring the virus under control may be fundamentally flawed, because the tests may not actually be accurate enough. The rapid lateral flow tests set to be used in the scheme are so unproven they come with a manufacturer’s warning: “Negative results do not rule out infection”. The lateral flow tests are just one of three kinds of tests being used in the pilot but, because they have the quickest turn-around time and are especially easy to use, it is thought they will make up the largest majority of those carried out.

Diagnostic tests [typically involving a nasopharyngeal swab] can be inaccurate in two ways. A false positive result erroneously labels a person infected, with consequences including unnecessary quarantine and contact tracing. False negative results are more consequential, because infected persons [who might be asymptomatic] may not be isolated and can infect others.

Interpretation of a test result depends not only on the characteristics of the test itself but also on the pre-test probability of disease. Clinicians use a heuristic [a learned mental short cut] called anchoring and adjusting to settle on a pre-test probability [called the anchor].

They then adjust this probability based on additional information. This heuristic is a useful short cut but comes with the potential for bias. When people fail to estimate the pre-test probability and only respond to a piece of new information, they commit a fallacy called base-rate neglect.

Another fallacy called anchoring is failing adequately to adjust one’s probability estimate, given the strength of new information. Likelihood ratios can give a clinician an idea of how much to adjust their probability estimates. Clinicians intuitively use anchoring and adjusting thoughtfully to estimate pre- and post-test probabilities unconsciously in everyday clinical practice. However, faced with a new and unfamiliar disease such as covid-19, mental short cuts can be uncertain and unreliable and public narrative about the definitive nature of testing can skew perceptions.

We draw several conclusions. First, diagnostic testing will help in safely opening the country, but only if the tests are highly sensitive and validated under realistic conditions against a clinically meaningful reference standard. Second, the FDA should ensure that manufacturers provide details of tests’ clinical sensitivity and specificity at the time of market authorization, tests without such information will have less relevance to patient care.