Working from home: free Amazon, Netflix docuseries, Azure & Google Cloud material - post WFH stuff here

Understood. Like I said:

This research from Cambridge University and other researchers looks solid.

But reducing the risk is not the same as eliminating the risk.

When cycling with a special “N95/N99”-like mask, it will let some bad air in but it’s better than nothing. My lungs are healthier. But I’ve inhaled a fair share of micro particles nevertheless.

It’s about reducing the odds.

Stay safe and well everybody.


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Errrr… I hope they not watching me. I am too used to my mid afternoon nap while listening to Bjork (screamy era).

Also, my clothing and face is generally covered in food particulates - nobody needs to see that. Post-it note is being affixed to camera as we speak.

Automation Anywhere

Look after yourselves during these challenging times.

Understanding how our brains work helps.


(Stocking up on large amounts of toilet paper when you see others doing so is an example of social contagion.)
By Judson A. Brewer, M.D.

March 13, 2020

Anxiety is a strange beast.

As a psychiatrist, I have learned that anxiety and its close cousin, panic, are both born from fear. As a behavioral neuroscientist, I know that fear’s main evolutionary function is helping us survive. In fact, fear is the oldest survival mechanism we have. Fear helps us learn to avoid dangerous situations in the future through a process called negative reinforcement.

For example, if we step out into a busy street, turn our head and see a car coming right at us, we instinctively jump back onto the safety of the sidewalk. Evolution made this really simple for us. So simple that we only need three elements in situations like this to learn: an environmental cue, a behavior and a result. In this case, walking up to a busy street cues us to look both ways before crossing. The result of not getting killed helps us remember to repeat the action again in the future.

Sometime in the last million years, humans evolved a new layer on top of our more primitive survival brain, called the prefrontal cortex. Involved in creativity and planning, the prefrontal cortex helps us think and plan for the future. It predicts what will happen in the future based on past experience. If information is lacking, our prefrontal cortex lays out different scenarios about what might happen, and guesses which will be most likely. It does this by running simulations based on previous events that are most similar.

Enter anxiety.

Defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome,” anxiety comes up when our prefrontal cortexes don’t have enough information to accurately predict the future. We see this right now with coronavirus.

Scientists are racing to study the characteristics of the coronavirus so that we can know precisely how contagious and deadly it is — and act accordingly. Uncertainty abounds.

Without accurate information, it is easy for our brains to spin stories of fear and dread.

In addition to being fueled by uncWall Street is a great example of social contagion: we watch the stock market spike and crash, the stock indexes being a thermometer for how feverish our collective anxiety is at the moment. Wall Street even has something known as the Fear Index, or VIX, which outstripped the 2008 financial crisis this week.ertainty, anxiety is also contagious. In psychology, the spread of emotion from one person to another is aptly termed social contagion. Our own anxiety can be cued or triggered simply by talking to someone else who is anxious. Their fearful words are like a sneeze landing directly on our brain, emotionally infecting our prefrontal cortex, and sending it out of control as it worries about everything from whether our family members will get sick to how our jobs will be affected.

When we can’t control our anxiety, that emotional fever spikes into panic. Panic is defined as “sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.” Overwhelmed by uncertainty and fear of the future, the rational parts of our brains go offline. Logically, we know that we don’t need a six-month supply of toilet paper, but when we see someone’s cart piled high, their anxiety infects us, and we go into survival mode.

So how do we not panic? Too many times, I’ve seen my anxious clinic patients try to suppress or think themselves out of anxiety. Unfortunately, both willpower and reasoning rely on the prefrontal cortex, which isn’t available at these critical moments. Instead, I start by teaching them how their brains work, so that they can see how uncertainty weakens the brain’s ability to deal with stress, priming it for anxiety when fear hits.

But this is only the first step.

To hack our brains and break the anxiety cycle, we need to become aware of two things: that we are getting anxious or panicking and what the result is. This helps us see if our behavior is actually helping us survive, or in fact moving us in the opposite direction — panic can lead to impulsive behaviors that are dangerous; anxiety is both acutely mentally and physically weakening and a slow burn that has more long-term health consequences.

Once we are aware of how unrewarding anxiety is, we can then deliberately bring in the “bigger better offer.” Since our brains will choose more rewarding behaviors simply because they feel better, we can practice replacing old habitual behaviors — such as worry — with those that are naturally more rewarding.

For example, if we notice that we have a habit of touching our face, we can be on the lookout for when we act that behavior out. For example:

  • If we are starting to worry: “Oh no, I touched my face, maybe I’ll get sick!”,
  • Instead of panicking, take a deep breath and ask: “When was the last time I cleaned my hands?”
  • Think. “Oh, right! I just washed my hands.”

Just by taking a moment to pause and ask the question, we give our prefrontal cortex a chance to come back online and do what it does best: Think.

Here, we can leverage certainty: If we’ve just washed our hands, and haven’t been out in public, the likelihood that we’re going to get sick is pretty low.

The more we can see the positive feeling and effects of good hygiene and compare them to the negative feeling of uncertainty or getting caught in anxiety, the more our brains naturally move toward the former, because it feels better.

How do I know this works? My lab has studied these mechanisms for decades. We’ve recently found that simple awareness training (delivered through an app) can reduce anxiety by 57 percent (in a study with anxious physicians) to 63 percent (in a study with people with generalized anxiety disorder) in two to three months.

Understanding these simple learning mechanisms will help all of us “keep calm and carry on” (which is how London dealt with the uncertainty of constant air raids in World War II) instead of getting caught in anxiety or panic in the coming days, and whenever we face uncertainty.

When our prefrontal cortex comes back online, we can compare anxiety to what it feels like to be calm. To our brains, it’s a no-brainer. It simply takes a little practice so that the bigger, better offers become new habits.

Wear a homemade mask if you can

More info:

Everybody - make your own mask, even if it’s just a tshirt or a scarf. Anything that can stop droplets from spreading. Many people are asymptomatic. You all look wonderful with a mask on :love_letter: don’t worry.

How to make a mask - from CNBC (a financial news site:clinking_glasses: )


  • Cutout of mask template above (sizing should be adjusted based on individual face measurements)
  • Two washed 100% cotton T-shirts (or any tightly-woven, but breathable, fabric) in contrasting colors. Using two colors will help you remember which side of the mask is facing outwards (contaminated) and which is facing inwards (non-contaminated).
  • Scissors
  • Pen or marker
  • 1.10 meters of flat elastic
  • Needle and thread (or sewing machine)

Simplified version of step-by-step instructions:

  1. Place the template on a single layer of the T-shirt. Use a pen to trace and cut around the rectangle. Repeat with the second T-shirt.
  2. Place the two rectangles on top of each other. Using your needle and thread, stitch them together at each end, as indicated on the template by Seam A.
  3. You should now have a rectangle that is stitched at both ends, forming a loop. Turn the loop inside out and iron the seams flat.
  4. Stitch the fabric together at both ends, where indicated by Seam B. This will create two “tubes” at both ends of the mask.
  5. Cut the elastic in half, creating two lengths, each approximately 55 centimeters. Each length should be long enough to go around your head, from the bridge of your nose to the back of your head.
  6. Tie a loose knot at one end of the elastic to help feed it through the tube. Repeat for the other tube.
  7. To create the pleats, fold the fabric as indicated on the template (unevenly-dashed lines backwards, evenly-dashed lines forward).
  8. Iron the pleats flat and stitch both sides, as indicated by Seam C.
  9. Fit the mask so that it sits on the bridge of your nose and under your chin. Hold the elastic at the back of your head at a comfortable length so that it stays on. Mark the correct length and stitch the ends of the elastic to finish the mask.

Important reminders:

  • Wear your mask in the same orientation each time you use it (i.e., always wear the same side facing outwards).
  • Masks should be machine-washed frequently using hot water and regular detergent. Dry at a hot setting.
  • Remove your mask by taking the straps from the back of your head and pulling it forward.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after touching your mask.

As for Lysol and other disinfectant wipes that are flying off store shelves, McCallum says the products are “sufficient” for disinfecting but suggests applying hot water to help aid in the cleaning.

However, he says the biggest mistake he sees people make in trying to prevent the spread of the virus is forgetting to take off their shoes before going inside their house.

”[Not taking your shoes off] is the best, easiest way to cross-contaminate from the outside world to the inside world of your house. So you need to take shoes off,” he says.

He also advises people to have a small pan with bleach and water outside their door to dip the bottom of their shoes in each time they go outside.

What’s more, McCallum says people should immediately take off their outside clothes and put them into the washing machine as the virus can attached to fabric.

Lastly, echoing health officials, McCallum says the best thing you can do to prevent the spread is by washing your hands thoroughly and consistently.

Make a mask. Many of us are asymptomatic and we spread stuff by simply talking. DIY masks are cool.

Republic and Slovakia are only countries in Europe to make coronavirus mask-wearing mandatory

Thad Young, who signed a three-year deal worth $43 million ($32 million guaranteed) with the Bulls last summer, said players should ask challenging questions to advisors and all business partners.

“Get answers on every single detail of your empire,” Young said. “If they can’t answer, then maybe you should think about going to find somebody else.”

“Don’t look at this at this as a timeout,” Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul told CNBC in an interview. “Look at this as an opportunity to get stronger in however way you see fit. If financial literacy is one of them, which I think that is for a lot of us, then dive in.”

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Sky Sports

How do you make a video game during corona

At Destiny developer Bungie, the company made the call to start sending people home on March 1st. Principle producer Carrie Gouskos says that her first reaction to the phrase “social distancing” was to start work on an excel spreadsheet — a “very small piece of control in the chaos,” she says. “Turns out that’s what I do in a crisis, try to box everything into neat packages in Excel, creating small rows of order.”

Gouskos’ task was to examine the scope of someone’s work, figure out what tools they used, decide if they’d need a “beeftop or a coffee drinker’s laptop” to do their job — shorthand that separated someone in need of heavy equipment vs. a person who’s working on word processing and meetings. From there, the process moved on to software requests and connectivity problems as developers learned to troubleshoot from home. Employees banded together to help each other as everyone navigated new territory. “While you can create a structure for support, you still need to rely on the help of others to make any structure work,” says Gouskos.

One developer from a large Sweden-based studio said that they, like many of their colleagues, are finding it hard to focus. “This is so unprecedented that really no one knows how to do it,” the developer tells The Verge . “No one has a reference. It’s not like we can say, ‘hey, how did we do this in the ‘97 pandemic?’ No, this is a historic moment, and it’s stressful in a deep way, in ways our minds can’t even capture yet because it was new and sudden and now our reality has changed. And we suspect things might not fully go back to the way they were even a few weeks ago. Maybe not for a long time. Maybe never.”

Among nearly all of the developers The Verge spoke to, however, there is a common sentiment of uncertainty. “I have no idea what the future holds,” says one. “This could last for a month, or two years. And certainly things won’t be the same anymore, but I have no idea what they’ll look like.” Another comments on holes in the structures we’ve accepted as status quo: “The systems of capitalism we have today can’t support something like a pandemic — in many cases they are breaking right now, before our eyes.” Developers say they hold on to the idea that their jobs and projects they’re working on could still bring people joy. Many are looking forward to being able to see their colleagues and be together once more.

They pine for the small moments: playing games together, walking around the office, getting coffee, high-fives. “I miss the casual hallway conversations that I’m used to having with people,” said one developer. “A lot of connection happens in the brief moments at the coffee machine, or in the moments before and after meetings — the tiny casual social gestures and micro-interactions that help build trust and intimacy and communication among colleagues.”

You can skill up for free while at home. Maybe you’ll decide that putting your head into the cloud is not for you, but worth a try.

I’ve so far found the following useful material:

Microsoft Azure (with DataCamp subscription)


Earn your Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification

Join us for this free, three-part course to improve your understanding of cloud concepts and acquire the knowledge you need to earn the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification.

Learn how to use Google Cloud fundamentals with Pluralsight and Qwiklabs

1 month:

Qwiklabs has hands-on training labs, very useful.

I have no affiliation with them, just sharing some free material


Some free content for Amazoners

Companies including Apple , Lionsgate , and ViacomCBS have also offered free movies and television programs to stream in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The streaming video industry was already highly competitive before the unprecedented conditions brought about by the virus, and high-quality free content offerings have become an increasingly important frontier in the streaming wars. The push will create upfront costs or lost sales for many streaming leaders, but these initiatives also present ways to attract users who could stick around long term.

Unlike many media companies, Amazon has the benefit of the potential for free streaming to bring users to its e-commerce platform. The online retail and cloud computing giant has been impressively resilient amid the coronavirus crisis, with its share price recently hitting an all-time high.

Can’t seem to be able to sign up to the azure sessions, did you?