My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: January 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

How Zika Virus confirmed in Portmore, St. Catherine will spread throught Jamaica

Yes Jamaicans, time to start stocking up on your DEET spray and Citronella Candles!

The first case of the Zika Virus was confirmed on Saturday January 30th 2016 in no less place than Portmore, St. Catherine as reported in the article “Jamaica confirms first case of Zika virus”, published Saturday, January 30, 2016, The Jamaica Observer and “Jamaica Confirms First Case Of The Zika Virus”, Published Saturday January 30, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The first victim, a 4-y-o child from Portmore, St Catherine had been treated at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, with samples of his blood and fluids sent to CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) for testing on Tuesday January 26th 2016. According to the Ministry of Health, Saturday January 30th 2016 marks the date when CARPHA has confirmed that he indeed does have the Zika Virus.

The 4-y-o child actually began showing symptoms of the disease as far as Sunday January 17th 2016 after returning from Texas in the US of A, which suggests that he probably caught it in the US. Minister of Health Horace Dalley has promised a full update in a press briefing that will be carried live via Traditional Media on Monday, February 1st, 2016.

So how is the US of A holding up again the Zika virus?

Zika Virus now in 11 States - CDC the only test facility as Zika may be Sexually transmitted

Currently, there are 36 confirmed cases of the Zika Virus in some eleven (11) states as reported in the article “Zika Virus Update: 36 People in US Infected, Houston Woman Recounts Infection”, published January 29 2016 by Gillian Mohney, ABC News

Here’s a detailed primer on the Zika Virus to get you up to speed in case you’ve been living under a rock for some time!

Evidence is now emerging that suggests that the Zika Virus may be sexually transmitted as noted in the article “Zika Virus: Two Cases Suggest It Could Be Spread Through Sex”, published January 25 2016 by Donald G. Mcneil jr, New York Times.

The sexually transmitted nature of the Zika Virus was predicted some time ago in my blog article entitled “Why 8 Barbadians possibly with Zika Virus and 66 dead from H1N1 means Jamaica by February 2016”. So condom use is a must!

There is no commercial test, no vaccine and no cure for the Zika Virus in the US of A albeit work has begun in earnest for a Vaccine similar to those for Chikungunya, Influenza and Dengue Fever as noted in the article “Research into possible vaccine for Zika virus begins”, published Thursday January 28, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Most of the testing for the Zika Virus in the Caribbean done by CARPHA as explained in the article “ZIKV FACTS: CARPHA outlines testing method for Zika virus”, Published Wednesday January 27, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner  is done using one of two methods:

1.      Polymerase chain reaction
2.      Immunoglobulin

These tests have to be carried out at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), making controlling the spread difficult as noted in the article “How to cut off the spread of a Zika virus”, published January 26, 2016 By Ford Vox, CNN

So how well will Jamaica fare against the Zika Virus?

Zika Virus in Jamaica - Many suspect Zika Virus in Jamaica long before

My prediction that the Zika Virus would have begun spreading in the south of US of A has come to pass.

This is going to spread rapidly, especially given their rain weather as prophesied in my blog article entitled “Why the US of A must fear Zika Virus as Dominica and Jamaica next by February 2016”.  

However, it seems a bit odd that it didn't start from one of the small island countries from which people frequently travel such as Haiti, a source of illegal immigrants to the island as predicted in my blog article entitled “Why Haiti and Guyana Zika Virus cases means Jamaica will get Zika Virus by Valentine's Day”.

Word-on-the-street suggests that it may possibly have come to Jamaica long before this official announcement, reminiscent of how the Chikungunya Virus had started from a Florida traveller who came from Puerto Rico back in July 2014 as noted in my blog article entitled “Chikungunya Virus now confirmed in Jamaica - Female Traveller From Florida via Puerto Rico and How to fight Chic-V”.

Jamaica now makes it sixteen (16) on the list of countries in the Caribbean Region that have reported an infection of the Zika Virus:

1.      Brazil
2.      Colombia
3.      El Salvador
4.      French Guiana
5.      Guatemala
6.      Guyana
7.      Haiti
8.      Honduras
9.      Jamaica
10.  Martinique
11.  Mexico
12.  Panama
13.  Paraguay
14.  Puerto Rico
15.  Suriname
16.  Venezuela

Already in Zika Virus is spreading at an alarmingly rapid rate in South America and the rest of the world according to the WHO (World Health Organization) in the article “Zika virus ‘spreading explosively’ — WHO”, published Friday, January 29, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.

The condition of microcephaly, where babies are born with shrunken heads, potentially causing learning and developmental disabilities and leading to death, is exploding in Brazil, where the link was first noted as reported in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Health's 1000 Health volunteers for Zika Virus as 1,200 babies in Brazil with microcephaly”. 
Cases of microcephaly may soon explode in Colombia.

This as some 2100 cases of pregnant women contracting the Zika Virus have been reported in that country as noted in the article “Colombia Reports More Than 2,100 Pregnant Women Have Zika Virus”, published January 30 2016 by Reuters, New York Times.

Check out this map showing the spread of the Zika Virus globally.

So is this the beginning of the spread of the Zika virus in the Western Hemisphere? And will the Zika Virus go global?

Zika Virus in Portmore - Jamaican spread to result in baby deaths

The Ministry of Health is investigating this case to determine the source of the infection.

The Ministry of Health has budgeted some JA$200 million to fight the spread of the Zika Virus as reported in the article “Zika virus preparedness in Jamaica gets multi-million-dollar injection”, published January 22, 2016, Caribbean360 and “Health Ministry estimates J$200-million Zika budget”, published Wednesday January 20, 2016, RJR News Online.

So far, the 4-y-o boy’s parents and immediate relatives are not showing signs of illness but testing is expanding as reported in the article “ZIKV arrives - One case confirmed, scores more being tested”, published Sunday January 31, 2016 by Nadine Wilson-Harris, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Already, the Ministry of Health has labled some parishes at high risk of getting the Zika Virus as reported in the article “7 parishes declared high-risk areas for Zika virus”, published Thursday, January 21, 2016 by Kimberely Hibbert, The Jamaica Observer:

1.      Kingston
2.      St Andrew
3.      St Catherine
4.      St Thomas
5.      Clarendon
6.      Manchester
7.      Westmoreland

Zika Virus take four (4) to seven (7) days after the initial infection and last for up to four (4) weeks or longer:

1.      Conjunctivitis
2.      Fever
3.      Headache
4.      Joint and muscle pain
5.      Rash
6.      Swelling of the lower limbs
7.      Weakness

Jamaicans characterize as high-risk need to be especially vigilant against the Zika Virus, as they need to prepare themselves to be very ill from this otherwise mild illness as explained in the article “High Risk Persons Urged to be Extra Vigilant against Zikv”, published January 22, 2016 By Rochelle Williams, The Jamaica Information Service.

The very vulnerable are the following Jamaicans:

1.      Babies
2.      Children suffering from an illness
3.      Elderly persons with other health problems

A diet loaded with Vegetables and fruits that contain Vitamin C can boost your immune system and make it able to withstand viral infections as explained in my blog article entitled “Vitamin C and the Chikungunya Virus - How to increase your Vitamin C Intake, Glutathione and Interferon by White Blood Cells”.

This might not be enough, however, as I currently take Vitamin C and Vitamin B12 Complex to boost my chances of survival as noted in my blog article entitled “Why the US of A must fear Zika Virus as Dominica and Jamaica next by February 2016”. 

Women are being advised to not get pregnant for at least a year or until the Zika Virus epidemic is over to reduce the risk of their child being born with the birth defect microcephaly associate with the Zika Virus as reported in the article “Delay your pregnancy for 6 to 12 months’”, published Tuesday, January 19, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.

This is following on the pregnancy bans in countries such as Colombia, Ecuador and El Salvador where the Zika Virus is spreading like wildfire as noted in the article “Zika virus triggers pregnancy delay calls”, published 23 January 2016, BBC News

The MOH is doing the necessary checks in the community in Portmore, St, Catherine, increasing their vector control activities to reduce the population of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. This might not work so well, as Portmore is loaded with canals and lots of water.

Western end of Jamaica ready for Zika – Island Spread expected to affect many

Still, preparations are ongoing in the Western end of Jamaica with the parish of Hanover leading the way as noted in “Hanover heightens vector control activities as ZIKV looms”, published Thursday, January 28, 2016 by Anthony Lewis, The Jamaica Observer.

Already, preparations are in full swing at the CRH (Cornwall Regional Hospital) in Montego Bay, St James to handle cases of the Zika Virus including pregnant women as noted in the article “CRH ready to handle Zika virus – says hospital and WRHA”, published Tuesday January 26, 2016 by Christopher Thomas, The Jamaica Gleaner.

People in Portmore can reduce their chances of being bitten by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito by:

1.      Wearing long-sleeved clothing or long pants
2.      Using DEET insect repellents
3.      Sleeping under mosquito nets
4.      Removing or covering container that can hold water

Reducing the breeding places for the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is important in curtailing the spread of the Zika Virus as shown in the CARPHAYard Poster below.

Worse the rains have begun to fall in recent days, creating the perfect storm for a major outbreak of the Zika Virus in Jamaica.

Already, an emergency meeting of the WHO (World Health Organization) slated for Monday February 1st 2016 is being foreshadowed by talk of the Zika Virus being a North and South American Epidemic worse than Ebola in Africa as noted in the article “Zika virus could be bigger global health threat than Ebola, say health experts”, published Saturday 30 January 2016 by Robin McKie, The UK Guardian.

2016 is definately looking like the year of the Zika Virus in Jamaica.

Friday, January 29, 2016

How possible MVNO Telecom Provider heralds WhatsApp, FLOW Jamaica, Digicel, Huawei and Lasco partnership

Looks like there might be a new Telecom Provider in town.

On Wednesday January 27th 2016, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell announced that a Telecom Provider had applied for a Telecom License to operate in Jamaica as reported in the article “Cabinet Considering To Grant Another Cellular Licence”, published Thursday January 28, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This announcement came during the opening of the ESCO (Energy Services Company) Jamaica Conference at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston and personally has me very excited. Already, the Geezam blog has published an article entitled “New Player set to enter Jamaica’s Mobile Telecommunications market” with plans for a follow up later.

The ESCO Jamaica Conference was being held under the theme: Energy Management, Our Future Depends on it as noted in the article “Cabinet Considering Application for New Cellular Licence”, published January 28, 2016 By Chris Patterson, The Jamaica Information Service

This ESCO Jamaica Conference was aimed at the following:

1.      Business owners
2.      Contractors
3.      Financiers
4.      Policymakers
5.      Regulators
6.      Renewable Energy Companies

So why did Minister Paulwell choose a meeting of Energy Service Providers to announce the coming of a New Telecom Provider? Also, will they be providing more than just Voice services or will they be doing Data as well?

Paulwell's Telecom Provider may be an MVNO - Easier to set up an MVNO than a traditional Network

This announcement came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I heard it while travelling on a 21B JUTC bus to Spanish Town to do my Practicum at the Spanish Town High School. I lasted did the legwork online and found only a handful of article written on the subject, as a new telecom provider coming to Jamaica isn't exactly exiting news.

Still, it's what my blog is about and it has me excited. So on to the clues and contacting my sources who may know what going on in the Telecoms World.

The name of the applicant for the cellular license or their country of origin wasn't revealed and neither did Minister Paulwell. Neither did he mention whether or not they would be providing just Voice services or if they will be doing Data.

However, it may not be a Telecom Provider coming to build out any network at all, but possibly coming to take advantage of existing infrastructure.

In other words, it could be a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), given the fact that Minister Paulwell had announced the issuing of twelve (12) new mobile telecommunications licenses for MVNO back in July 2015 as reported in my blog article entitled “@TheOURja MVNO Licenses – How Telecom Providers benefit and Why MVNO are a source of Product Innovation”. 

The coming of an MVNO makes sense, as setting up a Telecom Network is an expensive affair.

With two (2) Telecom Providers already in the country with fairly extensive Voice and Data Networks, it makes sense to go this low-cost route, piggybacking your service using another Telecom Provider's Network.

So who is this mystery Telecom Provider, possibly with plans to set up an MVNO?

WhatsApp and Flow Jamaica MVNO partnership – Digicel MVNO partnership with Huawei and Lasco unlocked dual-SIM smartphones

Possibly too, it could be WhatsApp, who on Thursday January 28th 2015 announced a partnership with FLOW Jamaica as reported in the Press Release  “Cable & Wireless & WhatsApp sign partnership”, published 2016-01-28, Go-Jamaica.

I say this based on the words of C&W’s Consumer Group President, John Reid, who emphasized that WhatsApp was an “authorized service providers”, quote: “Since the emergence of Over The Top (OTT) Communication services, Cable & Wireless has maintained our commitment to work with authorized service providers to ensure customers have access to world-leading services on their devices, running on the region’s best networks”.

Quite an about-face, given that both Digicel and Flow Jamaica were blocking the operation of WhatsApp in Jamaica as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel and FLOW Block WhatsApp - How Jamaica makes money from IXP via VoIP Cloud Servers, SIP and MVNO”. 

This implies that WhatsApp, has finally signed a formal agreement to operate as an MVNO in Jamaica, piggybacking on their Network. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if later in February 2016, Digicel Jamaica also announced a partnership with WhatsApp as well to provide MVNO services.

Unlike a traditional MVNO, they wouldn't need to sell smartphones. Instead, they'd apply for one of the twelve (12) MVNO licenses on offer since July 2015 and partner with a local supplier of smartphone to provide unlocked smartphones according to my sources.

My source, a girl who works in a Call Center, told me to expect a partnership with Huawei and Lasco Jamaica, who are selling unlocked dual-SIM Smartphone in Jamaica as noted in my blog article entitled “Huawei and Lasco to sell Unlocked dual-SIM smartphones - Why Number Portability means Open Market for unlocked smartphone”.

But this may just be the beginning of a MVNO invasion in Jamaica, as my source told me to expect more.

Google Fi possible coming to Jamaica - MVNO Wi-Fi Invasion as legislative changes pending

Even more interestingly, my source, a girl who works in a Call Center, told me that Google Fi may soon be coming to Jamaica.

This suggests that may be doing some limited-out of physical infrastructure, possibly setting up a Wi-Fi Network to increase coverage in areas that may have spotty GSM and "4G" (read 3G) Wireless Broadband from Digicel and FLOW Jamaica.

It also gives an indication of FLOW Jamaica's business plans, as they could resell their soon-to-be-launched LTE (Long Term Evolution) as well as Fiber Optic Services as explained in my blog article entitled “Why FLOW Jamaica's 4G LTE Upgrade to counter Digicel Play needs islandwide LTE, VDSL and DOCSIS 3.1”  as a backhaul for these Wi-Fi Networks to be built to support.

Since Wi-Fi Calling is really an MVNO with the option to use Wi-Fi Access to make calls, expect that other Telecom Provider may be entering Jamaica as well to launch Wi-Fi Calling as noted in my blog article entitled “Vodafone's Wi-Fi Calling in UK - How being Red means Nexus Google Fi coming”. 

So there you have it.

The new Telecom Provider may really be a MVNO, as that was the most recently available Telecom Licenses and it easier to set up MVNO. It could be WhatsApp in dealing with FLOW Jamaica with Huawei and Lasco Jamaica to provide the unlocked Dual-SIM smartphones.

Worse, more of these MVNO, from Google FI to Vodafone and AT&T may be coming to part of an MVNO Invasion!

This suggests that the Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining in conjunction with the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) may be in the process of finalizing a regulation on MVNO's in Jamaica.

With any luck, we'll hear more of this via the Jamaica Information Service in the coming days.....and possibly more MVNO entrants into Jamaica!! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why SETI and NASA suspect Tabetha Boyajian of Yale University KIC 8462852 star is a Dyson Sphere

Looks like there is more than meets the eye when it comes to alien.

On October 17th 2015, unusual data from the Kepler Space Telescope on a star 1,400 light years away in the Constellation Cygnus named KIC 8462852 created quite a stir in the astronomy community as reported in the article “The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy”, published OCT 13, 2015 by Ross Andersen, The Atlantic.

Google Logo

The strange data was discovered by Yale Post-Doctoral student Tabetha Boyajian with the help of the Planet Hunters, basically “citizen scientists” who examine Kepler Space Telescope data and other data on their computers. Humans are better at spotting patterns in data and until AI (Artificial Intelligence) is up to snuff, this is the best way to analyze the tons of data coming out of many of the Optical and Radio Telescopes all around the world.

What Tabetha Boyajian and Planet Hunters discovered and published on September 11th 2015 on the Cornell University Library website under Astrophysical Journal Letters entitled “Planet Hunters X. KIC 8462852 - Where's the Flux?” is shaking up the Astronomy community worldwide.

it appears that they may have possibly discovered signs of intelligent life around another star, as there's talk of these object being Dyson spheres as reported in the article “The story behind 'alien megastructures' scientists may have found (but probably didn't)”, published October 17, 2015 by Eric Mack, CNET News.

But after years of searching, is this finally evidence of Alien life in the Universe? Or is there another logical explanation?

Yale Post-Doc Tabetha Boyajian and KIC 8462852 - Why everybody is thinking these are Dyson Spheres

Normally, when a planet passes between the Kepler Space Telescope and its star, it causes a predictable dip in luminosity as explained in my blog article entitled “University of Montreal directly images exoplanet GU Psc b using Infrared - 100 Light Year Barrier no longer an issue as Infrared Tun Up” that gives an idea of not only the period of revolution, the size of the planet but also to some extent the composition of the planet's atmosphere.

Well strangely enough, the star KIC 8462852, an F-type main-sequence star, was spotted by amateur planet hunters as having strange dips in its luminosity.

Google Logo

It seemed to be surrounded by a swarm of objects flying in a tight formation, like a cloud of comets or the gas from nebulae or accretion disk from which planets form as described in my blog article entitled “How the University of Arizona discovered proto-planet LkCa 15b”. 

However, for a star this young, it would be glowing in infrared radiation like that produced from H-alpha photons in an accretion disk around a star. This was not the case, as it did not glow with any telltale radiation.

Also its rate of spin, based on tracking sunspots on the surface of KIC 8462852 suggest that it’s spinning at a rate of once every 24 hours, suggesting something is removing material from the star’s mass thereby accelerating its spin.

So being as KIC 8462852 is definately an older star, the material, if it was coming from the star, should have being pulled into the star by gravity over the millions of years of the star existence.

The fact that these multiple object blocking light from the KIC 8462852 to the Kepler Space Telescope suggests that it must have been there more recently, say in the last 10,000 years, as its orbit had not decayed.

Albeit Mrs. Tabetha Boyajian published paper does not suggest anything strange, she did offer the following possible explanation for this anomaly:

1.      Instrument defects
2.      Asteroid belt remnants
3.      Leftover from planetary collisions

However, it was really left up to Penn State University Astronomer, Dr. Jason Wright, who upon looking upon the data, proclaimed it to be alien megastructures, quote: “When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told me. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Specifically, if could be a set of Dyson's Sphere orbiting the star, which would explain the unusual dimming of this fairly old F-type main-sequence star KIC 8462852.

So what is a Dyson Sphere?

Dyson Sphere Explained - Boyajian, Wright and Seimion requesting Radio telescope time for a closer look

A Dyson Sphere is basically a large sphere or array of solar panels built around a fusion reactor core or a mini brown or red dwarf as described in the article “What is a Dyson sphere?”, published October 30 2015, EarthSky.

  Google Logo

Proposed by Dr. Freeman J. Dyson in a thought experiment in 1960, he published his idea in a two-page paper in the Journal Science was titled “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation”. 

The idea is that the Dyson Sphere would be built by a Type 2 or Type 3 super civilization that was in need of more power than the planet could provide. So they'd encase a red or brown dwarf inside a Dyson Sphere to power an array of solar panels or other technology to convert the power to usable electricity. The aliens could potentially be living either on the surface of the Dyson Sphere, if the gravity from its rotation is sufficient or on the inside in covered city dwellings.

Alternatively, they could have lasers of Microwaves beam the energy own to the planet surface, powering their planet for a millennia and even use the focused beam or radiating for space travel via solar sails as described in my blog article entitled “The Planetary Society LightSail Cubesat deploys Solar Sail – Why Surfing the Solar Wind is now on @NASA agenda as Jamaica can launch Solar Satellite too”.

Please note that a Dyson Sphere hypothesis is a hypothesis of last resort, as it may be some natural phenomenon that hasn't yet been encountered by scientists. However, Mrs. Tabetha Boyajian seems optimistic that it might prove to be a fleet of solar collectors floating around the star, possibly the early stages of the construction of a full Dyson Sphere.

Along with Astronomer Jason Wright and Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, Andrew Siemion, they're floating a proposal to point a massive radio dish at KIC 8462852 to see if it emits radio wave signals that can be interpreted as being signs of intelligent life.

If they get something interesting on Radio in, they would have the bargaining power to request time on the VLA (Very Large Array) in New Mexico, to quote Astronomer Jason Wright, quote: “If we saw something exciting, we could ask the director for special allotted time on the VLA. And in that case, we’d be asking to go on right away”

But there is more to the star KIC 8462852 than meets the eye.

KIC 8462852 has been dimming for 100 years - Dr Bradley E. Schaefer data means Dyson Spheres still a possibility

Turns out that the F-type main-sequence star KIC 8462852 has been getting dimmer between 1890 and 1989.

This was discovered recently by Professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Louisiana State University Dr Bradley E. Schaefer, after doping through some 500,000 old photographic plates stored in Harvard University's archive as reported in the article “Weird star system scientists have been checking for aliens just got weirder”, published January 15, 2016 by Eric Mack, CNET News.

He points out in the paper submitted by Dr Bradley E. Schaefer to Astrophysical Journal Letters on January 13th 2016 titled  “KIC 8462852 Faded at an Average Rate of 0.165+-0.013 Magnitudes Per Century From 1890 To 1989” that the light from the star KIC 8462852 has been fading over the 100 years that it was being observed.

This is unusual in itself, as stars tend to get brighter as they age before finally going out in a nova or supernova explosion to quote Dr Bradley E. Schaefer: “The KIC 8462852 light curve from 1890 to 1989 shows a highly significant secular trend in fading over 100 years, with this being completely unprecedented for any F-type main sequence star. Such stars should be very stable in brightness, with evolution making for changes only on time scales of many millions of years”.

This mean that any hypothesis that the unusual dimming is due to comets is now completely false as declared in the article “Comets can’t explain weird ‘alien megastructure’ star after all”, published 15 January 2016, New Scientist.

Or worse, our alien friends Dyson Sphere may possibly be feeding off the F-type main-sequence star KIC 8462852 to power their Dyson Sphere, something fairly easy for a Type 2 or Type 3 civilization to accomplish. This would explain why the star is spinning so rapidly, as feeding off the material from the star would make it smaller and thus accelerate it spin and make it dimmer in the process.

Hopefully, by February 2016, Astronomer Jason Wright and Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, Andrew Siemion can get to check this out with a Radio Telescope. If this turns out to be Dyson Spheres and signs of intelligent life, humanity would be on the cusp of the biggest discover since the Kepler Space Telescope began finding planets.

Here’s the link: