SARS2 not from a lab

Two bits of info indicating extremely unlikely that this was engineered in a laboratory: A) Computer models show the binding function would be very poor for how it binds; B) The core code of the virus matches animal versions, not versions known to make humans sick.

Here's why: SARS-CoV-2 is very closely related to the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which fanned across the globe nearly 20 years ago. Scientists have studied how SARS-CoV differs from SARS-CoV-2 — with several key letter changes in the genetic code.

Yet in computer simulations, the mutations in SARS-CoV-2 don't seem to work very well at helping the virus bind to human cells. If scientists had deliberately engineered this virus, they wouldn't have chosen mutations that computer models suggest won't work.

This evidence for natural evolution was supported by data on SARS-CoV-2’s backbone – its overall molecular structure. If someone were seeking to engineer a new coronavirus as a pathogen, they would have constructed it from the backbone of a virus known to cause illness. But the scientists found that the SARS-CoV-2 backbone differed substantially from those of already known coronaviruses and mostly resembled related viruses found in bats and pangolins.


Ooof. Our little media computer in the living room was 10 years old. I swapped it out with a NUC5. Technically, the CPU is the same performance, but it’s 6 watts instead of 75, and it’s spread over 4 cores instead of 2.

In reality, the integrated graphics is double the perf, plus there’s 12x hardware acceleration for video and encryption. It should be WAY faster. Also, it’s tiny, the size of a box of 250 business cards. It’ll pay for itself in 2 years, just on electricity alone, though the decreased frustration from LAG will help too.

There’s no DVD/CD/BD drive on it, though I have a USB DVD drive I rarely use. If I really needed to, I could swap the guts for my BD drive I never use.

Our HTPC has been moved from a 225W small PC to a 25W mini-PC. This is equal CPU, slower single thread, double graphics, and 10x video/encryption processing power, for about the cost of a mid-level video card.

Our HTPC was a 2006 Thinkcenter M55, and has been chuggy for some video for years. The real reason for swap out is because it finally lost the CMOS battery. This is annoying, because Windows 10 updates ALL THE TIME, and reboots ALL THE TIME. So, it would always hang at full CPU, full fan, waiting for a keypress.

When I replaced the battery, I found 2 FETs have been cooking a little bit of the motherboard. Searched around, and 3 K-stamp capacitors (they look Panasonicky) are bulged.

I thought I’d inventory it and see if it’s worth fixing, or whether it is worth even parting out. Radeon 6570, Core 2 Extreme X6800, 2x 2GB DDR2 DIMMs, LG Blu-Ray Rewriter, and a 128GB M.2 SSD in an adapter. PSU is 255 Watts, and the CPU is rated at 75 Watts. CPU passmark is just over 1800, and video passmark is around 768.

The cheapest quad-core mini-PC i could find was a battle between Gigabyte GB-BXBT-1900 (J1900), and an Intel NUC5PPYH. The N3700 Braswell supports AES acceleration, and overall is just a better tech. Not new and shiny, but really at the sweet spot. The unit has built in IR, USB3, and SD slot vs the BRIX. There’s actually a wifi card in there too, but I don’t need that. I could pull it and put the SSD there I suppose, but whatever. The Gigabyte was 25% less, but the J1900 BayTrail CPU still has power-state issues in some versions of Linux, and I like USB3.

So, the NUC Gen5 won out. The CPU passmark is just under 1900, and the integrated video passmark is around 1430. Half the perf for a single thread, but equal overall, plus hardware decoding for video is a huge help.

Instead of being an SFF desktop (4″ x 12″ x 14″) with a 75 watt CPU, and a 225W power supply, the NUC is a 3″x5″x5″ block with a 6-watt CPU and a 25W power supply.

Amazing what 10 years will do for technology. Also, I just moved the boot drive over, and Windows spent 20 mins applying drivers. All’s well I think.


Max and Khai decided an XBox-360 was in order. Lots of cheap games. A new 360E was the best option, so Max went that route. He put in $155 (vs $94+SH + Accessories for used, or $156 for refurb). Khai put in $20. I put in $5, plus bought a 320GB drive ($45). No Kinect. Halo 3 was bought for $6 by Max. Our DVD player has gone stale since we set up a media PC, so the XB360 will take over that HDMI port.

New UPS batteries

The storm last night performed a UPS test that was long over-due.

Unfortunately, the server UPS failed. One battery was 0V, and the other was 8.6V.

Both 7AH-12V batteries were replaced with new 9AH-12V batteries.

The old ones were the factory batteries, plut into service 2008-07-03 as per:

The UPS seems happy with the new batteries. They should provide a little longer run-time.

I’ll add a reminder to replace them in 5 years.

$100 from mom

Mom’s b-day gift was turned into an external 15GB USB2 hard drive. I could have gotten a 20 or 30g one, but it would have required external power adapter, which is just plain hokey. :)