Third week under COVID-19 lock-down in Austria (5. April )

General Situation

Three weeks have passed under lock-down and things have calmed downed, people are getting used to stay at home. Homeoffice, Home Schooling, etc. becomes more organized. Although many people (83%) accept the lock down in general, with these good weather conditions people tend to interpret the lock down a little bit too relaxed. But for thoses who get caught, getaways can become really expensive (up to 3600€). The police has announced that they will put additional effort to enforce the lock down including mountain police patrols and helicopters.

Good weather conditions
Good weather is bad for lock-down discipline

The number of infections is still on the raise but the rate is rather low. Under lock down the increase rate now has droped under 10% for many days. In addition masks are now mandatory for going shopping.

COVID-19 rate in Austria
Positive tested for Covid-19

Tracking is still a big issue and recently discussed in the media and politics. Google statistics show the effect of lock-down. Some politicans are discussing if the Red Cross’ Stop Corona App should be mandatory. Another idea is to automate the app’s handshake. Right now, a handshake with other app users has to be done manually. This isn’t done very often, especially with stranger e.g. at the super market. A future update may automate the handshake to track every people around you. Although a persons ID is anonymous, an automated tracking of everyone is not accepted by most people.

Azure Cloud and Business Applications

Last week the resources in the Azure Cloud region Europe were at its limit. The deployment of VMs in West/North europe often failed. This week we tried to deploy a Dynamics 365 Finance / SCM Tier2 environment. After days in status Queued we were adviced to place the environment in US South region.

Deploy Dynamics 365 Finance / SCM Tier2 environment in US-South Central

The highlight this week was the virutal launch event for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform april wave. Our company attended the event from our home offices while the speakers were presenting from their home offices.

From Home Office to Home Office: Business Applications Wave April’20 Launch Event

From all the new features coming to the Power Platform, I found the UI flow very interesting. In combination with an on-premises gateway, Power Automate (aka. Flow) can be used to interact with locally installed windows applications and websites. This is especially interesting to integrate legacy applications without an API. I’ve made a short Video how to use the UI Flows for web sites to get the actual Bitcoin / EUR rate and send it via Email.

UI Flow demo: Integrate a web site with Power Automate

More Cooking

Gemüsefleckerl, Fleischlaberl, Pudding, Apfelschlangerl, Fleckerlspeis

Stay home, stay safe

Second week under COVID-19 lock-down in Austria (28. March)

General Situation

The second week of lock-down has passed. The number of infections are growing, but the rate of new infections is decreasing. However, a small increase of large number is still a larger number and it is expected that we will see the peek in the next weeks. With a incubation time up to 10 or 14 days it looks like the lock down has a positive effect. The number of infections is only an approximation to reality, because only a small number of people are tested. The more tests, the more positive cases will be identifed. Thats why it was announced to use the number of people in hospital and in intensive care as more realisitc indicators.

Increasing number of infections, decreasing rate

The government is publishing actual data on regular basis: https://info.gesundheitsministerium.at/

Austrias Covid-19 dashboard

Remote-, Home-, Distance- Everything

In week 2 almost everything possible has been switched to digital and remote work. Many courses at Johannes Kepler Universtity have been switched to distance learning via video streams. Whenever I prefer presence courses because it’s hard to say concentrated for an hour watch video streams.

JKU Linz Moodle

Companies like SAP took the chance to offer free courses and certifications for students who now have time and stay at home. Not only SAP but many other companies use the forced timeout to gain new customers via free videos, tutorials, training, etc.

Free SAP course and certification

The Austrian Red Cross has developed a Stop Corona app to track social contacts. The app assings an anonymous number to the phone and you can do a handshake with other app users. If one person is tested positive on Covid-19 all other contacts get notified on their phone. The use of the app is (actually) optional. Other countries like chain also have tracking apps, but these apps are not anonymous and not optional.

Anonymous tracking app

Fight for Resources

The huge number of Microsoft Teams users (44 million now) forced Microsoft to increase the resources by x60 times. Microsoft also announced to reduce the functionallity of cloud services like Teams, SharePoint, Stream etc. There are also complaints that deploying new Azure resources in region West-Europe fails. I tried to deploy 2 servers (2 cores, 7 GB RAM) and indeed one deployment failed because no resources could be allocated.

No resources in Azure region West-Europe

More Cooking

I’ve used the time in lock-down to train my cooking skills. Fleischlaberl, Kaiserschamarrn, spinach, Apfelschlangerl, Noodle Gratin, Käsekreiner, Apple rings.

Cooking in Isolation

First week under COVID-19 lock-down in Austria (March 22nd)

General Situation

One week has passed since Austria was set under lock-down. When being outside (Work, Shopping Food, Taking a walk) at least 1m distance has to be kept between people, gathering in groups is not allowed. The Police is enforcing the rules with fines up to 3600€. Students, who party and potentially spread the virus can be expelled from university.

Severe consequences for students

Home Office

Our company is now running 100% from home office. It turned out that Teams is now the backbone for us. On monday some of us experienced problems in Teams. However, this is more than understandable when so many companies had to switch to home office and schools are also using Teams for distance learning. Microsoft reported they have now 44 million users on Teams. The usage of Teams also increased significantly in our company.

Teams usage increased during home office

While the cloud scales pretty good, the local internet connection at our office is relativly fixed. There are peeks during working hours because we still have some workloads on-prem but monitoring the traffic it seams we are pretty fine with the current bandwidth. Same goes for the sizing of our RDS host which can handle the remaining on-prem workload as well. The more you are cloud-based, the less you have to worry about on-prem bottlenecks.

Traffic monitorig for on-prem workloads

During the Corona crisis Microsoft, Google, Teamviewer and others offer their collaboration tools for free. To ensure there is enough bandwidth for home office (e.g. while the kids are streaming videos), Netflix announced (was asked) to reduced the quality of video streaming. The RTR announced that providers may omit net neutrality and reduced the bandwith for video streaming. Even more concerning is that A1 Telekom now gives anonymous(?) movement profiles of cell phones to the government and red cross.

There is also something good to take away from this crisis. It is a massive push for digital transformation because now companies are forced to embrace cloud services like Teams to stay operable. We already heard from cloud-sceptical customers that especially Teams is very welcome. Teams & Co is not only used to enable home office, but also to switch former face-to-face contacts with customers and suppliers to remote contact.

Now, that we the number of appointments and customer vistis have been significantly reduced we use some time for house keeping like patching servers, upgrading operating systems, etc. We were planning to take some exams to meet the Microsoft Competency requirements. Thomas Maurer published a good article about how to take an certification exam online. This is also a breathing time to work on our Blockchain research project and migrate applications from the Blockchain Workbench to the Blockchain Service in Azure.

Evaluating the Blockchain Service (Beta)

Home Office = Home Cooking

Home office means home cooking and I started to enjoy cooking a fresh meal every day like Schnitzel, Cevapcici, Chili, etc.

Mahlzeit

First day under COVID-19 lock-down in Austria (16. March'20)

In order to reduce corona infections in Austria we are under lockdown, meaning everybody should stay at home except working in a critical business, buy food and drugs or help others. At this moment we have 1018 people infected and 3 dead.

Monday morning but most people stay at home

As IT company we can switch pretty easy to home office. Communication is now based on Microsoft Teams and Email. We have clear rules for home office. Sign-in and Sign-out in our Shop Floor Control System, phone, email and Teams has to be enabled. We have set up a seperate company Team to group all employees at home in virtual office.

A virtual office in Teams

We’re utilizing our cloud services like Office365, Remote Desktop Service Hosts, VPN and Facebook as well for instant communication. I’ve also summarized the options today in an email to my colleagues. Although there are reports that Teams is facing issues because of the high usage, I didn’t recognize problems in Teams today.

Many articles regarding home office suggest to make a clear break between private and working time. If decided to use my Surface environment (Laptop, Keyboard, Mouse) for work and my Desktop PC for private time.

Cooking and lunch is done at home, and is far not so much fun like in the office. Especially withouth the office dog Meggie.

Cooking noodles for lunch

Public transport is still operating, but the tramway is almost empty (as it should be). Borders are closed for regular travellers, only trucks and business travel ist allowed. Most passenger flights from and to Linz airport are cancelled, freight is still operating.

Clear sky, no planes

Let’s see how the rest of the week will be. Someone posted this today on facebook:

Everything is going to be alright ❤