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Internet speed in the time of COVID-19 is everything

Time flies by so fast, and yet, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought our lives to a screeching halt. Nearly seven months into the quarantined life, we have experienced a day that already feels like a week, a week that feels like a month, and with quarantine guidelines restricting us from being with our loved ones, the only way for us to really connect is through the internet. The question now is, how connected are we to be virtually together? In these trying times with everyone cooped up at home, Internet speed has become indispensable. Apart from speed, having a backup is a necessity, what with every family member hogging the bandwidth for Google Hangouts and/or Zoom calls used for either school or work. This is where PLDT Home comes in, thanks to their newly-launched device: the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem. Internet speed is king — even for a backup modem I got to experience firsthand the newest device that PLDT Home recently launched. Having had my fair share of experience with the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid, the newly improved Advance modem is a definite game-changer. How was it? It was not bad — at all. The LTE-Advance experience The PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem is a plug-and-play device, so installing it is very easy. To put it to the test, I used the device for an entire day, not just as backup, but as my main source of Internet connection. I put it near the window, which is always the advice given for modems to get better Internet connection. The PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem features carrier aggregation that is a combination of frequency channels to power LTE to deliver at faster speeds. This enabled me to connect three devices all at once, without having to sacrifice the quality of my Wifi connectivity. The PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance is powered by Smart LTE, the fastest mobile network in the Philippines as certified by Ookla. There are also two LAN ports found at the back that allow users to have wired connection for two devices. This is perfect for families with parents working from home and children taking online classes. The verdict Absolutely no jokes were meant when I mentioned above that the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem is a game-changer. This is the device that families need at home to better equip them while working from and/or studying at home while also being practical with their internet spending. Because it’s prepaid, families need not worry about adding up to their monthly bills and they can easily load the device when they need it. The modem is a powerful device because of the reliable and stronger Internet connection it can provide to the entire family. PLDT Home really did step up their game with this device, and I repeat — it’s a necessity in households today. Be it for virtual conference calls for work, online classes, or catch up sessions with your loved ones, the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid modem is a device anyone can depend on. Prepaid packages for the family To match the much improved PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem, PLDT Home provided new and affordable FamLoad packages that cater to the Internet needs of families at home. For students, the FamLoad Study 599 comes with 57 GB with 3 GB/day for learning tools like Canvas, Schoology, Gabay Guro, Microsoft 365, and NEO. Those who are film and TV series geeks will also enjoy using the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem, with its FamLoad Video 599 equipped with 40 GB for open access data and 15 GB of YouTube, or the FamLoad Video Plus 599 with 45 GB for all sites and apps or 3 GB of videos daily for 15 days. The new PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid Advance modem is now available via the PLDT Home website and can be delivered fast via Grab delivery. The unit also comes with free 10GB data that’s ready for use and it’s convenient to reload through GrabApp using the GrabPay wallet, Paymaya, myPLDT Smart app, or PLDT Home and Smart’s retailers nationwide. In these trying times, the need to stay online as we opt to do things virtually is at an all-time high, and PLDT Home may just have provided the very device that is now a truly relevant and essential part of the modern new normal home......»»

Category: newsSource: mb.com.ph mb.com.phOct 9th, 2020

For the third time, Smart named as country’s fastest mobile network

For three consecutive years, leading mobile services provider Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) remains to be the fastest mobile network in the Philippines, says Ookla, the global leader in Internet testing and analysis. This is also the third time that Smart surpassed Globe in terms of speed score and average upload and download speeds, based on millions […] The post For the third time, Smart named as country’s fastest mobile network appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsApr 11th, 2021

Globe At Home tops Netflix& rsquo;s internet speed index

Globe’s broadband business “Globe At Home” topped the latest Netflix ISP Speed Index for the second time this year.  Globe At Home led Netflix’s ISP leaderboard with an average speed of 3.2 Mbps in February 2021......»»

Category: techSource:  thestandardRelated NewsMar 15th, 2021

NTC starts bi-monthly meetings with telcos to further improve internet speed

The National Telecommunications Commission this weekend invited Globe and Smart to its first bi-monthly meeting with the Department of Information and Communications Technology on the first week of February to help ensure that the telcos’ plans for expansion and improvement in 2021 are completed in time......»»

Category: techSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 24th, 2021

PH internet speed continues to improve

Despite challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s internet speed continues to improve based on Ookla findings for December 2020.  .....»»

Category: techSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 4th, 2021

Beep card and Internet woes

On the Beep card fiasco I spoke out recently on the chaos caused by the mandatory use of the “Beep card” for consumers riding the public buses under the “no-card no-ride”policy. It was as if the riding consumers were being required to purchase a Beep card at “gunpoint” or forget about riding the bus. This chaotic scenario could have been avoided had the regulators done its work mindfully by first consulting with the stakeholders (“who”), drafting the new policy (“what”) and once agreed upon, by ensuring wide dissemination of the changes – the Implementing Guidelines. Where did “complete staff work” go? Or are the consumers just being given an example of doublespeak?  What happened this week was consumers were confronted with the “no- card no-ride”signs on the buses and were required to pay for a ride plus the cost of the card, something they did not need to do before. For those who did pay the extra cost, they then had to find out that the policy was “suspended,” although no refunds were being offered.There was also the spectacle of the agency head announcing that the cards were free, contradicting the policy his agency had just announced and implemented. The card providers then said they were not about to waive their right to be paid. In another statement, a regulator functionary reasoned that it had nothing to do with the fine print on the contract for the cards since they were only responsible for “policy.” This violates the consumer’s right to be informed. The agency should have studied the sector most affected by the shift to cashless transaction – the consumer who must rely on public transportation because he has no alternative and  the same consumer who must make every peso count and who cannot afford any extra expense. This consumer deserves earnest and timely information from government on why he has to pay an additional amount and how it will benefit him, and for the consumers who did pay the additional cost of the card, they should enjoy a swift refund.  The lesson that we consumers learned in the Beep card fiasco is always to be aware and conscious of our consumer rights and to speak up when these rights are threatened or belittled. We should always be vigilant consumers about our rights lest we find these rights trodden again. On Internet speed Like every other consumers, I have problems with Internet speed. I pay my bills and fees  on time ,  however,  I  believe I should only pay for the speed that I receive  and I did not think I was getting what I paid for under my plan. Therefore, I conducted my own speed test and sought redress  from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). I was able to get a refund and am paying now for the plan that is nearest to the speed I am getting. Consumers should exercise their right to seek redress for bad Internet speed.  Consumers should be reimbursed for speed that is not delivered. In this time of the pandemic, profiteering should not be tolerated in any form. I call upon the NTC to take the lead by issuing implementing guidelines on refund for both prepaid and postpaid plans. Consumers should also ask for faster response on consumer complaints. The complaints of Messrs.   Foronda and Platon posted in the Laban Konsyumer emails should be resolved faster. Hopefully, the reported 1,171 new cell tower permits should alleviate consumer woes in the near future. In the meantime however, if you are not getting value for the service you paid for, your option is to downgrade your plan to correspond to the speed you are getting and claim a refund of excess fees paid. You can submit your complaint online at www.ntc.gov.ph. Atty. Vic Dimagiba is President of Laban Konsyumer Inc. Email: labankonsyumer@gmail.com.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

Experts weigh in on cyberbullying in the time of pandemic

With schools forced to implement alternative education modalities such as online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, incidences of cyberbullying are expected to soar even higher in the coming months.  To help parents as well as education practitioners learn how both online and offline communities can protect children and youth from cyberbullying, a panel of local and international experts shared suggestions on how to prevent this phenomenon. Experts from the Philippines and South Korea exchanged views on cyberbullying and how this can be prevented especially with the rising cases among youth in a webinar on cyberbullying organized by Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation recently. During the webinar, 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and Blue Tree Foundation (BTF) founder Kim Jong-ki shared how he and his foundation has been battling school violence in the past 20 years. The BTF was very instrumental in curbing incidences of violence against students in schools. BTF Preventive Education Center Head Park Ju-han shared that in South Korea, school violence has declined for 15 years but has risen again since 2015. “The main factors are the low aging and the increase of cyberbullying,” he said. Meanwhile, BTF Research and Counseling Team Leader Lee Sun-young discussed how the foundation has been working with schools on the prevention of violence among students and shared some best practices that can be adopted by other countries like the Philippines. “We need to teach children when to respond when cyberbullying is happening,” she said.  “Digital literacy is the first key on how to be nice in the world,” she added.  In the Philippines, UP Manila-Philippine General Hospital Child Protection Unit (CPU) head Dr. Bernadette Madrid noted that “bullying has been increasing.” Based on the results of the national baseline survey on violence against children in 2016, she shared that “bullying in the Philippines was quite high” with 65 percent of the youth – ages 13 to 17 years old – have experienced some form of bullying. Same goes for the prevalence of cyberbullying wherein 44% of the students reported cyber violence. “It is a real problem here in our country, it is harmful but it can be prevented,” Madrid said. Given this, she noted that in terms of prevention, a single program is not enough to address cyberbullying. “We need multiple programs to be more successful,” she added. Meanwhile, Don Bosco Technical College Cebu president and dean Fr. Fidel Orendain noted that protecting students from violence and abuse especially with the shift to e-learning is a challenge for many schools. “This topic is a hot issue for us right now,” he admitted. Since schools are familiar with face-to-face familiarity, he noted that online learning is “challenging our identity and the way we educate.” To resolve this, he urged schools to increase their presence by way of talks and conferences. “We can also make ourselves available for counseling,” he added. For Stairway Foundation, Inc. Senior Advocacy Officer Ysrael Diloy, protecting children at this time is more crucial than ever. In the past 18 years, he has been working with key government agencies in the Philippines, via national level councils and working groups, advocating for child protection policy, and programmatic changes. “We are at an age wherein the current generation of children has known technology as the norm,” he said. Diloy has initiated the CyberSafe program which is currently the flagship child online protection program of the Department of Education (DepEd). “Now more than ever, we need to ensure that we are all contributing to make the Internet a safe space for and with children, so that they can reap all the benefits and opportunities that technology presents – this is the very essence the CyberSafe program hopes to achieve,” he ended......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2020

PBA return pushed back again as Metro Manila under MECQ anew

Following another late-night announcement Sunday, Metro Manila is once again under a modified enhanced community quarantine. The new quarantine measures will take effect starting August 4 and will last until August 18. The PBA is directly affected, as sports gatherings are not allowed under MECQ, resulting in another speed bump to the league's planned return. "The government knows what is good for us, and we conform with their orders. We will follow the guidelines and will wait for the next word from them with regards to restrictions on whatever quarantine status we're in," PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said. "As for the 14-day return of Metro Manila to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), I look at it as a short detour that we'll pursue in the hope of getting our teams back in the gym at the right time," Marcial added. The PBA earlier received official government approval to start team practices by small batches. [Related: PBA hopeful for 2020 return after getting practice green light] Pending COVID-19 swab testing for all teams, which were scheduled later this week at Makati Med, teams were on track to return to the court by next week. Now, all plans have been pushed back, including the swab testing. "We have no recourse but to adjust the schedule of our activities. The supposed swab testing of the players at the Makati Med on Aug. 6-7 will be pushed back," Commissioner Marcial said. "Ngayon, we'll communicate with them [PBA teams] to inform them that we'll have to hear the next call of the government," he added. As of Sunday, August 2, hours before the MECQ announcement, the Philippines has recorded 103,185 positive COVID-19 cases.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2020

House panel eyeing legalization of motorcycle taxis

UP-NIH says use of helmets,  face shields protect riders The chairman of the House Committee on Transportation has given the green light to its technical working group (TWG) to convene and jumpstart the deliberation on the proposed resumption of the operations of motorcycle taxis, and the measures seeking to legalize the operations of the two-wheel vehicles. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN) This was the guidance given by Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento to Navotas lone District Rep. John Reynald Tiangco during his panel’s recent virtual motu proprio probe on land transportation policies concerning the back-riding and motorcycle taxi operations.Tiangco heads the TWG, which was created by the House panel last January to thresh out the issues concerning the motorcycle taxi operations. Sarmiento approved the motion made by Manila 5th District Rep. Cristal Bagatsing for Congress to “spearhead the evaluation of the pilot study of motorcycle taxis”, along with other government agencies sitting at the TWG that earlier conducted pilot  tests on motorcycle taxis. Bagatsing laments that the TWG’s report on pilot testing “is lacking and seems to be rushed.”LTO Chief Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante admitted that the report is “somewhat lacking”, explaining that some activities that were supposed to have been conducted have not been conducted at all because of the pandemic.The LTO official said the TWG focuses on the aspect of “safety evaluation” and not on the economic viability of the motorcycle. The Sarmiento panel called on  Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and National Task Force (NTF) Against coronavirus disease (COVID-19)  to allow ride sharing or motorcycle taxis to operate, provided that the riders and drivers strictly follow heath protocols as sought by Quezon City 2nd District Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo.  Castelo said by allowing the operation of the motorcycle taxis, the government will be able to augment its public transport system and respond to the transportation needs of the commuting public.The Sarmiento panel also decided to adopt the motion made by Iloilo City lone District Rep. Julienne “Jam” Baronda calling on the DOTr’s TWG to extend its  pilot tests for motorcycle taxis, which lapsed on March 23.During the hearing, Dr. Vicente “Jun” Belizario of the the University of the Philippines College of Public Health (UP-CPH) said they have been asked by motorcycle ride-hailing service Angkas to provide technical support to  develop guidelines promoting health and safety in motorcycle taxi operations during the time of COVID-19 and the new normal. “The guidelines that we have drafted are consistent with policies and protocols coming from international organisations— WHO (World Health Organisation), US Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” he said, citing that they also strongly considered the recommendations made by the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the DOTr.Citing the study published in The Lancet, he said the chance of COVID-19 transmission is reduced if masks or respirators are worn, and the helmets may also function as face shields, thus not only reducing the risk of injuries, but importantly, increasing protection also from possible air droplet transmission. He said while, the use of the so-called barriers or shields provides an additional layer of protection, there should be “additional studies” on the potential role of barriers or the shield in preventing COVID-19 transmission in motorcycle back-riding. Citing the study published in The Lancet, Belizario also stressed that that with poor ventilation, you have increased the risk of respiratory infection, including COVID-19.He said for the control and prevention COVID-19, it is important to impose “diligent use” of a combination of proven measures or layers of protection. There must be heightened awareness among the public, internal and external monitoring by private company and government officials, and collaboration is needed more than ever to promote health and safety in the transport sector, Belizario stressed.During the hearing, George Royeca, Angkas Chief Transport Advocate, noted that they engaged the services of the Total Control, a motorcycle safety firm in the United States for the last 30 years, to design the shield “to make it very light weight and aerodynamic” and ensure its roadworthiness. “The weight of this shield is less than 1 kg so it does not hamper the operations of the motorcycle. Dito po nakalagay (It was indicated here), (the speed was) up to 30 to 40 kph na meron po syang sakay sa likod (and there was a backrider) , she felt almost no wind drag and she was able to manage it well with the driver leaning in to the turns because wala pong metal barrier na nakasagabal (there was no metal barrier) in between them, and then he brought it out to C-5, all the way up to 90 kph and based from his testimony, there was turbulence but not enough be able to throw them off balance, it still maintain the stability,” he said, as he presented the specifications of the Angkas shield, which was approved by the IATF, apart from the prototype of Bohol Governor Arthur Yap.He told the lawmakers that their designed shield “doesn’t break and (is) malleable.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 1st, 2020

Hurricane Isaias lashes Bahamas on path to virus-hit Florida

Hurricane Isaias lashed the Bahamas Friday as it churned toward Florida, bringing new dangers to a US state suffering record deaths from an unrelenting coronavirus outbreak. Soldiers carry out cleaning work on destroyed houses after the overflow of the Magua river due heavy rains caused by Isaias storm in the city of Hato Mayor, northwest of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on July 31, 2020. (Photo by Erika SANTELICES / AFP) The category one storm, packing winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) an hour, gained strength Thursday night after sweeping over the Dominican Republic. As of 2100 GMT, it was an expansive storm, moving northwest at a speed of 15 mph, kicking up heavy squalls and whipping the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos island chains with strong winds, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said. “Hurricane conditions will continue to spread northwestward into the central and northwestern Bahamas tonight (Friday) and Saturday,” it added. The eye of the storm was expected to pass over the southeastern Bahamas sometime during the evening Friday and reach the central Bahamas during the night. Hurricane warnings were up across the low-lying Bahamas while parts of Florida’s east coast — including Palm Beach, the location of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort — were under a hurricane watch. Florida could start the feeling the effects of the storm by late Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed an emergency declaration for counties on the exposed Atlantic coast. But a slight shift westward in the storm’s trajectory raised hopes that Florida would be spared a direct hit.  DeSantis said it was too early to open shelters, but urged residents to stock up on enough water, food and medicine to last a week. Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Thursday relaxed strict stay-at-home orders imposed because of the coronavirus to allow residents to prepare for the hurricane. “I beg you, do not use this period for hurricane preparation to go socializing and visiting friends or family,” Minnis said at a news conference. “If you do not need to be out, please, please, STAY AT HOME! We are in the midst of a pandemic and if we do not act responsibly, the consequences could be dire,” he said. It is the Bahamas’ first hurricane since Dorian, a maximum strength Category 5 storm last year that devastated two islands, pummeling them for three days.   Hurricane plus pandemic Isaias left a shambles in Puerto Rico, downing trees and electric lines and inundating houses as it cut a path through the island on Thursday. “If you are seeing this, please, we need help,” a man in Mayaguez, on the island’s western side, begged in a video that showed his family clinging to the roof of their car as rising waters inundated their house. In Florida, the concern was that if Isaias does hit, it would cause havoc at a time when hospitals are flooded with a surge of COVID-19 cases. On Friday, Florida reported another 257 deaths, setting a fourth consecutive single day state record and pushing its virus death toll to 6,843. The state’s coronavirus testing centers, meanwhile, were closed Thursday and won’t reopen until they get the all-clear.  The state’s emergency management division explained that the testing centers are housed in tents and could not withstand tropical force winds. For several weeks, Florida has had nearly 10,000 new coronavirus cases a day.  The Republican-run state is now second in the nation in number of cases at 470,386, surpassing early epicenter New York.  Only California, with almost double Florida’s 21 million population, has had more......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 1st, 2020

Morikawa builds big lead at Muirfield Village before storms

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Among the lessons Collin Morikawa took away from missing his first cut as a pro was that his reliable cut shot had left him. He found at it Muirfield Village, and suddenly looks as though he'll be tough to catch at the Workday Charity Open. Morikawa ran off four straight birdies after making the turn Friday, finished with another birdie and shot 6-under 66 to build a four-shot lead over Sam Burns (66) in the storm-delayed tournament. His 13-under 131 was one shot off the course record set by Jason Dufner in 2017 at the Memorial. The Workday Charity Open, which replaces the canceled John Deere Classic for this year only, has been set up a little easier than it will be for the Memorial next year, with slightly slower greens and rough that isn't quite as high or thick. Morikawa is still playing a different brand of golf than anyone else. Through two rounds, he has 15 birdies and an eagle. His four bogeys have come from silly mistakes that are bound to happen. Ian Poulter, back at Muirfield Village for the first time since 2009 because of a reconfigured schedule brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, had a 69 and joined Chase Seiffert (69) at 7-under 137. The second round had a pair of 75-minute delays because of the rumbling thunder and lightning that seems to appear whenever the PGA Tour is at Muirfield Village. “Who knows who's going to take it deep today?” Morikawa said. “Whether I have the lead or not, I've got to go into the weekend feeling like I've got to make the same amount of birdies I have the past two days. I feel like there’s a lot of birdies out there for me especially, the way I’ve been hitting it.” Morikawa, who turned pro just over a year ago after graduating from Cal, is making his debut at the course Jack Nicklaus built, and perhaps it's no coincidence that Nicklaus was famous for hitting a cut. “I had heard from a lot of people before, this course was going to suit a left-to-right shot, anyway,” Morikawa said. “Obviously, Jack hit that, and I think it does. But I’ve been able to leave myself some really good numbers into approach shots. I’ve been keeping myself in the fairway for the most part, and that obviously helps.” Among those playing in the afternoon, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka first had to worry about making the cut after sluggish starts. Koepka started at 2 over. Rahm was at even par. Phil Mickelson had another exciting day, minus the meltdown at the end of his round. He opened by chipping in for birdie and making a 12-foot eagle putt. With the tee moved forward on the 14th hole, the par 4 guarded by a pond right of the green, he hit driver to 10 feet and had to settle for birdie. And right before the first batch of storms arrived, Mickelson felt the wind shift and get stronger, so he took driver on the par-5 fifth and whaled away over the trees and just inside backyard fences. It settled in the rough, but it left him only 114 yards away and a pitching wedge to the green. The speed of the greens fooled him, and he repeatedly left putts short. Even so, he managed to post a reasonable number. Jordan Spieth wasn't as fortunate. He took double bogey on his 17th hole, the par-3 eighth, and was likely to miss the cut. Morikawa had made 22 cuts in a row to start his pro career, a streak that ended two weeks ago at the Travelers Championship. That was three short of the streak Tiger Woods put together when he turned pro. But the 23-year-old Californian was more interested in low scores than simply getting in four rounds and a pay check. “At the end of the day, you’re out there to win tournaments,” he said. “If you miss the cut, make it by whatever, you just want to learn from each week. And like I said, I learned a lot from those two days missing the cut than I have in a lot of events so far when I’ve been finishing whatever." This one caused him to take a closer look at what was lacking in his game, instead of being reasonably content with a solid finish. “I think sometimes when something really doesn’t go your way, like missing a cut, it just stands out a little more,” he said. Somewhere along the way, he couldn't rely on his cut shot, allowing him to aim some 6 yards left of his target and fade it toward the pin, no matter where it was located. It was after his practice round Wednesday that he figured out what was missing, and he went back to an old drill of sticking his glove under his left arm. It's a rotational drill, and it paid off. He had to wait until the storms to see if anyone could catch him, with the second round not likely to end until Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2020

Birdies galore at Hilton Head, and Spieth needed them badly

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The RBC Heritage began two month later than usual with a little rain, a little sunshine and a lot of birdies, most of them from Jordan Spieth to turn a rough start into a furious finish. Ian Poulter holed a 30-foot birdie putt and followed with a 5-iron to 4 feet for a birdie that closed out his round of 7-under 64, giving him a share of the lead Thursday with Mark Hubbard at Hilton Head. “I've always loved coming here to play golf,” said Poulter, and he has plenty of company this year. The RBC Heritage, typically a week after the Masters in April, is the second tournament since the PGA Tour returned after 90 days from the COVID-19 pandemic. The top three players in the world are at Hilton Head — Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas — and none broke par on a day in which 66 players in the 151-man field shot in the 60s. A year ago, only 38 players in the 132-man field opened with rounds in the 60s. Spieth wouldn't have guessed he would be one of them after a tee shot what was 5 yards right of the 12th fairway hit a tree and didn't stop rolling until it was out-of-bounds. He made triple bogey and was 3 over through three holes. “All of a sudden, I’m 3 over through three, and you start to see guys going 2 under through two, 2 under through three early,” Spieth said. “It’s not a great feeling.” Determined to at least try to get under par for his round, Spieth had a career-best six straight birdies on his back nine and finished with seven birdies over his last eight holes for a 66. Poulter and Hubbard, who started birdie-eagle, were a shot ahead of a group that included Webb Simpson, Ryan Palmer and Viktor Hovland, Colonial winner Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Ernie Els and that incredible bulk, Bryson DeChambeau, were in the large group at 67. DeChambeau, who added some 40 pounds of mass to increase his swing speed, was hammering shots over the range during practice earlier in the week. He had to tone it down on the tight, tree-lined Harbour Town Golf Links. “I couldn’t unleash the Kraken today,” DeChambeau said, a student of physics and Scandinavian folklore. “It was just too tight out there. The wind was swirling all day, and I couldn’t feel comfortable to give it a good whack, but I was still able to manage keeping it mostly in the fairway.” Dustin Johnson was poised to make a move until hit into the water on the par-3 14th and compounding the error with a three-putt triple bogey. He still managed a 68. It was the first PGA Tour with spectators on the property, just not on the golf course with tickets. Harbour Town is lined with vacation homes, villas and townhouses, and plenty of people spilled onto their decks and into their yards to watch. The tour has ropes to line the fairway. This year, they put up ropes to line the yards to keep people from coming all the way onto the course. One family had a sign up for Spieth as he walked along the eighth fairway, one of only two holes on the front nine where he failed to make birdie. That shot out-of-bounds had all markings of bad breaks he has seen too often during three winless years. With a provisional tee shot in the fairway, Spieth went over to look at the trees, and then some 20 yards to the right at his original tee shot nestled in the pine straw. And then he three-putted. Instead of getting down, he told caddie Michael Greller on the next tee, “That's over. Le'ts get four (birdies) today and shoot under par.” “I ended up getting a few more than that,” he said. Just like last week's opening round at Colonial, he got hot on his back nine. The streak began with an 8-foot putt on the par-5 second hole, and included a 7-iron to 4 feet to a left pin near the water on the par-3 fourth. He was on such a roll that Spieth began to contemplate eight straight birdies to end his round. But he saw enough mud on his ball from the fairway on No. 8 that he played conservatively to 30 feet, and then finished with another short birdie. McIlroy and Thomas, who both had chances to win going into the final round at Colonial last year, had 72. Rahm had a 71. For McIlroy, it was the first time since the ZoZo Championship in Japan in late October that he was over par after the first round. Rory McIlroy was among those who struggled, and only a pair of birdies on the back nine kept it from being worse. He opened with a 72. That ended a streak of seven straight tournaments in which he broke par in the opening round dating to the ZoZo Championship in Japan last October. “I'm sort of missing my 3-wood left and missing my driver right,” McIlroy said. “If you’re in any way like in two minds what to do off the tees around here and get a little bit sort of guidey, it can bite you.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2020

Virus-proofing sports facilities presents a big challenge

By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Sports Writer MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The jersey-wearing camaraderie. The scent of sizzling sausages. The buzz before a big game. The distinctive atmosphere of live sports, that feeling in the air, will return in time as pandemic restrictions are eased. But will that very air be safe in a closed arena with other fans in attendance? The billions of dollars spent on state-of-the-art sports facilities over the last quarter-century have made high-efficiency air filtration systems more common, thanks in part to the pursuit of green and healthy building certifications. Upgrades will likely increase in the post-coronavirus era, too. The problem is that even the cleanest of air can’t keep this particular virus from spreading; if someone coughs or sneezes, those droplets are in the air. That means outdoor ballparks have high contaminant potential, too. “Most of the real risk is going to be short-distance transmission, people sitting within two, three or four seats of each other,” said Ryan Demmer, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. “It’s not really about the virus spreading up, getting into the ventilation system and then getting blown out to the entire stadium because this virus doesn’t seem to transmit that way. It doesn’t aerosolize that well.” The three hours spent in proximity to thousands of others is part of the fan experience. It's also why major sports leagues have been discussing plans to reopen in empty venues, for now. High-touch areas with the potential to spread the virus — called fomite transmission — are plentiful at the ballgame, of course. Door handles. Stair rails. Restroom fixtures. Concession stands. Hand washing by now has become a societal norm, but disinfectant arsenals need to be brought up to speed, too. “I can’t really find good hand sanitizer easily in stores. So think about trying to scale that up, so everybody who comes into U.S. Bank Stadium gets a little bottle of Purel. Things like that can be modestly helpful,” Demmer said. There is much work to be done. Vigilant sanitizing of the frequent-touch surfaces will be a must. Ramped-up rapid testing capability during pre-entry screening could become common for fans. Minimizing concourse and entry bottlenecks, and maintaining space between non-familial attendees, could be mandatory. Mask-wearing requirements? Maybe. Most experts, including those at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, believe the primary mode of transmission for COVID-19 is close person-to-person contact through breathing, coughing or sneezing but there's no consensus on some of the details. “There’s still widespread disagreement between experts on which mode of transmission dominates for influenza. So the likelihood of us figuring this out soon for this virus is low,” said Joe Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings Program and an assistant professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “We may never figure it out, but I also think it’s irrelevant because it’s a pandemic and we should be guarding against all of them.” Including, of course, the air. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers designed the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) scale to measure a filtration system's effectiveness (from 1-16) at capturing microscopic airborne particles that can make people sick. Not just viruses, but dust, pollen, mold and bacteria. Most experts recommend a MERV rating of 13 or higher, the minimum standard for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. An emerging technology in this area is called bipolar ionization. Connecticut-based AtmosAir has a bipolar ionization air treatment system in about 40 sports venues. Staples Center in Los Angeles was one of the first major sports customers. TD Garden in Boston and Bridgestone Arena in Nashville are among the others who’ve signed on. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority approved last year a 10-year contract for a little more than $1 million with AtmosAir to install its system in U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Vikings and the first indoor NFL stadium to use it. The building, which measures 1.8 million square feet, has 53 air handling units with AtmosAir tubes installed, including 30 in the seating bowl. The ions act like fresh air, reducing the amount of outside air needed to be introduced for the cleansing process. The protein spikes in the coronavirus particles make them easier to catch and kill, said Philip Tierno, a New York University School of Medicine professor of microbiology and pathology. Said AtmosAir founder and CEO Steve Levine: “We’re never going to create a mountaintop, but we’re going to put in maybe three to four times the ions over the ambient air and then let those ions attack different pollutants in the air. The ions grab onto particles and spores and make them bigger and heavier, so they’re much easier to filter out of the air." The next time fans do pass through the turnstiles, in a few weeks or a few months, in most cases they will probably encounter an unprecedented level of cleanliness. “There will be some controls that are visible, extra cleaning and disinfection, but some of it will be invisible, like for what’s happening in the air handling system,” said Allen, the Harvard professor. “The consumers will decide when they feel comfortable going back, and that’s going to depend on what strategies are put in place in these venues and stadiums and arenas and, most importantly, how well these organizations communicate that to the paying public.”.....»»

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