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CDC explains why nursing homes will still be on lockdown post-vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccines designed to help protect the public against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and eventually bring the pandemic to an end are rolling out now in the US and elsewhere. Elderly individuals are at the greatest risk when it comes to the virus, and so it’s no surprise that nursing homes are among the first to deploy the vaccine. Don’t expect these facilities to open their doors to the public anytime soon, however.

The rapid development and release of a COVID-19 vaccine is an incredible success for public health, but many questions still remain — as well as general confusion and misinformation regarding what the vaccine can and cannot do. The CDC explains on its website that while the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect against catching the deadly disease, it doesn’t work immediately.

The mRNA vaccines deployed in the US and elsewhere do not contain the live virus behind COVID — rather, they are designed to essentially ‘teach’ your immune system to identify and target the virus, a process that takes a few weeks. For this reason, if you happen to come in contact with the virus right before or soon after getting vaccinated, you can still get sick because your body wouldn’t have had enough time to build immunity.

In guidance published last week, the CDC offered its recommendations to nursing homes and long-term care facilities on how they should proceed with post-vaccine life — and, to put it simply, not much will change, at least initially. In addition to the risk of infection in the few weeks immediately after the vaccine, the CDC notes:

Because information is currently lacking on vaccine effectiveness in the general population; the resultant reduction in disease, severity, or transmission; or the duration of protection, residents and healthcare personnel should continue to follow all current infection prevention and control recommendations to protect themselves and others from SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of their vaccination status.

Nursing homes and similar facilities have generally been closed to visitors for months and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Though preventative measures like hand washing and wearing masks can reduce the odds of passing on the virus, they’re not perfect and the individuals who reside at these facilities are often in the highest-risk group.

The CDC goes on to explain:

While this guidance is intended for long-term care facilities, it could also be applied to patients in other healthcare settings. These considerations are based on the current understanding of signs and symptoms following COVID-19 vaccination, including timing and duration, and might change as experience with the vaccine accumulates.

When will you finally be able to visit your friend or relative in a nursing home or long-term care facility? There’s no clear answer at this point and any loosening of restrictions will likely take place not only on a state-by-state basis, but also on a facility-by-facility basis. In the meantime, many facilities have acquired tablets and are helping residents video chat with their family and friends to ease the pain of distance.

As well, and again depending on each states’ regulations, some nursing homes are allowing limited in-person visitation during select hours in cases where the facilities go 14 days without any COVID cases. These visits typically require strict social distancing, COVID screening, masks, and similar protective measures to help keep everyone safe — and, as you’d expect, they remain controversial, with some believing they’re still too risky.

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Wireless Charging On Phones: Why It Still Hasn’T Caught On

Wireless charging on phones: why it still hasn’t caught on

Apple, at long last, embraced wireless charging. Despite the continued existence of the rivaling PMA group, the WPC’s Qi technology has become the de facto wireless charging standard, especially after Powermat jumped onboard. But even with major business hurdles being cleared, wireless charging still remains at the periphery. A feature that is indeed available on a few high-end phones but not always used, much less promoted as a must-have. It has already been in use and in the market for years, so why is wireless charging still a niche feature? Ultimately, it boils down to its ironic inconvenience.

The idea of wireless charging is definitely attractive. It promises to free us from the tangle of wires and, in theory, wall sockets. It saves us from having to fumble to even plug in anything, no matter how reversible the plug may be. It paints the image of a savvy and modern lifestyle where you simply place your phone on a surface, not minding its position or orientation, and you leave it there, assured that it’s charging without even double checking.

Wireless doesn’t mean contactless. Although that’s in development, the current state of technology requires you to lay down the device on a flat surface. More than that, it has to sometimes be within a certain distance or orientation otherwise you break the connection between charging coils. It’s not exactly the worry-free use marketing would have us believe.

Because of that contact requirement, the number of positions you can use is almost limited to horizontally flat or inclined. Most wireless chargers offer only one or the other. Few let you switch between the two, much less choose the angle of incline. It pretty much limits how well you’ll be able to interact with your phone while charging. Not a problem if you only ever charge while sleeping at night, but that’s slowly becoming a luxury rather than a standard feature among high-end phones.

Ultimately, the biggest hurdle to wireless charging is its inefficiency. In an age where fast charging is the favorite band-aid fix for short battery life, wireless charging is still slower than or just as fast as regular charging, specifically 5V/1A rates. It’s not an easy problem to address, as it needs to balance power and safety. As it stands, wireless charging is practically limited to longer periods of charging, like at night, but impractical for people always on the go.Perhaps more worrying, the inefficiency also means that wireless charging consumes disproportionately more power than it produces, which could have environmental effects down the road.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Wireless charging proponents are well aware of these limitations of current technology and are tirelessly working to address them. Every new version of wireless charging standard increases the output and the range of charging. There are even others working on even more radical technologies, like over-the-air wireless charging that removes the need to place devices on any surface. You can even charge while holding the phone up. Hopefully, OEMs and tech giants would use their weight to push the technology forward faster the same way they’re pushing biometrics, AI, and notches as the next big things in mobile.

This Post Will Make You Smarter #Sejbookclub

Want to see what other books SEJ has covered? Read our other reviews in the SEJ Book Club archive.

I love to read, which means I offer to do the SEJ book club about as often as Kelsey will let me. But, I am not a super big fan of dry business books, so I usually try to pick something a little different that still applies to being an entrepreneur or marketer.

For this month’s book club, I chose “This Will Make You Smarter,” (affiliate link) a collection of ‘stories’ written by some of the world’s most influential thinkers and edited by chúng tôi publisher John Brockman.

I hesitate to call them stories, because that isn’t quite the right word. They are more like bite-sized brain snacks of awesome. Each ‘story’ is anywhere from one to seven pages long and details an idea or thought that will change the way you view the world.

Besides blowing your mind, these nuggets of knowledge are short, allowing you to read one or two any time you have a few minutes to spare, which is ideal for busy entrepreneurs and business owners.

You learn something awesome and new without having to set aside a three-hour block of your life. This book is the perfect read for busy people and non-readers alike.

Here are a few of my favorite essays from the book and how they apply to the marketing world.

“Deep Time” and the Far Future by Martin Rees

My favorite quote from his essay is:

Our sun is less than halfway through its life. It formed 4.5 billion years ago, but it’s got 6 billion more years before the fuel runs out. It will then flare up, engulfing the inner planets and vaporizing any life that might then remain on Earth. But even after the sun’s demise, the expanding universe will continue, perhaps forever–destined to become ever colder, ever emptier.

Mic drop.

But What Does it Mean?

Today, being busy is too often seen as a virtue. We get so caught up in the when of life that we often forget the who is what makes life worth living. This applies to both our home life and our business life.

TL;DR It is a lot harder to stress about that deadline when you consider that one day the sun is going to flare up and vaporize the entire earth.

Defeasibility by Tania Lomborzo

Defeasibility is the idea that just about anything can be proven wrong, given additional information. (I am simplifying an entire line of reasoning, mind you. Learn more about defeasible reasoning here.) On its surface, this sounds terrible – basically you can never definitely say something is correct based on this logic. Tania argues this is actually a strength of science.

Recognizing the potential revisablity of our beliefs is a prerequisite to rational discourse and progress. Be it in science, politics, religion, or the mundane negotiations of life.

Or marketing.

But What Does it Mean?

Marketing is constantly in a state of flux, which tends to frustrate many marketers. Which I get – it feels like we are constantly shooting at a moving target. However, we would be well served to keep our thoughts, and our strategies, flexible if we want to be prepared for the next big change.

Black Swan Technologies by Vinod Khosla

A black swan is defined by Nassim Taleb as “an event of low probability, extreme impact, and only retrospective predictability”. In the technology sector examples include  the fact that currently more people living in India have access to a cell phone than a toilet or the popularity of people shopping online.

Think back to 10 years ago – could you even fathom where technology is today? No, we couldn’t. Now apply that going forward – imagine where technology might take us in another 10 years. We can’t even begin to think up the awesomeness that will exist.

With a black-swan technology shot, you need not be constrained by the limits of current infrastructure, projections, or market. You simply change assumptions.

But What Does It Mean?

The world is constantly changing, and if we consistently make decisions based on what we think will happen we are likely to miss out on the next big change. The solution? Testing instead of assuming.

Cognitive Load by Nicholas Carr

Because our brains can only hold so many bits of information at the forefront of our mind at one time – somewhere between three and seven (scientists disagree on the exact number).

Why does this matter? Carr explains:

The more aware we are of how small and fragile our working memory is, the better we’ll be able to monitor and manage our cognitive load. We will become more adept at controlling the flow of information coming to us.

But What Does It Mean?

This is an interesting concept for a few reasons. First, understanding how much my brain can handle could help me learn to work more efficiently. From a UX perspective, it could help explain why some designs convert better than others. It also reminds me of the joke about why people turn down the radio in the car when they are looking for a house number. It turns out there is a reason – it helps you focus!

Have you read This Will Make You Smarter? What was your favorite essay in the book? 

Join Us Next Month!

Next month, Kelsey Jones, our Executive Editor, will read Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success (affiliate link). Pick it up from your local library or from Amazon and read along.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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Why Is Cloud Data Security Still Lackluster?

The Ponemon Institute produced its third annual report on global trends in cloud encryption.  They worked with encryption solutions provider, Thales e-Security, so you do the math in terms of biases.  However, there are some interesting data points that relate to how enterprises manage cloud security. 

The report declares that about half the organizations out there are moving confidential data to the cloud.  Most importantly, they trust the cloud more than they did a year ago, as the number of cloud-based data systems increases and data breaches don’t seem to be an issue. 

Cloud Storage and Backup Benefits

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Ponemon asked 4,275 businesses and IT managers in multiple countries about the ways they use cloud services and encryption around managing sensitive data.  This includes whether or not companies encrypted data in the cloud at all.

When it came to encryption at rest for data, the numbers were lackluster. Only 39 percent of SaaS users and 26 percent of IaaS/PaaS users had data at rest encryption.  Moreover, only 44 percent (SaaS)/40 percent (IaaS/PaaS) of those users were encrypting data before sending it to the cloud. 

While this is good news in terms of enterprises trusting the cloud, it may be bad news in terms of risk and exposure.  While cloud computing can be made secure for enterprise data, you must at least take steps to make it secure.  Indeed, the level of security in the cloud is directly dependent upon the amount of security planning that goes into both the architecture and implementation. 

Hackers may not be the only group going after your data.  A U.S. magistrate judge ruled this month that U.S. cloud vendors must fork over customer data even if that data resides in data centers outside the country, if warrants are provided.  In his ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis found that big ISPs, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google, must comply with valid warrants to turn over customer information, even if that material resides in data centers outside the U.S.

This means that, if it’s in a U.S.-based provider’s cloud, there is some risk that your data will fall into the hands of U.S. authorities.  In some cases, this could happen without your knowledge.  Few would argue with the contention that law enforcement may occasionally need to go after data that resides within cloud providers for legitimate reasons.  The problem is that there is likely to be some collateral damage when that happens. 

For example, the FBI seizes servers from a cloud provider used to support a criminal operation, and you data share the same cloud server that ends up on the truck heading to the FBI labs.  As a result, trade secrets are exposed, or perhaps other information that you would rather not have in the hands of someone who has not signed a confidentiality agreement. 

We don’t need to be overly paranoid about data security in the cloud.  However, the core problem, as revealed in the survey, is that companies don’t put enough security thinking, planning, and technology around data in the cloud.  While nothing is 100 percent secure, enterprises that don’t take steps to secure data in flight and at risk are likely to run into unexpected problems somewhere down the road. 

It’s pretty easy to create a sound data security plan for your cloud implementation that will meet the needs of your business.  I like to use the tee shirt sizing analogy, or, small, medium, and large. 

· Small: Basic encryption at rest for your cloud-based data.  While some are concerned about performance, the processing overhead is typically better than you think.  This provides some level of assurance that, even if your data is accessed, there will be minimal or no damage. 

· Medium: Basic encryption at rest, as well as basic encryption in flight.  When moving data to and from cloud-based platforms, it’s typically over the open Internet.  This level of security should keep most of the risks low for data breaches.

Data security is not new.  What’s new is the use of public clouds for enterprise data storage.  That said, the basic data security approaches and technologies we’ve leveraged for years are still very much relevant, and have been relocated to the cloud. 

I’ve been alive to see many paradigm shifts in the world of IT, but the movement to cloud computing is much more far-reaching and systemic.  We need to consider proven best practices, such as data security, and make sure we don’t forget those practices when moving to the cloud.  Until best practices are applied on a much broader scale, data security will still be an issue as we migrate our core data to cloud-based platforms.  The sad fact is, it does not have to be this way. 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Why The Wall And Microled Will Be A Central Feature Of Infocomm 2023

When veterans of the AV industry bump into each other between the displays or after hours at InfoComm — the biggest trade show in their business — they’re going to share some thoughts about the latest and greatest tech they’ve seen. We’re confident that in 2023, a lot of them will mention The Wall Professional.

The microLED display wall that Samsung launched at CES in Las Vegas in early January, and showed a few weeks later at Integrated Systems Europe in Amsterdam, looks like it’s going to draw the same sort of three and four people-deep viewing crowds it had all day long at those shows.

That’s because The Wall Professional is very different from just about any other LED display that AV pros and end users will see at the show. Scores of companies, including Samsung, will show the latest versions of indoor LED screens manufactured with conventional processes.

The technology behind The Wall is different, though, and it foreshadows how premium LED displays will be built in the future.

What You See Now

The standard indoor LED displays that are starting to displace LCDs as the main option for large-scale video walls consist of millions of tiny LED chip packages — each with their own addressable light source — that are surface-mounted and wired, one by one, to backplate modules. The more chips that the maker can pack together into a grid, the higher the resolution delivered by each of the individual modules, stacked and tiled together to form large-scale video walls.

The highest resolution display products have gaps between the chip packages of 1mm or even less — about the width of a dime on its edge. Packing that many LEDs means a corresponding increase in the cost of the components and the manufacturing time it takes for high-speed robotics machines to place the chips.

Even at a fine 1mm pitch, the resulting product will still display the sharpest image while viewing at a distance of 7-10 feet. Any closer, and you start to see the individual LEDs.

The viewing experience, even up close, is different with The Wall Professional — not just because the individual pixels are only 0.8mm across, but also because the display uses a new process to produce microLEDs.

Scaling the Wall

With microLED technology, micrometer-scale LEDs deliver a viewing experience that’s unmatched by current technology.

Without getting too technical, let’s just say the process to transfer these smaller chips into LED modules and walls differs from the conventional process. The result is essentially screen tiles — reminiscent of the shape of wall tiles — comprised of mass-transferred clusters of almost microscopic lights.

Mounted together as a uniform canvas and plugged in, they create a visual experience similar to what you get with premium QLED TVs. Each of those tiny light sources is controlled — meaning each light can be dynamically turned on and off to deliver true blacks, and deliver the same High Dynamic Range (HDR) capabilities of today’s premium UHD TVs.

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Where the microLED tech of The Wall Professional differs from using QLED or more conventional LCDs for large video walls is the absence of bezels around panel edges. LCD displays joined together inevitably create hairline grids that visually interrupt the content. The Wall, in its current iteration, creates a single 146-inch diagonal canvas — larger than any flat panel display on the market. Because it consists of clustered tiles, versions of The Wall can be any size, scale or shape a buyer demands.

The Wall’s launch model targets massive and large-scale installations, for applications where the buyer needs to create the maximum size and impact.

But microLED is also a technology that, with time and more manufacturing volume, will see commercial applications like high-profile digital signage in retail and public spaces, such as office tower lobbies and airport concourses.

Weighing Today’s Main Options

InfoComm 2023 visitors may be astonished by the range of options for surface mounted diode (SMD) indoor LED displays. Walking the show floor, you’ll see dozens of exhibiting companies showcasing LED products, some of them with lower prices when compared to the display brands more familiar to the North American market.

Most of them will tout products that, in pure specifications, would seem to match up favorably. But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

Samsung has a variety of options for fine pitch LED displays, and our business partners are winning a lot of projects because of how our products — like the IF series — hold to the highest manufacturing standards, as well as the way we support our resellers and end-user customers.

Here are some considerations you’ll want to have as a buyer or integrator as you weigh the many options on display in Las Vegas:

Does the manufacturer have any North American-based customer support? (Not counting sales offices.)

Is the product fully certified for use in the United States? (Not being FCC or UL approved can lead to some big legal problems.)

Can the display be serviced from the front? (Rear-only servicing usually means far higher labor costs and long service disruptions.)

There are many other technical and operating questions buyers may want to ask. You can review our comprehensive LED signage white paper as a primer. You’ll save a lot of time, and avoid serious frustration down the road, by asking confident questions and making well-informed choices early on.

Explore our full line of commercial display and digital signage solutions, from collaborative tech to video walls, ahead of InfoComm 2023.

Libra Will Be Interoperable. Facebook Should Be Too

Recently, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Officer published a joint statement which raises questions about Facebook Libra’s potential use and misuse of personal data and disregard for the privacy of Libra network users.

The letter says, “The involvement of Facebook Inc. as a founding member of the Libra Association has the potential to drive rapid uptake by consumers around the globe, including in countries which may not yet have data protection laws in place. Once the Libra Network goes live, it may instantly become the custodian of millions of people’s personal information. This combination of vast reserves of personal information with financial information and cryptocurrency amplifies our privacy concerns about the Libra Network’s design and data sharing arrangements.”

The letter is signed by data and privacy commissioners from the UK, USA, EU, Australia, Albania, Canada, and Burkina Faso. It ends with six questions for Libra to answer about how data and privacy will be ensured: easy to use privacy controls for users; security by design principles; lawful processing of data; consistency across infrastructure and jurisdictions, and so on.

These are sensible and measured questions. However, their fear is misplaced and only shows public authorities in general are still struggling to find the right angle of attack against the Libra project. Their questions ought to be directed towards Facebook, not Libra.

Indeed, it is not Libra itself which is so objectionable, but rather the monopolistic control of the main user network in which Libra would be deployed. In fact, simple solutions exist to rein in the network effects which make Libra so threatening.

Also read:

Top 5 Automation Tools to Streamline Workflows for Busy IT Teams

Libra-Facebook relationship

However, the characteristics of Libra took even the most knowledgeable observers by surprise and upped the ante. For in lieu of another invasion of our privacy, it is now no less that the global financial system stability which is threatened. In the wake of the announcement, G7 even felt obliged to appoint a special committee on the topic.

The surprise is that from a free-market and privacy standpoint, Libra’s intentions break away from Facebook usual hegemonic practices. Instead of going it alone, this time they plan to make an alliance with 99 other founding members: leviathans of technology and payment (eBay, Uber, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal) as well as NGOs who will guarantee Libra’s stability. In fact, Facebook will hold only 1% of the voting rights in the organization which will control Libra’s reserves.

Global concerns

The white paper plans to transform Libra into a fully decentralized currency after 5 years – ie not controlled by the sole 100 funding members anymore – could actually be the biggest threat of all: who could the authorities subpoena then ? Just like Bitcoin, the Libra will have become faceless…

No wonder that public authorities in many countries see this as an outright attack on their national sovereignty, one essential attribute of which is issuing currency.

But, a month after the release of the Libra white paper, they are still looking for the right angle to stop the toothpaste from going out of the proverbial tube.

Libra wants regulatory body approval

As far as financial regulation is concerned, Mr Marcus pledged he would comply with all applicable laws such as anti-money laundering, and claimed that Libra would not launch until it had obtained all the necessary approvals from regulatory bodies. From the public authorities’ point of view, this is obviously a much better situation than with Bitcoin which remains nonetheless legal in most countries.

From the anti-trust angle, it is difficult to see how the diversity of origins of the founding members and the open-source philosophy behind Libra could make them vulnerable. On the contrary, they claim, not without reasons, that Libra is bringing long-awaited innovations to the payment and banking industry that will benefits consumers globally as well as bring financial inclusion to the underbanked people of the world.

So Libra is not in itself a credible target for governments and hides the real issue, the absolute need to regulate social networks.

For Libra would be just another interesting cryptocurrency with limited prospects if Facebook had not been able to onboard a third of all human beings on its closed network.

A data monopoly

In the real economy, whether we are considering physical transport, energy or telecom infrastructures, there is (in principle) a clear distinction between the network, and those authorized to use it. In no case may any one party gain sole control of the infrastructure for their own use.

Related: Facebook will not Launch Libra Cryptocurrency until the Official Permissions of the USA

Facebook, however, is both the exclusive operator of the social network and the operator of the services using the network, including the future Libra.

Given these issues, a classic antitrust approach cannot work. Breaking up Facebook, as the US once did with Standard Oil or the Bell System, amounts to treating the symptoms and not the causes. The same market conditions would simply produce a new monopoly.

The solution revealed: Inter-operability

In fact, ways of protecting fair competition in the world of data networks are not different from those in the real economy. Liberalization of the telecom industry in the early 90’s is a good example. A principle of inter-operability was established so that no dominant party could interfere with competition. For instance, today’s UK mobile phone market is split among different operators. Just as a subscriber to one network can call or be called by subscribers from one of the other networks, so I should be able to move freely from one social network to another. Quitting Facebook should not have to mean giving up communication with my Facebook contacts and their personal data (as long as they don’t “unfriend” me of course).

Another example: under the second European Directive on payment services, I can now access my bank accounts from other financial institutions. If we were to apply this principle to the online economy, I would be able to authorize the service providers of my choice to access my personal data, regardless of which organization initially collected this information.

Inter-operability would put an end to the unfettered domination of Facebook and similar companies. It would significantly reduce the number of their users, which would benefit new players on the market. There would be a more level playing field in terms of access to data and companies would compete on the quality of their services to users and AI algorithms instead.

Ironically enough, during his hearing, Mr. Marcus himself stressed as a benefit that the Calibra application will itself be fully interoperable, meaning users will make and receive payments in Libras to and from users of competing for wallet applications. But when asked by Senator Warner from Virginia if Facebook would be willing to apply this same principle to its traditional social network applications, Mr. Marcus smiled and replied: ‘I cannot commit for other parts of the company’.

Redirecting public scrutiny from the woes caused by Facebook centralized social network to the ones a decentralized managed currency could unleash might after all be a clever way for Mr. Zuckerberg to confuse the critics. But Libra is only as strong as the Facebook network is large. If the government want to control the former, they must first deal with the latter.

Jean-Cyril Schütterlé

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