6 WordPress Plugins Breached by Hackers – Built In

No content management system (CMS) measures up to WordPress in terms of popularity. It is an indisputable champion in its niche, boasting an impressive 63.5 percent of CMS market share. Furthermore, 37 percentof all websites on the Internet run WordPress.

With its flexible framework that fits virtually any context online from small personal blogs and news outlets to sites operated by major brands its no surprise this CMS has been creating ripples in the web ecosystem area for years.

What do cybercriminals think of this hype train? You guessed it they do not mind jumping on it. Unlike webmasters, though, their motivation is far less benign.

The silver lining is that the WordPress Core is properly secured from different angles through regular vulnerability patches. The WordPress security team collaborates with trusted researchers and hosting companies to ensure immediate response to emerging threats. To step up the defenses without relying on site owners update hygiene, WordPress has been pushing automated background updates since version 3.7 released in 2013.

The bad news is that third-party plugins can be easy prey for malicious actors. Unsurprisingly, plugins with many active installations are a bigger lure. By exploiting them, these actors can take a shortcut and significantly increase the potential attack surface.

The loopholes recently found in popular WordPress plugins run the gamut from remote execution and privilege escalation bugs to cross-site request forgery and cross-site scripting flaws.

In early September, researchers at Finland-based web hosting provider Seravo came across a security loophole in File Manager, a WordPress plugin installed on at least 600,000 sites. Categorized as a zero-day remote code execution vulnerability, this critical bug allowed an unauthenticated adversary to access the admin area, run malicious code, and upload dodgy scripts on any WordPress site running File Manager versions between 6.0 and 6.8.

To the plugin makers credit, a patched version (File Manager 6.9) was released mere hours after security analysts reported this vulnerability. According to File Manager active versions statistics, though, this build is being currently used on only 52.3percentof WordPress sites that run the plugin. It means that more than 300,000 sites continue to be susceptible to compromise because their owners are slow to update the plugin to the latest patched version.

When white hats discovered this flaw, it was already being exploited in real-world onslaughts attempting to upload harmful PHP files to wp-content/plugins/wp-file-manager/lib/files/ directory on unsecured websites. At the time of this writing, more than 2.6 million WordPress instances have been probed for outdated File Manager versions.

Moreover, different cybercriminal gangs appear to be waging war over websites that continue to be low-hanging fruit. One of the elements of this rivalry comes down to specifying a password for accessing the plugins file named connector.minimal.php, which is a primary launchpad for remote code execution in unpatched File Manager iterations.

In other words, once threat actors gain an initial foothold in a vulnerable WordPress installation, they block the exploitable component from being used by other criminals who may also have backdoor access to the same site. Speaking of which, analysts have observed attempts to hack websites via File Manager plugin bug coming from a whopping 370,000 different IP addresses.

The Page Builder WordPress plugin by SiteOrigin has over a million installations. In early May, security services provider Wordfence made a disconcerting discovery: This hugely popular WordPress component is susceptible to a series of cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities that can be weaponized to gain elevated privileges in a site.

The plugins buggy features, Live Editor and builder_content, allow a malefactor to register a new administrator account or open a backdoor to access a vulnerable site at will. If a hacker is competent enough, they can take advantage of this vulnerability to execute a site takeover.

SiteOrigin rolled out a fix within a day after being alerted to these flaws. However, the issue will continue to make itself felt across the board until webmasters apply the patch unfortunately, this usually takes quite a bit of time.

This plugin is one of the heavyweights in the WordPress ecosystem, being installed and actively used on more than 800,000 sites. It allows webmasters to comply with the European Unions General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) through customizable cookie policy notifications.

Last January, security experts found that GDPR Cookie Consent version 1.8.2 and earlier were exposed to a severe vulnerability that allowed bad actors to pull off cross-site scripting (XSS) and privilege escalation attacks.

The bug paves a hackers way toward altering, posting, or deleting any content on an exploitable WordPress website even with subscriber permissions. Another adverse scenario boils down to injecting harmful JavaScript code that may cause redirects or display unwanted ads to visitors. The good news is that the developer, WebToffee, released a patched version on February 10.

With over 1 million active installations and a total of 20 million downloads, Duplicator is on the list of the top 100 WordPress plugins. Its primary feature is about migrating or cloning a WordPress site from one location to another. Plus, it allows site owners to back up their content easily and securely.

In February, Wordfence security analysts pinpointed a flaw that allowed a perpetrator to download arbitrary files from sites running Duplicator version 1.3.26 and older. For instance, an attacker could piggyback on this bug to download the contents of the wp-config.php file that contains, among other things, the site admin credentials. Thankfully, the flaw was patched two days after the vulnerability was reported to the vendor.

A severe flaw in Site Kit by Google, a plugin actively used on over 700,000 sites, allows an attacker to take over the associated Google Search Console and disrupt the sites online presence. By obtaining unauthorized owner access through this weakness, a malicious actor can change sitemaps, de-list pages from Google Search results, inject harmful code, and orchestrate black hat SEO frauds.

One of the facets of this loophole is that the plugin has crude implantation of the user role checks. To top it off, it exposes the URL leveraged by Site Kit to communicate with Google Search Console. When combined, these imperfections can fuel attacks leading to privilege escalation and the post-exploitation scenarios mentioned above.

The vulnerability was spotted by Wordfence on the 21st of April. Although the plugin author released an updated version (Site Kit 1.8.0) on May 7, it is currently installed on only 12.9percent(about 90,000) of WordPress sites running Site Kit. Therefore, hundreds of thousands of site owners have yet to apply it to stay safe.

This plugin has more than 300,000 active installations for a reason: It allows site owners to manage multiple sites from their own server. A flip side of enjoying these perks is that an adversary may be able to circumvent authentication via a critical flaw unearthed by WebARX in January.

To set such an attack in motion, a hacker could exploit buggy InfiniteWP Client functions called add_site and readd_site. Because these entities did not have proper authentication controls in place, an attacker could leverage a specially crafted Base64 encoded payload to sign into a WordPress admin dashboard without having to enter a valid password. The administrators username would suffice to get access. An update taking care of this vulnerability arrived on the very next day after the discovery.

Plugins extend the functionality of a WordPress site, but they can be a mixed blessing. Even the most popular WordPress plugins may have imperfections that enable various types of foul play leading to site takeover and data theft.

The good news is, plugin authors quickly respond to these weaknesses and roll out patches. However, these updates are futile unless site owners do their homework and follow safe practices.

The following tips will help you prevent your WordPress site from becoming low-hanging fruit:

Also, keep in mind that awareness is half the battle, so its a good idea to be a proactive webmaster and stay abreast of bug reports issued by Wordfence and similar resources in the security arena.

Read This Next:How to Neutralize Quantum Security Threats

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6 WordPress Plugins Breached by Hackers - Built In

Why Sales and Bestseller List Reporting Is Vital in 2020: An Overview – BTW

This fall during the regional trade shows, the American Booksellers Association presented a new education session focusing on how indie bookstores can report their online and in-store sales and bestsellers.

Why Sales and Bestseller List Reporting Is Vital in 2020 looked at the increase of online sales in the indie channel this year and why it has become more important than ever to report to the Indie Bestseller Lists and the New York Times bestseller lists, which are vital to showing the extent of the indie reach.

A recording of the session can be viewed on BookWeb.org.

Here are some of the key points from the session:

Questions and answers from the session:

If Im reporting manually to BookWeb, do I have to continue doing that even if I start reporting to BookScan automatically through my POS?

Reporting to BookWeb manually and to BookScan via your POS would be a duplication of data. Reporting to BookScan is meant to replace reporting to BookWeb. Stores reporting to BookScan directly do not, and should not, report to BookWeb.

Reporting to BookScan via your POS is preferred because automation increases the likelihood that your store will report consistently and that all sales data will be included. But reporting to BookWeb is a fine alternative.

What is the difference between reporting to the Indie Bestseller List via BookWeb vs. reporting on BookWeb with BookScan checked off?

Stores reporting via BookWeb and sharing their data with BookScan by checking the box have not configured their POS to report directly to BookScan for a variety of reasons (perhaps they have no POS, perhaps theyre more comfortable with reporting directly to ABA/BookWeb, or theyve always reported this way). Its up to the stores to decide how theyd like to report.

Stores that do not check the box to share their data with BookScan are electing to do just that: not share their data with BookScan. The data reported via BookWeb is always used to help compile the Indie Bestseller Lists, regardless of sharing with BookScan.

When I report sales to ABA, there is a red statement on the load page that asks if I want to report to BookScan. I always check the box. Is there more to reporting to BookScan than that?

There are two ways BookScan receives reporting data from stores:

Some stores report directly to BookScan via their POS. That data is then shared with ABA each Tuesday, and helps with the compilation of the Indie Bestseller Lists. NOTE: Reporting directly to BookScan does require a setup and configuration between the stores POS system and BookScan.

Some stores report directly to ABA via BookWeb and choose to share their data by checking the box. Their data is then shared with BookScan each Tuesday.

Who reports Bookshop sales? Are we supposed to do that or does Bookshop?

Bookshop reports its sales.

Should IndieCommerce sales go through our POS because of sales info going into our POS, and then Quickbooks for financial accounting?

It is difficult to make any universal recommendations, considering the myriad solutions stores employ for executing and recording sales, both in-store and online. One bookseller suggested combining sales via the POS so that the bestseller lists generated for their store include both in-store and online sales.

We automatically upload sales to BookScan, so the sales are reported as they happen, which can be six months before a book publishes if its a pre-order. Do those sales still get recorded for BookScan data and ABA bestsellers?

ABA is working on a solution for recognizing and storing book sales ahead of their on-sale date and integrating them into sales reports the week of the on-sale date.

On reporting to the New York Times Bestseller List (answers courtesy of the NYT):

Which link is for stores that are uploading their files for reporting purposes?

It is https://bestsellers.nytimes.com/login. Stores must have been accepted into the New York Times reporting panel of stores before they are given a login.

How does a reporting store get the thank you email?

We send it at noon on Tuesdays. It goes to the email that we have in our system for our reporting stores. Stores need to make sure that nytimes.com and mx.nytimes.com are on their emails safe list.

Does the NYT include Amazon sales on their list? Do the NYT lists include direct sales from publisher to customers?

We do not disclose the identities of the stores that are part of our confidential panel of reporting stores. We do not share any information that is given to us by anyone. We give an overview of our reporting store roster here: https://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/methodology/

I export the CSV file out of Square and delete any used books and the non-book items. Do I really need to do that cleanup or can the NYT and BookWeb sort that stuff out?

You do not need to clean up or edit your file. There are some formatting things that must be in place, such as proper headers, but our system flushes out non-book items. I assume the used books are not frontlist titles, so that shouldnt be an issue either. If in doubt, send the full sales for your Sunday-to-Saturday and let us take a look next week.

Ive been told that NYT disregards any reporting of sales in advance of the laydown date, so there should be no reason to remove sales that you will then be reporting for the laydown week, correct? We dont want to accidentally double report. Is this accurate?

Our system locks up the data each week when we finalize our lists. The data is not carried forward on our end. We do not count sales until the reporting for the week of the laydown date is sent. We recognize this is frustrating. We need stores to make sure they are sending us the full amount of pre-sales with the books first on-sale weeks data.

Read more:

Why Sales and Bestseller List Reporting Is Vital in 2020: An Overview - BTW

When to Get a Refinance Home Appraisal and When to Skip – Credible News

Our goal here at Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS Number 1681276, referred to as Credible below, is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we do promote products from our partner lenders, all opinions are our own.

A home appraiser evaluates your home and determines its market value. When you decide to refinance your home, your lender might require you to get an appraisal before approving the new loan. However, a refinance appraisal might not be required in all cases.

Heres what you need to know about refinance appraisals:

There are a few advantages to getting a refinance appraisal. While you might be tempted to skip an appraisal, here are some reasons to consider moving forward with one.

One of the biggest advantages of a home appraisal for mortgage refinance is the potential to get rid of your private mortgage insurance (PMI). If the market value of your home has increased to the point where your mortgage loan amount is less than 80% of the homes value, you can avoid PMI on your new mortgage. That could potentially save you thousands of dollars.

Right now, mortgage refinance rates are near historic lows. Refinancing could help you take advantage of that lower rate, and if your home comes in at a higher value, you could get an even lower rate. This can translate to a lower monthly payment as well as interest savings over the life of your home loan.

If youre ready to see what refinancing rates you qualify for, Credible can help. Get started by comparing rates from our partner lenders in the table below.

With a higher appraisal, you might be able to cash out a higher amount if your mortgage refinancing goal is to get extra money from the deal. Combined with a lower interest rate, this might allow you to reach some of your other financial goals in a more cost-efficient manner.

Find Out: How to Refinance Your Mortgage in 6 Easy Steps

Even though there can be some advantages to an appraisal, there are also some downsides. Before you move forward, weigh the potential disadvantages to having an appraisal.

The cost to refinance includes a home appraisal fee as one of the expenses. The average cost of a home appraisal typically ranges from $300 to $500. Thats something to keep in mind.

Another downside to an appraisal is that you could end up with a lower property valuation. If thats the case, you could be stuck with PMI. Theres even a chance you might not be approved for a refinance because of your higher loan-to-value (LTV) ratio.

Depending on your situation, you might be able to skip a home appraisal for your refinance. One of the main factors in whether you can avoid the appraisal has to do with your LTV ratio.

Learn More: Cash-Out Refinancing vs. Home Equity Loan: How to Choose

When getting a home appraisal to refinance your mortgage, its important to understand that the appraiser will compare your homes features to those of similar homes recently sold in the area.

Realize that there are a few things that can go wrong during an appraisal. One of the biggest issues to be aware of: repairs. If there are repairs that need to be accomplished ahead of the closing, it could hold up the process and impact the overall appraisal.

Additionally, if you have to get the home appraised again, or if there are other issues, the closing on your refinance could be delayed and that could result in paying the cost of a rate-lock extension or a higher interest rate.

There are some no-closing-cost refinance options, but some of them might roll the expenses into the loan and cost more in the long run. Be aware of that before you move forward.

Learn More: How Often Can You Refinance Your Home?

Before opening your doors to an appraiser, its important you come prepared. Here are a few ways to best prepare for a home appraisal:

Find My Refi RateChecking rates will not affect your credit

About the author

Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit is a mortgage, investing, and business authority and a contributor to Credible. Her work has appeared on NPR, Marketwatch, FOX Business, The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and more.

Home All Mortgages When to Get a Refinance Home Appraisal and When to Skip

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When to Get a Refinance Home Appraisal and When to Skip - Credible News

Why Image-Enabling the EHR Benefits Patients and Providers Alike – Diagnostic Imaging

A picture is worth a thousand words, yet many hospitals and health systems still rely on outdated, siloed, and on-premise technology for storing and transferring medical imaging. This outdated technology leads to most electronic health records (EHRs) missing a patients diagnostic imaging and only displaying text-based radiology reports. Imagine Facebook or Instagram with just words and no images; its a far less comprehensive picture of the individual.

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new sense of urgency for facilities to break down traditional barriers and allow seamless access to medical imaging data for trauma transfers, everyday telehealth appointments, second opinions, and more. A patient should never face a care delay due to the delayed arrival of medical imaging.

Teamwork between providers and coordination among various points from imaging centers, primary care physicians, and hospital surgical units are absolutely critical. U.S. hospital mergers and acquisitions have been a high rate for the past several years, and todays patients may find themselves moving through several different locations rather than completing every test at one large hospital. Many physicians feel trapped and exhausted by onsite hardware and siloed systems. The administrative time currently spent shuffling around CDs, rekeying information on studies, and maintaining virtual private networks to exchange imaging and associated data is immensely frustrating and cost prohibitive.

For more coverage based on industry expert insights and research, subscribe to the Diagnostic Imaging e-newsletterhere.

Data from the Ditch the Disk website survey has shown that the average facility burns about 1,911 CDs per month. With each CD upload taking a few minutes (in a best-case scenario), that could waste hours each day. Administrators and clinicians are frustrated by this enormous waste of time with over 74 percent believing that eliminating CDs could increase job satisfaction.

Image enabling an EHR system takes away the frustration of dealing with CDs and logging into two systems and toggling between them. Instead, both patient records and imaging are all available directly from within the patient jacket. Single sign-on integration seamlessly authenticates users into the EHR for image viewing, with no need for multiple logins. Since imaging and data are integrated together within the patient jacket, patient health information also remains in sync.

Another key benefit of image-enabling the EHR is that it provides enterprise-wide viewing of a study simultaneously. In other words, multiple specialists can access and view an exam at the same time and from different places. For example, at UC San Diego Health, staff can upload studies off CDs within minutes with Ambra Health, and the study becomes available for network-wide viewing immediately. The workflow allows UC San Diego Health to match data from Epic to the CD and overrides the information on the disk. Ambras integration with Epics affiliated physician portal enables physicians to view imaging directly from the order record. It can also be configured for the physician to be able to view any prior imaging studies for the patient based on a Medical Record Number (MRN).

The current shift towards telehealth services has forced hospitals and health systems to evaluate their processes for sharing patient data. With the increase of remote visits and desire from patients to have access to their records, remote sharing has become a crucial part of medical records management. Patient and referring physician portals enable hospitals and health systems to automatically and easily share studies and reports with patients and referring physicians, making life easier and more efficient for patient and referring physician populations.

Image-enabling the EHR opens the doors to an image-enabled patient portal. The patient experience starts the moment they walk into your office and are greeted by front desk staff. Wasting time searching for an old CD, struggling to upload the images, or letting a patient know that their images are inaccessible for any reason are a less than ideal way to start any visit. Streamline processes by offering patients the ability to upload prior imaging from CDs directly to you ahead of an appointment.

Or better yet, stay connected through the cloud to local imaging centers that frequently send to your office so that patient imaging appears directly in your EHR system leading to a seamless appointment. After the appointment is over, providing patients with a user friendly and easy-to-access patient portal is a great way to stay in touch and encourage patients to take control of their own health data and, in turn, their health as a whole.

Image-enabling the EHR can have long-term health benefits for patients. The U.S. Food & Drug Administrations Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) launched an Initiative to ReduceUnnecessary Radiation Exposure from Medical Imaging. The CDRH developed several key initiatives that keep in mind that imaging exams must do more good than harm. Among these was a movement to incorporate key quality assurance practices into both hospitals and imaging facilities.

Image enabling the EHR allows physicians easy access to patient imaging reducing the number of duplicate test orders and the amount of radiation exposure. In addition, a cloud-based suite allows physicians to not only place the current order, but also search archived imaging for all previous medical imaging associated with that patient across their network.

As busy physicians spend their days suiting up in personal protective gear and face a steady stream of patients, the last thing they should need to worry about is logging into multiple systems to access critical information. Its time for facilities to push towards greater interoperability and unified systems.

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Why Image-Enabling the EHR Benefits Patients and Providers Alike - Diagnostic Imaging

Money Game: Will instruction apps ever beat one-on-one teaching? – Golf.com

By: Paul Sullivan October 6, 2020

Todays instruction apps strive to create an intimate learning experience in the digital space through a variety of tiered subscription models.

The request was simple enough: Ask a buddy to record my swing using my phone and upload the file to an online lesson platform. A teaching pro in Australia, who normally charges $150 an hour for an in-person lesson, would analyze my swing and coach me from afar for a fraction of that fee.

I was skeptical; I also felt strange having myself filmed. Deep breath, just go. Three swings a thin, a hook, a bomb. All different but truthful representations of my everyday game. I uploaded them and waited for the Aussies take.

The experience was new to me (you can read all about it here from my teachers perspective), but not to younger golfers who are flocking to online apps to get the inexpensive, qualified feedback they cant glean from often gimmicky Instagram and YouTube videos. Older golfers are used to sweating out a lesson on the range, and tend to view golf-learning apps with understandable reservation. Specifically, are they worth the cost, both in terms of money and time?

On dollars alone, lessons via even the most expensive instruction app are affordable compared to an in-person session. Take Tour coach and GOLF Top 100 Teacher George Gankas, who positions, turns and adjusts students bodies in a very pre-social-distance way: Pay $49 a month for access to his online lesson platform or beg your way onto his coaching tee in Southern California to be wrestled in person at upwards of $1,000 an hour.

Some online platforms start with initial evaluations that cost less than $200 and are combined with monthly subscription fees. Other services are less, with $10 or $20 monthly fees, though the instruction is less personal.

Theres no shortage of top coaches with apps filled with student videos (learning by watching others mistakes is a proven improvement too) and plug-and-play tips. Some are built on subscription models while others charge so fulsomely for lessonssay, $3,500 for a daythat you can upload an entire practice session as a bridge to your next lesson.

A lot of people seeking top-end golf instruction have disposable income, and think theyre going to take a lesson from a big-time coaching name and instantly play better, says Mark Blackburn, a GOLF Top 100 Teacher who runs an academy in Birmingham, Ala. The reality is that even if a teacher is considered great, its just one-off. You need to find someone you have access to regularly.

Just like one-off lessons with a top teaching pro dont make much financial sense, the same holds true for paying for pre-shot video lessons, especially when you can visit a site like GOLF.com and get them for free. But if you find yourself wanting more one-on-one online instruction with some added convenience, the new breed of apps certainly do the trick.

Skillest and Swing AI both use video analysis by real teachers supported by strong technology platforms. Others like 18Birdies and Golfboost rely solely on AI to analyze swing faults. Progress is measured by changes in handicap.

With Skillest, the cost is what the instructor wants to charge. Some might ask for $200 a lesson while others have weekly or monthly plans that cost as little as $100 for regular video contact. Students select the teacher they want to work with or test out several by sending their videos and awaiting feedback (paying a fee for each one). From there, a back-and-forth starts.

Swing AI has a slightly different model. Initial consultations are set at $150 with the student receiving a road map of things to work on. Additional uploads are graded until the goals outlined in the road map are complete. Once all the boxes are checked, the student can continue for $15 a month for swing maintenance.

Just sending out one-way videos is great, but its prescriptive, says Joe Plecker, another Top 100 Teacher and director of instruction at the Landings Club in Savannah, Ga. (Plecker also serves as the chief swing officer at Swing AI.) We set out to re-create the in-person process and not make it cookie-cutter.

18Birdies approach relies on artificial intelligence to diagnose swing flaws and recommend fixes through videos of golfers capable of executing the correct moves. Its self-help, says Eddie Lui, founder and chief executive. We dont have big names doing drills, but we have a system that works. 18Birdies is free for 30 days and then $10 a month.

Not everything can be replicated online. Most good coaching relationships require a degree of personal connection. Baden Schaff, Skillests chief executive (and the coach who analyzed my videos), says teachers on his app have the moxie to create that in-person feeling. I can watch a guy making swings in his living room or office in real time, Schaff says. I feel like were replacing the in-person experience yet maintaining the lesson prowess youd expect from the best teachers in the world.

Still, other coaching experts contend that students are better off paying for a hybrid model, a combo of in-person and online instruction. Blackburn charges $3,500 for a full day of instruction, but for a student who comes fairly regularly, hell review videos for free. For those who can access him and his staff onlyremotely, his app costs $100 a year, while a five- to 10-minute swing review, complete with suggestions, is $50 or $60.

Likewise, Top 100 Teacher Jon Tattersall, director of golf at Fusion Atlanta, says a hybrid model accelerates progress. How do I keep someone compliant with what Im asking him or her to do? he says. A blend of in-person and online really helps coaches do a better job and keep people connected.

Reviewing my Skillest video, Schaff quickly showed why my handicap has been stuck at a shaky 8 for years. In my mind, my swing is Hogan-esque; in reality I over-rotate on my backswing. We jumped on a live video chat and he put me through some drills.

In the end, it was just like an in-person lesson but on my time. And much less costly.

See the article here:

Money Game: Will instruction apps ever beat one-on-one teaching? - Golf.com

Neuralink Is Impressive Tech, Wrapped in Musk Hype – WIRED

Musk didnt seem to think this was essential. A lot of people think, I couldnt possibly work at Neuralink because I dont know anything about how brains work, he said at last Fridays demo. Well, thats OK. You can learn. But we need software engineering, we need mechanical engineering, electrical engineering chip design, robotics, and all the things a company needs to work.

At some point, someone is going to have to know something about how brains work. The Neuralink picks up electrical signalsthe spikes or action potentials that run the length of neurons when theyre activated, and signal the squirting of neurotransmitter chemicals across synapses. But some of what the team said seemed to imply that given enough of those signals, theyd be able to interpolate actual thoughts or memories. Nobodys really sure thats true. In fact, its possible (though unlikely) that the electricity, the movement of charged ions into and out of neurons, is just an epiphenomenonthe exhaust that a brain coughs out while doing the work of creating and maintaining consciousness.

Even if its possible to correctly infer mental state from those electrical signals (and it probably is), they still just happen to be what people can measure. There are things you can do with the neural signals. Theyre the expression of things like memories. The retrieval of a memory will be instantiated, we think, in terms of a pattern of brain activity. Thats true, Frank says. But thats not how people store that memory for future retrieval, which doesnt bode well for recording specific ones, saving them somewhere else, and replaying them. The storage of the memory involves huge numbers of chemical reactions at synapses between brain cells, Frank says. Those things can be modified by brain activity, but theyre not the same as brain activity.

In other words: The electrical activity of the brain happens while you are thinking or remembering, but it may not be what you are thinking or remembering. Just being able to sense and record that activity isnt recording actual thought. It correlates, but may not cause.

Musk went even farther, though. Its read-write in every channel, he said. He meant that each one of those 1,024 channels can both pick up signals from, and send them to, adjacent neurons. Now, Musk didnt specify in what sense he meant that phrase. Neuroscientists talk about the capacity to read out signals from a brain, and the ability to write in, so send signals back. They can read out signals from motor neurons to control a robot arm, for example, or write in auditory information, sound, via a cochlear implant. Theyre working on doing the same for sending images to the retina, or the visual cortex. Researchers can record what neurons are doing, and stimulate them so they activate.

Computer engineers, though, talk about reading and writing as getting digital information from a storage medium, or putting information in one.

Is Musk using the terminology interchangeably? Or does he think that the technologys ability to do the primitive version will lead to the more sophisticated one? I dont know.

But if its the latter, Neuralink might be headed for a metaphor-based failure. Neuroelectrical writing-in is very different from the digital version. The techniques they have to write information in are primarily electrical stimulation, and thats just awful, Frank says. Imagine when you wrote to a hard drive that you targeted a particular sector or byte, but what you hit was five other bytes first. Thats what happens with electrical stimulation to the brain. Axons, the long projecting connections between neurons, have a lower activation threshold than the cells themselves. So sending a signal pulse down one of those Neuralink electrodes activates that mesh of connections, a whole lot of cells, before hitting a target neuronand thats assuming you know exactly which neuron to target.

Go here to read the rest:

Neuralink Is Impressive Tech, Wrapped in Musk Hype - WIRED

Glow & Lovely has launched its new campaign, but why does it look and feel exactly like Fair & Lovely? – Business Insider India

It announced that it will drop the word Fair from its name and restrict using discriminatory White/Whitening', Light/Lightening from all its packs and communications. It soon renamed the brand to Glow & Lovely as a reactive measure to an uprising. A few experts rejoiced this move, while some expected HUL to drop the product completely that stands for colourism in India.

To make sure consumers dont forget Fair & Lovely is now Glow & Lovely, the advertisement illustrates the transition to the new name twice -- to really hammer it in the consumer's minds.

Vani Gupta Dandia, Founder, CherryPeachPlum Growth Partners - a marketing-led business consultancy said the steps HUL took till here -- to establish its transformation -- were fine.

Telling us further how she would have gone about establishing the identity change in the market, Dandia said, If I were the business head, I'd first spend a lot of money on just ensuring that the name change be registered. I'd do that with small edits - 5 and 10 seconders. And use other media similarly. High frequency, high recency modeling. However, quickly justifying the name with a tacky reason to believe undermines the intelligence of consumers. It does sound like the same old in a new bottle - worse still justified with the same old science. So are you telling me you can provide just about any benefit with the same old science? What is the difference between Fairness and Glow? If we were to respect consumers' intelligence, would we not like to explain why glow or radiance is aspirational?

So, Vani Gupta Dandia also expected to see a bolder advertisement this time, that truly empowers women.

Fair & Lovely has offered glowing skin in the past as well and its packaging style hasnt changed either.

This was an opportunity for HUL to include darker-skinned models in the ad and win millions of hearts. It wasnt something new that a brand in India would have experimented with. Dove India has changed its narrative from selling milky skin to offering a bar that cleanses. However, there is still a void for an inclusive beauty brand in India that celebrates diversity, skin colours, body types and body hair in its truest form and HUL, a giant that holds a lot of influence in our country, could have led that narrative.

Fair/Glow & Lovely's actual buyers are mainly dispersed in the small towns of India. Karthik Srinivasan, Social Media Expert and Independent Brand Consultant, said that Glow & Lovelys target audience perhaps doesn't really care for its name, they care more about making their skin whiter or fairer.

Srinivasan said, The product, no matter what it is called, has set the notion that being fair is the ticket to success in life. The change in name was mandated by global standards of 'saying the right thing' and is hardly indicative of the product's or the parent company's stand to offer meaningful change on the ground. The addition of that laughably silly assertion - that you will now get HD glow - further hammers the fact that there is no change, beyond a name. It also leads one to question, albeit pointlessly, if the earlier named cream offered only standard definition glow! Beyond very few marketing media, I really don't think anyone really cares for either the name change or the new ad. And HUL knows this all too well - the actual consumers of the product only see the product benefit that is imprinted in their mind.

Fair & Lovely has been in India for over 45 years now and has been one of the best-selling creams. According to The Drum, Fair & Lovely had entered the Rs 200 crore market back in 2017 and held a 60-70% share of the skin whitening industry.

Ronita Mitra, Business Consultant - Founder, Brand Eagle Consulting, said, The new communication is a rational communication with its primary objective being an announcement of the change in brand name. The name change through the branding on the pack as well as the TVC is being communicated very emphatically. One can see that continuity has been maintained in all other aspects, understandably so, in order to seamlessly migrate existing consumers and equity to the new brand. In the foreseeable future, the identity in the consumers' minds will, in all probability, continue to be that of the erstwhile Fair & Lovely identity.

Chawla thinks dark-skinned women of our country deserve an apology from fairness skin brands.

Suggesting how HUL can undo the damage it has done, Chawla said, The brand has a great opportunity to break the barriers of social conditioning pertinent to skin colour, and perhaps repair the damage done over the years to the psyche of dark skinned women. They can do so many things - from issuing a simple apology, to repositioning and overhauling the brand name, colours, key messaging. Conglomerates have the potential to change social perceptions. It is time they invested in the same. And on the social media front, the ad has a lot of potential to invite sufficient trolling and criticism, but honestly, the beauty of this change needs to go beyond skin deep.

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Glow & Lovely has launched its new campaign, but why does it look and feel exactly like Fair & Lovely? - Business Insider India

A live digital Platform behind the scenes for more effective and transparent country response – World Health Organization

When COVID-19 began spreading, countries needed to immediately plan to respond to a global pandemic. Pakistan, for example, recognized the urgency for a strategic approach to identify needs, develop a country-level response plan, and coordinate at both the national and provincial level. Of particular importance would be a real time mechanism to help monitor the flow of contributions in support of the response. Pakistan health officials began to work closely with WHO for the COVID-19 response. By using the COVID-19 Partners Platform action checklist, resource tracking and the Supply Portal, Pakistan was able to create its preparedness and response plan and coordinate with local donors. For the first time we have a tool that allows us to monitor fund flow, this is both operationally useful and a great service to all our partners, says Mr Julien Harneis, UN Resident Coordinator of Pakistan.

The online Partners Platform, launched with United Nations Development Coordination office (UNDCO) on March 16th, was built upon a WHO-vetted checklist of 143 actions, drawn from the most up-to-date guidance created by international experts. Countries choose actions from the checklist to create their COVID-19 preparedness and response plans. They can then note if they have initiated or fully completed the actions. Since all actions are fully costed, countries can also note where they need financial assistance. The transparency of the Platform allows donors to track what actions are taking place, where the biggest resource needs and gaps lie, and how to prioritize which allocations go where.

WHO / Blink Media Fabeha Monir

When we started emailing COVID-19 checklists and plans to countries in January thelist of countries was growing rapidly, says Mr Scott Pendergast, Director of Strategic Planning and Partnerships for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme; we realized we needed a live digital Platform to provide updated guidance on the new pandemic to help all public health officials in all countries around the world share what steps they were taking with each other, says Dr. Lucy Boulanger, head of WHOs new COVID-19 Partners Platform. Her team immediately began developing the first digital Platform where governments, UN agencies, and partners can plan and coordinate together in one place.

Countries quickly recognized the value in the Platform and became highly engaged. At the time of this story, 123 countries, areas and territories are actively using the Platform, with 110 plans uploaded and 106 countries tracking their activities using the action checklist across eight pillars of the public health response and a ninth pillar on maintaining essential health services and systems. Boulanger describes the Platform as a rich repository of ideas.

Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHOs Health Emergencies programme, stresses the Platforms importance in keeping health systems from breaking down. Health emergencies weaken health systems, and weak health systems exacerbate health emergencies. Its a negative cycle unless you can turn it around. The Platform can be used to help countries maintain essential health services like vaccinations during a pandemic. Dr Boulanger, a medical epidemiologist and part of WHOs Health Emergencies programmes preparedness division, offers Italy as an example of a country whose health system was put under extreme stress early on during the pandemic constraining their ability to offer most essential health services.

WHO / Blink Media Fabeha Monir

The need for the Platform concept existed before COVID-19 came on the scene. This Platform grew out of extraordinary frustration during the last five years of Ebola coordination, says Dr Boulanger, who spent two years responding to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Countries desires to respond to health emergencies grew exponentially following the Ebola outbreak. It could no longer be a static system over email. It had to be user-friendly, country-focused, and data driven in real time, says Boulanger.

The Platform is constantly evolving based on the needs of the more than 3500 stakeholders actively utilizing the platform. Operational guidance can be adjusted immediately as new information on the virus develops. For example, guidance for rolling out vaccines to different countries (the Access to COVID-19 tools (ACT) accelerator) is going to be changing rapidly, and the only way to update and track that efficiently is on a web-based platform, says Boulanger.

Using data gathered from all WHO regions, the Partners Platform data dashboard provides all users with visualizations highlighting global, regional and country datasets; analysis comparing actions, resource needs, contributions and gaps; and data to inform decision-making.

Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of the Platform is its transparency, particularly the visibility of countries response plans, resource gaps and donor allocations. As of 1 September, 88 countries have shared resource needs across nine pillars of public health totaling US $9.1 billion. Donors have responded with more than 600 contributions totaling US $7.5 billion.

The Platform facilitates requests for funds but does not match funds with needs. A country goes onto the Platform and makes a request for a resource (i.e. Personal Protective Equipment), and then, should they need funding, makes a request for financial support for that resource. If funding comes in for that request, the country can then move into the Supply Portal within the Platform to request the supplies and see committed funds. As of 1 Sep, 88 countries have used the Supply Portal.

Donors can request information from the Platform on what needs exist and what actions are being implemented when and where. We can see that the most widely planned actions on countries checklists are for coordination, surveillance, risk communication, and community engagement. The actions with the highest price tag are case management (work force and supplies to take care of patients) and maintaining essential health services.

The Partners Platform is the only place where the major donor partners (World Bank, Development Banks, the EU, UAE, Canada, Germany, Gavi, Japan and The Global Fund) can see what each other is doing in emergency response, make informed decisions, and coordinate. In this way funding goes towards internationally standardized interventions. Donors can ensure their contributions are going towards implementing key activities, says Boulanger. The Philippines, for example, has 36 NGO partners engaged on the Platform. By using the Platform, partners can visualize which regions in the country need more help and direct their donations accordingly.

The Platform also promotes coordination between countries. AFRO aims to register at least one member of a Government Ministry in each country with the Platform. This dedicated engagement strategy has led to a tide change of interest from Ministries: 45% of AFRO countries (22 countries) have now appointed a Ministry member on the Platform, with 65% of users from the Ministry of Health.Kenya wants to use it as their national reporting system.

WHO / Blink Media - Gilliane Soupe

The Platform represents an additional way for countries to provide technical leadership and support to neighbouring countries as well as globally. United Arab Emirates was one of the first in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to upload its response plan to the Platform. In addition to using the Platform to monitor regional and global resource needs, the Platform helps countries with cross-border preparedness/response planning (like international travel).

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General appreciates that the Partners Platform was conceived from the beginning with countries needs in mind. The Partners Platform is country centered. The countries decide what information they want to share with the world about their actions and resources. It gives the power to the countries and the visibility to the world, says Boulanger.

WHOs Partners Platform is an exemplary mechanism for solidarity in response to COVID-19. It integrates and streamlines the planning, financing and monitoring of the global response, with transparency that has never been seen before. WHO hopes the Platform can be used for future global health emergencies with plug and play modules depending on the epidemic. Some authorities have inquired if it may be used as a model for socio-economic protection or economic risk mitigation. I cant grow it fast enough, says Boulanger.

Read more about WHO COVID-19 Partners Platform and Supply Portal

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A live digital Platform behind the scenes for more effective and transparent country response - World Health Organization

How group streaming could look in the future – Mashable

Mashable's series Tech in 2025 explores how the challenges of today will dramatically change the near future.

With COVID-19 canceling in-person movie nights for the time being, it's unfortunate that group streaming technology for the socially distant equivalent isn't outstanding.

There are more remote movie night services and apps than ever, such as Netflix Party and Scener, and many of them work decently enough. However, nothing has recreated the experience of sitting down in front of a gorgeous television with a group of friends.

The good news for a variety of reasons is that 2020 won't last forever. Group streaming can, should, and probably will get better.

It's tough to project exactly how it will look in 2025 given that few of us ever thought we would even need group streaming just six months ago. As new apps pop up with new features on a regular basis, the best we can do is take stock of what we have now and use that to build a list of what we want, like better TV compatibility and less tech troubleshooting.

The good news is there's at least one way to stream every major service such as Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu with other people.

Hulu and Amazon Prime Video have led the charge with their own official group streaming apps. Hulu Watch Party is one of the most bare-bones and restrictive options, as every user needs an ad-free Hulu login. It also only works in a web browser, which is the same with Prime Video Watch Party. Amazon's offering is exclusive to paying Prime members and, like Hulu's, it only provides basic text chat for communication.

Other streaming stalwarts like HBO, Netflix, and Disney have yet to produce their own official solutions. You can use unofficial Google Chrome extensions like Netflix Party and Disney Plus Party to watch those streaming networks with your pals, or you can turn to sites like TwoSeven and Scener that bundle a handful of different streaming services into one group streaming UI.

HBO offers only the finest in televised entertainment.

Image: alex perry / mashable

Scener is unique among its peers in that it partnered with HBO near the beginning of the pandemic in the United States, making it the "official" way to group watch HBO content despite also offering Netflix, Hulu, and a bundle of other options.

In case you're wondering how that works, Scener founder Joe Braidwood told Mashable that steaming services aren't necessarily against third-party sites as long as nothing is being stolen.

"[The HBO deal] would not happen if we weren't friendly to the industry, if we weren't additive to the goals that they have, and if they didn't see us as a great way to drive the conversation around their own content," Braidwood said.

If you don't care what content houses like Disney think about your viewing habits, Plex Watch Together is arguably the most limitless solution right now. Instead of pulling content from other people, Plex lets you upload any video file you have to a private server and share it with friends. If you just so happened to have a movie lying around on your hard drive, you could watch it with friends on Plex. It also works on a TV through an app (with no native chat features), unlike everything else we've covered.

Group streaming went from being a novelty for some to a necessity for many in a jiffy. It exploded due to unprecedented global conditions, making it difficult to predict exactly where it will go. That doesn't mean we can't try.

In our conversation with Braidwood, the Scener founder pointed out something that tends to be true in the tech world: One company could do it better than everyone and force the rest of the industry to follow suit.

"I think that there will be one big winner...and then I think that these experiences will be piecemeal integrated into every viewing platform," Braidwood said.

It's just a little too early to tell exactly who will change the game to that degree. We reached out to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Disney to ask if they had plans to introduce official group streaming features or expand their existing ones. All of them were tight-lipped, so it's up to us to figure out the future.

The 'Stranger Things' kids will presumably look much older in 2025.

First things first, someone needs to solve the TV problem. Watching Michael Mann's 1995 artistic achievement Heat with your buds (as I did recently) is a great time, but the experience is diminished on a laptop screen. It's a visual art form, one that needs to be experienced on the best display you own.

Sadly, modern TVs and streaming devices weren't built with any of this in mind. How do you chat with people on devices with no cameras, microphones, or keyboards built in? Companies are going to need to experiment with some deeply goofy ideas to make this work. Let's start with a basic one: Living room TVs with webcams built in.

That should set off every privacy alarm you have, but it's a possibility if we have to keep watching content this way. In 2025, Sony, Vizio, or any other manufacturer could sell you a breathtaking 8K set that's spying on you as you eat too many Doritos on the couch. On the plus side, you'd be able to watch sports (if they still exist) with your buddies and gauge their reactions in real-time thanks to small webcam windows around the screen.

Even if TVs don't include webcams in their hardware, there's plenty of room for third-party alternatives. You can already plug some of them into TVs for big-screen video chats. Gaming consoles could also help out, given that PlayStation and Xbox already include robust social features like voice chat. It's probably worth noting that Netflix is incredibly popular on Xbox, so there might be demand going forward.

If TV manufacturers don't seize the opportunity, standalone streaming hardware might step in. In one potential (and potentially annoying) scenario, a company like Roku could add social features to its lineup of streaming devices. Maybe you could curate a friends list and see a social feed showing what everyone's watching just like you already do with music on Spotify, perhaps even with a way to hop in and join if you have the right login. Of course, those devices might have to have webcams built in, too.

Ideally, we won't be stuck in the same place every day five years from now.

However, none of this matters if content creators aren't on board. The worst-case scenario would be companies like Netflix putting barriers around their content by creating their own hardware for group streaming, which could be expensive and exclusionary. There's no reason for a Netflix box to exist in 2020, but five years from now, the company could decide that owning one is the only way to remotely watch season 17 of Stranger Things with friends.

If group streaming takes off, we may see a power struggle between studios and third-party app developers going forward. Roku may not implement group streaming at the system level because a company like TwoSeven or Scener could step in with a TV-compatible app of their own. You might need to memorize which streaming services work with which group watch apps, much like how you have to memorize which shows and movies are on which services right now. Confusion is just great, isn't it?

The best possible outcome is an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and a return to our normal lives where we don't need group streaming to the same extent that we do now. That's the most powerful wrench that could be thrown into every single one of those predictions.

There is, of course, plenty of demand right now. According to Braidwood, Scener's usage has grown greatly since the pandemic started and the site is on track for more than a million weekly active users by the end of 2020. That's just one example, but it might be a sign that people are generally interested in doing this going forward.

Ideally, we won't have to rely on group streaming to watch classics with our friends once the pandemic fades. That said, it's proven itself useful under the current circumstances and could still facilitate long-distance movie nights even when it's safe to see people again. Whether it's out of necessity or not, group streaming can and arguably should factor into the future of on-demand entertainment.

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How group streaming could look in the future - Mashable

Back to the books: Glen Cove Public Library is now open for browsing – liherald

By Jennifer Corr

As many Glen Cove residents are preparing to go back to school, two of the citys resource centers have reopened the Glen Cove Public Library and the North Shore Historical Museum.

While both had to close in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, many programs continued to connect patrons to programs, resources and opportunities for learning.

We have English as a Second Language classes, citizenship classes, and yoga is a big hit, Kathie Flynn, the library director, said.

But computers and sitting areas have been blocked off. The aisles of DVDs and books have arrows on the floor to keep patrons from walking past one another. And markers keep patrons six feet apart at checkout.

We are going to have a security guard at the door, and the security guard will have masks available so that if people dont have one with them, they can get one, Flynn said. There will be no congregating. Its basically browse, get your materials and then leave so that other people can come in, since we do have limited capacity.

Nalini Shyam, an avid reader from Glen Cove, said she was excited about browsing the shelves of the library again after using the curbside pickup service it has been offering for months. Im a retired teacher, so now I have the time to read, said Shyam, who was checking out a number of books from the library on Tuesday. Its nice to actually touch and feel the books.

Flynn said that the curbside pickup, for books and other media, will continue for those who still have reservations about being in public spaces.

At the North Shore Historical Museum, Director Amy Driscoll and board trustee and City Councilman Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews took to Facebook to announce its opening on Wednesday.

Driscoll and board directors like Stevenson-Mathews have been using Facebook to upload Pop-Up Visits, which provide viewers with history lessons on the North Shore or the museum. I cant believe this would have been our 14th pop-up episode, Driscoll said. Time has really flown the past few months.

Im so thrilled that finally, youll be able to come to the museum, she said. Thats right: On Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. our doors will open, and you are all invited to come see our wonderful exhibit on the art of Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation.

Tiffany, who was born in New York City in 1848, is mostly known for his stained glass art, including lamps. The lecture to go along with the exhibit will be presented online on Sept. 9, Driscoll said.

Just like anywhere else, we require a six-foot distance and for everyone to wear masks, Driscoll said. Weve been cleaning and sanitizing, and we will continue to do so to make it safe for you to visit.

Please know that we still need your support, Stevenson-Mathews said. Volunteers have been here helping us get ready and set back up. Of course we need your support financially. We need your support in attendance.

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Back to the books: Glen Cove Public Library is now open for browsing - liherald

During the pandemic, local companies help seniors bridge the technology gap – Chesterfield Observer

Midlothian-based Remote Health Solutions eVer Home Kit and accessories allow for patients to be remotely monitored from afar. Photos Courtesy of Remote Health Solutions

Modern technology has become a saving grace for many who are trying to remain safe and responsible until the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic abate.

Trips to the grocery store have been replaced with online orders and home delivery. Happy hours and family get-togethers now occur through video conferencing apps like Zoom. Medical checkups are increasingly virtual.

Though these solutions decrease the risk of coronavirus transmission, not everyone has equal access to them. Senior citizens in particular are more likely to face barriers everything from unfamiliarity with the technology to hearing and vision loss and dementia that make interacting with the world through a screen more challenging.

Even with retiree interest group AARP reporting in January that generational gaps in technology usage are narrowing, there is concern that too many seniors are being left behind, leading to increased health risks and isolation.

Presently, a handful of local companies are working to address some of the challenges facing seniors as they try to navigate the virtual world during the pandemic.

Midlothian-based Remote Health Solutions has seen a 50% increase in seniors utilizing its remote patient monitoring technology since the pandemic hit. Through RHS devices, some people with chronic illnesses or those who require in-home elderly care can monitor their own health at home instead of visiting doctors offices or requiring hospitalization.

The devices monitor health readings like blood pressure, body temperature and oxygen saturation in blood, then upload the data via Bluetooth wireless technology to an online portal. On the other end, an RHS nurse makes sure those vital signs stay within the health parameters for that patient. Should something be amiss, RHS can alert a patients doctor.

Not only does the remote monitoring reduce in-person visits to medical professionals, but the data can help bridge information gaps between different physicians caring for the same patient.

[Weve] had a really great success in the reduction of hospitalizations, says Sean Sullivan, RHS director of business development. Its not a 6-month checkup for someone thats recovering from a heart attack. Its a daily monitoring.

Since the pandemic hit, Sullivan says the telehealth industry has experienced a sudden increase in patients who are embracing this technology. In a July 2020 survey by healthinsurance.com, seniors reported a 300% increase in the use of telemedicine services since the pandemic hit .

The numbers and statistics are staggering. We definitely have seen an increase, but the industry has just exploded, he says. In the beginning of the pandemic, immediately people looked to telehealth as an amazing tool, frankly, that continued to provide care so that people could still see their doctor, still socially distance, still maintain the same level of care that they would get in a physical checkup. You can give them the efficacy of an in-person visit using diagnostic medical tools without ever leaving their home.

Sullivan and Melissa White, president of RHS Services, say their tools have created peace of mind for patients.

Its really provided them that sense of ease in knowing that theyre able to receive care without having to get exposed to the virus and having to go out unless its a medically necessary, emergent thing, says White.

RHS kits are tailor-made to each patient, and are built with senior patients in mind. Each device is already paired and programmed, so all a patient has to do is turn it on. The devices feature large icons to help patients who may have vision or cognitive impairments; should a patient have an issue, they can contact their assigned nurse for help. Sullivan and White say their patients have rarely experienced problems using their devices.

Though not solely focused on providing telehealth opportunities for its clients, Midlothian-based managed service provider Networking Technologies + Support offers technology options that can assist seniors. One such option allows family members to directly dial into a seniors television and receive instant access.

A family member can dial in without the requirement of even the owner saying, Accept the call, so [family members] can get a visual. Are they laying on the floor? Do they look healthy? says Brent Kranda, vice president of infrastructure services for NTS. Alternatively, NTS programming can be set up to allow the call after a senior gives a voice command.

One NTS technology package allows for health monitoring, where seniors can track their own health using EKG pads and a smartphone. If a user isnt feeling well, they can easily send the data to a doctor or family member. Because NTS technology is built to adapt to standard hardware, a family member can easily replace it with a store-bought device.

For seniors who dont wish to move to an assisted living community, Kranda says the technology is an affordable way to allow independence while still letting family members check in unobtrusively.

Chuck Renfro, CEO of Chesterfield-based Thinking CAP Technologies, says the pandemic is increasing isolation for seniors, and expects more seniors to embrace telehealth solutions as the pandemic continues. Through his company, Renfro has spent the past seven years coaching seniors on how to navigate the digital realm, including working with the county to teach classes on topics like how to utilize smartphones and communicate with grandkids using the iPhone app FaceTime.

Renfro, 71, started Thinking CAP Technologies in 2007 as a computer networking company, but pivoted to teaching seniors after attending an event in Henrico where a speaker instructed the audience to visit a website to learn more about Medicaid. Some seniors raised their hands, inquiring about how to use the internet.

Seniors who dont know how to take advantage of modern technology run the risk of isolation, Renfro says, especially during the pandemic. Technology can serve as a way to safely communicate with family, play games, find entertainment and seek information.

Its fun to see the lightbulbs go off in their eyes, when his students master a new digital tool, he says. They go, Now I get it! Its a rewarding situation.

So far, Renfro says hes only had one client ask for help installing a video conferencing app in order to have a remote appointment with their doctor. On a more personal level, he says he recently helped his wife operate a similar video conferencing app to interact digitally with her doctor. Though the appointment was only to renew a prescription, the doctor preferred a video conference instead of one by phone.

The doctor just said, I want to see you face-to-face and see if youre doing okay, Renfro says.

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During the pandemic, local companies help seniors bridge the technology gap - Chesterfield Observer

Op-ed: Privacy considerations to keep in mind with Amazon’s Halo – CNBC

Amazon Halo accessory bands

Source: Amazon

This week's launch of the Amazon Halowearable represents a critical new entrant not only into the health-tech wearable industry, but also into the broader health care ecosystem.

Amazon's Halo will compete with Fitbit and Apple Watch, and start-ups like the Oura Ring. But the device not only allows customers to track things like exercise and sleep, which are common in fitness wearables, but can also track emotional changes by listening to the wearer's tone of voice and can present a 3D body image with a body fat percentage.

In aparallel announcement, one of the largest electronic medical record companies,Cerner Corporation, said that users of the Halo device will have the option to upload information collected by the device to their physicians' Cerner health record, beginning with the Sharp Health System in San Diego.

These developments potentially represent a step forward for physicians to make use of health data that patients generate on their own.

But the new functionality of Halo also raises new privacy implications, which I've spent my career focused on, both at private companies and at the federal government. A company that has changed our expectations around convenience and personalized recommendations will now be selling a device and membership to collect some of the most intimate health details of a person's life. And much of the conversation in the wake of Thursday's announcement has rightly centered on trust as Amazon makes a more direct entry into consumer health care.

So going forward, the company would be well-served to keep several key topics in mind:

In 2016, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) the federal government team responsible for health and informatics policy development delivered a report to Congresshighlighting basic legal gaps in consumer protection collected via fitness trackers, compared to devices and systems governed by the rules governing privacy known as HIPAA.

I was formerly the Chief Privacy Officer of ONC at the time, and worked on this report.

Currently, neither Amazon, nor Apple, nor any other retail fitness tracker is required by federal law to maintain any particular privacy standard. (California residents may benefit, though, from the California Consumer Privacy Act.) This is an important point.

Companies in traditional healthcare like Cerner or Sharp Health System mentioned earlier are bound by HIPAA, the nationwide privacy law that applies to health care providers and payers. But some consumer devices, like fitness trackers, may not be.

Halo has taken the step of putting control of the collected health data in the hands of the individual, not the company that manufactured the device. Halo even includes a one-way hash that prevents other Amazon business units from using Halo data for other business purposes. Both of these are important markers for Amazon to lay down as it launches this new business line.

But the privacy controls announced by Amazon for Halo are simply provisions in its Terms of Use. Companies like Amazon can change its terms prospectively at any time, so long as they do not mislead or treat consumers unfairly. That's something that people in the privacy world, like myself, will keep an eye on.

Halo is looking to do more than simply collect data so consumers themselves can review it via an app. Paired with the Cerner announcement, the goal is clearly to achieve interconnectivity or "interoperability," meaning the easy exchange of health information, with clinical technology systems already in use in traditional health care.

Apple's HealthKit has been a critical tool in enabling individuals to extract their own data from a doctor's office in a low-friction, mainly automated process, but only using an Apple iOS operating system.

Halo appears to be taking a similar approach, butwithoutrequiring any specific operating system. This makes it available to a larger potential market.

Having the same privacy practices across all operating systems is a step forward for consumers because it simplifies what they have to keep track of to manage their health information privacy outside their doctor's office.

Patient-generated health data, or PGHD as it's referred to in the industry, is defined as datainboundfrom a patient's life into the health care system. How to manage it has been a topic of intense debate among health policy wonks for the last several years.

There have been multiple analyses, and calls for more systematic, standards-based, and interoperable ways for consumers to ensure their health care providers have access to important information about patients' lives outside the doctor's office. The potential for this data to deliver context and ultimately better care is immense. Whether it's social determinants of health, health environmental factors, or simply "what's going on in my life," your physician or care team may be able to use this information to deliver better care for you, and better outcomes across the system. Even during the current pandemic, some physicians and nurses have commented that they've learned a great deal about their patients' lives simply by using telehealthvideo chats to see into their kitchens.

Amazon's Halo, and the company's partnership with Cerner and Sharp, can accelerate these trends but only if consumers trust the company to be a good steward of their most intimate details. Amazon's early statements on these fronts are encouraging. But regulators, and the company itself, will need to work collaboratively to make sure that foundation is stable enough on which to build a completely new relationship.

Amazon Halo makes great progress on helping consumers use digital tools to collaborate with their health care professionals. But to really fortify consumer trust in digital health, we need a nationwide privacy law that ensures the same protections outside of traditional healthcare as we have for HIPAA.

Lucia Savage is the Chief Privacy and Regulatory Officer for Omada Health, a digital health care company. She was formerly the Chief Privacy Officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Op-ed: Privacy considerations to keep in mind with Amazon's Halo - CNBC

18 Instagram Stories Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind – Digital Market News

The best Instagram Stories hacks are usually top-secret, but were here to reveal them all!

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From new and useful features to editing tools and techniques, were unearthing some of our favorite Instagram Stories hacks that are sure to make your stories stand out.

Keep reading to learn how you can make engaging, artistic, and effective stories with these 18 Instagram Stories hacks!

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Instagram Stories are getting a lot more creative and interactive from AR filters and animations, to templates and Instagram Stories stickers, there are a lot of new features to experiment with.

While new updates and features are always exciting, they can be a bit intimidating when starting out which is why why were dishing out our best-kept secrets.

With our design hacks and in-app tricks, you can use Instagram Stories to widen your reach, drive more traffic, and gain more followers in no time.

Ready to get started? Were sharing all our best Instagram Stories tips and tricks you (probably) dont know yet. Watch the video or continue reading this blog post.

Have you ever wanted to add in extra images or have multiple photos in a single Instagram story? Or add a specific GIF you cant find in Instagrams GIF Library?

Were going to show you two ways to do it:

This is a super simple and quick way to get an extra photo or GIF onto your Instagram story post. All you have to do is copy a photo from your camera roll and then paste it onto your story using the text tool!

Start by opening a photo and tapping the export button.

Now tap Copy and head back to your Instagram story.

Double-tap the screen to pull up the Paste option.

And thats it! The photo you copied earlier should now appear on your story.

The second option is to download Googles Gboard app and paste photos directly from your keyboard.

To do this, simply open a story, and tap the screen to pull up the Gboard.

Now tap the G Google logo and type a query into the search bar.

You can sort your search to include images and GIFs.

Once you find what youre looking for, simply tap the image or GIF to copy it, and then tap the screen once to paste it!

Just remember to check the usage rights or credit the image where needed.

Whats great about this Instagram Stories hack is that there are so many use cases. For example, if youre re-sharing an Instagram post to your stories, you can paste a rectangle onto the story and then place it behind the post to create a framing effect.

Or if youre trying to add your brand colors to a story, you can paste an element that contains the colors onto your story (like a graphic or logo), and then use the color dropper tool to pick up the exact color from that element.

Did you know that you can turn your live photos into Boomerangs in Instagram Stories?

As far as Instagram Stories hacks go, this ones definitely on the lesser-known side. The reason is that in order for it to work, the live photo needs to be taken within the last 24 hours!Heres how to do it:

Simply open Instagram Stories, swipe up, and pick a live photo from your camera roll.

Once selected, press firmly on the screen for a few seconds until you see the word Boomerang appear briefly.

And thats it! Youve now turned your shot into a Boomerang!

Instagram Stories offers a bunch of great fonts, but nothing beats having your own brand font! If youre looking to add a little more brand to your stories, writing in your brand font is a great option. And luckily, theres a way to do it.

Start by downloading the Over mobile app. Once downloaded, AirDrop your fonts .OFT file to your mobile device.

Select Over from the menu that pops up.

And thats all. Now when you design a story in Over, youll be able to incorporate your brand fonts!

Looking for more ways to create Instagram Stories that match your branding? Check out our free video workshop on how design captivating Instagram Stories using the popular design app Over!

Instagram collects a ton of great data around your Instagram posts performance, like the number of impressions, saves, follows, and more. But theres one piece of data you might be missing out on: story reshares.

You wont find this in your Instagram Insights. Instead, youll need to tap the ellipsis in the top right corner of a post to pull up a menu with the option to View Story Reshares.

This will take you to a screen with a list of your current public reshares.

You can even tap one of the reshares to see it live on the users account.

If you dont see the option to see reshares, this means that your post isnt currently being shared in anyones stories!

This can be particularly useful if youre looking to share user-generated content on your Instagram Stories! For example, if youve just launched a new product, you might want to reshare how your followers are reacting to your big announcement!

A few of the font styles in Instagram Stories lack the option to be left- or right-aligned, which can be a bit of a nuisance.

Usually, you can just tap the alignment button in the top left corner of the screen to change your texts alignment. But if the button is missing (which is the case for the Modern, Neon, and Strong fonts), your text will automatically appear centered.

Luckily, theres an easy solution! Simply type a message in Instagram Stories with a font that doesnt have the alignment button.

Now swipe a finger left or right on your text. This should change the texts alignment.

Instagram Stories is a great place to show off your brands personality, but its also really important to reflect your brands style, tone and aesthetic. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to integrate your brands color palette.

But what if Instagram doesnt offer your brand colors in its default color options?

Lucky for you, theres a hidden Instagram Stories hack that lets you access every color you could need for your text!

All you have to do is open your Instagram Stories and select the brush tool. Now tap and long-hold any of the default color options at the bottom of the screen to open the color slider.

Now just swipe across the slider to pick a custom color for your story.

Similarly, if youre using an Instagram Stories template that youve designed with your brand colors, you can use the color picker tool to pinpoint the exact brand color from your template!

Looking to get started with using Instagram Stories for your business? Check out our free 45-minute video course on how to design beautiful Instagram Stories that will help you get more followers, traffic, and sales!

If you really want to make your text design even more impressive, you can use the color picker tool to create a color gradient (or rainbow) effect with your text!

To do this, open Instagram Stories and type out a message. Then tap on your text and tap Select All to highlight it.

While your text is highlighted, press and hold one finger down on the color palette tool at the bottom of your screen (like you did before) to open the entire color spectrum.

With one finger held down on the color slider, and one on your highlighted text, begin to drag both fingers toward the left side of your screen at the same time.

Youll see your text begin to change color, letter by letter, as you drag your finger across the color spectrum! You can move your finger faster or slower for additional color variations, or alternate the direction that you drag your fingers across the screen to achieve an entirely different result.

Sometimes the simplest Instagram Stories hacks are the most fun!

If youve ever wanted to make your emojis really stand out on Instagram Stories, theres a hidden trick to give them a glow effect.

To do this, simply open your stories, tap the screen to open the text tool, and select the Neon font.

Now when you add an emoji, it should have a slight glow behind it!

This color-fill trick is pretty useful when you want to share a canvas with drawings and text rather than a photo or video!

Tap the pen icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and select a color.

Next, tap and hold on the screen for 1-3 seconds until the screen is filled with a solid color.

Note: The screen will have a solid color fill if you use the marker or neon brush, or a translucent color fill if you use the chisel-tip brush.

If you want to take this Instagram Stories hack a step further, you can use the eraser tool to create a sort of scratch card effect thats perfect for reveals!

For example, if youre teasing an upcoming campaign or even a new blog post, you can paint your screen with the brush tool and then use the eraser to share a few details about whats to come.

Heres how to do it:

Open Instagram Stories and take a photo or upload one from your camera roll. Once your photo is in, tap the pen icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and select a color.

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18 Instagram Stories Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind - Digital Market News

Sean OShea: Tips for Paralegals and Litigation Support Professionals August 2020 – JD Supra

8/1/2020: Maryland Court of Appeals on Social Media AuthenticationIn Griffin v. State, 419 Md. 343 (2011), the Maryland Court of Appeals found social media evidence must be shown to have not been subject to hacking or other manipulation.

8/2/2020: Relativity Integration PointsRelativity Integration Points (RIPs) assist with the import of data from third party systems into Relativity workspaces.

8/3/2020: Automapping with Relativity Integration PointsIntegration points will perform automatic field mapping between a workspace and the load file.

8/4/2020: excel macro to hide multiple ranges of rowsIt successfully hid more than 70 ranges in a few seconds.

8/5/2020: NIST Study on Facial Recognition Too Many False PositivesFalse positive results were returned far more often than false negatives, and the software exhibited different biases.

8/6/2020: Circuit Court Ruling on PACER FeesThe cost of digital audio equipment used for recordings of trials and other proceedings can be taken into account for PACER fees.

8/7/2020: Emojis and the LawThe Android Grimacing Face emoji got the reactions shown in orange on the below chart, but the Apple version of the Grimacing Face face emoji got the reactions shown in blue.

8/8/2020: Judges Agree: Limit the Number of Pages in Your BriefLet me add an incentive to the production of short and pertinent briefs. The longer you make your brief, the more likely that most of the pre-argument analysis of your case will be turned over to a law clerk who just finished the bar exam. Hon. Arthur L. Alarcon

8/9/2020: D.D.C. Ruling on Adequacy of Search by Navy[T]he reasonableness of the Navys search is buttressed by the fact that Carlborg has offered no suggestion as to where else the Navy might have looked for his records or what other search criteria should have been used. Carlborg v. Dept of the Navy, No. 18-cv-1881 (DLF), 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142543, at *13 (D.D.C. Aug. 10, 2020) (quoting Peavey v. Holder, 657 F. Supp. 2d 180, 190 (D.D.C. 2009)).

8/10/2020: NIST Guide to Media SanitizationThere are three methods of media sanitization: clear, purge, or destroy.

8/11/2020: Excel OLE action error explainedAn OLE action error message may be prompted if you click on a link to a PDF on a worksheet, and then try to OCR it.

8/12/2020: Enforce HTTPSAn admin can force visitors to a Relativity workspace to view it over HTTPS so that requests and responses are encrypted.

8/13/2020: Excels TEXT FormulaThe formula can easily convert a column of numbers of varying lengths into a standard format with a consistent number of digits.

8/14/2020: Getting a count of volume shadow copiesVSCMount is a tool that helps you check to see if volume shadow copies are available.

8/15/2020: Never Use However at the Beginning of a SentenceGarner instructs brief writers to never use however at the beginning of a sentence in order to indicate a contrast, and recommends using but instead.

8/16/2020: Mississippi Court of Appeals: Jury Must See Evidence Where Spoliation Unclear[T]he explanation for the original records absence may be fully satisfying either that it was lost through no fault of the [party], that the [party] deliberately destroyed it, or as in most cases, somewhere in between, thereby making it a jury issue. Murphy v. William Carey Univ., No 2018-CA-00910-COA, 2020 Miss. App. LEXIS 462, at *28-29 (Miss. Ct. App. Aug. 11, 2020) (quoting DeLaughter v. Lawrence Cty. Hosp., 601 So.2d 818, 824 (Miss. 1992)).

8/17/2020: 2 GB Text per DocumentRelativity will not process more than 2 GB of text for any single document. Such a document will generate an error that will cause processing to halt.

8/18/2020: Create htm file with linksUse this format:

8/19/2020: Simple File UploadRelativitys Simple File Upload tools allows users to load documents into a workspace without using the Relativity Desktop Client. No more than 100 documents can be loaded at a time.

8/20/2020: Making Relativity Desktop Client Work For YouDont miss that you can simultaneously import data into a single workspace using different instances of the Relativity Desktop Client on up to four different computers.

8/21/2020: Common email threading problemsAn embedded email link or attachment can cause email threading to be over inclusive.

8/22/2020: Separate email addresses with ; NOT ,Email addresses in the recipient and cc fields should be separated by semi-colons. If they are separated with commas, Relativity will read adjacent email addresses as a single address.

8/23/2020: regex from head on and from behindIf you want a regex search to find results from the beginning or end of every line start with (?m)

8/24/2020: District of Maryland Case with a Defendant Known Only By An IP AddressThe Court ordered the issuance of a subpoena to produce documents identifying the Doe subscriber.

8/25/2020: ALSPsThe past few years have seen a rise in the number of companies and law firms using ALSPs Alternative Legal Service Providers -which perform legal research; electronic discovery; and regulatory compliance.

8/26/2020: Excel worksheets that hide themselvesBeware of vba code that automatically re-hides Excel worksheets. Spreadsheets can be set to make a worksheet you unhid disappear again.

8/27/2020: Regex multiline wildcardUsing (?s) at the beginning of a regex search will let you search from in front and behind while also using a wildcard.

8/28/2020: DiffcheckerDiffchecker, is a free online tool that does a fine job of comparing differences between two text or PDF files. Diffchecker can also help you compare multiple versions of an image, allowing you slide back and forth between two versions.

8/29/2020: Florida Court of Appeal rules passcode protected by Fifth AmendmentThe Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal agreed with the Petitioner that producing the passcode would require him to disclose the contents of his mind and provide the State with incriminating information that would be used against him. Distilled to its essence, the revealing of the passcode is a verbal communication of the contents of ones mind.. Garcia v. State, No. 5D19-590, 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 12232, at *8 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Aug. 28,2020)

8/30/2020: finding duplicates with pythonYou can use a python script to find where there are duplicates in a character set.

8/31/2020: use code to generate list of links on a web pageRight clicking Inspect and entering code on the console of the Chrome browser will create a list of all links on a web page.

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Sean OShea: Tips for Paralegals and Litigation Support Professionals August 2020 - JD Supra

Why and How Did Tik Tok Absolutely Take Over Quarantine? – The George-Anne

Ask anyone on campus, in your family, or even look at the news- Tik Tok is everywhere.

The app is easily considered viral and commonly regarded as the trendiest social platform at the moment. I thought that it would be interesting to break down why I think Tik Tok and the recent quarantine paired so well together.

According to Wallaroo Media, as of August 2020, Tik Tok has over 1 billion users and is available across 150 countries. It has been downloaded, just in the United States, over 175 million times. If were looking from a global perspective, Tik Tok has been downloaded over 2 billion times.

Tik Tok is an app for short-form media, where you can upload 15-60 second long videos pertaining to absolutely anything as long as it doesnt violate Tik Toks guidelines. (Though there has been some controversy over certain users being granted flexibility when it comes to adhering to guidelines). There are fandoms of almost every show and movie to be found, there are fan pages of all of Hollywoods heartthrobs, as well as some of the most creative, controversial and complex comedy on the app.

So, why was it perfect for quarantine?

Tik Tok was made with an endlessly scroll interface, unlike other video-based apps like YouTube or Quibi, every type of content one sees on their For You Page (Tik Toks coveted homepage, formulated individually for every user, based on the content they like).

If you find the punchline in the current video is lacking, you can just scroll upwards to find something that could be completely different. The users FYP consists of what they like, so if you are into musical theatre, Criminal Minds, and learning about succulents your FYP would consist of countless videos concerning those and maybe some new content the Tik Tok algorithm thinks you may enjoy.

It is so easy to change your mind about the content you want to see, and just as easily see something completely new in a matter of seconds.

I think this trait was really attractive during quarantine and the summer, during a time where youre quick to finish watching all of your favorite shows on all of your favorite streaming services. Though Netflix definitely tried by releasing countless original content, its hard to keep audiences engaged when it comes to longer-form media like television shows and movies. Tik Tok allows users to completely forget and move onto another genre or sect of media quickly.

I also believe that the virality of Tik Tok, and how it so often showed up on other social media platforms convinced naysayers or those reluctant to download, to try the app out. It is not uncommon to see viral Tik Toks get re-posted to Twitter and then Instagram, therefore giving the platform and its creators an even greater platform.

Some may compare the time crunch that Tik Tok provides to the app Vine, and how both platforms forced creators to be more creative or thoughtful when it comes to videos. Influencers have such a short amount of time to garner likes and followers.

Tik Tok requires a very short attention span for its users, and they can easily find completely different content on the same platform in less than a second, so its not too hard to understand why it was perfect for those stuck in the house and bored with more traditional media.

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Why and How Did Tik Tok Absolutely Take Over Quarantine? - The George-Anne

Blasters of the Universe: Infinity Forever Is A New Free-Roam VR Shooter – UploadVR

Secret Location revealed Blasters of the Universe: Infinity Forever today, a new free-roam location-based VR shooter for up to four players.

The original Blasters of the Universe was one of the first room-scale VR interpretations on the classic bullet hell wave shooter genre. Instead of controlling a spaceship, youd move your body to dodge bullets while returning fire in a neon-soaked retro-futuristic landscape. It was a blast (pardon the pun) and is highly regarded as one of the best early VR shooters with lots of replay value that eventually left early access after a couple of years.

Now, Secret Location (also developers of the excellent time-bending VR puzzle game, Transpose) is back with Blasters of the Universe: Infinity Forever, a free-roam location-based entertainment take on the franchise. Designed for up to four people, it follows a linear story structure as players make their way through a series of levels at actual physical VR arcade locations powered by SynthesisVR.

The choice to focus on LBE VR rather than at-home VR is an interesting one given the current state of the industry. Top-billed attractions like The Void are struggling to retain leases for their locations and arcades around the world, but most especially in the United States, continue to struggle.

We have remained optimistic about the state of our industry in the past months as we continued to make our games from home, said Michael Masukawa, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Secret Location, in a prepared statement. We know that now more than ever, families and friends are going to be craving meaningful shared experiences and so were happy to be able to offer them exactly what they need. As family entertainment centers start to reopen with safety in mind, we are thrilled to be partnering with Synthesis on the launch of our first location-based VR game.

What do you think of the move? Risky considering the state of affairs, or forward-looking as the world slowly tries to return to normal? Let us know what you think down in the comment below!

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Blasters of the Universe: Infinity Forever Is A New Free-Roam VR Shooter - UploadVR

Jamia group accuses admin of not listening to queries over merit-based admissions, varsity says no decicion yet – EdexLive

Jamia Millia Islamia recently announced that it might consider a merit-based system to conduct admissions this year and the news has left students furious and anxious. The students have been saying that they consider this move 'anti-student and anti-minority' but what has left some student groups even more angry is that they have allegedly been given the cold shoulder by the administration when they approached it to have a dialogue on the issue.

Jamia's unit of the All India Students Association and other organisations said that they tried to meet with the Vice Chancellor on August 27 but were stopped outside the office by the security guards. We were made to submit the memorandum in a makeshift box and we were not given an acknowledgement either. The officials just made hollow assurances. Later, we tried to meet the Jamia Teachers Association to raise concerns of students and submit the memorandum but we were denied entry by the guards and officials, the AISA statement said.

However, the media coordinator of the University said that no decision had been taken on the issue and it is yet to be discussed by the executive council, so there was no question of the students getting angry or issuing statements. "We extended the date for application and simpleasked students to upload their marksheets.We have no taken any decision yet, the executive council is yet to discuss. The health and the interest of the students will be kept in mind as far as possible when taking any decision. So we request the students to avoid any speculation," the media coordinator and PRO of the University said.

The University failed to have a dialogue with the students on the issue. The silence of key demands like clearing the uncertainty regarding merit-based admissions is taking a toll on students. The administration also failed to offer any satisfactory explanation as to why such an anti-student policy is being brought forth. This only makes us think that larger forces are at play, the AISA said.

In their memorandum, the AISA said, Merit-based admissions create a huge opportunity for back door entry which is an unfair disadvantage to deserving students. The financially sound, the upper caste, the residents of big cities and a status quoist procedure. Jamia is dominated with middle and low income students. They also pointed out in their letter that 76 percent of students of Jamia hail from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. Nearly half the students - 45.4 percent - belong to tier-3 cities, small towns and villages. Merit based admissions at Jamia would accommodate the rife social-educational-economic-cultural inequalities we have in our society. This would prove disastrous for aspirants from minority communities as Jamia Millia Islamia is a minority institution. Muslim women face multiple forms of social, educational and economic exclusion. Jamia's service as a space for them to realise their dreams and this merit based admissions would diminish the prospects of Muslim women, the Association explained in its memorandum to the VC.

The students pointed out that CBSE students score higher marks in the board exams in comparison to the state board and madrasa board students where the marking system is less generous. They also brought in the section of students that havedecided to drop a year due to the intense mental stress they are facingdue to the delay in the admission process. So a merit-based admission system, if adopted, could filter out many deserving candidates.

From our experience last year during the admission session, in which a lot of discrepancies were taking place including the Jamia administration not making the rank list public, we are sceptical that this kind of admission will make space for corruption. Any new experience in school admissions will leave students in the middle of nowhere, the students said in their plea.

The students are demanding that the administration doesn't base the admissions on meritand conduct the admissions based on the transparent mechanism of entrance tests and for it to be conducted after the pandemic is brought under control. They also demanded that the rank list of students who would appear for the entrances this year be displayed before the selection list is released.

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Jamia group accuses admin of not listening to queries over merit-based admissions, varsity says no decicion yet - EdexLive

‘As Kids We Were Taught to Become Humans, Amit Shah Wants Us to Become Hindus, Muslims’ – The Wire

On September 1, 2020, the Allahabad high court set aside as illegal the Uttar Pradesh governments order holding Dr Kafeel Khan in preventive detention under the National Security Act. The UP government had argued, in defending Dr Kafeels arrest under the NSA, that the speech he delivered in Aligarh Muslim University on December 12, 20019 against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act had led to violence in the city on December 13 and December 15.

The court noted that the state could provide not evidence to back up this claim and had made a selective reading of his speech. A complete reading of the speech prima facie does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence. It also no where threatens peace and tranquility of the city of Aligarh. The address gives a call for national integrity and unity among the citizens. The speech also deprecates any kind of violence. It appears that the District Magistrate had selective reading and selective mention for few phrases from the speech ignoring its true intent.

The high court judgment reproduced the English transcript of this speech, originally delivered in Urdu with a few English words, and The Wire is publishing this below so readers can judge for themselves.

Very good Evening.

Lets begin with famous piece of poetry by Allama Iqbal Sahab Kuch baat hai ki hasti mit-ti nahi humari sadiyon raha hai dushman daur-e-zamaa hamara (There must be something special that we still exist despite the whole world against us) (Students clapping)

Before even entering the gate, I received a call from the C.O. City and he said that dont go there or your will be put behind bars. (Shame -Shame-Shame by students)

I asked him if he received a call from Yogi Ji regarding my arrival. If you all sit down it will be convenient for everyone. (Students saying sit down everyone)

If you all sit down then we will be able to talk and understand what & NRC are?

How afraid we should be of it please sit (students sit down sit down)

Since our childhood we all are taught that we will neither become Hindus nor Muslims, but humans and our Mota Bhai teaches us that we will become Hindus, Muslims, but not humans.

Why because as they said (pointing at students) How will a murderer know, whose clothes are stained in blood, how will he hide those stains?

How would they know the meaning of Constitution, since the day RSS came into being in 1928, they dont believe in Indian Constitution. They dont believe in our Constitution. It is repeatedly said that the law brought in by Amit Shah Ji, our Home Minister, is unconstitutional and is not in consonance with Indias pluralism, communal harmony, humanity and equality.

We should understand whom are we talking to, We are talking to those who never believed Baba Sahebs Constitution and never ever read it. Since the time they came into existence nearly 90 years ago, their objective has been to divide this country.

Firstly, you all are very young and I believe you will have to lift the baton and will have to fight. (Students Inshallah (if God will).

Aligarh has always been dear to me and I think when I was in jail there was a huge protest march for me. After being released from jail, Ive been here for 2-3 times and though I wont be able to reciprocate the love Ive got from here, however when I got the call last night, I made up my mind that I would definitely come here, no matter how much Yogi Ji try (clapping)

Lets firstly talk about what CAB really is. How many people actually know the CAB is? Does everyone know? Why Citizenship Amendment Bill was introduced? There was an attempt in 2015 as well (2016 prompted by crowd). The reason to bring it at the moment is that the NRC implemented by them in Assam has resulted in 19 lakh people being left out. Out of them 90% were those people whom they wanted to be included in NRC. This backfired for them. Now they werent able to understand what they should do first, otherwise perhaps they would have been silent after the Kashmir issue for some days. Hence, they brought CAB. According to CAB, barring Muslims, even barring atheists and other groups including Rohingya and many others, whose name I can count, only for 5-6 religions, people were told that those who faced religious persecutions in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be provided citizenship. Muslims shall not be provided the same. We are not affected by it, its a good thing. Like Amit Shah ji said yesterday that it is about giving citizenship and not taking it from us Muslims, then why are you all protesting. Why are you protesting, you should not be concerned about it.

NRC plus CAB is the lethal term. And one thing is that, they have just build a small wall for now, and later they will build a full structure on it. It is the result of the hatred that they have spread amongst us for 90 years in minds of our youth on the basis of religion.

During the talks with Yogendra ji in car, he said that simply, constitution for us common village people is limited to the SHO. Whatever he says is the constitution for them. The SHO since 2014 knows how to treat them, they are second-class citizens and they should be constantly reminded that it is not their country. Whenever you go to them, they will show you their true nature. This is the reason why we have to protest and oppose. The same has been now approved by the so-called Honble House. When NRC will be introduced, that is the time when we will have problems. Now what is NRC? NRC was made for Assam, and for the same Indian Register was made which has now being amended and in 2019 the completed list is available on the website of the Home Ministry Affairs. The list is complete, all preparations are done. Also, let me tell you that Aadhar Card, Pan Card, Driving License wont be of any relevance. You would require a birth certificate. If you were born in India from 1950 to 1987 then you are a citizen, otherwise not. Next clause says that if any of your parents were born in the period 1987-2004, then you are a citizen. After 2004 till now, if both the parents are born in India, then only you are a citizen. It is nowhere written that if you are a Muslim you shall be removed. Then are we in trouble? Why are we protesting? Because we know what their intentions are. What do we know that people wearing white clothes, how dark they are. We know what their thinking is and what is there in their mind. Only hatred. They will intentionally make us run to get our certificates, our fathers certificates, our mothers certificates, our legal records. They will thus create problems for lakhs and crores of people.

But let me assure you all about one thing, that the rumour about sending everyone to detention centres is not possible. Understood? A budget of twenty three thousands crore will be required to send 6 lakh people of Assam to detention centres. 1500 crores were spent on NRC in Assam, say 1600 crores. For the entire India, about 30,000 crores would be required. When we ask for free education, they say that there is no money, increase the fees of JNU. The year in which 70 children died in BRD, 8 lakhs children died in India. I am running a Health for All Campaign, Im working on that and I have met 13 chief ministers. Even Ive met our Health Minister and given him my proposal. The data has been collected by us, a team of 25 non- political health activists, Supreme Court lawyers, CEOs, IITians and we have got the data from UN, UNICEF, World Bank and WHO. Those data were very tragic. 50% of our population are malnourished. India is the 3rd largest country of AIDS and HIV, 2nd largest of diabetes, 72% population is devoid of health facilities. If they get a heart attack, they will have to travel for 40 kilometres to get a doctor for themselves. As per the research, the ones who are called fake doctors, Bengali doctors are the ones who are actually working, otherwise there isnt anyone. The primary health centres which are the backbone of any health centres in the world is not there, it is shambles. So, we will not talk about that.

I am travelling across India and ask everybody, I repeat it again, they might be getting bored by my speech. But this is the truth. I ask people what do they want? People say that a respectful two-square meal per day, good medical facilities when our children are not well, good colleges and universities for their education for instance AMU, JNU, IIT, AIIMS, a good job after they attain their education. Thus, the only demand that we have for past 70 years is food, clothing, shelter, health, education and employment. And this demand is not just ours but of everyone, of all poor persons. But what they talk about is Shamshaan-Kabristan (Cremation ground-Graveyard), Ali- Bajrang Bali, your Kashmir, Ram Mandir, CAB, NRC. They dont talk about the promise that they made for 2 crores employment per year. They dont talk about giving 15 lakhs Rupees to us as earlier said by them. Economy is doomed, small businessman are ruined. If you go at the ground level, you are not the only one disturbed. By expressing their problems, they hid the problems of economy, employment, roads and housing. So that you dont even ask.

Why is mob lynching done? Mob-lynching is an organized crime. A trained mob comes who are well taught how to attack. Why would a murderer make a video himself? They themselves record the video, upload it on Facebook and inform their senior that the senior sitting in Delhi shall be happy and will save them. This is why mob-lynching is done, to create a fear-psychosis to one community and to create a pseudo- euphoria in other community. The talks about nationalism is actually pseudo-nationalism, on the basis of pseudo-Hinduism only. Our entire opposition gets hidden behind soft Hinduism. We only will have to speak and fight.

You must have heard that two months back I got a clean chit. Yogi Government constituted a committee in which it was alleged that Dr. Kafeel is a murderer, is involved in corruption, all children died because of him. The said committee held that Dr. Kafeel was the junior-most doctor and bought cylinders from his own pocket and saved lives of a number of children. Then Yogi ji thought now what can be done, how to trap him now. So, they again suspended me. Now they say that I speak against the government. So now I said is zulm ke daur me zubaan kholega kaun, agar hum bhi chup rahenge to bolega kaun (who will speak in this time of atrocities if not me). I would like to tell you that the ones sitting in power are merely faces, the ideology of RSS of spreading hatred has been existed for many years which is being spread in shakhas. We are the ones who are not able to understand this. We will have to understand and I will appeal all my brothers and sisters who believe in prosperous and united India that they should oppose this draconian law. Everybody should come up, not just us Muslims. Everyone should come as to how can citizenship be on the basis of religion. Where was this written in our Indian Constitution? We are the citizens of the world, these boundaries are created by the politicians for their sake only. You only have to fight.

Aligarh will have to become the leader, the way JNU comes up as the only leader in the entire India for issue of fees or for any issue, For many years I believed that Aligarh is sleeping, but now perhaps after seeking these young faces, I think now is the time to wake up and they have woken up. This is the fight for our identity. We will have to fight. And let me tell you that fight does not mean creating physical violence, we have to fight in a democratic way. We have to fight in their way only and have to tell people that the rumour about detention centers is false. Their thinking is restricted only to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. You dont know how much is India being condemned all over this world for bringing this law.

You should think this way that the servant in your neighbours house has stolen something, he is mannerless, and if he comes to your house you will give him employment. How will your relations be then with your neighbour? How is justified to divide people in the name of religion? However, my brother is also here with me but he has probably gone somewhere right now. My brother was shot where Yogi Adityanath was himself present about 500 meters away. (Crowd- Shame, Shame) After this, when he was taken in the car for emergency surgery to take out the bullet, there was an unnecessary delay of 4 hours. We thought for once that why is God testing his patience. I went to save the children only. There was never a response to it. But I think there must be some will of God. He must be testing me. He must have had a plan and that is the reason I am here with you guys. (Students clapping)

Convey my message that please be united. Please all come together and not be bothered about these small things and quarrels. Do you know yesterday I heard in a debate, someone said that Pakistans Ahmadiya and Shias should have also been included so that the Muslims here would fight amongst themselves only. Everyone would have been associating them with Shias so that by this reason only they would be covered under CAB. Do you understand? This is how they want to divide. So, please be united and not just in the name of religion. We are humans first. Islam has taught us that our deeds should be right. Our intentions should be right. You choose the path and God will take you to the destination. Inshallah (if God wills).

So, I request you all that you try to reach to your non- Muslim friends, sit and talk to them and tell them we are not the ones who repair cycle-punctures, fridges, mobiles and who marry 4 times or Jihaadis, Pakistanis. We are also doctors, engineers. Come, sit and eat with us someday for the distances that are created. I would like to tell you that what RSS did was in the name of school, you must be knowing the name of school, I dont have to take its name, through the schools it stated teaching that these bearded people are very bad. It made 4-5 categories namely the ones who repair cycle-punctures, refrigerators, marries four times, lives untidily, support Pakistan, are terrorists. So, when they see that a doctor wearing a tie is saving the lives of children, they feel who is this animal. They dont know. How will you tell them? Get them together and make them understand that we are also humans and no one can be more religious than us. Only our religion teaches about humanity, only our religion teaches about pluralization.[Note: Dr Kafeel Khan says in Hindi: Humanity to hamare hi mazhab ne sikhai hai, civilisation to hamare hi religion ne sikhaya hai, which more accurately translates to It is our religion only that teaches us humanity, teaches us civilisation).

Thank you so much. There is a lot to talk about. I will just wrap up by saying three things.

First, that there is no need to be afraid of CAB. It has nothing to do with us. But yes, it is a pawn as it is being tried to show you that this country is not yours and you are merely tenants. This is a signal given, a very big signal and its ramification shall be extended to that SHO who is seen as our Constitution.

Secondly, yes, be prepared for NRC. Get your birth certificate made. Get your parents birth certificated made. And Im telling you that Aadhar Card, PAN Card, Driving License is not valid at all. What all documents would be required have not yet been informed by them. But 4 documents which are most important, including birth certificate, and ensure that you get your parents birth certificate made. Theirs would not be available, yours would be. Then, your land records, the ones received from Panchayats, your sabhaasat, voter ID cards. These 4 documents are very important. Keep them ready.

Thirdly and most importantly, this country is ours. This Hindustan is ours, not anyones property. As much as this land is yours, it is ours too. It is not in your capacity that you can take it away from us. It is not in your capacity that you can intimidate us. It is not in your capacity that you can remove us. We are 25 crores, you can neither scare us by mob-lynching, or by such trivial laws. We will be together, we will be together, we will be united. We will be together like a wall. This is our Hindustan and we will tell you how it will run.

Darna aata nahi hai hume, jitna bhi dara lo. Har baar ek nai taakat se uthege, chahe jitna bhi daba lo. (We wont be afraid no matter how much scare us. Every time we will rise, no matter how much you suppress us)

Allah Hafiz (May God be with you)

Excerpt from:

'As Kids We Were Taught to Become Humans, Amit Shah Wants Us to Become Hindus, Muslims' - The Wire

There’s more to testing than simply testing – SDTimes.com

Rapid innovation and the digitalization of everything is increasing application complexity and the complexity of environments in which applications run. While theres an increasing emphasis on continuous testing as more DevOps teams embrace CI/CD, some organizations are still disproportionately focused on functional testing.

Just because it works doesnt mean its a good experience, said Thomas Murphy, senior director analyst at Gartner. If its my employee, sometimes I make them suffer but that means Im going to lose productivity and it may impact employee retention. If its my customers, I can lose retention because I did not meet the objectives in the first place.

Todays applications should help facilitate the organizations business goals while providing the kind of experience end users expect. To accomplish that, software teams must take a more holistic approach to testing than they have done traditionally, which involves more types of tests and more roles involved in testing.

The patterns of practice come from architecture and the whole idea of designing patterns, said Murphy. The best practices 10 years ago are not best practices today and the best practices three years ago are probably not the best practices today. The leading practices are the things Google, Facebook and Netflix were doing three to five years ago.

Chris Lewis, engineering director at technology consulting firm DMW Group, said his enterprise clients are seeing the positive impact a test-first mindset has had over the past couple of years.

The things Ive seen [are] particularly in the security and infrastructure world where historically testing hasnt been something thats been on the agenda. Those people tend to come from more traditional, typically full-stack software development backgrounds and theyre now wanting more control of the development processes end to end, said Lewis. They started to inject testing thinking across the life cycle.

Nancy Kastl, executive director of testing services at digital transformation agency SPR, said a philosophical evolution is occurring regarding what to test, when to test and who does the testing.

Regarding what to test, the movement continues away from both manual [and] automated UI testing methods and toward API and unit-level testing. This allows testing to be done sooner, more efficiently and fosters better test coverage, said Kastl.

When means testing earlier and throughout the SDLC.

Companies are continuing to adopt Agile or improve the way they are using Agile to achieve its benefits of continuous delivery, said Kastl. With the current movement to continuous integration and delivery, the shift-left philosophy is now embedded in continuous testing.

However, when everyones responsible for testing, arguably nobodys responsible, unless its clear how testing should be done by whom, when, and how. Testing can no longer be the sole domain of testers and QA engineers because finding and fixing bugs late in the SDLC is inadequate, unnecessarily costly and untenable as application teams continue to shrink their delivery cycles. As a result, testing must necessarily shift left to developers and right to production, involving more roles.

This continues to be a matter of debate. Is it the developers, testers, business analysts, product owners, business users, project managers [or] someone else? said Kastl. With an emphasis on test automation requiring coding skills, some argue for developers to do the testing beyond just unit tests.

Meanwhile, the scope of tests continues to expand beyond unit, integration, system and user acceptance testing (UAT) to include security, performance, UX, smoke, and regression testing. Feature flags, progressive software delivery, chaos engineering and test-driven development are also considered part of the testing mix today.

Security goes beyond penetration testingOrganizations irrespective of industry are prioritizing security testing to minimize vulnerabilities and manage threats more effectively.

Threat modeling would be a starting point. The other thing is that AI and machine learning are giving me more informed views of both code and code quality, said Gartners Murphy. There are so many different kinds of attacks that occur and sometimes we think weve taken these precautions but the problem is that while you were able to stop [an attack] one way, theyre going to find different ways to launch it, different ways its going to behave, different ways that it will be hidden so you dont detect it.

In addition to penetration testing, organizations may use a combination of tools and services that can vary based on the application. Some of the more common ones are static and dynamic application security testing, mobile application security testing, database security testing, software composition analysis and appsec testing as a service.

DMW Groups Lewis said his organization helps clients improve the way they define their compliance and security rules as code, typically working with people in conventional security architecture and compliance functions.

We get them to think about what the outcomes are that they really want to achieve and then provide them with expertise to actually turn those into code, said Lewis.

SPRs Kastl said continuous delivery requires continuous security verification to provide early insight into potential security vulnerabilities.

Security, like quality, is hard to build in at the end of a software project and should be prioritized through the project life cycle, said Kastl. The Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS) is a framework of security requirements and controls that define a secure application with developing and testing modern applications.

Kastl said that includes:

The OWASP Top 10 is a list of the most common security vulnerabilities, said Kastl. Its based on data gathered from hundreds of organizations and over 100,000 real world applications and APIs.

Performance testing beyond load testingLoad testing ensures that the application continues to operate as intended as the workload increases with emphasis on the upper limit. By comparison, scalability testing considers both minimum and maximum loads. In addition, its wise to test outside of normal workloads (stress testing), to see how the application performs when workloads suddenly spike (spike testing) and how well a normal workload endures over time (endurance testing).

Performance really impacts people from a usability perspective. It used to be if your page didnt load within this amount of time, theyd click away and then it wasnt just about the page, it was about the performance of specific elements that could be mapped to shopping cart behavior, said Gartners Murphy.

For example, GPS navigation and wearable technology company Garmin suffered a multi-day outage when it was hit by a ransomware attack in July 2020. Its devices were unable to upload activity to Stravas mobile app and website for runners and cyclists. The situation underscores the fact that cybersecurity breaches can have downstream effects.

I think Strava had a 40% drop in data uploads. Pretty soon, all this data in the last three or four days is going to start uploading to them so theyre going to get hit with a spike of data, so those types of things can happen, said Murphy.

To prepare for that sort of thing, one could run performance and stress tests on every build or use feature flags to compare performance with the prior build.

Instead of waiting for a load test at the end of a project to detect potential performance issues, performance tests can be used to baseline the performance of an application under development.

By measuring the response time for a single user performing specific functions, these metrics can be gathered and compared for each build of the application, said Kastl. This provides an early warning of potential performance issues. These baseline performance tests can be integrated with your CI/CD pipeline for continuous monitoring of the applications performance.

Mobile and IoT devices, such as wearables, have increased the need for more comprehensive performance testing and theres still a lot of room for improvement.

As the industry has moved more to cloud-based technology, performance testing has become more paramount, said Todd Lemmonds, QA architect at health benefits company Anthem, a Sauce Labs customer. One of my current initiatives is to integrate performance testing into the CI/CD pipeline. Its always done more toward UAT which, in my mind, is too late.

To affect that change, the developers need to think about performance and how the analytics need to be structured in a way that allows the business to make decisions. The artifacts can be used later during a full systems performance test.

Weve migrated three channels on to cloud, [but] weve never done a performance test of all three channels working at capacity, said Lemmonds. We need to think about that stuff and predict the growth pattern over the next five years. We need to make sure that not only can our cloud technologies handle that but what the full system performance is going to look like. Then, you run into issues like all of our subsystems are not able to handle the database connections so we have to come up with all kinds of ways to virtualize the services, which is nothing new to Google and Amazon, but [for] a company like Anthem, its very difficult.

DMW Groups Lewis said some of his clients have ignored performance testing in cloud environments since cloud environments are elastic.

We have to bring them back to reality and say, Look, there is an art form here that has significantly changed and you really need to start thinking about it in more detail, said Lewis.

UX testing beyond UI and UATWhile UI and UAT testing remain important, UI testing is only a subset of what needs to be done for UX testing, while traditional UAT happens late in the cycle. Feature flagging helps by providing early insight into whats resonating and not resonating with users while generating valuable data. Theres also usability testing including focus groups, session recording, eye tracking and quick one-question in-app surveys that ask whether the user loves the app or not.

One area that tends to lack adequate focus is accessibility testing, however.

More than 54 million U.S. consumers have disabilities and face unique challenges accessing products, services and information on the web and mobile devices, said SPRs Kastl. Accessibility must be addressed throughout the development of a project to ensure applications are accessible to individuals with vision loss, low vision, color blindness or learning loss, and to those otherwise challenged by motor skills.

The main issue is a lack of awareness, especially among people who lack firsthand or secondhand experience with disabilities. While there are no regulations to enforce, accessibility-related lawsuits are growing exponentially.

The first step to ensuring an applications accessibility is to include ADA Section 508 or WCAG 2.1 Accessibility standards as requirements in the products backlog along with functional requirements, said Kastl.

Non-compliance to an accessibility standard on one web page tends to be repeated on all web pages or throughout a mobile application. To detect non-compliant practices as early as possible, wireframes and templates for web and mobile applications should be reviewed for potential non-compliant designed components, Kastl said. In addition to the design review, there should be a code review in which development teams perform self-assessments using tools and practices to identify standards that have not been followed in coding practices. Corrective action should be taken by the team prior to the start of application testing. Then, during in-sprint testing activities, assistive technologies and tools such as screen readers, screen magnification and speed recognition software should be used to test web pages and mobile applications against accessibility standards. Automated tools can detect and report non-compliance.

Gartners Murphy said organizations should be monitoring app ratings and reviews as well as social media sentiment on an ongoing basis.

You have to monitor those things, and you should. Youre feeding stuff like that into a system such as Statuspage or PagerDuty so that you know somethings gone wrong, said Murphy. It may not just be monitoring your site. Its also monitoring those external sources because they may be the leading indicator.

Excerpt from:

There's more to testing than simply testing - SDTimes.com

‘We’re lucky to have The Hub’ – Art & Leisure – Teesdale Mercury

MAKINGMUSIC: Liam Samson has been working on material for a new solo album during lockdown

During lockdown, Indie-inspired musician Liam Samson, from Barnard Castle, has been working on material for a new solo album, based on a night out in Barnard Castle. The 20-year-old bass-player was also in the process of recording an EP with his band Metis, made up of artists from County Durham, however lockdown put a halt to this.

How did you get into music and what instruments can you play?I got into music because my older brother plays the drums, although I am not that great at the drums. About the age of 15, I got into playing the guitar. I am self-taught but I learnt a lot from my good friend Martin White, who is also a local musician.I learnt a lot when I studied music at Bishop Auckland college. I play rhythm guitar but primarily play bass in my band, Metis, which is made up of musicians from around County Durham.

What inspires your music and which other artists have influenced your music?I do write my own songs and a lot of the influence comes from Indie bands such as Artic Monkeys, Oasis, The Las and Jamie T. But I also have influences such as Status Quo, Bruce Springsteen and all the 80s bands my mam listened to when I was younger.

What are your favourite music genres?My favourite genres are 90s and early 00s indie rock. But I do have a few guilty pleasures like Abba and The Venga Boys.

The dale has a wealth of musical talent, what do you attribute this to?I think in the local area we are really lucky because we have the TCR Hub, which helps young musicans form bands or solo performers to work on their musical ability. My first gig was at The Hub playing as a support act. We were heavily encouraged by Andrew Yeadon to put ourselves out there. In Teesdale we also have a lot of open mic nights, which are very accommodating to both new and experienced musicians. Also, I took part, along with many other musicians, in the Covid Cutz Barney online Meet, which involved lots of local musicians. The talent on display was unreal.

When and where was your favourite performance?In one of my old bands I played the Sports Bar, in Bishop Auckland. It was a charity night and me and the other guys in the band pushed everyone we knew at college to come to the gig. It was absolutely packed to the point where people were almost standing on the stage. As an 18-year-old lad with barely any gigging experience at the time, seeing the audience singing songs back to you was an experience I will never forget.

Do you have a special place where you write music?There are two places that spring to mind. One is my friend Martins back room. The other, as stupid as it may seem, is the bathroom. Everything just sounds better in the bathroom for some reason.

How have you been keeping busy during lockdown?Ive been writing material for my new solo album. The idea for the album is based on a night out in Barnard Castle. Its going to be quite different to my first album, Walls, as this one is more electric and full-band based whereas Walls was acoustic focussed.

Where can people hear your music?I have a YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe6eiCu6hmqqtyhwy... where I upload my music, but I havent uploaded any videos or music lately as I am trying to write this solo album. Once it is complete Ill be uploading it there.

Continued here:

'We're lucky to have The Hub' - Art & Leisure - Teesdale Mercury