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10 Best Linux Business Apps

VirtualBox – No matter how you look at it, VirtualBox is by far the easiest Virtual Machine management tool available. Besides being dead simple to use, VirtualBox also offers you USB support, various graphical passthroughs and of course, the extensions ISO for extra functionality.

Seamless mode, seamless mouse control between host/guest OS and shared directories between host/guest OS make VirtualBox a great solution if you need to run Windows or another Linux distro, but prefer to avoid running said OS on bare metal.

JPMorgan Chase And Samsung Are Partnering With IBM To Build Business Apps On Quantum Computers

Connie Zhou for IBM

An IBM quantum scientist works with IBM Q quantum systems at the Thomas J Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.

IBM sees a big opportunity in quantum computing. Now it’s partnering with corporations including Daimler AG, JPMorgan Chase and Samsung to see if there’s money to be made in quantum, too.

Those companies in banking, automobiles and electronics are part of a first batch of partners in what IBM is calling its “Q Network,” a group that will have access to IBM’s quantum systems and share engineering over the next several years. IBM also plans to set up research hubs at higher education institutions and major research labs as part of the network, starting with Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee, Oxford University in the United Kingdom, Keio University in Japan and the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Partners in the Q Network now have access through the cloud to IBM’s 20 qubit computers, availability the company announced last month. With IBM already running a successful 50 qubit prototype, partners will access more advanced quantum computers over the course of the relationship.

“We’ve gone through such a long period of incubating the science,” says Dario Gil, vice president of AI and IBM Q at IBM Research. “Now the goal is to bring the world of quantum computing to business.”

IBM’s goal is for its partners to develop applications that demonstrate a business advantage because they run on quantum instead of traditional computers using silicon-based chips. IBM hopes to see such success by 2020, says Gil, though he says IBM is “very honest” about the fact that the technology is still in its early days.

Partners such as JPMorgan Chase, however, may have humbler expectations. They’ll send engineers to IBM’s research lab in Yorktown Heights, New York and share research back with the company on a regular basis, while also conducting experiments remotely over the cloud. Such research keeps the companies close to the pulse of quantum advancements, even if the partners don’t expect to build full-fledged applications on top of quantum computers, a challenge that doesn’t currently neatly map onto the faster but limited technology. “Success for us isn’t a specific product or a specific application, but more a much richer understanding of how to apply quantum in the future,” says Robert Stolte, managing director, J.P. Morgan Corporate and Investment Bank, who says the company is committed to the partnership. “I think of it as exploring together.”

Eventual applications could perform risk analysis or adjust prices more quickly in finance, make it easier to develop new materials in manufacturing and optimize logistics faster, but to do so, the companies must learn how to run the underlying algorithms of those applications on a quantum computer, among other challenges. Others involved in the program include Barclays, Hitachi Metals, Honda, JSR Corporation and Nagase.

IBM says that its public access to quantum computers online have led to 35 entries in research publications from 1.7 million experiments across 60,000 users.

“Our partners don’t see this as a fad, it’s something that will be in the permanent landscape of computing,” says Gil. “These are the people who are willing to believe in the technology and willing to jump into the pool first.”

Android creator Andy Rubin reportedly back at Essential – Business …

  • Andy Rubin led the charge for Android within Google. He left Google in 2014, and founded a smartphone startup named Essential in 2015.
  • A report surfaced in late November on The Information, which uncovered a Google complaint from 2014 alleging Rubin had an “inappropriate” relationship with a colleague.
  • He subsequently took a leave of absence from his startup, but has since returned.

Andy Rubin is back at Essential, the smartphone startup he founded to take on his former employer, Google, and Apple.

The “father of Android” took a leave of absence from Essential in late November after a report in The Information was published that concerned his time at Google. The report unearthed a Google internal complaint from 2014 that accused Rubin of having an “inappropriate” relationship with a colleague in Google’s Android division.

Rubin denied the allegation of a non-consensual relationship at Google through his spokesperson at the time and said his leave was due to “personal matters” and had been requested before the report from his time at Google surfaced.

He also contested that he was even made aware of such a complaint. “Mr. Rubin was never told by Google that he engaged in any misconduct while at Google and he did not, either while at Google or since,” Rubin’s spokesperson Mike Sitrick told The Information.

Essential launched its first product, a high-end smartphone, earlier this year.

It’s not clear what the “personal matters” were that caused Rubin to the leave of absence, or whether the leave was for a specified period of time.

Recode first reported on Rubin’s return to Essential late on Friday, citing two people close to Rubin; Business Insider has confirmed his return independently. Representatives for Rubin declined to offer an official statement.

HP Elite X2 Review: Perfecting The 2 in 1 Windows 10 Business …

With the rise of the convertible tablet style PC, led by Microsoft’s Surface Pro, HP has taken the styling and sensibilities of its Elite x360 enterprise laptop, and brought it into the new form factor. I’ve spent some time with the machine to find out where it excels.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

The obvious place to start with the Elite X2 is the Elitebook x360. I reviewed this laptop earlier in 2017. It adopted HP’s new approach to style but kept it in a subdued silver tone so it wasn’t too garish in the office. The package picked up top of the line hardware specifications, an increased focus on security (including secure booting, sandboxed web browsers, biometric ID, and more). It was an enterprise laptop with a focus on features and security.

The Elite X2 takes the very same approach, but instead of applying it to the laptop form factor, it applies it to the convertible 2 in 1. This HP machine sits comfortably alongside the Dell XPS 12 and Microsoft’s Surface Pro, but it stands out thanks to the focus on features specifically for the enterprise.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

It’s worth highlighting the security and the biometrics. Although Windows Hello is available, HP notes that this is less secure than its other primary method, the fingerprint sensor. Although there’s no space on the front of the display, HP has tucked the sensor into the rear of the tablet/screen. It is indented, but color matched, to the rear surface. It’s also really easy to find when the X2 is open. Curiously you’ll need to set up minimum of two fingerprints to use this, along with three backup questions that create a spare security key.

Using HP’s Sure Start, you can set up the X2 to request logon details (fingerprint or password) as the machine boots, i.e. before Windows 10 even starts. It can temporarily remember the credentials so you get automatically taken to the desktop, or you can leave the machine to prompt you at various stages such as the regular Windows 10 logon screen.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

Design wise there’s a lot of similarity to Microsoft’s Surface Pro range of convertibles – not surprising given that one part of the Surface design goals was to create a reference design on what can be achieved with Windows 10 in various form factors. HP doesn’t stray too far in terms of wacky design, instead making a number of decisions to improve from the starting point.

Rather than a full body flap that you see on the Pro, the X2 goes bezel-like approach of a long hinged, border. That gives a full length edge in contract with a table or other surface, while giving the X2 a distinctive look compared to the competition. The stand is leveraged out via a small cut-out for your finger, and is on a friction hinge that can be set at pretty much any angle for comfortable viewing. It feels solid, with more heft than the Surface Pro flap, and has enough friction that you can tap away on the touch screen with notable force and the package remains stable.

The detachable keyboard is even more of an improvement. It has a magnetic strip that connects and covers the large bezel at the base of the screen, putting the keyboard pitch at a comfortable angle. There’s a lot more heft in the aluminium covered keyboard, which offers a secure base for the keys. They have a great amount of travel for a convertible keyboard, there’s just enough resistance for me, and there’s almost no flexing in the entire assembly. The same is true for the track pad. It might be small – an occupational hazard of convertibles. but it is accurate, has a solid click, and can accommodate multi-touch with ease.

If you’re looking for a great typing experience, then the X2 keyboard offers that. It’s arguably the best part of the entire package.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

And of course the X2 has a stylus, which thankfully comes in the retail packaging. It’s slightly narrower than I expected but thanks to a little extra length feels comfortable and secure. Powered by a user-replaceable AAAA battery it uses active technology to increase the accuracy of the positioning. For note taking and basic UI work it’s accurate enough, but this is more for inking than artistic endeavours.

I’m not sold on the attachment mechanics. HP’s use of a fabric loop at the side of the keyboard feels like a last-minute bodge to the question of ‘where to keep the pen’, rather than something that was considered early enough in the design process. Something is included, which is good, but it’s a weak implementation.

There’s one last design point to note – the X2 is not a sealed unit. You do need to unscrew the back off the machine, but  you (or more accurately your IT department) can replace memory and storage, as well as replacing the screen. One day, all computers were like this, but in a large roll-out the ability for on-site repairs will be attractive.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

Security and serviceability show the commitment to enterprise. I’d argue that the robust construction also makes a contribution. Tested to the MIL-STD 810G standard, the Elite X2 is going to be able to absorb a lot of bumps and small impact damage as it gets thrown around during travel and transit as part of its working life. Although the keyboard can cover and protect the screen, there’s another layer of protection in the use of Gorilla Glass 4 . This is a machine designed to stand up to the rigours of a lot of business travel.

Specifications wise the Elite X2 is very slightly down on the ultimate top-specs you can find in this class, although there is still a lot of power here. No more Core-M from Intel, this is a full-throated Core i7-7600U backed up with 16GB of RAM. Performance is a little bit behind the Surface Pro, but then so is the price. That said the difference is very small, and the benefits of the package are found in other areas. A slightly faster machine with a poor keyboard is still going to be beaten thanks to the feedback from the keys of the Elite X2’s peripheral. That comfort  is a huge selling point. Add in the extra layers of security, the robustness offered in the construction, and the flexibility offered by a USB-C thunderbolt enabled port and aUSB 3.0 port, microSD expansion, and 4G connectivity to keep you connected at all times,

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

HP’s Spectre range of computers are the ‘all-round’ machines and are rightly targeted at the consumer. The Elite brand is clearly focused on delivering a slightly more niche machine suitable for the enterprise market. The Elite X2 is a good corporate companion to the Elite x360, offering a superb experience for the end-user while appealing to the corporate mentality.

Now read my review of the HP Elite x360…

Disclaimer: HP supplied an Elite X2 for review purposes.

States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children – Business …


3b751_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
President
Donald Trump greets children in Houston after Hurricane Harvey
ravaged the city earlier this year.


Susan
Walsh/AP



  • If Congress doesn’t reauthorize funding for the
    Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), at least 1.2
    million children could lose healthcare coverage.
  • A handful of states are expected to run out of money by
    early next year.
  • Medical officials in those states are beginning to send
    termination notices to families as they prepare for the
    worst.
  • Even if Congress does restore CHIP money, the delay in
    funding will have already cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands
    of dollars.

For the first time in the history of the Children’s Health
Insurance Program (CHIP) — which has provided healthcare to
millions of Americans and helped to drastically reduce the
uninsured rate of children since its implementation in 1997 —
states may run out of funding.

A lack of funding could result in 1.2 million children losing
coverage and becoming uninsured, according to
an analysis
by the Urban Institute.

“These are families making $8, $10, or $12 an hour that don’t
have insurance. And they’re going to get letters saying ‘your
insurance is canceled,'” Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said during a
debate on the Senate
floor
 November 30. “How can we let that happen?”

The reauthorization deadline for CHIP passed over two months ago
without Congress agreeing to an extension, making it the longest
lapse in funding since the program was first introduced.

“The politics are ugly. This should not be a Republican or
Democratic issue,” Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne told Business
Insider. “There’s never been any talk of it not making sense.”

“I feel like there’s a little hostage taking with kids and
pregnant women in the middle,” she added.

The only other time Congress failed to reauthorize it was in
2007, when then-President George W. Bush vetoed reauthorization because
he believed the Democrats’ proposal to spend billions more on the
program would encourage families to leave the private insurance
market. After just five days, lawmakers compromised and funding
was quickly reissued.


3b751_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
Former
Sen. Edward Kennedy takes part in a protest against President
George W. Bush’s veto of the Children’s Health Insurance Program
in 2007.


Jim
Young/Reuters



Today’s gap in funding has forced states around the country to
rely on leftover funds and emergency government grants to
maintain coverage for the millions of people who might otherwise
be uninsured. But those temporary funds are quickly disappearing.

“We’re concerned about the cost to the people and the magnitude
of the anxiety it is producing,” Lynne said. “Imagine if you’re a
pregnant woman and you’re going to lose your insurance?”

CHIP proponents are holding out hope that something can be done
by Christmas. Theoretically, Congress could address the problem
by lumping money for CHIP in with an overall funding measure that
must be in place by December 22 to avoid a government shutdown.

Such a move would be the quickest way to end concerns families
may have about the future of their coverage, says Tricia Brooks,
a healthcare policy expert and former CHIP director for New
Hampshire.

“We are guardedly hopeful because unlike all of the other health
policy initiatives Congress has tackled this year, CHIP actually
has bipartisan agreement in the House and Senate,” Brooks told
Business Insider.

“The fact that states had leftover funds and that there was
emergency money distributed to states gave Congress the feeling
that were wasn’t as much urgency. But that cushion is getting
extremely thin. Congress needs to act,” she added.

‘We don’t have any money anymore’

CHIP itself is not controversial. It has wide bipartisan support
as Brooks says. But exactly how the annual $15.6 billion program should
be paid for is the issue under dispute. Republicans have proposed
cutting back the Affordable Care Act to pay for CHIP while
Democrats have proposed tying the program’s reauthorization in
with measures to stabilize Obamacare.

“We’re going to do CHIP. There’s no doubt about it in my mind, ”
said Sen. Orin Hatch of Utah, who helped craft the program with
Sen. Ed Kennedy of Massachusetts in the 1990s. “But the reason
CHIP is having trouble is because we don’t have any money
anymore.”

CHIP currently provides health insurance for roughly 9 million children nationwide
who come from families with incomes just above Medicaid
eligibility levels.


3b751_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
Kaiser
Family Foundation


The program also includes coverage for more than 327,000 pregnant
women through the “unborn child option.” Technically, these
recipients are classified as children even though the women are
the ones who are actually being treated.

How states can respond to a loss of federal funds depends on how
they implemented CHIP in the first place.

For states that used the money to expand Medicaid to insure more
children, they will still have to cover those recipients, albeit
with some other source of funding, even if the government no
longer helps.

For states that created separate CHIP programs, those recipients
are likely to completely lose coverage, or at best, receive more
expensive coverage through employer-sponsored or marketplace
exchange alternatives if their families can afford those options.

Some states have a combination of CHIP-funded Medicaid expansion
and separate CHIP programs, complicating the situation.

States plan emergency measures

A handful of states are on the brink of running out of money,
some as soon as next month.

Carrie Williams, a spokesperson for Texas’ Health and Human
Services Commission, told Business Insider that without
Congressional action, the Lone Star State will be forced to end
CHIP coverage by February 1 for more than 450,000 children.

Under state law, HHSC must notify families that their plans are
being canceled at least 30 days before termination. In the
meantime, HHSC has requested an additional $90 million from the
government’s Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services, which
administers CHIP.

Texas’ situation is especially dire because of the damage caused
by Hurricane Harvey. After the disaster struck, the government
waived co-pays and enrollment fees for CHIP recipients. That
meant the state would be collecting less money, which is why
they’re relying on the federal government for an additional
grant.

“Based on our conversations with CMS this week, we are confident
that a redistribution of funds will happen, which will allow the
program to continue through February for Texas,” Williams said.

Texas has the most CHIP recipients in the country after
California, but 16 other states could run out of money by
February.

West Virginia’s Children’s Health Insurance Board has gone so far
as to already approve a plan to close its program — which
currently covers 21, 321 children — by February 28. The state’s
Department of Health and Human Resources plans to start sending
termination notices to families by early January, according to
communications director Allison Adler.

‘We’ve never had to do this before’


3b751_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
Madison
Myers Galloway checks the teeth of Justin Perez, 11, during an
office visit at Riley Hospital for Children’s Department of
Pediatric Dentistry in Indianapolis on January 22,
2016.


Michael
Conroy/AP



The longer Congress delays funding, the more states must prepare
contingency plans in the event that money is not restored.

But it’s hard for medical officials to gauge exactly when they
should take action — such as sending out notice letters to
families and doubling up on call center staffing for the
inevitable barrage of inquiries — since they are reliant on
Congress to make the next move.

“They [states] are trying to hold off on taking action as long as
possible because they don’t want to cause concern among
families,” Samantha Artigo, an analyst at the Kaiser Family
Foundation, told Business Insider. “But as we get farther along,
they are really going to be bumping up against difficult
deadlines where they will need to begin taking action. It cannot
be done overnight.”

Medical officials in Colorado, which is preparing to run out of money
by January 31, have already sent notice letters to the families
of the roughly 75,000 children and 800 pregnant women who might
lose coverage.

Florida has enough funding to last through January. The
healthcare of 198,605 children is on the line in that state,
according to Shelisha Coleman, a spokesperson for Florida’s
Agency for Health Care Administration.

On December 1, Nevada received a nearly $5.6 million grant to provide
coverage through this month and into January. Utah has also
warned recipients that
it will exhaust funds by the end of January.

Officials in Connecticut and Virginia said they are
planning to send out letters by mid-December.

“We’ve never had to do this before,” Linda Nablo, an official
with Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistant Services,
told Kaiser Health News. “How
do you write the very best letter saying, ‘Your child might lose
coverage, but it’s not certain yet. But in the meantime, these
are some things you need to think about’?”

Families are preparing, too.

Myra Gregory is the mother of 11-year-old Roland, who has a rare
form of lung cancer. Last month, Gregory wrote an op-ed in the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch pleading Congress to get its act together.

“If Congress forces Missouri to drop Roland’s coverage, our
family will be in an impossible situation. I don’t have the
savings to pay for Roland’s care out of pocket,” Gregory said. “I
don’t have family and friends — much less a bank — who will loan
us tens of thousands of dollars for Roland’s treatment.

Gregory created a GoFundMe page to raise money
for her son’s treatment.

A lose-lose for the taxpayer


3b751_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
Former
President Bill Clinton announces the enrollment figures for CHIP
at the White House in 2000.


William
Philpott/Reuters



The kicker is that states will still lose money even if Congress
restores funding.

Writing, printing, and mailing termination notices to families
requires time and money. So does notifying insurance providers
and other stakeholders, submitting paperwork to the CMS, and
paying call center staff overtime for helping concerned parents
figure out how to proceed in the absence of CHIP.

A Georgetown University study estimated that ending
CHIP will cost Colorado, for example, at least $300,000.

“Inaction by Congress costs states time and money as officials
grapple with various ‘what if’ scenarios,” the study authors
wrote.

In early November, the House passed a bill that would provide
funding for CHIP for five years. The bill stalled in the Senate.

“There’s no question that if CHIP isn’t refunded, we’re going to
do a turn on the success in covering children that we’ve had,”
said Brooks, the healthcare expert. “Where are the values in this
country?”

States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children – Business …


7d0f6_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
President
Donald Trump greets children in Houston after Hurricane Harvey
ravaged the city earlier this year.


Susan
Walsh/AP



  • If Congress doesn’t reauthorize funding for the
    Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), at least 1.2
    million children could lose healthcare coverage.
  • A handful of states are expected to run out of money by
    early next year.
  • Medical officials in those states are beginning to send
    termination notices to families as they prepare for the
    worst.
  • Even if Congress does restore CHIP money, the delay in
    funding will have already cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands
    of dollars.

For the first time in the history of the Children’s Health
Insurance Program (CHIP) — which has provided healthcare to
millions of Americans and helped to drastically reduce the
uninsured rate of children since its implementation in 1997 —
states may run out of funding.

A lack of funding could result in 1.2 million children losing
coverage and becoming uninsured, according to
an analysis
by the Urban Institute.

“These are families making $8, $10, or $12 an hour that don’t
have insurance. And they’re going to get letters saying ‘your
insurance is canceled,'” Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said during a
debate on the Senate
floor
 November 30. “How can we let that happen?”

The reauthorization deadline for CHIP passed over two months ago
without Congress agreeing to an extension, making it the longest
lapse in funding since the program was first introduced.

“The politics are ugly. This should not be a Republican or
Democratic issue,” Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne told Business
Insider. “There’s never been any talk of it not making sense.”

“I feel like there’s a little hostage taking with kids and
pregnant women in the middle,” she added.

The only other time Congress failed to reauthorize it was in
2007, when then-President George W. Bush vetoed reauthorization because
he believed the Democrats’ proposal to spend billions more on the
program would encourage families to leave the private insurance
market. After just five days, lawmakers compromised and funding
was quickly reissued.


7d0f6_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
Former
Sen. Edward Kennedy takes part in a protest against President
George W. Bush’s veto of the Children’s Health Insurance Program
in 2007.


Jim
Young/Reuters



Today’s gap in funding has forced states around the country to
rely on leftover funds and emergency government grants to
maintain coverage for the millions of people who might otherwise
be uninsured. But those temporary funds are quickly disappearing.

“We’re concerned about the cost to the people and the magnitude
of the anxiety it is producing,” Lynne said. “Imagine if you’re a
pregnant woman and you’re going to lose your insurance?”

CHIP proponents are holding out hope that something can be done
by Christmas. Theoretically, Congress could address the problem
by lumping money for CHIP in with an overall funding measure that
must be in place by December 22 to avoid a government shutdown.

Such a move would be the quickest way to end concerns families
may have about the future of their coverage, says Tricia Brooks,
a healthcare policy expert and former CHIP director for New
Hampshire.

“We are guardedly hopeful because unlike all of the other health
policy initiatives Congress has tackled this year, CHIP actually
has bipartisan agreement in the House and Senate,” Brooks told
Business Insider.

“The fact that states had leftover funds and that there was
emergency money distributed to states gave Congress the feeling
that were wasn’t as much urgency. But that cushion is getting
extremely thin. Congress needs to act,” she added.

‘We don’t have any money anymore’

CHIP itself is not controversial. It has wide bipartisan support
as Brooks says. But exactly how the annual $15.6 billion program should
be paid for is the issue under dispute. Republicans have proposed
cutting back the Affordable Care Act to pay for CHIP while
Democrats have proposed tying the program’s reauthorization in
with measures to stabilize Obamacare.

“We’re going to do CHIP. There’s no doubt about it in my mind, ”
said Sen. Orin Hatch of Utah, who helped craft the program with
Sen. Ed Kennedy of Massachusetts in the 1990s. “But the reason
CHIP is having trouble is because we don’t have any money
anymore.”

CHIP currently provides health insurance for roughly 9 million children nationwide
who come from families with incomes just above Medicaid
eligibility levels.


7d0f6_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
Kaiser
Family Foundation


The program also includes coverage for more than 327,000 pregnant
women through the “unborn child option.” Technically, these
recipients are classified as children even though the women are
the ones who are actually being treated.

How states can respond to a loss of federal funds depends on how
they implemented CHIP in the first place.

For states that used the money to expand Medicaid to insure more
children, they will still have to cover those recipients, albeit
with some other source of funding, even if the government no
longer helps.

For states that created separate CHIP programs, those recipients
are likely to completely lose coverage, or at best, receive more
expensive coverage through employer-sponsored or marketplace
exchange alternatives if their families can afford those options.

Some states have a combination of CHIP-funded Medicaid expansion
and separate CHIP programs, complicating the situation.

States plan emergency measures

A handful of states are on the brink of running out of money,
some as soon as next month.

Carrie Williams, a spokesperson for Texas’ Health and Human
Services Commission, told Business Insider that without
Congressional action, the Lone Star State will be forced to end
CHIP coverage by February 1 for more than 450,000 children.

Under state law, HHSC must notify families that their plans are
being canceled at least 30 days before termination. In the
meantime, HHSC has requested an additional $90 million from the
government’s Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services, which
administers CHIP.

Texas’ situation is especially dire because of the damage caused
by Hurricane Harvey. After the disaster struck, the government
waived co-pays and enrollment fees for CHIP recipients. That
meant the state would be collecting less money, which is why
they’re relying on the federal government for an additional
grant.

“Based on our conversations with CMS this week, we are confident
that a redistribution of funds will happen, which will allow the
program to continue through February for Texas,” Williams said.

Texas has the most CHIP recipients in the country after
California, but 16 other states could run out of money by
February.

West Virginia’s Children’s Health Insurance Board has gone so far
as to already approve a plan to close its program — which
currently covers 21, 321 children — by February 28. The state’s
Department of Health and Human Resources plans to start sending
termination notices to families by early January, according to
communications director Allison Adler.

‘We’ve never had to do this before’


7d0f6_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
Madison
Myers Galloway checks the teeth of Justin Perez, 11, during an
office visit at Riley Hospital for Children’s Department of
Pediatric Dentistry in Indianapolis on January 22,
2016.


Michael
Conroy/AP



The longer Congress delays funding, the more states must prepare
contingency plans in the event that money is not restored.

But it’s hard for medical officials to gauge exactly when they
should take action — such as sending out notice letters to
families and doubling up on call center staffing for the
inevitable barrage of inquiries — since they are reliant on
Congress to make the next move.

“They [states] are trying to hold off on taking action as long as
possible because they don’t want to cause concern among
families,” Samantha Artigo, an analyst at the Kaiser Family
Foundation, told Business Insider. “But as we get farther along,
they are really going to be bumping up against difficult
deadlines where they will need to begin taking action. It cannot
be done overnight.”

Medical officials in Colorado, which is preparing to run out of money
by January 31, have already sent notice letters to the families
of the roughly 75,000 children and 800 pregnant women who might
lose coverage.

Florida has enough funding to last through January. The
healthcare of 198,605 children is on the line in that state,
according to Shelisha Coleman, a spokesperson for Florida’s
Agency for Health Care Administration.

On December 1, Nevada received a nearly $5.6 million grant to provide
coverage through this month and into January. Utah has also
warned recipients that
it will exhaust funds by the end of January.

Officials in Connecticut and Virginia said they are
planning to send out letters by mid-December.

“We’ve never had to do this before,” Linda Nablo, an official
with Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistant Services,
told Kaiser Health News. “How
do you write the very best letter saying, ‘Your child might lose
coverage, but it’s not certain yet. But in the meantime, these
are some things you need to think about’?”

Families are preparing, too.

Myra Gregory is the mother of 11-year-old Roland, who has a rare
form of lung cancer. Last month, Gregory wrote an op-ed in the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch pleading Congress to get its act together.

“If Congress forces Missouri to drop Roland’s coverage, our
family will be in an impossible situation. I don’t have the
savings to pay for Roland’s care out of pocket,” Gregory said. “I
don’t have family and friends — much less a bank — who will loan
us tens of thousands of dollars for Roland’s treatment.

Gregory created a GoFundMe page to raise money
for her son’s treatment.

A lose-lose for the taxpayer


7d0f6_ap17246618904022 States scramble to keep coverage for millions of children - Business ...
Former
President Bill Clinton announces the enrollment figures for CHIP
at the White House in 2000.


William
Philpott/Reuters



The kicker is that states will still lose money even if Congress
restores funding.

Writing, printing, and mailing termination notices to families
requires time and money. So does notifying insurance providers
and other stakeholders, submitting paperwork to the CMS, and
paying call center staff overtime for helping concerned parents
figure out how to proceed in the absence of CHIP.

A Georgetown University study estimated that ending
CHIP will cost Colorado, for example, at least $300,000.

“Inaction by Congress costs states time and money as officials
grapple with various ‘what if’ scenarios,” the study authors
wrote.

In early November, the House passed a bill that would provide
funding for CHIP for five years. The bill stalled in the Senate.

“There’s no question that if CHIP isn’t refunded, we’re going to
do a turn on the success in covering children that we’ve had,”
said Brooks, the healthcare expert. “Where are the values in this
country?”

HP Elite X2 Review: Perfecting The 2 in 1 Windows 10 Business Notebook

With the rise of the convertible tablet style PC, led by Microsoft’s Surface Pro, HP has taken the styling and sensibilities of its Elite x360 enterprise laptop, and brought it into the new form factor. I’ve spent some time with the machine to find out where it excels.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

The obvious place to start with the Elite X2 is the Elitebook x360. I reviewed this laptop earlier in 2017. It adopted HP’s new approach to style but kept it in a subdued silver tone so it wasn’t too garish in the office. The package picked up top of the line hardware specifications, an increased focus on security (including secure booting, sandboxed web browsers, biometric ID, and more). It was an enterprise laptop with a focus on features and security.

The Elite X2 takes the very same approach, but instead of applying it to the laptop form factor, it applies it to the convertible 2 in 1. This HP machine sits comfortably alongside the Dell XPS 12 and Microsoft’s Surface Pro, but it stands out thanks to the focus on features specifically for the enterprise.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

It’s worth highlighting the security and the biometrics. Although Windows Hello is available, HP notes that this is less secure than its other primary method, the fingerprint sensor. Although there’s no space on the front of the display, HP has tucked the sensor into the rear of the tablet/screen. It is indented, but color matched, to the rear surface. It’s also really easy to find when the X2 is open. Curiously you’ll need to set up minimum of two fingerprints to use this, along with three backup questions that create a spare security key.

Using HP’s Sure Start, you can set up the X2 to request logon details (fingerprint or password) as the machine boots, i.e. before Windows 10 even starts. It can temporarily remember the credentials so you get automatically taken to the desktop, or you can leave the machine to prompt you at various stages such as the regular Windows 10 logon screen.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

Design wise there’s a lot of similarity to Microsoft’s Surface Pro range of convertibles – not surprising given that one part of the Surface design goals was to create a reference design on what can be achieved with Windows 10 in various form factors. HP doesn’t stray too far in terms of wacky design, instead making a number of decisions to improve from the starting point.

Rather than a full body flap that you see on the Pro, the X2 goes bezel-like approach of a long hinged, border. That gives a full length edge in contract with a table or other surface, while giving the X2 a distinctive look compared to the competition. The stand is leveraged out via a small cut-out for your finger, and is on a friction hinge that can be set at pretty much any angle for comfortable viewing. It feels solid, with more heft than the Surface Pro flap, and has enough friction that you can tap away on the touch screen with notable force and the package remains stable.

The detachable keyboard is even more of an improvement. It has a magnetic strip that connects and covers the large bezel at the base of the screen, putting the keyboard pitch at a comfortable angle. There’s a lot more heft in the aluminium covered keyboard, which offers a secure base for the keys. They have a great amount of travel for a convertible keyboard, there’s just enough resistance for me, and there’s almost no flexing in the entire assembly. The same is true for the track pad. It might be small – an occupational hazard of convertibles. but it is accurate, has a solid click, and can accommodate multi-touch with ease.

If you’re looking for a great typing experience, then the X2 keyboard offers that. It’s arguably the best part of the entire package.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

And of course the X2 has a stylus, which thankfully comes in the retail packaging. It’s slightly narrower than I expected but thanks to a little extra length feels comfortable and secure. Powered by a user-replaceable AAAA battery it uses active technology to increase the accuracy of the positioning. For note taking and basic UI work it’s accurate enough, but this is more for inking than artistic endeavours.

I’m not sold on the attachment mechanics. HP’s use of a fabric loop at the side of the keyboard feels like a last-minute bodge to the question of ‘where to keep the pen’, rather than something that was considered early enough in the design process. Something is included, which is good, but it’s a weak implementation.

There’s one last design point to note – the X2 is not a sealed unit. You do need to unscrew the back off the machine, but  you (or more accurately your IT department) can replace memory and storage, as well as replacing the screen. One day, all computers were like this, but in a large roll-out the ability for on-site repairs will be attractive.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

Security and serviceability show the commitment to enterprise. I’d argue that the robust construction also makes a contribution. Tested to the MIL-STD 810G standard, the Elite X2 is going to be able to absorb a lot of bumps and small impact damage as it gets thrown around during travel and transit as part of its working life. Although the keyboard can cover and protect the screen, there’s another layer of protection in the use of Gorilla Glass 4 . This is a machine designed to stand up to the rigours of a lot of business travel.

Specifications wise the Elite X2 is very slightly down on the ultimate top-specs you can find in this class, although there is still a lot of power here. No more Core-M from Intel, this is a full-throated Core i7-7600U backed up with 16GB of RAM. Performance is a little bit behind the Surface Pro, but then so is the price. That said the difference is very small, and the benefits of the package are found in other areas. A slightly faster machine with a poor keyboard is still going to be beaten thanks to the feedback from the keys of the Elite X2’s peripheral. That comfort  is a huge selling point. Add in the extra layers of security, the robustness offered in the construction, and the flexibility offered by a USB-C thunderbolt enabled port and aUSB 3.0 port, microSD expansion, and 4G connectivity to keep you connected at all times,

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

HP’s Spectre range of computers are the ‘all-round’ machines and are rightly targeted at the consumer. The Elite brand is clearly focused on delivering a slightly more niche machine suitable for the enterprise market. The Elite X2 is a good corporate companion to the Elite x360, offering a superb experience for the end-user while appealing to the corporate mentality.

Now read my review of the HP Elite x360…

Disclaimer: HP supplied an Elite X2 for review purposes.

HP Elite X2 Review: Perfecting The 2 in 1 Windows 10 Business Notebook

With the rise of the convertible tablet style PC, led by Microsoft’s Surface Pro, HP has taken the styling and sensibilities of its Elite x360 enterprise laptop, and brought it into the new form factor. I’ve spent some time with the machine to find out where it excels.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

The obvious place to start with the Elite X2 is the Elitebook x360. I reviewed this laptop earlier in 2017. It adopted HP’s new approach to style but kept it in a subdued silver tone so it wasn’t too garish in the office. The package picked up top of the line hardware specifications, an increased focus on security (including secure booting, sandboxed web browsers, biometric ID, and more). It was an enterprise laptop with a focus on features and security.

The Elite X2 takes the very same approach, but instead of applying it to the laptop form factor, it applies it to the convertible 2 in 1. This HP machine sits comfortably alongside the Dell XPS 12 and Microsoft’s Surface Pro, but it stands out thanks to the focus on features specifically for the enterprise.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

It’s worth highlighting the security and the biometrics. Although Windows Hello is available, HP notes that this is less secure than its other primary method, the fingerprint sensor. Although there’s no space on the front of the display, HP has tucked the sensor into the rear of the tablet/screen. It is indented, but color matched, to the rear surface. It’s also really easy to find when the X2 is open. Curiously you’ll need to set up minimum of two fingerprints to use this, along with three backup questions that create a spare security key.

Using HP’s Sure Start, you can set up the X2 to request logon details (fingerprint or password) as the machine boots, i.e. before Windows 10 even starts. It can temporarily remember the credentials so you get automatically taken to the desktop, or you can leave the machine to prompt you at various stages such as the regular Windows 10 logon screen.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

Design wise there’s a lot of similarity to Microsoft’s Surface Pro range of convertibles – not surprising given that one part of the Surface design goals was to create a reference design on what can be achieved with Windows 10 in various form factors. HP doesn’t stray too far in terms of wacky design, instead making a number of decisions to improve from the starting point.

Rather than a full body flap that you see on the Pro, the X2 goes bezel-like approach of a long hinged, border. That gives a full length edge in contract with a table or other surface, while giving the X2 a distinctive look compared to the competition. The stand is leveraged out via a small cut-out for your finger, and is on a friction hinge that can be set at pretty much any angle for comfortable viewing. It feels solid, with more heft than the Surface Pro flap, and has enough friction that you can tap away on the touch screen with notable force and the package remains stable.

The detachable keyboard is even more of an improvement. It has a magnetic strip that connects and covers the large bezel at the base of the screen, putting the keyboard pitch at a comfortable angle. There’s a lot more heft in the aluminium covered keyboard, which offers a secure base for the keys. They have a great amount of travel for a convertible keyboard, there’s just enough resistance for me, and there’s almost no flexing in the entire assembly. The same is true for the track pad. It might be small – an occupational hazard of convertibles. but it is accurate, has a solid click, and can accommodate multi-touch with ease.

If you’re looking for a great typing experience, then the X2 keyboard offers that. It’s arguably the best part of the entire package.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

And of course the X2 has a stylus, which thankfully comes in the retail packaging. It’s slightly narrower than I expected but thanks to a little extra length feels comfortable and secure. Powered by a user-replaceable AAAA battery it uses active technology to increase the accuracy of the positioning. For note taking and basic UI work it’s accurate enough, but this is more for inking than artistic endeavours.

I’m not sold on the attachment mechanics. HP’s use of a fabric loop at the side of the keyboard feels like a last-minute bodge to the question of ‘where to keep the pen’, rather than something that was considered early enough in the design process. Something is included, which is good, but it’s a weak implementation.

There’s one last design point to note – the X2 is not a sealed unit. You do need to unscrew the back off the machine, but  you (or more accurately your IT department) can replace memory and storage, as well as replacing the screen. One day, all computers were like this, but in a large roll-out the ability for on-site repairs will be attractive.

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

Security and serviceability show the commitment to enterprise. I’d argue that the robust construction also makes a contribution. Tested to the MIL-STD 810G standard, the Elite X2 is going to be able to absorb a lot of bumps and small impact damage as it gets thrown around during travel and transit as part of its working life. Although the keyboard can cover and protect the screen, there’s another layer of protection in the use of Gorilla Glass 4 . This is a machine designed to stand up to the rigours of a lot of business travel.

Specifications wise the Elite X2 is very slightly down on the ultimate top-specs you can find in this class, although there is still a lot of power here. No more Core-M from Intel, this is a full-throated Core i7-7600U backed up with 16GB of RAM. Performance is a little bit behind the Surface Pro, but then so is the price. That said the difference is very small, and the benefits of the package are found in other areas. A slightly faster machine with a poor keyboard is still going to be beaten thanks to the feedback from the keys of the Elite X2’s peripheral. That comfort  is a huge selling point. Add in the extra layers of security, the robustness offered in the construction, and the flexibility offered by a USB-C thunderbolt enabled port and aUSB 3.0 port, microSD expansion, and 4G connectivity to keep you connected at all times,

Ewan Spence

HP Elite X2 (Image: Ewan Spence)

HP’s Spectre range of computers are the ‘all-round’ machines and are rightly targeted at the consumer. The Elite brand is clearly focused on delivering a slightly more niche machine suitable for the enterprise market. The Elite X2 is a good corporate companion to the Elite x360, offering a superb experience for the end-user while appealing to the corporate mentality.

Now read my review of the HP Elite x360…

Disclaimer: HP supplied an Elite X2 for review purposes.

Many business owners are rethinking how to cover employee health insurance

NEW YORK — As small business owners learn what their 2018 health insurance costs will be, some are considering providing different types of coverage for their employees.

Companies are receiving notices of premium and coverage changes for 2018. The changes vary, depending on factors including the state where a company is located, how many employees it has and how comprehensive its insurance is. But many owners are seeing rate increases of double-digit percentages, finding dramatically reduced coverage, or both. Health insurance consultants expect more owners to rethink their strategies beyond 2018 and choose alternatives like paying for claims themselves or adding health services that can lower costs.

Gail Trauco’s insurer is eliminating her company’s policy known as a preferred provider organization, or PPO, replacing it with a health maintenance organization, or HMO, a change that would limit the choice of doctors for her five employees. Her annual costs were scheduled to rise nearly $10,000 in 2018.

The HMO was a deal-breaker, says Trauco, owner of The PharmaKon, which helps coordinate clinical drug trials.

“It’s important for a patient to choose a physician they can have a good relationship with,” says Trauco, whose business is based in Barnesville, Georgia. Trauco hired a health insurance broker who helped her find a PPO with a different carrier, and she’s saving enough money to add dental coverage.

Some owners say they may not be able to keep shielding their staffers from rising health costs.

Workshop Digital’s premiums are soaring 55 percent, and co-founder Brian Forrester says the business will be less profitable next year as it absorbs the increase. He may have to ask the Richmond, Virginia-based marketing agency’s 30 staffers to pay more for coverage in the years ahead. The company currently pays 83 percent of medical insurance, 90 percent of vision care and 52 percent of dental coverage.

“We never plan on removing our coverage or reducing the type of coverage we offer, but the out-of-pocket costs for our team may have to go up over time,” Forrester says.

CHOOSING HIGHER DEDUCTIBLES

Under the Affordable Care Act, companies with fewer than 50 employees aren’t required to offer insurance, but many do because they feel it’s right or because it helps them compete for and retain top workers. Fifty percent of companies with three to 49 workers have offered health benefits this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care trends. That compares with 53 percent of all employers, and is little changed from the previous three years.

James Bernstein, an executive at benefits consulting firm Mercer, says many offer employees a choice of plans to serve staffers’ needs but also keep their own costs in line.

“What they’re saying is, a one-plan-fits-all strategy does not work, especially with a multigenerational workforce: millennials, young families, baby boomers,” Bernstein says.

A Mercer survey found many small businesses are considering coverage that has a higher deductible and in turn, lower premiums. These plans shift more costs to employees, but many owners contribute money to Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, to help staffers pay medical expenses. The combination of a high-deductible plan and an HSA is known as a consumer-driven health plan, because it allows people to determine where they spend their health dollars.

Mercer found about a fifth of companies with 50 to 199 employees and 37 percent of companies with 200 to 499 workers plan to offer consumer-driven plans as a choice in the next three years. Those with 10 to 49 workers are less inclined to do so; only 10 percent said they will offer one.

SELF-FUNDED COVERAGE

Employers’ health care costs have been rising for decades, not only since the ACA mandated minimum levels of insurance coverage in 2014. Health care costs at W.H. Christian soared between 150 percent and 180 percent over nine years, says Scott Christian, director of operations for the New York-based company that sells and rents work uniforms.

W.H. Christian ended the spiral last year, switching to what’s called self-funded coverage for its 72 staffers. In self-funding, a company sets aside money to pay employees’ claims rather than have an insurer do so. It buys stop-loss insurance or reinsurance to pay claims in case employees submit more claims than expected.

Money was just one factor in the change, Scott Christian says. The company saw the quality of its coverage declining, with doctor networks shrinking; it kept switching carriers in hopes of better coverage, but each renewal offer was a disappointment.

“The main driver was we wanted to give our employees a good plan,” Christian says. “That seemed more and more impossible to provide given where the health insurance universe was going.”

The number of small businesses that self-fund is small – 15 percent of workers covered by insurance are in self-funded plans, versus 79 percent in large companies, according to the Kaiser foundation. Self-funding can be particularly beneficial for a company with a young and healthy staff, says Craig Scurato, a vice president with Leslie Saunders, an insurance and benefits broker based in Lutz, Florida.

Scurato also sees a growing interest in nontraditional medical services like direct primary care practices, doctor’s offices that provide medical services including examinations and laboratory testing. The company pays a flat fee per month; insurance companies are not involved.

Midwest Scrap Management was interested in health services that would help it save money when it switched to self-funding in March – one of the plan’s appeals was that the metal processor would have more say over what its coverage would include, Chief Financial Officer Craig Ward says.

The Kansas City, Missouri-based company offers its 120 employees 24/7 access to telemedicine, allowing them to consult with clinicians and get advice and prescriptions when they don’t feel well. It costs less than office visits. Midwest Scrap Management also offers biometric screening, which among other things measures cholesterol and blood sugar levels, letting staffers know if there’s a problem.

KNOWING WHERE MONEY GOES

The company has saved $20,000 off its projected health care costs since it switched, Ward says. And because an insurer is no longer in charge, there’s no mystery about where the company’s money is going.

“When you get a renewal every year from a traditional carrier, they tell you what your rate increase will be, but you never get a reason why,” Ward says.


2f443_article-fb-icon Many business owners are rethinking how to cover employee health insurance


2f443_article-fb-icon Many business owners are rethinking how to cover employee health insurance


2f443_article-fb-icon Many business owners are rethinking how to cover employee health insurance


2f443_article-fb-icon Many business owners are rethinking how to cover employee health insurance


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Oracle and Google are back in court over Android, again – Business …

  • Oracle on Thursday will try, once again, to get the courts to tell Google to hand over a lot of money.
  • In May 2016, a jury ruled in favor of Google, saying Google’s use of bits of Oracle code in Android constituted “fair use.”
  • Oracle appealed the verdict, however, and the first appeal hearing is scheduled to kick off Thursday.
  • The two have been duking it out in court for years, but so far, Oracle has not been awarded the multi-billion dollar judgment it’s seeking.

Last May, Oracle suffered a well-publicized loss in its years-long lawsuit against Google over Android. Oracle appealed the verdict and the first hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The trial was watched closely by the computer industry and included testimony from a who’s who in Silicon Valley, including Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt, and Oracle CEO Safra Catz. At once point Oracle’s Larry Ellison even called Page “evil” over the situation.

While each side has won various stages of the legal fight, the upshot is: Google has yet to be told it is on the hook to pay Oracle for Java, much less the massive, multi-billion dollar fine Oracle has been hoping for.

If the appeals court upholds the last jury verdict, which found in favor of Google, that would likely severely hamper Oracle’s attempts to keep going on this case. Google had attempted to get the Supreme Court to jump into the case in 2015 and issue a definitive ruling, but the Supreme Court declined to do so at that time, leaving it to wind its way through the lower courts first.

The trial was so technical that the judge overseeing the trial, Judge William Alsup of the northern district of California, taught himself to code just to understand the case better, The Verge reported at the time.

Oracle and Google have been battling it out for years in two separate court cases over whether Google must pay Oracle billions of dollars for bits of code copied from Java (a programming language Oracle owns) and used in Android (the language Google controls).

At issue were parts of the code called application programming interfaces (APIs), the technology that allows different computer programs to talk to each other. In May 2016, a jury ruled that Google’s use of the disputed code was “fair use.”

These lawsuits caused a lot of hand-wringing in the software industry, with pro-Google sides worrying that if Oracle won the suit, it would be awful for the software industry. Those folks worried that an Oracle win would make APIs the subject of more lawsuits and make APIs more difficult to create and share.

For those in search of more details on Oracle’s potential next moves, a policy blog from the Computer Communications Industry Association called The Project-Disco blog has posted an interesting analysis of the case.

Both Oracle and Google declined comment.

Navy Requests Computer Equipment from a Small Business

Dahlgren, Virginia, Dec. 07, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Naval Sea Systems Command needs about 40 pieces of computer equipment delivered to their Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia. The Navy is asking small businesses to submit a quote for delivery by December 18, 2017, with delivery guaranteed by February 21, 2017.

Equipment requested ranges from computer monitors to power outlet strips. There are eight different items requested with quantities ranging from three to nine depending on the item. Some of the items must be of a specific brand (ViewSonic, Microsoft, Intel, StarTech, APC) and all items must be covered under a twelve-month warranty from the manufacturer. Specifics about the request can be found on the government’s solicitation website, FBO.gov.

Bids for the procurement will be accepted on Fedbid.com, a third-party website that hosts the government’s reverse auctions. The bids should include segregated costs for each line item and the seller is responsible for shipping costs. Bids will be ranked by price, but other non-pricing factors will also influence a contracting officer’s award decision.

Companies must be small businesses and authorized resellers with the original equipment manufacturer. All equipment must be new (not remanufactured), brand name only and covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. A business qualifies as small for this order if they employ one-thousand people or less. The buy terms also indicate that under the “Buy American and Hire American Act” preference will be given to goods produced in the United States.

In addition to meeting the solicitation requirements, before submitting a quote to the government, companies must be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) and Wide Area Work Flow (WAWF).  SAM allows the government to vet businesses for procurement with consistency, while WAWF is the conduit for invoicing and payment. Registration in these systems is free, but occasionally businesses need assistance filling out the forms in a timely manner and without error.

US Federal Contractor Registration (USFCR), the world’s largest third-party government registration firm, assists companies who would like to submit bids to the government. USFCR’s case managers register companies on their behalf in the System for Award Management and set them up in Wide Area Work Flow.

Successful procurement with the government requires precise and accurate communication. USFCR offers a unique Simplified Acquisition Program which will improve an entity’s ability to speak government language and negotiate the right deals. This program will set a business up with design and hosting for government formatted website and contract support/bid training from experienced acquisition specialists.

If you would like more information please contact David Rockwell at (877) 252-2700 ext.750
or by email at drockwell@usfcrgov.com.

Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs. iPhone 6S: Worth the upgrade? – Business …

A few weeks ago, one of my worst tech fears was realized: I cracked my iPhone screen.

In three years of owning iPhones, I’ve never cracked my screen or significantly damaged my phone in any way. So when my iPhone 6S broke my fall on the subway steps recently – an embarrassing and slightly painful way to crack my screen – I was bummed to say the least.

As I contemplated the future of my phone (to repair or not to repair?) I figured it was as good a time as any to test out the new iPhone 8 Plus.

I ended up using the phone for about a week, swapping in my own SIM card and using the phone as my full-time device. When the week was up and it was time to switch back to my own phone, I figured I’d feel a bit sad giving up a gorgeous, flawless device and going back to my older, damaged one. Instead, I felt the opposite.

Here’s why:


The iPhone 8 Plus is still just too big for me.

69aa1_33fe398ca39571924152706e27ce079a1205c5db-800x600 Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs. iPhone 6S: Worth the upgrade? - Business ...

The 8 Plus was a big change for a lot of reasons, the main one being the size of it compared to my standard-sized 6S.

The phone felt gigantic to me. I couldn’t get used to the size, even after several days of using it. I felt myself having to change almost every habit I had to accommodate the huge phone, and constantly felt nervous I was going to drop it. I have relatively small hands, and I had a lot of trouble using the device, even with Apple’s Reachability feature that lets you better reach content towards the top of the screen by double-tapping the home button.


I can’t live without a headphone jack (yet).

69aa1_33fe398ca39571924152706e27ce079a1205c5db-800x600 Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs. iPhone 6S: Worth the upgrade? - Business ...

Apple removed the headphone jack from its phones more than a year ago, and I’m still not used to it. I understand why they did it – it’s where technology is headed, and I’m OK with that. My qualm is that it still feels premature.

There were countless moments when I forgot I didn’t have a headphone jack on the 8 Plus. When traveling home for Thanksgiving, I brought along my on-ear Sony headphones to use on the plane, since they’re the best, comfiest headphones I have – and of course, they couldn’t plug into the phone.

When trying to make a phone call, I grabbed the Apple EarPods that came with my 6S only to remember I couldn’t use those, either.

I know what you’re thinking: Bluetooth headphones are the solution here. That’s not the issue; I love Bluetooth headphones. I have a pair of Powerbeats, which are great for working out and listening to music, but they sound terrible when using them to make phone calls, so they can’t be my full-time headphones.

For now, I prefer having a headphone jack too much to let go of my 6S.


The iPhone 8 Plus is too heavy.

69aa1_33fe398ca39571924152706e27ce079a1205c5db-800x600 Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs. iPhone 6S: Worth the upgrade? - Business ...

The iPhone 8 Plus has a glass back, which makes it heavier than its predecessors – it weighs 7.12 ounces.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but compared to the iPhone 6S, it feels like a brick. The 6S, with its aluminum body, weighs only 5.04 ounces. When I eventually switched back to the 6S, I laughed out loud at how light it felt in comparison. I never thought the weight of a phone would bother me, but I now realize I prefer a more lightweight device to something heavier like the iPhone 8 Plus.


I didn’t use the iPhone 8’s Portrait Mode as much as I expected.

69aa1_33fe398ca39571924152706e27ce079a1205c5db-800x600 Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs. iPhone 6S: Worth the upgrade? - Business ...

One of the main upgrades in the iPhone 8 Plus is the addition of Portrait Mode and portrait lighting. I was excited to try both features and expected to use them quite a bit during the week I had the phone, particularly because I was traveling to Arizona for the first time. But during the course of the week, I didn’t use the features as much as I was anticipating. What I had previously seen as main reasons to upgrade the phone became perks, not necessities.

Portrait lighting just ended up looking unnatural to me. The above left photo is my best attempt, and I still don’t like it very much or think it looks realistic. Portrait Mode, on the other hand, is legitimately great and produces beautiful images – like the above right photo, if I do say so myself – but you can take similar close-ups without using Portrait Mode.

While both camera features are nice to have, they’re not yet must-haves by any means.


I like having a home button that clicks.

69aa1_33fe398ca39571924152706e27ce079a1205c5db-800x600 Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs. iPhone 6S: Worth the upgrade? - Business ...

Apple changed the iPhone’s home button in 2016 with the iPhone 7, and continued this new design in the iPhone 8. Rather than have a button that physically pushes in, the home buttons on the iPhone 7 and 8 are touch sensitive and respond with haptic feedback.

While that home button isn’t bad – and having any home button is preferable to nothing at all, in my opinion – I still prefer the button on the iPhone 6S. Being able to press it in is more satisfying and simply easier for me to use.

Granted, I’m a late adopter. When Blackberry switched from the trackball to that tiny touchpad, I resisted then, too. I’m sure I’ll get used to change over time, but for now, I like the home button on the 6s.


In the end, I still prefer my iPhone 6S.

69aa1_33fe398ca39571924152706e27ce079a1205c5db-800x600 Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs. iPhone 6S: Worth the upgrade? - Business ...

When I switched back to my iPhone 6S, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief.

It’s not the latest and greatest phone on the market – it’s actually three versions old at this point, and I’ve noticed a decline in battery life lately. But my 6S checks all the boxes that are important to me right now: size, weight, design, and utility.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do after my screen shattered, but using the iPhone 8 Plus made me realize I’d rather put the money in to repair the screen than spring for one of the latest phones. The iPhone 8 Plus is a fantastic phone – it’s just not the phone for me.

Ruby Rose’s Health Is None of Your Damn Business

Last week, Ruby Rose attended the Australian premiere of Pitch Perfect 3 alongside her mom and her partner, Jessica Origliasso. But, according to her recent Instagram story, what should have been a chance for her to celebrate was tainted by news stories speculating about her weight and health at the event.

For instance, the Daily Mail took the opportunity to focus on Rose’s acne and her appearance, callously suggesting she may be at an unhealthily low weight and even dealing with an eating disorder. These articles combined specific photos from the premiere and negative Instagram comments about her appearance to create a narrative that Rose’s health was in danger. Today, Rose responded to the comments and the articles in a series of Instagram stories—then she turned off comments on her account.

“I never thought I’d see the day I’d leave my beautiful country balling my eyes out…when I was so excited to come home,” the Australian model, DJ, and actress wrote in her Instagram stories. Rose continued posting several photos of herself from the premiere and captioned one, “Instead of the dozens of photos of me from behind they run only 1 photo to fit their narrative.”

@rubyrose/Instagram
@rubyrose/Instagram

Rose went on the call out the Daily Mail for speculating that she has an eating disorder, arguing that this content is irresponsible because it can be triggering to anyone who has an eating disorder or a history of disordered eating.

“So from the bottom of my heart I am sorry if those stories triggered anything in anyone,” she wrote, going on to explain that because the stories were sourced from the comments on her Instagram, she’s decided to remove all comments on her page. “It’s time to take that away from them to protect everyone,” she wrote. “I can only do what I can to make this a safe place and I will.”

@rubyrose/Instagram

Aside from the fact that your appearance doesn’t necessarily say anything about how healthy you are, your health isn’t anyone else’s business to begin with.

As SELF previously reported, weight isn’t on its own a measure of health, and it can be influenced by so many different things. Someone might carry excess weight because of a thyroid condition or may have recently lost weight due to a health diagnosis they’re currently struggling with. You never know.

That said, no one owes anyone else an explanation for their weight, either. A person shouldn’t have to divulge private health information to get others to stop making inappropriate comments about their body.

The problem with linking body size to health conditions or eating disorders isn’t just that it’s rude—it’s potentially dangerous. It can keep someone from seeking help or getting a diagnosis if they don’t feel that they fit the mold that’s been touted over and over again as what this disorder “looks like.” Although weight is taken into consideration when diagnosing an eating disorder, there is much more to the diagnosis than that.

“Although most people with eating disorders are portrayed by the media as emaciated, you can’t tell whether someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them,” the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) explains on its website. “These perceptions can perpetuate the problem and may cause distress in eating disorder sufferers for fear of not being ‘sick enough’ or ‘good enough’ at their disorder to deserve treatment.”

So, not only are the assumptions perpetuated by these news stories rude and uncalled for, they are—as Rose points out—actively harmful in that they may prevent people from getting the treatment they need and trigger those who are dealing with disordered eating.

Instead, maybe let’s try the revolutionary tactic of letting people’s bodies be theirs, hm?

If you or someone you know is at risk of or experiencing an eating disorder, resources are available through NEDA or contact their phone helpline at 800-931-2237 or their text crisis line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

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Albany Township business owner complains about lack of high-speed internet

High-speed internet service was a topic of discussion Monday at the Albany Township supervisors meeting.

James Gaffney, owner of Hawk Mountain Bed Breakfast, said that he and his daughter, who run separate businesses, are hampered by what Gaffney calls the refusal of Blue Ridge Cable to provide high-speed internet for a reasonable price.

“The federal government is making more of a push to get companies to provide high-speed internet, to create a more-level playing field,” Gaffney said.

He said that he was told by Blue Ridge that it would cost him $20,000 for them to run a high-speed internet line to his property.

He said that another company runs a line past his property but it declined to serve as his provider.

Gaffney said that he isn’t the only one who wants high-speed internet, adding that his customers complain about the lack of it, as well.

Albany doesn’t have an agreement with Blue Ridge, the supervisors said.

It was brought up at that the board could charge a franchise fee to Blue Ridge. However, supervisors Vice-Chairman Charles Volk said that cable customers would likely see their rates increased to cover the fees.

Volk and supervisors Chairman Josh Rabert said that the board would look into Gaffney’s concerns.

In other business, the supervisors approved a motion to opt out of receiving one of the new satellite casinos that the state plans to license.

Municipalities that decide to ban satellite casinos can later rescind the ban, but once having reversed a decision to opt out, can not later prohibit a satellite casino.

Also at the meeting, the supervisors voted to approve the selection of resident Don Meyers as an auditor.

3 ways Apple could improve on the iPhone X design – Business Insider

281d8_iphone%2520x-39 3 ways Apple could improve on the iPhone X design - Business InsiderHollis Johnson

The iPhone X is my favorite iPhone yet. It’s got the best screen I’ve ever seen on a smartphone, it feels comfortable to hold, and its redesigned interface feels intuitive and fun to use.

That said, there are a few features in the iPhone X I wish were different, or better.

Internet neutrality is good for business

One of my favorite concepts in managing both business and government agencies is: All progress requires change, but not all change is progress.

We see this playing out in Montana, and certainly in Washington, D.C. While our country is currently mesmerized by political and Hollywood sex scandals, one of the most important policy debates raging in America is net neutrality. The future of the internet, as we know it, is at stake. Large corporations that provide internet services are attempting to block or throttle information that is currently available on the worldwide web. If these internet providers are successful, and in the future they are allowed to block, throttle, or control access for citizens, I believe this will be change that is not progress. Innovative ideas and small Montana businesses rely on the internet being open and accessible. They deserve net neutrality.

Here at the Office of the Secretary of State, we know a lot about change. On Sept. 1, for the first time in history, we went fully digital in our Business Services Division. The rest of the country is watching as Montana leads the way in how we interact and serve the 160,000 businesses that utilize our office for registrations, renewals, mergers, etc. Our new way of serving businesses is faster, mobile-friendly and error-free. We are really excited to showcase the immaculate services we now provide to business customers, as we strive to become the best run agency in state government! Stay tuned.

I have been fortunate enough to lead and manage Information Technology (IT) development and procurement for all three branches of government in Montana. It takes a certain kind of tenacity, perseverance and attention to detail in order to successfully implement change in government computer systems. I have seen a lot of changes, quite frankly, that did not result in progress.

But we really have no choice in pursuing progress. We have to keep changing! The world is changing rapidly, and computers are the catalyst in virtually every sector of our economy. Its important that each of us continues to learn and understand the digital world, so that we as citizens can collectively support wise public policy. Lets hope the policymakers in Washington, D.C. do the same.

Corey Stapleton, a Billings Republican, is Montanas secretary of state.

Valve CEO: “Nobody is smarter than the internet” – Business Insider

  • In 2013, Valve CEO Gabe Newell offered some sage advice to businesses on how to handle feedback from online communities.
  • He explained that it’s impossible to win against the internet, so it’s best not to fight it.

These days, almost every company you can think of has an online presence. But not every company likes being online – some don’t like communicating with fans or customers, or taking their feedback or suggestions.

But ignoring the internet faithful would be a big mistake, according to Valve CEO Gabe Newell.

Back in January 2013, the 55-year-old president and co-founder of Valve, which runs the world’s most popular online store for distributing PC games, went on The Nerdist podcast to dish about the video game industry. But his advice about interacting with fans and communities on the internet rings true for almost every business across all industries (as paraphrased by Mr_Pickle on Reddit):

You have to stop thinking that you’re in charge and start thinking that you’re having a dance. We used to think we’re smart […] but nobody is smarter than the internet. […] One of the things we learned pretty early on is ‘Don’t ever, ever try to lie to the internet – because they will catch you. They will de-construct your spin. They will remember everything you ever say for eternity.’

You can see really old school companies really struggle with that. They think they can still be in control of the message. […] So yeah, the internet (in aggregate) is scary smart. The sooner people accept that and start to trust that that’s the case, the better they’re gonna be in interacting with them.

Newell knows the power of the internet all too well. In 2015, he and his company Valve were on the receiving end of the internet’s backlash when his company teamed up with Bethesda, maker of the popular game “Skyrim,” ended a joint venture after just four days because of strong consumer backlash.

So, if you’re operating a company or its social media presence in 2017, here’s some advice: Don’t ever try to fight the internet. You won’t win.

Microsoft kills Windows 10 app Delve – Business Insider

  • Microsoft has killed a Windows 10 Office app called Delve.
  • This is interesting and notable because Delve was one of the first apps that demonstrated CEO Satya Nadella’s vision for the company: to improve productivity.
  • Delve was introduced in 2014, a few months after Nadella took over as CEO, with much fanfare. It was supposed to help you automatically find the info you needed.

The Windows 10 app for Office called Delve has been officially put out to pasture.

Delve was an app launched with much fanfare shortly after Satya Nadella became Microsoft CEO in 2014. But it is no longer available on the Windows 10 app store, nor is Microsoft continuing to support it, the company says, although a web version of Delve continues to exist, as do Android and iPhone portions.

Software companies like Microsoft kill unpopular apps all the time. But what makes this one noteworthy is that Delve was mentioned by name in Nadella’s 2014, massive 3,000 -word memo that laid out his new vision for the company involving smarter apps doing more tasks for you and making you more productive.

In that memo, Nadella named Delve as one of two examples of “ambient intelligence” meaning the app can tell the context of what you are doing and automatically find the stuff you want and need. He wrote:

“… people will meet and collaborate more easily and effectively. They will express ideas in new ways. They will experience the magic of ambient intelligence with Delve and Cortana.

Delve took years of work and was the subject of months of teasers. It searched through emails, meetings, contacts, social networks, and corporate documents in Office 365 and then used machine learning to try and figure out all the important stuff you should see.

Microsoft told Foley that it is now planning on beefing up the Windows taskbar with such search functions:

“We’re focusing our efforts on the Windows taskbar search experience which includes content and people inside your organization, as well as content on your local device, and on the rich web search experience including Delve and other search bars within Office 365.”

Microsoft also tells Business Insider that the technology behind Delve is still alive, kicking and important.

“Delve remains an important and popular service for intelligent search in Office 365. Millions of people use Delve to find and discover relevant people and content at work. Delve is currently accessible as a web app, as well as on iOS and Android. Only the Window app is no longer supported. Instead, Windows 10 users will have direct access to personalized search results across people, documents and other content from within the organization right from the Windows 10 taskbar. In addition, we are now mainstreaming Delve to deliver ubiquitous intelligent search and discovery experiences across Office 365 and Windows.”

All of this means that Microsoft hasn’t given up on the vision to build artificially intelligent apps to make us all more productive. However the death of Delve as a Windows 10 app does point to how hard it is to create an app that’s really so smart the world flocks to it.

Computer technician warns of possible business scam

CHARLESTON — A Charleston-area computer technician is warning area business owners to be on the lookout after receiving what appeared to be a phony invoice for copy machine toner.

Matthew Perry, a network administrator and information security officer for the Masters Law Firm in Charleston, said he became suspicious after the law firm got an invoice for copy toner from a company called IT Tech Products in Cosa Mesa, California. The invoice asked Masters to pay $1,676 for toner plus $14 shipping.

“We get our toner from Xerox, which caused me to wonder why we would be getting a bill for toner,” Perry said.

A search of the Better Business Bureau website lists dozens of complaints from companies that have gotten similar invoices from IT Tech Products for toner they had not ordered. An internet search on the search engine Google also turns up numerous complaints against the company, many of them claiming the toner invoice is a scam.

“IT Tech Products, PO Box 12017, Costa Mesa, CA 92627, Phone 877-910-2009 sent an ‘invoice’ in the amount of $1,690 for toner never ordered by this office,” reads one complaint filed on the consumer advocacy website Ripoff Report Sept. 25. “From the amount of complaints on BBB, they are in the business of ripping off other businesses.”

“Sent an invoice for four toners for $1,676 plus tax and shipping,” read another complaint filed Oct. 18 on a website for the Business Consumer Alliance. “We never ordered from this company and have never used them or heard of them and never received any toner. All toner is ordered from my husband’s company so I immediately knew it was a scam. You picked the wrong victim.”

Company officials responded to the website complaint on Nov. 1, saying the order had been canceled.

Perry said he did not pay the invoice, instead calling the number listed on the invoice. He got a telephone message from the company the next day, saying the bill was in error and to disregard the invoice.

“I came to the conclusion that the invoice was a scam,” Perry said. “I’d be willing to bet they’re just sending out invoices hoping people will pay them without really looking at them.”

Representatives from IT Tech Products did not immediately return a reporter’s telephone call on Monday.

Curtis Johnson, communications director for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, said similar scams are not uncommon.

“In the past four years, our office has received one complaint against a company called IT Tech Products,” Johnson said, though he added he could not be sure it was the same company that sent the invoice to the Masters Law Firm.

“Generally speaking, scams affect consumers and businesses alike,” Johnson said. “Con artists commonly use fake bills and/or invoices to take money from companies.

“Every business must carefully check each invoice and/or bill against its list of ordered items,” he said. “Anything suspicious or inconsistent should merit further review and research as to the legitimacy of the business.”

Perry said he did not report the suspicious bill to the attorney general’s office. But he thinks officials at local companies should check all their invoices carefully before paying them.

Johnson said the attorney general’s office is available to help citizens or business owners who think they may have been taken advantage of.

“Those with additional questions should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov,” he said.

Microsoft kills Windows 10 app Delve – Business Insider

  • Microsoft has killed a Windows 10 Office app called Delve.
  • This is interesting and notable because Delve was one of the first apps that demonstrated CEO Satya Nadella’s vision for the company: to improve productivity.
  • Delve was introduced in 2014, a few months after Nadella took over as CEO, with much fanfare. It was supposed to help you automatically find the info you needed.

The Windows 10 app for Office called Delve has been officially put out to pasture.

Delve was an app launched with much fanfare shortly after Satya Nadella became Microsoft CEO in 2014. But it is no longer available on the Windows 10 app store, nor is Microsoft continuing to support it, the company says, although a web version of Delve continues to exist, as do Android and iPhone portions.

Software companies like Microsoft kill unpopular apps all the time. But what makes this one noteworthy is that Delve was mentioned by name in Nadella’s 2014, massive 3,000 -word memo that laid out his new vision for the company involving smarter apps doing more tasks for you and making you more productive.

In that memo, Nadella named Delve as one of two examples of “ambient intelligence” meaning the app can tell the context of what you are doing and automatically find the stuff you want and need. He wrote:

“… people will meet and collaborate more easily and effectively. They will express ideas in new ways. They will experience the magic of ambient intelligence with Delve and Cortana.

Delve took years of work and was the subject of months of teasers. It searched through emails, meetings, contacts, social networks, and corporate documents in Office 365 and then used machine learning to try and figure out all the important stuff you should see.

Microsoft told Foley that it is now planning on beefing up the Windows taskbar with such search functions:

“We’re focusing our efforts on the Windows taskbar search experience which includes content and people inside your organization, as well as content on your local device, and on the rich web search experience including Delve and other search bars within Office 365.”

Microsoft also tells Business Insider that the technology behind Delve is still alive, kicking and important.

“Delve remains an important and popular service for intelligent search in Office 365. Millions of people use Delve to find and discover relevant people and content at work. Delve is currently accessible as a web app, as well as on iOS and Android. Only the Window app is no longer supported. Instead, Windows 10 users will have direct access to personalized search results across people, documents and other content from within the organization right from the Windows 10 taskbar. In addition, we are now mainstreaming Delve to deliver ubiquitous intelligent search and discovery experiences across Office 365 and Windows.”

All of this means that Microsoft hasn’t given up on the vision to build artificially intelligent apps to make us all more productive. However the death of Delve as a Windows 10 app does point to how hard it is to create an app that’s really so smart the world flocks to it.




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