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Windows 10 could introduce smart tricks for ‘always connected’ laptops

The next major update for Windows 10 (likely to emerge next spring) may well yield better power management functionality – and therefore boosted battery life for notebooks. On top of that, it’s expected to enable seamless set-up of a mobile data plan on a laptop that boosts cellular connectivity.

The latter will obviously be a boon when it comes to the ‘always connected’ Qualcomm-powered notebooks (powered by Snapdragon 835 chips with integrated LTE) which were unveiled earlier this week.

As ZDNet reports, all this comes from slides revealed at the recent WinHEC workshop in Taipei. Some LTE-toting notebooks already come with bundled SIM cards (or options for them), but the idea with the next version of Windows 10 will be to introduce a full ‘consumer eSIM’ capability. (An eSIM is an embedded SIM card, built into the device so you don’t have to mess around swapping fiddly little bits of plastic as per the traditional SIM model).

What that means is you’ll be able to seamlessly hook up your Windows 10 tablet or laptop with a data plan from your mobile carrier, with the ability to grab an eSIM profile straight from the cloud. As ZDNet clarifies, you won’t need any in-store activation to use this functionality, and it sounds like it’ll be a truly no-fuss procedure.

It’s certainly a neat idea, although there will be caveats, such as it only being available in certain geographical markets, and it will also be dependent on mobile carriers as well.

On the business front, an enterprise eSIM will also be piloted, allowing companies to purchase bundled-together subscriptions for multiple staff members, utilizing device management capabilities for easy deployment across the workforce.

Power to the people

As we mentioned at the outset, the other interesting development unearthed pertains to power management, and a considerable boost is expected on this front in the next big update for Windows 10.

Specifically, Microsoft said that it was working closely with Intel (note that there will be ‘always connected’ PCs built around Intel chips as well as Qualcomm) to push forward with driving the ‘accelerated readiness’ of Modern Standby devices.

Any power-efficiency improvements will obviously be very welcome for all notebooks in terms of extending battery life. Qualcomm-powered ‘always connected’ laptops are already set to offer a claimed battery life of up to 20 hours when these devices launch in the spring of next year, possibly to coincide with 2018’s first big Windows 10 update.

Apparently both Microsoft and Intel are also keen to get Modern Standby going on desktop PCs and not just laptops, with a ‘Wake-on Remote Desktop’ feature planned for jolting your machine into action in order to use it from a remote location.

Just a few months ago, Microsoft was pushing to boost battery longevity for portables with Windows 10. So, this news that said laptops should last even longer should come as music to users’ ears.

Computer Virus Pop Ups Could Be Scammers After Your Cash

Those pop-up virus warnings on your computer screen could actually be coming from imposters trying to scam you out of your time and money, according to consumer advocates and federal authorities.

The Federal Trade Commission said it has received more than 124,000 complaints about tech support scams with more than $36 million in losses since 2015. The FTC, FBI and Better Business Bureau said anyone who owns or uses a computer is a potential target.

Yona Klem of Naperville said after noticing a strange charge on one of her online accounts, she gave a so-called tech expert remote access to her computer and was told her device needed to be repaired. Turns out, Klem said she and her husband were scammed out of $1,000 in a fake tech support scam.

“We didn’t know if this was for honest or for cheating or what,” Klem said. “We’re both smart people and we got snookered.”

Steve Bernas of the BBB said a network of thieves can hold your computers, phones and bank accounts hostage.

“Sometimes you just don’t realize you’re a victim and all of a sudden your bank account might start getting depleted because they have access to your accounts, all of your information,” Bernas said. “They’re watching you as you do your keystrokes when they’re remotely in.”

Experts say consumers should never allow a stranger remote access to their computer. And if you receive a pop up warning that say your computer is at risk, experts say you should power down and reset your computer.

Consumers are also urged to change their passwords and report their encounters with a potential tech support scam to the FBI’s IC3.gov website and to the BBB’s ScamTracker.

The FTC said it is attacking tech support scams through law enforcement. The FTC has opened 17 cases since 2012 and has recovered millions of dollars for victims.

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Android Flaw could enable hackers to modify code without signature change

Android phone

Steve Lamb, head of cyber-consulting for Europe at Rapid7, told SC Media UK that the risk is that users are tricked into installing fake updates to applications that are likely to function as expected, yet contain malicious backdoor code. “Updates installed from the Google Play store should not contain malware. It’s the compelling emails and websites that suggest updates are urgently required that users should be wary of as these will often lead to malware,” he said.

Rusty Carter, VP of Product Management at Arxan Technologies adds in an emails to SC Media UK: “This vulnerability is very large and shows in a very widespread way that the status of an application cannot be trusted on Android. Any application could have arbitrary or malicious code loaded with it to change behaviour and compromise the app and it’s data

“To mitigate the problem while patching devices, organisations should ensure that any application accessing a corporate resource is protected via an enterprise mobility solution that includes integrity checking and security such as MAM (Mobile Application Management). Companies should also implement NAC (Network Access Control) to ensure devices on their network are profiled and only patched devices or protected applications can access corporate resources.

“Devices could be patched by updates from Google, delivered by the device manufacturer and/or Mobile Operator. This means that consumers and their applications are at the mercy of updates being provided to their device. Furthermore, devices and handsets that don’t support the latest version of Android will likely not get an update and will forever be vulnerable. 

“This is an urgent warning to all mobile application developers, as their applications are vulnerable and will remain vulnerable to attack in perpetuity. They will need to protect new versions of their applications, deprecate their API’s, and protect API’s from access by applications that can’t be verified as protected. The first step in securing your business is application protection that provides expert guidance, advanced code and anti-tamper protection, and analytics to track protection status and detect anomalies. Next will be securing data from inside the application all the way to the datacentre (End-to-end data protection) to prevent tampering by potentially compromised environments. Finally, companies should look to application protection vendors that provide all of the above, and address key and API protection that can restrict API access to only proven valid apps.”

“Users should verify the version of android their device is running, check with their device manufacturer to see if they have an update that covers CVE-2017-13156. They should also ask their app providers including their banks, mobile payment providers, insurance companies, auto manufacturers (if they have mobile applications that grant access or can manage their vehicle), health medical devices or services (data or device control), and others that deal with sensitive or private information, to ask how the provider protects their apps and information from tampering, and how they monitor apps running on devices to ensure their security status.”




Could Probiotics Protect Kids From A Downside Of Antibiotics?

bd314_probiotics-1-cfe5c3a212c8557c1446935fe265e53eafdb68e8-s1100-c15 Could Probiotics Protect Kids From A Downside Of Antibiotics?

Michele Comisky of Vienna, Va., enrolled her 8-year-old son Jackson in a study to test the value of probiotics in preventing the gut distress often experienced when taking antibiotics.

Rob Stein/NPR


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Rob Stein/NPR

Michele Comisky of Vienna, Va., enrolled her 8-year-old son Jackson in a study to test the value of probiotics in preventing the gut distress often experienced when taking antibiotics.

Rob Stein/NPR

It’s a typical hectic morning at Michele Comisky’s house in Vienna, Va., when she gets a knock on her front door.

“Hi, how are you?” Comisky says as she greets Keisha Herbin Smith, a research assistant at Georgetown University. “Come on in.”

Comisky, 39, leads Herbin Smith into her kitchen.

“Which one isn’t feeling good?” asks Herbin Smith, glancing at Comisky’s children. “That one,” Comisky says, pointing to her 8-year-old son, Jackson.

Jackson has an ear infection. So he just started 10 days of antibiotics to kill the strain of bacteria that’s giving him an earache. That’s why Herbin Smith’s here.

“What time did he take his antibiotic?” Herbin Smith asks.

He asks because the antibiotics won’t just wipe out the bad bacteria. They could also disrupt the good bacteria in Jackson’s body, which can lead to stomach problems, including severe diarrhea.

Herbin Smith had rushed to Comisky’s house to deliver a special yogurt drink that scientists are testing in hopes of preventing those serious problems.

“We want him to take the first yogurt within 24 hours of taking his first antibiotic,” she says.

bd314_probiotics-1-cfe5c3a212c8557c1446935fe265e53eafdb68e8-s1100-c15 Could Probiotics Protect Kids From A Downside Of Antibiotics?

The yogurt contains a probiotic — a living strain of bacteria that researchers think could help prevent diarrhea and other complications of the antibiotic.

Some previous research has hinted that probiotics could help, and some doctors already are recommending probiotics to parents of children taking antibiotics.

But researchers hope the new yogurt study will provide clearer evidence as to whether that’s a good idea. It’s the first large, carefully designed test of a probiotic to get reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, says Dr. Daniel Merenstein, who is leading the study. He’s the director of research programs in the department of family medicine at Georgetown University.

“The problem with a lot of probiotic research is that they haven’t always been the best of studies,” Merenstein says. “Many are done by industry. Many were done in other countries. We’re looking to see if it actually prevents diarrhea in kids.”

Merenstein’s study is part of an explosion of interest in research on the microbiome — the billions of friendly bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms that live in the human body. There’s mounting evidence these microbes play important roles in human health.

bd314_probiotics-1-cfe5c3a212c8557c1446935fe265e53eafdb68e8-s1100-c15 Could Probiotics Protect Kids From A Downside Of Antibiotics?

Dr. Daniel Merenstein, a family medicine physician at Georgetown University, with some bottles of the probiotic-laced strawberry yogurt drink that is part of the study he’s leading.

Rob Stein/NPR


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toggle caption

Rob Stein/NPR

Dr. Daniel Merenstein, a family medicine physician at Georgetown University, with some bottles of the probiotic-laced strawberry yogurt drink that is part of the study he’s leading.

Rob Stein/NPR

In addition to helping prevent diarrhea in children taking antibiotics, there is some evidence that probiotics could help prevent complications from antibiotics in adults as well, and might help prevent gastrointestinal infections that sometimes occur when people travel to other countries. Other people have suggested probiotics might help treat vaginal infections in women, or possibly alleviate colic in infants or perhaps prevent eczema in some babies. Probiotics are also being looked at as a possibility to prevent a serious condition in newborn babies — necrotizing enterocolitis.

Some researchers even argue there’s enough evidence to recommend that healthy adults take a probiotic regularly to help maintain their health.

“I think there’s a generic benefit in ingesting high numbers of safe, live bacteria every day,” says Colin Hill, a professor of microbiology at University College Cork in Ireland. “If I had my way, there would be a recommended daily allowance of bacteria.”

But many scientists question whether there’s enough evidence to support that suggestion or the many claims some companies are making about the alleged benefits probiotics. Some products are being promoted to help prevent obesity, heart disease and even alleviate mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

“The marketing of every claim under the sun with every product under the sun is definitely questionable,” says Linda Duffy, a program director at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “There’s not much in the way a magic bullet anywhere.”

The net benefit of probiotic use with certain conditions “is looking very, very promising,” she says. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

While probiotics are probably safe for most otherwise healthy people, Duffy and others note that the products could pose some risk for people with weakened immune systems, such as those infected with the AIDS virus or for people undergoing cancer chemotherapy.

Another caution is that probiotics are not regulated as closely as prescription and over-the-counter medications. So there’s no guarantee that what’s on the label is actually in the bottle — or that whatever organisms were originally in the bottle are still alive. There are also concerns about potentially dangerous contaminants in products that could pose a risk even to healthy people.

“Are there contaminants out there? Are there adulterated products? Are there marketed products without the appropriate claims? Absolutely,” Duffy says. “Like anything, you have to be a wise consumer.”

For his part, Merenstein hopes his study will provide strong new evidence that probiotics provide benefits for children taking antibiotics.

In the study, 300 children will drink specially made strawberry yogurt. Half will drink yogurt that contains a probiotic called bifidobacteria. The researchers will then compare the incidence of diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems in the two groups of kids.

bd314_probiotics-1-cfe5c3a212c8557c1446935fe265e53eafdb68e8-s1100-c15 Could Probiotics Protect Kids From A Downside Of Antibiotics?

In addition, the researchers are gathering fecal samples from the children to try to determine exactly how probiotics might work.

“One of our goals is to show that taking a probiotic will get your microbiome back to what it was before you started the antibiotic — and/or protect you from the changes,” Merenstein says.

So, back at Comisky’s house, Jackson takes his first gulp of Merenstein’s special yogurt.

“All right, here you go — you can drink it right out of here,” Comisky says as she takes a bottle out of the refrigerator, opens the cap and hands it to her son.

“Is it good?” she asks.

“Yeah,” says Jackson, as he gulps down the yogurt and declares: “Done!”

It will take years for Merenstein’s team to gather and analyze the results of the study. So it will be a while before they can say for sure whether this particular probiotic treatment works or not.

Terrible battery life on your iPhone? Don’t worry, there could be a VERY simple solution

iPhone and iPad owners last month complained about serious battery drain triggered by the official YouTube app on iOS.

According to reports, the official YouTube app appears to have a few bugs on iOS 11, which affects all iPhones and iPads, and causes devices to run warm when watching videos.

Whatever the cause, the bug appears to be severely impacting users’ battery life.

iOS developer Justin Morris‏ tweeted about the issues earlier this week, posting: “Recently purchased a new iPhone or upgraded to iOS 11.1.1?

“Well, there’s one popular app that you might want to stay away from, as it’s wrecking havoc on battery life.

“There appears to be a bug affecting the YouTube app that severely affects battery life and causes overheating.”

PSA: If you have an older iPhone with slow performance, a new battery could solve your problems

One longstanding complaint from iPhone users is how their device slows down over time, specifically as the device ages and Apple releases new software updates. A Reddit thread has emerged this weekend with some interesting theories as to why this may happen…


842fe_spigen-teka-on-airpods PSA: If you have an older iPhone with slow performance, a new battery could solve your problems

Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover

Last year, a growing number of iPhone 6s users reported that their device was suffering from random shutdowns. Apple subsequently launched a repair program for affected users, offering free battery replacements. At the time, the company said that a “very small number” of iPhone 6s users were affected by this problem.

A few months later, however, Apple said that more users were affected than it initially thought, and said a fix was coming in the form of a software update. The company eventually released iOS 10.2.1 and touted that shutdowns were reduced by 80 percent on iPhone 6s devices and by 70 percent on iPhone 6 devices.

At the time, it was speculated that the update made adjustments to the power management system in iOS. The Reddit thread this weekend, however, offers a slew of anecdotal evidence as to how this change ended up affecting device performance.

Wow, just installed GeekBench myself and tried with my 6 Plus. According to their website, my phone should score 1471/2476, but it actually scored 839/1377 … Which would explain why I, like you, have been feeling like my phone has gotten noticeably slower lately.

The gist of the thread, which has since acquired over 400 comments from users, is that replacing their iPhone battery caused a major uptick in performance, both real-world and in benchmark testing.

Many people might remember that iPhone 6S battery fiasco, which for many, was fixed with iOS 10.2.1, and that seemed to be the end of it. Apparently, the way it did this is by dynamically changing the maximum clock speed relative to the voltage that the battery is outputting, so that your phone can’t draw too much power and shut down.

Some in the thread speculate that Apple was inundated with battery replacement requests because of the random shutdown issue, and instead of coming clean about it, throttled devices with a software update to “solve” the problem:

Someone had a theory here that Apple did this because they were aware that there were a lot of faulty batteries that needs replacing, but instead of coming clean, they released iOS 10.2.1 which throttles our devices instead.

Users report that replacing their device’s battery caused performance to be improved significantly:

I did the same with my 6 Plus and the performance is day and night, can’t stop recommending it if you are happy with your phone and don’t want to replace it yet.

If you feel that you’re affected by this problem, you can use an app like CpuDasherX to see your device’s clock speed. Users report that the clock speed shown here is less than what it should be, adding merit to suggestions that Apple throttles devices affected by the shutdown issue.

While Apple says that Low Power Mode can reduce device speed in an effort to save battery life, this appears to be completely different and affects users without that featured enabled.

Furthermore, it’s important to note here that many of these issues aren’t necessarily ‘defects.’ Apple says iPhone batteries are designed to last some 2 years worth of charge cycles, thus meaning that many iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices are now outside of that window and not in their performance “prime” anymore.

This isn’t necessarily a new revelation. Apple has similar practices with the MacBook, where performance is essentially correlated to battery wear and usage. The more wear and tear on your battery, the more macOS works to optimize performance and battery life. More on that right here.

As for why the iPhone 7 and newer aren’t affected by this issue, Apple’s A10 and A11 chips include an additional fifth core that runs at a lower clock speed. This core is used in conjunction with the full-power cores to help offset performance and battery life concerns.

Ultimately, if you’re an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s user suffering from increasingly slow device performance, a new battery could help solve your problem. We’re reaching out to Apple for further explanation as to what’s going on here.


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Alabama taxpayers could save money and have faster internet based on technology being tested in Cullman

53c12_ATT-1 Alabama taxpayers could save money and have faster internet based on technology being tested in Cullman

 

Nestled between knee-high grass and mobile homes, a cell tower in this small community in Cullman County will soon demonstrate cutting-edge technology.

It is here that ATT will run fiber-optic cable and then beam internet signals to nearby homes with antennas installed on their rooftops, a service known as fixed wireless. This rural area in Alabama is one of the test cases for the new technology, which ATT will use to deliver internet to areas where it’s not cost effective to build out fiber-optic infrastructure.

Taking a break from her bingo game at the nearby Brushy Pond Senior Center on a recent morning, local resident Imogene Johnson said she’d be happy to have another internet option. She currently uses her Verizon cell phone as a hotspot to get internet service at her home.

“If it’s faster, yes,” she said of possibly switching to fixed wireless, “and if the price is right.”

In an age where many local governments are looking to get into the internet business by building taxpayer-funded networks to serve area residents, often piling up millions in debt, new technologies such as fixed wireless could be a solution to solving the rural broadband gap.

“It enables residents to get 10 megabits per second average speed of internet access, which is more than adequate for many needs, especially in rural Alabama, where maybe they’ve been on dial-up or they’ve had to use satellite,” Dave Hargrove, ATT’s company’s regional director of external affairs, said during a recent press conference at the Bremen cell tower

Until two years ago, 10 mbps was the broadband standard set by the Federal Communications Commission. Even though the FCC has raised the standard, 10 mbps is still plenty adequate for people to stream video on multiple devices in a home.

State Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman, said the technology is key for people in this area.

“You know, people can move here, they can open up a home business, they can do legal work here, they can do any kind of work they want to do,” he said. “They don’t have to go find an area that they can do that in. And so this should help expand growth out in this area.  It should help the schools, over time, because one of the big problems we have is, the children have access to the internet at school, and then they go home and don’t have access.  And so, that’s a disadvantage. This technology is going to be a tremendous benefit to those citizens and those kids, so we’re real excited about it.”

ATT began testing the service in Walker County early last year. About 65 households in the Carbon Hill area were paid to participate by installing antennas on their houses to receive the wireless internet signal from a nearby cell tower.

The company is also testing technology that beams wireless internet signals along antennas installed on power poles, which means the internet could reach any home with electric service.

Tom Struble, technology policy manager for Washington, D.C.-based R Street Institute, said that fixed wireless service looks to be a strong alternative to the expensive process of running fiber-optic cable to homes in out-of-the-way areas.

“It’s a good broadband solution for people who don’t have it,” he said. “It’s pretty typical of what you could get on your cell phone.”

And faster wireless services are coming. Tech experts anticipate that 5G technology will provide download speeds around 1 gigabit per second.

“Once you do this, you can roll it out incrementally,” Struble said. “If they can do this, then Alabama doesn’t have to waste taxpayers’ dollars installing fiber.”

ATT said it plans to provide the fixed wireless service to more than 65,000 locations in Alabama by 2020. It has launched the same service in rural regions of several other southern states, including Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Ma Bell plans to expand fixed wireless to another nine states before the end of the 2018, from California to Ohio.

The FCC’s Connect America Fund is paying for the projects. Private providers such as ATT accept the money, which is collected on telecom bills, in exchange for expanding internet services in rural areas that lack options and are selected by the FCC.

Johnny Kampis, a resident of Cullman, is investigative reporter for the Washington, D,C.-based Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

The FCC plans to repeal net neutrality this week — and it could ruin the internet


3ed0b_rts10rdd The FCC plans to repeal net neutrality this week — and it could ruin the internet
FCC chairman Ajit
Pai

Eric
Gaillard/Reuters


  • The FCC will vote to repeal its net neutrality rules on
    December 14. The outcome is a foregone
    conclusion.
  • The repeal of the rules likely won’t mean broadband
    providers will block your access to Google or slow Netflix so
    it’s unwatchable. But the move likely will mean the providers
    will charge internet companies tolls to be able to send their
    content or services to you.
  • Big companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and
    Netflix will be able to afford those tolls. But smaller
    internet companies could be boxed out.

It’s inevitable — this week, the Federal Communications
Commission will drive a stake in net neutrality.

On December 14, the agency will vote to repeal the net neutrality
rules it put in place in 2015. With Republicans commissioners who
oppose the rules outnumbering Democrats who favor them three to
two, the outcome of the vote isn’t in any doubt. Your protests
and #netneutrality tweets will do nothing — this is really
happening.

Assuming the move isn’t blocked by the courts or overturned by
Congress, it could radically reshape the internet by giving an
already powerful group of telecommunications companies a great
deal of control over what you can see and do online. It will also
likely leave you with higher prices and fewer choices.

That’s all great news for the telecommunications giants – but not
so good for the rest of us.

It’s all about the tolls

Net neutrality is the principal that internet service providers
should, in general, treat all data sent over the network the
same, no matter whether it’s an email, an emoji sent over a chat
service, a phone call, a political rant live-streamed by a
college student from her parents’ basement, or the latest show on
Netflix. In particular, the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules bar
ISPs from blocking, slowing, or providing preferential treatment
to particular sites and services.

The battle over the FCC’s rules comes amid a period of increasing
consolidation among telecommunications and content companies.
Comcast owns NBC Universal. ATT is in a fight to buy Time
Warner. Verizon owns AOL and Yahoo. Those companies already had
immense power over how you connect to the internet. But they now
also have a big stake in what you see and do online. 

The repeal of net neutrality will give these giant companies free
rein to favor their own sites, services, and content, and
discriminate against those of rivals. As long as they tell you
what they’re doing, the government won’t stand in their way.

I don’t think this discrimination will come in the form of
blocking or throttling access to rival sites, as some net
neutrality supporters fear. Instead, I think the
telecommunications companies will basically start charging new
fees and tolls.

If you’re a Comcast customer, you may have to pay extra to be
able to stream video from Netflix or Amazon, rather than from NBC
or Hulu, which Comcast part-owns. If you’re a Verizon customer,
you may get charged extra to access Google’s news or finance
sites rather than Yahoo’s.

The rule-free environment the FCC is creating will give such
companies the latitude to squeeze as much money as they can from
you. The sky’s the limit. And you can bet the companies will get
creative. There’s a reason nearly all of them are cheering net
neutrality’s demise, and it’s not because they plan to save you
money.

As a result, the internet will no longer be an open network.
Instead, it’ll be fractured and split into chunks. What you can
access and see on the network will depend on what you’re willing
to pay.

It’s bad for most internet companies except the giants

But the loss of net neutrality is not only going to mean higher
prices, it’s likely to mean less choice.

That’s because it will allow broadband providers to impose new
fees not just on you and me, but also on the internet companies
that want to send their movies and websites our way. If Netflix
wants to be able to stream “Stranger Things” to a Comcast
customer, it will have to pay a toll to Comcast. If Spotify wants
to be able to stream the latest hits to a Verizon customer, it
will have to pay a toll to Verizon.

Such tolls will be a costly headache for Netflix, Spotify,
Google, and the other big internet companies — but they won’t be
business breakers. Those companies generally have enough money at
their disposal that they’ll be able to pay whatever prices the
telecommunications companies demand to ensure their customers can
continue to access their sites and services.

But tolls could mean real trouble for those companies hoping to
be the next Netflix, Amazon, or Google. Those startups could be
hobbled by the charges — assuming they can afford to pay them at
all.

The loss of net neutrality will mean fewer voices on the internet

One group of companies could be particularly affected by the
repeal of the net neutrality rules — those that offer niche
content. Such firms likely won’t be able to afford the broadband
providers’ tolls and won’t have the clout to broker deals, Aneesh
Rajaram, the CEO of Vewd, which runs one of the largest smart TV
app stores, warned in a conversation I had with him at Business
Insider’s IGNITION conference last month.

A company Rajaram knows that streams nature documentaries in
ultra-high 4K resolution video is worried it won’t be able to
reach its customers if and when ISPs start imposing their tolls.
If such companies are priced out of the market, more and more of
the content available on the internet will come from the
telecommunications and internet giants and you’ll have access to
fewer and fewer independent voices.

That might be OK if we weren’t already seeing problems related to
the dominance of just a few companies in the internet space,
ranging from poor customer service and high prices in some cases
to the widespread distribution of propaganda in last year’s
election. You can expect such matters to only get worse in a
post-net neutrality world.

If we want to have any hope of addressing those and related
problems, the internet has to remain open to companies that can
take on the big incumbents.

Maybe the courts or Congress will do the right thing and overturn
the FCC’s effort to kill net neutrality. But in the meantime, the
future of the internet looks pretty bleak.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Insider.

Google reportedly concerned that Broadcom’s takeover of Qualcomm could harm innovation

68122_qualcomm-tech-summit-day-1-keynote-11-of-14-840x473 Google reportedly concerned that Broadcom's takeover of Qualcomm could harm innovation

It might not be the most eye-catching news report, but Broadcom‘s attempts to buy Qualcomm could have a significant impact on the technology industry, an impact that the likes of Google, along with Microsoft, are concerned about.

Google reportedly feels that such a takeover would stagnate innovation, since Broadcom is reportedly known to emphasize cost-cutting over developing new technologies. Remember that the vast majority of Android smartphone manufacturers use Qualcomm chipsets, while Microsoft has recently been pushing to also equip PCs with Qualcomm chipsets, so any pause on development of new technologies would directly and indirectly impact both of their businesses.

Another concern is the relationship Qualcomm and Apple would have if Broadcom were to succeed with the buyout. Currently, we wouldn’t say that Qualcomm and Apple are on friendly terms with each other, giving the ongoing court proceedings between the two companies. Most recently, Apple accused the chipmaker of infringing on eight of its patents related to battery efficiency.

Everything you need to know about Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845

More specifically, Google and Microsoft are concerned that a Broadcom-owned Qualcomm would be more inclined to side with Apple than with other companies. This concern was further emphasized, given Broadcom CEO Hock Tan’s optimism over settling the ongoing litigation between Apple and Qualcomm.

Qualcomm might have known that other companies might not be thrilled with Broadcom’s attempted buyout, since the chipmaker reportedly asked Google and others to not make public comments that oppose the deal. Even so, there is a possibility that they will take a firm stance against the deal, though they also want to know if Broadcom will make a higher bid for Qualcomm.

Remember that the buyout is not official — Qualcomm rejected Broadcom’s initial $105 billion offer. We are unsure whether Qualcomm is either outright refusing a purchase or simply posturing for a larger bid, but from the sounds of it, Broadcom will not back down — the company proposed replacing Qualcomm’s entire board of directors that rejected the deal, according to The New York Times.

We’ll keep a close eye on things as they continue to unfold, but do you think that Google and Microsoft have a right to worry? They’re companies, so I guess it makes sense for them to worry if their interests might be trampled on.

The FCC plans to repeal net neutrality this week — and it could ruin the internet


f6dd5_rts10rdd The FCC plans to repeal net neutrality this week — and it could ruin the internet
FCC chairman Ajit
Pai

Eric
Gaillard/Reuters


  • The FCC will vote to repeal its net neutrality rules on
    December 14. The outcome is a foregone
    conclusion.
  • The repeal of the rules likely won’t mean broadband
    providers will block your access to Google or slow Netflix so
    it’s unwatchable. But the move likely will mean the providers
    will charge internet companies tolls to be able to send their
    content or services to you.
  • Big companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and
    Netflix will be able to afford those tolls. But smaller
    internet companies could be boxed out.

It’s inevitable — this week, the Federal Communications
Commission will drive a stake in net neutrality.

On December 14, the agency will vote to repeal the net neutrality
rules it put in place in 2015. With Republicans commissioners who
oppose the rules outnumbering Democrats who favor them three to
two, the outcome of the vote isn’t in any doubt. Your protests
and #netneutrality tweets will do nothing — this is really
happening.

Assuming the move isn’t blocked by the courts or overturned by
Congress, it could radically reshape the internet by giving an
already powerful group of telecommunications companies a great
deal of control over what you can see and do online. It will also
likely leave you with higher prices and fewer choices.

That’s all great news for the telecommunications giants – but not
so good for the rest of us.

It’s all about the tolls

Net neutrality is the principal that internet service providers
should, in general, treat all data sent over the network the
same, no matter whether it’s an email, an emoji sent over a chat
service, a phone call, a political rant live-streamed by a
college student from her parents’ basement, or the latest show on
Netflix. In particular, the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules bar
ISPs from blocking, slowing, or providing preferential treatment
to particular sites and services.

The battle over the FCC’s rules comes amid a period of increasing
consolidation among telecommunications and content companies.
Comcast owns NBC Universal. ATT is in a fight to buy Time
Warner. Verizon owns AOL and Yahoo. Those companies already had
immense power over how you connect to the internet. But they now
also have a big stake in what you see and do online. 

The repeal of net neutrality will give these giant companies free
rein to favor their own sites, services, and content, and
discriminate against those of rivals. As long as they tell you
what they’re doing, the government won’t stand in their way.

I don’t think this discrimination will come in the form of
blocking or throttling access to rival sites, as some net
neutrality supporters fear. Instead, I think the
telecommunications companies will basically start charging new
fees and tolls.

If you’re a Comcast customer, you may have to pay extra to be
able to stream video from Netflix or Amazon, rather than from NBC
or Hulu, which Comcast part-owns. If you’re a Verizon customer,
you may get charged extra to access Google’s news or finance
sites rather than Yahoo’s.

The rule-free environment the FCC is creating will give such
companies the latitude to squeeze as much money as they can from
you. The sky’s the limit. And you can bet the companies will get
creative. There’s a reason nearly all of them are cheering net
neutrality’s demise, and it’s not because they plan to save you
money.

As a result, the internet will no longer be an open network.
Instead, it’ll be fractured and split into chunks. What you can
access and see on the network will depend on what you’re willing
to pay.

It’s bad for most internet companies except the giants

But the loss of net neutrality is not only going to mean higher
prices, it’s likely to mean less choice.

That’s because it will allow broadband providers to impose new
fees not just on you and me, but also on the internet companies
that want to send their movies and websites our way. If Netflix
wants to be able to stream “Stranger Things” to a Comcast
customer, it will have to pay a toll to Comcast. If Spotify wants
to be able to stream the latest hits to a Verizon customer, it
will have to pay a toll to Verizon.

Such tolls will be a costly headache for Netflix, Spotify,
Google, and the other big internet companies — but they won’t be
business breakers. Those companies generally have enough money at
their disposal that they’ll be able to pay whatever prices the
telecommunications companies demand to ensure their customers can
continue to access their sites and services.

But tolls could mean real trouble for those companies hoping to
be the next Netflix, Amazon, or Google. Those startups could be
hobbled by the charges — assuming they can afford to pay them at
all.

The loss of net neutrality will mean fewer voices on the internet

One group of companies could be particularly affected by the
repeal of the net neutrality rules — those that offer niche
content. Such firms likely won’t be able to afford the broadband
providers’ tolls and won’t have the clout to broker deals, Aneesh
Rajaram, the CEO of Vewd, which runs one of the largest smart TV
app stores, warned in a conversation I had with him at Business
Insider’s IGNITION conference last month.

A company Rajaram knows that streams nature documentaries in
ultra-high 4K resolution video is worried it won’t be able to
reach its customers if and when ISPs start imposing their tolls.
If such companies are priced out of the market, more and more of
the content available on the internet will come from the
telecommunications and internet giants and you’ll have access to
fewer and fewer independent voices.

That might be OK if we weren’t already seeing problems related to
the dominance of just a few companies in the internet space,
ranging from poor customer service and high prices in some cases
to the widespread distribution of propaganda in last year’s
election. You can expect such matters to only get worse in a
post-net neutrality world.

If we want to have any hope of addressing those and related
problems, the internet has to remain open to companies that can
take on the big incumbents.

Maybe the courts or Congress will do the right thing and overturn
the FCC’s effort to kill net neutrality. But in the meantime, the
future of the internet looks pretty bleak.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Insider.

The U.S. health care industry could learn a lot from India’s doctors …

“Aravind has standardized their process so everyone does the same thing, every time — it resembles an assembly line,” which cuts surgery time, Thiel said. “Aravind’s surgeons only do what surgeons are trained to do — the surgery. Mid-level ophthalmic professionals handle all the pre- and post-operative work the day of surgery, thus optimizing the surgeon’s time.” In contrast, most surgeons in American hospitals visit with patients in the pre-operative room, prepare the patient’s surgical site, and help clean up the patient after the surgery, she said.

Also, Aravind has designed processes to ensure that recycled supplies are properly sterilized for each case, she said. Moreover, “at Aravind, eye drops used in surgery are administered to multiple patients until the bottle is empty,” she said. “In the U.S., because the vials are branded as single-use, the amount remaining after they administer a few drops is thrown out.”
She said many of these practices will work for any procedure. It’s not clear, however, how quickly they would be accepted, if at all. Even more important, our healthcare system relies on single-use disposable items for a good reason. They lessen the risk of hospital-acquired infections, which continue to pose a problem.

“Of course, with any surgery there is always the risk of infection,” Thiel said. “Some of [Aravind’s] practices may present a higher risk due to the potential for human-caused error. While we will likely not adopt all of Aravind’s practices — such as glove reuse — surgical-grade reusable gowns, drapes and caps are readily available [from] standard medical supply companies. With proper treatment protocols and good design, these items should present no greater risk than single-use supplies.”

Most medical staff already dislike the amount of waste generated by their procedures, she said. “Reducing waste in the healthcare system is mostly enacting the principles we learned in school,” she said. “Reduce, reuse and recycle — and in that order.”

Marlene Cimons writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture.

Terrible battery life on iPhone? There could be a VERY simple solution

iPhone and iPad owners last month complained about serious battery drain triggered by the official YouTube app on iOS.

According to reports, the official YouTube app appears to have a few bugs on iOS 11, which affects all iPhones and iPads, and causes devices to run warm when watching videos.

Whatever the cause, the bug appears to be severely impacting users’ battery life.

iOS developer Justin Morris‏ tweeted about the issues earlier this week, posting: “Recently purchased a new iPhone or upgraded to iOS 11.1.1?

“Well, there’s one popular app that you might want to stay away from, as it’s wrecking havoc on battery life.

“There appears to be a bug affecting the YouTube app that severely affects battery life and causes overheating.”

iPhone 11 Release Date Could Change Due To Three New Models

With the iPhone X now in the can, many Apple fans are wondering when the iPhone 11 release date will be. Of course, the branding for the next-generation smartphone from Apple is not set in stone, but it is believed that it will follow on from the iPhone X next year, with the X obviously referring to the number ten.

238e6_iPhone-X-Successors iPhone 11 Release Date Could Change Due To Three New Models
Image Source: Apple.com (screenshot)

This would mean that the iPhone 9 is skipped completely, and the hot talk in the next year will then focus on when the iPhone 11 release date will be.

Three models

Well, the interesting news on this critical smartphone release is that it will probably result in three new smartphones. The latest rumors from close to the Apple supply chain suggest that Apple will throw something of a curve ball in 2018, and introduce a certain model at the affordable end of the price spectrum.

Whether this will be the iPhone SE2 that has been rumored in some quarters remains to be seen, but Apple seems to be acknowledging the diversification of the smartphone niche.

Nikkei Asian Review asserts that when the iPhone 11 release date rolls round, two of the models delivered by the consumer electronics giants will support the OLED displays that it introduced earlier this year. The third will rely on the LCD technology that has been the foundation of the iPhone range until 2017, and that this device will also spot a more affordable price tag.

Redesign imminent

Interestingly, it is also suggested that this third iPhone 11 model will deliver a significant redesign. Nikkei Asian Review reports that the appearance of the smartphone will differ from either of the two premium models, suggesting that the branding of the device may be different as well.

“The 6.1-inch LCD model will probably sport a metal back available in several colors,” an anonymous Apple source suggested. Interestingly, the same source also hinted that the display size in the iPhone 11 generation will be much larger than current releases, with the premium model attracting a 6.3-inch screen.

In fact, according to the report, the budget version of the iPhone 11 will feature a 5.8-inch screen, which will be equal in size to the existing iPhone X. This shows just how rapidly the goalposts are moving in the smartphone niche, with the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone 8 seeming a little obsolete at this stage.

Release date

In terms of the iPhone 11 release date, it is likely that it will be somewhat similar to previous devices. But the fact that Apple is apparently considering a massive redesign of the iPhone series, and also intending to deliver three distinct devices simultaneously for the first time, could push back the schedule.

However, Apple may opt for a staggered release for the iPhone 11, as indeed was the case with the iPhone X and iPhone 8. While it could be argued that there were three model releases this year from Apple, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are rather similar, whereas it appears that the three versions of the iPhone 11 will be radically different.

So we can expect the mainstream iPhone 11 release date to be around September 2018, with the two other models to appear at an approximately similar time. It seems quite likely that the unveiling of the three models will happen at a special event, but that the equivalent of the iPhone X will be pushed backwards, possibly to an October slot. What can be said with some confidence is that all three versions of the iPhone 11 will appear well before the key holiday period.

Augmented reality

The iPhone 11 will be a fascinating device when it appears, and it seems that Apple is ready to introduce some exciting new functionality to the smartphone. The corporation is already reportedly working on augmented reality cameras that will sit on the back of its next smartphone generation, according to leaks from close to the mega-corporation.

Apple has, of course, already come out strongly in favour of augmented reality, with CEO Tim Cook explicitly stating that the corporation is excited by this innovation. However, Apple has chosen to retain the Touch ID system that has provided security in the past, while still emphasizing that augmented reality and Face ID is a massive part of its future.

It will be interesting to see the dichotomy between virtual reality and augmented reality develop in the coming years. Already the major players in the tech sphere have thrown their weight behind one technology or the other, and Apple is firmly in the augmented reality camp.

4K resolution

Another possibility for the iPhone 11 release date will be the unveiling of 4K technology in an Apple smartphone for the first time. This possibility is heightened by the revelation that one of the iPhone 11 models will feature a 6.3-inch screen, suggesting that an increased pixel resolution will be particularly valuable.

4K resolution will be one of the issues that will dominate the smartphone sphere into 2018, with Samsung also expected to release a 4K mobile at some point. It is also interesting to note that Apple’s great rival is also readying a smaller smartphone release, which would naturally compete against the existing iPhone SE.

There have been rumors that Apple will also update its diminutive smartphone with an iPhone SE2 release in 2018, but based on the information regarding the iPhone 11 it seems that this is more likely to happen around the release date of the next Apple Watch.

As the smartphone space becomes ever more diverse, we can expect more product releases from the likes of Apple and Samsung, as they attempt to cover all bases. This is bound to have an impact on the iPhone 11 release date.

iPhone 11 Release Date Could Change Due To Three New Models

With the iPhone X now in the can, many Apple fans are wondering when the iPhone 11 release date will be. Of course, the branding for the next-generation smartphone from Apple is not set in stone, but it is believed that it will follow on from the iPhone X next year, with the X obviously referring to the number ten.

238e6_iPhone-X-Successors iPhone 11 Release Date Could Change Due To Three New Models
Image Source: Apple.com (screenshot)

This would mean that the iPhone 9 is skipped completely, and the hot talk in the next year will then focus on when the iPhone 11 release date will be.

Three models

Well, the interesting news on this critical smartphone release is that it will probably result in three new smartphones. The latest rumors from close to the Apple supply chain suggest that Apple will throw something of a curve ball in 2018, and introduce a certain model at the affordable end of the price spectrum.

Whether this will be the iPhone SE2 that has been rumored in some quarters remains to be seen, but Apple seems to be acknowledging the diversification of the smartphone niche.

Nikkei Asian Review asserts that when the iPhone 11 release date rolls round, two of the models delivered by the consumer electronics giants will support the OLED displays that it introduced earlier this year. The third will rely on the LCD technology that has been the foundation of the iPhone range until 2017, and that this device will also spot a more affordable price tag.

Redesign imminent

Interestingly, it is also suggested that this third iPhone 11 model will deliver a significant redesign. Nikkei Asian Review reports that the appearance of the smartphone will differ from either of the two premium models, suggesting that the branding of the device may be different as well.

“The 6.1-inch LCD model will probably sport a metal back available in several colors,” an anonymous Apple source suggested. Interestingly, the same source also hinted that the display size in the iPhone 11 generation will be much larger than current releases, with the premium model attracting a 6.3-inch screen.

In fact, according to the report, the budget version of the iPhone 11 will feature a 5.8-inch screen, which will be equal in size to the existing iPhone X. This shows just how rapidly the goalposts are moving in the smartphone niche, with the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone 8 seeming a little obsolete at this stage.

Release date

In terms of the iPhone 11 release date, it is likely that it will be somewhat similar to previous devices. But the fact that Apple is apparently considering a massive redesign of the iPhone series, and also intending to deliver three distinct devices simultaneously for the first time, could push back the schedule.

However, Apple may opt for a staggered release for the iPhone 11, as indeed was the case with the iPhone X and iPhone 8. While it could be argued that there were three model releases this year from Apple, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are rather similar, whereas it appears that the three versions of the iPhone 11 will be radically different.

So we can expect the mainstream iPhone 11 release date to be around September 2018, with the two other models to appear at an approximately similar time. It seems quite likely that the unveiling of the three models will happen at a special event, but that the equivalent of the iPhone X will be pushed backwards, possibly to an October slot. What can be said with some confidence is that all three versions of the iPhone 11 will appear well before the key holiday period.

Augmented reality

The iPhone 11 will be a fascinating device when it appears, and it seems that Apple is ready to introduce some exciting new functionality to the smartphone. The corporation is already reportedly working on augmented reality cameras that will sit on the back of its next smartphone generation, according to leaks from close to the mega-corporation.

Apple has, of course, already come out strongly in favour of augmented reality, with CEO Tim Cook explicitly stating that the corporation is excited by this innovation. However, Apple has chosen to retain the Touch ID system that has provided security in the past, while still emphasizing that augmented reality and Face ID is a massive part of its future.

It will be interesting to see the dichotomy between virtual reality and augmented reality develop in the coming years. Already the major players in the tech sphere have thrown their weight behind one technology or the other, and Apple is firmly in the augmented reality camp.

4K resolution

Another possibility for the iPhone 11 release date will be the unveiling of 4K technology in an Apple smartphone for the first time. This possibility is heightened by the revelation that one of the iPhone 11 models will feature a 6.3-inch screen, suggesting that an increased pixel resolution will be particularly valuable.

4K resolution will be one of the issues that will dominate the smartphone sphere into 2018, with Samsung also expected to release a 4K mobile at some point. It is also interesting to note that Apple’s great rival is also readying a smaller smartphone release, which would naturally compete against the existing iPhone SE.

There have been rumors that Apple will also update its diminutive smartphone with an iPhone SE2 release in 2018, but based on the information regarding the iPhone 11 it seems that this is more likely to happen around the release date of the next Apple Watch.

As the smartphone space becomes ever more diverse, we can expect more product releases from the likes of Apple and Samsung, as they attempt to cover all bases. This is bound to have an impact on the iPhone 11 release date.

Vermont health officials say could be rough flu season

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — State health officials say it could be a rough flu season and are urging Vermonters to get flu shots to protect themselves and others.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says especially during the holiday season of crowds and gatherings of friends and families everyone older than 6 months should get a flu shot.

He says from the information he’s received, “all indications point to a possibly severe flu season in Vermont.”

The main flu bug this season tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations and vaccines tend not to work as well against this type.

Vermont health officials say the shot can help lessen the severity of the illness and for people at high risk of complications from the flu it can be a life saver.

Vermont health officials say could be rough flu season

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — State health officials say it could be a rough flu season and are urging Vermonters to get flu shots to protect themselves and others.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says especially during the holiday season of crowds and gatherings of friends and families everyone older than 6 months should get a flu shot.

He says from the information he’s received, “all indications point to a possibly severe flu season in Vermont.”

The main flu bug this season tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations and vaccines tend not to work as well against this type.

Vermont health officials say the shot can help lessen the severity of the illness and for people at high risk of complications from the flu it can be a life saver.

Spokane Regional Health District could teach Department of Health how to deal with marijuana and pregnancy – The Spokesman

Nobody is more passionate about their patients than public health nurses, especially those working in maternal and child health programs.

They are always seeking ways to educate and inform on a shoestring budget. So when Jolene Erickson, a Lincoln County public health nurse, received an email with a message from Washington state Health Secretary Dr. John Wiesman, attempting to head off concerns about a new drug prevention video, she was appalled at how the money was spent.

Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in 2012, requires the state to support education programs with “medically and scientifically accurate information about the health and safety risks posed by marijuana use.” I-502 did not dictate specific target populations for outreach.

For Erickson, with 24 years of experience working with mothers and babies, it’s a question of numbers.

“We’ve heard point-blank from pregnant women they’re using marijuana for nausea early in pregnancy. They equate legal with safe and it isn’t. Where’s the money going?”

Pregnant women were not a priority population in the 2015-17 budget for the $15 million the Washington State Department of Health received from the dedicated marijuana account.

But DOH did fund five pilot projects at $100,000 each, targeting culturally marginalized youth. Grantees included the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition focusing on Seattle and four other West Side communities, Gay City Health Project in Seattle, Center for Multicultural Health in Pierce and King counties, and El Centro de la Raza in Yakima.

Videos were produced as part of short-lived social marketing campaigns. DOH was only able to provide links to three of the five publicly funded projects. The Asian-Pacific Islander production focused on questions about marijuana, and could be used for conversations with teenagers across the state. Spokane-based consultant Kauffman Associates worked with urban Indian youth in Seattle and Spokane to develop drug awareness videos speaking to Indian youth anywhere.

But local drug prevention educators agree the video produced by the Gay City Health Project lacks a prevention message and reinforces negative stereotypes. DOH claimed the video carries an “indirect marijuana prevention message as it raises issues of systemic discrimination.”

There’s indirect, and then there’s invisible. The video was part of an outreach campaign to about 2,000 Seattle youth, according to DOH.

Erickson has been grateful for access to campaign materials prepared by the Spokane Regional Health District as the regional DOH contractor.

The SRHD’s popular Weed To Know campaign provided posters and information cards distributed through Spokane’s 34 licensed marijuana retailers, funded under a DOH contract. Weed To Know focuses on educating adults to be role models of responsible use for youth, with three simple messages focused on knowing the law and three on harm reduction.

But health care providers still had questions about marijuana use by women who are pregnant, breast-feeding and parenting. DOH was still silent on maternal child health and marijuana use.

Women were arriving at the hospital for delivery reeking of marijuana. The five northeast Washington counties including Spokane have been working hard to bring down rates of maternal smoking nearly twice the state average and four times the King County average. One more thing to smoke wasn’t helping.

Outreach to the pregnant, breast-feeding and parenting population would have made a great pilot project but still wasn’t a DOH priority population. SRHD stepped up and found local funds to plug the gap. The expanded Weed to Know – Baby and You campaign launched in June of this year. Paige McGowan, health program specialist in the SRHD Marijuana, Vaping Device and Tobacco prevention program, said the “community response has been phenomenal.”

Materials have been distributed through WIC offices, local hospital and health care systems, and shared with public health agencies nationally and in Canada. Yet DOH has expressed no interest in evaluating the program for statewide use, saying “DOH does not evaluate our partners’ work.”

DOH should. Without evaluation there is no learning. It’s OK for a pilot project to turn out poorly. And it’s OK to lean on Eastern Washington success.

Spokane Regional Health District could teach Department of Health how to deal with marijuana and pregnancy – The Spokesman

Nobody is more passionate about their patients than public health nurses, especially those working in maternal and child health programs.

They are always seeking ways to educate and inform on a shoestring budget. So when Jolene Erickson, a Lincoln County public health nurse, received an email with a message from Washington state Health Secretary Dr. John Wiesman, attempting to head off concerns about a new drug prevention video, she was appalled at how the money was spent.

Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in 2012, requires the state to support education programs with “medically and scientifically accurate information about the health and safety risks posed by marijuana use.” I-502 did not dictate specific target populations for outreach.

For Erickson, with 24 years of experience working with mothers and babies, it’s a question of numbers.

“We’ve heard point-blank from pregnant women they’re using marijuana for nausea early in pregnancy. They equate legal with safe and it isn’t. Where’s the money going?”

Pregnant women were not a priority population in the 2015-17 budget for the $15 million the Washington State Department of Health received from the dedicated marijuana account.

But DOH did fund five pilot projects at $100,000 each, targeting culturally marginalized youth. Grantees included the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition focusing on Seattle and four other West Side communities, Gay City Health Project in Seattle, Center for Multicultural Health in Pierce and King counties, and El Centro de la Raza in Yakima.

Videos were produced as part of short-lived social marketing campaigns. DOH was only able to provide links to three of the five publicly funded projects. The Asian-Pacific Islander production focused on questions about marijuana, and could be used for conversations with teenagers across the state. Spokane-based consultant Kauffman Associates worked with urban Indian youth in Seattle and Spokane to develop drug awareness videos speaking to Indian youth anywhere.

But local drug prevention educators agree the video produced by the Gay City Health Project lacks a prevention message and reinforces negative stereotypes. DOH claimed the video carries an “indirect marijuana prevention message as it raises issues of systemic discrimination.”

There’s indirect, and then there’s invisible. The video was part of an outreach campaign to about 2,000 Seattle youth, according to DOH.

Erickson has been grateful for access to campaign materials prepared by the Spokane Regional Health District as the regional DOH contractor.

The SRHD’s popular Weed To Know campaign provided posters and information cards distributed through Spokane’s 34 licensed marijuana retailers, funded under a DOH contract. Weed To Know focuses on educating adults to be role models of responsible use for youth, with three simple messages focused on knowing the law and three on harm reduction.

But health care providers still had questions about marijuana use by women who are pregnant, breast-feeding and parenting. DOH was still silent on maternal child health and marijuana use.

Women were arriving at the hospital for delivery reeking of marijuana. The five northeast Washington counties including Spokane have been working hard to bring down rates of maternal smoking nearly twice the state average and four times the King County average. One more thing to smoke wasn’t helping.

Outreach to the pregnant, breast-feeding and parenting population would have made a great pilot project but still wasn’t a DOH priority population. SRHD stepped up and found local funds to plug the gap. The expanded Weed to Know – Baby and You campaign launched in June of this year. Paige McGowan, health program specialist in the SRHD Marijuana, Vaping Device and Tobacco prevention program, said the “community response has been phenomenal.”

Materials have been distributed through WIC offices, local hospital and health care systems, and shared with public health agencies nationally and in Canada. Yet DOH has expressed no interest in evaluating the program for statewide use, saying “DOH does not evaluate our partners’ work.”

DOH should. Without evaluation there is no learning. It’s OK for a pilot project to turn out poorly. And it’s OK to lean on Eastern Washington success.

A Small Change That Could Make Our Phones So Much Better

I’m sure that it’s easier for me to expound on than it would be to technically achieve. Our phones, primarily through apps or assistants like Google Assistant, are only just beginning to learn and customize themselves to our behaviors and preferences. And there’s a lot to consider: your location, your behavior, the weather, the typical brightness in your home and office, and what to do if you go somewhere atypical. To date, the A.I. and machine learning that’s built into our phones is only used for a handful of things. It helps organize and categorize the photos on our camera rolls and learns from our texting habits to fuel autosuggestions and autocorrect. As facial recognition and augmented reality gain popularity, A.I. will fuel those applications too. Phones like the iPhone X even include a “neural engine” specifically designed for accelerating A.I. software. Adding some learning algorithms to our phones’ auto-brightness shouldn’t be that big of a stretch. And perhaps, in learning your auto-brightness preferences based on time of day, location, and what applications you have open, your phone could also fix other issues too—whether your camera should default to the rear-facing or selfie camera, for example, or what volume notifications and sounds should play.

A Small Change That Could Make Our Phones So Much Better

I’m sure that it’s easier for me to expound on than it would be to technically achieve. Our phones, primarily through apps or assistants like Google Assistant, are only just beginning to learn and customize themselves to our behaviors and preferences. And there’s a lot to consider: your location, your behavior, the weather, the typical brightness in your home and office, and what to do if you go somewhere atypical. To date, the A.I. and machine learning that’s built into our phones is only used for a handful of things. It helps organize and categorize the photos on our camera rolls and learns from our texting habits to fuel autosuggestions and autocorrect. As facial recognition and augmented reality gain popularity, A.I. will fuel those applications too. Phones like the iPhone X even include a “neural engine” specifically designed for accelerating A.I. software. Adding some learning algorithms to our phones’ auto-brightness shouldn’t be that big of a stretch. And perhaps, in learning your auto-brightness preferences based on time of day, location, and what applications you have open, your phone could also fix other issues too—whether your camera should default to the rear-facing or selfie camera, for example, or what volume notifications and sounds should play.




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