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Hornets coach Steve Clifford to take leave of absence to address health

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hornets coach Steve Clifford will be away from the team for an undetermined period of time to deal with a “health issue.”

The team made the announcement Wednesday in a release.

The 56-year-old Clifford missed Monday night’s game against Orlando because he was not feeling well. Associate head coach Stephen Silas filled in for Clifford against the Magic.

Clifford has battled heart problems in the past, but a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the issue was not heart-related. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team has not released details of Clifford’s health issue.

The team said there is no timetable for Clifford’s return and that officials would have no further comment.

Silas will continue to coach the team with Clifford out. The Hornets fell to Golden State 101-87 on Wednesday night.

“I just want to send him my best wishes,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Obviously I have been through some issues, and I don’t know what his health issues are, but it’s no fun. I’m wishing him well and I hope he gets back on the sideline soon. But more importantly I hope that he’s healthy.”

If the players know what is wrong with Clifford, they aren’t saying.

“I feel like Cliff is one of those guys, no matter what is going on his life, he’s always going to be here,” Hornets forward Marvin Williams said. “So for him to not be here now is a little bit concerning. I have texted back and forth with him a couple of times and he’s texted back every time. He seems in good spirits. Whatever is going on with him, I’m sure he’s fine. If he has to step away to make sure he’s OK, that’s what is most important.”

Williams said the team has confidence in Silas.

“We will continue to follow his lead,” Williams said.

Clifford underwent a procedure in 2013 — his first year as Charlotte’s head coach — to have two stents placed in his heart, but he returned to coaching just three days later. The procedure came after Clifford began experiencing chest pain while eating at a Charlotte restaurant and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Clifford has since changed his diet and has been eating healthier.

The Hornets were playing well at home under Clifford, but they are just 9-13 overall heading into Wednesday night’s game. They have struggled on the road, where they are 1-10 this season despite the play of All-Star Kemba Walker. The point guard is turning in another impressive season, averaging 22.7 points and 6.3 assists per game.

As Cook and Pichai leave China, Valley confronts rising internet …


85eec_16259576640_6836af1a9d_o As Cook and Pichai leave China, Valley confronts rising internet ...

It’s been a bad few months for internet freedom in China (and really, a bad few decades, but who is counting?). The government brought into force a broad-ranging “cybersecurity law” earlier this year that empowers Beijing to take unilateral control over critical internet infrastructure, while also mandating that foreign companies keep all citizen data local inside China — preventing cloud services like Amazon Web Services from moving information between local and foreign data centers, for instance.

That’s not all, though. As Jon noted earlier today, China’s government has also asked Apple to remove hundreds of apps from the China-version App Store this year, including popular social messengers like Skype and VPNs that allow Chinese citizens to access information outside of the Great Firewall.

So it was with great irony that as China has been cutting itself off from the rest of the world’s internet, it hosted the fourth-annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen this past week. And in an unannounced surprise, Apple and Google chief executives Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai showed up to take part in the “festivities.” Cook even delivered a keynote, and a bow to the audience that was met with a standing ovation.

The theme of the World Internet Conference might have been “Light of Internet,” but the theme of the conference really needed to be: “How far is too far?”

Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly increased government controls over the internet throughout his administration, and with his ascension to “core leader” at this year’s 19th Party Congress, those controls are only expected to continue to tighten. Therefore, it’s not unusual for foreign tech execs these days to be making the pilgrimage to China to try to maintain their access to the market — or to get any access at all. Just a few weeks ago in October, Cook was in China again along with Mark Zuckerberg to attend the annual advisory board to Tsinghua University’s business school, which Cook joined in 2013.

Nearly every tech executive needs to confront the fact that China, whose market is second only to that of the United States, is completely isolating its internet industry from foreign competition. Google, Facebook and other tech giants remain entirely blocked. LinkedIn has faced serious setbacks in recent weeks despite some early success in venturing into the Chinese market with a professional social network and not the kind of messaging that theoretically worries the central government.

Apple seems to be the only top Silicon Valley company that has navigated the shifting tides, although it has remarkable leverage, given that its device manufacturing is heavily based in China and employs quite literally hundreds of thousands of people through its Chinese manufacturing partners.

To be fair to SV tech giants, the complexity of operating in China isn’t any simpler for domestic companies. The Chinese Communist Party has set its sites on companies like Alibaba and Tencent, proposing that large tech companies provide a board seat to the party, and also “donate” shareholder equity to the government.

That leads back to the question then: how far is too far? At Wuzhen this weekend, Alibaba founder Jack Ma was quoted by The Wall Street Journal saying that “When you determine to come, prepare for it. Follow the rules and laws and spend 10 years.” So what happens when the law requires that all source code be handed over to the government? That the government needs a board seat and “special management shares”?

Google may regret its decision back in 2010 to leave China after supposedly state-sponsored hackers attempted to break into several Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Pichai, Google’s chief executive, was not given a speaking slot at the Wuzhen conference this weekend, unlike Cook, although he did sit on a panel of tech executives. But ultimately, the decision may have saved the company from the quickly encroaching hand of the Chinese state. For so many other Valley tech companies, the line between internet freedom and tyranny is blurring rapidly. Deciding to forego the world’s second largest market is hardly an easy call, but may ultimately be the best business decision.

Featured Image: Thomas Depenbusch/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

As Cook and Pichai leave China, Valley confronts rising internet tyranny in world’s second largest market


c778a_16259576640_6836af1a9d_o As Cook and Pichai leave China, Valley confronts rising internet tyranny in world's second largest market

It’s been a bad few months for internet freedom in China (and really, a bad few decades, but who is counting?). The government brought into force a broad-ranging “cybersecurity law” earlier this year that empowers Beijing to take unilateral control over critical internet infrastructure, while also mandating that foreign companies keep all citizen data local inside China — preventing cloud services like Amazon Web Services from moving information between local and foreign data centers, for instance.

That’s not all, though. As Jon noted earlier today, China’s government has also asked Apple to remove hundreds of apps from the China-version App Store this year, including popular social messengers like Skype and VPNs that allow Chinese citizens to access information outside of the Great Firewall.

So it was with great irony that as China has been cutting itself off from the rest of the world’s internet, it hosted the fourth-annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen this past week. And in an unannounced surprise, Apple and Google chief executives Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai showed up to take part in the “festivities.” Cook even delivered a keynote, and a bow to the audience that was met with a standing ovation.

The theme of the World Internet Conference might have been “Light of Internet,” but the theme of the conference really needed to be: “How far is too far?”

Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly increased government controls over the internet throughout his administration, and with his ascension to “core leader” at this year’s 19th Party Congress, those controls are only expected to continue to tighten. Therefore, it’s not unusual for foreign tech execs these days to be making the pilgrimage to China to try to maintain their access to the market — or to get any access at all. Just a few weeks ago in October, Cook was in China again along with Mark Zuckerberg to attend the annual advisory board to Tsinghua University’s business school, which Cook joined in 2013.

Nearly every tech executive needs to confront the fact that China, whose market is second only to that of the United States, is completely isolating its internet industry from foreign competition. Google, Facebook and other tech giants remain entirely blocked. LinkedIn has faced serious setbacks in recent weeks despite some early success in venturing into the Chinese market with a professional social network and not the kind of messaging that theoretically worries the central government.

Apple seems to be the only top Silicon Valley company that has navigated the shifting tides, although it has remarkable leverage, given that its device manufacturing is heavily based in China and employs quite literally hundreds of thousands of people through its Chinese manufacturing partners.

To be fair to SV tech giants, the complexity of operating in China isn’t any simpler for domestic companies. The Chinese Communist Party has set its sites on companies like Alibaba and Tencent, proposing that large tech companies provide a board seat to the party, and also “donate” shareholder equity to the government.

That leads back to the question then: how far is too far? At Wuzhen this weekend, Alibaba founder Jack Ma was quoted by The Wall Street Journal saying that “When you determine to come, prepare for it. Follow the rules and laws and spend 10 years.” So what happens when the law requires that all source code be handed over to the government? That the government needs a board seat and “special management shares”?

Google may regret its decision back in 2010 to leave China after supposedly state-sponsored hackers attempted to break into several Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Pichai, Google’s chief executive, was not given a speaking slot at the Wuzhen conference this weekend, unlike Cook, although he did sit on a panel of tech executives. But ultimately, the decision may have saved the company from the quickly encroaching hand of the Chinese state. For so many other Valley tech companies, the line between internet freedom and tyranny is blurring rapidly. Deciding to forego the world’s second largest market is hardly an easy call, but may ultimately be the best business decision.

Featured Image: Thomas Depenbusch/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

Leave children’s health off the bargaining table

To understand the deep level to which Congress is now mired in dysfunction, look to health insurance for children of low-income families.

Both Democrats and Republicans representing Washington state express wholehearted support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers children whose families earn just enough income not to qualify for Medicaid. But those lawmakers and their colleagues on both sides of the aisle can’t agree on a bill that would make sure nearly 9 million children, including close to 70,000 kids in Washington state, won’t lose access to health care.

Since the CHIP program expired on Sept. 30, both the House and the Senate have made some progress toward reauthorizing this popular program conceived in 1997 by U.S. Sens. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Republican.

Lawmakers from this state say there are easily enough votes to pass a stand-alone bill that addresses just the CHIP program. And that’s the problem. Everything is a bargaining chip these days in Congress.

And political gain seems to be more important than children’s health in the other Washington. But not in the minds of parents, who are worried about what will happen if a child breaks his or her arm or ends up in the hospital with cancer or a dangerous infection.

For them, platitudes from lawmakers — heartfelt or not — are not enough. They need action, and their kids need health insurance.

Leave children’s health off the bargaining table

To understand the deep level to which Congress is now mired in dysfunction, look to health insurance for children of low-income families.

Both Democrats and Republicans representing Washington state express wholehearted support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers children whose families earn just enough income not to qualify for Medicaid. But those lawmakers and their colleagues on both sides of the aisle can’t agree on a bill that would make sure nearly 9 million children, including close to 70,000 kids in Washington state, won’t lose access to health care.

Since the CHIP program expired on Sept. 30, both the House and the Senate have made some progress toward reauthorizing this popular program conceived in 1997 by U.S. Sens. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Republican.

Lawmakers from this state say there are easily enough votes to pass a stand-alone bill that addresses just the CHIP program. And that’s the problem. Everything is a bargaining chip these days in Congress.

And political gain seems to be more important than children’s health in the other Washington. But not in the minds of parents, who are worried about what will happen if a child breaks his or her arm or ends up in the hospital with cancer or a dangerous infection.

For them, platitudes from lawmakers — heartfelt or not — are not enough. They need action, and their kids need health insurance.

Android luminary takes leave from Essential amid controversy

8e290_693545698 Android luminary takes leave from Essential amid controversy

Essential CEO Andy Rubin is reportedly taking a leave of absence. 


Brian Ach/Getty Images for Wired

Andy Rubin, known as the father of Android, has taken a leave of absence as CEO of upstart smartphone maker Essential, according to The Information (subscription required). 

The Information, citing unnamed people, reported that Rubin left Google three years ago after an internal Google investigation found he had carried on an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. The people didn’t elaborate on what prompted the investigation. 

Mike Sitrick, a spokesman for Rubin, told The Information that any relationship he had while at Google was consensual.

Google couldn’t be reached for comment. Essential confirmed Rubin’s leave of absence, but declined to comment further.  

The report comes amid a slew of controversies involving men behaving badly in the tech world, as well as other professions such as entertainment, politics and media. The incidents have prompted several executives at venture capital funds to step down and raises broader questions of how women are treated in these fields. 

Rubin’s case, however, appears to stem from a relationship between a manager and subordinate, which violates Google’s policy. 

The leave of absence comes as Essential continues to struggle to gain a foothold in the smartphone market with consumers. The start-up entered the field with a bang, and sought to harness Rubin’s prestige as the creator of the Android operating system, which powers most phones in the world. 

But missed deadlines, mixed reviews and lackluster demand for the phone — the company cut the phone’s price by $200 after just two months — has taken some of the shine off of the company. 

Update, 8:53 a.m. PT: Adds a confirmation of Rubin’s leave of absence from Essential. 

ACA’s Narrow Networks Leave Big Gaps In Health Care Coverage

Open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act ends December 15. In this “Words You’ll Hear” segment, NPR’s Michel Martin talks to Kaiser Health News reporter Julie Rovner about the phrase “narrow networks.”

FCC’s latest gift to telcos could leave Americans with worse Internet …

f6323_verizon-birds FCC's latest gift to telcos could leave Americans with worse Internet ...

The Federal Communications Commission will vote Thursday on a plan that, according to Chairman Ajit Pai, will strip away regulations that prevent telcos from upgrading their networks.

But in doing so, the Republican-controlled FCC plans to eliminate a requirement that telcos provide Americans with service at least as good as the old copper networks that provide phone service and DSL Internet. The requirement relates to phone service but has an impact on broadband because the two services use the same networks.

As carriers like ATT and Verizon turn off copper networks throughout much of the country, many people fear that the networks won’t be replaced with fiber or something of similar quality. That’s why the FCC in 2014 created a “functional test” for carriers that seek permission to abandon copper networks. In short, carriers have to prove that the replacement service is just as good and provides the same capabilities as what’s being discontinued.

Ditching consumer protections

Pai’s proposal, titled “Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment,” would eliminate the functional test, claiming that it “deterred and delayed carriers from upgrading their networks.”

But without the functional test, carriers could declare that an area is served with technology that’s good enough as long as mobile service is available, consumer advocates say. Carriers wouldn’t have to provide fiber, and they wouldn’t even have to provide fixed wireless services, which beam signals to antennas on people’s houses and provide a more stable connection than mobile service.

FCC’s latest gift to telcos could leave Americans with worse Internet access

fc679_verizon-birds FCC's latest gift to telcos could leave Americans with worse Internet access

The Federal Communications Commission will vote Thursday on a plan that, according to Chairman Ajit Pai, will strip away regulations that prevent telcos from upgrading their networks.

But in doing so, the Republican-controlled FCC plans to eliminate a requirement that telcos provide Americans with service at least as good as the old copper networks that provide phone service and DSL Internet. The requirement relates to phone service but has an impact on broadband because the two services use the same networks.

As carriers like ATT and Verizon turn off copper networks throughout much of the country, many people fear that the networks won’t be replaced with fiber or something of similar quality. That’s why the FCC in 2014 created a “functional test” for carriers that seek permission to abandon copper networks. In short, carriers have to prove that the replacement service is just as good and provides the same capabilities as what’s being discontinued.

Ditching consumer protections

Pai’s proposal, titled “Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment,” would eliminate the functional test, claiming that it “deterred and delayed carriers from upgrading their networks.”

But without the functional test, carriers could declare that an area is served with technology that’s good enough as long as mobile service is available, consumer advocates say. Carriers wouldn’t have to provide fiber, and they wouldn’t even have to provide fixed wireless services, which beam signals to antennas on people’s houses and provide a more stable connection than mobile service.

Workplace mental health training could cut sick leave costs

(Reuters Health) – A four-hour mental health training program for managers could yield fewer employee sick days and a roughly 10-to-1 return on investment, a study in Australia suggests.

“Across the developed world, mental health has taken over as the leading cause of long-term work absence,” said senior study author Samuel Harvey of the University of New South Wales Faculty of Medicine in Sydney.

“From both a society and employer point of view, there’s a strong economic argument for talking about mental health in the workplace,” he told Reuters Health in a phone interview. “Mental health is taking young people out of the workplace and they’re finding it hard to get back, which is a real disaster.”

For a trial of their training program in 2014, the study team recruited 128 managers at the level of duty commander in Fire and Rescue New South Wales, the seventh largest urban fire service in the world, according to the authors.

Roughly half of the managers were randomly assigned to participate in a four-hour face-to-face mental health training program that focused on symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and alcohol misuse and how to recognize them in the workplace setting. The program included the key features of common mental health issues, the roles of senior officers in employee mental health and the development of skills for discussing mental health with staff.

The other managers were put on a waiting list to go through the program at a later time.

Researchers followed-up six months after the training with all the managers, analyzing changes in sickness absences among the 2,000 firefighters and station officers supervised by the study participants.

They analyzed rates of work-related sick leave and standard sick leave separately to distinguish between the leave taken under Australia’s workers’ compensation program, which is directly related to an injury or illness at work.

Among employees of managers who had the training, the average rate of work-related sick leave dropped by 0.28 of a percentage point, from 1.56 percent to 1.28 percent, which corresponds to a reduction of nearly 6.5 hours per employee over six months, the study team writes in The Lancet Psychiatry.

In the comparison group, the rate of work-related sick leave increased by 0.28 of a percentage point, from 0.95 percent to 1.23 percent, during the same period. Average rates of standard sick leave increased in both groups by about one third to half of a percentage point, from roughly 5 percent.

The total training cost was about AUD$1,017 (about $946 in 2014) per manager, and based on the firefighters’ hourly wage, researchers calculated the reduction in work-related sickness absences associated with training had saved AUD$10,152 ($9,441) in costs per manager.

“For a while, we’ve had increasing evidence that managers were key players in thinking about mental health in the workplace,” Harvey said. “What stuck out for us was the pretty dramatic return on investment for a relatively brief training program.”

“If you want to make a difference in the workplace, you have to talk about profit. The return on investment creates a real incentive to get workplaces involved in mental health,” said Dr. John Greden of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center in Ann Arbor, who wrote an accompanying editorial.

“Supervisors can be allies who help their employees get assistance,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s a commonsense approach to talking to the people you’re supervising and asking how they’re doing.”

Greden is studying the most effective training programs and how to tailor them to different workplace settings. Ultimately, he told Reuters Health, he wants workplaces to be part of the equation and choose the best options for their staff.

“Society can reinforce these efforts, or we can continue paying a high price with the disruption of families through divorce, the loss of jobs and suicide,” Greden said. “The better approach is to take on these issues and incorporate them into our workplace.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2yH2nSL and bit.ly/2hTb2Hh The Lancet Psychiatry, online October 11, 2017.

Google on flooding the internet with fake news: Leave us alone, we’re trying really hard… *sob*

Comment Google has responded in greater depth after it actively promoted fake news about Sunday’s Texas murder-suicide gunman by… behaving like a spoilt kid.

On Monday, countless netizens noted that the prominently placed Twitter-fed “carousel” of tweets featured on Google’s first page of search results contained links to obviously false claims about the cowardly killer, including that he was a Muslim convert, a member of the antifascist movement, a member of a Bernie Sanders political group, and supported Hillary Clinton.

The search engine-slash-ad giant has a market cap of $725bn, makes $90bn in annual revenue, has over 50,000 employees, is absurdly profitable, and serves over one billion users every day. Google responded to this week’s complaints by itself complaining that its “ranking algorithms are changing second by second and represent a dynamic conversation that is going on in near real-time.”

It also pointed out that the “top stories” news section above the carousel didn’t contain any fake news – unlike a month earlier when it did following the Las Vegas mass shooting.

But that was a quick, defensive first response. Having had time to reflect on the issue, the Silicon Valley monster’s “public liaison for search” and former Search Engine Land blog editor Danny Sullivan gave a more, um, considered response in a series of tweets.

“Bottom line: we want to show authoritative information. Much internal talk yesterday on how to improve tweets in search; more will happen,” he promised, before noting that the completely bogus information had only appeared “briefly.”

Getting better all the time

He then noted and defended Google’s spreading of fake news following the Las Vegas murder spree: “This only happened for a few thousands who searched for [the gunman’s] name, not for general searches relating to the Las Vegas shooting.”

And Sullivan pointed out that – actually – Google had done really well this time not actively promoting false information, even finding time to pat himself on the back. “Early changes put in place after Las Vegas shootings seemed to help with Texas. Incorrect rumors about some suspects didn’t get in…”

But back to the, you know, false information spread on Google’s search pages following this recent shooting in Texas: “The tweets we carry in results should reflect useful information. We’re not happy with ourselves they didn’t,” adding again, “even if for a short time…”

Anyway, everyone just needs to leave Google alone. S’not fair that everyone is criticizing the multi-billion-dollar faceless corporation just because it promotes false information to billions of people.

“Right now, we haven’t made any immediate decisions. We’ll be taking some time to test changes and have more discussions,” he went on, before finishing up: “Not just talk. Google made changes to Top Stories and is still improving those. We’ll do same with tweets. We want to get this right.”

All of which sounds absolutely marvelous and well intentioned, and of course we should give it time to think it over… if you assume that Google is a little startup with 10 employees and 1,000 users rather than one of the world’s largest corporations and for billions the first source of information about what is going on in the world.

Amazingly, Sullivan and his team don’t appear to have considered what everyone else in the entire world would do in a similar situation: test it and perfect in private, rather than shovel crap into public view.

Wake up and smell the coffee substitute

In fact, even though Google – and Facebook and Twitter – were handed their ass last week in US Congress for their roles in spreading thousands of fake stories created by the Russian government’s propaganda arm to more than a hundred million Americans, it doesn’t seem to have permeated the advertising goliath’s brain that it should do more than promise to do better.

In fact, such is the level of Googly delusion that even when people on Twitter suggested that Google kill off the carousels until they work properly, Sullivan responded with a screen grab of a search for “Ronan Farrow” that demonstrated how useful it is. In this case, it showed off the news and Twitter carousel results related to Farrow’s journalistic work.

“It does work in many cases and useful, such as here. Yanking it potentially makes search worse for other queries. So better if can improve,” said Sullivan. In other words, sure Google’s shoddy Twitter-fed carousel of shame is utterly terrible, but hey, it works sometimes.

Only one problem: the screen grab highlighted the exact same problem all over again. “The second [tweet in the carousel] is a quote tweet that doesn’t include the tweet being quoted, the third is someone just tweeting the same link as the first tweet,” noted tech scribe Peter Bright. “I think that’s a really low bar for making search results better.” ®

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China’s New, Severe Curbs on the Internet Leave Little Left to Censor

In late October, as he pushed to cement his grip on China’s ruling Communist Party for another five years, President Xi Jinping made it clear that with him in charge, the country’s internet wouldn’t be getting more liberal.

At the twice-a-decade National Congress of the Communist Party, during a three-and-a-half-hour speech extolling the virtues of China’s version of socialism, Xi said officials need to engage with the public and pledged to do it on specific terms. “We will provide more and better online content and put in place a system for integrated internet management to ensure a clean cyberspace,” he told more than 2,000 party delegates as he kicked off the weeklong assembly. “We will distinguish between matters of political principle, issues of understanding and thinking, and academic viewpoints, but we must oppose and resist various erroneous views with a clear stand.”

Those goals may sound appealing in the era of fake news, but Xi’s first five years have been marked by the biggest crackdown on freedom of expression in the internet age. Foreign companies complain of restrictions that hamstring operations and favor homegrown players. Police are shutting businesses and arresting civilians on message groups as Beijing plugs more holes in its “Great Firewall,” a blockade of blacklisted sites.

Google and Facebook Inc. are trying to figure out how to nose their way back into the world’s biggest market—about a decade after exiting China because of privacy concerns (Google) and being blocked from it (Facebook). They have to weigh the benefits of a billion potential users against the implicit support for a repressive regime that works in opposition to their stated priorities. “China has become far bolder and more strategic in its approach to a very old and familiar objective, which is to shore up political control through controls on information,” says David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project and a Richard von Weizsäcker​ fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. “The party feels it must centralize and double down on control.”

China has corralled Tencent Holdings, Alibaba Group Holding, Baidu, and other leading internet companies to join the effort. Officials say guarding the electronic frontier is necessary to preserve the stability of a vast country undergoing rapid economic and social changes. In June, Weibo Corp., the Chinese equivalent of Twitter Inc., was one of three companies fined and banned by regulators from broadcasting certain types of content without a license. “They want to shut people up and to tighten self-censorship,” says Qiao Mu, a former journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University. “They want to avoid mass incidents and prevent crises before they emerge.”

Away from the glare of rules and legislation, censorship in China has become increasingly granular, down to what can be shown on streaming sites. Previous regimes periodically blocked virtual private networks, the technology long used to circumvent web filters, but Xi’s government is shutting them down for good.

China’s online watchdog has also slapped fines on news services run by Tencent, Baidu, and Weibo. Internet regulators say they closed 3,918 websites in the second quarter for spreading information that was violent, pornographic, or a danger to national security. Even Winnie the Pooh was kicked off temporarily after images of the bear started popping up as an online proxy for the stout Xi.

“At this rate, there will not be much left for the next leader to censor,” says the co-founder of GreatFire.org, a group that finds ways around government restrictions, who goes by the name Charlie Smith to avoid reprisals. “He is the first Chinese leader to truly understand the power of the internet, and hence we are seeing an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting information.”

Tencent’s WeChat, with almost 1 billion users, has become adept at preventing sensitive messages from ever reaching their destination, such as when it blocked a flood of photos of the late dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo this summer. Baidu is building a system to allow cybercops to spot and fix “online rumors,” letting police agencies insert themselves directly into everything, including its search results and discussion forums.

China’s New, Severe Curbs on the Internet Leave Little Left to Censor

In late October, as he pushed to cement his grip on China’s ruling Communist Party for another five years, President Xi Jinping made it clear that with him in charge, the country’s internet wouldn’t be getting more liberal.

At the twice-a-decade National Congress of the Communist Party, during a three-and-a-half-hour speech extolling the virtues of China’s version of socialism, Xi said officials need to engage with the public and pledged to do it on specific terms. “We will provide more and better online content and put in place a system for integrated internet management to ensure a clean cyberspace,” he told more than 2,000 party delegates as he kicked off the weeklong assembly. “We will distinguish between matters of political principle, issues of understanding and thinking, and academic viewpoints, but we must oppose and resist various erroneous views with a clear stand.”

Those goals may sound appealing in the era of fake news, but Xi’s first five years have been marked by the biggest crackdown on freedom of expression in the internet age. Foreign companies complain of restrictions that hamstring operations and favor homegrown players. Police are shutting businesses and arresting civilians on message groups as Beijing plugs more holes in its “Great Firewall,” a blockade of blacklisted sites.

Google and Facebook Inc. are trying to figure out how to nose their way back into the world’s biggest market—about a decade after exiting China because of privacy concerns (Google) and being blocked from it (Facebook). They have to weigh the benefits of a billion potential users against the implicit support for a repressive regime that works in opposition to their stated priorities. “China has become far bolder and more strategic in its approach to a very old and familiar objective, which is to shore up political control through controls on information,” says David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project and a Richard von Weizsäcker​ fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. “The party feels it must centralize and double down on control.”

China has corralled Tencent Holdings, Alibaba Group Holding, Baidu, and other leading internet companies to join the effort. Officials say guarding the electronic frontier is necessary to preserve the stability of a vast country undergoing rapid economic and social changes. In June, Weibo Corp., the Chinese equivalent of Twitter Inc., was one of three companies fined and banned by regulators from broadcasting certain types of content without a license. “They want to shut people up and to tighten self-censorship,” says Qiao Mu, a former journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University. “They want to avoid mass incidents and prevent crises before they emerge.”

Away from the glare of rules and legislation, censorship in China has become increasingly granular, down to what can be shown on streaming sites. Previous regimes periodically blocked virtual private networks, the technology long used to circumvent web filters, but Xi’s government is shutting them down for good.

China’s online watchdog has also slapped fines on news services run by Tencent, Baidu, and Weibo. Internet regulators say they closed 3,918 websites in the second quarter for spreading information that was violent, pornographic, or a danger to national security. Even Winnie the Pooh was kicked off temporarily after images of the bear started popping up as an online proxy for the stout Xi.

“At this rate, there will not be much left for the next leader to censor,” says the co-founder of GreatFire.org, a group that finds ways around government restrictions, who goes by the name Charlie Smith to avoid reprisals. “He is the first Chinese leader to truly understand the power of the internet, and hence we are seeing an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting information.”

Tencent’s WeChat, with almost 1 billion users, has become adept at preventing sensitive messages from ever reaching their destination, such as when it blocked a flood of photos of the late dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo this summer. Baidu is building a system to allow cybercops to spot and fix “online rumors,” letting police agencies insert themselves directly into everything, including its search results and discussion forums.

Tech giants should leave internet policing up to AI, for the sake of humanity

30 years ago, Peter Weller took on the role as Robocop, a dystopian entity revived by mega corporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) as a superhuman law enforcer running the Detroit Police Department. Badass cop, but maybe not the most effective one.

Robocop had a fourth classified law never to arrest or attack anyone from OCP — the company that made it. But gone are the days when this sci-fi action film was perceived as just another fanatical blockbuster. We have entered an era that some perceive as concerningly familiar — except in this version of events, tech giants YouTube, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are perceived as the Robocop entity policing the internet and its content.

The dark web

We’ve all heard of the perils attached to the ‘dark web’, with gun trading, drug deals, and other black-market activity taking place under the condition of anonymity. Even on the ‘surface’ side of the web, we’re seeing violent language, extremist content, and radical groups springing up while fake news is spread to distort current affairs to suit the agendas of those distributing it.

So, whose responsibility should it be to deal with such a complex web of issues? It inevitably lies in the hands of the tech giants that currently rule the internet.

YouTube recently announced that its use of machine learning has doubled the number of videos removed for violent extremism, while Facebook has announced that it’s using artificial intelligence to combat terrorist propaganda. Both YouTube and Facebook have also proclaimed work with Twitter and Microsoft to fight online terrorism by “sharing the best technological and operational elements.”

The human nature of decision making

While it is of course welcomed news that these firms are doing their part to make the internet a safer place, they have to ensure they sustain a democratic approach to their ‘policing’.

Planet Earth consists of 196 countries and 7.2 billion people. There’s no one aligned culture, experience, religion, or government. Considering the sheer breadth of differences among civilization, it’s an undeniable fact that when humans are left to make such decisions, these will be based on their own subjective opinion influenced by surroundings. This is human nature.

So, when considering complex issues such as combatting ‘violent extremism’ online, how are employees of these big tech firms supposed to come to an informed decision, upon what isn’t and what is classified as extremist?

As thing are now, the decisions will undoubtedly be influenced by their own experiences and subjective bias.

AI and machine learning as a solution

Machine learning and AI can remove the interference of any biased decision-making. Machines can make thousands of decisions about the content sentiment and, if threatening, remove it before humans are exposed.

In my media world, AI is used to help brands understand where they should buy media. And in an industry where human bias in this decision-making process has caused a lack of trust, AI can step in and remedy that.

Based on input from news sources, labels, and articles; machines can interpret the meaning of violent extremism. Using this, organisations can then combat inherent issues with the web — anything from fake news to criminal behavior and extremist content.

At this point, I can hear the critics typing away their concerns in the comments to this article. What about when the machine becomes so intelligent it can do the job without human input? What happens when the machine receives emotions? What happens if someone gets hold of the AI machine and uses it to the detriment of others?

In order for this technology to create emotions or any sort of emotional feedback that gives it more control, this would require extremely elaborate data representation and programming that hasn’t yet been developed. There are parameters within which these machines can learn and everything that the machine can currently do goes back to executing a better performance on narrow tasks.  

Where to next?

It’s up to the tech giants to ensure their policing of the internet is fair and impartial, and will not lead to the emergence of a real-life Robocop — and the way to achieve  that is by using AI.

While 2017 has seen many stories that show these tech giants to be bullish in their approach — demonstrating a lack of trust and transparency between them and other internet users — the more recent announcements made by YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft to rectify issues such as online extremism and terror content are certainly steps in the right direction.

As these firms come under political and societal pressure to invest heavily in helping make the internet great again, we can prevent the real-life emergence of RoboCop and instead use AI and machine learning to police the internet fairly and impartially. We can then create an online world that combats extremism and brings about greater societal change — which we desperately need at the moment.

By treating every single entity on the web equally when deciding what content is acceptable and unacceptable — including the movements of those who are predominantly in control — we will be able to bring the internet back to its original purpose: to inform, connect and educate.

Read next:

Get end-to-end cloud encryption with a year of SpiderOak storage — for nearly 70 percent off

Mental health sees 300000 people leave their jobs each year

b968e_p05l0sg6 Mental health sees 300000 people leave their jobs each year
Media captionJames Tringham, who has bipolar disorder, explains that being at work has a “normalising effect”

Up to 300,000 people with long-term mental health problems have to leave their jobs each year, a report says.

It also claims poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99bn each year.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who commissioned the report, said it showed “we need to take action”. She is asking NHS England and the civil service to accept the report’s recommendations.

Paul Farmer, co-author of the Thriving At Work report, said mental health was a taboo subject in many workplaces.

  • Can you talk about mental health at work?
  • The illness that affects one in six of us
  • Mental health staff on stress leave up 22%

Mr Farmer, who is chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: “Opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure that employees who may be struggling get the support they need.

“In many instances employers simply don’t understand the crucial role they can play, or know where to go for advice and support.”

‘My confidence is back’

The review makes 40 recommendations about how employers and the government can better support employees to remain at work, such as through creating an online wellbeing portal and using digital technology to support workers in the gig economy.

Companies are also being encouraged to include a section on employee mental health in their annual reports. Currently only 11% of companies do this, the report found.

Postwoman Caroline Benson was diagnosed with depression 17 years ago. She says she has received a lot of support at work including access to counselling.

Ms Benson told BBC Radio 5 live: “It means I can go to them [her line manager] straight away, as soon as I’m struggling then my recovery from that bout is much quicker.

“It does make life a lot easier to know that I can come to work and be supported because work really is the best place for me to be.

“I need that support and structure around me to give me that positive outlook on life.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Footballer Aaron Lennon returned to training after receiving mental health support

One employer the report praised is the insurer Aviva.

James Tringham has worked for them for seven years. He said the company helped him get his life back on track after it was crippled by his bipolar disorder:

“In 2009 I’d reached crisis point with my mental health, and I gave up my career as a solicitor.

“I was unable to work for over a year – the prospect of returning to work was just so frightening and not something that I could imagine.”

Eventually he got a job in the insurer’s contact centre. He said: “They gave me a way back into employment and I have worked my way back up.

“Aviva have been brilliant in supporting me to manage my mental health at work, and have given me my confidence back.

“There’s an understanding, which means little things like adjusting my workload when I’m feeling on the low side can really help. And the staff – both officially and unofficially – form a great support network.”

The review says employers should:

  • Create a mental health at work plan
  • Build mental health awareness by making information and support accessible
  • Encourage open conversations
  • Provide good working conditions and ensure employees have a healthy work-life balance
  • Promote effective people management, with line managers holding regular conversations about health and well-being with their staff
  • Routinely monitor employee mental health

The review said that people with long term mental health problems were leaving jobs at twice the rate of colleagues with no such issues, although it did say that some people may be counted twice – if they left one job, returned to work elsewhere after a break but were then unable to continue in their new post.

The report also pointed out the cost to employers, estimating they were losing £42bn each year due to staff suffering from mental health problems.

Mrs May is asking NHS England and the civil service – which together employ more than two million people – to implement the recommendations.

She said: “It is only by making this an everyday concern for everyone that we change the way we see mental illness, so that striving to improve your mental health – whether at work or at home – is seen as just as positive as improving our physical well-being.”

The government said it is considering the legislative changes suggested.


Have you lost your job due to long-term mental health issues? What steps can managers and employees take to support employees? Let us know about your experiences. Email

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

When YouTubers Leave the Nest: Tracking the Success of the Internet’s Biggest Stars

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Tyler Oakley, Grace Helbig, John Green, Lilly Singh and More VidCon Stars Read Mean Tweets

Should I leave my computer running all the time? | PC Gamer

When I was a kid, my parents were always adamant that the computer remain on at all times—rebooting only when absolutely necessary.

The logic was that the surge of power when turning the computer on would shorten its lifespan. While this is true, leaving your computer on 24/7 also adds wear and tear to your components and the wear caused in either case will never impact you unless your upgrade cycle is measured in decades. If your only concern is to maximize the lifespan of your components, neither option put you ahead. So why should you leave it running? 

Leaving your computer on is convenient. Instead of waiting for it to boot you can hop right in and get to work or play. With SSDs, boot times are significantly reduced, but if you have lots of programs set to start with Windows, it can still take a minute or two to get started. On the other hand, while the “sleep” function in Windows typically works as it should, sometimes your machine will flat out refuse to wake up and you will have to restart anyway. For some people, they have lots of productivity programs running all the time, so rebooting can be a hassle.

If you’ve made your computer accessible over the internet it will do you no good if it’s not running. Having the ability to remote into your machine from anywhere can be a lifesaver. More times than I can count I’ve rushed out the door only to realize I’ve forgotten to send an important email, or to send myself some file I needed access to throughout the day. And, if you’re running something like Plex, you can access your media library from anywhere if you get out of the habit of always turning off your computer.

Turning your computer off when you’re not completing tasks also means that your computer can’t complete its own important tasks. Processes like virus scans and system updates will have to run when you’re trying to get things done. These tasks can be resource heavy and inconvenient. If you leave your computer running you can schedule these to run overnight or anytime that’s convenient for you.

While there are lots of compelling reasons to keep your computer running, there are some scenarios where it’s definitely best to shut it down. Electricity can be expensive and sometimes every cent counts. If you are concerned about energy costs, leaving your computer on all the time will reflect on the utility bill.

If you are running custom water cooling I would also recommend not leaving your machine running. Should the pump die when you aren’t around, the results could be catastrophic. Whether or not you leave your computer running will largely depend on what matters most to you. Luckily for us, there is no wrong answer.

I still prefer leaving my system on all the time, but once in a while I’ll check the health of the fans and pumps. Thank goodness for side windows. 

 

Where does a push toward telehealth leave the internetless?

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On New Year’s Day in 2008, a bullet landed into the chest of 14-year-old T.J. Brewer of Richton while on a hunting trip.

The doctors who could treat him were at the trauma center in Jackson, two hours away. He didn’t have that long. 

Instead, emergency medicine doctors from the University of Mississippi Medical Center beamed into a nearby rural health care facility through video chat, guided nurse practitioner Joyce Martin through what to do and together, they saved Brewer’s life.

That’s the power of telehealth, an area in which Mississippi leads the country, despite the state also ranking last for internet access and connectivity. Based on 2016 data, only one-in-five Mississippi households are connected to internet at speeds the federal government defines as broadband.

The paradox is familiar to Mississippi — a state receiving national recognition for transforming health care delivery through telecommunications, while simultaneously earning the title “The Land That the Internet Era Forgot” in writer Ralph Eubanks’ 2015 piece for Wired magazine.

Earlier this month, the federal Health Resources and Services Administration designated UMMC a National Telehealth Center of Excellence. The university hospital has been a trailblazer for telemedicine, having provided the services since 2003.

Now, through video chatting, UMMC is beaming specialists into the community clinics in 69 of the state’s 82 counties and expanding remote services to employees of the state and private companies.

BankPlus, for example, has a room dedicated to a virtual doctor’s office at each of its locations, where employees can use a computer to video chat a UMMC physician, get diagnosed and prescribed medication without leaving the workplace. 

The language in Mississippi’s telehealth legislation, which outlines insurance reimbursement for telemedicine services, is even becoming a model for federal legislation, said Michael Adcock, the UMMC Center for Telehealth’s executive director.

There’s just one hitch, and sooner or later, experts say it’s going to catch up to the state in its attempts to digitize health care delivery: “Broadband in rural Mississippi sucks,” said Roberto Gallardo, a regional economics specialist at Purdue University, formerly with Mississippi State University Extension Service.

“And that’s who could benefit the most,” he added.

Mississippians lack fast internet

According to data from the secretary of state’s office, access to high-speed broadband internet, generally required for demanding applications like video chatting, is spotty across Mississippi. More than half of the population in 42 counties lack access to the service — the infrastructure just isn’t there.

Twelve counties are shut out completely — Wilkinson, Amite, Marion, Lawrence, Walthall, Covington, Franklin, Jefferson, Noxubee, Issaqueena, Humphreys and Sharkey. The population of those counties totals 137,000.

Broadband is a digital, static connection to the internet through DSL, a cable modem or fiber, which travels at much higher speeds than dial-up. It is as essential to modern life as electricity was 100 years ago, Gallardo said.

“It’s really becoming critical for anything, and telehealth is a prime example,” he said.

More: Broadband expands in rural Mississippi

In 2015, 10 percent of Americans couldn’t access fixed high-speed broadband while that number was 36 percent, more than one million people, in Mississippi. In rural parts of the state, 68 percent of folks couldn’t access the service.

And that’s not to say that all Mississippians who live in an area served by broadband are connected.

According to the most recent Federal Communications Commission data from June 2016, 79 percent of Mississippi households are not connected to internet at speeds defined as broadband — 25 megabits per second downstream and three megabits per second upstream. Between 2015 and 2016, household broadband connections increased by two percent.

The “digital divide” — a difference in opportunities from those who have access to information technology and those who don’t — is staggering in Mississippi, a state that also ranks at the bottom of most health rankings.

In 2010, Mississippi had the lowest percentage of internet users of any state, 59 percent, compared to 83 percent in Maine, the most rural state in the country.

Lip service

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who’s been at the forefront of conversations about expanding broadband across the state, said it’s time to decide, like the federal government did with electricity in the 1930’s, that everyone must have access to the internet — even folks in rural areas.

“It’s clear to me and anybody who doesn’t have their head in the sand, high-speed internet service is a necessity for modern American life,” Presley said. “Anything other than that is to live in the horse and buggy days.”

It’s a matter of cost, said Central District Public Service Commissioner Cecil Brown, and in some rural areas, it’s just not feasible for internet companies to invest in the infrastructure for so few customers.

“Everybody in the industry acknowledges that the economics of providing broadband to rural areas, where there’s not a lot of density of customers, has been a challenge,” said ATT Mississippi President Mayo Flynt.

Through phase two of the Connect America Fund, the FCC financed $51.5 million annually for six years to expand internet into some of these undeserved, rural areas, beginning in 2015. 

By the end of 2017, the companies awarded the funds — ATT, Frontier Communications and Windstream — should be at 40 percent completion, meaning new service for just over 55,700 homes and businesses.

Though broadband is defined by the FCC as internet that travels at speeds of 25 mbps down and three mbps up, the Connect America program only required companies to install speeds of 10 mbps down and one mbps up — so, not technically broadband.

Gallardo said the justification for installing the lower speed is that it’s “fast enough for now,” which he compared to “driving a car, looking through the rear view mirror instead of the windshield.”

On Oct. 18, ATT announced its expansion internet service through a fixed wireless tower in rural Pinola, an unincorporated community of roughly 1,500 in Simpson County.

“We’re expanding access in Mississippi. You can see it across the state,” Brown said. “But other than Connect America, they’re going where they can make money.”

Last week, Mississippi’s U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker introduced legislation to streamline the permitting process for telecommunication companies to expand broadband into areas not currently served. 

“This sensible legislation would help fast-track the deployment of next-generation broadband technologies by utilizing existing public right of ways and exempting communications providers from duplicative reviews,” Wicker said in a press release. “New advances in telehealth, online education, precision agriculture, and other internet applications demand faster, better broadband connections. It is time for the federal government to recognize the realities of a modern digital economy and accommodate the needs of American consumers.”

Attempts over the years to expand faster internet in Mississippi communities more quickly have fallen through partly due to a lack of coordination.

“We give it lip service, but don’t give it true implementation,” said analyst Pete Walley, formerly with the state College Board. “We’ve got a lot of resources that could be tailored back to individual needs, but I can’t see there’s a vision by anyone in the state.”

More: FCC Commissioner touts telehealth connectivity

Health care in the home

Adcock said UMMC works with the internet companies to ensure high-speed service at the rural clinics using telehealth services, so they’re not affected by connectivity issues. 

Beyond that, Adcock said UMMC’s goal is to deliver care as close to the home as possible, as long as the quality remains high. In some cases, that’s a nearby clinic as opposed to someone’s house.

One in-home telehealth service UMMC provides is remote patient monitoring for people with chronic illnesses, like diabetes, heart failure and hypertension. Patients are given a tablet with a data plan, which beams information to their doctor using cell service, not necessarily broadband speed.

Adcock said UMMC ensures the patients’ cell phone service is strong enough to support the remote monitoring technology. It partnered with C Spire when the pilot program began with diabetes monitoring in 2014.

UMMC has served roughly 1,000 patients with this program.

A newer program, UMMC 2 You, allows employees of the state and private companies that join to access most of the services they would get at a clinic visit through their smartphone.

The shift at UMMC follows current trends in the field. The latest, most significant breakthrough for health care isn’t a vaccine, drug or surgical procedure, Gallardo said, it’s the device already in folks’ hands.

This follows the trend in technology use, too, considering that in many homes lacking broadband access, folks are using the internet on smartphones.

The device in your hand

Gary Rawson, a coordinator at Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services, said folks are increasingly replacing their home internet with a mobile device.

They might have access to a fixed broadband hookup in their area, but because they can use the internet on their phone, “they don’t feel the overwhelming need to have that,” Rawson said.

That’s true in a lot of cases, but there are limitations to cellphone-only internet access: the quality of the device in your hand, your distance from a tower and the speeds needed to run certain applications, like video chatting. Then there’s data plan limits.

Across the country, 67 percent of Americans in rural areas own smartphones, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey.

Just having the phone “doesn’t mean you’re going to have the data needed,” said Ryan Kelly, director of the Mississippi Rural Health Association.

Plus, Kelly said, “it doesn’t take long before you venture off onto a rural highway that you find you don’t have cell service.”

In general, internet access across the state is “more like Swiss cheese as opposed to little gaps in coverage,” Kelly said.

“People who need the services the most are the ones with slowest internet speeds,” Kelly said. “So there’s still that problem of how do we get past rural health disparities and get them access to what they need.”

As technology advances and health care delivery continues to move to the home, cutting out the need for travel, folks in rural Mississippi stand to gain the most. They’re also the ones who could be left behind when it happens, all because of the speed of their internet, if they have access at all.

“Imagine that’s about to hit the fan, but if you’re not even at the connectivity availability part, when that thing takes off, it will be like, ‘Wow,'” Gallardo said, looking up at an imaginary rocket ship taking off. “And you won’t be part of it.”

Contact Anna Wolfe at 601-961-7326 or awolfe@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter.

Should I leave my computer running all the time?

When I was a kid, my parents were always adamant that the computer remain on at all times—rebooting only when absolutely necessary.

The logic was that the surge of power when turning the computer on would shorten its lifespan. While this is true, leaving your computer on 24/7 also adds wear and tear to your components and the wear caused in either case will never impact you unless your upgrade cycle is measured in decades. If your only concern is to maximize the lifespan of your components, neither option put you ahead. So why should you leave it running? 

Leaving your computer on is convenient. Instead of waiting for it to boot you can hop right in and get to work or play. With SSDs, boot times are significantly reduced, but if you have lots of programs set to start with Windows, it can still take a minute or two to get started. On the other hand, while the “sleep” function in Windows typically works as it should, sometimes your machine will flat out refuse to wake up and you will have to restart anyway. For some people, they have lots of productivity programs running all the time, so rebooting can be a hassle.

If you’ve made your computer accessible over the internet it will do you no good if it’s not running. Having the ability to remote into your machine from anywhere can be a lifesaver. More times than I can count I’ve rushed out the door only to realize I’ve forgotten to send an important email, or to send myself some file I needed access to throughout the day. And, if you’re running something like Plex, you can access your media library from anywhere if you get out of the habit of always turning off your computer.

Turning your computer off when you’re not completing tasks also means that your computer can’t complete its own important tasks. Processes like virus scans and system updates will have to run when you’re trying to get things done. These tasks can be resource heavy and inconvenient. If you leave your computer running you can schedule these to run overnight or anytime that’s convenient for you.

While there are lots of compelling reasons to keep your computer running, there are some scenarios where it’s definitely best to shut it down. Electricity can be expensive and sometimes every cent counts. If you are concerned about energy costs, leaving your computer on all the time will reflect on the utility bill.

If you are running custom water cooling I would also recommend not leaving your machine running. Should the pump die when you aren’t around, the results could be catastrophic. Whether or not you leave your computer running will largely depend on what matters most to you. Luckily for us, there is no wrong answer.

I still prefer leaving my system on all the time, but once in a while I’ll check the health of the fans and pumps. Thank goodness for side windows. 

 

California wildfires could leave behind toxic mess, health officials warn

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Health officials in Sonoma and Napa Counties in California are expressing concerns that the ash from burned homes and cars have created a dangerous toxic mess that first responders and residents will be dealing with for many years to come.

Tuesday was one of the clearest days in Santa Rosa since the start of the deadly wildfires, but people were still wearing face masks.

Volunteers with the American Red Cross told CBS San Francisco they’ve been handing out hundreds of masks every day.

“Most clients are saying, ‘Why do I feel this in the throat?’ And we’re telling them, ‘Well, it’s obviously the air. It’s the smoke.’ There’s a lot of bacteria now forming,” said Red Cross volunteer Joe Apicelli.

Santa Rosa resident Cheryl Lane who already had respiratory problems worries about the potentially toxic ash debris.

“My lungs are kind of sensitive to the smoke in the air,” said Lane. “I’ve already required a respiratory treatment and they sent me off with an inhaler and so that’s why I have to wear this mask.”

Scott Alonso with the Sonoma County Department of Public Health is urging people to stay inside, especially children and those with lung problems.

“And also, when you’re driving, make sure your AC is on re-circulate,” said Alonso. “Protecting yourself from that, so your air filters are doing all the work for you and they’re not bringing in that outside air.”

Alonso said the long-term effects of breathing in this air are still unknown. But to lessen the chances of developing a serious illness, he encouraged people to remain patient and not clean up their homes.

Instead, he urged residents in or near the fire zone to make an appointment with the public health department and allow the professionals to remove the hazardous waste.

“Don’t clean up right now. It’s not safe,” said Alonso. “The toxic ash and the debris is harmful. We don’t want you sifting through it. We don’t want children in it. Do not touch it. Just keep track of what’s there, and then we can get involved working with you to clear it out.”




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