Items tagged with covid-19

Facebook has introduced a new way for friends or coworkers to get together during the coronavirus pandemic, called Messenger Rooms. Facebook says that Messenger Rooms was designed to allow people to spend "quality time with friends, loved ones, and people who share their interests." Users can create a room from within Messenger or Facebook and then invite anyone to join the video call, even if they don't have a Facebook account. Messenger Rooms "will soon" hold up to 50 people with no time limit. Users can start and share rooms on Facebook through News Feed or Groups and Events. The social network says that it intends to soon add ways to allow users to create Rooms from Instagram Direct, WhatsApp,... Read more...
Believe it or not, it actually bears repeating that 5G cell towers do not contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Seems obvious, right? Some people just aren't hearing it, though, and are not only intentionally damaging cell towers over the perceived threat, they are threatening telecom engineers with bodily harm. The situation has gone from laughable ridiculous to frighteningly stupid in a very short time period. It was reported around the beginning of April that conspiracy theorists were setting fire to and otherwise vandalizing cell towers in the United Kingdom over false claims there is some sort of link between 5G radio transmissions and the spread of the Coronavirus. This spread of misinformation... Read more...
Two weeks ago, Apple and Google announced a unique and very rare partnership in an effort to help track the spread of COVID-19 around the globe. The pair revealed a common API that would be used on both iOS and Android platforms, leveraging Bluetooth Low-Energy rather than GPS to track the spread of coronavirus infections. Despite the use of Bluetooth beacons, completely optional participation in the program by users, the optional uploading of positive coronavirus test results, and strict controls put in place by both companies, there have been many that feel that the new Contract Tracing Bluetooth Specification is a privacy nightmare waiting to unfold. To help cut through some of the... Read more...
Verizon has updated its Emergency Management policy to help eliminate worry for customers during the coronavirus pandemic. The wireless carrier has announced that it is reinforcing its pledge to keep Americans connected and to protect those who are most vulnerable. Verizon says that it will waive overage charges and late fees to support customers who may be financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The carrier is also offering two months waived internet and voice service charges for current Lifeline customers along with rolling out a new affordable internet option for low-income households. An additional 15GB of high-speed data has been added for wireless consumers and small business customers;... Read more...
Boston Dynamics has built some fantastic robots over the years, and though we often joke about an inevitable uprising in the vein of Skynet, their is a ton of engineering that goes into making these contraptions highly useful in the right settings. Serving as a reminder, hospitals are reaching out to Boston Dynamics about using its robots in healthcare settings to reduce staff exposure to COVID-19. A robot called Spot is answering the call. As we all know, healthcare workers are on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic and can use all the help they can get. To assist with a shortage of supplies, companies like Intel and Razer are donating masks and money, while boutique PC builder Maingear... Read more...
There is plenty of bad news surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, from the rising death toll to malware authors spreading their nefarious files under the guise of helpful COVID-19 information. In a refreshing change of pace, however, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang's recent letter to employees or a ray of much needed light during these trying times. In his two and half page letter, Huang outlines the situation we are all facing and how NVIDIA is handling the situation. He also directly addresses the topics of layoffs. Simply put, they're not happening at NVIDIA. "Immediately I received questions about whether we are also planning a layoff. NO—precisely the opposite. We are accelerating your raise... Read more...
With the massive uptick in people working from home due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines in place, the load on our broadband infrastructure has skyrocketed. Here are some tips – mostly free – to maximize and optimize your Wi-Fi and broadband performance so that you can get work done more quickly and efficiently, with better quality video conferences and virtual happy hours. Also these, these tips should help with your online gaming performance when you need some [well-deserved] downtime during this chaos as well. First up, there are a number of things that you can do that won’t cost you a single penny… Update Your Router’s... Read more...
You would have a better chance of finding a needle in a haystack that is a mile high, than scruples in a malware author that targets victims during a pandemic. The current virus outbreak is no exception. According to Microsoft, a piece of malware masquerading as an informational document from a non-profit offering free COVID-19 testing is making the rounds in a big way. It's called "Trickbot" and it is "the most prolific malware operation using COVID-19 themed lures," based on Microsoft's Office 365 ATP data, the company stated on Twitter. "This week's campaign uses several hundreds of unique macro-laced document attachments in emails that pose as message[s] from a non-profit offering free COVID-19... Read more...
As we have said before, these are challenging times as we all adapt to the reality of a deadly virus and keeping our distance from one another to slow its spread. Making matters worse, nefarious actors are pouncing on the opportunity to spread malware. This means you need to be extra cautious about falling for a phishing scam. It's a numbers game for malware authors. Google shared some interesting stats, saying Gmail weeds out and blocks more than 100 million phishing emails every day. During the past week, Google says it saw 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19. "This is in addition to more than 240 million COVID-related daily spam messages. Our ML [machine learning]... Read more...
One of the most in-demand pieces of medical equipment during the coronavirus pandemic around the world is the ventilator. For some with COVID-19, respiratory distress is a problem, and ventilatory support is required to keep patients alive. The problem that many hospitals and medical staff around the world are facing is a shortage of these ventilators. This has led to homegrown designs like this ventilator that uses a Raspberry Pi as the brains. The ventilator was designed by a team in Columbia to test a home-built machine using easy-to-source parts. The team used a design and computer code posted online in March by a man from California who had no prior experience creating medical equipment.... Read more...
The number of people actively participating in the Folding@home distributed computing project has ballooned over the past month, and that has been a boon for research into COVID-19/coronavirus. When we last visited Folding@home, the project had surpassed the 1 exaFLOP barrier, making the collective faster than even the most powerful supercomputers on the planet. This week, however, it was announced that Folding@home has now reached 2.4 exaFLOPS, more than doubling the record set in late March. To put that in perspective, that's faster than the top 500 supercomputers on Earth... combined. One exaFLOP is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second, which is almost... Read more...
Google has announced that it is temporarily (and automatically) reducing the video recording quality for its family of Nest cameras. Google is taking this step to reduce the amount of bandwidth required in an attempt to lessen the strain on ISPs, and the internet in general. Demand for bandwidth is booming with people all around the country (and around the globe) being forced to work from home due to the coronavirus. The change is temporary, and only the quality and bandwidth settings will be adjusted. Google says that other user-configured settings will remain the same and will work normally. It's unclear what the default quality setting will be, but presumably somewhere in the middle of the... Read more...
Back in mid-February made the wise [at the time] decision to announce that it would end support for the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) on May 12th. While the October 2018 update was plagued with many showstopping bugs that annoyed customers, the true reason for ending support is to push customers to newer builds with increased functionality and security fixes. However, a lot has changed between now and February; most notably with the stay-at-home lockdowns due to COVID-19. With this in mind, Microsoft no longer feels that May 12th is a realistic date for its customers to have upgraded their systems to newer versions of Windows 10. The company writes: We have been... Read more...
People with too much time on their hands and a penchant for conspiracy theories have set ablaze or otherwise vandalized dozens of cell towers in the UK, over the unsubstantiated fear that 5G wireless is somehow responsible for spreading COVID-19. In addition, technicians for telecoms have faced harassment while on the job. Sadly, it is not just random people on the Internet who are perpetuating the conspiracy theory. Actors Woody Harrelson and John Cusack have both posted about it online. "A lot of my friends have been talking about the negative effects of 5G," Harrelson wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a screenshot of an article drawing links between the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and 5G... Read more...
As tens of thousands of workers have been pushed out of the office and into remote working from home environments due to the coronavirus outbreak around the world, new types of challenges have surfaced that businesses are having to deal with. The big issue is that with so many new companies and workers now working from home, cybercriminals are out to take advantage of those who may not understand the security risks they face and how to take proper countermeasures. Dell reminds us today that with cybercriminals ramping up nefarious activity, organizations need to protect remote workers, starting with the devices they are working with. To help facilitate that protection, Dell has introduced Dell... Read more...
It’s interesting that it is taking the COVID-19 pandemic for Apple and Google to work together extensively, but here we are. Despite all the previous bad blood between the two companies, they are coming together for the common good with a series of application programming interfaces (APIs) that will allow the discrete tracking for the spread of COVID-19. Rather than relying GPS, which can have privacy implications concerning location data, Apple and Google will be deploying a Bluetooth Low Energy-backed contact tracing platform. With this system, iPhone and Android devices will be able to send Bluetooth identifier beacons, and in return receive signals from other devices (these identifier... Read more...
When it comes to testing for COVID-19/coronavirus and helping to stop the spread of the virus, Amazon is now taking matters into its own hands. This comes after Amazon took fire last month for terminating Chris Smalls. Smalls had organized a warehouse worker strike in Staten Island, New York over what he considered to be inadequate safety measures that were put into place by Amazon. In internal meeting notes that were leaked to the public, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky berated Smalls, proclaiming, “He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth... Read more...
Daft Punk was not singing about the Internet when "Hardware, Better, Faster, Stronger" released in 2001, when most Americans didn't even have Internet access (let alone broadband speeds). Now nearly two decades later, it's a fitting jingle in light of the Coronavirus outbreak and the eventual impact it will have on the Internet. That's putting a positive spin on things for sure. In the short term, the Internet is feeling the strain of more people than ever accessing the web and using online services at the same time, as stay at home orders, school closings, and the temporary suspension of many businesses permeate the nation. To deal with this, streaming video services like Netflix and Disney+... Read more...
It’s not just toilet paper, paper towels, and other household goods that are hard to come by these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even certain tech items are becoming incredibly scare as people hunker down in their homes and begin conducting virtual meetings with coworkers. One particular PC accessory that has been hit hard with shortages is the webcam. For those of us who primarily use laptops, most have a webcam already built in, but it can pose a few challenges. Due to how thin the display lid is on most laptops, OEMs can’t install high quality webcam sensors, meaning that often lag behind in image quality compared to selfie cameras that that you’d find on even... Read more...
Maingear is known for assembling meticulously crafted and high performance gaming PCs. like its recently overhauled Rush desktop with up to a 64-core Ryzen Threadripper 3990X processor and dual Titan RTX graphics cards. In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, however, Maingear is taking its boutique building expertise and temporarily applying it towards lower cost ventilators. As you are probably well aware at this point, hospitals are in dire need of certain medical supplies, including N95 masks, gloves, and ventilators. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, and rapid spread means ventilators are needed now more than ever. To help meet that need, some technology companies are working towards building... Read more...
Intel is ramping up its efforts to help healthcare workers and other key segments deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the $10 million in donations already pledged by Intel, the Santa Clara chip maker today announced an additional $50 million in aid as part of a pandemic response technology initiative to combat COVID-19. Technology companies like Intel are in unique position to assist with the global pandemic. Just a few weeks ago, Intel announced plans to source and donate more than 1 million items of personal protective equipment to healthcare workers on the front lines, including masks, gloves, face shields, and various other much needed gear. In addition, Intel is following... Read more...
It is taking a cooperative effort on a global scale to stop the spread of COVID-19, of which there are now nearly 1.3 million confirmed cases and over 70,000 deaths. On the manufacturing side of the equation, technology companies like Apple and Tesla are stepping up to produce much needed equipment for medical workers. As it pertains to Tesla, the automaker provided an engineering update on its custom ventilator made from various car parts, including components from its Model 3. Ventilators are complex contraptions. They are also supremely important in managing and treating some patients with COVID-19, but are in short supply at the moment. Tesla is one of several automakers who are sourcing... Read more...
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