The Washington Post has launched a team of reporters to help subscribers get the most from their technology. If you are curious about technology matters, you’ll want to check it out…
Another source of technology news is Review Geek:
ZDnet publishes technology news for the industry: zdnet.com.
The PDF below is a handbook for anyone who wants to produce meetings that include both in-person participants and others who attend from remote locations using Zoom Cloud Meeting or similar technology. The book explains the basics of setting up such meetings and anticipates problems you may encounter. It’s written for people with limited experience using a computer for video and audio processing. Care is taken to explain the jargon and provide examples of the hardware and software that may be useful.
The need for such systems at Pennswood Village and the Newtown Monthly Meeting (Quakers) prompted me to write down what I’ve learned is producing meetings that simultaneously were interactive in Pennswood’s Penn Hall, on Zoom, recorded, and also live streamed to the in-house CCTV channel 970.Hybrid-Meeting-Design-Handbook-v2.3
Peter Vari did a features comparison of the three scenarios described in the handbook. His table (below) lets you see at a glance what each one offers compared to the others.
I’m adding links to materials produced by others below:Pendle-Hills-Hybrid-Worship-Experiment-·-Philadelphia-Yearly-Meeting
It’s May 2022 as I write this and we’ve learned some things using our hybrid system at Newtown Monthly Meeting. Here’s the list.
- Set audio levels going into the Zoom computer carefully to avoid background noise “pumping” between the words of someone speaking in the meeting room. Zoom uses a “magic sauce” of audio compression, automatic volume control, and noise gating. If the incoming audio is too high, it limits the loud bits and amplifies the soft bits making ambient sounds very loud. In our location, traffic noises and even birds chirping are amplified if the settings are not optimized.
Use a second computer to hear what virtual attendees hear using headphones while you make your adjustments. Set the volume control on the hearing assist device and mic mixer as low as possible, the experiment with Zoom’s microphone settings including echo suppression.
- Zoom attendees like having a camera operator who allows them to see who is speaking and have a sense of who is gathered in person. No one thus far has objected, and volunteers have been willing to serve in this capacity on a rotating basis.
- Avoid unsightly untamed wires that may also create a trip hazard. There are velcro products to secure wires to carpet, velcro strips can be stapled to moldings, and gaffer tape can be used to make a tidy and safe setup.
4. The Williams hearing-assist FM radios evidently use the wire to the earphone as an antenna. If your patch cable is not stretched out, or if it is too close to a source of radio interference, the sound on the Zoom call may be full of static that those in the meeting house won’t hear or be aware of.
This is a very lemony lemon sausce that is good with trout and other fish dishes, and serves as a base for veal or chicken piccata sauces.Lemon-Sauce-Recipe2
This strikes me as a level-headed guide on Covid-19.Leonhardt-Covid-19-Strategy
Fauci does a clear, candid interview/talk for IGs and staffers. [Thanks to the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) for this]
Of the various sources for COVID-19 information, I believe that Johns Hopkins is the best, and possibly the most immune to political distortions and media hype. They have a comprehensive Modular online learning track on the site, plus continuously updated statistics with extensive interpretive explanations of the charts and methodologies.
“We aggregate and analyze the best data available on COVID-19—including cases, as well as testing, contact tracing and vaccine efforts—to help the public, policymakers and healthcare professionals worldwide respond to the pandemic.” — This quote from the JH Coronavirus Resource Center website, leads me to infer that they recognize that CDC data may be politically influenced these days.
As fall approaches in much of the world, many people are anxious about what will happen when cold weather forces people indoors. Will the virus resurge with a vengeance, especially as people return to offices and schools reopen?
To get a preview of the fall, we spoke to Donald G. McNeil Jr., The Times’s infectious disease expert, whose job has become envisioning the future of the coronavirus crisis.
We’ve been warned about a “fall wave” for a long time, but then we had a bad summer wave. What most worries you about the fall?
I try to avoid “wave” metaphors because each outbreak is unique. New York City and Sturgis, S.D., both had bad ones, but months apart and for different reasons: New York in February because of tourists returning from Europe; Sturgis in August because of a motorcycle rally where masks were disdained.
But yes, autumn really worries me. Outbreaks are exploding at colleges all across the nation. There may initially be fewer deaths because students are young — but professors aren’t.
And soon, chilly weather will drive people indoors, where studies suggest you are 20 times more likely to get infected. By midwinter, if we aren’t careful, the death toll could head back up toward its April apex.
One notion about how we get back to “normal” is that we will achieve herd immunity — the proportion of the general population with immunity that would block the ability of the virus to thrive and spread.
The odds say that’s not very likely. Firstly, there is no certainty that immunity lasts. Like the flu, having COVID-19 probably does not mean you won’t get it again. But the second problem is the percentage of immune people required: it’s estimated to be 40 to 80%. To reach 60% the number of deaths would be between two and three million in the US alone. The Washington Post simulations below will help you grasp the problem.
In the absence of a coherent plan from our Federal government, Medical professionals offer specific recommendations. Here is a summary from the New York Times with hyperlinks to sources for details.
The Association of American Medical Colleges released a “road map” listing areas for action. The groupsays its members include all 155 accredited medical schools in the United States, as well as more than 400 teaching hospitals and health systems. “If the nation does not change its course – and soon – deaths in the United States could be well into the multiple hundreds of thousands,” the preamble warns.
No. 1 on their list is remedying shortages: “Laboratory supplies (e.g., reagents, transport media, plastic trays, sample vials, swabs for testing) are a critical national need. The federal government should negotiate with plastic fabricators and chemical supply houses, using the authority of the Defense Production Act or other means, to redirect American manufacturing to urgently eliminate shortages. … The federal government should negotiate with paper companies, rubber companies, and fabricators to increase domestic production of these urgently needed [personal protective equipment]. … The government should issue large contracts to companies producing critical medications needed for COVID-19 treatment so that companies are willing to overproduce in the short term and ameliorate national shortfalls.”
The Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security released a report on Wednesday with its own 10 recommendations. “Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It’s time to reset,” six scholars write in the introduction of their report. Like the academic medicine association, they also call for bolstering PPE and testing supply chains. Also on their list: “Close higher risk activities and settings in jurisdictions where the epidemic is worsening and reinstitute stay-at-home orders where healthcare systems are in crisis. … Conduct and make public detailed analyses of epidemiologic data collected during case investigations and contact tracing. … Scale up contact tracing and continue to improve performance. … Develop policies and best practices to better protect group institutions.”
The Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidance on reopening schools. Education reporter Valerie Strauss reports that the guidelines sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has pushed for schools to reopen fully, list measures schools should take to safely offer in-person learning, including: Staggering start times for students to keep the number of children low inside classrooms. Keeping kids in cohorts throughout the school day. Enforcing strict handwashing requirements; disinfecting classroom surfaces every day. Ensuring that ventilation systems for classrooms are in good working order. Keeping children and teachers six feet apart in classrooms and during outdoor activities. Barring any activities in which students face each other.
“In the absence of robust and rapid diagnostic testing for schools, the major tools for disease mitigation are personal (social) distancing, mask usage, strict hand hygiene, fomite prevention on surfaces (enhanced cleaning measures), and proper room ventilation,” says the guidance, submitted by Paul Robinson, the chapter’s president.
At least 17 of 21 states flagged as “red zones” in the latest internal report compiled for the White House coronavirus task force are apparently not following recommendations by federal authorities to slow the spread. “The report, which is sent regularly to state officials but is not released to the public, categorizes states as green, yellow or red based on their levels of new cases and rate of tests coming back positive,” Hannah Knowles reports. “A state is designated a red zone if it reports more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people or if more than 10 percent of its virus tests come back positive.”
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chairman of the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent letters on Wednesday to the governors of the red-zone states of Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee urging them to follow the White House task force’s advice, including requiring masks, closing bars and more strictly limiting gatherings. He also demanded states turn over documents and data to his committee. “The White House’s refusal to publicly call for strong public health measures and to ensure nationwide compliance has led to an uneven patchwork of restrictions across states, counties, and cities,” Clyburn wrote in an open letter to Vice President Pence and White House coronavirus task force coordinator Debbie Birx. “This approach is allowing the virus to spread, prolonging and exacerbating the public health crisis facing this country.”
A study released this morning by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calls on governors in neighboring states to coordinate economic reopening plans more closely. The Social Analytics Lab at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy says its researchers used data from mobile phones, social media and the census to conclude that residents are worse off when reopening is not coordinated among states and regions. “When we analyzed the data, we were shocked by the degree to which state policies affected outcomes in other states, sometimes at great distances,” said Sinan Aral, an author of the study, in a statement. “Travel and social influence over digital media make this pandemic much more interdependent than we originally thought. Our results suggest an immediate need for a nationally coordinated policy across states, regions and nations around the world.”
“Florida’s social distancing was most affected by New York implementing a shelter-in-place policy due to social media influence and travel between the states, despite their physical distance,” according to a summary of the study, while “New Hampshire had a strong influence on adjacent Massachusetts, despite being a small state.”