Archive for the ‘IT’ Category

COVID-19 hospital data is a hot mess after feds take control

July 31st, 2020
Members of the medical staff treat a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on July 28, 2020 in Houston, Texas. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have spiked since Texas reopened, pushing intensive-care units to full capacity and sparking concerns about a surge in fatalities as the virus spreads.

Enlarge / Members of the medical staff treat a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on July 28, 2020 in Houston, Texas. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have spiked since Texas reopened, pushing intensive-care units to full capacity and sparking concerns about a surge in fatalities as the virus spreads. (credit: Getty | Go Nakamura)

As COVID-19 hospitalizations in the US approach the highest levels seen in the pandemic so far, national efforts to track patients and hospital resources remain in shambles after the federal government abruptly seized control of data collection earlier this month.

The Trump administration issued a directive to hospitals and states July 10, instructing them to stop submitting their daily COVID-19 hospital data to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—which has historically handled such public health data—and instead submit it to a new database in the hands of the Department of Health and Human Services. The change was ostensibly made to streamline federal data collection, which is critical for assessing the state of the pandemic and distributing needed resources, such as personal protective equipment and remdesivir, an antiviral drug shown to shorten COVID-19 recovery times.

Watchdogs and public health experts were immediately aghast by the switch to the HHS database, fearing the data would be manipulated for political reasons or hidden from public view all together. However, the real threat so far has been the administrative chaos. The switch took effect July 15, giving hospitals and states just days to adjust to the new data collection and submission process.

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Posted in CDC, COVID-19, data, database, healthcare IT, HHS, hospitalization, Infectious disease, IT, pandemic, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science | Comments (0)

Apple makes another acquisition: IT startup Fleetsmith

June 25th, 2020
The 2020 MacBook Air

Enlarge / The 2020 Retina MacBook Air.

Apple has acquired device-management startup Fleetsmith. The technology and personnel that will join Apple as part of the acquisition could help Apple expand upon device enrollment and introduce better ways to set up new devices like iPads and Macs within organizations.

Fleetsmith's proposition to customers (and Apple) seems perfectly tailored to our times: the company offers a way for organizations to equip remote workers' (or workers otherwise not located in the central office) devices and have those devices automatically registered and set up for enterprise use as soon as they're first turned on. After that, Fleetsmith automatically ensures devices get needed software updates. It also provides IT managers with a dashboard for managing the fleet.

If you've used Jamf, a more widespread competitor, you get the general idea. But Fleetsmith already had a special focus on Apple devices, it has an Apple-like design sensibility, and it was likely a much cheaper option for Apple than Jamf, to boot. Jamf appears to be on a different path, with a $3 billion IPO planned.

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Posted in acquisition, apple, device management, Fleetsmith, IT, startup, Tech | Comments (0)

Ars readers share their stories of coronavirus-related hardware shortages and more

March 11th, 2020
The Lenovo Thinkbook 13 laptop on a wooden table.

Enlarge / Lenovo's Thinkbook 13s laptop. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

A couple of weeks ago, IPC, a trade group that represents electronics companies, surveyed manufacturers to estimate the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the industry. Manufacturers surveyed said their suppliers have warned them they should expect about three weeks of delays on average, but the manufacturers expect things to be even worse than that—about five weeks on average. A select few expect delays longer than nine weeks.

On March 3, Financial Times ran a story claiming that electronics retailers have been informed that they should expect it to take “up to three times as long for PCs and parts to be delivered” as normal. It also notes that small OEMs are at a significant disadvantage when supply is low because large companies like Apple are in a better position to work with the suppliers that are operating most effectively.

But Apple and its ilk are not weathering this storm perfectly, either. Last week, Bloomberg wrote that Apple has told its tech support workers to expect multi-week delays for replacement iPhones at Apple Stores, and some Apple employees “also noticed a shortage of individual parts.” There were also previous reports that an iPad Pro refresh’s launch will be delayed because of the outbreak’s impact on Apple’s supply partners.

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Posted in Biz & IT, coronavirus, COVID-19, IT, Lenovo, Readersource, supply, Tech | Comments (0)

Apple warns staff of product shortages, but IT workers have already seen them

March 5th, 2020
An exterior view of the Apple Store on the Chicago River.

Enlarge / An exterior view of the Apple Store on the Chicago River. (credit: Apple)

Apple has re-opened all of its retail stores in China, business publication Bloomberg reports, but the company also notified its tech support workers that some products and supplies could be in short supply in the immediate future.

The company sent a memo to Genius Bar workers that replacements for damaged iPhones will be slow to arrive, taking two to four weeks in some cases. Apple employees who spoke with Bloomberg "also noticed a shortage of individual parts."

In the meantime, Apple's memo told tech support professionals that they can provide loaner handsets amidst the delays and offer to mail replacements to customers when they become available.

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Posted in apple, Apple Store, Biz & IT, coronavirus, iphone, IT, Mac, SARS-CoV-2, Tech | Comments (0)

IT snafu leads to IBM asking applicants if they are “yellow” or “coloured”

February 27th, 2019
It's a safe bet that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty did not personally review the intern application form.

Enlarge / It's a safe bet that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty did not personally review the intern application form. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

IBM was forced to apologize after drop-down menus on an American recruiting site asked applicants to identify themselves with several racially insensitive terms: "yellow," "mulatto," and "coloured." Unsurprisingly, this sparked outrage on Twitter. A video is available here.

It seems pretty clear what happened here. The form actually had two different menus that asked "Please state your ethnic group"—which is strange on its own. One of the menus asked applicants to choose from options including "White," "Black," "Yellow," "Mulato," and "Not a Brazil National." The other included "Afrian," "Coloured," and "Not a South African National."

The first menu seems to be a clumsy translation of Brazilian racial categories. The Brazilian census uses the Portuguese word "amarelo" (yellow) to describe Brazilians of Asian descent. The census also has an official category for "pardos"—Brazilians of mixed race.

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Posted in IBM, IT, oops, Policy | Comments (0)

Hooray for Sysadmin Day!

July 28th, 2016

It’s the best day in the sysadmin calendar. Buckle up for Sysadmin Day!

Posted in IT, survival kit, sysadmin, sysadmin day | Comments (0)

IT pros, tell us your top security concerns and maybe win some chic swag!

November 6th, 2015

Work in IT? We want to hear from you! Take part in our one-minute (yes, really) security survey and you might win geektastic swag of your choice.

Posted in Featured, infosecurity, IT, Security threats, survey | Comments (0)