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A new report from entertainment technology company FunCorp takes a hard look at the dramatic differences the COVID-19 crisis imposed on the enterprise, both good and bad.

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Coping with the new normal—of working from home, physically isolating from colleagues, and maneuvering the necessary technologies dictated by remote work—was not a choice, but a quickly situated necessity, as workers and office leaders struggled to adapt. The entertainment technology company FunCorp’s CIO Denis Litvinov took a deep dive into how the pandemic affected remote work. Many of those who were working from home (WFH), noted the report, were incredulous that the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting telecommuting was still a thing, seven months later.

As the new normal enters its seventh month of social distancing and mask-wearing, it’s unlikely we’ll be returning to the way things were. Indeed, it is beginning to look like this lifestyle and way of working will be around for quite some time. 

Litvinov’s report is a pull-no-punches look at the 10 most critical factors to the remote work forced on many employees in the industry, and breaks it down into the top five advantages and the top five disadvantages.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

FunCorp’s five positives of WFH

  1. Allows for an appropriate work/home balance. Most businesses are conducted in major metropolitan areas, and employees were previously saddled with commutes, exhausting traffic jams, or queues for public transport. WFH, and especially with entire families quarantining together, employees have the opportunity to spend more time with family and home life. Fun Corp’s surveys found employees are less stressed than before the pandemic. Unfortunately, world events have not and don’t contribute to less stress.
  2. Productivity and focus are on the uptick. Even though there are distractions in the home, the report found overall concentration at work has improved. With the reduction of external irritants, stress is reduced and assignments are completed more efficiently, quickly and with Reduced stress levels due to lack of external irritants allow tasks to be performed faster with fewer errors or inaccuracies.
  3. More top talent want to WFH. “You pull from a larger talent pool,” Litvinov’s report said. By expanding geo-targeted employment,  which had been previously possible but not common, it’s now the norm and has drawn talent once uninterested in telecommuting to embracing it, and looking for positions that allowed for WFH and began completing applications for these open positions.
  4. Budget friendly with better cost management. Businesses can redistribute budgets and save on their operating costs. Expenses are now viewed in “a more reasonable and business-oriented way,” while still considering the global economic crisis. Office, equipment, and rental fees can now be translated into helping the current financial situation. 
  5. Wider search range benefits diversity and inclusion. Companies can now recruit talent from cities or even countries they did not have previous access to, because the hires would be working in an office setting. The recruitment process has been opened up to more diversity and inclusion.

FunCorp’s top five drawbacks to WFH

Quarantining. Even though there are tech employees who describe themselves as introverts, it turns out, the report found, they’re not really so introverted. There’s been no greater light shone on this than during quarantine and isolation. Isolation has greatly affected employees’ and leaders’ moods, and water-cooler talk proved essential, even for those who are self-described or perceived as unsociable. 

Not home-office compatible. Not everyone has a perfect space to work remotely, and it can be impossible to figure a way to have an effective and organized work area. They’re not able to set up an arrangement conducive to full concentration, which can directly affect employee efficiency.

No man is an island, at least when it comes to productivity. Autonomy doesn’t work for everyone, not everyone can efficiently self-organize work. 

Productivity fails. WFH can present an average fall in performance. And it does not boil down to a single failure, but rather a set of reasons. Based on an individual’s personality and character they might not make WFH work for them. Notable, those who procrastinate and are easily distracted struggle with productivity. 

Electronic communications can be easily misunderstood. In addition to missing in-person chats and meetings, both formal and informal, many surveyed worried about the necessary digital communication systems, such as email, chat, social media, and text, and the potential for miscommunication.

Litvinov concluded, “In general, we believe that technology companies can quickly move to distributed work without significant loss of quality.”

Despite the toll the coronavirus has had on the US economy, health and social devastation, Litvinov considers these many months of the new normal as “an unprecedented opportunity to run the world’s biggest-ever workplace experiment.” The majority of the global technology workforce, the FunCorp report noted, were unprepared for the February/March rapid switch to remote work settings. 

New companies and startups had distributed teams, generally for cost optimization. However, mature businesses which had a pre-planned and well-structured production process often took a different route than their newer counterparts. A survey from Global Workplace Analytics found 56% of the US tech workforce, or 75 million employees, have a job description perfectly compatible with remote work (or nearly so). 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defined a potential remote job as being work-from-home-compatible, as one that:

  • Had an information component
  • Included individual vs. group work
  • Had clear parameters for evaluation
  • Did not require personal contact with customers
  • Did not require physical work that could only be done on-site

The survey included the following Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categories as compatible:

  • Professional specialty
  • Technical support
  • Administrative support
  • Half of sales jobs (assuming that half were non-retail)

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Big data and DevOps: No longer separate silos, and that’s a good thing

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The pandemic has caused major shifts in the way IT and big data work. Now they may be working together for better outcomes.

Image: iStock/ RRice1981

The world has changed a lot since March 2020, and the coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. While we’ve seen massive changes in technology already, another change happening right now is in big data and its role with DevOps.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the blending of data analytics and DevOps, meaning developers, data scientists, and product managers will need to work more closely together than ever before,” said Bill Detwiler, editor in chief of TechRepublic. 

SEE: TechRepublic Premium editorial calendar: IT policies, checklists, toolkits, and research for download  (TechRepublic Premium)

Detwiler was interviewing managers at Tibco, a leader in big data integration and analytics. They said the coronavirus pandemic had caused organizations to rethink how they were using big data and analytics, generating what appears to be a movement toward merging IT DevOps methodologies with big data analytics.

For IT organizations, this is more than just a story about how the pandemic has altered how companies think about big data and analytics. The emergency of COVID has placed emphasis on getting analytics insights and results to market quickly. This has redefined analytics reporting as mission-critical, and not just as an ancillary tool for how companies operate and strategize.

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The change is also creating revisions in operations and culture for IT. Here are some we’ve seen.

A move from waterfall to DevOps development

Developing, testing, and deploying big data applications is an iterative process. Because the process is iterative (i.e., develop-test-deploy until you get what you want), it doesn’t follow the more linear and assembly line-like development methodology of traditional IT waterfall development, which is a serial sequence of handoffs from development to QA (test) to an implementation staff.

SEE: Are you a big data laggard? Here’s how to catch up (TechRepublic)

A majority of IT departments are still organized around the waterfall development paradigm. There are separate silos within IT for development, testing, and deployment. These functions have to come together with each other and end users in the more collaborative and iterative process of big data application development. To do this, functional silos of expertise have to dissipate. 

Culturally (and perhaps organizationally) this changes the orientation of IT. The culture shift is likely to entail the creation of interdisciplinary functional teams instead of work handoffs from functional silo to functional silo. End users also become active participants on these interdisciplinary teams.

Fewer absolutes for quality

The testing of big data applications becomes more relative and less absolute. This is a tough adjustment for IT because in traditional transaction systems, you either correctly move a data field from one place to another, or you obtain a value based on data and logic that absolutely conforms to what the test script dictates. If you don’t attain absolute conformance, you retest until you do. 

SEE: Big data: How wide should your lens be? It depends on your use (TechRepublic)

Not so much with big data, which could start off with results being only 80% accurate, but with the business deeming them close enough to indicate an actionable trend.

Working in a context where less-than-perfect precision is acceptable is a challenging adjustment for IT pros, who are used to seeing an entire system blow up if a single character in a program or script is miskeyed.

The shift of big data into mission-critical systems

If you’re a transportation company, the ability to track your loads on the road and the health and safety of the cargo that they’re carrying becomes mission-critical. If you’re in the armed forces and you’re using drones on the battlefield to conduct and report reconnaissance in real-time flyovers, the data becomes mission-critical.

SEE: Big data success: Why desktop integration is key (TechRepublic)

This means that organizations must begin to attach the label of mission-critical to big data and analytics applications that formerly were classified as experimental. 

IT culture must shift to support mission-critical big data applications for failover, priority maintenance, and continuous development. This could shift IT personnel from traditional transaction support to big data support, requiring retraining to facilitate the change.

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Natural Active Ingredient Can Kill Actual COVID-19 Virus Within Two Minutes, First In The World

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One of the leading laboratories accredited with U.S. Government agencies has released test results which confirm that Path-Away® – a plant-based active ingredient that contains no chemicals or alcohol – can kill the actual virus that causes COVID-19 within two minutes, the global distributor of Path-Away® announced today.

Natural Active Ingredient Can Kill Actual COVID 19 Virus Within Two

Image credit: Pixabay (Free Pixabay license)

Holista Colltech Limited (ASX: HCT, or Holista), the Malaysian-based global distributor, and Global Infection Control Consultants, LLC (GICC LLC), the developer of Path-Away®, said they believe the tests confirm the active ingredient to be the world’s first totally natural and safe organic disinfectant to meet the U.S. testing standard.

The independent tests of the Path-Away® Anti Pathogenic Aerosol Solution on SARS-CoV-2, the actual virus that causes COVID-19, were undertaken by Microbac Laboratories, Inc. (Microbac) in the United States. With over 50 years’ experience, Microbac is accredited under the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) and Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP).

The Microbac tests were conducted using the direct inoculation method and follow successful tests in an approved laboratory in the United Kingdom (completed in April 2020) of the efficacy of Path-Away® against the feline coronavirus which is a recognised surrogate of SARS-CoV-2. Path-Away® has also proven to be effective against a broad spectrum of microbes including the SARS and the H1N1 viruses.

Listed on the Australia Securities Exchange (ASX), Holista distributes Path-Away® under its own NatShield™ and Protectene™ brands. Apart from a hand sanitiser, Holista and GICC LLC are also co-developing a NatShield™ nasal balm that will include Path-Away®. This balm is expected to be launched before the end of 2020.

The latest test results will significanly accelerate efforts to roll out the M3 System®, also developed by GICC LLC, which can disinfect large buildings by dispensing Path-Away® through heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (“HVAC”) systems to treat harmful pathogens, including airborne viruses.

GICC LLC, based in Bluffton, South Carolina, has recently secured a 36-month contract with the U.S. Government to manufacture and install up to 10 million units of its M3 System® in large buildings. The system measures, monitors and contains airborne (aerosol) viruses, pathogens and other biological contaminants.

Holista and GICC LLC concurrently announced that they will form a 51:49 joint-venture company in Singapore which will have the rights to manufacture the M3 System® outside the United States. Holista is exclusive global distributor of the M3 System® excluding the United States, China and the Gulf states.

Apart from global distribution rights of Path-Away® for use as a sanitiser under the NatShield™ and Protectene™ brands, Holista also has rights to distribute Path-Away® for use in aerosolised disinfection of buildings using a high-pressure fogger.

Dr Arthur V Martin, the president of GICC LLC, commented: “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time a completely natural, all-organic compound has been successfully proven to kill the actual virus causing COVID-19, to 99.9% within two minutes. We are excited because this will allow us to speed up the formal U.S. Government process of listing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “N-List”. EPA expects the products on “List N” to kill SARS-CoV-2 within two minutes. This will also allow for a wider use of this all-natural disinfectant for human use. The findings by Microbac confirm what we have known about the effectiveness of Path-Away® on other coronaviruses. The results are also particularly pleasing in light of recent research that showed that COVID-19 can survive on surfaces far longer than scientists had originally calculated.”

Dr. Roscoe Moore Jr., D.V.M., Ph.D., D.Sc., Former Assistant U.S. Surgeon and member of the Global Virus Network and its International COVID-19 Taskforce, said “There is a big need for natural and human friendly disinfectants that can be used frequently and safely without long term health side effects and while being environmentally safe. The recent tests from Microbac are most welcome as the public is looking for an agent that acts specifically against COVID-19”. Dr Moore also chairs Holista’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr Rajen Manicka, Chief Executive Officer of Holista, commented: “This product will address the significant untapped global market for all-natural disinfectants that are safe to be used on hands and faces. The results from Microbac will give our customers a greater level of confidence that NatShield™ and Protectene™ can be effective on skin, surfaces and as an aerosol, against the highly contagious COVID-19 causing virus. We have fielded enquiries from large organisations which need to disinfect buildings and facilities with sizeable human traffic. We are also preparing a submission to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for approval to label our Natshield™ and Protectene™ range of sanitizing and disinfectant products, as well as to have Natshield approved for aerosol delivery through fogging units and through buildings’ HVAC systems in Australia.”

Information of Path-Away® and Microbac Test Results

How Path-Away® Works

Path-Away® attaches itself to the virus and inhibits its ability to take up amino acids – their basic building block. This forces the viruses to clump together, in the process killing themselves, almost instantly. The compound is environmentally safe with very low toxicity and does not harm humans and pets.

Details of Results of Tests Conducted By Microbac

– Cells containing the SARS-CoV-2 virus were seeded in 24-well plates and 2.0 mL (millilitres) of Path-Away® was added to the (live frozen samples – thawed out) dried virus inoculum and held for the contact time of 2 minutes at 21 degrees C with 53% relative humidity (RH). For the test to be deemed successful, Path-Away® must demonstrate a ≥ 3 Log10 reduction on each test carrier in the presence or absence of cytotoxicity.

– Path-Away® achieved this benchmark in each of the 24 instances (100% success rate). All controls met the criteria for a valid test and Microbac’s conclusions are based on observed data.

– Log Reduction stands for a 10-fold (one decimal) or 90% reduction in numbers of live bacteria. A 3-Log Reduction equates to a 99.9% reduction – greater than 1,000 time reduction in potentially harmful microorganisms.

– Path-Away®, killed 99.9% (≥ 3 Log10) of the COVID-19 causing virus on a hard surface after being exposed to Path-Away®.

– The full test report and process will be featured on the Holista website at https://www.holistaco.com/

Source: ACN Newswire




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Nokia 215 4G, Nokia 225 4G With VoLTE Calling, Wireless FM Radio Launched in India: Price, Specifications

nokia 225 4g image 1603182883105

Nokia 215 4G and Nokia 225 4G feature phones have been launched in India. The new Nokia phones support 4G VoLTE calling and come with wireless FM radio. The feature phones also include dedicated function keys and provide up to 24 days of standby time on a single charge. Nokia 225 4G also features a camera at the back to let users capture and share their memories on the go. Nokia 215 4G and Nokia 225 4G were originally launched in China earlier this month.

Nokia 215 4G, Nokia 225 4G price in India

Nokia 215 4G price in India has been set at Rs. 2,949, while Nokia 225 4G carries a price tag of Rs. 3,499. Nokia 215 4G comes in Black and Cyan Green colour options. In contrast, the Nokia 225 4G is offered in Black, Classic Blue, and Metallic Sand shades. Nokia 215 4G and Nokia 225 4G will be available for purchase through Nokia India online store from Friday, October 23, while offline retailers will start selling the phones from November 6. Nokia 225 4G will also be available through Flipkart from Friday.

Nokia 215 4G, Nokia 225 4G specifications

The dual-SIM (Nano) Nokia 215 4G and Nokia 225 4G share a similar list of specifications. Both run on RTOS based on the Series 30+ operating system and come with a 2.4-inch QVGA display. The phones also include 128MB of onboard storage that is expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB). In terms of connectivity, the Nokia 215 4G and Nokia 225 4G both have 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.0, FM radio, Micro-USB port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phones also come with a pre-installed MP3 player.

Nokia licensee HMD Global has also provided a 1,150mAh removable battery on both Nokia 215 4G and Nokia 225 4G. Speaking of differences, Nokia 225 4G carries a 0.3-megapixel snapper on the back to let you capture photos and videos in VGA resolution. It isn’t provided on Nokia 215 4G.

Nokia 215 4G doesn’t include a rear camera that’s featured on Nokia 225 4G

 

Nokia 215 4G and Nokia 225 4G measures 124.7×51.0x13.7mm. In terms of weight, the Nokia 215 4G is at 90.3 grams, while the Nokia 225 4G weighs 90.1 grams.


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