OpenSSH to remove SHA-1 as cracking cost drops – Security- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Secure Hash Algorithm 1 cryptographic function, designed by the United States Tempemail Security Agency in 1995 and widely used to this day despite warnings that it can be cracked, will be disabled in the popular OpenSSH toolkit for signing public keys soon.
OpenSSH is a open source implementation of the Secure Shell (SSH) remote access protocol, and SHA-1 is the only remaining public key signature algorithm specified in the original Request for Comment (RFC) documents.
While SHA-1 was shown to be vulnerable to cracking since 2005, it is only recently that the computing power required has become cheap enough to make attacks that allow forging of cryptographic signatures feasible.
“It is now possible to perform chosen-prefix attacks against the SHA-1 hash algorithm for less than USD$50K.”
“For this reason, we will be disabling the “ssh-rsa” public key signature algorithm that depends on SHA-1 by default in a near-future release,” the OpenSSH team wrote in the release notes for versions 8.2, 8.3 and 8.3p1 of the toolkit.
The attack referred to was demonstrated by Gaëtan Leurent and Thomas Peyrin with their “SHA-1 is a Shambles” research published this year.
Leurent and Peyrin noted that the cost of performing chosen-prefix collision attacks on SHA-1 will continue to drop, making the algorithm increasingly insecure to use.
“By renting a GPU [graphics processing unit or video card] cluster online, the entire chosen-prefix collision attack on SHA-1 costed [sic] us about 75k USD,” the research states.
“However, at the time of computation, our implementation was not optimal and we lost some time (because research).
“Besides, computation prices went further down since then, so we estimate that our attack costs today about 45k USD.
“As computation costs continue to decrease rapidly, we evaluate that it should cost less than 10k USD to generate a chosen-prefix collision attack on SHA-1 by 2025.
“As a side note, a classical collision for SHA-1 now costs just about 11k USD,” Leurent and Peyrin wrote.”
While OpenSSH has warned about SHA-1 going away since February this year, it has not specified when exactly this will happen.
All major browser vendors removed support for SHA-1 in 2017.
Leurent and Peyrin suggests developers should remove SHA-1 support in their software and products as soon as possible, and switch to the more secure SHA-256 or SHA-3 algorithms.
OpenSSH advised that servers that use the weak ssh-rsa public key algorithm for host authentication and which don’t make other key types available sholuld be upgraded.
The crypto developers will also enable the UpdateHostKeys features in OpenSSH by default, to allow clients to automatically migrate to better algorithms than SHA-1.
UpdateHostKeys can also be enabled manually in OpenSSH by users.
The removal of SHA-1 support is expected to create problems for connecting to older, unsupported equipment on which the secure shell protocol software cannot be easily upgraded.
SHA-1 was deprecated from the Australian Signals Directorate’s list of approved cryptographic algorithms in 2011 and the US government’s Tempemail Institute of Standards and Technology said it should not be trusted beyond January 2014.
Nevertheless, the Australian Bureau of Statistics decided to support SHA-1 in the bungled 2016 Census, to allow users with older systems complete online forms.

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Coronavirus Could Cost Global Economy $8.8 Trillion | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from Finance Monthly.

The coronavirus pandemic could cost the global economy between $5.8-trillion and $8.8-trillion, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The BBC reports that this is more than double last month’s prediction and equates to 6.4%-9.7% of the world’s economic output. This comes as measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 continue to paralyse economic activity around the world.
Globally, authorities have taken aggressive action to cushion their economies from the outbreak’s impact.

“This new analysis presents a broad picture of the very significant potential economic impact of Covid-19,” the ADB’s chief economist Yasuyuki Sawada says.
“It also highlights the important role policy interventions can play to help mitigate damage to economies,” he adds.
The ADB says that the top end of the range was based on the assumption that curbs to movement and businesses operating would last six months, while the bottom end assumed the restrictions would remain in place for three months.
Central banks across the globe have moved rapidly to cut interest rates and roll out massive stimulus measures to help combat the economic impact of the outbreak that has rocked financial markets and raised fears of a deep global recession.
Yesterday, new figures showed the huge impact of COVID-19 on the world’s biggest economy as the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped by almost 3-million last week. Nearly one-quarter of the US workforce is currently claiming some form of benefits.
Earlier this week the chairman of the US Federal Reserve warned that America’s economic recovery is likely to be slower than initially hoped. Jerome Powell cautioned that the US faces a slow and painful economic recovery without more government relief.
In South Africa, the lockdown has dealt a body blow to an already weak economy, with estimates that it will contract more than 5% this year. SA Treasury’s worst-case scenario projects a 16.1% contraction and 7-million job losses.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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Vodacom is Offering 5G – Here’s What it will Cost You | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Vodacom has switched on its 5G mobile network in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town, after being assigned temporary spectrum by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA).
ICASA had allowed Vodacom and other telecoms emergency access to high-demand radio frequencies last month, which included frequency allocations that operators have been desperately asking for in order to roll out 5G.
What is 5G?
The next evolution of LTE, specifically the upgraded version of 4G. 5G promises to outperform its predecessors with download speeds up to 10 times faster than what South Africans currently have to stream videos and run online meetings over their mobile phones.

Business Insider writes that given enough spectrum, Vodacom suggests it will work at average speeds of 150Mbps to 200Mbps, and peak speeds will reach above 1Gbps. A full HD film will download in around 3 minutes (compared to over 15 minutes on 4G).
The Vodacom network will support both mobile and fixed wireless services and is currently available on twenty-live 5G sites, 18 of which are in Gauteng and 2 in Cape Town.
How much will 5G cost?
Customers at Vodacom can sign up for a 5G fixed internet plan, starting at $48,78 (R899) a month for 100GB anytime data and 100GB, of what the company calls “Night Owl” data, (between midnight and 05:00). This package also includes a Nokia router.
The most expensive plan costs $97,82 (R1,799) a month for 400GB anytime and 400GB “night owl” data, with a Huawei router.
For now, mobile users can get Vodacom’s 5G service if they have an LG V50 ThinQ, which will cost R13,499, or R699 a month over 24 months. Around $700, and $38, respectively.
Vodacom believes that its deployment of 5G will help Vodacom manage the 40% increase in mobile network traffic and the 250% increased in fixed traffic experienced during the COVID-19 Lockdown in South Africa.
The allocation of temporary spectrum by ICASA has already mitigated the network congestion experienced since the start of the lockdown period, says Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub.
Last year, the newbie service producer Rain became the first to launch 5G in South Africa.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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Cost optimization and employee well-being will be the top agenda for Global Capability Centers in the next 9-12 months: EY survey- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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As Global Capability Centers (GCCs) continue to successfully navigate the COVID-19 crisis while putting their business resilience to test, cost optimization and employee well-being emerged as the top agenda for GCCs in the next 9-12 months, according to EY’s latest survey. Over 60% of the GCCs surveyed believe that employees who can work remotely without any visible impact on day-to-day operations, will continue to do so for the next 4 – 6 months. Presently, amidst the lockdown, more than 95% of GCC employees are working from home.
The survey incorporates first-hand perspective of over 100 GCC leaders in India, keeping three time- horizons in mind, the ‘Now’, ‘Next’ and ‘Beyond’ phase. The survey, conducted as part of the EY GCC Leadership Forum, includes interaction with GCC leaders across sectors including technology, media & entertainment, telecom, banking, insurance and financial services.
Arindam Sen, Partner, Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecommunications (TMT) GCCs Leader, EY India said, “So far GCCs have done an extraordinary job of successfully tackling the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis and continue to run operations with minimal or no impact to their overall commitments. As GCCs shift across three horizons, the ‘Now’, ‘Next’ and ‘Beyond’ phases, it becomes critical for the GCC leaders to plan for contingencies, understand the risks and incorporate regulatory changes into their overall strategy. The efforts made by the Indian government have been commendable, issuing key notifications and exemptions, thereby, helping to minimize the disruption of services.”
K S Viswanathan, Vice-President, Industry Initiatives, NASSCOM said, “Global Capability Centre’s play an integral role in India’s IT-BPM industry today. Their services expand across verticals touching upon accounting, design, reporting, banking and insurance and of course digital transformation and technology support. GCC’s in India alone employ over 1 million professionals and support over 50 countries in various time zones. It has been commendable to witness the support they have provided to their parent enterprises during this global lockdown while ensuring there is absolute smoothness and continuity in business operations. By inculcating practices around working from home, building security systems, mentoring support and adapting to the dynamic changes in this unprecedented time, I am confident that the industry would increase their trust in this model and GCC’s would play an even larger role in the coming years.”
The ‘now’ phaseAccording to EY survey, all the GCCs had planned various engagement initiatives to keep their employees motivated while working virtually. While some functions saw a decrease in productivity in the initial weeks, as the lockdown progressed and operations stabilized, over 60% of GCCs stated that they are now operating at the same levels of productivity as before, if not more.
Over 40% of the GCC leaders stated that they had already started preparing to telecommute from the end of February 2020. Thousands of laptops were transported to the homes of those employees, who had traditionally operated in a desktop environment; and at least 10% of the GCCs also provided additional equipment such as large monitors and printers. The GCCs that did not have a formal work from home policy instituted one and, in some cases, even included reimbursement of home internet used for work purposes.
The ‘next’ phaseAs per the survey, all GCCs believe that they will not have the entire workforce resuming office at once. At least 10% of GCCs stated that they would only have critical functions operating from the office in the next 2-4 months, while over 60% of the respondents stated that a maximum of one-third of their workforce would be operating from their offices at any given point of time during the same time period.
Subir Mehra, Partner, Financial Services GCCs Leader, EY India said, “Business resilience has become crucial in these challenging times. It provides an opportunity for GCCs to rethink how they can identify, calibrate and manage risks through process optimization, rationalization and innovation. GCCs also need to increasingly focus on digitization, intelligent automation and cyber security. Now with the advent of new ways of working, it requires GCCs to adopt agile working methods and to technologically enable all their employees. Post this pandemic, I envision a much stronger future for GCCs in India.”
The ‘beyond’ phaseGoing forward, over 60% of the GCCs have considered a more formal remote working scenario and have initiated discussions around rationalizing their real estate footprint to accommodate this new model of working, and as a result, reduce overall costs of operations. According to the EY survey, some of the GCCs have also started discussions with their parent corporations on transfer of additional activities to the center, especially given significant cost pressures in several home markets.

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ITI Cuttack develops low cost robots to combat COVID-19- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Joining the fight against Covid-19, the government-run Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Cuttack has developed two low cost robots, which can save health workers from the infectious virus and reduce the need for personal protective equipment.
The cost of each robot is expected to be around Rs 2.5 lakh, ITI-Cuttack principal Hrushikesh Mohanty said.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the institute had constituted an innovation team that developed the robots in its laboratory, in association with SAK Robotics Lab, a start-up, Mohanty told PTI.
One of the two robots is a service robot, named CO-BOT (Corona Combat Robot), which can move on wheels and has a humanoid structure. Its hand-like structures can hold a tray and carry a load upto 20 kg, the principal said.
It can be used in COVID-19 hospitals for carrying food, water and medicines to and from patients. “This will reduce the risks to attendants serving the COVID-19 patients,” he said.
The wireless communication protocols being used to control the robot can be further programmed with navigation and mapping to make them work autonomously in a hospital ward, Mohanty said.
The second one, named NIGA-BOT, is a telepresence robot which can be used for surveillance and teleconsultation by doctors who can interact remotely with patients through live video streaming. This robot is also enabled with a wheeled mobile platform and has an interactive device for video calling.
NIGA-BOT can be used by health workers who have to make several rounds to the patients bed for monitoring their health.
“This will protect the doctors and nurses from contracting the virus during such interactions.
“All these innovations would lead to reduced need for more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and could be a saviour for health workers,” he said.
These are low cost robots developed by the institute to meet the emergent needs following the coronavirus outbreak, Mohanty said.
Once medical professionals spell out their specific requirements, new features will be integrated to the robots, he said.
The office of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also hailed the job done by ITI, Cuttack in collaboraton with SAK Robotics for using their skill to strengthen Odishas fight against COVID-19.
Founder and CEO of SAK Robotics Lab, Sakyasingha Mohapatra said, the start-up has provided the required technology in the joint venture to strengthen the battle against the deadly virus.
“The institute has a dream and desire to use industry automation to impact the lives of ordinary people,” the ITI principal said.

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How hotels can intelligently use IoT to optimise cost to stay competitive- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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By CG Prasad, Hospitality Technology Evangelist
Increasing the revenue is utmost important objective in any business. Hospitality business too have this as prime objective. The organisation always wishes to outperform its previous figures each and every time. Here I would like to discuss hotels and co-living as the segments for this topic though the concept would remain same in other segments of hospitality.The important criteria remains increasing revenue since the inception of business and there are many ways to achieve the same.
The organisations take various measures to increase the top line of the hotels, lodges and co-living spaces. Those measures include reducing Room Tariffs to competitive level, providing more cashbacks to the customers/guest, removing all the cancellation charges, providing loyalty points etc.. The lists are unending. These measures are the ones that strikes into any revenue manager when the Management ask them to increase the top line figures. Interestingly these measures does not vary much in each organisations, though the figures and percentages differ.
If one has to excel in this race, he/she has to think and act differently. The same applies in the case of businesses as well. It is also proven that successful businesses are those who thought differently and executed differently. For example, Apple, DELL, Microsoft etc.. Those who bring the new concept/ideas will also get the first movers advantage in the space.
In this time of Corona-Covid -19 pandemic crisis, it’s sacrosanct for the hotels and Co-living owners to sustain/improve their top line to stay in business. These lodging houses can keep reducing the tariffs to enthuse their guest but most of the time these are done either at break-even price or at loss. But still the revenue managers are given green signal to this approach as this will keep the business alive. In a crisis situation, increase in sales is not phenomenal for any entity as the consumption of services remains always low at whatever promotion/discount level.
The best way to optimise revenue is to think differently and employ measures those are very much inherent to one entity. The keyword is instead of reducing the tariffs to attract the customers, try to reduce the bottom-line and keep the tariffs at market levels. This will not only help to increase the profits but to stay competitive as per the market standards. Practice of reduction of bottom-line is not the same in each and every establishment. It differs the way the entity is built and operating. The bottom-line for the lodging business are into two types namely fixed cost and variable cost.
Fixed cost is the cost that the business has to bear irrespective of the volume of sale/business performed. It is the cost which has to be spent to stay alive in the market even if there is no sales figures. Variable cost is the cost that varies as per the business/sale activity. The variable cost is proportional to the sales. In other words the more the sales more the variable cost, and vice versa.
So the right approach is to identify the variable cost that can be brought to the minimum without affecting the guest experience and thereby increase the profitability. Few of those are identified below for the hospitality leaders to look at include:
Electricity, HVAC, Water, Services and Electricity
As per the 2015 edition of Trends in the Hotel Industry electricity is the largest utility expense comprising 60% of total expenditures.( Trends® in the Hotel Industry is the annual survey of U.S. hotel operating statements conducted by PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR), a CBRE Company). So to controlling spends on Electricity, will have huge impact on the profitability on the business.
The measures mentioned here cannot be implemented at old buildings or properties, since some measures are mostly dependent on the way the electric installation is done. The quick fix for all establishment to save electricity cost is to deploy LED lightings in the whole building (It is proved that LED lighting save almost 75% of energy cost). Another one would be to use motion sensors at rooms and public areas so that the lights are switched on only when its required. These measures can be implemented in all types of buildings.
The approach is to encourage the guest to use electricity as per their requirement and charge them accordingly. This will help to optimise the usage of power without compromising the guest experience. But to achieve this the electric installations has to be deployed in such way that it can be measured/tracked at the minute level (for example at the level of charging each guest. In other words the consumption of electricity should be tracked at the room level using individual room energy meters.
Should this be required, either the electric wiring has to be done accordingly during the time of construction or modify the same for existing building with a cost involved. Once this is achieved using IoT (Internet Of Things) enabled devices and measures, the reading can be shared to individual guests and encourage them to use the power as per requirement. It will be interesting to the guest to have their electricity consumption cost displayed on their mobile app and realise the usage of power.
Once the guest realise that they will be charged only for what has been consumed, obviously there will be a tendency to have optimal consumption and which will reduce the overall spend on the room tariff from guest, hence reduction of room tariff. As establishment doesn’t gain anything from the low electricity bill but definitely from the low room rate without affecting the variable cost!! It provides the business a competitive edge on pricing.
HVACHVAC is the short form of ‘Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning’. This is the other cost that affects the bottom-line of industry. In the situation of erratic weather conditions, HVAC cost are spiralling high each year.
The immediate solution to control the cost for HVAC is to replace all aging/old HVAC components with more energy efficient ones. For example instead of using window ACs use split ACs with inverter technologies. Use solar powered intelligent boilers for heating requirement. Use the heat from water circulated from AC chillers for water heating etc..During the stage of construction, if the HVAC installations are done in modular way to track each usage at consumption level the same can be capture using IOT devices and helps to price the services at optimal manner.
This will help the guest not to waste the HVAC and not to leave it on when not in use. As mentioned in the case of electricity, if guest pays only for what they use in turn it helps the organisation to price the product competitively and maximise the profit.
WaterThe cost of water is almost 10% of the utility bills for the hotels. Though water is getting scarce in our planet, people still uses it with least care. At commercial lodging establishment the wastage is highest. There are still hotels with luxurious bath tubs in hotels where people waste water at their own whims and fancies.
The easier way to limit the water usage or reduce the wastage is to educate the guest on not to use bathtubs, or replace bathtubs with shower cubicles.
At the construction stage of hotels, if the plumbing works are done in such a way to track and measure the consumption of water at the usage level (each Room) and using the right IOT devices the same can be shared with Guest. This helps the guest to understand how much they consume and what are they expected to pay for the usage. When the guest realises they are expected to pay only for what is been used, obviously the wastage of water will reduce and guest will get the cost benefit during the stay.
ServicesServices at hotels and Co-living includes the housekeeping services especially for rooms, linen/supplies usage. When guest requests for additional cleaning of rooms, the management requires to provision additional housekeeping manpower for the same. This would end up more operational cost and thereby increase in cost per room rate.
By the use of intelligent method of ‘Pay per you Use method’, the guest can request for housekeeping only when it’s required. When Guest knows they are being charged only for what they use, obviously they will ensure to use the services only when it requires. This will keep the cost low for the guest and by using modern AI and ML(Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) techniques Management can optimise the staffing requirements.
As mentioned above, if each of the above consumption can be tracked and measured and charged to the guest based on usage, in turn the guest and the management will be benefitted.
Nowadays the concept of Co-living is getting popular and many a players are building co-work establishment across the country. This is the right time to deploy proper measures during the conception stage so that the benefits of cost saving can be reaped by both the owners and user of the facility.  The benefit of defining the tariff based on consumption will help the guest to control the cost by limiting their use and truly implementing the concept of ‘Customer is King’.
Following are the component which can be charged to guest on a ‘Pay per Use’ model and get a competitiveness on pricing.
ElectricityWaterHVACLinenHousekeeping of RoomBathroom suppliesSubscription of TV contentWi-Fi
— The author, C G Prasad is a Hospitality Technology evangelist with over 20 years of experience in Technology Infrastructure, Security and Business Systems in multiple domains ranging from Hospitality, Co-Working/Living, Travel and Consulting

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Smartphones could help us track the coronavirus – but at what cost? | John Naughton | Opinion – Blog – 10 minute

As we confront the pandemic, we’re flying blind, like pilots in 1930s aeroplanes flying through fog. That, at any rate, is what I take away from reading John Ioannidis, a Stanford professor who is an expert in epidemiology, population health, biomedical data science and statistics. Covid-19, he writes, in a startling article, “has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic. But it may also be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco. At a time when everyone needs better information, from disease modellers and governments to people quarantined or just social distancing, we lack reliable evidence on how many people have been infected with Sars-CoV-2 [the official name for the virus] or who continue to become infected”.
Draconian countermeasures are being implemented all over the place. If the pandemic dissipates – for whatever reason – such extreme short-term measures may be bearable. But what if the thing just keeps going? And how can policymakers know they’re doing more good than harm?
A key principle of control engineering is that you have to be able to measure the variable you’re trying to control. In the case of Covid-19, we currently have no way of accurately measuring how we’re doing, because we’re not able to do enough testing of the population. Dammit, we’re still not even testing frontline medical staff.
I know, I know: this is hard; this thing came out of the blue; we can’t just magic up the resources needed to do extensive public testing out of thin air; etc. But at the same time, every sentient being in the government must know by now that we must find some way of measuring the thing we’re trying to control. How else will we know – other than by counting the number of desperate cases who show up needing intensive care – whether that curve is being flattened or not?
We need a magic bullet. And, miraculously, we seem to have one. It’s called a smartphone. Almost everybody has one nowadays. And – as security agencies, internet companies and mobile network owners know – these devices track your every movement, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They’re a bit like those electronic tags we put on some criminals to make sure they stick to the terms of their parole conditions. Except that the phones are smarter than tags. We can run apps on them that make them serve our public health purposes.
Interestingly, we were doing this in the UK way back in 2011 – in the “FluPhone” project, run by Prof Jon Crowcroft and Dr Eiko Yoneki of the Cambridge Computer Laboratory. They created an app that monitored flu-like symptoms by questioning the phones’ owners and then subsequently logged their physical proximity to other people they met. The pilot study, conducted by volunteers over a few months – which in an odd twist of fate coincided with the outbreak of swine flu – demonstrated convincingly how smartphones can provide data that would otherwise be unavailable to public health authorities.
So, in a way, this approach to monitoring behaviour during an epidemic is old hat, technically speaking. Not surprisingly, the Covid-19 crisis has led people in a number of countries to develop similar tools. In early February, for example, South Korean geeks wrote “Corona 100m”, an app that allows people to see the date a coronavirus patient was confirmed to have the disease, along with that patient’s nationality, gender, age and the places the patient visited. The person using the app can also see how close they are to coronavirus patients. It was launched on 11 February and had a million downloads in the first 17 days.
It looks as though the Chinese authorities have been using similar approaches almost from the outset of the pandemic. And the Israeli government authorised the country’s internal security agency to use mobile phone location data to help combat the virus. According to a New York Times report, the data will be used to retrace the movements of individuals who test positive for the virus, and identify others who should be quarantined. And I bet there are people in 10 Downing Street (and not just Dominic Cummings) who are actively thinking along those lines.
You can now see the quandary heading our way. We have a terrifying emergency on our hands. There’s a technology that could be really useful in providing a real-time measure of the effectiveness (or otherwise) of public policy. But it’s so intrusive that in “normal” times we would be very hesitant to adopt it. Present times are not normal, though, so we will probably adopt it – perhaps sensibly – “just for the duration of the crisis”. And then?
You know the answer because we’ve been here before – with 9/11. That emergency led a panicked US into building the surveillance state that Edward Snowden eventually exposed in 2013. Once a government commits to this stuff, it seems that there’s no going back. Hard choices lie ahead.
What I’m reading
Machine thinkingGlen Weyl and Jaron Lanier have written a striking essay for Wired which neatly ridicules the pretensions of artificial intelligence evangelists.
What goes up…“Don’t feel sorry for the airlines” is the headline and gist of legal scholar Tim Wu’s terrific New York Times article arguing that companies that do share buybacks don’t deserve bailouts.
Pandemics from the past Read Isaac Chotiner’s fascinating – and timely – New Yorker interview with Yale historian Frank M Snowden, who wrote the book on the history of pandemics.

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Coronavirus: the hidden cost of marketers’ lack of commitment- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Faced with so much uncertainty, due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, marketers with more flexible agency relationships may be feeling fortunate in times of crisis. I have shared previously the increased promiscuity of the advertiser/agency relationship. It is no longer a marriage.
But as one commentator on LinkedIn said, “It’s more like a one-night stand”. I personally believe that it is a little harsh. So, I responded to this comment by saying “It is more like a Friend with Benefits. But the advertiser is getting most of the benefit”.
This interaction got me thinking that while advertisers may think that a more casual approach to their agency relationships does provide them with an obvious benefit of not being held to a commitment, the fact is they are overlooking the significant hidden cost of this arrangement.
While we hear stories (and I have first-hand witnesses to this) of agencies clambering over each other to win a new piece of business, the fact is that agencies value commitment from their client, just as clients value commitment from the agency. So, when the agency wins the appointment only to find out that this is not a committed relationship, things can change.
1. Faux commitment
One of the things an agency retainer should buy for an advertiser is a consistent agency team committed to the business. This is why agencies love retainer fees, as guaranteed cashflow and cost recovery for their biggest single expense – salaries. But if the advertiser is paying project fees, how do you create the illusion of a committed team, without the commitment?
Quite simply, you just put a handful of agency people on the client front row. What many clients fail to realise is that the day-to-day agency team is often a fraction of the people working on the account. As long as you have one person to call and familiar faces turn up at every meeting, you feel like the agency is committed. But are they? Depending on your workload, that team could simply be a selection of people already 100% committed to other retained clients, just servicing your business in their overtime.
2. Premium pricing
Procurement teams do a great job of getting a retainer cost down and happily take the reduction as a saving in their report to the CFO. But what about when it comes to project fees? Too often the project fees are based on rate cards of hourly rates. But who is checking the number of hours it takes to do the work? No matter how low the rates negotiated, the fact is it is relatively easy for the agency to increase the proposed number of hours. In the rush to get the project underway (it always appears to be a last-minute thing) who is quibbling over hours, when the rate is so low?
Worse still is the possibility that you are paying for resources that the agency effectively gets free. Think about it. Agencies cannot afford to have people sitting around waiting for your project to land. So, if the agency has their staff retained or committed to other accounts, and the team working on your business or project behind the scenes is doing this as unpaid overtime, then the agency is effectively getting paid for the time that cost them nothing. No wonder agency staff are suffering burn out and fatigue.
3. The B-Team
Unless you are one of those advertisers with the really sexy creative account that everyone in the agency wants to work on, it could be that without commitment to the agency, what you are really getting is the B-Team (as opposed to the A-Team who are working on that client who is willing to make a commitment). There is nothing wrong with the B Team. The junior creative team, the up-and-coming planner, the tech production, who are all looking to make your account the stepping-stone to a better account, better work and more security.
But then how would you know? On a project basis, the importance of consistency or even quality of the work could be moot. In reality, the B-Team could be the C, D or E-Team with a constantly shifting cast of agency resources, freelancers or even unpaid interns. But then if the advertiser is not willing to commit to a scope of work or fees, then how could and why would the agency do the same?
4. Looking to upgrade
While agencies are happy to list the advertisers who pay project-based fees as their clients, it is amazing how often they are also the first to say yes for an opportunity to pitch for a larger or more committed competitor. And why not? Just like the friend with benefits or the one-night stand, if a better suitor is available, why would you not go for it? Loyalty is a two-way street.
Besides, an agency with experience in the category and recent experience with a competitor in that category is highly prized. It could be that they could even upgrade their client without a pitch. And for those advertisers who appoint agencies purely to take them out of the competitive market, project fees may be a cost-effective way of doing this, but it does not buy the agencies’ loyalty.
5. When the going gets tough
Speaking of loyalty, it is interesting how far agencies will go to support their clients in a time of crisis. At the moment, in a time of global crisis, it would be interesting to see how many agencies are bending over backwards to support their clients in any way possible as so many industries are being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The question is, would your one-night stand or your friend with benefits be there for you in a bad-times as well as the good? Or does that type of commitment and loyalty only occur when it is reciprocated and valued by both parties? Much like the traditional marriage vows – in sickness and in health, for better or for worse…
It is in uncertain times like these that we often need friends to support us. But have we invested enough into the relationship in the past for them to reciprocate in a time of need?
Darren Woolley is founder and global chief executive of TrinityP3

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Get IT certified with 14 CompTIA exam prep courses at a fraction of the cost – Blog – 10 minute

Talk to any IT expert about what it takes to break into their field, and they’ll tell you two things: First, certifications are the name of the game when it comes to making your resume more appealing to recruiters, and second, CompTIA certifications are among the best you can get.
CompTIA’s vast catalogue of certifications carry a great deal weight and show recruiters you know your stuff when it comes to networking, cybersecurity, administration, and more IT sub-disciplines. Of course, earning these certifications isn’t exactly a cakewalk—the exams can be tough and especially so if you’re going into them with minimal preparation.
The Complete 2020 CompTIA Certification Training Bundle is a better way to improve your odds of passing the exams with flying colors, and it’s on sale for only $69, more than 95% off its usual price. Here’s a brief summary of what’s covered in the bundle:

CompTIA A+ 220-1001 & 220-1002: A comprehensive look at troubleshooting everything from networking and operating systems to mobile devices and security
CompTIA Network+ N10-007: Network+ is an internationally recognized certification, validating an individual’s fundamental IT networking knowledge and skills
CompTIA Server+ SK0-004: Validates your ability as an IT professional to plan, secure and maintain a variety of server equipment.
CompTIA Security+ SY0-501: Beef up your knowledge on cybersecurity by learning more about Network Security and Risk Management
CompTIA PenTest PT0-001: Teaches you how to pinpoint network vulnerabilities and prevent hacking by learning penetration testing
CompTIA CySA+ (Cyber Security Analyst): Learn how to respond to cybersecurity threats, reinforce concepts for work roles such as Threat Analyst and Vulnerability Assessment Analyst
CompTIA Linux+ XK0-004: Get well-versed in Linux system administration, an important skill set for any IT resume
CompTIA Core Blockchain: Comprehend the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies and how they’re used for a wide variety of applications

Across 14 courses, you’ll learn touchstone IT topics and skills as you prepare for a number of CompTIA exams. From CompTIA’s foundational A+ exams to its more specialized Linux+, Cloud+, and Security+ exams, this training covers a broad selection of content to get you ready for a number of different roles in cybersecurity, administration, cloud infrastructures, and more.
While The Complete 2020 CompTIA Certification Training Bundle usually retails for well over $3,000, TechSpot readers can get it today for only $69, that’s a fraction off the full regular price.
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Missed call? Counting the cost of no-show Mobile World Congress – Networking – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

For an event meant to showcase the power of telecoms, cancelling this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona without a back-up plan has perplexed many in the trillion-dollar sector.
Wednesday’s decision to call off the telecoms industry’s biggest annual gathering over fears of coronavirus, which has yet to reach mainland Spain, has left a hole in marketing budgets and dealt a US$500 million blow to the local economy.
It has also raised questions about whether the four-day event, which drew 110,000 visitors last year, has become too big for its own good, while missing an opportunity to use the very communications technology that it is meant to highlight.
Sony and Nokia said after pulling out of the event that they would hold product launches online instead, while South Korea’s Samsung Electronics showcased a new folding phone at separate event in San Francisco last week.
The crisis began eight days ago when South Korea’s LG Electronics became the first company to scratch, triggering a spate of cancellations.
“The whole idea, that we’ve got to get tens of thousands of people together to meet, goes out of the window,” Mike Rosenberg, an associate professor at the IESE business school in Barcelona, said of the decision to cancel February’s event.
Rosenberg, who specialises in crisis strategy and scenario planning, said that with China still battling the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, the GSMA’s next big conference in Shanghai this summer could also be at risk.
The Chinese province at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak reported a record rise in deaths and thousands more cases on Thursday under a new diagnostic method, raising fresh questions about the scale of the crisis.
Spain has so far only reported two coronavirus cases – one in the Canary Islands off northwest Africa and a second on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.
See you next year?
While major exhibitors can bear the cost, hundreds of smaller companies for whom MWC is the big event on their marketing agenda may think twice about returning, analysts said.
“Now they face the challenge of having to figure out what the best way to salvage something,” Ben Wood, chief of research at consultants CCS Insight, said.
In a show of unity, the GSMA’s leadership held a joint news conference with local leaders on Thursday, vowing to work to stage next year’s edition of the event, which has been held in Barcelona since 2006.
But Director General Mats Granryd faced tough questioning from reporters after conceding that insurance that the GSMA takes out on behalf of exhibitors does not cover an event like the coronavirus outbreak.
“Clearly there is no way you can insure yourself out of a force majeure situation,” Granryd said.
Ramon Fernandez, CFO of French operator Orange, said cancellation was “going to cost us a bit of money, just like it’s going to cost a bit of money to all those who had planned to go.
“We’ll find a way to continue the dialogue,” he added. “A number of those who had planned to go have written us to say: ‘Let’s meet up in Paris since we won’t be able to see each other in Barcelona.’ Agendas are filling up at lightning speed.”
Communicating its decision also tested the GSMA’s public relations machine. Even as cancellations snowballed and talk circulated on Wednesday that a decision to cancel was imminent, the GSMA was still sending out media invitations.
The final blow came when the European telecoms firms that form its core membership pulled out as a bloc, forcing the GSMA to bow to the inevitable.
Granryd told staff in an email he was “deeply saddened”.
“The team working through this crisis have been fact-based, took appropriate measures and communicated both externally and internally in real time.”

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