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Linux Foundation readies Global COVID Certificate Network

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When the coronavirus vaccines first started arriving many assumed that most people would get a vaccine. But thanks to a shortage of supply in many countries, misinformation, and paranoia, even in the United States, only just over half of the population has been vaccinated. Easily imitated paper vaccinated certificates are almost useless for proving vaccination status. So, there’s been lots of talk, but not much action, on a reliable, easily accessible vaccination record, aka a vaccination passport. Until now. The Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPN) is getting the Global COVID Certificate Network (GCCN) ready for deployment.

There are many needs for a secure vaccination record. For example, some states, such as Texas, want to forbid employers from firing potentially unvaccinated employees. However, employers usually have the right to discharge employees who deliberately put the lives of their coworkers and customers in jeopardy. 

The GCCN isn’t designed for that purpose. Instead, it really is a coronavirus vaccine passport. It will do this by establishing a global trust registry network. This will enable interoperable and trustworthy exchanges of COVID certificates among countries for safe reopening and provide related technology and guidance for implementation. 

It’s being built by the Linux Foundation Public Health and its allies, Affinidi, AOKPass, Blockchain Labs, Evernym, IBM, Indicio.Tech, LACChain, Lumedic, Proof Market, and ThoughtWorks. These companies have already implemented COVID certificate or pass systems for governments and industries. 

Together they will define and implement GCCN. This, it’s hoped, will be the model for a true international vaccine registry. The United Nations and the European Union are considering deploying for this very purpose. Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of its Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel said: 

We are interested to learn about how LFPH is taking bold steps in creating the Global COVID Certificate Network in order to facilitate trust-building and interoperability for safe borders reopening. …  I look forward to the next steps of the LFPH that could provide us with more ideas and insights on strategies that enhance the use of a certificate in a safe way, and also to provide further technical options for the EU that could be adopted and could help and enable our system to work in a harmonized way. As soon as we achieve that, then we could immediately share the methodology to connect with the rest of the world and move to the new normal of our post-COVID digital era.

Indeed the LFPH is being built in part to be compatible with the EU Digital COVID Certificate (formerly the Digital Green Certificate). The lack of a global trust architecture and ready-to-deploy tools to build compatible systems in other countries is a real barrier for safely reopening borders between EU and non-EU countries. 

The LFPH is also following the Good Health Pass Collaborative (GHPC)’s Interoperability Blueprint. This is an industry coalition that has defined COVID certificates principles and standards. The LFPH helped draft the Interoperability Blueprint.

This will use, along with other open technologies, the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative (CCI) and the Trust over IP Foundation (ToIP). These are both Linux Foundation projects. CCI has been working with public health departments globally to understand their specific needs for verifiable vaccine credentials. ToIP is defining a complete architecture for internet-scale digital trust. This combines cryptographic trust at the machine layer and human trust at the business, legal and social layers.

Once completed, the GCCN’s trust registry network will enable each country to publish a list of the authorized issuers of COVID certificates that can be digitally verified by authorities in other countries. This will bridge the gap between technical specifications (e.g. W3C Verifiable Credentials or SMART Health Card) and a complete trust architecture required for safe reopening. 

This is vital because as Brian Behlendorf, the Linux Foundation’s General Manager for Blockchain, Healthcare, and Identity explained, “The first wave of apps for proving one’s COVID status did not allow that proof to be shown beyond a single state or nation, did not avoid vendor lock-in and did not distinguish between rich health data and simple passes. The Blueprint gives this industry a way to solve those issues while meeting a high bar for privacy and integrity, and GCCN turns those plans into action.” 

Once in place, the GCCN will support Global COVID Certificates (GCC). These certificates will have three use cases: Vaccination, recovery from infection, and test results. They will be available in both paper and digital formats. Participating governments and industry alliances will decide what COVID certificates they issue and accept. The GCC schema definitions and minimal datasets will follow the recommendations of the Blueprint, as well as GCCN’s technical and governance documents, implementation guide, and open-source reference implementations, which will be developed in collaboration with supporting organizations and the broader LFPH community.

Besides setting the specs and designs, the GCCN community will also offer peer-based implementation and governance guidance to governments and industries to help them implement COVID certificate systems. This will include how to build national and state trust registries and infrastructure. They’ll also provide guidance on how to leverage GCC into their existing coronavirus vaccine systems. 

Why go to so much trouble? That’s easy. As Eric Piscini, IBM Watson Health‘s VP of  Emerging Business Networks said “For health passes to work globally, helping countries to restart economies and reopen borders, they need to be trusted globally. Through the Global COVID Certificate Network, Linux Foundation Public Health is working to address this challenge by bringing together a network of trusted and interoperable Trust Registries, so that the holder of a certificate can use it whenever they need and wherever they are. IBM is excited to collaborate with Linux Foundation Public Health on this important initiative at this critical time in our history.” 

If you want to help with the GCCN, you’ll be more than welcome. You can get in touch with the LFPH via e-mail

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/linux-foundation-readies-global-covid-certificate-network/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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Samsung to supply open RAN and 5G solutions to Vodafone UK

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Samsung said on Monday that is has been selected as a vendor of open RAN, 4G and 5G solutions to Vodafone for the telco’s virtualized RAN (vRAN) deployment in the UK.

The South Korean tech giant will supply its vRAN solutions and open RAN compliant radios such as its massive MIMO for both low-band and mid-band spectrum to the telco. 

This is the first time that Samsung is supplying its network kits to Vodafone, as well as its first to a large European mobile operator for 5G equipment. The company will also be the sole supplier of vRAN solutions. Other vendors for Vodafone’s rollout include Dell, NEC and Wind River.

Samsung said its vRAN solution is software based and runs on commercial off-the-shelf servers that offer features and performance that are level to that of traditional hardware equipment.

The company said the solution is cloud-native and has a container-based architecture that will offer flexible deployment and efficient network management for telcos.

According to Samsung, the vRAN’s architecture also has automation capabilities that simplify end-to-end network management. This will allow operators to quickly meet demands from new and existing services, with minimal impact on deployment, the company said.

“Vodafone is committed to leading the next wave of digital transformation across Europe, ensuring fast and reliable connectivity for all,” Vodafone CTO Johan Wibergh said.

“Open RAN, built on strong partnerships, is key to realizing this ambition. Samsung’s innovative solutions and expertise are part of the foundation that is creating this network of the future.”

Samsung Network president Kyungwhoon Cheun said: “This is a major step forward, as more operators are transitioning into new RAN technologies to prioritize user experience and efficiency.”

Samsung’s network business has been making inroads into major markets in recent years. In March, the company announced that it will be supplying its 5G kits to NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile operator.

In September last year, Samsung said it will be supplying $6.6 billion worth of network equipment to US carrier Verizon.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/samsung-to-supply-open-ran-and-5g-solutions-to-vodafone-uk/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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I tried to get Microsoft to sell me a PC. It didn’t go well

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apple-imac-lineup.png

You don’t have to think. How lovely is that?

I was looking for excitement.

I have a habit of doing this in all the wrong places, but I tried to divert my worse instincts when I heard Apple had a new “Why Mac?” page.

I think I know why I choose to use MacBooks — and why I can barely make my wife’s Dell Latitude do much at all — but I wondered what Apple’s logicians were saying these days. 

I also wondered whether Microsoft, which has caught up in so many ways when it comes to marketing and communications, would now match Apple in selling me a PC.

Why Mac? It’s Simple, Really.

First, I went to the Why Mac? page.

From the very beginning, Apple talks to real humans: “Easy to learn. Astoundingly powerful. And designed to let you work, play, and create in ways you never imagined.”

It’s interesting how after all these years, after all this belief that younger people’s minds and bodies are instinctively tuned to technology, Apple still leads with the ease of learning.

This has always been an enormous part of Apple’s success. You look at any Apple product and you can deduce how it works without resorting to a manual or a screamfest.

Apple continues to walk this simple line. The page speaks of the computer being instantly ready to go. It explains that software updates are free and simply appear.

And then the real core of Apple’s cleverness: “If you already have an iPhone, it feels familiar from the moment you turn it on.”

This is such an underrated truth. The iPhone as a gateway drug which, together with the iPad, is given to children as a modern pacifier.

The minute those kids need a computer, they really don’t have to think when they open a Mac. And really, why should kids have to think when they have far more important things to experience?

The Why Mac? page continues to press the integrative buttons that work for so many. It talks of how the design makes sense “especially if you have an iPhone.”

Then suddenly Apple mentions Microsoft.

It knows you might have heard of it. It knows you might have been persuaded into using its software. So Apple offers: “Take your productivity and creativity further with apps for anything you can imagine. Even use apps from Microsoft 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud without missing a beat.”

Yes, even use apps from Microsoft. The generosity is quite overwhelming.

What follows is a hint about how Cupertino would really like you to use your Mac: “Mac is the perfect companion to your other Apple devices. Read a message on your Apple Watch and reply from your Mac. Start a presentation on your Mac and rehearse it on your iPhone while you’re on the go. Unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch. Or even share entire photo albums with friends from across the room.”

For some, this is a disturbing depiction of a stifling ecosystem. For others, it’s simply relief.

This being Apple, the page’s highlights end with a reminder about privacy. The whole thing, however, is blessedly easy to read and grasp.

The Windows Is All Steamed Up.

How, then, does Microsoft present itself?

I went to the Microsoft site and began to poke around. I found a page entitled: “Find a PC that fits.” Beneath it was these words: “Discover the benefits of a new PC.”

Please, I’d really like to discover those but what came next made me squat in an uncomfortable position for several seconds, tug at my eyebrows and consider eating particles from the floor.

It was this sentence: “When it comes to a PC with an SSD vs. one with an HDD, some things are just better.”

Um, please forgive me but I’d like to buy a PC, not enter my name for Jeopardy. Please, Microsoft, lead me by the hand, hold that hand gently and speak to me in simple words rather than put me on a flight to Inner Acronymia.

The Why Mac? page has a section entitled: “Always intuitive. Never intimidating.”

Microsoft, by contrast, wants to poke you in the eye to see if you’re paying attention and then ask you a calculus question.

Beneath this mindlessly complex inducement were words about PCs being four times faster. Than Macs? No, HDDs. Then there were boasts about downloading Windows updates and files faster and battery life.

I had to scroll further to find any sort of simplicity. Specifically, pictures of different types of laptops. But why would I have even come this far? 

In truth, Microsoft had felt as inviting as a dishcloth sandwich.

Paging The Big Easy.

I wanted to believe I’d stumbled onto the wrong page, so I scrolled around further.

There was a page headlined: “Find your new Windows 10 PC.” It offered five options — Create, Play, Work, Learn, and Just The Basics.

But, I hear you cry, aren’t create, play, work and learn actually the basics? Yes, Redmond is trying to segment you out by purpose, but why be so complicated? There’s rarely just one purpose to own a computer.

I went to the Windows home page, with hope and despair punching each other behind my eyeballs. There, I was greeted with “Learn, create, collaborate.” But what about play?

This complete confusion of vision must drive a neophyte to conjunctive conniptions.

There’s something crushingly ironic about fearing that PCs are more complex and being greeted by pages that reflect exactly that.

Perhaps this was all my fault. Perhaps I just don’t understand how the Microsoftian mind works. Perhaps this is just a language I don’t understand. Like Finnish. Or Jibberish.

I’m still drifting toward stupefied somnolence that Microsoft couldn’t be more enticing than this, that it couldn’t be more focused than this.

After all, the Surface range is extremely attractive. Redmond has spent enormous time and money making it look good and placing it on TV in so many sports, news, and other TV environments.

And I’m sure there are many other PCs with visual flair and grace.

I simply couldn’t find my way to any of them here.

more Technically Incorrect

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/i-tried-to-get-microsoft-to-sell-me-a-pc-it-didnt-go-well/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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Customer experience now the top technology priority, but organizations aren’t quite ready

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These days, everyone dreams of superior customer experience (CX), especially customers. Next in line are business leaders, who have finally started to see the light. Of course, that means the renewed pressure to pump up CX to, yeah, you guessed it — IT managers and professionals. However, getting everyone on the same page to deliver the goods is the hardest part of all.

The challenge was surfaced in a survey of 1,420 IT decision-makers released by RackSpace Technology, which found that focusing on CX implementations helps companies see greater rewards. Organizations that adopt a CX-led focus enjoy 1.6x higher brand awareness, 1.5x more employee satisfaction and nearly double their rates of customer retention, repeat purchases, average order values and customer lifetime value. “The research underscores the impact that modernizing applications to provide better customer experience can have on competitiveness and growth,” the survey’s authors add.

conference-crowd-gaylord-national-convention-center-september-2013-photo-by-joe-mckendrick.jpg
Photo: Joe McKendrick

The rub, of course, is that building better CX systems is the easy part. Half of the IT executives in the survey, 50%, report that it can take weeks to gain consensus before implementing technology changes, such as deploying new applications or launching a transformation project. Another 42% say it takes months. “This lag in consensus building negatively impacts time to market. If teams can’t move agile and fail fast, they’ll be beaten to the punch by competitors who can move through concept, development and release faster,” the researchers report.

Even when people and strategy are aligned, CX technology teams still face technology-related barriers, the survey shows. As is common with adopting new technology, legacy IT (26%), budget (24%), skills gaps (22%) and expertise (18%) rank as top barriers. Cultural issues also weigh heavily in the list as represented by resistance to change (16%), lack of buy-in (16%) and lack of leadership support (13%). 

Emotions dictate technology initiatives, and this survey confirms it. The top barrier reported was the fear of negatively impacting existing customer experience (28%), the survey also finds. “Organizations recognize that technology is needed to improve the customer experience but are still nervous about changing the existing customer experience by implementing new technology,” the survey’s authors state. “Despite the push to innovate and transform, respondents are aware that the learning curves of customer experience improvements can cause friction.”

The good news is that no one is objecting to the employment of tech to improve CX — 52% report little to no resistance to technology changes. Only 23% report resistance. “IT leaders can gather from this that stakeholders are interested in change where there’s a specific business case, such as customer experience, and that interest could translate into less resistance when it’s time to implement programs.”

For IT leaders, the results also confirm that CX is a main strategic priority (48%), ahead of IT security, compliance (45%) and IT strategy (41%), and that technology is the key to driving customer experience. Over half (55%) of survey respondents credit applications with enhancing customer experience. Moreover, almost all organizations surveyed understand the importance of CX, with 94% reporting that some form of user experience initiative is underway within their organization. Only a small percentage (6%) report having no CX strategies or initiatives in place.   

Technology-Related Barriers to CX Development

  • Fear of negatively impacting existing CX     28%
  • Legacy IT systems     26%
  • Limited budget     24%
  • Complexity     23%
  • Lack of staff with the appropriate skill sets     22%
  • Lack of expertise to lead transformation activities     18%
  • Unclear digital transformation strategy     18%
  • Lack of a trusted partner/advisor to work on digital transformation activities     18%

Modern technology initiatives are prevalent, which ultimately is seen in smoother CX delivery. Six out of ten (63%) respondents are using technology to drive automation efficiencies and over half (51%) are using it to drive IoT and cloud native initiatives. Even more directly, technology initiatives focused on real-time data analysis (44%) and customer engagement (30%) are prevalent.  

How Does Technology Drive your Corporate Strategy?

  • Driving corporate strategy     63%
  • Use intelligent automation to drive efficiencies     51%
  • Leverage innovative technologies such as IoT and cloud native applications     46%
  • Greater employee collaboration     44%
  • Real-time data analysis/customer ‘pulse’     40%
  • Simplify decision making     30%

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/business-benefits-of-modernizing-applications-to-improve-customer-experience/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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This app teaches you how to make your iPhone secure

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A big part of making security work is educating users about the importance of it, and how quickly (and usually effortlessly) the bad guys can take advantage of our mistakes.

This is exactly what iVerify does.

Must read: I just found my lost AirTag… you’ll never guess where it went

2021-06-11-16-31-44.jpg

First and foremost, iVerify is a security scanner that makes sure you are making use of the basic security features such as Face/Touch ID, Screen Lock, and are running the latest iOS version. It also runs a device scan that looks for security anomalies and gives you a heads up if something seems out of place.

It can be very hard to spot if an iPhone has been hacked, so having a tool installed that keeps an eye out for the telltale signs of intrusion offers piece of mind.

iVerify is also packed with guides that looks at the many different security features built into iOS, and how you can take advantage of them to secure your iPhone (or iPad).

There’s also a whole raft of other cool stuff, from information on securing your Apple, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter accounts, information on activating DNS over HTTPS, a periodic reboot reminder (a simple way to protect yourself from remote exploits), and even a page that offers the latest security news.

$3 at Apple Store

iVerify is a brilliant app that gets regular updates to keep the information fresh and up-to-date.

iVerify is not free — it costs $2.99 — but it’s truly worth the money if you take security seriously. Even if you know your around iOS well, you’re likely to learn a few new things from going through all the guides contained in this app.

iVerify requires iOS 13.0 or later or iPadOS 13 or later, and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/this-app-teaches-you-how-to-make-your-iphone-secure/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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