SVP Technology at Fiserv; large scale system architecture/infrastructure, tech geek, reading, learning, hiking, GeoCaching, ham radio, married, kids
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No Rush

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Intro

We often treat our careers like it’s a race. With only a winner. We setup goals where we want to get a degree by a certain age. Get that certification at another age. Get that job at a certain age and we judge our success by if we make more than say 100k per year. Because that’s what we’ve been told.

However, building a successful career in IT is nothing like that.

Stress

I’ve been there myself and felt the stress. I started my university studies when I was 22. I felt old at the time when I was surrounded by people that were 18-19 years old. I know that people where I lived before my university studies had started asking questions of the kind if I wasn’t to become anything. To do something with my life. I needed a few years break from school before going to university studies , and it turns out that was a great decision. I was able to study in a matter I had never done before.

One of the goals I setup in my career was to become a CCIE by 30. I’m not sure why. It just seemed like getting it later would be too late. I ended up getting it at 31, with two small kids, which I think is a pretty great feat but looking back now, the only reason to get it at a certain age, is if you expect your life situation to change. The age itself is not what’s important.

A Career Compared to Athletics

I’m a passionate runner and in something like athletics, there are generally two types of running. There’s the short races like 100m, 200m etc, where the focus is on brute power. You can’t try to win a 100m race by outsmarting Usain Bolt. Then there are longer races like 5000m, 10000m etc. It’s quite possible for a runner with a worse PB to win a race, because there is more strategy involved.

What you need to understand about your career is that it’s a long distance race.

Let’s look at some of the characteristics of racing and how that’s different to your career.

Talent – Becoming the fastest person in the world involves a lot of talent. You need to get lucky in your mix of DNA. Of course, without hard work it doesn’t help, but you’re not going to be the fastest person just by working hard.

I don’t consider myself to be the same raw talent as someone like Petr Lapukhov, Nick Russo, Luke Bibby etc, but I’ve still been able to have a lot of success by playing to my strengths.

Time Span – In athletics, you have a rather short period of time where you can compete to be the best. It takes time to get enough training in to compete with the best, and then there is the matter of where you have your physical peak according to age. That means that you have a realistic chance of winning somewhere around the age of 20 – 35.

Your career has a long time span. There is time!

You are not retiring at 35. Or if you are, congratulations! Most of use are in this until the age of 65-70, though. That means that you probably have around a good 40 years of working. There’s time to get a degree. There’s time to get that cert. There’s time to get that job that you want. Even if you got into IT at a later stage, focus on building the best version of you and don’t compare yourself to others.

Finish line – In a real race, there’s a finish line. A race only takes part for a very short period of time, even for the longer races.

In real life, there is no finish line. Or it’s one that keeps moving. You will have different goals at different stages of your life, and there is no finish line. There is no time limit on how long you are racing for.

Winning – In a race there is only one winner. In your career, there are multiple winners. There’s no limit on how many winners there can be. Someone wants to be in networking. Another person wants to be in security. Someone wants to be an Engineer and another person wants to be an Architect. There are so many different types of jobs and roles and we are not all gunning for the same spot.

If you are happy where you are, you are winning.

Winning is not only about being the best. It’s about enjoying what you do, making friends, having a life that has balance. Balance is however a relative concept. Some people want more family time, some people focus mainly on their work, and that’s fine too. The point is that there is no strict definition of who the winner is.

Distance – We often treat our careers like it’s a sprint. While in reality it’s more like a marathon, or even an ultra marathon. You can’t go into a marathon and pushing it everything you have for the first kilometer, the rest of the race will be very painful then.

Focus on maintaining a sustainable pace.

There will be times in you career where you do a lot of work or study really hard, but you want to stay within your limits. Pushing too hard, you won’t make it all the way, or you’ll have to take a break to be able to come back.

Strategy – Once again, we tend to treat our career as a short race, also from a strategy perspective. We are trying to be faster only by brute force.

In longer races, it’s about strategy and playing to your strengths.

If my strength is that I have a really good finish, then my strategy would be to have a slow race so that I have enough energy for a good finish. I could try to achieve that by taking the lead and slowing down the pace. On the other hand, if my PB is among the best but I have a slow finish, I need to try to get rid of the competition before the final lap.

You need to assess what your strengths and weaknesses are and take them into consideration in your career.

If you can play to your strengths, and use a strategy where your weaknesses are not constraining you, you will be more successful.

Summary

Your career is not a sprint. It’s a marathon! You have plenty of time to achieve the goals that you want to. You are in this for the long run and need to build something that is sustainable. Use a strategy that plays to your strengths. Realize that there can be multiple winners and that you are a winner if you are happy with what you do.

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JayM
4 hours ago
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Atlanta, GA
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The US now seems to be pinning all of its hopes on COVID-19 therapies and vaccines

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Almost eight months after the White House first announced it would move from containment to mitigation efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Administration is now pinning its hopes on vaccines to inoculate the population and therapies to treat the disease.

Months after announcing it would be working with technology giants Apple and Google on a contact tracing app (and nearly two months after Google and Apple rolled out their exposure notification features) and initiating wide spread testing efforts nationwide with the largest national pharmacies (which never received the coordinated support it needed),  the Administration appears to be giving up on a national effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that the US is “not going to control the pandemic… We are gonna control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation.”

The admission is a final nail in the coffin for a federal response that could have involved a return to lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus, or national testing and contact tracing and other mitigation measures. Meadows statement comes as the US experiences a second peak in infection rates. There are now over 8.1 million cases and over 220,000 deaths since the first confirmed infection on US soil on January 20. 

Now, the focus is all on the vaccines, therapies and treatments being developed by large pharma companies and startups alike that are making their way through the approval processes of regulatory agencies around the world.

The vaccines in phase three clinical trials

There are currently 12 vaccines in large scale, late-stage clinical trials around the world, including ones from American companies Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Therapeutics, and Pfizer who are recruiting tens of thousands of people in the US and UK to volunteer for testing.

In China, the state run pharmaceutical company Sinopharm has filed its application to China’s regulatory commission for the approval of a vaccine and hundreds of thousands of civilians have already been vaccinated under emergency use approvals from the Chinese government, according to a report in the New Yorker. Meanwhile the privately held Chinese pharmaceutical company, Sinovac, is moving forward with phase three trials for its own vaccine in Brazil, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Another private Chinese company, CanSino Biologics developed a vaccine that was already being distributed to members of the Chinese military in late July,

A collaboration in the U.K. between the University of Oxford and European pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is also recruiting volunteers in Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, the US and South Africa. And, in Australia, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is trying to see whether a vaccine used to prevent tuberculosis could be used to vaccinate against the coronavirus.

Finally in Russia, the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in partnership with the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund have claimed to have developed a vaccine that the country has registered as the first one on the market cleared for widespread use. Russia has not published any data from the clinical trials it claims to have conducted to prove the efficacy of the vaccine and the World Health Organization still considers the treatment to be in the first phase of development.

Therapies in phase three clinical trials

If vaccines can prevent against infection, a slew of companies are also working on ways to limit the severity of the disease should someone become infected with Sars-Cov-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The Milken Institute lists 41 different therapies that have made it through to phase three of their clinical trials (the last phase before approval for widespread delivery).

These therapies come in one of five primary categories: antibody therapies, antivirals, cell-based therapies, RNA-based treatments, and repurposing existing treatments that may be in pharmaceutical purgatory.

Antibody therapies use the body’s natural defense systems either taken from the blood of people who have recovered from an infection or manufactured in a lab to neutralize the spread of a virus or bacteria. Antivirals, by contrast, stop a virus from spreading by attacking the viruses’ ability to replicate. Cell-based therapies are designed to boost the immune system’s ability to fight pathogens like viruses or bacteria. Meanwhile RNA-based treatments are another method to stop the virus from replicating by blocking the construction of viral proteins. Finally, several companies are mining their libraries of old drug compounds to see if any might be candidates for COVID-19 treatments.

So far, only three therapeutics have been approved to treat COVID-19. In the U.K. and Japan dexamethasone has received approvals, while favilavir is being used in China, Italy and Russia; and — famously thanks to its use by the President — remdesivir has been approved in the United States, Japan and Australia.

The US is also using convalescent plasma to treat hospitalized patients under emergency use authorizations. And special cases, like the President’s, have had access to other experimental treatments like Regeneron’s cell therapy under emergency use authorizations.

And there are several US-based startups developing potential COVID-19 therapies in each of these areas.

Adaptive Biotechnologies, Cytovia Therapeutics, and SAB Biotherapeutics are all developing antibody treatments. Applied Therapeutics is using an understanding of existing compounds to develop treatments for specific conditions associated with COVID-19. Cellularity has a cell-therapy that could reduce a patient’s viral load by stimulating so-called natural killer cells to attack infected cells. Humanigen has developed a new drug that could reduce fatalities in high-risk COVID-19 patients with severe pneumonia. Meanwhile Partner Therapeutics is working on a drug that could improve lung function in COVID-19 patients — and potentially boost antibody production against the virus and restore damaged lung cells. Finally, Sarepta Therapeutics has been working with the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to find ways for its RNA-based treatment to stop the spread of coronaviruses by attacking the ability for the virus to replicate.

Beyond therapies, startups are finding other ways to play a role in helping the nation address the COVID-19 epidemic.

“At this point the U.S. doesn’t have the best public health system, but at the same time we have best-in-class private companies who can sometimes operate a lot more efficiently than governments can,” Carbon Health chief executive Eran Bali told the audience at TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2020 conference. “We also just recently launched a program to help COVID-positive patients get back to health quickly, a rehabilitation program. Because as you know even if you survive it doesn’t mean your body was not affected, there are permanent effects.”

Indeed the drive for more effective at-home tests and remote treatments for consumers are arguably more important when the federal government refuses to make the prevention of viral spread a priority, because consumers may voluntarily lock down if the government won’t.

“This is an opportunity to take a technology that naturally is all about detecting viruses — that’s what CRISPR does in [its native environment] bacteria — and repurposing it to use it as a rapid diagnostic for coronavirus,” said the Nobel Prize-winning co-inventor of some foundational CRISPR gene-editing technology, Jennifer Doudna. “We’re finding in the laboratory that that means that you can get a signal faster, and you can also get a signal that is more directly correlated to the level of the virus.”

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JayM
12 hours ago
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Atlanta, GA
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New Report on Police Decryption Capabilities

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There is a new report on police decryption capabilities: specifically, mobile device forensic tools (MDFTs). Short summary: it’s not just the FBI that can do it.

This report documents the widespread adoption of MDFTs by law enforcement in the United States. Based on 110 public records requests to state and local law enforcement agencies across the country, our research documents more than 2,000 agencies that have purchased these tools, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We found that state and local law enforcement agencies have performed hundreds of thousands of cellphone extractions since 2015, often without a warrant. To our knowledge, this is the first time that such records have been widely disclosed.

Lots of details in the report. And in this news article:

At least 49 of the 50 largest U.S. police departments have the tools, according to the records, as do the police and sheriffs in small towns and counties across the country, including Buckeye, Ariz.; Shaker Heights, Ohio; and Walla Walla, Wash. And local law enforcement agencies that don’t have such tools can often send a locked phone to a state or federal crime lab that does.

[…]

The tools mostly come from Grayshift, an Atlanta company co-founded by a former Apple engineer, and Cellebrite, an Israeli unit of Japan’s Sun Corporation. Their flagship tools cost roughly $9,000 to $18,000, plus $3,500 to $15,000 in annual licensing fees, according to invoices obtained by Upturn.

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JayM
2 days ago
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Atlanta, GA
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NASA's first attempt to sample an asteroid in space made a mess. It's the best mess ever, scientists say.

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A NASA spacecraft has really made a mess of things on the asteroid Bennu, and scientists are thrilled.

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JayM
3 days ago
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Cool
Atlanta, GA
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Halide Mark II is a redesigned Raw camera app for iPhones with over 40 new and improved features

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Lux Optics, the company behind the popular iOS camera app Halide, has announced the release of Halide Mark II, a second-generation camera app for iOS that’s the culmination of more than 18 months of work.

Halide Mark II is an entirely new app with a revamped interface designed from the ground up to make a more a user experience that is simple to use, but rich in professional-level features for those who want to get the most out of their iPhone photography.

Halide Mark II has the same exposure control and focus gestures as before, but has further refined the experience with additional interface elements. Now, when manually adjusting focus, a new Focus Loupe will appear in the center of the screen that zooms in to help ensure you get focus just where you want it. When you let go, the Focus Loupe will disappear and show the usual overlay so you can compose your shot.

The manual exposure controls, including ISO and shutter speed, have also been moved and are now accessible with a quick swipe from the right-hand side of the screen. The app keeps its interface minimal, but when tapping on an icon, a text description of the tool or setting you’re adjusting, as you can see in the below GIF:

With Halide 1.0, you were given the option to see both Color and Luminance histograms to ensure you achieved just the right exposure. Well, as with most things in Halide Mark II, both of these have been updated with option to make the overlays smaller on the screen. Also new is the ‘Color Zebras’ feature, which breaks down three separate color channels — red, blue and green — into individual waveforms with zebra stripes that will appear if certain colors are clipped in either the highlights or the shadows. This ensures that no matter what color the scene you’re composing is, you can ensure you’re not clipping the highlights or shadows for any three of these channels.

If you’re using the histogram, waveform or zebra tools while in fully-manual mode, where you adjust the ISO and shutter speed, things get even more powerful thanks to a new feature Lux Optics calls XDR Analysis. Rather than using the post-processed 8-bit data other camera apps do to display the waveform and histogram data, Halide Mark II uses the full 14-bit Raw data, in real time, to calculate the exposure. Although Lux Optics says it has a more in-depth post in the works on the technology behind XDR Analysis, it sums it up like this in its blog post:

’Consider that video of the Golden Gate Bridge from earlier. Your histogram, analyzing 8-bit data, might think the sky is clipped. If you saw that in your zebra stripes, you’d say, “It’s over exposed, I should go down turn things down a bit.” In fact, the cloud are not over exposed in the RAW, and there’s no need to turn down your exposure. By under exposing, you’re now going to lose details in the shadows!’

The redesigned image reviewer now shows more accurate metadata information and allows you to view both the Raw and JPEG/HEIC image with a toggle between the two buttons.

Halide Mark II also features ‘Coverage,’ a new capture mode that takes two photos — one with Smart HDR 2/3 and Deep Fusion, and one in RAW. This gives you the benefit of having a more robust Raw file to work with in an editor as well as an instantly sharable JPEG or HEIC file to share with family and friends. Also new is ‘Instant Raw,’ a feature within Halide Mark II’s image reviewer that uses a 17-step process powered by onboard machine learning to instantly create a sharable image from an iPhone Raw file.

If all of these new features, settings and modes seem confusing, don’t worry. To complement the new app is a built-in 10-day course that will not only show off the features of Halide Mark II, but also teach a number of photography concepts along the way through examples.

As Lux Optics explains at the conclusion of its introduction blog post, it’s decided to make Halide Mark II an entirely separate app from Halide 1.0; one that’s free-to-download with a one-week trial and two options for continuing to use the app after the one-week trial is up.

After spending time talking with current users of Halide, as well as beta testers of Halide Mark II, the Lux Optics team decided to offer both a one-time purchase option in addition to an annual subscription option, both prices of which were based on the suggestions of users. A one-time purchase, which will include all future updates and features, costs $30 at launch and will go up to $36 after the introductory offer. Subscriptions will start at $12/year with a limited $10/year introductory offer that will lock you in at $10 for the life of the app.

Users who have already purchased Halide 1.0 will get Halide Mark II for free and have a year’s membership comped to their account.

You can download Halide Mark II in the iOS App Store and find out more information on the Halide website. For a full run-down of all the new features and updates, check out Lux Optics’ thorough introduction blog post.

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JayM
3 days ago
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Neat.
Atlanta, GA
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How to fix distortion in AirPods and AirPods Pro

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If one of your AirPods has gained an unpleasant humming distortion, there are steps you can take to fix it before you call Apple.
Distortion can affect both AirPods Pro (left) and regular AirPods (right)Distortion can affect both AirPods Pro (left) and regular AirPods (right)
It may start with phone call audio sounding a little echoey, or just in some way not quite right. Over time, it can extend to meaning one of your AirPods, or AirPods Pro, is actually unpleasant to wear.

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JayM
4 days ago
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Useful
Atlanta, GA
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