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October 2021
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Two Words For A Big Boost

Next time you get an assignment at work, identify its scope and success metrics, then repeat them to your boss, and once you're both on the same page, get confirmation you understand what's required and when its due.

It's called Expectation Mirroring, and it's all the rage.


posted at: 1:40am on 06-Oct-2021
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California Cities Experimenting With Civilian Responses To Mental Health Crisis Calls

Furnished content.


More cities are adopting an approach to mental health emergency calls that steers calls away from police officers and towards professionals who are trained to respond to mental health crises with something other than force deployment.Early results have shown promise in cities like Denver, Colorado and New York City, New York. These response teams are not only better suited to handling mental health calls, but they're less expensive than sending cops and/or needlessly involving the carceral system. Law enforcement agencies command outsized portions of city budgets. Shifting small portions of these budgets to alternatives like these makes better use of these funds, providing residents with options that are far more effective -- and cost effective -- than the usual method of sending more expensive government employees to respond to problems they're ill-equipped to handle.A couple of cities in California are experimenting with mental health response teams. The teams in use in Sacramento and Oakland were formed by residents in response to the tragic killing of a young man suffering from schizoaffective disorder by police officers.

That day, Miles was having a schizoaffective episode at the family’s home in Walnut Creek, CA, a city a few miles east of Oakland.  First Miles’ grandmother, and then Taun Hall herself, called 911. Hall wanted to get her son to a hospital where he could receive treatment. She felt her only option was to call the police.But when the Walnut Creek police officers arrived, the situation escalated quickly.“[The police officers] were shouting at him and, you know, doing commands,” Hall said. “Someone who is mentally impaired doesn’t respond, doesn’t understand, because they’re not in the same frame of mind.”Miles Hall ran towards the officers, who first shot him with ‘less-lethal’ ammunition called bean bag rounds. When he continued running, two officers shot him with their handguns. Miles Hall was transported to John Muir Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
MH First Sacramento and MH First Oakland are both part of the same project. The MH stands for Miles Hall just as much as it stands for mental health. Both are offshoots of the Anti Police Terror Project, an advocacy group seeking to end the longstanding use of violence by police officers against people of color. Currently, both response teams are limited to running mental health hotlines on weekends only but both hope to expand on that with the recent COVID wave starting to recede in the state. They're also hoping to secure more funding to expand their operations to offering response teams that can handle mental health calls requiring in-person assistance.Residents of Oakland will soon have one more option for mental health calls that won't involve law enforcement.
Now, a new pilot project has been funded by the city of Oakland to take even more of the workload off the shoulders of the police.“A project called MACRO, Mobile Assistance Community Response of Oakland,” explained [Coalition for Police Accountability coordinator Rashidah] Grinage. “And what it does is it says that 911 calls that are not necessarily required to have a police response, namely their low-level calls, they are sometimes mental health crises, but there can be other kinds of incidents as well. Conflicts between neighbors, problems with somebody blocking a driveway, incidents where a police officer is not really a necessary responder, MACRO will provide civilian responses to these kinds of 911 calls for service.”
MACRO is based on the CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) program currently running in Eugene, Oregon. That program has achieved considerable success, not the least of which is the savings of over $6 million a year in public safety spending.It's too early to tell whether these programs will replicate the successes seen elsewhere. But it is clear more options like these are necessary if we want to keep more people alive. Police officers shouldn't be expected to handle these situations well. They're simply not trained to perform this sort of public assistance. Unfortunately, they're the default option in most cases, which means officers responding to mental health calls will fall back on the training they have received, which mostly involves subduing people and responding to perceived threats -- neither of which tends to work out well for people who are already struggling to maintain their grip on reality.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 06-Oct-2021
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Tone Deaf Facebook Did Cripple VR Headsets When Borked BGP Routing Took Down All Of Facebook

Furnished content.


For over a year now, we have discussed Facebook's decision to require users of Oculus VR headsets to have active Facebook accounts linked to the devices in order for them to work properly. This decision came to be despite all the noise made by Oculus in 2014, when Facebook acquired the VR company, insisting that this very specific thing would not occur. Karl Bode, at the time, pointed out a number of potential issues this plan could cause, noting specifically that users could find their Oculus hardware broken for reasons not of their own making.

The changes will also impact the functionality of Oculus Quest's "Link," which lets users connect the standalone VR headset to a PC to expand its functionality. It also begs the question: what happens if you get banned by Facebook due to its incoherent and inconsistent moderation strategies? You suddenly can't use your VR headset because Facebook's algorithms stupidly ban you for posting photos of yourself breastfeeding?
And then, to the surprise of nobody here at Techdirt, a version of that very thing happened. Facebook users that had their accounts locked, typically due to having those accounts compromised by outside bad actors, found themselves unable to use their gear as normal and unable to get support through Facebook, especially if the issues were on legacy Oculus hardware for which the end user had not paid Facebook a penny. But a wonderful workaround was discovered! If those users went out and bought a brand new Oculus VR headset, suddenly Facebook support returned their messages.None of this changed the core problem: what happens to owned hardware when suddenly a user's Facebook account wasn't accessible. Well, we all learned the answer to that question this week when Facebook accidentally decided to play a game of internet hide-and-seek by borking its BGP routing.
Facebook owns VR headset maker Oculus, and controversially requires Oculus Quest users to log in with a Facebook account. In numerous Reddit threads, many Quest owners say they have been able to use their headsets during the outage—to play VR games on Steam, for instance—but some say they can't load their Oculus libraries, and those who just took a Quest 2 out of the box have reported that they're unable to complete the initial setup."We're aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products," Oculus wrote in one thread. "The teams are hard at work getting things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience."
It should be noted that these are problems of Facebook's making, not end users. The decision to require linked Facebook accounts to use the features on the Oculus created this problem. And, frankly, it was a decision that rendered no true benefit to the customer. Facebook made this move specifically so that it could track user behavior for advertising purposes, all under the guise of just how great and easy it is for Oculus users to be able to login with just a Facebook account. Yawn.But, when Facebook found all of its platforms unreachable on October 4th, Oculus owners got the tangential screw-job.
Facebook says that today's extended outage did not compromise user data—it was actually a pretty boring networking error. "Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication, the company posted on its blog. "This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt."
Services like a properly running and fully functional Oculus VR headset... for no reason other than Facebook greed. When you're very busy trying to make the claim that you aren't too big that you should be broken up, that you don't have too much control over the everyday lives of the public, or that you don't have too many tie-ins to daily life, well, this was not a good look.Although, as I will never stop taking this victory lap on behalf of Karl Bode, it certainly was predictable.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 06-Oct-2021
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