Wash Your Hands (Part 2)

We’re several weeks into the new normal, depending on how it came down for you. Here in California, Governor Gavin Newsom declared an official State of Emergency, which requires that everyone shelter in place. We’re not alone. The whole country, even the whole world, is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Collectively and individually we’re coming to terms with the reality of sheltering in place for an extended period of time.

By now you probably know what’s in your pantry and freezer, what is being hoarded and in short supply, how to work from home full time if possible (or how to survive if not), how to entertain and home-school kids that are cooped up with you, and ways to stay sane and get some exercise. So far there is no vaccine, but we can wash our hands thoroughly and often. This sign at a Kaiser Permanente restroom tells and shows you how (for more hand-washing signs, see Wash Your Hands).

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This sign at Kaiser Permanente is very informative (and timely)!

One of the best things about this experience is seeing how creative folks can be. One co-worker built a standing desk for his laptop and screen. Another, who lives alone, is looking for a fish tank video on YouTube to provide restful company. Bloggers offer suggestions for coping with shortages (including alternatives to toilet paper). Some folks are using video conferencing software (such as Zoom) to meet electronically with friends, family, and groups. Grocery stores offer time slots for Seniors to shop for supplies. Churches are streaming service alternatives online. Stay safe, everyone, and find a way to stay connected. And don’t forget to wash your hands!

Red Dot Awards for 2019

Happy New Year! Time to open a new chapter in our working lives, one that is full of learning, growth, and productivity. I like to kick off the year with a recent Red Dot Award winner. The Red Dot competition is hosted in Germany, and celebrates human-centric design and innovative products from around the world. Last year I reported on the L16 Computational Camera by Bould Design and Light in Red Dot Awards for 2018. Starting the year with great design reminds me to bring beauty and elegance to my work.

Scrolling Keyboard by Royole Corporation

Scrolling Keyboard by Royole Corporation

This year I selected the Scrolling Keyboard by Royole Corporation, designed in-house in Fremont, California. The keyboard is 6 inches wide (154 mm) and rolls up into a tube. When extended it connects to a mobile device via Bluetooth. Push a button to roll it up back in the tube. Although tiny, when compared with the size of mobile phone keyboard, it seems quite generous. This is ideal for anyone who computes on the go.

I research and write everywhere I go, and love tools that are small, compact, and practical. This would be perfect for situations where I need to throw up a quick “office” in a small space like on an airplane or at a coffee shop. The keyboard seems to be in the design stage, but I’d love to try it out in the future.

American Workforce Policy

On July 19, 2018 President Trump signed an executive order to establish the National Council of the American Worker. The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board meets quarterly to discuss a national strategy for training and retooling the American workforce. The board is comprised of 25 leaders from diverse backgrounds in business, education, academia, and the public and private sector; and is co-chaired by Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, and Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.

Over 300 companies and associations have signed a pledge to the American worker promising to  increase opportunities over the next five years. With technology, the economy, and social forces changing at an unprecedented rate, the group meets to discuss how to equip the workforce to adapt and change as well. The Advisory Board met in September to propose and vote on several industry-lead strategies.

Strategic ideas include recognizing multiple paths to career success (skills versus degrees); providing learning records that are easy to access, transfer, and share with employers; democratizing candidate recruitment and training, targeting unemployed and underemployed folks in opportunity zones, and working with schools to prepare future workers. Also discussed was finding better ways to measure progress and success for employer-lead training initiatives, and crafting a common vocabulary for sharing concepts across the groups involved.

The emphasis is on finding an industry-education-worker-policy solution, rather than creating a government agency to cause change. This makes sense since industry should have an idea of the skills needed for the modern workforce. The effort may go a long way to ensure American works aren’t left behind (and to dim the memory of industry abandoning the American workforce in years past in favor of cheap labor elsewhere). I’m looking forward to tracking progress, and learning how to keep my toolkit current!