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A Look Behind The Plague Doctor Mask – Forbes

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Plague doctors, or at least images of plague doctors, are having a bit of a cultural moment again, roughly 300 years after their actual heyday. They’ve become popular motifs for stickers, pins, masks, t-shirts, and even stuffed animals during the Covid-19 pandemic (your faithful correspondent is a particularly gleeful collector). But what’s the reality behind the iconic mask?

Not Just Any Doctor

Plague doctors were government contractors. When the plague struck a European town, the local government hired a doctor specifically to treat plague patients. Some of those contracts still survive in various historical archives around Europe today, mostly in places like France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, and they spell out the plague doctor’s responsibilities, the limits of their practice, and how much the city would pay them.

A plague doctor’s salary could range from a few florins a month to full room, board, and expenses – but it meant the doctor had to treat even the poorest patients, who wouldn’t have been able to pay on their own, and couldn’t refuse to go into a plague-stricken home or neighborhood. On the other hand, plague doctor contracts also forbade plague doctors from treating people who didn’t already have the plague, and they had to stay isolated from the rest of the community when they weren’t elbow-deep in plague victims. Both of those restrictions were meant to keep plague doctors from carrying the disease to uninfected people.

When the plague struck a city, it might already have a doctor or two, usually running a private practice in town. Those guys were not plague doctors, however. For one thing, they ran their own practices, instead of having a contract with the local government. And although they could treat plague patients if they wanted to, many preferred to avoid the risk – for good reason. In 1348, when the plague first reached Italy, many communities found themselves without doctors, because they all died of the plague or ran away. Plague doctor contracts were an effort to fix that problem.

Shocking, when medieval and Renaissance cities tried to hire doctors to do dangerous, depressing, highly stigmatized work that also put huge restrictions on how they lived, doctors weren’t exactly falling over each other to compete for the job. Plague doctors were often newly-trained physicians or surgeons who needed to gain experience and make names for themselves, or else they were doctors who had trouble finding other work or keeping a practice running. Sometimes they weren’t even doctors at all, just people who were willing to wade into the quarantine zone and do their best.

Here To Help

Plague doctors look menacing and spooky today, and they were even more terrifying in the 1600s and 1700s, because when a plague doctor showed up in your neighborhood, it was a sign that things were about to get a lot worse. Of course, that wasn’t the plague doctor’s fault.

In theory, plague doctors were trying to ease suffering and maybe even save lives, but neither they nor their patients had any illusions; plague was nearly always fatal. The best a plague doctor could do was drain blood and lymph from the swollen buboes that gave the bubonic plague its name – but sometimes that only helped spread the infection. By the time the plague doctor appeared on your doorstep, you were already doomed, so a nominally helpful figure became an omen of death.

In practice, the most useful thing most plague doctors could do was to keep records of the number of infections and deaths in their community. Sometimes they also served as witnesses while their patients drew up wills. Once in a very great while they performed autopsies in an effort to understand the disease that had ravaged Europe off and on for centuries.

Dressed for Success

For the first few centuries of bubonic plague outbreaks in Europe, 1348 to 1619, plague doctors didn’t have a particular costume. Around 1619, however, a court physician to Louis XII of France (and later the more famous Louis XIV) named Charles de Lorme proposed a costume to protect plague doctors from their patients’ illness. It caught on elsewhere in continental Europe (there are no known examples from the UK) and became the iconic Plague Doctor costume we know today.

To people who understand how bacteria and viruses spread, and who are used to seeing modern healthcare workers in protective equipment like surgical gowns and respirator masks, the plague doctor costume is clearly a stroke of genius. A long leather gown covered the doctor from head to toe, and beneath the gown they wore leather leggings, boots, and gloves. The beak-like mask, which was originally supposed to be just 6 inches long, was stuffed with dried flowers, strong-smelling herbs, and camphor or vinegar-soaked sponges.

Plague doctors also carried a wooden cane, which let them examine, undress, and direct patients without having to touch them or even get too close. Canes also make handy tools for enforcing social distancing, which was actually something medieval and Renaissance people had realized could slow the spread of plague. They topped the outfit off with a wide-brimmed leather hat, which was mostly a badge of office in case the mask was somehow too vague.

That looks like an early version of a respirator mask and surgical gown, but de Lorme devised the idea to protect not against germs, but against miasma – bad-smelling air which was believed, up until the 1800s, to be the source of diseases. In reality, the plague doctor costume probably did protect the wearer against droplets from coughing, in the case of pneumonic plague, or splattered blood and lymph in the case of bubonic plague. Most importantly, though, the waxed leather probably protected against fleas, which turned out to be the real carriers of the plague.

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OxygenOS 11.0.2.1 for OnePlus 7/7T series brings Widevine L1 fix, June patch – 9to5Google

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OxygenOS 11.0.2.1 is now rolling out for the OnePlus 7 and 7T series with a notable fix for Widevine L1 issues plus the June 2021 security patch.

The OxygenOS 11.0.2.1 update was confirmed as rolling out on the OnePlus Forums(1) with this OTA providing quite a few fixes for common issues. With regard to the Widevine L1 problems, some OnePlus 7/7 Pro and 7T/7T Pro owners were unable to view videos in apps like Netflix at resolutions higher than 480p due to this issue. While this patch does resolve the problem, you might actually need to clear your device cache for it to resolve things. It’s annoying, but not quite as annoying as having to watch videos at low resolution.

Also included in the OxygenOS 11.0.2.1 update are fixes for battery and power consumption, better management of device overheating, and blurry viewfinders when launching the camera app in certain conditions. OnePlus has pushed the outdated June 2021 security patch here too, which is a bit disappointing to say the least. You can check out the full changelog below:

  • System
    • Reduced Power consumption
    • Improved overheating control management
    • Fixed the issue of not being able to play high-definition videos on some video platforms
    • Upgraded Android Security Patch to 2021.06
  • File Manager
    • Fixed the crash issue of the application
  • Camera
    • Fixed the issue that the camera is blurred when shooting on fullscreen size
    • Improved the stability
  • Phone
    • Optimized the dialpad UI display effect

The OxygenOS 11.0.2.1 update is rolling out in stages with a small selection of users getting access first before a wider rollout in the coming days. If you are happy to sideload the update ZIP, then it may be worthwhile giving the excellent Oxygen Updater a try.

More on OnePlus:


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Apple iPhone sales jump 50% despite chip shortage ahead of fall iPhone 13 launch – CNET

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Not siding with Nvidia on Arm

2:57 p.m. PT

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia’s planned $40 billion acquisition of British chip design firm Arm has been a touchy subject around the tech industry lately. In April, regulators in the UK spoke up against the acquisition on national security grounds.

Apple uses Arm designs to for its iPhone and Mac chips, and it doesn’t have the most friendly history with Nvidia, so it’s no surprise the company may not be wholly supportive of the idea.

“I think that that acquisition has lots of questions that people are asking and I’ll sort of leave that up to everyone else,” Cook said.

Early innings of 5G

2:47 p.m. PT

That law of large numbers thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah, Cook says maybe forget it. 

Despite the iPhone’s success, he believes “we’re in the very early innings of 5G.” He noted that most places around the world don’t have it broadly available, despite being “nine months or so into” the iPhone 12’s launch. 

“We feel really great about the momentum, but at the same time we recognize that the 5G penetration is quite low around the world,” he added. “We’re at the front end of this.”

It’s not just Apple fans

2:39 p.m. PT

A popular trope about Apple is that its fans are rabid and willing to spend endlessly on the company. To counteract that perception, Apple’s highlighted how many new people are coming to its products. Worldwide, for example, the company said that even though the Apple Watch was first released six years ago, 75% of the people who bought one in the three months ended in June were new to buying one.

Apple didn’t offer similar data about its phones, but Cook said it was strong. “We had strong double-digit growth for switchers, and for upgraders, and in fact it was our largest upgrade quarter for Q3 ever,” he said.

Chip shortage isn’t so bad anymore? Or it’s worse?

2:31 p.m. PT

Apple warned in the past that Mac and iPad supply were dictated by how many chips the company could get hold of, setting up the possibility sales could underwhelm in the future. Instead, Apple CFO Luca Maestri said the company’s been able to set records despite those troubles. “It is remarkable that the last four quarters for Mac have been its best four quarters ever,” he said. “This exceptional level of sales success has been driven by the very enthusiastic customer response to our new Macs powered by the M1 chip, which we most recently brought to our newly redesigned iMac.”

Despite “significant” supply constraints during the quarter, he added, “we also started shipping our new iPad Pro powered by the M1 chip and customer response has been outstanding.”

He said supply constraints will be “higher” during the September quarter. 

Apple CEO Cook said he’s “paying more for freight than we’d like to pay” but component costs continue, as an aggregate, to decline.

“In terms of supply constraints and how long they will last,” he said. “I don’t want to predict that today. We’re going to take it sort of one quarter at a time and, as you would guess, we’ll do everything we can to mitigate whatever set of circumstances we’re dealt.”

COVID-19 isn’t just going away

2:11 p.m. PT

Apple’s CEO kicked off the company’s conference call talking about how much people have turned to his company’s products. But he also noted that despite a positive spring and summer, things may be getting tougher again.

“As the last 18 months had demonstrated many times before, progress made is not progress guaranteed. And uneven recovery to the pandemic and the delta variant surging in many countries around the world have shown us once again that the road to recovery will be a winding one,” he said. “As we look forward to more in-person interactions in the future, we’re doubling down on innovation and doing all we can to help chart a course to a healthier and more equitable world.”

While Apple’s business appears to be humming, the rest of the world is decidedly less steady. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier Tuesday recommended that vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors again where transmission is “substantial or high,” for fear the coronavirus could spread even further among children who can’t yet receive a vaccine and the people who’ve opted against receiving one so far. 

Even Apple has already told employees it’s delaying return-to-office plans until October at the earliest, mirroring moves from 2020 when companies began shifting schedules in response to worsening conditions.

Analysts and industry watchers will be watching for any signs from Apple about the future.

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Why you need to urgently update all your iPhones, iPads, and Macs – NOW! – ZDNet

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If you’ve not yet updated your iPhones, iPads, and Macs with the latest patches from Apple, then you need to take some time out of your day to do it right now, because this is a big one.

Earlier this week, Apple published iOS 14.7.1, iPadOS 14.7.1, and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1. While this update contains bug fixes, the main part of this update is a security fix for a vulnerability that Apple says is “may have been actively exploited.”

In other words, the bad guys are already using it.

Must read: Don’t make this common, fatal iPhone or Android mistake

Here’s how Apple describes the vulnerability in relation to iOS and iPadOS:

Available for: iPhone 6s and later, iPad Pro (all models), iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation)

Impact: An application may be able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved memory handling.

CVE-2021-30807: an anonymous researcher

It’s unclear is this is the vulnerability used for jailbreaking iOS devices, or whether it is linked to the NSO Group spyware tool hack used to target journalists, activists, and government figures. 

To update your iPhone and iPad, go to Settings > General > Software Update and download and install any available updates. 

For macOS, click on the apple in the top-left corner, go to System Preferences, find Software Update and download and install any updates available.

I recommend carrying out these updates as soon as possible.

To get immediate notifications of updates for the iPhone and iPad, I’ve been using the app iVerify.

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