Editorial Opposes Ending Social Worker Requirements

This Des Moines Register writer discusses why proposals to end licensure or similar social worker requirements should be opposed:

House Study Bill 138, proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad was defeated in subcommittee recently. This study bill would have done away with licensure requirements not only for mental health professionals but for other licensed professionals. Mental health professionals across the state were pleased with the defeat of this bill. However, now we are concerned again because the governor stated he still believes the state should remove professional licensing requirements for social workers, mental health therapists and other licensed professionals.

I am a licensed independent social worker. I served as the chair of the Iowa Board of Social Work in the mid-1990s. I also served as the president of the Association of Social Work Boards for the United States and Canada. State boards across the country license more than 400,000 social workers. The association maintains four levels of exams for social work licensure in all of the states. These exams assure the public that social workers have passed a national exam to document their ability to practice competent social work. This is important, as social workers provide more than 60 percent of all mental health treatment in the United States.

Social workers provide hospital treatment, treatment for the physically disabled, intellectually disabled and the list goes on and on. Every state licenses social workers at the highest level of licensure. If Iowa drops licensure, it would be the only state to just have a registry at the highest level of clinical practice.

This creates huge problems because there are numerous federal programs that require licensure in order to reimburse for mental health services. This would also create problems for private insurance companies, including the MCOs that run Iowa’s Medicaid services, which require licensure to reimburse for mental health treatment.

In Iowa there are 3,990 actively licensed social workers at all levels of practice. There are 1,667 actively licensed mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, as well. Therefore, it is critically important that this group of care providers complies with the highest possible competency standards in order to assure that vulnerable persons with mental health conditions receive the optimal care they deserve and need. The very reason for licensure is to protect public health by ensuring standards and oversight for practitioners.

Rest at: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2017/03/14/ending-social-worker-licensure-would-reckless/99160194/

A Look at the Best Backpack for College

From Forbes’ 2016-2017 roundup of the best backpack for college:

Online retailer eBags typically sells more than 200,000 backpacks during back-to-school season. The Colorado-based company that launched 17 years ago as a luggage liquidator has more than 7,000 packs from 250 brands in its inventory (most are drop-shipped directly from manufacturers). I talked to eBags backpack expert Krista Paul about what’s new, what’s selling and which bags the cool kids are craving.

What’s trending this year with school bags?

More pockets and better organization. Everybody wants compartments for all the devices they carry so the best-selling bags are loaded with places to stash gadgets and gear: big water bottles, laptops, phones, eyeglass cases, whatever. It’s the reason SwissGear Scansmart is out number one selling pack. It’s black and gray and super-simple but it’s got a million places to store things. It’s all about the pockets.

More stuff to lug means bigger, heavier bags, right?

It does but there’s a big emphasis on support for the back and making sure shoulder straps are comfortable and molded to the body and have a padded back. A few seasons ago, school bags didn’t have as much functional support. Now they’re built more like hiking packs. It got to the point where kids were loading up their bags and it was causing numbness and tingling in the arms because the straps were hindering circulation. The wider padded shoulder straps we see with the Scansmart and bags like Jansport Big Student don’t do that…

More on good college backpacks at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhochman/2016/08/02/best-backpacks-for-back-to-school-2016-2017/#3682ebe329f9

Good Results When You Install Norton Antivirus Support

From a knowledgeble review of the performance that follows when you install Norton antivirus support.

…With a list price of $39.99 per year to protect one computer against malware, Norton AntiVirus Basic is more expensive than some of the company’s other products on a per-device basis, but it’s completely in line with its standalone antivirus competition. Symantec Norton Security Premium, on the other hand, protects up to 10 devices for $89.99 per year, and includes 25GB of hosted online backup. Note that AntiVirus Basic is currently on sale for half its list price.

I asked my Symantec contact why the company decided to bring back a standalone antivirus tool. “We saw there was a need for a low-cost, robust, PC-focused solution,” he answered. “This need is not adequately addressed by freeware. This product is primarily aimed at the value-oriented, tech-minded user who may already have a firewall, backup system, and so on.” He went on to point out that Norton AntiVirus Basic offers the same enterprise-grade protection found in the suite.

norton-antivirus-basic-main-windowThe suite offers full-scale tech support, with a guarantee that support agents will do everything necessary to keep your system virus-free, or your money back. That guarantee doesn’t come with Norton AntiVirus Basic, however. In fact, tech support for this product is limited to self-help and community forums. That’s probably fine for the value-oriented, tech-minded customer mentioned above, but it is one drawback to the product.

Note that Norton AntiVirus Basic isn’t yet available in all markets. If you’re in Australia, Canada, France, Germany the US, or the UK, you can get it. If you’re elsewhere, you may have to wait a bit.

Quick Install, Intensive Scan
When you launch the Norton installer, it downloads the very latest version of the software, including the latest antivirus definitions. I like that. Why doesn’t every antivirus install the latest definitions, rather than prompting the user to update after installation is finished? Once Norton is installed, it is totally ready to go.

Well, almost. A little while after the installation, you get a prompt to enable the Norton extensions in your browsers. I’ll talk more about the extensions themselves later on. Norton walks you through the process of installing the extensions, with explanatory panels and animated arrows.

The main window itself is laid out much like the Norton suite, with four big buttons across the bottom and a panel above that reflects your security status. If the green You Are Protected notification changes to You Are At Risk in red, just click the Fix Now button to set things right.

A full scan of my standard clean test system took almost an hour and a quarter, whereas the average scan time for recent products is about 45 minutes. It was thorough, for sure, checking more than 250,000 items. I also ran a Norton Insight scan, which found 88 percent of the files on this system to be among those that should be trusted, not scanned. A repeat of that full scan took just 10 minutes.

This product includes Norton Power Eraser, a more aggressive scanner that aims to root out really persistent malware. If you think the regular scan may have left something behind, a scan with Norton Power Eraser should fix it.

Excellent Lab Results
Symantec doesn’t submit the Norton antivirus to all the labs I follow, but those that do include it in testing give it excellent marks. Like Kaspersky Anti-Virus (2017), Symantec doesn’t participate in certification testing by ICSA Labs. Neither of these two have been rated in Virus Bulletin’s RAP (reactive and protective) test lately, either.

AV-Test Institute rates antivirus products on protection against malware attack, low performance impact, and minimal false positives, assigning up to six points in each of the three areas. Symantec aced the protection and false positive components of the tests but lost a half-point in performance, for a total of 17.5. Kaspersky managed a perfect 18 in this test, while Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2016 slipped to 17 in the latest report.

More at: http://in.pcmag.com/norton-antivirus-2014/70306/review/symantec-norton-antivirus-basic