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Prom enters digital age: Girls must email selfies to school for dress approval

A Texas school is requiring girls to email pictures of themselves (front and back) wearing their prom dress before purchase for approval, but why?

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eisenhower senior high school prom dress policy

eisenhower senior high school prom dress policy

High school prom policy could be problematic

Have you seen pictures of what some kids are wearing to prom these days? It’s like a contest to see who can dress the most inappropriately, and a huge portion of attendees are hellbent on winning. Schools nationwide are struggling with a number of issues for this off-site event to keep kids appropriate and safe – it’s a huge challenge nationally.

While none of this is new (I remember some pretty revealing prom outfits in the late 90s when I was in high school), technology has been injected into the equation as one high school in Texas is requiring female students to email photos of themselves in their prom dresses for approval (regardless of their age). Parents say no notice was sent out, this just appeared on the Eisenhower Senior High School website:

prom

All girls, Eisenhower student or not, must send in a photo of themselves in their prom dress (front & back) to be approved before they purchase it. The email must also include full name & student ID. They can send photos in to ikeprom@aldine-isd.org.

Why this policy?

We have reached out to the school for clarification, but some have told us that their assumption is to insure appropriateness.

Other schools in the past have enforced dress codes, turning girls away for low cut dresses or strapless dresses, and banning certain dance moves and even music degrading to women. Some schools have forbidden girls from wearing tuxedoes and boys from wearing dresses or even kilts.

This policy, however, introduces new questions about why the school is taking this stance:

  1. Are strapless dresses allowed? Can cleavage be shown? What about middriffs? Plain clothes? Hats? Combat boots or black jackets? Costumes or capes?
  2. Why not require male students to submit pictures of their outfits prior to the event? What if suits are overly baggy and underwear can be seen? What if it’s a batman costume?
  3. Are girls required to wear a dress? Are suits for girls be banned?
  4. Are there color restrictions to avoid gang warfare and keep kids safe?
  5. What is the purse policy? May someone bring a bag? Will purses or bags be subject to search? Will photos of accessories be required for approval as well?

As a parent of a daughter who just went to her second prom, the policy complicates the shopping process – if her school asked us to submit a photo and wait some amount of time, the dress may no longer be on hold and our daughter would be crushed at a lost opportunity. Also, we have forbidden her from taking photos of herself inside of a dressing room, which is most likely what these girls at Eisenhower will be doing – does someone at the school have a thing for feet or underage cleavage? As a parent, this email process would have me panicked.

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There may be a good reason, but there could be serious legal implications

There is probably a good reason for the district’s policy, but the ACLU is just thirsting for another school to ban anything perceived as discriminatory against students’ gender identity.

That aside, we are focused on some logistic and tech questions for the school:

  1. Who has access to the photos of underage girls (and only girls)?
  2. Are they obtaining parent permission prior to transmitting personal photos of a minor (that could potentially be explicit in nature)? What child pornography laws have been considered by the district regarding soliciting images of minors?
  3. What is the purging process for these images? What servers or computers (or staff phones) will these images be on, and do parents have the ability to request their removal?
  4. What are students (and parents) consenting to when submitting images – any reuse? Will they post the rejected images on Instagram? Will they print acceptable photos in the halls or post them online?
  5. After submitting the photos, how long until the approval or rejection is given to the student? What is the school’s policy for adults communicating with minors?
  6. E-commerce is at an all-time high, so what of girls buying their dresses online?
  7. Will the original images submitted be cross referenced at the door to insure the girl is wearing the dress approved? What technology will be used to make this happen, and if it is a third party application, do they allow transmission of images of minors?

THE SOLUTION

Like every other school in history, there are dress codes and behavior rules students must follow at prom, lest they be removed (or not allowed in). The solution is to make the rules clear in advance and refuse admittance should those rules not be met. Introducing transmission of images of minors into the mix makes the district and the students vulnerable and is unnecessary.

There are bigger fish to fry. Schools are battling with students inviting adults to prom, like celebrities (from football players to porn stars), alumni, or college boyfriend/girlfriends without background checks… in a room full of children. Schools are taking positions on whether or not singles can go to prom or if they’re required a date, and whether gay couples can take a same-sex date. Further, schools are struggling with how to keep kids safe after prom, reduce drug use and drunk driving, date rape, and an assortment of other issues.

Schools need to set policies, enforce them, and deal with the fallout – not introduce technology into the mix… it could be caustic.

#EisenhowerProm

Tech News

Onboarding for customers and employees made easy

(TECH NEWS) Cohere enables live, virtual onboarding at bargain prices to help you better support and guide your users.

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onboarding made easy

Web development and site design may be straightforward, but that doesn’t mean your customers won’t get turned around when reviewing your products. Onboarding visitors is the simplest solution, but is it the easiest?

According to Cohere–a live, remote onboarding tool–the answer is a resounding yes.

Cohere claims to be able to integrate with your website using “just 2 lines of code”; after completing this integration, you can communicate with, guide, and show your product to any site visitor upon request. You’ll also be able to see what customers are doing in real time rather than relying on metrics, making it easy to catch and convert customers who are on the fence, due to uncertainty or confusion.

There isn’t a screen-share option in Cohere’s package, but what they do include is a “multiplayer” option in which your cursor will appear on a customer’s screen, thus enabling you to guide them to the correct options; you can also scroll and type for your customer, all the while talking them through the process as needed. It’s the kind of onboarding that, in a normal world, would have to take place face-to-face–completely tailored for virtual so you don’t have to.

You can even use Cohere to stage an actual demo for customers, which accomplishes two things: the ability to pare down your own demo page in favor of live options, and minimizing confusion (and, by extension, faster sales) on the behalf of the customer. It’s a win-win situation that streamlines your website efficiency while potentially increasing your sales.

Naturally, the applications for Cohere are endless. Using this tool for eCommerce or tech support is an obvious choice, but as virtual job interviews and onboarding become more and more prevalent, one could anticipate Cohere becoming the industry example for remote inservice and walkthroughs.

Hands-on help beats written instructions any day, so if companies are able to allocate the HR resources to moderate common Cohere usage, it could be a huge win for those businesses.

For those two lines of code (and a bit more), you’ll pay anywhere from $39 to $129 for the listed packages. Custom pricing is available for larger businesses, so you may have some wiggle room if you’re willing to take a shot at implementing Cohere business-wide.

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Tech News

Smart clothing could be used to track COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) In order to track and limit the spread of COVID-19 smart clothing may be the solution we need to flatten the curve–but at what cost?

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COVID tracking clothing

When most people hear the phrase “smart clothing”, they probably envision wearables like AR glasses or fitness trackers, but certainly not specially designed fabrics to indicate different variables about the people wearing them–including, potentially, whether or not someone has contracted COVID-19.

According to Politico, that’s exactly what clinical researchers are attempting to create.

The process started with Apple and Fitbit using their respective wearables to attempt to detect COVID-19 symptoms in wearers. This wouldn’t be the first time a tech company got involved with public health in this context; earlier this year, for example, Apple announced a new Watch feature that would call 911 if it detected an abnormal fall. The NBA also attempted to detect outbreaks in players by providing them with Oura Rings–another smart wearable.

While these attempts have yet to achieve widespread success, optimism toward smart clothing–especially things like undershirts–and its ability to report adequately someone’s symptoms, remains high.

The smart clothing industry has existed in the context of monitoring health for quite some time. The aforementioned tech giants have made no secret of integrating health- and wellness-centric features into their devices, and companies like Nanowear have even gone so far as to create undergarments that track things like the wearer’s heart rate.

It’s only fitting that these companies would transition to COVID assessment, containment, and prevention in the shadow of the pandemic, though they aren’t the only ones doing so. Indeed, innovators from all corners of the United States are set to participate in a “rapid testing solutions” competition–the end goal being a cheap, fast, easy-to-use wearable option to help flatten the curve. The “cheap” aspect is perhaps the most difficult; as Politico says, the majority of people have a general understanding of how to use wearable technology.

Perhaps more importantly, the potential for HIPPA violations via data access is high–and, during a period of time in which people are more suspicious of technology companies than ever, vis-a-vis data sharing, privacy could be a significant barrier to the creation, distribution, and use of otherwise crucial smart clothing.

There is no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated, among other things, technological advancement in ways unseen by many of us alive today. Only time will tell if smart clothing–life-saving potential and all–becomes part of that trend.

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Tech News

Say goodbye to browser cookies – Google wants to give you ‘trust tokens’

(TECH NEWS) Google plans to do away with third-party cookies in favor of “trust tokens”. The question is, will they gain our trust?

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Privacy concerns should be at an all-time high with the sheer number of people working from home–something that may have been factored into Google’s recent decision to begin phasing out third-party cookies in their Chrome browser.

In doing so, Chrome would join browsers such as Safari and Firefox–two popular alternatives that have been more proactive about protecting user privacy in the past, according to The Verge.

Cookies, for those who don’t know, are small pieces of information stored on your computer by websites you visit; when third-party cookies are downloaded from these sites, they can track your activity across the internet, thus resulting in unpleasantries like targeted ads and location-based services appearing in your browser.

It’s all a little too accurate to your habits for comfort, so Google is proposing a separate solution: trust tokens.

No, trust tokens are not the newest form of currency on CBS Survivor–they’re “smart” iterations of cookies that will validate your access to a specific website without tracking you once you leave that page. This way, you get to keep your website-specific data–passwords, usernames, and preferences–without having your privacy encroached upon any more than Google already does (admittedly, that doesn’t sound like much of a change, but bear with us).

The real catch for trust tokens is that they don’t actually identify you the way that cookies do, and while some of the side effects of trust tokens may resemble cookie use–e.g., advertisers knowing you clicked on their ad–tokens are a decidedly less personal, more private way to access web content.

Google isn’t just throwing out third-party cookies as a gesture, it seems. Along with the announcement about trust tokens, Google mentioned that they plan to create more transparency around ads–specifically by allowing you to see why you’re seeing a specific ad and from whom and where the ad originated. An extension to help lend additional information about ads is also in the works.

These changes are expected to be implemented within the year. For now, though, you should stick to Firefox or Safari if you’re worried about cookies–you’ll be able to get back to your Chrome tabs soon enough.

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