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Businesses

New Zealand Will Give You a Free Trip If You Agree To a Job Interview (esquire.com) 23

An anonymous reader shares an Esquire article: If New Zealand is on your bucket list, it's time to fill out a job application. You see, the tech industry in Wellington, New Zealand is trying to recruit experts from around the world to their community, so they're offering a free trip if you can prove you want the job and deserve an interview. They're calling it a "global talent attraction program" and 100 potential recruits will be invited on the free (yes, free) week-long trip. But, of course, the catch is you have to prove why you could serve as a software developer, creative director, product manager, analyst or digital strategist to get a free ticket. Once you do, your itinerary will be filled with interviews and meetings with others in the New Zealand tech community members, as well as excursions around Wellington.
Businesses

Nobody Likes Uber Anymore, Recent Reviews and Ratings On App Store Suggest (qz.com) 94

Alison Griswold, writing for Quartz: The public is not happy with Uber. Incensed by allegations of sexism and harassment in the company's corporate halls, people are once again #deleting Uber, while one-star ratings and withering critiques of its service are piling up in Apple's iOS App Store. From Jan. 1 through Feb. 22, Uber accumulated 4,479 one-star reviews from US users in the iOS App Store, according to data from analytics firm App Annie (the highest possible rating is five stars). Several of the most recent reviews cite the horrifying and explosive account of sexual harassment published by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler over the weekend. "Was harassed and scammed by an Uber driver for two hours in the car," reviewer "Jorwl" wrote on Feb. 20. But far more reviewers have another gripe: Uber's apparent disregard for user privacy. The monthly volume of one-star ratings for Uber in the App Store first spiked last November, after the company redesigned its app and infringed on user privacy by eliminating an iOS setting that let users grant Uber access to their location only "while using" the app. Users are now forced to choose between letting Uber track their location "always" and "never".
Businesses

Programmers Are Confessing Their Coding Sins To Protest a Broken Job Interview Process (theoutline.com) 404

A number of programmers have taken it Twitter to bring it to everyone's, but particularly recruiter's, attention about the grueling interview process in their field that relies heavily on technical questions. David Heinemeier Hansson, a well-known programmer and the creator of the popular Ruby on Rails coding framework, started it when he tweeted, "Hello, my name is David. I would fail to write bubble sort on a whiteboard. I look code up on the internet all the time. I don't do riddles." Another coder added, "Hello, my name is Tim. I'm a lead at Google with over 30 years coding experience and I need to look up how to get length of a python string." Another coder chimed in, "Hello my name is Mike, I'm a GDE and lead at NY Times, I don't know what np complete means. Should I?" A feature story on The Outline adds: This interview style, widely used by major tech companies including Google and Amazon, typically pits candidates against a whiteboard without access to reference material -- a scenario working programmers say is demoralizing and an unrealistic test of actual ability. People spend weeks preparing for this process, afraid that the interviewer will quiz them on the one obscure algorithm they haven't studied. "A cottage industry has emerged that reminds us uncomfortably of SAT prep," Karla Monterroso, VP of programs for Code2040, an organization for black and Latino techies, wrote in a critique of the whiteboard interview. [...] This means companies tend to favor recent computer science grads from top-tier schools who have had time to cram; in other words, it doesn't help diversify the field with women, older people, and people of color.
Businesses

NSA Risks Talent Exodus Amid Morale Slump, Trump Fears (reuters.com) 183

Dustin Volz and Warren Strobel, writing for Reuters: The National Security Agency risks a brain-drain of hackers and cyber spies due to a tumultuous reorganization and worries about the acrimonious relationship between the intelligence community and President Donald Trump, according to current and former NSA officials and cybersecurity industry sources. Half-a-dozen cybersecurity executives told Reuters they had witnessed a marked increase in the number of U.S. intelligence officers and government contractors seeking employment in the private sector since Trump took office on Jan. 20. One of the executives, who would speak only on condition of anonymity, said he was stunned by the caliber of the would-be recruits. They are coming from a variety of government intelligence and law enforcement agencies, multiple executives said, and their interest stems in part from concerns about the direction of U.S intelligence agencies under Trump. Retaining and recruiting talented technical personnel has become a top national security priority in recent years as Russia, China, Iran and other nation states and criminal groups have sharpened their cyber offensive abilities. NSA and other intelligence agencies have long struggled to deter some of their best employees from leaving for higher-paying jobs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
America Online

AOL Is Cutting Off Third-Party App Access To AIM (9to5mac.com) 93

An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: AOL announced today that it is starting to cut off third-party app access to its Instant Messenger service. As first noticed by ArsTechnica, AOL began notifying users of at least one third-party app, Adium, that it would become obsolete starting on March 28th. At this point, it's unclear whether or not all third-party applications will be rendered useless come March 28th, but the message presented to Adium users seemed to strongly imply that: "Hello. Effective 3/28, we will no longer support connections to the AIM network via this method. If you wish to use the free consumer AIM product, we invite you to visit http://www.aim.com/ for more information." What this likely means is that AOL is shutting down the OSCAR chat protocol that is used to handle AIM messages. The service will, however, continue to be available via AOL's own chat app that is supported on macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.
Communications

A New Video Shows Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Arguing With a Driver Over Fares (bloomberg.com) 164

A new video published by Bloomberg shows Uber CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver over fares. It all started when one of Kalanick's "companions" appears to say that she's heard that Uber is having a hard year. Bloomberg reports: That pleasant conversation between Kalanick and his friends in the back of an Uber Black? It devolved into a heated argument over Uber's fares between the CEO and his driver, Fawzi Kamel, who then turned over a dashboard recording of the conversation to Bloomberg. Kamel, 37, has been driving for Uber since 2011 and wants to draw attention to the plight of Uber drivers. The video shows off Kalanick's pugnacious personality and short temper, which may cause some investors to question whether he has the disposition to lead a $69 billion company with a footprint that spans the globe. Uber declined to comment on the video. Here's part of the conversation:
Travis Kalanick: "So we are reducing the number of black cars in the next few months."
Fawzi Kamel: "It's good."
Kalanick: "You probably saw some email."
Kamel: "I saw the email [says] it starts in May. But you're raising the standards and dropping the prices."
Kalanick: "We're not dropping the prices on black."
Kamel: "But in general."
Kalanick: "In general but we have competitors. Otherwise we'd be out of business."
Kamel: "Competitors? You had the business model in your hands you could have the prices you want but you choose to buy everybody a ride."

You can read the transcript of the conversation here via Recode.

UPDATE 2/28/17: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has issued "a profound apology."
Businesses

Why Your Boss Will Crush Your Innovative Ideas (bbc.com) 130

dryriver writes: BBC Capital explores why good ideas people have in the workplace almost never reach the top decision-makers in a company. From the report: "Surely you've heard the plea from on high at your company: we want more innovation, from everyone at every level. Your boss might even agree with the sentiment -- because, of course, who doesn't like innovation? It's good for everyone, right? Yet when it comes to innovating at your job it might be better to lower your expectations -- and then some. Your idea is far more likely to die on your boss's desk than it is to reach the CEO. It's not that top managers don't want new ideas. Rather, it's the people around you -- your colleagues, your manager -- who are unlikely to bend toward change. Today, big companies that don't innovate face extinction. 'Companies are almost forced to say that they are changing these days,' says Lynn Isabella, professor of organizational behavior at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in the U.S. But, 'it's not organizations that resist change; people resist,' says Isabella. 'The people have to see what's in it for them.'" As mentioned in the report, some of the key questions that the people whom you pitch your ideas to will ask themselves include, what does this innovation mean for me personally -- will it be more challenging or will it lead to more career opportunities, and what will it mean for my job -- will I get fired or will it be (or was it) worth it? Many times the answers to these questions don't stack up in favor of the innovation, Isabella says. As a result, the people who need to buy in don't push for change.
Businesses

Samsung Chief Charged With Bribery and Embezzlement (npr.org) 22

After a three-month investigation, the acting head of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, has been charged with bribery and embezzlement in connection with the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korea's president Park Geun-hye. NPR reports: NPR's Elise Hu reported from Seoul that prosecutors announced the indictment after a three-month investigation: "Samsung acting head Lee Jae-Yong got ensnared after documents showed Samsung funneled some $36 million to the president's close confidant. Prosecutors say the money was paid to win government support of a controversial 2015 company merger. The merger did go through, after a vote of support from the government. In a statement, Samsung says it has not paid bribes or made improper requests to the government. Lee is currently in jail awaiting further proceedings in his case." Lee was arrested on Feb. 17, two months after President Park Geun-hye was impeached over allegations of corruption, influence-peddling and cult ties, as we reported. Those corruption allegations were directly tied to the charges brought against Lee, who also goes by the name Jay Y. Lee.
Businesses

DNA Test Shows Subway's 'Chicken' Only Contains 50 Percent Chicken (arstechnica.com) 225

According to an investigation by Canadian media outlet, CBC, the chicken in Subway Restaurants' chicken sandwiches may only contain around 50 percent chicken -- the rest of it is soy, spices and preservatives. The investigation involved DNA testing chicken sandwiches collected from five popular fast food restaurants. While the rest of the sandwiches contained mostly chicken, Subway's oven-roasted chicken and the chicken strips in its Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich clocked in with just 53.6 percent and 42.8 percent chicken, respectively. Ars Technica reports: Among all the chicken sampled, there was a total of about 50 ingredients other than chicken identified. The chicken samples had an average of 16 ingredients. Some of the ingredients are expected, such as salt and other seasonings. But many were commercial preservatives and fillers. One commonality was that they all had high levels of salt. Subway responded to the CBC in a statement: "SUBWAY Canada cannot confirm the veracity of the results of the lab testing you had conducted. However, we are concerned by the alleged findings you had conducted." You can read the full statement here.
Television

YouTube Unveils YouTube TV, Its Live TV Streaming Service (techcrunch.com) 89

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: After a year of rumors, YouTube is finally drawing back the curtain on its latest play for entertainment industry domination -- a live TV service. Distinct from YouTube Red, the new service YouTube TV, which has been in the works for years at Google's internet video behemoth, has quietly been inking contracts with media companies to distribute their content on its TV service. The service is fairly low-cost, with a family of six accounts available for $35 per month, and no long-term contract required. Earlier reports from the Wall Street Journal set pricing for the service somewhere between $25 and $40 per month. However, it will only launch in markets where it can offer full, live local broadcast feeds. That's planned for the months ahead, but YouTube didn't offer an exact date. "We decided to create an offering that would give them all of these can't miss live moments," said YouTube exec Robert Kinsel of YouTube TV's offering. He explained that YouTube has partnered with all of the broadcast networks, in order to offer "comprehensive national coverage with ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox all included." In addition, the service is getting USA, FX, FreeForm, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, and Fox Business. ShowTime is available for an additional fee. Missing, however, is HBO. For sports fans, the service includes national coverage from ESPN, FoxSports, and NBC SportsNet. Also offered are regional sports networks from Fox and Comcast, SEC Network, Big Ten and ESPNU. Fox Soccer Plus is available as an add-on. In addition, YouTube TV includes YouTube Red's 28 original series. Some other features of the service include a DVR that will never run out of space and that's cable of simultaneous recordings, a visual TV guide, search feature, and voice support integration via Google Home.
Businesses

PayPal's Donation Tools Stiff Some Charities, New Class Action Lawsuit Alleges (cnbc.com) 24

Charitable donations made through PayPal's Giving Fund platform may never reach their intended recipients, a federal class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Chicago has alleged. From a report on CNBC: When charitable accounts are not set up correctly, PayPal continues to accept donations on their behalf, the suit alleges. Instead of notifying donors and nonprofits of the error, PayPal takes the money after six months and redirects it to another charity "without regard to the intention, beliefs, or desires of the donor," the lawsuit claims. The class action status of the suit still needs to be certified by a judge.
The Internet

Amazon's Cloud Service Has Outage, Disrupting Sites (usatoday.com) 154

An anonymous reader shares a report on USA Today: Portions of Amazon Web Services, the nation's largest cloud computing company, went offline Tuesday afternoon, affected multiple companies across the United States but especially on the east coast. The outage appeared to have begun around 12:45 pm ET. It was centered in AWS' S3 storage system on the east coast. Many of the services that firms use AWS are for back-end processes, and therefore not immediately visible to consumers, though the outage could disrupt customer-facing activities like logins and payments. At least some websites that appear to be affected are: Airbnb, Down Detector, Freshdesk, Pinterest, SendGrid, Snapchat's Bitmoji, Time, Buffer, Business Insider, Chef, Citrix, CNBC, Codecademy, Coursera, Cracked, Docker, Expedia, Expensify, Giphy, Heroku, Home Chef, iFixit, IFTTT, isitdownrightnow.com, Lonely Planet, Mailchimp, Medium, Microsoft's HockeyApp, News Corp, Quora, Razer, Slack, Sprout Social, Travis CI, Trello, Twilio, Unbounce, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Zendesk.

The dashboard of Amazon Web Services, which tracks the status of the service, is unable to change color, Amazon said. It is because the status dashboard also runs on the service that is down.
Businesses

Female Engineer Sues Tesla, Describing a Culture Of 'Pervasive Harassment' (theguardian.com) 309

A female engineer has spoken out about a discrimination lawsuit against Tesla that she filed last year. AJ Vandermeyden, 33, has accused Tesla of ignoring her claims of "pervasive harassment" and says she has suffered "mental distress" and "humiliation." From a report on The Guardian: Vandermeyden, 33, shared her story with the Guardian at a time when Silicon Valley is reeling from the explosive allegations of former Uber engineer Susan Fowler. Offering a rare public account of discrimination from a tech worker who remains employed at her company, Vandermeyden said her dedication to Tesla motivated her to advocate for fair treatment and reforms -- despite the serious risks she knows she faces for going public. "Until somebody stands up, nothing is going to change," she said in a recent interview, her first comments about a discrimination lawsuit she filed last year. "I'm an advocate of Tesla. I really do believe they are doing great things. That said, I can't turn a blind eye if there's something fundamentally wrong going on." Vandermeyden began at Tesla in 2013 and was eventually promoted to a manufacturing engineering position in the general assembly department, which consisted mostly of men and where she was paid less than male engineers whose work she directly took over, according to her complaint.
Transportation

Uber Says Thousands of London Drivers Threatened By English Language Test (reuters.com) 318

Costas Pitas, writing for Reuters: Tens of thousands of London private hire drivers could lose their licenses due to new English reading and writing requirements, taxi app Uber said on Tuesday at the start of a court battle to halt the plans. San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to book journeys at the touch of a button on their smartphone, has grown rapidly in recent years but faced bans and protests around the world as regulators play catch-up with technology disrupting traditional operators. Uber launched legal action in August after public body Transport for London (TfL) said that drivers should have to prove their ability to communicate in English, including to a standard of reading and writing which Uber says is too high. "It produces the profoundest of human effects. At one extreme it will lead to the loss of livelihood," Uber's lawyer Thomas de la Mare told the High Court in London. There are over 110,000 private hire drivers in the British capital, according to TfL but around 33,000 would fail to pass their renewal test due to the new language hurdle, de la Mare told the court, citing a calculation of data provided by TfL.
Communications

Battle of the Carriers: T-Mobile's New Promotion Offers Three Unlimited Data Lines For $100 (theverge.com) 61

A battle is raging between telecommunications giants and the public is benefiting from it. In response to T-Mobile's "One" unlimited data plan announced in August, Verizon introduced unlimited data plans of their own a couple of weeks ago. This caused a ripple effect as Sprint and AT&T unveiled new unlimited data plans that same week, both of which have their own restrictions and pricing. The battle appears to show no signs of slowing as the carriers are continuing their efforts to win consumers over. Today, AT&T undercut Verizon and T-Mobile with newer unlimited data plans. The "Unlimited Choice" plan is the cheaper of the two new plans, featuring unlimited data at a maximum speed of 3 megabits per second, standard definition, and no mobile hotspot for $60 per month. While it's lower than T-Mobile's $70 plan and Verizon's $80 option, it may not be as generous as T-Mobile's latest promotion. The company just announced a new promotion after AT&T's announcement that offers three unlimited data lines for $100. The Verge reports: In its continuing efforts to attract more sign-ups, T-Mobile's latest promotion offers an additional line for free for accounts with two or more lines. The offer works whether you want to add an extra phone line or a line for wearables or tablets. The deal is available for current and new customers -- the amount of data available to the free line will match up with whatever your current plan is for the other lines. If your plan does not have the same amount of data between devices, the free line will get whatever's the lowest of the bunch. Just two weeks ago, the company updated its T-Mobile One plan to include unlimited data for $100 a month between two lines. CEO John Legere said the free line promotion also applies this new plan. If you are confused about the four carriers' recent announcements, you are not alone. We have included related links below to help you make sense of each carrier's plans.
Businesses

Mozilla Acquires Pocket and Its More Than 10 Million Users (recode.net) 81

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox web browser, is buying Pocket, the read-it-later service, for an undisclosed amount. Pocket, which is described by Mozilla as its first strategic acquisition, will continue to operate as a Mozilla subsidiary. Founder Nate Weiner will continue to run Pocket, along with his team of about 25 people. Pocket, previously known as Read It Later, lets users bookmark articles, videos and other content to read or view later on the web or a mobile device. It's great for things like saving offline copies of web articles to read on plane rides or subway commutes, especially where internet access is sparse. Pocket, which was founded in 2007, has more than 10 million monthly active users, according to a rep. That's not bad, but suggests it's still a fairly niche service, especially as big firms like Facebook and Apple build simple "reading list" features into their platforms.
Businesses

Twitch Will Begin Selling Games You're Watching Later This Year (kotaku.com) 25

Twitch, home to millions of people who go to the site to watch games being player, is adding an e-commerce element to its game streaming platform. The Amazon-owned company announced today that it will sell video games directly on its site, which is already used by nearly 10 million daily active users. From a report: The new game sales program will allow stream viewers to click a "Buy Now" button at the bottom of the stream page to purchase the game they are viewing. Sales go through Twitch parent company Amazon, and while games will be available worldwide, only U.S. dollars will be supported as payment currency at launch
Businesses

Scraping By On Six Figures? Tech Workers Feel Poor in Silicon Valley's Wealth Bubble (theguardian.com) 792

Big tech companies pay some of the country's best salaries. But workers claim the high cost of living in the Bay Area has them feeling financially strained, reports The Guardian. One Twitter employee cited in the story, who earns a base salary of $160,000 a year, said his earnings are "pretty bad", adding that he pays $3000 rent for a two-bedroom house in San Francisco. From the article: Silicon Valley's latest tech boom has caused rents to soar over the last five years. The city's rents, by one measure, are now the highest in the world. The prohibitive costs have displaced teachers, city workers, firefighters and other members of the middle class, not to mention low-income residents. Now techies, many of whom are among the highest 1 percent of earners, are complaining that they, too, are being priced out. The Twitter employee said he hit a low point in early 2014 when the company changed its payroll schedule, leaving him with a hole in his budget. "I had to borrow money to make it through the month." He was one of several tech workers, earning between $100,000 and $700,000 a year, who vented to the Guardian about their financial situation.
AT&T

AT&T Undercuts Verizon, T-Mobile With New Unlimited Plan (cnet.com) 70

Roger Cheng, writing for CNET: AT&T just fired the latest salvo in the unlimited data wars. The Dallas telecommunications giant unveiled two new unlimited data plans. The first is Unlimited Choice, a stripped-down plan that comes with unlimited data at a maximum speed of 3 megabits per second, standard definition, and no mobile hotspot. At $60, it's lower than T-Mobile's $70 plan and Verizon's $80 option. Both plans, however, offer you full high-definition video and 10 gigabytes of mobile hotspot access. Sprint still offers the cheapest option at $50 a month, although prices rise by $10 after a year. AT&T continues to push its video aspirations with higher end option called Unlimited Plus that includes HD video and 10GB of mobile hotspot access. The plan costs $90 a month, but gives you the option to add DirecTV Now streaming video service for $10 and DirecTV home satellite TV service for $25 a month.
AI

Supersmart Robots Will Outnumber Humans Within 30 Years, Says SoftBank CEO (fortune.com) 226

Computers running artificial intelligence programs will exceed human intelligence within three decades, Masayoshi Son, founder of the Japanese technology and telecommunications conglomerate SoftBank Group, said on Monday. From a report on Fortune: "I really believe this," Son told a large audience at the Mobile World Congress, the telecom industry's annual conference in Barcelona. A computer will have the IQ equal to 1,000 times the average human by that point, he said. Even clothing like a pair of sneakers will have more computing power that a person, Son joked. "We will be less than our shoes," he said, to laughter. Asked if the rise of the computer could be dangerous for humankind, Son said that would be up to how people react. "I believe this artificial intelligence is going to be our partner," he said. "If we misuse it, it will be a risk. If we use it right, it can be our partner."

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