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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Donates Another $10 Milliion To Help Those Affected by Covid-19 in US

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter. (Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter. (Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Dorsey also donated $10 million this month to help prisons in the US fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 27, 2020, 4:35 PM IST

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey has donated $10 million to Project 100 which will give $1,000 in cash to 10,000 families who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Project 100 is a joint effort between nonprofits GiveDirectly, Propel and Stand for Children, and has raised nearly $84 million since April.

It aims to raise $100 million in order to provide cash gifts to 100,000 American families. Other donors to Project 100 include Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, billionaires Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin and MacKenzie Bezos.

Dorsey also donated $10 million this month to help prisons in the US fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The donation was given to criminal justice advocacy group REFORM Alliance that would buy 10 million face masks and personal protective equipment (PPEs) for prisoners and other employees.

“$10mm to @REFORM Alliance to get PPE to every prison and jail in America, all towards their mission of reforming the criminal justice system,” Dorsey tweeted. The funds come from Dorsey’s #startsmall initiative, which has $1 billion in total, given by Dorsey in April using equity from his mobile payment company Square. So far, Dorsey who has a net worth at $4.8 billion, has distributed $85 million worth of Square stock to more than 50 nonprofits since April.




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France Develops '3D-Semantic' Laser Camera to Fight Covid-19 By Managing Crowd Flow

Outsight has developed a large-scale sensor capable of recognizing certain behaviors in dense crowds. (Pic Source: AFP Relaxnews)

Outsight has developed a large-scale sensor capable of recognizing certain behaviors in dense crowds. (Pic Source: AFP Relaxnews)

The camera can follow individuals over a large area, ensure they are wearing masks and maintaining social-distancing norms without compromising their privacy.

  • AFP Relaxnews
  • Last Updated: May 26, 2020, 12:47 PM IST

French startup Outsight has developed a groundbreaking autonomous laser capable of managing crowd flow. According to its designers, the new device makes it possible to track individuals and monitor the behaviour of large numbers of people so as to ensure wearing masks and respect for social distancing rules. The new “3D-semantic camera” can follow individuals over a large area, ensure that they are wearing masks, and check their body temperatures and respect for social distancing, but without compromising their privacy.

Rather than tracking an entire crowd in a sports arena, store or any other public space, the goal of the new device is to identify behaviours and track individuals or groups on the basis of selected criteria, and thus enable human staff to intervene where they are most needed.

Outsight, which is hoping that the new technology will soon be deployed in public areas, has not disclosed any further details of implementation plans for the moment.




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Smartphone Shipments to Suffer Annual Decline by 14.6% in 2020: Gartner

Due to impacts of Covid-19, shipments of total mobile phones are forecast to decline 14.6 percent in 2020, while smartphone shipments will achieve a slightly slower decline of 13.7 percent year over year to total 1.3 billion units this year, according to a Gartner forecast on Tuesday. “While users have increased the use of their mobile phones to communicate with colleagues, work partners, friends and families during lockdowns, reduced disposable income will result in fewer consumers upgrading their phones,” Ranjit Atwal, Senior Research Director at Gartner, said in a statement.

“As a result, phone lifetimes will extend from 2.5 years in 2018 to 2.7 years in 2020,” said Atwal. In 2020, affordable 5G phones were expected to be the catalyst to increase phone replacements, but now it is unlikely to be the case. 5G phones are now forecast to represent only 11 percent of total mobile phone shipments in 2020. “The delayed delivery of some 5G flagship phones is an ongoing issue,” said Annette Zimmermann, Research Vice President at Gartner.

“Moreover, the lack of 5G geographical coverage along with the increasing cost of the 5G phone contract will impact the choice of a 5G phone.” Overall, spending on 5G phones will be impacted in most regions apart from China, where continued investment in 5G infrastructure is expected, allowing providers in China to effectively market 5G phones.

The combined global shipments PCs, tablets and mobile phones are on pace to decline 13.6 percent in 2020, according to the forecast. PC shipments are expected to decline by 10.5 percent this year. Shipments of notebooks, tablets and Chromebooks are forecast to decline slower than the PC market overall in 2020.

“The forecasted decline in the PC market, in particular, could have been much worse,” said Atwal. “However, government lockdowns due to COVID-19 forced businesses and schools to enable millions of people to work from home and increase spending on new notebooks, Chromebooks and tablets for those workers. Education and government establishments also increased spending on those devices to facilitate e-learning.”

Gartner said that 48 percent of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 30 percent pre-pandemic. Overall, the work from home trend will make IT departments shift to more notebooks, tablets and Chrome devices for work. “This trend combined with businesses required to create flexible business continuity plans will make business notebooks displace desk-based PCs through 2021 and 2022,” said Atwal.



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Amazon Engineers Who Helped Develop The Kindle And Echo Devices Are Working on COVID Testing Tools

Representative Image.

Representative Image.

Amazon recently announced to build its own coronavirus testing lab and test more employees at its warehouses and other facilities.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 26, 2020, 10:22 AM IST

The Amazon team behind products like Kindle e-readers and Echo smart home speakers are now working on to build Covid-19 testing capabilities. Amazon’s hardware group Lab126 is hiring engineers to work on its coronavirus testing initiative, according to job listings reported by GeekWire.

In a series of job posts, the e-commerce giant is looking for new Lab126 mechanical design engineers to “investigate and introduce new technology and methodology to enhance quality and efficiency of Covid-19 testing,” among other responsibilities.

“Lab126 is based in Silicon Valley, but the posts indicate these jobs are located in Hebron, Ky., where Amazon is separately hiring lab assistants, scientists and others for its COVID-19 testing programme,” said the report. Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has made it clear that the company’s Covid-19 response will be a major new initiative.

Amid the call to shut its warehouses and protect front-line employees from the COVID-19 disease, Amazon recently announced to build its own coronavirus testing lab and test more employees at its warehouses and other facilities. According to the company, a team of Amazonians with a variety of skills from research scientists and programme managers to procurement specialists and software engineers have moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative.

“We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab and hope to start testing small numbers of our front line employees soon,” Amazon said in a statement. To date, Amazon has made over 150 process changes at sites around the world to ensure the health and safety of its teams.

Covid-19 claimed the life of another Amazon warehouse worker in the US last week, amid demand for enhanced safety measures for the e-commerce giant’s employees. The latest victim became the eighth Amazon warehouse worker in the US to have lost life due to complications from Covid-19, although the e-commerce giant did not disclose the exact numbers.




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Cafe of the Future? South Korea Hires Robot That Seamlessly Delivers Orders to Customers

A robot that takes orders, makes coffee and brings the drinks straight to customers is seen in a cafe in Daejeon, South Korea. (Pic Source: Reuters)

A robot that takes orders, makes coffee and brings the drinks straight to customers is seen in a cafe in Daejeon, South Korea. (Pic Source: Reuters)

An order of six drinks, processed through a kiosk in the cafe, takes just seven minutes.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: May 25, 2020, 9:34 PM IST

The new robot barista at the cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, is courteous and swift as it seamlessly makes its way towards customers. “Here is your Rooibos almonds tea latte, please enjoy. It’s even better if you stir it,” it says, as a customer reaches for her drink on a tray installed within the large, gleaming white capsule-shaped computer.

After managing to contain an outbreak of the new coronavirus which infected more than 11,000 people and killed 267, South Korea is slowly transitioning from intensive social distancing rules towards what the government calls “distancing in daily life”. Robots could help people observe social distancing in public, said Lee Dong-bae, director of research at Vision Semicon, a smart factory solution provider which developed the barista robot together with a state-run science institute.

“Our system needs no input from people from order to delivery, and tables were sparsely arranged to ensure smooth movements of the robots, which fits well with the current ‘untact’ and distancing campaign,” he said.

The system, which uses a coffee-making robotic arm and a serving robot, can make 60 different types of coffee and serves the drinks to customers at their seats. It can also communicate and transmit data to other devices and contains self-driving technology to calculate the best routes around the cafe.

An order of six drinks, processed through a kiosk, took just seven minutes. The only human employee at the two-storey cafe was a patissier who also has some cleaning duties and refills ingredients. The manufacturer and the scientific institute aim to supply at least 30 cafes with robots this year.

“Robots are fun and it was easy because you don’t have to pick up your order,” said student Lee Chae-mi, 23. “But I’m also a bit of worried about the job market as many of my friends are doing part-time jobs at cafes and these robots would replace humans.”




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IBM Fires Thousands of Employees in US as New CEO Looks For Revival

Representative Image: Reuters

Representative Image: Reuters

IBM, however, did not disclose how many workers are affected but reports said thousands of employees are set to lose jobs in at least five US states.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 25, 2020, 9:35 AM IST

Arvind Krishna-led tech giant IBM has joined the league of companies who have started firing employees in tough Covid-19 times. The company confirmed the layoffs in a statement given to the media late Friday.”Recognizing the unique and difficult situation this business decision may create for some of our employees, IBM is offering subsidized medical coverage to all affected US employees through June 2021,” said a company spokesperson.

“While we always consider the current environment, IBM’s workforce decisions are in the interest of the long-term health of our business,” said the company, adding that the “highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly remix high-value skills”.Both Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and IBM have announced significant cost-cutting measures, including pay cuts and significant job losses, reports Ars Technica. IBM, however, did not disclose how many workers are affected but media reports said thousands of employees are set to lose jobs in at least five states in the United States.

HPE also announced its cost-cutting plans “as part of its more recent quarterly earnings report”. The company will cut some salaries through October 31, with executives taking pay cuts of 20 to 25 per cent. According to Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, he is hearing it’s a balancing act between business units. “IBM is moving as many resources as it can to the cloud. Essentially, you lay off some of the people without the skills you need and who can’t be re-educated and you bring in people with certain skill sets. So not a net reduction in headcount,” Moorhead told TechCrunch. The company acquired Red Hat for $34 billion in 2018.




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Huawei May Have Lesser Involvement in 5G Networks in The UK

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Image: AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Image: AP)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked officials to make plans to reduce China’s involvement in British infrastructure to zero by 2023.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: May 23, 2020, 11:52 AM IST

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to reduce Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Johnson has asked officials to make plans to reduce China’s involvement in British infrastructure to zero by 2023. Johnson is expected to use less reliance on China as a means to boost trade talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in the aftermath of Britain’s departure from the European Union, according to reports.

Downing Street declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier on Friday, The Times reported that Johnson has instructed civil servants to make plans to end Britain’s reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other strategic imports.

Beijing is being criticised for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China. Beijing denies U.S. allegations it has not been transparent about the outbreak. “He (Johnson) still wants a relationship with China but the Huawei deal is going to be significantly scaled back. Officials have been instructed to come up with a plan to reduce Huawei’s involvement as quickly as possible,” a source was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.

The development would be a change of direction for Britain, which in late April confirmed it would allow Huawei to have a role in building its 5G phone network. Britain decided in January to allow Huawei into what the government said were non-sensitive parts of the network, capping its involvement at 35%. The United States has raised security concerns about Huawei equipment and warned that allies that use it in their networks risked being cut off from valuable intelligence sharing feeds.




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Facebook Work From Home Employees to Face Salary Cuts Based on Their Cost of Living

Image for Representation

Image for Representation

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook employees who choose to relocate from Silicon Valley may see a change in their salaries.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 11:31 AM IST

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has laid out a detailed remote-working plan to make half of his 50,000-strong workforce work from home by 2030, and employees who move to cheaper areas will face pay cuts as salaries are based on the cost of living in each location. In a virtual town hall meeting with his employees, Zuckerberg said that Facebook employees who choose to relocate from the Silicon Valley may see a change in their salaries. “That means if you live in a location where the cost of living is dramatically lower, or the cost of labor is lower, then salaries do tend to be somewhat lower in those places,” said Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg told staff on Thursday that they would need to move back to their homes by January 1, or tell the company where they are choosing to live instead so Facebook can adjust salaries, which he said was necessary for tax and accounting purposes, reports NBC News. “We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point. There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this,” he added. According to him, about half of Facebook employees would work from home five to 10 years from now.

“We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale, with a thoughtful and responsible plan for how to do this. We’re going to do it in a measured way over time,” said Zuckerberg. As of 2018, the median employee compensation at Facebook was more than $240,000 a year.

According to Market Watch, the median home price in Menlo Park, California, where Facebook has its headquarters, is $2.4 million, while the median home price in the wider Bay Area was $928,000 last year. In an internal Facebook survey, about 45 percent employees were “pretty confident” that they would move to another place if they had that opportunity, with an additional 30 percent saying they “might” move.

Nearly 60 percent said they’d prefer to move to a smaller city or town. “When you limit hiring to people who either live in a small number of big cities or are willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people who live in different communities, different backgrounds or may have different perspectives,” said Zuckerberg. The company has said workers will be able to work from home at least through the end of the year.




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Apple Sold 3.9 Million iPhones in China in April as it Reopens All Retail Stores in the Country

Image for Representation
(Image: Reuters)

Image for Representation
(Image: Reuters)

In April, overall smartphone shipments in China was up over 94 per cent in comparison to March and reached 40.8 million.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 10:59 AM IST

Apple bounced back in April in China after a dull March owing to lockdowns, selling 3.9 million iPhones which is nearly 160 percent increase from the previous month. In April, overall smartphone shipments in China was up over 94 percent in comparison to March and reached 40.8 million, reports CNBC. Apple closed all its retail stores outside Greater China in March as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. All the Apple stores in Greater China are now open.

According to the IDC, Apple has always had a significant share of smartphones in use in China because iOS-based iPhones have a longer replacement cycle than Android phones. In 2019, Apple continued to have the largest user base among smartphone vendors in China, with iPhones in use accounting for 18.9 percent – representing a slightly lower percentage than in 2018 – of all smartphones in use in China.

The mid-range smartphone segment in which the new iPhone SE falls ($400-$600 exclusive of tax) experienced a contraction in China throughout 2019 as vendors gradually shifted away from the segment to the mainstream price range emphasizing performance to price and to the high end.

“The new iPhone SE has a clear target audience, i.e. users of older iPhone models. It is therefore not so much an attack as a defense amid increasingly intense competition for users in the domestic market as Apple attempts to keep existing iPhone users in the iOS fold,” according to Xi Wang, research manager at IDC China.

According to the latest report from Counterpoint Research, smartphone sales in China experienced the roughest March quarter in recent memory, dropping by 22 percent compared to Q1 2019 values. The iPhone 11 was the best-selling device for the January–February period, marking the seventh consecutive month it reigned supreme. Apple also managed to increase its market share. “Consumers continued to purchase iPhones from e-commerce platforms despite the shutdown of Apple stores across China during February,” said Ethan Qi, senior analyst at Counterpoint.




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HP To Implement Major Cost Cuts, Reduces CEO Pay by 25% Due to Covid-19 Crisis

HP logo

HP logo

HP also decided to cut by 25% the portion of the annual $100,000 cash retainer entitled by directors for the same period

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 2:44 PM IST

Hewlett Packard Enterprise on Thursday unveiled a plan targeting gross savings of at least $1 billion (817.5 million pounds) by 2022 and cut the base salaries of top executives by 25% as the software maker seeks to weather the coronavirus crisis. Shares, down about 35% this year, fell nearly 6% in extended trading after the company missed second-quarter revenue and profit estimates, hit by global lockdowns since February.

Chief Executive Officer Antonio Neri flagged concerns about cautious consumers and supply constraints during a post-earnings call. Beginning July 1, through the remainder of the fiscal year 2020, the base salaries of the CEO and officers at the executive vice president level will be reduced by 25%, HPE said.

The board also agreed to cut by 25% the portion of the annual $100,000 cash retainer entitled by directors for the same period. HPE will now focus on investments and realign its workforce to evolve with its supply chain and real estate strategies, as well as right-size the business.

“My expectation is at least 50% of our employees will never come back to an office,” Neri said on the call. HP, which in April withdrew its 2020 forecast, posted second-quarter adjusted earnings of 22 cents per share, missing the average analyst estimate of 29 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Revenue of $6.01 billion also missed an estimate of $6.29 billion.




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