Summary of “Working from home surveillance software for your boss”

In the weeks since social distancing lockdowns abruptly scattered the American workforce, businesses across the country have scrambled to find ways to keep their employees in line, packing their social calendars and tracking their productivity to ensure they’re telling the truth about working from home.
Thousands of companies now use monitoring software to record employees’ Web browsing and active work hours, dispatching the kinds of tools built for corporate offices into workers’ phones, computers and homes.
Many employees are probably working longer and more sporadic hours than ever before: NordVPN Teams, which runs virtual private networks for businesses, said in March it had seen working time in the United States climb from eight to 11 hours a day since the stay-at-home orders began.
Several companies allow managers to regularly capture images of workers’ screens and list employees by who is actively working and their hours worked over the previous seven days.
One system, InterGuard, can be installed in a hidden way on workers’ computers and creates a minute-by-minute timeline of every app and website they view, categorizing each as “Productive” or “Unproductive” and ranking workers by their “Productivity score.” The system alerts managers if workers do or say something suspicious: In a demo of the software shown to The Post, the words “Job,” “Client” and “File” were all flagged, just in case employees were looking elsewhere for work.
Pragli executives argue that emails and Slack messages, the traditional lifeblood of office communication, are socially unfulfilling: efficient but soulless, and powerless to combat the distractions and loneliness of working from home.
Pragli’s system measures employees’ keyboard and mouse usage to assess whether they’re actively working – any more than 15 seconds can shift a worker from ‘active’ to ‘idle’ – and allows anyone to instantly start a video conversation by clicking on another person’s face, similar to swinging by their desk in a real-world office.
At the High Plains Journal, one woman working from home with four kids gave her Pragli avatar a shock of white hair.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Freewheeling, Copyright-Infringing World of Custom-Printed Tees”

In 2017, a. three-person Austin-based production and management company called Exurbia Films assumed rights management for the 1974 cult horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
“My job was to take us into Chainsaw 2.0,” says Pat Cassidy, a producer and agent with Exurbia.
Exurbia’s other job proved far more difficult: administering Chainsaw trademarks and copyrights, including the film’s title, images, and the rights to its iconic villain, Leatherface.
Industry veteran David Imhoff, who has brokered Chainsaw licensing deals on behalf of the film’s writer, Kim Henkel, and others since the 1990s, told Cassidy and another Exurbia agent, Daniel Sahad, to be prepared for a flood of counterfeit items.
Imhoff pointed Exurbia to ecommerce giants such as Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, where independent merchants hawked unauthorized Chainsaw items.
Exurbia has filed more than 50 notices with eBay, more than 75 with Amazon, and more than 500 with Etsy, asking the sites to remove items that violated Chainsaw trademarks.
The sites removed infringing items within a week or so; but if another bogus design appeared, Exurbia had to find it, document it, and file another notice.
In August, with Halloween approaching-the Christmas season for horror retail-friends texted Cassidy, telling him they’d seen a wave of new Chainsaw designs for sale online, mainly marketed through Facebook and Instagram ads.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Women Once Ruled the Computer World. When Did Silicon Valley Become Brotopia?”

In engineering circles, some refer to Lena as “The first lady of the internet.” Others see her as the industry’s original sin, the first step in Silicon Valley’s exclusion of women.
At a time when a degree in computer science guarantees a six-figure job offer to any young person with a modest intellect and a willingness to live in the Bay Area, women earn just 17.5 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer science.
Off-camera, guests would sometimes complain about a Silicon Ceiling-a sense that women’s opportunities in the tech world are severely limited-but they rarely wanted to discuss the subject on the record.
In 1946, six women were selected to become the first programmers of the U.S. military’s first computer.
Just as Cosmo was encouraging a broader selection of women to seek fat paychecks in this new field, men, also in search of highly paid jobs, started pushing women out.
As the number of overall computer science degrees picked back up during the dot-com boom, far more men than women filled those coveted seats.
The lawsuit echoes a complaint I’ve heard for years from female Googlers: that the company’s efforts to bring women on board haven’t been matched with an equally concerted effort to mentor and promote women into leadership positions.
“I’ve worked at Google for about six years, and I just haven’t been surrounded by women who are managers. I’ve just worked with so many men, and I’ve had crappy male bosses. Crappy and rude.” It wasn’t until she arrived at Google, Evans tells me, that she realized how isolated she was as a woman in a male-dominated field.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Athletic may hold the key to the future of sportswriting”

The Athletic has raised $140 million, is approaching 1 million subscribers and is valued at about $500 million, according to the company.
Flush with venture capital cash, the Athletic offers those journalists attractive salaries: $50,000 a year for entry-level reporters and mid-six figures for more accomplished writers.
With its growing subscriber base, the Athletic already has been more successful than early skeptics predicted, taking advantage of a fractured media environment and effectively serving the passions of local sports fans.
In interviews, multiple investors, along with media executives and industry insiders, said companies that value local consumers could make interesting potential buyers for the Athletic.
Among the companies they mentioned: Sinclair Broadcast Group, which just spent more than $10 billion on more than 20 regional sports networks; Fox Sports, which doesn’t have much of a digital footprint after eliminating its writers; Comcast, which owns a handful of regional sports networks; and ESPN, because it’s ESPN.No substantive negotiations have taken place, a person at the Athletic said, though some media companies have reached out.
The Athletic declined to comment on that, as did Fox Sports.
If it’s bought by a company that wants to expand the model, the Athletic could help stabilize the industry for the long term.
“If the Athletic doesn’t succeed, it would have a chilling effect because it would be a lost bet that people will pay for high-quality sports journalism,” said Ken Doctor, a media analyst who runs the website Newsonomics.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The iBackpack has it all: Kevlar, batteries, and a federal investigation”

As a reporter interested in crowdfunding disasters, I thought Monahan’s failed iBackpack project was one of the ultimate gadget pipe dreams gone bad. The beats were familiar: an idea that raised more than half a million dollars, only to never ship and leave behind thousands of angry backers.
Monahan doesn’t see it that way; the iBackpack needed to exist.
Ultimately Monahan shows me a backpack with external batteries tucked into it and loops for a cable to connect them all.
Monahan unpacks the bag and shows me the Kevlar plate, which he says comes from the “Chinese military.” After my visit, he told me to send a video crew to Texas to prove it worked – by shooting him in the back.
Former associates of Monahan say none of this iBackpack lore is true and iBackpack is actually a stolen idea from a company called GeoValid, which was started in 2013 by a man named Charlie Erlandson whose company’s advertising suggested the team would harness the power of biometrics to build various products, like a pet facial recognition database.
Erlandson named Monahan president of the company, and Zack Golden, who worked as an engineer, says Monahan intrigued Erlandson because he had access to a database that could be used for marketing.
Cruz recounted a time when Monahan told a female employee that he didn’t want anyone on his team that “Looks like a pig.” Cruz says Monahan then didn’t pay her.
Someone associated with iBackpack emailed people to ask if they wanted to work for Monahan, and Justes was told he could make 50 cents per data entry.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Rebekah Neumann’s Search For Enlightenment Fueled WeWork’s Collapse”

Today, Rebekah and Adam Neumann are living in temporary social exile in Tel Aviv after starring in the most sensational corporate collapse probably ever.
Adam founded WeWork with Rebekah’s help in 2010, promising to rescue 21st-century workers from the drabness of 20th-century offices and usher in a new era of collaboration and innovation.
Even though Rebekah’s name was absent from WeWork’s original literature – leading to accusations that the company rewrote its history to make her a co-founder – the business bore the hallmarks of her thirst for enlightenment and mystic milieu.
Adam Neumann had moved to New York from Tel Aviv around the same time Rebekah had taken off for India.
Rebekah didn’t start appearing in all the news stories about WeWork until 2014, the year the company achieved its first official billion-dollar valuation, on revenue of more than $100 million.
At the same time Rebekah, who had so masterfully domesticated and focused her husband in WeWork’s early days, increasingly turned her critical gaze toward sources of toxic “Energy” undermining the WeWork mission of, as she articulated in the IPO prospectus, “Elevating the world’s consciousness.” When Adam wanted to make a headcount reduction, Rebekah would walk through the offices looking for signs of bad energy, then call a meeting with the offending employee, ordering him or her fired within minutes; it was reported in Vanity Fair that a mechanic hired to maintain the company Gulfstream was let go after Rebekah determined his energy was poor.
If WeWork seemed like an heiress yoga instructor’s idea of a company – “Redefining success to include fulfillment and sharing and generosity,” is how Rebekah explained it to The School of Greatness – that’s precisely what it was.
A WeWork staffer remembers seeing Rebekah speak at the launch of WeGrow: “She’s up there talking all this – Scott Galloway calls it ‘yogababble’ – about how the school system isn’t doing enough to nurture conscious entrepreneurialism, and I’m thinking, you’re talking to a bunch of people whose kids pass through metal detectors on the way to school every day. She just came off like one of those women who has never left the bubble of that Upper East Side existence where all your friends are socialites.” In her jet-setting, enlightenment-seeking, Ivy League-credentialed way, Rebekah Neumann seemed almost provincial to him.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Become an International Gold Smuggler”

The laboratory Vilches had used to vouch for the gold wasn’t government-certified, they said, and they doubted his claims that the gold had come from coins.
They watched as smugglers brought gold south from Peru, across remote stretches of desert and through valleys in the Andes Mountains, or west from Argentina, driving over the snowy mountain pass in the shadow of 22,800-foot-high Aconcagua, then down to Santiago and Vilches’s headquarters, a place police nicknamed “The Bunker.” Inside, Vilches assayed, weighed, and paid for the gold.
Interviews with police and prosecutors in Chile and the U.S. and hundreds of pages of police files describe Vilches’s part in a black market that adds literally tons of illegally mined and contraband gold to the international economy every year.
In the past decade and a half, global gold consumption has risen by almost 1,000 tons a year, to about 4,300 tons, according to the World Gold Council, a London-based industry group.
South America’s illegal gold mines, most of them in the Amazon basin, are toxic pits in which mobs of laborers use fire hoses and mercury to extract nearly pure gold nuggets from the red earth.
The gold moves from smuggler to smuggler, then into a network of refiners and traders, all feeding the world’s voracious demand.
The mission is to assure that no gold comes from illegal mines that give rise to prostitution, labor abuses, and environmental damage or fund illegal activities or war, especially in Latin America, says Leah Butler, director of the conflict-free smelter program at the EICC. “We know that gold from Latin America is high-risk,” says Butler.
In December 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI brought Vilches to Miami, where he told a federal grand jury that he was coached by NTR Metals Miami on how to set up his corporate structure in the U.S. to handle smuggled gold and then launder the proceeds, people familiar with the U.S. probe say.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Language of Dieting”

You send in a very small package of your own poop, and the company tells you what’s happening in your gut so that you can recalibrate your diet to, among other things, lose weight and keep it off.
Dieting is no longer a necessary problem of vanity, as it has been historically termed, but a problem of knowledge and efficiency-a rhetorical shift with broad implications for how people think of themselves.
According to the market-research firm Marketdata, the U.S. diet industry was worth an estimated $66 billion in 2017, but the number of active dieters in the country was down 10 percent.
For new companies, laundering what are often fairly conventional diet practices through the language of technology provides the imprimatur of newness in the eyes of seasoned dieters, as well as a Trojan horse to reach consumers who, for whatever reason, were never interested in dieting qua dieting.
So if we’re no longer dieting and instead biohacking in order to fine-tune our personal microbiome using state-of-the-art testing and results-based methodology, then the potential market broadens.
There’s some temptation to see an odd sort of gender parity in tech’s talk of the universalization of dieting norms: Maybe if we all feel the same pressures to pursue the same kind of perfection, then we’ve taken a step toward relieving those pressures uniquely harming women.
Intermittent fasting, meal replacements, and ultra-detailed diet plans might not always be symptoms of disordered eating unto themselves, but a veneer of safety from scientific language can obscure the tendency for those behaviors to become physically harmful, and it can make intervention more difficult for family and friends.
Science has already made relatively clear that healthy diets involve eating a diverse, primarily plant-based diet of fresh foods over the course of one’s life.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Silicon Valley Ruined Work Culture Everywhere”

Mike Robbins, an executive coach who has worked with companies like Google, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, and the NBA, says everyone wants to copy what’s happening in Silicon Valley.
Everything from casual dress codes to free office meals and the rise of remote work has been driven by Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley’s biggest export, Robbins says, is the collapsing barrier between work and life.
Fewer people have been more vocal opponents of this 24/7 work culture than Dan Lyons, a former journalist who left the newsroom to work at startups in the mid-2000s.
Lyons likes to poke fun at the absurdities of tech work culture, and his 2018 book Lab Rats chronicles all of the bizarre corporate workshops and cultural institutions that have come to define work in Silicon Valley: mandatory “Lego play,” an obsession with open offices, the reframing of firing as “Graduation.”
He blames worker unhappiness not just on Silicon Valley’s work culture but also on its business model-one he calls “Shareholder capitalism.” The modern tech company is obsessed with growth and profit, at the expense of its employees and to the benefit of its investors.
Can we unwind the work culture we’ve created? Maybe.
A number of Away’s employees described abusive Slack messages from the CEO, being asked to work through vacations, and a culture of bullying-once considered normal, now considered unacceptable.

The orginal article.

Summary of “4-Day Workweek’s Appeal Goes Global As Bosses Seek To Boost Profits And Morale”

4-Day Workweek’s Appeal Goes Global As Bosses Seek To Boost Profits And Morale The notion of a shorter workweek might sound crazy to overworked Americans, but around the world, companies and even governments are starting to embrace it.
The idea of a four-day workweek might sound crazy, especially in America, where the number of hours worked has been climbing and where cellphones and email remind us of our jobs 24/7. But in some places, the four-day concept is taking off like a viral meme.
In exchange, employers are asking their workers to get their jobs done in a compressed amount of time.
So two years ago, he used Perpetual Guardian and its 240 workers as guinea pigs, partnering with academic researchers in Auckland to monitor and track the effects of working only four days a week.
Remarkably, workers got more work done while working fewer hours.
The company didn’t police how workers spent their time.
So American companies answer to shareholders, who tend to prioritize profit over worker benefits.
Mikeal Parlow started working a four-day week about a month ago.

The orginal article.