Category Archives: Technology

silicon valley & technology news

YouTube Driving Global Consumption of Music

If you are listening to music, chances are you’re on YouTube.

A music consumer report by the industry’s global body IFPI published Tuesday found that 86 percent of us listen to music through on-demand streaming.

And nearly half that time, 47 percent is spent on YouTube.

Video as a whole accounted for 52 percent of the time we spent streaming music, posing challenges to such subscription services as Spotify and SoundCloud.

But while Spotify’s estimated annual revenue per user was $20 (17.5 euros), YouTube’s was less than a dollar.

The London-based IFPI issued a broader overview in April that found digital sales for the first time making up the majority of global revenues thanks to streaming.

The report published Tuesday looked into where and when we listen to music.

It found that three in four people globally use smartphones, with the rate among 16- to 24-year-olds reaching 94 percent.

The highest levels were recorded in India, where 96 percent of consumers used smartphones for music, including 99 percent of young adults.

But music does not end when we put away our phones, with 86 percent globally also listening to the radio.

Copyright infringement was still a big issue, with unlicensed music accounting for 38 percent of what was consumed around the world.

“This report also shows the challenges the music community continues to face — both in the form of the evolving threat of digital copyright infringement as well as in the failure to achieve fair compensation from some user-upload services,” said IFPI chief Frances Moore.

The report noted that “96% of consumers in China and 96% in India listen to licensed music.”

It did not, however, say how many of those consumers also listened to music that infringed copyrights.

Overall, the average consumer spent 2.5 hours a day listening to music, with the largest share of it consumed while driving, the industry report said.

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Popularity of Electric Scooters Creates Jobs for ‘Juicers’

You see them everywhere in U.S. cities — young and old riding rented electric-powered scooters. When they are done, they can leave the scooters anywhere. 

Someone has to find and charge the scooters, then return them to designated hot spots where customers can use them the next day. And that has given rise to a new line of work — scooter juicers. 

Shivali Sharma is a stay-at-home mom in San Jose, California, and a Marine staff sergeant on medical leave. She works as a juicer to earn money while her boys sleep. 

“The hunt is fun,” she said.

It’s a new kind of piece work, made possible by GPS and phone apps. 

Sharma and her family noticed the scooters being left on their streets. It intrigued them.

“We were like, ‘What is this scooter doing? Who does it belong to?’” she said.

Then they heard about juicing and signed up. The company sent them charging stations. 

For the past several months, Sharma’s routine is set. Each night, this single mom leaves her twins with her parents and checks her phone app for Lime scooters scattered around the city, sending out GPS locator signals, all needing to be charged. She earns $6 per scooter, more if the scooter is harder to reach.

Charging scooters at home

For the scooter companies, juicers solve two problems — finding the scooters and then using their own electricity to charge them before putting them back on the streets. 

The competition among the juicers is part of the appeal, something Lime, one of the scooter companies, didn’t expect.

“The fact that juicers compare it to Pokemon Go is a happy accident,” said Will Lee, project manager at Lime, a San Francisco-based electric bike and scooter company. “Now that we’ve hit on this motivation, this gamification motivation among the juicers, we have done things to maybe amplify it or try to feed into folks’ natural desire to play the game.”

Gamification of work

To increase juicers’ engagement as the night progresses, Lime raises the dollar amount a juicer can get per scooter. A scooter in the middle of a homeless encampment may go for $10. The company plans to create levels of juicers, like a video game. 

Sharma, who has harvested more than 1,000 scooters, may be considered a super juicer. She can get 29 scooters in her truck. The work can be tiring. Each scooter weighs 15 kilos. Dealing with the competition is part of the gig. 

“There’s been many instances where I’ve been standing right next to a scooter just waiting for my app to kick in so I can collect the scooter,” she said. “Somebody’s come up from behind me just taking it, like, don’t you see me standing here?”

Sharma’s nightly hunt takes a lot of stamina. She works six nights a week, and wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to put all the scooters around the city before 7 a.m. She gets paid by 7:30 a.m. each day. 

As the gig economy grows, and more jobs like juicers are created, people like Sharma, who are willing to hustle, are finding new kinds of work. 

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Popularity of Electric Scooters Creates Jobs for ‘Juicers’

You see them everywhere in U.S. cities — young and old riding rented electric-powered scooters. When they are done, they can leave the scooters anywhere. 

Someone has to find and charge the scooters, then return them to designated hot spots where customers can use them the next day. And that has given rise to a new line of work — scooter juicers. 

Shivali Sharma is a stay-at-home mom in San Jose, California, and a Marine staff sergeant on medical leave. She works as a juicer to earn money while her boys sleep. 

“The hunt is fun,” she said.

It’s a new kind of piece work, made possible by GPS and phone apps. 

Sharma and her family noticed the scooters being left on their streets. It intrigued them.

“We were like, ‘What is this scooter doing? Who does it belong to?’” she said.

Then they heard about juicing and signed up. The company sent them charging stations. 

For the past several months, Sharma’s routine is set. Each night, this single mom leaves her twins with her parents and checks her phone app for Lime scooters scattered around the city, sending out GPS locator signals, all needing to be charged. She earns $6 per scooter, more if the scooter is harder to reach.

Charging scooters at home

For the scooter companies, juicers solve two problems — finding the scooters and then using their own electricity to charge them before putting them back on the streets. 

The competition among the juicers is part of the appeal, something Lime, one of the scooter companies, didn’t expect.

“The fact that juicers compare it to Pokemon Go is a happy accident,” said Will Lee, project manager at Lime, a San Francisco-based electric bike and scooter company. “Now that we’ve hit on this motivation, this gamification motivation among the juicers, we have done things to maybe amplify it or try to feed into folks’ natural desire to play the game.”

Gamification of work

To increase juicers’ engagement as the night progresses, Lime raises the dollar amount a juicer can get per scooter. A scooter in the middle of a homeless encampment may go for $10. The company plans to create levels of juicers, like a video game. 

Sharma, who has harvested more than 1,000 scooters, may be considered a super juicer. She can get 29 scooters in her truck. The work can be tiring. Each scooter weighs 15 kilos. Dealing with the competition is part of the gig. 

“There’s been many instances where I’ve been standing right next to a scooter just waiting for my app to kick in so I can collect the scooter,” she said. “Somebody’s come up from behind me just taking it, like, don’t you see me standing here?”

Sharma’s nightly hunt takes a lot of stamina. She works six nights a week, and wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to put all the scooters around the city before 7 a.m. She gets paid by 7:30 a.m. each day. 

As the gig economy grows, and more jobs like juicers are created, people like Sharma, who are willing to hustle, are finding new kinds of work. 

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WSJ: Google Hid Protracted Data Leak to Avoid Consequences

Google exposed the personal data of about 500,000 Google+ users to potential misuse by outside developers for years through a bug, then concealed the error to avoid consequences, according to an investigation published by The Wall Street Journal Monday.

Parent company Alphabet Inc responded by announcing it would shut down Google+, a largely defunct social network launched in 2011 to compete with Facebook. Shares of Alphabet Inc fell by about 1 percent in response to the story.  

“Our Privacy & Data Protection Office reviewed this issue, looking at the type of data involved, whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response,” Google said of the error in a statement to VOA News. “None of these thresholds were met in this instance.”

The report alleges that the bug became active in 2015, only being discovered by Google and shut down in March of this year. Google confirmed that it had discovered the bug in March, but would not say when it became active.

The Wall Street Journal says it reviewed an internal memo circulated among Google’s legal staff and senior executives that warned of “immediate regulatory interest” and public comparisons to Facebook’s user information leak to Cambridge Analytica should the mistake become public.

According to the paper, the memo said that while Google could not find evidence that the exposed data had been misused, it also could not prove that misuse did not happen.

CEO Sundar Pichai was reportedly informed of the decision to not tell users after it had already been made by an internal committee.

The data exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile pictures, places lived, occupations and relationship status. It did not include phone numbers, the content of emails or messages, or other kinds of communication data.

Google also said it would begin restricting the data it provides to outside developers. Hours after the story broke, “Google+” was a top trending term on Twitter.

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WSJ: Google Hid Protracted Data Leak to Avoid Consequences

Google exposed the personal data of about 500,000 Google+ users to potential misuse by outside developers for years through a bug, then concealed the error to avoid consequences, according to an investigation published by The Wall Street Journal Monday.

Parent company Alphabet Inc responded by announcing it would shut down Google+, a largely defunct social network launched in 2011 to compete with Facebook. Shares of Alphabet Inc fell by about 1 percent in response to the story.  

“Our Privacy & Data Protection Office reviewed this issue, looking at the type of data involved, whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response,” Google said of the error in a statement to VOA News. “None of these thresholds were met in this instance.”

The report alleges that the bug became active in 2015, only being discovered by Google and shut down in March of this year. Google confirmed that it had discovered the bug in March, but would not say when it became active.

The Wall Street Journal says it reviewed an internal memo circulated among Google’s legal staff and senior executives that warned of “immediate regulatory interest” and public comparisons to Facebook’s user information leak to Cambridge Analytica should the mistake become public.

According to the paper, the memo said that while Google could not find evidence that the exposed data had been misused, it also could not prove that misuse did not happen.

CEO Sundar Pichai was reportedly informed of the decision to not tell users after it had already been made by an internal committee.

The data exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile pictures, places lived, occupations and relationship status. It did not include phone numbers, the content of emails or messages, or other kinds of communication data.

Google also said it would begin restricting the data it provides to outside developers. Hours after the story broke, “Google+” was a top trending term on Twitter.

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Twitter Says it Will Crack Down on Abusers in Letter to Advisers

Twitter will strengthen rules rules to prevent sexual harassment and abuse on its platform, the social media company said Monday in an email to the collection of safety advocates, researchers and academics it uses help set its policies. There will also be harsher penalties for misconduct.

The new guidelines include immediately and permanently suspending the accounts of anyone who posts or is the source of non-consensual nudity. Twitter’s definition of non-consensual nudity will be expanded to include photos that are taken covertly.

Third parties will now be able to report unwanted sexual advances from one user to another. Previously, only those directly involved in the matter could do so.

Twitter also promised to publish new rules adding hate symbols and imagery to its definition of sensitive media.

The changes come on the heels of a series of tweets from CEO Jack Dorsey Friday pledging to limit the number of bullies and harassers using Twitter.

The micro-blogging platform faced intense criticism last year after it temporarily banned actress Rose McGowan last year for a tweeting out contact information for person she said was connected with Harvey Weinstein, who has faced accusations of sexual assault from McGowan and others.

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Twitter Says it Will Crack Down on Abusers in Letter to Advisers

Twitter will strengthen rules rules to prevent sexual harassment and abuse on its platform, the social media company said Monday in an email to the collection of safety advocates, researchers and academics it uses help set its policies. There will also be harsher penalties for misconduct.

The new guidelines include immediately and permanently suspending the accounts of anyone who posts or is the source of non-consensual nudity. Twitter’s definition of non-consensual nudity will be expanded to include photos that are taken covertly.

Third parties will now be able to report unwanted sexual advances from one user to another. Previously, only those directly involved in the matter could do so.

Twitter also promised to publish new rules adding hate symbols and imagery to its definition of sensitive media.

The changes come on the heels of a series of tweets from CEO Jack Dorsey Friday pledging to limit the number of bullies and harassers using Twitter.

The micro-blogging platform faced intense criticism last year after it temporarily banned actress Rose McGowan last year for a tweeting out contact information for person she said was connected with Harvey Weinstein, who has faced accusations of sexual assault from McGowan and others.

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Facebook Wants People to Invite Its Cameras into Their Homes

Facebook is launching the first electronic device to bear its brand, a screen and camera-equipped gadget intended to make video calls easier and more intuitive.

But it’s unclear if people will open their homes to an internet-connected camera sold by a company with a shoddy track record on protecting user privacy.

Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls. The device features a camera that uses artificial intelligence to automatically pan and zoom as people move around during calls.

The Portal will feature two different screen sizes. It will go on sale in early November for roughly $200 to $350.

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Facebook Wants People to Invite Its Cameras into Their Homes

Facebook is launching the first electronic device to bear its brand, a screen and camera-equipped gadget intended to make video calls easier and more intuitive.

But it’s unclear if people will open their homes to an internet-connected camera sold by a company with a shoddy track record on protecting user privacy.

Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls. The device features a camera that uses artificial intelligence to automatically pan and zoom as people move around during calls.

The Portal will feature two different screen sizes. It will go on sale in early November for roughly $200 to $350.

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Internet of Things Could Revolutionize City Planning

The massive breach of Facebook and the exposure of the information of an estimated 50 million users last week has highlighted one of the problems with all the data we are putting out into the world. City planners share those concerns, but they’re looking also looking at how “Big Data” may be a big boost in helping their own cities develop. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.

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