TTIMES WORLD: Today's News Report

Sunday, April 21, 2024
Washington, DC, USA


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Stop Big Tech Abuse in Fees
US Government Tries to Hold Them in Check

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Senators were unsatisfied with explanations from Apple and Google senior director for government affairs  about why the companies' fees do not apply to Uber Technologies and apps that sell physical goods.

Expressing concern US Senator from Connecticut  Richard Blumenthal said, "It looks like a threat, it talks like a threat, it's a threat." He vowed to investigate Google's action further.

Stating that the company would never threaten its partners, Google's Executive said the call reflected an effort to ask an honest question.

Revealing that  nearly $500 million in fees was raised from prices against consumers. He said Apple approved the update two months later, only after senior leaders at Match's parent company at the time, IAC/Interactivecorp, raised the issue with their counterparts at Apple.


The hearing came a day after Apple said it would begin selling AirTags - which can be attached to items like car keys to help users find them directly competing with Tile, which been selling a similar tracking device for over a decade.

Apple said its AirTags was an extension of its "FindMy" app, which is used for locating lost Apple devices and to share user locations, having been introduced in 2010, before Tile was founded. Last month, Apple opened its operating system up to alternative item trackers and said that Chipolo, a startup competing with Tile and AirTags, is using the system.

Tile General Counsel Kirsten Daru testified that Apple's FindMy program is installed by default on Apple phones and cannot be deleted.

"Apple has once again exploited its market power and dominance to condition our customers' access to data by effectively breaking our user experience and directing our users to FindMy," she said.

Near-blind Ansell's mole-rats-Zambia
Zambia

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Near-blind Ansell's mole-rats detect magnetic cues with eyes, study shows

This article is more than 8 months old

Research shows Zambian species with surgically removed eyes change nest-building habits but other behaviours remain intact

Ansell’s mole rats cannot see colour but have an innate preference to construct nests in the south-east sector of a circular arena.
Ansell’s mole rats cannot see colour but have an innate preference to construct nests in the south-east sector of a circular arena. Photograph: Alamy
 Science correspondent
Wed 30 Sep 2020 00.01 BST

Near-blind, underground-burrowing, African Ansell’s mole-rats can sense magnetic fields without their eyes, a study has found.

Native to Zambia, the animals have eyes that span just 1.5mm in diameter, live in elaborate underground tunnel systems of up to 1.7 miles (2.8km) long and feed on plant tubers and roots.

The Ansell’s mole-rat’s eyes are barely functional. They cannot see colour or form sharp images, and their main function is to differentiate between light and dark.

Typically, the animals display an innate preference to construct nests in the south-east sector of a circular arena, while other mole-rats prefer different directions.


To establish how they orientate themselves researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany surgically removed the eyes of a group of mole-rats.

Initially, they tested six mole-rat pairs, finding that before surgery they preferred the south-east for nest building, but after surgery the activity was random. These results suggested the rodents’ magnetic senses were impaired post-surgery, but other factors including topography were not ruled out.

A second experiment was then conducted comparing 10 mole-rats with surgically removed eyes with 10 in a control-group. The researchers tried four magnetic field alignments – those in the control group went south-east, while the other group was not partial to that direction.

Crucially, post-surgery mole-rats did not display any other behavioural changes, the scientists wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Magnetoreception, the ability to sense magnetic fields, has been demonstrated in a range of animals, but the structure and location of the magnetoreceptor cells has been unclear.

Previous research has also indicated that this mole-rats’ eyes are imperative to detecting magnetic cues. In one experiment when a local anaesthetic was applied to the cornea of the mole-rats’ eye they lost their ability to orient. This approach had some drawbacks, said the author of the new study, Kai Caspar, as the drug could penetrate the blood-brain barrier and trigger a cascading effect on the nervous system.

Does the new study mean Ansell’s mole-rats have retained their eyes – in contrast to their largely blind subterranean counterparts – because of these magnetic receptors?

The receptor in question did not appear to be positioned in a spatial order – any organ could do the trick, Caspar said, noting that blind mole-rats retain their ability to detect magnetic cues. “We still do not know why Ansell mole-rats retain their eyes. This magnetoreception appears to be not the answer.”

Remote Working For Software Companies
Some Aspect is Here to Stay

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Software chief technical officers report successful transition to remote work environment; developers have concerns.

In brief:

  • Software CTOs’ and developers’ opinions differ on the success of remote work environments, according to two recent EY surveys.
  • EY-Parthenon practice outlines practical steps that can improve work environments for remote software development teams.

How EY can help

Strategy consulting

EY-Parthenon professionals recognize that CEOs and business leaders are tasked with achieving maximum value for their organizations’ stakeholders in this transformative age. We challenge assumptions to design and deliver strategies that help improve profitability and long-term value.

Read more

Two recent EY-Parthenon surveys suggest there may be a disconnect between how software company leadership and frontline software developers view the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Software company chief technical officers (CTOs) and chief product officers (CPOs) say their transition to a remote workforce due to the recent pandemic has been successful and relatively painless. However, developers working on the front lines say working remotely has affected collaboration, skill development and even employee satisfaction.

According to a survey of 1,000 CTOs and CPOs, most executives believe their organizations have adapted well due to proper planning, continuous updating of product road maps, and taking decisive actions early in the pandemic to prioritize and reorganize teams. The EY-Parthenon CTO survey involves top executives from global software companies ranging in size from $10 million in annual revenues to $30 billion or more.

Meanwhile, frontline software developers say there are problems. In a separate survey of global software developers:

  • 80% report a negative impact from the new “all remote” workforce model on internal collaboration.
  • 73% report a negative impact to skill development and cross-training.
  • 56% report a negative impact to employee satisfaction. 

Employee satisfaction

00%

of software developers report a negative impact from the new “all remote” workforce model on internal collaboration.

The EY-Parthenon developer survey involved 1,000 frontline software developers from global companies ranging in size from $10 million in annual revenues to $10 billion or more.

How to bridge the gap

Given that 94% of senior executives report that they anticipate making at least some remote working policy changes permanent after the pandemic has subsided, how do software companies and their research and development (R&D) organizations prepare for change? Improvements in software development tools and processes may hold the key.

COVID-19

00%

of senior executives report that they anticipate making at least some remote working policy changes permanent after the pandemic has subsided.

While most software companies report that they leverage an “agile” software development process, EY-Parthenon research indicates that only a fraction of those companies are truly operating in an agile manner. These gaps between what a company’s processes look like on paper compared with what they look like in reality can cause delays and productivity challenges. These challenges are likely exacerbated in a remote environment, where process and quality control are more difficult to enforce without proper tooling, especially in organizations with siloed team structures.

Based on EY experience, we have identified three areas of investment that can make a meaningful difference in supporting software R&D employees and enabling long-term success:

1.  Communication

The first element of team-level management is providing effective internal communication throughout stand-ups, sprint planning sessions and retrospectives. The one-on-one and small group collaboration that is a feature of on-site working can be lacking in a remote environment. Rather than prompting collaboration, remote meetings can become “check the box” exercises.

Team leaders may need to enable two main types of communication beyond email: synchronous communication (e.g., messaging platforms, real-time whiteboarding tools) and asynchronous communication (e.g., project management tracking tools). When rolled out in tandem with thoughtful guidelines and work norms (e.g., time-boxed stand-ups with mandatory usage of webcams, protected “focus times”), these basic tools can go a long way toward continually progressing and reducing employee uncertainty around cultural norms and expectations in a work-from-home environment.

Code review: Code reviews are more difficult in a remote environment. Collaborative approaches such as “over the shoulder” reviews are not possible. Implementing a stringent process that forces code reviews to be completed through a specialized tool before new code can be committed to the codebase can become essential both for software quality and continued mentorship and skill growth for developers.

Tracking developer productivity: When it comes to individual performance management, it is important that employees know there is a clear process for tracking performance in an unbiased manner. Several companies that build automated tools based on monitoring codebase contributions have emerged. But tools may not be the only solution — they can be coupled with a thoughtful qualitative performance management process implemented by good managers. It is important to seek and incorporate feedback from employees during the implementation of any performance management tools as well as on an ongoing basis.

2.  Professional development

The long-term success of a software company is predicated on the continued professional growth of its employees and their ability to feel like they are growing as part of a cohesive team. It is difficult to build and sustain a strong culture of professional development when teams are working apart. “Work from home” only renders the task more challenging. This challenge can be met by introducing two types of initiatives: structured events and organic events.

Implementing a set of structured events is straightforward. It involves setting up processes that enable frequent formal reviews as a way for employees to communicate feedback, investing in budgets to support virtual “lunch and learns” and end-of-sprint or release parties, as well as continued financial and logistical support for employees seeking to take outside courses.

If a company budgeted for these types of activities prior to the pandemic, that budget can remain in place and leadership can proactively support the continuation of these types of events. As an example, some organizations that have previously provided in-person training are now providing their employees with access to reputable online course catalogs.

Unstructured, organic interactions are more difficult to recreate. Some of the most valuable team building and learning moments occur at natural moments of “collision” that take place due to the physical proximity of employees in the office. One way to try to foster similar moments in a remote environment is to devote time and budget for informal lunches and coffee chats that employees can use as desired. From a culture perspective, it is important to encourage these interactions as valuable uses of time that are supported by senior leadership.

3. The physical environment

Finally, companies cannot forget about the physical work environment. Companies may need to financially support their employees in acquiring the basics: high-speed internet, quality desktop monitors, ergonomic keyboards and mice, a comfortable chair and a standing desk if desired. Employees cannot be productive and cannot sustain long-term work from home if they are uncomfortable and do not have the right tools.

Additionally, consider some of the morale-lifting perks that may have been available to employees at the office — whether it is snacks, happy hours, weekly group meals, gym amenities or access to recreational spaces. These are an often-overlooked booster of employee morale, productivity and sustainability. Consider devoting budget for employees to recreate some of these perks at home. While it may not be a deal breaker for employees in the near term, these kinds of benefits can engender long-term employee commitment.

Conclusion

COVID-19 has forced all software organizations to adopt remote working in full force. With senior executives reporting that some form of this remote environment is here to stay post-pandemic, companies must step away from a “let’s just get through these next few months” mentality and focus on fostering long-term sustainability for their employees.

Those that can do so successfully stand to gain from a productive and talented workforce. The risk of eschewing this investment is the gradual decrease in productivity and the associated risks around product quality and product delivery, as well as the loss of high-quality talent to other companies that can make appropriate changes.

Thanks to Ben Feldman, EY-Parthenon, and Susan Walker, Ernst & Young LLP, for their contributions to this article.

Nigerians tasked on green technology to achieve SDGs
Technology

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The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation University of Benin (CGE-Nigeria) has stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace new strategies, especially anaerobic digestion (AD) technology for waste management to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It stated this at the weekend during a RECIRCULATE stakeholders’engagement it organised for secondary school students with the theme: Stimulating The Interest Of Young Africans In Sustainable Waste Management Practices.

Declaring the session open, Principal Investigator of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) RECIRCULATE Project and CGE-Nigeria Director, Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, who was represented by Prof. Christopher Emokaro, told the participants that the workshop was aimed at passing on a generational legacy to secondary school students on how to better manage wastes.

He said in most parts of the world, energy was being generated, while food production was being boosted from waste through anaerobic digestion (AD) or green technology.

Five Most Common Cancers Among Men
Center of Disease Control

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Most Common Cancer Found
Among Men in the US


5 Most Common Cancers in Men

Prostate cancer might get all the public awareness campaigns, but to protect men's health, there are additional cancers guys should guard against.

By Chris Iliades, MD

Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

The five most common cancers among American men are:

Prostate Cancer

lung Cancer,

Colorectal Cancer

Bladder Cancer

Skin Melanoma

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now that you know what to watch for, get your cancer IQ up to date with the basics on each of these threats to your health.

Chart of high-fiber foods
Suggestion From Mayo Clinic

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Chart of high-fiber foods

Looking to add more fiber to your diet? Fiber — along with adequate fluid intake — moves quickly and relatively easily through your digestive tract and helps it function properly. A high-fiber diet may also help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.


Here's a look at the fiber content of some common foods. Read nutrition labels to find out exactly how much fiber is in your favorite foods. Women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day.


Fruits

Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*

Raspberries 1 cup 8.0
Pear, with skin 1 medium 5.5
Apple, with skin 1 medium 4.4
Banana 1 medium 3.1
Orange 1 medium 3.1
Strawberries (halves) 1 cup 3.0
Figs, dried 2 medium 1.6
Raisins 1 ounce (60 raisins) 1.0


Grains, cereal and pasta

Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*

Spaghetti, whole-wheat, cooked 1 cup 6.3
Barley, pearled, cooked 1 cup 6.0
Bran flakes 3/4 cup 5.5
Oat bran muffin 1 medium 5.2
Oatmeal, instant, cooked 1 cup 4.0
Popcorn, air-popped 3 cups 3.6
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 3.5
Bread, rye 1 slice 1.9
Bread, whole-wheat 1 slice 1.9

Top Ten Cities To Visit in Europe This Summer
See Why We Rank Them

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Ten Best Cities to Visit in Europe this Summer
Longest Gain for Your Travel Buck


Ten best cities to visit in Europe this summer. The new trends in Europe will surprise you. Get the best buck for your dime is the way to go, off course the major metropolises are charming, overlooked locales, Europe is brimming with cities everyone should visit. But where does a penny-pinching, adventure-seeking twenty something even begin when it comes to traveling Europe?

The big players — London, Paris, Amsterdam — are great. Those should be on everyone’s bucket list. For millennials, these 20 cities offer delicious street food, hip hostels, cozy cafes and many glimpses into new cultures.

And there’s a bonus — these beautiful cities are even worth visiting if you’re not exactly in your 20s anymore. List from top includes:

1. Riga, Latvia
2. Berlin, Germany
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Stockholm, Sweden
5. Budapest, Hungary
6. Fira, Greece
7. Oslo, Norway
8. Lisbon, Portugal
9. Dublin, Ireland
10. Rotterdan, Netherland


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