Foxconn makes masks for its iPhone workers amid coronavirus crisis | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

What is the virus causing illness in Wuhan?

It is a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it has come from animals. Many of those initially infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city.

What other coronaviruses have there been?

New and troubling viruses usually originate in animal hosts. Ebola and flu are other examples – severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers) are both caused by coronaviruses that came from animals. 

What are the symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus?

The virus causes pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. If people are admitted to hospital, they may get support for their lungs and other organs as well as fluids. Recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.

Is the virus being transmitted from one person to another?

Human to human transmission has been confirmed by China’s national health commission, and there have been human-to-human transmissions in the US and in Germany. As of 8 February, the death toll stands at 722 inside China, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines. Infections inside China stand at 31,161 and global infections have passed 280 in 28 countries. The mortality rate is 2%.
Two members of one family have been confirmed to have the virus in the UK, and a third person was diagnosed with it in Brighton, after more than 400 were tested and found negative. The Foreign Office has urged UK citizens to leave China if they can. Five new cases in France are British nationals, and British nationals are also among the 64 cases on a cruise liner off Japan.
The number of people to have contracted the virus could be far higher, as people with mild symptoms may not have been detected. Modelling by World Health Organization (WHO) experts at Imperial College London suggests there could be as many as 100,000 cases, with uncertainty putting the margins between 30,000 and 200,000.

Why is this worse than normal influenza, and how worried are the experts?

We don’t yet know how dangerous the new coronavirus is, and we won’t know until more data comes in. The mortality rate is around 2%. However, this is likely to be an overestimate since many more people are likely to have been infected by the virus but not suffered severe enough symptoms to attend hospital, and so have not been counted. For comparison, seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1% and is thought to cause about 400,000 deaths each year globally. Sars had a death rate of more than 10%.

Should I go to the doctor if I have a cough?

Unless you have recently travelled to China or been in contact with someone infected with the virus, then you should treat any cough or cold symptoms as normal. The NHS advises that people should call 111 instead of visiting the GP’s surgery as there is a risk they may infect others.

Is this a pandemic and should we panic?

Health experts are starting to say it could become a pandemic, but right now it falls short of what the WHO would consider to be one. A pandemic, in WHO terms, is “the worldwide spread of a disease”. Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in about 25 countries outside China, but by no means in all 195 on the WHO’s list.
There is no need to panic. The spread of the virus outside China is worrying but not an unexpected development. The WHO has declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern, and says there is a “window of opportunity” to halt the spread of the disease. The key issues are how transmissible this new coronavirus is between people and what proportion become severely ill and end up in hospital. Often viruses that spread easily tend to have a milder impact.
Sarah Boseley Health editor and Hannah Devlin 

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Sports Direct Workers Paid Less than Minimum Wage | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

A business (also known as an enterprise, a company or a firm) is an organizational entity involved in the provision of goods and services to consumers.Businesses serve as a form of economic activity, and are prevalent in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and provide goods and services allocated through a market to consumers and customers in exchange for other goods, services, money, or other forms of exchange that hold intrinsic economic value.
Businesses may also be social non-profit enterprises or state-owned public enterprises operated by governments with specific social and economic objectives. A business owned by multiple private individuals may form as an incorporated company or jointly organise as a partnership. Countries have different laws that may ascribe different rights to the various business entities.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

In recent decades, states modeled some of their assets and enterprises after business enterprises. In 2003, for example, the People’s Republic of China modeled 80% of its state-owned enterprises on a company-type management system. Many state institutions and enterprises in China and Russia have transformed into joint-stock companies, with part of their shares being listed on public stock markets.
Wall Street, New York, NY, United States of America

Business process management (BPM) is a holistic management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. BPM attempts to improve processes continuously. It can therefore be described as a “process optimization process.” It is argued that BPM enables organizations to be more efficient, effective and capable of change than a functionally focused, traditional hierarchical management approach.

Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.

Many businesses are operated through a separate entity such as a corporation or a partnership (either formed with or without limited liability). Most legal jurisdictions allow people to organize such an entity by filing certain charter documents with the relevant Secretary of State or equivalent, and complying with certain other ongoing obligations. The relationships and legal rights of shareholders, limited partners, or members are governed partly by the charter documents and partly by the law of the jurisdiction where the entity is organized.
Business Discussions
Generally speaking, shareholders in a corporation, limited partners in a limited partnership, and members in a limited liability company are shielded from personal liability for the debts and obligations of the entity, which is legally treated as a separate “person”. This means that unless there is misconduct, the owner’s own possessions are strongly protected in law if the business does not succeed.
Where two or more individuals own a business together but have failed to organize a more specialized form of vehicle, they will be treated as a general partnership. The terms of a partnership are partly governed by a partnership agreement if one is created, and partly by the law of the jurisdiction where the partnership is located.

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.

No paperwork or filing is necessary to create a partnership, and without an agreement, the relationships and legal rights of the partners will be entirely governed by the law of the jurisdiction where the partnership is located.
A single person who owns and runs a business is commonly known as a sole proprietor, whether that person owns it directly or through a formally organized entity. Depending on the business needs, an adviser can decide what kind is proprietorship will be most suitable.
Some businesses are subject to ongoing special regulation, for example, public utilities, investment securities, banking, insurance, broadcasting, aviation, and health care providers. Environmental regulations are also very complex and can affect many businesses.
Stock Graphs.
Some specialized businesses may also require licenses, either due to laws governing entry into certain trades, occupations or professions, that require special education, or to raise revenue for local governments. Professions that require special licenses include law, medicine, piloting aircraft, selling liquor, radio broadcasting, selling investment securities, selling used cars, and roofing. Local jurisdictions may also require special licenses and taxes just to operate a business.

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

London Street View.
Businesses often have important “intellectual property” that needs protection from competitors for the company to stay profitable. This could require patents, copyrights, trademarks, or preservation of trade secrets. Most businesses have names, logos, and similar branding techniques that could benefit from trademarking. Patents and copyrights in the United States are largely governed by federal law, while trade secrets and trademarking are mostly a matter of state law. Because of the nature of intellectual property, a business needs protection in every jurisdiction in which they are concerned about competitors.
Many countries are signatories to international treaties concerning intellectual property, and thus companies registered in these countries are subject to national laws bound by these treaties. In order to protect trade secrets, companies may require employees to sign non-compete clauses which will impose limitations on an employee’s interactions with stakeholders, and competitors.

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‘I’m not a robot’: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

Rina Cummings has worked three 12-hour shifts every week at Amazon’s gargantuan New York City warehouse, called JFK8, on Staten Island since it first began operations in late 2018. As a sorter on the outbound ship dock, her job is to inspect and scan a mandated rate of 1,800 Amazon packages an hour – 30 per minute – that are sent through a chute and transported on a conveyor belt before leaving the facility for delivery.

Workers such as Cummings helped Amazon achieve its best ever Christmas this year. Faster shipping drove Amazon’s revenues to $87bn for fourth quarter of 2019, adding another $12.8bn to founder Jeff Bezos’s $128.9bn fortune. Amazon has just signed a deal to take another 450,000 sq ft of warehouse space on the island to speed delivery to its New York-area consumers.
But while New York customers, and Amazon’s shareholders, may be happy, some workers are not. In November, as the holiday rush got into full swing, Cummings was one of 600 workers at the Amazon warehouse who signed and delivered a petition to management calling on Amazon to improve working conditions.
The petition called on Amazon to consolidate workers’ two 15-minute breaks into a 30-minute one. Workers say it can take up to 15 minutes just to walk to and from the warehouse break room. Workers also called for Amazon to provide more reliable public transit services to the warehouse. They also called attention to reports of high injury rates at the facility there, which were found to be three times the national average for warehouses, based on the company’s injury reports to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Cummings first became involved with Amazon worker organizing efforts after witnessing several cases where, she claims, her colleagues were treated unfairly – and the safety concerns she works through during her own shifts at Amazon.

A worker sorts through items and places orders at the Amazon fulfillment center on Staten Island. Photograph: Kathy Willens/AP
“There are days I say I’m just at the mercy of God,” said Cummings. She said the only changes Amazon implemented after the high injury report was published was to install video monitors around the warehouse that tell workers safety is the company’s number one priority.
“There has been no real change. There are still injuries. They were saying the report is not accurate, but it’s just a way for them to avoid responsibility,” she said.
Cummings said injuries are common among her colleagues, and she often experiences close calls. A few weeks ago, a pin sticking out of the conveyor belt tore off one of her work gloves, almost taking her hand with it. She also said some packages that drop on to her conveyor belt from the chute are either too large to be on it or improperly packaged, so the package’s contents burst open on the belt, which she said recently injured one of her colleagues.
When packages, especially envelopes with liquid, burst on the conveyor belt, Cummings often has to stop the belt to clean up the mess, but is still expected to hit her hourly rate. She’s been written up once for missing her rate because several of these incidents happened in the same week.
“People get fired regularly,” she said. “It just takes two or three write-ups, depending on the severity. You can get fired for anything.”
Cummings has impaired vision and is required by law to receive disability accommodations for her job. But she said new managers consistently try to place her in other departments she is unable to do the work in.
“I had a manager ask me: are you sure you can’t see?” said Cummings. Her mobility counselor sent Amazon a detailed email with suggestions on safety improvements, such as painting safety lines in the warehouse brighter colors and installing yellow safety strips on all stairs. But Cummings said all the suggestions were ignored.
An Amazon spokesperson said the company has a comprehensive medical accommodations process.
Raymond Velez worked as a packer at the Amazon JFK8 warehouse from October 2018 to November 2019. He was required to pack at a rate of 700 items per hour. He said workers are regularly fired for missing rates.
“That’s all they care about. They don’t care about their employees,” Velez added. “They care more about the robots than they care about the employees. I’ve been to Amcare [the company’s on-site medical unit] a couple times for not feeling well, and you’d get an aspirin and sent back to work.”
Juan Espinoza, who worked as a picker at the Amazon Staten Island warehouse, quit because of the grueling working conditions.

‘They don’t care about their employees. They care more about the robots than they care about the employees.’ Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
“I was a picker and we were expected to always pick 400 units within the hour in seven seconds of each item we picked,” said Espinoza. “I couldn’t handle it. I’m a human being, not a robot.”
Ilya Geller, who worked as a stower, told of the pressure workers face from being surveilled by computers to ensure productivity rates are met.
“You’re being tracked by a computer the entire time you’re there. You don’t get reported or written up by managers. You get written up by an algorithm,” said Geller. “You’re keenly aware there is an algorithm keeping track of you, making sure you keep going as fast as you can, because if there is too much time lapsed between items, the computer will know this, will write you up, and you will get fired.”
An Amazon spokesperson told the Guardian in an email: “Like most companies, we have performance expectations for every Amazonian and we measure actual performance against those expectations.”
The spokesperson said coaching is provided to under-performing workers.
Jimpat Lacewell started working at Amazon in Staten Island in November as a sorter, but quit after three days because it reminded him of prison – not least because of the 20-minute wait to get through security in and out of the facility.
“I would rather go back to a state correctional facility and work for 18 cents an hour than do that job,” Lacewell said. “I’m sure Mr Bezos couldn’t do a full shift at that place as an undercover boss.”
Other Amazon workers at the New York City warehouse were reluctant to speak on the record for fear of retaliation, but also reported unaddressed safety concerns and frequent worker injuries.
“I’ve been out of work twice in the past year due to knee pain,” said an Amazon order picker. They explained their second injury was a result of their manager ignoring medical restrictions from surgery on his right foot.
Another order picker said they are constantly dealing with chronic lower back pain and knee pain due to the job.
“I take Tylenol or Aleve two to three times a week,” the worker said. “Almost every night when I wake up, I have really bad, sharp, needle-like lower back pain. I’ve had to use my paid time off a lot just to recover or work half days.”
An Amazon associate who transferred to the New York City warehouse to help train the new workers said they transferred to a different warehouse because their safety concerns and suggestions were repeatedly ignored by upper level managers.
“It has terrible safety for powered industrial truck (PIT) operators and pedestrian traffic, which is why I left,” said the worker.
“I reported several violations to safety there – only to get brushed off and pushed aside.”
They characterized the PIT lane as a highway for equipment such as forklifts and electric pallet jacks.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company recently installed guard rails across the dock at JFK8 to eliminate all pedestrian interaction with the PIT lane.
The spokesperson added: “It’s inaccurate to say that our FCs are unsafe and any effort to paint our workplaces as such based on the number of injury recordings is misleading given the size of our workforce. While many companies under-record safety incidents in order to keep their rates low, Amazon does the opposite – we take an aggressive stance on recording injuries no matter how big or small.
“We believe so strongly in the environment provided for fulfillment center employees, including our safety culture, that we offer public tours where anyone can come see for themselves one of our sites and its working conditions first-hand.”

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Global Retailers Will Establish Robot Resource Organizations to Manage Nonhuman Workers By 2025, predicts Gartner- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Gartner, Inc. predicts that by 2025, at least two of the top 10 global retailers will establish robot resource organizations to manage nonhuman workers.
“The retail industry continues to transform through a period of unprecedented change, with customer experience as the new currency,” said Kelsie Marian, senior research director at Gartner. “The adoption of new digital technologies and the ever-changing expectations of customers continues to challenge traditional retailers, forcing them to investigate new-human hybrid operational models, including artificial intelligence (AI), automation and robotics.”
Gartner research shows that 77% of retailers plan to deploy AI by 2021, with the deployment of robotics for warehouse picking as the No. 1 use case. Warehouse picking involves smart robots working independently or alongside humans. In the future, retailers will establish units within the organization for procuring, maintaining, training, taxing, decommissioning and proper disposal of robot resources. In addition, they will create the governance required to ensure that people and robots can effectively collaborate.
Many retail workers want to use AI specifically as an on-demand or predictive assistant, meaning the robot will need to work alongside humans. “This means the robot will have to “mesh” with the human team — essentially meaning that both sides will need to learn how to “collaborate” to operate effectively together,” said Ms. Marian.
An example is an autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that learns an operator’s specific recipes and prepares them according to the wishes of the operator. The robot can work in harmony with the operators who, in turn, are having to adapt to changing consumer tastes.
Choosing the right candidate — human and machine — for the job is critical for success. A combined effort from HR, IT and the line-of-business hiring managers will be required to identify the skills needed to ensure the pair work together effectively. “Retail CIOs must provide ongoing maintenance and monitoring performance for effectiveness. If not, the team may be counterproductive and lead to a bad customer experience,” said Ms. Marian.
The introduction of AI and robotics will likely cause fear and anxiety among the workforce — particularly among part-time workers. It will be vital for retail CIOs to work with HR and business leaders to address and manage employees’ skills and concerns; and change their mindset around the development of robot resource units.

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Hundreds of workers defy Amazon rules to protest company’s climate failures | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

Hundreds of Amazon employees defied corporate policy to publicly criticize the company for failing to meet its “moral responsibility” in the climate crisis.
More than 340 tech workers at Amazon used the hashtag #AMZNSpeakOut in public statements that condemn the company for not taking sufficient action on the climate crisis.
The action comes in direct opposition to an Amazon policy barring employees from speaking about the company’s business without prior approval from management. That policy was introduced after employees vowed to participate in the global climate strikes of September 2019.
“Every person who shared a statement had to decide for themselves that whatever the consequences, they needed to stand up for what they felt was right,” Victoria Liang, a software development engineer at Amazon who joined the public action, said. “The climate crisis is just that urgent. We just couldn’t be silenced by these policies on issues of such moral weight.”

Employees at Amazon have increasingly criticized the company in recent years for its contracts with large oil and gas firms. In spring 2019, more than 8,700 employees signed an open letter to the CEO, Jeff Bezos, urging him to take bolder action on climate change. The presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have also offered support of employees for speaking out.
The employee activism is part of a broader trend in the tech industry of employee walkouts and protests against corporate policies. Google workers staged internal protests over sexual harassment policies in 2018 that continued into 2019 and gig workers at Instacart and Uber have organized strikes to fight for better pay and benefits. In June 2019, workers at the online furnishings retailer Wayfair walked off the job to oppose the company’s contracts with detention centers for immigrants.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the company was aware of the employee actions. She added that the external communication policy had been updated in spring 2019 but was not directed at any one group of employees. Amazon has pledged to reach net-zero carbon by 2040 and 100% renewable energy by 2030.
“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” she said.
In January, at least three employees said they were threatened with termination for speaking publicly about environmental issues, stoking further protests against the new policy.
“I’m proud to work at Amazon, but policies that silence employees who are challenging us to do better runs counter to our own leadership principles,” said Nolan Woodle, an associate contracts manager at Amazon. “When there is an issue of such importance, we have to be able to talk about it. Silencing employees is simply not the right approach.”
Meanwhile, other companies appear to be responding to employee unrest. In January 2020, Microsoft announced it would be “carbon negative” by the end of the decade after a number of global actions orchestrated by employees.
Amazon’s big tech counterpart Google also appears to be making public responses to the organizing. On the job platform LinkedIn on Monday, someone listing himself as a hiring manager at Google left a post that appeared to attempt to recruit defectors from Amazon to the company.
“I recognize your courage and bravery to speak out about climate change,” he wrote, linking to a post on how Google is “working to battle climate change”. A Google spokeswoman said the company was not aware of the post and that it was made by a recruiter acting on his own initiative. The company did not respond to accusations that Google, too, has fired employees over organizing.

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Tech giants including Facebook and Razer restrict workers from traveling to China as more Coronavirus cases appear – Blog – 10 minute

What just happened? More companies are taking precautions against the Coronavirus by restricting travel to China. Facebook and Razer have stopped all non-essential travel to the country, while LG has introduced a complete ban.
With more than 4,000 people infected across the world and the death doll having surpassed 100, the United States has advised Americans to “reconsider” visiting all of China—most cases have been in the city of Wuhan. Following the warning, Facebook asked employees to halt non-essential travel to the mainland and told any workers who had traveled there to work from home. Despite being one of many western websites banned in the country, Facebook has offices in China and local suppliers manufacture its Oculus headsets and Portal devices.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have taken steps to protect the health and safety of our employees,” a Facebook spokesman told Reuters.

Another US tech firm, Razer, is implementing similar protective measures. A spokesperson told The Verge: “Our company has already been restricting travel and advising employees to work from home.” South Korean giant LG, meanwhile, has banned all workers from traveling to China, advising those on business trips to the country to return as soon as possible, and Korean chipmaker SK Hynix is also urging employees to avoid non-essential travel.
Last week brought news that companies across China were taking extra precautions, including Huawei, which postponed its annual developer conference in Shenzhen.
Following the Coronavirus outbreak, simulator game Plague Inc. experienced a surge in popularity, leading the devs to issue a statement reminding people that “it’s a game, not a scientific model.”

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Google introduces online coding course to train workers- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The US based tech Google has introduced a new “Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate” a program which is designed to provide job-ready skills in Python, Git and IT automation in under six months.
“Python is now the most in-demand programming language, and more than 530,000 U.S. jobs, including 75,000 entry-level jobs require Python proficiency. With this new certificate, you can learn Python, Git and IT automation within six months,” Natalie Van Kleef Conley Product Lead, Grow with Google, said in a statement on Thursday.
The program includes a final project where learners will use their new skills to solve a problem they might encounter on the job, like building a web service using automation.
“To ensure learners from underserved backgrounds have access to both IT Professional Certificates, Google.org will fund 2,500 need-based scholarships through nonprofits like Goodwill, Merit America, Per Scholas and Upwardly Global. Along with top employers like Walmart, Hulu and Sprint, Google considers program completers when hiring for IT roles,” Conley added.
Back in October last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and White House advisor Ivanka Trump announced a program to provide 250,000 Americans training opportunities to teach technology skills.
At the time, Pichai also mentioned that Google’s program for certifying IT professionals will expand to 100 US community colleges by the end of 2020.

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How Can Organizations Support Remote Workers?- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

There has been a hurried move towards enabling digital ecosystems across businesses and countries. With the growing potential of this ecosystem, new-age working environments have come into being. One such phenomenon of modern working is- remote workers or mobile workers and how do you support them?
Most IT companies today are encouraging ‘Work From Home’ culture and they are the ones that can afford to do it with their job profiles. Since most of the work is done on a laptop in an IT company, it can be done from anywhere. This kind of freedom is both encouraging and difficult too. Let’s dive into understanding how organizations can thrive with remote workers. 
What is a remote work environment?
Remote or mobile workers break free from traditional working environments by working remotely. This means they are free to work anywhere without having to report to a specific place. These workers are updated about their work and deadlines through digital communication. How they choose to complete their and at what time period is up to them. 
This phenomenon is getting popular because it is proving to provide better results for both workers and organizations. When an individual is working from a place and time that is convenient for them, they are bound to perform better. On the same front, organizations benefit by saving on infrastructure and yielding better performance out of their employees. 
What are the challenges faced by remote workers? 
Remote or mobile workers in all types of organizations face the same basic challenges. Human beings are social creatures and need to interact among themselves to be happy. So when they are taken away from the workplace, there can be feelings of loneliness and loss in sense of belonging. 
By not being present at the time of discussions physically, there are chances of communication gaps. They might develop confusion about their responsibilities if there are multiple people on the project. This can also happen if they are working in different time zones. Apart from social problems, they might also face difficulty in finding the right infrastructure to support their work. 
So, how do you ensure that your remote workers are equally involved in the organization? How can you support them? 
How can an organization support remote/ mobile workers? 
A virtual workforce
To tackle the communication gap problem, you could create a virtual workforce. There are many businesses that are taking off by providing virtual workforce capabilities. The problem of lack of communication and human interaction for remote workers is a serious one. By having them with you through a video conference could help as they will be present in real-time. 
For tasks and assignments, they can upload all their files onto the cloud so it can be accessed by managers too. This will help an organization track when an assignment is done and review it. 
For more complex functions, an organization could use tools such as TeamViewer to have multiple people access the same screen. 
For internal communication, messaging platform Slack would be of great help. It allows you to create multiple channels for different projects by adding relevant people. This way, your remote workers will be in touch with you and your team through messages. 
Be careful about security
A major disadvantage for an organization to have remote workers is the risk of security breaches. Since remote workers are not connected to the office VPN systems, their information can be compromised. The freedom of working from anywhere allows them to use Wifi of unsecured locations too. 
Be sure that you alert your remote workers of the same and keep them informed of your security policies. They can take a few steps of preventing any cyber breaches by having the correct defensive software. Your IT team should also be aware of remote workers and account for their systems too. They could train remote workers on how to ensure information security and what to avoid using. 
Remote worker-friendly policies
To discard the feeling of alienation from the organization, HRs should include remote workers in their policies. By laying out a legitimate framework for them, remote workers will find more clarity on their responsibilities. The policy should account for a protocol, reimbursement, and allowances for remote workers specifically too. 
Communicate personally when time zones differ is a great way to support remote workers. 
Despite the fulfilling capacity of online conversations, it would be a good habit to make regular calls to remote workers. Make it a ritual to call them once in a while and check up on the status of their work, are they able to work efficiently, do they need anything from the company, what is expected out them, etc. 
Sometimes, you have remote workers that work in different time zones. They might not be available to respond to your messages or attend virtual conferences in your time zone. Speaking to them personally is what will help you avoid gaps in communication. By already working on a different time zone, they’ll feel out of the loop of things. Make sure you keep updating them on what the team is working on. 
What is the future of remote workers? 
As per this report, close to 16% of the total workforce in America alone has moved to remote working. If you notice around you, there are quite a few organizations that allow work from home at least once a week. The year 2020 will only see a steady rise in this modern mobile or remote work environment because of technological advances. A lot of organizations are already working towards enabling remote workers with tools and applications to work effectively. The productivity of an individual is subjective and by allowing the convenience of place and time, it might just help boost it. 

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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Ginger, an MIT spinout providing app-based mental health coaching to workers, raises $35M – gpgmail


Mental health issues are thought to impact one in every five people in the US, and the stress of working life can be an exacerbating factor. Now, one of the startups that’s using technology to build ways to support this population has raised a significant round of funding to expand its platform to aid in getting them the help they need.

Ginger, a startup that works with organizations and their healthcare providers to provide employees with an-app based way to connect with coaches to talk through their issues and suggest ways forward, is today announcing that it has raised $35 million in a Series C round of funding, money that it will use both to expand the data science behind its therapy programs and the variety of its clinical programs; as well in terms of its business opportunities. The plan is to grow its service internationally and to more touch points beyond the employer channel, including those who access healthcare through health plans (which might include, potentially, countries with nationalised health services).

The funding is a Series C being led by WP Global Partners (an investment firm that backs both companies — for example, it also is an investor in Postmates — as well as other funds) with participation from some of a number of other new and previous high-profile investors that include City Light Capital, Nimble Ventures, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Khosla Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and Kapor Capital.

“As the global mental health crisis intensifies and access challenges increase, employers are searching for solutions to address the shortage of affordable, available providers,” said Russell Glass, CEO of Ginger, in a statement. “In building the world’s first virtual behavioral health system, we are reinventing the approach with instant access to care. This latest round of funding accelerates our ability to expand high-quality care — any time of day or night — to millions of people around the world.”

It brings the total raised by Ginger to $63 million, and the company is not disclosing valuation (we’re asking), but it has been growing at a very steady clip and says that over 200,000 people are able to access the service by way of their employers’ Ginger plans. Ginger says that customers include CBS, Netflix, Pinterest, Sephora, Twilio, Yelp and BuzzFeed, and it’s now active in 25 countries outside the US, including major markets like the UK, Japan, Australia, Canada and India.

Founded nearly a decade ago as a spinout from the MIT Media Lab, Ginger started life initially with a platform that would monitor a user’s smartphone interactions to detect potential mental health issues and help connect that user with someone to talk to. This lean-forward approach appears to have been retired in favor of a service that relies on the users themselves making the first move.

That first move comes in the form of text message, which an employee can send 24/7 and receive an immediate response. That in itself is notable: the traditional way of going about speaking to a counsellor or therapist that you might get through your work’s health insurance can take up to 25 days for your first appointment, Ginger notes, by which point the problem that got you interested in speaking to someone in the first place may have become significantly worse.

While some users keep their coaching — this is the word used by Ginger itself, and I think the reason is because it helps to differentiate this from in-person, more classic therapy sessions, and because the people who are trained to work with you might not actually be doctors — to texts, others may get referred up the ladder to other mediums, such as video therapy and video psychiatry with licensed clinicians.

The latter is a route that applies to some 8% of Ginger’s users, the company says, with the rest resolving issues through the text-based coaching. Time with clinicians is guaranteed to be provided within a 72-hour window.

On the other side of the issue of getting to speak to someone, Ginger also offers options for people to reach out and book coaching and therapy sessions outside of work hours (which presumably is a bonus both to the employer as well as to employees who are less keen to disrupt work or keep their therapy to themselves).

The approach seems to work: Ginger says that some 70 percent of members surveyed that have used Ginger reported “a significant reduction in symptoms of depression within 12 weeks.”

Overall, app-based and other health services that do not require a person to physically be in the same room as his/her therapist still face a perennial problem that is a hallmark of many a mental health service: they still require a person to “turn up” so to speak — that is, a person at some point needs to make the proactive effort to reach out for help, and usually continue to work on resolving the problem on a persistent and regular basis.

Tele-therapy solutions have both an advantage and disadvantage: being something you can pick up wherever and whenever makes it something that maybe we are more likely to use; but the lack of physical presence may well make it much easier for problems to be less apparent. In a sense, the mandate is even more on the likely vulnerable patient to be even more proactive as a result.

But the cost to employers of rolling out wide-scale, physical programs with licensed clinicians, as well as of having too many people off work due to mental health issues, are the rock and hard place that will likely continue to fuel significantly more development of services like Ginger’s and those of its competitors.

And that list is a long one, with other startups like Lyra Health (founded by the former CFO of Facebook Dave Ebersman), Unmind, Pacifica, Huddle, Modern Health, and Eliza all also closing in on the challenge.

Ginger’s investors believe in the mission and that its horse is one that will run the course.

“We have significant experience investing in healthcare and believe that technology is the key to solving the global mental health crisis,” said Donald Phillips, Chairman and CEO of WP Global Partners, in a statement. “As we looked to expand our portfolio, it became clear to us that there is no other company in the world that provides emotional and mental health support as quickly and effectively as Ginger does.”


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Why AI needs more social workers, with Columbia University’s Desmond Patton – gpgmail


Sometimes it does seem the entire tech industry could use someone to talk to, like a good therapist or social worker. That might sound like an insult, but I mean it mostly earnestly: I am a chaplain who has spent 15 years talking with students, faculty, and other leaders at Harvard (and more recently MIT as well), mostly nonreligious and skeptical people like me, about their struggles to figure out what it means to build a meaningful career and a satisfying life, in a world full of insecurity, instability, and divisiveness of every kind.

In related news, I recently took a year-long paid sabbatical from my work at Harvard and MIT, to spend 2019-20 investigating the ethics of technology and business (including by writing this column at gpgmail). I doubt it will shock you to hear I’ve encountered a lot of amoral behavior in tech, thus far.

A less expected and perhaps more profound finding, however, has been what the introspective founder Prayag Narula of LeadGenius tweeted at me recently: that behind the hubris and Machiavellianism one can find in tech companies is a constant struggle with anxiety and an abiding feeling of inadequacy among tech leaders.

In tech, just like at places like Harvard and MIT, people are stressed. They’re hurting, whether or not they even realize it.

So when Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society recently posted an article whose headline began, “Why AI Needs Social Workers…”… it caught my eye.

The article, it turns out, was written by Columbia University Professor Desmond Patton. Patton is a Public Interest Technologist and pioneer in the use of social media and artificial intelligence in the study of gun violence. The founding Director of Columbia’s SAFElab and Associate Professor of Social Work, Sociology and Data Science at Columbia University.

desmond cropped 800x800

Desmond Patton. Image via Desmond Patton / Stern Strategy Group

A trained social worker and decorated social work scholar, Patton has also become a big name in AI circles in recent years. If Big Tech ever decided to hire a Chief Social Work Officer, he’d be a sought-after candidate.

It further turns out that Patton’s expertise — in online violence & its relationship to violent acts in the real world — has been all too “hot” a topic this past week, with mass murderers in both El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio having been deeply immersed in online worlds of hatred which seemingly helped lead to their violent acts.

Fortunately, we have Patton to help us understand all of these issues. Here is my conversation with him: on violence and trauma in tech on and offline, and how social workers could help; on deadly hip-hop beefs and “Internet Banging” (a term Patton coined); hiring formerly gang-involved youth as “domain experts” to improve AI; how to think about the likely growing phenomenon of white supremacists live-streaming barbaric acts; and on the economics of inclusion across tech.

Greg Epstein: How did you end up working in both social work and tech?

Desmond Patton: At the heart of my work is an interest in root causes of community-based violence, so I’ve always identified as a social worker that does violence-based research. [At the University of Chicago] my dissertation focused on how young African American men navigated violence in their community on the west side of the city while remaining active in their school environment.

[From that work] I learned more about the role of social media in their lives. This was around 2011, 2012, and one of the things that kept coming through in interviews with these young men was how social media was an important tool for navigating both safe and unsafe locations, but also an environment that allowed them to project a multitude of selves. To be a school self, to be a community self, to be who they really wanted to be, to try out new identities.


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