Tag: calls

07
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

U.S. House Antitrust Chairman Calls Unwinding Facebook’s Instagram Buy ‘The Right Answer’ | Technology News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative David Cicilline, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, said on Wednesday he would be “comfortable with unwinding” Facebook Inc’s acquisition of Instagram.

The antitrust subcommittee on Tuesday released a report on Big Tech’s abuses of market power but stopped short of naming specific companies or acquisitions that must be broken up.

Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, told Reuters in an interview that Facebook should not have been allowed to buy Instagram, a deal that the Federal Trade Commission approved in 2012.

“I would be comfortable with unwinding that. I think that’s the right answer,” he said.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has said previously that Instagram was insignificant at the time it was purchased and that Facebook built it into the success it has become.

Any effort to unwind the deal would entail the government filing a lawsuit and asking a judge to order the divestiture.

The congressional report released on Tuesday said that Instagram was small at the time it was purchased, but that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw its potential and noted it was “building networks that are competitive with our own” and “could be very disruptive to us.”

According to the House panel’s report on Tuesday, the committee received an email from an unnamed former Instagram employee on Sunday that disputed Facebook’s contention that the two apps could not easily be separated.

“They can just roll back the changes they’ve been making over the past year and you’d have two different apps again,” the person wrote. “It’s turning something on and off.”

(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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06
Oct
2020
Posted in website

Kenney calls AFL’s boycott website ‘disturbing’ and ‘un-Albertan’

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has launched a website that calls for Albertans to boycott businesses that have previously donated to pro-UCP Political Action Committees (PACs) before the last provincial election.



text: AFL website, boycottucpdonors.ca


© Global News
AFL website, boycottucpdonors.ca

PACs are a political, third-party advertiser, a person, corporation or group which is required to register with Elections Alberta when it spends more than $1,000 on political advertising outside of an election period.

Read more: Alberta unions launch ‘resistance’ campaign against provincial budget cuts

BoycottUCPdonors.ca lists dozens of Alberta businesses across the province using an interactive map. The AFL said it wanted Albertans to make “informed consumer choices.”

“These are businesses that have been bankrolling the UCP agenda,” said AFL president Gil McGowan. “An agenda that is kicking Albertans while they’re down.”

McGowan said, by providing money to campaigns that helped Kenney’s conservatives, these businesses have made it clear they don’t support ordinary Albertans.

“So why should ordinary Albertans support them?” McGowan asked.

“This should not be seen as an anti-business campaign,” he said. “This is not a question of money not being spent in the Alberta economy, this is just asking people to vote with their wallets.”

The website states the people behind the advertising contributions are attempting to make “Alberta look like Donald Trump’s America.”

McGowan said he has heard from conservative supporters in the province who are “losing their minds” over the website and telling the AFL there is no need to get so political.

“Those kind of arguments are ironic and hypocritical and kind of laughable,” McGowan said.

“In the same way that they’re free to take political positions, consumers who disagree with them are free to take their business someplace elsewhere. It’s a pretty simple equation.”

Read more: Alberta unions put pressure on UCP government with new

06
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Airbnb faces calls for stricter enforcement of rental rules in Ireland

View of Ha’penny bridge on bright sunny day in Dublin, Ireland.

Stricter enforcement on Airbnb and short-term lettings in the Republic of Ireland are needed to protect the housing and rental market. 

That’s according to housing activists and opposition politicians that believe regulations introduced last year need to be bolstered ahead of the difficult months and years ahead for the economy.

Last July, regulations around short-term rentals came into effect with a “one host, one home” model that is enforced by local planning authorities.

Eoin O’Broin, a member of parliament and housing spokesperson for Sinn Féin, the main opposition party, told CNBC that the regulations are sound but fall down when it comes to enforcement as the planning system is a “very slow and laborious process.”

For Airbnb hosts renting out a room in the home that they themselves live in, there was little change.

However, for people renting out second homes, holiday homes and other properties that aren’t their primary residence, they are required to obtain a “change of use” planning approval from their local authority. The regulations were introduced to encourage more properties back onto the long-term market. Rising rent costs in cities like Dublin have been a difficult policy issue as the average rent in the capital has risen to 1,709 euros ($2,010), compared to 1,252 euros in the same quarter five years ago.

However there has been a low number of short-term let planning applications filed with authorities despite the number of listings remaining high, as hosts avoid the lengthy application process.

“We always knew the regulations, even if they were good, would fall foul of weak enforcement if it was left to the local authorities. That’s not a criticism of the councils, it’s just the nature of planning enforcement,” O’Broin said.

Ireland’s Department of Housing,

02
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Google research lets sign language switch ‘active speaker’ in video calls

An aspect of video calls that many of us take for granted is the way they can switch between feeds to highlight whoever’s speaking. Great — if speaking is how you communicate. Silent speech like sign language doesn’t trigger those algorithms, unfortunately, but this research from Google might change that.

It’s a real-time sign language detection engine that can tell when someone is signing (as opposed to just moving around) and when they’re done. Of course it’s trivial for humans to tell this sort of thing, but it’s harder for a video call system that’s used to just pushing pixels.

A new paper from Google researchers, presented (virtually, of course) at ECCV, shows how it can be done efficiency and with very little latency. It would defeat the point if the sign language detection worked but it resulted in delayed or degraded video, so their goal was to make sure the model was both lightweight and reliable.

The system first runs the video through a model called PoseNet, which estimates the positions of the body and limbs in each frame. This simplified visual information (essentially a stick figure) is sent to a model trained on pose data from video of people using German Sign Language, and it compares the live image to what it thinks signing looks like.

Image showing automatic detection of a person signing.
Image showing automatic detection of a person signing.

Image Credits: Google

This simple process already produces 80 percent accuracy in predicting whether a person is signing or not, and with some additional optimizing gets up to 91.5 percent accuracy. Considering how the “active speaker” detection on most calls is only so-so at telling whether a person is talking or coughing, those numbers are pretty respectable.

In order to work without adding some new “a person is signing” signal to existing calls, the

02
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

What Twitter is doing to help employees keep working from home forever, from inventing to new lingo to using hand signals on video calls



a group of people walking down a street next to tall buildings: Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


© Provided by Business Insider
Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • Twitter has been working on “decentralizing” its workforce since 2018, including adding resources and policies to make life easier for remote workers. 
  • Some teams at Twitter have invented hand signals to help employees speak up during virtual meetings, while other teams have invented new phrases to get meetings back on track, according to the Washington Post. 
  • This has come in handy during the coronavirus outbreak: Twitter was the first major tech company to have its workforce start working from home, and CEO Jack Dorsey has told employees they may keep working remotely forever.
  • Twitter has since decided to sublease 100,000 square feet at its San Francisco headquarters and has a policy in place to cut pay for employees who move outside the Bay Area to a less expensive region. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak hit the US, Twitter was preparing for a future that relied heavily on remote work — and that included employing new tactics to help employees work well together from afar. 

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That’s according to a new piece by the Washington Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin, which explores Twitter’s focus on creating a “distributed” workforce, which has been years in the making. The idea was sparked by a successful day working at home for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in January 2018, which led him to send a company-wide email celebrating the merits of working outside the office. 

“We should always optimize for where people feel their most creative, and I’d love to see us be a lot more flexible about working from home,” Dorsey wrote, according to the Post. 

Since then, Dorsey has been outspoken about decentralizing Twitter, which he has described as “the whole promise of the