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16
Jul

Facebook isn’t trying hard enough to increase its diversity


Facebook released its annual diversity report on Thursday and, sadly, little has changed from last year. 52 percent of its US employees are white, 38 percent are Asian, 4 percent are Hispanic and 2 percent are Black, while 67 percent of its global staff are male. New leadership hires did improve to 9 percent black, 5 percent Hispanic and 29 percent women, but the numbers were overall still quite poor. In a blog post, Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams said this is due to the lack of diversity in the tech pipeline. She states that appropriate representation “will depend upon more people having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the public education system,” and then said Facebook would pledge more money towards diversity programs. Several critics have since responded to this statement, saying that the problem lies not with the so-called pipeline, but within Facebook itself.

“The pipeline problem is demonstrably false,” said Leslie Miley, a Director for Engineering at Slack who left Twitter last year due to the company’s diversity issues. In an interview with Engadget, he said the issue lies in the company’s own internal hiring practices. Simply donating money to diversity programs isn’t enough, he said. “I think it’s a very poorly done PR job to gloss over the fact that while Facebook may be doing the right things externally, they’re not doing the right things internally.”

Not True @facebook #diversityANDinclusion matters that’s why your numbers aren’t moving https://t.co/PSVGpdmKV5 pic.twitter.com/cReoXYChZT

— Shaft (@shaft) July 14, 2016

The problem isn’t unique to Facebook. Other Silicon Valley companies, like Google and Twitter, have recently reported poor diversity numbers too. Williams said in the statement that “only 1 in 4 US high schools teach computer science” and very few women and minorities have taken advanced placement computer science tests.

But while there is some truth to the lack of diversity in technical fields, the numbers still don’t add up. Recent studies show that Hispanics and Blacks make up around 6 to 8 percent of computer science graduates every year. But out of the number of employees that Facebook employs in technical roles, only 1 percent is Black and 3 percent is Hispanic. Further, the percentage of underrepresented minorities employed in non-technical fields at Facebook is pretty low too — 7 percent are Hispanic and 5 percent are Black.

“There are a ton of opportunities to increase demographic representation in tech companies with the people that already exist in the workforce,” said Joelle Emerson, a chief executive of Paradigm, a diversity consultancy, to USA Today. This sentiment was voiced repeatedly on Twitter with the hashtag #FBNoExcuses, which was created as a response to Facebook’s poor diversity report. Critics slammed the company for not trying hard enough and overlooking qualified candidates who don’t come from prestigious universities or fit within the status quo. Some pointed out that other tech companies, like Intel and Slack, have managed to increase their company diversity substantially, so Facebook’s excuses rang hollow.

We’ve taught almost 7000 girls of color to code since 2011 from ages 7-17! We ARE “the pipeline”! #FBNoExcuses pic.twitter.com/jQ76FytBHQ

— BlackGirlsCode.Com (@BlackGirlsCode) July 15, 2016

Charity Majors, a former Facebook employee, tweeted that while the company implements training about unconscious bias, she still heard many comments during her time there on how hiring diverse employees was potentially “lowering the bar.” Bo Ren, another former employee, wrote a Medium essay on how she studied hard for an interview to get her job at Facebook, but a white male co-worker breezed through the hiring process due to referrals. Kaya Thomas, a 20-year-old software engineer, also wrote a blog post in response to the diversity report, stating that she’s getting tired of being overlooked due to her gender and ethnicity. “According to most tech companies, if I can’t pass an algorithmic challenge or if I’m not a ‘culture fit’ I don’t belong,” she wrote. “Ignoring the fact that underrepresented talent exists shows me that they don’t care about diversity and they don’t want us working in tech.”

Mike Street, a senior digital and social marketing consultant based in New York City, said he finds it troubling that Facebook couldn’t move the needle on its numbers. “They can post #BlackLivesMatter over the top of one of their buildings, but I want to see #BlackJobsMatter,” he said to Engadget. “Mark Zuckerberg, who never finished college, created an amazing company. But yet when it comes to people of color, we must continue to be the ‘magical negro, LatinX, Trans’ super coder with a 1,000 IQ in order to get a foot in the door.” There are several things that tech companies can do to increase diversity, he said, such as set up internships at historical black colleges and host monthly networking mixers.

FB continuing to perpetuate the pipeline lie provides an excuse to those who don’t want to do the hard work to diversify their staff.

— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) July 14, 2016

“If there’s one thing I could kill in tech, it would be referrals,” said Miley. “That needs to go away. Every study shows that your network looks like you. It’s an amplifier for sameness, to not ever change anything.”

“They refuse to acknowledge that it’s a race issue, that it’s a gender issue,” he continued. “You may not be purposely racist, but when you refuse to acknowledge that the person sitting in front of you who didn’t go to the same school as you, and you’re not taking into account their background and their experience, you’re measuring them against a rubric that people of color will never meet.”

Miley also said it was unfortunate that companies like Facebook and Google were putting so much more effort into increasing the H1B visa cap than into the diversity of US employees. “I fully support the increase in H1B visas. I don’t have a problem with that. But there’s this model with setting up standards of excellence with sponsoring people from China and India, that could easily be replicated in the United States. Don’t tell us you can’t find talent here when you can go 8,000 miles and find talent.”

Spend equivalent amount on #DiversityandInclusion as you do on lobbying for H1B’s cap increase #FBNoExcuses @FWD_us pic.twitter.com/YB94gcjo7H

— Shaft (@shaft) July 15, 2016

“It’s not an Us vs. Them thing,” he said. “These companies jump through all these hoops to make this [immigration] happen. But they don’t want to jump any hoops to change themselves. They go to India and China because the people can conform to what they want. But they’re unwilling to go to Atlanta, Detroit, Memphis, Cincinnatti… because inherently they don’t believe that people in those communities have the skill set to do the job.”

Erica Baker, a fellow Slack engineer, tweeted that if companies can’t get minority candidates to come to them, they should go to where they live. Miley agrees. “Open your offices in more diverse areas. That will change your ratios.” Plus, having tech jobs in a community that’s not typically known for tech is beneficial overall. “When children and teenagers see people doing those jobs, and that they’re well-paid, they want to aspire to that. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

If you can’t get the candidates to come to you, then go to them. Build offices where Black and Latinx candidates want to live.#FBNoExcuses

— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) July 15, 2016

Additionally, when these employees want to move higher up in the organization, they’ll move to the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, thus diversifying those offices. “Now a strange thing happens when you have diverse people; they hire more diverse people.”

Some of these tech companies did build offices outside of Silicon Valley — like in Boulder, Colorado and Cambridge, Massachusetts — but these areas aren’t particularly diverse. “Why not Detroit?” Miley asks. “If they say ‘the talent’s not there’, how do they know? They haven’t even looked.”

“This Facebook press release and report is an insult to the people who are doing the work of diversity there,” said Miley. “It threw them all under the bus. Like Ren said, if this were any other product in a tech company, two years of no growth would be deemed a failure.”

“They’re not doing anything different,” he said. “All of these companies are not doing anything different. That’s why the numbers aren’t moving.”

16
Jul

Google is still working on a standalone headset


Yesterday Recode published an article suggesting Google has killed a VR project that would have directly competed with high-end headsets like the Oculus Rift. While it may be true that this particular project has been shuttered, sources within the company say that a Google team is still working on a dedicated headset that blurs the line between virtual reality and augmented reality.

Recode’s report states that around 50 employees were working within the clandestine X lab, creating a standalone VR device with a unique operating system, which has been scrapped. Speaking under anonymity, sources told Engadget that Google has been actively assigning individuals to work on a high-end headset in recent months. Team members have been told that Daydream, the mobile VR platform unveiled at Google IO in May, is not the company’s long-term plan for virtual and augmented reality. Daydream remains a large focus within Google, of course, with multiple teams working on its development, but it’s a stepping stone towards a grander hardware push.

Sources said the headset currently in development will not require a computer or phone to power it. While it does have a screen, it will offer features more in line with augmented reality systems than existing VR headsets, which are presently focused on gaming. There is no release date in sight for the headset, but it remains an important part of Google’s future plans.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that Google is working on a standalone VR system. It stated that the headset would use “outward-facing cameras” and a Movidius chip to “track the motion of a user’s head.” It’s possible that the WSJ report centers on the project that’s still in development, rather than the headset that Recode asserts has been killed.

Microsoft is currently developing HoloLens, a wearable computer that layers digital elements over the real world. Google has invested in Magic Leap, a startup that has similar aims, creating “mixed reality” images with a dedicated headset. It is not clear if the headset Google is currently developing will complement Magic Leap’s technology or if it’s an entirely separate project.

Google declined to comment on any aspect of this article.

16
Jul

How to download Pokemon Go if your country doesn’t have it yet – CNET


Even if Pokemon Go hasn’t been released in your country yet, you may be able to still play. Now, these tricks haven’t worked for everyone who’s tried them, but some people have found success. It takes a little work, but it’s totally worth it.

How to get Pokemon Go on an Android device

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Pokemon Go, here I come!


Alina Bradford/CNET

Here are the steps to getting Pokemon Go on an Android device:

Go to Settings> Security or Lock Screen and Security.

Go to Unknown sources and toggle this setting on.
Download the Pokémon Go APK file.
Open your quick menu and click on the file once it is downloaded.
Install the file by following the on-screen directions.

Once the game is installed, you should be able to play.

How to get Pokemon with an iOS device

If you have an iPhone or an iPad, Pokemon Go can be gotten this way:

Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store

Tap on the Apple ID: email@address.com text at the top of the Store screen.
An Apple ID management window will pop up, tap on Sign Out

Go to Settings

Select General > Language & Region

Select your region as US, Germany or another country where it is available.
Go back to Settings > iTunes & App Store

Choose Create New Apple ID

Create a new ID and make sure that you select None in the billing area and add the country you selected in Step 6 as your country
You will be automatically logged in with the new Apple ID.
Go to the App Store and search for Pokemon Go.
Download Pokemon Go from the App Store.

When Pokemon Go is released in your country, you can continue your game using your regular Apple ID because your game information will be saved in the cloud.

Humans of Pokemon Go

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16
Jul

Amazon Echo now able to recap National Convention results and more


Amazon is back with another set of new features for the Echo, this time bringing more political information to the smart speaker and some Hamilton related features. With the National Conventions rapidly approaching, the Echo will now be able to keep you up to date with poll data and tap into daily politics brief. You’ll be able to ask questions like “Alexa, ask WaPo Elections for the polls” or “Alexa, ask WaPo Elections for the Politics Brief” to find out more about what is going on.

amazon-echo-dot-7.jpg?itok=AZ1uJ8hp

In addition, the Echo can now tell you some new political jokes and play the music from the ultra-popular Hamilton musical. All you need to do is say “Alexa, tell me a political joke” or “Alexa, play Hamilton from Prime” and then sit back and enjoy. You can enable all of these new features under the Skills section of the Alexa app. If you don’t already own an Echo you can grab one from Amazon now to take advantage of these features and the hundreds of others.

See at Amazon

Amazon Echo

  • Read our updated review
  • Get the latest news
  • Join the discussion
  • Download the Echo app

Amazon

16
Jul

Google has reportedly scrapped plans to launch high-end VR headset


According to a new report, Google has scrapped its plans to release a high-end VR headset that would have competed with others like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The project, which was building hardware and another operating system, reportedly had around 50 people working on it and was scratched in favor of just using Android. Back at Google I/O the company revealed DayDream, which is a VR platform that is already built on top of the upcoming version of Android, Nougat.

google-cardboard-hero-1.jpg?itok=OtQMGfg

As reported by Recode:

Meanwhile, a different VR project was germinated inside the X research lab (now a separate Alphabet company) with around 50 employees working on it, according to one source. More critically, that project was creating a separate operating system for the device, unique from Android.

Now, it seems, that OS and project were scratched in favor of Android. I don’t know how far along the project was. Google, of course, shuts or redirects many projects, particularly those from X.

Google is constantly working on projects, many of which never make it into consumer hands, so it isn’t all that surprising to hear that a project that overlaps another upcoming release was canned in favor of the other.

16
Jul

Unable to log into Pokémon Go right now? You are not alone!


It appears as though the Pokémon Go login servers are experiencing a bit of trouble, preventing users from being able to log in and play the game. Have you noticed any issues, or are you still out there catching them all? Niantic has been adding support for gameplay in several new countries over the recent days, and odds are that the servers are just simply overloaded at this point.

pokemon-go-server-issues.jpg?itok=OViFoC

Server issues are never fun, but if you are experiencing them you are not alone. If you notice the app slowing down, or the inability to complete a login on your phone, just be patient while the teams behind the scene sort this out. Be sure to let us know if you are seeing any issues, or if you are able to log in and play as normal.

Pokémon Go

  • Join our Pokémon Go forums!
  • How to deal with GPS errors in-game
  • Which team should you choose?
  • How to play without killing your battery
  • The Ultimate Pokémon Go Game Guide!

16
Jul

Recommended Reading: How reliable are internet movie ratings?


‘Ghostbusters’ is a
perfect example of
how internet movie
ratings are broken

Walt Hickey,
FiveThirtyEight

The reboot of the 1984 classic hits theaters this weekend, but the criticism of the new Ghostbusters has been flying for months. FiveThirtyEight takes a close look at internet ratings for the film as a way of showing that you shouldn’t always rely on those numbers when making a decision about which movie to see. “People put far too much faith in numbers that are preliminary, decontextualized and, in the end, oversimplified,” Hickey concludes.

“What do you mean, ‘Biblical’?”: Calculating the ‘Ghostbusters’ Twinkie in real life
J. Kenji López-Alt, Serious Eats

Ok, ok. I promise this will be the last Ghostbusters story I include. However, someone took the time to do the math on that mythical Twinkie, and the calculations are super interesting.

Solving all the wrong problems
Allison Arieff, The New York Times

New technology is making a lot of things easier, but it’s not addressing the real issues that need to solved. As Arieff notes, many of the so-called innovations only cater to a small portion of us, and some take care of the things our mothers used to do.

Hold your horses, virtual reality hasn’t come to live sports (not yet)
Kirsten Nelson, Gear Patrol

VR broadcasts of live sports have been around for a few months now, but the overall experience has a long way to go.

Taking photos at shows is messing with your memories
Amanda Wicks, Pitchfork

You’ve probably heard about the measures some acts are taking to curb people using their phones during performances, but does being quick to snap a selfie really affect your memories of the event?

16
Jul

‘Pokémon Go’ Now Available in 26 New Countries Across Europe


Pokémon Go launched this morning in 26 new countries across Europe, capping a blockbuster week in which the augmented reality-based title became the most popular mobile game ever and saw Nintendo shares set record trading volumes in Tokyo.

The announcement of the multi-country launch was made earlier today on the official Pokémon Go Facebook page.

Pokémon Go is available in twenty-six new countries. As of tonight, Trainers living in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland are able to download Pokémon GO from the Play Store or App Store.

As a major market, France still remains conspicuously absent from the launch list, while rollout in Canada and across the Asian region has yet to begin. Some users have also reported login problems with the game since this morning’s announcement, suggesting continued server-side issues for game developers Niantic Labs.

Speaking to Reuters yesterday, chief executive of Niantic John Hanke said Pokémon Go will release in around 200 countries “relatively soon” as developers work to bolster server capacity to enable the wider rollout.

Those comments helped Nintendo shares surge another 10 percent on Friday, setting a record in daily trading volume for an individual stock on the Tokyo exchange. The shares have climbed 86 percent this week, adding $17 billion in market value.

Meanwhile in New York City, a stampede was caught on camera on Friday near Central Park, where a “Vaporeon” pokémon character reportedly showed up. People were seen jumping from cars to capture the creature.

According to The Verge, similar scenes have taken place around the U.S. where rare game characters have appeared, with huge crowds converging on locations such as the Boston Common, Provo City Library in Utah, in Des Moines, Iowa, in Bellevue, Washington, and Altamonte Springs, Florida.

Earlier this week, U.S. mobile carrier T-Mobile announced it plans to offer its customers free data to play the game, while Sprint and affiliated Boost Mobile stores are providing charging stations to players, and even training up store staff to help customers locate nearby game features.

Developers Niantic has also revealed it is considering introducing a sponsorship scheme similar to one it has with its other AR-based game Ingress, which assigns sponsors’ stores and vending machines as spots in the game.

Tag: Pokémon GO
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16
Jul

ICYMI: Sound wave sewer checks, the feminized phone and more


ICYMI: Sound wave sewer checks, the feminized phone and more

Today on In Case You Missed It: A town in Maryland is checking for clogs in sewer lines with a sound wave system funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. And a Chinese-made smartphone is geared towards women in the most condescending of ways.

In TL;DR, be sure to read up on Tesla’s newest, ‘low-cost’ car. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.

16
Jul

Twitch makes it easy to find streams in your language


It’s simple enough to search for streams on Twitch, but if you want to explore all the broadcasts available in a particular language, you’ll find the website’s new feature quite useful. The company has just launched Multi-Language Filters, which you can access on the Live Channels list of every game directory page. Now, when you visit, say, the Hearthstone or League of Legends portal, you’ll find a pull-down menu on the right-hand side. It lists various languages broadcasters use, including American Sign Language (ASL) — choosing Español, for instance, will show only Spanish streams without having to change the whole website’s settings. Polyglots can also pick more than one option.

Twitch’s Noreen McInnis says you’ll notice personal design changes different from your friends’ as you start using the filter. She didn’t elaborate on what those changes will be, but they will apparently be based on how you use the feature. We’re guessing you might find your frequent language of choice at the top of the menu (or maybe even pre-selected) the more you use it. You can see a short demo of the the filter below, though you can try it out for yourself on Twitch right now.

Source: Twitch

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