Tech

Netflix launches 30-second preview videos on mobile

Netflix is introducing its own take on Snapchat and Instagram stories after it began to roll out 30-second preview videos for mobile viewers. The previews look much like Stories because the thumbnails are circular and the content plays with virtual videos, so there’s no need to move your phone to the side. Added to that, they play like a slideshow, allowing users to swipe or tap to skip to the next video without returning to the main screen. Shows that appeal can be stored for later viewing with a button that adds them to your list. The feature is hitting the Netflix iOS app from today, and the company said it will be “coming soon” to Android. The launch is long-awaited. Netflix began offering previews on the web and via its TV app, and the company said the new feature will help those who ...

Facebook has a new job posting calling for chip designers

Facebook has posted a job opening looking for an expert in ASIC and FPGA, two custom silicon designs that companies can gear toward specific use cases — particularly in machine learning and artificial intelligence. There’s been a lot of speculation in the valley as to what Facebook’s interpretation of custom silicon might be, especially as it looks to optimize its machine learning tools — something that CEO Mark Zuckerberg referred to as a potential solution for identifying misinformation on Facebook using AI. The whispers of Facebook’s customized hardware range depending on who you talk to, but generally center around operating on the massive graph Facebook possesses around personal data. Most in the industry speculate that it’s being optimized for Caffe2, an AI infrastructure deployed at...

TaskRabbit CEO posts statement as its app returns following a cybersecurity breach

After taking them down to investigate what it called a “cybersecurity incident,” TaskRabbit’s website and app are back online. The Ikea-owned platform for on-demand labor also posted an update from its chief executive officer Stacy Brown-Philpot about the incident. “While our investigation is ongoing, preliminary evidence shows that an unauthorized user gained access to our systems. As a result, certain personally identifiable information may have been compromised,” she wrote. While Brown-Philpot said that an outside forensics team is currently working to identify what information was compromised and will notify all affected users, she urged the platform’s customers and providers, called “taskers,” to monitor online accounts for suspicious activity and change passwords if they used the sam...

ZTE postpones earnings report after being slapped with U.S. exports ban

ZTE will postpone the release of its quarterly earnings report after the United States government banned American companies from selling goods to the Chinese telecom and smartphone maker. In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, ZTE said that its earnings report, originally set to be released on Thursday, is now delayed to an undetermined date. About a year ago, ZTE pleaded guilty to violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Its deal with the U.S. government included penalties and fines totaling more than a billion dollars, but allowed it to continue doing business with U.S. suppliers. On Monday, however, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that ZTE had failed to follow the agreement’s terms. It accused the company of making false statements and failing to punish e...

California OSHA is looking into injury reports at Tesla

After a report by Reveal suggested that Tesla was underreporting workplace injuries at its Fremont plant, Tesla responded with a blog post calling the report “completely false” and pinning it all up as a “calculated disinformation campaign.” Now California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (otherwise known as Cal/OSHA) is looking into things at the factory. As first noted by Bloomberg, the agency won’t give specifics on why it’s looking into Tesla — but in a comment sent our way, they start off by mentioning the aforementioned report. Here’s the statement sent to us by Cal/OSHA spokesperson Erika Monterroza: Cal/OSHA takes seriously reports of workplace hazards and allegations of employers’ underreporting recordable work-related injuries and illnesses on the Log 300. Cal/OSHA cu...

DARPA’s Launch Challenge offers $10M prize for short-notice, rapid-turnaround rocketry

Getting to space is already tough, but getting there on short notice and then doing it again a couple weeks later? That’s a big ask. Nevertheless, DARPA is asking it as part of its Launch Challenge, announced today at the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado. Teams must take a payload to space with only days to prepare, then do it again soon after — if they want to win the $10M grand prize. The idea is to nurture small space companies under what DARPA envisions as the future of launch conditions in both commercial and military situations. The ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances or fail gracefully if not will be critical in the launch ecosystem of the near future. Here’s how it will go down. First, teams will have to pre-qualify to show they have the chops to execute this kind of...

Facebook, Microsoft and others sign anti-cyberattack pledge

Microsoft, Facebook and Cloudflare are among a group of technology firms that have signed a joint pledge committing publicly not to assist offensive government cyberattacks. The pledge also commits them to work together to enhance security awareness and the resilience of the global tech ecosystem. The four top-line principles the firms are agreeing to are [ALL CAPS theirs]: 1. WE WILL PROTECT ALL OF OUR USERS AND CUSTOMERS EVERYWHERE. 2. WE WILL OPPOSE CYBERATTACKS ON INNOCENT CITIZENS AND ENTERPRISES FROM ANYWHERE. 3. WE WILL HELP EMPOWER USERS, CUSTOMERS AND DEVELOPERS TO STRENGTHEN CYBERSECURITY PROTECTION. 4. WE WILL PARTNER WITH EACH OTHER AND WITH LIKEMINDED GROUPS TO ENHANCE CYBERSECURITY. You can read the full Cybersecurity Tech Accord here. So far 34 companies have signed up to th...

Personably, software that helps on-board new hires at fast-growing companies, gets backing from GFC

As fast-growing companies — or, dare I say, ‘scale-ups’ — add new headcount, the pace at which they are able to on-board new hires doesn’t always keep up. In fact, I’m told it is not unheard of for new employees to turn up on day one apparently unexpected, and to be passed from pillar to post as they attempt to get set up and be shown all of the things you need to be shown to actually start a new role. Enter Personably, the London startup founded in late 2016 by Katerina Pascoulis and Lewis Blackwood, after the former Crowdcube and GoCardless employees spotted an opportunity to use software to streamline and in some instances automate aspects of the on-boarding process. Bootstrapped until now, the company is disclosing that it recently raised £500,000 in seed funding. The round was led by ...

Uber whistleblower Susan Fowler backs California legislation to end forced arbitration

Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer whose blog post about sexual harassment and troubling internal workings led to the departure of CEO Travis Kalanick, is backing new legislation that aims to give victims of sexual harassment and other workplace discrimination the freedom to seek legal action, and to do it publicly. Fowler is lending her support to bill AB-3080 — proposed by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, the California Labor Federation, and the Economic Policy Institute — which would forbid employers from the practice of forced arbitration in response to discrimination complaints. The proposed legislation tackles a worrying norm in which companies, including throughout tech, mandate that employees air any grievances before a private, third-party arbitrator who is t...

Ford launches on-demand medical transportation service

Ford is launching an on-demand transportation service for non-emergency medical needs. The idea is to better help patients get to their doctor appointments. Ford is initially launching this in partnership with Beaumont Health in Michigan to serve more than 200 facilities. Called GoRide, the fleet has 15 transit vans to accommodate people with varying needs. By the end of the year, Ford plans to have 60 vans, all driven by trained professionals, as part of GoRide’s services. The GoRide fleet can accommodate people with wheelchairs, thanks to flexible seats that can flip up and a wheelchair lift. “There’s no excuse for the fact that so many people have trouble simply making it to their medical appointments,” Ford Mobility Business Group VP Marion Harris said in a press release. “By merging o...

Amazon finally made its e-commerce service usable for international customers

Amazon is making a push to globalize its e-commerce service after it added a new international shipping feature to reach more than 100 countries. The core Amazon service itself is still limited to a handful of countries — primarily the U.S., Western Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Singapore — but the new feature at least makes its mobile apps usable for those who live in other countries and want to buy items. Now, by switching to this new international shipping mode, customers in markets where Amazon doesn’t have a local presence, can see products that can be shipped to their location. The app will also calculate additions such as shipping and handling costs and import fees. Unfortunately, since this isn’t a full international launch, the actual selection of products and those addit...

Russia’s Telegram ban that knocked out 15M Google, Amazon IP addresses had a precedent in Zello

Russia blocking access to Telegram after the messaging app refused to give it access to encrypted messages has picked up an unintended casualty: we’re now up to over 15 million IP addresses from Amazon and Google getting shut down by the regulators in the process, taking various other (non-Telegram) services down with it. Telegram’s CEO Pavel Durov earlier today said that its reach in the country has yet to see an impact from the ban 24 hours on, with VPNs, proxies and third-party cloud services stepping in to pick up the slack for its roughly 14 million users in the country, and third parties refusing to buckle under requests from Roskomnadzor, the regulator, to remove the app from its stores and servers. “Thank you for your support and loyalty, Russian users of Telegram. Thank you, Apple...