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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jan 2017


Sundar Pichai GoogleGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai was one of the many tech CEOs to come out against Trump's order.Getty Images


Luminaries of the tech industry have voiced concern, sharp criticism, and calls for unity in the wake of President Trump's unprecedented executive order barring refugees from entering the US.

Over the weekend, CEOs of companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Airbnb shared their near-unanimous opposition to Trump's order, which bans people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days and the admission of all refugees for 120 days.

Some companies, such as ride-hailing app Lyft, pledged large donations to the The American Civil Liberties Union for its legal work in challenging Trump's order. Many said they would offer free legal assistance to employees affected by the ban.

Here are the reactions to Trump's executive order on immigration from the biggest names in tech:

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Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was one of the first tech CEOs to voice concern over the order.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was one of the first tech CEOs to voice concern over the order.


"Like many of you, I'm concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump," Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Friday.

He said he remained optimistic about Trump's vague commitment to protecting "Dreamer" immigrants who were brought into the US at a young age from deportation.

You can read Zuckerberg's full post here.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai criticized the order and urged affected employees to return to the US as soon as possible.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai criticized the order and urged affected employees to return to the US as soon as possible.

Reuters/Beck Diefenbach

"We’re upset about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US," Pichai wrote in a company-wide email.

"It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues."

You can read Pichai's full letter to Google employees here.


Google cofounder Sergey Brin was spotted at a protest opposing the ban at the San Francisco airport on Saturday.

Google cofounder Sergey Brin was spotted at a protest opposing the ban at the San Francisco airport on Saturday.

Stephen Lam/Reuters

"I'm here because I'm a refugee," he told Forbes.

Microsoft President Brad Smith sent a company-wide email offering legal assistance to affected employees.

Microsoft President Brad Smith sent a company-wide email offering legal assistance to affected employees.

Thomson Reuters

"We believe that immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion," Smith wrote.

CEO Satya Nadella, who was born in India, also said that he'd "seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world" in a preface to the e-mail. 

You can read Microsoft's full letter to employees here.


Apple CEO Tim Cook: "It is not a policy we support."

Apple CEO Tim Cook: "It is not a policy we support."

Tim CookAP Photo/Richard Drew

Cook took a hard stance against Trump's executive order in an email to Apple employees on Saturday.

"I've heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries," he said. "I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support."

Cook added that Apple was ready to provide legal assistance to any employees affected by the order.

You can read Cook's full letter to employees here.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said his company will compensate affected drivers who can't return home. He also said he'd tell Trump how "this ban will impact many innocent people" when he meets with the president on Friday.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said his company will compensate affected drivers who can't return home. He also said he'd tell Trump how "this ban will impact many innocent people" when he meets with the president on Friday.

Reuters/Robert Galbraith

As part of Trump's business advisory committee, Kalanick has drawn criticism from protestors and his own employees for his ties to the administration.

"While every government has their own immigration controls, allowing people from all around the world to come here and make America their home has largely been the US’s policy since its founding," Kalanick wrote in a company-wide email Saturday. Kalanick said he would raise the issue with Trump "this coming Friday when I go to Washington for President Trump’s first business advisory group meeting."

On Sunday, Uber followed up with a second release, pledging to provide legal support for Uber drivers, compensate drivers for lost earnings, create a $3 million legal defense fund for drivers and translation services, and to "urge the government to reinstate the right of US residents to travel.

Uber's decision to service rides during a related taxi strike at the JFK airport on Saturday night caused thousands of people to furiously delete the Uber app, and the hashtag "#DeleteUber" briefly became a trending topic on Twitter.

You can read Kalanick's full letter to Uber employees here.


Lyft meanwhile pledged a $1 million donation to the ACLU, the non-profit organization that was able to successfully force a temporary stay on the immigration ban.

Lyft meanwhile pledged a $1 million donation to the ACLU, the non-profit organization that was able to successfully force a temporary stay on the immigration ban.


"We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community," Lyft cofounders John Zimmer and Logan Green said in a letter to customers.

"We know this directly impacts many of our community members, their families, and friends. We stand with you, and are donating $1,000,000 over the next four years to the ACLU to defend our constitution. We ask that you continue to be there for each other - and together, continue proving the power of community."

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called the ban "so un-American it pains us all."

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called the ban "so un-American it pains us all."

REUTERS/Steve Marcus

"Trump's actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all," he wrote in a Facebook post Saturday. "Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity."


Airbnb pledged to give free housing to immigrants who are unable to enter the U.S., and CEO Brian Chesky said "we must stand with those who are affected."

Airbnb pledged to give free housing to immigrants who are unable to enter the U.S., and CEO Brian Chesky said "we must stand with those who are affected."

Airbnb CEO Brian CheskyKimberly White/Getty Images for Fortune

In a series of tweets on Saturday, Chesky said Airbnb would provide "free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US."

"Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected," he continued. "Open doors brings all of US together. Closing doors further divides US. Let's all find ways to connect people, not separate them."

In a more pointed memo to employees, Chesky said that Trump's order is "a policy I profoundly disagree with and it is a direct obstacle to our mission at Airbnb."

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the immigration is "not the best way to address the country's challenges."

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the immigration is "not the best way to address the country's challenges."

Jordan Strauss/Getty

Musk, who sits on Trump's economic advisory team, sent out a diplomatically worded statement saying that Trump's immigration order "is not the best way to address the country’s challenges," adding that it was affecting those who have done nothing wrong and "don't deserve to be rejected."


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that the "humanitarian and economic impact" of the order is "real and upsetting."

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that the "humanitarian and economic impact" of the order is "real and upsetting."

AP Images

In a tweet from the company's official account, a Twitter spokesperson added, "Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always."

Dorsey, who is also the CEO of payments company Square, tweeted a statistic that "11% of Syrian immigrants to the US are business owners, more than triple that of US-born business owners."

Twitter has said in the past that it would ban Trump's account on the service if he violated its hate speech policies, and protesters recently challenged the company to enact a ban because of Trump's comments on immigrants.

Y Combinator president Sam Altman urged tech leaders to "take a stand" against Trump's administration.

Y Combinator president Sam Altman urged tech leaders to "take a stand" against Trump's administration.

Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch

"This administration has already shown that they are not particularly impressed by the first amendment, and that they are interested in other anti-immigrant action," he wrote in a blog post. "So we must object, or our inaction will send a message that the administration can continue to take away our rights."


While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has stayed quiet on the ban, an internal memo from the company's head of HR said that the company would give legal aid to any affected employees.

While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has stayed quiet on the ban, an internal memo from the company's head of HR said that the company would give legal aid to any affected employees.

AP Images

"From the very beginning, Amazon has been committed to equal rights, tolerance and diversity—and we always will be," Amazon VP of HR Beth Galatti wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Business Insider. "As we’ve grown the company, we’ve worked hard to attract talented people from all over the world, and we believe this is one of the things that makes Amazon great—a diverse workforce helps us build better products for customers."

Box CEO Aaron Levie called the ban "wrong on every level."

Box CEO Aaron Levie called the ban "wrong on every level."


In a series of tweets, cloud storage company Box's CEO Aaron Levie condemned Trump's order as "completely antithetical to the principles of America."


Dropbox CEO Drew Houston called the ban "un-American."

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston called the ban "un-American."

Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE via Getty Images

"Executive orders affecting world's most vulnerable are un-American," he wrote in a tweet. "Dropbox embraces people from all countries and faiths."

Some tech leaders, like prominent venture capitalist Chris Sacca and Nest founder Tony Fadell, have made large donations to the ACLU.

Some tech leaders, like prominent venture capitalist Chris Sacca and Nest founder Tony Fadell, have made large donations to the ACLU.

Flickr/The Next Web Photos

Sacca personally matched donations on Twitter up to $75,000, then doubled his match and gave $150,000. Nest founder and former Apple executive Tony Fadell also committed to matching donations up to $100,000.


Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff shared a message of solidarity with the hashtag "noban."

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff shared a message of solidarity with the hashtag "noban."

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"When we close our hearts & stop loving other people as ourselves (MK 12:31) we forget who we truly are---a light unto the nations," he tweeted.

Stripe CEO Patrick Collison called the ban "economically damaging."

Stripe CEO Patrick Collison called the ban "economically damaging."

Flickr/ Web Summit

"Trump's stated immigration policies would be economically damaging and will in time be seen as morally wrong," wrote Collison. Stripe allows business to accept payments from anywhere in the world.

Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor behind PayPal and a close aid to Trump, denied that the ban was a "religious test."

Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor behind PayPal and a close aid to Trump, denied that the ban was a "religious test."

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times

"Peter doesn't support a religious test, and the administration has not imposed one," a spokesperson for Thiel told Forbes on Saturday.

Thiel immigrated to the US from Germany in the 1970s and has already facilitated meetings between Trump and top leaders in the tech industry.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jan 2017

Sergey Brin at SFOImage copyrightOTHER

Image captionGoogle founder Sergey Brin joined protesters at San Francisco airport on Saturday evening

For months, Silicon Valley seemed to be heeding the advice of one of its most powerful figures, billionaire investor Peter Thiel, who said President Trump should be taken "seriously, but not literally”.

But at the international arrivals gate at San Francisco airport at the weekend, things were getting very literal, very quickly. What the tech industry had feared might happen, was happening.

The impact of President Trump’s immigration ban on tech companies has been immediate. And one by one, the major firms and personalities in this part of the world spoke out with a fervour some felt was long overdue.

It was Google’s Sundar Pichai who really got the ball rolling. Late on Friday, he sent a memo to all employees raising his concerns and revealing that more than 100 Google staff were directly affected. His words were quickly shared beyond the inboxes of the search giant.

On Saturday, Google co-founder Sergey Brin briefly joined protesters at the airport. Also seen was Sam Altman, who runs Y Combinator, the leading “accelerator” programme for new tech start-ups.

‘Ignores history'

Through social media, we heard from Netflix’s Reed Hastings who said the executive order was "so un-American it pains us all”.

Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey said the repercussions were “real and upsetting”.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook told staff the order was “not a policy we support”.

International arrivals sign at SFO

Image captionThe city's main airport has become the focal point of the protests

It kept on coming.

“Misguided,” said Microsoft. “Ignores history,” said Mozilla.

AirBnB co-founder Brian Chesky offered free housing to anyone caught outside the US, unable to return home.

Slack’s Stewart Butterfield invoked historical comparisons in his statement, tweeting: "My grandfather came from Poland between the wars, at 17, sponsored by an elder sister. Two more siblings made it. Everyone else died."

"Trump’s immigration ban is antithetical to both Lyft's and our nation's core values,” said Logan Green, head of ride-sharing firm Lyft, a company less well-known in Europe but one that competes with Uber in the US.

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick said “this ban will impact many innocent people”, and set up a $3m (£2.4m) fund to support staff, including drivers, caught up by the orders.

(Still, the company that doesn’t like to let a good PR banana skin go to waste outdid itself when it appeared to be capitalising on a taxi strike at JFK airport by removing surge pricing.)

'A disaster'

The cause for concern is about skilled immigration, the lubricant that keeps Silicon Valley working. The US doesn’t create nearly enough software engineers and developers to sustain these enormous companies, and so foreign brainpower does more than plug the skills gap.

“There’s still a massive shortage of talent necessary for our organisations,” said Aaron Levie, chief executive and co-founder of Box, an online storage firm worth just over $2bn.

“We should be doing whatever makes America the most competitive as possible in terms of creating future jobs, in terms of being at the bleeding edge of key industries.

"Any policy that hurts high-skill immigration is a disaster."

The ban affected several of his employees, Mr Levie said. One of its co-founders is of Iranian descent.

“We think it’s a very dangerous policy,” Mr Levie continued.

"We think it has long-term ramifications and implications that have not been thought out, as well as near-term implications that clearly haven’t been thought out as well.”

Ethical values

Still, among the praise directed at firms over their statements this week, there were voices wondering: what took them so long?

In a region - and indeed a state - where liberal thinking is front and centre, many were left aghast when it seemed the tech companies’ first reaction was to get around a table with the then president-Elect and talk policy.

The suggestion remains that while Silicon Valley likes to paint its decisions with colourful ethical values, it’s the bottom line that is the be all and end all.


Image captionFirm morals and good business sense can co-exist, Box's Mr Levie said

But both goals need not be mutually exclusive, Mr Levie said.

“We’re getting to a point in the world where it’s really hard to separate morals from our organisations,” he said.

"We are built on people, and we are built on having cultures of people that can come together and work productively and be welcome in their communities. It is both a business issue and a moral issue.”

Tess Townsend, a journalist for tech news website Recode - the publication which has been most outspoken about the tech industry’s willingness to embrace President Trump - said any prior restraint from the companies was flipped upside down when the executive order was enforced.

“People are seeing the real impact in a way that’s not theoretical,” she told me.

"I think often times when we talk about policies being passed, we think about it having an impact but it’s not super immediate - the impact may not be felt for another few months, or maybe a year later.

“But this is something where people are being stopped at the airport now."

Google fund

So what now?

Uber’s Travis Kalanick, and Tesla’s Elon Musk, are both part of an advisory panel scheduled to meet with President Trump on Friday.

Mr Musk used Twitter to solicit concerns about the orders that he said he will raise with the President, though he urged his followers to read the policy for themselves and not rely on media coverage.

A lawyer works on the floor at San Francisco airport

Image captionSeveral large donations have been made to groups offering legal support

In addition to the earlier statements, companies - and the wealthy individuals within them - rallied around groups offering assistance to those affected by the orders.

Google set up a “crisis fund” of $2m which could rise to $4m with employees’ own contributions. Lyft said it would give the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) $1m over the next four years.

Big-time investors such as Chris Sacca shared news of their own donations - $150,000 in his case - to various groups.

The executive order is only intended to be a temporary measure, President Trump has said. For the time being, as I type, there is still a sizable crowd gathered at San Francisco airport, cheering in each arrival.

And on several placards, the face of this region’s most revered figure, Steve Jobs - the son of a Syrian, adopted by Americans.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jan 2017

Emperor penguinsImage copyrightSCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Image captionPenguins would starve if they had not figured out efficient feeding strategies

Hungry penguins have inspired a novel way of making sure computer code in smart cars does not crash.

Tools based on the way the birds co-operatively hunt for fish are being developed to test different ways of organising in-car software.

The tools look for safe ways to organise code in the same way that penguins seek food sources in the open ocean.

Experts said such testing systems would be vital as cars get more connected.

Engineers have often turned to nature for good solutions to tricky problems, said Prof Yiannis Papadopoulos, a computer scientist at the University of Hull who, together with Dr Youcef Gheraibia from Algeria, developed the penguin-inspired testing system.

The way ants pass messages among nest-mates has helped telecoms firms keep telephone networks running, and many robots get around using methods of locomotion based on the ways animals move.

'Big society'

Penguins were another candidate, said Prof Papadopoulos, because millions of years of evolution has helped them develop very efficient hunting strategies.

This was useful behaviour to copy, he said, because it showed that penguins had solved a tricky optimisation problem - how to ensure as many penguins as possible get enough to eat.

"Penguins are social birds and we know they live in colonies that are often very large and can include hundreds of thousands of birds. This raises the question of how can they sustain this kind of big society given that together they need a vast amount of food.

"There must be something special about their hunting strategy," he said, adding that an inefficient strategy would mean many birds starved.

Prof Papadopoulos said many problems in software engineering could be framed as a search among all hypothetical solutions for the one that produces the best results. Evolution, through penguins and many other creatures, has already searched through and discarded a lot of bad solutions.

Studies of hunting penguins have hinted at how they organised themselves.

Mercedes EQ concept carImage copyrightMERCEDES BENZ

Image captionAs cars get more connected and autonomous they will have more software onboard

"They forage in groups and have been observed to synchronise their dives to get fish," said Prof Papadopoulos. "They also have the ability to communicate using vocalisations and possibly convey information about food resources."

The communal, co-ordinated action helps the penguins get the most out of a hunting expedition. Groups of birds are regularly reconfigured to match the shoals of fish and squid they find. It helps the colony as a whole optimise the amount of energy they have to expend to catch food.

"This solution has generic elements which can be abstracted and be used to solve other problems," he said, "such as determining the integrity of software components needed to reach the high safety requirements of a modern car."

Integrity in this sense means ensuring the software does what is intended, handles data well, and does not introduce errors or crash.

By mimicking penguin behaviour in a testing system which seeks the safest ways to arrange code instead of shoals of fish, it becomes possible to slowly zero in on the best way for that software to be structured.

The Hull researchers working with Dr Gheraibia turned to search tools based on the collaborative foraging behaviour of penguins.

The foraging-based system helped to quickly search through the many possible ways software can be specified to home in on the most optimal solutions in terms of safety and cost.

Car on production lineImage copyrightREUTERS

Image captionModern car production unites parts and code from many different sources

Currently, complex software was put together and tested manually, with only experience and engineering judgement to guide it, said Prof Papadopoulos. While this could produce decent results it could consider only a small fraction of all possible good solutions.

The penguin-based system could crank through more solutions and do a better job of assessing which was best, he said.

Under pressure

Mike Ahmadi, global director of critical systems security at Synopsys, which helps vehicle-makers secure code, said modern car manufacturing methods made optimisation necessary.

"When you look at a car today, it's essentially something that's put together from a vast and extended supply chain," he said.

Building a car was about getting sub-systems made by different manufacturers to work together well, rather than being something made wholly in one place.

That was a tricky task given how much code was present in modern cars, he added.

Wood ants

Image captionAlgorithms based on the way ants communicate have helped telecoms firms organise networks

"There's about a million lines of code in the average car today and there's far more in connected cars."

Carmakers were under pressure, said Mr Ahmadi, to adapt cars quickly so they could interface with smartphones and act as mobile entertainment hubs, as well as make them more autonomous.

"From a performance point of view carmakers have gone as far as they can," he said. "What they have discovered is that the way to offer features now is through software."

Security would become a priority as cars got smarter and started taking in and using data from other cars, traffic lights and online sources, said Nick Cook from software firm Intercede, which is working with carmakers on safe in-car software.

"If somebody wants to interfere with a car today then generally they have to go to the car itself," he said. "But as soon as it's connected they can be anywhere in the world.

"Your threat landscape is quite significantly different and the opportunity for a hack is much higher."

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jan 2017

Footballer, model, global brand and charity ambassador, David Beckham joined Kirsty Young to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs. But how would the former England captain survive on a desert island? “People are always interested in what’s going on but I’m looking forward to this.”

Booted out

David keeps match memorabilia, including old football shirts and all of his England caps. His medals are in a bank safe: “They’re so precious to me. They’re for my children in the future.” What about his boots? Staggeringly he has over 1,000 pairs, which more than competes with Victoria’s shoe collection.

Family values

He was born in Leytonstone, then moved to Chingford. His first memory is of his mum, a hairdresser, taking him to football practice. His father was a gas fitter who worked long hours but would play football with him after school; he’d tried out for Leyton Orient himself. “He was ALWAYS offside.”

Dedicated follower of fashion

His interest in fashion is well documented and started early. He recalls being asked to be a pageboy at a wedding, aged six. The choice was a sensible suit, or burgundy velvet knickerbockers, tights and white ballet shoes. Guess which he chose? “I’m sure my mum has got that outfit at home,” he says.

THAT halfway line goal

David’s mum, dad and his sister Joanne watched him score from the halfway line against Wimbledon in 1996. “I remember the ball falling to me and thinking, ‘yeah, why not?’” As he watched it swerve from left to right, he told himself, “this has got a real chance”. As it hit the back of the net “there was silence, it was amazing.” Eric Cantona came up to him afterwards and said, “What a goal!”, which David found quite overwhelming: “He was a hero of mine”. He recalls Sir Alex Ferguson protecting him from the media, telling him, “Do not speak to anybody. Get on that bus with the team.”

… and THAT goal against Greece

“That was one of the biggest moments for me,” says Beckham, who was celebrating before the ball had crossed the goal line: “That’s happened on a number of occasions… Before it’s even gone in, I’m actually running off.”

Starting early

David recalls his mum approaching him after a game and saying: “Lucky you played well today.” He had been watched by a Manchester United scout who invited him for a trial. Beckham burst into tears of joy. Not long after, he signed a contract on his 14th birthday in Sir Alex Ferguson’s office.

Arguing with the manager

The crux of the problem with Sir Alex Ferguson was the fact that “there were certain decisions I made then that were wrong decisions,” he says. “I can see why the manager got so frustrated.” There were many misconceptions about his life during that time; people thought he was living in London with Victoria and driving to Manchester to train, which wasn’t the case. The low-point hap-pened after a defeat to Arsenal with Ferguson kicking a boot at Beckham, cutting his eyebrow: “It was a freak accident.” While on holiday in 2003, David found out he was being sold to Barcelona when his friend saw it on TV. He said, “If I am going to move, I want to move to Real Madrid.” He couldn’t watch Manchester United play for three years afterwards.


David Beckham: ‘I can see why he got so frustrated’

David Beckham on his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson.

Tough love

Beckham Sr, was, according to David, “a bit of a taskmaster”. He would practise football in a local park with his father and a goal with no net. “Hit the cross bar, hit the cross bar,” his dad would say. “I’m a lot softer [with my children] than my dad was with me.” David played for local youth team Ridge-way Rovers on a Sunday morning and his dad would pick apart his game afterwards. The first time his dad told him he’d done really well was when he got his 100th cap for England. “It made me emotional.”

Charity begins at home…

David’s a Unicef ambassador and works with many different charities. “It’s not for vanity,” he says. He recalls going to Thailand for the first time with Manchester United, being invited to a women’s centre and immediately wanting to learn more. He remembers thinking: “I want to get involved, it’s important that I do this.”

Queen Victoria

He gave Victoria his number in the players' lounge, after noticing her on the TV wearing a black catsuit. “Everyone at the time had their favourite Spice Girl.” They had to have dates in a restaurant car park in David’s bright blue BMW because Simon Fuller, the Spice Girls manager, wouldn’t let the girls go out. He attributes the success of his marriage with Victoria to being “a strong family unit. We had strong parents.”

David Beckham: ‘We’d sit in the carpark and talk’

David Beckham’s first glamorous dates with Posh.

Seeing red

Beckham received death threats after famously being sent off against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. Alex Ferguson was the first person to call him after the game. “That gave me strength to get through probably the toughest time that I’ve been through in my life.” Victoria had just found out she was pregnant with their first son, Brooklyn. “It should have been a happy time and it wasn’t.”

His musical choices

Elton John makes the cut, but some of his choices are more unexpected: a track from Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz evokes his time in Madrid, and a reflective instrumental by jazz star Sidney Bechet reminds him of Paris, where he ended his professional playing career. However, Spice Girls (and his son Cruz’s charity single) didn’t make it into his eight choices, “I might get into trouble for that.”

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jan 2017

The CEO opens up to 16,000 employees once a week. Why don’t you hear more about it?

On a Friday afternoon in July 2015, Mark Zuckerberg stood in front of a couple hundred employees at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, a video camera there to record his words for thousands of other employees around the globe.

Zuckerberg, usually calm and a natural introvert, was uncharacteristically angry.

News of Facebook’s previously secret messaging assistant, M, had leaked earlier that week to the press. The Facebook CEO made a promise to his employees: We’re going to find the leaker, and we’re going to fire them.

At another company meeting a week later, Zuckerberg delivered an update: The culprit, he said, had been caught and fired. Many of those in attendance applauded.

Both the leak and the ensuing witch hunt are Facebook rarities. Unlike tech companies such as Apple and Snapchat, which keep employees in the dark about projects and ambitions, Facebook routinely shares all kinds of secrets with all of its workers at Friday afternoon Q&A sessions that Zuckerberg has been running for a decade.

What’s most surprising: Almost none of it leaks out.

Sources say Zuckerberg uses these weekly meetings to tell his nearly 16,000 employees details of yet-to-be-released products, like news reader app Paper or Snapchat competitor Slingshot — and M, the AI assistant.

He’ll open up about the company’s product strategy, like its push into live video. And Zuckerberg will also share his personal opinions on competitors like Snapchat and Twitter, and even Facebook’s board members.

Almost nothing is off limits. And almost nothing leaks to the press, even though Facebook’s entire workforce — including its interns — have access to the meetings.

“That level of transparency is alarming when you see it at first.”

“That level of transparency is alarming when you see it at first,” said one former employee. “But there’s something [special] about knowing you’re getting an unfettered response.”

And that special feeling — that employees have access to information and an open, unscripted, says-whatever-he-thinks Zuckerberg — helps keep what happens at the weekly meetings inside the weekly meetings. Usually.

“If we’re going to have this open culture, there’s a little bit of a pact [around not leaking secrets],” explained another former employee.

There are formal pacts as well. Facebook puts new employees through media training and warns them that they could be fired for leaking company info. And Zuckerberg routinely reminds Facebook employees that his weekly Q&As are meant to be private.

But at Facebook there’s another deterrent: Shame.

We spoke with more than a half-dozen current and former employees, and almost all of them mentioned peer pressure as a key motivator for keeping secrets secret.

“People would be pissed if someone else leaked something,” explained one former employee. “You don’t betray the family.”

Company-wide Q&As aren’t unique to Facebook. They have become standard in the tech industry, a tradition that many trace back to Google and its weekly all-hands meetings, called TGIF. Twitter, Uber and Nextdoor hold them, too.

But Zuckerberg’s celebrity and Facebook’s size and influence make the company’s weekly ritual rather astonishing. Zuckerberg has even started doing public Q&As with Facebook users in different cities around the globe.

Some believe Zuckerberg gets as much out of the events as his employees. The meetings offer Zuckerberg a chance to hear from the rank and file, but also a chance to improve his public speaking skills. (Zuckerberg was a notoriously poor and awkward public speaker in the company’s early days, but has improved dramatically over the years.)

At Facebook headquarters, the Q&As work like this:

Each Friday at 4 pm PT, Zuckerberg speaks for about an hour from the cafeteria in Facebook’s massive new building in Menlo Park. Zuckerberg’s top lieutenants — folks like COO Sheryl Sandberg, product boss Chris Cox and CTO Mike Schroepfer — sit in the front row of chairs set up for employees in case Zuckerberg wants to call on them to answer a question.

 Reddit / jrengle

The meetings are usually limited to Facebook employees, though others have made appearances, too. Board members Peter Thiel, Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Don Graham have all attended Q&As, as did Jay Z back in the summer of 2013, though no one seems to remember why he was there. If you work out of a remote Facebook office, the Q&As are streamed live and then uploaded to Facebook’s internal portal for a short time so people can watch them at their convenience.

Zuckerberg starts with opening remarks, then typically acknowledges any long-tenured employees celebrating a work anniversary that week — what Facebookers call a “Faceversary.” If you’ve been there long enough, usually around a decade, you might get to go up and share a favorite story about your time with Facebook.

Then Zuckerberg highlights a “fix of the week,” usually honoring some behind-the-scenes engineering fix or accomplishment that others may not be aware of. It’s a small shout-out that’s meant to help Facebook keep its “hacker DNA,” even as the company swells in size.

After the formalities, Zuckerberg digs into questions submitted by employees, starting with the most popular questions Facebookers have submitted and voted on throughout the week using an internal Facebook group. (The questions aren’t submitted anonymously.) A snapshot of this polling system published by Gizmodo earlier this year showed questions ranging from Snapchat’s business strategy to whether or not employees should try to stop Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Once the poll questions are done, Zuckerberg will take unfiltered questions from the audience for the remainder of the time.

Topics vary wildly. Zuckerberg usually won’t comment publicly on competitors, but at Facebook Q&As, he’ll talk candidly about Twitter and Snapchat. He’s talked about Elon Musk and his rocket ambitions on multiple occasions. When Kanye West asked Zuckerberg for $1 billion on Twitter, Zuckerberg was inevitably asked about it the following Friday. “Maybe if he’d asked me on Facebook,” one employee remembered him joking.


KANYE WEST ✔@kanyewest

Mark Zuckerberg invest 1 billion dollars into Kanye West ideas

The questions and ensuing responses can also get serious. Zuckerberg took issue when board member Marc Andreessen compared the company’s Internet.org initiative in India to colonialism, and once gave an impassioned speech about the Black Lives Matter movement after an internal note he sent around to the company was published online.

Usually, though, Zuckerberg is relaxed. And seeing a relaxed and authentic version of Zuckerberg is one of the reasons employees still look forward to hearing from their CEO, and why they’re so tight-lipped about what he has to say.

“It's a side of Mark Zuckerberg that the outside world doesn't have access to,” one former employee explained.

But that dedication to Zuckerberg appears to be under some pressure. Since the 2016 election, we’ve seen some uncharacteristic dissent among Facebookers, most notably when a small band of employees started their own task force to investigate Facebook’s role in disseminating fake news leading up to the election. That move, breaking company message and openly defying Zuckerberg, was shocking to numerous former employees we spoke to.

Whether or not that’s an isolated incident or just the nature of a company growing up, will undoubtedly come back to Zuckerberg.

"People come to work at Facebook because they want to work for Zuckerberg," said one former employee. “No one else has a Mark."

Source: recode.net
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jan 2017

DfT report shows benefits of adding more automated vehicles to UK roads

Scenes like this could be a thing of the past thanks to driverless cars

Scenes like this could be a thing of the past thanks to driverless cars

The arrival of driverless cars on UK roads will reduce journey times and cut delays, according to findings from a government report. 

The report, commissioned by the Department for Transport, used computer modeling to understand how the addition of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVS) to traffic in both urban and major road environments, i.e. motorways, would affect road conditions. 

Specifically, the study found that on a simulation of a major road, where traditional vehicles outnumbered automated cars there was not much change in traffic flow. However, once driverless cars outnumbered normal vehicles traffic flow improved. 

So much so in fact, that when the simulation was modeled to be nothing but driverless cars journey times fell by 11 per cent and delays were cut by 40 per cent. This is because driverless cars are able to travel much closer together due to superior reaction times if the car has to break. 

Furthermore, driverless cars are better at maintaining a constant speed, reducing the likelihood of a car suddenly breaking, which in turns causes all the cars behind to have to slow down or stop.


RELATED: 6 great reasons driverless cars will change the world, and one big problem

Given this, it is perhaps no surprise that in urban areas the study found it took the addition of fewer driverless cars to start improving traffic conditions. 

The report said that a 12 per cent cut in delays and a 21 per cent improvement in journey times were witnessed in this scenarios. 

Transport minister Johns Hayes said the data underlined the huge potential for driverless cars to improve the UK's roads and tackle traffic jams that blight most major urban areas. 

"This exciting and extensive study shows that driverless cars could vastly improve the flow of traffic in our towns and cities, offering huge benefits to motorists including reduced delays and more reliable journey times," he said. 

He added too that the government was keen to embrace the benefits of driverless cars given the huge potential they have for helping less able citizens to get around. 

"Driverless cars are just one example of cutting edge technology which could transform the way in which we travel in the future, particularly in providing new opportunities for those with reduced mobility."

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jan 2017

But Google might opt for its own custom-built chip instead

Pixel 2 could have better chips and build quality

Pixel 2 could have better chips and build quality

Possibly details of Google's second generation Pixel smartphones have leaked, via a report on 9to5Google.

The leaks claim the Pixel 2 will boast added water and dust resistance and a better camera than the original Pixel. While the main camera won't see a bump in the megapixel department, it will "compensate in extra features". 

Google will make some changes under the hood, too, although the source isn't quite sure which direction the firm plans to go in. They claim that there's multiple Pixel 2 prototypes in the works, each of which will feature different processors, including Qualcomm's Snapdragon 83x an unspecified Intel chip and, potentially, a custom chipset developed by Google. 

No further specs have been leaked, but the Pixel 2 likely will run Google's next version of Android, that looks set to be announced at Google I/O in May. 

There's also talk that Google is working on a cheaper handset dubbed the 'Pixel 2B', good news given that the source expects the flagship model to be more expensive than the current Google Pixel that starts at £599.

The Pixel 2B will be "significantly cheaper" than the top-end model, according to the report, but no further details have yet been revealed. 

Google has yet to cough on sales figures for the original Pixel and Pixel XL. However, during its fourth quarter earnings call this week, the firm said that its 'other revenues' stream, which includes hardware offerings, performed well during the three-month period.


Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 25th Jan 2017

The stylish smartphone that's a bit of a bargain

Our verdict

This well-designed and versatile Android packs a surprising punch for the price


 Classy design, great battery life, multi-talented cameras, good value for money


 Awkward Android skin, Marshmallow rather than Nougat, storage a little low

 Price: £ 224

Honor 6X review

One of the more interesting launches at CES this year, the 6X continues Huawei brand Honor's march on the lower end of the smartphone market. Honor phones have quickly established a reputation as quality, stylish handsets that appeal to the millennial crowd both in terms of features and price. In other words, they're bargainous, and the £224 Honor 6X is no exception.

With a dual-camera, extra-smart fingerprint sensor and epic battery life, it's going to be tricky to find a better deal than this for under £250.


We'd defy anyone unfamiliar with this phone to guess how much it costs just by looking at it. The design of the 6X is much more premium than it has any right to be at this price, with the aluminium-alloy unibody offering clean, classy lines, a decent weight and an appealing circle-based aesthetic to the back.


It comes in a fairly standard metallic mid-grey, a pale whitish silver, and my personal favourite, a pale gold. Gold phones are divisive, but it's not a gaudy C3PO-style gold, more of a light and slightly pinked matte shade. In a world of black and grey phones, it's good to have something that stands out a little - unless of course you're going to whack it straight into a case.

The gold and silver versions have a white front panel, whereas the grey has black. This panel combines with the steep curve of the sides to make the phone look considerably thinner than it is - looking at the bottom edge, it's chunkier than you'd expect from the side profile. The phone measures 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm, and weighs in at 162g.

You'll find the standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the top right, dual SIM tray on the top of the left-hand edge, and a volume rocker above the power key on the right edge. These buttons don't feel as premium as the rest of the phone: they're a little flimsy, and there's no texture to the power key to help you find it by feel.


The sizeable bezel below the screen contains only the Honor logo: no soft keys, home button, or fingerprint sensor (that's on the back), which reminds you that this is a budget handset. On the bottom edge is the old-style USB charging port (again fair enough at this price) in the centre, flanked on either side by two sets of six holes. Only the right set is a speaker, which puts out average sound that gets noisy at higher volumes. At the top volume, there's a bit of palpable vibration through the back panel, but we wouldn't advise turning it up that high in any case as it doesn't sound great. The speaker will serve you fine for watching your mates mess about on Facebook Live, but I wouldn't use it to DJ.

A particular high point of the phone, combining design, software and hardware smarts, is the circular fingerprint sensor on the back. This can be programmed to perform additional functions like answering calls, taking selfies, even swiping up and down for notifications and left to right for scrolling through your camera roll. You can set it to dismiss your alarm, too, but I found this a bit too easy and nearly overslept, so I'd leave that setting off. No one's going to believe you were late for work because of technology.

Hardware, storage and performance

Globally, there are two versions of the 6X: one with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, and one with 32GB and 3GB. Guess which one Brexit Britain gets? That's right, the smaller one. Still, that's one of the things making the price so low, and 32GB is hardly stingy. There are, after all, somehow still people making 16GB handsets with no microSD slot…!

32GB is more than fair for the price, and should last, considering this isn't likely to be anyone's phone for more than a year or two. As ever, though, you're not going to get all of that space: our 6X had just 22.91GB remaining out of the box.

If you do run short of storage, the second slot in the 6X's SIM tray doubles as a MicroSD card holder, so you can add up to 128GB more. Handy.


Performance-wise, the 6X is good for the money, but it's not going to blow anyone's mind. The Huawei-made HiSilicon Kirin 655 CPU offers four 2.1 GHz and four 1.7 GHz cores, and combines with that 3GB of RAM to handle most apps and tasks capably.

The AnTuTu benchmark test produced a result of 56213, just over half of the flagship Honor 8's average score of 99182. Meanwhile, Geekbench 4's CPU testing gave a single-core result of 789 and a multi-core score of 3286, which is more than good enough for most people's day-to-day needs. It does get warm during intensive gaming and processing, and we've noticed a couple of lags and temporary freezes when putting it through its paces, but it could be a whole lot worse for this money.


Sighhh. When will Honor listen to the feedback they've heard with every phone they've put out since day 1, and give us back the app tray? I don't care that the iPhone doesn't have one, I haven't bought an iPhone. The first thing you should do when you get this phone is install Google Now Launcher (free) so you can have your menu of apps back and not have to keep all your icons out on the homescreen. It's like tipping your underwear drawer on the floor and I just don't get it, but at least there's an easy fix.

You'll notice pretty quickly if you're not used to Honor and Huawei phones that they have their own visual style, which frankly isn't as attractive as vanilla Android and again, seems like making changes for changes' sake. However, you get used to the look pretty quickly, and it's not bad. The skin, called EMUI, is based on Android Marshmallow - so you're not getting the latest version (Nougat), but that's not surprising on a budget handset. The 6X is slated to get the Nougat update to EMUI in the first half of this year.


If you really hate the default look of EMUI, which is quite ‘primary school,' you can change it with the Themes app (not an obvious place to put this - surely it should be on the Settings menu?) - but be warned, some of the choices are worse than the standard. Like the gold one. Euch.

The phone comes with a few preinstalled apps that you probably won't use, including Dragon Mania and Spider-Man: Ultimate Power. The other thing you'll likely notice is the excessive number of notifications: EMUI likes to notify you of an unnecessary amount of stuff, usually to do with how much power's being used in the background. Some people might find it useful, but if it annoys you like it does me, you can turn it off in Settings > Advanced > Battery manager > Settings (cog) > Power-intensive prompt. Not the easiest of settings to find!

Battery and display

Page 3

Honor phones are well-known for their generous power packs and impressive stamina, and the 6X lives up to that promise. At launch, we did a double-take at the battery capacity of 3340mAh because it's higher than many non-budget phones on the market, let alone ones in this price range. However, the number is never the full story - does the phone actually last?

In short, yes. The 6X is actually a bit of a beast in terms of staying power, and that's without the battery life advantages of Android Nougat. It doesn't quite live up to the 1.5 days of heavy use promised in the press release, but it lasts almost a full day, and needs far fewer top-up charges during intensive use (and Pokémon Go marathons) than more expensive phones. Stamina is one of the highest points for this phone, and since more of us than ever are concerned about battery life first and foremost, the big tick in this box is a good sign.


Unlike budget rivals OnePlus, Honor hasn't made a big deal of fast charging on this phone - perhaps because they don't think you'll need it. The included 5V/2A charger is billed as a "fast charger" which works well but doesn't seem unusually quick to us. It also uses the old-style micro-USB port rather than the newer USB-C, which is understandable but starting to feel a little dated.


5.5 inches seems to be the sweet spot for smartphones at the moment, offering ample space for movies and browsing without becoming tricky to hold. The screen size does push the handset into ‘phablet' territory though (ugh, that word) so those who prefer a more compact design will likely want to skip this one.

The display offers full HD resolution (1080p) with a pixel density of 403 ppi. At this price, you could have forgiven Honor for using a 720p screen, so it's nice to see they've gone for a higher-end panel. Quality-wise, it's fine - decently bright with average colour reproduction, although it can look a touch grainy if you get really close to the screen.


The display sits slightly back from the surface of the glass, and the bezels aren't as slim as some might like, but that's more than fair for the cost. The screen's not going to win any beauty contests, but it's plenty good enough for everyday use.



Taken on the Honor 6X

The camera app on Honor phones has always come with too many modes - some useful, some far less so. On the whole, though, we'd rather have all of them if it means we get the good ones.

In addition to the standard auto mode, there's the now-common Pro option that lets you mess with settings like ISO and white balance. There's also a Pro mode for video, plus Beauty Video for flattering films of your face. HDR and Panorama are split out as separate modes rather than just toggles, which seems a little excessive, but Watermark and Audio Note are just downright unnecessary. The former lets you add Snapchat-style overlays to your pictures, including things like the weather and the words "Today is Monday." Great! Audio Note, meanwhile, allows you to add up to 10 seconds of sound to your picture, for reasons that remain obscure. No one needs either of these things.

On the positive side, Slow-Mo and Timelapse are in there, plus an excellent Light Painting mode for artistic shots of car headlights and fireworks. The amusing but useful Good Food option makes your Instagrammed dinner look more appealing (and it really does), while Document Scan might be handy for people who work from their phones.

My favourite by far, though, is Night Shot. This is the one I really missed when I moved on from my Honor 6 Plus, because it allows you to take pictures of things like night-time cityscapes that actually look like they do with your eyeballs. So rather than the blurry, light-leaky shots you get with other phones, as long as you've got steady hands (or somewhere to rest your phone - it takes about 30 seconds), you get a gorgeous and accurate picture of light and shadow as it appeared at the time.

For standard photos, the 6X delivers sharp, true-colour shots on both the 12MP/2MP dual-camera setup on the back, and the 8MP selfie cam on the front. The former allows you to take a photo and refocus it later, a feature that has again been around since the 6 Plus and one that always impresses people not familiar with the brand. It's not obvious how you do this, so for the confused: hit the Aperture symbol next to Flash at the top of the camera app, then take the picture, then open it in the Honor gallery app to refocus anytime from then on. It won't work if the photo wasn't taken in Wide Aperture mode or if you open it in something like Google Photos.


Taken on the Honor 6X in Wide Aperture mode

Selfie-wise, there's a handy Beauty slider from 0 (reality) to 10 (you wish), and pictures taken in decent light are clear and flattering. Overall, both the front and back cameras perform very well for the price, and given that this is an area budget phones often fall down on, that's a big relief. 

Price and availability

The Honor 6X is available now. It's £224 to buy directly from Honor's ecommerce website, VMall, and it'll be available exclusively from Three in late January.


The 6X very much lives up to the expectations of an Honor phone: a surprisingly inexpensive but feature-packed handset with a couple of little extras thrown in, namely the dual camera and smart fingerprint sensor. It's not a flagship replacement, but if you're in the market for something that'll keep you connected without breaking the bank - and looking good - the Honor 6X is a great choice for your new phone.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 25th Jan 2017

4K video support touted for £55 Raspberry Pi rival

Asus Tinker Board

Asus Tinker Board

Asus has announced the launch of the Tinker Board, a credit card-sized PC that has its sights set firmly on the Raspberry Pi.

The Asus Tinker Board is the same size as the 10-million-selling Raspberry Pi at 3.4in x 2.4in. However, it's got more power than its rival thanks to its higher-spec quad-core 1.8GHz Rockchip processor that's capable of playing 4K video with 24-bit audio. 

The Tinker Board also packs 2GB Dual channel LPDDR3 RAM (compared to the Pi's 1GB), an HDMI 2.0 port, four USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi. There's also a 40-pin internal header with 28 GPIO pins, which means the Tinker Board can be used to create Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

It comes with Asus's own software, which is a variant of Debian Linux and similar to the Raspberry Pi's OS. However, the Tinker Board's OS offers support for Kodi, and Hexus reports that Asus plans to expand the current OS support with the likes of Ubuntu and openSUSE.

Commenting on the launch, Asus said: "Raspberry Pi has been in the market for so long, we're here to expand users' choices with more options. And this board has 4K support, higher SoC performance, faster Ethernet transmission, and flexibility for the memory size."

The Asus Tinker Board is available for £55, making it more expensive than the £34 Raspberry Pi and £4 Raspberry Pi Zero. It's also currently showing as out of stock, so you might have a wait on your hands if you're looking to pick one up.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 24th Jan 2017

The Trident missile which veered off course towards mainland US was launched from HMS Vengeance, which had just completed an IT systems upgrade

The Trident missile veered off course following an IT systems refresh

The nuclear-warhead carrying Trident missile which veered towards the US instead of its intended target after launch, could have suffered from an IT systems glitch.

Whilst MPs call for Prime Minister Theresa May to explain what happened, and why Parliament controversially wasn't informed of the malfunction which occurred just weeks before it voted to renew the weapons system, the only word from the Ministry of Defence is that the submarine HMS Vengeance and its crew were "successfully tested".

HMS Vengeance carried out the test a few months after a £350 million refit, which included the installation of new missile launch equipment and upgraded computer systems.

It is highly possible that an error or misconfiguration of this new equipment, or a bug in the new IT systems is to blame for the failure. The missile in question was unarmed, but the consequences of an armed nuclear missile veering off course are potentially disastrous.

The Royal Navy's entire fleet of nuclear warhead-carrying submarines allegedly run on Windows XP.

Microsoft stopped supporting the Windows XP operating systems in 2014, which means that the UK's nuclear deterrent relies on a platform which is potentially vulnerable to malware and cyber attacks.

Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, called for full disclosure from the Prime Minister. "A missile veering off course is deeply concerning. Imagine such a failure occurring in a 'real-world' situation - it could lead to the slaughter of millions of people in an ally's country."

Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "There's absolutely no doubt that this would have impacted on the debate in Parliament."

According to BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale, the Royal Navy has carried out half a dozen similar tests since 2000, but this was the first launch which it chose not to publicise. This suggests that previous launches functioned properly, adding more weight to the liklihood that the new systems were to blame.

Source: v3.co.uk
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