George Comer

George Comer

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UK
Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.Teachers say it will be “heartbreaking” to watch their personal assessments of students overruled by a “biased” computer algorithm that has been found to disproportionately penalise students from poorer backgrounds.The cancellation of exams due to the coronavirus pandemic has meant this year’s A-levels and GCSEs will be determined by standardisation modelling that relies on grades submitted by teachers and moderates them using a pupil’s past exam results – as well as the school’s past exam performance.Schools minister Nick Gibb admitted on Wednesday nearly 40% of A-level grade recommendations by teachers are expected to be downgraded.His comments came after the news that pupils in England would be allowed to use results in mock A-level exams as the basis for an appeal against their grades, after the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) downgraded 124,000 results in what many described as a “disaster” of a week.The government’s latest U-turn “blows my mind”, said A-level law teacher Naomi. “It clearly shows the lack of understanding [education secretary] Gavin Williamson has for A-levels and how they work.”Grading a pupil based on their mock exams “is like asking someone to take their driving test after only half the lessons”. “It’s clearly a knee jerk reaction to what we have seen in Scotland,” she told HuffPost UK.Students are at the heart of our profession. Trust us.As a teacher who works at a school in a particularly deprived area in the East Riding of Yorkshire, Naomi’s grades are statistically more likely to be marked down. “It’s upsetting and demoralising, but also does inevitably make you feel angry and incensed – not for myself but for our young people who deserved so much more.”She also worries how this will impact her pupils and their families. “Some students are going to feel utterly let down by the system and I don’t blame them. The impact of this on our young people’s mental health is going to be witnessed for years to come.“If students from poorer backgrounds are penalised in the same way we have seen in Scotland then what we are essentially saying to our young people is: you cannot live in a deprived area and perform well in your academics.”Naomi insists her school was “extremely responsible and fair” with allocating A-level grades to their pupils. “We want the students to do well, but teachers know what their students are capable of.“The fact of the matter is that, as teachers, we care. We go into work early, leave work late, arrange and go on trips, mark work at home late into the night and spend weekends planning lessons. It’s because teachers care that we were honest and responsible in our grading process.”Vix Lowthion, who teaches A-level history, classics and geology, agrees teachers “are professionals who are experienced at accurately predicting grades”. “I take fairness very seriously,” she told HuffPost UK.“I sat down with colleagues and we looked at every student in turn and all their marks throughout the two years, mock results, coursework and how they were performing in the final weeks before lockdown. We did not predict a bunch of A* and A grades, but a fair reflection of how the class were working.“To see these grades overruled and dismissed, hundreds of miles from our communities and without seeing any written work that these students were capable off, is heartbreaking.”The impact of this on our young people’s mental health is going to be witnessed for years to come.Lowthian teaches at a school on the Isle of Wight – an area once described as a “ghetto” by a former chair of Ofsted – and also believes her grades will be marked down. “I will be gutted for my students if they are downgraded by computer modelling. They are talented and confident and have worked really hard.“They have had all the opportunities taken away from them. The least we can give this bunch of students are fair results based on their hard work and effort.”She fears targeting poorer schools will “perpetuate the spiral in terms of funding and quality of teaching” after a decade of “huge” funding cuts to sixth form education.“Students in deprived areas already have extra obstacles to learning in terms of prior attainment, resources, practical support from home and expectations in school.“To downgrade results from these schools sends precisely the wrong message to local communities.”Other A-level teachers across the UK have told HuffPost UK they feel “undervalued”, “disheartened” and “anxious”. Many felt their profession had been “scapegoated” by politicians and the press since the start of lockdown, and said the government’s recent flip-flopping was “mind-boggling” and “laughable”.“It sends a clear message that the government does not trust its teachers,” one said. “Students are at the heart of our profession. We want them to succeed and do well.“We care about them and their future. Trust us.”Related... 100,000 A-Level Results Could Be Downgraded. Students Like These Are Most At Risk I’m An A-Level Teacher Forced To Grade My Pupils. I’m Dreading Results Day
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In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, Greece emerged as a surprising success story. The government’s swift actions to close down the country in February and March helped it avoid the high death tolls that other nations experienced and positioned it well to reopen. The country began lifting lockdown restrictions in early May and started welcoming international travellers again in mid-June, enticing tourists with the promise of a largely coronavirus-free getaway.Since then, however, the number of coronavirus cases in Greece has risen alarmingly, and scientists say the country is now officially experiencing a second wave. On Sunday, Greece recorded 203 new infections, the highest daily tally since the start of the pandemic.Much of the blame has fallen on partygoers packing into beach bars and nightclubs. The government on Monday imposed a late-night curfew on bars and restaurants in popular nightlife destinations, including the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, and Corfu.“Unfortunately, the transmission of the virus is increasing dangerously,” said Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias. “I call once again on the young and those citizens who do not follow the basic measures of personal protection — masks, hygiene rules, safety distances — to consider their responsibilities towards vulnerable groups, the rest of our fellow citizens and the country.”Young people have become a convenient scapegoat for rising infections in many parts of the world. In the United Kingdom, the city of Preston was placed on local lockdown last week after a significant rise in cases among people under age 30, which health officials linked to people mixing in pubs and homes.In response, government officials are telling young people, “Don’t Kill Granny,” to try to reinforce the idea that, even if they don’t have symptoms, they could spread the virus to more vulnerable populations.“Young people are inevitably among the brave and the bold. They want to be adventurous and out and about,” Adrian Phillips, chief executive of the Preston City Council, told the BBC. “But we know that they have the virus, are more likely to at the moment. They often have less symptoms, but they do take it back to their household. And the community spread we are seeing, we believe in many cases, are young people taking it home and catching the virus.” The story has been similar in other countries as lockdown restrictions have eased. In early May, South Korea scrambled to contain a coronavirus outbreak linked to several nightclubs in Seoul. In Spain, parties and nightclubs have become new coronavirus hotspots. German health officials have warned that people have become careless about social distancing. And in parts of the United States, as well, officials have pointed to parties as a major reason for rising infection rates.“We’re finding that the social events and gatherings, these parties where people aren’t wearing masks, are our primary source of infection,” Erika Lautenbach, director of the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington state, told NPR.None of this should come as a huge shock. The coronavirus spreads easily when people spend time in close contact with each other, particularly indoors. “Nighttime venues tend to be poorly ventilated, and the volume of the music means you have to speak loudly, which has been documented as a risk factor,” Joan Ramón Villalbí, the spokesperson for the Spanish Public Health Association, told El País. Individuals may be faulted for flouting official guidelines on social distancing or mask-wearing, or for attending illegal parties and raves. But many countries have also encouraged patrons to return to bars, restaurants and other establishments in the name of reviving the hospitality industry. In such situations — particularly after months spent in lockdown — appeals to moderation can fall on deaf ears.When pubs reopened in the United Kingdom last month, popular nightlife areas were quickly packed with merrymakers, and John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, said it was “crystal clear” that drunk people are unable to properly socially distance.The risk that lifting travel restrictions and reopening businesses could trigger an increase in infections has been known since the beginning — in Greece as well.“We all knew, both we and our scientists and experts, that with the opening of our borders we would have a partial increase in cases,” Vassilis Kikilias, the health minister, said last month. But “the economy and tourism must survive.”Young people going to parties and bars are hardly the only cause of the coronavirus outbreaks. There are many other situations in which people also spend time in close proximity to each other. Around the world, outbreaks have been linked to senior care homes, meat processing plants, warehouses and distribution centres, public housing and other high-density living arrangements.In the United Kingdom, the city of Leicester was the first to be placed on local lockdown at the end of June following a surge of coronavirus cases. While public health officials have not identified a specific cause of the outbreak, officials have raised concerns about the city’s garment factories and food processing plants, where workers have complained of poor conditions for years.In July, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “very worried about the employment practices in some factories.”The situation is similar in Germany and other countries, including the United States, where labourers ― often immigrants or people of colour ― tend to work in dangerous conditions and live together in crowded dormitories or multi-generational housing.Government failures also play a part in the coronavirus resurgence. In Australia, the hotel quarantine system implemented in the state of Victoria is likely responsible, at least in large part, for the spike in cases there. Other parts of the country relied on the police and military to enforce the quarantine of returning travellers. Victoria, however, contracted private security firms. These companies reportedly didn’t have adequate training or personal protective equipment, and guards would reportedly do things like carpool to work together and interact frequently with the quarantined guests.A government inquiry into what went wrong with Victoria’s hotel quarantine system is scheduled to begin next week.New Zealand is also rushing to identify the cause of a new outbreak after four people in one Auckland household tested positive for the virus, the first reported cases of local transmission in the country in 102 days. The reemergence of the virus caused the government to place Auckland, the nation’s largest city, on lockdown, to allow health officials to investigate the source of the outbreak and attempt to limit its spread.France, too, tightened restrictions on social gatherings and encouraged more widespread use of face masks this week, after the daily tally of new coronavirus cases increased by 785.Finally, data shows that poor and minority communities in many countries are most at risk from coronavirus — a consequence of systemic racism and economic inequality. In June, an official report from Public Health England found that Black, Asian and minority ethnic, or BAME, people are more likely to die of coronavirus than their white counterparts.But critics say government officials have been slow to acknowledge the challenges and provide the support these communities need. In the UK and Australia, for example, government officials have been criticised for failing to communicate health and safety guidelines to people for whom English is not their native language.“I don’t think anyone was expecting a clear scientific explanation instantly as to why there were such high numbers of BAME deaths to coronavirus,” Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the council at the British Medical Association, told HuffPost UK in June. “But what we were expecting was some practical action to protect those that we know to be at risk.”“I don’t think the older generation, like my mum’s around 60 but her parents’ generation, would have any access to the internet,” Huong Truong, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, told HuffPost Australia. “It’s word of mouth and family connections, and younger people like myself letting them know what’s going on or clarifying misinformation that’s been around.”It’s not wrong for government officials to remind the public of the need to remain vigilant and act responsibly. In the absence of a vaccine, following official guidance about hand washing, social distancing, the use of face masks, and other safety measures will play a large role in helping to keep infections at bay.But that guidance has often been poorly communicated to the public, and the failure of some government figures to follow the rules themselves has undermined official measures to contain the coronavirus. In the United Kingdom, for example, researchers identified a “Dominic Cummings effect,” in which the decision of Boris Johnson’s top adviser to travel outside London with his family, in apparent violation of the country’s lockdown restrictions, damaged the public’s trust in the government and may have reduced compliance with lockdown measures. In the end, drunken partygoers shouldn’t shoulder all the blame for the surge in coronavirus cases. Much of that blame still rests with government officials themselves.With reporting from HuffPost U.K, HuffPost France, and HuffPost Australia. Related... Test And Trace Not 'Fit For Purpose, Let Alone World Class', Warns NHS Providers Chief UK Enters Deepest Recession Since Records Began These Incredible Dogs Are Being Trained To Sniff Out Covid-19
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Private-equity firm Accel-KKR just bought a majority stake in Recurly, a subscription payments company that helps brands like CBS, Showtime, and Twitch manage their revenues. The subscription economy has grown over the last decade, with more businesses looking to recurring revenue models as opposed to relying on one-time sales. In June, Recurly saw a 210% increase in sales year-over-year. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Recurly, the payments platform for over 2,000 subscription businesses like CBS, Showtime, and Twitch, just received a majority equity investment from tech-focused private-equity firm Accel-KKR. The deal highlights investors ongoing interest in companies that can help customers — whether they're people or businesses — better manage how they pay their bills.  The investment also points to another burgeoning trend: subscription-based business models. "Being in business for 10 years, we've seen the broad development of the market," Dan Burkhart, CEO of Recurly, told Business Insider. "Accel-KKR is definitely an astute investment firm that has also recognized the same broad trend of businesses moving quickly to adopt the subscription model." The subscription business model isn't new, but in recent years, more businesses have come around to the recurring-payment structure. "In the last five to six years specifically, there has undoubtedly been a secular trend here that is a broad market adoption of the pay-as-you-go subscription model," Burkhart said. And during the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have become more cost-sensitive, looking to limit the amount of time and resources needed to manage their subscriptions, Burkhart said. Recurly, which helps companies manage the payments side of having a subscription, saw sales increase 210% year-over-year in June, he added.  Financial details of the transaction were not provided.  The company was founded in 2009, and raised $39 million from investors including Fidelity, Greycroft, and Silicon Valley Bank. "Companies are now really starting to appreciate the additional costs of personal interactions and the friction of the purchase decisions. So they're trying to make it as easy as possible to offer their services," Burkhard said. Fighting churn in the subscription economy Recurly specializes in subscription businesses that largely rely on credit cards and have complex payment plans, like free trials and add-ons. And while one-time payments are relatively simple for merchants to process, recurring subscriptions are more prone to error, Burkhart said.  Banks and card networks all have different fraud-monitoring processes that look at a laundry list of factors when assessing whether to approve a transaction. And false negatives, when cards are declined by mistake, is a burden for subscription businesses. "That side of the equation is where subscription businesses encounter challenges, which is when good cards will often be declined for a variety of reasons. It can be time of day. It can be at the transaction amount," Burkhart said. "It's a complex system and that complexity results in credit cards being declined for false reasons," Burkhart said. "That results in what we refer to as involuntary churn for subscribers." Read more: Top fintech investors see a big opportunity in disrupting how people and companies pay their bills. Here are 8 startups on the verge of breaking out. Be it a fraud monitoring block or even an expired card on-file, subscription businesses lose customers when they can't process these payments. Recurly aims to eliminate those false positives and increase the likelihood of payment acceptance for subscription businesses. "Most companies will elect to outsource or hand-off this responsibility to Recurly rather than trying to build it on their own, because they ended up having to hire and build infrastructure that ends up being far more complex than they anticipate," Burkhart said. Recurly is eyeing growth internationally with Accel-KKR With this deal, Recurly is eyeing growth both in new markets and through new forms of payment. About 17% of Recurly's businesses are outside of the US, and Burkhart expects to continue expanding through 2021. "When [Accel-KKR] expressed interest in investing and partnering with Recurly, we were of course amenable and very excited about the idea of bringing their expertise to bear in a way that will allow Recurly to supercharge our growth," Burkhart said.  See more: Private-equity giants like Carlyle are inking more deals in Asia. Here are the areas where they see the most investing opportunity. Recurly currently accepts 140 currencies, and has added payments in more prominent in international markets, like direct bank debit and the EU's money transfer standard Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). And as is often the case with private-equity firms, Recurly could grow through partnerships with Accel-KKR's other portfolio companies. "They're a growth-equity firm, but of course they're also acquiring companies that allow us to now have the ability to grow and expand by way of both organic and inorganic activity," Burkhart said. Read more Silicon Valley is betting $750 million that people don't want to buy stuff anymore. These 14 startups are bringing the sharing economy to sailboats, swimming pools, and luxury watches. Investors say these 38 fintechs are the next generation of breakout B2B stars, following in the footsteps of Stripe and PlaidSEE ALSO: 60 fintechs that are set to take off in 2020, according to top VCs and investors SEE ALSO: 40 insiders reveal the meteoric rise of Silver Lake's Egon Durban, the tech-focused PE firm's No. 1 dealmaker who strong-armed his way to the top and is about to get $18 billion more to invest SEE ALSO: Blackstone just hired an Amazon Web Services exec who helped the cloud giant do M&A. It's the latest sign that big private-equity firms are muscling in on specialty tech investors' turf. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A cleaning expert reveals her 3-step method for cleaning your entire home quickly
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Back in May, Twitter started testing a new feature that allowed users to define who could and could not reply to their tweets. These changes were made in attempt to help people feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts on their own Twitter profiles. After a few months of testing, those features are now rolling out to everyone on the platform. … Continue reading
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Xiaomi today celebrated its tenth anniversary by launching some new interesting products to its ever-growing portfolio. Apart from the expected Mi 10 Ultra, the Chinese ... The post Mi TV Lux Transparent Edition is the Xiaomi’s truly transparent television! appeared first on Gizchina.com.
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Revenue for UK-based virtual fertility clinic Apricity surged 84% in the first half of 2020, compared with the previous year, despite it delaying all new rounds of IVF during lockdown. Apricity has delayed plans for a Series B round until 2021, but has received startup support from the French government because of the difficulties caused by COVID-19. Here's an exclusive look at the pitch deck it used to raise $7 million in Series A funding in June 2019. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. UK-based virtual fertility clinic Apricity has seen revenue nearly double in the first half of 2020 compared to last year, despite scaling back its operations because of the pandemic. The startup, which runs fertility clinics with partners and has digital services such as a patient care app and 24/7 online support, delayed all in-vitro fertilization (IVF) rounds that were due to start during two months of lockdown. But revenue still grew from £90,000 ($118,000) in April to £184,000 ($241,000) in June — its best month ever. Revenue for the first half of 2020 was up 84% compared to the same period in 2019. The company decided to delay a Series B that was scheduled for the end of 2020 until Q2 2021 — its increased revenue along with COVID-related startup support from the French government have bolstered its finances. It raised a $7 million Series A round from AXA's startup studio Kamet Ventures in June 2019. Since then, three babies have been born and 15 more women are pregnant because of Apricity. "At the moment we have actually success rates which are higher than the ones in the market," said CEO Caroline Noublanche, adding that it was too early to publish concrete numbers.   Noublanche attributed part of the company's success to AI tech used in a fertility tracker, which tailors treatment for patients based on evidence from around the world. "It's still in research and development at this stage, but it actually brings a lot of value," Noublanche said. "It's really just the tip of the iceberg." It has extended a trial partnership it ran in the second half of 2019 with AXA PPP healthcare to offer fertility services to corporate clients. From 2021, it also hopes to expand its operations into other European markets. Plans to launch into countries like Spain, Germany, and France this year have been delayed because of the pandemic, and Noublanche said COVID-19 might impact which countries it launches into. Here's an exclusive look at the pitch deck it used to raise its Series A in 2019:Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity Apricity
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These Android phones may skimp on the high-power specs of premium mobiles, but they offer more than you think.
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A recent executive order from US President Donald Trump could seriously affect Apple’s future iPhone shipments and sales. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note which outlined the situation, pointing to the importance of WeChat in countries like China and the effects of a ban of the app from the Apple app store. Trump’s executive order regarding WeChat was signed … Continue reading
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Facebook took down a post by President Donald Trump for violating its policies against misinformation, the company confirmed. Trump posted a video of his interview with Fox News where he falsely claimed that children are "almost immune" from COVID-19, which CNN reporter Donie O'Sullivan captured before it was removed from Facebook. "This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation," a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider. Facebook said this is the first time it has completely taken down a post by Trump for pushing coronavirus misinformation, according to The New York Times' reporter Davey Alba. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. For the first time, Facebook has completely removed a post by President Donald Trump for violating its policies against COVID-19 misinformation. Trump posted a video Wednesday of his interview with Fox News, which CNN reporter Donie O'Sullivan captured in a screenshot before it was removed from the platform, where he falsely claimed that children are "almost immune" from the disease. "They have much stronger immunes system than [adults]," Trump said in the video, which he also tweeted. "This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation," a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider. A growing body of research suggests that children can transmit COVID-19 like anyone else, though researchers believe their infection rates are often underreported because they are frequently asymptomatic and have been largely excluded from clinical trials. pic.twitter.com/wxCTuk4GdP — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2020 Facebook has previously applied fact-check labels to Trump's misleading posts about mail-in voting and taken down his campaign ads containing Nazi symbols. But this marks the first time the company has removed a post for violating its policies against coronavirus misinformation, according to The New York Times' reporter Davey Alba. Facebook has faced growing pressure in recent months to take stronger stances against misinformation and hate speech on its platform. CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company's decision not to take down controversial posts by Trump earlier this year suggesting violence against demonstrators in Minnesota protesting the death of George Floyd.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why you don't see brilliantly blue fireworks
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The OnePlus Buds will go on open sale for the first time in India today. It will be available on Amazon and Flipkart and is priced at Rs 4,990.
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Steve Jobs launched two of the most valuable companies — Apple and Pixar. Successful leaders like Google cofounder Larry Page and former Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang both went to Jobs for leadership advice.  Jobs believed that smart leaders will focus on only one goal each year, instead of making a list of what they want to achieve.  Concentrating on one goal at a time can allow leaders to obtain greater focus, Jobs said.  Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. In the fall of 2007, newly appointed Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang went to Apple CEO Steve Jobs for help turning the floundering internet giant around. Jobs gave him, and Yahoo's top executives, a simple but profound piece of advice. At an off-site meeting with about 200 Yahoo execs, Jobs explained in a presentation that many companies will make a list of 10 things they want to achieve in a year, but "the smart companies will take that list and shrink it to three or four items," Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson wrote in his book "Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!" Then Jobs said, "This is how I do it. I take a sheet of paper, and I say, 'If my company can only do one thing next year, what is it?' Literally, we shut everything else down." Much like any company founder, Jobs faced many obstacles getting Apple off the ground. The tech giant, now at a $1.92 trillion market capitalization, was actually struggling in the 1990s after experiencing a series of bad financial results. That is until Jobs returned as the company's CEO and ultimately built it up to the company it is today. The firm could be the first to reach a $2 trillion market value. Jobs was an assertive, but at times ruthless, leader. Following a hearing on antitrust concerns about Apple and other tech companies like Google and Facebook, the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Antitrust released a series of Jobs' emails during his time as CEO of the tech giant.  These internal messages showed Jobs blocked other companies from offering digital bookstores for Apple products unless they gave the company a cut of their revenue and forced developers of subscription-based apps to use his company's payment service, Busines Insider previously reported. Jobs was tough after former developer Joe Hewitt objected to Apple's plan to write apps for the iPhone and iPad in the native programming language instead of translating with a software tool. "I'd suggest we just cut Joe off from now on," the founder advised his subordinates in an email. The Apple founder used manipulative tactics to ensure company victories, particularly in boardroom meetings with some of the most powerful company executives in the world. For example, he wasn't afraid to demand perfection and refuse compromises out of his products. In fact, the late founder thought adequacy was "morally appalling."  When Google cofounder Larry Page was about to become CEO in 2011, he turned to Jobs in the same way Yang had. Jobs, who was nearing the end of his life, decided to be gracious with Google, an Apple competitor. "The main thing I stressed was focus," Jobs told Isaacson. During his second, famously successful run as Apple CEO, Jobs applied this strategy to the "top 100" retreats he would hold with Apple's leadership, biographer Walter Isaacson writes in the Harvard Business Review. On the retreat's last day, Jobs would stand in front of his employees with a whiteboard and write down suggestions for what Apple should be doing next. Jobs would then cross off the ones he considered "dumb," Isaacson said, and "after much jockeying" finally come up with a list of 10. Then he'd cross out the bottom seven for the final list. The same technique that Jobs used for his company can be used to arrange your day, said Tim Ferriss, author of "The 4-Hour Workweek." Before starting your day, Ferriss advises in an episode of his podcast, write down three to five things causing you the most stress. Ask yourself about each point, "If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?" Then ensure that you do whatever it takes to accomplish that task. "If I have 10 important things to do in a day, it's 100% certain nothing important will get done that day," Ferriss said. This strategy is remarkably simple but allows people to take the abstract concept of "focus" and boil it down to a practical application. Richard Feloni contributed to an earlier version of this post. SEE ALSO: How to harness the power of the 'Ben Franklin Effect,' a psychological trick that will make you more likable at work and in life Join the conversation about this story »
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Accel's Rich Wong believes that remote work will be the new normal even after the coronavirus threat recedes. But he sees the current batch of WFH products like Zoom and Slack as messy and difficult. That's why he believes there will be a second wave of startups aimed at making remote work not just possible, but also easy. His first entry into this field is an investment in Australian startup Pyn, which reduces the deluge of messages employees get from the various programs they use while working from home. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Accel partner Rich Wong is betting that the work-from-home trend is here to stay, even after the coronavirus pandemic wanes some day as the big factor driving businesses out of their offices. And while apps like Zoom and Slack have helped make the WFH exodus possible, remote work still carries enough pain points to create opportunities for new startups, he said. Wong and his VC firm have already placed bets on that investment thesis. On July 27, Australian tech startup Pyn announced that Accel had led its $2.2 million seed round and that Wong would join its board of directors as it rolled out WFH-simplifying software. As events go so far, Wong seems to be right about the sticking power of WFH. On Wednesday, Google led an avalanche of companies declaring they would allow their employees to keep working remotely long-term, or indefinitely. Pyn is the spear tip of Wong's new interest in the WFH space. As the global workforce has retreated into home offices, he's come to see it as the new normal. Now Wong is trying to ride what he sees as a "second wave" of tech products that will make working remotely not just possible, but convenient. He pointed to previous Accel investments — "digital whiteboard" company Miro, and virtual events coordinator Bevy — as startups that can address the collaborative and in-person aspects of business and labor that don't work well remotely. Business Insider chatted with Wong about the future of remote work. The interview has been edited for length and clarity. You have this whole theory of WFH. You've said that there's been this first wave of tech — Slack, Zoom — that makes working from home possible. But they don't make it convenient or even easy. So you think there's going to be this second wave of products aimed at making WFH easier. Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and things of that nature are sort of the raw material basics of how we all communicate and work together. And there's a realization, I think, that we're definitely not going back to the big skyscrapers very quickly. I'm someone who fundamentally believes we will have offices — we're not going all remote, everyone living on solar power. There will still be great cities, there will still be offices, people will work in skyscrapers and office buildings. But I think it's fair to say we're going from a monoculture way of working to a hybrid for sure. You'll work some of your hours in the office with your colleagues, some remote at your house, probably close by where your physical office was. Some of your hours you may be all over the place — you may be in distant locations. When you think about the composite of those three ways of working, there's just going to need to be more than this first wave of Hangouts, Zoom, Slack tools. What are some other areas that are problematic?  What I think you're going to see emerge are a lot of vertical categories. So long ago, we were small investors in DocuSign— that's a good example of a horizontal in the world of Esignatures. Why do you think work-from-home is going to have staying power? In the short-to-medium term, you have a lot of public health things. Second, we've been in an almost two-decade trend of coastal cities becoming locuses of innovation activity. Which in some ways is great. Being in physical proximity is historically a really good thing, whether it's Boston's biotech, New York and media, the west coast and LA for entertainment, or tech in Silicon Valley. But the obvious problem is that it's just too darn expensive. If it is truly possible to be equally effective and live in other places, I think for very rational reasons people will be excited to do that. I think it works really well for someone who's just starting out, and I think it works well for someone who has a lot of other obligations.  You're very bullish on remote work, but what are some areas of real life that it will never be able to replace? I think coaching and people development is not always linear. It requires one to be able to have the metaphorical coffee pot conversation, a few minutes of advice or coaching. "I didn't realize you're going through that situation," "you might want to think about this," or "I have a really good friend who would be a good advisor to you on that problem." The tools, at least today, are not fully there to make that work well. The second is that a lot of companies have tried to replicate team bonding in this remote setting. And we have our Friday cocktails over Zoom, but it isn't quite the same. There are others who will disagree with me, especially if you quote this, but I think that great cultures… there has to be  human, in-person interaction. That's how people build tighter personal relationships. And those great personal relationships are the way great cultures get built. As any organization scales, there's friction. It's a natural part of the growth process. There's always growing pains. And when you don't get to know the person behind the title or the function, sometimes those things can spiral in not-productive ways. But when you spend time face-to-face with somebody and get to know them, I think it's far easier.SEE ALSO: Pyn, an Australian startup with close ties to Atlassian, wants to make working from home less exhausting Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America
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It will be NASA's first crewed splashdown since 1975
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London-based startup TransferWise has boosted its valuation to $5 billion after concluding a $319 million secondary share sale. New investor D1 Capital Partners and existing shareholder Lone Pine Capital bought into the firm while existing shareholders Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Investments and LocalGlobe expanded their holdings in the fintech.  "We're very happy to not have to raise every two to three years to keep the business alive," Matt Briers, TransferWise CFO told Business Insider in an interview. "It's a nice position to be in — we're not living hand-to-mouth, we're profitable, not solving for a short term valuation, and the most important thing for us and investors is a sustainable, durable business." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.  London-based money transfer company TransferWise has boosted its valuation to $5 billion after concluding a $319 million secondary share sale. The new valuation maintains the company's position as one of Europe's most valuable fintech startups and the secondary trade serves to diversify its funding pool. The company allows customers to send and receive funds in multiple currencies all at real-time exchange rates, and recently expanded its US presence.  New investors D1 Capital Partners and existing shareholder Lone Pine Capital bought into the firm while existing shareholders Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Investments and LocalGlobe expanded their holdings in the fintech. Vulcan Capital also bought in. Secondary share sales are uncommon in Europe and similar deals, which involve existing shareholders selling off their shares to other buyers, are not generally publicized. The transaction gives liquidity to early backers and employees, several of whom may now be extremely wealthy. TransferWise has now attracted some $1.92 billion in primary and secondary transactions following a similar deal last year.  The firm's chief financial officer, Matt Briers, told Business Insider the move was designed to help the company work with investors who had five to ten year horizons and reward employees.  "We're very happy to not have to raise every two to three years to keep the business alive," Briers said.  "It's a nice position to be in; we're not living hand-to-mouth, we're profitable, not solving for a short term valuation, and the most important thing for us and investors is a sustainable, durable business." Investors view the company as ripe for a float, and it now has the freedom to choose when it goes public. Some companies can feel pressure to list or sell if their backers want liquidity. Cofounder Taavet Hinrikus previously told the Financial Times that he believes TransferWise will go public at some point, but the deal means there's no rush. The company now serves 8 million customers worldwide, processing £4 billion in cross-border payments alone every month and claims to be adding 10,000 business customers a month via its integrations with other startups, such as Monzo. "There's lots of talk about unicorns, but in reality we're building something even more rare," Kristo Käärmann, CEO and cofounder, TransferWise said. "Nine years in, we're saving our customers £1 billion in hidden fees every year. That's a start, but only a small dent in what banks collect. We're still at the beginning of a long journey, and we've built a financially sustainable company to get there."SEE ALSO: Here's an exclusive look at the pitch deck fintech ComplyAdvantage used to raise $50 million from a SpaceX backer Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship
US
(University of Queensland) Recent events have shown how vulnerable the meat processing industry is to COVID-19. Professor Robert Henry says reducing risk of spreading infection in a future pandemic will require automation. But is the public ready for robots slaughtering and eviscerating animals to reduce the risk of infectious disease? And while there is ongoing resistance to GMOs and gene edited foods, Professor Henry says governments need policies to support these technologies, to safeguard regionally-based future food production.
UK
It's fast, it blocks a lot of ads, and it allows you to actually read sites with crappy mobile interfaces. Not bad for £10 a month.
US
Australian tech company Pyn announced Monday it has raised $2.2 million in seed funding. Pyn wants to improve the work from home experience that employees all over the world are currently grappling with. Its software works by making the many programs employees rely on, like Slack, Gmail and Zoom, "talk" to each other, cutting down on unnecessary communication. Pyn has strong ties to Atlassian, an Australian software company that made its IPO in 2015 on a $5.6 billion valuation. Accel led Pyn's funding round, joined by Australian investment fund Skip Capital. Accel partner Rich Wong will join the company's board of directors. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Atlassian is one of the biggest tech hits to come out of Australia. In the five years since the Jira-maker's IPO, the company has become a favorite among software developers and its market cap has swelled more than sevenfold to $45 billion.  Now, with the world in lockdown, another Australian startup is betting it has a product that's just right for the moment. And it's got many of the same people from Atlassian involved. Pyn was cofounded by Joris Luijke, a former head of HR at Atlassian. With Pyn, Luijke wants to improve the work-from-home experience that people all over the world are suddenly struggling with.  As employees at home lean harder on programs like Slack, Zoom and Gmail to get things done, the output of notifications and tasks from each product can stack up into a pile of indistinguishable noise.  Pyn's program makes the disparate systems used by the WFH world "talk" to each other, cutting down the amount of notifications received by workers to relevant, personalized messages. "We basically scan for information," across the systems workers already have, Luijke, who is Pyn's CEO, told Business Insider. "Every time something happens, we can send the right information to the right person at the right time," he says. On Monday, Pyn announced it has raised $2.2 million in seed funding, led by Accel and joined by Skip Capital. Accel partner Rich Wong, who invested in Pyn, was an early investor in Atlassian back in 2010. Skip Capital is run by Atlassian co-CEO Scott Farquhar. Wong will join the young company's board of directors, driven by a desire to ride what he believes will be a second wave of work-from-home tech designed to make life easier. "The need was always there to be able to work across multiple locations," Wong told Business Insider. "But now because of COVID and shelter-in-place, I think what you're seeing is now there's a second wave of companies. They are the follow-ons to wave one, of Zoom and Slack." Keeping track of important items in a scattered workplace Many tech companies have announced long-term or permanent work-from-home policies, including Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. That could accelerate interest in products like Pyn, so long as the practice is seen as sustainable. The Wall Street Journal's Chip Cutter reported Friday that Canon, OpenExchange, and other companies have started letting some employees back into the office, as they find that some processes stretch out and become exhausting when done via remote work. Pyn trawls through common workplace programs like Slack, Workday, and Salesforce, looking for important or notable events like job promotions and birthdays. "If it's Freddy's birthday and they're sitting right next to you and they've got balloons up and stuff like that, as a manager you're like 'Oh yeah, it's Freddy's birthday,'" Luijke said. "...But it's really hard, if everyone is scattered around the world, to keep track of those things, keep track of the fact that Anna has been in her role for four months and it's probably time to have a career conversation with her." The company is also launching a series of workshops and guides designed to ease onboarding, a difficult thing to do remotely. Luijke, who spent years running HR for Atlassian, Squarespace and other hot startups, said Pyn for him was the opportunity to scratch a long-running itch. "There's two big problems that I found," Luijke said. "People always felt inundated with information and communication … yet at the same time, those same people wanted more clarity, more information, more guidance."SEE ALSO: Startups that dispatch temp workers are living or dying alongside the businesses they serve, as COVID-19 boosts some and sinks many others Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why electric planes haven't taken off yet
China
The post-pandemic growth of cloud services, and the server chips needed to power them, opens new opportunities for growing Chinese chip design companies.
US
We know enough so far about what to expect that some eager anticipation is fully justified.
US
(Human Brain Project) Neural networks in both biological settings and artificial intelligence distribute computation across their neurons to solve complex tasks. New research now shows how so-called 'critical states' can be used to optimize artificial neural networks running on brain-inspired neuromorphic hardware. The study was carried out by scientists from Heidelberg University working within the Human Brain Project, and the Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPIDS). The results have been published in Nature Communications.
UK
One-time retailer has a problem: Key evidence is on a lost fondleslab Administrators of UK mobile retailer Phones 4u claim that the company was deliberately collapsed by a cartel of British telcos – although an iPad with key evidence "cannot now be found", according to the High Court.…
UK
But we only really care about the turtle.
China
For the last couple of years, HTC was struggling to compete with the likes of Samsung, Apple, and OnePlus. Due to the aggressive market, the ... The post HTC Wildfire E2 surfaces on Google Play Console, reveals key specs appeared first on Gizchina.com.
UK
The 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo has finally arrived to complete the 992-generation 911 family. And when it comes to Porsche’s 911, it’s all about the engine. Porsche’s newest 911 is equipped with a 3.7-liter flat-six with bigger VGT turbos and electronically adjustable waste-gate valves. The setup is remarkably similar to the more powerful Turbo S model’s 3.8-liter mill, but the … Continue reading
UK
The sad thing is he's probably right. We're that keen to be seen as his muse.
UK
In an interview with TechRadar, OnePlus says the upcoming true wireless earbuds utilize the company’s Warp Charge technology.
US
You need to verify your identity on Venmo in order to carry and use a balance on the platform.To verify your identity, Venmo asks for your legal name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number.Venmo may request more information if they cannot verify your identity, including a US passport or driver's license.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.To do that, you need to provide basic information, like your name, address and the last four digits of your Social Security Number (or your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number).Here's how to get it done.
China
Just a day after US retail startup Lolli announced a partnership with Alibaba to offer shoppers bitcoin rewards when purchasing items on its marketplaces, the Chinese e-commerce giant has “deactivated the partnership without cause,” according to Lolli.Why it matters: While Lolli is a US-based startup and the shoppers earning the bitcoin-based rewards are also located in the country, associating Alibaba—one of China’s most prominent tech companies—with the cryptocurrency could have proved risky.Financial entities in China are prohibited from any dealings involving bitcoin and other cryptocurrency, and fintech giant Ant Financial is an Alibaba affiliate.Detail: Prior to the statement from Lolli about the termination of the partnership, an Alibaba spokesperson told TechNode that “it does not have any partnership” with the firm and that a previous TechNode story about the partnership “is not true.”Alibaba Group later characterized its relationship with Lolli as an “affiliate marketing program” brokered by a subcontractor of one of its contractors without the company’s knowledge.Alibaba also said its “contractor is terminating the relationship with the subcontractor who was working with Lolli,” and that Lolli “never had the right to claim a partnership with Alibaba.com or imply one with Alibaba Group, the parent of Alibaba.com.”
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