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Business and Technology News


Plugging into the gig economy, from home with a headset

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 04:17:52 UT

DURHAM, N.C. — The gathering in a private dining room at a Mexican restaurant had the fervent energy of a megachurch service, or maybe an above-average “Oprah” episode — a mix of revival-style confession and extravagant empathy. There were souls to be won. “By the end of the day, Kelly’s going to be an agent,” the group’s square-jawed leader said. “Kelly went through the process a while ago, then life happens, now she’s back. Her commitment to me that she made earlier, she looked me right in the eyes and told me she’s going to be an agent.” Paradise, for these pilgrims, lies at one end of a phone line.

TED talks empire grapples with sexual harassment

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 03:18:01 UT

When Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News anchor who now campaigns against sexual harassment, took the stage at a TED event this month, she described 2017 as a tipping point in the fight against workplace misconduct. But behind the scenes, TED owner Chris Anderson and other senior officials had been grappling with accusations for much of the year that their own conferences, famed for turning short speeches by leading figures into viral videos, had not been a safe place for women — and that the atmosphere of predatory male behavior was getting worse.

Vancouver limits Airbnb in effort to combat housing crisis

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 02:42:29 UT

Trying to ease its severe housing shortage, Vancouver has moved to limit short-term rentals, a measure particularly targeting Airbnb. The new regulations, passed last week by the City Council, bar businesses from offering short-term rentals through Airbnb and similar services; individuals will be allowed to rent only their principal residences. Suites in basements, above garages or in coach houses can no longer be offered as short-term rentals. The city, the largest in British Columbia, is struggling with both exceptionally high housing prices and unusually low vacancy rates for apartments and houses. Officials hope the restrictions will free up more housing for long-term rentals.

Trying out Google’s translating headphones

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 02:35:44 UT

Google has set out to make its mark on the headphone world with Pixel Buds — wireless headphones that can control your phone and claim to translate conversations. But how do they stack up? Google sent us a pair to review and find out. The most important thing you should know about Pixel Buds is that their full features only work with Google’s newest smartphone, the Pixel 2. Though they’ll function with other phones, you must have the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL (which, buyer beware, have had some early quality-control issues) to access the Pixel Buds’ marquee feature: real-time translation. To be honest, it’s not exactly real-time.

Amazon or Walmart? Some retailers are choosing alliances

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 02:01:02 UT

Store chains feeling the upheaval in retail are making strategic alliances — and that can mean picking sides. Kohl’s shoppers can find Amazon devices at some stores, and return items they bought from the online retailer. Nike has made some of its sneakers available through Amazon. The owner of Sears is selling Kenmore appliances on Amazon in some markets. And Best Buy is teaming up with Amazon for voice shopping. Meanwhile, Walmart, which has the most store locations, is assembling a coalition of its own: buying smaller online brands and becoming the highest-profile partner to Google in voice shopping.

Amazon sellers brood as states come calling for taxes

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 01:47:09 UT

SEATTLE — Amazon and the tax collector are at it again. For years, the company and state governments scuffled over Amazon’s resistance to charging state sales tax, which helped keep prices low on its e-commerce site and angered politicians and other retailers. Eventually, Amazon began adding the tax in states across the country. But there was a loophole. Amazon added the tax only when the item came from its own inventory, not from the millions of independent merchants who sell products through Amazon’s website. Amazon left it up to those sellers — who account for half of all items sold on the site — to collect sales tax on their own.

Many admit to watching Netflix at work and in the bathroom

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 01:24:23 UT

Behold the versatile public restroom: It’s a refuge, a place to steel one’s nerves and, for some, a personal theater. According to new data from the video giant Netflix, about 12 percent of Americans who watch television shows or movies outside of the home admit to having done so in a public restroom. And 37 percent say they’ve watched at work. That’s according to the results of a survey commissioned by the Los Gatos company and conducted in the late summer by SurveyMonkey. The poll was based on responses from tens of thousands of people around the world, including 1,600 Americans, balanced by age and gender. It found that two-thirds of Americans stream movies and TV shows in public.

ICYMI: Williams-Sonoma deal; Papa John’s Nazi woes; no Thiel at Y Combinator

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:54:14 UT

If you missed it ... In a week when fans of Sean Hannity didn’t want to wake up and smell the Keurig-brewed coffee, this also happened: •Williams-Sonoma agreed to pay $112 million to buy Outward, a San Jose startup that handles augmented reality and 3-D imaging. Outward already had helped Williams-Sonoma create an app that let Pottery Barn customers see how a product would look in their homes. •“Better Ingredients. Fewer Nazis. Papa John’s.” OK, that isn’t exactly the slogan for the pizza chain, but things have been weird since CEO John Schnatter blamed the NFL’s national-anthem controversy for hurting its sales.

UN panel agrees to move ahead with debate on ‘killer’ robots

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:13:54 UT

GENEVA — A U.N. panel agreed Friday to move ahead with talks to define and possibly set limits on weapons that can kill without human involvement, as human rights groups said governments are moving too slowly to keep up with advances in artificial intelligence that could put computers in control one day. Advocacy groups warned about the threats posed by such “killer robots” and aired a chilling video illustrating their possible uses on the sidelines of the first formal U.N. meeting of government experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems this week. More than 80 countries took part. Ambassador Amandeep Gill of India, who chaired the gathering, said participants plan to meet again in 2018.

Best gift splurges under $250

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 22:56:47 UT

Sonos One Cnet rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 The good: The Sonos One integrates full-fledged Alexa voice control, just like an Amazon Echo speaker but with better sound quality. It offers most of Alexa’s smart home controls and its far-field microphone performs similarly to an Echo. The One works seamlessly as part of a Sonos multiroom system, and can pair with another One for stereo sound. In 2018 Sonos will add Google Assistant, and Apple AirPlay 2 support is coming too. The bad: The One costs twice as much as the new Echo. It cannot form a stereo pair with an existing Sonos Play:1.

Stitch Fix’s IPO in the shadow of Amazon

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 22:54:29 UT

Facing reduced expectations and the specter of competing with Amazon, San Francisco’s Stitch Fix went public Friday, with its stock rising only 1 percent from the initial public offering price of $15 a share. The IPO price itself had come in below the expectations, which were $18 to $20 a share. Still, the company did raise about $120 million and was valued at about $1.5 billion. Going public is perhaps the least of the challenges that confront the mail-order clothing service. Much bigger: whether it will be viable as a stand-alone business.

Broadcom buys Brocade; Game Awards set; HomePod delayed

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 22:45:09 UT

Broadcom buys Brocade Broadcom Ltd. may never get its hands on Qualcomm, but it did wrap up its $5.5 billion purchase of network gear maker Brocade Communications Systems on Friday. Reuters reported that the two San Jose companies reached their deal a year ago and got U.S. antitrust approval in July. In the meantime, Broadcom made a $103 billion unsolicited bid for Qualcomm, a rival in wireless chips, this month, but has been turned down — at least so far.

Ship traffic, Nov. 20

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:30:53 UT

Ship traffic Due to arrive today SHIP FROM PORT APL China San Pedro, Los Angeles County OAK

Ship traffic, Nov. 19

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:30:36 UT

Ship traffic Due to arrive today SHIP FROM PORT CMA CGM Loire Los Angeles OAK

Ship traffic, Nov. 18

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:30:09 UT

Ship traffic Due to arrive today SHIP FROM PORT Basic Ocean Caldera, Costa Rica SFO