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Why Even Our Water Supply Is Not Safe From Hackers

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:30:39 GMT

There’s been a lot of attention lately on the U.S. “mother of all bombs,” Russia’s “father” counterpart—and North Korea’s nukes—but there’s another WMD lurking that we all need to be afraid of. Very afraid. It’s cyberattacks, and not the ones that steal your personal info to go on a J.Crew shopping spree. The new warfare is taking place on the industrial internet, with hackers targeting the tech that controls everything from automated manufacturing to the power grid. And as one attack showed last year: Even our drinking water is in the crosshairs. In early 2016, it was revealed that the control system of a massive water utility serving millions was hacked—and it was not just a garden-variety data breach. Verizon Security Systems reported that attackers had tampered with computers that manage water chemicals that make H2O safe to drink. The location of the plant was not made public but it turned out there was a common theme that comes up time and again in these breaches: The utilities cybersecurity protocols were a decade out of date. “Weapons of mass destruction don’t have to be physical bombs that move from one location to another—they can be these ticking bombs in these control systems that …cause severe damage and bring down the critical infrastructure of a country.” says Eddie Habibi, founder and CEO of the Houston-based ICS security firm PAS. The need for increased industrial cyber safety extends far beyond water plants (there are more than 150,000 public water utilities in the U.S. alone). Around the same time the Verizon report came out, New York federal prosecutors charged seven Iranian hackers with  hacking dozens of finance firms and gaining digital access to a dam in suburban Westchester County. If the dam hadn’t been undergoing maintenance, the hackers would have been able to manipulate a sluice gate used to protect nearby properties from flooding, prosecutors said. “The infiltration of the Bowman Avenue dam represents a frightening new frontier in cybercrime,” said Preet Bharara, Manhattan’s then chief federal prosecutor. State-sponsored hackers have also had success remotely tampering with industrial equipment abroad—Stuxnet, the specialized malware believed to be deployed by U.S. and Israeli intelligence, famously sabotaged control systems used by Iran’s nuclear program, and Russian hackers are believed to be behind attacks on electric  power plants in the Ukraine. The other sector that is playing catch-up in securing its digital controls is manufacturing, where saboteurs can cause millions of dollars of damage to factory equipment and disrupt supply chains. Because private customer data is generally not in play with industrial controls, there has been less publicity and less public and legal pressure to avoid digital breaches. “Manufacturers haven’t had those regulatory pressures that other industries have had—even health care has had higher pressures, because of things like HIPAA and HITECH,” says Sean Peasley, a partner  in Deloitte’s cyber risk services practice, referring to federal health information privacy laws. “Manufacturers are a little bit behind in terms of their capabilities and their maturities.” That gap is creating opportunities for software vendors and security consultants with experience in both industrial computing and digital security. IBM Security reports that its clients in manufacturing experience 62% more attacks than average clients, and a number of high-profile hacks have made the news. A German steel mill reportedly sustained “massive damage” in an attack reported in 2014, after hackers tampered with blast furnace controls. “Overall, financial services is one of the most heavily attacked, but manufacturing is certainly in the top five,” says IBM’s Diana Kelley, an executive security advisor. Among the ch[...]


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Are Dorms For Adults The Solution To The Loneliness Epidemic?

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:15:41 GMT

More Americans are single than ever before, and more are living alone. That fact is one of the reasons we’re also starting to die earlier: one study found that living alone increases mortality risk 32%. Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. surgeon general, has called isolation the most common health issue in the country. Architect Grace Kim thinks that a solution may be differently designed housing. “Loneliness can be the result of our built environment,” she told an audience at TED 2017. “It turns out when you eat together, you start planning more activities together.” [Photo: Bret Hartman/TED/Flickr]Even couples or families, she said, can be socially isolated in the typical house, and barely know neighbors (social isolation, as opposed to living alone, increases mortality risk 29%). In an apartment building, residents might be more likely to stare at their phones in the elevator than start a conversation. Kim, by contrast, lives and works in a cohousing community she designed in Seattle, where families or individuals each have their own homes, but the space was designed for interaction. From the outside, the community looks like any other small apartment building, and the nine apartments inside have individual living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and baths. But the design, modeled on Danish cohousing communities that began to grow 50 years ago, has a central common house and courtyard. “Loneliness can be the result of our built environment.” [Photo: courtesy Schemata Workshop]In the common house, everyone dines together three times a week, taking turns cooking for each other. Kim only cooks once every six weeks; two other times, she helps with prep and cleanup. “All those other nights, I just show up,” she says. “I have dinner, talk with my neighbors.” Those meals lead to more connections. “It turns out when you eat together, you start planning more activities together,” Kim says. “When you eat together, you share more things. You start to watch each other’s kids. You lend each other power tools. You borrow each other’s cars.” [Photo: courtesy Schemata Workshop]Some cohousing communities take forms beyond what Kim shared in her presentation. Common, launched by one of the cofounders of General Assembly, provides private furnished bedrooms and weekly cleaning. Others combine co-living with coworking. In the Bay Area, where high rents have given people another incentive to live together, startups like OpenDoor have repurposed old mansions into shared housing. These experiments haven’t always worked–Campus, a startup that had dozens of locations, folded in 2015. But in general, cohousing is becoming more common. Kim thinks that’s critical. “When I said earlier that cohousing is an antidote to isolation, what I should have said is that cohousing can save your life,” she says. [...]


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4 Habits Of Endurance Athletes That Can Power Your Career

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 12:00:17 GMT

Imagine adding a part-time job to your already crazy schedule. Turns out your friendly neighborhood triathlete has. Training for an Ironman—a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2 mile run—requires a minimum of 20 hours per week for six months, the equivalent of adding a part-time job to the athlete’s schedule. Even a marathon with its relatively lower physical demands still necessitates four or five hour-long runs, speed training sessions, and at least one 10-plus mile run weekly. It’s easy to imagine athletes as the endurance equivalents of surf bums, people who work at a running store just often enough to pay for all of their race fees. After all, who could possibly train on top of a real job? But nearly half of athletes registered with USA Triathlon are white-collar workers, and 19% are doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals. Ultra-marathon and marathon runners also fit a similar demographic. Related: This CEO’s Secret To Work-Life Balance? Ultra-Marathons If you’re struggling to make time for spin class after work, it may seem impossible to reconcile a serious training schedule with an equally high-powered career. But not only do endurance athletes survive this insane schedule, they thrive on it, often registering for races the morning after their last one. Whether you’re planning an Ironman or your company’s five-year strategy, you can apply some practices of endurance athletes to your own professional life. Here’s how they do it: 1. They Don’t Manage Time, They Master Time But as you’ve probably learned through painful experience, good intentions don’t compensate for poor planning. Since they have so little time to waste, endurance athletes plan every aspect of their day to death. They’ll pack their gym bag, lunch, and recovery tools the night—or maybe even a full week—before each workout. They’ll check the weather to protect against any surprises the following morning. They might even sleep in their running clothes to save a few sleepy seconds the next morning. And after months of training, athletes don’t take chances on race day. They won’t sample a new breakfast food for fear of indigestion. They won’t wear the new shorts they found at packet pick-up the day before. Both during regular workouts and race days, athletes conserve all of their mental energy for the race at hand. Their adherence to a strict schedule translates well to the workplace. After all, how many times have you stopped to check a few emails at 9 a.m., only to look up and realize that it’s time for lunch? 2. They Anticipate Deviations To The Plan Even the best-laid plans can be derailed by last-minute emergencies. With time on their hands before a big race, endurance athletes will forecast any and all potential disasters. “What if my bike breaks down? What if the weather gets too hot? What if I crash halfway through the race?” With these nightmare scenarios in mind, they can prepare themselves for the unforeseen obstacles. “If my bike breaks down, I’ll move off the road and find a race official for assistance. If I start overheating, I’ll grab ice and slow down. If I lose my energy, I’ll ingest more carbs.” Triathlon coach Matt Fitzgerald suggests that our amount of suffering stems from expectations: We’re less disappointed by setbacks when we’re not shellshocked by them. Approach your high-stakes projects with a similarly cautious mind-set. Once you’ve envisioned the worst-case scenarios and game-planned some alternatives, you’ll respond to unexpected setbacks more gracefully and rationally. While nobody is psychic, a proactive mind-set makes it less likely that a shoddy Skype connection or unreliable partner will sink your success. 3. They Get To The Root Of Their Underperformance Have you ever put “spend three hours on social media&#x[...]


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Weight, Sobriety, and Trump: How Rob Delaney’s Reality Informs “Catastrophe”

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 11:00:43 GMT

If Catastrophe makes viewers fundamentally uncomfortable, it’s a feeling they share with the show’s creators–and it comes from a very real place. In most cringe comedies, the wincing and face-shielding come as characters ineptly navigate their careers or the dating world. With Catastrophe, however, the leads are married with two kids, and the discomfort stems from the kind of lived-in tensions that flare up when two people know each other so intimately they almost resent each other for the invasion. Married life is well-trod territory for television, but what distinguishes it in this case is Catastrophe’s stomach-sinking realism. The show’s creators and stars, Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, lean into areas like bed farts and basement-masturbation, from which similarly premised programs often shy away. What adds an extra sheen of authenticity to the proceedings, though, is how much of their own lives Delaney and Horgan inject into the mix. One of the more realistic elements of the show began by accident. The two creators were so used to laughing at each other’s jokes in real life, as normal friends are wont to do, they didn’t quite realize they were doing it in character, too, on the show. It seems like a minor feature, a married couple demonstrably finding each other funny. This recurring detail quickly helped set the show apart, though, from the legion of sitcoms where audience applause is piped into the austere, laughless void across which the leads lob zingers at each other. “It wasn’t a conscious decision,” Delaney says. “I didn’t know we were doing it until people started telling us we were doing it.” Much of the show’s remaining verisimilitude, however, is 100% deliberate. Both creators plug in details from their own lives, such as their actual children’s troubling ‘bitey’ phase. In the third season of the series, which already aired in the UK but arrives in the US on Amazon this Friday, Rob Delaney gets especially personal. He plays on insecurities from the present and weaknesses from his past, and it all ends up helping to make this season both funnier and more achingly real than its predecessors. Rob Delaney [Photo: Robyn Von Swank, courtesy of Amazon Studios] Sobriety One of the first things a Delaney novice might learn from scouring the comedian’s earlier output is that he’s a recovered alcoholic. By the time Catastrophe came along, he’d already artistically processed the gory details leading up to his sobriety through standup, a book, and various articles. He was ready to move on. However, Horgan suggested making the character “Rob” sober in the first season. It was an idea that proved more and more prescient and valuable as the series went on. “As things grow more difficult for [Sharon and Rob] in the second season, the sobriety thing became a really good pressure release valve; very problematic thing for Rob to deal with,” Delaney says. “So really it was just sort of a story consideration instead of ‘we’ve got something to say about this.'” Knowing the comic’s real-life history only makes it more difficult to watch Rob fall off the wagon toward the end of the second season, though, and start the third season a long ways removed from said wagon. Marc Maron, another famously sober comic with a TV show, pulled a similar trick in his show’s final series last year. Just like Maron as well, playing out the nightmare hypothetical failed to resurrect any long-dormant demons for Delaney. “Maybe because I’ve been sober for 15 years and I genuinely have no desire to drink, it didn’t f[...]


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Six Reasons Why Your Argument Failed To Persuade

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 11:00:30 GMT

Many people think persuasion is essentially “debating lite.” To make your argument successfully, you’ve got to pick out flaws in somebody else’s way of thinking, showing them that their perspective is off-base—as long as you do it nicely. That’s wrong. Persuasion doesn’t work this way. You might succeed at getting others to concede a point temporarily, but they’ll often revert to their old ways of thinking as soon as whatever logic or enticement you’ve used to “win” them over to your views is no longer there. Being persuasive is a lot more about emotions than cold, hard logic, and like all skills and competencies, you can get better at it with practice. Related: The Emotionally Intelligent Person’s Guide To Being Persuasive But first you need to unlearn the bad habits that make you less persuasive than you might hope—starting with these: 1. You Tried To Win A War Of Ideas Think about the last time you argued with someone. Chances are you both got defensive, right? It’s a natural reaction. When you’re trying to be persuasive at work, you might be generating the exact same response, minus the shouting. Trying to compel other people to adopt your ideas can feel like coercion, not persuasion. In order to get around that, you need to make the other party feel that you’re both on the same side. That doesn’t mean retreating from your ideas altogether or pretending that they don’t differ when they do. It’s more about acknowledging what you do agree on already, and how your difference of opinion starts from a shared premise. 2. You Didn’t Listen Actively When someone feels like they’re really being heard, they become more open to your ideas. So to create that openness, you need to avoid the common trap of thinking about how you’ll respond once somebody else is done talking. Listening is just as much a skill as argumentation, but it’s often harder to teach. One simple way to let others know that they’re being heard is simply to repeat back or paraphrase something you’ve just heard them say, then ask for clarification. This way you can delve deeper into what they’re expressing, instead of just bluntly countering their perspective with your own. Related: 5 Ways To Improve Your Listening Skills  3. You Did Half The Talking If you’re trying to be persuasive, you’ve got to make the other person feel they’re in control of the situation, not you. It’s often said of the best listeners that they talk a lot less than other people—and that’s true of the most persuasive people as well. While the other party is speaking, listen for opportunities to connect and agree with them. See if you can get insights into their values and the reasons they think the way they do. If you’re struggling to do that, chances are it’s because you’re yammering on too much. Keep your mouth shut more, and tune in. The more common ground you can stake out with somebody, the better your shot at persuading them. We’re all more likely to trust people who we think share our beliefs, values, and interests. 4. You Gave Too Few (Sincere) Compliments If there’s something about the person or their idea that you admire or think deserves praise, let them know. Everyone loves to receive a compliment, especially from somebody with whom they sense they might disagree about a few things. But the key here isn’t to slather it on thick and disingenuously—your compliments need to be sincere, not just seem that way. If you can find something you genuinely appreciate about the other person and get that across candidly, they’ll be a lot more open to anything else you have to say. It also strengthens your relationship an[...]


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HAIM Returns with a Paul Thomas Anderson-Directed Video That’ll Get You Pumped

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 10:19:26 GMT

WHAT: The first new song in years from sisterly indie-pop trio, HAIM.

WHO: Director Paul Thomas Anderson.

WHY WE CARE: HAIM didn’t exactly pull a disappearing act after releasing their debut album nearly four years ago. They toured and took a lot of Instagrams with Taylor Swift, and released the occasional life-giving remix. In terms of a new album or even the promise of a release date, though, HAIM has been nowhere to be seen. Until now. Following the addition of some mysterious billboards in LA earlier this month, the Haim sisters have returned this morning with a brand new song and a video by GOAT-contender filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. The last time Anderson went behind the camera for a music video, he emerged with Radiohead’s hidden message-laden visual puzzle, “Daydreaming.” For HAIM’s slow-burning “Right Now,” he goes simpler but equally alluring, with a video that follows the band as they record the song live in studio, seemingly in one take. By the time two of the three HAIM-ers are banging drums in unison in the final minute of the song, viewers may notice a sudden increase in feeling pumped about life. “And that’s how you fucking do it,” notes one of the sisters as the video concludes. We couldn’t agree more.

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What Happened When I Started Saying “Not Yet” Instead Of “No”

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 10:00:59 GMT

A decade ago, I was a fresh-out-of-college entrepreneur trying to convince a Sri Lankan tea seller to make a deal with me. It wasn’t going very well. I wanted the seller, who owned a boutique tea company, to become a supplier for the loose-leaf retail tea business I was trying to get off the ground. I could sense the man’s skepticism—in fact, his first instinct was to refer me to his distributor—but even so, he heard me out. Rather than a flat-out “no,” be basically told me, “not yet.” Eventually, I managed to convince him to give me a shot. This ended up being the right decision for both of us. His teas helped fuel my startup’s early growth, and he now enjoys a huge contract as one of the suppliers to DAVIDsTEA. The experts like to claim that learning to say “no” is one of the most crucial leadership and career skills around, and they aren’t exactly wrong. But in my experience, that will only take you so far. There’s a subtle art—and power—in turning someone down while keeping the door open (a type of conversation I’ve been on both ends of by now). It’s an investment. It’s a calculated risk. It’s a networking tool. But it isn’t always easy to get right. Related: The 3 Types Of “No” You Need To Master In Your Career Right now, I’m preparing to launch a new food venture. I recently reached out to a potential supplier of a crucial ingredient a few weeks ago, and they basically said to me, “There’s no way you’re going to do our minimum, so this won’t work.” I hung up the phone and found myself thinking about that early deal I almost failed to strike with the Sri Lankan supplier so many years ago, if it weren’t for his thoughtful “not yet.” Here’s what I’ve learned since then about defaulting to “not yet” whenever I’d otherwise have just said no. The Logic Of “Not Yet” What’s so powerful about this two-word phrase? Saying “not yet” isn’t about procrastinating. It’s not just a tool for delaying a decision—far from it. Instead, it makes room to start a dialogue and build relationships, which is what every successful entrepreneur needs to do. Giving a hard “no,” on the other hand, is a way to terminate a relationship or forestall one from starting. What’s worse, some people reject proposals in a way that makes you feel you’re not good enough for them. This adds insult to injury, and in the end, everyone loses. I’ve been guilty of this myself on some level. Several years ago, I met up a few times with an entrepreneur for breakfast at a cafe in Montreal. He had an idea for an app that would provide spaces where on-the-go urbanites could meditate or stretch. I didn’t think it had legs and never took it seriously. I basically said “no” after a few conversations, and the discussion ended there. That idea was iterated on a few times and eventually became Breather, an app for renting small, easily accessible office spaces by the hour to busy business travelers. If you haven’t heard of it, you might soon. The business has attracted a loyal following in its native Montreal and expanded to New York in 2014. Late last year, Breather closed a $40 million round of additional funding. In retrospect, it would’ve been so easy for me to set some milestones for follow-ups or to offer to check out the founder’s pitch deck when it was ready. Instead, I mumbled a few platitudes and let the connection lapse. It’s hard to see the business logic in that. Getting Better At “Not Yet” You obviously can’t consider every half-baked idea th[...]


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Amid Crackdown, Immigrants Are Dying Of Neglect In ICE Detention Facilities

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 10:00:55 GMT

Capital & Main is an award-winning publication that reports from California on economic, political, and social issues. Late last March, Osmar Gonzalez Gadba, a 32-year old Nicaraguan immigrant, was found hanging by a bedsheet at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Adelanto Detention Facility. About two weeks later, ICE reported that a second detainee, Sergio Alonso Lopez, 55, of Mexico, had died in a nearby hospital of internal bleeding—the fifth detainee death since Adelanto opened in August 2011, and the sixth fatality to occur in ICE custody so far this year. The California facility is run by the country’s number two for-profit prison company, the Florida-based Geo Group. Now a 41-year-old woman detained at Adelanto tells Capital & Main that she has lost full use of her right arm and leg after suffering stroke-like symptoms, and alleges that her treatment has been poor. The Geo Group’s stock has soared on news that the Trump administration plans to greatly expand the ICE detention system, as has that of Core Civic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America), the U.S.’s largest for-profit prison company. Human rights groups, however, are concerned about the already poor quality of health care for detainees across the country and worry that expansion will make it worse. After the 2015 death of 44-year-old Raul Ernesto Morales of colon cancer, the Adelanto facility was pressured to improve care. But the company that Geo hired to do so has a poor record in jails, prisons, and detention facilities across the U.S. What is more, a report scheduled for release in early May by Human Rights Watch and Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) will show that in ICE detention facilities nationwide, health care services are still substandard, and perhaps dangerous. Last year Human Rights Watch examined 18 in-custody deaths in facilities across the country that occurred between 2012 and 2015, and concluded that substandard care likely contributed to the death of Morales and six others. Morales, who was from El Salvador, had been in ICE custody for four years at the time of his death, three of them at an Orange County jail, with his last year at Adelanto. An ICE detainee death review showed he had complained of gastrointestinal symptoms for two years before his cancer was diagnosed. ICE investigators noted that three days before Morales’ death, guards shackled and transported him to a hospital emergency room in a passenger car instead of an ambulance, after an outside doctor who’d been treating him said he was “bleeding out.” The investigators called the move “highly risky.” Investigators also noted that half the nursing staff at Adelanto was inexperienced and untrained in conducting clinical assessments of patients. Off-site medical appointments were at times canceled or delayed because lab understaffing meant test results were sometimes unavailable when expected. ICE investigators didn’t determine that poor care contributed to Morales’s death. Last year, however, a review of the ICE investigation by Human Rights Watch concluded that it probably did. “Had Mr. Morales’ gastrointestinal symptoms been evaluated much sooner as was clinically indicated, it is possible that the malignancy from which Mr. Morales died might have been caught at a time when it was still treatable,” the report noted, quoting a medical consultant who analyzed the records. Human Rights Watch researcher Clara Long said her group’s new report will show that health care in immigration detention has not improved. The study reviews medical records of detainees who died, as well as those who have survived but who said they had received poor care. Long added that the Trump administration’s plans to bu[...]


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These Are The 3 Traits Of Bosses That Everyone Wants To Work For

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:00:51 GMT

People don’t work for companies; they work for people–namely, their bosses. In a recent employee report done by workforce engagement software provider TinyPulse, 1,000 working Americans were asked what one thing they wished they could change about their manager, and the second most popular answer was to have their manager quit. Ouch. “We know that people don’t leave companies; they leave their bosses. If you want to attract talent that will stick around, then you’ll want to do whatever it takes to increase your magnetism,” says Roberta Chinsky Matuson, leadership consultant and author of The Magnetic Leader: How Irresistible Leaders Attract Employees, Customers, and Profits. A magnetic leader is someone who attracts and retains great talent. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to work for a magnetic leader, then you know how much of an impact he or she can make on your productivity, attitude, and engagement, says Chinsky Matuson. “When he or she asks you to do something, you do it,” she says. “You’ll follow this person to the ends of the earth or to their next job.” While a handful of leaders are born magnetic, the good news for the rest of us is that this type of leadership can be taught, but you’ll most likely have to teach yourself. “Most managers these days are tossed into management with little more than a prayer,” she says. “Management training programs went the way of full reimbursement for health care premiums. You have to invest in yourself and do the work that’s required to make this transformation.” Here are the three traits magnetic leaders have in common, and how you can learn to possess them, too, says Chinsky Matuson: Authenticity Magnetic leaders don’t try to be someone else, nor do they change who they are based on office politics, says Chinsky Matuson. “They are true to themselves and are honest in their dealings with others,” she says. “They are not afraid to share their mistakes or shortcomings.” To bring an authentic and trustworthy leader, you need to be truthful. That can take courage, but it’s worth it. A 2017 Trust Barometer survey done by the PR firm Edelman found that trust in CEOs in the U.S. has reach an all-time low. Be willing to admit that you don’t know everything. “The people you oversee deserve the truth from you, including the fact that you are also a work in progress,” says Chinsky Matuson. It also helps to share your backstory, such as your professional journey and history with your company. “We tend to look at people who have risen to a certain stature in their careers and forget they weren’t always at the top of the food chain,” adds Chinsky Matuson. “Sharing your backstory is a way for leaders to make a deep connection with their people, which can lead to a more trusting relationship.” Vision Visionary leaders are the dreamers who make us realize anything is possible, says Chinsky Matuson. “They have a vivid imagination that inspires others to get on board and come along for the ride,” she says. “Instead of asking the question, ‘Why?’ they ask, ‘Why not?’” To assess where you are on the visionary scale, ask yourself these three questions: Am I focused on everyday tasks or long-term outcomes? How often do I take time out of my day or week to think about the future? Who in the organization has potential that is not being realized, and what can I do to help unleash it? Your answers will help you realize in which areas your vision may be lacking. Then plan to correct it by reassessing your schedule and reevaluating your team. Selflessness Leadership is a service business, and ser[...]


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Cloudflare Shores Up Defenses For Internet Of (Easily Hackable) Things

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:00:42 GMT

Security experts have long warned that the connected devices that make up the so-called internet of things are way too vulnerable to hack attacks. These gadgets—fridges, fitness trackers, thermostats, sleep monitors, your next piece of jewelry—are like the zombie soldiers of the internet, often poorly secured and easily vulnerable to the will of hackers. Small medical devices and industrial control systems can be manipulated to do serious harm, and smart home appliances can be hijacked to steal personal data or even spy on their owners, as owners of smart TVs vulnerable to CIA spy software recently learned from a WikiLeaks report. To counter the growing risk, Cloudflare, which protects websites and networks from digital attacks, launched a new service on Thursday aimed at fending hackers off a range of connected devices, from sophisticated industrial equipment to home appliances. The San Francisco company also said it was working to create a security organization to form best practices and standards for protecting IoT devices that are often considered highly vulnerable. Perhaps the most serious threat surrounding connected devices so far has been when they’re hijacked in concert at a massive scale: Last fall, tens of thousands of wired devices including internet routers, security cameras, and DVRs were infected with malware called Mirai, which organized the machines into a botnet that launched the largest distributed denial of service attacks in history, reaching 1.2 terabits (1,200 gigabits) per second at its peak and disrupting access to major sites like Reddit, Twitter, and Netflix. In total, around half-a-million devices around the world were thought to be part of the mysterious, malware-formed network at the time, but only an estimated 10% of those were involved in the attacks. Recent data suggests Mirai wasn’t an isolated incident—a report released this week by security firm Symantec found attempted attacks per hour on the company’s set of test machines nearly doubled over the course of 2016. The scale of attacks is only limited by the market for the devices themselves: Some estimate that there could be more than 20 billion such internet things by 2021. “If Something Went Wrong, Someone Would Die.” The Mirai attack was a wake-up call for many IoT manufacturers, says Matthew Prince, cofounder and CEO of Cloudflare. His seven-year-old company had in recent years been getting more inquiries from makers of internet-enabled devices about how its tools could be of use, something that only accelerated after the Mirai botnet. Cloudflare is best known for its secure content distribution network, which effectively sits between client web servers and consumers’ internet browsers, speeding up delivery of online content and filtering out malicious content like denial-of-service attacks and SQL injections. The company says its network handles almost 10% of all internet traffic. At the time of last year’s botnet surge, Cloudflare was already hearing from makers of systems for industrial operations like power plants, or computers that would be used in cars, where failures could have serious consequences, says Prince. “About 18 months ago, we started to get calls to our sales team from various IoT manufacturers that were asking, could we be of help in protecting their devices,” he says. “These tended to be manufacturers who, if something went wrong, someone would die.” The new service, Cloudflare Orbit, is directly geared toward manufacturers of consumer-grade IoT devices. In addition to protecting servers from attacks by malware like Mirai, Cloudflare will provide secure con[...]


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How To Make Managing Someone Older Than You Less Awkward

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 08:00:36 GMT

You worked hard and finally landed that promotion. Now you’re the boss—and in charge of a number of team members who are significantly older than you, and who may have complicated feelings about reporting to a younger manager. “A lot of millennials haven’t done a lot of supervising yet,” says workplace diversity expert Jennifer L. FitzPatrick. “In a way, you may want to look at [the management role] as if you’re coming at it from a different discipline. You’re not going to know everything that the employees who’ve been there longer know, she says. And that will usually make your team stronger. Get off on the right foot with your reports and defuse any potential conflict by following this expert advice. Set Aside Your Ego Lance Vaught, vice president of operations at Penn Station East Coast Subs, started in a management role there nearly a decade ago, when he was 24. Being a young supervisor with so little work experience and supervising people who were expecting their first grandchildren was daunting, he admits. “You’re not yet proven. You’re not battle-tested,” he says. Vaught had to earn the respect of people who were 20 years his senior, he says. It may sound trite, but he did so by tamping down any desire to prove he deserved the job and, instead, listening. By getting to know the employees, showing respect for their contributions, and understanding what they needed to get the job done, he soon won them over. It also helped to put in the hours and show his reports that he was working harder than they were, he says. Find Points Of Connection FitzPatrick says finding commonalities can help bridge divides in the workplace. Get to know your employees as people. You may find that common interests—sports, hobbies, or even children—can create stronger relationships. Whatever you do, avoid language that could be considered ageist or create distance. “When you’re generation Y and you say things like, ‘Oh, that was before I was born’ in reference to something, you’re creating more distance between you and your employee,” she says. Learn Their Strengths And Use Them The No. 1 thing any employee wants from a manager is help doing their job well, says performance consultant Gerald Acuff, CEO of business consulting firm Delta Point, Inc. To figure out what your team needs from you, you need to get to know them. Ask questions that show you care about what they have contributed and what their priorities are, he says. When Acuff was a young sales manager, he was supervising an older salesperson who was No. 1 in the company. After conducting the first sales call himself, he watched his new report do the second one. Acuff was blown away by how good the salesperson was, and it drove home the point that his employees could continue to teach him, even as he managed them. Give Them Authority Show your employees that you have confidence in their experience and ability by giving them the autonomy to make decisions, Vaught says. After all, they know what they’re doing—let them have some decision making power. Not only does it make the employee feel good because of the vote of confidence, it also frees up your time to devote to other issues that need attention, he says. Address The Elephant In The Room If there’s conflict or resentment over your appointment, you may need to address it head on, says FitzPatrick. If the person you’re supervising applied for the job and didn’t get it, for example, and it’s clear that they’re harboring resentment, have a discussion. “If someone did apply to the job, sometimes it’s really a good idea to just hit it head on and jus[...]


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At Last, Silicon Valley May Have Found A Trump Proposal To Like: His Tax Plan

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 08:00:23 GMT

After grappling with the Trump administration over the travel ban, climate change, and the rollback of broadband privacy rules, Silicon Valley may have finally had reason to cheer the White House today. The White House’s one-page outline of its tax plan includes a reduction in the corporate tax rate and a one-time tax break for companies that repatriate their profits—Apple, Alphabet, Cisco, Oracle, and Microsoft have the biggest overseas cash holdings of all corporations. The policy staffers and lawyers at those tech giants have been paying close attention to the issue—or, more accurately, the timing of the debate—since the first days of the new administration. And while Trump spoke about tax reform on the campaign trail, and staffers spoke about it publicly after the inauguration, the one-page document released by the White House today represents the first time the White House has put anything resembling a real plan in writing. The top lines of the coming tax bill, for tech companies, are: A large cut in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent A one-time tax repatriation of profits that corporations have parked overseas A new “territorial” approach to taxes that would minimize taxes on profits made in overseas markets All of these policies would have a major impact on tech companies big and small, depending on the fine print, which is not available yet, and is likely being worked out behind the scenes in discussions between the administration and members of Congress. One of the key numbers to be worked out is the exact tax rate on the trillions of dollars now parked overseas by large companies like Microsoft and Apple to avoid paying U.S. corporate income tax. Though it was previously reported that it could be reduced from 35% to 10%, today’s release was vague about the specifics, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin just saying that it would be “very competitive.” Steven Mnuchin [Photo: U.S. Department of the Treasury via Wikimedia Commons]According to estimates in late 2016, U.S. companies hold about $2.5 trillion abroad. Tech companies have long held that the tax of 35% on profits returning to the U.S. is unreasonably high, and that they’re breaking no law by avoiding it. The administration is eager to get the foreign funds back into America, one source told me. Trump has suggested that companies will invest the repatriated money in new factories to create new jobs in the U.S., though economists say that this is very unlikely to happen on a broad scale. The administration is painfully aware that last time such a tax amnesty was tried, U.S. companies spent the repatriated money mainly on stock buy-backs and shareholder dividends. This time the administration may try to impose rules on how the repatriated money can be spent, which is sure to draw loud protests from the tech community. Still, chances are very high that some form of repatriation will be included in the final bill. Apple, for one, would likely be happy about a one-time repatriation of earnings, depending on the details of the plan. In 2016, the European Union, after a lengthy investigation, ruled that Apple parking earnings at its Irish subsidiaries (to avoid paying U.S. taxes) amounts to the tech giant receiving “illegal state aid” from Ireland. As a result, Apple may be required to pay around $14.5 billion in back taxes dating back to 2004. Apple has appealed the decision, and Ireland has so far refused to collect the back taxes from Apple. Apple would be one of many companies to bring money back, says Matt Gardner, the director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (the research umbrella for Citizens for Tax Justice) in an[...]


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“American Gods” Builds Its Mythology Around The Immigrants Who Built America

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 07:59:51 GMT

Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods, published in 2001, is the story of an ex-con named Shadow who accompanies the Norse god Odin–who goes by the name of “Mr. Wednesday,” a play on the Norse naming conventions of our days of the week–on an epic road trip across the United States as the old god seeks to consolidate power against the new ones. The book’s theme of pitting religion and mythology against technology and pop culture resonated strongly 16 years ago, but in the adaptation of the show, which debuts on Starz on April 30, the most timely and relevant theme the show explores might be that of immigration. That’s something that the show’s creators, Bryan Fuller (who created the cult favorite Wonderfalls and Hannibal) and Michael Green (who cowrote Logan, Alien: Covenant, and Blade Runner 2049), were aware of as they developed the show–and something that came into much sharper focus after the election. Suddenly, they realized that a show about the gods and myths that are brought to America’s shores by immigrants was resonant–and the way that those cultural totems come to define America, too. “We wrote and produced the show before the regime change,” Fuller says. “We were crafting the show in a progressive administration, and now we’ll be airing the show in an insane administration. That brings out a certain politicization of the story. That wasn’t something we intended, but it’s something we wanted to be authentic. We wanted to tell stories that were genuine from the perspectives of the characters, who themselves are representing different cultures and ethnicities. And then everybody went crazy regarding immigrants. And that’s the heart of our story, so we stumbled upon a much louder platform than we had anticipated.” Green says that the show was still in its editorial process when “the asteroid hit and leveled America,” but that the opportunity to have a voice that comments on the America that the show will find itself premiering in isn’t something they take lightly. “It was a strange experience, because we were working on an episode that deliberately was going to be about gun culture, which was an issue that we knew had some heat behind it, but we wanted to explore all sides,” Green says. “Suddenly, things that we were discussing with the network and the studio about, ‘Oh, are we pushing too far’ became plain. Certain images we had that we thought would look satirical suddenly looked like the news. I wish it didn’t.” If American Gods is going to be pushing some hot buttons, they have a cast that’s equipped to do it. Ricky Whittle, who plays Shadow, brings a quiet, restrained intensity to the role of the ex-con who knows that the system tends to be stacked against men like him–big, dark-skinned, with a record. Relative newcomer Yetide Badaki, in her highest profile role to date, brings a regal authority to the part of Bilquis, the Queen of Sheba–one of the old gods looking to have her power restored. And Orlando Jones–who proved he could thrive in dramatic roles in fantasy-inspired series in Sleepy Hollow–makes his first appearance as “Mr. Nancy” in the second episode. Whittle, paired with Ian McShane’s Mr. Wednesday, carries the show on his back, and Badaki stars in the pilot’s most memorable scene, but it’s Jones’s work in that second episode that helped reveal to Green and Fuller that they had something especially poignant and resonant on their hands. “When we got the dailies back from [...]


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How Satellite Data Caught Gulf Oil Companies Hiding Enormous Oil Spills

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 06:30:25 GMT

In the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for 17% of U.S. crude oil production, appetite for drilling is ticking up amid President Trump’s drive for energy deregulation. In late March, the Department of Interior auctioned off over 900,000 acres of leases in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Gulf for $275 million, up from $156 million last year. That might be worrisome, given that the area is still recovering from the Deepwater Horizon spill, but don’t worry: The oil industry often contends that, barring the occasional mega-disaster, offshore drilling is by and large a safe, if not overregulated, practice. However, according to a new report from three Louisiana-based environmental groups, offshore oil accidents in the Gulf of Mexico are a more regular and serious occurrence than the industry is willing to admit. The report—released in March by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 350 Louisiana, and Disastermap.net—pulled directly from a Coast Guard data clearinghouse and found 479 reports of offshore oil accidents in the northern Gulf in 2016. That’s an average of about nine spills per week, dumping a total of nearly 18,000 gallons of oil and other substances into the environment. The public is being misled about the severity of day-to-day pollution associated with offshore oil development.” [Photo: courtesy Gulf Monitoring Consortium via SkyTruth]Compared to the size of the 2010 BP disaster, which released anywhere from 134 million to 176 million gallons, that might seem small. But even that 18,000 gallon estimate could be seriously lowballed, say report authors. The Coast Guard data, collected under the National Response Center (NRC), is actually self-reported by the oil companies responsible (the NRC also accepts reports from the public, but these are less common). “When is the last time you told a police officer you were speeding?” asks Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental activist group and one of the March report’s authors. “There’s no doubt there are a lot more accidents than we know about.” To find a more independent estimate of the scope of daily oil spills, the report’s authors drew on an analysis of that same NRC data by SkyTruth, a nonprofit that uses satellite imagery—mainly from the European Space Agency, one of the few free resources—to monitor the environmental effects of industrial activity. Using SkyTruth’s numbers, report authors say the total amount of oil spilled in the northern Gulf last year was closer to 875,000 gallons, or about 50 times larger than official estimates. “When is the last time you told a police officer you were speeding?” [Photo: courtesy Gulf Monitoring Consortium via SkyTruth] Eyes In The Sky SkyTruth, which also analyzes impact of mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia and tracks commercial fishing activity around the world, has neither the ability nor bandwidth to analyze every single oil spill from space. Contrary to popular belief, says John Amos, president and founder of SkyTruth, satellite and radar imagery simply doesn’t exist for everywhere on Earth at all times. Even if it did, the organization’s small team wouldn’t be able to keep up with the thousands of accidents that occur every year. Instead, the company has developed a formula that acts as a second opinion to the self-reporting of polluting companies. Any time an accident occurs, oil companies are required to report an estimate of the aerial dimensions of the spill. Because reporting on total volume spilled is, shall we say, inconsistent, SkyTruth comes up with its own volume estimat[...]


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The Flint Water Crisis Is Far From Over: They Still Need New Pipes

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 06:00:11 GMT

Three years ago, the city of Flint, Michigan, in search of a cheaper water supply, connected its system to the nearby Flint River. The switch was meant to be temporary; as such, officials neglected to treat the water flowing into the pipes to ensure it wouldn’t cause corrosion. Almost immediately, residents, 40% of whom live in poverty, took note of the strange taste and color of the water, but their complaints fell on deaf ears. By the time officials acknowledged that the water from the Flint River had corroded the pipes, high levels of lead had already seeped into the water supply of 100,000 people. Residents became sick and children broke out in rashes. In one home, lead levels rose to 397 parts per billion–more than high enough to cause kidney damage, high blood pressure, and memory and neurological problems. The action level set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is 15 parts per billion. By last spring, the Flint water crisis had become national news. Criminal charges were filed against three officials for negligence, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder outlined a plan for state agencies to make amends. Barack Obama journeyed to Flint and drank filtered tap water, and authorize $100 million from the EPA to be funneled toward fixing the pipes. Many assumed that Flint was taken care of, that the crisis was over. “Things are not fine in Flint, and we’re going to deal with it ourselves.” [Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images]It’s not. The EPA money was authorized by Obama, not current President Trump. While the initial $100 million will still make it to Flint, the EPA faces a potential budget cut of 31%, which constricts the possibility of further aid. As the situation stands currently, it will likely take three more years of navigating bureaucratic hurdles before Flint’s pipes are fixed. For the organization Green For All, which advocates for an inclusive green economy, that’s too long. In a Facebook live announcing the organizations fundraising campaign for Flint, called #FixThePipes, CNN moderator and Green For All founder Van Jones said, “Everybody thinks they had it fixed. If there’s anything called fake news, the news that everything is fine in Flint is the fakest of fake news. Things are not fine in Flint, and we’re going to deal with it ourselves.” Launched on April 20, #FixThePipes aims to raise $500,000 to replace pipes in Flint homes; Green For All estimates the cost of fixing the water systems in a home to be around $10,000. The city’s whole system was affected by the corrosive water supply, but the service pipes–those connecting the main lines to the homes–were the most affected as they are made of lead, while the water mains are cast iron. The fundraising goal is not a ceiling, Vien Truong, Green For All’s director, tells Fast Company. The aim is to bypass the bureaucratic process, which Truong says lacks awareness of the urgency of the situation, and get as much money directly to Flint families as possible. Green For All will raise the money, Truong says, and work together with local organizations to decide the most effective use, whether it be toward coordinating teams of volunteers or picking up the bill for switching out the corroded pipes. The aim is to bypass the bureaucratic process. [Photo: LindaParton/iStock]When Flint headlines were dominating the national news last spring, Truong organized an advocacy effort through Green For All that brought celebrities like Mark Ruffalo and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer on board a campaign to petition Governor Snyder to change the pipes. On th[...]


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Fighting Climate Change Means Building Dense, Diverse, Walkable Cities

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:45:44 GMT

“Let me add to the complexity of the situation we find ourselves in: At the same time we’re solving for climate change, we’re going to be building cities for 3 billion people,” said the urban designer Peter Calthorpe at the beginning of his talk at TED 2017. By 2050, he said, we will see the urban population double, and if we don’t manage to sustainably and practically build to accommodate that growth, “I’m not sure that all the climate solutions in the world will help save mankind,” Calthorpe said. But there is a real enemy to target in this situation, Calthorpe said, and it is sprawl. When most people think of sprawl, they think of the low-lying scattering of buildings that circle metropolises and eventually fade into the suburban and the rural. But sprawl, Calthorpe said, can happen anywhere, at any density: Its key attribute is that it isolates people. Separating people into economic enclaves and land-use enclaves, dividing them from nature, and prioritizing vehicle transportation (all key features of sprawl) doesn’t allow for the kind of close-knit, communicative growth that allows cities to develop in a way that hinders, not hastens, climate change. Future compact development could slash California’s hypothetical carbon footprint. [Photo: senaiaksoy/iStock]“The antidote to sprawl is what we need to be thinking about,” Calthorpe said. How, exactly, is the main question. Calthorpe’s software and urban modeling company, Calthorpe Analytics, has developed a tool called UrbanFootprint that gives planners and developers a way to test out the impact of future development models. For the state of California, Calthorpe Analytics used UrbanFootprint mapped out two different scenarios for 2050–one in which the state continued its “business as usual” sprawl-driven development and one in which it shifted to compact development, prioritizing dense housing and mixed-use streets. Contrasted to the sprawl model, compact development slashed the California’s hypothetical carbon footprint in half by reducing the miles traveled by vehicles by 10,500 and drove down the health care costs associated with inhaling smog and embracing a sedentary lifestyle. “Why not just stop polluting?” Calthorpe asked. “Why not use our feet and bikes more?” The economic viability of compact development, he added, even has the potential to sway typically pro-vehicle and anti-regulation conservative policymakers. And for an example of somewhere already in the midst of overhauling its development strategy, Calthorpe turned to China, whose model of sprawl–tall, densely located building blocks lacking mixed-use streets and opportunities for human interaction–has long been a threat to its sustainability goals. Calthorpe’s firm developed a set of seven principles for the country to apply to its cities: preserving natural ecologies; creating mixed-use and mixed-population neighborhoods; designing walkable streets and human-scale neighborhoods; promote biking; increase the connectivity of the road systems; develop efficient transit systems; and match density to transit capacity. While China is in the process of integrating these principles into its cities, they’re guidelines that can and should be adopted worldwide. Only by promoting what works for humans and fostering social wellbeing, economic equality, and a sense of connectedness, will we stand a chance, as a global society, to fight climate change. “The way we shape cities is a manifestation of the kind of hum[...]


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What If You Could Filter Dirty Air Just By Riding A Bike?

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:15:25 GMT

Riding a bike in a smoggy city–and sucking in exhaust from the tailpipes of the cars in front of you–can undo the benefits of exercise. In Beijing, artist Daan Roosegaarde is beginning to imagine one potential solution: a bike that could pull in dirty air, filter it, and release clean air. The concept is one part of Roosegaarde’s larger Smog Free Project. At TED 2017, Roosegaarde, who works in both the Netherlands and China, outlined the project so far, including a seven-meter-tall tower designed to sit in parks or playgrounds and purify surrounding air (though there are some questions about how well this works though the studio says that those conclusions are “not based on validated measurements and that it will have new numbers available soon.)  Roosegaarde has also turned the black soot from Beijing air into smog jewelry. In theory, the new bikes will work in a similar way to the tower. If we can use this design to bring back the prestige of the bicycle, that would really create an impact on pollution on a short-term scale.” [Image: courtesy Studio Roosegaarde]“We’ll be morphing to the bicycle–making it smaller and more energy-friendly or energy-neutral,” Roosegaarde tells Fast Company. “But it would give clean air to the person who cycles. Beijing was a cycling city 10 years ago, and then everyone wanted a car. If we can use this design to bring back the prestige of the bicycle, that would really create an impact on pollution in the short term, a 10- to 14-month scale.” He envisions that the design, which is still in development, could be added to China’s rapidly growing network of bike shares. At least half a million shared bikes are now in use in Beijing. One bike-share company alone, Mobike, has more than 10 million users in 21 cities. “If we can update those bikes with this kind of thing, then you can create an impact on the average pollution, and then it becomes fascinating,” Roosegaarde says. “It should be more than a one-off.” The bikes will likely become part of a program–that includes the Smog Free Towers and other yet-to-be-designed smog-sucking technology–that the designer is pitching to polluted cities as a way to temporarily purify pockets of air while cities work on larger reforms. “It will always be connected with big programs of government and green technology and electric cars,” Roosegaarde says. “They do top-down, we do bottom-up, and we meet in the middle.” [...]


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GirlTrek Has A Simple Health Intervention For Black Women: Walking

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 14:00:43 GMT

After Vanessa Garrison saw her grandmother die at the age of 66, her aunt at 55, and another aunt at 63, she realized that her family’s experience wasn’t unusual: Black women have the highest obesity rates in the U.S. and die earlier than other groups from preventable, obesity-related diseases. Government interventions and public health campaigns to encourage exercise haven’t worked well. But Garrison is attempting to get women moving through something that draws inspiration from the civil rights movement and earlier black history in America–walking. “The best advice from hospitals and doctors and the best medicines from pharmaceutical companies to treat the congestive heart failure of my grandmother didn’t work because they didn’t acknowledge the systemic racism she had dealt with since birth,” Garrison said at TED 2017. GirlTrek–borne out of the personal experiences of Garrison and her cofounder T. Morgan Dixon–does. “Walking through pain is what we’ve always done.” [Photo: Marla Aufmuth/TED/Flickr]Through the program, thousands of women have pledged to walk regularly. The organization reaches women “through the best practices of the civil rights movement,” Garrison says. “We huddled up in church basements, did grapevine sharing of information through beauty salons, we empowered mothers to stand on the front lines.” When one woman who had signed up to walk lost her 23-year-old son to gun violence, she posted online that she didn’t know how to move forward–but she walked for her son, and “it felt good to be out there to walk.” “Walking through pain is what we’ve always done,” says Dixon, sharing the story of her mother walking into a desegregated school. “Changemaking is in my blood. It’s what I do. This health crisis ain’t nothing compared to the road we have traveled.” Walking 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s. But it has a secondary effect of strengthening communities. “Once walking, women get to organizing–first their families, then their communities, to walk and solve problems together,” Garrison says. “They walk and notice the abandoned buildings. They walk and notice the lack of sidewalks, the lack of green space, and they say, ‘No more.'” “I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if there were groups of women walking on Trayvon’s block that day,” says Dixon. “What would happen in the south side of Chicago every day if there were groups of mothers and aunts and cousins walking. Or along the polluted rivers of Flint, Michigan. I believe that walking can transform our communities because it’s already starting to.” [...]


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Amazon’s Q1 Earnings: Four Things We’ll Be Looking For

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:15:25 GMT

How much higher can Amazon shares go? We’ll know a little more tomorrow afternoon when the Seattle e-commerce juggernaut releases its first-quarter 2017 earnings. If we look at presentations over the past year, we see the company doing very well but still missing some key numbers—namely, revenue expectations that didn’t quite hit the mark three months ago. By contrast, tomorrow’s report could easily show a blockbuster quarter thanks to stronger revenue and the slew of new products that Amazon is investing in. If things go well, Amazon’s stock could inch even closer to $1,000 a share, which is an astounding landmark. Analysts are expecting the company to hit revenue of $35.31 billion, compared to $29.1 billion during the same period last year. Earnings-per-share is expected to hit $1.13, compared to $1.07 a year ago, reports the Seattle Times. That would be welcome news: Last quarter was considered a slight miss for Amazon, with revenue hitting $43.7 billion compared to expectations of $44.68 billion. Once tomorrow’s numbers are announced, all eyes will be on Wall Street’s reaction and whether the stock will go up or down. Lest we forget, it was about one year ago when Jeff Bezos made $6 billion in 20 minutes, thanks to a healthy earnings report. Amazon is a huge company with its myriad tentacles in a growing number of operations. Needless to say, we’ll be looking out for quite a lot. But here are a few of the most important things we’ll be keeping track of tomorrow: Web Services: While Amazon’s cloud segment has been seeing good growth–it is most definitely the leader in the space–AWS missed revenue expectations last quarter. As MarketWatch points out, Amazon has had to cut prices recently thanks to growing competition from the likes of Microsoft, Alphabet, and IBM. We’ll be looking at whether the cloud operation’s growth has taken a hit. Video Dreams: For well over a year, Amazon has been pushing its digital content, both in the United States and in new markets like India. We’ll be interested to see if this Prime Video expansion will continue and how much the company plans to spend on original programming. Prime: Amazon Prime is one the company’s most popular services. In the U.S. alone, estimates put Prime subscriptions at 80 million, which makes it larger than Costco, notes L2 analyst Cooper Smith. Legacy retail outlets like Walmart and Target are feeling the pinch, but how much bigger can Prime scale? We’ll be keeping an eye out for more specifics. Products: Amazon has been slowly building and offering more features for its Echo product line, as well as expanding Alexa integrations. We’d like to know how well these product ventures are doing, and we’ll be looking out for clues about future projects down the line. There is so much more to look out for–international sales numbers, details about brick-and-mortar Amazon stores, grocery efforts, etc.–and we’ll be paying close attention to all of that. Tune in tomorrow for Fast Company’s coverage of the earnings. [...]


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The Winner Of The $1 Million TED Prize Is Bringing Health Care To The World’s Most Remote Communities

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 12:30:12 GMT

If you live in a remote village in Liberia and you get sick, seeing a doctor might involve a canoe ride down a river and two days of walking through the rainforest. Clinics are similarly hard to reach for roughly a billion people around the world. The winner of this year’s $1 million TED Prize–Rajesh Panjabi, the founder of a nonprofit called Last Mile Health–has a solution for poor, remote communities that can’t afford to hire doctors and nurses. Instead of recruiting trained medical professionals, the organization hires local community members, some of whom may have only a middle-school education. Then it gives them the training needed to screen and treat common illnesses like malaria, providing local jobs as it fills the health care gap. The organization hires local community members, some of whom may have only a middle-school education. Then it gives them the training needed to screen and treat common illnesses. [Photo: Bret Hartman/TED/Flick]It’s a system that the organization has proven can work in Liberia, where community health workers now carry backpacks with modern but low-cost medical equipment such as a $1 rapid test for malaria, and a smartphone to track and report on epidemics. Now the organization wants to scale up to reach the rest of the world. Using the prize money, Last Mile Health plans to create the Community Health Academy, a digital platform that will train workers on skills like administering vaccines or how to treat a malnourished infant. The platform, inspired by other digital education platforms like Khan Academy, will be piloted in Liberia and then go global.  [Photo: Bret Hartman/TED/Flick]The platform, inspired by other digital education platforms like Khan Academy, will be piloted in Liberia and then go global. Last Mile Health also was a Skoll Prize awardee earlier this year. “We know that there are still millions of people dying from preventable causes in rural communities around the world,” Panjabi said at TED 2017. “What we also know is that if we trained an army of health care workers to learn even just 30 life-saving skills, we could save the lives of 30 million people by 2030 . . . If we can help these countries scale, we could save millions of lives, and at the same time, we could create millions of jobs.” [...]


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