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Sky on the hunt for women to join technology team

Sky has launched a technology hub to open in Leeds later in 2015, with 400 job openings and a push for women to join.

Based at Allied London’s Leeds Dock, the hub will focus on designing and developing Sky websites and apps to enable customers to watch content on multiple devices.

The additional 400 jobs will take the total number of Sky employees in Leeds to over 1,000 in its technology and customer services.

Natasha Sayce-Zelem, head of technology at Sky, told Computer Weekly the braodcaster is on the hunt for more women to join its team: “We are working on attracting and retaining female talent because gender-balanced teams bring better outcomes. Tech teams need to better reflect society. It’s about supercharging top female talent, supporting a women’s network and empowering people to take more control of when and where they work.

“This is an exciting time for people to be joining Sky. Businesses have to invest in skills, so the next graduates coming up through the pipeline are well prepared.”

Sayce-Zelem studied for a degree in film, specialising in producing before finding her way into the technology industry through websites and delivery. She said Sky is open to talent outside traditional computer science backgrounds, due to the shortage of candidates.

“After I was given a chance in this exciting and fast-paced industry, I never looked back. We recognise there are talented individuals out there who might not hold computer science degrees – so we’re open to those that show an aptitude for technology,” said Sayce-Zelem.

“There is a misconception that technology is just a lot of hardware and that you can’t do it without a computer science degree, which isn’t the case. There is no greater pleasure than seeing someone on the train using your app or reeling off to friends how many times people visit your website daily.”

Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive at Sky, said: “Digital skills and innovation are at the heart of what we do at Sky, helping us give customers the best possible TV experience, whether at home or on the move. With our investment in Leeds, we’re creating one of the largest digital communities in the UK.

“We are looking forward to bringing hundreds of new jobs to the city and giving young people the opportunity to build their skills and help shape the digital services of the future.”

Sajid Javid, secretary of state for business, skills and innovation, said: “I’m delighted that Sky is furthering its investment in Leeds with the creation of 400 new jobs and a new technology hub. The announcement is a boost to the digital economy of the entire Northern Powerhouse, and will undoubtedly help to cement Leeds as a leading technology cluster.”

Sky has also announced a Software Engineering Academy in Leeds, in addition to increasing the number of places on offer at its London academy.

Sky’s Software Engineering Academies aim to provide graduates with practical on the job training to develop and support software teams across Sky including the Sky Sports team.

The Software Engineering Academy in London has increased its available places from 24 to 36 and it will be recruiting a further 24 graduates and eight apprentices to its Leeds academy each year.

Sayce-Zelem said: “The academies are a seven-month programme designed to prepare young people for roles in the London and Leeds offices.

“Overtime we also hope to increase the amount of young people we take on.”

View the original article here

Saving texters from themselves

texting driving statistics

by Matt Brownell from CarInsurance.com in Personal FinanceInsurance

Texting and driving has been blamed for more than 100,000 car crashes a year , and according to one study it raises the chances of an accident by 23 times. And now even mobile carriers are getting fed up with it.

In recent weeks, AT&T has stepped up its ” It Can Wait ” campaign against texting and driving, including a renewed push for DriveMode, a free app the carrier developed to curb texting while driving.

The app allows users to temporarily disable texting and e-mail functions, thereby reducing the urge to fire off a quick text or read email at a stoplight. Calls to 911 are allowed. The app also allows you to set an auto-reply message to anyone who texts you while it’s activated, and it lets you set up a limited list of contacts whom you can call (or receive calls from) behind the wheel.

Sprint offers the Drive First app, which automatically kicks in when the phone’s GPS detects that it’s moving faster than 10 mph. When active, the app locks the home screen, auto-replies to text messages and sends any phone calls (outside of five allowed numbers) to voicemail. But the service doesn’t come free: After a 15-day free trial, it will cost you $2 per month per line.

T-Mobile’s DriveSmart is free in its basic versions; a premium app that senses a vehicle in motion and notifies parents of any override costs $4.99 a month.

Dozens of other applications are available for smartphone users, with varying levels of restrictions and functionality, at prices that range from free to monthly fees.

But all of them work only if you choose to use them.

It’s dangerous, illegal and expensive

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the major phone carriers are offering such tools. In addition to the increasing the odds of an accident, texting while driving is also illegal.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 39 states and the District of Columbia have outright bans on texting while driving, and five more ban it for novice drivers. Fines can be substantial. But only a few states treat texting as a moving violation — the kind that can hit your driving record and eventually raise your rates.

Get into an accident, though, and you will be lucky if you walk away with only a texting violation as a reminder.

An at-fault accident can raise your rates substantially: An analysis of 841,000 car insurance quotes delivered through CarInsurance.com’s rate-comparison engine shows that drivers with a single claim were quoted rates that averaged $300 more than drivers with no claims, an increase of about 17 percent. An accident surcharge could hurt your rates for years.

And even that pales next to possible criminal prosecution. Prosecutions of texting drivers under manslaughter or negligence laws have become distressingly common; in fact, a Massachusetts teenager was sentenced in June to jail time under the state’s vehicular homicide law. He also lost his license for 15 years.

How much technology do you want?

Few people will lock their phones away, however dire the consequences. Instead, apps try to make texting less tempting and less distracting.

There’s iZup (as in, “eyes up”), a third-party app that shuts down your phone’s texting and data functions except for the GPS, as long as you’re going over 5 mph.

DriveSafe.ly, on the other hand, still lets you receive texts, but it reads them aloud so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. The free version will read messages up to 25 words in length, while a premium version for $14 a year has a larger word count cap and lets you dictate responses.

iOnRoad not only reads texts aloud, but also turns your phone into a collision-warning system. Mount it below your rearview mirror and the app uses your phone’s camera to monitor both your position in the lane and the distance to the car in front of you.

Despina Stavrinos, an expert on distracted driving and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alabama, prefers those apps that totally shut down texting.

“Removing the whole element of distracted driving is the best way to combat the issue, but I’m not in support of the ones that do talk-to-text,” she says. Dictating texts or listening to them, she explains, is a “cognitive distraction” akin to talking on the phone, which is less dangerous than taking your eyes off the road to text but still a serious distraction.

The fine print at 60 mph

The rapidly evolving technology of text-avoidance still has some kinks.

For instance, apps that automatically activate at high speeds can’t distinguish between users who are moving fast because they’re behind the wheel or because they’re a passenger in a car or train. Some have a password-protected override in the event that you’re not the one behind the wheel. (Meanwhile, a team of engineers at Rutgers University has developed an app that uses the car’s Bluetooth speaker system to determine where the phone is located, providing a possible solution to the passenger problem.)

Another issue is that few of the available text-shutdown apps work on the iPhone, which doesn’t allow apps to run in the background and affect basic phone functions like texting. (The iPhone version of DriveSafe.ly, for instance, apologetically explains that reading text messages aloud “is not technically possible on iOS devices.”) The best bet for iPhone users is to dictate texts using Siri, though apps like JustDrive can at least be used by parents to monitor their teens’ behavior.

Finally, it’s worth noting that texting is hardly the only thing that can distract you on the road. As Stavrinos points out, “we pick on text messaging, but anything can take your attention off the road, even a child crying in the backseat.”

Anybody got a crying-child app?

Saving texters from themselves

5 reasons Google will rule small tablets

The Android maker is poised to dominate smaller tablets. Here’s why.

Apple — with its maket-leading gadgets and astounding market cap — may appear to rule tech. But there is one category in which it is not setting the pace: mini-tablets. Rumors of a tablet smaller than the iPad abound, but so far nada. Why would Apple even delve into the category when the iPad trounces every other tablet out there? There’s a market for a smaller form factor. Amazon’s spartan, $200 Kindle Fire sold well last holiday shopping season for instance.

Google’s Nexus 7 really shows the potential of the segment, however. Analysts and reviewers have characterized it as the product to put out the Kindle’s flame. Until recently, Google has been developing its mobile operating system for phones and tablets used by Samsung, Asus, HTC, Amazon and many others. With a direct-to-consumers model, Google wants a piece of the content consumption market via its own media store, Google Play. Question is, can the Nexus 7 eclipse the Kindle Fire and compete with whatever Apple may unveil in the coming months?

The Price

The Price

At $199 for the 8GB model, $249 for 16 GB, the Nexus 7 should be very attractive. In a weak economy, there is real demand for a lower priced device that can be easily held in one hand. Can you browse, shop, read, watch videos, movies, TV shows and play games on the Nexus 7? Yes, you can, and it puts the Kindle Fire to shame says virtually every tablet reviewer and analyst out there. Where Apple prices its smaller iPad will be a factor: you can assume the company is not about to give up per-device margins.

Technology

Technology

The Nexus 7 utilizes Android 4.1, also known as Jelly Bean, Google’s latest tablet operating system. It is zippy and responsive. With 9 to 10 hours of battery life and weighing in at ¾ of a pound, it boasts a 1280 x 800 resolution with scratch-resistant glass, a front-facing camera and Wi-Fi. Amazon, for one, should be nervous. Google’s hardware partners selling tablets with older versions of Android will be playing catch up. Right now, the Nexus 7 with the optimized Jelly Bean OS is heralded as the best mini tablet available.

Retail

Retail

Yes, Apple has a major advantage with its gorgeous retail outlets. But unlike Google’s ill-fated Nexus phone, the Nexus tablet has strong retail distribution at Sam’s Club, Sears, Gamestop, Costco, Fry’s and Office Depot. That puts it ahead of competitors — ones that run its own operating system.

Android

Android

Android is a popular mobile OS brand, but it’s an engine and not the car. Nexus 7 is the shiny new car — a complete experience — at a reasonable price. More broadly, Google’s push into building its own hardware is likely to give it a chance to really showcase what its software can do.

Timing

Timing

Google would not comment about its future marketing plans, but did say it had a television ad that ran during the Olympics. By getting its tablet out early, it has given itself an advantage. If competitors don’t significantly improve their offerings for the holidays, it will have an even stronger head start.

5 reasons Google will rule small tablets

Using Twitter to Crack Down on Bullying

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have developed a computer program that caught 15,000 bullying-related tweets in one day.

By KAYLA WEBLEY

It’s hard to prevent bullying if you don’t know it’s happening. That’s why researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a program that they say is capable of detecting evidence of bullying from among the hundreds of millions of tweets sent each day.

The program uses an algorithm to scour Twitter for words that “mark bullying events.” Out of the 250 million public tweets sent each day, the program usually identifies about 15,000 bullying-related messages.
Getty Images
A close-up view of the homepage of the microblogging website Twitter.

VIDEO: YouTube Bullying Confessions

The researchers found that while kids aren’t often open in real life about what they are going through, online, they are much more verbose. “What we found, very importantly, was that quite often the victim and the bully and even bystanders talk about a real-world bullying incident on social media,” Jerry Zhu, a professor of computer science at UW-Madison said in a release.  ”The computers are seeing the aftermath.”

SPECIAL: What You Need to Know About Bullying)

As GOOD notes, the program could be a way around one of the inherent problems with the reporting of bullying incidents, which is that the targets are often reluctant to report their tormentors, fearing an escalation in the aggression. Its developers hope that not only will their software help alert teachers and parents to bullying early on, but also show victims that they are not alone. “A way victims often make sense of their bullying is by internalizing it. They decide that there’s something bad about themselves — not that these other people are jerks,” Amy Bellmore, a professor of educational psychology at UW-Madison said in the release. “When they’re exposed to the idea that other people are bullied, actually it has some benefit. It doesn’t completely eliminate the depression or humiliation or embarrassment they might be feeling, but it can decrease it.”

Next up, the researchers hope to expand the program to include other social networks, such as Facebook and China’s microblogging site, Sina Weibo.

Read more: 

Newton Coull Videos – We are a video performance network.

Meet the group trying to make AT&T very un-AT&T-like

The telecommunications giant has a reputation of moving at a plodding pace, but a deeper look inside the company shows a place where innovative ideas flourish.

by 

A flat-panel display welcomes visitors to AT&T’s foundry in Palo Alto, Calif.

Just a short bicycle ride from Stanford University, there’s a work space befitting any hip startup.

Squat, teardrop-shaped chairs and short, lime-green swivel chairs sit atop a colorful checkered carpet, across which a small dog casually pitter-patters. Lining the sparse ceiling are rows of florescent lights, wooden beams, and large ventilation tubes, adding an industrial-chic ambiance. On one side lies a sliding divider made up of strands of cable lines strung closely next to each other, while the other side features a movable row of hanging chains, creating a flexible space that can be manipulated as needed.

Aside from a corner filled with a few developers quietly typing away at their computers, it’s fairly empty in the middle of the afternoon. For most folks who work here, the afternoon is still early; people tend to flock in at unusual times, and all-nighters are a common routine. A week later, the place will be crammed with nearly 200 developers participating in a Facebook hackathon.

The office, a stone’s throw from the humble beginnings of startups such as Flipboard, is a magnet for venture capitalists and developers — Marc Andreessen is a familiar face. But it’s no pre-IPO startup. It’s AT&T’s application foundry, where the company has created a place and provided the resources for local developers to work on small projects with the potential to change the multibillion-dollar telecommunications giant.

What AT&T has been doing over the past few years is jump-starting a culture of innovation within the company. AT&T, far removed from its roots as a pioneer in communications technology, has spent the last few years bringing back some of that fearlessness in experimenting with new projects — crucial at a time when all the tech heavy-hitters have shown a willingness to try new things.

At the heart of AT&T’s innovation drive is its technology council, responsible for the creation of the foundry and several other key projects within the company. It’s a handpicked brain trust that’s helped the company shed some of the bad habits of a large corporation.

“We take on problems that (AT&T) inherently wasn’t going to address well because of our size,” John Donovan, senior executive vice president of technology and networks for AT&T, said in an interview with CNET.

The technology council is antithetical to the popular perception that AT&T is a slow and lumbering company unable to get even its cell phone reception issues under control. The group has been able to spark a legion of ideas through a massive crowd-sourcing effort; opened the company up to building more relationships with the startup community; and, yes, even helped to improve the network. Equally important, it’s redefined the meaning of speed within the company, and bolstered a willingness to experiment, even if it means failure.

“What it does is provide an organized channel to use the ingenuity of AT&T’s employees to bring these ideas quicker to use,” said Roger Entner, a consultant with Recon Analytics who follows telecommunications companies.

A change of pace 
AT&T’s willingness to look outside for help on projects is a change from its original preference to develop new services and products in-house, relying on its once formidable AT&T Labs business. Under Ma Bell, it had a massive research and development arm in what is now the Lucent part of Alcatel-Lucent.

AT&T has poured money into the new initiatives started by Donovan. The company doesn’t break out its investment in this area, or in research and development, but it’s a drop in the bucket relative to the roughly $20 billion it spends on capital expenditures each year. Still, the foundry has become a vital component of the R&D budget, Donovan said.

“We take on problems that (AT&T) inherently wasn’t going to address well because of our size.” –John Donovan, senior executive vice president of technology and networks for AT&T

AT&T isn’t innovating for innovation’s sake — at stake is its identity. If the company doesn’t stay in the cutting-edge game, it’ll lose its relevancy in a world filled with Apples, Googles, and Facebooks. Worse yet, it risks relegating itself to a dumb-pipe, or a basic connection over which all the lucrative services and applications ride, and which AT&T doesn’t get to take part in.

What started as a gradual break from its rigid structure as a traditional phone company has transformed into an intense effort to stay toe-to-toe with the most nimble companies in Silicon Valley.

The push comes as competitors such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel have similarly abandoned the notion of closing off their businesses, and more closely work with startups and companies they previously would have seen as threats, such as Google and Apple. AT&T’s exclusive access to the iPhone, for instance, drove Verizon to embrace Google and heavily push Android smartphones.

AT&T certainly isn’t without its share of issues, and its reputation for moving slowly is often justified. The company, for instance, took its time addressing the network problems that cropped up in the early years of the iPhone, wrecking its public image for years. Like the other carriers, it’s slow to provide the latest software updates to Android smartphones.

That doesn’t discount the early bets AT&T made with initiatives such as its U-Verse Internet-based television service, which suffered through many hiccups in the early years. It was also the first to move into a tiered data pricing structure for wireless plans, which created a lower-cost option for first-time smartphone buyers even as it irked hardcore subscribers who spent a lot of time — and downloaded a lot of data — on their mobile devices.

That innovation has fueled its most recent — and somewhat head-scratching — move into the home security and automation business.

The smartest minds in one (virtual) room 
One of the first things Donovan did when he joined AT&T in 2008 as chief technology officer was to ask the managers in the company to point out the brightest individuals “who weren’t afraid to speak the truth.” He wanted to bring together a group of people answerable only to him for the purposes of shining a spotlight on the blind spots within the company.

As much as AT&T has loosened up over the years, it’s fundamentally still a company in which suits are regularly worn, employees still use courtesy titles, and a strict chain of command is still observed. So it was an understandably nerve-racking experience for the first 16 people who were chosen to meet and serve with the newly hired executive.

Their fears were assuaged the first time they sat down with Donovan. “In the first few meetings, we were sweating bullets until we realized it was John, not Mr. Donovan,” said Adam Hersh, who helps commercialize new projects and ventures for AT&T, and was an original member of the tech council.

Read more:

Google sees ‘alarming’ level of government censorship

by 

Web giant says that in the past six months it received more than 1,000 requests from government officials for the removal of content. It complied with more than half of them.

Google reports it has seen an “alarming” incidence in government requests to censor Internet content in the past six months.

The Web giant said it received more than 1,000 requests from governments around the world to remove items such as YouTube videos and search listings. The company, which said it complied with more than half the requests, released a catalog of those requests as part of its biannual Global Transparency Report.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different,” Dorothy Chou, Google’s senior policy analyst, said in a blog post. “When we started releasing this data, in 2010, we noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not.”

Google said it had received 461 court orders for the removal of 6,989 items, consenting to 68 percent of those orders. It also received 546 informal requests, complying with 46 percent of those requests. The study doesn’t reflect censorship activity from countries such as China and Iran, which block content without notifying Google.

“Just like every other time, we’ve been asked to take down political speech,” Chou wrote. “It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect — western democracies not typically associated with censorship.”

Among the take-down requests was a Polish demand for removal of an article critical of a development agency, a Spanish request for removal of 270 blogs and links to articles critical of the public figures, and a Canadian official’s request for removal of a YouTube video of a man urinating on his passport and flushing it down a toilet. All were denied.

However, the company said it complied with the majority of requests from Thai authorities for the removal of 149 YouTube videos that allegedly insulted the monarchy, a violation of Thailand law. The Web giant said it also granted U.K. police requests for removal of five YouTube accounts that allegedly promoted terrorism. Google also said it complied with 42 percent of U.S. requests for the removal of 187 pieces of content, most of which were related to harassment.

Google sees ‘alarming’ level of government censorship

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