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Submission + - Stanford professor releases VR software intended to change real-world behavior (

Tekla Perry writes: Stanford's Jeremy Bailenson and his Virtual Human Interaction Lab have for more than a decade been testing whether experiences virtual reality can change real world behavior. Now they are using their knowledge--and expertise at developing VR software--in what they hope will be a large-scale move towards making people behave better. The lab this week released, for free, a VR experience for the HTC Vive. It's aimed at giving people the sense of diving down to a coral reef--but the real goal is getting them to consider how carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is killing the oceans. He hopes, with the dearth of good VR content available, this software will proliferate at least as fast as VR hardware does. Next up for the lab, a deep dive into homelessness.

Submission + - Analyst: Ugly Year for Tech Layoffs, and It's Going to Get Worse (

Tekla Perry writes: Global Equities Analyst Trip Chowdhry says his predictions of massive tech layoffs for 2016 were right, and the laid off workers will never again find tech jobs: “They will always remain unemployed,” at least in tech, he said. “Their skills will be obsolete" He also predicts worse news for tech employment in 2017, when the layoff tsunami hits startups and the tech bubble bursts. "The startup companies have exhausted the number of fools," he says. The bust starts in March and it all will last two years, according to Chowdhry's analysis.

Submission + - Atari Alumni Talk About the Tall Tales They Told to Launch a Industry (

Tekla Perry writes: Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, first VP engineering Al Alcorn, and a host of early employees, some on stage, the rest filling the 100 seats in front of them, last week turned what was billed as a discussion of Atari's role in Silicon Valley history into a night of secret telling. Getting Atari started was truly a case of fake it until you make it--and the early employees were even faking each other out. There was the fake customer, the fake competitor, the fake demo, and more... And there was Steve Jobs, watching it all and getting an education about doing a startup.

Submission + - The Little Hack That Could: The Story of Spotify's "Discover Weekly" Recommendat (

Tekla Perry writes: Software engineer Edward Newett thought Spotify was making it too hard for users to get to recommendations of new music. So he pulled together various machine learning systems used elsewhere in the company, pulled user photos from Facebook, and quietly pulled together a new recommender, "Discover Weekly" that he pushed out to Spotify's employees, and then the world. The first "production incident" verified its popularity: Some users “went into blind rage or existential crisis.” Newett told the story of Discover Weekly at the @Scale conference last week. “This wasn’t a big company initiative,” he said, “just a team of passionate engineers who went about solving a problem we saw with the technology we had.”

Submission + - The Fathers of the Internet Revolution Urge Today's Pioneers to Reinvent the Web (

Tekla Perry writes: “I’m frustrated on behalf of everybody using the Web at the moment,” Tim Berners-Lee told a group of Internet pioneers and current developers at the Decentralized Web Summit in San Francisco last week. But he, along with Vint Cerf, Brewster Kahle, and others are optimistic that the problems--the silos, the privacy issues, the impermanence--can and will be fixed. Indeed, they say, the tools are out there, and just need to be put together: like JavaScript, Google docs, Amazon's cloud service structure, Wordpress, and Bitcoin. This time, though, urged many of the speakers, it is necessary to "lock the web open" and "throw away the Oreos" because "code is law."

Submission + - Stanford Class Aims to Seed a Reserve Officers Training Corps for Techies (

Tekla Perry writes: Stanford wrapped up its first "Hacking for Defense" class this week; the plan is to roll it out at universities around the country as a sort of cyber ROTC. The eight teams in this first, 10-week effort worked with various defense agencies on pressing problems--some found solutions, some redefined the problem--and one already has $200,000 in seed funding to take it to the next level. In many cases, the apparent need was a hardware problem ("more sensors," "defensive drones") turned out to be a software problem (better data aggregation and analysis).

Submission + - Atlanta, Seattle, and Chicago are Desperate for Software Engineers, says Job Sea (

Tekla Perry writes:         View From the Valley
        At Work
        Tech Careers

Atlanta, Seattle, and Chicago are Desperate for Software Engineers, says Job Search Firm
By Tekla S. Perry
Posted 23 May 2016 | 22:58 GMT
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Photo: iStockphoto

Where are the most software engineering job openings? You might guess Silicon Valley, but you’d be wrong, according to job search site Indeed Prime. Silicon Valley has jobs, indeed, but also plenty of software engineers. Instead, the most jobs per engineer are found in Atlanta, Seattle, and Chicago; the fewest? Houston, Columbus, and Dallas. Indeed Prime also reports on high demand specialty, with DevOps coming in as number one.

Submission + - Stanford AI Grads Launch Low(ish)-Cost Underwater Robot (

Tekla Perry writes: This underwater drone will find its first job in fish farming, but its creators hope to get research kits out to universities, to save future robotics researchers the hassle of building their own hardware. The Stanford grads who started the company say that underwater drones were far behind their airborne counterparts in functionality and cost, so set out to change that.

Submission + - Zero Zero's Camera Drone Could Be a Robot Command Center in the Future (

Tekla Perry writes: Zero Zero Robotics comes out of stealth today with the Hover Camera drone that uses face and body recognition to follow and photograph selected subjects. Company cofounder Meng Qiu Wang explains why he did the engineering in China (he built a team of 80 that worked two years on the project), and how this flying camera will evolve to be a navigation and control system for future home robots

Submission + - Which Companies Pay Engineers the Most? (

Tekla Perry writes: When deciding to take a job, good "fit," a clear path to advancement, and the numbers on your paycheck are all important. But salary is the first among equals. Apparently, tech firms fully understand that, according to a ranking by job search firm Glassdoor in which Silicon Valley tech companies dominate the list of top 25 highest paying firms in the U.S.

Submission + - IBM Layoff Epidemic Spreads Worldwide (

Tekla Perry writes: Catching up on the ongoing IBM layoffs as they percolate around the world, or, at least in the higher-wage countries around the world: Watson, once thought to be immune, is seeing some disruption. IBM's Silicon Valley Lab has joined the "party". Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada--the reports have continued to come in to the Watching IBM Facebook group, as IBM remains silent.

Submission + - Intel Confirms Major Layoff, 11 percent of Employees To Go (

Tekla Perry writes: It's all about the cloud and the Internet of Things, says Intel explaining the planned layoffs, which will affect some 12,000 employees. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich promises in an email today to employees, that the "transition" will be handled with the "utmost dignity and respect."

Submission + - Facebook Says It Has Found the Keys to Improving Both Urban and Rural Wireless I (

Tekla Perry writes: Speaking now at Facebook’s F8 developer’s conference, Facebook Vice President of Engineering Jay Parikh is about to announce two projects coming out of what Facebook calls its Connectivity Lab: Terragraph and Aries. Terragraph will use 60 GHz WiGig technology for fast Internet in dense urban areas; Aries is intended to give rural cell towers better reach and more capacity using a version of a technology called Massive MIMO. The company plans to make both innovations open to the wireless research community.

Submission + - What's Frying The Electrical Systems on BART Trains? ( 4

Tekla Perry writes: Earlier this month, BART engineers shut down a substation in hopes that the closure would quiet the power surges that were frying the electrical propulsion equipment on BART cars--a peak of 40 in just one day in February. The shutdown seemed to solve the problem, but BART officials weren't sure they'd really found the answer. Yesterday, the power surges popped up again, on an entirely different section of tracks, damaging 50 cars before BART closed off that section, rerouting passengers onto buses. Track inspections yesterday revealed nothing, and BART reports that it has reached out to experts around the country and asked them to fly in and help solve the mystery. Do you have a theory?

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