Wanted at Chinese Start-Ups: Attractive Women to Ease Coders’ Stress

Wanted at Chinese Start-Ups: Attractive Women to Ease Coders’ Stress BEIJING — China’s vibrant technology scene is searching for people like Shen Yue. Qualifications: Must be attractive, know how to charm socially awkward programmers and give relaxing massages.
Ms. Shen is a “programmer motivator,” as they are known in China. Part psychologist, part cheerleader, the women are hired to chat up and calm stressed-out coders. The jobs are proliferating in a society that largely adheres to gender stereotypes and believes that male programmers are “zhai,” or nerds who have no social lives.
“They really need someone to talk to them from time to time and to organize activities for them to ease some of the pressure,” said Ms. Shen, a 25-year-old who has a degree in civil engineering from a university in Beijing.
Chinese women have made great strides in the workplace. The country has the world’s largest number of self-made female billionaires, while many start-ups have women in senior roles. But..

European Regulators Ask if Facebook Is Taking Too Much Data

European Regulators Ask if Facebook Is Taking Too Much Data Data. It is the gasoline that fuels advertiser-supported internet giants like Facebook and the gold that companies mine for their algorithms.
Now regulators in Europe are asking whether Facebook is excessively collecting details about the online activities of internet users — in effect, forcibly extracting a valuable commodity from consumers.
The authorities in a number of European countries contend that Facebook has unfairly used its leverage to collect details about the activities of both Facebook users and nonusers on millions of third-party sites that use tools like Facebook’s “like” button and analytics service. Some of those regulators have developed a novel argument: data coercion.
This month, Italy’s Competition Authority said Facebook was using “undue influence” to get consumers to “consent to the collection and use of all the information concerning them.” In February, a court in Belgium found that Facebook had collec..

Amazon Tries a New Delivery Spot: Your Car

Amazon Tries a New Delivery Spot: Your Car Photo Starting Tuesday, Amazon customers with certain vehicles can have their orders delivered to a parked car in dozens of cities across the United States. Credit Matt Edge for The New York Times SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon packages get delivered to all sorts of places.
Front porches? Naturally. Cubicles? Of course. Inside locked homes? Yes, that, too.
Now add a new one: The trunk of your car.
Starting Tuesday, people in dozens of cities across the United States can start getting their Amazon orders delivered to a parked car, provided their vehicle has the proper technology. With a few taps on a smartphone screen, the courier can unlock the car and drop the box inside the trunk or on the back seat.
The new service is aimed at anyone who doesn’t want to risk having their package swiped from their front porch or who can’t receive an Amazon order at work, perhaps because an employer doesn’t allow it or because the company mailroom is not secure.
Pho..

3 Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Needed, but Are Worth Buying

3 Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Needed, but Are Worth Buying Photo Credit Manu Fernandez/Associated Press It’s easy to forget how far technology has come within a few years. We went from praying our CD players wouldn’t skip to streaming music wirelessly to AirPods in our ears. But even some recently introduced devices have made the jump from being high-end, enthusiast tech to at-home must haves. Here are a few of them.
Photo Amazon Echo Dot . Credit Elaine Thompson/Associated Press The assistant we didn’t ask for, but can’t live without“Weird.” “Curious.” “Baffling.” “Quite Stupid.” These words all once described Alexa, the voice-activated digital assistant on Amazon’s Echo device. Now, according to Amazon, the Echo Dot, a smaller, less expensive version of the Echo was the “#1 selling Amazon Device” during the holidays last year.
Back in 2014, it was odd to consider even owning an Echo (and you needed an invite from Amazon to actually purchase one). Today, you can pick from five differ..

Google’s Parent Company Spends Like It’s Thinking of a Future Beyond Ads

Google’s Parent Company Spends Like It’s Thinking of a Future Beyond Ads Photo Alphabet, Google’s parent company, spent big in the first quarter on new data centers and services aimed at businesses. Credit Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times SAN FRANCISCO — Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is spending like it is beginning to prepare for life after advertising.
Currently, Alphabet makes nearly 90 percent of its money from selling advertising on the internet, and gobbles up heaps of data about its users to help marketers target those ads more effectively.
But a close reading of Alphabet’s financial results for the first quarter of 2018, which were announced on Monday, showed that the Silicon Valley giant is accelerating its efforts to diversify into other businesses.
Alphabet has made investments in areas like self-driving cars and online computer services for businesses for years, but spending in those areas was up dramatically in the first quarter. The company’s capital expendi..

This Start-Up Says It Wants to Fight Poverty. A Food Stamp Giant Is Blocking It.

This Start-Up Says It Wants to Fight Poverty. A Food Stamp Giant Is Blocking It.
Four years ago, Jimmy Chen left a lucrative perch as a product manager at Facebook to found Propel, what he calls an “anti-poverty software company.”
In 2016, the Brooklyn start-up released a smartphone app that lets food stamp recipients easily look up how much money was left in their accounts, rather than call an 800 number or keep paper receipts. Today, one million food stamp participants use Propel’s app, and the start-up has added features like links to food coupons, healthy recipes, budgeting tools and job opportunities.
But in the last few months, the Propel app has been hobbled or become unavailable in many states, sometimes for weeks. Behind the slowdown is a big government contractor, Conduent, which runs the food stamp networks in 25 states, including New York, California and Pennsylvania. In those states, where 60 percent of Propel’s users live, Conduent maintains the database that Propel’s ap..

How Looming Privacy Regulations May Strengthen Facebook and Google

How Looming Privacy Regulations May Strengthen Facebook and Google Photo Facebook and Google may emerge stronger after Europe enacts sweeping new regulations that prioritize people’s data privacy. Credit Tomi Setala/Bloomberg SAN FRANCISCO — In Europe and the United States, the conventional wisdom is that regulation is needed to force Silicon Valley’s digital giants to respect people’s online privacy.
But new rules may instead serve to strengthen Facebook’s and Google’s hegemony and extend their lead on the internet.
That could begin playing out next month, when Europe enacts sweeping new regulations that prioritize people’s data privacy. The new laws, which require tech companies to ask for users’ consent for their data, are likely to hand Google and Facebook an advantage. That’s because wary consumers are more prone to trust recognized names with their information than unfamiliar newcomers. And the laws may deter start-ups that do not have the resources to comply with the rules from ..