Tag Archives: Takeaways

Five Takeaways About Amazon's Employment Machine

And Black associates at the warehouse were almost 50 percent more likely to be fired — whether for productivity, misconduct or absenteeism — than their white peers, the records show. (Amazon said it could not confirm the data without knowing more specifics about its source.)

Derrick Palmer, a Black worker at JFK8, began at the company in 2015 as an enthusiast, and he was often a top producer.

But between the constant monitoring, the assumption that many workers are slackers and the lack of advancement opportunity, “a lot of minority workers just felt like we were being used,” Mr. Palmer said. His comments echoed the sentiment of Black workers behind an unsuccessful unionization campaign at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama this year.

This spring, the company introduced a host of diversity plans, including a goal to “retain employees at statistically similar rates across all demographics” — an implicit admission that the numbers had been uneven across races. At JFK8, leaders are holding weekly “talent review” meetings to ensure that Black and Latino workers, among others, are advancing.

Some of the practices that most frustrate employees — the short-term-employment model, with little opportunity for advancement, and the use of technology to hire, monitor and manage workers — come from Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive.

He believed that an entrenched work force created a “march to mediocrity,” said David Niekerk, a former long-serving vice president who built the company’s original human resources operations in the warehouses.

Company data showed that most employees became less eager over time, he said, and Mr. Bezos believed that people were inherently lazy. “What he would say is that our nature as humans is to expend as little energy as possible to get what we want or need,” Mr. Niekerk said. That conviction was embedded throughout the business, from the ease of instant ordering to the pervasive use of data to get the most out of employees.

Author: Jodi Kantor, Karen Weise and Grace Ashford
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Top 5 Takeaways from Game Stack Live

Author:
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

For the past two years, Game Stack Live has been giving us an exclusive look into all things game development at Microsoft. From deep dives into xCloud’s architecture to gamedev hacks and shortcuts, the live series has given us a good idea of how game development is evolving and what game developers care about. In case you missed the show last week, we’ve compiled a recap of some of the key developments from Game Stack Live 2021 below. Catch last year’s Game Stack Live here.

Accessibility

This year, we learned that the Xbox teams have been doing some serious cranking behind the accessibility scenes, rolling out all-new set of Accessibility Guidelines. In these guidelines, developers can get access to the latest learnings, insights, and education around accessible game development and design. What’s great about these guidelines, other than the fact anyone can use them, is that they were written in partnership with the disabled community. Not only do these guidelines contextualize accessibility best practices, they give developers a solid jumping-off point for running their own Accessibility tests and experiments.

[email protected]

Game development itself is becoming more accessible to small and medium-size studios. Thanks to the cloud, heavy-hitters like Azure, PlayFab, and Havok are readily available and accessible from anywhere in the world. Game development is no longer a AAA studio’s world. Cloud-based game development tools empower smaller teams with the same capabilities.

Microsoft announced the [email protected] Program, a new game development program for indie studios, start-ups, and individual creators. As part of the program, developers will get free access to the same developer tools as AAA studios and support from industry experts across Microsoft. Given the recent explosion of indie studios and developers, it’s awesome to see craftsmen getting the time, attention, and tools they deserve.

Xbox Velocity Architecture

One thing we’ve learned  this past year is that game development needs to be done from anywhere and everywhere.

With all of the same capabilities as on-premise from anywhere in the world, Cloud development is more flexible than ever. We got a pretty clear idea of how Microsoft envisions game development moving forward with how they’ve spent the past year – we saw how the Minecraft team was able to tackle a previously impossible server port with minimal sweat ( a common stressor for larger studios making the jump to cloud game dev).

The Cloud is getting easier to play and develop on. From faster asset streaming to minimal load times and rendering, innovations like the new Xbox Velocity Architecture in the Xbox Series X/S consoles are rapidly making cloud gaming and gamedev the way to go.

DirectX Agility SDK

With the Agility SDK, all DirectX 12 features, old and new, run on a massive install base. This is a hugely welcome update for the community and delivers on Microsoft’s promise of finding a better way to get features up and running on any install base, not just the latest windows 10 OS (every version since 19.09 /November 2019 update).

Best of all, games that use the Agility SDK will run on a wide range of gaming machines without ever asking gamers to upgrade to the latest OS.

DirectGetting Started https://devblogs.microsoft.com/directx/directx-12-ultimate-getting-started-guide/

Questions? Join the DirectX Discord server https://discord.com/invite/directx

Multiplayer

From server scaling to real-time chat translation, multiplayer server scaling and capabilities were big themes for the community this year. Multiplayer servers and capabilities are bogeyman for any developer, which is why the PlayFab, Azure, and Xbox teams have been slinging it out for the past year to make it a little easier for all of us.

One of the undisputed benefits of cloud game development is multiplayer server construction, scaling, and management, which the PlayFab team demonstrated beautifully in a two-part server tutorial that’s perfect for smaller and indie studios.

Microsoft also showed us how they’re tackling things like high latency and availability with the Azure Cosmos DB. As Microsoft’s NoSQL database on Azure, Cosmos DB is providing more and more predictable performance without any locks being put on your data.

And if you thought game development was just for gaming, think again. One of the standout talks covered how gaming analytics are making moves in the business space, and what that means for game development going forward.

Bonus Level: Entertainment

After more than a year of no shows due to global lockdowns, the most welcome addition to this year’s Game Stack Live might just be the entertainment track. Game Stack did their best to bring a little of that pre-covid live show magic back with sets from @jjbbllkk, @magicswordmusic, and @lookmumnocomputer.

CTA: Catch Game Stack Live 2021 On Demand

Technical talks from Game Stack Live are available on demand, check out our Game Stack YouTube channel to see 40+ sessions ranging from audio to graphics, multiplayer to systems & tools.

How Gogglebox introduce the new cast members with free takeaways

Author: [email protected] (Lucy Marshall)
This post originally appeared on Hull Live – Celebs & TV

Fans of Gogglebox always look forward to sitting down for another episode of the popular Channel Four show which leaves us in stitches.

The popular series has been running since 2013 and sees families across the UK watching and reviewing the week’s TV from their own homes.

To viewers watching the cast on screen, they appear to act completely naturally, as though they don’t even realise they are on camera.

But surely they must get taught how to act so naturally? You never see the stars look directly at the camera, and we only see a small part of each family’s home.

To sign up for the Hull Live newsletter, click here.

Jenny and Lee from Hull are two of the shows most popular cast members

Now one star of the show has revealed the secrets of what really goes on.

A writer and regular to speak up on This Morning debates, Gyles Brandreth appeared on the spin-off series Celebrity Gogglebox, and confessed that the cast are given food to help them forget they’re being filmed.

He recently shared the insights on Esther Rantzen’s podcast That’s After Life, and said: “This is how it’s done.

“They come to the house at the beginning and they set up the cameras in the room.”

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He added: “They then go away for two months.

“The cameras are permanently in the room and you genuinely forget they are there.

He continued: “You are alone in the building and that lulls you into a false state of relaxation.

“They send round Deliveroo with different treats from fish and chips, chocolate eclairs, crisps and all of that.

“So these little sweetmeats arrive and they like you to be seen bringing it in and you can hear that little chit-chat and then you have the snacks together.”

Jenny and Lee are back on our screens tonight

Viewers were entertained last week when Hull’s own Jenny Newby began writing down names in a little notebook whilst watching Line of Duty.

Later her and best buddy Lee posted a hilarious photoshopped image of Jenny shown to have ‘joined’ the police force on the show.

One fan tweeted them back and shared a photoshopped photograph of Lee as one of the lawyers.

The pictures proved to be a hit on social media.

Friday night sees more of the pair and the other Gogglebox stars during the latest episode of series 17.

The cast on April 23’s episode discuss Game Of Talents, Line of Duty, Catfish UK: The TV Show, Cher and Loneliest Elephant, the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, and Good Morning Britain.

Gogglebox airs on Channel Four from 9pm on Friday evenings.

5 Takeaways From the Second Week of the Derek Chauvin Trial

The first week of the Derek Chauvin trial[1] was marked by emotional accounts from bystanders who witnessed the nine and a half minutes that the police pinned George Floyd to the ground. But the second week struck a different chord, highlighting testimony from medical and law enforcement experts that centered on the conduct of Mr. Chauvin and the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death.

Those witnesses hit on the key issues of the trial: what exactly killed Mr. Floyd[2], and whether Mr. Chauvin violated police policies on use of force. The answers to those two questions will be crucial for Mr. Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murdering Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis last May.

Several medical witnesses testified that Mr. Floyd died from a deprivation of oxygen — contradicting claims by the defense lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, who has sought to tie Mr. Floyd’s death to complications from drug use and a heart condition. Law enforcement officials, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, said Mr. Chauvin violated police policy when he used his knee to keep Mr. Floyd pinned to the street.

Here are five key takeaways from the second week of the trial.

On Monday, Chief Medaria Arradondo[3] of the Minneapolis Police Department said Mr. Chauvin “absolutely”[4] violated the department’s policies during the arrest. His statements represented an unusual rebuke of a police officer by an acting chief.

“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” Chief Arradondo said. The chief’s statement was one of the most clear-cut and significant on the issue of Mr. Chauvin’s use of force, though several other witnesses also suggested that Mr. Chauvin acted outside the bounds of normal policing.

Still, Mr. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, may have made some headway with other witnesses on the question of force. Officer Nicole Mackenzie[5], the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, agreed with Mr. Nelson’s assertion that a crowd of vocal bystanders could make it difficult for an officer to render medical aid during an arrest. And Lt. Johnny Mercil, a veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department and a use-of-force instructor, also said that hostile bystanders can raise alarm with officers[6].

Mr. Nelson has suggested throughout the trial that the crowd of bystanders outside the Cup Foods convenience store, some of whom yelled at Mr. Chauvin during the arrest, may have hindered the former officer from providing help once Mr. Floyd became unresponsive.

Sgt. Jody Stiger, who works with the Los Angeles Police Department Inspector General’s Office, continued to explore the use-of-force issue by saying that Mr. Chauvin used “deadly force”[7] when he should have used none. He also teed up another aspect of the trial that came into focus later in the week: whether Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by “asphyxia,” or a lack of oxygen.

“He was in the prone position, he was handcuffed, he was not attempting to resist, he was not attempting to assault the officers — kick, punch or anything of that nature,” Sergeant Stiger said. Responding to questions from the defense, Sergeant Stiger[8] said that Mr. Floyd resisted arrest when the officers tried to place him in the back of a squad car. In those early moments of the arrest, Mr. Chauvin would have been justified if he had decided to use a Taser, Sergeant Stiger said.

The defense has argued that people who do not appear to be dangerous to officers can quickly pose a threat. The sergeant pushed back on that argument, saying that officers should use force that is necessary for what suspects are doing in the moment, not what they might do later.

Mr. Floyd’s drug use was a recurring point of discussion throughout the week. On Wednesday, the jury heard testimony from McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who processed the squad car that Mr. Floyd was briefly placed in on the night he died. An initial inspection found no drugs in the vehicle[9], but during a second search, requested by Mr. Chauvin’s defense team in January, the team discovered fragments of pills. In testing the fragments, Ms. Anderson said a lab found DNA that matched Mr. Floyd’s.

Breahna Giles, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified that some of the pills recovered at the scene were found to contain methamphetamine and fentanyl. Mr. Chauvin’s defense has suggested that Mr. Floyd died from complications of drug use. Later in the week, the medical examiner who performed the official autopsy of Mr. Floyd said he found no fragments of pills in Mr. Floyd’s stomach contents.

Two medical witnesses on Thursday testified that they saw no evidence that Mr. Floyd died from a drug overdose. The first, Dr. Martin J. Tobin[10], a pulmonologist and critical care physician from the Chicago area, said that any normal person could have died from being pinned under Mr. Chauvin’s knee for nine and a half minutes.

His testimony gave a moment-by-moment breakdown of the arrest of Mr. Floyd, identifying what he believed to be “the moment the life goes out of his body.” Responding to Mr. Nelson’s suggestion that Mr. Floyd died from complications of fentanyl use — a toxicology report found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system — Dr. Tobin said Mr. Floyd’s behavior did not correspond with that of a person who was overdosing.

He also pushed back on the idea that simply because Mr. Floyd was speaking, he was getting enough oxygen. Dr. Tobin said that a person might be taking in enough oxygen to speak but not enough to survive. The person can be alive and talking one moment, and dead just seconds later, he said. Dr. Bill Smock[11], the surgeon for the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, also testified, saying he saw no evidence of an overdose.

“That is not a fentanyl overdose,” Dr. Smock said. “That is somebody begging to breathe.”

The second week ended with testimony from Dr. Andrew Baker[12], the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed the official autopsy of George Floyd. Dr. Baker testified that while drug use and a heart condition contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death, police restraint was the main cause.

Leading up to the trial, Dr. Baker had made several statements that could have complicated the arguments of the prosecution, particularly in relation to Mr. Floyd’s drug use. During testimony on Friday, he said that the level of fentanyl found in Mr. Floyd’s system could have been fatal for some people.

Still, Dr. Baker said that, in Mr. Floyd’s case, it was less likely than other potential causes of death. He added that Mr. Floyd had an enlarged heart for his size, which would require more oxygen to pump blood through his body. High-intensity situations — like the one Mr. Floyd experienced during his arrest — could exacerbate that problem[13].

“In my opinion, the law enforcement, subdural restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions,” he said.

References

  1. ^ Derek Chauvin trial (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ what exactly killed Mr. Floyd (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ Medaria Arradondo (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ “absolutely” (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ Officer Nicole Mackenzie (www.nytimes.com)
  6. ^ can raise alarm with officers (www.nytimes.com)
  7. ^ “deadly force” (www.nytimes.com)
  8. ^ Sergeant Stiger (www.nytimes.com)
  9. ^ found no drugs in the vehicle (www.nytimes.com)
  10. ^ Dr. Martin J. Tobin (www.nytimes.com)
  11. ^ Dr. Bill Smock (www.nytimes.com)
  12. ^ testimony from Dr. Andrew Baker (www.nytimes.com)
  13. ^ could exacerbate that problem (www.nytimes.com)

Will Wright

6 Takeaways From the First Week of the Derek Chauvin Trial

The first week of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis was marked by emotional accounts from bystanders who watched Mr. Chauvin pin George Floyd to the ground for more than nine minutes in May.

The prosecution presented testimony, often accompanied by tears and shaking voices, from people who were there during the fatal arrest of Mr. Floyd, along with hours of video evidence and additional testimony from paramedics and law enforcement officials who said that Mr. Chauvin’s use of force was unnecessary.

Prosecutors also introduced the issue of Mr. Floyd’s drug use, which is expected to be a crucial part of Mr. Chauvin’s defense; Mr. Chauvin’s lawyers are expected to argue that Mr. Floyd’s death was a result of his drug use. The trial, one of the most viewed in decades, comes with the memory of last summer’s protests for racial justice fresh in people’s minds.

Here are six key points from the first week of the trial.

On Monday, each side laid out its strategy in opening statements[1].

Eric J. Nelson, the lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, made clear on Monday that he would attempt to convince jurors that the videos of Mr. Floyd’s death did not tell the full story. The case “is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” Mr. Nelson said, referring to the time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd. He signaled that he planned to argue that Mr. Chauvin had been following his training, that his knee was not necessarily on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and that Mr. Floyd’s death may have been caused by drugs.

One of the prosecutors, Jerry W. Blackwell, urged jurors to “believe your eyes, that it’s homicide — it’s murder.” Prosecutors call all of their witnesses before the defense begins to lay out its case, so the week was heavily weighted toward the prosecution’s arguments, but the strategies of both sides began to come into view.

The trial began with powerful testimony from a series of witnesses to the arrest[2], many of whom broke down in tears while recounting what they saw. They included several women who were under 18 at the time of the arrest, as well as a 61-year-old man who spoke with Mr. Floyd while he was pinned to the ground. From the convenience store clerk at the Cup Foods where Mr. Floyd bought cigarettes to an off-duty firefighter who yelled at the officers as Mr. Floyd became unresponsive, they conveyed a shared sense of trauma from what they saw that day.

By highlighting the emotional trauma Mr. Floyd’s arrest caused witnesses, prosecutors seemingly hoped to convince jurors that Mr. Chauvin’s actions had been clearly excessive to people who saw them in real time. One witness, Darnella Frazier, now 18, testified that she has been haunted by what she saw, sometimes lying awake at night “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”

For the first time, the final moments before Mr. Floyd’s arrest were shown in detail. Surveillance video from Cup Foods, along with testimony from the store clerk[3], showed Mr. Floyd walking around the store, chatting and laughing with customers, and eventually buying a pack of cigarettes with a $ 20 bill that the clerk suspected was fake.

Footage from police body cameras then replayed the arrest from beginning to end. It showed an officer approach Mr. Floyd with his pistol drawn, and captured audio of Mr. Floyd’s fearful reaction: “Please, don’t shoot me,” he said. Mr. Floyd appeared terrified, first of the pistol, then of being held in a police car. As Mr. Chauvin pinned him to the ground, the footage captured the moments when the officers checked for a pulse and found none, but took no action.

On Thursday, jurors heard from Courteney Ross, Mr. Floyd’s girlfriend at the time of his death. Through stories of their first kiss, their dates and his hobbies, prosecutors used Ms. Ross’s testimony[4] to show Mr. Floyd’s humanity as a father, partner and friend.

Ms. Ross’s testimony also brought one of the most important aspects of the trial to the forefront: Mr. Floyd’s drug use. The role that drugs did or did not play in Mr. Floyd’s death is expected to be a crucial element of Mr. Chauvin’s defense, and prosecutors called Ms. Ross to the stand to get in front of the claims of Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer.

Ms. Ross said that she and Mr. Floyd had first been prescribed painkillers to ease chronic pain, but that when the prescriptions ran out, they continued to buy the pills from others. They had begun a battle for sobriety, sometimes avoiding the drugs before they relapsed again. In the weeks before Mr. Floyd’s death, Ms. Ross said, she suspected that he had begun using again.

Prosecutors sought to show that Mr. Floyd had built up a high tolerance of the drugs, making it less likely that he died of an overdose; Mr. Floyd had methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, according to a toxicology report.

Two paramedics who responded to the scene both testified that they saw no signs of life from Mr. Floyd upon their arrival. One of them, Derek Smith, felt Mr. Floyd’s neck while police officers were still on top of him, and said he found no pulse. Mr. Smith’s attempts to revive him, including the use of a defibrillator and a machine that provides chest compressions, did nothing to improve Mr. Floyd’s condition. Though the paramedics did not address what exactly killed Mr. Floyd, their testimony seemed to support prosecutors’ claim that Mr. Chauvin’s actions resulted in his death.

On Friday, Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the longest-serving officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, offered scathing condemnation of Mr. Chauvin’s use of force[5]. He said Mr. Chauvin violated police policy and called his actions “totally unnecessary.” Putting a knee on someone’s neck while they are handcuffed in a prone position, he said, qualifies as “deadly force.”

“If your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill them,” Lieutenant Zimmerman said, adding that people who are handcuffed generally pose little threat to officers. Mr. Zimmerman’s testimony, bolstered by his more than 35 years on the force, could be a major setback for a crucial aspect of Mr. Chauvin’s defense — that his actions were not only legal, but within the bounds of his training.

Will Wright