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Google Outlines Steps to Tackle Workplace Harassment After Walkouts Over Sexual Misconduct

Google on Thursday outlined changes to its handling of sexual misconduct complaints, hoping to calm outrage that triggered a worldwide walkout of workers last week.

“We recognise that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that,” chief executive Sundar Pichai said in a message to employees, a copy of which was shared with AFP.

“It’s clear we need to make some changes.”

Arbitration of harassment claims will be optional instead of obligatory, according to Pichai, a move that could end anonymous settlements that fail to identify those accused of harassment.

“Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and it still may be the best path for a number of reasons (eg personal privacy, predictability of process), but, we recognise that the choice should be up to you,” he said in the memo.

Pichai promised that Google will be more transparent with how concerns are handled, and provide better support and care to those who raise such issues with the company.

Google will provide “more granularity,” regarding sexual harassment investigations and their outcomes, according to Pichai.

A section of an internal “Investigations Report” will focus on sexual harassment to show numbers of substantiated concerns as well as trends and disciplinary actions, according to the California-based company.

He also said Google is consolidating the complaint system and that the process for handling concerns will include providing support people and counsellors.

Google will update its mandatory sexual harassment training, and require it annually instead of every two years as had been the case.

Less booze
Google is also putting the onus on team leaders to tighten the tap on booze at company events, on or off campus, to curtail the potential for drunken misbehaviour.

“Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse,” Google said in a released action statement.

“But, one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking.”

Google policy already bans excessive consumption of alcohol on the job; while on company business, or at work-related events.

Some teams at the company have already instituted two-drink limits at events or use ticket systems, Google said.

Google executives overseeing events will be expected to strongly discourage excessive drinking, according to the company, which vowed “onerous actions” if problems persisted.

The company also promised to “recommit” to improving workplace diversity through hiring, retention, and career advancement.’

‘Googleplex’ walkout
Thousands of Google employees joined a coordinated worldwide walkout a week ago to protest the US tech giant’s handling of sexual harassment.

A massive turnout at the “Googleplex” in Silicon Valley was the final stage of a global walkout that began in Asia and spread to Google offices in Europe.

Some 20,000 Google employees and contractors participated in the protest in 50 cities around the world, according to organisers.

Demma Rodriguez, head of equity engineering and a seven-year Google employee, said during the walkout that it was an important part of bringing fairness to the technology colossus.

“We have an aspiration to be the best company in the world,” Rodriguez said.

“But we also have goals as a company and we can’t decide we are going to miss those.”

The protest took shape after Google said it had fired 48 employees in the past two years – including 13 senior executives – as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Demands posted by organisers included an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees, along with a right for every Google worker to bring a co-worker, representative, or supporter when filing a harassment claim.

In a statement organisers commended Google for the response, but said more changes are needed.

“We demand a truly equitable culture, and Google leadership can achieve this by putting employee representation on the board and giving full rights and protections to contract workers,” organiser Stephanie Parker said in the statement.

Along with sexual harassment, Google needs to address racism and discrimination that includes inequity in pay and promotions, organisers said.

“They all have the same root cause, which is a concentration of power and a lack of accountability at the top,” Parker said.






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Apple Considering TV Streaming Dongle to Counter Chromecast, Fire TV Stick: Report

With a view of kick off its content streaming service for the masses, Apple reportedly has plans to launch an affordable dongle. The dongle, which is likely to sit alongside the existing Apple TV, would compete against Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Google’s Chromecast. The Cupertino giant notably launched the fifth generation Apple TV that dubbed Apple TV 4K in September last year to enable high-end viewing experience. The latest model supports 2160p playback as well as works with standards such as HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

The low-priced streaming dongle has been a part of internal discussions at Apple, reports The Information, citing people familiar with the development. The dongle is speculated to set the pitch for the upcoming video streaming service that is likely to take on contenders such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Earlier this year, it was also reported that Apple could bring a subscription bundle to provide original TV shows, music service, and news content under one roof – somewhere similar to how Amazon drives its subscription-based Prime service that includes Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Reading, and Prime Now among other key services.

So far, Apple TV is available as the lone streaming device by Apple. While the latest Apple TV model ticks all the boxes – be it 4K video streaming or support for HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos, it carries a starting price tag of Rs. 17,430 ($179 in the US) that is far expensive over the Chromecast and Fire TV Stick. Amazon even recently brought the Fire TV Stick 4K that comes at Rs. 4,999 ($49.99 in the US). This highlights the need for a low-cost Apple dongle.

The new dongle could help Apple widen its presence in the market of streaming media players. As per a recent report by Parks Associates, the ownership of streaming media players has grown from about six percent of US broadband households in 2010 to 40 percent at the beginning of 2018. The report also mentioned the Apple TV leads on the avenues of gaming and ease of finding something new to watch and purchasing new content. Data startup Thinknum also reported that Apple TV has now been the second most selling 4K streaming device in the US after Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K. This is despite the fact that the Fire TV Stick 4K is significantly lower than the Apple TV 4K.

Apple is also planning to bring a dedicated app for smart TVs that would work for its original content. The company is rumoured to have plans to spend $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,100 crores) for its original shows. The content is expected to be available for free for viewers who own Apple devices.

In the recent past, Apple has signed some production deals to kick off the development of its content streaming service. The company also brought celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey on board to make a model competing with Amazon, Netflix, and other streaming services.

We need to wait for sometime to see what Apple is cooking up behind the scenes. Meanwhile, it is safe to take the report around the streaming dongle with a pinch of salt.

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Realme 2 Pro, Realme 1 Bootloaders to Be Unlocked in Q1 2019, Realme Accessories Coming to India Soon

Realme 2 Pro, Realme 1 Bootloaders to Be Unlocked in Q1 2019, Realme Accessories Coming to India Soon

Realme will unlock bootloader of the Realme 2 Pro by January 15, 2019

Realme, a spinoff brand from Oppo, has taken the Indian market by storm with its affordable offerings including the Realme 1, Realme C1, Realme 2, and Realme 2 Pro. The phone maker has now announced that it will unlock the bootloader of the Realme 2 Pro by January 15, 2019. Even the Realme 1 will have its bootloader unlocked and kernel source released in the first quarter of 2019 itself. Other than that, the Realme 2 Pro is confirmed to get support for slow motion video recording in the first quarter next year. This feature will expectedly be made available via an OTA update on the smartphone. Realme mobile accessories are also said to launch in India before the end of this year.

Apart from the Realme 2 Pro, the company’s CEO Madhav Sheth took to Twitter to announce that “other Realme devices are being taken into consideration” for the slow motion video feature. In a video posted on his account, Sheth claimed that Realme mobile accessories, starting with Realme-branded earphones, will be unveiled in India before the end of this year. He also said that the new software UI, which is already being experienced by Realme 1 beta users, will roll out to all other Realme phones by the end of this year.

Ever since the launch of the Realme 1, the phone maker has been particularly swift in rolling out latest updates, Android security patches, and new features to its entire lineup. Just this week, the Realme 2 Pro received its latest software update which brought optimisations for selfie camera quality, optimisations for reminders, and the latest November 2018 Android security patch to the smartphone. The Realme 2 and Realme C1 already have the latest November security patch, and are expected to get ColorOS 5.2 soon.







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Xiaomi Mi TV 4S 75-Inch With 4K Display, HDR Support Launched

Xiaomi has expanded its smart TV portfolio with the launch of a 75-inch variant of the Mi TV 4S in China. The new variant will go on sale in the country from November 23, and its key highlights are the large display, sleek design, 4K screen, HDR support, and more. To recall, the Mi TV 4S already has 43-inch and 55-inch variants launched in the market, and now it’s making available another option for customers who prefer really big screens. Even the Mi TV 4 series introduced a 75-inch option recently in the market.

The Mi TV 4S 75-inch variant is priced at CNY 7,999 (roughly Rs.82,100), and will be made available on Xiaomi Mall and Mi Home Stores in China. To recall, the 43-inch model of the Mi TV 4S was launched earlier in May, and it has been priced at CNY 1,799 (roughly Rs. 19,100) and comes with a 4K Ultra HD display that has an 8ms response time, 60Hz refresh rate, and 178-degree viewing angle. There is a quad-core processor under the hood, paired with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The 55-inch variant got a curved display, 2GB of RAM, and 8GB inbuilt storage, and came with a price tag of CNY 3,299 (roughly Rs. 35,100).

Coming back to the Mi TV 4S, the television supports a 4K LCD display panel with narrow bezels and HDR support, and is built with aerospace-grade aluminium, brushed metal, and silver-grey metal finishes. It is powered by the 64-bit A53 quad-core processor, paired with 2GB RAM and just 8GB internal storage. Internal storage on the 75-inch Mi TV 4 was at 32GB. As mentioned, the TV supports HDR, and has Bluetooth, DTS-HD and Dolby audio, and Wi-Fi connectivity options as well.

Just like the other two variants, this 75-inch Mi TV 4S also runs on Xiaomi’s own PatchWall UI and it also brings along AI-based voice recognition. The remote also comes with a designated button to activate the voice assistant to operate the TV with easy voice commands. The device can be purchased after November 23 from the company’s official website.






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