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Apple Plans New Private RestaurantApple is planning a new off-campus restaurant that will provide employees with a place to eat and discuss company plans--without fear of Apple’s competitors overhearing. The new 21,468-square-foot cafeteria is just a short walk from Apple’s Infinite Loop headquarters and will provide cafe, meeting room, lounge areas and courtyard facilities.
Dan Whisenhunt, Apple’s director of real estate facilities, said, "We like to provide a level of security so that people and employees can feel comfortable talking about their business, their research and whatever project they’re engineering without fear of competition sort of overhearing their conversations."
Although security is strict at Apple’s HQ, visitors can eat at the Caffe Macs (its on-site restaurant) if they are signed in by an employee. However, the new restaurant is exclusively for staff, meaning there won’t be any public access. This will be a short-term solution for Apple, as it will push ahead with construction of its new ‘Spaceship’ HQ, a 2.8M square foot campus that will hold 13k employees on 4 floors.
It will also have a 1,000 seat corporate auditorium, a fitness center, central plant, parking and new 300,000 square feet research facilities.
QUESTION: How big a concern is eavesdropping for Apple? Think that alone was enough to motivate them to build this restaurant, or is this more about keeping employees happy (and keeping them on-site longer)?
BONUS QUESTION: What should they name the Apple Restaurant? (I think we all agree Cafe Macs is lame.) What would be the signature dish?
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Too Much Beer for Groupon CEO?Groupon held one of its regular "town hall meetings" for employees on Wednesday to discuss corporate goals and strategy for the next six months, and a Wall Street Journal reporter was there. CEO Andrew Mason made several candid, off the cuff remarks during the meeting, including conceding that he was drinking "too much beer" during the discussion (this was after he stammered and his voice broke on stage.)
Mason also discussed how intense public scrutiny means that Groupon has no real margin for error, and conceded that the perception is largely that they are "bad at being a public company." He acknowledged as well that Groupon must slow down and shift focus to quality control, and "not taking stupid risks." Six months ago, when it went IPO, Groupon was trading at $20 a share - that's now more like $12.
QUESTION: Can some of Groupon's troubles be traced back to Mason's immaturity? Is he ready to be CEO of a public company of this size? Think it's unprofessional to host employee events with beer available, and to partake yourself from the stage?
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Attack of the KlouchebagsNew parody site Klouchebag.com responds to Klout's attempts to measure social influence by assigning everyone a score based on how lame they are being over social media. The site, introduced by tech critic and pundit Tom Scott, uses a variety of "asshattery" metrics to determine how douchey your tweets are. The algorithm looks at your level of "profanity and rage," your number of retweets, the number of "social apps" you're sending out to followers (including things like Foursquare checkins) and your use of the English language. (Using all caps and exclamation points a lot will raise your score considerably.)
The first Klouchebag to score a perfect 100 is, of course, CNN's Piers Morgan. (As a joke, Scott also gives himself a 100.) Scott has also responded to criticism of his algorithm by pointing out that this is really the whole idea... The site is part of a larger backlash against Klout, that really got going after the site tweaked its algorithms and dinged a whole lot of long-term users scores, but also responds in general to the lack of Klout transparency and the concept of summarizing an individual's overall influence in a simple number.
QUESTION: What should be incorporated into Scott's algorithm that isn't? Do you pay attention to and value learning about someone's Klout score? Is this a meaningful metric?
SOURCE: The Atlantic
TWiST PANEL KLOUCHEBAG SCORES:
- @Percival: 57
- @Jason: 55
- @Lons: 47
- @Steepdecline: 23
- @bigbillyq: 15
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Robots as Writers?A few stories this week about the ways that newspaper and magazine writing is going to change. Wired magazine wrote about startup Narrative Science, an emerging competitor for the traditional news business. The company employs algorithms - think of them like news-writing robots - which automatically generate sports and business stories. Narrative Science, founded by data scientists in 2010, produces coverage for a range of outlets, including Forbes magazine, and it's apparently difficult to even tell the difference between their coverage and traditional sports and news coverage written by people.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune announced this week that it was letting more than 20 of its journalists go and handing over its local coverage to an outfit called Journatic. Journatic pays freelance writers $2 to $4 to compile short pieces, which they say works out to about $12 an hour. Tribune editor Gerould Kern said that the paper made the move because "we believe that it is a more effective way of providing hyperlocal news, and we think we can do more of it in this way."
QUESTION: If you were running a newspaper, would you go the freelancer route, or jump straight to the robots? If the "robots" are just compiling data into brief paragraphs, and can do it as effectively as humans, is there anything to be concerned about here? Won't this really free up journalists to do more of the things that machines CAN'T do, like chase down leads, make connections and hunt for scoops? Especially as a human might struggle to complete a proper article in the short time frame a machine could handle?
SOURCES: GigaOm and Wired
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Flickr Amps up FeaturesFlickr debuted a new, speedier, HTML5 photo uploader for images this week, along with other new features and improvements that it has been slowly developing and releasing over the last few months. The new HTML5 technology means that Flickr's uploader will be faster and easier to use, allowing you to, for example, add photos just by dragging them from your desktop into your browser. Yahoo will also show thumbnail previews of photos so you can organize them before they hit the photostream itself.
Flickr says it will also upload metadata from other photo experiences (i.e. iPhoto) during the upload process, pulling in titles, photos, and tags. Users can also tag friends in photos and change licensing, content type and other advanced options right from the uploader page before publishing to your photostream.
Flickr says upload speeds have been improved by 20-30% on average, and up to 50-60% faster for international users. Also increased are file size limits: up to 50MB for pro users and 30MB for free users.
QUESTION: With 7 billion photos on Flickr, it's still a very large and imposing site for photo sharing. Will these updates help them hold their audience? What more can Yahoo do to make Flickr more appealing to users likely to be tempted away by Instagram or other similar services?
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