Amazon extends work from home regime till October 2 – Latest News

Amazon extends work from home regime till October 2 - Latest News

Amazon extends work from home regime till October 2 – Latest News

Amazon.com Inc has told staff whose job can be done from home that they can do so until at least Oct. 2, pushing out the timeline on a return to work for many employees as it faces scrutiny over conditions in its warehouses.

“Employees who work in a role that can effectively be done from home are welcome to do so until at least October 2,” an Amazon spokesman said in an emailed statement on Friday, adding it was applicable to such roles globally.

The statement did not specify how much of the company’s overall workforce that covered and which roles.

It said the company is investing funds in safety measures for employees who wish to come to the office “through physical distancing, deep cleaning, temperature checks, and the availability of face coverings and hand sanitizer.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James told Amazon last week it may have violated safety measures and labor practices amid the virus outbreak as the company fired a warehouse protest leader in March.

Workers at warehouses and other facilities have stayed operational to keep deliveries flowing to customers stuck at home in government-mandated lockdowns.

Other employees have been working from home since March.

The company has raised overtime pay for warehouse workers and hired 175,000 people last month while rival brick-and-mortar retailers had to shut stores. It had 798,000 full and part-time workers globally as of Dec. 31.

WhatsApp's latest Android beta update hints at how multi-device support may work - Latest News

WhatsApp’s latest Android beta update hints at how multi-device support may work – Latest News

Since last year, it has been known that WhatsApp is working on rolling out two device support for its platform. Several screenshots and reports by WABetaInfo during this time have shown the progress on this upcoming feature by the instant messaging app.

Now, in the latest Android beta version of the app, v2.20.143, the WABetaInfo has spotted that on the primary registration screen, the app asks users to switch to Wi-Fi. As per the screenshot, it says, “Without Wi-Fi, logging in may be slow, and may use a large amount of your data plan.”

Although the reason for the requirement of Wi-Fi hasn’t been stated for using the multi-device feature, the report says that it could be because WhatsApp needs to transfer data — including chat history — to the other device.

Besides this, the report also sheds some light on how the multi-device feature will work. As per the report, once this feature is rolled out and activated, all your devices that are logged in with that account will receive a message. Further, all the previous actions such as starring a message, archiving of chats will also be in sync across all devices.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has doubled the number of participants in a group call — both video and audio. This means you can start a conversation with 7 other friends on WhatsApp either on voice or video. The feature was rolled out to both Android and iOS users with the growing dependence on video conferencing tools.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many of us are isolated from friends and family. As a result, we see that people all over the world are turning to voice and video calling on WhatsApp more than ever before. Over the last month, people on average are spending over 15 billion minutes talking each day on WhatsApp calls, well above a typical day before the pandemic,” said WhatsApp in a statement. WhatsApp also ensured that voice and video calls are end-to-end encrypted even with higher participant limits.

WhatsApp's latest Android beta update hints at how multi-device support may work

WhatsApp’s latest Android beta update hints at how multi-device support may work

Since last year, it has been known that WhatsApp is working on rolling out two device support for its platform. Several screenshots and reports by WABetaInfo during this time have shown the progress on this upcoming feature by the instant messaging app.

Now, in the latest Android beta version of the app, v2.20.143, the WABetaInfo has spotted that on the primary registration screen, the app asks users to switch to Wi-Fi. As per the screenshot, it says, “Without Wi-Fi, logging in may be slow, and may use a large amount of your data plan.”

Although the reason for the requirement of Wi-Fi hasn’t been stated for using the multi-device feature, the report says that it could be because WhatsApp needs to transfer data — including chat history — to the other device.

MD_WIFI_ANDROID-960x904

Besides this, the report also sheds some light on how the multi-device feature will work. As per the report, once this feature is rolled out and activated, all your devices that are logged in with that account will receive a message. Further, all the previous actions such as starring a message, archiving of chats will also be in sync across all devices.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has doubled the number of participants in a group call — both video and audio. This means you can start a conversation with 7 other friends on WhatsApp either on voice or video. The feature was rolled out to both Android and iOS users with the growing dependence on video conferencing tools.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many of us are isolated from friends and family. As a result, we see that people all over the world are turning to voice and video calling on WhatsApp more than ever before. Over the last month, people on average are spending over 15 billion minutes talking each day on WhatsApp calls, well above a typical day before the pandemic,” said WhatsApp in a statement. WhatsApp also ensured that voice and video calls are end-to-end encrypted even with higher participant limits.

Microsoft revenue beats as remote work feeds cloud demand, boosts Teams - Latest News

Microsoft revenue beats as remote work feeds cloud demand, boosts Teams – Latest News

Microsoft Corp beat Wall Street sales and profit expectations, powered by sharp demand for its Teams chat and online meeting app and Xbox gaming services as the world shifted to working and playing from home because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The company’s shares, which have risen over 12% this year, were up about 5% in extended trading.

The results reflect Chief Executive Satya Nadella‘s focus over his six-year tenure on cloud computing, in which companies tap Microsoft’s data centers for computing power – a growing business dominated by Amazon.com Inc’s Amazon Web Services.

The results benefited from sales of its Windows operating system and Surface hardware devices as people upgraded personal computers to work from home. In addition to consumers tapping laptops for school or work, Microsoft also said it saw all-time-high engagement on its Xbox Live gaming service, with 19 million active users.

Microsoft benefited from strong demand for its Teams collaboration software, which Nadella said on a conference call now has 75 million users and competes with Zoom Video Communications Inc and Slack Technologies Inc. The influx of demand strained Microsoft’s data centers, forcing it to limit how much computing new cloud customers could use and to prioritize healthcare and government customers.

In an interview, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said some of the increased Teams usage came from customers with access to the software as part of a broader subscription and turned it on for the first time. In other cases, Hood said, Microsoft offered Teams in a free trial to large customers.

“In those instances, you also won’t see revenue, but seeing great usage obviously is terrific for us longer term if people want to convert that to a paying seat,” Hood said. “While I’m really excited about the long-term potential for revenue, you won’t see it in this (fiscal third) quarter, or really even in Q4. It’s more about people being more and more engaged with Microsoft products.”

Microsoft sales were helped by demand for cloud services. However, growth in Azure slowed to 59% from 62% in the second quarter, which company officials said was a result of how large the business has become.

Microsoft said revenue for its “commercial cloud,” a combination of Azure and the cloud-based versions of software such as Office, rose 39% to $13.3 billion.

The business’ gross profit margin, a key measure of cloud profitability that Microsoft has told investors it expects to improve, was 67% versus 63% last year.

Microsoft also said capital expenditure was $3.9 billion, up from $3.4 billion a year earlier and less than the $4.5 billion the previous quarter. However, Hood told Reuters that supply chain constraints due to the coronavirus pandemic had delayed some spending to build Azure data centers, which will likely be higher next quarter as the company works to catch up.

Microsoft said revenue in its Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes Azure, rose 27% to $12.28 billion, beating analysts’ consensus estimate of $11.87 billion according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue rose 15% to $35.02 billion in the third quarter ending March 31, beating estimates of $33.66 billion.

Net income rose to $10.75 billion, or $1.40 per share, from $8.81 billion, or $1.14 per share, a year earlier.

Virtual telco Zero Mobile's licence suspended, Tech News & Top Stories

Low-cost upgrades for better work from home, Tech News & Top Stories

“Impractical.”

“Elitist.”

“You think I got a lot of money, is it?”

These are some responses and quips I have seen to many articles about making work-from-home (WFH) life easier since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Not surprisingly, these articles recommend we buy stuff, with some offering expensive options such as premium computer mice and gigantic monitors.

I have written a WFH buying guide in these pages too.

But I have to admit: It is only prudent to be careful with money in these trying times. After all, who knows if I will still have a job tomorrow?

So, here are some low-or no-cost ways of making our WFH set-ups more pleasant.

USE BOOKS AS A MONITOR STAND

A monitor or laptop stand is good for propping up your monitor or laptop to the correct height, so you do not slouch or suffer neck aches when working for long periods.

But you want to save money, possibly to splurge on that dream monitor stand later, right?

The interim solution is simple: Use books or magazines instead.

Dust off books you have not read for ages and put them to a better use. Stack enough books under the monitor or laptop to raise it to the ideal height, so your eyes are level with or slightly below the top of the display.

Furthermore, your stack of books is easily height-adjustable – just add or remove a book to get the perfect height.

On the downside, you cannot slot your keyboard under your monitor or laptop like you can with a monitor stand, so as to save table-top space when you are not working.

But a monitor stand would not entice you to read a book when your working day is over.

USE YOUR IRONING BOARD AS A COMPUTER TABLE

Many WFH guides recommend setting up a space at home just for work. But many people here live in shoebox apartments where space is a premium.

So how does one eke out his or her own space to work?

One simple solution: Use your ironing board. It is probably under-used right now. There is no need to iron your work clothes now that you are in WFH mode.

With your ironing board probably height-adjustable, it will be easy to tweak it to level with whichever chair or sofa you are sitting on.

The ironing board is also lightweight and easily portable. You can place it in front of your sofa, so you can watch the news on television while typing on your work laptop.

The remaining space on the ironing board can even serve as a temporary “pantry” on which to place coffee and snacks, provided the iron rest does not have huge holes as some do. Mine doesn’t.

When your work is done, simply fold up the ironing board and stow it away to reclaim your space.

USE YOUR SMARTPHONE AS A WEBCAM

Need a webcam for video conferencing with your colleagues because your office laptop does not have a built-in one – or its poor resolution makes you look like a TV presenter from the 1980s?

If you are unable to buy one because they are sold out – last I checked, they were – or you are not willing to make the investment, you can use your smartphone as a webcam.

Also, truth be told, your smartphone likely has a better camera than most desktop webcams out there.

But it will require you to spend some money on an app, such as iCam ($6.98).

There are many similar apps – with some of them being free – but they support either exclusively iPhones or Windows computers.

I found the iCam to work well with Android smartphones, iPhones, and Mac and Windows computers.

You need to buy and download the app to your smartphone, then download the free iCamSource program to your computer.

Follow the on-screen instructions to ensure the smartphone app can connect and “talk” to the computer program.

When they are able to talk to each other, your smartphone will be used as the default webcam during your Google Meet or Zoom conference calls.

One last thing: You probably need a phone stand to prop up your smartphone during these calls.

You can make one with binder clips or a clothes hanger.

Otherwise, you can build some strong arm muscles from holding up your smartphone during conference calls.