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Archivos mensuales:marzo 2020

The U.S. Space Force’s Space Fence orbital tracking system is officially operational

The U.S. Space Force is a relatively young arm of the U.S. armed forces, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t already operating assets. The USSF announced late last week that its Space Fence radar system is now officially operational, for instance. First: Yes it is actually called that. Second, the Space Fence is actually a radar system that aims to provide advanced tracking of on-orbit objects, including, but not limited to, commercial and military satellites.

The Space Fence ground infrastructure is located in the Marshall Islands, and currently, in the “initial operational capability and operational acceptance” phase, the program will track the existing 26,000 orbital objects already accounted for in the existing Space Surveillance Network (SSN), but Space Force said via an update on the new operational phase that it expects to grow that list quickly with its own additions.

To support detailed tracking of objects in this orbital range, the radar observation technology developed by Lockheed Martin on behalf of Space Force can pick up items roughly the size of a marble in low Earth orbit. With that level of fine-grained observational power, it seems pretty likely that eventually the catalog should contain just about every active and passive potential observation, communication and potentially militarized in-space assets operated by just about anyone.

Knowing the terrain is a key part of any military operation’s ability to succeed, so officially brining the Space Fence online marks a big milestone for the Space Force. It also recently launched its first dedicated payload: A high-frequency secure communication satellite to join an existing constellation in space that provides communication services for military operations on Earth on land, at sea and in the air.

Source: TechCrunch

Daily Crunch: FDA clears procedure for N95 mask decontamination

The FDA approves a new procedure that could allow healthcare workers to reuse N95 respirator masks, Microsoft divests from a facial recognition startup and Saudi spies have been taking advantage of a network security flaw. Here’s your Daily Crunch for March 30, 2020.

1. FDA grants emergency authorization to system that decontaminates N95 respirator masks for reuse

Research, development and lab management company Battelle has received special emergency authorization from the U.S. healthcare regulator to put into use a system it developed to decontaminate used N95 respirator masks using concentrated hydrogen peroxide.

The system is able to turn single use respirators into masks that can be used up to 20 times, with a 2.5-hour decontamination process between each use. And it’s already in operation at Battelle’s Ohio facility, with a decontamination capacity of up to 80,000 masks per day.

2. Divesting from one facial recognition startup, Microsoft ends outside investments in the tech

Microsoft’s decision to withdraw its investment from AnyVision, an Israeli company developing facial recognition software, came as a result of an investigation into reports that AnyVision’s technology was being used by the Israeli government to surveil residents in the West Bank.

3. Saudi spies tracked phones using flaws the FCC failed to fix for years

Lawmakers and security experts have long warned of security flaws in the underbelly of the world’s cell networks. Now a whistleblower says the Saudi government is exploiting those flaws to track its citizens across the U.S. as part of a “systematic” surveillance campaign.

4. Test and trace with Apple and Google

Jon Evans looks at what Apple and Google can learn from Singapore, where they use a “TraceTogether” app. The app uses Bluetooth to track nearby phones (without location tracking), keeps local logs of those contacts, and only uploads them to the Ministry of Health when the user chooses to do — presumably after a diagnosis — so those contacts can be alerted.

5. Attract, engage and retain employees in the new remote-work era

Having the right technology in place to sustain work-from-home practices is more important now than ever before. There are four steps that employers can take to successfully integrate and adapt successful virtual hiring technologies into their business continuity plans. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Online tutoring marketplace Preply banks $10M to fuel growth in North America, Europe

The startup said it has seen a record number of daily hours booked on its platform this past week. It also reports a spike in the number of tutors registering in markets including the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain — which are among the regions where schools have been closed as a coronavirus response measure.

7. This week’s TechCrunch podcasts

The latest full-length Equity episode discusses Stripe’s investment into login/checkout startup Fast, while the Monday news recap covers three funding rounds and a downturn. Meanwhile, Original Content reviews Hulu’s star-studded “Little Fires Everywhere” and the bonkers Netflix documentary “Tiger King.”

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Source: TechCrunch

Instacart shoppers say company’s response to strike demands are ‘insulting’

Over the weekend, Instacart outlined its plans to better support shoppers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For starters, Instacart has begun distributing its own hand sanitizer and disinfecting supplies and is working to place sanitation stations inside some retailers. Additionally, Instacart has changed the default tip setting to reflect a customer’s previous tip amount.

But organizers of the massive Instacart strike, which starts today, say it’s not enough. Gig Workers Collective, the organization spearheading the strike, call Instacart’s response “insulting and “a sick joke.”

For example, Instacart shoppers had been asking for hand sanitizer for weeks, according to Gig Workers Collective.

“It’s abhorrent that it took this long for them to act, but on the bright side, it shows that a strike will work to change their behavior,” the group wrote in a Medium post yesterday.

Regarding the tip amount, Instacart shoppers have long demanded the company change the default tip amount to 10%. While Instacart has changed the default, shoppers say the new default “will, in all likelihood, provide no meaningful benefit to shoppers” since customers’ previous tip amounts were guided by the 5% default.

Meanwhile, two demands went unaddressed: hazard pay and sick pay for workers who must stay at home because they are at high risk of contracting the respiratory illness.

Instacart shoppers laid out their demands on Friday, asking that Instacart provide personal protective equipment at no cost to workers and hazard pay of $5 extra per order, change the default tip to 10%, extend the sick pay policy to those who have a doctor’s note for a pre-existing condition that may make them more susceptible to contracting the virus and extend the deadline to qualify for those benefits beyond April 8th. Shortly after those demands went public, Instacart immediately laid out plans to extend financial assistance through May 8, 2020.

“Within days of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., we rolled out retroactive sick pay for in-store shoppers nationally and extended pay for all shoppers affected by COVID-19,” Instacart President Nilam Ganenthiran said in a press release. “We were the first company to launch ‘”Leave at My Door Delivery” to give our customers and shoppers a safer, more flexible delivery option. Last week, we announced a new COVID-19 bonus to increase pay as Instacart shoppers step up as household heroes for customers. And now, we’ve sourced, manufactured, and are distributing our own hand sanitizer in an effort to expedite distribution lead times and work around supply chain shortages. Our teams will continue to operate with a sense of urgency on creative solutions to help ensure Instacart shoppers have access to health and safety supplies as quickly as possible.”

Shoppers have said those efforts have not been enough and they’re saying it again. That’s why shoppers are still striking in the hopes Instacart will meet all of their demands. The plan is to strike and not return to work until all of their demands are met.

Instacart shoppers’ strike comes as legislators throughout the nation are pushing for more gig worker protections. In San Francisco, supervisors are asking the SF Office of Labor Standards Enforcement to establish enforcement procedures in compliance with Assembly Bill 5, which outlines what types of workers can be legally classified as independent contractors. The supervisors are also asking for both SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera  and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to seek injunctive relief to prevent misclassification of workers as they seek paid sick leave and unemployment insurance. Nationwide, Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package that provides gig workers with unemployment insurance.

Source: TechCrunch

Best Buy has Disney SteelBook Blu-rays on sale starting at $13 – CNET

Frozen, Marvel, Star Wars and more, all $15-$22 off. Plus: The EarFun Go wireless waterproof speaker with USB-C hits an all-time-low $20.
Source: CNET

Phone location data being used to track Americans amid coronavirus outbreak, report says – CNET

The data is coming from companies in the mobile ad industry, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Source: CNET

Facebook commits $100M to support local news orgs hit by COVID-19 crisis

Facebook announced this morning that it will be offering another $100 million worth of support to local newsrooms that are trying to cover the COVID-19 pandemic, while that same pandemic is dealing a major blow to their bottom lines.

The company says the funding will consist of $25 million in grant funding for local coverage, plus $75 million in marketing for news organizations around the world.

“If people needed more proof that local journalism is a vital public service, they’re getting it now,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships, in a blog post. “And while almost all businesses are facing adverse financial effects from this crisis, we recognize we’re in a more privileged position than most, and we want to help.”

Earlier this month, Facebook announced an initial $1 million in grants to help fund coverage of the pandemic, which it says today supported 50 newsrooms in the U.S. and Canada. Examples include South Carolina’s Post and Courier (which will use the money to cover the travel costs and remote work necessary to expand its coverage into rural areas), the Southeastern Missourian (funding remote work and contingency plans for delivering news to elderly readers) and El Paso Matters (hiring freelance reporters and translators).

This funding comes on top of the $300 million that Facebook committed to local news last year, as well as the $100 million in grants for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 that it announced earlier this month.

Source: TechCrunch

This $99 Staub Dutch oven is perfect for all of your bread-baking projects – CNET

The showstopper is more than 75% off right now.
Source: CNET

Microsoft's Office 365 is now Microsoft 365, a 'subscription for your life' – CNET

The tech giant is adding more features to its decades-old office software to entice you to pay monthly to use it.
Source: CNET

Microsoft Teams is coming to consumers — but Skype is here to stay

Microsoft today announced that later this year, it will launch what is essentially a consumer version of Teams, its Slack-like text, audio and video chat application. Teams for your personal life, as Microsoft likes to call it, will feature a number of tools that will make it easier for families and small groups to organize events, share information and get on video calls, too.

As Google has long demonstrated, there can never be enough messaging applications, but it’s interesting to see Microsoft preview this direction for Teams when it has long solely focused on Skype as its personal chat, audio and video call app. But as Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate VP for Modern Life, Search and Devices, told me, Skype isn’t going away. Indeed, he noted that more than half a billion people are using tools like Skype today.

“Skype continues,” he said when I asked him about the future of that service. “We remain committed to Skype. Skype today is used by a hundred million people on a monthly basis. The way I think about it is that Skype is a great solution today for personal use. A lot of broadcast companies use it as well. Teams is really the more robust offering, as you will, where in addition to doing video and chat calling, we also bring in rich communications and templates […], we have things like dashboard and it also helps you pull in a richer set of tools.”

With the more personal Teams only launching later this year, Skype remains Microsoft’s main consumer chat service for the time being. Indeed, about 40 million people currently use it daily, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company is seeing a 220% increase in Skype-to-Skype call minutes.

While Microsoft thought about giving this new personal take on Teams a different brand, the company decided that Teams had pretty broad brand awareness already. In addition, the focus of today’s updates was very much on bridging the gap between work life and home life, so it makes sense for the company to try to combine both enterprise and personal features into the same application.

Source: TechCrunch

Microsoft runs your office. Microsoft 365 Personal wants to run your family, too

Can Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family organize your personal life?
Source: Digital trends