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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

WeWork pulls thousands of phone booths out of service over formaldehyde scare

WeWork, the co-working empire once valued at $47 billion before reality struck, plunging the business and its investors into crisis, has another problem to add to its growing pile — one which doesn’t exactly reflect well on its core business of kitting out and maintaining modern working environments.

The problem is a safety concern affecting users of WeWork co-working spaces in the U.S. and Canada. Today the company emailed members in the regions to warn that around 1,600 phone booths installed at WeWork locations have been found to have elevated levels of formaldehyde — which it warns could cause health issues for people exposed to the gas.

WeWork blames the issue on a manufacturer of the booths.

The booths are provided in its co-working spaces for WeWork members to be able to take calls in private — given other common areas are shared by all users. 

“After a member informed us of odor and eye irritation, WeWork performed an analysis, including having an outside consultant conduct a series of tests on a sampling of phone booths. Upon receiving results late last week, we began to take all potentially impacted phone booths out of service,” it writes in an email to members.

Affected phone booths “are being taken out of service immediately, and will be removed from your location as soon as possible,” it adds. 

In addition to ~1,600 booths it has confirmed are affected, a further 700 booths are being taken out of service in what WeWork describes as “an abundance of caution” — i.e. while it carries out more checks — with the promise of a further update once it has concluded its tests. 

Members wanting to know which booths are safe to use in the meanwhile are told to contact the community team at their WeWork location.

WeWork also says alternative quiet spaces will be provided, such as in conference rooms and unused offices. 

Discussing the health risks of formaldehyde gas — a chemical which is used in various building materials –WeWork’s email warns: “Short-term exposure to formaldehyde at elevated levels may cause acute temporary irritation of the nose, throat, and respiratory system, including coughing or wheezing. These effects are typically transient and usually subside after removal of the formaldehyde source.

“Long-term exposure to formaldehyde, such as that experienced by workers in jobs who experience high concentrations over many years, has been associated with certain types of cancers. You can find additional information in this FAQ from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”

The email encourages any WeWork members with health concerns to contact a doctor.

A tipster who sent us the email reported experiencing a sensation of “burning eyes” after using the booths.

They also said several people in their team had experienced the same issue.

“Some complained that they felt nauseous after spending time inside the booths,” the tipster wrote. “I never felt that, but the burning eyes was 100% there for me several times. Scary stuff.”

Reached for comment, a WeWork spokesperson confirmed the formaldehyde issue, saying it’s taking “a number” of booths out of service at “some” locations in the U.S. and Canada — due to “potentially elevated levels of formaldehyde caused by the manufacturer.”

“The safety and well-being of our members is our top priority, and we are working to remedy this situation as quickly as possible,” it adds in a statement.

It is not clear exactly how many WeWork locations contain affected booths at this point.

Nor has WeWork provided more detailed information about how long members might have been exposed to elevated levels of formaldehyde — with its email merely suggesting some of the booths have been in place for “months.” 

“The potentially impacted phone booths have been installed over the past few months, exact timing varies based on location,” it writes.

Although clearly the level of exposure will vary from person to person depending on their use of the booths.

The company did not respond to a question asking whether any of its international WeWork locations are affected by the issue.


Source: TechCrunch

Hulu rolls out 4K content to Xbox One, with Amazon Fire TV and others coming ‘soon’

Hulu this summer finally brought back 4K content to its service, after abruptly removing it in 2018 while it focused on other priorities. Initially, its 4K content was only available on Apple TV 4K and Chromecast Ultra. Today, Hulu says it’s available on Xbox One devices, with support for Amazon Fire TV and LG WebOS in the works. More devices will also be supported soon, the company notes.

The streaming service had never really prioritized 4K content, having first rolled out support in December 2016 — years after rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime Video had done the same. Its lineup was also fairly minimal at the time, with 20 James Bond films and a handful of Hulu Originals. And then it was pulled.

Today, Hulu’s 4K lineup is again focused largely on its original programming, including shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The First,” “Castle Rock,” “Catch-22” and others. The company’s FAQ says most of its originals are available in 4K Ultra HD, and stream at 16 Mbps.

Netflix, by comparison, has a much larger library, thanks in part to its more sizable investment in original programming, which it has increasingly shot in 4K over the past few years. Amazon Prime Video also includes its own originals in 4K and around 50 other licensed films.

However, access to Netflix’s 4K library requires its more expensive ($15.99/mo) Premium plan. Accessing Hulu’s 4K library does not require an upgrade.

There are plenty of other ways to get to 4K content, including through iTunes and Google Play Movies & TV — the latter which began offering 4K content for purchase back in 2016. Roku also dedicates a section to 4K content within its main navigation. Apple TV+ originals will also be available in 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos, when it launches in November. Disney+ is also promising 4K at no extra cost. And there’s 4K content available on Vudu, YouTube, FandangoNow, fuboTV and others.

Hulu’s lack of attention to 4K hasn’t stalled its growth, however, as most consumers don’t consider 4K availability as a reason not to subscribe. In fact, Hulu’s subscriber growth in the U.S. has been steadily climbing, reaching 28 million earlier this year, up 12% from the end of 2018. And with a Disney+ bundle deal now in the works, Hulu is set to grow even faster in the near future.


Source: TechCrunch

'Fortnite' Disappeared Over the Weekend

The massively popular game concluded its tenth season by going offline, and leaving a string of numbers, ‘Lost’-style, in its place.
Source: Wired

Today’s Cartoon: Cutting Out the Middleman

DIY data brokering.
Source: Wired

Massive, AI-Powered Robots Are 3D-Printing Entire Rockets

Relativity Space may have the biggest metal 3D printers in the world, and they’re cranking out parts to reinvent the rocket industry here—and on Mars.
Source: Wired

To Go Green, the Energy Industry Goes Open Source

Challenges around renewables are prompting players in the “traditional� sector to collaborate on software they can modify to address their changing needs.
Source: Wired

The 2019 Google Event is Tuesday, Oct. 15: Start time, how to watch, livestream, Pixel 4 news – CNET

Full coverage of Tuesday’s Made by Google event, including the big Pixel 4 announcements, lives here.
Source: CNET

AirPods 3 and Apple’s AR glasses could be here sooner than we thought – CNET

AirPods 3 rumors abound after clues spotted in iOS 13.2 beta point to a new in-ear design, plus Apple’s AR glasses might get a 2020 release date.
Source: CNET

Fortnite's explosive ending, Pixel 4 rumors swirl ahead of launch video – CNET

In today’s news, Fortnite has all but disappeared from the internet after an explosive in-game event, Best Buy Canada reportedly leaks specs for the Google Pixel 4 and Elizabeth Warren protests Facebook’s ad policy.
Source: CNET

Nintendo's Brain Age for Switch comes west on Jan. 3, 2020 – CNET

The brain training game taps into some of the hybrid console’s unusual features.
Source: CNET

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