Technology

Firefox and Chrome users make the most loyal employees: Best of the Web

Andrew Sadauskas /

Are you looking to hire a new employee?

Forget about asking the candidates what they see themselves doing in five years’ time. According to Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic, if you want to find out whether your potential staff are loyal, you should really ask them what computer program they use to surf the web:

There was a time when the browser you used was nothing more than a matter of taste or subtle self-expression. Safari was for Apple purists, Chrome for the fleet of foot, Firefox for the universally compatible, and Internet Explorer for the masochistic. But in the end, they all ended up doing more or less the same thing, just with marginally different visual styles and at marginally different speeds.

But in the world of Big Data, everything means something. Cornerstone OnDemand, a company that sells software that helps employers recruit and retain workers, analyzed data on about 50,000 people who took its 45-minute online job assessment (which is like a thorough personality test) and then were successfully hired at a firm using its software. These candidates ended up working customer-service and sales jobs for companies in industries such as telecommunications, retail, and hospitality.

The creepy new Barbie doll that monitors what your children are saying

Recently Samsung came under fire after it was revealed its smart TVs send voice recognition commands to a third party over the internet.

However, in terms of creepiness, that has nothing on Mattel’s latest toy.

According to CBC, the toymaker’s latest product sends audio picked up by a microphone in the doll back to its headquarters over the internet. In turn, those comments are data-mined, with the company saying it hopes to create a doll that can fulfil the childhood dream of kids to have a conversation with their favourite toy.

It will surprise precisely no one to learn that some child advocacy groups are less than thrilled by the concept:

Toymaker Mattel bills Hello Barbie as the world’s first “interactive doll” due to its ability to record children’s playtime conversations and even respond once the encrypted audio is transmitted to a cloud server, much in the way that Apple’s Siri voice assistant works.

But the microphone-equipped Barbie’s new Wi-Fi features are striking some concerned parents as a “creepy” new development.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a petition last week to halt the release of the toy, which is scheduled to reach U.S. shelves in the fall and retail for $74.99 US.

Getting to Mars will be more difficult than we thought

Finally, sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson is well known for his Mars trilogy. Released back in the 1990s, the novels were written about the colonisation of the red planet. However, according to Charlie Jane Anders, Robinson now admits it’s a far more difficult proposition than he first thought:

Robinson explains that his ideas about terraforming Mars, back in the 1990s, were based on three assumptions that have been called into question or disproved:

1) Mars doesn’t have any life on it at all. And now, it’s looking more likely that there could be bacteria living beneath the surface. “That’s going to be very hard to disprove,” says Robinson. “We could be intruding on alien life.”

2) There would be enough of the chemical compounds we need to survive. In particular, we need a lot of nitrogen — and scientists had expected there to be a lot, based on the ordinary distribution of elements in planetary accretion. But there’s much less nitrogen on Mars than we’d hoped.

3) There’s nothing poisonous to us on the surface. In fact, the surface is covered with perchlorates, which are highly toxic to humans, and the original Viking mission did not detect these. We could use bacteria to dispose of them, but it would be a very long-term process.

Why Facebook wants you to send your friends cash

This week, Facebook unveiled a new feature that allows you to send your friends cash using its Messenger app. Over at Wired, Cade Metz explains what’s in it for them:

Facebook’s new payments tool, you see, encourages all those millions of Facebookers to store their debit card info on the company’s machines. And this will likely fuel Facebook’s efforts to transform itself into a kind of e-commerce engine that competes directly with the likes of Amazon. Facebook is already testing a “buy” button on its social network that lets you instantly purchase stuff that shows up in your newsfeed. But that button becomes a lot more powerful if you’ve already entered your card into Facebook.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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