Miscellany

Miscellany

Google Earth reinvented

Google on Tuesday laun­ched a re-imagined version of its free Earth mapping service, weaving in storytelling and artificial intelligence and freeing it from apps.
“This is our gift to the world,” Google Earth director Rebecca Moore said while giving AFP an early look at the new version of the programme that lets people range the planet from the comfort of their computers, smartphones or tablets.
“It’s a product that speaks to our deepest values around education and making information available to people,” Moore said.

Robots may help build your next home

The future of US homebuilding depends on more people like Cyndicy Yarborough, a 26-year-old former Wal-Mart clerk with no background in construction.

Ravi Venkatesan is co-chairman

Infosys on Thursday elevated its independent director Ravi Venkatesan (in pic) as co-chairman, a move that is being widely seen as a step taken by the board to end its public spat with founders, mainly N R Narayana Murthy. Venkatesan, 53, has been on the Infosys board since April 2011. “Ravi will help me enhance the board engagement in supporting the management in execution of the company’s strategy,” Infosys chairman R Seshasayee said.

H-1B visa overhaul could benefit big tech firms

The new way foreign worker visas are doled out in the US is poised to benefit some of the biggest technology companies, like Alphabet Inc, Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc, while punishing outsourcing firms that developed a disproportionate dependence on the programme.
The administration is increasing scrutiny on H-1B visa applications for low-level computer programmers, focusing enforcement on the heaviest users of the programme, and warning applicants not to discriminate against American workers. The size and scope of the program remains unchanged for now.

Women don’t get to run top board committees

Women now hold about a fifth of board seats at big US companies. That share has gone up over the past couple of decades; in 1999 just 11.2 per cent of Fortune 500 board members were women. But what kind of roles and responsibilities are these women getting?

H-1B visa memo to have little impact: Nasscom

IT industry body Nasscom on Tuesday said the US' latest memo on H-1B visas would have "little impact" on Indian IT firms as they have already started applying for visas for higher-level specialised professionals this year. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently come out with a policy memorandum saying companies applying for visas must provide "evidence to establish that the particular position is one in a specialty occupation".

Infosys justifies pay hike to COO Bala, Pai take Murthy line

Infosys on Monday vehemently defended the hike in chief operating officer UB Pravin Rao's compensation, saying the revision was arrived at after benchmarking the compensation against peers. It said the revision, as rolled out for several of its senior leadership team, is "focussed on making Infosys more competitive and is benchmarked against peers" and is critical to retaining key talent.

Infy shareholders okay buyback clause, COO’s pay

Infosys on Sunday said its shareholders have approved the proposal to adopt a new articles of association (AoA), bringing in provisions for buyback of shares and appointment of independent directors.
"The resolutions...have been passed by the members of the company with requisite majority. The approval is deemed to have been received on the last date of receipt of postal ballot forms, March 31," Infosys said in a BSE filing.

Furore over internet privacy

The US Congress’s decision to invalidate a set of internet privacy rules from the Obama administration set off a firestorm this week. The change, which will allow service providers like AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc to collect and sell customers’ information without their permission, prompted ad campaigns from internet freedom groups shaming lawmakers and a small wave of service journalism about VPNs and other privacy tools.

Sector skill councils in for a rejig, number could be halved

The number of sector skill councils (SSCs), the industry-led agencies tasked to impart vocational training, could be halved to 20 if the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship acts on the report of an expert panel formed to give its view on the proposal.
The committee, which has already submitted its report, endorsed the idea of reducing the number of SSCs by citing overlap of functions among various councils, disputes over certification, course design and lack of coordination. So, in effect, any plan to set up more SSCs remain on hold.

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