Technology Now
The business and culture of our digital lives
California company imported Indian workers, paid them $1.21 an hour

Eight workers from India were paid as little as $1.21 an hour by a tech company in Fremont, Calif., over several months in late 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as reported by the Associated Press.

As a result the company, Electronics for Imaging, which specializes in printing technology, agreed to pay $43,000 in back wages and government penalties. Electronics for Imaging, or EFI, said in a prepared statement that it “unintentionally overlooked” U.S. labor law and has "taken steps to ensure that this type of administrative error does not reoccur."

The workers were transferred from Bangalore, India, to help the company move into a new headquarters building. They logged as many as 122 hours a week without overtime with some earning as little as $1.21 an hour. California’s minimum wage at the time was $8 an hour.

 

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Apple to open 25 new stores in China in the next two years

Tim Cook is in China this week, where he announced plans to open 25 new Apple stores in its Greater China region in the next two years.

The chief executive made his remarks to Sina, a Chinese online media company. Currently Apple has 15 stores in its Greater China region, which includes the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Cook met with Vice Premier Ma Kai and toured facilities that produce Apple devices. On Twitter, Cook posted a photo of himself laughing with a female factory worker as she assembled an iPhone 6.

"Great to meet talented people like Zhang Fan, who helps make iPhone 6 in Zhengzhou. An early highlight of this trip," Cook tweeted

After a short delay, Apple began selling the iPhone 6 and 6s in China on Oct. 17; the new phones were released in the U.S. and several other countries a few weeks earlier on Sept. 19.

Apple is keenly interested in increasing its footprint in China, the world's second-largest economy.

The Cupertino, Calif., company reported fourth-quarter results...

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Christian Bale a no-brainer to play Jobs, Twitter knits Fabric, more

Morning nuggets:

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin tells Bloomberg that Christian Bale did not have to audition for the part of Steve Jobs in the upcoming biopic.

The Verge reviews the Nintendo 3DS.

Google gets a little break from the Germans, and buys some AI researchers, TechCrunch reports.

Wired says Twitter is introducing a new "platform" called Fabric. Hard to tell from the article just what Fabric is, but apparently it's important.

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Yelp adds hotel and winery bookings with new partnerships

Travelers often turn to Yelp to check out consumer reviews of hotels before they go on vacation, and now they can book a room directly through its site and app thanks to a partnership with start-up Hipmunk.

Yelp made the announcement on its official blog and also said it had partnered with CellarPass to offer winery reservations.

The moves are part of Yelp Platform, which encompasses a growing number of partner companies that offer their services directly on Yelp, including food delivery and spa bookings.

Yelp said that about 28,000 businesses in all major U.S. markets are available for booking on Yelp Platform; the San Francisco company said it would continue to expand in the coming months. It said it wanted to add new partners and categories of businesses as well. 

Roughly 250,000 transactions happened through the Yelp Platform in the third quarter, with more than 50% of them coming from mobile devices, Yelp said.

"It’s clear Yelpers love the convenience of booking and purchase...

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Pandora holds out olive branch of data to musicians

Pandora Media, the king of personalized online radio services, pays recording artists, songwriters, record labels and music publishers close to $300 million a year in royalties. That's not nearly enough to satisfy the company's critics in the music industry, who resent how little Pandora pays each time a user plays a track.

On Wednesday, the company plans to start offering artists more than just royalties. It's opening a new Artists Marketing Platform that provides detailed analytics for bands and their managers about their songs and their fans. Pandora AMP will be available free to any artist whose music is available on the service.

Among other things, artists will be able to see which cities are home to the greatest clusters of their fans, the number of thumbs up (the Pandora equivalent of a Facebook "like") each of their tracks have received from listeners, and some basic demographic information on the users who have created playlists based on their music.

Consider Pandora AMP a...

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California tech company attempts floating skateboard Hoverboard

Whoa, that’s heavy, doc.

A California couple is trying to make the hoverboard, a floating skateboard made popular in the “Back to the Future” films, a reality. Science might not necessarily be on their side, though.

On Tuesday, Greg and Jill Henderson, founders of Arx Pax, began a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of the final market version of the Hendo hoverboard, which can be purchased for a $10,000 donation. It uses magnet engines, dubbed magnetic field architecture, to create a working prototype.

But can these dual magnetic fields work to make an object fly for more than a few seconds and keep it stable? That has yet to be proved.

So far, their campaign has raised a little more than $120,000. 

“The underlying technology is totally scalable; we can make it really small or really big,” Greg Henderson said on the Kickstarter video.

Meaning, magnetic field architecture could be used for objects as big as buildings, which would be advantageous when earthquakes hit, according to...

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