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Economy of the United States

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Original author: 
Soulskill

angry tapir writes "Researchers at Microsoft Research have produced a prototype software system that can be used on smartphones to infer a user's mood. The 'MoodScope' system produced by researchers uses smartphone usage patterns to determine whether someone is happy, calm, excited, bored or stressed and could potentially add a new dimension to to mobile apps (as well as, as the researchers note, open up a Pandora's Box of privacy issues). The researchers created a low-power background service for iPhones and Android handsets that (with training) can offer reasonable detection of mood and offers and API that app developers could hook into."

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Original author: 
Ars Staff

This story was co-produced with NPR.

Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes—and for free. You'd open up a prefilled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone.

It's already a reality in Denmark, Sweden, and Spain. The government-prepared return would estimate your taxes using information your employer and bank already send it. Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion and 225 million hours in prep costs and time, according to one estimate.

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Amazonlogostock_large

Ever noticed anything a little different about the drop-down menus on Amazon's website? Ben Kamens has, and he's published an illuminating explanation on his website. According to Kamens, lead developer at Khan Academy, the distinguishing factor is Amazon's speed — moving your cursor along the site's main drop-down brings up submenus almost instantly. That kind of responsiveness is rather unique in web design, and, as Kamens explains, it's something Amazon achieved thanks to a subtle, yet clever algorithm.

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Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 12.41.24 PM

Disney’s Oscar nominated short animated film Paperman is a wonderful return to their old hand drawn methods. The description of the YouTube video doesn’t go in to much detail about how exactly it was produced, but it does mention that it’s a blending of both hand drawn sketches and computer animation.

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Jay B Sauceda for PUBLIC SCHOOL, 2013. |
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amazon fulfillment center picking

In preparation for Cyber Monday and the holiday season, Amazon has hired an additional 50,000 employees to work in its 40 fulfillment centers across the country. 

Last year on Cyber Monday, online retailing's answer to Black Friday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second. It's expecting this holiday season to be its biggest yet. Early reports have Amazon's holiday sales up 40 percent over last year.

That doesn't happen by magic. Amazon plows billions into its fulfillment centers. As Cory Johnson of Bloomberg TV notes, Amazon has made $5.3 billion in capital expenditures in the past five years. $2.3 billion, or 43% of that, has come in the last 12 months.

NBC's Diana Alvear recently got a look inside Amazon's largest fulfillment center.

This Phoenix, Arizona-based fulfillment center could contain 28 football fields.

This fulfillment center is home to thousands of items waiting to be ordered. It's the largest of Amazon's 80 fulfillment centers around the world.

Last Cyber Monday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Black-friday_thumb

Black Friday (or is it Thursday?) is finally here after weeks up build-up. Apologies for putting a damper on the excitement, but it’s pretty depressing to know that people rushed through Thanksgiving dinner last night just to get out and fight over deals on cut-rate TVs and cheap point-and-shoots. For quality gear, the deals aren’t even necessarily that great.

Yet people still get whipped into a frenzy over the promise of incredible prices. Let’s just hammer home this point once more: Black Friday chaos has killed people. Last year, some people were pepper sprayed while others sprayed bullets. How is that even possible? Which weird, rage-inducing evolutionary strings does the Black Friday phenomenon pluck?

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Google HQ

The best companies around the world are places where employees are truly excited about coming in every day.

Great Places To Work published its list today of the best places to work based primarily on employee surveys combined with an audit of company policies and practices.

In the past year, these companies created 120,000 new jobs.

“They have developed work cultures that align with their business, encourage innovation and support their employees both personally and professionally, and that accomplishment deserves to be recognized," Robert Levering, co-founder of Great Place to Work, told us.

Out of the 25 companies on this year's list, 20 are based in the U.S. and three are from Silicon Valley — Google, Cisco and NetApp.

Microsoft dropped from its top spot, but stayed on the list. Coca-Cola —  ranked #23 in 2011 — dropped from the list and PepsiCo appeared instead.

This year's newcomers are Accor, General Mills, Monsanto, Ernst & Young, PepsiCo, Autodesk and W.L. Gore & Associates.

25. Mars

Headquarters: USA

Employees: 70,000

Why it's great: Mars follows five principles – Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom – and makes it a priority to introduce new associates to these principles as a part of the onboarding process and training, which is available in 22 languages.

What employees say: “The one thing that sets Mars apart from other places is the genuine environment where everyone is willing to lend an extra hand, put in the extra hours or shuffle work around to accommodate our fellow employees – whether they [are] in a different segment or even a different country.”

Great Place to Work determined rankings based on the average score from surveys sent to employees and audits based on the company's policies and practices. Countries must be mentioned on lists from at least five national Best Workplaces lists and have at least 40 percent of their workforce outside of their home country.

24. SC Johnson

Headquarters: USA

Employees: 13,000

Why it's great: Each SC Johnson office has its own Now Thanks! program that provides on-the-spot recognition for great work with praise and a monetary award.

What employees say: “Every day when I drive in there is a security guard at the gate who waves hello. Every day! It may be a different guard, but each one waves to every car that passes. Everyone gets a warm welcome. I love starting my day with a smile!”

Great Place to Work determined rankings based on the average score from surveys sent to employees and audits based on the company's policies and practices. Countries must be mentioned on lists from at least five national Best Workplaces lists and have at least 40 percent of their workforce outside of their home country.

23. Quintiles

Headquarters: USA

Employees: 26,676

Why it's great: When it comes to hiring, Quintiles puts a lot of faith and trust in its current employees for recruitment. About one fifth of Quintiles's new hires come through the employee referral program.

What employees say: “From the moment of recruitment right through to joining the company, you can feel and see that Quintiles is a really great place to work. People are genuinely happy, from the security guard up to the top directors – it is the best place I have worked, and I have worked at many good companies in 25 years.”

Great Place to Work determined rankings based on the average score from surveys sent to employees and audits based on the company's policies and practices. Countries must be mentioned on lists from at least five national Best Workplaces lists and have at least 40 percent of their workforce outside of their home country.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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