Transgender woman sues Amazon for workplace harassment

Online retail giant Inc has been sued by a transgender woman and her husband on Wednesday. August 9. The couple has accused the company of subjecting them to severe harassment and physical threats when they were working at the company’s warehouse in Kentucky.

A group which is representing them said that the couple’s case was striking given the firm’s vocal support of LGBT rights, reported Reuters.

The lawsuit that Allegra Schawe-Lane has filled states that she was subjected to taunts such as “shemale” and “crossdresser” from her co-workers. Even her husband became a victim of this and received crass comments about their sex life.

It also stated that the couple filled a series of complaints with their supervisors while they were working at the warehouse, but no action was taken.

The couple has claimed that the firm violated federal and Kentucky laws banning sexual discrimination in the workplace. In many courts such kind of discrimination is ruled as a form of unlawful sex bias.

Amazon, however, has not given any comments on the lawsuit. Recently, Amazon also released a feature show with a transgender lead titled ‘Transparent’.

Sources: Reuters, NDTV

Google fires author of anti-diversity memo

Search giant Google recently kicked out the male engineer, who has been in the center of turmoil in the Silicon valley, after he wrote an internal memo asserting that there are biological causes behind gender inequality in the technology industry.

Confirming his dismissal, James Damore, wrote an e-mail to Reuters saying that on August 7 he had been fired for perpetuating gender stereotypes.

Damore also revealed that he was exploring all possible legal remedies and before he was fired, he had submitted a charge to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing Google upper management of trying to shame him into silence, reported NDTV.

Talking about the case, Google which is a unit of Alphabet Inc said that it cannot talk about individual employee cases.

A note saying that portions of the anti-diversity memo violate their Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in the workplace was also sent to Google employees by the company’s Chief Executive Sundar Pichai.

According to the U.S. National Labor Relations Act, workers, whether they are a part of a union or not, are guaranteed the right to engage in concerted activities for their mutual aid or protection.

It is being said that the U.S. Department of Labor is investigating whether Google has unlawfully paid women less than men. The company, however, has denied the charges.

Sources: NDTV, Hindu

Apple steps up the Watch game   

Originally positioned as a luxury brand, Apple Inc. has recently focused more on fitness, and is planning to make its best seller a smarter watch. The company plans to release a version of its smartwatch towards the end of this year, which connects directly to cellular networks. This is to reduce the device’s reliability on its own products, untethering to new range of functionality.

Apple watches currently need wireless connectivity, but this will change. The latest watches come with LTE chips, which are planned for release by the end of this year. The technology jumbo is currently in talks with carriers in the U.S. and Europe to offer cellular networks. But in the wearables market, Apple stands third preceded by Xiaomi and Fitbit. Apple clearly has big plans for Watch both in the health segment and as a gateway to the connected home,” said Carolina Milanesi, consumer tech analyst at Creative Strategies.

According to Bloomberg‘s report, the new Watch gets its modem by Intel Corp. after legal troubles with Qualcomm Inc. This is a big win for Intel, which has been trying to get its components into more Apple gadgets for many years.

Apart from adding a cellular chip, Apple is also looking at software changes – more of Siri enabled features with payment options in iMessage and much more in WatchOS 4.

Sources: Bloomberg, BBC

India starts paying for Apps

Indian consumers spent three times more on smartphone apps in the past year. This has led to India becoming the largest downloader at Google’s Play Store. According to Google this is an inflection point in the country’s digital ecosystem which will allow developers to monetize their creations.

“If there’s one thing that the Indian internet ecosystem has been challenged with, it is monetization. But we have monitored a change, I believe the time has come.” Said Rajan Anandan, managing director, Google India- at Bengaluru in the very first App Excellence Summit. In a country like India where monetization has been difficult, there is a need for experiments on ways to monetize the existing services available. Google plans on building robust payment gateways, involving popular digital wallets. Anandan added “The challenge is that when one would try, it’s going to take a lot of time to make consumers used-to the change. So, the sooner the experiments begin, the better.”

One of the biggest contributing factors is the enormous shift witnessed in the internet ecosystem over the past year. The data rates have fell to as low as Rs.15 a GB, because of Jio causing Airtel and others to provide free data- perfect market. This not only lured users online, but caused a spike in internet usage per person. “In a span of 10 months we have gone from having a large number of users spending hardly any time on the internet to having a large number of users and magnificent rise in time spent online.” Anandan said.

SOURCES: Times of India, Business Standard



Flipkart has completed the merger with eBay India


India’s biggest e-commerce site, Flipkart said its merger with eBay India has been completed on Tuesday, August 1st. eBay is now officially a Flipkart Group Company, with the successful closing of this merger.

The contract was first declared in April when Flipkart raised funds from influential, global technology companies like Microsoft, Tencent and eBay. eBay invested a total of 500 million dollars and sold the rights of to Flipkart in exchange for equity share in the company.

According to Times of India, the merger occurs a day after the deal between Flipkart and Snapdeal fell through. Although Snapdeal hadn’t publicly mentioned their name, it had been extensively reported that both companies were negotiating a merger for the past five months.

According to Times of India, Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy stated, “Our coming together directly benefits Indian customers and sellers for whom we want to provide the best possible e-commerce experience. This is a step in that direction.” Flipkart also specified that will remain an independent unit but its operations will be regulated by Flipkart, effective immediately. The companies will also partner to influence prospective cross-border trades.

 NDTV Gadgets 360 states that the partnership will reveal new opportunities to sellers on Flipkart to multiply their sales by having a global userbase. It also facilitates a wider array of choices to the Indian market through global inventory supplied by eBay and allows eBay customers to gain access to niche, Indian products from Flipkart.


Sources: NDTV, Times of India


“The new electronic independence re-creates the world in the image of a global village”, Marshall McLuhan

“Global village”, with this term Herbert Marshall McLuhan became the first person to foresee the birth of the internet.

Born in Canada in 1911, Marshall McLuhan studied at the University of Manitoba and University of Cambridge. Before becoming famous for his predictions, Marshall McLuhan was a lecturer at the University of Toronto.

In his book called The Gutenberg Galaxy, released in the year 1962, McLuhan had outlined the concepts of four ages that divided the history. The acoustic age, the literary age, the print age and the electronic age. This book became widely popular due to this concept laid by McLuhan, as it marked the beginning of the electronic age. The term “global village” was used in this book.

McLuhan described “global village” as the world that has been “shrunk” by modern advances in communication. He used the example of the nervous system to explain how the vast network of communications is linking people to one another around the world.

His theories were often met with controversy in the academic circles. In 1989, when the internet was born after McLuhan’s death, he was looked upon with reintroduced interest. He had predicted the idea of internet 35 years before its birth.

He described “global village”, what we today call as he internet, as an age when everybody will be able to access same information through the evolution of technology. He then wrote a follow-up book called Understanding Media, in which he expanded the theory of “global village” to show that mode of communication will become the most influential part of the electronic age rather than the information itself. After which he became a TV figure, present regularly to explain his theory of why “the medium is the message.”

McLuhan had become the most renowned English teacher of the 20th century. His vision of the “computer as a research and communication instrument” made history.

Today, people have information from around the world at their fingertips. Use of laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones has become so regular. This change was just considered as an impossible task to achieve during McLuhan’s days.

Marshall McLuhan’s predictions had caused a frenzy in the US and made media question whether or not he was right. He was the subject of an article written by Tom Wolfe titled “What if he was right?” published in the New York Magazine.

On his 106th birthday, Google has honoured him with a doodle on his famous concept of the ages of history.

Reliance Jio to launch its 1st 4G feature phone

After weeks of speculation. Reliance Industry Limited (RIL) chairman, Mukesh Ambani confirmed the launch of Jio’s own featured phone, naming JioPhone. This was announced at the 40th annual general meeting in Mumbai.

Ambani describes that the phone is effectively free to buy. An initial deposit of Rs 1500 needs to be given while purchasing the phone, however, it will be refundable after three years on returning the device. Although the launch date is set to be in September, the pre-booking will begin from August 24.

“Jio will become India’s largest provider of data service, products and application platforms”, Ambani addressed during the announcement. The conference is available online for the public to watch via Reliance’s official Twitter and Facebook page.

JioPhone offers 2.4 QVGA display with special Jio applications and four-way navigation system. Other feature includes FM Radio, SD card slot,  3.5 mm headphone jack, torch light, and an alphanumeric keyboard. The phone will also incorporate the Jio network which will allow users to make calls for free of cost. The Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan offer is best suited for the phone. This monthly plan can provide unlimited call, SMS, and the data facility.

The company is also set to launch Jio Phone cable TV at Rs 309 per month. The cable TV will allow the users to connect their JioPhones to any TV for 3-4 hours.


Sources: The Economic Times, Times of India