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Google Anti-Trust Lawsuit; Jony Ive’s New Gig

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It’s the weekend! Before you sign off, let’s take a quick jaunt through some of the biggest tech stories of the week, including the U.S. government’s massive anti-trust suit against Google. Plus, Apple’s legendary designer has a new job!

Government Kicks Off Google Anti-Trust Lawsuit

On Tuesday, the Justice Department sued Google, accusing the search-engine giant of maintaining an illegal monopoly over internet search. It’s easily the largest anti-trust action to hit the tech industry since United States v. Microsoft Corp. more than two decades ago.

The federal government’s argument against Google is pretty straightforward. In essence, it’s arguing that Google’s agreements with Apple and other companies are choking off competition in the search market (for example, Google pays Apple quite a bit of money to make its search engine the default on the iPhone). For its part, Google might argue that it’s not dominant in search, given how consumers can freely use other sites to search for everything from products to information.

The company’s lawyers may also insist that Google’s position in the search market, while dominant, doesn’t actually harm consumers. “People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives,” said a Google spokesperson.

Whatever the outcome of the case, it could have as seismic an impact on the tech industry as Microsoft’s anti-trust case. Google’s lawyers have the fight of their professional lives ahead of them. 

Jony Ive is Now Working for… Airbnb?

Jony Ive’s impact on the technology industry is enormous. As Apple’s chief industrial designer, he created the iconic (and much-imitated) designs for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, the Mac, and the MacBook. When he retired in 2019, pundits wondered whether Apple would manage to retain its design mojo; there was also much speculation about what Ive would do next.

Well, speculate no longer: Ive has a new gig at… Airbnb, of all places. Now, you may question why a technology-enhanced house-rental company would solicit the services of the most famous industrial designer on the planet, and we’re here to tell you that…

Actually, we have no idea, either. Seriously, it’s weird. Given Ive’s predilection for minimalism, maybe Airbnb wants him to design a seamless white box in which guests can sit and meditate on aesthetics. Certainly Airbnb’s official statement on the hire, penned by CEO Brian Chesky, is no help when it comes to ascertaining the company’s tactical plans: 

“Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Jony and his partners at LoveFrom will be engaging in a special collaboration with me and the Airbnb team. We have made the decision to work together through a multi-year relationship to design the next generation of Airbnb products and services. Jony will also help us continue to develop our internal design team, which he believes to be one of the world’s best. I know he is particularly excited about a relationship that will evolve to become a deep collaboration with our creative team.”

Maybe this is a learning experience for Ive, too. Perhaps he’s decided to expand his portfolio from hardware designs to shaping experiences for guests. However this collaboration pans out, though, one thing is clear: Airbnb’s future website and app are going to look distinctive.

Quibi Flames Out 

Quibi, the company that burned through hundreds of millions of dollars in the belief that people want to watch five- and 10-minute television episodes on their phones, is shutting down after a mere six months. 

“Quibi is going to go down as a case study at Harvard Business School on what not to do when launching a streaming service,” Stephen Beck, the founder and managing partner of the management consultancy cg42, told The New York Times.

To be fair, Quibi did its best, using its $1.75 billion in investor cash to hire some of the biggest stars on the planet and create dozens of series. From a technological perspective, though, the service hobbled itself from the outset by restricting certain features, such as the ability to share clips on social media. Quibi won’t just be a business case-study; it might end up as a good example of how not to design an app.  

That’s it! Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Here’s how you can turn your volunteering gig into paid work

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We talk to Volunteering Australia for some tips 

It’s no secret that volunteering can be a great way to give back to your community and a cause you’re passionate about, make friends, and broaden your networks and skillbase.

There’s also a chance that with a bit (or a lot) of hard work, time, and passion, your volunteering job can turn into paid work. 

But is there a right and a wrong way to go about doing this? We asked the CEO of Volunteering Australia, Mark Pearce, for some advice. 

Volunteer more than once 

It’s important to keep in mind that giving one random day of your time to a charity probably won’t land you an instant job. These things take a level of personal investment, so find a volunteering opportunity you enjoy, and stick to it.  

“Potential employers will view an ongoing volunteering role as having more likely impacted on skills development and work experience,” Pearce says. 

Be on the lookout for opportunity

Staying open minded about your experience as a volunteer is critical. If you go in expecting to get paid at the end of it, you’ll probably be disappointed. Instead, Pearce says you should keep your eyes and ears open for new contacts or opportunities that will help you find an entry point into the organisation. 

“Job seekers need to be mindful of the potential opportunities to gain work experience or to develop skills as part of the volunteering experience,” he explains.  

View it as a chance for self development 

The job market is particularly competitive at the moment and it’s easy to feel defeated when you’ve been knocked back from all the jobs you’re applying for. 

But volunteering comes with a whole range of benefits and can help you feel more motivated, confident and industrious when looking for work.

“Volunteering may assist in ‘levelling the playing field’ for individuals who typically have a more difficult time finding employment, especially during a recession or if lacking experience in a particular industry or role,” Pearce says. 



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Finding health insurance a headache for gig workers | Mid-Missouri News

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COLUMBIA – When Amy Crousore decided to become a full-time musician 3 years ago, she never imagined a pandemic would dry up her business.

Now, 8 months into the global health crisis, Crousore is reflecting on the struggles of the gig industry.

“Everything shut down and there was just no back up for us,” she said.

She said many of her colleagues were already taking day jobs before the pandemic just so they could receive health insurance.

Crousore has also taken up a job as a caretaker to make ends meet until venues reopen.

“We compared about 12 different healthcare plans,” she said. “I considered whether I would have to take a loan to pay for a more expensive plan.”

Health insurance is a headache Jason Gruender and Jen Wheeler know well.

Gruender manages Liberty Family Medicine with his wife, a doctor.

Wheeler manages Big Tree Medical Home with her husband, also a doctor.

Both clinics operate through unconventional business models that are less reliant on traditional insurance plans. Instead, you pay for a membership or one-time fees.

“We believe in our model, and it’s working well across the nation, and it’s working well here in Columbia,” Wheeler said.

Gruender is also confident in his clinic.

“I think we have a broken health care system,” he said. “The clinic is not a complete solution to that problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

As the world navigates a pandemic, the path to affordable health care has been riddled with troubles.

Crousore worries necessities like health care will alter the landscape of the music industry.

“Do you want there to be nobody you can call to play for your wedding because everybody is working 40 hours a week to get insurance,” Crousore asked. “What kind of world do you want?”

Gruender and Wheeler also said choosing a health insurance plan is an important decision that should be given lots of thought.

Enrollment through the Affordable Care Act is open right now and closes Dec. 15. There are other enrollment periods for special life events, such as getting married.

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Pendulum swings back to break lockdown lull with hometown New Year’s gig

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“During the whole lockdown thing it’s been kind of hard to put an original stamp on a set or a piece of live music; everyone’s been playing from their living rooms, everyone’s playing next to the f—ing fridge, so we had to come up with something new.”

The end result, an hour-long live-streamed performance at Spitbank Fort, was broadcast in October and also heralded the drum ‘n’ bass outfit’s first new material in a decade; the double-A side Driver/Nothing For Free.

Not being able to perform live has other pitfalls; even with their show at Spitbank Fort and a well-received global release, the group’s new material still hasn’t been tested in front of crowds.

“When we’re getting ready to release something always a huge component of it is playing it to small audiences, or sometimes even big audiences, and getting a lot of feedback from that, especially when it comes to Rob doing final mixdowns and stuff,” McGrillen said.

“That’s one thing we’ve definitely missed.”

Pendulum will be able to break free from the bonds of live-streaming soon and give crowds a full dose of new music with a homecoming headline slot at Perth’s Origin Fields New Year festival.

Billed as ‘Pendulum Trinity’ the group’s founding members – Swire, Gareth McGrillen and Paul ‘El Hornet’ Harding – are the first headliners announced alongside Australian house heavyweight Dom Dolla.

Based in the UK, McGrillen and Swire are very much ready to “do the whole quarantine thing” and fly to Perth to join Harding, who lives in the group’s hometown. With coronavirus cases soaring around the world, it seems there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.

“Perth’s the safest place in the world right now,” McGrillen said.

It’s been a long time between drinks on the new music front, with Swire and McGrillen splitting off to form the electro/bass-driven Knife Party after Pendulum’s last album, Immersion, was released in 2010.

Pendulum shows continued, primarily driven by Harding, and when live shows returned in 2016, so did the ideas for new music under the Pendulum banner.

As with anything released in 2020, it’s tempting to read into the new tunes as inspired by the trash-fire year that was, but Swire said the roots of Driver/Nothing For Free came as early as 2016.

“I think current events might have added 20 per cent angst to the sound,” he said.

“Ten years is a nice round number and I sort of feel if you get away longer than that, you may as well not bother … we’d been doing the Knife Party thing for about 10 years, we always feel like switching it up.”

And while 2020 marks the first new Pendulum music in a decade, it is also another milestone; 15 years since the group’s explosive debut album, Hold Your Colour.

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The release still holds a special place for fans and the group alike – “the tracks on it still feel kind of magic,” Swire said – but at the time the trio didn’t know whether they had a hit or a flop on their hands.

“It was a weird time for us, we’d only been in England for about two years when we wrote it. In retrospect, it’s kind of the sound of culture shock and sleep deprivation,” Swire said.

“I think the first time we knew this whole thing had some longevity to it was when we made the next album (2008’s In Silico).

“We sort of switched the style and it still works and we thought, ‘Well, we’re onto something’, because we’ve brought all these new fans in who don’t even like drum ‘n’ bass.”

There’s a temptation, listening to Driver/Nothing For Free, to draw parallels between the tracks and the distinct styles between Pendulum’s earlier releases.

Driver, as the name suggests, is a fast-paced drum ‘n’ bass anthem; a heavy, rolling beat setting the pace for buzzsaw basslines interspersed with breakbeat clatters. Nothing For Free, on the other hand, features sing-along hooks rising to a rocking, headbanging crescendo, reminiscent of the outfit’s later albums.

So, is this a conscious effort? Or a by-product of almost two decades producing forward-thinking, genre-blending electronic hits?

The latter, largely.

Swire and McGrillen agreed they never intended to follow their earlier work too closely, but when inspiration strikes, well, sometimes it just pans out that way.

“It somehow just organically falls into either [style]; you get a sense halfway through, you get a sense like, ‘This sounds like kind of a Hold Your Colour tip’, or you can tell it’s a new style,” Swire said.

Pendulum will perform at Langley Park on Perth’s foreshore on New Year’s Eve. Tickets and information at originfields.com.au.

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