TIME Amazon

Why Amazon Is Laying Off Dozens of Its Engineers

It’s the first time Amazon has cut employees at its Lab126, a report says

Many of the engineers behind Amazon’s failed Fire phone are getting the boot, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The online retail giant is cutting dozens of employees from Lab126, the hardware outfit that develops products such as the Fire phone, the Kindle, and Amazon’s Echo, the paper said.

This is the first time Amazon has ever laid off employees from Lab126, sources told the Journal. Some projects in the works, such as a large-screen tablet, have also been scuttled as part of a restructuring process. Amazon is reportedly still working on a high-end kitchen computer code-named Kabinet that would serve as a hub for the smart home of the future.

Amazon declined to comment to the Journal, and did not immediately return a request for comment from TIME and Fortune.

Amazon’s Fire phone was supposed to take on the iPhone and high-end Android handsets head-on, but the device failed to find mass appeal. Amazon took a $170 million write down on unsold Fire phone inventory last fall.

TIME 3-D printing

NASA Just 3-D Printed Part of a Rocket

Cygnus Spacecraft Launches from Pad-0A
NASA—Getty Images A NASA rocket.

It's more efficient than traditionally produced rocket parts

NASA is getting closer to 3-D printing a rocket engine.

The space agency announced Wednesday that it had built a turbopump using a 3-D printer. The device, which is designed to boost the power of an engine, is one of the most complex rocket parts ever designed with a 3-D printer.

According to NASA, the 3-D printed turbopump has 45 percent fewer parts than a turbopump made via traditional methods. The device is able to power a rocket engine capable of generating 35,000 pounds of thrust and is able to survive in an environment where fuel is burned at greater than 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

NASA is also 3-D printing injectors and other engine parts in order to make the production of future spacecraft more efficient.

Here’s a video of the 3-D printed fuel pump in action:

TIME health

How Mark Cuban, Mark Zuckerberg and Other Powerful Tech Execs Stay in Shape

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game Two
Bob Levey—Getty Images Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban at the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2015 in Houston, Texas.

From running to surfing

Highly successful people often push themselves both inside and outside the office.

Though it can be difficult to find time to exercise when you’re working around the clock, several tech executives have found techniques, routines, or sports that resonate with them and help them grow.

Here’s a look at what the CEOs of Facebook, Microsoft, and others do to stay in shape.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg works out three times a week.

Zuckerberg said in a recent Q&A session on Facebook that he made sure he worked out at least three times a week. Sometimes he even takes his adorable puppy Beast along with him on his runs.

Here’s what Zuckerberg said when Arnold Schwarzenegger asked him about his workout habits:

Staying in shape is very important. Doing anything well requires energy, and you just have a lot more energy when you’re fit … I make sure I work out at least three times a week — usually first thing when I wake up. I also try to take my dog running whenever I can, which has the added bonus of being hilarious because that basically like seeing a mop run.

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman loves to surf.

Woodman, the highest-paid CEO in the United States last year, fell in love with surfing when he was just 8 years old. In college he joined a fraternity located on the beach, and he surfed with his friends multiple times per day. Woodman still loves to surf, and that is reflected in the office environment at GoPro, according to CBS News.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is an avid cricket player.

Cricket is more than just a sport and a hobby for Nadella, who took over as the CEO of Microsoft in 2014. It taught him valuable lessons that influence how he runs Microsoft.

“Growing up in India, my dream as a boy was to play cricket professionally,” he told Geekwire. “The sport had a very rich heritage at my school and I went on to play school and junior cricket as a bowler (right arm off spin). At a certain point, I realized that I had reached my limit and luckily discovered my next passion in engineering and technology!”

Square CEO and interim Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey goes hiking in his spare time.

Dorsey has an intense schedule. He sticks to a rigid routine that amounts to an 80-hour workweek, as CNN Money reported back in 2011.

But he takes Saturdays off, which is when he finds the time to squeeze in some physical activity. He goes hiking on Saturdays, while Sundays are for “reflection, feedback, and strategy.”

Sebastian Thrun, the former Googler credited with building the company’s “moonshot” factory, is a dedicated cyclist.

Thrun, who now leads his own education company called Udacity, is an avid road cyclist who regularly completes 100-mile bike rides, according to Fast Company. He also snowboards and kite-surfs, and he has run half a dozen marathons.

Google cofounder Sergey Brin is an adrenaline junkie.

Brin, who now serves as the president of Google’s new parent company, Alphabet, is a daredevil at heart. Gymnastics, high-flying trapeze, springboard diving, ultimate Frisbee, and hockey are just a few of Brin’s favorite hobbies. Brin tried out many of these sports when he studied at Stanford, where he met fellow Google cofounder Larry Page. He has been known to bring Googlers to athletic complexes that offer these types of activities for team bonding experiences.

Billionaire tech investor Mark Cuban gets at least an hour of cardio per day.

Cuban, a regular host on the ABC reality show “Shark Tank” who owns the Dallas Mavericks, incorporates cardio workouts into his everyday routine. He told The Dallas Morning News:

I try to do cardio for at least an hour, six or seven days a week, knowing I’ll miss a day or two now and then because of travel. I do elliptical and the stair gauntlet; play basketball; and take kickboxing and Latin fusion aerobic classes at Lifetime Fitness.

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers runs 2 to 4 miles almost every day.

Chambers, who served as the CEO of Cisco for 20 years until last month, described how running helped him unwind when speaking with The Wall Street Journal:

I jog to … stay in shape, but also because I like to eat. For the first part I think of something personal or in business that’s on my mind, and for the last part I just enjoy it.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is in the gym at 5 a.m. every morning.

Cook is a self-described fitness nut, as Adam Lashinsky wrote in his profile of Cook for Fortune earlier this year. He wakes up around 4:30 or 5 a.m. daily to get to the gym several times a week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk exercises about twice a week.

When you work nearly 100 hours each week, finding time to exercise can be really difficult. But Musk says he finds time once or twice a week to squeeze in a cardio workout on the treadmill and lift weights, according to Auto Bild TV.

Alexa von Tobel, CEO of LearnVest, goes to the gym almost every day and brings coworkers with her.

In LearnVest’s early days, von Tobel focused so much on her business that she didn’t go to the gym or visit the doctor regularly. But now she goes to the gym almost every day.

“I’m healthier, I’m happier, I sleep better. And all of that is important,” she told Business Insider in a previous interview. “When my life is better, my company is better.”

Sometimes she brings coworkers along with her for a meeting.

“I do my workouts in the morning, and often I’ll take someone from my team,” she told Fast Company. “The person I’m meeting with can pick the class, whether it’s a spin or barre class, or going for a power walk. It’s hard to run and talk — I haven’t mastered that yet.”

Mint.com founder Aaron Patzer runs and lifts weights.

Aaron Patzer believes physical activity is crucial to being successful.

“You cannot work 14 hour days without getting a good workout in as a break,” he told Men’s Health.

In addition to lifting weights, running, and rock climbing, Patzer also loves climbing trees, which he has been doing since age 3.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

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TIME Video Games

Here’s How to Upgrade Your PlayStation 4 Hard Drive


Want to upgrade your console from its default 500GB to a whopping 2TB? We'll show you how.

Worried your PlayStation 4 might be running short of elbow room? Heard Sony supports hard drive upgrades? Ready to pull the trigger? Have half an hour to spare?

Sony’s upgrade process covers all the basics, but it’s also just the nuts and bolts, begging the question of whether you ought to upgrade in the first place.

Want some help deciding?

First, do you really need to upgrade?

In North America, the PlayStation 4 ships with a 500GB hard drive. You may have seen something about a standalone 1TB “Ultimate Edition,” which just launched in Europe on July 15, but it’s not (yet) available stateside.

The question’s whether you need more than half a terabyte of storage. That’s either too little or more than enough, depending how many games you need at the ready. If you’ve never looked, it’s time to visit the PlayStation 4’s storage allocation overview. You can find it here:

SettingsSystem Storage Management

Take a gander at that top bar, which shows how much space you’ve used so far, then note the number to the right of “Free Space” (bottom right). Do you have more than 250GB free? If so, and you’re running everything you’d want to, the argument for upgrading isn’t as compelling (it’s certainly not as urgent as if your “Free Space” were 50GB or less).

Even if you’re full up, have you cleaned house lately? Do you actively play everything you’ve downloaded or installed from disc? Does your “Capture Gallery” have any discardable photos or videos? Do you have superfluous save games? Don’t remove anything you’d rather keep, but it’s worth taking a look, especially at your list of installed games, which can hog upwards of 50GB a piece.

Assemble your tools

Decided to upgrade and ready to go? You’ll need the following items:

  • Your PS4, with gamepad and microUSB charge cable
  • A medium Philips screwdriver
  • Your chosen 2.5-inch SATA replacement hard drive
  • A 1GB or greater USB flash drive (to reinstall the PS4’s system software)
  • A FAT32-formatted external hard drive (to backup your system and/or saved games)
Matt Peckham for TIME

Pick the “right” hard drive

Two things to help guide your research: one, performance gains are fractional with even the zippiest (ergo priciest) solid state drives—benchmark sites obsess over upticks, but the real world gains here are minuscule. And so two, price and space should be your watchwords.

Not necessarily a recommendation: I chose Seagate’s 2.5-inch 1TB solid state hybrid drive (model number STBD1000400) with 64MB of cache, but only because I had store credit at GameStop, which sells the drive heavily marked up. You can find it for as little as $77, or if you want the version with 8GB of cache, it’s available for as little as $101. But be aware that Seagate, which also owns Samsung’s hard drive business, presently scores the highest in hard drive failure rates, according to online backup company Backblaze. I’ve never had a Seagate drive fail, but the survey’s worth noting.

At the moment, you can find the Samsung Seagate Momentus 2TB hard drive for under $100. For that price, it’s probably the drive I would have picked, if I hadn’t had store credit to burn.

Whatever you decide, be aware that Sony requires a PS4 hard drive to meet the following criteria:

  • 2.5 inch form factor (9.5mm or slimmer)
  • Serial ATA connection

Backup your saved games

Assuming you have more than a game or two installed, and plenty of saved content, skip straight to the full system backup option, which you can find here:

SettingsSystem → Back Up and Restore

Choose “Back Up PS4,” and the process will grab everything (including your system settings) except trophies, which should already be synchronized if your system’s online.

You can alternately back up your saved games to the PlayStation Network if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber. But Sony only gives you 1GB of space, so you may have to squeeze to get all your stuff in.

Matt Peckham for TIME

Download the PlayStation 4 system software

You can grab a copy of the latest version from Sony here. Just follow the instructions at the bottom of the page, under “Update using a computer,” to download the correct full system install file—it’s nearly 800MB—and create the requisite USB install key.

Crack open your console

It should go without saying, but make sure your PlayStation 4 is completely powered down (the indicator light should show black, not orange, or any other color), then unplug the system from everything.

Now perform the following steps:

  1. Slide the PlayStation 4’s hard drive cover left (the glossy strip on the console’s left, when laid flat).
  2. Extract the old hard drive by first removing the sole Philips screw at lower left, then gently pull the hard disk drive cage forward (toward the front of the system) and out.
  3. Remove the four Philips screws from the hard disk cage, pull the old hard drive out, replace it with the new one, then slide the cage back into the PlayStation 4 and re-secure it with the remaining screw.
  4. Replace the hard drive cover, and that’s it!
Matt Peckham for TIME

Install the PlayStation 4 system software

Connect your PlayStation 4 gamepad (with microUSB cable) and plug the USB stick you just created into the console’s second USB port, then power on the system. You’ll be prompted to install the new system software and initialize your system. Confirm, wait a few minutes for the process to complete, and your PlayStation 4 will finish by rebooting and launching the first-time setup screen.

Now put all your stuff back

Once you’re logged in, you can restore your games, saves and settings from that external drive backup (connect the drive, go back to SettingsSystem → Back Up and Restore, then choose “Restore PS4”). Or, if like me you like to rebuild clean and don’t mind re-installing or re-downloading your games and apps, you can take the time to do that instead, then as noted earlier, pull your saved games down from online storage (the latter has to happen in that order, by the way—it’s an inexplicable Sony quirk that you can’t download a saved game you’ve stored online unless you install the full game first).

TIME facebook

Meet M, Facebook’s Personal Assistant That Lives Inside Messenger

Courtesy of Facebook

The social network's next step in expanding its messaging app's relationship with commerce.

Move over Siri and Cortana, there’s a new digital sidekick in town: M, Facebook’s latest project.

Nested inside Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app, M is an artificial intelligence-based service the company is beginning to test, according to a Facebook post on Wednesday by Messenger head and former PayPal executive David Marcus.

“Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more,” Marcus writes.

Marcus also posted a few screen shots of the service, which show a text-based interface through which a user communicates with M about what they need. The service is currently available to a few hundred people in the Bay Area, a Facebook spokesperson told Fortune.

Rumors of the service, then thought to be called Moneypenny, broke out in mid-July, noting that people would be the other end of the service to make much of the decisions. “It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people,” Marcus writes.

Messenger has been expanding its integration with e-commerce and merchants recently. In March, it opened up access to businesses, allowing them to connect with customers through the messaging app.

In addition to purely digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, M will be competing with services like Magic and Operator, which also use people to help customers make purchases and book services like plane tickets or restaurant reservations. It will also be interesting to see how the service evolves as a customer service tool. Though right now all the human helpers are internal to Facebook, M, along with Messenger for Business could someday take the place of customer service tools like Olark.

TIME SmartHalo

This Gadget Brings GPS Navigation to Your Bike

Courtesy of SmartHalo

No need to check your smartphone for directions

SmartHalo is a new bicycle GPS system that eliminates the need to check your smartphone for directions and makes biking a much safer mode of transportation.

The accessory is compatible with any regular bicycle’s set of handlebars. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and acts as a visually simplistic navigation guide. Insert your destination into the SmartHalo’s corresponding app and it will provide you with turn-by-turn directions using light signals.

The signals adapt to different levels of natural light to ensure that the directions are always visible, no matter the conditions. This weather-resistant device also detects when it’s nighttime, prompting it to activate a front-mounted bike light, which automatically turns off once you dismount.

The app allows you to track the bike’s location if you forget where you parked it, or if someone manages to steal it. The latter scenario is unlikely since the SmartHalo has an internal motion sensor that sounds an alarm if it senses “persistent meddling.” The device itself is attached to the handlebars with “tamper-proof” screws that only the owner can detach with a custom key fob.

The motion sensor is deactivated when you approach your bike because the SmartHalo is able to detect your phone. If you lost it or it ran out of battery, you can insert your own unique “tapcode” to deactivate the alarm.

It also functions as a fitness tool, measuring distance traveled, average speed, and calories burned. You can set specific goals regarding those measurements, and the SmartHalo will display your progress.

The SmartHalo Kickstarter page has surpassed its goal of $50,000. You can sign up for the “Kickstarter Special,” which is priced at $99 for one SmartHalo. The developers expect the device to be ready to ship to early adopters by May 2016. Its retail price is expected to be $149.


There’s a Massive Battle Brewing Over the Future Of Wi-Fi

U.S. Government Obtained Verizon Phone Records Under Secret Court Order
Andrew Burton—Getty Images

There could be serious traffic congestion over the air

Verizon and T-Mobile are planning to use Wi-Fi networks to broadcast their cellular signals — a move that could clog up the airwaves and lead to fierce competition, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The two wireless carriers are set to introduce LTE-U, an iteration of the LTE cellular standard that will switch to the least congested channel, which includes Wi-Fi frequencies. It eases the load on the carriers’ networks, but it could also burden Wi-Fi networks, reducing speed and quality. It’s also an inexpensive way to transmit signals, since Wi-Fi uses free, unlicensed airwaves, as detailed in a recent Fortune story.

This should worry companies such as Google, Cablevision, and Republic Wireless, who use Wi-Fi either as hotspots for users or to offer wireless services of their own. According to the Journal, Google officials recently wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, remarking that LTE-U was “particularly worrisome” because wireless carriers “may view some Wi-Fi providers, such as cable companies offering Wi-Fi hotspots to their customers, as competitors.”

Verizon and T-Mobile are adamant their technology won’t degrade Wi-Fi connections. “Every test that we’ve done shows that LTE-U is as good of a neighbor to Wi-Fi as Wi-Fi is to itself,” Patrick Welsh, director of federal government affairs at Verizon, told the newspaper.

Wi-Fi usage is already growing rapidly among mobile users, and this development could lead to network congestion. In a report last year by Mobidia Technology, those on Android phones consumed 6.8GB and those with iPhones consumed 8.9GB of Wi-Fi data from July to September, 2014. In comparison, 1.8GB of cellular data were used by cellular subscribers over the same period.

TIME Amazon

Another Ex-Amazon Worker Shares Her Horror Story

LEON NEAL—AFP/Getty Images Amazon's logo.

She says the company showed no support following the birth of her child and a cancer diagnosis

Amazon employees did not hold back after the New York Times published its story about the company’s “bruising” workplace, “Inside Amazon.” Many spoke out, some in defense of the company, others augmenting the Times’ piece with their own horrifying testimonies. Julia Cheiffetz falls into the latter category.

In her story about her years employed by Amazon, from 2011 to 2014, Cheiffetz writes that two years into her employment, she had a baby. Six weeks later, she was diagnosed with cancer.

After her surgery, and still on maternity leave, she received a letter from Amazon stating that her health insurance had been terminated. The company told her that it was simply a glitch in the system, and she was offered COBRA coverage, rather than reinstating her original plan. It was too little, too late for Cheiffetz, who had already switched over to her husband’s plan and stayed there throughout the rest of her treatment.

When she finally returned to the company after five months of leave, she was informed that all of her direct hires were now reporting to someone else. She was then placed on a “performance improvement plan, which Cheiffetz claims is essentially code for “your employment is at risk.” She resigned before Amazon could fire her.

Cheiffetz does not dispute other testimonies that defend Amazon, but she does say that they have mostly come from “male leaders of male-dominated teams.” Most of the women she knew at the company have left.

She addresses Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in her concluding paragraph:

You asked for direct feedback. Women power your retail engine. They buy diapers. They buy books. They buy socks for their husbands on Prime. On behalf of all the people who want to speak up but can’t: Please, make Amazon a more hospitable place for women and parents.

TIME robots

Soon Robots Could Make You Pancakes, Among Other Things

Japanese giant Yaskawa Electric's indust
AFP—AFP/Getty Images Japanese giant Yaskawa Electric’s industrial robot Motoman turns over a pancake on a hot plate.

They’re reading WikiHow to learn how to cook

RoboHow, a European research project that began back in February 2012, is attempting to teach humanoid robots how to perform mundane everyday tasks.

This includes activities performed in living environments, such as cooking, as well as in office environments, such as adding paper to a printer.

The learning process these robots endure is very similar to what we experience. The PR2, RoboHow’s robot, acquires information from the web, using sources such as WikiHow, and adds to that information by observing human action.

Although humans seem to instinctively understand certain processes, these robots need to be taught everything from how to hold a spatula to how to flip a pancake, Quartz writes. However, once one robot perfects a specific task, that knowledge is collected in a database for all other RoboHow robots to access.

Watch researchers teach this robot how to make pancakes:

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