Weekend news round-up: Google expansion, no more remote working at Yahoo!, Pope to leave Twitter

25 Feb 2013

In our round-up of some of the top tech news from the weekend, Google plans to expand its HQ, Yahoo!’s CEO puts the kibosh on remote working, and will the Pope shut down his Twitter account?

Google plans to expand Mountain View headquarters

Internet search giant Google is planning a massive expansion to its ‘Googleplex’, its headquarters in Mountain View, California, CNET reported.

Architecture firm NBBJ reportedly designed the 42-acre expansion based on mountains of data gathered and quantified by Google’s real-estate team and involving everything from where the sun is at different times of day to the importance of placing one work group near another to what sort of workspace employees prefer.

‘Bayview’, as the expansion will be called, is a collection of vaguely boomerang-shaped buildings that are connected by bridges. Vanity Fair quotes David Radcliffe, a civil engineer who oversees Google’s real estate, as saying that the design is meant to maximise “casual collisions of the work force.”


‘Bayview’, the planned expansion of the Googleplex, Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Image via NBBJ/CNET

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer bans remote working

Employees at internet giant Yahoo! will no longer be allowed to work from home, the GlobalPost reported a leaked memo as saying.

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer has instituted the new anti-working remotely rules which will impact several hundred employees. Some of those workers could be forced to relocate, if they want to keep their jobs.

Some staffers told All Things D that they were hired under the assumption their hours and location would be more flexible.

All Things D later published a memo detailing the policy.

“Yahoos,” begins the note, written by Yahoo! chief of human resources Jackie Reses. “Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices.”

Reses also explained that people are more productive when they work side-by-side.   

Pope’s Twitter account to be closed, but may be reused by successor

When Pope Benedict XVI formally steps down from office at the end the month, his Twitter account will also be vacated, but whether temporarily or permanently remains to be seen, GMA News reported.

A report on dzBB radio said the @Pontifex account, whose English version is followed by more than 1.5m Twitter users, is to be shut down when the Pope leaves office.

The pontiff also has Spanish, Italian, German, French, Arab and Latin versions of his Twitter account.

His most recent tweet, sent out yesterday, reads, “In these momentous days, I ask you to pray for me and for the Church, trusting as always in divine Providence.”

Visitors to North Korea to be able to receive uncensored 3G

Foreign visitors to North Korea will be able to receive uncensored 3G data beginning 1 March, TechCrunch reported.

Koryolink, a joint venture between Egyptian firm Orascom Telecom Holding and North Korean state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC), has set up a 3G service for visitors into the country.

The service, which will not be available to locals, comes with a price. A US$100 Wi-Fi hotspot and US$200 SIM card will be required to use the service, after which 2Gb of data will cost US$300, and 10Gb will go for US$525.

Phone calls abroad will cost US$0.50 a minute to European countries like France and Switzerland, and US$7 a minute to the US. Calls to South Korea, however, are blocked.

Online services typically banned in North Korea, such as Twitter and Skype, will reportedly be available on Koryolink’s network.

New anti-piracy system to reach US users today

Most US internet users will be subject to a new copyright enforcement system beginning today that could force them to complete educational programmes, and even slow their internet speeds to a crawl, Mashable reported. 

The five participating internet service providers (ISPs) will start the controversial Copyright Alert System (CAS) today. Industry giants AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon will launch their versions of the CAS on different days throughout the week. Comcast is expected to be the first today.

The CAS, designed as an “educational” service to combat casual piracy in the US, has been criticised as having been designed purely for corporate interests, at the expense of the average internet user.

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