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Hackerbay: The legit website that pays you to embrace the dark side

(BUSINESS NEWS) Experienced hacker? There’s a legit site that will pay you for your skills. Seriously.

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“Criminals of curiosity”

The word “hacker” conjures many mental images in the marketplace, and very, very few of them are good. Seriously, it’s pretty much Snowden and Angelina Jolie with a pixie cut, and plenty of people don’t like Snowden.

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Past that, it’s black fedoras in basements, or Russian intelligence screwing with elections, or scumbags pulling ransomware nonsense on minor, no-consequences concerns like the National Health Service of the United Kingdom and banks and railways in Russia. Not a good look.

But let us speak of the white hat.

Hacker culture

In the grim darkness of the 1980s and 1990s, “hacker” referred less to a job description than a subculture. If your touchstones for that subculture are masterworks like the aforementioned Jolie opus, you may be surprised to learn that “hacker culture” was a real thing, albeit involving less hairspray and more breakfast cereal than is conventionally portrayed.

It goes all the way back to a culture of DIY phone enthusiasts, “phreakers,” who messed with network infrastructure in the days of Ma Bell.

I’d do a “kids, ask your parents” joke here, but seriously, it might have to be your grandparents.

The Internet hit that subculture like Southern sun on kudzu. It grew on BBSes and Usenet, through the Jargon File and the Hacker Koans and the Mentor, until it became a permanent undercurrent in the digital world: people who, for their own reasons, really like messing with data that is, and often as far as its owners know isn’t, available online.

Influential masterminds

The influence of hacker culture on the evolution of technology is incalculable. Jobs and Wozniak were both phreakers. A successful and well publicized hacker named Kevin Mitnick is basically why there is data security now.

Hackers used to be so far ahead of law enforcement that, no fooling, right in the beloved hometown of The American Genius, the US Secret Service gave a masterclass on keeping Austin weird by raiding a roleplaying game publisher because they made a game about hacking, and the Feds couldn’t tell the difference. The game company promptly sued their socks off.

For decades the gold standard for information security wasn’t corporate cryptography, and it certainly wasn’t the government, US or otherwise.

It was individuals or small groups who worked out exploits big institutions lacked the expertise to fix, and as often as not, they were doing it for fun.

What changed?

Good guys and bad guys

Institutions started paying the hackers. IBM famously coined the term “ethical hacker” and provides a nice explainer on how it works but it’s universal in the tech world. That’s the white hat.

Black hat hackers hack things in ways you wish they wouldn’t. White hat hackers hack in ways you ask them to.

It’s a fundamental part of data security to get the smartest people you can find to try and hack holes in it, because if they can, it’s not very good, is it?

Enter HackerBay. Given the usual media narrative of “hacker” basically being Internet for “terrorist,” a job board that straight up says that’s what it’s looking for might seem nuts.

To professional nerds like your humble narrator, it takes two looks to figure out why anyone would have a problem with it.

Hackerbay

It goes like this: nerds are universal. You’re probably one yourself, though if you’re a nerd about football or makeup as opposed to SQL or Star Trek, you may not use the word. If you’re fascinated by the ins and outs of something, if there’s a subject you get into so deeply it makes other people bored, guess what: you’re one of us.

Hacking is a unique subset, not a different thing.

It’s the usual nerd ethos of, “this is fascinating and I want to understand everything about it,” applied to publicly available systems.

That has rather more socioeconomic impact than fantasy football or D&D (shh, don’t tell anyone, but those are basically the same thing), but is in the end the same impulse: the desire to understand, optimize, and play.

You can’t stop that; short of rewiring the human brain, and if you’re doing that, stop.

Instead, as with everything in the human firmware, the trick is to make it work for you. We’re talking about people so enamored of your code they futz with it for free. Pay them for it. Have them write it.

The HackerBay offer is how the market has been correcting for the hacking phenomenon since the hacking phenomenon involved 2600 hertz tones and 2400 baud modems.

In an era of malicious hacking on a large scale, HackerBay is not part of the problem. It’s an implementation of a proven solution.

#hackerbay

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

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Business News

Coca Cola drops 200 brands, most you’ve never heard of

(BUSINESS NEWS) Coca Cola hopes to revitalize their drink arsenal by rolling back some “underperforming” brands (that you might not have known they were still making.)

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Woman drinking Coca Cola against plain wall

2020 has forced a lot of businesses to return to their proverbial drawing boards, and the Coca Cola Company is no exception. Last week, Coca Cola announced in a corporate blog post that they are halting the production of 200 of their beverage brands.

In the words of Cath Coetzer, the head of global marketing for Coca Cola, the restructuring will “accelerate [Coke’s] transformation into a total beverage company”.

“We’re prioritizing bets that have scale potential across beverage categories, consumer need states and drinking occasions,” Coetzer added. “Because scale is the algorithm that truly drives growth.”

That’s… a surprising amount of technical beverage jargon, Cath.

Coca Cola is already the leading manufacturer of non-alcoholic drinks on the planet. It’s hard to imagine their scope becoming any more “total.” But this strategy shift comes as the consumer thirst for soda is drying up.

Soda consumption has steadily fallen over the last ten consecutive years, thanks to a swath of modern studies that link excess sugar intake with negative health outcomes like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

In light of this research, regional sales taxes on drinks with added sugar have been debated across the country, despite aggressive corporate lobbying against it. All this has meant that beverage companies have had no choice but to pivot hard.

Take Odwalla, a Coca Cola brand that touted its vitamin content and servings of produce, which was discontinued earlier this year. Despite being marketed as a health brand, Odwalla flavors contained whopping amounts of added sugar: Their popular “superfood” flavor quietly boasted 47 grams per bottle.

The brands affected by Coke’s recent soda cull also include TAB diet soda, ZICO coconut water, and Coca Cola Life, plus internationally marketed drink brands like Vegibeta of Japan and Kuat of Brazil.

Condensing their portfolio allows Coca Cola to prioritize their most profitable products and invest in more new beverage trendsetters that better fit the times, like sparkling water, coffee, or even cannabis-infused products.

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Business News

Uber and Lyft face the music as employee ruling is upheld

(BUSINESS NEWS) The battle for Uber and Lyft drivers’ status continues, and despite company protests, the official ruling has been upheld.

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Interior of Uber and Lyft rideshare looking out on palm trees

A gig economy has its pros and cons. For anyone who has ever been an independent contractor, done freelance work, or worked for companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, the pros are clear – you get to work when you want, where you want and how much you want. Flexibility and gigs go hand in hand.

And the cons? Well, those are a little more complex. Without a W2 linking you directly to the company, you as an independent contractor don’t receive the same rights and perks that your 9-5 employee friends might. For example, your employer is not required to provide a healthcare option for you. You are also not entitled to earned time off or minimum wage.

So which is better?

The gig economy conundrum has made its way all the way to an appellate court in California last week. The ruling was that Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees.

Back in May, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and city attorneys from L.A., San Diego and San Francisco brought forth a lawsuit that argues Uber and Lyft gain an unfair, unlawful competitive advantage by not classifying their workers as W2s.

Uber and Lyft responded to the suit, stating that if they were to reclassify their drivers as employees, their companies would be irreparably harmed – though the judge in last week’s ruling negated that claim, stating that neither company would suffer any “grave or irreparable harm by being prohibited from violating the law” and also that the financial burden of converting workers to employees “do[es] not rise to the level of irreparable harm.” Essentially, the judge called their BS.

Additionally, according to the judge, there is nothing that would prevent Uber and Lyft from offering flexibility and independence to their drivers – and they have had plenty of time to transition their drivers from independent contractors to employees (the gig worker bill that spurred this lawsuit was decided in 2018). Seems fair to me!

However, there is an oppositional proposition on the ballot that muddies the waters. Proposition 22, if passed, is a measure that would keep rideshare drivers and delivery workers classified as independent contractors, meaning that those workers from Uber and Lyft would be exempt from the new state law that classifies them as W-2 employees. And you might be surprised to know how many of the app-based rideshare workers are in favor of Prop 22!

In a class-action lawsuit, Uber has been accused of encouraging drivers and delivery workers to support Prop 22 via the company’s driver-scheduling app. It appears, unfortunately, that Uber is manipulating its workforce by wrongly hanging their jobs over their heads.

On this matter, Gig Workers Rising stated: “If Uber and Lyft are successful in passing Prop. 22 and undo the will of the people, they will inspire countless other corporations to adapt their business models and misclassify workers in order to further enrich the wealthy few at the expense of their workforce.”

Ultimately, the fate of California Uber and Lyft driver’s in still in question. It’s unclear if the question we should be asking is, will Lyft drivers have proper healthcare through their jobs or will they have jobs at all. All of this is occurring at a time where millions are jobless and 158,000 individuals sought unemployment support this week due to COVID-19 layoffs.

Personally, I have little sympathy for tech-giants that rake in billions off the backs of the exploited working-class. If the CEO of Uber is an ostentatious billionaire, then his employees should have health insurance. Clear and simple.

The scariest part of the gig economy is that workers have become increasingly happy to work for a company that gives them little to no benefits. More companies are dissolving or combining positions so that they can further bypass their responsibilities to their employees. Let us not be fooled: The dispute over whether or not to make Uber and Lyft workers W2 employees does not affect the health of the companies themselves. What it will affect is how fat the bonuses will be the big guys at the top, and that’s exactly why the companies are so adverse to the ruling. They’d rather their workers suffer than lose a single dime.

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Business News

Bay Area co-living startup strands hundreds of renters at dire time

(BUSINESS NEWS) They’re blaming COVID for failing as a co-living space, but it looks like trouble was well established even before now.

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Person packed a bag and walking away from co-living space.

Over the last few years, “co-living” startups have become increasingly common in tech-rich cities like San Francisco. These companies lease large houses, then rent individual bedrooms for as much as $2,000 per month in hopes of attracting the young professionals who make up the tech industry. Many offer food, cleaning services, group activities, and hotel-quality accommodations to do so.

But the true value in co-living companies lies in their role as a third party: Smoothing over relations, providing hassle free income to homeowners and improved accountability to tenants… in theory, anyway. The reality has proved the opposite can just as easily be true.

In a September company email, Bay Area co-living startup HubHaus released a statement that claimed they were “unable to pay October rent” on their leased properties. Hubhaus also claimed to have “no funds available to pay any amounts that may be owed landlords, tenants, trade creditors, or contractors.”

This left hundreds of SF Bay Area renters scrambling to arrange shelter with little notice, with the start of a second major COVID-19 outbreak on the horizon.

HubHaus exhibited plenty of red flags leading up to this revelation. Employees complained of insufficient or late payment. The company stopped paying utilities during the spring, and they quietly discontinued cleaning services while tenants continued to pay for them.

Businesses like HubHaus charge prices that could rent a private home in most of the rest of the country, in exchange for a room in a house of 10 or more people. PodShare is a similar example: Another Bay Area-based co-living startup, whose offerings include “$1,200 bunk beds” in a shared, hostel-like environment.

As a former Bay Area resident, it’s hard not to be angry about these stories. But they have been the unfortunate reality since long before the pandemic. Many urbanites across the country cannot afford to opt out of a shared living situation, and these business models only exacerbate the race to the bottom of city living standards.

HubHaus capitalized on this situation and took advantage of their tenants, who were simply looking for an affordable place to live in a market where that’s increasingly hard to find.

They’ve tried to place the blame for their failure on COVID-19 — but all signs seem to indicate that they had it coming.

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