All Day Long: a Portrait of Britain at Work review – is our labour really working?

Ina, who hasn’t told her boyfriend what she does, is happy for Biggs to use her real name; R, who worked in Pret a Manger for several years, isn’t. R earned £200 a week, which rose to £245 if the store got its weekly bonus. The bonus was dependent on the mystery shopper employed by Pret, observing “passion” in the service when she or he bought an undercover sandwich. If you were the named barista who lost the shop the bonus, everyone else knew about it. At first R did not believe the shopper existed, but then a few times, the bonus was not paid. After that, “from Monday to Monday every single customer that you serve, you have to give your absolute 100%”, R said. “There wasn’t really anywhere to hide.”

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NASA hopes to cut back airline fuel emissions with a bug-repellant coating

Bugs splattered across the surface of a commercial jet might seem pretty insignificant, but NASA researchers say they can decrease fuel efficiency by as much as six percent. When those dead bugs collect on aerodynamically-sensitive elements like the leading edge of wings, they disturb the airflow over the surface. That causes turbulent air and drag — which ultimately reduces efficiency. So NASA’s testing five different nonstick coatings on Boeing’s “ecoDemonstrator” 757 aircraft over a number of 15 different flights at a particularly buggy airport, located in Shreveport, Louisiana. Researchers will not only test to see how many fewer bugs stick to the surface, but also whether the coatings can withstand the rigors of commercial aviation.

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How to get a job at Google: meet the man who hires and fires

In his office, Laszlo Bock, head of people operations, handles the claims from outsiders asking: “Please let me be Googley.” Each year, around 2 million apply for a job here and 5,000 are hired. Bock puts the average applicant’s odds at about 400/1. On a wall he keeps a small display of some of the worst (Bock prefers “silliest”) submissions that have come in. People try to grease him, impress him, plead with him, threaten him. He was offered, once, a discount on a motorhome in return for an offer. And somebody mailed in a shoe; with this foot-in-the-door joke the hope, presumably, that an acceptance letter would be sent by return post.

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How to find time to read

What makes the problem thornier is that the usual time-management techniques don’t seem sufficient. The web’s full of listicles offering tips on making time to read: “Give up TV” or “Carry a book with you at all times”. But in my experience, using such methods to free up the odd 30 minutes doesn’t work. Sit down to read and the flywheel of work-related thoughts keeps spinning – or else you’re so exhausted that a challenging book’s the last thing you need. The modern mind, Parks writes, “is overwhelmingly inclined toward communication… It is not simply that one is interrupted; it is that one is actually inclined to interruption.” Deep reading requires not just time, but a special kind of time which can’t be obtained merely by becoming more efficient.

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Amazon has invented tiny plastic buttons that allow for instant product ordering

It’s 2AM and you’re changing your baby when you realize you’ve just used up your last diaper. Or you go to reach under your sink to grab another roll of toilet paper only to discover you’ve forgotten to order more. And maybe you eat nothing but mac and cheese, and did not correctly calculate your stockpile, so that you’re stuck actually having to cook real food one night. This is not the sad, black-and-white world of late-night infomercials, but real life, Amazon says. The company is rolling out new hardware today called the Dash button that promises to solve these scenarios. It’s a small physical button that you can stick wherever, and press when you want to order more of something. Need more diapers? Hit the diaper button. Need more toilet paper? Just hit the toilet paper button. Find yourself running low on mac and cheese, razor blades, Gatorade, or laundry detergent? There is now a button for each one of those things. The future where you can just be lazy and spend money with a push of a button from Amazon is here, and it’s very real.

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Arn Chorn-Pond: why the arts are as important as hospitals in Cambodia

Of all the ways to learn a musical instrument, Arn Chorn-Pond’s experience is one of the more unusual. When the ultra-communist Khmer Rouge regime seized Cambodia in 1975, he was spared the murder that befell 80-90% of the country’s artists and musicians, including his parents, who ran an opera group. Instead, the cadres running his labour camp forced him to learn the flute to play propaganda songs that the regime would blast from speakers to dull the screams of victims as they were tortured and killed.

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Medieval eye remedy ‘kills MRSA’

The leechbook is one of the earliest examples of what might loosely be called a medical textbook It seems Anglo-Saxon physicians may actually have practiced something pretty close to the modern scientific method, with its emphasis on observation and experimentation. Bald’s Leechbook could hold some important lessons for our modern day battle with anti-microbial resistance.

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