Here’s the tiny human twig in the Tree of Life

Find the tiny twig of humanity on the tree of life

Find the tiny twig of humanity on the tree of life. Click on the image for a larger view

This is what 3.5 billion years of evolution looks like. Time to meet your relatives.

Created as part of a collaboration between the Tree of Life Web Project and designer Leonard Eisenberg, this epic infographic is one monster family tree, showing the history of 3.5 billion years of life on Earth.

Click here for a much larger version, courtesy of Fast Company.

The Tree of Life Web Project aims to collect pictures, text and other information on every species, both living and extinct, with the help of expert and amateur contributors. Here they show how all of life – from plants and fungi to sharks, fish, mammals, and humans – all sprung from the humble bacterium, a creature that has spent billions of years spreading to every corner of the Earth.

The Tree of Life team says the infographic has been drawn to show all the major – and some of the minor – branches of life tied to a geologic time scale, in the shape of rainbow tree. You can also see how major events of extinction, such as the dinosaurs, have gone extinct, and from there, biodiversity branched out to fill the ecological gaps.

Mark Wilson explains at Fast Company:

“As you look at the graphic, realise that time radiates outward and each kingdom’s appearance is also in chronological order from left to right. What you’ll discern then is a story of origins and mass extinctions, the way life almost bided its time through the Ice Age then hit the gas through the Cambrian Explosion. It was here when the protostomes (everything from trilobites to squids) simply went nuts, and the separation of plants vs. animals as we know them arose.”

Those big white splotches that disrupt various branches throughout the tree represent either extinction events or the end of species whose evolutionary pathway did not lead to further species.

It’s a pretty sobering thought that humans, all the way down there in the bottom right-hand corner, have been wiping their way through so many species, particularly in the past half a century.

Source: Fast Company

Advertisements

The best time for your coffee

Ever wonder what the best time is to drink your coffee? You probably know it is not a good idea to drink part of your daily dose of caffeine in the afternoon. Especially for those who have problems sleeping. But, do you ever drink your coffee and feel like it just didn’t work? I know I have that feeling sometimes. The explanation for this has to with a concept that I think is extremely interesting but rarely discussed: chronopharmacology.

coffeeamp.com

Chronopharmacology can be defined as the study of the interaction of biological rhythms and drug action. One of the most important biological rhythms is your circadian clock. This endogenous 24 hour clock alters your physiology and behavior in variety of ways but it can also alter many properties of drugs including drug safety (pharmacovigilance), pharmacokineticsdrug efficacy, and perhaps even drug tolerance. But, what part of the brain produces this 24 hour cycle and what signals does it receive in order for it to do so properly? It has been known for a long time that light is a strong zeitgeber. A zeitgeber is a term used in chronobiology for describing an environmental stimulus that influences biological rhythms. In the case of mammals, light is by far the most powerful. Following the discovery of connections between the retina and hypothalamus (the retinohypothalamic tract), investigations were aimed at the hypothalamus as the putative master clock. Indeed, in some of the most elegant brain lesion experiments, Inouye and Kawamura (1979) provided some of the first evidence demonstrating that the hypothalamus acts as the master clock in controlling the circadian rhythm. By creating an “island” in the brain by methodically cutting the hypothalamus away from any surrounding tissue, the circadian clock was completely lost (Inouye and Kawamura, 1979).

What does that mean? Well, the output of the hypothalamus nucleus (the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN) that controls the circadian clock has a variety of functions. The SCN controls your sleep-wake cycle, feeding and energy consumption, sugar homeostasis, and in addition to a few other things it controls your hormones. And, with respect to your alertness, the SCN’s control of cortisol (often referred to as the “stress” hormone) production is extremely important.

Most readers here, especially the ones in science enjoy–and desperately need–their morning coffee. I’ve seen some striking posts (here and here – note the caffeine consumption map with the number of researchers map) on the internet lately showing the correlation between science and caffeine. Not surprisingly to me, wherever there are scientists, there is a lot of caffeine consumed. And, a scientist also happens to be #1 the profession with the greatest caffeine consumption. But, if you are drinking your morning coffee at 8 AM is that really the best time? The circadian rhythm of cortisol production would suggest not.

Drug tolerance is an important subject, especially in the case of caffeine since most of us overuse this drug. Therefore, if we are drinking caffeine at a time when your cortisol concentration in the blood is at its peak, you probably should not be drinking it. This is because cortisol production is strongly related to your level of alertness and it just so happens that cortisol peaks for your 24 hour rhythm between 8 and 9 AM on average (Debono et al., 2009). Therefore, you are drinking caffeine at a time when you are already approaching your maximal level of alertness naturally. One of the key principles of pharmacology is use a drug when it is needed (although I’m sure some scientists might argue that caffeine is always needed). Otherwise, we can develop tolerance to a drug administered at the same dose. In other words, the same cup of morning coffee will become less effective and this is probably why I need a shot of espresso in mine now. Although your cortisol levels peak between 8 and 9 AM, there are a few other times where–on average–blood levels peak again and are between noon to 1 PM, and between 5:30 to 6:30 PM. In the morning then, your coffee will probably be the most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM, when your cortisol levels are dropping before the next spike. Originally, when I heard a lecture on this topic, the professor said that since light is the strongest zeitgeber he suggested driving into work without sunglasses on. This would allow for stronger signals to be sent along the retinohypothalamic tract to stimulate the SCN and increase your morning cortisol production at a faster rate. I still tend to drive with them on since I feel blinded by the sun in the morning. However, on mornings when it is partially cloudy out and I did not get a lot of sleep, I drive with them off because this will help me feel more alert than if I was shielding what little sunlight was available. I thought this an important post for anyone but especially with the upcoming Society for Neuroscience annual conference in San Diego. Now us conference attendees should know just when to enjoy their coffee to stay alert for all of the new neuroscience!

References:
Debono M, Ghobadi C, Rostami-Hodjegan A, Huatan H, Campbell MJ, Newell-Price J, Darzy K, Merke DP, Arlt W, & Ross RJ (2009). Modified-release hydrocortisone to provide circadian cortisol profiles. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 94 (5), 1548-54 PMID: 19223520

Inouye, S.T., and Kawamura, H. (1979). Persistence of circadian rhythmicity in a mammalian hypothalamic “island” containing the suprachiasmatic nucleus Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America DOI: 10.1073/pnas.76.11.5962

Here’s when you should be drinking your coffee, according to science

Image: Shaiith / Shutterstock.com

If you’re not timing your coffee breaks with your cortisol dips, you’re doing it wrong.

It probably doesn’t surprise you when I say that caffeine is the most widely consumed psycho-active substance on the planet. One of the most popular vehicles for caffeine consumption – coffee – is so popular, worldwide production is now over 7 million metric tonnes. If averaged out, that equates to 1.3 kg of coffee per person per year. So it’s safe to say we like the stuff.

Why? It’s not just because it tastes good and suppresses our appetites. It’s also because at a time when, as a society, we have way more things to get done than we have hours in the day, it wakes us up and keeps us going.

But not all coffee breaks are created equal. Research into the dips and peaks of hormone production in our bodies suggests that we need to be strategic about when we consume caffeine, in order to maximise that buzz and keep productive

According to Steven Miller at the NeuroscienceDC blog, this is because a) caffeine is a drug, and b) drugs have an affect on our internal chemistry. Which means to use a drug strategically, you need to know the rhythms of your body chemistry and sync your consumption up with that. There’s an entire scientific discipline that examines how drugs interact with our biological rhythms, he says, called chronopharmacology

One of the most important biological rhythms for a good deal of species on the planet is our internal circadian clock. It’s controlled by a tiny region in the brain’s hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), and serves a number of different functions. “The SCN controls your sleep-wake cycle, feeding and energy consumption, sugar homeostasis, and in addition to a few other things it controls your hormones. And, with respect to your alertness, the SCN’s control of cortisol (often referred to as the “stress” hormone) production is extremely important,” says Miller.

This means if you’re producing too much cortisol, you’re not doing too good, but having moderate levels of the hormone helps keep you alert. And, says Miller, healthy levels of cortisol naturally peak between the hours of 8 am and 9 am. So that’s a good time to drink caffeine right? That would be super-convenient because that’s what I’ve been doing for the past, I don’t know, decade.

Turns out that consuming caffeine at the same time as your cortisol levels are naturally peaking is pretty much a waste of time. As Miller explains at NeuroscienceDC:

“One of the key principles of pharmacology is [to] use a drug when it is needed (although I’m sure some scientists might argue that caffeine is always needed). Otherwise, we can develop tolerance to a drug administered at the same dose. In other words, the same cup of morning coffee will become less effective and this is probably why I need a shot of espresso in mine now. 

Although your cortisol levels peak between 8 and 9 am, there are a few other times where – on average – blood levels peak again and are between noon to 1 pm, and between 5:30 to 6:30 pm. In the morning then, your coffee will probably be the most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 am and 11:30 am, when your cortisol levels are dropping before the next spike.”

Sources: Neuroscience DCFast Company

Here’s where female ejaculation comes from, and what it’s made of

Image: kostin77 / Shutterstock.com

For the first time, scientists have discovered that women who ‘squirt’ are expelling one of two different types of liquid – one pure urine, and the other a combination of urine and fluid from the female prostate gland.

Okay everyone, it’s time to talk about female ejaculation. And not because the British government has just banned it from appearing in porn. For the first time, researchers in France have observed the mysterious phenomenon using ultrasound scans, to discover that the ejaculate originates in a woman’s bladder – and is made up mostly of urine.

The team, led by Samuel Salama, a gynaecologist at the Parly II private hospital in Le Chesnay, worked with a small sample of seven healthy women who reported “recurrent and massive fluid emission” when they were sexually stimulated. It’s not uncommon for women to experience a little bit of milky white fluid leaking from their urethra at the point of climax, but the practice of ‘squirting’ enough liquid to fill a drinking glass is relatively rare.

“A few small studies have suggested the milky white fluid comes from Skene glands – tiny structures that drain into the urethra,” says Helen Thomson at New Scientist. “Some in the medical community believe these glands are akin to the male prostate, although their size and shape differ greatly between women and their exact function is unknown.”

Salma’s team first asked the participants to submit a urine sample, and then their pelvis was scanned via an ultrasound machine to make sure there was nothing remaining in their bladders. The women were left to either masturbate in the lab, or have sex with a partner, until they were just about to climax. This gave the researchers enough time to get their ultrasound machines at the ready.

In what must have been one of the most awkward moments of their lives, the women had scans performed on them as they were climaxing, and the expelled fluid was collected in sample bags. One last scan was taken of their pelvises afterwards to get a view of the bladder.

Oddly enough, even though the women had emptied their bladders before the big event, the scan taken just before they climaxed revealed that the bladders been completely refilled again, for no other reason than the women had been sexually stimulated. The scan after the climax – and ejaculation – occurred showed that the volunteers’ bladders were once again clear. The team published their results in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Soooo, does this mean the liquid that’s being squirted during sex is urine? The team had already confirmed that it was coming from the bladder, so it’s a good bet. They compared the samples that had been bagged up during climax to the urine samples collected at the beginning of the study and found that in two of the seven women, the samples were both chemically identical.

In the remaining five women, the samples were slightly different. The team found an enzyme called a prostatic-specific antigen (PSA) that was present in small amounts in these volunteers’ ejaculated urine. “PSA, produced in men by the prostate gland, is more commonly associated with male ejaculate,” says Thomson at New Scientist, “where its presence helps sperm to swim. In females, says Salama, PSA is produced mainly by the Skene glands.”

So when females ejaculate during an orgasm, they either release plain old urine, or urine that’s been diluted by fluids from the female prostate gland.

Thomson spoke to an independent expert, Beverley Whipple, a neurophysiologist from Rutgers University in the US, who said that when we talk about female ejaculation, we should really only be referring to when PSA is released, not urine.

The remaining mysteries surrounding this phenomenon are whether or not it serves some kind of adaptive function, and why so few women are able to do it. Researchers think it could have to do with perhaps some women not producing PSA at all, or maybe the size and shape of an individual’s prostate gland comes into play. Salma thinks all women should be able to squirt “if their partner knows what they are doing”, New Scientist reports.

Source: New Scientist

This indoor farm is 100 times more productive than outdoor fields

Image: GE Reports

In Japan, the world’s largest indoor farm produces 10,000 heads of lettuce each day with 99 percent less water than outdoor fields. All hail the farm of the future.

by FIONA MACDONALD   13 JAN 2015

This incredible indoor “food factory” in Japan is claiming that it can produce 100 times more heads of lettuce per day than an outdoor counterpart of the same area, and also produces 80 percent less food waste.

The entire thing is stored inside a building measuring around 2,500 square metres (25,000 square feet), and now versions of the set-up are being built in Hong Kong – with future construction planned in Russia, mainland China and Mongolia.

If that’s not impressive enough, the farm, which is the largest in the world and housed in Japan’s Miyagi prefecture – the site of the 2011 earthquake – also uses 99 percent less water than outdoor fields, according to Gloria Dickie from National Geographic.

The Mirai Group, the company behind the development, chose Miyagi for the site of their farm following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as there were food shortages in the region and concern over the safety of growing crops in the soil north of Fukushima. The building they chose for the project was an old, abandoned Sony factory, but the farm has now given it new life, as well as providing a local and sustainable supply of fresh food.

The entire thing is powered by 17,500 LED lights, specially designed for the project by GE Japan, which run at a wavelength that increases photosynthesis and cell division in the lettuce crops. And the scientists have also shortened the day and night length, as well as carefully controlled the humidity and temperature of the factory, in order to speed up the growth of the plants an unheard of two and a half times.

The incredible water savings come from the fact that, in outdoor farms, a lot of water is lost as it seeps through the soil and evaporates into the atmosphere. But the enclosed factory allows the water to be collected and recycled from the environment. And the lettuce crop itself is also more efficient – the plants don’t have a core, which greatly reduces food waste.

Now Mirai is looking into expanding its vision.

“I believe that, at least technically, we can produce almost any kind of plant in a factory,” plant physiologist and CEO of Mirai, Shigeharu Shimamura, told Gloria Dickie from National Geographic back in July 2014.

“But what makes most economic sense is to produce fast-growing vegetables that can be sent to the market quickly. That means leaf vegetables for us now. In the future, though, we would like to expand to a wider variety of produce,” he added.

Their ultimate goal is to build more of the indoor farms around the world – particularly in regions where pollution, drought, flooding or climate stand in the way of food production – and use the water savings to help fuel complementary outdoor projects.

“Using this method, if we can build plant factories all over the world, we can support the food production to feed the entire world’s population. This is what we are really aiming for,” Shimamura told Dickie.

At the moment, half of the planting and harvesting process is regulated by manual workers, while half is done by robots – but in the future the company plans to automate the whole thing to make it even more efficient.

Although some people will undoubtedly dislike the idea of our vegetables essentially becoming industrialised, with up to 900 million people around the world currently suffering from starvation, it’s an exciting and much-needed breakthrough that paves the way for the farms of the future.

Watch the GE Japan video below to find out more about the development of the farm.

Source: National GeographicWeb Urbanist

Your computer can now predict your personality better than your own family

Image: Denys Prykhodov/Shutterstock.com
By FIONA MACDONALD   13 JAN 2015

A new study has revealed that a computer model can accurately predict your personality based solely on your Facebook likes. And it does a better job than your own mother.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Stanford University in the US looked at how well a computer could assess the personalities of more than 86,000 volunteers, based solely on the pages they “like”.

And, depressingly, after analysing enough of our likes, the only person who knows us better than a computer is our spouse, the results show. Sorry mum.

“Previously we showed that you can use people’s Facebook likes to predict what their personality is like,” one of the Cambridge researchers David Stillwell told Victoria Turk from Motherboard. “But where this study’s different is that, whereas before we just showed you can make a prediction, this time we thought, how accurate is that really?”

The team assessed this by asking the volunteers fill in a 100-question personality test that rates five main traits, such as their extroversion, neuroticism and openness.

They then asked people who were close to more than 30,000 of them, such as their spouses, friends, co-workers, roommates, and family, to fill out a shorter version of the quiz.

The computer filled out the same 10-question quiz using knowledge it had gained entirely from Facebook likes of things such as movies, bands, books and other fan pages (likes on photos and status updates weren’t taken into account).

The results, which have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that a computer was better at judging the volunteer’s personality than a work colleague, family member or friend after analysing 150 Facebook likes. But it took examining 300 Facebook likes for the model to outdo someone’s spouse.

84772 webWu Youyou/Michal Kosinski

Given that we all now have around 227 likes (and growing), this means that computers potentially have the power to know a lot about us. Unfortunately, the results also suggest we may not be as unique as we like to think.

Stillwell gave Turk some examples of how some of our likes can correspond to our personality. As she explains for Motherboard:

“Extroverted people like meeting new people (go figure), parties, beer pong, and making people laugh, but also less obvious things like the jeweller Tiffany & Co. Introverts, on the other hand, like mathematics, animé, Minecraft, Star Trek, and J.R.R Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. ‘Many of them are rather stereotypical, but these are backed by data,’ he added.”

This computer model could now be used to predict people’s personalities, to help employers hire the right staff, and also target advertisements and content more effectively to Internet users.

“In the future, computers could be able to infer our psychological traits and react accordingly, leading to the emergence of emotionally-intelligent and socially skilled machines,” said the lead author Wu Youyou, from Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre, in a press release.

“In this context, the human-computer interactions depicted in science fiction films such as Her seem to be within our reach,” he added.

I guess given the amount of time we spend on social media, it was only a matter of time before our computers started to know us better than our closest friends. But now that we’re aware they do, I wonder how long it will take for us to start lying to them…

Sources: EurekAlertMotherboard

Apple Employees Confess All The Worst Things About Working At Apple

by 

A BBC investigation for Panorama has exposed poor working conditions at factories making Apple products in China. The undercover team secretly filmed the iPhone production line and found Apple’s promises to protect workers were routinely broken. One undercover reporter – making parts for Apple computers – had to work eighteen days without a day off. Other workers were filmed falling asleep. Apple say they will investigate any concerns brought to them. Richard Bilton reports.

If you want to work in tech, you want the words “Apple Inc.” somewhere on your resume. That experience is widely regarded as a key that can unlock virtually any other type of employment opportunity.

But what is it really like to work at the most innovative tech company on the planet? Most people treasure their time there. As an Apple employee, you’re working on the most sought-after gadgets on the planet, alongside Silicon Valley’s brightest minds.

You’re doing something the entire rest of the world is jealous of.

But not every company is perfect, and Apple is no exception. Turns out there are some downsides to working at Apple.

We sifted our archives, Quora, and Glassdoor to put together this compilation of quotes from former employees about the worst aspects of life inside the Cupertino, Calif., empire. Take them with a pinch of salt — these are, after all, the low points of life at the top.

Apple’s secrecy is sometimes so strict it disrupts your family life.

Robert Bowdidge told Quora:

I couldn’t tell my wife anything; she knew I was working in a different building across the street and pulling very late nights, but she didn’t know what I was doing.  When I had to travel to Manchester UK to work with more of the Transitive folks, she asked to come along.  I had to say ‘no way’ – she worked for IBM at the time, and I knew that the project lead would freak at the thought of our chip vendor learning about the move.”

Your spouse will be told “to forget everything.”

bertrand serlet apple wwdc 2009YouTubeBertrand Serlet

Kim Scheinberg tells this story about her husband, Apple employee JK, who invented an Intel version of Mac OSX that ran on PCs. Bertrand Serlet, the svp of software engineering, liked the project:

“Bertrand sits JK down and has a talk with him about how no one can know about this. No one. Suddenly, the home office has to be reconfigured to meet Apple security standards.”

“JK points out to Bertrand that I know about the project. In fact, not only do I know about it, I am the person who named it.”

“Bertrand tells JK that I am to forget everything I know, and he will not be allowed to speak to me about it again until it is publicly announced.”

“I guess he had some kind of ‘Total Recall’ memory wipe in mind.”

Phil SchillerAPApple marketing chief Phil Schiller

“Everything, and I mean everything, is decided by the marketing team at Apple.”

This anonymous staffer says:

“Internally, the culture is of extreme secrecy, even more extreme politics and marketing driven decision making. Everything, and I mean everything, is decided by the marketing team at Apple, and 2 reviewers in east coast newspapers. I was shocked and flabbergasted at the role these reviewers had at Apple. As an engineer, I was told to tend to feature requests that were made by Mossberg and party. Scary, and makes me want to sell all my apple stock.”

“I could literally go an entire day without talking to anyone else.”

shh lips fingerSavannah Wise Owl / Flickr, CC

Not everyone gets to work on the Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino, as former intern Owen Yamuachi discovered:

“My team was located in a distant building on Vallco Parkway, a couple of miles away from the main campus at Infinite Loop. This meant that I was physically separate from most of the other interns, and also there was no cafe in that building. The building itself was also not very pleasant–it consisted mainly of dark, narrow hallways with absurdly high ceilings for some reason, and private offices for everyone. Having my own (needlessly huge) office meant that I could literally go an entire day without talking to anyone else. This has upsides (I had the longest periods of intense concentration I’ve ever had in my life) and downsides (it got quite lonely).”

“Paranoid management, disrespect, constant tension, and long hours.”

pressure cookerWikimedia Commons

This anonymous former employee appears to have hated their time at Apple:

“It entirely depends on the group that you’re in. Generally speaking it is a pressure cooker and all communication is one directional (guess which way that is).”

“Paranoid management, disrespect, constant tension, and long hours sum up most of the real culture in operations … Most of the people in SDM (supply demand management) see it as something they need to suck up for a few painful years after b-school so they can move on to a better gig with the Apple brand on their resume.  Like the investment banking of tech. Culture here is strictly top down: any attempt to streamline, impact change, or even discuss a better way to do anything is strictly frowned upon when it comes from the bottom.  Work longer/harder, don’t complain or try to fix any of the myriad broken systems or processes, and don’t forget that there are 10 people lined up outside to take your spot (your manager won’t forget).”

“Work here at your own risk. On the upside, cafe food is pretty good and dress is casual.”

“A fairly heavy corporate controlling hand.”

Richard FrancisRichard Francis / LinkedInRichard Francis

Richard Francis worked at Intel and got to know Apple employees when the two companies partnered on projects.

“There is a fairly heavy corporate controlling hand governing a lot of what Apple locally can / can’t ‘do’ as a business. That made for a fair degree of tension with some senior staff coming in from other parts of the technology industry.”

“I dreaded Sunday nights.”

Designer Jordan Price hated the long, rigid hours he was expected to work.

“I hardly (hardly meaning never) saw my daughter during the week because the hours were so inflexible. I had also taken a substantial pay cut, but I figured I was making a long-term career investment by working for such a prestigious company. On boarding was super bumpy, and they had so many passwords, accounts, and logins that it took nearly a month just for me to get on the server. There were meetings all the time which were disruptive to everyone’s productivity, but they seemed to be a necessary evil in a company that’s so large with such high-quality products.”

“… coworkers that stood their ground and set boundaries seemed to end up on a shit list of sorts and were out of the inner circle of people that kissed the producer’s ass. I started to become one of those people that desperately wanted Friday evening to arrive, and I dreaded Sunday nights.”

“You hardly have time to sleep.”

SleepImage Point Fr/Shutterstock

Interestingly, even former employees who say they loved working at Apple agree on Glassdoor that there is terrible work-life balance. Here’s a selection of Glassdoor reviews:

“Work a lot at night and sometimes you hardly have time to sleep.”

“Work life balance may be a bit tricky, people work their butts off here and surprisingly, at least for me, I don’t ever mind stay a few hours late, because I am treated well and can’t go 10 feet without running into something incredible.”

“Have to be available 24/7.”

If you’re working on a new product, you’ll be chained to it. Almost literally.

apple ipad mini with retina displayREUTERS/Robert Galbraith

An iPad developer told us this story about the lengths the company went to to ensure a prototype iPad didn’t leave the building:

“The criteria was that we had to have a room with no windows. They changed the locks on the door.”

“Three developers and I were the only people allowed to go in the room. Apple needed the names and social security numbers of the people who had access.”

“Apple needed to be able to drill a hole in the desk and chain the devices to desk. They used those bicycle cables.”

You may get paid less than you could make elsewhere.

Because everyone wants to work at Apple, pay is not so much of a concern, according to this Glassdoor commenter:

“Low salaries were a particularly common complaint from Apple employees on Glassdoor, primarily from those who identified as working in Apple’s retail stores, but also from business specialists, IT professionals and others at the company. That said, many positions at Apple do pay better than average.”

“It has become a more conservative execution engine.”

dilbert comic samsung apple 400via Dilbert 

Middle management asserted itself after Steve Jobs died.

“It looks like it has become a more conservative execution engine rather than a pushing-the-envelope engineering engine,” says Max Paley, a former engineering vice president who worked at Apple for 14 years until late 2011. “I’ve been told that any meeting of significance is now always populated by project management and global-supply management. When I was there, engineering decided what we wanted, and it was the job of product management and supply management to go get it. It shows a shift in priority.”

Read more:  http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-employees-confess-all-the-worst-things-about-working-at-apple-2014-4#ixzz3Ni1pVAKD

There are few jobs as paper-prestigious as working where the iPod was invented. Even though Apple lost its startup zeal many years ago, it’s still the Harvard of tech firms, surrounded by smooth lines and military-grade secrecy. On the other hand, we have this guy, who hated Apple so much he walked out.

Jordan Price is an app designer. To be an app designer at Apple, you would think, is akin to sketching shoes at Louboutin. When Price nailed an interview at Apple a month ago, he expected it to be his dream job—but according to this rare critical piece about the company’s culture, it was anything but:

I hardly (hardly meaning never) saw my daughter during the week because the hours were so inflexible. I had also taken a substantial pay cut, but I figured I was making a long-term career investment by working for such a prestigious company. On boarding was super bumpy, and they had so many passwords, accounts, and logins that it took nearly a month just for me to get on the server. There were meetings all the time which were disruptive to everyone’s productivity

Even worse, the lumbering asshole ghost of Steve Jobs still roams the halls (and haunts the managers), making belittling behavior OK:

My immediate boss, who had a habit of making personal insults shrouded as jokes to anyone below him, started making direct and indirect insults to me. He started reminding me that my contract wouldn’t be renewed if I did or didn’t do certain things…He was democratic about his patronizing and rude comments, but it didn’t make me feel any better when he directed them towards my team members. I felt more like I was a teenager working at a crappy retail job than a professional working at one of the greatest tech companies in the world.

After one final putdown from his boss, Price drew a line on the touchscreen and quit:

Then at lunch time I wiped the iPad data clean, put the files I had been working on neatly on the server, left all their belongings on my desk, and I got in my car and drove home. I left a message for my boss and told him he’s the worst boss I had ever encountered in my entire professional career and that I could no longer work under him no matter how good Apple might look on my resume.

The annals of Apple are full of storm-outs and firings, but a firsthand account is rare—people are either too scared or worshipful of the pearly mothership to criticize it at all. And after all, if you read the corporate mythology, being horrible to your inferiors is part of what Apple made such a perfection mill. Maybe things are finally getting so tyrannical inside, it’s worth speaking out.

WHAT is it really like to work for the world’s most innovative technology company?

According to a bunch of former employees, life at Apple isn’t as fun as the rest of us tend to imagine. Business Insider has compiled a series of quotes from those workers, and we’ve picked out the most interesting examples.

Of course, you’ll find dissatisfied employees in every company, so these accounts should be read with some scepticism.

But what are the former Apple workers complaining about?

THE SECRECY

“I couldn’t tell my wife anything,” Robert Bowdidge tells Quora. “She knew I was working in a different building across the street and pulling very late nights, but she didn’t know what I was doing.

“When I had to travel to Manchester in the UK to work with more of the Transitive folks, she asked to come along. I had to say ‘no way’ — she worked for IBM at the time, and I knew that the project lead would freak at the thought of our chip vendor learning about the move.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Source: Supplied

EVEN MORE SECRECY

Kim Scheinberg was married to an Apple employee, “JK”, who invented an Intel version of Mac OSX which ran on PCs. His boss was called Bertrand Serlet.

“Bertrand sits JK down and has a talk with him about how no one can know about this. No one. Suddenly, the home office has to be reconfigured to meet Apple security standards,” Ms Scheinberg says.

“JK points out to Bertrand that I know about the project. In fact, not only do I know about it, I am the person who named it.

“Bertrand tells JK that I am to forget everything I know, and he will not be allowed to speak to me about it again until it is publicly announced.”

THE LONELINESS

Owen Yamuachi was an Apple intern.

“I was physically separate from most of the other interns, and also there was no cafe in that building. The building itself was not very pleasant — it consisted mainly of dark, narrow hallways with absurdly high ceilings for some reason, and private offices for everyone,” Mr Yamuachi says.

“I could literally go an entire day without talking to anyone else. This has upsides (I had the longest periods of intense concentration I’ve ever had in my life) and downsides (it got quite lonely).”

People walk past an Apple store in New York City.

People walk past an Apple store in New York City. Source: AFP

THE LONG HOURS

Designer Jordan Price felt overworked.

“I hardly (hardly meaning never) saw my daughter during the week because the hours were so inflexible. I had also taken a substantial pay cut, but I figured I was making a long-term career investment by working for such a prestigious company.

“There were meetings all the time which were disruptive to everyone’s productivity, but they seemed to be a necessary evil in a company that’s so large with such high-quality products.

“I started to become one of those people that desperately wanted Friday evening to arrive, and I dreaded Sunday nights.”

THE PARANOID MANAGEMENT

“Generally speaking, it is a pressure cooker and all communication is one directional (guess which way that is),” says an anonymous former employee.

“Paranoid management, disrespect, constant tension, and long hours sum up most of the real culture in operations.

“Culture here is strictly top down. Any attempt to streamline, impact change, or even discuss a better way to do anything is strictly frowned upon when it comes from the bottom. Work longer/harder, don’t complain or try to fix any of the myriad broken systems or processes, and don’t forget that there are 10 people lined up outside to take your spot (your manager won’t forget).”

The late Steve Jobs.

The late Steve Jobs. Source: Supplied

THE MARKETING

“Internally, the culture is of extreme secrecy, even more extreme politics and marketing-driven decision making,” an anonymous staffer tells Quora.

“Everything, and I mean everything, is decided by the marketing team at Apple, and two reviewers in east coast newspapers. I was shocked and flabbergasted at the role these reviewers had at Apple.”

THE LOW PAY

“Low salaries were a particularly common complaint from Apple employees on Glassdoor, primarily from those who identified as working in Apple’s retail stores, but also from business specialists, IT professionals and others at the company,” says one former employee.

%d bloggers like this: