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The Feds are investigating Uber for gender discrimination

Uber is facing questions over its paying practices.
Uber is facing questions over its paying practices.

Image: Getty Images/justin sullivan

Uber is coming under scrutiny in yet another federal investigation.

The ride-hailing company is the target of an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over its hiring practices and allegations of gender discrimination, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The EEOC investigation was opened nearly a year ago, in August 2017, after an employee complaint. The agency is currently investigating Uber’s “hiring practices, pay disparity, and other matters as they relate to gender,” according to the report.

News of the investigation comes one week after Uber’s HR chief Liane Hornsey resigned after an investigation into the executive. According to Reuters, the investigation stemmed from anonymous complaints, which alleged that Hornsey had mishandled employee allegations of discrimination. 

In a statement, an Uber spokesperson said the company had “made a lot of changes in the last 18 months.”

“We are continually improving as a company and have proactively made a lot of changes in the last 18 months, including implementing a new salary and equity structure based on the market, overhauling our performance review process, publishing Diversity & Inclusion reports, and rolling out diversity and leadership trainings to thousands of employees globally.”

The investigation underscores just how difficult it has been for the company to shake its prior scandals, even under the leadership of new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The company spent much of 2017 embroiled in scandal after a former engineer penned a harrowing account of the sexism and harassment she said she experienced at Uber.

The EEOC probe is now one of at least six federal investigations the company is facing. The U.S. Justice Department has at least five criminal investigations into the company underway, according to reports from last year. 

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The JBL Charge 3 can drop the bass, but won’t wow you when the party’s over

Waterproof • Charges your phone • Pounding bass
Bulky design • Sound quality just OK
The JBL Charge 3 doesn’t feature the best sound you can get, but it’s a feature-packed Bluetooth speaker ideal for outdoor parties.

Mashable Score3.5

Upon unboxing, the JBL Charge 3 was bigger than what I’ve come to expect from a portable Bluetooth speaker. Measuring just over 8 inches long and 3.5 inches high, this is a beefy speaker and charging station. The JBL Charge 3 is equipped with a 6,000mAh power bank and a USB port to charge your devices on the go.

Image: Charles Poladian/Mashable

While it’s not the most portable speaker around, there’s a lot to appreciate about the JBL Charge 3. It sports decent, but not great, sound quality and there are plenty of features you’d expect from a Bluetooth speaker retailing at $150.

Just make sure you save some space in you bag for it. The JBL Charge 3 reminds me of a footlong sandwich. That’s not what you might want to hear about a Bluetooth speaker, but stay with me for a second.

One hefty speaker

A good sandwich nails the ratio between the meat, cheese, toppings, condiments, and bread. It’s in harmony, and you can hold it in your hand, take a bite, and stay relatively clean. Too much of anything and then some things start spilling out and you either have lettuce on the floor or mustard on your face. It’s still a portable, handheld sandwich, but it’s not as functional or satisfying as that golden-ratio sandwich.

The bass radiators on the JBL Charge 3 can really pound things out.

The bass radiators on the JBL Charge 3 can really pound things out.

Image: Charles Poladian/Mashable

That too-big-sandwich experience is what the JBL Charge 3 reminds me of. It fits in my hand, but it’s sort of spilling out, too. It’s definitely portable, but it also weighs around 1.7 pounds — as much as some laptops. You can’t really dangle it from the handlebars of your bike or clip it to your backpack. Yeah, it’s portable, but definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum than, say, the JBL Clip 3.

And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, there are a lot of lightweight, waterproof Bluetooth speakers out there, but can they also charge your phone? That’s a great feature to have, even though it adds to the overall heft of the JBL Charge 3.

The JBL Charge 3 performs admirably as a Bluetooth speaker and charging station. There are also a lot of features you need and expect to make a portable Bluetooth speaker stand out from the competition.

Features aplenty

The oblong speaker has buttons on top, a rugged mesh exterior, and bass radiators on the sides (more on that in a moment). The speaker sits on a rubber pedestal that includes LED status indicator lights. There are a lot of dots on that pedestal, so let’s start there.

Image: CHARLES POLADIAN/MASHABLE

Equipped with a 6000mAh power bank, the JBL Charge 3 can, theoretically, be used only as a charging device and fully charge an iPhone 7 twice before needing to be recharged. Fully charging the speaker itself takes 4.5 hours and playtime sits around 20 hours depending on use and volume. Opening up the charging flap reveals a mini-USB input, a USB output, and a 3.5mm aux input. 

All the buttons to operate the JBL Charge 3 are on top of the speaker, raised so you can operate them by touch. The JBL Connect button lets you connect multiple Charge 3 speakers. You can skip songs by pressing the Play/Pause button twice, but there’s no way to go backward. So, if you want to hit repeat on that summer jam, you’ll have to do it from your phone or paired device. 

The JBL Charge 3 has features on top of features. We’ve already talked about the battery pack, but it’s also waterproof and can be submerged in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. That’s practically a necessary feature for a go-to portable speaker these days, especially one that’s retailing for $150.

Image: CHARLES POLADIAN/MASHABLE

While it’s not drop-tested, there are a lot of rubberized components to avoid being labeled as fragile. The durable fabric face looks nice and can withstand a round or three in the park or in the dirt. 

The exposed bass radiators are mostly a cosmetic feature so you can “see” the low end in action. We’ll talk about the actual bass soon, but it’s a bit of flash that doesn’t impress me much. It’s neat the first time around, but you’re likely using the Charge 3 at a party or in a large group so it’ll mostly go unnoticed. 

Since the bass radiators are out in the open, there’s the slightest chance that you can drop it in just the right (or wrong) way to damage them. There are rubber notches that give the radiators around a half-inch cushion, so you’ll also have to be pretty unlucky for that to happen. These are things I have to think about because I’ve dropped my phone on a rock and cracked my screen before, so I know the odds are not always in my favor.

There are even more features when you use the JBL Connect app. I’m not a huge fan of these apps because they are either barren or too clunky for their own good. There are some useful features and updates within the app to make it worth a download, but I’m still not a fan of these apps.

You’ll probably have to install a firmware update, as I did, before you can get started with the app. 

In the app you can select “Party Mode” to pair up to 100(!) JBL Connect-compatible speakers or select “Stereo Mode” to set two JBL speakers as left/right channels. Pushing the setting wheel opens up the other features in the app. You can switch between Play/Pause to control music or activate a Voice Assistant, current support for Siri or Google Now, by pressing the Play/Pause button.

You can also turn the Charge 3 into a speakerphone and turn off the audio feedback sounds. And, if you’re into personalization, you can change the name of the Charge 3 to something like, “Charles’ Sound Machine,” if you’re so inclined.

All about that bass

The Charge 3 booms. It’s a battering ram that lets you know it’s here to party. JBL emphasized the bass with the Charge 3 and it definitely delivers in that department. You can hear, feel, and even see how much bass the Charge 3 is packing thanks to those exposed bass radiators.

Image: Charles Poladian/Mashable

However, while the speaker plays loud, and the bass will definitely satisfy, the overall sound quality is only fine. I never stopped to marvel at the mix or found myself getting lost in the details of a song. 

Songs sound like they should, but there’s no real richness or warmth. Great speakers invite you into the music and create that one-to-one connection with the listener. You may be in a packed party, but you can’t help but get lost for a second in a song’s chorus. We’ve all had those experiences, but the Charge 3 comes up just short in this department. Still, bassheads will definitely love how much this portable Bluetooth speaker thumps.

In a bright red nutshell

It’s hard to question the utility of the JBL Charge 3 since it’s both a portable Bluetooth speaker and a charging station. I appreciate its overall heft, even if it means making a bit of room in my bag. 

As a summer or party speaker, there’s a lot to like with the Charge 3. It’s waterproof, can be paired with multiple JBL speakers, and can double as a speakerphone if you just so happen to need to take a call by the pool.

Overall, the JBL Charge 3 is a versatile device that works well as a party speaker and looks the part, too. However, the generally fine, but not exceptional, sound holds the JBL Charge 3 from truly standing out from the crowd.

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos became the richest person in modern history today

He was worth more than $150 billion this morning, which made him the richest man in modern history. This even takes into account inflation when Microsoft founder Bill Gates was worth $100 billion in 1999.
He was worth more than $150 billion this morning, which made him the richest man in modern history. This even takes into account inflation when Microsoft founder Bill Gates was worth $100 billion in 1999.

Image: J. Merritt/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and chief executive, is certainly having a happy Prime Day today.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily tracker of the world’s richest people, Bezos was worth more than $150 billion this morning, which made him the richest person in modern history. 

The achievement even takes into account inflation when Microsoft founder Bill Gates was worth $100 billion in 1999. That wealth would equate to about $149 billion today.

Although Bezos has since fallen back to a measly $145 billion net worth from his peak this morning, his rank as the world’s richest person has been on-and-off since July 2017. Bezos and Gates have swapped spots on lists of the world’s wealthiest people depending on how well their respective companies Amazon and Microsoft perform.

But Bezos is at the moment around 60 percent richer than Gates, who is only worth $95 billion today. Although that’s significantly less than what Bezos is worth, Gates spreads his wealth and Bezos simply doesn’t (his first donation ever was made just this year).

It’s worth noting that Gates has given away such large chunks of his fortune that he would actually have around the same net worth as Bezos if he still owned all of those assets: billions of dollars and more than 700 Microsoft shares.

He’s been giving to charitable foundations since the 1990s and even founded his namesake Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that works to better healthcare and reduce extreme poverty.

That’s the exact opposite of Bezos, because rather than being charitable, Bezos has a history of stinginess and poorly treating those who work for him.

Multiple reports have documented Amazon employees working in unpleasant conditions, and Washington Post employees recently protested their low pay and benefit packages (to a point that President Donald Trump, who constantly blasts media, even tweeted about the conflict).

Who knows how much tightfisted Bezos will be worth after this Prime Day. But we at least certainly know he’s having a great day — go enjoy those deals that help this man get even richer!

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British rescuer threatens legal action against Elon Musk following ‘pedo guy’ tweet

Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk could face legal action from a British diver who he publicly called 'pedo guy.'
Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk could face legal action from a British diver who he publicly called ‘pedo guy.’

Image: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

If you’re the billionaire founder of several publicly traded companies, here’s an easy PR strategy: Never tweet. It’s not worth it.

Elon Musk may soon learn this lesson the hard way now that a British diver who helped rescue 12 Thai boys from the treacherous depths of a cave threatened Musk with a lawsuit on Monday. 

The threat comes only one day after Musk went on a Twitter rant, culminating in the Tesla and SpaceX CEO accusing the British rescuer of being a pedophile in a now-deleted tweet.

The rift between the British diver — Vern Unsworth — and Musk started heating up last week after the rescuer said in a television interview that he believed Musk’s interest in the cave rescue mission was a “PR stunt.”

Unsworth added that Musk’s mini-submarine strategy “had absolutely no chance of working” despite the billionaire’s claims on Twitter.

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In a Twitter rant on Sunday, Musk attacked Unsworth, referring to the rescuer as a “pedo,” a slang term used to describe pedophiles.

In the now-deleted tweet, Musk also requested video of the cave rescue, then promised proof that his rescue mission strategy with the miniature submarine would have actually worked: 

Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were in the caves. Only people in sight were the Thai navy/army guys, who were great. Thai navy seals escorted us in — total opposite of wanting us to leave.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2018

You know what, don’t bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2018 

Only a few hours after his series of unhinged tweets, Musk deleted them. But that hasn’t been enough to satisfy Unsworth, who had reportedly been working around the clock in Thailand to save the 12 Thai kids and took offense to Musk’s self-appointed involvement.

“It’s not finished,” Unsworth said on Monday in a new interview with 7 News Sydney. When asked if he would consider taking legal action against Elon Musk, Unsworth answered, “Yes.”

The BBC reports Unsworth played a key role in the rescue effort, contrary to Elon Musk’s claims, and that Unsworth was one of the first people to travel into the caves in the first days after the boys went missing. The British diver reportedly helped recruit top international cave rescue experts for the mission as well.

Musk, who has recently made a habit of arguing with critics on Twitter, has been fiercely defending his involvement in the rescue mission. 

Last week, before the boys were successfully retrieved, Thai official Narongsak Osotthanakorn, who was in charge of the rescue mission’s command center, said that Musk’s miniature submarine was “not practical with our mission” though he thought the submarine was “technologically sophisticated.”

Musk responded by saying Mr. Osotthanakorn was “not the subject matter expert.” Major news outlets have reported otherwise.

As for how the feud between the British rescuer and Musk ends, it remains to be seen. Unsworth told AFP news that he will make a decision about whether to take legal action against Musk after flying back to the UK this week. Tesla shares fell in the wake of the controversy.

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Roku’s wireless speakers aim to make TV audio more bearable

Disclosure

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

Image: Roku

TV sound quality can vary wildly, but upgrading it can often cost a ton of money.

Roku aims to make better TV sound more accessible with its TV Wireless Speakers, a pair of easy-to-set-up stereo speakers that cost $199.99. The speakers themselves are small rectangles (sitting vertically like a Sonos One) and come in a pair, along with two remotes. However, the company did some neat work with the technology inside them.

The only cable you need is a power cord since connection from the speakers to the TV is via Roku Connect, a proprietary connection that eliminates the need for extra wiring — but also means the TV Wireless Speakers only work with TVs that support Roku’s tech. The setup seems pretty straightforward, but we have to wait to test these out in person.

Image: Roku

The speakers themselves run the same software as Roku TVs. As any owner of Bluetooth headphones can say, syncing audio with video can be complicated, but Roku claims that, with Roku Connect, latency should not be an issue. 

Nice bonus: When you’re watching live TV, the speakers will automatically lower the volume during commercials and can raise it back up if it detects lower levels during the show.

With these speakers, Roku is not going after the high-end audio market but instead wants to provide a better sound experience for its TV customers. Plus, each speaker has Bluetooth connectivity for music streaming, which is a bonus.

The Roku TV Wireless Speakers along side the two remotes.

The Roku TV Wireless Speakers along side the two remotes.

Image: roku

A traditional remote and a Touch Tabletop Remote are included. This new Touch remote features voice control and physical buttons. It will let you ask for content, change the volume, and make the control experience more natural. Roku will likely add its entertainment voice assistant to the platform in time for launch. And no, the remote is not always listening. 

These are Roku’s first audio-only products, and I wouldn’t be surprised if its offerings expand in the future. A soundbar seems like the most natural progression and would allow customers to get a surround sound experience.

Roku’s TV Wireless Speakers will land in October for $199.99 as a bundle. Early-bird customers will get a better price; from today until July 23rd the speakers are $149.99, but that price goes up too $179.99 from July 24 through October 15.

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