Staff picks for the week of July 13, 2015

 In News, Staff Picks

From hunger and employee worth to treasuring the past, this week’s picks speak to the human needs in all of us.

Staff Picks General

Spoiler Alert App Makes Donating Surplus Food as Easy as Tossing it in a Dumpster (Read by Heidi B.)

A whopping 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted. Ironically, nearly 50 million Americans have a hard time obtaining food. I try to be waste-conscious in the kitchen and supermarket, but since most waste occurs when businesses toss out products that are about to expire, a bigger effort is needed to make a real impact. That is exactly what Spoiler Alert is trying to do. The new B2B app connects businesses with donation organizations, keeping food in bellies instead of landfills, and saving businesses money along the way.

Could Cyberwar Cause a Library of Alexandria Event? (Read by Nick G.)

This one is for my fellow history buffs. The Library of Alexandria (Egypt) attempted to obtain as much information about history and people as possible, but was destroyed by fire. Now a startup, aptly named Alexandria, is trying to avoid a catastrophic event from wiping out our digital history using decentralized blockchain technology — the same technology used to prevent fraud in Bitcoin. The hope is that if a cyberattack erases a large part of data, the record will be available in more than one place. With the current state of cybersecurity, Alexandria might be more important than ever.

Trekkies, rejoice; your smartphone communicator is coming (Read by Camillia S.)

My mom is a self-proclaimed “Trekkie,” so I grew up watching old episodes of Star Trek against my will. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate retro television, so much so that this Star Trek-inspired Bluetooth handset is going on my wish list. It’s a pretty accurate replica, except for the fact that you actually can’t call Scotty (bummer!). The sound effects and the look should suffice, though. I love that antique and retro replicas are becoming must-haves in today’s digital age. It’s definitely a cool novelty item and perhaps the perfect Christmas gift for the Trekkie in your life.

Why Employee Ranking Can Backfire (Read by Ed M.)

After reading “Freakonomics” a few years ago, I realized I had a habit of using what is now called big data to prove my theories while engaged in political arguments, and ignoring the same data if it didn’t give me the desired talking points. (If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us do this.) That’s why I become concerned whenever I see companies using only big data to try and put numbers on employee productivity. While our ability to interpret big data continues to increase exponentially, this article proves that effectively managing employee productivity — and the high levels of employee satisfaction that come with being effectively productive – remain very much in human hands.

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