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HELP!

My Assistant’s an App

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The latest online marketplaces specialize in matching up people with spare time and people who are willing to pay for some assistance with the basics.

You’ve never met her, but she’ll be your new assistant. For the hour. Or the day. Or however long you need. She (or he) will pick up your clothes, build your furniture, or check in on you after surgery. She’ll even help you prank your coworkers, encourage you to write that book you’ve been meaning to start and give you a morning wake-up call. Welcome to the age of assistance for the 99 percent who don’t have a full-time salaried employee to do their bidding, but also don’t have the minutes to spare for the holiday shopping, or dry cleaning pick-up.

TECH

Apple Alumni Branch Out

Simon Dawson / Bloomberg / Getty Images

From Android to LinkedIn, former Apple employees are shaking up Silicon Valley. But success at Apple doesn’t necessarily translate into success outside Cupertino.

Apple has long been known for luring the best talent the tech world can offer to its sumptuous Cupertino headquarters. Thousands of bright-eyed programming and design stars have passed through the storied doors. But where do you go from the top? Some of today’s most popular sites and gadgets were spearheaded by Apple brainpower. And it makes sense. A tendency for market-changing innovation along with a taste for aesthetics and simplicity are often apparent in the outgoing employee’s product.

STRESSED

Is Your Job Making You Sick?

The links between bad jobs and physical ailments are becoming ever clearer. Paula Froelich on why the wrong career could be killing you.

Sandy (not her real name) used to have one of the most enviable jobs in New York. By the time she was barely out of her 20s, she had her own column at a major newspaper, was invited to every party in the city, and seemed to live a fabulously glamorous life. Until one day, in 2008, to the shock of people in the industry, she quit. Her job—or, rather, her boss—was making her sick. Literally.“My boss was pretty into emotional debasement—she had a pattern of bullying and insults,” she says.

Why Can’t Walmart Be More Like Costco?

Frederic Brown / Getty Images

Because they’re really very different

One simply cannot have a discussion about Walmart's wages without someone bringing up Costco.  It seems to be de rigeur, like tipping your waiter, calling your mother on her birthday, and never starting your thank you notes with the words "Thank you".   So lets get it out of the way before the supper gong goes.Obviously, there's a pretty pleasing narrative for labor activists: A Sam's Club employee starts at $10 and makes $12.

How Do You Strike a Walmart?

Noah Berger, Reuters / Landoc

The tactics of the 1930s won't work

Matt Yglesias makes a very interesting point about the difference between Depression-era unionization, and now:Thinking about worker protests at Walmart and reading a biography of FDR, it's striking how far we are from the sort of context in which the United Auto Workers became a force in the industry. One key moment was a sit-down strike at a crucial General Motors facility in Flint, MI. The strike was crippling to GM's activities because the factory in question was basically a choke-point in the overall supply chain.

You’re Hired!

America’s Elf Economy

Janet Hostetter / AP Photo

Every year, retailers and shippers hire hundreds of thousands of temporary workers to handle the holiday-shopping rush.

Retailers are betting on strong holiday sales this year by investing more money in their employees. Store giants like Kohl’s, Target, and JCPenney are hiring up to 10 percent more temporary workers for this holiday season compared to last. Economists say the increases indicate a potential growth in seasonal sales as well as a strengthening economy.“We have a forecast that seasonal employment will bring in 585,000 to 625,000 jobs this year. This is comparable to the 617,000 that were reported last year.

At Microsoft, Women do Windows

From left: Getty Images; AP Photo

With the appointment of Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller, the world’s most valuable software franchise is now run by two women.

Since men invented the Internet, big tech hasn’t been too kind to humanity’s other half. Women hold just above a quarter of the computing industry’s jobs. And according to nonprofit Catalyst, which works to expand opportunities for women in big business, that share has actually declined over the past two decades. And the upper ranks of the industry tend to be dominated by males. Hewlett-Packard provided double exceptions with CEOs Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman.

Penguin House

Why Random Penguin Must Merge

LEON NEAL

Sixty years ago the founders of Penguin and Random House contemplated a merger, but now their successors are going forward with one. There’s no other choice against the might of Amazon and the huge changes of digital publishing writes Gayle Feldman.

The letter is headed “Notes for a possible basis whereby Random House could purchase Penguin Books for the American market.”With news about a merger between Bertelsmann’s Random House and Pearson’s Penguin, you might think that letter was written recently. In fact, it was dated July 17, 1956, and the men doing the negotiating were Random House founders Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer and Penguin founder Allen Lane.The romance between Random and Penguin may have started with their makers, but the digital revolution is forcing marriage on their descendants.

Geek Out!

Halo Invades Liechtenstein

Getty Images for Halo by Xbox 360

What happens when an American multinational turns a tiny European principality into a fake war zone?

To understand how badly Microsoft wants you to buy Halo 4, its biggest entertainment launch ever, it helps to understand how I ended up spooling guide-wire through a pyrotechnic minefield in the mountainous heart of Liechtenstein, trailed by a dozen other shivering nerds in makeshift camo.The night before Halloween, the Redmond-based company descended on the 62-square-mile central European principality. Smoke and sci-fi glyphs dotted alpine cliffs; scores of actors in military fatigues barked orders at tech bloggers; 10-plus military jeeps sped through the night, as Liechtensteinian teens watched agog.

Sites Down!

Blame It on the Cloud

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An Amazon facility in Northern Virginia that lost power this week took a chunk of the Internet down with it. Dan Gross on why the episode is a reminder that the vaunted cloud is much like the Web in the 1990s—young and far from foolproof.

When an Amazon facility lost power in a storm this week, it caused a major cloudburst of its own.A decent chunk of the Internet went down, with massive sites like Reddit and Foursquare unavailable, and smaller ones like TheRoot.com having difficulty posting new items. Entrepreneurs couldn’t get onto FastCompany.com. Even The Daily Beast’s commenting system went down. And plenty of other companies had difficulty accessing vital data. Those affected Tuesday morning were clients whose data was stored at an Amazon Web Services (AWS) facility in Northern Virginia.

Shame on You, Walmart!

With an Ohio Walmart hosting a holiday food drive for its own workers, The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky criticizes the notoriously stingy company for not paying them more.

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TECHNOLOGY

Text In for Help

Text In for Help

How a text messaging service is getting aid to the most remote areas hit by Sandy.

INTERACTIVE

Hollywood’s Scandalous Lothario

Hollywood’s Scandalous Lothario

The handsome actor discusses his role in ‘The Other Woman’ as a cheating lothario and one of the most controversial scenes in ‘Game of Thrones’ history.

COUNTRY PURSUIT

Your Next Addiction: 'The Archers'

The Fine Print

Putin’s Preemptive Medal of Honor

Groundwork

Hillary Clinton, Kindergarten Cop

Secret Deals

U.S. Weapons in Syrian Rebel Hands