Intel says Apple and Qualcomm’s surprise settlement pushed it to exit mobile 5G

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Intel has clarified that it bowed out of the mobile 5G marketplace earlier this month, and now we know why: according to CEO Bob Swan, the company had concluded that there just wasn’t money in the business after Apple and Qualcomm settled their ongoing dispute — a settlement which meant Qualcomm would provide modems to Apple once again.

“In light of the announcement of Apple and Qualcomm, we assessed the prospects for us to make money while delivering this technology for smartphones and concluded at the time that we just didn’t see a path,” commented Swan in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The news that Intel had exited the 5G modem business came just hours after…

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DCIS Montbello student suing Denver Public Schools, DPS employees alleging failure to report her rape during school trip to France

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A former Denver Public Schools student is suing the district and employees at Denver Center for International Studies at Montbello, alleging she was raped during a school trip to France after a DPS chaperone wrongfully housed the 17-year-old girl with young men and failed to properly report the girl’s alleged assault.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, uses the pseudonym “Jane Doe” to protect the identity of the teenage victim, who is now 19 years old.

The lawsuit alleges the school district and some of its employees violated Title IX and mandatory reporting laws, prohibiting the Denver student from accessing the education she deserved.

“This could have been so easily prevented,” said Eudoxie Dickey, one of the attorneys representing the former student. “This is a systemic issue for DPS. It’s so important that DPS understands how to prevent things like this from happening in the future, but if they keep letting these things occur and then fail to investigate, it just seems that they don’t really care about their female students’ safety, and that needs to change.”

A spokesman for Denver Public Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Doe, along with other DCIS Montbello students, had plans to attend a 2017 DPS spring break trip to France where students stayed with host families. When Doe contacted her host family and realized they had a son and another male exchange student staying in the house rather than the daughter she was originally told, the lawsuit said Doe met with trip adviser Roxanne Stern.

DPS policies said female students could only be housed with families who had daughters and vice versa.

“Despite her knowledge that this housing assignment was in blatant violation of strict DPS rules and policies, Defendant Stern made no efforts to ensure that she complied with DPS rules or policies, which were in place to protect students’ safety,” the lawsuit read, noting that Stern felt there was no time to switch arrangements and that Doe “just had to live” with it.

Stern could not immediately be reached for a request for comment.

Stern didn’t inform anyone before the trip of Doe’s housing arrangements, the lawsuit said.

According to the document, when the two-week trip began in March 2017, the male host student Doe was staying with immediately began to “groom” Doe for sexual purposes — initiating “unwanted physical touch” he claimed were French customs and telling the teen girl that she was afraid to have fun and behave like her peers.

On the last night of her stay with the host family, Doe said the male host student raped her as she tried pushing him off during a movie, later “breaking down in tears and feeling disgusted, severely emotionally distressed and violated.”

Doe told Stern about the assault.

Aside from telling Doe that she was sorry and the incident was not her fault, the lawsuit said Stern — a mandatory reporter of child abuse or neglect under Colorado law and DPS policies — took no action to report the situation or offer to find Doe medical or psychological help. Doe, Stern and the rest of the students continued on with their trip.

When the trip was over and students returned to school, Stern told DCIS Montbello Principal Julie Catherine Murgel about the alleged sexual assault. Murgel called a meeting between herself, Doe’s mother, Stern, a DCIS dean and a social worker.

When Doe’s mother said she wanted justice for what had been done to her daughter, the lawsuit said Murgel responded that it would be difficult because the alleged assault happened in another country with different laws.

The lawsuit said Stern was “either terminated or forced” to resign for being “at fault in causing (Doe’s) sexual assault and then unreasonably delaying notifying anyone.”

However, Stern was rehired a year later at the Denver School of Science and Technology.

“By its decision to rehire Defendant Stern, DPS ratified her outrageous conduct which resulted in a reasonably foreseeable sexual assault upon Plaintiff during an official DPS school activity,” the lawsuit said.

DPS did not immediately confirm whether Stern was still teaching within the district, although her contact information was listed as a civics teacher at DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School.

Dickey said that the former student remains traumatized from the alleged rape and mishandling.

“It really hindered her ability to take advantage of her educational opportunities,” Dickey said. “She got the lowest grades of her school career after that. She didn’t want to shower. She didn’t want to eat. She didn’t want to go to school. She didn’t want to go to cheerleading practice.”

Doe is seeking an award of damages along with a request for DPS to rectify its Title IX and mandatory reporting training. Doe wants the Denver Police Department or a similarly-qualified agency to conduct an annual independent review of the school district’s compliance with mandatory reporting laws.

“This really isn’t about money for her,” Dickey said. “She wants to make sure that DPS is held accountable for the situation they placed her in and make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else. This is something no 17-year-old — or anyone — should have to go through. It will affect her for the rest of her life.”

Amazon Prime’s dominance is spurring new startup opportunities

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E-commerce is one of the economy’s bright spots; U.S. e-commerce sales have nearly doubled in five years, and now exceed $500 billion. Unsurprisingly, Amazon has swooped in to claim a disproportionate share of the riches, gobbling up nearly 50 percent of the market share, driving competitors out of business and solidifying its position as one of the world’s most valuable companies.

As part of its complete transformation of the e-commerce landscape, Amazon has made two-day shipping the new industry standard — a standard which most would-be competitors can’t meet on their own without either investing millions in infrastructure or partnering with their greatest competitive threat. Fortunately for merchants, some exciting new logistics startups are emerging to help them compete with Amazon.

Amazon’s chokehold

In classic coopetition form, Amazon now enables more than a million merchants to sell through  Amazon Marketplace. It offers these merchants two-day shipping via a cheap flat fee per package — a fee so cheap, in fact, that no shipping provider can come close to matching it. Amazon is doubling down on its advanced fulfillment network by investing $700 million in Rivian, an electric truck company; augmenting its fleet of 50+ delivery planes; and rolling out 20,000 Mercedes-Benz delivery vans.

Two-day delivery is so compelling, often doubling sales, that many merchants are becoming increasingly dependent on Amazon despite the obvious risks of partnering with the juggernaut. This in itself is spurring startups that help merchants thrive on Amazon. Amazon forces those merchants who work with them to compete side-by-side with other brands, including the company’s own private-label collection that it promotes aggressively. Amazon also pressures merchants to provide their lowest prices on Amazon — despite the fact that Amazon takes a significant revenue percentage. Even then, Amazon still might suddenly kick merchants off its platform without prior notice.

Once merchants sell on Amazon, they often find it impossible to diversify to other platforms with higher margins and more control because they become reliant on Amazon’s unbeatable two-day delivery price. This pressure is making merchants increasingly nervous as Amazon squeezes them from all sides. Merchants are desperately seeking solutions to help them get out of Amazon’s chokehold. A new batch of startups is seizing the opportunity to provide just that.

Aggregated delivery routes

Transportation accounts for more than 75 percent of delivery costs. Merchants can save millions by pooling together their shipping, trucking and last-mile delivery costs. Traditionally, this pooling was done by expensive freight brokers on pen and paper. Today, companies like Flexport, which just raised $1 billion, and Convoy, which was just valued at more than $1 billion, can more effectively match shippers and carriers to combine packages and lower costs.

Addicted to convenience, consumers keep demanding that their merchandise arrive ever more quickly.

Last-mile delivery companies like ShipBob, which recently closed a $40 million investment round, are also beginning to offer Amazon-like two-day shipping solutions. Deliv* takes an even more aggressive approach by offering same-day shipping for retailers via its couriers. By combining volume, these startups allow merchants to save more than 20 percent by negotiating for larger bulk discounts with carriers and by optimizing routes.

Distributed warehousing

To deliver within two days, merchants must have access to warehouses located near their customers. While companies like Walmart and Amazon might be able to invest billions in multiple distribution centers located throughout the U.S., smaller merchants and distributors can rely on startups like Flexe and Darkstore to provide on-demand storage in pooled warehouses across the country. Rather than keeping everything in a central warehouse thousands of miles away, merchants can use artificial intelligence to predict consumer demand and ship inventory to nearby distribution centers. These startups will become increasingly important as retailers seek to go beyond two-day shipping and offer one-day and even same-day shipping.

Robotics and automation

Despite the heavy upfront costs, robotics offer a cheaper long-term alternative to manual labor in many distribution centers. RightHand Robotics, which just landed $23 million, uses a robotic arm to help pick and place items at warehouses. Each arm can operate at the same speed as an experienced packer, while working around the clock. Other startups use automation to reduce last-mile delivery costs through a variety of methods, ranging from self-driving cars to delivery drones. Starship Technologies, for instance, is building a fleet of small self-driving robots to deliver locally. Although individual merchants may not purchase robotic arms, they can leverage logistics startups to reduce costs and improve efficiencies via these new automation techniques.

Addicted to convenience, consumers keep demanding that their merchandise arrive ever more quickly. Amazon is king of convenience and is constantly pushing the bar higher — or faster in this case. Merchants are struggling to keep up. Fortunately for them, a new generation of logistics startups are helping them compete. By creating solutions for the logistics infrastructure of the future, these startups are helping merchants stay in the race against Amazon.

* Denotes Trinity portfolio company

Luminary ‘retooling’ after podcasters request removal from service

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Last month, a New York Times piece heralded the arrival of Luminary. The story focused on the startup’s healthy funding (almost $100 million) and its “subscription-based business model that it hopes will push the medium into a new phase of growth.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a better circumstances under which to launch your startup.

A month and half later, Luminary is live, and most of that good will seems to have evaporated. A number of prominent podcast hosts have requested that their shows be pulled from the “Netflix of podcasts.”

The $8 a month premium service has added shows to its walled off network without the permission of creators. There are several TechCrunch shows up there, including Original Content, Mixtape, Equity and several now defunct titles. My personal podcast somehow mad it on there, as well.

In some ways, it’s not entirely dissimilar from the way services like iTunes provide podcasts, but many have complained about a key issue with how shows are served up. The service clarified on Twitter today that it’s not re-hosting files as initially suspected. “Luminary is not caching any audio content for any open feed podcast,” it writes. “The Luminary audio link is simply a reference link that is marking audio metadata as the file is called through our proxy.”

The company says it’s using this method to save download/streaming time, routing traffic through their own proxy servers is a good way to deprive creators of important metrics they use to attract sponsors. Others have complained that the service clips out links to fundraising campaigns in the body of the show notes.

Popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience is among the growing number of shows that have been pulled from the service. “There was not a license agreement or permission for Luminary to have The Joe Rogan Experience on their platform,” a rep for the show told Nieman Lab.

After being pulled, the show’s artwork was replaced with a bold white on black lettering reading “This content is unavailable at this time. Learn why.” That explanation can be found in the show description, which reads,

The Joe Rogan Experience is not available on the Luminary service at this time. At Luminary, we’re investing in technology to improve podcast listening for fans like you so we built a free app that welcomes hundreds of thousands of public RSS feed podcasts. This publisher has chosen not to take advantage of this free distribution. Head to our homepage for other great podcasts we recommend. Thank you for choosing to listen with us.

That’s a bad look from Luminary. A simple “The Joe Rogan Experience is not available on the Luminary service at this time” would have sufficed here. Instead the service chose to grind its axe on the page of a show that never asked to be there in the first place. As a new startup in the space, Luminary would be well suited to listen to podcasters, as it hopes to draw in more talent for original content.

A statement that has since been offered to TechCrunch strikes a more consolatory tone,

Luminary appreciates the feedback we’ve received today about how our technology works. We’ve heard you and want to explain what we have done in response. To be absolutely clear: Luminary has never hosted or cached audio content for any open RSS feed podcast. We used a pass-through approach purely because we believed it would improve performance and speed for our users when listening to public feed audio files, particularly from smaller hosts. We now see that this approach caused some confusion. We have spoken with multiple hosting providers who suggested changes we could make to clarify that public feed audio is not being hosted or cached by Luminary, and ensure that hosts receive the data to which they are accustomed. We have already implemented those changes for iOS and Android, and are working to retool web player settings.

No specifics have been given for the changes, but there are likely to be some more growing pains as the company navigates its service around the medium’s highest profile creators.

MuseNet generates original songs in seconds, from Bollywood to Bach (or both)

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Have you ever wanted to hear a concerto for piano and harp, in the style of Mozart by way of Katy Perry? Well, why not? Because now you can, with OpenAI’s latest (and blessedly not potentially catastrophic) creation, MuseNet. This machine learning model produces never-before-heard music basic on its knowledge of artists and a few bars to fake it with.

This is far from unprecedented — computer-generated music has been around for decades — but OpenAI’s approach appears to be flexible and scalable, producing music informed by a variety of genres and artists, and cross-pollinating them as well in a form of auditory style transfer. It shares a lot of DNA with GPT2, the language model “too dangerous to release,” but the threat of unleashing unlimited music on the world seems small compared with undetectable computer-generated text.

MuseNet was trained on works from dozens of artists, from well-known historical figures like Chopin and Bach to (comparatively) modern artists like Adele and the Beatles, plus collections of African, Arabic, and Indian music. Its complex machine learning system paid a great deal of “attention,” which is a technical term in AI work for, essentially, the amount of context the model uses to inform the next step in its creation.

Take, for instance, a piece by Mozart. If the model only attended to a couple seconds at a time, it would never be able to learn the larger musical structures of a symphony as it grew and receded, switched tones and instruments. But the model was given enough virtual brainspace to hold onto about four full minutes of sound, more than enough to grasp something like a slow start to a big finish, or a basic verse-chorus-verse structure.

You’re telling me Haydn didn’t directly influence Shania? Get real.

Theoretically, that is. The model doesn’t actually understand music theory, just that this note followed this note, which followed this note, which tends to come after this type of chord, and so on. Its creations are elementary in their structure, but it’s pretty clear listening to them that it is indeed successfully aping the songs it ingested.

What makes it impressive is that a single model does this reliably across so many types of music. AIs have been created, like the fabulous Google Doodle for Bach’s birthday a couple weeks back, that focus on a specific artist or genre. And as a comparison I’ve been listening to, which creates just the type of sparse ambient music I like to listen to while I work (If you like it too, check out one of my favorite labels, Serein). But both those models have their limits very strictly defined. Not so with MuseNet.

In addition to being able to belt out infinite bluegrass or baroque piano pieces, MuseNet can apply a style transfer process to combine the characteristics of both. Different parts of a work can have different attributes — in a painting you might have composition, subject, color choice, and brush style to start. Imagine a Pre-Raphaelite subject and composition but with Impressionist execution. Sounds fun, right? AI models are great at doing this because they sort of compartmentalize these different aspects. It’s the same type of thing in music: The note choice, cadence, and other patterns of a pop song can be drawn out and used separately from its instrumentation — why not do Beach Boys harmonies on a harp?

It’s a little hard, however, to get a sense of the likes of Adele without her distinctive voice, and the rather basic synths the team has chosen cheapen the effect overall. And after listening to the “live concert” the team gave on Twitch for a bit, I wasn’t convinced that MuseNet is the next hit machine. On the other hand, it pretty regularly hit a good stride, especially in jazz and classical improvisations, where a bit of an off note can be played off and the rhythms don’t feel so contrived.

What’s it for? Your idea is as good as anyone’s, really. This field is quite new. MuseNet’s project lead, Christine Payne, is pleased with the model and has already found someone to use it:

As a classically trained pianist, I’m particularly excited to see that MuseNet is able to understand the complex harmonic structures of Beethoven and Chopin. I’m working now with a composer who plans to integrate MuseNet into his own compositions, and I’m excited to see where the future of Human/AI co-composing will take us.

MuseNet will be available for you to play with through mid-May, at which point it will be taken offline and adjusted based on feedback from users, and later it will be at least partially open sourced. I imagine popular combinations and ones that people listened to all the way through will get a bit more weight in the tweaks. Here’s hoping they add a bit more expression to the MIDI execution as well — it does often feel like these pieces are being played by a robot. But it’s testament to the quality of OpenAI’s work that they frequently sound perfectly good as well.

The Markup faces staff exodus and funder scrutiny following ouster of Julia Angwin

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The Markup appears to be facing a staff revolt — and its financial backers may be reconsidering their support — following the firing of editor-in-chief Julia Angwin.

When the site was announced last fall, it was backed by $20 million from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, with additional funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The goal was to do data-driven journalism about the impact of technology on society.

Angwin and her co-founder Jeff Larson seemed particularly well-suited for the job — both are award-winning journalists who worked together at ProPublica, where they did impactful reporting around topics like Facebook’s ad practices.

However, Angwin was fired on Monday, a move she blamed in interviews on executive director Sue Gardner’s plan to turn the site into “a cause, not a publication,” with headlines like “Facebook is a dumpster fire.”

This, Angwin said, was at odds with her own dedication to “evidence-based, data-driven journalism.”

Larson, who’s now become editor-in-chief, offered a different account on Medium, where he said work had fallen “far, far behind” by the end of 2018: “Hiring was slow. Recruitment was slow. Even as of this month, we didn’t have stories banked. We didn’t have editorial processes in place to accept and develop pieces.”

He said that he and Angwin were both asked to take management classes, but she refused. (Angwin acknowledged that she may have had things to learn about being editor-in-chief, but she noted that she’s led investigative teams in the past, and she said, “There was never any attempt to guide me into that learning.”)

Larson also alluded to other issues that led to “a breakdown in trust between the three of us as co-founders.” He said there were attempts to find other roles for Angwin, but she “refused to discuss any role other than Editor in Chief, and would not consider any other configuration. So unfortunately we made the decision to remove her from that role.”

The editorial team has sided with Angwin, with all of them posting a statement supporting her and praising her “effectiveness as a manager and an editor.” Five of the seven editorial team members also resigned in protest.

As a result of all the controversy, Newmark and the other funders of The Markup have issued a statement of their own, saying that while they’re still “committed to the mission of The Markup,” they’ve also decided “it is necessary to reassess our support and we are taking steps to do so.”

Digital Trends Live: Alexa knows where you live, lab-grown meat, and more

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On this episode of DT Live, we discuss how Amazon Alexa’s audit team has access to locations, additions to Verizon’s 5G road map, the future of food technology, a review of Sony’s 8K TV, and more.

The post Digital Trends Live: Alexa knows where you live, lab-grown meat, and more appeared first on Digital Trends.

The Avalanche’s Cale Makar and Sam Girard: Together on the power play at last?

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Cale Makar and Sam Girard: Together at last?

Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar gave Avs fans a taste of what they’ve been dreaming about during practice late Thursday morning at Family Sports Ice Arena, pairing his star rookie, Makar, and second-year defenseman, Girard, together on the second power-play unit in preparation for Friday’s Stanley Cup Playoffs second-round opener at San Jose.

“(It’s) not really an audition,” Bednar said after practice. “But just trying to keep guys involved in the practice, because all we had (Thursday) was the warm-up and the power play and the penalty kill. And we have some good options there; we’re going to select what we feel is our best option on both power plays and just go from there.”

The 20-year-old Girard missed most of the Avs’ 4-1 series upset of the top-seeded Calgary Flames with a shoulder injury suffered in Game 2. His absence allowed Bednar to activate Makar, the 2019 Hobey Baker winner out of UMass, and insert the rookie into the defensive rotation, making him just the fifth NHL player since 1989 to go from a Frozen Four to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the same season — and the first since 2012.

Makar scored in his NHL debut in Game 3 against his hometown Flames, becoming the first college-to-Cup player to pull that off in his debut since Rod Brind’amour did it with St. Louis in the 1989 postseason.

A combination of Makar and Girard, who tallied 27 points on four goals in the regular season, would potentially partner two of the Avs’ most offensively skilled blueliners on the same unit, adding even more depth — and more firepower — to the power play for the Sharks series.

It could also signal that Bednar intends to go with seven defensemen and 11 forwards for the second round, although the coach was keeping his cards tucked close to his chest when asked about possible pairings for Game 1.

“There’s been lots of thoughts (about that),” Bednar said with a grin. “But that’ll be determined later.

“I’m not going to give you our lineup before I give our players our lineup.”

The coach did confirm that both Girard and forward Derick Brassard (flu-like symptoms/illness) have the green light to go Friday night.

“Everyone’s at our disposal right now,” he said.

Mary J. Blige, Lizzo, Wiz Khalifa and more Colorado concerts on sale Friday

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The Royalty Tour will bring R&B titan Mary J. Blige and influential rapper Nas to one of the region’s biggest venues when it stops at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre on Aug. 7. Tickets for the all-ages show are on sale at 10 a.m. April 26. ($35-$250,

Body-positive singer and rapper Lizzo imperiled her role as a critical darling this week when she slammed reviewers (who have been busy writing about new album “Cuz I Love You”) for not being musicians themselves — and wishing unemployment on any who weren’t. That prompted an understandable Twitter backlash, but there’s little chance it will diminish excitement for Lizzo’s Oct. 15-16 concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium. Tickets are on sale at noon April 26. (Prices TBA,

Wiz Khalifa’s Decent Exposure Summer Tour, which arrives at the Fillmore Aug. 6, will feature Moneybagg Yo, DJ Drama and others as part of its 29-city outing, which was announced during Coachella. Tickets for the 16-and-up Denver show are on sale at 10 a.m. April 26. (Prices TBA,

Dropkick Murphys and Clutch are co-headlining a coast-to-coast fall tour, including an Oct. 5 concert at Broomfield’s FirstBank Center. Tickets for the all-ages concert are on sale at 10 a.m. April 26. ($30-$50,

The bill for the DJ-centric lineup known as Sluggtopia 3: Kill the Noise — at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Oct. 4 — features back-to-back sets by co-headliners Snails and Kill the Noise, with opening sets from Rusko, Sullivan King, Krimer and Decadon. Tickets for the all-ages show are on sale at 10 a.m. April 26. ($40-$75,

AEG Presents’ brand new, soon-to-open venue in the RiNo Art District, Mission Ballroom, continues to add shows with this week’s announcement of the Social Distortion and Flogging Molly double-bill on Sept. 13. Tickets for the concert, with opener Le Butcherettes, are on sale at 10 a.m. April 26. ($50-$99.50,

The ska diehards in New Jersey’s Streetlight Manifesto are also playing the still-unopened Mission Ballroom, this time on July 13. Tickets for the Thieves in the Night Tour are on sale. ($27.50-$78,

The music of ABBA will ring out at Red Rocks Amphitheatre again when Arrival from Sweden returns to get butts moving and benefit Colorado Public Television 12. Tickets for the May 8 concert are on sale ($45-$55, Also benefiting Channel-12: the American Led Zeppelin will play Red Rocks on Sept. 26, with tickets on sale May 3. ($49-$59,

Comic Kathleen Madigan, who never fails to pack a Colorado house, is headlining the Paramount Theatre as part of her fetchingly named Hot Dogs and Angels Tour. Tickets for the Nov. 2 concert are on sale at 10 a.m. April 26. ($39.50-$59.50,

Also in stand-up: Alt-comedy god and busy character actor Patton Oswalt is also playing the Paramount, this time on July 20. Tickets are on sale at 10 a.m. April 26. ($39.50-$69.50,

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As job-hunt season hits, Chicago-area workers in 3 hot tech roles tell how they got started and what they do all day

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With graduations fast approaching, a new crop of technology job candidates is preparing to enter the market. Their prospects look good.

Tech-related employment grew in the Chicago area by almost 6,000 jobs last year.

And if employment postings are any indication, there is also optimism around future…