World’s No 1 bridge player suspended after failing a drugs test

Bridge is not known for doping violations and Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation, insists the drugs Geir Helgemo took were ‘not performance enhancing’

Bridge is not known for doping violations and Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation, insists the drugs Geir Helgemo took were ‘not performance enhancing’. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

The world No 1 bridge player has been suspended after failing a drugs test.

Geir Helgemo, who is Norwegian but represents Monaco in bridge events, tested positive for synthetic testosterone and the female fertility drug clomifene at a World Bridge Series event in Orlando in September.

After accepting he had breached anti-doping rules, Helgemo was suspended by the World Bridge Federation (WBF) until 20 November. He also had all titles, medals and points from the 2018 World Bridge Series revoked.

Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation, said the drugs were “not performance enhancing”. In a statement on the federation’s website, she said: “Geir Helgemo … has previously played for the Norwegian national team and is our biggest star. Many within the bridge community know Geir and respect him.

“It is his responsibility not to take substances that are on the doping list, even though in this instance they are not performance enhancing in bridge. I feel for Geir in this situation and hope he will come back stronger after his ban ends.”

The World Bridge Federation (WBF) is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and as such abides by World Anti-Doping Agency rules.


Failing to monetize your apps? Big data can hel

Image: iStock/milindri

Around the world, millions of entrepreneurs create apps and music, post their work to popular app sites, and then hope for sales. Few developers and musicians have the ability to make their apps stand out, and to find those people who are most likely to pay for what they have developed.

“The app market has the potential to grow to 100 billion dollars by 2020, whether it is through ads or purchases,” said Prabhjot Singh, cofounder and president of Pyze, which provides business intelligence that helps app developers monetize their apps. Singh points out that there is a monumental divide between those app developers who are extremely successful, making over one million dollars a day in revenue, and the vast majority of app developers, who have difficulty making money.

“Out of three million apps that are available over the internet, less than 50 percent of the developers make over $500 per month,” Singh observed.

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A major reason for the failure to monetize is that many app developers lack data and data intelligence that can steer them to better quality prospects for their products.

“Those companies that can build big data and analytics pipelines to learn about how their apps are being used and who uses them are in the best position to build a community of ‘sticky users’ who will continually use their apps,” said Singh. “They link into media outlets like Facebook and LinkedIn to retarget users. This is in sharp contrast to a couple of guys in a garage who develop an app, launch it, and just hope that it gets noticed and does well, which is where most app publishers are.”

SEE: How to break into the mobile app business with little cash and no programming skill(ZDNet)

Singh bases his data on comprehensive research that he and others conducted more than two years ago. “We talked with hundreds of app publishers of all sizes,” he said, “and we found that most were really frustrated. They wanted to learn more about their users and potential users, but the problem was that these are mobile apps used by mobile users, and mobile analytics wasn’t scaling particularly well to give these developers the types of information they were looking for.”

The problem was being able to adequately capture information about millions of users and to then ferret out key data points that could tell you meaningful things about these users and how to engage them. Traditional marketing segmentation approaches don’t work well with this type of problem.

“We felt that we could solve the problem by approaching it with machine learning and data science that would automatically cluster groups of users into segments, then further personalizing the engagement between the apps and the individual users,” said Dickey Singh, cofounder and CEO of Pyze.

The clustering of users into segments begins with looking at how different classes of users are using an app. Machine learning coupled with analytics algorithms then seek to dissect these users and their usage habits to identify different patterns of app use. From here, an app can develop personalized messages for users based upon how they use the app. Both non-profit and for-profit uses of the app can also be identified. This enables app developers to more clearly see who is using their apps in a premium, pay-for mode, and where they should be investing their efforts to further monetize their products.

“In an analysis like this, an app developer might see that only 20 to 30 percent of persons who download the app actually use it,” said Dickey Singh. “At the same time, the app developer has visibility of those users who are not only using the app, but who are paying for the right to use its most advanced features. These are the people that the developer can build a lasting and profitable engagement with.”

SEE: Five reasons people hate your mobile app (TechRepublic)

Prabhjot Singh said that in a study of 12 companies using the product, the companies are building their engagement with customers by 35% and their revenues by 20%. This kind of lift can help level playing fields between garage designers and large app companies. It can also improve engagement rates for large enterprises that are not primarily in the app business, but that want to use apps to improve its relationship with customers.

The best news of all

The analytics technologies coming online to help in the mobile space are more advanced than the simplistic login reports that only tell you who is logging in from where and when. There is real potential for companies and entrepreneurs to develop a more sophisticated understanding of their customers, including what users are willing to pay for.


Amazon Faces US Fine for Failing to Report Injuries

Amazon Faces US Fine for Failing to Report Injuries Inc. failed to report at least 26 work-related illnesses and injuries in a New Jersey warehouse last year, a federal agency said, the latest indication that low-wage employees who rush to fetch online orders often bear the pain of the speedy, convenient delivery of goods.

The Seattle-based Web retailer faces a $7,000 (roughly Rs. 4.6 lakhs) fine and demands to change its warehouse work environment, according to a citation. The action stems from a July inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that Amazon failed to report workplace injuries and exposed employees to amputation risks and failed to provide protective gear. Medical personnel hired by Amazon also provided services beyond their expertise when tending to workers’ medical needs.

As Amazon’s online sales have grown analysts project revenue will climb 20 percent to $107.2 billion this year so has its need to expand its network of fulfillment centers and hire more workers to complete online orders. During the latest holiday shopping season, the Web retailer added more than 100,000 extra staff, who pick items in warehouses as large as several football fields. In 2013, a temporary worker at an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey was crushed to death in a package-sorting conveyor system.

“Failure to properly record occupational illnesses and injuries is hazardous to workers,” said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA’s Marlton Area Office. “The lack of accurate data can mask patterns of injuries and illnesses that could help uncover conditions with the potential of putting workers at risk. In addition to keeping accurate records, Amazon should address the potential dangers identified in the hazard-alert letters to ensure the safety and health of its fulfillment center employees.”

Craig Berman, a spokesman for Amazon, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The federal agency said warehouse workers are exposed to stress from repeated bending at the waist during shifts lasting 10 hours or more and that the “on-site medical unit provided medical care beyond what is allowed by their licensing and certification, without the supervision of a board-certified qualified medical professional licensed to practice independently.”

The citation gives Amazon 15 business days to pay the fine and comply with OSHA’s requests, seek an informal conference with the agency or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.