BP plans to cut its Alaska workforce by 17 percent by early next year.The oil company announced on Monday that it will reduce its staff by 275 employees and full-time contractors to match a “reduced operational footprint” in the state. BP will offer early retirement and severance packages to employees who choose to take a buyout option.Spokesperson Dawn Patience attributes the layoffs to the sale of four North Slope assets to Hilcorp, a smaller oil company with a growing presence in Alaska. The deal, which was announced in April, includes the Endicott and Northstar fields, along with 50 percent interest in the Milne Point and Liberty fields. BP is transferring 200 field workers to Hilcorp as a result of the agreement, in addition to the 275 support staff they plan to lay off.Patience describes the 275 positions as “overhead” that is no longer needed with a smaller presence on the North Slope. She says the company intends to focus more on oil production in Prudhoe Bay and development of a natural gas megaproject. “BP’s operations may be shrinking in Alaska, but we announced $1 billion of additional investment in Prudhoe Bay, and the addition of two rigs –- one this year and one the year after — and those commitments stand,” says Patience.BP informed Hilcorp of their additional staff cuts on Monday, after they told employees. Hilcorp spokesperson Lori Nelson says the BP announcement was unexpected because only 250 employees were directly associated with the purchased assets and Hilcorp agreed to absorb most of them.“The number today was a bit of a surprise, but that’s BP’s decision,” says Nelson.The layoff announcement arrives less than a month after Alaskans narrowly voted to maintain a capped tax rate on oil production. As one of the three major players on the North Slope, BP contributed nearly $4 million to fight the ballot referendum on Senate Bill 21.Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat who advocated for repeal of Senate Bill 21, calls the BP’s announcement “disturbing.” He notes it comes just as fellow North Slope producer Exxon is projecting a continued decline in oil production in Alaska.“We were promised a lot of things during the [Senate Bill 21] debate, and one of the most powerful things was jobs,” says Wielechowski. “And here we are, a couple weeks after the people of Alaska voted on this, thinking they were going to get a lot more jobs [and] thinking they were going to get a lot more production. And we’ve already had sworn testimony by Exxon that we’re getting less production and then we’ve got BP saying they’re laying off hundreds of Alaskans and contractors.”Wielechowski also finds the timing of BP’s announcement “suspect.”“Had the referendum passed, they probably would have blamed these layoffs on the referendum passing,” says Wielechowski.In a press release, Gov. Sean Parnell also stated he “extremely disappointed” by the announcement, and noted that oil and gas employment in the state was otherwise strong with 15,000 working for the industry.
Microsoft is introducing a new service that combines its Azure Rights Management (Azure RMS) and technology from its acquisition of Secure Islands. The Microsoft Azure Information Protection service is designed to give enterprises a new solution to protect employee identity, and to secure and manage devices, apps, and data.“Organizations must protect their data at the source in a world where information travels beyond the boundary of the corporate network and potentially across many devices outside of company control,” wrote Dan Plastina, partner director of information protection at Microsoft, in a blog post. “These realities make it more critical than ever to have solutions that prevent data loss and track information at the file level regardless of where data resides or with whom it is shared.”In addition, Azure Information Protection provides the ability to classify, label and protect data; persistent protection; safe sharing; intuitive controls; visibility and control over shared data; and deployment and management flexibility.The public preview is expected to be made available next month.Android N will try to avoid unforeseen crashesGoogle wants to help protect and improve the stability of Android N apps. The company revealed it will restrict certain libraries developers C/C++ code can link against in order to protect their applications from crashes. Android N apps that use private symbols from the libraries will have to update to public NDK APIs or include a copy of the library.“We’re making this change because it’s painful for users when their apps stop working after a platform update,” wrote Dimitry Ivanov and Elliott Hughes, software engineers for Google, in a blog post. “Whether they blame the app developer or the platform, everybody loses. Users should have a consistent app experience across updates, and developers shouldn’t have to make emergency app updates to handle platform changes. For that reason, we recommend against using private C/C++ symbols.”CA Technologies updates CA Unified Infrastructure ManagementCA Technologies wants to help organizations optimize the performance of their modern, dynamic infrastructures with new capabilities and improvements to its monitoring and management solution. The latest release of CA Unified Infrastructure Management (CA UIM) features support for performance monitoring of Docker containers, support for more than 140 on-premises and cloud technologies, service-centric and unified analytics capabilities, and easy-to-use templates for configuring monitors.“Adopting a variety of cloud and dynamic infrastructures are a necessity in today’s application economy, but cost efficiencies and agility offered by these technologies are lost when operations staff have to learn and use multiple monitoring tools to identify potential performance issues,” said Ali Siddiqui, general manager of agile operations at CA Technologies. “By providing insight across the performance of all of an organization’s IT resources in a single and unified view, CA UIM gives users the power to choose the right mix of modern cloud-enablement technologies that can best support new endeavors that can contribute to business growth.” Apple adds new coding camp for kidsAs a way to inspire more children to learn how to code, Apple has added a new summer camp to its Apple Camp program for 2016.Apple Camp is a free three-day program for kids ages eight to 12. The new program is called “Coding Games and Programming Robots,” and it will help kids learn the basics of coding.With this camp, kids will learn visual block-based coding for games; applying logic skills like pattern recognition and problem solving; and they will be able to use what they learned to make their own robots.Registration for this new camp is open now, and there are a limited number of spots per camp.Opera releases Labs build for AndroidOpera has released a Labs build of Opera for Android with support for two experimental features designed to enhance the discoverability and use of progressive web apps.Opera has been exploring the idea of having a button in the URL bar that appears whenever a person lands on a progressive web app, which they can tap to save it to a home screen. Opera is previewing an early version of this idea in this Labs build.When a user loads a site that passes the criteria to qualify as a progressive web app, a small phone icon is shown to the left of the URL bar, labeling it as such, according to Opera. People can check out one of the sites listed on pwa.rocks and let Opera know how it works.Opera has also been exploring the idea of surfacing URLs by requiring users to long-press anywhere in the web app and show it in the context menu, but it turned out to be more difficult than expected, said the company. It then focused on connecting it to the “pulls—refresh” spinner as a secondary gesture to the left or right.These are early proposals that may or may not be included in the final Opera build for Android, said the company.