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How Much Celebs Do -- Or Don't -- Tip NYC Cab Drivers

Jessica Alba Sighting - New York
Morgan Dessalles/ABACA USA
Big data - the crunching of lots of information to learn things people didn't realize - is usually associated with running businesses. But, as it turns out, there's an amazing amount you can learn from data analysts. Even things like how much people like actors Jessica Alba and Bradley Cooper might have tipped drivers on cab rides they took: possibly zero, according to Gawker.

Apparently the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission has drivers record a lot of information, including origin and destination points, fare amounts, and any reported tip. Using a Freedom of Information Act request, technical expert Chris Wong received about 50 gigabytes of data from the agency, as he explained.

Another expert, Vijay Pandurangan, analyzed the results. He realized that although all the information was supposed to be anonymized so you couldn't get too many specific details on the more than 173 million individual trips, it was easy to undo the protection and get the actual details, including the taxi number and driver's license number.

Bad enough, but the names of the passengers were thankfully not included. However, on the Internet, all sorts of information can let you walk around blockades. A Northwestern graduate student named Anthony Tockar realized that he could sometimes match ride information with photos of celebrities. If you're someone like Bradley Cooper or Jessica Alba and there is a dated and timed photo of you getting into a cab whose license or medallion number is in view, getting more specifics becomes pretty easy.

In Brad Cooper's case, we now know that his cab took him to Greenwich Village, possibly to have dinner at Melibea, and that he paid $10.50, with no recorded tip. Ironically, he got in the cab to escape the photographers! We also know that Jessica Alba got into her taxi outside her hotel, the Trump SoHo, and somewhat surprisingly also did not add a tip to her $9 fare. Now while this information is relatively benign, particularly a year down the line, I have revealed information that was not previously in the public domain. Considering the speculative drivel that usually accompanies these photos (trust me, I know!), a celebrity journalist would be thrilled to learn this additional information.

Yes, the paparazzi are probably putting data scientists on retainer even now.

At Gawker, writer J.K. Trotter combined cab data with archives of celebrity photos, of which there are obviously many. Trotter was able to find specific cab trip data for the likes of Jessica Biel, Emma Roberts, and Evan Peters.

What is surprising is the number of celebrities mentioned here whose cabbies did not record a tip on top of the base fare: Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Amanda Bynes, Bradley Cooper, and Olivia Munn. Was the database wrong?

Some of the celebrities denied the charges. Spokespeople for Alba and Cooper denied the stories:

"This story is not accurate," her publicist told Gawker. "Jessica always makes a point of giving a cash tip, even if she pays with a credit card." After initially declining to comment and asking us to kill this story, Cooper's publicist emailed us a statement: "Bradley takes the subway when he's in New York and when he takes a taxi he leaves very good tips. No truth to this."

As it turns out, the "vast majority of passengers who paid for rides in cash" are listed as providing a tip of $0. Maybe everyone is cheap. Perhaps some cab drivers record nothing so there is no record to check against when they report their taxes.

Or maybe some celebrities are tight with a dollar and bad tippers. Heaven knows there are other alleged examples, such as boxer Floyd Mayweather or football player LeSean McCoy.


LinkedIn Reveals the 100 Most In-Demand Employers

Electric sign and logo greets visitors to General Electric home plant Schenectady New York

Quick! Which are the most desirable companies to work for on the planet? Okay, Google...Apple...who else?

LinkedIn is here to save the day with their annual list of the 100 most in-demand employers on the planet. As you probably expected, a lot of them are in the booming tech industry (yes, Google and Apple claim the top two spots). Those crazy cafeterias have got to count for something. But you'll also find companies like General Electric and PepsiCo rounding out the top ten. Want to see who else is in the mix? Click through the slideshow below, or head over to LinkedIn for the full list.


The Week That Was (10/20 - 10/24)

Grocery receipt with shallow focus, close up image

The weekend's almost here! Time to breathe a sigh of relief and unwind. But first, take a look at some of our top posts for the past week, including a look at a controversial chemical used in receipt paper that could have health repercussions for cashiers, and eight essential do's and don'ts for avoiding humiliation (professional or otherwise) at your office's big Halloween party.

1. How One Couple Is Changing Views of America's Hourly Workers
2. Why Learning a Language Could Save Your Career
3. New Research: Chemical Linked to Diabetes, Cancer Can Be Absorbed Through Receipts
4. 8 Do's and Don'ts for Your Office's Halloween Party
5. Is Sexually Offensive Talk Part of Your Day-to-Day Job?
6. Author Gets A Bad Book Review And Stalks The Reviewer
7. Low-Wage Worker Noncompetes? Can You Say Antitrust?
8. Reinvent Yourself To Find Passion in Today's Job Market
9. Ask Jack: Always Late, Kevin Needs Work, and Job of the Week
10. Beware of These 4 Grammar Mistakes on Resumes and Cover Letters


Want to Be a Chief Birthday Officer?

Girl blowing out birthday candle

You could call this a 21st century 24/7 social media maven/marketing/brand ambassador job.

Instead, Edible Arrangements has put a ribbon on it by creating the title Chief Birthday Officer and is looking for someone with one or two years of business experience to fill the role who also knows everything there is about creating a terrific birthday celebration. (Translation: young and the salary is undefined. But there are benefits.)

Deadline to apply is Monday. Here's the Chief Birthday Officer job spec.

"Birthdays are the No. 1 occasion for people to give Edible's fruit creations as a gift. So we decided to have a dedicated leader that is all things birthday -- identifying whether it's well-known celebrities or not-so-known heroes around the country," says Rob Price, president of Edible Arrangements, which is headquartered in Wallingford, Connecticut.

The CBO must have "some of the tech savvy, some of the chutzpah that's required to just be everywhere at once," he adds. "When you think birthday, you'll think Edible Arrangements."

Since some of the work will most likely take place at home, hey, you could probably even wear your birthday suit!

Here are some more Cool Jobs you can apply for today.


Sticky Question for Your Boss? Here's How to Ask


By Robert Half

In your career, there will inevitably come a time when you have awkward or difficult questions to ask your boss. Very few people like uncomfortable interactions, but in order to get ahead at work, you need answers to your questions if you're to do your job well - even the sticky ones. Bringing up delicate subjects requires finesse and diplomacy, not to mention preparation.

Here are some of the top touchy employee-boss topics, along with the right and wrong ways to broach them.

Getting passed over for a promotion
If you're upset or confused about the outcome of a job competition, you should absolutely talk with your boss. However, don't approach the subject by asking, "How come Chris got the promotion and not me?" This confrontational tactic will likely put your boss on the defense, and the resulting exchange will be less productive than it could have been.

The better approach: Focus the conversation on what you can do. Better questions to ask your boss: "I'm interested in advancing in the company. How can I make that happen?" or "I was disappointed that I wasn't promoted. Can we talk about what I need to do in order to reach the next level?"

Asking for a salary increase
Of all of the questions to ask your boss, the ones that involve money can be the trickiest. Before launching into any discussion about salary, research what others in similar positions at other companies are making. Robert Half's "Salary Guides" are good resources. But don't use this information in the wrong way. You can't, for example, just march into your boss's office and demand, "According to my research, I should be making more money!"

The better approach: In addition to showing your manager job market data, you have to make your case. Before you ask for a meeting, make a list of the extra responsibilities you've taken on since your were hired or your last promotion. Don't forget any training or certifications you've received. When discussing your request with your boss, you can approach it this way: "I really enjoy working here. In the past year, I've been asked to lead two new projects and have consistently exceeded my quota. Can we talk about increasing my salary to make it more in line with my performance?"

The promised raise hasn't materialized
If you were led to think you were receiving a raise or bonus and haven't received it yet, don't approach your boss asking, "Where is the raise you promised me?"

The better approach: When you talk to your boss, don't assume any wrongdoing on his or her part. Stay neutral and professional, and - most of all - ask for action. You might say something like, "We discussed the possibility of my getting a raise three months ago. Is there anything I need to do to make that happen?"

Alternative work arrangements
If your company offers some employees the opportunity to telecommute, this can be a very tempting perk. If you want this work flexibility, your approach shouldn't be: "How come half the office gets to work remotely but I don't?"

The better approach: Don't make it about other people. Instead, inquire about what's possible for your own particular situation. Be ready to demonstrate how this would benefit the company, such as how you could be more productive if you could work from home a few days a week. If your boss seems reluctant, propose a trial period. But be ready for pushback: Not every job can or should be done remotely, and many managers are hesitant to allow junior employees to work remotely.

More advice when you have questions to ask your boss
  1. Timing is everything. Don't suggest new work arrangements or spring tough questions on your supervisor when the office is undergoing major changes or is frantically preparing for a deadline. An appropriate time is during your performance review.
  2. Be professional. In all work-related interactions, but especially when you have sensitive questions to ask your boss, mind your business etiquette. This means staying positive, not getting personal and not comparing your situation to that of colleagues.
  3. Focus on action. Managers appreciate workers who suggest solutions and not just dump problems on them. When you approach them about a sticky question, be sure to have a plan in mind - not just a complaint.

Remember: You have every right to bring up tough subjects. Just be sure to ask your questions tactfully. So do your research, gather your courage and request a meeting.

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Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, read our blog at blog.roberthalf.com or follow us on social media at roberthalf.com/follow-us.


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