Weekly Tech Views (The Tech, No Logic Blog) – July 30, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Two weeks of presidential nominating conventions are behind us, and we’re certainly all deeply disappointed with both parties for failing–after eight days and dozens upon dozens of speeches–to address the truly pressing issues facing us, like how to make more of the nation’s populace aware of the Weekly Tech Views and… well, the one pressing issue.

There Used To Be A Sports Illustrated Till Grandma Learned About The Swimsuit Issue
Google Family Library launched this week, allowing up to six people to share Google Play purchases, including music, movies, TV shows, books, apps, and games. The amount of shareable content is, to say the least, impressive. Bordering on overwhelming, really. Do you have times when there’s so much to choose from that you suffer a little paralysis by analysis and have trouble choosing anything? It sometimes makes me long for the simplicity of a childhood trip to my grandmother’s house, where the “family library” was the three most recent Reader’s Digests in a decorative wicker basket beneath the toilet paper roll.

Yeah, But What Can It Do With Loaves And Fish?
Scientists at a Belgian university have created a machine that turns urine into drinkable water. But wait, there’s more! They used the machine at a music festival where they were able to obtain a thousand liters of water from bladder-emptying music fans–which they are turning into beer. “If they figure out wine, I’m gonna have to step up my game,” said Jesus.

Watch For It On The Horseshoes And Hand Grenades Channel
Apple will be hosting sixteen episodes of Carpool Karaoke, based on James Corden’s Late Late Show recurring segment that features him humorously driving around with celebrities and singing. Apple’s show, however, will differ slightly in that it will have a “to-be-determined” host, meaning a stunning lack of James Cordens. The show will be part of a programming block including The Ellen Show without Ellen, The Walking Dead without zombies, and Big Brother without a house full of douchebags.

What Happens In Vegas, Will Happen More Often In Vegas
Hyperloop One, one of the companies working on high-speed passenger transportation (600-750mph) via vacuum tubes, announced it will be opening its first manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas.

Yeah, a factory. That’s all it is. They certainly aren’t building a hub through which all Hyperloop cars will pass. It’s not like casinos, who are willing to spend $4 billion on a hotel, would be interested in keeping those hotels filled by chipping in a billion each to make the trip from LA or San Francisco or Seattle a don’t-give-it-a-second-thought trip of twenty or forty or sixty minutes.

Sure, Vegas is the perfect city for Hyperloop–name a place people want to get both into and out of faster–but those elevated tubes you’ll see leading into the facility will just be for “supplies” and there’s probably no chance that ten years from now on a nationally-televised event David Copperfield will make the 105,000 square foot “factory” disappear to reveal a Hyperloop terminal (designed to look like a 1920’s Grand Central Station or Buckingham Palace or something) branching out to every major city in the country.

I’m sure it will just be producing rivets.

Who Needs “Virtual” Reality?
Amazon is furthering their drone testing by having one person operate multiple drones simultaneously, a necessary action to be able to institute drone package delivery, and also for the ultimate goal of playing real-world Galaga.

I Thought I’d Be Getting New Information
Microsoft Office is getting a new Editor feature which uses machine learning to suggest stylistic corrections beyond simple spelling and grammar checks. And when it does check grammar, it will now go into greater detail, explaining why what you typed was a mistake. And more. For example, at the beginning of each Weekly Tech Views, I say “Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.” The previous grammar check would simply point out that these are fragments, not sentences, while Editor went the extra step of suggesting that “maybe something with numbers” would be a better career track for me.

Fifty Percent Off The Original Price? Nice Try, Xbox
Microsoft reduced the price of the Xbox One to $249, the third price cut in two months, bringing it down to half of the original $499. This is great news–only two years and eight more price cuts until I can follow my usual upgrade path of picking up a system for $79 at Gamestop.

Spam Calls Are Just Annoying Pains In The Rear You Haven’t Met Yet
An Android update will help some phones block spam calls by marking suspicious calls in red, after which the user can confirm that they should be blocked. Good tech, but I’ll probably just stick with my proven method of “if the phone rings, it’s a spam call.” But enjoy this exciting new feature, people with friends.

Next Feature Is GPS Guidance To The One Available 8-Inch By 8-Inch Space To Squeeze Into On The Next Bus
A Google Maps update that would provide customizable notifications for mass transit delays was noticed when it showed up briefly this week for one user, but then disappeared. It’s amazing the effort Google put in to replicate my actual bus riding experience of a bus showing up randomly, picking  up one person, only to stop working.

The App Is Free, But There Are In-Apple-Store Purchases
Apple announced that iPhone sales were down 15% last quarter, but were expected to rebound sharply due to market conditions known in the industry as “overly-exuberant collection of Pokeballs at concrete-based Pokestops.” (1)

Pokemon Went (2)
Nintendo’s Pokemon Go Plus wrist accessory has been delayed until September for software adjustments. You have to commend the company for wanting to have things just right for the thirteen people who will still be playing then.

 

(1) Damn. Thought I was gonna get through an issue without mentioning Pokemon.

(2) What the heck, I already ruined it.

 

Movie Draft Update: Things are about to get interesting. Trailing the leaders by $252 million, Tom and Jennie are in 4th place, but have Star Trek and potential blockbuster Suicide Squad. They’ll be in 2nd place in no time, but will they catch the leaders? It’s going to be a fun final six weeks. Follow along with the CRUMDUM.

 

Cheap Book Update: And, as always, The Internet is Like a Snowblower (And 200 Other Things I Got Wrong About Tech This Year) holds 2015’s collected Weekly Tech Views for your Kindle-aided perusal for $.99. That’s half a cent per thing I got wrong. Try and beat that deal! Or just check out a preview HERE.

The Internet is Like a Snowblower: (And 200 Other Things I Got Wrong About Tech This Year) by [Range, Mike]

 

Now, does anyone happen to know the Green or Libertarian Party’s position on getting people to read ridiculous tech news?

 

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

Creative Commons License
Weekly Tech Views (The Tech, No Logic Blog) by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

DTNS 2821 – Mess Esports

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comEsports is getting more broadcast and live streaming deals. Why? Garrett Weinzierl, Justin Young, Brian Brushwood and Willie ‘Dils’ Gregory discuss the rising tide of esports.

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Daily Tech Headlines – July 29, 2016

DTH_CoverArt_1500x1500Apple hires QNX co-founder for car project, Mobile Google Docs gets add-ons and Australia comes back into GPS alignment.

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DTNS 2820 – Tinder for the Pentagon

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe US Department of Defense tries to rejuvenate its DIUx unit to get silicon valley smarts involved in military applications. Roger Chang and Tom Merritt discuss.

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A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

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Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
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Daily Tech Headlines – July 28, 2016

DTH_CoverArt_1500x1500Facebook kills its earnings, Samsung does well too, and Twitter introduces stickers.

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Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

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Show Notes
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DTNTS 2819 – Parenting and Tech: The True Boss Level

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comHow can tech-loving parents handle tech-loving kids? Scott Johnson Megan Morrone and Tom Merritt discuss.

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A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

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Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

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Daily Tech Headlines – July 27, 2016

DTH_CoverArt_1500x1500Xiaomi makes a laptop, Apple beats expectations as does Line, but Twitter does not.

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A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

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Show Notes
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DTNS 2818 – Nintendo Blows the Dust Off Game Cartridges

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comA French company wants to replace your PC with the cloud and Nintendo wants to make its next game console both mobile and not mobile. Patrick Beja and Tom Merritt explain.

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Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
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Continue reading DTNS 2818 – Nintendo Blows the Dust Off Game Cartridges

Daily Tech Headlines – July 26, 2016

DTH_CoverArt_1500x1500Leaks on the Nintendo NX, Office gets some AI, and BlackBerry has a secure Android phone.

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Show Notes
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Your Private Driver: Everyone Out of the Pool

(This is a weekly column that offers news, insights, analysis, and user tips for rideshare platforms like Uber and Lyft. Look for it every Monday after the live show, right here on dailytechnewsshow.com.)

When it was announced almost two years ago, UberPool seemed like a logical next step in the evolution of ridesharing. If two separate people or groups of people are going in the same direction, why not use one car to take them instead of two? Reduce traffic, save money, save the environment, yada yada yada.

Today the UberPool experiment is apparently a success with the service available in 45 cities around the world. Passengers get a cheaper fare for giving up a private car, and drivers get less downtime. Seems like a win-win. So why is it so frequently a miserable experience for some passengers, and why do drivers hate it with an almost irrational vitriol?

On the passenger side, most of the frustration comes from not understanding the extra limitations placed on UberPool rides.

  • You’re limited to one or two riders. This should be obvious, but people are legitimately confused why they can’t take three people in an UberPool.
  • The wait time is considerably shorter before the driver pulls away. In most cases a driver will wait at least five minutes at your pickup location, which provides time to clear up any issues with parking or pin placement. UberPool will only allow two minutes (and there’s a timer built in to the driver app to keep track) of waiting. Unless your feet are already on the curb, there’s a good chance your driver may leave without you.
  • You can’t change your destination or make multiple stops. Point A to B only. This led to a really awkward situation two nights ago when a Pool passenger put in the wrong destination by mistake, completely inconveniencing the second passenger in the car and just making my life more difficult overall.
  • Picking up and dropping off extra riders takes time. Riders in a hurry may not realize this and are upset when their ride to the airport takes 15 to 30 minutes longer than they were expecting.

As UberPool is also the default pickup option in markets where it’s available, many riders end up picking Pool by accident and are frustrated when the driver picks up an extra passenger that the original rider allegedly didn’t sign up for. This frustration is unfortunately taken out on the driver’s rating, which can have some extremely negative consequences.

The risk of punishment via low ratings from angry riders is just one reason why drivers on various discussion forums consistently rate UberPool as one of the things they dislike the most. The biggest reason is that drivers are actually making less money for all the extra hassle.

For starters, UberPool rates are lower than the standard UberX rates in all markets. In Los Angeles, for example, UberPool rates are 85 cents per mile and 11 cents per minute compared to UberX rates of 90 cents per mile and 15 cents per minute. Not a significant discount, but it’s a discount that comes out of the driver’s pocket for no reason.

Secondly, when two UberPool passengers are matched, a driver is paid for one trip instead of two, with the passengers splitting the fare. Uber actually double-dips by charging a service fee and a commission for each paying passenger before giving the driver their cut. Yup, one trip, two commissions. That’s fair. As if to justify the fact that they’re double billing, UberPool trips are split in half on drivers’ pay statements, with each paying rider counting as one trip. After the split and the extra commission and fees, drivers have seen insultingly low per-trip payouts.

Given the inability to actually opt of of taking UberPool fares, the general consensus among veteran drivers is to not accept them at all. Why would they? More hassle, more stress, and less money wouldn’t motivate any sane person to get with the program. Those who still do take Pool trips (likely because of per-trip incentive programs in some markets) discuss ways of making the ride as miserable as possible for passengers in order to dissuade them from ever ordering an UberPool again.

It’s unlikely that UberPool is going anywhere despite how much it sucks. Riders are naturally magnetically attracted to the possibility of a lower fare even if they complain about it the entire time, new drivers won’t realize the Pool pay scam for a while, and the company itself sees UberPool as a weapon in their quest for growth. (That Uber places more importance on growth than profitability should solve the debate once and for all over whether it is a technology company or not.) Still, if you insist on car-pooling because you really think it’s a better option, at least know what you’re getting into and what you’re potentially putting your driver through.

More on this subject…
Motherboard: Why Everyone Hates UberPOOL
LAist: Uber Pool: Why Drivers and Passengers Don’t Like It
The Rideshare Guy: What Should Drivers Expect From UberPool?

Sekani Wright is an experienced Uber driver working in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. If you have any questions you would like answered for this column, you can contact him at djsekani at gmail dot com, or on twitter and reddit at the username djsekani. Have a safe trip!

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