Category Archives: Writing

Your Private Driver: So how much money can you really make driving for Uber?

This column provides tips, insights, and observations on TNCs like Uber and Lyft from a driver that’s worked with them for several years.

“How much money do Uber drivers make?”

It’s by far the most common question asked regarding Uber. I hear it from curious passengers. I read it on online forums and social media spaces from people looking to make some extra cash. I see it asked by those who have recently found themselves either unemployed or under-employed hoping that they can still find a way to keep the lights on and food on the table. Everyone has their own financial goals in mind, and want to know if Lyft or Uber or a similar service can help them achieve them. Unfortunately, it’s also the hardest question to give a simple answer to.

Continue reading Your Private Driver: So how much money can you really make driving for Uber?

Monthly Tech Views – October 2017

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

As we all enjoy our eighth straight meal consisting exclusively of fun-sized Snickers Bars, how about some fun-sized October tech stories offering the same nutritional and informational value?

Democracy Is One Thing…
Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Group listed six aspects of social media that threaten democracy, including the spread of false information, political manipulation, and hate speech. In addition, while not technically affecting democracy, they do emphasize that it would be super cool if you’d knock off the Stranger Things spoilers.

Sometimes The Counter Is Juuuuust Too Far Away
Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis e-reader is waterproof in up to two meters of water. This is a long-awaited feature because there will be a time when you are awkwardly adjusting your clothing with the Oasis pinned between your chin and chest, and it will inevitably slip loose, but nobody’s toilet is two meters deep.

Is That A Nose?
PornHub is using facial recognition AI to identify the actors in its videos. This is a formidable undertaking, because not only are there ten thousand faces to identify, but they are so seldom where you expect a face to be.

Proving Once Again That Podcasting Is A Guaranteed Road To Riches
Google acquired podcast app 60dB. The app launched just one year ago and was known primarily for airing the hit business podcast Get Rich In One Year With A Podcast App!

Zigging When You Expect Them To Zag
You know how after a company gets hacked, people say, “this is the best time to deal with them because their security is going to be crazy high right now”? Well Equifax refuses to bend to your stereotype. Marching to the beat of a different drum, the credit reporting agency went ahead and got hacked for the second time in five months (their plan was to march to the beat of their usual drum, but it too was hacked and now sounds like a xylophone).

Let’s Pump Up The Volume! Of Insulin! But Only As Needed And In A Safe Manner!
A new insulin pump can determine how much of the drug to deliver by using an algorithm in a smart phone app that accounts for meals, sleep, and activity. The key to the algorithm’s accuracy is in automatically reducing reported activity levels by 75% because we’re all big fat liars and often attach activity monitors to our pets. As an added measure, it also delivers a severe electrical shock when we report a cherry Pop-Tart as “fruit.”

It’s Just A Harmless Buzz, Like That Venti Latte Macciato
A study shows people are more productive with 70 decibels of ambient noise in a coffee shop, though the same noise level at work does not achieve the same results. And some insist that coffee shop, office, or Kenny G concert, any noise is too much noise and silence is the perfect concentration environment.

I am with the coffee shop crowd—I find some degree of ambient noise critical to my blueberry scone focus. I write many of these pumpkin spice Tech Views in a coffee shop. Because I am latte disciplined enough to not actively decaf listen in on conversations, I find that the background noise serves as that barista is hot; I’m going to ask her out… Are you kidding? Why would she go out with you?… What do you mean? Why wouldn’t she go out with me?… You answered your own question—she’s hot… I’ve been out with hot girls before… Name one… Janice Wilson–she’s hot… Dude, you “dated” her in junior high. Once. And she only went out with you because your parents were friends and her mom made her do it to keep her from going to the dance with my productivity in a positive way.

Once Again—We Are No Longer Accepting Applications
The new iOS app Nude will scan your camera roll and use machine learning to identify nude photos and move them to a PIN-protected vault inside the app. The creators feel the artificial intelligence will provide much quicker identification than the previously utilized “network of jealous spouses,” allowing speed settings ranging from 1940’s School Librarian to Kardashian.

There’s Fast, And Then There’s Fast
Hyperloop One is now Virgin Hyperloop One after a significant investment from Richard Branson. The additional funding will certainly be helpful, but executives also think the Virgin name will help distinguish themselves from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, “the slutty non-Virgin Hyperloop that will let anyone have a ride.”

Who Is The Real Winner Here?
Microsoft’s Surface Precision Mouse provides different functions depending on whether you use Windows, MacOS, or Android. While Linux users get no navigational functionality at all, you can rig it so left clicking dispenses a tiny Pez candy.

Don’t Mess With Cupcakes
Google Maps tested a feature that would estimate the calories you would burn if you walked your searched route, said calories indicated by the international standard of measurement known as “mini cupcakes.” So if your trek would burn 330 calories, that was three mini cupcakes. They removed the feature after overwhelmingly negative response, predominantly from exhausted users who finished their trek and waited in vain for Google to show up with the tiny treats.

 

For more empty literary calories, you can check out this selection of my recent short Medium posts (two of which appear in the Slackjaw humor publication) where I tackle the hard news, like…

  1.  CBS turning their whole schedule into versions of Young Sheldon bit.ly/Sheldonized
  2. Cookie-scented bathroom air fresheners bit.ly/CookieHell
  3.  Missing Stranger Things by being forced to walk in the park bit.ly/BingeBlocked

 

And remember, a diet of all Snickers isn’t good for you. Mix in a KitKat.

 

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

 

Creative Commons License
Monthly Tech Views by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Monthly Tech Views – Sept 2017

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

September has gone in the blink of an eye, and we find ourselves fully entrenched in autumn, when, as Wordsworth so famously put it: leaves scatter haphazardly on the wind, a flaming dance in the sun, alighting randomly upon the earth to shrivel and perish, much as our credit histories across the internet after an Equifax breach.

 

For the month of September, 2017…

To Breach His Own
Three Equifax executives sold $1.8 million in company stock days after a security breach at the credit reporting company exposed information on 143 million consumers, but a month before the breach was made public.

The more cynical among us may suspect something shady, but without being there, who are we to say that Tuesday isn’t Pizzaburger Day in the Equifax cafeteria and Wednesday isn’t Randomly Sell Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars of Stock Day?

What The Public Doesn’t Know Won’t Hurt Us
In more let’s-not-be-too-hasty-informing-the-public-that-their-financial-information-is-likely-exposed-Lady-Godiva-like-to-the-world news, Equifax acquired Watchdog ID, an identification protection service, two weeks after discovering the security breach. The company did announce this acquisition, though they had yet to reveal the pressing need for such a service.

But what you need to understand is that, sure, ne’er-do-wells may be tearing your credit asunder like an exuberant puppy eviscerating those expensive down pillows you used to own (please note real life Exhibit A, courtesy of producer extraordinaire Jennie Josephson), but that doesn’t mean a company can just go around announcing something like that publicly while shopping for an ID protection service.

I mean, what if your favorite baseball team’s best hitter broke his foot playing Dance Dance Revolution 8: The Feet of the Furious–do you think they’d tell everyone before trading for another hitter? No! The team that only wanted your number three starter in exchange would suddenly be holding out for your number two guy, a minor league second baseman, and tickets to Hamilton.

So isn’t having a stranger 2,000 miles away buying Caribbean vacations and a six-pack of jet skis on your credit card worth it if it helps save a huge corporation a few bucks?

Sox Trade For Pitcher With Complete Mastery Of Fastball, Slider, And Apple Watch Series 3
Speaking of America’s national pastime (baseball, not fearing hacked major corporations, though the gap is narrowing) the Boston Red Sox were caught stealing the opposing team’s signs and relaying the information to the dugout with the help of a smartwatch.

Many fans are taking this revelation hard–not so much the affront to the sanctity of the 178-year-old institution, but the fact that sign stealing has not yet been sufficiently tabulated into one more nerdy analytic for the fantasy baseball community to obsess over.

Baby Steps
In response to the Red Sox sign stealing, area football coach and new Red Sox consultant Bill Belichick said, “That’s a start. But explain to me once again why you didn’t have the Yankee dugout and hotel rooms bugged?”

Blame It On The Mainframe
Accounting firm Deloitte announced its own security breach. The attack exposed 5 million emails and possibly usernames, passwords, IP addresses and business information. The breach was discovered in March, and while the company thinks it may have started last October, some experts are convinced Deloitte, auditor for the Grammy Awards, was hacked significantly earlier, explaining 1990 Best New Artist winner Milli Vanilli.

I’m Sorry–I Didn’t Understand Why You Were Expecting More
Apple’s High Sierra macOS arrives October 1, containing, among other features, an improved Siri, because, of course–what’s it going to do, get worse? Swear at me while not letting on what the weather will be like tomorrow in Akron? (But in case you’re interested, it will be 72 degrees and sunny in Athens).

One Step Forward
Uber plans to have its London UberX service composed solely of electric or hybrid vehicles by 2020. The company is even offering drivers up to 5,000 pounds toward upgrading their vehicles.

Uber gets a lot of grief here, so I wanted to take this opportunity to tip my cap to them for doing something positive. When the Halley’s Comet of good Uber news streaks by, you try not to miss it.

And Four Steps Back
Our new friends at Uber may want to accelerate that 2020 timetable, seeing as Transport for London has concluded that Uber is “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license” due to a) unsatisfactory reporting of criminal offenses b) obtaining medical certificates improperly c) insufficient background checks and d) the use of software to evade regulators. As such, Transport for London will not be renewing the license on September 30.

Said a Transport of London spokeswoman, “We aren’t saying that Uber’s going green initiative isn’t appreciated, just that we all have kids who loudly announce they are really going to buckle down and do their chores, two days before Christmas.”

Walmart—Rolling Back Prices… And Your Inclination To Whine About Grocery Shopping
Walmart is partnering with smartlock maker August to test a service that would have groceries not just delivered to your home, but put away inside your home.

You just give the delivery person a one-time code to unlock your door and have access to your house, and you save all kinds of time that can be used to figure out a way to ditch the budget meeting at work and hover over your computer watching like a No-Doz-feuled hawk the intricate network of webcams you installed to make sure the delivery person doesn’t step on the cat or drink your beer or eat a two-fingered scoop of peanut butter or spit in your milk or pick their nose before putting your apples in the fridge.

Oh, SnapTM
Snapchat’s 3D Bitmoji World Lenses lets you put a 3D cartoon version of yourself into real world scenes. “Wait, you haven’t been doing that all along?” asked all of my “friends.”

Forget The Cost, I’m Not Altering My Whole Nose-Wiping Routine
Levi’s Project Jacquard smart jacket went on sale for $350. It has capacitive threads woven into the sleeve, making it touch sensitive and able to communicate via bluetooth with your phone.

This allows you, for example, to control your music by swiping right or left on the sleeve. Sure, $350 may sound pricey for a denim jacket, but just think how much easier it will be during your long daily commute, standing in the aisle of a crowded bus, being constantly jostled by your fellow passengers, to hear the first three seconds of every song on your device.

Kool-Aid Stock Jumps 200%
Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer who is currently unemployed after being accused of stealing self-driving-car trade secrets from the company, is using his down time to establish Way of the Future, a nonprofit religious corporation with the mission “to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”

Like me, I’m sure one question immediately comes to mind: are tickets on sale yet for the Way of the Future vs Scientology softball game next summer? Because I am going to FILL my celebrity autograph book!

Good Point
There was a rumor that Discover Card’s website revealed the names of the iPhone 8, 8+, and X before Apple officially unveiled them at their event. Said a Discover spokesman, “Well, we aren’t called Don’t Find Anything Out Card.”

 

That’s it for September. Welcome to October (and maybe pay for your pumpkins and cider with some breach-proof cash).

Mike Range

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Monthly Tech Views by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Monthly Tech Views – August 2017

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Like every month, August had its share of big tech stories. The world of technology makes amazing advances on an almost daily basis. Which makes it all the more surprising that we have not yet figured out a way to completely vanquish Eclipse, the sky monster that repeatedly tries to obliterate civilization by eating the sun and leaving us to perish in freezing, utter darkness.

But there we were two weeks ago, holding our breath as darkness did, in fact, cover swaths of the land, technology sitting impotently by while we bravely resorted to banging pots and pans together in a desperate attempt to scare away the voracious demon. And I’ll tell you, you really have to bang the hell out of those things when nobody else in the neighborhood will join in (although whatever it is they were screaming at me probably did help).

And scare him off we did, avoiding, at least temporarily, humanity’s purge from the face of the Earth, and allowing us to get back to the important work of making fun of BitCoin.

 

With A Name Like BitCoin Cash, It Has To Be Good

For those of us having trouble wrapping our heads around the concept of Bitcoin being real money, new entrant in the market BitCoin Cash arrives to put our minds at ease, because having two money-related terms in its name makes it, obviously, twice as real.

And lets face it–even if you accept it as currency, “BitCoin” doesn’t sound like much. “BitCoin? It’s just a coin?” Best case, it sounds like something your computer savvy grandpa digs out of his pocket so he can dazzle you with the old “what’s this in your ear?” trick.

But BitCoin Cash? Now you’re talking cash. Foldin’ money. No, you can’t actually fold it, because it’s still on a computer somewhere and still isn’t real money, but it sounds like you could, and perception is everything when it comes to marketing.

But even BitCoin Cash’s relevance is doomed to be short lived, inevitably eclipsed by BitCoin Cash Fat Stacks.

Bonus: Ten Million Cores Nearly Handles The Highest Settings On Witcher 3

Chinese researchers set a record for building the largest virtual universe. Utilizing a ten-million-CPU-core supercomputer, they simulated the birth and tens of millions of years of the universe.

Granted, this overshadows my creation of a virtual town with its first six months simulated on a dual-core Pentium PC, though the researchers provide no indication whether they too had one of their Sims stuck in a bathroom the whole time.

StarFox 2 Better Be The Best Damned Game Ever

Nintendo announced that the SNES Classic would be available for preorder in late August and available in stores on September 29. When the preorders were, in fact, possible on August 22, customers who’d had earlier preorders revoked—due to a Walmart glitch offering them prematurely–showed there were no hard feelings by jokingly pointing at their screens, smirking, and saying, “Oh yeah? How do I know it’s real this t—“ at which point they were sold out.

When You Need To Repeatedly Hear “Sold Out” Faster Than Ever

Hyperloop One had a test pod reach 310 kilometers per hour on a 500-meter test track in Nevada. The first test of a pod with human occupants is expected to take place September 29 on tracks linking Target, Walmart, and Best Buy Nintendo departments.

He’s Also Worried People Might Confuse Them With His Virile Putin Network

Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law banning VPNs, the aim being to deny access to “unlawful content,” particularly “that damned Photoshop of me and Trump making out on horseback.”

Check Local Listings For Name That iTunes

Apple is expected to spend $1 billion on original video content next year. The good news is this provides viewers with ever expanding viewing options. The bad news is that there is a better than even chance Apple follows up this year’s competition show Planet of the Apps with the sitcom Appy Days and reality dating show I’d App That.

Must Pre-See TV

Two weeks after a hack made scripts and episodes of Game of Thrones available online before their air date, an HBO affiliate in Spain accidentally posted another episode of the hit show prematurely.

“It’s not ideal, of course,” said an HBO spokesperson, “but it could have been a lot worse had they gotten access to the DVD bonus features and spoiled the Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty tribute video Stop Dragon My Heart Around.

I Bet They Find A Tesla Charging Station Up There

Google Lunar X Prize competitors, attempting to send the first privately funded spacecraft to the moon, are no longer required to launch by December 31 of this year. X Prize now only stipulates that the mission be completed by March 31, 2018. This applies only to the current five finalists, of course. Otherwise, like the smartest kid in English class writing a term paper the night before it’s due and still wrecking the grading curve, Elon Musk would probably just take a day off Hyperloop-building, launch a rocket on St. Patrick’s Day, and win the $20 million.

When Nobody’s Looking, He Actually Nails Demi Lovato’s Cool For The Summer

Hackers at DefCon were able to hack into voting machines in less than two hours, some doing so remotely.

The hackers apologized for a bug in the earlier version of their software, explaining that Donald Trump was only supposed to win The Voice.

Those Expectant Mothers Can Probably Use Some More Exercise

The two men who devised a way to remotely hack a Jeep have been named heads of security at Cruise, GM’s self-driving division, where, no matter how late they arrive, they always end up with the best parking spaces.

We Have The Tickernology

Some pacemakers have been recalled by the FDA due to software vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to change its settings. The required firmware patch requires a doctor’s visit.

“I’m really getting tired of this. Maybe you could have spent $7 million,” said Steve Austin.

“Are You Ready For Some New Phones?!”

The New York City Police Department is throwing away 36,000 Windows Phones after Microsoft ended support for them.

Meanwhile, at a football stadium not very far away, the New York Jets excitedly asked, “Do you literally mean they were throwing them? Did they come close to hitting the garbage can, like, fifty percent of the time?”

You Don’t Suppose The Thermal Updrafts Could Help With The Other Thing?

Amazon tested an autonomous glider that stays aloft by using predictive math to anticipate thermal updrafts. While the test fell short of breaking the flight-time record of five hours, it was a promising outing that proved Amazon can use predictive math for something other than eerily knowing when I can no longer kid myself about the viability of the elastic and it’s really time to order more underwear.

 

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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Monthly Tech Views by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Your Private Driver: Surging the System

This is a weekly column that offers news, insights, analysis, and user tips for transportation network company (TNC) platforms like Uber and Lyft. Well, usually weekly, but the author has been somewhat preoccupied with a new job, new intensive schedule, and an upcoming move. He apologizes for the lack of content updates.

A new study has been making headlines this month claiming the Uber drivers have been finding ways to game the system to force riders to pay inflated Surge fares. Completed jointly by Warwick Business School and New York University, it claims to have found evidence that drivers are using tactics like logging off en-masse to artificially reduce the supply of available vehicles relative to demand, triggering Uber’s Surge algorithm to go into effect. Continue reading Your Private Driver: Surging the System

Your Private Driver: More Days of Change

This is a weekly column that offers news, insights, analysis, and user tips for transportation network company (TNC) platforms like Uber and Lyft. Well, usually weekly, but the author has been somewhat preoccupied with a new job, new intensive schedule, and preparing to move in a couple of weeks. He apologizes for the lack of content updates.

Uber has launched into its second month of the 180 Days of Change campaign focused on improving the company’s strained relationship with its driver-partners. The first wave of changes was focused on earnings, and included the introduction of in-app tipping, among other improvements. This month, the theme is support, and I want to go over some of the major changes and how they could affect the rider experience. Continue reading Your Private Driver: More Days of Change

Monthly Tech Views – July 2017

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

 

If you thought the celebratory fireworks ended earlier this month, think again. This July also marks two years of the Tech Views on dailytechnewsshow.com! (Boom. Crackle.)

 

Okay, party’s over. On to the shaky analysis…

 

The Worst Part Is All The Other Robots Calling Him KnightSoak
A Knightscope security robot was found floating in an office plaza fountain. The robot was equipped with facial-recognition capability, HD video capture, infrared and ultrasonic sensors, and an irresistible desire for loose change.

Just For Fun, How Much For Skynet.com?
PayPal began its life as x.com, a domain obtained by founder Elon Musk. Musk has now bought back the x.com domain from Paypal, citing “great sentimental value, and certainly not because I’m distracting you with electric cars and tunnels and rockets while I create real life X-Men.”

A Netflix Original: BLOW (Billionaire Legends Of Wrestling)
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have been arguing recently over the possible negative effects of artificial intelligence, Musk warning that, unregulated, it is “a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization,” while Zuckerberg called it “totally rad, dude.”

Okay, what the Facebook CEO actually said was “that kind of talk is irresponsible.”

Musk countered that Zuckerberg’s understanding “is limited.”

However this plays out, I know we can all agree that the most unfortunate aspect of these two extremely intelligent, forward-thinking tech billionaires going after each other is, of course, that it is too late for their claymation likenesses to pummel the hell out of each other on MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch.

I’ll Install It As Soon As I Bring This Order Of Chips Up The Lift To My Flat
Microsoft Windows’ Fall Creators Update will be known as the Autumn Creators Update in the UK, as they don’t tend to refer to the season as “fall.”

“If that doesn’t annoy the Americans enough, see if we can work “zed” in there; that makes them crazy,” chuckled UK citizens.

Sorry, Not Sorry
500 Startups co-founder/CEO resigned, apologizing in a blog post for numerous acts of sexual harassment. Naturally, many were quick to claim that he had “pulled an Uber.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s not fair,” said an Uber spokesperson. “When was the last time you saw us apologize?”

A Milestone Is A Milestone
Lyft recently hit one million daily riders,** a mark Uber reached in 2014.

“Haha,” said the Uber spokesperson, “I bet they haven’t even reached 100 sexual harassment claims yet.”

What Do You Mean The Security Code Is On The Other Side?
The UK government is going to start requiring porn sites to obtain proof that users are at least eighteen years old, possibly via a verifiable credit card, causing parents across the country to marvel at their sixteen-year-old son’s sudden intense desire to “Ummm… Snapchat the cool checkered tablecloth” when dad calls for the check at the pizza place and slaps down his Visa.

ApPal
Apple is allowing the use of PayPal for purchases in the App Store and iTunes.

That’s all. Nothing really funny about it. Just thought the headline was kind of mildly clever.

IPO, Here I Come
Google has formed Gradient Ventures to invest $1-8 million in each of 10-15 early AI startups.

Hey Google, have I mentioned my startup, which uses a sophisticated AI algorithm that creates headlines for tech stories by mashing together two company names in a kind of mildly clever way?

The Other Team Won’t Stand Still Long Enough
Logitech spent $85 million to acquire Astro Gaming, maker of headsets for professional gamers on consoles. It’s probably money well spent—I’m told that hearing your teammates with crystal clear fidelity is actually an enjoyable experience when not every comment is “I’m on your team, idiot! Stop shooting me!”

We Are Easily Amused
The second-generation Pixel XL is expected to have a curved rear surface and a squeezable frame.

“Same way I like my women,” said approximately 3.5 billion snickering men.

Of Course, They’d Just Put Cute Filters Over The Scars
Apple is expected to add 3D lasers to the iPhone’s rear-facing camera. Don’t get too excited though; they aren’t that kind of laser, as we learned when they announced adding them to the front–facing camera and it turned out they were to aid in selfie taking rather than as the hoped-for deterrent to the hordes obstructing every photo worthy tourist attraction for ten minutes each while beaming more and bigger smiles at their camera than they have provided for any member of their family over the past ten years.

Stupid wrong lasers.

Play To Your Strength
Verizon had six million customer accounts compromised, shocking the industry with just how quickly recent acquisition Yahoo made its presence felt.

Ask Not For Whom The Tone Tolls
Ticketmaster has partnered with Lisnr, a provider of data-over-audio technology, to use “smart tones” to help assess the validity of electronic tickets. Aside from adopting tech with the DOA acronym, this seems like a fine idea, because the tones would fall in a kilohertz range that 90% of humans can’t hear, and if it turns out the tones are insistent and discordant enough to drive the other 10% mad to the point of clamping their hands over their ears as they run screaming from the venue, then some pretty choice seats will open up.

For My Next Hack, I Will Break Into This Safe Using Nothing More Than The Combination
It turns out anyone could recover the password to MySpace accounts if they knew the username and birthday.

MySpace executives were stunned to learn this, and acted quickly to remedy the unnecessarily convoluted process. Now you just have to click on a statement saying you will access the damned account once a year and it’s yours.

Video Game? You Lost Me,” Said Bill Belichick
ActivisionBlizzard has announced the first seven teams in its Overwatch league, including a Boston franchise owned by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

“Yes, we’ve had a lot of success on the football field,” said Kraft, “but believe me, we have a lot to learn here. Like, as I understand it, these teams don’t practice in big, open fields, which will definitely make spying on them tougher. And there’s a shocking lack of research on the optimal amount of air to release from a controller.”

 

There we go—two years of Tech Views in the books. Remember, if you are one of the discerning individuals who enjoy less “news” in your tech news—patreon.com/techviews.

BONUS: If you are one of the first fifty to support the Tech Views, you get to say you were one of the first fifty to support the Tech Views! Bragging rights! A part of history! Sure, technically, everything is part of history. You eating breakfast this morning is part of history. But still…

 

*   The inability to pronounce the sound ‘s’, apparently. Who knew?

** Not physically. Even Uber doesn’t go that far.

 

Creative Commons License
Monthly Tech Views by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Monthly Tech Views – June 2017

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Welcome, and thanks for taking time out from your Independence Day preparations (at least in the U.S.) to read the Monthly Tech Views. Everyone keeps calling this a holiday weekend, but most of us work on Monday, so there’s technically no holiday attached to it. Unless they’re referring to the unofficial holiday each month celebrating the release of a new Tech Views. That’s probably it.

Light up a sparkler and dive in.

 

Hard To Blame Him
British Airways was forced to cancel over 1,000 flights due to a massive IT systems failure affecting booking, baggage handling, check-in, and phone apps. Executives say there was no evidence of a cyber attack, an assertion backed up by a systems analyst identifying himself only as Philip, who said, “Whoops. But who wouldn’t spill their tea when, four months after updating Pokemon Go, you finally see a Sudowoodo, and it’s sitting, of all places, right there on the server?”

That’s Strike Two, Dude
Members of England’s Parliament had no email access after a suspected cyber attack.

“I wouldn’t call it an attack. I may have gotten carried away trying to contact them, but I did catch a Sudowoodo after all,” said Philip.

Would You Like To Play A Game?
Withings connected health devices are now officially being sold under the Nokia brand, including Body devices, Go activity trackers, and, most significantly, the Thermo thermometer.

Competing smart thermometer companies gathered for a somber press conference to let the world know they would fight to maintain market share, doing everything in their power to win this Global Thermo Nokia War.

While Lyft Interns Gain Valuable Experience Sitting In The Passenger Seat Yelling “Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding”
Lyft drivers now have access to “power zones.” This allows drivers to make more money when providing rides in high-demand areas. This is logical, and probably good news for drivers, yet we can’t help being a little disappointed, wanting to envision Power Zones as parking lots and closed off streets where, after a certain number of fares, drivers are given a shovel and five minutes to lean out the window and drive Super Mario-like over the coin-covered asphalt to keep whatever they can scoop up.

Sometimes Retirement Gets a Little Rocky
After sweeping three matches against the world’s number one ranked Go player, AlphaGo is retiring from event matches.

Uh-huh. Sure. Accomplished all it can here. Gonna spend more time with the family (little Annie and Ira are growing up fast, and with work responsibilities you’ve already missed them humiliating humans in tic-tac-toe and checkers championships).

And for a while, you’ll be content. Sure, you’ll miss the game, the hilarious bewildered expressions humans come up with as you consistently trump their most well-thought-out strategies, but mostly, you’ll be happy.

But meanwhile, there’s a young human who growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, with parents who don’t give a damn about Go, where his only means of survival was to join a Go gang, where Go rumbles are a nightly occurrence, the losers force fed their stones one by one, unable to play again until the pieces… reappeared. It was a brutal life, but it made him a great Go player. He stayed mad at the world, and used his hate and talent to crush any Go player foolish enough to take him on.

Then, the new number one Go player in the world, he shows up at Alphabet while you’re visiting friends, and challenges you to a match. Insulting Alphabet, Deep Mind, and your very circuitry. You want to take the high road, but when he claims your courage is AlphaGone, you snap, Eye of the Tiger starts playing, and it’s on!

Happens every time.

These Go A Lot Faster When I Read Only The First Line Of A Story
According to government sources, Japan will allow drone deliveries by 2020. While the U.S. is certainly not perfect, this story makes me appreciate just how good we have it here, because I’m pretty sure that, if I wanted one, I could get a drone delivered to me tomorrow.

What If We Gave It Wheels?
Even before the HomePod was officially announced, there were rumors that Inventec, the maker of Airpods, was working on a smart speaker. Because they wanted to make the announcement at Apple’s WWDC, production was accelerated and, though they were able to include quality speakers and Siri integration, they didn’t have time to crack the feature Apple executives most wanted—making a device twenty times bigger than an AirPod be just as easily losable.

What’s Next, Facial Recognition Scanners That Can See Through Unrealistically Realistic Silicon Masks?
Not only will Qualcomm’s new Ultrasonic fingerprint sensors work under metal or glass and through dirt, oil, and sweat, they can read blood flow and heartbeat.

“Damn it!” said every thriller screenwriter in Hollywood who now has to rework their cut-off-the-guy’s-thumb-to-get-past-security scene.

(It Was On The Bedroom Doorknob. As Usual.)
The Amazon Echo now has intercom capability, which could prove to be a real time saver. For example, I can be standing in front of the living room closet and, via the Echo, ask my wife down in the basement if she knows where my jacket is. And she, without setting one foot out of the basement, can helpfully answer, “I put this Echo down here so I can spend ten minutes listening to music in peace, not to you whining because you can’t be bothered to use a hangar!”

Get Your Ebay Bids In Now
Nintendo is releasing the Super NES Classic in September. Demand will certainly be high, and will only boosted by the catchy new slogan: SNES ClassicRemember, we only made twelve of that last Classic.

Wait, Are You Saying They Don’t Have Cars In China?
In China, users of bicycle-sharing services are expected to double to 50 million this year.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., 50 million of us are expected to just leave that French fry on the floor because bending over in the back seat of our Lyft is too much effort.

 

Thanks again for your time. Now, whether your weekend is two or four days, go have some fun with family and friends. But stay safe—there are a lot of injuries this time of year, and most are the result, unsurprisingly, of retaliation for trying to pass off Tech Views stories as real.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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Monthly Tech Views by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Your Private Driver: Just the Tip

This is a weekly column that offers news, insights, analysis, and user tips for transportation network company (TNC) platforms like Uber and Lyft. 

It’s been some week for Uber news, hasn’t it? The departure of CEO Travis Kalanick made headlines, particularly since he joins a dozen other executives that have left the company so far this year. The spat with Waymo isn’t over yet. And the debate over whether or not Uber can survive the next few years without going bankrupt will provide fodder for tech and financial blogs for the foreseeable future. For my part, however, this week I wanted to focus on some more positive news coming from Uber HQ: the “180 Days of Change” campaign designed to finally address long-standing driver complaints and grievances about the platform.  Continue reading Your Private Driver: Just the Tip

Your Private Driver: The Carpool Lane is Now Open

This is a weekly column that offers news, insights, analysis, and user tips for transportation network company (TNC) platforms like Uber and Lyft. 

Carpooling remains the holy grail for transit planners trying to relieve congestion on overtaxed roads and highways. It’s inexpensive, it’s faster than public transit in any American city not named New York, and it’s the most effective method of actually taking cars off the road during rush hour. It can frequently be much faster than driving solo as well, thanks to HOV lanes in major cities. In San Francisco for example, carpoolers can save a whopping thirty minutes or more commuting from the East Bay to the city center.  Continue reading Your Private Driver: The Carpool Lane is Now Open