Your Private Driver: Lost and Found

(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.)

A week ago, the unthinkable happened: my wife, carrying the only set of keys between us, left them in the back seat of an Uber. We discovered this only after we arrived at our apartment several hours later and weren’t able to open the door. While my wife wiped sweat from her brow and tried to find an inexpensive locksmith, I went through the dicey process of attempting to find out where her keys were.

One of the most frequent questions I see asked on Uber-related message boards and on social media is what to do about lost items left in the back of an Uber or Lyft. Unlike taxis or other forms of public transit, there isn’t a home office that you can go to at the end of the day to see if anyone has turned anything in. Your only recourse is to contact the driver directly and see if they have your lost item and are willing to return it.

To contact your driver, you can either report a lost item using the app or (in the likely case that you’ve lost your phone) via the ride-share company’s website.

Second step is to hope your driver actually responds. An on-duty driver probably isn’t going to get back to you right away no matter how much you want them to, since they’re dealing with other passengers, so you might want to wait until later. Even then, for whatever reason, be it dishonesty, laziness, or something else, a good percentage of drivers will just ignore attempts to contact them. (Our Uber driver never got back in touch with us about my wife’s keys.) Unfortunately if this happens your odds of getting your lost item back are slim to none. Don’t expect the companies to be much help in this matter, either. Unless you have solid proof that a driver has possession of something you lost (and let’s be real, you don’t) and are willing to get the police involved, your recovery efforts have hit an impasse.

But let’s be positive and say that your driver has found your missing item and is willing to talk to you. Arrange a time and place to meet up. Most people will want the driver to simply meet them where they live or work, which is fine. You should also mention that you’re willing to compensate the driver for his or her time and effort. This isn’t a bribe, as some people have called it, but a recognition that driving twenty miles out of your way costs money. What, you didn’t think your Uber driver lived around the corner from you, did you? I’ve had to deal with three missing cell phones, and two of them required a thirty-minute drive one-way to return. The third one would have needed a two-hour drive, so my passenger and I mutually decided to mail it back to her. Yes, mailing lost items is also an option, but you should be willing to pay for it yourself (Lyft will actually assist with shipping costs). 

Ultimately, the best advice I can give about lost items is don’t lose them. Check your seats before jumping out of the car, and make sure that the contents of your pockets are secure. It can save you a lot of time, headaches, and money. Seriously, do you know how much it costs to call a locksmith on a Sunday?

 

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!

DTNS 2806 – DRM: Digital Recipe Management

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comRetailers see smart kitchen items as a better bet than light bulbs and hubs. Michael Wolf talks with Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt about whether the smart kitchen will make the Internet of Things take off.

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Daily Tech Headlines – July 11, 2016

DTH_CoverArt_1500x1500Pokémon Go is huge The Galaxy S7 Active isn’t as waterproof as it should be, Line gets a top value.

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Your Private Driver: Picking Up the Kids

(This is the second entry of a new 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.)

For busy parents, Uber has become an essential part of their daily routine. The logistics of maintaining a career while making sure that one’s children get from school to ballet or soccer practice and home again are migraine-inducing. That’s to say nothing of teenagers without licenses or cars who desire some measure of independence. I have on multiple occasions been tasked with shuttling teenagers to and from school, to dances, or just to hang out with their friends.

There’s just one small problem: both Uber (section 3 here) and Lyft prohibit unaccompanied minors from riding in their vehicles. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know this. Most drivers are unaware, and so are most passengers. I only discovered the rule while doing research for this article, and I’ve been a driver for almost three years! The no-minors rule is ignored by some knowledgeable drivers and passengers anyway; it’s not enforced by anyone at the corporate level, and probably exists just as a legal cover-your-ass policy in case an unthinkable situation occurs.

Well, if you’re now unsure what to do with that Uber Family Profile feature, there may be other alternatives in your area for getting the kids from place to place. So-called “Uber for kids” services like the now-defunct Shuddle are filling the gap by advertising safety first. Their drivers go through stricter background checks, and in some cases are female only. The downside is that they’re more expensive and less widely available.

  • Zum – San Francisco Bay Area
  • Kango – San Francisco Bay Area
  • Pogo – Seattle (this is more of a carpool service than an on-demand one though)
  • HopSkipDrive – Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland CA

Yeah, I know, it seems like we’re hogging all the fun on the west coast. Hopefully these services will become popular enough to expand in the near future. For now though, it seems that Uber and Lyft are content to look the other way as long as there’s not an executive being interviewed.

What about the babies?

Another, larger difficulty for parents is using ride share with babies. Uber does offer an option to choose a vehicle with a car seat, but only if your child is 12 months or older (front-facing car seat age) and you happen to live in New York City, Washington DC, or Philadelphia. Lyft has no car seat options at all, and I’m unaware of any ride-share startup that offers car seats, not even the ones mentioned above.

If your baby needs to travel with you, you’ll have to bring and install your own car seat. The driver will wait while you do this, just make sure they’re able to pull over in a safe location (you should do this anyway as a matter of course). Drivers can’t hold up traffic while you’re strapping the baby in.

If you don’t have a car seat… well, you’ll need to hope you get a driver that doesn’t mind breaking the law on your behalf. Most Uber and Lyft drivers will refuse to take you if you insist on carrying a baby in your arms instead of properly secured, even for a short trip. The risk of legal liability is too great, for one. For two, I doubt any human being trying to make an honest living wants to be responsible for an infant getting hurt in an accident. Neither does any parent.

 

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!

DTNS 2805 – Democracy Sausage

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.com Microsoft bets the company on AI, Facebook discusses censorship, and Electronic voting, yes or no?

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Weekly Tech Views (The Tech – No Logic Blog) – July 9, 2016

Untitled drawing (1)

Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Thanks for taking time from bagging Pokemon and waging heated neighborhood battles to claim area gyms to read The Weekly Tech Views, the Pokemon Go of tech analysis. (1)

 For the week of July 4 – 8, 2016…

 Sponsor Them All
As everyone knows by now, Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game, is available for iOS and Android. You try to catch Pokemon out in the real world, and you can locate them via your phone. Of course, to catch them you need PokeBalls, which are scattered at various PokeStops–nearby landmarks like schools, museums, libraries, and such. Enjoy this innocent time of random locations, before all PokeStops conveniently relocate to highest-bidder locations McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Dunkin’ Donuts, and such. And watch for new “special edition” Pokemon being introduced: Big Macander, Peanut Butter Parfaitachu, Boston Kremelypuff. And such.

It’s Too Bad–I Imagine Wildebeests Provide Better Customer Service
Comcast struck a deal to include the Netflix app on Comcast set-top boxes. In related news, wildebeests have reached a deal with lions to share the watering hole for a few minutes until the lions go ahead and eat them.

Somehow “Sloth” Was Voted Down
In October of 2017, the supersonic car Bloodhound SSC will attempt to break the 1997 land speed record of 763 miles per hour. Of course, because when you think record-breaking speed, the first thing to come to mind is a bloodhound. Like Droopy Dog. That’s also why next month you’ll see all the Olympic track and field stars sporting their Nike Bloodhounds.

If You Code It, They Will Come
The Associated Press will use Wordsmith software to write automated stories for 142 minor league baseball teams, without the need for a reporter. This may prove to be more efficient and cost effective, but it’s also sure to infuriate baseball purists who have no desire to see anything change (they’re still getting over players using gloves) and are damned sure no computer can match the near-poetic coverage of minor league baseball in major newspapers like Lehigh Valley IronPigs 2 Buffalo Bisons 1.

D’Oh-Bot
Researchers at Harvard University have developed a robot made of silicone, gold wire, genetically engineered rat heart cells infused with photosensitive algae (what, again?). The robot can swim like a stingray, follow a light source allowing for remote control, and will, like everyone that goes to Harvard, spend three seasons writing for The Simpsons.

Because Kittens
Facebook will allow a small percentage of users in India the ability to download video to be watched offline. This is really important because LOOK THE KITTEN THINKS SHE’S ONE OF THE PUPPIES!

I Bet The Rotifer Figures Out The Pattern In A Couple Hours
Scientists have created a one-millimeter-wide Pac-Man maze. The maze was populated with euglena and ciliates(2) and their predators, rotifers. The maze provides a more realistic environment than a petri dish for observing the single-celled organisms, say the scientists. “Especially after we drop a cache of tiny weapons in the center for the Nano-Hunger Games. Mostly, we’re interested in learning whether Katnisciliate chooses Eu-peeta or Eu-gale. And when you think about it, wouldn’t Hunger Games have been a better name for Pac-Man than Pac-Man?”

I Just Assume AVG Is Part Of My Wallpaper
Avast Software is buying anti-virus maker AVG Technologies. The AVG brand will continue to be used, which is a big relief to all of us who have gotten so used to the familiar AVG thrice-daily UPGRADE NOW! popups apparently designed to make us feel like fools for believing them when they said the free version was so great.

A Win-Winchester Situation
Netflix reached a deal with the CW network to get their shows just eight days after a season ends. At the same time, CW’s deal with Hulu is going to expire, taking away a method for watching weekly. Great for bingeing, but I’m supposed to go the whole season of Supernatural not knowing if Sam is going to find out that Dean is, again, intentionally going to Hell, sacrificing himself to save the world from this season’s version of THE APACOLYPSE? Or was it Sam’s turn, again, to stoically accept his duty to preserve humanity? I don’t know, as far as I can tell from sporadic viewings, each season there are like eight tearful goodbyes, they each die three or four times, get resurrected, every friend they make dies their own ghastly death and stays dead, and, most supernaturally, the show has lasted about ten seasons and will apparently never be cancelled.

Freedom!
Snapchat has introduced a section called My Eyes Only, where you can put snaps that can only be accessed by entering a PIN. “Oh, a PIN? That’s tougher to hack than an email password, right?” said celebrities as they ripped off their clothes and the sound of clicking cameras filled the air over Hollywood like millions of castanets.

Not Again!
Researchers have discovered that motion sensor data in a wearer’s smartwatch can be used to determine their PIN entered at an ATM or on a QWERTY keypad. Said celebrities, “Where are my pants?! Delete! Delete!”

 

This is issue number 52 of the Weekly Tech Views, which, by my calculations, means I’ve had the honor of providing this foolishness for a year. In honor of this occasion, the best-selling(3) ebook collection of 2015 WTV’s–The Internet is Like a Snowblower–is now just 99 cents at Amazon! I know, you can’t click here fast enough!

And if you’re rooting Tom and Jennie on in the Movie Draft, well, go ahead and read the CRUMDUM, but reign in your expectations for a few weeks. Things may get a little ugly before the comeback commences.

Okay, thanks for reading, but get back out there. It’s not called Pokemon Sit Down And Rest. Look, a Nidoran! Go!

(1) No idea what that means.

(2) Euglena and the Ciliates were previously, of course, the band behind the 1983 hit Walking on Sunshine.

(3) It’s the best any book I’ve written has sold.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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

DTNS 2804 – Signed, Entangled, Encrypted, I’m Yours

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comFacebook is adding an end-to-end encryption option to Messenger with disappearing messages. Darren Kitchen talks with Tom Merritt about how secure it really is. Plus a robot jellyfish made of rat parts. What will Len Peralta illustrate?

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Daily Tech Headlines – July 8, 2016

DTH_CoverArt_1500x1500DEK DEK DEK

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DTNS 2803 – Headline: People Just Read Headlines

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.com
You get your news from social media but should you? Justin Young and Tom Merritt discuss why you’d be better off to change your news habits and why you won’t.

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Daily Tech Headlines – July 7, 2016

DTH_CoverArt_1500x1500Snapchat lets you store snaps, Avast buys AVG and Microsoft loses a COO, gains 5 jobs.

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Helping each other understand.