Daily Tech Headlines – July 28, 2016

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

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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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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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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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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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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!

DTNS 2817 – Peppering The World with Robots

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comPepper the robot is rolling out in Taiwan. Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt discuss whether these robots are actually useful or not.

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Daily Tech Headlines – July 25, 2016

DTH_CoverArt_1500x1500Verizon buys Yahoo, Nintendo stock falls, and Cyanogen INc. hits a rough patch.

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Weekly Tech Views (The Tech – No Logic Blog) – July 23, 2016 (Sort of)

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Okay, I took a vacation this week, which means today you get the Weekly Tech Vacation Blog. Not a blog post about my vacation, the details of which require a security clearance well above your pay grade, but a post which requires no additional work on my part than typing this intro.

As this also marks a year since I started this little venture, why don’t we flash back to July of last year and Issue #1, when the world was innocent and the stories focused on spunky startups like Apple, Facebook, Logitech and Comcast…

On DTNS, you hear in-depth, reasoned discussion of the day’s most interesting tech stories from Tom Merritt and his esteemed guests. You get research, insight, and analysis.

Now, finally, there’s equal time for the other side.

That’s right, this is your stop for shallow, reckless rambling on a selection of those same stories. Welcome to the Weekly Tech Views Blog, where, at times, up to 12% of what you read could be factual. No, WTVB doesn’t roll off the tongue like DTNS; frankly, it sounds like the call letters for a 5,000 watt radio station in Tateville, Kentucky (WTVB – We’re Tateville’s Best!). If I gave it some more thought, I could probably come up with something better. But, as you’ll discover should you decide to read on, “more thought” is not my highest priority.

 

For the Week of July 13 – 17, 2015 – And, as a premiere issue bonus, some of the previous week as well. Huzzah.

 

Like Shakespeare Said, A G910 Orion Spark Mechanical Gaming Keyboard By Any Other Name…
For much of their product line, Logitech is changing the name to Logi, which is huge news, in that it provides new, exciting territory to be explored by those who love to debate the pronunciation of GIF.

You Say Vulnerable, We Say Quirky
Facebook’s head of security called for Adobe to place an end-of-life date for Flash. An Adobe representative reportedly responded by saying Flash is still extremely functional, a valued and vital part of our internet lives, and how about you guys at Facebook just worry about why the sea lion photos my wife posted from the zoo keep getting tagged as me?

If You Decide You Don’t Want The Game, Just Talk To Three Customer Service Reps For 45 Minutes To Delete It
Comcast is starting a streaming game service with Electronic Arts. How enjoyable an experience this will be–using phones or tablets as controllers–is up in the air, but what is certain is that I would pay significant money to watch Comcast customers Twitch stream Cable Crush Saga, where points are awarded for lining up matching customer service reps. Get five in a row and their headsets tighten until their heads explode, at which point they are replaced by Tier 2 reps. There are infinite levels, and you do not, of course, ever win this game.

Break Out The Face Paint
A Saudi computer–the Shaheen II–entered the Top 500 Supercomputer list at #7, the first time a Middle East computer has been in the top ten. If you stop to think about this, one point in particular really jumps out at you: THERE’S A TOP 500 SUPERCOMPUTER LIST! This list has apparently existed for twenty-two years, and this is the first I’m hearing about it? Is the Associated Press involved? A committee of former supercomputer programmers? Have I been missing playoffs, bowl games… The International Supercomputing Conference Championship Game Sponsored by Tostitos (“Tostitos–Not silicon-germanium, but still a great chip.”)?

I have heard ZERO listeners call in to radio shows complaining about the Cray Titan XK7 Opteron 6274 being ranked ahead of the IBM Sequoia BlueGene/Q Power BQC, claiming that the Titan’s narrow half a petaflop win was definitely a result of an easier number-crunching schedule.

This Just In…
A study claims that Twitter and Facebook are used as news sources by 63% of their users. I’m inclined to buy that, but then I remember that I know people who consider “one of the girls who sang the Nicki Minaj song on Ellen just had a birthday” as news.

I Hope There’s A Deal On Carpal Tunnel Braces
Amazon celebrated their 20th anniversary with Prime Day, a day they claimed would have more discounts than Black Friday. I assume this means customers were able to relive the treasured Black Friday tradition of–for the rare worthwhile item–starting to click their mouse three minutes before the scheduled sale start time so that when the precise second strikes, they may, if the gods are smiling on them, be informed that the item has sold out but they have been granted a coveted spot on the Wait List. Certainly, like waiting for a lottery drawing, half the fun is the exciting anticipation, the “what-if?”, the dreams you dream while your constantly clicking finger cramps and gnarls like that of a fairy tale witch.

And I Can Now Name Every American Girl Doll
One feature of the wrist-worn Kickstarter product Doppel is to keep you focused at times you might be inclined to doze off–boring meetings, dinner with your spouse’s friends, an opera–by issuing rapid taps to your arm. This could replace the less-portable device many of us have–the CINDY (Constantly Interrupting Niece Disturbing You). CINDY is typically triggered after Thanksgiving dinner, moments after you position yourself on a recliner in front of the Cowboys blowout. As your eyes begin to close and sleep threatens, CINDY—with no need for prior programming!– initiates an insistent tapping on your arm. If this fails to rouse you, audio prompts are activated: “Hey, guess what?… Hey guess what?…Hey, Uncle Mike, guess what?” I have not fallen asleep at a family gathering in six years.

I’m Going As The Start Button
Microsoft will be throwing Windows 10 launch parties in thirteen major cities around the world, so expect Harry Potter book release-levels of excitement–parents letting their kids stay up late to be one of the first to claim an OS-wielding USB drive from the stacks piled high on folding tables, spirited discussions of which new desktop themes will be available, and of course everyone will be dressed as their favorite Microsoft icon, presumably 99% CEO Satya Nadellas, and, off in a corner, drinking fruit punch, a subdued handful of Clippies. Refreshments will be provided, and in keeping with the spirit of the new mandatory Windows updates, attendees will eat a slice of pizza whether they want it or not.

With Special Musical Guest “Nancy In Accounts Payable’s Kid” On The Clarinet
And finally, Apple announced the new iPod Touch this week at an event featuring appearances by Pete from PR and a Whole Foods veggie tray.

 

There you have it. One down. Back next week with more of… this.

(And I say it’s pronounced “lodgy.”)

Looking for more 2015 ridiculousness? I guess you could go back and read the rest of the blogs on this site, but why not get them collected in a convenient Kindle format for just $.99 in The Internet is Like a Snowblower (And 200 Other Things I Got Wrong About Tech This Year)? That’s what I’d do. Here’s a handy clickable sentence to make it easy for you.

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

Back with new stuff next week. Now back to vacation, where… okay, I’ll tell you–I’m appearing at Comic Con! Stupid autocorrect–I’m peering at Comic Con. On the Roku app. So I probably didn’t need to spend quite so much time on my Ghostbusters Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man cosplay.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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

DTNS 2816 – Can Yahoo Me Now?

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comIt looks Yahoo’s sale is almost over. Iyaz Akhtar and Tom Merritt trace the history, what is being sold and how it might fit into Verizon.

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Helping each other understand.