Uber & Lyft Drivers Will Need Business Permits in San Francisco

When it comes to “ridesharing” apps like Uber and Lyft, the law has been slow to catch up on the latest app-driven taxi scheme. Debating if they are consultants or employees, cities have been torn apart as Taxi drivers argue that they use loopholes to avoid extra charges that Taxis have to pay. This may change thanks to San Francisco now requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to own a business permit if they want to keep working within the city.

City Treasurer Jose Cisneros has apparently sent out 37,018 letters to drivers within the city to let them know about the new requirement, ultimately forcing Uber and Lyft to either recognise their drivers as staff or get business permits and act as contractors. With each permit costing only $91 a year (if you make less than $100,00 a year) then the funding coming in from the new requirement comes to around $3.37 million a year!

Uber responded in a statement to SFGate saying that as its drivers were independent contracts they were “responsible for following appropriate local requirements” while Lyfts spokesperson Chelsea Wilson was less than candid in saying that their company opposed thew new plans, saying that the company has “serious concerns with the city’s plan to collect and display Lyft drivers’ personal information in a publicly available database”.

Judge Votes in Favour of Apple in Bag Check Lawsuit

Sometimes we get asked to do weird things for work, some of them are as simple as working a couple of extra hours and some of them are a little more extreme, such as asking for an entire weekend of work. A group of Apple employees believed it had gone a little too far when they were asked to have their bags checked. Their lawsuit has since ended, with the Judge deciding that they do not deserve compensation for the time taken to have their bags searched.

District Judge William Alsup for the Northen District of California ruled on Saturday that the employees are entitled to no compensation. In his decision, he stated that rather than banning employees from bringing bags to work (in an attempt to prevent thefts from the stores) they could bring bags and personal Apple devices into the store for their shifts, but at the end of said shift they would have to have their bags checked, in case some of their merchandise had “fallen” into the bag.

While Apple has claimed that the bag checks are required in order to prevent thefts from internal staff, with a new policy making it mandatory that bags, purses and briefcases are searched upon exiting an apple store.

Have you ever seen a search in an Apple store? Has your employer ever asked something that didn’t quite make sense to you?

Mozilla Set to Fire Employee Responsible for Hate Speech on Reddit

Mozilla’s CEO has vowed to fire an employee who was suspected of engaging in a vitriolic tirade on Reddit. The person in question used the alias, aoiyama and expressed joyous glee from the recent departure of Mozilla’s community organizer, Christie Koehler, and said:

“Everyone was glad to see the back of her”

“When she and the rest of her blue-haired, nose-pierced ***hole feminists are gone, the tech industry will breathe a sigh of relief.”

From a PR perspective, this was a disaster as the Reddit user is a Mozilla representative and could give an overall impression of their views on gender diversity in technology. Of course, Mozilla need to take firm, authoritative action and try to project a public image of enticing women into the technology sector. I think this proves once again to use caution when ranting on a public website and step away from the keyboard in moments of anger. Respect each other and the internet will become a more harmonious place.

Mozilla’s official response to the incident is as follows:

“It’s been brought to our attention that there’s been anonymous postings to Reddit under the handle aoiyama that crossed a line from criticism to hate speech. There’s a lot to suggest that they’re a Mozillian [an employee]. Specifically, when I’m talking about crossing the line from criticism to hate speech, I’m talking about when you start saying that ‘someone’s kind doesn’t belong here and we’ll all be happy when they’re gone.’ If that’s not hate speech, it’s pretty damn close and we’re not going to walk that line as Mozilla. So if, and when, we identify who this person is and if they are an employee, they will be fired. Either way, they are not welcome to continue to participate in the Mozilla project, so if you cross that line, I’m asking you now: please leave, because you’re not welcome.”

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Netflix Offers Parental Leave – Paid For A Year

Employees are people, this fact is well-known, but often ignored by a lot of companies, ultimately this means that people don’t enjoy working where they are because they are just another cog in the machine. Once in a while though we get to write an article about a company who seem to care about their employees, and in this case Netflix are on the top of the list.

Both male and female staff will eventually face the challenges of parenting, and normally this comes with the side effect of messing up your work life. Either you leave, go on maternity leave for a little bit then come back as soon as possible, or keep working while booking off days as sick or holiday. Netflix, however, is doing a different route, they are instead offering new parents, male and female, a year of paternity (and maternity) leave; While this may sound like a good deal, it does come with some fine print.

Just kidding Netflix are the good guys, not only do you get a year off for the child’s first year and it comes fully paid. This means that as a dad or a mom, you can spend as much time with your child as you want. Even coming into work on occasion throughout the year and then going back onto leave afterward.

The added bonus, when you come back from leave you are guaranteed your job. Your job though doesn’t have to be the same one you left, it can be full-time or part-time depending on what you prefer now that you have a little one growing up.

The full details were announced in a blog post from the company, in which their chief talent officer, Tawni Cranz, stated “this new policy, combined with our unlimited time off, allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated”.

A company which cares for its staff seems like more people could be looking at Netflix to lead the way in employee satisfaction.

Thank you Netflix for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Netflix Pr.

Foxconn to Replace More Humans With Robots

Foxconn, which is Apple’s primary supplier for components, expects to deploy more robots in their factories to help with production in the next three years. While human workers are the main resource in their factories today, the company expects to automatize 70% of its assembly line work.

The Taiwanese manufacturing plant currently employs 1 million workers in China. However, company CEO Terry Gou said that he has been investing in robotics research and hopes to one day deploy a “robot army” at the company’s factories to offset labour costs and improve manufacturing.

“I think in the future, young people won’t do this kind of work, and won’t enter the factories,” said Gou.

A while back, Foxconn has faced criticism regarding working conditions, long hours and harsh treatment from its employees and both Foxconn and Apple have promised to improve the labour conditions. The resulting outcome proves to be a good quality and production improvement, but the cost of achieving it would most likely displease Foxconn’s employees even more.

Despite the increase in automation, certain Foxconn facilities in China still heavily rely on human workers. The factory in Zhengzhou, China, assembling Apple’s iPhone for instance, has been known to employ 300,000 workers.

Thank you Computer World for providing us with this information

HTC’s Upcoming Smartwatch Leaked in Newly Uploaded Video

There has been a lot of talks about wearable devices such as smartwatches in the past. Manufacturers announced and even released their first versions since then, having Samsung and LG already revealing their Gear Live, G Watch and even Motorola is not far behind with its Moto 360.

Aside from the above, most manufacturers appear to keep their plans a secret. HTC is one of them, keeping the plans for its upcoming smartwatch away from consumer eyes. Even so, leaks are bound to surface, and HTC may have revealed a glimpse of its smartwatch design in the video below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHvbLkFbYJM[/youtube]

It is said that at 0:35, a HTC employee is seen at his desk with a smartwatch dock besides him and the actual smartwatch on the dock. Details are scarce at this time, but we can clearly see that the company is following Samsung and LG’s design.

Another leaked image can be seen at 0:43, where a team of designers (or so it seems) are rendering the smartwatch design in a 3D software. If the device proves to be a real Android Wear version of what HTC wants to release, it won’t be long before the company will make it official through a statement in the following weeks.

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of BGR

Study Reveals Gamers To Be More Educated, Social and Successful Than Non-Gamers

Gamers have always been thought to be comprised mostly by loners and rejects, the so-called nerds who live in their parent’s basement and play video games all day long. However, a recent study has shed light on this dilemma, revealing that only one perception is true from the previously mentioned, which is that gamers are truly nerds.

A study commissioned by the video game streaming network Twitch and conducted by social researcher Neil Howe revealed an entirely fresh perspective of the gaming community by suggesting that gamers are more successful, social and more educated than the non-gamer society. The company is said to have surveyed more than 1,000 people via the Internet regarding their gaming habits while also extracting some demographic information. For the case study at hand, it has been said that a typical ‘gamer’ was defined as an individual who has played a game on a digital device in the past 60 days, having over 60% of surveyed individuals in total fitting the profile.

According to The Washington Post, who received a copy of the case study, gamers are more likely to be living with others, such as family, friends or significant others, and are more likely to agree with the following statement: “My friends are the most important thing in my life”, having 57% of gamers agree with the statement. The study also reveals that gamers are also divided more evenly by gender, with 52% identified as being male and 48% female, compared to a similar study back in 2004 revealing an estimated 40% of female gamers.

Another aspect extracted from the case study is said to reveal that gamers are slightly more likely to be employed full-time, having 42% of gamers employed full-time, compared to the 39% non-gamer full-time employees. In terms of media habits, it has been identified that gamers spend more time using their gadgets and also tend to spend a lot of time with media through popular video streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Though most modern gamers already are familiar and agree with the provided information, it is nice to see Twitch and Neil Howe providing some actual hard facts and truthful information regarding the definition of a ‘Gamer’ and hopefully diminish the false rumors which have been roaming around the non-gamer community for some time now.

Thank you The Washington Post for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Capital FM, GBeye and Keep Calm-o-Matic

Angry employee’s open letter to EA over SimCity’s series of server bloopers

EA recently put up an apology for problems that many players are facing in SimCity so far, saying that the only reason this is happening is because a lot more people logged in than they initially expected in comparison during BETA, admitting that its a mistake from their end. To dull the pain, EA is offering its SimCity players a free PC downloadable game within EA’ stable. These games will be available to be downloaded on March 18th as they’ll send an email to its players giving them instructions on how to redeem their free game.

But recently, an EA employee with username “DissappointedEA” has expressed his anger via an open letter towards EA management in Reddit, which is now being deleted. Forbes and some redditors who claim to be working for EA as well were able to confirm that the person who posted the open letter is an artist at EARS as he provided an email from EA Executive Vice President and Chief Talent Office Gabrielle Toledano to address about International Women’s day.

The employee mentioned in the open letter that EA should have patched the game to allow offline play and accuses the company that it lacks integrity, shrugs off accountability and brought down itself as an anti consumer, all of which goes against EA’s own official list of company values mentioned under their “About Us” site.


This is the copy of the now-deleted open letter:

“To the executives at EA, from one of your employees

I am deeply embarrassed by the troubled launch of Sim City and I hope you are too. When I walk around our campus and look at the kind of talent we’ve collected, the amenities we have access to and the opportunities working at such a big company affords us, I can’t imagine how for release after release, EA continues to make the same embarrassing, anti-consumer mistakes. We should be better than this. You should not be failing us so badly.

Another thing I see when I walk around our campus are massive banners that display what are said to be our company values. They are on posters on every floor, included in company-wide emails and hanging above the cafeteria in bright colors. You even print them on our coffee mugs so we see them every day. But somehow when planning the launch of Sim City, you threw them all out the window.
Most important of the values you are ignoring is Think Consumers First. What part of the Sim City DRM scheme, which has rendered the game unplayable for hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, demonstrates that you are thinking about consumers before you are thinking about yourselves? Does “first” mean something different in boardrooms than it does to the rest of us? Does the meaning of that word change when you get the word “executive” in front of your title?

You can’t even pretend that you didn’t know consumers would be angry about this. Common sense aside, consumers complained about this during your public betas. In fact, when one of them posted his criticisms on the forums, he was banned! You tried to silence your critics. The same thing is happening now as users write in to demand refunds. What part of this behavior aligns with our company value to Be Accountable?

What you’ve demonstrated with this launch is that our corporate management does not believe in our core values. They are for the unwashed masses, not for the important people who forced this anti-consumer DRM onto the Sim City team. This DRM scheme is not about the consumers or even about piracy. It’s about covering your own asses. It allows you to hand-wave weak sales or bad reviews and blame outside factors like pirates or server failures in the event the game struggles. You are protecting your own jobs at the expense of consumers. I think this violates the Act With Integrity value I’m looking at on my own coffee mug right now.

On behalf of your other employees, I’d like to ask you to fix this. Allow the Sim City team to patch the game to run offline. If Create Quality and Innovation is still a core value that you believe in, then this shouldn’t be a hard decision. Games that gamers can’t play because of server overload or ISP issues are NOT quality. Be Bold by giving the consumers what they want and take accountability for the mistake.
Finally I’d like to ask you to follow the last company value on the list in the future: Learn and Grow. When you made this mistake with Spore, the company and all your employees suffered for it. You didn’t learn from that mistake and you are making it again with Sim City.

So please, learn from this debacle. Don’t do this again. Grow into better leaders and actually apply our company values when you make decisions. Don’t just use them as tools to motivate your staff. With the money, talent and intellectual property available to EA, we should be leading the industry into a golden age of consumer-focused game publishing. Instead we’re the most reviled game publisher in the world. That’s your fault. Things can only change if you actually start following the company values and apply them to every title we launch.

Sincerely,
A Disappointed But Hopeful Artist at EARS”


Possibility exists that this employee won’t be nameless for a long, considering that both EA management and the internet would love to track down and identify him. However, it goes without saying that EA will have to brace themselves for another epic PR nightmare if they are successful to find the identity of this employee and fired him/her.

In any case, hopefully this disaster will teach EA or any publishers on how not to release a game.