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”.
The quest to gain a greater insight into artificial Intelligence has been exciting and has also opened up a range of possibilities that have included “convolutional neural networks”, these are large visual networks of simple information-processing units which are loosely modelled on the anatomy of the human brain.
These networks are typically implemented using the more familiar graphics processing units (GPUs). A mobile GPU might have as many as 200 cores or processing units, this means that it is suited to “simulating a network of distributed processors”. Now, a further development in this area could lead to the potential for a specifically designed chip that has a sole purpose of implementing a neural network.
MIT researchers have presented the aforementioned chip at the “International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco”. The advantages of this chip include the notion that it is 10 times more efficient than an average mobile GPU, this could lead, in theory, to mobile devices being able to run powerful artificial intelligence algorithms locally, rather than relying on the cloud to process data.
The new chip, coined “Eyeriss” could, lead to the expansion of capabilities that includes the Internet of things, or put simply, where everything from a car to a cow, (yes apparently) would have sensors that are able to submit real-time data to networked servers. This would then open up horizons for artificial intelligence algorithms to make those important decisions.
Before I sign off I wanted to further delve into the workings of a neural network, the workings are that it is typically organised into layers, each of these layers contains a processing node. Data is then divided up among these nodes within the bottom layer, each node then manipulates the data it receives before passing it on to nodes within the next layer. This process is then repeated until “the output of the final layer yields the solution to a computational problem.” It is certainly fascinating and opens up a world of interesting avenues with which to explore, when you combine science and tech, the outcome is at the very least educational with the potential for it to be life changing. .
Mark Zuckerberg is not really ingratiating himself with his neighbours within the local but admittedly expensive community that is Liberty Hill in San Francisco. The extensive construction and the accompanied noise and disruption has not been a favourite with the fellow residents and now a parking dispute has again caused friction between the Facebook founder and his neighbours.
The aforementioned parking dispute involves Mark Zuckerberg’s security team “permanently’ and illegally occupying desirable parking spots in the area with two silver SUVs”. Below is an image to illustrate the alleged problem that has annoyed the fellow residents, as you can see, these vehicles are stationed next to the social network founder’s house.
It has annoyed the community to such an extent that it has distributed a letter to residents urging them to “complain to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) about the vehicles and also contact Zuckerberg’s residential security manager, Tim Wenzel” Below is an image of the letter that was obtained.
In response, a spokesperson for Mark Zuckerberg states “The security team’s cars are parked in accordance with local parking laws. The team strives to be sensitive to neighbour’s concerns and regrets any inconvenience.”
Disputes, in this case, can be perceived as rather silly with the potential to escalate out of all proportion, I think this has evolved from allegations in 2014 of persistent and noisy construction work followed by further allegations involving an apparent restraining order which had reportedly been filed by Mr Zuckerberg’s security team against a 62-year-old local man, leaving him temporary homeless in 2015. I do think there is also a perception that “rich” individuals do not respect the social etiquette within the community, but rather zoom in and develop an area without any consideration for residents.
It will be interesting to see if there are any further reports of alienation between both parties in the future.
The tragic and mysterious death of Debian founder Ian Murdock was revealed by Docker on 30th December. The day before his death, Murdock posted a series of disturbing tweets in which he threatened to kill himself, later revealing that he was falsely arrested (for “[Knocking] on [his] nieghbor’s door,” as he puts it) and assaulted by police. He died hours later, and his Twitter account was deleted.
A 23-year-old Software Engineer who works for Google in San Francisco has eschewed renting an apartment in favour of sleeping in a truck in his employer’s parking lot. Brandon, who has withheld his surname and photo to maintain his anonymity, was struggling last Summer, living with four people in a 2-bedroom apartment and paying $2,000 per month, during his Google internship. He decided that there had to be a better way.
“I realized I was paying an exorbitant amount of money for the apartment I was staying in — and I was almost never home,” Brandon said. “It’s really hard to justify throwing that kind of money away. You’re essentially burning it — you’re not putting equity in anything and you’re not building it up for a future — and that was really hard for me to reconcile.”
Upon starting a full-time position at Google, Brendan purchased a 2006 Ford truck, with 157,000 miles on the clock, for $10,000, which amounted to his signing bonus from Google. Not as a vehicle, but as a home.
Brendan has no overheads – he does not drive his truck, uses no electricity, and his phone bill is covered by Google – and his only regular payment is the $121 a month car insurance. He eats, showers, and works out at his workplace campus. As of today, Brendan has “broke even” on his truck, at least according to his “savings clock”. His net savings, updated live on his blog, “Thoughts from Inside the Box”, were listed as $206.53 (rising every few seconds) at the time of writing.
“I don’t actually own anything that needs to be plugged in,” he explains. “The truck has a few built-in overhead lights, and I have a motion-sensitive battery-powered lamp I use at night. I have a small battery pack that I charge up at work every few days, and I use that to charge my headphones and cellphone at night. My work laptop will last the night on a charge, and then I charge it at work.”
New startup Trees will deliver marijuana, bought using Bitcoin, to Californian potheads via drone. San Francisco-based Trees allows cannabis smokers to order boxes of weed online, using either a computer or a smartphone, and have it delivered to them the same day.
Trees offers three boxes: the Bud Box, which contains the more exotic varieties, the Extract Box, stuffed full of hash, and the beginner box, for those novices who want to know what all the fuss is about. Other items on offer include cigarette papers, filter tips (which must be some kind of initiation test, or something), and a grinder.
To be eligible to order, though, potential smokers must have a California medical marijuana license. But eligibility will be rendered irrelevant if Trees isn’t granted approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly its drones, with its application still being assessed.
“We’re not sure when we’ll be launching yet,” a spokesperson for Trees said. “We are based in San Francisco and the legal situation here is not clear yet.”
It remains to be seen whether Trees will have its flight application approved, since Amazon has been struggling for months to have its Amazon Prime Air drone delivery initiative given the thumbs-up by the FCC.
With electric vehicles (EVs) starting to gain traction in the automotive world, ways of charging them when ‘out and about’ has been a small concern for some motorists. This has now been tackled head on by the company Envision Solar, with the introduction of three separate solar powered charging stations; I like the sound of car docks myself.
So what does this mean? Basically, there are three completely off the grid charging stations dotted throughout San Francisco. These are transportable stations only taking up the space of a normal sized parking spot and are completely free for users to utilise. They are Level 2 charging stations, capable of generating 3.3 kilowatts of energy; that’s not much, but it’s better than plugging in at home or at any other on-grid charging station. The charging station is also equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack that stores 22.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity; saving it for a rainy day.
These charging stations are on a fixed term basis, staying at their locations within San Francisco for a few months at a time. All of which, they will be gathering information such as charge frequency and duration. After 12 months, the company will analyse the data and choose which spot will be best to store all three of these stations to then be made a permanent feature.
All green energy for all green cars, sounds like the right way forward and would make excellent use of open car parks that are directly in sun, keeping the car cool on a hot day and also giving you some charge.
Twitch, the popular game streaming service, is to have its very first fan convention in San Francisco. TwitchCon will take place across two days on September 25th and 26th where viewers, Twitch broadcasters and developers can all sit and watch each other play in person instead of online.
Well, it’s supposed to involve a bit more than that, but at the moment details are extremely limited. The website for the event only gives a date – there’s not even ticket prices yet available. We do know however, that it will take place at Moscone West, the same place Apple and Google holds their annual developer conferences, WWDC and Google I/O. That should mean plenty of exhibit space and many opportunities for presentations.
Twitch has a massive following online, with millions flocking to the site to watch people play games. It’s success lead to a $970 million acquisition by Amazon back in September 2014.
Microsoft has presented their new Windows operating system, and I’m ready to continue the coverage after I getting over the shock of the new name. While I don’t have anything against it, it just doesn’t make sense to me. Doesn’t have to, Windows 10 is on its way.
Microsoft wants to empower novice users to get better at multi tasking and are introducing the new Task View. A new button is placed on the taskbar and when pressed it that launches the function by the same name. Mac OS X users will see this as a very familiar option.
We see multiple desktops at the bottom of the interface and it also shows all the apps that currently are open. You can switch between the different desktops with multiple apps running in their own separate areas. There’s also a new Snap Assist UI at the side where you can grab apps from multiple desktops. This might not be a world-changing feature as they said during the presentation, but it is a great addition.
Microsoft is really trying to reach all users better with the new Windows 10, may they use keyboard and/or mouse or touch interfaces to control it. Ease of use and productivity have been key words the Microsoft developers as they worked on this new version.
The command prompt has been improved as well. While it still looks the same, it has gained a new very useful feature. You can now paste with CTRL+V into the prompt. Up until now you had to access a context menu via the right mouse button, something that really interfered with productivity. A minor addition, but one that will be loved. Microsoft wants to deal with all these different input methods in a way that works for them all, not just the most popular.
A thing I think many Windows 8 users would like to see gone is the charms bar. But no such luck, the charms bar is still present in Windows 10. Lets just hope that it’ll be easier to turn off or disable for those who don’t need it, as it can be a real pain on multi-monitor setups. We were told that it was an early version, so it’s most likely going to change before the final product.
Up until now it’s been mostly focused on the desktop version, but we also get a peek at the new design for the two-in-one models. Microsoft calls this new design study the continuum and below we see the start menu as it looks for touch devices. Essentially it switches mode depending on your input. Microsoft are trying to be thoughtful about the user interface of their new cross-platform operating system.
Microsoft is launching the Insider Program tomorrow as well as the technical preview build for laptops and desktops. The preview versions for servers will follow later at an unspecified time. They’re also inviting enthusiastic fans to evaluate the new Windows with them, as they said: “We know they’re a vocal bunch.”
Microsoft is also planning to share more than ever before and earlier than ever before. “We can build a product that all of our customers will love.” We’ll be hearing more about the consumer story beginning of next year and there will be a build conference in April that will show more about the new universal apps. The actual product will be shipping sometime late 2015.
The first thing that was asked in the following Q&A round was about pricing and upgrades for Windows XP and Seven users. But no such luck at this time, this event was about the product family and the presentation of the new direction they’re taking. The naming choice was the next thing that was asked, to which the response was that once you see the improvements, you’ll agree with the decision to skip a number.
To the question about what insiders would get access to we got this reply: “We’ve never done this before. Hopefully you become an Insider, you’ll see things you haven’t seen before. There will be forums available for discussions amongst insiders, and our engineering team will be available.” So it’s a direct feedback line. Microsoft doesn’t want a repeat of the Windows 8 fiasco, and getting the users involved early seems a great way to avoid this.
Some one also joked if we would see Windows versions named after big cats now that we’ve gotten to version 10, but the answer to that was: “Probably not.” This wraps up the news surrounding the event in San Francisco, but we’ll keep you updated with the newest things about this operating system as they become available.
Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information
After the Windows chief Terry Myerson had presented the new Windows 10, Joe Belfiore entered the stage to demo the new operating system and he has been working on improving the tablet and PC experience. He stressed that this is a very early build, maybe to safe guard against any bugs or maybe even blue screens that might happen during the presentation.
The demonstration runs an evaluation copy of Windows Technical Preview, Build 9841 and the demonstration is said to be very basic and without music, videos or internet explorer.
Microsoft has heard the loud cries from their users: they want the desktop, and the desktop they shall get. In windows 10 it looks about the same as we’re used to from Windows 7 and 8 with Desktop view; we have the desktop background and icons at the top and the taskbar at the bottom. The Windows 7 user base is both very large and important and they need to get a familiar experience on the devices they already have, Belfiore said.
The Start Menu has changed in the direction that we’ve already seen leaked prior to the event. We have our normal pinned and most used programs to the left, the new part is the windows 8 styled tiles to the right. They feature the same functions as the windows 8 metro start when it comes to resizing, adjusting and moving them around. At the top you’ll also find a link to your user profile and the button for restart, logoff and shut-down.
“We want all these Windows 7 users to have the sentiment that yesterday they were driving a first-generation Prius… and now with Windows 10 it’s like a Tesla. They don’t have to learn a new way to drive”
The new Windows 10 experience is said to be all about personalization. The search experience has improved and is directly accessible through the start menu. It is a universal search that includes web results.
Belfiore is talking up the Windows Store and the ability for Windows 7 users to get the benefit of the new apps. The tiles and icons that are shown in the start menu are a blend of the classic and universal apps. The users are promised a familiar feel right away and the ability to work them in a way you’d expect with mouse and keyboard.
When Windows 8 users launched one of the new apps, it had a different view than the desktop versions. This duality look is not wanted any more and the new Windows allows for modern apps to run in windowed modes. In the demonstration it’s the email and trip advisor apps that are shown off. The traditional Snap-View we know since Windows 7 works in with both classic and universal apps now.
Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information
We’ve seen the leaks and we’ve heard the rumours; now it’s time for some facts. The Microsoft Windows event in San Francisco is upon us and we’ll finally find out what the future of Windows will bring.
Microsoft held the event rather small and very few guests were invited. While not everyone could be there at such an event, it makes for a better and more intimate presentation. When the attendees entered the room they could spot Windows logos everywhere and some test systems that weren’t powered yet; but there weren’t any obvious hints towards the version number or name.
When the clock finally hit 6:00 PM local time, the Windows chief Terry Myerson entered the stage. He started by telling that half a billion people are using Microsoft Windows today and there are even more devices that run it. “For one audience the world still hasn’t changed, that’s our developers. Still too much to do and not enough time,” said Myerson.
“Windows is at a threshold and now it’s time for a new Windows.” The new windows is build from the ground up with a mobile-first cloud-first world in mind. But a name still hasn’t been revealed. Most people have been speculated on Windows 9 up until now, but that wouldn’t be the right choice according to Microsoft. To much has changed.
Windows One would be fitting, but that’s already been used, Myerson teases the audience. The new version of the worlds leading operating system will be called Microsoft Windows 10. Yes you read right. The new name shocked quite a few people, but I don’t see any problem with it.
It looks like Microsoft wants to abandon all the different versions and just have one operating system. One unified system that allows customers to work, play and connect between all their devices. Windows 10 will run on the broadest types of devices ever and will be just one application platform. “One store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased, and updated across all of these devices.”
Myerson went on to ensure how valuable the enterprise customers are to Microsoft. They need to evaluate Windows early and as such Windows has started their dialogue with them today. It promises a familiar experience and all the tools they’re used to finding. “Windows 10 will be compatible with all the traditional management systems used today.”
Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information
Last May someone began hiding envelopes of cash all over San Francisco, starting an internet sensation as people tried their hardest to find the locations. Now it seems the concept has gone digital as someone is now leaving Bitcoin wallets around the city, starting the whole internet craze all over again, in what is being called @SFHiddenBitcoin.
The wallets are aluminium cards with Bitcoin addresses and a private key on them. These can then be imported into the wallet of the person who finds the card, with a value of around $20 each. Of course without all cards being found yet, there is no way of knowing if there are larger values still hidden around the city.
As with the cash version, clues for the Bitcoin locations are being left on the Twitter account, once a wallet is found it gets announced on Twitter and people then wait for the next clue. However, some creative type decided it would be funny to hide one at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s house, so who knows what other random places these cards could turn up at.
If you’re in the San Francisco area and want to kill a few hours this weekend, follow the Twitter page and join the hunt here.
Thank you BI for providing us with this information.
“We signed up, got a few pairs of the Google glasses, and we’re trying them out, seeing if they have any value in investigations, mostly for patrol purposes,” a ranking New York City law enforcement official told VentureBeat. “We think it could help impact patrol operations in New York City. We shall see…”
At a time when Google is trying to disassociate itself from American authorities and law enforcement Google probably isn’t too happy about the news NYPD is trialling their Glass. When questioned about whether Google provided the NYPD with Google Glass units for testing Google told VentureBeat that:
“The Google Glass Explorer program includes people from all walks of life, including doctors, firefighters and parents. Anyone can sign up to become a Glass Explorer, provided he or she is a U.S. resident and over the age of 18.”
Chief Information officer of the San Francisco police department, Susan Merritt, showed similar interest saying the application of Google Glass to law enforcement is potentially huge.
Google Glass could be used to run facial recognition scans, record real time encounters to eliminate the need for written reports and access criminal databases to perform checks in real time. Of course the flip side of the coin is that Google Glass could be a violation of the rights of innocent citizens. It could also be used as a way for American authorities to conduct more mass surveillance, using data harvested by officers wearing Google Glass to build huge databases of audio and visual information that would allow for facial and voice recognition of everyone they come into contact with.
What are your thoughts about American police using Google Glass?
Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven was one of the games that revolutionised the gaming industry back in September 2002 when it first got launched. It emerged you in a unique experience of the Mafia world in the ’30 era, full of thrilling chase episodes, interesting plot and exceptional mix of characters. It also introduced a few environmental features, such as speed limit and the ability for cops to properly cope with law offences.
Then in 2010, eight years later, the second part was released, packed with newer graphics and physics engines, having the same expected outcome as the first. It even had the mission which linked the two games, namely the mission to kill Thomas Angelo, the first Mafia’s main character.
We now hear that there is a Mafia 3 in the works, but it however will not be developed by 2K Czech as Mafia II. There are rumors that even a few members from 2K Marin have followed Rod Fergusson, the head of 2K Studio over in San Francisco, to the new studio as well as others from 2K Czech. The reports state that 2K San Francisco will start from scratch on the new Mafia 3 project. They have no intention of using what the Czech studio developed for Mafia 2.
Regarding the fate of 2K Czech, nobody knows for sure. There had been some layoffs back in 2011 as Fudzilla reports and the exact number of people still in the Czech HQ is not known. They say that the layoffs were due to the studio not being able to deliver another Mafia 3 project before its deadline. However, concrete information has been released on the Mafia 3 attempt, neither on the actual rumor of the Mafia 3 development in San Francisco.
Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information
Drones are not usually associated with Christmas and Love, however artists George Zisiadis and Mustafa Khan are doing just that. They are using the drones every couple of minutes in San Francisco’s Union square to fly tinsel and mistletoe over unsuspecting couples urging them to embrace to Christmas spirt and share a kiss.
Zisiadis is hoping to bring out the inner child in us all. He is an interactive artist who has already taken San Francisco by storm with his visual art involving balloons, bubbles and beating hearts. Zisiadis has gone onto say;
“I devote my work to drawing out the curiosity and endless fun that lie within us. These qualities often get lost somewhere on the road to adulthood. By manipulating environments, I help people reimagine their relationships with reality. My goal is to engineer situations that induce you into playfulness, to use surprise and delight as a way of inspiring you to not take the status quo for granted. It is in those precious moments of childlike wonder that your imagination is free to soar. And this is the key. Because in order to create a better world, we must first be able to imagine it. Play seems to be the this thing that only children are allowed to do in designated, fenced-in areas. I think play is a creative necessity for all adults, or par with exercise. Sure, you can go a month without visiting the gym. But think about how gross you’d feel by then. As daily life gets busier and more stressful, we need to reengage with our inner children now more than ever.”
It seems that whatever these artist do they are capturing the attention of the public and bringing joy to those all round us, by creating real life art for all to enjoy.
Leap Motion technology has been announced back in September and the fact that HP will embed it into their laptops. It seems that Leap Motion is finally ready and Hewlett-Packard is embedding its gesture-control technology in 11 new computers.
As a short description for those of you who have missed it, Leap Motion is a tech developed to allow users to control their computers with hand gestures alone, with accuracy down to a hundredth of a millimeter. In September, HP said it was incorporating Leap Motion’s tech into the Envy 17 laptop, making it the first manufacturer to build the system directly into a computer. This time around, however, HP is embedding the system into stand-alone keyboards, as well as into laptops. The Leap Motion system will be included in eight HP desktop all-in-one machines, and three new desktop PCs.
Officials from the Leap Motion HQ based in San Francisco said integration with computers like those from HP is just the beginning.
“In the future, motion control will become a part of everyday life,” the company said in its blog post, “with motion-control technology embedded in a wide variety of devices — including tablets, smartphones, interactive kiosks, and head-mounted displays.”
Details on when such integrations would take place or which partners it will work with to bring them to reality however have not been discussed.
Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information Images courtesy of HP
It appears that Google is currently enlisting developers to show off their knowledge on the new Glassware Development Kit. Google sent out invitations to developers for this event that will take place in San Francisco on November 19th and 20th. The invite posted by Tech Sport states the following:
“We’d like to give you a first look at the next phase of the Glass Developer Platform during an exclusive, two-day hackathon in San Francisco. Not to worry if you don’t live near San Francisco. The announcement will be recorded and we’ll share the video after the event.”
There have been other hackathon events hosted by Google, having hosted two such events in San Francisco and New York City as well after releasing the Explorer Edition prototypes in April. Information about the event itself is scarce, but this is the first time that individuals will get a peek at the Glassware Development Kit, as well as a broader glimpse into the Google Glass project.
After all, Google Glass is the company’s leap into the world of wearable technology. The glasses will allow users to get directions, chat, take photos, record videos, and look up information on the web via a small built-in screen. The access to the GDK will be a valuable experience for developers to get acquainted with it and start planning on future apps, making it extremely profitable for future users as well when the glasses will be released.
Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information