Big Tech &
Uber Black launches Quiet Driver Mode (3 minute read)
Uber Black and Uber Black SUV premium rides will now have a new ‘Quiet Mode’ feature that allows users to signal their preferences to a driver in-app. Users can now select ‘Quiet preferred’, ‘Happy to chat’, or ‘No preference’ when hailing a ride. This is a feature that has been often requested, since many users would prefer to have a quiet ride, but may not want to directly request it to a driver. Other options have also been recently added, such as a ‘Bags’ option that lets the driver know that the rider has luggage that will require the driver to pull over to help with, and a ‘Temperature control’ option that allows the customer to request that the air conditioning be set to their preferred temperature.
Uber drivers are contractors, not employees, U.S. labor agency says (3 minute read)
The general counsel of a US labor agency has concluded that Uber drivers are contractors, not employees. Drivers set their own hours, own their own vehicles, and are free to work for Uber’s competitors, which makes them unable to be considered employees under federal labor law. A final ruling by the National Labor Relations Board will decide whether Uber drivers are employees and can form unions. Uber continues to deny any wrongdoing, but they have stated in a filing with the SEC that they would pay up to $170 million to settle tens of thousands of arbitration cases across the country with drivers who claim they have been misclassified as independent contractors.
Tesla’s trumpeted solar shingles are a flop (3 minute read)
Tesla purchased SolarCity in 2016, and announced soon after that they would be releasing a line of solar panels that were designed to look like shingles. Part of the original deal involved Tesla buying panels from Panasonic and investing in one of Panasonic’s gigafactories. In a statement by Panasonic, most of the solar panels produced at their factories were being sold overseas, rather than being used to fill orders for Tesla’s Solar Roofs. A separate source reported that only 21 Tesla solar systems had been installed in California. Overall, installations have plummeted by more than 76 percent since Tesla acquired SolarCity.
We Are Going (YouTube Video)
NASA is planning to go to the Moon, to stay, by 2024. They explain how in this 4 minute video. New rockets have been designed to be able to send heavier loads into space, capsules have been redesigned to safely take humans to space and back, surface data that has been captured over the years will be used to plan missions, and an orbiting outpost called Gateway will send capsules to and from the Moon. NASA continues to look past the Moon and will be using similar techniques and ideas to begin planning missions to Mars and beyond.
Programming, Design & Data Science
ZombieLoad PoC (GitHub Repo)
ZombieLoad is an attack that preys on a combination of four vulnerabilities that were discovered in Intel-based chips. It allows malicious users to read data used by processes or by a kernel, effectively allowing remote monitoring of a system. This repository contains the Proof of Concept code that demonstrates the attack is possible. There are instructions and troubleshooting information available for different systems.
PHP Insights (GitHub Repo)
PHP Insights was designed for developers to assess the quality of their PHP projects directly in terminal. Developers can analyze their coding quality and style, and there are tools to help make code reliable, simple, and clean. Users can create their own custom Insights to contribute to the project.
I charged $18,000 for a Static HTML Page (7 minute read)
Ibrahim Diallo, a freelance web-designer who was used to hopping from project to project, talks about his experience where he was offered a fairly easy project at a large company. The project involved designing a static HTML page, a job which he estimated would take him only a few hours, but the company also wanted his exclusive attention to the project. After quoting the company 20 hours, he then spent most of his time waiting for the work to be sent to him. The project ended up taking seven weeks due to delays in receiving the required materials to complete it. After everything was done, Diallo calculated that if he went with his original quote, $1,500 for a 20 hour project, he would’ve ended up being paid a total of $5.35 an hour. In the end, he quoted the company for $18,000, the same rate he originally quoted, accounting for the extended time. A manager wrote back breaking down the actual time he worked and it resulted in a quote of $21,000, which he was asked to confirm. Diallo quickly confirmed the quote.
U.S. Births Fell To A 32-Year Low In 2018; CDC Says Birthrate Is In Record Slump (3 minute read)
The US birth-rate fell by 2 percent in 2018 to 3,788,235 births, the lowest number of births in over 32 years. It has been the fourth consecutive year of birth declines. Research suggests that the current political climate and future outlook for the planet are significant factors that affect people’s decisions to have children. High childcare and insurance costs are also cited as reasons for the low birth-rate. Many people do not have a stable income or job security, and while the cost of living has risen, income levels have not. There has been an increase in the average age for women giving birth, as people are opting to have children later in life when they gain more stability.