Don’t mess with Dana’s payday.

This past Monday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi penned an op-ed piece in The New York Times, saying gig workers deserve better in response to California’s new law, Assembly Bill 5, requiring companies like Lyft and Uber to classify their drivers as full-time employees:

Why not just treat drivers as employees? Some of our critics argue that doing so would make drivers’ problems vanish overnight. It may seem like a reasonable assumption, but it’s one that I think ignores a stark reality: Uber would only have full-time jobs for a small fraction of our current drivers and only be able to operate in many fewer cities than today. Rides would be more expensive, which would significantly reduce the number of rides people could take and, in turn, the number of drivers needed to provide those trips. Uber would not be as widely available to riders, and drivers would lose the flexibility they have today if they became employees.

So Uber’s business model can’t support drivers-as-employees. Boohoo.

Let’s be clear though: Uber was not established to provide a flexible lifestyle for drivers.

So what is Khosrowshahi proposing?

I’m proposing that gig economy companies be required to establish benefits funds which give workers cash that they can use for the benefits they want, like health insurance or paid time off. Independent workers in any state that passes this law could take money out for every hour of work they put in. All gig companies would be required to participate, so that workers can build up benefits even if they switch between apps.

Let’s not forget the terms under which Khosrowshahi was hired after Travis Kalanick was forced to resign as Uber’s CEO in 2017:

Dara Khosrowshahi could get a huge payday — totaling more than $100 million according to a source — if Uber’s IPO valuation hits $120 billion and stays at that level for 90 consecutive days.

The Uber CEO will also get the payout for selling the company for $120 billion, according to a disclosure the company’s its S-1 documents.

Having a bunch of fairly paid employee drivers at Uber could take a serious bite out of that $100 million carrot.

Categories:

Business, Career

Galaxy Watch? More like Local Community Ignored. I got nothing.

Last week Samsung announced their new Galaxy Watch 3. I’m looking at these photos over at The Verge and it has to be the most uninspired smartwatch ever made. It looks like a throwback watch from the 90s you’d find in the Macy’s “On Sale” display next to the $5 sunglasses.

Over at Engadget, Cherlynn Low reminds us Samsung is still very much dedicated to copying Apple’s features and slapping a different name on them:

With the Galaxy Watch 3, Samsung is also playing a bit of catch-up. ECG is a feature Apple already unveiled in the Watch Series 4, and it’s not the only existing tool the Galaxy Watch 3 is adding. Samsung is calling one of these “trip detection,” which is basically a different way of saying “fall detection” — something that debuted on the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. Samsung says its version will only recognize falls when “engaged in dynamic motion not when still,” though.

Trip detection. Sure.

This all gets back to very plausible theory by John Gruber he posited this past June that Google just doesn’t care about Android anymore:

Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can.

This theory was given further substance when Google announced last week Wear OS would lose access to Google Play Music months before the YouTube Music App would be available:

Remember my theory that Google has grown bored with Android and doesn’t really care about it? That’s me talking about phones, which, in general, Google does care about insofar as they know that billions of people spend hours per day every day using them. With wearables Google never even cared in the first place, except for making goofy demo concepts like Google Glass. The customers who bought Wear OS devices care about them; the company that designed them clearly does not. If they cared, how could it be that you can’t listen to Google’s music platform on Google’s wearable platform?

I think a lot what’s happening in the tech world today gets back to what I and a lot of other people feel is big tech companies working in areas outside their core competencies.

Remember when Apple made great iPhones that featured great maps, email, and search software built by Google? Remember when Apple didn’t try to make it’s own Maps application (that I still find not as reliable as Google’s)? Remember when Microsoft wasn’t making mobile devices covered in Alcantara? Remember when Amazon wasn’t making smart glasses?

Categories:

Product

“She then twerks, merrily, on the side of the road with her loot.”

Teens Are Disguising As Mask-Wearing Grandmas to Buy Beer:

In a TikTok trend first reported by the New York Post, it seems that some teenagers have been running an elaborate booze-buying scheme that involves using face makeup and costumes to impersonate senior citizens. One (now private) video shows a young woman in sunglasses, a face mask, and a headscarf — with her dark hair and brows lightly powdered in gray — walking into a wine shop and out again with a few bottles of wine. She then twerks, merrily, on the side of the road with her loot. Another video, which has been viewed over 400,000 times, shows a young woman apply full prosthetic wrinkles and a few baggy sweaters, enter a 7-Eleven, and leave with a bag of hard ciders. In a third, the teen forgoes makeup altogether, making off with a bottle of Smirnoff with just a face mask, headscarf, and pair of thick spectacles — though she did make a commendable effort of hunching over and walking slowly, leaning on a friend who was posing as her granddaughter for support.

Keep fighting the good fight, kids.

Categories:

Crime

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Rambling Shit Hurricane

The White House Called a News Conference. Trump Turned It Into a Meandering Monologue:

WASHINGTON — In theory, President Trump summoned television cameras to the heat-baked Rose Garden early Tuesday evening to announce new measures against China to punish it for its oppression of Hong Kong. But that did not last long.

What followed instead was an hour of presidential stream of consciousness as Mr. Trump drifted seemingly at random from one topic to another, often in the same run-on sentence. Even for a president who rarely sticks to the script and wanders from thought to thought, it was one of the most rambling performances of his presidency.

He weighed in on China and the coronavirus and the Paris climate change accord and crumbling highways. And then China again and military spending and then China again and then the coronavirus again. And the economy and energy taxes and trade with Europe and illegal immigration and his friendship with Mexico’s president. And the coronavirus again and then immigration again and crime in Chicago and the death penalty and back to climate change and education and historical statues. And more.

“We could go on for days,” he said at one point, and it sounded plausible.

I rarely watch Trump speeches but I made myself sit through this one. It was really, really bad.

Categories:

Politics, Tromp

Typomania

I ran across a funny, 12-year-old detail on Erik Spiekermann’s website:

I have been suffering from Typomania all my life, a sickness that is incurable but not lethal. The Spiekerblog reflects the fact that I see most things from a typographic perspective.

As most of what we find out about comes to us by typographic media – i.e. visible language – anything and everything may be reported.

His two cents on Microsoft from the film Helvetica is still my favorite Spiekermann soundbyte.

Categories:

Typography

“And I ask you now, who dares to tell me to celebrate them?”

You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument:

According to the rule of hypodescent (the social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power) I am the daughter of two black people, the granddaughter of four black people, the great-granddaughter of eight black people. Go back one more generation and it gets less straightforward, and more sinister. As far as family history has always told, and as modern DNA testing has allowed me to confirm, I am the descendant of black women who were domestic servants and white men who raped their help.

It is an extraordinary truth of my life that I am biologically more than half white, and yet I have no white people in my genealogy in living memory. No. Voluntary. Whiteness. I am more than half white, and none of it was consensual. White Southern men — my ancestors — took what they wanted from women they did not love, over whom they had extraordinary power, and then failed to claim their children.

What is a monument but a standing memory? An artifact to make tangible the truth of the past. My body and blood are a tangible truth of the South and its past. The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. The white people I come from fought and died for their Lost Cause. And I ask you now, who dares to tell me to celebrate them? Who dares to ask me to accept their mounted pedestals?

This is the best thing I read in today’s Sunday Times.

cat·a·lyst – a person or thing that precipitates an event

John J. Mooney, an Inventor of the Catalytic Converter, Dies at 90:

Mr. Mooney was a high school graduate working as a clerk at a gas company when his colleagues encouraged him to pursue a college education. After earning a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, he went on to receive 17 patents during his 43-year career with the Englehard Corporation in Iselin, N.J. (now the Catalyst Division of the German chemical manufacturer BASF).

Among them was the three-way catalytic converter, which has been described by the Society of Automotive Engineers as among the 10 most important innovations in the history of the automobile.

The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that tailpipe emissions from the newest passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, trucks and buses generate about 99 percent less smog-producing exhaust and soot than those from the 1970 models did.

Sup, Jersey.

Microsoftware, definitely not hardware. LOL. Oops.

Microsoft is permanently closing its retail stores:

Microsoft on Friday announced it will permanently close its 83 Microsoft Store retail locations. It will instead focus on its online store at Microsoft.com, where customers can go for support, sales, training and more.

Microsoft said its retail team members will help on the website instead of in store. A Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC that all Microsoft employees will have the opportunity to stay with Microsoft.

“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter said in a blog post. “We are grateful to our Microsoft Store customers and we look forward to continuing to serve them online and with our retail sales team at Microsoft corporate locations.”

Translation: Hardware is hard. We were a day late and a dollar short.

Also, alcantara was a really bad idea.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Surface Earbuds

Of course Microsoft would release the least sexy earbuds of all time:

Surface Earbuds via Engadget

You could say Microsoft has evolved over the last 40 years. Partilcularly within the last 8 years with the introduction of their Surface tablet, yet underlying all their facelifts and capped teeth, they’re still the company Steve Jobs accurately described as having absolutely no taste.

Categories:

Product

Kickslowed

Like many businesses, Kickstarter isn’t in good shape these days:

Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter is the latest company to resort to layoffs during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company filed a regulatory notice in New York last week revealing it had laid off 25 employees, or about 18 percent of its workforce. But Kickstarter tells The Verge its workforce reduction is more than twice that, as 30 employees decided to take voluntary buyouts as negotiated between the company’s management and Kickstarter’s employee union.

“The filing is correct, however, it does not reflect an international employee that was affected, nor does it take into account further staff reduction via the voluntary buyouts offered to staff. In total, we’ll see a 39 percent reduction in staff,” a Kickstarter spokesperson tells The Verge. “The majority of those leaving chose voluntary separation packages, and everyone affected is staying on through this week through the transition.”

On the positive side, it’s cool to see interesting wearables projects that have launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I hope Kickstarter doesn’t go away. From a quick scan through the site, there looks to still be a lot of interesting projects launching on their platform.

No, Adobe XD won’t kill Sketch and InVision. At least not this year.

As I sift through old links I had intended on posting to this site but never did, I occassionally come across links that got better with age, or at the very least got more amusing.

Will Adobe XD kill Sketch and InVision?:

Adobe XD’s future is looking very bright and will win over many Sketch users. InVision’s change of focus may ensure its survival but one thing is for certain, Adobe XD is here to stay. The Adobe powerhouse is strong, and smaller companies like InVision and Sketch will have to work hard to stay relevant in the future.

That article was written over a year ago. Ancient in Internet years.

From my vantage point here in May of 2020, I can attest to the fact that both Sketch and InVision are alive and well. I use both almost daily at my job at Grio.

Adobe XD is still in the game, though. One of my engineering managers DM’d me on Slack the other day asking me, “Curious whether Adobe XD is widely used?” and then shared an article about Adobe XD supporting Flutter.

The competition between design tools in the last 5-6 years reminds me of the competition between cameras on pocket computers. In the spring of any given year the Google Pixel has the best camera. Then in the fall the latest iPhone has the best camera. Then the latest Samsung Galaxy is on top the following spring. Rinse, repeat.

Without knowing the marketshare of Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD, I can say that at least from a mindshare perspective the main competition right now appears to be between the ‘Coke & Pepsi’ of the design tool world, which are Sketch & Figma. I know agencies that only use one or the other, as well as others that use both, depending on the client and the project type. While I know many people who use InVision for sharing work with clients and within project teams and developers, I don’t know anyone using inVision Studio to create designs with.

It will be interesting to see where these applications stand next year.

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