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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

The Grid Might Survive an Electromagnetic Pulse Just Fine

A new report enters the debate over whether an EMP from a nuclear blast or a solar flare would cripple the power grid and concludes that actually, we’ll probably be ok.
Source: Wired

The Quiet Beauty of High-Octane Sports Cars

Ryan Young captured the drifting action in his series ‘Home on the Grange’.
Source: Wired

Security Experts Unite Over the Right to Repair

Securepairs.org is pushing back against a tech industry that wants independent repair legislation to be scary.
Source: Wired

Game of Thrones: Was the Battle of Winterfell an all-time great episode? – CNET

Commentary: It was the most anticipated Game of Thrones episode ever. And I say it delivered.
Source: CNET

Here's every electric vehicle on sale in the US for 2019 and its range – Roadshow

With more and more electric cars hitting the market these days, we decided to round up every one that you can buy in America and tell you how far it’ll go on a charge.
Source: CNET

How to clean your phone (and things to never do) video – CNET

Here’s how to get rid of smudges on your phone screen.
Source: CNET

Anki, maker of cute mini-robot Vector, is reportedly shutting down – CNET

Nearly 200 employees get just a week of severance pay, Recode reported.
Source: CNET

Uber adds real-time public transport data for London

From today, Uber has added public transport to its app in London, incorporating real-time information on the city’s Underground, Overground, train and bus network, as well as other trams, shuttle, river boat and the DLR’s driverless trains.

Last summer the ride-hailing giant was granted a provisional 15-month license to operate in the U.K. capital — after appealing against the shock 2017 decision of transport regulator, TfL, to reject its application for a licence renewal.

But instead of the standard five-year license, a judge gave Uber 15 months grace to continue working to satisfy conditions that Transport for London had said it had failed to meet when it made the decision not to grant a license renewal — deeming Uber “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence”.

The TfL decision focused mainly on concerns around passenger and driver safety. But Uber was also called out for a questionable approach to regulatory oversight, with TfL saying it had failed to adequately explain local use of software designed to thwart checks by regulatory and/or law enforcement officials. (Aka its controversial Greyball program.)

The wider theme here is Uber being called to heel to work with regulators, rather than seeking to hack their rulebooks and thumb its nose at city priorities — as was the case with its earlier expansionist playbook under founder Travis Kalanick.

TfL has been working on updating its regulatory framework for ride-hailing, and actively pushing for ride-hailing firms to share data with it.

While London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has made tackling London’s awful air quality, a policy priority — launching an ‘ultra-low emission zone’  in central London earlier this month which levies extra charges on motorists with more polluting vehicles if they drive into the zone.

Adding public transport options in London is an easy way for a rebooted Uber — under baggage-free CEO Dara Khosrowshahi — to get with this zeitgeist and project a more collaborative, civic-minded, environmentally aware aura atop a business that nonetheless still competes with public transit by encouraging people to pay to take a car ride home, rather than hop on the bus…

To wit: Uber’s own S-1 Form lists public transportation as a direct competitor and thus one of the risk factors affecting future growth of its business: “Our Personal Mobility offering competes with personal vehicle ownership and usage, which accounts for the majority of passenger miles in the markets that we serve, and traditional transportation services, including taxicab companies and taxi-hailing services, livery services, and public transportation, which typically provides the lowest-cost transportation option in many cities.” [emphasis ours]

So the cold-eyed capitalist view says Uber gunning to become a ‘one-stop shop’ transport app by assimilating London’s public transit, and presenting it as a comparative option alongside its own hail-able rides, offers a route for the company to capture more users and upsell those who land in its app intending to get the bus/train/metro on calling an Uber instead.

You can see this strategy at work in the design of the public transit addition — with “public transport” only appearing as an option after riders enter a destination into the app, and then with results presented in a tab that sits alongside UberX and UberPool.

This means Uber is suggestively positioning publicly funded transport alongside rides that pour money its own tax shifting coffers — thereby eroding the (taxpayer) value distinction between what are actually very different options by inviting its users to think of getting an Uber as ‘equivalent’ to getting the train or bus, when it’s anything but.

So even when the company claims to be ‘working with cities’, the cold hard truth is its business demands that it competes with and seeks to substitute better value public transport alternatives. Expect dark patterns.

The move into public transport also shifts Uber deeper into the territory of rival urban navigator app, Citymapper, which has been dabbling in tie-ups to push shared rides via its own app for a few years — and thus seeking to more directly squeeze Uber.

Commenting on the public transport addition to the London Uber app in a statement, David Reich, head of transit at Uber said: “With 3.5 million Londoners relying on Uber, we recognise the important responsibilities that come with being a good partner to this great global city. We share many of the same goals as the cities that we serve and are committed to addressing the same challenges: reducing individual car ownership, expanding transportation access and tackling air pollution.”

Reaching for a response to the update, a TfL spokesperson told us: “Our data is open to everyone, with more than 675 mobile phone and online apps already powered by our feeds. We provide up-to-the-minute information, making it easier for millions of people each day to move around our city by helping them plan their journeys.”

For the record Uber’s business was founded in 2009, while the London Underground has been ferrying people around the capital since 1863. The first omnibus service got going in London in 1829.


Source: TechCrunch

Marriott to challenge Airbnb, Spotify doubles Apple Music members video – CNET

Today’s major tech stories include Marriott’s challenge to Airbnb with its own home rental service, Spotify’s announcement that the streaming music company has doubled Apple’s and a massive cloud database with personal information of 80 million households is exposed.
Source: CNET

Grocery startup Honestbee makes layoffs and cuts costs as it prepares to raise more money

Asia Pacific grocery delivery startup Honestbee has confirmed it is suspending business in half of the eight markets it operates in and laying off 10 percent of its 1,000 staff. The cost-cutting appears to be part of belt-tightening ahead of a planned new injection of funding, TechCrunch has come to learn.

According to a statement shared today, Honestbee is “halting our services in Hong Kong and Indonesia” while its business in Japan and the Philippines — and some partnerships in other countries — will be “temporarily suspended” while an internal review is conducted. It also operates in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand (where it has paused its food delivery service) and Malaysia.

One of the big concerns around Honestbee’s future is its lack of financing, as TechCrunch reported last week. The company has raised around $60 million in disclosed funding from investors, which does not match its currently monthly losses of around $6.5 million. A source told TechCrunch that Honestbee is expecting to win new financing by the middle May and that will give it a further year of runway. However, it is unclear what investor is providing the money and exactly how much it might be. The source suggested it may be Formation Group, which has backed the company since its $15 million Series A round was announced in October 2015.

An Honestbee spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s funding plans.

Beyond the cash burn, we reported that the company has unpaid bills owed to a range of suppliers and partners across its eight markets. Honestbee said last week that it would layoff six percent of staff but we reported at the time that more terminations were planned — today’s statement confirms that the number is indeed higher than first disclosed.

We also wrote that four-year-old Honestbee had told staff in Singapore, its HQ, that it would not make payroll on time this month. The company said today that is not true. Sources told TechCrunch that Honestbee told staff last week that management in Singapore would not be paid on time, but an update this week communicated that the payment would not, in fact, be delayed after all.

New funding may stave off the need to sell the business, but Honestbee’s ongoing talks with suitors — which we reported have included ride-hailing firms Go-Jek and Grab — are ongoing. Possible outcomes could include the company’s selling its local operations in some markets in Southeast Asia to streamline its costs. One thing we do know from today is that it will continue with its Habitat supermarket, which combines on- and offline retail and is likely to be capital intensive.

Here is the full statement from Honestbee:

In 2015, honestbee started in Singapore with the mission of providing positive social and financial impact on the lives and businesses that we touch. Today, we are a regional business committed to making great food experiences accessible to customers across Asia.

Over the past four years, we have demonstrated commitment to our staff, partners and customers, and continue to innovate and improve our business to stay relevant in today’s rapidly-changing business environment. The launch of habitat by honestbee in Singapore last October marks the next phase in our evolution as a food company.

As part of an ongoing strategic review of our business, we are halting our services in Hong Kong and Indonesia, as well as our food vertical in Thailand. Our services in Japan and the Philippines, along with specific partnerships in others markets are also temporarily suspended as part of this review. This is necessary to help us focus and align our regional business, and more importantly, to enable us to better meet our customers’ needs. The status of honestbee’s business in the remaining markets stands unchanged.

Some roles within the organisation will no longer be available. Approximately 10% of our global headcount in the organisation are affected.

There have been media reports regarding payroll delay for our employees. We would like to stress that this is untrue. We will ensure that all employees across all markets, including Singapore, are paid in a timely manner.

In addition, we are also committed to fulfilling our financial obligations to all Bees, partners and vendors.

For context, our original report is below:


If you have a tip about this story or others, you can contact TechCrunch reporter Jon Russell in the following ways:

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Source: TechCrunch

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