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Comment Re:overtime (Score 1) 131

Ditto for "night shift pay" or anything like that.

Drivers may not be "independent contractors" in the same way that a programmer might be (for example, depending where you live, you might only have one ride share service you can work for), but they absolutely are not regular employees.

They have 100% control over schedules, and a very low bar to getting hired (for many places, it seems like you just download an app, fill out some info, get a rudimentary vehicle inspection and an automated background check and you are ready to start need to actually demonstrate that you are a friendly person or a skilled driver). Maybe there needs to be some new legal framework for these people, but it seems absurd that a company should have to pay perks and benefits to a person that they have no direct authority over. All uber can do is remove your access to the platform. They can't tell you "work this shift" or "work this neighborhood" or "we are busy, you need to stay on another hour"...

It is almost like if you said that ebay was responsible for paying benefits to powersellers...Sure, ebay is in a position to cut off their livelyhood by banning them from the platform, and sure, for some people there might be no alternative viable market to hawking their wares on ebay, but nobody would ever call a powerseller an ebay employee.

Comment Re:In Other News (Score 1) 178

The same way you got your Uber job.

I agree that there's some weirdness here. Uber drivers aren't quite the same as completely independent contractors. But they are also clearly pretty different from traditional employees. They have complete freedom in what hours they drive and what areas they drive in. They can work 200 hours one month and none the next. They can drive for Lyft tomorrow if it has better rates.

Trying to force them into the mold of traditional employees is wrong. It defeats a lot of the things that make Uber work. Have to pay them a minimum wage for driving when there are no rides? That breaks the elastic supply of drivers model because a bunch of people will sit around in a parking lot watching movies all night when there are no rides to give. Have to pay benefits to full time employees? Who's a full time employee?

On the other hand, they should probably get some protections. Workman's comp seems reasonable here, as does some sort of government insistence that the rating system (which determines if a driver is fired) is being fairly applied. At the current rates, I think Uber is a shit gig...but clearly there are people lined up to do it (otherwise they would have to raise rates to attract more drivers).

Comment Re:Why is it a failure (Score 3, Insightful) 95

You're forgetting the other half of the supply & demand equation:

When prices go up, it pushes consumers to consume less. You still get a market-clearing result--everyone who needs a ride is able to get one quickly, because those people who can wait or go by some other means (or can't afford the new price) will remove themselves from the market.

Turns out that the effect on demand is much stronger than the effect on supply. Customers drop their requests faster than drivers can get to the area. Uber probably sees it as a failure internally because they make less money when prices go up (even though it is still a success at ensuring availability and short wait times).

Comment Re:Why is it a failure (Score 4, Insightful) 95

I think it is considered a failure because it doesn't really work for uber.

If surge is low, it isn't worth a driver heading across town without a fare just for a 20 or 40% bonus in fares (especially if surge is gone by the time he gets there). Low surge doesn't do much to increase supply.

However, if surge is high, customers won't want to pay. At least in my market, taxis are still a perfectly viable option (and can be flagged off any street corner), and last I checked, a surge of 1.7x or more made UberX more expensive than a taxi. I would also be willing to take a bus or ride a bike in some instances (or simply wait for surge to go away). I think I have only paid surge over 2X once, and it was for a short ride where the money just didn't matter much.

High surge is great at reducing demand. This helps clear the market and is overall a market success. Unfortunately, Uber is in the business of selling you a ride. Reducing demand for their own product is not exactly a success.

The only times that it is really a success for uber are times where many drivers expect surge in advance. New Years Eve is a great example of this. In my city, there weren't crazy surges on NYE like there were a few years ago. Drivers knew there was money to be made and they went out. They may have been disappointed that they weren't seeing huge surges (averages were less than 2...probably a lot in the 1.2-1.4 range), but they were out there driving, and customers were surprised by the low fares and took more ubers.

I think the idea is that they could use machine learning to predict the non-obvious times. Get drivers on the road in time to meet the demand...thus increasing supply rather than decreasing demand.

Comment Re:What is the relevance of the gov adresses? (Score 2) 50

I originally interpreted it as a joke--out of over a million people who have been deemed beautiful enough to participate in an exclusive dating service...only 170 of them are government employees.

But looking at the tweet that announces it, I'd say it is just a judgement of "what idiot uses their government work email to sign up for a dating site"

Comment Re:Facebook is for Losers. (Score 2, Informative) 387

Really? It makes me go "me me me me"?

So I rarely post anything and mostly browse through photos, events, and articles posted by my friends...because I only care about myself?

It's a tool. It is a way to connect with others. You can use it in a shitty way, or you can use it in a positive way. The only downside I see is that it gives the shitty people a lot more reach. Those people were shitty and obnoxious before they had facebook was just that you only saw it if you were in the same room as them. Now you can see their dumb thoughts in comment sections across the globe!

Comment Re: Yes (Score 1) 566

I love docking stations.

My thinkpad sits in a docking station. It has DVI connections to two displays, USB to keyboard and mouse + accessories, headphones/speakers, power, and ethernet.

I press one button and it pops free. Can take it to a conference room and attach it to a projector. Then go push it back on the dock and it switches back to my chosen display setup and everything is how I left it. No bunch of cables to plug in, no need to worry about which order I connect the displays (and heck, I don't even know how to connect two displays over digital connections without using the docking station...can it be done?).

Comment Re:Technology Paradox (Score 1) 226

People consider you poor because it takes 40% of your income to pay for some tiny studio apartment.

I hate to break it to you...but where you live, you are poor. Nobody said you couldn't be happy and poor, but you're poor all the same.

There are all sorts of places where you wouldn't be poor on 50k, You don't even have to live in bumfuck wouldn't be poor in Nashville.

Comment Re:R vs. Python vs. other (Score 4, Interesting) 105

R is kind of a shitty language compared to Python. It is based on S, which is itself an old statistics language. It isn't awful, but it lacks the refinement of a language that was developed from the ground up in the modern era. Syntax can be wonky or inconsistent....

But, R is all about stats. It has great charting and analysis libraries, far exceeding those that exist in Python or any other general purpose language.

SAS is kind of the corporate standard if you want long term maintainability and a large selection of potential workforce...but it is expensive and if I were starting out today, I am not sure I would pick it. It is however much more easy to scale to huge datasets than R...SAS pretty much works as long as you can fit the data on your hard drive. No need to fuck with breaking up projects into small pieces or investing in boxes with 1TB of RAM. Millions and billions of observations are totally OK as long as you are willing to wait for the program to finish running.

R has been making inroads at replacing SAS and Stata as the teaching language of choice (mostly because it is free) it is probably easiest to find straight college grads with some R experience than anything else.

Comment Re:Do Not Want (Score 2) 103

Hell, I just try to remotely control my computer from a distance and it will suck ass at random moments in time.

Some days I can load up a citrix desktop from across the country, RDP to a machine back in my state from that citrix session, and use it so well I almost forget I am remote (although for some reason, Chrome is barely functional over this connection...lags like hell, even if it is just in the background and not the active window ...IE works fine). Yes, I know a Remote Desktop Gateway Server would save me the shitty citrix layer that I use for absolutely nothing besides the RDP client...but I guess IT doesn't like it.

And then other days, somewhere in the middle, something chokes and even a bare citrix session is barely usable

Comment Re:Jarvis or Siri? (Score 1) 115

Google already does half of these things if you have an Android phone with Google Now.

It's not perfect...for instance, while I don't own a car, it often alerts me to traffic conditions that would slow my commute (but don't impact my train)... It works pretty well, but considering whenever I ask for directions, I ask for either Public Transit or Cycling, you would think it would stop giving me traffic alerts.

Or it will scan my email, notice that I replied to an email that appeared to be a party invite, and then notify me "You had better leave now to make it to this event by 8pm". Oddly, here it often gives me public transit directions instead of car.

It has some synchronization with your computer if you use Chrome, although it isn't complete.

Comment Re:star wars has marketing? (Score 1) 207

You guys are all missing the point.

Its not that they didn't market the shit out of star wars back then. Because we all know how much star wars merchandise there was.

The point is that they already did it--back in the 70s, someone came up with Star Wars, made some movies, and marketed the shit out of it. Now, here in 2015, instead of finding someone with a new idea and backing it, Disney has simply bought the franchise, rehashed it, and turned the marketing machine up to 11.

They don't want to take the risk anymore, so we don't get cool new things.

Comment Re:Wait, what? (Score 1) 57

I see this being used for more distributed tasks and for tasks not tied to the core business.

I can't quite envision exactly why you would need this, but lets say you have a compute cluster spread out across many locations. Additionally assume that you are using this for something internally on-demand rather than automated or in response to customer/user interaction. Things you might use AWS for like ad-hoc queries and machine learning exercises being run by your analytics team instead of whatever it is your company actually does for money..

If some of your systems are down, it doesn't have a real impact on the bottom line. Your data scientists might be delayed (or temporarily halted), but not your customer facing systems. Perhaps you can even mix and match within the same datacenter. Storage and processing for your core business go in the $$$ high-redundancy racks. Toys for the PhDs go in the cheaper low redundancy racks.

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