Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don't want to return that hired bicycle? Just leave it anywhere...

In many large Chinese cities, there are many brightly coloured “dockless” share bikes, haphazardly piled on the pavements in their thousands. Dubbed “Uber for bikes”, they are the product of a whole host of new startups, aggressively competing for territory and investment. The scale is stunning -- in less than a year, Mobike alone has flooded the streets of 18 Chinese cities with upwards of a million new bikes. Since last April, the company has placed more than 100,000 of their trademark orange-and-silver bikes in each of the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

In the EU, using the AirDonkey app, one can rent one's bike out when not using it. To "donkify your bike," you order an AirDonkey kit (which is expected to cost 80 euros), which contains a lock and panel that you mount on your bike. You park your bike wherever you like and then take a picture of your bike. Then, you create a profile for your bike on Airdonkey, upload your picture, choose a drop off location, list unique features of your bike, for example, a baby seat or a carrier on the back, and lastly you select a daily and weekly rental price for your bike.

Read more here at the Guardian...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Who would have thought -- react decisively to the financial crisis, come out on top. Iceland thaws!

Iceland eased capital curbs ending almost 9 years of controls on businesses and citizens -- established after its banks collapsed during the financial crisis. Icelandic banks crashed under the weight of debts amassed over years of overseas expansion. As with Ireland and other states, instability spread throughout other European nations. Such excesses helped to inflame the financial crash. The government started dismantling capital controls last year by easing restrictions for local residents, in an island country with around 330,000 people.

Over at the NYT:

Nine years after a giant banking crash made Iceland a symbol of the global financial crisis, the government on Tuesday effectively declared that financial stability had been restored as it ended longstanding restrictions on the flow of money into and out of the country.

Read more at the NYT...

Friday, March 3, 2017

Hate litter in our waterways? Innovative way to clean them up

How many times have you been hiking with your dogs along your favorite river, stream or creak, only to cringe at the plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and other crap floating past? Maybe you have participated in "clean the creek" activities, like we have around our area?

How about applying some basic mechanical engineering ingenuity to automate clean-up? In Baltimore, Maryland some enterprising persons have done just that... With a water wheel!
Watch how it works here...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Is Uber Doomed?

From SlashDot:

When an Uber self-driving car ran a red light last year, they blamed and suspended the car's driver, even though it was the car's software that malfunctioned, according to two former employees, ultimately causing Uber cars to run six different red lights. But technical issues may be only the beginning. An anonymous reader writes:
Jalopnik points out that in 2016 Uber "burned through more than $2 billion, amid findings that rider fares only cover roughly 40% of a ride, with the remainder subsidized by venture capitalists" (covering even less than the fares of government-subsidized mass transit systems). So despite Google's lawsuit and other recent bad publicity, "even when those factors are removed, it's becoming more evident that Uber will collapse on its own."

Their long analysis argues that the problems are already becoming apparent. "Uber, which didn't respond to questions from Jalopnik about its viability, recently paid $20 million to settle claims that it grossly misled how much drivers could earn on Craigslist ads. The company's explosive growth also fundamentally required it to begin offering subprime auto loans to prospective drivers without a vehicle."

Last month transportation industry analyst Hubert Horan calculated that Uber Global's losses have been "substantially greater than any venture capital-funded startup in history."

Read more from Hubert Horan here...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Goodbye Screens, Hello Choice (and less legroom)

Airlines have figured out we don't want to watch little screens with four crappy films...

The screens and their wiring add weight to the plane, and when fuel prices are high, every pound makes a difference. Another financial incentive: Without the screens, carriers can install slimmer seats, which means they can accommodate more passengers and earn more money, Brett Snyder, the author of the airline industry blog “Cranky Flier,” said in an interview.

“Rise of in-flight Wi-Fi aside, the zero screen purchases made by Southwest aligns with the fact that many of the carrier’s flights are shorter in duration than the time it takes to finish a movie,” he said, as reported in the NYT.