It’s really been a very very tough two months.  Let’s take a look.

  • BEACH MASSACRESEIFEDDINE REZGUI, has been identified as the man who, armed with a Kalashnikov, killed 38 beachgoers as he reportedly instructed fellow Tunisians to flee as he opened fire on his victims, pursuing them from the beach and into a nearby hotel before being killed.
  • CHARLESTON SHOOTING— June 17, 2015, a mass shooting took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States. Nine people were shot and killed, including the senior pastor.
  • ISIL— ISIL on 24-hour ‘killing rampage’ in Syria’s Kobane.  The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has killed more than 100 civilians in a 24-hour rampage through the Kurdish town of Kobane in what a monitor group described as one of the group’s “worst massacres” in Syria.
  • In France, an attacker rammed a vehicle into a gas factory near Lyon that is owned by a US-based company, causing an explosion. A man—identified by French media as the manager of a local transport company making a delivery—was found decapitated nearby. The body and two flags at the scene were covered in Arabic inscriptions, according to Reuters.
  • Kuwait Shia mosque blast death toll ‘rises to 27’–The death toll from a suicide attack on a Shia mosque during Friday prayers in the Kuwaiti capital has risen to at least 27, the interior ministry says. Another 227 people were wounded, it added. Images circulating online show bodies on the mosque floor amid debris.
  • CHARLIE HEBDO–The magazine has been the target of two terrorist attacks in 2011 and 2015. Both were presumed to be in response to a number of controversial Muhammad cartoons it published. In the second of these attacks, 12 people were killed, including Charbonnier and several contributors.
  •  NEW YORK— New York escapee Richard Matt killed; David Sweat still on the run.

I could really go on and on but you get the picture.

The cost of security is tremendous these days for both commercial and residential concerns, not to mention disruption of services to customers and clients.   We know the cost to the state of New York is approximately $900,000 per day to find Matt and Sweat.  Sweat is still on the “lam”. The company EQUILAR has published a great report entitled, “Executive Prerequisites Analysis”, 3 December 2014.  In this report they list costs for executive security.  Let’s take a look at the top thirty (30).

EXECUTIVE SECURITY

As you can see, the costs are absolutely HUGE and this is only a partial list of the individual corporate costs.

The Institute for Economics and Peace recently published their 2015 Global Pease Index document.  This publication indicates the most and least peaceful countries—definitely worth taking a look at. This is the ninth edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks the nations of the world according to their level of peacefulness. The index is composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources and ranks 162 independent states, covering 99.6 per cent of the world’s population. The index gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarization.  One AMAZING statistic—violence accounts for and costs the world 13.4% of the world’s GDP.  The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2014 was substantial and is estimated at US $14.3 trillion or 13.4 per cent of world GDP. This is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Since 2008, the total economic impact on global GDP has increased by 15.3 per cent, from US $12.4 trillion to US $14.3 trillion. Large increases in costs are due to the increases in deaths from internal conflict, increases for IDP and refugee support, and GDP losses from conflict, with the latter accounting for 38 per cent of the increase since 2008. The major expenditure categories are military spending at 43 per cent, homicide and violent crime at 27 per cent and internal security officers, including police, at 18 per cent. While the cost of UN peacekeeping has more than doubled since 2008, it still only accounts for less than 0.17 per cent of violence containment expenditure.  Let’s now take a look at the most peaceful and the least peaceful.  We will do so using the following color code:

STATE OF PEACE

Most Peaceful

LEAST PEACEFUL

UNITED STATES

It should be extremely embarrassing that the United States is ninety-fourth on the list—behind Armenia, Guyana, and Peru relative to peaceful environments.  Logic would tell us that one way to end world hunger and improve the standing of most individuals is to eliminate war and strife.  Think of the many ways that $14.3 trillion could be used to benefit mankind.

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DARK NET

June 25, 2015


Most of the individuals who read my posting are very well-informed and know that Tim Berners-Lee “invented” the internet.  In my opinion, the Internet is a resounding technological improvement in communication.  It has been a game-changer in the truest since of the word.  I think there are legitimate uses which save tremendous time.  There are also illegitimate uses as we shall see.

A JPEG of Mr. Berners-Lee is shown below:

Tim B-L

BIOGRAPHY:

In 1989, while working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, Tim Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project, to be known as the World Wide Web. Based on the earlier “Enquire” work, his efforts were designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents.  Sir Tim wrote the first World Wide Web server, “httpd“, and the first client, “WorldWideWeb” a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hypertext browser/editor which ran in the NeXTStep environment. This work began in October 1990.k   The program “WorldWideWeb” was first made available within CERN in December, and on the Internet at large in the summer of 1991.

Through 1991 and 1993, Tim continued working on the design of the Web, coordinating feedback from users across the Internet. His initial specifications of URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined and discussed in larger circles as the Web technology spread.

Tim Berners-Lee graduated from the Queen’s College at Oxford University, England, in 1976. While there he built his first computer with a soldering iron, TTL gates, an M6800 processor and an old television.

He spent two years with Plessey Telecommunications Ltd (Poole, Dorset, UK) a major UK Telecom equipment manufacturer, working on distributed transaction systems, message relays, and bar code technology.

In 1978 Tim left Plessey to join D.G Nash Ltd (Ferndown, Dorset, UK), where he wrote, among other things, typesetting software for intelligent printers and a multitasking operating system.

His year and one-half spent as an independent consultant included a six-month stint (Jun-Dec 1980) as consultant software engineer at CERN. While there, he wrote for his own private use his first program for storing information including using random associations. Named “Enquire” and never published, this program formed the conceptual basis for the future development of the World Wide Web.

From 1981 until 1984, Tim worked at John Poole’s Image Computer Systems Ltd, with technical design responsibility. Work here included real time control firmware, graphics and communications software, and a generic macro language. In 1984, he took up a fellowship at CERN, to work on distributed real-time systems for scientific data acquisition and system control. Among other things, he worked on FASTBUS system software and designed a heterogeneous remote procedure call system.

In 1994, Tim founded the World Wide Web Consortium at the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS). This lab later merged with the Artificial Intelligence Lab in 2003 to become the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Since that time he has served as the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, a Web standards organization which develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. The Consortium has host sites located at MIT, at ERCIM in Europe, and at Keio University in Japan as well as offices around the world.

In 1999, he became the first holder of 3Com Founders chair at MIT. In 2008 he was named 3COM Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at CSAIL where he also heads the Decentralized Information Group (DIG). In December 2004 he was also named a Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton, UK. From 2006 to 2011 he was co-Director of the Web Science Trust, launched as the Web Science Research Initiative, to help create the first multidisciplinary research body to examine the Web.

In 2008 he founded and became Director of the World Wide Web Foundation.  The Web Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to achieving a world in which all people can use the Web to communicate, collaborate and innovate freely.  The Web Foundation works to fund and coordinate efforts to defend the Open Web and further its potential to benefit humanity.

In June 2009 then Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that he would work with the UK Government to help make data more open and accessible on the Web, building on the work of the Power of Information Task Force. Sir Tim was a member of The Public Sector Transparency Board tasked to drive forward the UK Government’s transparency agenda.  He has promoted open government data globally, is a member of the UK’s Transparency Board.

In 2011 he was named to the Board of Trustees of the Ford Foundation, a globally oriented private foundation with the mission of advancing human welfare. He is President of the UK’s Open Data Institute which was formed in 2012 to catalyze open data for economic, environmental, and social value.

He is the author, with Mark Fischetti, of the book “Weaving the Web” on the past, present and future of the Web.

On March 18 2013, Sir Tim, along with Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn, Louis Pouzin and Marc Andreesen, was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering for “ground-breaking innovation in engineering that has been of global benefit to humanity.”

It should be very obvious from this rather short biography that Sir Tim is definitely a “heavy hitter”.

DARK WEB:

I honestly don’t think Sir Tim realized the full gravity of his work and certainly never dreamed there might develop a “dark web”.

The Dark Web is the public World Wide Web content existing on dark nets or networks which overlay the public Internet.  These networks require specific software, configurations or authorization to access. They are NOT open forums as we know the web to be at this time.  The dark web forms part of the Deep Web which is not indexed by search engines such as GOOGLE, BING, Yahoo, Ask.com, AOL, Blekko.com,  Wolframalpha, DuckDuckGo, Waybackmachine, or ChaCha.com.  The dark nets which constitute the Dark Web include small, friend-to-friend peer-to-peer networks, as well as large, popular networks like FreenetI2P, and Tor, operated by public organizations and individuals. Users of the Dark Web refer to the regular web as the Clearnet due to its unencrypted nature.

A December 2014 study by Gareth Owen from the University of Portsmouth found the most commonly requested type of content on Tor was child pornography, followed by black markets, while the individual sites with the highest traffic were dedicated to botnet operations.  Botnet is defined as follows:

“a network of computers created by malware andcontrolled remotely, without the knowledge of the users of those computers: The botnet was usedprimarily to send spam emails.”

Hackers built the botnet to carry out DDoS attacks.

Many whistle-blowing sites maintain a presence as well as political discussion forums.  Cloned websites and other scam sites are numerous.   Many hackers sell their services individually or as a part of groups. There are reports of crowd-funded assassinations and hit men for hire.   Sites associated with Bitcoinfraud related services and mail order services are some of the most prolific.

Commercial dark net markets, which mediate transactions for illegal drugs and other goods, attracted significant media coverage starting with the popularity of Silk Road and its subsequent seizure by legal authorities. Other markets sells software exploits and weapons.  A very brief look at the table below will indicate activity commonly found on the dark net.

ACTIVITY

As you can see, the uses for the dark net are quite lovely, lovely indeed.  As with any great development such as the Internet, nefarious uses can and do present themselves.  I would stay away from the dark net.  Just don’t go there.  Hope you enjoy this one and please send me your comments.

 

TOP 25 WEB SITES

June 8, 2015


Have you ever wondered just how many web sites there are?  Here are several very interesting statistics from http://www.internetlive.com.

  • At the time of this post—4 June 2015, 0820 hours, there were 952,158,972 active web sites.
  • There were over one billion web sites as of September 2014
  • Approximately 75% of registered web sites are dormant. These are called “parked” web sites.
  • The world-wide web was invented in March of 1989 by Mr. Tim Bernes-Lee for the purpose if disseminating information through DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
  • The first website was info.cern.ch. This site was published 6 August 1991 by Tim Bernes-Lee

With so many options, how does one pick and chose so wasting time and energy does not become an every-day occurrence?  The website stumbleuponit.com has published a list of what they feel to be the very best sites for information and the “how-to” experience.  I definitely agree with their assessment.  Let’s take a look.

  • www.duolingo.com– This website very similar to Rosetta Stone.  It is a free language-learning and crowd-sourced text translation platform. As of 28 May 2015, Duolingo offers Latin American,SpanishFrenchGermanBrazilian,PortugueseItalianDutchIrishDanish,SwedishTurkishNorwegian (Bokmål)Ukrainian, and Esperanto courses for English speakers.  Also offered is American English for Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Hungarian, Romanian, Japanese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Czech speakers.  Many other combinations of languages. It is available on the Web, iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8.1 platforms.  As of January 2014, Duolingo has 60 million users, out of which about 20 million are active. (NOTE: I use Duolingo to brush up on my Spanish.  I can definitely recommend this site to you if you are trying to master a language or refresh your memory for a language in which you are a little rusty.)
  • www.kahnacademy.org– Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. They address subjects such as math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more.   Their math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps. They have also partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content.
  • http://www.justinguitar.com–There are many hundreds of free guitar lessons offered with this site. As you can imagine it’s taken quite a lot of work and over ten (10) years to put it all together. The individual who constructed the site says, “It’s important to help everyone that wants to learn to play the guitar, not just those with money for tuition, so I run it on an honor system.
  • http://www.cookingforengineers.com– This web site was started in June 2004 by Michael Chu as a place for him to store and share the recipes that he likes to use as well as kitchen notes.  He comments, “Basically, I started the site as a place to store all the food related stuff that I didn’t want to have to carry around in my brain, but I would want to reference later. Sometimes people ask me (or quiz me) about cooking and there’s a tendency for me to smile and respond with, ‘I wrote it down so I wouldn’t have to remember!'” – Michael Chu.  (I can definitely recommend this site to you.)
  • www.thedatingspecialists.com– According to their “home” page:  “We are a growing team of experienced daters, who have the knowledge and expertise to help you attract those who pique your interest. Whether you’ve been out of dating for awhile, or would just like to improve your skills, we are here to help! Whether you’re looking for a one time tune-up of your dating life, or ongoing assistance we can work out a strategy tailored to you to meet your specific goals. We will not only help you on your path to get more dates, but will help you grow into an attractive, confident person that others will be drawn to. Successful dating is not only about finding the right match; it’s about being the right match.  (Can’t tell you much about this one.  I’ve been married almost fifty years.  Will stay away from this site.)
  • www.nerdfitness.com– I love this one.  I workout six (6) times per week and I can personally attest to the fact—this is a great site.   A guy named Steve is the author of this site and says;
    “Maybe you’re here because you’re overweight and frustrated because you haven’t found success quite yet. Maybe you’re here because your doctor told you that you’re in danger of some serious health issues if you don’t make changes.  Maybe you’re here because you just had a kid, and the reality that you being unhealthy could make THEIR lives more difficult just hit you like a ton of bricks. Maybe you just want to wake up, look in the mirror, and feel better about yourself.”
  • http://www.mitopencourseware.com— “The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.” Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering. (I definitely recommend this site to you.  It is extremely well done and very complete relative to the courses offered. )
  • www.investopedia.com– This is GREAT and tells you everything you need to know about investing. It also has a remarkably complete dictionary for reference and a wide range of subjects you can exploreThis one is a “must-see”.
  •  www.quora.com– Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010.  Quora aggregates questions and answers to topics. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to other users’ answers.
  • www.informationisbeautiful.net– David McCandless is the webmaster for this site.  The mission is stated thusly, “Myself, and the rest of the crack team here at Information is Beautiful, are dedicated to distilling the world’s data, information and knowledge into beautiful, interesting and, above all, useful visualizations, infographics and diagrams.” This site is entirely funded by sales of images, posters and books.
  • www.spreeder.com– Spreeder.com is a free online speed reading software designed to improve your reading speed and comprehension.  It is a free service provided by 7-Speed-ReadingTM.  If you are a slow reader, as I am, with limited comprehension, this is the site that can make a difference.  Give this one a try.
  • www.projectgutenberg.com– Project Gutenberg (PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to “encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks“. It was founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books. The project tries to make these as free as possible, in long-lasting, open formats that can be used on almost any computer. As of April 2015, Project Gutenberg has over 49,100 items in its collection.
  • www.codeacademy.com– Codecademy is an online interactive platform that offers free coding classes in eight (8) different programming languages including PythonPHPjQuery, JavaScriptAngularJS, and Ruby, as well as markup languages HTML and CSS.As of January 2014, the site had over 24 million users who had completed over 100 million exercises. The site has received positive reviews from many blogs and websites, including TheTechCrunch. (Excellent site if you wish to learn programming.)
  • www.geographyiq.com– Planning a trip? Preparing a school homework assignment? Perhaps you’re interested in current events or are just curious about exploring the world around you. Welcome to GeographyIQ.com. GeographyIQ is an online world atlas packed with geographic, economic, political, historical and cultural information. In addition, GeographyIQ brings together a number of other resources including maps, flags, currency conversion as well as climate and time zone information.
  • http://www.ankisrs.net— Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Because it’s much more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn.  Anyone who needs to remember things in their daily life can benefit from Anki. Since it is content-agnostic and supports images, audio, videos and scientific markup (via LaTeX), the possibilities are endless.
  • www.lumosity.com– Lumosity is a leader in the science of brain training.  There are “brain games” designed by neurologists to heighten cerebral activity and improve memory and cognitive ability.
  • www.cliffsnotes.com– OK, who has not heard of Cliffs Notes?  You know what they are.  It’s the last day of summer and you are about half way through your reading assignment—bookstore and Cliffs Notes.  With this web site, the notes are digital.  ‘Nough” said.
  • www.ted.com– This is definitely one of the most useful and informative websites on the Internet.  TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences run by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading”.  TED was founded in 1984 as a one-off event; the annual conference series began in 1990. TED’s early emphasis was technology and design, consistent with its Silicon Valley origins, but it has since broadened its focus to include talks on many scientific, cultural and academic topics. (Great site!!!!!)
  • www.pinfruit.com– pinfruit is for memorizing long numbers, such as credit card numbers and bank identifiers. It automates the laborious part of mnemonic major system, an old mnemonic technique. It all works on the principle that it is easier to remember words than numbers. (Don’t use this one much personally but there are individuals who swear by the results of its use.)
  • www.mindtools.com– Wonderful web site dedicated towards management and management techniques. Mind Tools was founded by James Manktelow, who is now the CEO. James has written seven books on leadership, team management and personal productivity: WorkLife: Manage Your TimeWorkLife: Manage Stress;Mind ToolsStress ToolsMake Time for Success! (Written with Namita Anand); How to Lead: Discover the Leader Within You; and Team Tools: Build and Lead an Excellent Team (written with Felix Brodbeck and Namita Anand).
  • www.howstuffworks.com– One of the best websites on the Internet.  The entire site is dedicated to explaining how things work.  I use this one every day and can certainly recommend it to you.
  • www.onelook.com–  This site is a dictionary search site. There are 19,633,003 words in 1061 dictionaries indexed in this site.  It is a phenomenal find. Use it.
  • www.ciafactbook.com– The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities. Our Reference tab includes: maps of the major world regions, as well as Flags of the World, a Physical Map of the World, a Political Map of the World, a World Oceans map, and a Standard Time Zones of the World map.  (A great planning guide if you are a traveler.)
  • www.couchsurfing.com– Couchsurfing International Inc. is a hospitality exchange and social networking website. The website provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event.  Couchsurfing International Inc refers to two separate legal entities. The first was founded in 2003 as a non-profit organization, and was liquidated in 2011. Its assets were sold to the private for-profit corporation Better World Through Travel, later renamed Couchsurfing International, Inc., which defines itself as “a mission-driven for-profit corporation”. As of August 2012, the company has raised $22.6 million in investment capital.

SUMMARY:  This is one of my longer posts but I certainly hope you can enjoy the list AND take a look at those sites you feel will be helpful to you. You will be pleasantly surprised as to the frequency of your visits.

UBER

June 7, 2015


If you read my posts you know I definitely enjoy keeping up with technology:  advances in existing technology and certainly new entries into the exciting world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  I know I’m saying the obvious, but the digital age has made possible a remarkable variety of useful and labor-saving apps (application software).  These digital packages of code produce web sites that seemingly provide information instantly.

Some months ago, my wife and I visited our youngest son in Dallas.  He furnished transportation from the airport but for the remainder of the visit we used the services of UBER.  This was our very first experience with the UBER service.  We found it to be remarkably convenient and considerably less expensive than a traditional cab ride.  Very fortunate our son “turned us on” to this company. Let’s take a look.

HISTORY:

A very brief summary of UBER may be seen as follows:

BRIEF SUMMARY

The idea for UBER was developed by Travis Kalanick.  Mr. Kalanick was trying to find a cab from his hotel to the 2008 LeWeb conference in Paris, France.  He had significant difficulties in doing so.   Kalanick cites “Paris as the inspiration for UBER “.   The original company was named “UberCab” by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009. The service was launched in San Francisco in June 2010, with Ryan Graves appointed as CEO.  Graves later stepped down from that role to become VP of Operations and was replaced by Kalanick.   UBER’S mobile app for iPhones and Android phones was launched in San Francisco in 2010.

The company markets and operates the UBER mobile app, and allows consumers to submit a trip request.   This request is then routed to sharing economy drivers.   As of May 28, 2015, the service was available in fifty-eight (58) countries and three hundred (300) cities worldwide.   Since UBER’S launch, several other companies have emulated its business model, a trend that has come to be referred to as “Uberification”.

The company initially raised $49 million in venture funds by 2011 and beginning in 2012, expanded internationally.  In 2014, UBER experimented with carpooling features and made additional updates. UBER continuously raised supplemental funding, reaching $2.8 billion total funding by 2015. Many governments and taxi companies have protested UBER, alleging that its use of unlicensed, crowd-sourced drivers was unsafe and illegal.  Even with this being the case, it is estimated that UBER will generate 10 billion dollars in revenue by the end of 2015.

THE FOUNDERS:

Travis Kalanick (pictured below) is the CEO of UBER Technologies.  UBER competes with taxi services across the U.S. in fifty-three (53) many countries around the world. The often-controversial company is banned in several countries including Spain and was temporarily banned in India due to issues with regulators and safety concerns.  In early 2015 the company said it would step up its cooperation with city governments in Europe, where it plans to grow. FORBES estimates that Kalanick, a UCLA dropout, owns at least thirteen percent (13%) of UBER, his third startup. His first venture, an online file-exchange service, was sued by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America before filing for bankruptcy in 2000. His second company, a file-sharing company called RedSwoosh, was sold in 2007 to cloud computing company Akamai Technologies for $18.7 million in stock.

Travis K

Garrett Camp is the cofounder and chairman of UBER.  As mentioned earlier, UBER has seen its valuation grow ten (10) fold in the past eighteen (18) months to a whopping $41.2 billion.   UBER pledged in early 2015 to cooperate more with European cities, which represent key centers of growth. As with Kalanick, UBER wasn’t Camp’s first time behind the wheel: He also founded StumbleUpon–a Web discovery tool part Reddit, part Tumblr–that sold to eBay in 2007 for $75 million.

Garrett Camp

HOW UBER WORKS:

I’m going to indicate how UBER works from the experience we have had on several occasions.  We are sitting in our son’s living room; bags packed and ready to go.  I indicated we might need to call a cab to get to the airport in time for check in.  Don’t worry; UBER will be here in five or ten minutes after I give them a call.  A cab will take thirty to forty minutes at best.  Our son called UBER, indicated the location for pickup, and received a picture of the person picking us up as well as the type and model of the vehicle.  We then had the option of saying yes or no to the driver and his personal car.  He arrived in eleven minutes in a Cadillac Escalade.    The car was clean as a pin and the driver very congenial.  Now for the good part, the cost for transport: $36.81.  This is compared to $60.00 for the ride to the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

To download the app, simply go online from your phone or PC, type in the information requested, including a credit or debit card.  The download takes about a minute.  UBER does all charges online.  No money is exchanged including tip.  The tip is factored in with the cost of the ride and is added to the charge.

BARRIERS TO SUCCESS AND OPERATION:

UBER has experienced numerous regulatory and legal challenges to its operations.  Regulators in California; VancouverBritish Columbia; SeattleWashington; and GenevaSwitzerland issued cease and desist orders. The launch of UberPop, known as uberX in the United States, generated opposition internationally. Taxi organizations such as the Madrid Taxi Association in Spain, ANTRAL in Portugal and Taxi Deutschland in Germany obtained injunctions from local courts based on unfair competition claims.  Other injunction requests by taxi companies, taxi drivers, and regulators were denied in the United States, Brazil and France. Officials in DelhiIndia banned all app-based ride services to protect cab driver unions.  In Belgium, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and South Korea, police forces conducted sting operations against UBER drivers who operated vehicles that were not licensed for commercial use.

Several locales, including Portland, Oregon and the state of Virginia that initially banned UBER from operating, later negotiated changes in local regulations that would permit UBER to continue.  In 2015, the company’s efforts to work with local municipalities allowed for an increased rate of expansion. As of January 2015, uberX operated legally in 22 cities and states within the U.S. By then, 17 cities outside of the U.S. had passed specific pro-UBER municipal ordinances.

PRIVACY:

Kalanick received a letter, dated November 19, 2014, from Senator Al Franken, Chairman of the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, over user privacy. In addition to a list of ten (10) questions, Franken stated that the company had a “troubling disregard for customer privacy” and that he was “especially troubled because there appears to be evidence of practices inconsistent with the policy [UBER spokesperson] Ms. Hourajian articulated” and that “it appears that on prior occasions your company [UBER] has condoned use of customers’ data for questionable purposes”. Franken concluded his letter by asking for a response by December 15, 2014.

Concerns have been raised about internal misuse of the company’s data, in particular the ability of UBER staff to track the movements of its customers, known as “God Mode”. In addition to the aforementioned use of the service to track journalists and politicians, a venture capitalist disclosed in 2011 that UBER staff were using the function recreationally and viewed being tracked by UBER as a positive reflection on the subject’s character. An individual who had interviewed for a job at UBER said that he was given unrestricted access to UBER’S customer tracking function as part of the interview process, and that he retained that access for several hours after the interview ended.

On February 27, 2015, UBER admitted that it had suffered a data breach more than nine months before. Driver names and license plate information on approximately 50,000 drivers were inadvertently disclosed.   UBER discovered this leak in September, 2014 but waited more than five months to notify the people affected. (I might mention here that we never considered our privacy to be compromised.)

SAFETY:

On August 4, 2014, the company announced the scheduled removal of a driver from the service pending a medical review, after the driver suffered an epileptic seizure while driving that resulted in an accident with a pedestrian in San Francisco. The fifty-six (56) year-old driver was hospitalized after hitting three parked cars and then a man on the sidewalk; an UBER spokesperson said in the announcement that the driver “has an outstanding record of service and safety with no prior incidents.”

In December 2014, the New York Times reported on concerns regarding the manner in which the UBER’s app notifies drivers about new requests for pick-up from customers.  When a customer makes a request, drivers are notified on an official UBER mobile app and provided information about where the customer is; in order to accept the request, the driver has approximately fifteen (15) seconds to tap their phone to accept the request. An UBER driver reported that drivers can be temporarily suspended for ignoring these requests.  Deborah Hersman of the National Transportation Safety Board criticized the fifteen (15)-second system, saying that it presents a significant distraction to drivers, as drivers are financially motivated to respond to fares while driving.   In response, UBER has stated that the app “was designed with safety in mind,” and that drivers are not required to physically look at the device to accept a fare.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our experiences with UBER have been very positive and with no issues. I feel it’s a marvelous new technology and one that can benefit the end user.  As with any new service, time will tell as to how viable it will be and if it can survive.  I will say, I hope political pressures and lobbying will not kill the service.  Lining the pockets of our politicians could provide huge barriers to success.  Each individual has one of two options: use the service or use traditional services.  It’s your choice.

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