Is Uber the worst company in Silicon Valley? The Guardian.

The Guardian newspaper published an article titled ‘Is Uber the worst company in Silicon Valley?” wherein the article stated Uber showed a willingness to take “disruption” to new heights. Governments, states, taxi drivers, tax authorities, rivals, even blind people – all have come up against Uber and lost.

At a private dinner last week at Manhattan’s Waverly Inn, Uber’s senior vice-president of business, Emil Michael, suggested the company could spend “a million dollars” to hire “four top opposition researchers and four journalists” to “help Uber fight back against the press” by looking into personal lives of reporters who write unflattering stories about the company, BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith reported.

The meeting was part of a series of events apparently meant to be a “charm offensive” to woo the media. Among the attendees for at least one of the events were Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, BuzzFeed’s Smith and Johana Bhuiyan, the actor Ed Norton, Arianna Huffington, and, reportedly, representatives of the New York Times, Business Insider, Capital New York and Newsweek. Smith was there as a guest of columnist Michael Wolff.

When somebody at the table at the dinner suggested the plan could be problematic for Uber, he allegedly replied: “Nobody would know it was us.” Well, they do now.

You may read the full article on The Guardian web site here.

Novel Map Targets Hidden Opportunities for Affordable Housing in BC

According to some knowledgeable observers, Vancouver’s “crisis” in affordable housing is setting off a “gold rush” in innovative thinking, as people fed up with waiting for government action create their own new options on scales large and small.

That creative thinking, it turns out, isn’t limited to finding alternative paths to affordable home ownership. With several British Columbia cities ranked among Canada’s most severely unaffordable places to rent as well as buy, what’s a squeezed tenant to do?

This is the first time demographic, geographic, income and housing costs have been mapped for rental households — an estimated 55 per cent majority in Vancouver, for instance. And unlike that celebrated provincial initiative, this came fully from the non-profit sector, one more example of how civil society is stepping into the void left by the reduced role of various levels of government in providing housing.

HOW THE INDEX WORKS

The B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association’s new index is the product of five indicators compiled from Statistics Canada data. On each indicator, each community is scored from 0 to 10, with 0 being considered the best. Those are then added up to reach an overall community score out of 50.

The variables behind the index are:

Affordability: For a housing unit to be considered affordable, it must cost the household no more than 30 per cent of its pre-tax income.

Overspending: Overspending measures renter households that spend more than half of their before-tax income on their housing plus utilities.

Income Gap: This indicator measures the extra income a household would need to earn, in order to reach the level at which its housing is deemed affordable.

Overcrowding: Based on the federal National Occupancy Standard, this measures how densely residents must pack in together. At most two adults can share one bedroom for housing to be considered “suitable.”

Bedroom Shortfall: A related indicator counts the minimum number of additional bedrooms a community would need to house all renters “suitably.”

The map allows viewers to enlarge and move map in order to see a particular area of BC, and select a particular district or municipality shown on the map – two tabs are display, one for regional districts and one for municipalities, then click on that regional district or municipality for more information.

The map is available here.

You may read the whole Tyee article here.

 

Are online reviews trustworthy?

Online reviews are very popular but are they trustworthy? CBC’s Marketplace decided to find out. Here is their report on online reviews in which they reveal how cheaters pull it off… and fake you out.

Authors! Beware of privacy laws in Brazil

Isabel Vincent, author, presently a reporter at the New York Post and formerly the Globe and Mail’s South America bureau chief from 1991 to 1995, was an official guest of the Canadian government at Brazil’s most important book fair, and was being sued for her latest book, which is now more than four years old. In fact, Gilded Lily: Lily Safra – the Making of One of the World’s Wealthiest Widows is now considered so controversial that it has been banned in Brazil for more than a year. Distribution of her book in Brazil carries a fine of approximately $50 a copy.

A court in Curitiba, in southern Brazil, banned the book – a biography of Ms. Safra, the billionaire philanthropist – after one of her relatives alleged that Vincent had defamed a Safra family member, who is dead. This took place even though the book had never been sold in Brazil, and has never been translated into Portuguese.

Now, she has the distinction of being the only foreigner to have landed in the centre of a long-simmering controversy in Brazil, where privacy laws can prevent the publication of unauthorized biographies. In Latin America’s biggest democracy, it’s not uncommon for “the Justice” to order the seizure of unauthorized biographies from store and library shelves. A publisher in Rio Vincent met said he is a defendant in dozens of cases filed under the privacy law. A journalist who works for Zero Hora, the leading daily in Porto Alegre, a southern city of about two million people, told her that he is a defendant in 30 lawsuits.

Read the full article in the Globe and Mail here.

PDF’s of puzzles, picture ebooks for children, etc.

I’ve finally published all my puzzle ebooks, picture ebooks for children, fiction and nonfiction ebooks in PDF. Brother, did that take a while. Sheesh!

  • All my picture ebooks for children have an Appendix with large black and white graphics of characters in each story so you can print them out for coloring by your child or yourself.
  • All puzzle PDF’s have solutions in the back to save you paper so you only have to print out the puzzle or puzzles you want and check your solution with mine.
  • Both my cookbooks contain a large amount of information on herbs and spices.

Here is just a very small selection of the almost 40 PDF’s now available:

COVER spanish 2014 ws edition  2014 englsihWScover-small  cover2014gws-large

sudokuColl2014-SmallCover crosswordsconvernew  

covertreesmall2013  Icky Foods Make Me Sick  tattoocover-small

5lettercover2013  6lettersmall Star Sudoku Puzzles

What the heck is Gumroad? Gumroad is located in California and is an ecommerce replacement for PayPal.

I chose Gumroad rather than PayPal for my PDF’s because I saw a number of famous artists and non-profits using Gumroad. While nowhere near as famous as any of them I could still use the same ecommerce system and bypass PayPal.

Why buy direct through Gumroad? Your ebook is personalized with your name, contains no DRM, uses HTTPS like your bank or credit union for safe and secure transactions, they don’t store your credit card information and so your privacy is protected, and besides that each sale earns me a couple of extra pennies because Gumroad fees are lower than PayPal and Smashwords.

It takes a few seconds to load the Gumroad site as there is close to 40 covers to render. I’ve found scrolling down to bottom of page a couple of times seems to help speed up the process.

All 40 or so PDF’s are available at my famous low prices at Gumroad here. Take a peek. It only takes a second or two.

Canadian firms play key roles in comet landing

Two Canadian companies were bursting with pride Wednesday after important roles in the historic landing of a spacecraft on the surface of a comet.

SED Systems of Saskatoon built three ground stations used by the European Space Agency to communicate with the Rosetta spacecraft, which sent its Philae lander down to the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.

Ottawa-based ADGA-RHEA Group, meanwhile, provided software to handle complex operation procedures and commands.

The Rosetta spacecraft was more than 500 million kilometres away from Earth when it released its Philae lander. That’s more than 1,000 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

ADGA-RHEA Group’s contribution was software called “MOIS,” which stands for Manufacturing and Operating Information System.

Managing director Andre Sincennes pointed out that the company’s engineers and scientists have been involved since the early days of the mission.

“Basically, going back to 2000-2002, we worked very closely with the European Space Agency to develop that application and now it’s been proven over the last 12 years and it’s being used in almost every single mission,” he noted.

Sincennes said the software came into play during a crucial period three months ago.

Rosetta was put into hibernation in June 2011 to limit its consumption of solar power.

The MOIS technology helped to reawaken the satellite last January –a process that required Rosetta’s 11 science and 10 lander instruments to be reactivated and readied for scientific observation.

“Basically, in excess of 1,000 procedures had to be reviewed, revisited, changed, adapted and realigned,” Sincennes said.

Each of the manoeuvres was critical in making Rosetta’s rendezvous with the comet possible.

Sincennes said ADGA-RHEA officials were thrilled about the final outcome.

“There’s so much pride and all that pride from a Canadian standpoint, from a European standpoint, comes from the effort — the relentless effort conducted and performed by our engineers, our scientists, in that 10-year-plus period,” he added.

“We are now in deep-space exploration. It will provide an array of information that will benefit and hopefully make the world a better world and we’re extremely proud as Canadians. We’re extremely proud to be part of that success.”

ADGA-RHEA has about 600 employees in Canada and another 200 in Europe.

Sincennes said the system-engineering company has been established in Canada for 47 years and has had a design facility in Montreal since 1970.

CTV News article with video.