Houston drivers commute to Austin rather than work for Uber

Some Houston drivers are enduring marathon commutes rather than work for Uber.

Their commutes to Austin are two or three hours each way. They go days without seeing their children. But these drivers describe the decision as life-changing. They’re happier, less stressed and, for some, finances have been saved.

“I thank god that Ride Austin and Fasten came aboard,” said Yerica Garcia, who resorted to driving for the Austin ridesharing services last summer after one of her vehicles was repossessed. “If it was Uber, I would lose my house too.”

Garcia fell thousands of dollars behind on her mortgage last year. She blamed Uber for lowering prices and changing its commission split in Houston, which made it difficult to provide for her three children under the age of 10.

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Yerica Garcia says her finances were saved after she began driving for Ride Austin, whose headquarters are shown above.

As Garcia’s troubles in Houston mounted, a battle was playing out in Austin. The city wanted drivers to be fingerprinted as a security measure. Uber and Lyft, unhappy with the decision, shut down their services in the Texas capital on May 9.

As quickly as Uber and Lyft left, new apps like Ride Austin and Fasten blossomed, providing alternatives for drivers and passengers. One of the apps, Get Me, tried to recruit Garcia as she waited to pick up an Uber passenger at Houston’s airport.

Related: Life after Uber: How Austin moved on from a breakup

Meanwhile, Garcia feared losing her home, so she rolled the dice. One day in June, she left her children with her mother and trekked the nearly three hours to Austin.

She quickly found that the rates charged in Austin, and the portion that the ridesharing service withheld, were far more favorable to her as a driver.

She has since driven mostly for Ride Austin. It does not take a cut of driver’s earnings with standard vehicles, instead keeping a $2 booking fee that it charges passengers. But drivers of SUVs and luxury vehicles — which are paid more per mile and minute — pay a 20% cut to Ride Austin. In Houston, Uber takes nearly 30% of most rides. Uber drivers in Houston receive 87 cents per mile today, a figure that’s dropped in recent years.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After that first day in Austin, Garcia began a new ritual. She’d leave Houston at the crack of dawn on Thursday, and return home on Sunday. With money so tight, Garcia would park in an Austin Wal-Mart or apartment complex and sleep in her Nissan Pathfinder.

Today, Garcia has nearly caught up on her mortgage payments. She says she makes $1,200 a week in Austin. There’s no need to sleep in her car now. She splits an apartment with three other drivers who travel to Austin because of the better pay.

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“I’m so happy,” Cesar Gomes said of driving in Austin. “You’re working hard, but you see the money.”

One of them is Cesar Gomes. He heard from Garcia last summer how she made $350 in a single day. He was stunned. He was used to making maybe $200 driving for Uber in Houston.

Gomes shared the news with a buddy, Vitor Lopes, and they made a plan.

So one morning last September they caravanned from Houston to Austin. They drove in the city all day, raking in money. Afterward, they celebrated with burgers at a local food truck. Gomes talked of splurging on a gift for his children.

“We were so happy,” Gomes said.

The next month, Gomes and Lopes, flush with cash, both bought new SUVs to use on the Austin ridesharing services.

Today, Gomes spends Thursday through Sunday working in Austin. He said he no longer stresses about whether his Uber rating is high enough, or if he’ll have enough money for his three kids. He likes the nonprofit aspect of Ride Austin, the service he spends most of his time driving for.

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Vitor Lopes moved to Austin this year because of the better ridesharing pay.

Lopes has gone a step further — he moved to Austin in February.

Pending legislation is expected to open the door for Uber and Lyft to return to Austin in the months ahead. But drivers like Lopes and Gomez aren’t interested.

“We don’t need Uber,” Lopes said. We don’t want Uber.”

from Business and financial news – CNNMoney.com http://ift.tt/2n0gJHv

Mozilla is bringing modern video games to your browser

Modern 3D video games require a ton of processing power to look good and respond to player input quickly. That’s why most of the web-based games you see today are at best stripped down versions of their PC or console counterparts. The team behind the Firefox web browser would like to see that change, however. Mozilla released a version of the browser that includes WebAssembly – a new technology that enables high-resource apps like games, computer-aided design, video and image editing and scientific visualization to run in a browser almost as fast as they do on your local computer. It will also speed up existing web apps that use JavaScript.

With WebAssembly, developers will be able to code a game or app and know it will run in the same way on any supported browser, regardless of platform. Consumers get the convenience of using a web browser to run any WebAssembly-enabled game or app, regardless of platform or operating system.

WebAssembly is a low-level programming language that allows other, higher-level computer languages like C or C++ to run in a web browser. WebAssembly apps are parsed and compiled before they even hit your browser, which means that much of the heavy lifting has already been done. By comparison, a javascript app often pulls a bunch of code into the browser, then figures out how best to run it on your system, slowing the whole process down. Google and Microsoft’s browsers will support WebAssembly, though Firefox is the first browser to include the technology, thanks to Mozilla’s lead role in the research.

As WebAssembly matures, the Mozilla team hopes to bring it to mobile, as well. Imagine playing the modern version of Doom or running a CAD app on your Mac or PC, then loading it up onto your smartphone as you head out on your morning commute. All of this without plugins or the need to sacrifice speed for the convenience of the web.

The Firefox beta, available today for Mac, PC and Linux, also includes improvements to Wi-Fi portal detection and better warnings for insecure logins.

Source: Mozilla, Medium

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China bans new South Korean games over a political crisis

China is rather irate that South Korea is starting to install the US’ THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense system to protect against North Korean threats. To that end, it’s punishing the South with retaliatory policies… including one that targets video games. Chinese officials have frozen new licenses for games made in South Korea, preventing any more titles from launching in the country.

That’s not a huge issue in the short term, but it could be damaging in the long run for developers with games that are likely to rake in a lot of cash in China. Netmarble’s Korean blockbuster Lineage 2: Revolution, for example, is being adapted for the Chinese market. If it’s denied, that leaves a lot of money on the table — the title has already made the equivalent of about $100 million since launch.

And unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s a resolution in sight. It’s doubtful that South Korea will withdraw THAAD any time soon, and China hasn’t given any indication that it’s going to reconsider the ban. Korean game studios may have to either be content with catering to the home crowd or shift their international plans to other countries.

Via: PocketGamer.biz

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

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IBM built an atomic hard drive

While the rush to keep pace with Moore’s Law is getting rather "chaotic", researchers at IBM announced on Wednesday that they have drastically reduced the space required to store a bit of information down to that of a single atom.

This tiny advancement in storage technology, is a big deal. Given that modern hard drives need about 100,000 atoms to store a single bit, this development could shrink the size of future storage mediums by an order of magnitude. IBM figures that it can store the entire iTunes catalog (all 35 million tracks) onto a disk the size of a credit card by using this technique.

A single atom of holmium credit: IBM Research – Almaden

The system uses atoms of holmium seated atop a magnesium oxide surface, which keeps the atom’s magnetic poles stable — even in the presence of other magnets. The orientation of these poles determines whether the atom constitutes a 1 or a 0. To write to this storage system, a microscopic needle induces a current to flip the atom’s orientation. Reading the information, conversely, is simply a matter of measuring the magnetic current passing through each atom, which varies depending on which pole is facing up.

But don’t expect this technology to show up in the next iPhone, mind you. It currently requires a liquid nitrogen-cooled tunnelling electron microscope operating in a vacuum to work. The study was published today in the journal Nature.

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Report: Nest Readying Sub-$200 Thermostat, Home Security System

According to a report from Bloomberg that cites a source familiar with the matter, Nest is working on at least three new products: A Nest Thermostat that will cost less than $200, a home security alarm system, plus remote room sensors to go along with new and existing thermostats. 

In order to make a Nest Smart Thermostat that meets a sub-$200 price, the company is reported to be using less expensive components, with at least one prototype floating around not featuring a metallic ring along its outside. As of right now, Nest (3rd Gen) will cost you $250, so it seems Nest won’t need to cut too much to hit $200.

As for the security system, it is reported that it will consist of a digital doorbell and an updated indoor security camera. An entire solution is said to be in the works, complete with a keypad for entering codes (like a standard alarm system from back in the day), alarm sensors for doors and windows, plus a fob for your keyring.

In terms of timing, we may be a ways off, with Nest not confirming anything at this time. As reported, the less expensive thermostat could launch by next year, while the alarm system and accompanying solution may launch later this year, sometime next year, or not at all.

Who here needs more Nest goodies in their home?

Via: Bloomberg

Report: Nest Readying Sub-$200 Thermostat, Home Security System is a post from: Droid Life

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Google Assistant in Full Rollout Now, Here are Some Tips to Get You Started

google assistant tips

Last week, Google Assistant started a slow rollout to all devices running Nougat and Marshmallow. Over the past several days, we’ve seen a number of you ask when you might actually see it arrive on your phones, as if that rollout might have been slower than normal. It’s tough to say the exact schedule of these things, but I can tell you that Google seems to have pressed “GO!” either last night or this morning. Google Assistant is popping up everywhere!

From friends of the site pinging us on Twitter and in our inboxes, to our own non-Google Pixel devices, I think just about everyone should have Assistant today. Because it’s a new feature that is well worth taking advantage of, we wanted to share our Google Assistant tips and tricks video from a few months back to get you all started. 

In this clip, you’ll see how to get up and running, plus it dives into more than just checking the weather. You’ll get tips on finding places nearby, estimating travel time on your next trip, searching within results for related info, adding items to your grocery list, opening apps by voice, translating another language, setting reminders or alarms, playing games, remembering bike combos, etc. There is a lot you can do with Google Assistant.

To get going, long-press that home button and then checkout the video below!

Google Assistant in Full Rollout Now, Here are Some Tips to Get You Started is a post from: Droid Life

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