Allison Sheridan is on the show today. We’ll cover the big GamesCon announcements like Skylander, how Viv will beat Siri’s pants off, and why women spend more money on and are more loyal to mobile games. Won’t you join us?
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Today’s guest: Allison Sheridan, host of The NosillaCast on podfeet.com
Microsoft delivered a slate of Xbox news at GamesCon in Cologne , Germany. CNET compiled a list of the announcements. The Xbox will get an exclusive on “Rise of the Tomb Raider” set to arrive in late 2015. The Xbox One will get DLNA support for media centers as well as the ability to playback media from USB. Two new bundles are coming. An all-white Xbox One with “Sunset Overdrive” will sell for $400 w/o Kinect on 10/28/ and “Call of Duty Advanced Warfare” with a specially skinned Xbox One and 1TB hard drive arrives fro $500 November 3. Among several other game-related announcements, the Halo 5: Guardians beta begins December 29.
Bloomberg has talked with the secret society of “people with knowledge of the matter” and THEY say Apple’s suppliers have started manufacturing new 9.7-inch iPads. A new version of the 7.9-inch iPad mini is also entering production. A different group known as “people familiar with the situation” have said Apple will make announcements on Sept. 9.
Lyft gave some data to CNN which apparently shows 177 Uber employees ordered and canceled more than 5,000 rides from the rival company since October 2013. Lyft drivers complained that even when they don’t cancel they sometimes take short low-profit rides in which they try to convince Lyft drivers to come work for Uber. Uber told Ars Technica the claims are “patently false,” although Uber does run promotions to get riders and driver to convince other drivers to come work for Uber.
GigaOm reports Apple is the latest in a string of tech companies releasing diversity reports. Of Apple’s 98,000 employees, 55% identify as white, 15% Asian, and 7% black. 70% are male, which is about the same as Google and Facebook. If you don’t count retail stores, 35% of Apple employees are women, but if you further limit it to tech roles, it drops to 20%. In Apple’s leadership team, 64% are white, 21% Asian, and 72% male.
Wired has an excellent Steven Levy write-up about Viv Labs attempt to make a truly intelligent digital assistant in the mode of Siri. Viv’s cofounders Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham all created Siri. For two years they’ve been working on Viv. The difference between Viv and Siri is that Viv should be able to learn on the fly and understand requests it wasn’t pre-programed to. For example take “Give me a flight to Dallas with a seat that Shaq could fit in?” Siri would search the Web for keywords. Viv will generate its own program to link information from Kayak, SeatGuru and an old NBA Media Guide. Viv is designed on three pillars: It will be taught by the world, it will know more than it is taught, and it will learn something every day.
BBC News reports that Activision’s putting out a version of Skylander for tablets. Skylander is a free game where kids unlock in-game content by buying RFID enhanced action figures and placing them on a base station,— which IN TURN unlocked 2 billion dollars in sales for Activision. The tablet version will also be free. To use the figurines, you’ll need a new version of the portal base which connects by Bluetooth. The app comes out for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire in October.
Sony had its share of Gamescon announcements in Cologne as well. The company announced it sold 10 million PS4 consoles worldwide. Sold not shipped. A new feature called “Share Play” will come inSystem update 2.0 and allow your friends to join a game or take over the controls from anywhere even if they don’t own the game. NBA2K, Towerfall and Child of Light were all mentioned as implemtning SharePlay. Europe got a couple announcements. PlayStation Now the game streaming service, won’t arrive until sometime in 2015. However, Sony’s PlayStation TV, essentially a Vita in console form will come to Europe November 14th for99 euros.
News From You
ancrod2 posted the Washington Post story that the US FCC has established a task force to study misuse of surveillance technology that intercepts cellular signals to locate people, monitor calls, and send malicious software. The tech described is an IMSI catcher often called “Stingray” and is widely used by police and intelligence services. The devices work by mimicking cell towers. The FCC wants to determine the extent to which criminals and foreign intelligence services use the technology against US citizens.
Hurmoth pointed out the 9to5 Mac story that the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced the USB Type C connector is ready for production. The new smaller USB port features a reversible connector. Its powerful enough that one design can work for both PCs and mobile devices. The spec allows for 10 Gbps speed and USB Power Delivery of up to 100W.
habichuelcondulce and TexasTeacher both submitted links about Tim Davis. Who is Tim Davis? Well, if you’re one of the many people who’ve been feeling a little empty inside because there’s been no outrageous Comcast customer service call lately, Tim Davis is your new best friend. Davis moved to a new apartment, and chose to self-install his Comcast wireless equipment. Everything worked just fine for a few weeks. Until it didn’t. A Comcast technician was dispatched, and discovered a problem with the wires outside. Since the problem was out of Davis’s control, he was told there would be no cost to him. On a call. Which he SECRETLY RECORDED. Then he got the bill. And lo, there were charges. Almost two hundred dollars worth, including a failed self-install. So Davis called again. And things did Not Go Well. But that crafty Tim Davis, he had a SECRET RECORDING, which he played for the Comcast rep. And only because of this SECRET RECORDING, he got his money back. So Comcast customers, perhaps its time to start SECRETLY RECORDING every single call you make to Comcast. Ever. Needless to say the link to this SECRET RECORDING will be in the show notes.
Plug of the day: The Sword and Laser Anthology collects 20 amazing stories from new writers in the Sword and Laser book club audience. 10 SciFi and 10 fantasy stories with an introduction by Patrick Rothfuss. Get a copy at the Sword And Laser Store.
Pick of the Day: MouseWait via Producer Jennie.
Producer Jennie has returned from conducting very important business at Disneyland. While she was there she relied heavily on The Mousewait app.——— If you’re in the US and headed to Disneyworld in Florida or Disneyland & California Adventure in Anaheim, CA, the MouseWait app uses close to real-time data from their dedicated social community to post wait times and fast pass availability for every ride and popular food spots in both parks. The app also features an overall crowd index, a programmable To-Do list and a lively community posting advice. I rigorously field-tested the app, on our past two trips and found it impressively accurate. The app is ad-supported and free, and available on iphone for both parks and on Android just for Disneyland so far. If you want to learn more about it, check out mousewait.com
Wednesday’s guest: The Podfather, Adam Curry of the No Agenda podcast and curry.com
4 thoughts on “DTNS 2298 – Uber Doesn’t Lyft”
Shawn from Blissful Berkeley
Hey Tom, since you were talking a lot about gender and race in the last episode, I thought I might be able to give my two cents about these diversity reports coming out of the big tech companies. As a Sociology major in the tech industry, I think a lot about the gender and racial dynamics in each department. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Asian males are more likely to be engineers than black females. It’s hard to disagree with the fact that females are underrepresented in engineering roles, as are Black/Hispanic males and females on the whole, I think it’s important to put these statistics into context.
Females as well as Blacks/Hispanics (which are usually the underrepresented groups in engineering) are far less likely to study STEM subjects that would equip them for taking on engineering roles at these companies
Moral questions arise when there is such a great supply/demand mismatch and a company wants its workforce to reflect the population as a whole, but the pool of trained professionals in a field skews towards certain ethnic groups.
In my humble opinion, a more fair metric of how to gauge the ethnic and gender diversity in departments is to compare the percentage of professionals with relevant skills in each racial group or gender with the percentage of people in each group at a respective company.
Obviously, this is super difficult to quantify, but I don’t think it’s fair to companies like Apple to expect their workforce to look so drastically different (in terms of gender and race) than the pool of professionals with those skills.
I care a lot about getting more women and minorities into STEM subjects, but the Sociologist in me says that these issues are best addressed by making sure our engineering classes resemble the population as a whole before we start blaming these companies for underrepresenting these groups.
Anyways, huge fan of the show. Stay awesome.
Wanted to comment on your back of the envelope calculation of gender. The population ratio of males to females is NOT the same as working males to females. The percentage of females in the workplace lower than the percentage of females in the total population. I am not going to address the rest of that issue, just your calculation that something must be wrong because the near 50% female population isn’t what is showing up in the tech workplace.
-Average Random Joe
Hmm well that wasn’t my point. My point was that there are more females than males in existence so if we were going to be close to parity in the workplace then we’d need to get closer to 50%. The fact that the workplace in general has fewer than 50% females doesn’t really make a difference in my point, I don’t think.
Good points, Shawn from Blissful Berkely. This reminds me of studying Deming’s guidance on quality. You don’t beat the inspector who finds defects, you figure out what’s causing the defects at the root source, no matter how far back in the supply chain/engineering design chain you must go. Another analogy would be measuring the end condition alone is like weighing yourself – it doesn’t help you lose weigh but if you measure caloric input and output you can figure out what to change in order to influence the weight. You still have to measure that end condition.
So I think your point might be that we need to measure what influences girls from an early age away from technical subjects. There’s a fabulous Verizon commercial out right now that in the end says that 66% of 4th grade girls reported that they like science and math but by college only 18% of engineering majors are female. So what influences them along the way is what we need to figure out. (source: erizon.com/powerfulanswers/inspirehermind/)
And Average Random Joe – if 66% like science and math in 4th grade then you’d think we should be able to get to 50/50 even with some women choosing not to be in the work force, or at least a heck of a lot closer to it than 20%!