But as Liss-Riordan looked more closely at Uber’s business model, she realized there was a much larger legal problem looming: namely, the company was built on the backs of so-called “1099 employees”—drivers who formed the base of Uber’s operations, but whose income was counted as 1099 freelancer income for tax purposes. Uber claimed these drivers were fully independent and had control over their own work schedules — even making a point of calling them “driver-partners” instead of simply “drivers” — but the company also gave them strict guidelines for participation which made them look like employees according to the IRS’s 20-prong test. Uber screened and trained its drivers, and drivers could get deactivated by Uber for having their rating dip below what local managers set as a cut-off, for not accepting a certain percentage of trip requests, or for customer complaints. In one case, says Liss-Riordan, a driver was fired for “not showing respect” to Uber staff.
Liss-Riordan smelled blood. She realized that if Uber’s drivers were reclassified as normal W-2 employees, rather than 1099 independent contractors, Uber would be required to pay payroll taxes for them, and provide them with benefits like workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment. In some states, such as California, Uber would also be required to reimburse drivers for the costs of the job, including gas, wear-and-tear on their cars, and car insurance. If Uber had indeed misclassified its drivers, the company’s entire business model was built on a legal mistake.
“Just because your services are dispatched through a smartphone doesn’t make you a technology company,” she said in a recent telephone interview. “You’re a car service, and you have the responsibilities of being an employer of the people driving the cars.”
Solar charged battery lights have been around for some time. They're usually aimed at the developing world, but most of them are sold in the US in the wake of major power disruptions. There has been a realization that they can do something as important - namely charging cellphones. The latest crop are showing up with USB power ports.
Some of the efficient small cookstoves aimed at the developing world and disasters generate electricity from waste heat to run a fan that increases efficiency. Excess electric power is available for cellphone charging - a big sales point.
It may or may not be successful - major in consumer electronics is rarely seen in its proper context when when first released. The Apple products that made markets were usually greeted by mixed reviews and even derision for the first year. It is far too early to know if Apple is onto something with their watch - I suspect they don't understand the use cases of a smartwatch as they didn't appreciate where smartphones would go for the first year or so.
Of course dozens of reviews have appeared. I've glanced at a few, but paid attention to John Gruber's as he has a track record of noting the bad along with the good and outlining potential use cases that give the reader a sense if this sort of thing is for them.
Getting infrastructure right takes time with mistakes along the way. Bicycle streets in Northern Europe - particularly the Netherlands.
What is the definition of a bicycle street? (“Fietsstraat” in Dutch, or ‘bicycle boulevard’ as they are mostly called in the US.) Nowadays a bicycle street is considered to be a route in a residential area that is a main route for cycling, but only a minor route for motor traffic. It is essential that cycle traffic is the dominating form of traffic and that the route looks clearly designed for cycling. This makes it immediately clear to drivers of a motor vehicle that they are guest in a space that is not theirs. (CROW recommendation in publication 216) Note, that we are talking about a route rather than a street. The Dutch always construct cycle routes, never individual streets, even if they call those routes ‘street’. Parking motor vehicles in a cycle street is also possible. The word cycle street does not imply that there are no cars. There are, parked and moving, but they are the minority form of transport. That the streets are in a residential area automatically means that the speed limit for motor traffic is 30km/h