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Call Uber to get a battery jump

Aug 28 2015

I recently left my headlights on and killed my car battery. It’s not the first time I’ve done that. That’s why I carry jumper cables in my trunk. Cables are great – when someone will give you a jump. This most recent time was the last straw though… it was 98° in Anaheim and I was on the top-deck of a parking garage at the Anaheim Convention Center. Apparently the Anaheim Convention Center isn’t as concerned with helping guests as Disneyland is… when I asked if they could give me a jump, both the security department and the parking department said they couldn’t because of liability. (Wouldn’t you think they would already have a HUGE amount of liability insurance being a Convention Center and all?)

It got worse… I asked five people if they would give me a jump and they all basically said no. Okay, last option is AAA / roadside service. And how long does that usually take? I’ve never seen it take less than an hour for one of their pickup trucks to show up. I REALLY did not want to wait around in almost 100 degree temps, then explain to the parking gate that AAA was coming and to direct them to find me among a sea of cars.

Jump-N-Carry battery jumper - DaveTavres.comSo while waiting for roadside service, I popped open the Amazon app and ordered a “Jump-N-Carry” portable battery jumper. I haven’t had to use it yet, but at about $70 it will be worth every penny when I need it.

imageIt showed up at my office and I was showing one of the office boy-geniuses, Randy Walker, who pretty quickly asked “Does Uber give jumps?” WOW. That’s why he’s a boy-genius. I would HAPPILY pay $20 to an Uber driver who would show up in 3-12 minutes, pull one of these portable battery jumpers out and get my car started again. Seriously. If Uber isn’t doing this yet, they should make it an option for any driver who wants to make a couple extra bucks. Uber – PLEASE – add this to your app and give drivers the option to do it as an add on.

 

Will taxis match Uber’s quotes?

Jun 14 2015

Will taxis match Uber’s quotes? - DaveTavres.comThis week I’m planning on stopping by the E3 Expo​. Although I live and work pretty close to the LA Convention Center, the parking is the killer part… so, I thought – oh, Uber​! Then, as I often do, I think about the competing business – taxi companies. Then I thought, “I wonder if taxi companies – or taxi drivers – will match Uber pricing.”

If I pull up Uber on my phone, enter a starting point and destination, the Uber app will give me quote. On more than one occasion I’ve opted to drive myself, get a ride or take a taxi because of their surge pricing. Not a big deal. But, what about those non-surge times? If I go up to a cab driver and show him my phone with the Uber price, will they match it? Do they have enough power/control to do that? Can (will) a taxi driver even give me a quote for a taxi ride (that’s somewhat accurate)?

A Google search doesn’t come up with any answers to that question, but I’d like to know… perhaps I’ll try it the next time I’ve got the option.

 

Disneyland Wi-Fi

Jun 08 2015

Disneyland Wi-FiWi-Fi is everywhere now, that’s obvious. You can even get internet access on the plane – for a price. So that’s what’s next for the Happiest Place on EarthDisneyland.

If you’ve been to Disneyland in the past 5 years, you know it’s getting almost impossible to get a good cellular signal where there are upwards of 60,000 in the park. So, just like JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America, Disneyland needs to spend the money, install a crazy-powerful wifi setup that covers 100% of Disneyland – then charge $30/day for it. Sure, on a 4 hour flight it only costs $8, but when you’re trying send texts to friends or family in the park, post your photos and videos to social media so those less fortunate than yourself can live vicariously through you – you’ll pay.

disneyland-logo[1]Knowing how Disney operates though, they likely wouldn’t even put in the network themselves… they’d ‘partner’ with HP (oooh, or maybe Google would do it!) and then so a sponsorship deal. That would be a fine idea though – as long as they give guests what they want – the ability to share their experiences with their friends who aren’t there with them. Plus, talk about a social media blitz! Disney would barely need to buy advertising after that, as there would be so many people posting and sharing about the attractions and shows – serious social networking!

On top of that, the same infrastructure could be used to finally bring private wireless access to all of the ODV (OutDoor Vending) locations and allow people to use their smartphones to pay for goods. Faster checkout, more product sold… sounds like a win-win.

We know it will happen – the questions is, when?

Google WiFi

 

My favorite radio shows (May 2015)

May 10 2015

My favorite radio shows (May 2015)Here are my favorite radio shows (as of May 2015), with my BIG favorites at the top, then not in any big order:

  • Tested.com / This is only a test – a few San Francisco geek (one hipster… PLEASE Will, get rid of the beard!) with GREAT experience in the technology world, having worked at computer and game magazines. These guys talk about video games, software, mobile devices, websites, movies, music, live shows, quadcopters, travel, food and just tons of stuff. It’s a long show, but I love every minute of it – even the Apple fanboi stuff!
  • FreakonomicsRadio – An economics view of “The hidden side of everything”. They talk about and break down many interesting things about life and money and interesting stuff, into measurable units to try to understand those things better.
  • Planet Money – Fantastic shows about things related to money and how that stuff affects our lives. A really great show, well produced, interesting topics.
  • StartUp – Former This American Life producer starts his own network, and this show started as a weekly documentary on how he raised money and put together a team. This is now focused on other startup businesses.
  • Adam Savage: Still Untitled – From Tested.com, this is a great show with Adam Savage (from MythBusters) talking about technology, science, model making, movies and props. I love Adam :)
  • Reply All – A show about the internet. Not always well-formatted, but it’s short and usually fun info about popular (or little known) things on the internet.
  • Serial – The super-popular show that brought back the ‘weekly serial radio show’. Season 1 knocked it out of the park with a real-life whodunit murder case.
  • Peculiar Podcast – Seattle. If you’re from (or lived in) Seattle in the 90s, you know who Pat Cashman and Lisa Foster are. This is their new digital radio show. Fun, light and wonderful :)
  • This Week in Google – Leo Laporte’s Google show. Long and pretty good. They know a lot and cover a lot.
  • Here’s the Thing – Really interesting interviews with big names by none other than Alec Baldwin! He interrupts a bit too much, but the show works. At the very least, look for past shows and pick the people you find interested. There’s some great surprises here.
 

Why Amazon Prime Air won’t work

Mar 21 2015

Blue OriginLast year, as the quadcopter fad took off (ahem), Amazon made a fun little video of an Amazon-branded quad that delivering a tool to someone’s home in 30 minutes. It was a joke. Yes, Jeff Bezos has created and built Blue Origin, but that’s a very different thing than RC toys delivering packages. Seriously – IT   WAS   A   JOKE.

WHY was/is it a joke? As an RC helicopter “pilot”, I can give you several good reasons why small product delivery via any unmanned aerial vehicle won’t happen in the next many years.

Weight
The inexpensive quads (let’s say ‘inexpensive’ has the ridiculous definition of $500) can’t carry much payload. About 12 ounces. A single DVD and case weighs about 5oz. So if you’re ordering two DVDs, maybe you’re okay… but forget it if you need powered sugar (16oz) for that frosting or you have a craving for Oreos (15oz).

Amazon Prime Air

Battery and distance
Amazon Air Battery and distanceAs of 2015, the batteries that run RC helicopters just aren’t that good. Even the newest tech batteries and heli’s get 20 minutes of flight time at most. Well, unless you are flying a monster helicopter that can carry some big batteries – but that also means less payload. And what about distance? At a max speed of about 35mph – which also means you’re draining the battery at top-speed – you better live close by a distribution center. That means at most 10 miles away – because it needs to do the round trip, plus carry a payload. Plus takeoff, which drains the battery more than sustained flight.

Capture
Capturing an Amazon Air quadPeople would LOVE figuring out ways to ‘capture’ these pricey little toys. The first thing that comes to mind is a DIY net gun. Ya know, an air-gun that shoots a net with a small weight on each corner that you can fire pretty far. Amazon Prime Air 30 minute deliveryAmazon’s quads would be like a fly in web. So no only would the inventive kid and his net catch a cool piece of technology that they could dismantle and re-use, they might get a couple DVDs or a cool 3-sided wrench.

Heck, forget about something as physical as a net-gun… there’s RF jamming hardware you can easily build that can cause RC toys to run amok. Oh, and don’t forget about rocks. Rocks are pretty… free… and kids love to throw rocks. One good hit and that 30 minute delivery never shows up – and Amazon just lost a $500 toy.

Obstacles
Amazon Prime Air - Amazon.comNow, probably the biggest issue is obstacles. I’m talking about power lines, low-hanging tree branches, water sprinklers, dogs, patio furniture, street lights… and people. Even the most sophisticated drone helicopters can’t navigate those items with much surety. I’ve had dogs chase my quads and REALY want to eat them, if they could only get their teeth into them. And yes, I’ve even hit light poles when I thought I was far enough away. Sure, there are good cameras and sensors you can add to copter, but every ounce added means shorter battery life and a smaller payload. Then, let’s not forget about good ‘ol human stupidity. The moron who wants to get a little to close while the device is landing and YOW! Those blades WILL cut you, and good!

So, if Amazon can work through all of the items above and still make it cost effective, then sure, you might see Amazon Air 30 minute delivery – if you live in the parking lot across from a distribution center.