A Thing I Like

by Scott Stadum

All things digital.

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My Customer Service Rep is a Bot

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I realize this isn’t a new phenomenon, in fact, the very company I’m dealing with sells this as a service. The problem is, it sucks.

I’ve been dealing with a “customer service rep” for a month now over erroneous charges for a service I had canceled but was continually billed for.

The “rep” is having a difficult time understanding me, continues to loop back to the beginning of the conversation, misunderstanding my statements, and filing tickets for my claim. Why the f*ck is this rep filing a ticket? and with whom? The rep is the one that is supposed to be dealing with the issue.

I’m a fan of AI and I understand that as a consumer application, the technology is nascent but good lord, this is a mess. I asked to speak to a manager over the issue and the rep never said a word about it nor did “she” comply. This technology isn’t ready for prime time.

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Securing the Georgian Internet Infrastructure

The Russian brand Beeline recently announced its intentions to purchase a part of Caucasus Online, the leading internet provider in Georgia, potentially giving Beeline a controlling stake in critical Georgian telecommunications infrastructure. The question arises as to whether or not the Beeline acquisition of Caucasus Online is in the best interest of Georgia considering that vast import of the infrastructure to national security and the past cyber attacks Russia launched against Georgia in 2008.

Beeline, the Russian telecommunications brand by OJSC VimpelCom, a subsidiary of VimpelCom Ltd. of Amsterdam, is headquartered in Moscow and is Russia’s second largest telecommunications operator. VimpelCom merged with Kyivstar to form VimpelCom Ltd. in May of 2010, now the largest telecommunications operator group in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Alexander Izosimov, CEO of OJSC

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Going for a Ride in Tbilisi

As per usual, I cabbed home at the end of the working day, I usually find one right outside my office on Agmashenebeli Ave. Like any other day, I found a driver to take me to Vake, just a short commute across the river.

As we approached my building, I pulled 20 GEL from my wallet and prepared to give it to the driver as we came to a stop. He quickly gave me, what I thought were a few notes and I walked toward my flat. As I’m walking, I realize that the cabbie had given me 5 GEL note change from a 20, instead of 15 GEL. I should have checked before I got out of the car but I was in a hurry to get home. The feeling of anger overwhelmed me as I realized I had paid 15 GEL for a quick drive from the old city into Vake.

This wasn’t the first time I have been overcharged in Tbilisi while taking a cab but it’s definitely the most egregious.

As I rode the elevator up to my flat I began

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Self-Driving Cars Could Net Billions

According to a new study by McKinsey & Company self-driving cars could generate billions of dollars a year in revenue from mobile web services and products.

Some of the revenue generating behavior includes -

  • Reducing car accidents by 90%, saving $200 billion a year
  • Shaving off 50 minutes a day in commuting time
  • $5.6 billion a year in digital revenue for each additional minute that vehicle occupants spend on the internet

Drivers will spend more free time in their cars on the internet and using premium in-car services as opposed to actually driving.

It has been estimated that upward to 10% of US jobs will be displaced by self-driving cars but with these revenue estimates we can imagine that new jobs and new industries will be created, employing displaced workers.

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Future Jobs: Automated Cab Fleet Manager

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In the future companies like Uber or Google may have fleets of self-driving cars, ferrying goods and people around cities. While the fleet and fleet management will be automated a manager will exist to solve problems caused by bugs and viruses in the system. This position will be part-time manager, part-time engineer.

The manager keeps an eye on all car systems, making sure vehicles are traveling at optimal speed, stopping for lights, avoiding accidents and dropping off passengers as timely as possible. He/she manages a dashboard of vehicles, performance, delivery times, issues and warnings.

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When problems arise, like an virus infected car which cause the doors to permanently lock, the fleet manager will dispense an engineer to open the vehicle.

Fleet managers will make sure their cars are in working order, fully charged and prepped for service. When diagnostics reveal an issue

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My New Favorite App: Pushbullet

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I’m a little slow to game but I’ve finally got Pushbullet set up on my phone and laptop. With my app and Safari plugin, I’m able to push messages back and forth between my phone and computer.

How is this useful? I get alerts to my phone, which might be charging or in the other room, on my desktop. Which, in the case of some apps, I can answer back without opening my phone. This is incredibly useful as I’m not always attached to my phone or might prefer to respond to friends on WhatsApp from my desktop.

Expanding upon what Pushbullet can do, it also plays nicely with IFTTT, the service that connects other services to each other. Check out all the available Pushbullet recipes on IFTTT -

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Check out Pushbullet, it really is useful.

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Bringg Let’s You Uber Anything

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When I wrote about Uber for X all that was really missing from becoming a dogwalker for hire was the service Bringg.

Bringg is a platform that makes it simple to create Uber-like services. From Techcrunch -

Uber has set the standard for mobile transportation apps, allowing customers to order, pay for and view their driver’s location right from their mobile device. Now, a new startup called Bringg, wants to offer a similar level of visibility for any delivery-based service or those with drivers en route – whether that’s a mom-and-pop dry cleaner making their daily runs, restaurants making deliveries, or even service technicians heading out on calls.

While Bringg doesn’t handle payment processing it does integrate with third-party systems that will allow you to order and pay for goods and services.

It will be fun to see how services, traditional and non, adapt to Bringg and SAAS

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Hyper Adaptive Web Interfaces

I was reading about adaptive education where the technology adapts to the needs and actions of a student, helping him or her progress at their own pace and possibly skipping over subject areas they test out of. This optimizes the learning experience for the student, let’s the teach know the progress and pace of that student and allows everyone to move ahead at their own speed.

I was thinking about applying this to web interfaces. Why can’t we create adaptive interfaces that change based on how you use the website and optimize to your needs?

As it is web interfaces are mostly static and may change depending upon whether you’re on an iPad, an Android or a desktop computer. That’s it.

On Amazon there are certain parts of the site I never use, certain features of Prime that I don’t visit and aspects of the site that just bug me. Let’s change that.

What I’d like to see happen is the

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Google Earth Pro is Now Free

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The service, which used to cost $399 a year, is now free. Some of the things you’ll be able to do?

  • Create HD videos of locations
  • Higher res imagery
  • Create your own maps
  • Measure 3D buildings

From Google:

Starting today, even more people will be able to access Google Earth Pro: we’re making it available for free. To see what Earth Pro can do for you—or to just have fun flying around the world—grab a free key and download Earth Pro today. If you’re an existing user, your key will continue to work with no changes required.

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Silk Road Reloaded

As I had written on Digital District, when you break up a service like Silk Road, you unleash new sites with updated technology. Well, it didn’t take long for Silk Road Reloaded to launch.

Silk Road Reloaded uses a new technology different than Tor -

“Silk Road Reload​ed” launched today, and is only accessible by downloading the special I2P software, or by configuring your computer in a certain way to connect to I2P web pages, called ‘eepsites’, and which end in the suffix .i2p.

The site is also going to take currencies beyond Bitcoin, like Anoncoin and Dogecoin. As noted by Vice -

In what must be worrying for law enforcement agencies, who recently boasted about taking down hundreds of deep web sites, Silk Road Reloaded shows that drug markets are far from dead. Instead, they are becoming more plentiful, and more diverse.​

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