Equifax Collects Your Data, and Then Sells It – Credit companies like Equifax make money by mining a huge trove of data: “Equifax had more than $3.1 billion in revenue last year, largely from selling data to other companies.”

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Computing pioneer Bob Frankston says algorithms are the new bureaucracy [audio]

“When you see a door, you should get curious,” says Robert M. “Bob” Frankston, a computing pioneer who co-developed VisiCalc, a spreadsheet program with Dan Bricklin way back in 1979. We are discussing the engineering crisis and what should a young programmer do to stay relevant.

“I hate the word coding; it’s like calling writing, typing.”

As I sat with Bob for this episode of Outliers Podcast, we discussed everything from the future of computer programming to how algorithms and their masters such as Facebook, Google and Amazon are beginning to take control of our lives.

“Algorithms are the new bureaucracy,” he says. Listen in.

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Disclosure: FactorDaily is owned by SourceCode Media, which counts Accel Partners, Blume Ventures and Vijay Shekhar Sharma among its investors. Accel Partners is an early investor in Flipkart. Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the founder of Paytm. None of FactorDaily’s investors have any influence on its reporting about India’s technology and startup ecosystem.

via Hacker News http://bit.ly/2g1Mvlo

Download your Freelancer’s Survival Kit

Freelance life has many perks, but it’s not all plain sailing when you’re fending for yourself in the graphic design world. That’s why Route One Print has put together a Freelancer’s Survival Kit to help you on the road to success as a freelance designer – and you can download it completely free! 

Whether you’ve already taken the plunge or are thinking about sacking in the day job and going it alone, this kit has everything you need to make it as a freelance designer.

What’s inside

The free kit contains professional templates and guides to save you time and set you on the right track. All the templates are unbranded and will swiftly guide you through the process of writing the documents that will help nail that next client and keep projects running smoothly! 

Plus, there’s invaluable advice from designers who have left agency life and become success stories in their own right – including T-shirt design specialist Brent Galloway and Ian Paget (who you might know as Logo Geek).

This kit contains everything you need to go it alone

Here’s exactly what you’ll find inside The Freelancers’ Survival Kit: 

Business plan template
Just because you’re a one-man band doesn’t mean you don’t need a master plan. This template is here to help you nail down your objectives and keep you on track to reach them. 

Client proposal template
Winning over new clients is vital to building a name for yourself. Customise this proposal template to impress potential clients and secure work from them.

Design brief template
A thorough design brief template will ensure both parties know exactly what’s on the cards, so everyone stays happy.

Statement of work template
When you’re working alone it’s all the more important to keep client relationships smooth and projects running like clockwork. A statement of work will help you ensure the client-designer relationship remains stress-free.

Invoice template
Late payments or missing payments are a headache you don’t need. To leave your clients with a professional impression and ensure you receive your payments swiftly, you need a proper invoicing system.

Handy ebook
There’s plenty you can learn from those who have been there are braved the transition themselves. This helpful ebook is packed with tips and advice from established designers who have managed to set up a successful freelance business of their own.

Download the kit now

The Freelancer’s Survival Kit contains everything you need to prepare to take on freelance life. You can download the kit here.

This kit comes courtesy of Route One Print, the UK’s largest trade printer. Its aim is to make trade-print easy for graphic designers and print resellers with white label packaging, reseller tools and a smooth order process that helps its clients’ businesses grow. 

via Creative Bloq http://bit.ly/2gdxiKS

Pissjar is a typeface you can almost smell

Pissjar Sans is a free typeface evoking the unique letterforms of urine on cotton fabric. What’s remarkable about it is the fastidious attention to detail and workmanship evinced by type designers in pursuit of what could easily have been something dashed off and doomed to dafont.com obscurity. They really put their backs into it.


We built a custom frame and tried out loads of different fabrics, using some good pieces of worn bed sheets with the perfect absorbency to cover the frame. Then we just started to pee a lot, one letter per pee session. When the bladder was empty we had like 5 seconds to photograph the frame before it bled out. After that we vectorized the photo and edited it with a font software.


The peeing took approximately six months, plus about a month or so to finish up the font.


Well, we worked on the R for like two weeks until we gave up and had to recreate it from three different peeing sessions.

Perfect for wedding invitations and children’s birthdays.

via Boing Boing http://bit.ly/2fTBIK8

Why Google Maps Needs To Evolve For Cyclists

Cyclists don’t just want the fastest route—they want the safest or quietest

This article titled “Google Maps must improve if it wants cyclists to use it” was written by Jessica Brown, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 26th September 2017 06.15 UTC

We all have different ways to navigate when lost – whether asking a stranger for help, consulting an old-school map or simply following our nose.

But on a bike, the stakes are higher. One wrong turn and you’re in gridlocked traffic, with two lanes between your bike and the nearest pavement. In this moment, cyclists can be divided into two types: the few who stay calm and embrace getting lost, and the rest of us, who turn to a navigation app.

Although cyclists, of course, managed to navigate before smartphones, typing two addresses into a phone for real-time directions has changed the game for most of us.

Google Maps added a directions function for cyclists in 2010 in the US and Canada, and two years later across Europe. And while there are dozens of other apps now offering a similar service, Google Maps is the default for many. But the app seems to be falling behind expectations.

As someone with no sense of direction, I knew it wouldn’t be easy when I started cycling earlier this year. I was right; it took me months to memorise my eight-mile route from home in north London to work in Kensington.

I appreciated that the app gave me two warnings before I needed to turn off a road, and automatically recalculated my route if I accidentally went off course. But still, it wasn’t a smooth process. Google Maps thought I could cut across a dual carriageway with no breaks in its barrier, assumed I knew what it meant when it told me to “head west”, and thought nothing of taking me the wrong way down a busy one-way street.

It was annoying at best and at worst puts safety in the hands of an app, which could be dangerous for cyclists.

But cyclists don’t just want safety – they want convenience. Londoner Jack Dobson-Smith regularly cycles between Clapham and the City of London and would like to see Google Maps calculate routes where his bike is allowed on public transport and more choice of the type of routes he can take.

“Google tends to calculate the most common and comfortable cycle routes. It would be good to have an option which included the fastest route, regardless of comfort,” he says.

Elizabeth Eden, Southwark Cyclists infrastructure coordinator, says she doesn’t use Google Maps for cycling because it’s “pretty useless”. She wishes the app could indicate cycle parking, but her main reason for shunning the app is down to wanting to feel safe.

“Google Maps assumes that cyclists are car drivers who can occasionally use parks. The routes it suggests all go straight along main roads. The main use of a cycle app in London – at least for me – is identifying where the safe routes are.”

For this reason, Eden says she uses the app CycleStreets instead. It offers a choice of four different route modes, based on the type the user wants, and saves previous routes. It also tells you how many calories a route burns, how many traffic lights you will encounter, and how busy it is.

There are an increasing number of rival apps aimed at cyclists: Bike Citizens logs cyclists’ journeys to suggest good routes, or helps you explore a new city by taking a “cycle tour” created by locals; maps.me allows you to search areas and access maps offline, and tells you the most interesting places in new locations.

In my darker moments, when I have found myself three miles from where I’m supposed to be, soaked with rain and cursing at my phone, I have daydreamed about how Google Maps could crowdsource information so cyclists could help each other with local quirks, danger zones, and closed roads.

When I have used my initiative and hopped off my bike, crossed a road and saved myself five minutes of traffic, I’ve wished the app was able to alert me to these shortcuts. And when I have dragged myself out of bed, half-asleep, only to arrive somewhere early, I wish the app could estimate the journey time based on my average speed.

Being able to pick a route, however, seems to be the most sought after feature, according to my rudimentary market research. Cyclist Dan Krijgsman told me this is at the top of his wish list.

“I find the app will typically opt for fast and direct routes over safer, but more winding, back routes. Of course, it’s very much personal preference whether you prefer to weave down side streets, across parks and around the increasing number of strategically placed metal barriers, or high-tail it at 25mph down a bus lane.”

A Google spokesman pointed out that Google Maps can show streets with bike lanes (light green) and streets recommended for cyclists (green dashes), although the routes don’t always incorporate these. He also advised cyclists to use the “send feedback” option on the app for their comments.

• What are your favourite mapping and routing apps and methods? And what would you like to see from the next generation of mapping tools? Please share your tips in the comments below

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Lead Image: What’s your favourite cycling navigation app? Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

via PSFK http://bit.ly/2yGmwV4

If Uber can’t make it in London, then where?

European countries and cities have one-by-one outlawed one form or another of Uber’s ride-booking services.

Now London, one of Uber’s largest global markets, is outlawing the $68 billion company from the streets of the British capital. This latest blow for the California giant in Europe raises more doubts about the viability of its business model on this side of the Atlantic.

Uber said the stripping of its license Friday by Transport for London, the local transport authority, would disappoint its vast customer base in the city — 3.5 million users, it says — and put 40,000 drivers out of a job. It promised to appeal and can continue to operate pending a verdict.

But the company has a lot more riding on the British capital than it let on publicly on Friday. Alongside Paris, London is Uber’s largest market in Europe, and was seen as politically more open to new technology and the so-called sharing economy.

The unexpected setback in London comes at a difficult time for Uber. In the coming months, labor tribunals in the U.K. as well as the European Court of Justice are expected to hand down verdicts that could saddle it with extra regulation, making it harder than ever for the company to operate. To boot, Friday’s decision by London is the latest indication that the company’s bullish and brash corporate culture — which recently led to the ouster of Travis Kalanick, the company’s founder — is hurting the company’s global expansion plans.

Uber has encountered resistance from the start in Europe, and sought creative ways around it.

Losing its London license to operate private hire vehicles across the U.K. capital would effectively shut down Uber’s app, which now connects passengers to licensed drivers.

“This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers,” said Tom Elvidge, Uber’s general manager in London.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan embraced the decision by the city regulators appointed by him.

“The conclusion reached by the [Transport for London] officials is that Uber aren’t playing by the rules and there are big concerns that TfL have about Londoners’ safety and security,” Khan said on LBC radio.

“TfL isn’t anti-private hire vehicle operators,” he added. “What TfL is against is companies not playing by the rules so customers, members of staff and others should be angry at Uber for not playing by the rules, rather than TfL who are doing their job by making sure companies are playing by the rules.”

While Khan has sought to attract technology companies to the British capital, the popular Labour Party politician has pushed to make sure people who work in the “gig economy” like Uber drivers are provided the same rights as employees in traditional companies. TfL’s decision comes just as the Labour Party gathers for its annual conference in Brighton next week.

Uber’s Plan B

Uber has encountered resistance from the start in Europe, and sought creative ways around it.

The company’s most controversial service — UberPOP — connects passengers with ordinary, unlicensed drivers at a fraction of the cost of a normal taxi ride. It was promptly closed down or withdrawn from much of Europe in the face of opposition from taxi firms and authorities. The firm’s executives have been prosecuted and fined €800,000 in France.

The ride-booking app tried to invoke EU law in its defense and petitioned EU institutions to intervene, but to no avail.

In response to hostility toward UberPOP, the firm rolled out Plan B in much of Europe, i.e. services that connect passengers with licensed drivers, called UberX. This Uber app became popular because of its functionality and simplicity, although its prices more closely resemble those of normal taxis. In parallel, the company focused its energies on smooth-talking regional and municipal authorities, explaining how its service can help deal with problems like congestion or pollution.

London was one of the first cities to welcome Uber’s new plan, with Transport for London granting it a private hire vehicle license in 2012.

But TfL concluded Friday that Uber London Ltd. was “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license” and cited a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

In particular, it pointed to the company’s approach to “reporting serious criminal offenses,” obtaining medical certificates and conducting background checks for drivers. TfL also faulted Uber’s “approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London.” Greyball was a software that allowed the firm to stop drivers from picking up certain passengers, which was allegedly used to prevent law enforcement agents from catching drivers and officials from conducting snap inspections.

“The thing that tipped the balance has been the attempt to block the mystery shopper system,” said Christian Wolmar, an author on transport issues who previously ran unsuccessfully to become London’s mayor. “That really showed Uber weren’t prepared to play by the rules.”

Uber said it complied with Transport for London’s safety and security requirements. Changing its procedures also could help the ride sharing service qualify for a license again. TfL did not rule out licensing a transport company with Uber’s business model altogether.

Tom Thackray from the Confederation of British Industry, a trade group, said that a deal should be reached between TfL and Uber as it’s “not in the interests of our economy … to restrict new products and services.”

While Uber is mired in cases related to its operations, other mobility services are looking to compete. On Monday, timetable aggregator Citymapper will launch a tie-up with black cab app Gett offering shared rides at rush hour.

Meanwhile, the company’s lawyers will be in a U.K. court next week to argue a separate case relating to whether the 40,000 drivers using the Uber app can claim to be workers, and thus entitled to rights like the minimum wage and sick pay.

The case is on appeal from an employment tribunal that drivers in the U.K. could potentially be classified as a type of employee who should be paid the national minimum wage, get breaks during shifts and paid holiday leave. The two drivers that brought the complaint are backed by the GMB, a union with some 639,000 members.

Future of ‘sharing economy’

The mounting problems for Uber across Europe and farther afield also put a spotlight on the so-called sharing economy, in which companies like Uber and Airbnb, among others, connect people through digital services to offer taxi rides, hotel rooms and other products that were dominated by traditional industries until recently.

Many in Europe, including parts of the European Commission, welcomed such new entrants to the region’s digital economy. But politicians from several countries, notably in Germany, France and Spain, questioned whether such tech companies play by the same rules as existing industries and whether consumers were sufficiently protected when using these new services.

Debate over the employment practices of new firms like Uber or Deliveroo, a food-delivery startup, prompted U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to announce a review of the so-called gig economy. Reports have speculated the review could extend the right to holidays and sick leave to workers in the gig economy, which could hurt Uber even if it wins its employment case.

So-called sharing-economy companies like Uber and Deliveroo have compelled European governments to revisist their regulatory policies | Georges Gobet/AFP via Getty Images

Complicating matters for Uber, the European Court of Justice is expected to hand down its verdicts by late 2017, at the earliest, in legal cases brought by taxi associations in France and Spain.

Both cases will have broad implications for how Uber will be able to operate across the region as they question if Uber is a transport service or a mere technology platform that intermediates the service.

If the judges rules that Uber is mere technology intermediary, the company can shake off many of the rules and regulations imposed on it by national authorities, including those in London.

But the prospects do not look good: A senior adviser to the court already has urged its members not to “let appearances deceive you,” saying that Uber should be considered a traditional transportation service that must comply with existing rules in cities across the Continent.

Uber is a transport company, said the European Court of Justice’s advocate general — and an irresponsible one at that, added Transport for London on Friday.

Mark Scott contributed reporting.

via POLITICO http://politi.co/2hoUv0p

Russia-linked accounts used promoted Facebook Events to organize anti-immigrant protests in US in 2016; company confirms it shut down several promoted events (The Daily Beast)

Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook’s event management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests in the U.S., including an August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho, The Daily Beast has learned.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Beast that the social-media giant “shut down several promoted events as part of the takedown we described last week.” The company declined to elaborate, except to confirm that the events were promoted with paid ads. (This is the first time the social media giant has publicly acknowledged the existence of such events.)

The Facebook events—one of which echoed Islamophobic conspiracy theories pushed by pro-Trump media outlets—are the first indication that the Kremlin’s attempts to shape America’s political discourse moved beyond fake news and led unwitting Americans into specific real-life action.

“This is the next step,” Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and expert on Russia’s influence campaign, told The Daily Beast. “The objective of influence is to create behavior change. The simplest behavior is to have someone disseminate propaganda that Russia created and seeded. The second part of behavior influence is when you can get people to physically do something.”

Last week Facebook acknowledged for the first time that Russia used false identities and about 3,000 ads to spread politically divisive posts to Americans before and after the election. The content, according to an expert on Facebook’s advertising system, was likely seen by between 23 and 70 million people, based on the $100,000 ad buy alone.

Much of the Russian Facebook propaganda campaign has since been deleted. But bits and pieces remain visible in search engine caches, including a 2016 notice on Facebook Events—the site’s event management and invitation tool—announcing an August 27 rally in a rural Idaho town known to welcome refugees.

“Due to the town of Twin Falls, Idaho, becoming a center of refugee resettlement, which led to the huge upsurge of violence towards American citizens, it is crucial to draw society’s attention to this problem,” the event notice began. The three hour protest was titled “Citizens before refugees”, and would be held at the City Council Chambers beginning at 11:00 am. The notice provided the street address and ended with a fiery exhortation.

“We must stop taking in Muslim refugees! We demand open and thorough investigation of all the cases regarding Muslim refugees! All government officials, who are covering up for these criminals, should be fired!”

The event was “hosted” by “SecuredBorders,” a putative U.S. anti-immigration community that was outed in March as a Russian front. The Facebook page had 133,000 followers when Facebook closed it last month.  

Although 48 people clicked that they were “interested” in the protest, only four said they went to City Council Chambers that day, according to the event page, possibly because it was a Saturday and the Council was not in session. It is also possible to claim attendance on Facebook at an event that didn’t exist. Some of the profiles of interested rallygoers listed themselves as Twin Falls residents.

Facebook did not explain if the “several promoted events” were upcoming ones at the time of the account deactivation or were events that had already occurred at the time of deactivation. But the spokesman confirmed that the “promoted” events were paid events, akin to the inflammatory ads that the company disclosed last week.

Far-right, pro-Trump firehoses Breitbart, InfoWars, and WorldNetDaily had pushed a series of stories implying immigrants were taking over Twin Falls since the beginning of 2016. The stories reached a fever pitch in the month before SecuredBorders’ event.

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A WorldNetDaily writer called Chobani’s plan to hire immigrants to work at the Twin Falls plant an “Islamic surge” in a January 2016 piece once titled “American Yogurt Tycoon Vows to Choke U.S. With Muslims.” (That post’s headline has since been changed, and the “Islamic surge” wording was removed.)

One InfoWars article claimed that Chobani’s workers were responsible for a “500 percent increase in tuberculosis in Twin Falls.”

InfoWars and Alex Jones published videos with the titles “MSM Covers For Globalist’s Refugee Import Program After Child Rape Case” and “Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists,” which have since been removed.

When Chobani sued InfoWars over the claims in April, Jones initially claimed that he was “not backing down, I’m never giving up, I love this” and that “I’m choosing this as a battle. On this I will stand. I will win, or I will die.”

Jones settled three weeks later, and was forced to issue a retraction of the false stories InfoWars invented about immigrants in Twin Falls. Some of the offending articles and videos have since been removed.

Breitbart, which was not sued by Chobani, still has a story titled “TB spiked 500 percent in Twin Falls During 2012, As Chobani Yogurt Opened Plant” on its website.

(Tuberculosis cases rose from 1 to 6 in 2012, then dropped back down to 2 in 2013. There is no proof in the article tying tuberculosis to immigrants.)

The tuberculosis story was posted one day before SecuredBorders’ real life rally was set to take place in Twin Falls.

The story was one of dozens of negative Breitbart stories about immigrants in Twin Falls in August of 2016. In the month before SecuredBorders created its Facebook event, Breitbart posted 37 articles about immigrants in Twin Falls.

Many of the stories, like one titled “Twin Falls Rape Special Report: Why Are the Refugees Moving In?” revolve around what Breitbart called a “gang rape” that Twin Falls County prosecutor Grant Loebs said was misreported.

“There was no gang rape, no knife attack, and we did not charge anybody with rape because no rape occurred,” Loebs told the Magic Valley Times News.

“There is a small group of people in Twin Falls County whose life goal is to eliminate refugees, and thus far they have not been constrained by the truth.”

via Techmeme http://bit.ly/2wmHYkC