Scooter Shares in Alameda

I received an email over the weekend from Bird, one of the companies behind electric scooter sharing here in the SF area stating the following:

The City of Alameda will consider banning shared electric scooters at a City Council hearing on December 4th at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall! Let’s remind city leaders that Alameda residents want access to affordable, environmentally-friendly options such as Bird in their city. 

The backlash against these scooters in San Francisco came as a surprise in a city that claims to be progressive, and it was disappointing to see the city ban them, then decide to run small scale trials of them with different companies from the two who pioneered the service, and in limited numbers. To see Alameda follow this crazy, illogical path is even more depressing.

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Uber’s Response

[This is a follow up to my earlier post about this issue.]

Over the weekend, Uber’s escalations team replied to the ongoing email thread, though the reply was basically the same as all their others. At least this one did not try to say that it was because I had explicitly opted not to use the credit, but their position is still “tough luck – we changed it, didn’t tell you and we don’t care.” Not a great bit of customer service.

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Uber’s Amex Credits Scam

One of the benefits that comes with my American Express card is a monthly $15 Uber credit. I don’t use it often, but on our recent trip to Florida, the timing worked perfectly for us to make use of it for both our trip to the airport at the very end of September and on the return about 10 days later in early October.

It appears that during our trip Uber made a change to the way this scheme works (although at least some of their support people seem unaware of that).

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Clippercard Brainstorm

On the way home tonight on the ferry discussion turned to Clippercard, the SF Bay Area’s NFC-based transit payment card, and some of the strange limitations it has. What followed was a collection of ideas for how to improve it, some quite practical and others less so.

Here’s a few of my favorite’s, and while I don’t expect the folks at Clippercard to implement any of these, it is fun to think about what could be done with a card like this.

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iPhone XS (and X) Accessories

I was disappointed by the selection of essential accessories in a recent ZDNet article, so I thought I’d compile my own list. While some of the items on their list are not bad suggestions, some are just awful suggestions. Here are my personal suggestions for accessories, based on what I have been using with my iPhone X for the last year, and continue to use with my iPhone XS now.

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Mercedes & Electric Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz B Class Electric Drive

Unlike Audi and Jaguar, Mercedes already has a full electric vehicle on the road (albeit one they discontinued last year). We happen to own one of those EVs, a 2014 model year B Class Electric Drive. From the very beginning, it has been somewhat eye opening as to how Mercedes dealers here feel about EVs.

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iPhone X Photography

It has been a while since I’ve posted just photos here without a story, and I guess I’ve just kept that up by writing this intro paragraph, but I wanted to share a few photos taken with the iPhone X camera that impressed me. In most cases, the phone was the only camera I had with me, but that’s not always true. Sometimes I carry my Canon S120 and other times a DSLR, but these are all phone camera shots with some simple editing in Goole Photos (color & cropping essentially).

The Snail

The Snail, Alameda, California
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EasyJet vs Eurostar

As part of our recent trip to the UK we took a three day excursion to Paris to let the kids experience something a little different, and see a new country. It is also a city I love having spent a year living there back in the 1990s.

For various reasons, it worked out simpler for us to fly into Paris from Gatwick on Easyjet, but on the return we had a choice of flying back or taking the high speed Eurostar train. Given that the kids have not experienced high speed rail before, I opted for the train. The timing was also a little better for the kids, getting them home before their normal bedtime, even with the train ride from St Pancras across London and down to East Grinstead, the nearest train station to where we were staying.

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Personal Information

Despite increasing coverage of cases where personal information is stolen, often en masse from large companies, as well as new legislation attempting to limit how much personally identifying information (PII) companies collect to just what they actually need, I am still encountering places that are clearly asking more than they need, and providing no information about how they will protect the information they collect.

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Virgin Economy Delight

Our recent (extended-)family trip to Europe meant booking a group of eight people, including two small kids, for flights from San Francisco to London. Virgin Atlantic has recently split their economy class into three tiers: Light, Classic and Delight. Since eight Premium seats was not an option, we thought we’d try the Economy Delight, and using miles to pay for part of it made it basically the same price as Classic.

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