1x20: Private Poetry Slam

The Bad Voltage team present tasty things for your ears, here for the twentieth time. Jeremy Garcia, Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and Bryan "Stopped Clock" Lunduke bring you the Knowledge, specifically this time of:

  • The Bad Voltage Versification Perversification: the community gave us a selection of words around which to compose a poem and here are the distinctly poetic results, followed by some poetic justice
  • Uber and Lyft: are taxis relics of the last century? Does having an iPhone app exempt you from the law? Comparing the new cabs with the old, and whether disruption is inherently a good thing
  • We review the Dropcam: a webcam to protect your house and make the footage easy to review in the cloud, specifically by talking mostly about the privacy implications of this approach and not very much about the actual device at all, unless you have a meth lab in your front room
  • The Blackphone is "the world's first smartphone to put privacy and control ahead of everything else". Following on from our discussion of privacy implications, we look at a device aiming to change the public debate on the topic
  • Bad Voltage apps for many platforms, and feedback on Firefox OS and free software from the community

Download the show now!

Slow, building clap.

Once folks have had a chance to listen to this episode, I’ll post the new avatar for the community member that is going to be punished. Don’t want to reveal any spoilers. :smile:

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@jonobacon said at around 41:50: “The likelihood of there being issues with you, Bryan, or, like, a regular person.”

So, a synonym for “regular” is “normal”. Jono contrasted @bryanlunduke with a “regular” or “normal” person. This, in the finite reaches of my mind, makes me think of Mel Brooks. Specifically Young Frankenstien. Shall we call Bryan “Abby” now? Perhaps his avatar should be:

Can we call Jono “Igor” and his avatar

I understand Jono’s position regarding the privacy of the camera system. But, the thing is, you often don’t know of the implications of something until it bites you in some way you never thought of.

Which is why you should avoid providing the infrastructure by which someone in the future can sod you up, even if you’re confident that nobody wants to do that at the moment.

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It is all a bit frustrating to me. I try to live by “love your neighbor as yourself.” My observation is, that those who do live by that are generally happy. But, greed abounds. sigh

I want to set the record straight. Taxis are not regulated by the government for a “good reason”. They are regulated to eliminate competition and fix prices in order to charge higher fees than the free market would set. It’s a government granted monopoly and a very lucrative one. In some crowded cities only taxis are allowed to drive to certain spots among other government granted advantages.
If uber like services are regulated as taxis then they are also taxis, no advantage.
The right way is to let people try taxis and uber and choose freely what they prefer on each ride. If taxis become unprofitable, then fine, they are not valued by consumers. Then all taxi drivers turn into uber drivers and stay happy.

Agreed, but to @sil’s point, it is important that there is a level playing field…either taxis and uber get regulated, or neither does.

I just wonder about liability issues. Will one’s insurance cover passengers in a crash if it was learned that it was actually a vehicle for ‘hire’?

You seem to imply the taxi regulation puts them at disadvantage. You think taxi operation costs are higher because of the regulation?

If you have to pay a million dollars to get a taxi medallion in New York (which you do; see http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/about/average_medallion_price.shtml) then obviously your operations costs are higher because you have to pay back that money from whoever you borrowed it off. Imagine two drivers: Tom Taxi and Ursula Uber. Ursula starts in the state of grace with no debt and an Uber X driver account. She charges enough money to cover her expenses and give herself a reasonable life. Tom charges enough money to cover expenses, get a reasonable life, plus cover the payments on his million dollar loan. So Tom’s prices are more expensive, because he’s also earning money to pay for the regulation process. Similarly, if I didn’t have to pay income tax then I could charge less money than my competition for my services… but this is not an argument that nobody should have to pay income tax. @jonobacon is correct here; I have no problem if Uber are regulated in the same way taxis are. On this particular point I have no problem if taxis are not regulated in the same way that Uber are. I do not agree that taxi drivers should be regulated while Uber drivers are not.

More to the point, your argument against taxi regulation isn’t really about taxis; it’s about regulation. For example, I could say this: “Doctors are not regulated by the government for a “good reason”. They are regulated to eliminate competition and fix prices in order to charge higher fees than the free market would set. It’s a government granted monopoly and a very lucrative one. In some crowded cities only doctors are allowed to treat certain illnesses among other government granted advantages.”

Government regulation exists to attempt to give the public some measure of confidence that a service they’re obtaining has been in some way assessed as being valid and reasonable. Could they do a better job? Yes. Do some people get approved who shouldn’t be? Yes. However, this is not an argument that all regulation is invalid. If you honestly believe that the world would be a better place if anyone could claim to be a doctor and start prescribing medicines, or if anyone could claim to be a lawyer and start giving legal advice, or if every resident of a city could just turn up to busy streets on a late Friday night and charge people for lifts home, then you and I will never see eye to eye on this. If you think that taxi medallions are somehow evidence of malicious government monopoly but regulations on who could be a real estate agent are not, then I’d be interested in hearing your argument.

In suggesting ‘free software’ as a topic, I didn’t mean to ‘beat a dead horse’. But I would be very glad to hear you guys discuss your views and your journey to those views, and how and why those views may have changed. I would also like to hear a logical argument to why ‘only free software’ is right.

I see that you are very concerned about the well being of society and you find regulation a great necessity.
In my town poor people can’t afford taxis. They need them the same amount of times middle class and rich people do but they never even try to take a taxi. Why is that? Because regulation blocks competition and keeps prices higher.
If a taxi license costs 1m then all taxi users are 1m poorer than we should. That million did not even go to the taxi driver.
Would you agree to have bicycle taxis like in India as a more affordable choice?
If you are pro regulation in general then fine, you are not alone, it’s generally the best way business men find to avoid competition, but it’s not costless. It can get very expensive. If you can pay more then you don’t care. If you can’t you suffer the consequences.

Unless the service goes away because regulation is too expensive:

Imagine pizza shops would be regulated like taxis:

  • there can only be X pizza shops in a city as there are a fixed amount of licenses dictated by law.
  • they all charge the same price for pizza and that price is set by law
  • they can’t deliver pizza to other jurisdictions even if it is just crossing the street
  • Nobody else can sell pizza

How is that better than what we have now where millions eat (sometimes cheap) pizza and the bad pizza places just go out of business because nobody likes them?

I listened to the show on the BV iOS app, and a couple of spots had an odd overlay. The second was around 44 min where the intro to the Fedora episode comes in. I thought I had found a very strange bug in the app. I went over to Apple’s podcast app, and there it was in the same spot.

Am I the only one hearing this? Am I losing my mind?

Government regulation is a two edged sword. An unrelated example is the environmental regulatory agency in the USA. Before regulation, there was quite a bit of pollution. Rivers would literally catch fire, for just one example. So the EPA was formed and pollution was curbed. Now this agency, for, what seems just the sake of justification of existence, was looking to regulate cow farts.

So, the question there is, is the city trying to make money or is it the taxi industry lobbying the city to make getting a medallion so difficult to protect their business?

Regulation makes sense in that a taxi service should be appropriately insured and the vehicles well maintained and safe. Could that be said of all vehicles in the Uber service. Can one, at a glance, know if the brakes are in good order before jumping in the back seat? Is the vehicle even insured? Will you be covered if the vehicle is involved in a crash and you are injured?

On the Uber driver side, will the driver be protected against a law suit for whatever reason? (crash, person loses job because of being late because the driver got lost, etc.)

There has been much regulation that is the result of established business lobbying to protect itself from competition. As said, regulation is a two edged sword.

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We’ll lose our minds together, it’s there on my download too.

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You’re not the only one hearing it. Our “Sound Engineer” is aware of the issue, and updated audio files will be uploaded ASAP.


Sorry about that, I mixed the show and then immediately ran to the airport. I heard these issues on the way to the airport but obviously couldn’t fix them. This weekend we will re-issue fixed files.

Apologies for the screw-up…this is what happens when Bacon mixes quickly.

Please respect our code of conduct which is simple: don't be a dick.