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City cracks down on apps that allow users to trade parking spaces

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June 24, 2014

Some probably thought they would never see this, but the city of San Francisco is now cracking down on mobile apps that allow users to illegally buy and sell public parking spaces.

To be sure, city attorney Dennis Herrera said late yesterday that his office has sent a cease-and-desist notice to the developers of Monkey Parking, a mobile app which lets users sell their public parking spaces in crowded urban areas.

The Monkey Parking application, available for iOS and Android, allows users to set a price for their parking spot which is then listed for other drivers who can make offers to buy the parking space.

Upon agreeing to the transaction, users can then chat and confirm the deal for the parking spot.

The app, which currently operates only in Rome and San Francisco, would seek to provide users an easy way to get a spot in cities notorious for being extremely short of parking spaces.

Officials in San Francisco say that the app runs afoul of local city regulations. Herrera also noted that while San Francisco residents are free to sell off the rights to their private parking spaces and garages, the city's police code expressly forbids selling access to city-owned public spaces on streets and sidewalks.

Should the company not drop support for San Francisco parking from its app, Herrera said that Monkey Parking users would face penalties of $300 each time they sell access to a spot, while the company could be held liable $2,500 for each illegal transaction it facilitates.

"It's simply illegal and it puts drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and it also creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will simply not tolerate," said Herrera.

"Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely – to engage in online bidding wars while driving."

Herrera also said that the city would petition Apple to take the Monkey Parking App off of the App Store on the grounds that it violates local laws.

As of early this morning, the Monkey Parking App was still available for download, but it should be removed shortly we are assured.

In other high tech news

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common and widespread type of anxiety affecting tens of millions of people around the world.

How do you know you have it? You are constantly on edge, worried or stressed and it’s beginning to disrupt your life you are losing your ability to trust in people and more painfully, in yourself.

This general distrust is spreading and the worrisome part is that no one knows it is spreading. This anxiety is being spread by the absence of control over one’s personal data, or perhaps, data that one is supposedly responsible for.

And we do this, by pushing everything into a cloud. Our distrust of letting our confidence on what we can’t see then kicks in, leading to a vague unease – am I doing the right thing by giving away my life’s work to a computer farm managed by faceless people (or robots for all one knows), in a remote location not easily accessible.

Whom do we hold responsible for erasing our existence? I mean, look at what digital cameras have done. They have created megabytes of images all stored on DVDs or hosted on some social networks, with no access to glossy prints in 4 x 6 neatly arranged in a photo album.

This is the closest analogy to cloud storage I could relate to in the real world. So where do you go to pick up that treasured memory of your daughter’s first birthday celebration?

Well, it is somewhere in the cupboard, in one of the DVDs that are sequentially numbered with date ranges and you need the appropriate media to open them and scroll and double click on the one image you wanted to see.

Much like the data you have encrypted and stored on the cloud. And unless you have the data all backed-up and stored in a separate location, you are in danger of losing a lifetime of memories.

On the other hand, I have easy access to my wedding album and I periodically pick it up and leaf through the pages, if only to remind myself that so many years ago, I took a step without an inkling of the consequences of my actions.

Do I regret it? More often than not, I don’t. In fact, I am in a reasonable state of bliss. And perhaps, it is this leap of faith that is really what is required to embrace this business of getting lost in the cloud.

Let it play out the way it will, adjust to the circumstances, and the system admin willing, all will be well...

But what if you don’t adapt? For one thing, technology will make you obsolete. Where have the cameras with film gone? Where are the companies that buried their heads in the sand and pretended that digital was a passing fad?

When big data has become a reality and software is offered as a service, where is the old order heading? The cost of sticking to legacy systems is skyrocketing-– hardware, real estate, and management fees are all heading north.

In order to stay financially nimble, companies need to keep a tight rein on capital expenditure; this is where shared resources and the cloud positively impact financial and operational performance.

The order of the world as we now know it is changing. And the new order demands compliance, even if it is reluctantly given.

Once you accept the new way of working and consequently optimize time and money, you are also saved the bother of a constricted airway, a tightening of the muscles of the chest and a palpitation of the heart.

My advice is that you take the first step to the future. Embrace the cloud!

Bio -- Sridharan Narayan is the Head of Creative Services at Regalix. He has over 24 years of experience working in the advertising and IT Services industry such as Frank Simoes Advertising, Maitri Advertising, Triton Communications, Ion Idea Interactive and many others.

In other technology news

A company based in Australia called Shark Mitigation Systems has developed a sonar-equipped buoy that can detect sharks and then send the information about their presence to lifeguards over a mobile phone network.

The simple but at the same time smart concept behind this is that the buoys will be installed off Australia beaches for two purposes.

The first item is to learn more about shark behaviour, which is undoubtedly worthy. The second is to offer real-time information about the dangerous predators to lifeguards and swimmers.

In the past several months, there's been many shark attacks towards humans, especially in Australia.

To help swimmers beyond the beach, the alerts will also be sent out over Google Plus.

Before we analyse this, let's acknowledge the clever integration concept-- building this system would have required plenty of scientists. Let's also acknowledge that it's a smart concept to prevent any injury or worse, human death.

Overall, statistics reveal that the average Australian has a 1 in 3,362 chance of drowning at the beach and a 1 in 292,525 chance of being killed by a shark in an entire lifetime.

Australian citizens are understandably paranoid about sharks. But technology to help prevent drowning would save more lives.

Additionally, Google Plus has a small active population in Australia. The Yellow Pages Social Media Report suggests that about 15 percent of social media users are on the network, fewer in the beachgoing demographic of 14 to 29 year olds.

The report has Facebook in at around 92.4 percent. estimates that Facebook has 13.2 million users in Australia.

Twitter has about 2.5 million, while MySpace still has about 180,000, although that number is falling rapidly. Google Plus has aboout 65,000 but the company expects that number to rise to at least 500,000 by sometime next year.

Choosing Google Plus makes it difficult to see this project as purely a public safety exercise, but the concept is still clever from what we've seen so far.

In other tech news

When it comes to computer systems and their various peripherals, some companies take the approach "if it's not wrecked, why bother fixing it." Though there is some logic in this, it overlooks the damage that can be done when a component fails.

Just like with a car, preventive maintenance can save money in the long run. Some key aspects of preventive maintenance that can save your business:

  • Cleaning your PC's hardware periodically
  • Stay updated by downloading the newest drivers
  • Check for the latest version of a computer anti-virus
  • Run disk software programs like ScanDisk and Defrag
  • Delete programs you're not using
  • When your company has some sort of IT failure, there are different types of costs associated with that. Some problems have limited scope and impact. Other issues, like your e-commerce website being down for an extended period, can have much more serious, far-ranging impacts.

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    In general, there are two types of costs associated with every failure or outage. First is the cost to repair the problem. This includes the labor costs to troubleshoot the problem, determining what is wrong and how to fix it.

    It also includes the cost of replacement components, as well as the staff cost to make the changes and bring things back on line.

    The second type of cost is more difficult to calculate. If your website is down, you are probably losing customers and sales during that time period. They may go to one of your competitors' site instead.

    If your in-house computer systems are down, then you could be paying for employees who are unable to get their work done.

    By implementing a regular maintenance system, you can minimize failures and outages. This minimizes those crisis times when the system is down, and everyone is in emergency mode trying to fix it.

    It also saves the costs associated with having an outage. Here are a few things to consider.

    Replace old hardware since it is going to fail sooner or later, and this usually tends to happen at the worse possible time.

    In addition to being more reliable, new hardware is also faster and more capable. Many companies follow a 5-year replacement cycle for almost all computer hardware. Some even recommend a shorter 3-year cycle for laptops, since they get more wear and tear as they are carried around.

    Have warranties for critical hardware. You may not want to purchase an extended warranty for every laptop or printer in your office, but for the most critical components of your system-- servers, network switches, and routers, it is wise to ensure these are under warranty.

    If these go down, it can bring your entire business down, with very serious consequences. Many hardware vendors offer extended warranties of 3 to 5 years, and can provide replacement services the same day if something happens.

    Watch the overall speed of your equipment, since over time, your network may deteriorate, which is a productivity hit to everyone in your business.

    Often this is due to the fact that servers or network infrastructure were ideal for your needs when installed, but a few years later, the load may have increased significantly.

    Newer software versions often take more computing power, and as you add applications to the system, that can slow things as well. If you notice the speed declining, it can actually save you money to upgrade to newer and faster hardware.

    Finally, let's not forget the importance of having a firewall installed in your computers. That's critical. Its role it to monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic, and thus block or provide access to information based on a strict set of rules.

    Most computers already have built-in firewall capabilities, but if you're running a business with broadband connections, it's good to have a dual function modem/router with the ability to restrict unauthorized connections.

    Source: City of San Francisco.

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