Internet & Technology

Friday, June 20, 2014

#NOLANeedsUber — or does it? Council to take up issue Tuesday

Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 3:44 PM

An image from an Uber launch party earlier this year in Cincinnati, where the service debuted in March. - CREATIVE COMMONS/5CHW4R7Z
  • An image from an Uber launch party earlier this year in Cincinnati, where the service debuted in March.

The kind of language used on social media by devotees of Uber, the smartphone app that connects riders to existing drivers, might make you think they were discussing something much more dire than the potential expansion of a luxury car service into the New Orleans transportation market.

“NOLA deserves Uber,” says Twitter user Joel Galatas, using the now-popular hashtag #NOLAneedsUber, introduced in an email blast by the company two weeks ago. In four minutes, eight more #NOLAneedsUber Tweets come in, all with similar urgent-sounding rhetoric.

“NOLA needs Uber as soon as possible, without price-fixing,” another reads, which is the tweet pre-composed and suggested in the email blast. All these Tweets are directed at members of the New Orleans City Council. It’s a social-media public relations maneuver Uber has used in many other cities, with success.

“That’s one of the really special things about the Uber technology,” says Tom Hayes, Uber’s general manager for New Orleans, referring to the fervor with which supporters of Uber have taken to social media.

Even before Uber had public plans to enter the New Orleans market, it was met with resistance from city officials. There was a now-infamous cease-and-desist letter from Taxi Bureau Chief Malachi Hull (sent to Uber before it even entered the market), and Mayor Mitch Landrieu was tight-lipped in expressing outright support for the service.

Eight months later, it’s a different story. The city is reassessing its existing transportation codes to accommodate the service. But the San Francisco-based company, which operates in more than 70 cities in the U.S. and 37 other countries around the world, including Saudi Arabia, and was recently valued at $18 billion, says it won’t be satisfied until it can operate by setting its own prices, and it’s encouraging its fans to demand the same.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Solstice Celebration offers peak at Good Eggs' growth

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Staff at Good Eggs gathers grocery orders at its Tchoupitoulas Street warehouse.
  • Staff at Good Eggs gathers grocery orders at its Tchoupitoulas Street warehouse.

Good Eggs, which essentially operates as an online farmers market that delivers groceries, hosts a summer solstice party from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Saturday at its warehouse (1746 Tchoupitoulas St.). The event will showcase many of the food producers whose products it sells. There will be a roast hog from Hollywood Livestock in Baton Rouge. Saffron NOLA, the Gretna catering business and Indian restaurant, will prepare a vegetable biryani. Bittersweet Confections will offer sample cupcakes and chocolate bars. There will be pairings of breads, cheeses and pepper jellies Good Eggs carries, and Crescent Pie & Sausage will offer sausages with pepper jelly from Michael's Pickles.  VEGGI, the Vietnamese farmers collective, is preparing a tofu dish and a salad using its lettuces and radishes, and Stony Point Farm is bringing its first watermelons of the season.

Good Eggs' mission is to support local food systems by helping producers reach consumers, but it's a technology company driven by software it has developed to do that. Through Good Eggs' "webstand," customers buy directly from farmers and Good Eggs collects and delivers groceries. It doesn't operate like a store — it has no inventory other than what it is packaging for delivery and some nonperishable items held on consignment. It tries to work with organic famers and most of its producers use no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Good Eggs has grown rapidly in its first year, greatly expanding its offerings and delivery operations.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Y@ Speak: closing time

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 1:02 PM

You don't have to go home but you can't stay here. That goes for you, nude bicyclists, dudes passing out in public and a certain restaurant. For others, it's primetime futbol, reality TV, Walmart, dad and "beignets raining from the trees" season — all in this week's Y@ Speak.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Uber takes it to the people

Posted By on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 5:10 PM

A screen grab from the website of hail a cab app Uber.
  • A screen grab from the website of hail a cab app Uber.

Uber, the cellphone app that connects riders to drivers, is stepping up its grassroots game in the wake of a New Orleans city Council ordinance introduced Thursday that would make changes to the city's transportation code to be more receptive to the app, but would also enforce a minimum $25 charge for sedan rides, a minimum $35 charge for SUV rides and a flat rate of $75 for trips to the airport.

Uber, whose business model is based on fluctuating prices that are determined by demand, isn't happy with those minimum charges — though, in an email blast to its New Orleans base, it did call the proposal a "step in the right direction." That's compared to the city's initially not-so-warm welcome last October, when Taxicab Bureau Director Malachi Hull issued a cease-and-desist letter before the San Francisco-based Uber even began operating in New Orleans. (Read our February cover story, "Why New Orleans Doesn't Have Uber.")

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Y@ Speak: that's a wrap

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 12:55 PM

This week's Y@ Speak reflects on the last breath of the 2014 legislative session in Baton Rouge, from climate change deniers to Gov. Bobby Jindal's signing of Senate Bill 469, and begins another year of Y@ Speak — catch up on last week's winners from our second-ever awards.

Also: Kurt Braunohler jet skis from Chicago to New Orleans and a cat gets stuck in a news crew truck.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Y@ Speak: What are your #NOLAConfessions?

Posted By on Mon, May 19, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Last week's @BeingNOLA user @animatedGeoff asked New Orleans for its deepest, darkest, least nEaUxLa-iest thoughts. We present to you some of the highlights. Also this week: the Solange Special, Bayou Boogaloo, and the Foo Fighters at Preservation Hall.

And a big thanks to all of you who submitted your nominations for the 2014 Y@ Speak Awards. We'll announce the finalists soon, so stay tuned.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

The 2014 Internet Cat Video Festival meows its way to New Orleans

Posted By on Fri, May 16, 2014 at 4:14 PM

The 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival in Minnesota.
  • The 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival in Minnesota.

"It’s not just about Internet cat videos, it’s about watching Internet cat videos together," says Rachel Joyce of the Walker Art Center in Minnesota, about the 2014 Internet Cat Video Festival, which comes to New Orleans June 28.

The festival, which is apparently the first of its kind in the world, aims to bring the Internet community together - the internet community that spends countless hours on Youtube watching cats trying to wedge themselves into tiny cardboard boxes, that is - from city to city. Founded in 2012, the festival now tours internationally, adapting its program to the needs and desires of each city.

This year's video festival was curated by none other than Will Braden, who cat video enthusiasts will most definitely recognize from the Youtube classic Henri le Chat Noir, the French existentialist cat whose torment goes far beyond kitty litter and other quotidian woes.

The festival is being hosted by local non-profits Spaymart and Art for Cats Sake at the New Orleans Museum of Art. There are three showings on the 28th: 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Choose one or just sit through all three. (You know you'll want to.) Tickets are $12 and can be purchased here. There will also be a related festival in City Park, which is free to attend and will feature costume contests, photo contests, feline art and food and drinks. There's a cat photo contest for people to enter before the date of the festival (more details on that here, too).

During the festival, there's a "people dressed as cats" contest. That contest, thank God, is split into two categories, one for kids and one for adults.

The celebration of the world's most aloof and vaguely narcissistic house pet will raise funds for Spaymart and Art for Cats Sake, whose mission it is to improve the lines of feline friends in Louisiana.


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Monday, May 12, 2014

Y@ Speak: the swarm

Posted By on Mon, May 12, 2014 at 11:38 AM

This week's Y@ Speak looks back at a week of end time plagues: swarming termites, flash floods, spiders, gentrifiers, football players, Supriya Jindal shooting a gun, moms. Moms saved the day and week. Good work, moms.

And a friendly reminder that nominations are open for the 2014 Y@ Speak Awards. Submit your nominations for your favorites by midnight, May 18. Then we'll open up the voting for finalists leading up to the awards on June 2 at Publiq House. Go nuts.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Y@ Speak: #JazzFest, week two

Posted By on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 1:21 PM

How was your week? Did you go to Jazz Fest? Great! Us too. Did you go to Jazz Fest and take a Twitter dump all over your coworkers then wake up and realize you did that and blame it on a software malfunction? No? Good!

Here's a look at the last few days' of this year's Fest, from marriage proposals to second lines to $319,000 parking.

Also: we're announcing the nomination period for the second annual Y@ Speak Awards this week. We're looking for your ideas for a new award category, so feel free to send us those (you have until tomorrow). The awards are June 2 at Publiq House.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Y@ Speak: high holy days

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 12:41 PM

As Louisiana's state book inches closer to being the Bible — or rather, "the Holy Bible" — and the fogs of Easter 4/20 lift to reveal the harsh sunlight of Jazz Fest, Y@ Speak looks back at a week of hipsters, gutterpunks and fancy private streets, as well as the end of the inaugural season of New Orleans Pelicans basketball.

Also: mark your calendars for #twitterprom. The second-ever Y@ Speak Awards are coming at you Monday, June 2. Stay tuned for nomination information.

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