Search Results for: gizmodo

Into the Wild On an E-Scooter

Photo of the author, Brandon Tauszik.

Rental scooters have descended on many American cities, clogging sidewalks and opening riders up to head injuries. Brands like Skip and Lime have the potential to improve city life by increasing mobility, especially in areas with lackluster public transportation. But how would the scooters perform outside the city? For Gizmodo, Joe Veix decides to ride a Skip scooter out of San Francisco and toward the ocean, to test its limitations and see if it can help him escape into nature. The company stated many clear rules. Riding the scooter “as a means of escaping society” was not one of them. But the rules’ undefined edges constituted their own kind of frontier, and Veix embraced this urban adventure.

The Presidio is out of Skip’s service territory area, which is limited to San Francisco proper, excluding its parks. In their app, there’s a border drawn around the map of the city. Outside the area is a purple-colored no-man’s land, free of scooters, presumably ravaged by violent gangs with poor mobility. When I crossed into this lawless territory, I worried that my scooter would shut off and the whole plan would sputter to a stop, leaving me at the mercy of the hordes and their perverse whims. But upon entering the forbidden zone, the scooter kept moving. I was safe… for now.

I rounded the circuitous path up to the Golden Gate Bridge and began crossing. It was crowded with tourists and bikers in spandex. Other than a few odd looks from people, it was mostly uneventful. The bike path along the western side of the bridge was wide and accommodating.

Beyond the bridge, the small screen on the scooter indicated that I had about 50 percent battery left. Not heartening, but it would have to suffice. I rode west, up into the Headlands. The engine churned up the hill at 5 mph. Though sluggish, it was enough to overcome a group of road bikers, who looked upon me with searing disdain.

This is the story of a fun little jaunt by a very funny writer. But there’s also something profound about seeing the e-scooter stripped of its context. Out there on a hiking trail, far from the bustling world of venture capital that created it, it’s no longer a new, potentially lucrative urban accessory poised to disrupt traditional modes of transportation. It’s just a rickety little bunch of plastic with a dying battery.

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“Welcome to the House of Horrors”: When IP Address Mapping Goes Wrong

For years, strangers showed up at John and his mother Ann’s home in Pretoria, South Africa, accusing them of crimes. These mysterious visitors were certain that their house was a location for criminal activity, and pulled up maps on their smartphones to prove it. But John was a lawyer; his mother was a nurse. They weren’t criminals, but rather victims of very bad IP address mapping — and it turns out, the U.S. government played a big role in the mess.

For Gizmodo, Special Projects Desk deputy editor Kashmir Hill — who reported on a similar story about a farm in Kansasinvestigates why John and Ann’s backyard had over a million IP addresses mapped to it, and how a U.S. intelligence agency’s poor decision led to a series of mistakes reflected in databases used by IP mapping sites, companies, and people all over the world.

“My mother blamed me initially,” said John. “She said I brought the internet into the house.”

The visits came in waves, sometimes as many as seven a month, and often at night. The strangers would lurk outside or bang on the automatic fence at the driveway. Many of them, accompanied by police officers, would accuse John and Ann of stealing their phones and laptops. Three teenagers showed up one day looking for someone writing nasty comments on their Instagram posts. A family came in search of a missing relative. An officer from the State Department appeared seeking a wanted fugitive. Once, a team of police commandos stormed the property, pointing a huge gun through the door at Ann, who was sitting on the couch in her living room eating dinner. The armed commandos said they were looking for two iPads.

“It’s almost with religious zeal that these people come, thinking their goodies are in my yard,” John told me. “The Apple customers seem to be the worst.”

They wondered if it would be worse if they weren’t white South Africans. And indeed, when the police showed up looking for a stolen laptop at the home of their neighbor, a pastor named Horace, who is black, the police wound up seizing a laptop at the home and taking Horace’s tenant to the station for questioning. It was a dead end, as usual.

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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Wedding rings in a rose flower (Photo by Jared Sislin Photography/Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Anna Merlan, Sara Tatyana Bernstein, Connie Pertuz-Meza, and Emma Beddington.

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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Julie Dermansky/Corbis via Getty Images

This week, we’re sharing stories from Tressie McMillan Cottom, Kashmir Hill, R.O. Kwon, Jaime Lowe, and Steve Edwards.

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How Cartographers for the U.S. Military Inadvertently Created a House of Horrors in South Africa

Longreads Pick

John and his mother Ann, who live in a house in Pretoria, South Africa, were two victims of faulty IP address mapping — and the U.S. government played a big role in the mess.

Source: Gizmodo
Published: Jan 9, 2019
Length: 20 minutes (5,156 words)

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Heart drawing on the pavement
atosan / Getty Images

This week, we’re sharing stories from C.J. Chivers, Sheelah Kolhatkar, Libby Copeland, Amanda Petrusich, and Bryan Menegus.

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Nyet to Harm Reduction: Russia’s HIV Epidemic

Julien Behal/PA Wire URN:6698749

At Gizmodo, Josephine Hüetlin (writing under the pseudonym Emma Lantreev) reports on how Russia’s aversion to harm reduction as a strategy to combat drug addiction has led to an HIV epidemic. In Yekaterinburg — the fourth largest city in Russia, with a population of 1.5 million people — one in 50 are HIV positive. In Russia, addiction is considered a “moral sickness” and methadone is illegal, “a despised ‘narcoliberal’ idea.” The country has gone so far as to assert that drug addiction and homosexuality are notions imported from the West in a bid to corrupt ‘Russia’s “conservative ideology and traditional values.”’ For those who are suffering, the prospects are grim.

The government’s primary strategy for dealing with people struggling with addiction is “making them feel miserable,” Sarang says. “As if the social pressure will make them stop using drugs.”

In a country with the largest population of injection drug users, methadone therapy is illegal. Methadone distribution is punishable with up to 20 years in prison. Heroin addicts— “anti-social elements,” as they’re called—are expected to quit cold-turkey, perhaps in one of the jail-like “treatment” centers.

Those suffering from both addiction and HIV complications face a torturous dead end. According to several reports by the Rylkov Foundation, doctors have often refused to treat HIV patients who use heroin, on the grounds that they won’t be able to follow their treatment regime.

The City Without Drugs organization is still active, as is their YouTube channel. It features hundreds of videos of drug addicts being dragged half-conscious through the street, their faces not blurred, or confessing their alleged worthlessness, their hopelessness, their shame.

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Amazon’s Last Mile

Longreads Pick

Who delivers Amazon orders? Increasingly, it’s plainclothes contractors with few labor protections, driving their own cars, competing for shifts on the company’s own Uber-like platform.

Source: Gizmodo
Published: Nov 16, 2017
Length: 17 minutes (4,332 words)

Tech Companies Are (Maybe) Ready to Punch Nazis Now

(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In the week since white supremacists descended on Charlottesville with tiki torches blazing, tech companies have begun to eliminate website hosting or accounts run by neo-Nazis. The decision to kick people off the internet—a world many of us occupy in equal measure, if not more than we do the physical one around us—is not one taken lightly, and these companies have remained cautious until proven complicit.

The CEO of Cloudflare, Matthew Prince, explained in a public blog post why he chose to drop the Daily Stormer, a hate-mongering website that published openly racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist screeds, including a post about Heather Heyer. “Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion,” writes Prince. “The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology.” (ProPublica skewered Cloudfare earlier this year for providing the Daily Stormer with information about people who criticized or complained about the website’s explicitly offensive content.)

Cloudflare is not alone in abandoning Nazi clients. As Adrienne Jeffries reported at The Outline, in the last few days Squarespace has dropped an array of so-called “alt-right” sites, including the think tank of neo-Nazi poster boy Richard Spencer. On Tuesday, Sean Captain at Fast Company noticed that publishing platform WordPress.com (the parent company of Longreads) is no longer hosting the website for the ultra-nationalist organization Vanguard America. (The man who drove the car that killed Heyer and injured 19 other people was allegedly a Vanguard America member, though the organization has tried to disown him.) Read more…