Uber Delivers Comments, Signatures to Taxi Commission's Door

Categories: Bidness, Tech

Emily McCarter
Uber general manager Sagar Shah stands with Uber drivers outside of the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission to deliver signed petitions and comments from the public.

For an argument about technology, the latest public relations offensive in the battle between ridesharing app Uber and the Metropolitan Taxi Commission, or MTC, was ridiculously old school.

At 1:30 p.m. yesterday, Uber General Manager Sagar Shah, along with six Uber drivers, rang the doorbell of the MTC's beige brick headquarters near downtown St. Louis to drop off hundreds of comments and a petition with 7,000 signatures, urging regulators to allow the entry of UberX into the St. Louis market.

They called them "UberLETTERS." But instead of being delivered the tech-savvy way -- by smartphone or text message, perhaps -- they were on actual paper printouts.

Blame the taxi commission for that.

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St. Louis Decision on UberX Up in the Air for Another Month

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/Jason Devaun
Uber has drivers signed up and ready to go -- but needs permission to enter the St. Louis market.

The Metropolitan Taxi Commission, or MTC, which governs cab drivers in both the city and county, met yesterday to ponder the UberX question -- basically, whether to allow Uber's ride-sharing app entry to the St. Louis market.

St. Louis is the largest city in the country without UberX, and the company had been hoping to set up shop here by the July 4 weekend. Sagar Shah, Uber's general manager for the St. Louis area, says that drivers are all signed up (in some cases, they're already driving in Metro East, where UberX is allowed) and ready to go.

But after today's meeting, the company has no more clarity on the situation than it had before, Shah says.

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Apple Mapping Vehicles Are Coming to St. Louis This Month

Categories: Tech

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/Steve Rhodes
A Google Streetview vehicle at work in San Francisco.
This is your chance for Internet immortality.

Apple Maps is swinging its mapping vehicles through St. Louis this month, using cameras mounted to their hoods to capture the city in all its 360-degree glory. According to Apple, they'll be here some time between June 15 and June 30.

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Uber Says Impasse with Taxi Commission Could Scuttle St. Louis Launch

Categories: Bidness, Tech

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Scott L
Taxi drivers in Chicago protest Uber.
Uber says it could be ready to start taking passengers in St. Louis via its ride-sharing app, UberX, in a matter of days -- the only thing it's waiting on is regulatory approval.

But you might want to hold off on downloading the app just yet. The company's general manager for St. Louis, Sagar Shah, says that he believes Uber has reached an impasse with regulators at the Metropolitan Taxi Commission.

"We were having what seemed like productive conversations," he says. "But what they seem to be insisting on now is misaligned from the progress we thought we were making."

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Could Chrona Be the Key to Deeper Sleep? These Wash. U. Grads Say Yes

Categories: Bidness, Tech

Courtesy of Ultradia
Ultradia cofounders Ben Bronsther (left) and Zimin Hang think they've cracked the code to deeper, more restorative sleep.
Zimin Hang and Ben Bronsther didn't set out to improve sleep. Like many entrepreneurs before them, the young Washington University grads merely thought they could measure it better.

They wanted to invent a device that would allow sleep research to be conducted in the patient's own bedroom. Instead of intrusive caps that require study subjects to spend nights wired up in a lab, what about sensor sheets that could be tucked beneath their pillowcases to measure sleep patterns? Perfect the technology, and researchers would surely line up, checkbooks in hand.

"We spent so much time and money on a patent to protect the technology that would do that," Hang admits. "The technology literally doesn't exist yet -- but we have the patent."

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Obama Praises St. Louis, LaunchCode as National Example of High-Tech Job Training

Categories: Tech

Courtesy of LaunchCode
President Barack Obama praised St. Louis nonprofit LaunchCode for training and matching low-skill workers to high-paying tech jobs.
Before President Barack Obama touted her as an example of America's future tech workforce, LaShana Lewis was a college dropout from East St. Louis, Illinois, driving buses to make ends meet.

"I came back home [from college] with all of this computer knowledge but not a degree, and there was nothing for me to do," Lewis told Daily RFT in January. "Most people were looking for secretaries, not for a black girl from East St. Louis to do coding."

Lewis left East St. Louis to study software coding at Michigan Technological University, where she was the only black woman in her program, until her money ran out. When she returned home without a bachelor's degree, employers told her she wasn't qualified to work in coding.

Until, that is, she found LaunchCode, the St. Louis nonprofit that matches people like Lewis with coding internships at local employers, including MasterCard, Lockerdome and Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and LaunchCode's all-women coding meetup, CoderGirl.

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St. Louis Totally Won That Twitter War With Kansas City About Startup Weekend

Categories: Tech

Phil Leara via Flickr
Sorry, Kansas City, but St. Louis is forever the Gateway to the Best.
The battle is won, but the war is not over.

St. Louis and Kansas City are both hosting Startup Weekend EDU events later this month, where entrepreneurs turn their ideas into startups over 54 action-packed hours and compete to get funding. (Remember Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible Boyfriend? That was a Startup Weekend-winning idea.)

St. Louis' Startup Weekend EDU starts Friday, January 16, at the Cortex Innovation Community. And since Kansas City's is the weekend after, organizers thought they'd make the whole thing a little more interesting by introducing a wager: the city with the most attendees wins a sample of the loser city's best food, tickets to a professional indoor soccer match and, of course, bragging rights.

On Wednesday, Missouri's sister cities unleashed their sibling rivalry in a good ol' fashioned Twitter war. And while Daily RFT can admit we're biased in favor of the Lou, it's obvious to anyone and everyone that St. Louis totally won.

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Popular Mechanics Names St. Louis the No. 1 Startup City in America

Categories: Tech

kosheahan via flickr
St. Louis: the top city in America for startups.
Move over, Brooklyn and San Francisco. The second wave of the startup economy is here, and St. Louis is leading the way.

A new ranking from Popular Mechanics magazine names St. Louis as the top startup city in America thanks to the city's Arch Grants program, cheap rent, great restaurants and craft breweries, supportive elected officials and colleges, and recent revitalization.

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[VIDEO] How CoderGirl Helps St. Louis Women Learn Skills, Find Jobs in Tech

Categories: Tech

Courtesy of LaunchCode
CoderGirl gives women a weekly space to learn coding and computer skills that can lead to future jobs.
LaShana Lewis has the ambition, dedication and know-how to make it as a software engineer. But without a bachelor's degree, she had no chance of getting a job.

So when the money for Lewis' tuition at Michigan Technological University ran out, she came home to East St. Louis to look for a different career -- or at least a job to help her get by.

"I came back home with all of this computer knowledge but not a degree, and there was nothing for me to do," Lewis tells Daily RFT. "Most people were looking for secretaries, not for a black girl from East St. Louis to do coding."

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville hired her to drive students from school to tutoring, though organizers eventually discovered her untapped skills and called her into the computer lab for help.

But Lewis knew she was capable of more.

"That's been my ambition is trying to get into the [computer programming] field, but that one thing was holding me back," Lewis says about not having a bachelor's degree.

All that changed when Lewis found CoderGirls.

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Coolest Final Exam Ever: Engineering Students Build, Race Motorized Couches [VIDEO]

Categories: Tech

Photos by Jon Silberhorn
This is what a final exam looks like at Missouri S&T.
While students in St. Louis were pouring over books and computer screens to prepare for finals, students at Missouri University of Science and Technology were doing something far more awesome:

Racing motorized couches.

Sophomore and junior students in Ryan Hutcheson's class, introduction to design and engineering, got to choose which group project they wanted for their final exams. Two groups built powered beer can crushers that Hutcheson called "ridiculously overpowered," and one team build a remote-controlled tank equipped with its own t-shirt cannon.

But the other three groups decided to go head-to-head in turning old couches into racers.

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