EquiPay splits bills equitably, not equally

EquiPay is a soon-to-launch app that takes income inequalities into account when splitting bills among large parties.

“For centuries, women and people of color have worked day in and day out only to be burdened by unequal pay for equal work,” Malbroux said.

The idea behind EquiPay is to split the check equitably, not equally. EquiPay “developed a complex algorithm that takes into account history,” Malbroux said. It takes income data from the U.S. Department of Labor and splits the bill based on racial and gender income differences.

For instance, if a black woman were out for dinner with a white man and a white woman, the white man would pay the most, and the black woman would pay the least.

To give it a twist, the app allows individuals to protest against the split with a series of excuses like, “I’m unconventionally unattractive,” “I’ve spent $400 on improv classes,” and “I’m aware of my privilege.” When selecting “this isn’t an issue anymore,” the app will proceed to display stats on the wage gap.

This seems to be a great idea for the underprivileged, but creators of EquiPay have found a way to attract the attention of privileged white collars as well.

“We at EquiPay know people love social recognition for being socially conscious, so we’ve created a share feature,” Malbroux said.

Malbroux’s goal is not to make money— she is more excited to see what will come from this socially conscious creation.

Article via TechCrunch, 20 February 2016
Photo: Eat Money by Lynne Hand [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Tech For Justice: Migration Lab Lesbos

Tech For Justice: Migration Lab Lesbos had 4 teams and a total of 16 student developers from diverse backgrounds and skills working on the Tech For Justice problem of “Empowering Refugees in Complex Humanitarian Crises” at the IDHack.

CentRefuge won 2nd place with a $500 award out of nearly 100 students.

Complete problem statement: “Although there are many apps and tech solutions for the current refugee crises available – most of the platforms do not give refugees the ability to communicate their basic needs and also rate the aid organizations available on efficiency. We have access to a database of all of the apps and tech projects currently on the ground in Lesbos, Greece. First, we need to examine their methodology and see which tech solutions might apply. Next, we want to create a simple tool for refugees to request food, water, shelter and also rate local aid organizations, volunteers, and local businesses. We will pilot this system with Migration Lab in Lesbos.”

Team descriptions:

  1. RefugeeAidLesbos

Team members: Ricky Chen, Owen Martin, Jon Atkins, and Ariel Barbieri-Aghib (Tufts)

For more info visit Github

2. BASICS

Teams members: Caroline Caltagirone (Visiting scholar at Harvard University) and Octave Muhirwa (Wentworth Institute of Technology)

For more info visit Github and Presentation

3. Coordinaid

Team members: Adrianna Tan (Wellesley), Sam Chin (Wellesley), Lisa Truong (Wellesley), Shane Skikne, and Annie Ku

For more info visit Github and presentation

4. CentRefuge

Team members: Whitney Fahnbulleh (Wellesley), Ella Chao (Wellesley), Mayrui Sridhar (MIT), Darrien Glasser (UMass Lowell), Amin Manna (MIT)

For more info visit Github and website

Furthermore,

  • You can view the complete list of IDHack2016 project pitches here.
  • To contact the teams please email Danielle Kaidanow – Project Facilitator
  • Although Lesbos was the first region addressed, the solutions are customizable and scalable
  • Demos will take place from 11AM – 12PM on Saturday, February 20th at Tufts

Learn more about the Tech For Justice initiative by visiting their website.

Photo: Somali Refugees in Dolo Ado, Ethiopia via UNICEF Ethiopia [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

 

 

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Fight for your right to fix

The Repair Association is fighting the manufacturing industry for your “right to repair everything.”

Today, with big corporations dominating the manufacturing industry, it is typically difficult for consumers to find specific parts to fix any kind of technology. The Repair Association is an organization hoping to help make the parts accessible to everyone.

With groups like iFixit, Fixer’s Collective, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the association is asking manufacturers to sell tech parts along with instructions on how to fix the product without professional help needed.

“A free, independent market for repair and reuse is more efficient, more competitive, and better for consumers,” the association writes on its website. “Repair helps create local jobs, and repair and reuse benefits the environment by reducing end-of-life electron products.”

Apart from the demands for the manufacturing industry, the association also aims to amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to address the growth of a self-taught consumer base.

Not only does iFixit sells repair parts, but the company also provides online guides for individuals seeking to fix their appliances independently. But due to Section 1201 of the DMCA’s “anti-circumvention” provision, people are not allowed to tamper with technology that has copyrighted software.

“Under U.S. copyright law, you’re not allowed to modify protected software or look at it—even for the purpose of repair,” Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit says. “Manufacturers are using other parts of copyright law to restrict outside access to service manuals, schematics, and repair instructions. They are developing an unfair monopoly over the aftermarket of their goods.”

As unjust as it is, the monopoly is defended by lawyers and lobbyists, says Wiens. The Repair Association is needed to represent repairmen, women, local business, to fight for their right to repair.

“We aren’t just fighting for your right to repair smartphones and computers—we are fighting for your right to repair everything,” Wiens says.

Article via Good, 4 February 2016
Photo: Mobile Butchery by Meena Kadri [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


A useful tool to access police misconduct cases for defense lawyers

Vidya Pappachan, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society in New York City did not have enough time to prepare for her client’s case on a drug felony charge. However, she had a tool that helped her look up information about the officers that arrested her client.

The database is called the Cop Accountability Project. Through this, she learned that the officers were involved in misconduct cases that involved false arrests and cost NYC more than half a million dollars in settlement payouts. Even more, this was much similar to the situation in which her client was arrested. There was no drug stash found and no other evidence besides the arresting officers’ account of the incident. Since Pappachan proved the three officers were involved in prior misconduct cases, she challenged the weight of the evidence against her client. The judge agreed with her proposition and the client was released without bail.

Beyond New York, similar projects are popping up. The Indianapolis Police department created a portal that tracks officer complaints, use of force, and shooting incidents. In Chicago, there are two separate but complementary tools that track police misconduct cases. Michelle Bonner, former chief counsel to the Legal Aid Society called the New York project “a great advance in the evolution for defender databases.”

The project stemmed from the grassroots of newspaper clippings and paper documents. After 1998, it evolved into a database in the form of a digital library catalog program called Inmagic and later into an Excel spreadsheet where documents were scanned or uploaded to a shared file.

This tool has brought mixed reaction from judges. Some are very open to hearing this information and some say it’s not relevant at this stage of the case. The New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has a unanimous opinion. Patrick Lynch, the president of the city’s largest police union, said : “Compiling a list of police officers who are alleged to be ‘bad’ based upon newspaper stories, quick-buck lawsuits and baseless complaints … does nothing more than soil the reputation of the men and women who do the difficult and dangerous job of keeping this city and its citizens safe.”

This project will continue to morph as the Legal Aid Society trains its lawyers to better integrate this database into their practice.

Article via ABA Journal, February 2016 issue

Photo: Paris – Police via clement127 [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Handshake software integrates with Ravel

Handshake Software, a provider of SharePoint-based products and services to the legal market, announced its tech integration Ravel Law, a legal search, analytics, and visualization platform. The move is based on the need to provide a legal search product to law firms that will allow them to be more efficient in their practice.

Glenn LaForce, vice president of global sales & marketing at Handshake Software stated, ““Attorneys are under tremendous pressure from their clients with regards to the billable hour, so bringing together as many data sources as possible into one universal search is paramount for their practice,” he said. “To be able to perform legal research while seeing key financials, internal documents, contacts and internal expertise helps the attorneys become more efficient and effective.

This move is a strategic integration between the two companies products. By combining these technologies, the users Sharepoint experience will include search that allows for all knowledge to be in one place. LaForce confirms this by saying, “Lawyers, CIOs and knowledge management professionals tell us they want one system to deliver one-stop [knowledge management] information to their users. Our integration with Ravel Law is another important aspect of the Handshake Software’s all-encompassing solution that includes integration to online legal research and other major legal applications.”

The goal is to provide and environment where users will have access to critical firm data as well as online law research materials. This allows attorneys to more effectively manage the business and practice of law. We’re excited to bring these technologies to lawyers in one easy-to-find location,” said Nik Reed, co-founder and chief operating officer at Ravel Law.

 

Article via LegalTechNews, 12 January 2016

Photo:Assignments by Ryan Hyde [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


How WordPress is affecting law firm websites

WordPress is identified as the best software in terms of digital publishing and managing content. As of November, the popular management system has reached a notable milestone: it powers about 25% of the internet. Statistically, 1 in 4 websites run on WordPress.

This is due to the ease-of-use. It’s great for people that have blogs, small businesses, personal portfolio sites, and basic retailers. Pool all of that together and it entails a great portion of the Internet.

A recent post by Lauren Nguyen of Pantheon, a website management platform, highlights the broadening applicability of WordPress, drawing on a survey of thousands of agencies in their partner network. “We see a trend of enterprise customers across all industries turning to WordPress. Historically, big companies have relied on proprietary enterprise CMS solutions. However, many are getting wise to the fact that open source CMS can give marketing teams the flexibility and agility they need to iterate and improve faster.”

WordPress is known to be simple to use and navigate through but people still list some issues. It isn’t ideal for complex websites, which characterizes law firm websites. However, earlier this year, WordPress announced that what it calls its “JSON REST API” will be part of its core. This allows the WordPress CMS to interact with basically everything — other sites, other software, other interfaces. Opening up with new possibilities will give WordPress the ability to connect with the more complex website and gain even more popularity.

For law firms, this means that:

1. They would be able to better integrate their publishing efforts.

Large law firms agree that publishing independent digital publications is ideal. They run on building reputations and audiences around that specific niche. Using WordPress API, publishers can pull their blogs onto the main website, and run the blog on a separate website. Using WordPress as an underlying CMS will remain a viable choice.

2. Website development companies can lay a custom background over the top of WordPress. 

In the future, as WordPress advances from being a simple CMS and into a full-featured platform, the traditional interface becomes optional. If a company wants to build a custom interface geared towards elaborate law firm websites over the top of WordPress, they can do so.

Article via Above the Law, December 16, 2015

Photo: W for WordPress via Kristina Alexanderson [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]