Category Archives: amazon

Amazon Sent Cryptic Email About a “Technical Error”



Amazon sent a cryptic and somewhat confusing email to some users about a “technical error”. CNBC posted some tweets that included screenshots of the email. (This odd situation was first reported by Beta News.)

According to the tweets, the email from Amazon had the subject line: “Important information about your Amazon.com Account”. The email said: “We’re contacting you to let you know that our website inadvertently disclosed your email address due to a technical error. The issue has been fixed. This is not a result of anything you have done, and there is no need for you to change your password or take any other action.”

The wording is really weird. Some people have wondered why Amazon didn’t suggest that people change their email password – advice that is typically given after something like this happens. How long ago did the “technical error” occur? Amazon didn’t say.

It is troubling that Amazon clearly is aware that a “technical error” exposed some user’s email address to those who should not have it. But, for whatever reason, Amazon failed to let users know who their email address had been sent to.

I understand that this sort of situation might be considered a data breach, and that companies are supposed to let users know about what happened. Unfortunately, Amazon’s cryptic email failed to give affected users any clear idea of what happened or why it happened.

To me, it feels like Amazon is blaming their website for the “technical error” – as though the website was sentient and independently made the decision to send out people’s email addresses. It is like Amazon is trying to separate themselves from being blamed for whatever happens as a result of the “technical error”.

Amazon appears to have decided to keep things extremely vague. It sort of informed users about the “technical error”, but managed to leave out all significant details. This is not good enough.


Amazon Raises Minimum Wage to $15 for all U.S. Employees



I love when big companies do something that truly benefits their workers. Amazon announced that they are increasing the minimum wage to $15 for all full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies) and seasonal employees across the United States. This raise will be effective on November 1, 2018.

Recode reported that Amazon said that workers who are already making $15 an hour would also see a pay bump. It is unclear how much that increase would be.

The $15 minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this holiday. In other words, Amazon workers will get start to get more money right as the holiday season starts.

Even better – Amazon’s public policy team will begin advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage. Senior Vice President of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs, Jay Carney, pointed out that the current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago.

The Economic Policy Institute supports a federal minimum wage of $15 by 2024. They point out that those who make the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour are making about 25 percent less per hour than their counterparts made 50 years ago (after adjusting for inflation).

I often find myself frustrated by big companies that fail to pay their workers a livable wage. Jeff Bezos, the founder, chairman and CEO of Amazon, has a net worth of $166.3 billion. It’s fantastic that he finally stepped up and decided to start paying his workers more money.

Image from Pixabay


Amazon Made it Rain Alexa



Amazon made it Rain Alexa! They announced so many different offerings of the devices that if it was not evident before it’s now. Amazon is playing for keeps and they will flood the market with every conceivable Amazon Alexa device. No one knew and maybe I am still not convinced that I need an Amazon-powered wall clock.

The folks at Geek Wire have done one of the best comprehensive reviews of the new product lineup. But there are some direct shots at Apple and Google in this product line up. The Echo Plus and the Echo Sub, in my opinion, is targeting the Apple Home and then you have the whole refresh of the existing lineup of products plus over 70 new enhancements to Alexa.

So if you already have a few Amazon devices you’re going to be at a point soon where you are in lock-in. So the strategy that Amazon is employing is smart.  I say let is rain Alexa


Amazon Fire TV Recast



Newfire TV REcastAmazon Fire TV Recast is the long-rumored product that is a Cord Cutters dream come true. This is a unique offering where you deploy the DVR anyplace in your home attach an Antenna to it and then it will record over the air content for playback at a later date.

Amazon says dependent on the Recast model you buy it “can record two to four shows at once, and stream on any two devices at a time.” It then can stream both live and recorded video to almost any Amazon device whether it be a Fire TV, Fir Tablet, Mobile Device, Echo Show etc.

The Amazon Fire TV Recast will have a programming guide that you will access through the connecting devices. This is another nail in the coffin for connected TV. You can tell the cable companies are getting nervous as they offered me digital TV when I recently cut the cord which I declined.

It will be available later this fall in two versions: the two-tuner 500GB model for $230, and the four-tuner version with 1TB of storage for $280. It’s available for preorder now, and ships Nov. 14.

This device from Amazon was one of 13 launched today as part of a bigger play to Amazon Smart devices everywhere.


Amazon Considers Opening Cashierless Stores



Would you like to shop in a store where there aren’t any cashiers? You might have the opportunity to do so in the next few years. Bloomberg reports that Amazon is considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 new AmazonGo cahsierless stores in the next few years.

The Bloomberg article says this information is “according to people familiar with the matter”. To me, the news of Amazon considering adding up to 3,000 new AmazonGo stores seems plausible. There currently are three AmazonGo stores in Seattle, Washington, and one in Chicago, Illinois.

In order to shop at an AmazonGo store, you need to have a smartphone and the free AmazonGo app. Shoppers use the the app to enter the store. Once inside, the person can pick up items off the shelf the same way they would usually shop. Sensors and computer-vision technology detect what shoppers take, and then automatically bills them.

For some, this may be a big convenience. But, this convenience comes at the expense of others. Older people, who don’t use smartphones, can’t shop at an AmazonGo store. Neither can low-income people who can’t afford a smartphone or who struggle to pay for a data plan.

That might not be a big issue while there are only four AmazonGo stores. It’s going to turn into a huge problem if and when the number of AmazonGo stores grows to 3,000. The Bloomberg article indicates that Amazon wants to compete with convenience stores and places where people can get lunch or dinner quickly.

In other words, AmazonGo could, potentially, push out stores like 7-Eleven, and some fast food places. It reminds me of the Bodega that was designed to only be accessible to people who had smartphones.

In my opinion, it is immoral to replace stores where low-income people can shop with stores that designed to exclude them. It is also troubling that the AmazonGo stores, which have no cashiers, won’t be able to offer jobs to local people.


Amazon Flooding Marketplace with Alexa



CNBC is reporting that Amazon is going to flood the marketplace with at least 8 more Alexa smart home devices. I pity households with a wife our daughter named Alexa lots of re-programming will be happening in those homes. My home already has three Alexa devices and honestly I am not sure we really need another.

The new devices include a microwave oven, amplifier, receiver, subwoofer, and an in-car gadget. This is an incredibly smart strategy by Amazon to try and lock in the consumer households. This is Amazon’s first move into home consumer devices.

After all who wants to push buttons on the microwave when you can tell Alexa to re-heat the pizza for 60 seconds. With an aftermarket car device, they bridge the gap from non-digitally connected cars to give older models the ability to move into the modern world. The next question is Alexa going to drive us to the office as well.

CNBC


E-Readers Live On



When it comes to longevity, electronic gadgets aren’t known for their long lifespan. Manufacturer support, battery life, features and fashion all conspire to consign tech to an early grave. Bucking that trend and heading for a ten year lifespan are e-readers, proving that technology isn’t out of date as soon as the box is opened.

The original Amazon Kindle came out in the US in 2007, with limited availability until 2008, and there wasn’t an internation version until 2009. Meanwhile, Barnes and Noble‘s Nook e-reader appeared in late 2009, with devices coming to the UK in 2012. That’s the one that had the main e-Ink screen above a small colour touchscreen below.

I’ve always been a big e-book fan as I did a great deal of travel on business: I started out reading on a Palm III with books from PeanutPress. I didn’t get a Kindle immediately because I wasn’t fan of only being able to read content from Amazon but when the Nook appeared with more open software, I had one imported from the US to the UK as soon as I could, probably in 2010. I seem to recall that I had to buy pre-paid US-based credit cards to get books from the B&N store as it otherwise rejected my British credit card.

Mind you, the big benefit of the Nook is support from Adobe’s Digital Editions which is used by the library service here in Northern Ireland to lend out e-books. There’s a good selection and they’re all free to read.

Sadly, I received an email last month from Barnes and Noble to say that the first gen Nook was no longer supported from the end of the month. Frankly I was surprised it was still supported at all and on reflection I’ve had my Nook for eight years. Kudos to B&N for supporting the Nook for so long when most devices are obsolete in a few years. Having said that, the last software update was v1.7 in 2011 but you could still buy content through the device. I think Amazon still support the 3rd gen Kindle too so a thumbs up there as well.

Some might observe that the longevity of e-readers indicates that the rapid upgrade cycle of smartphones and tablets is driven by the hardware manufacturers to maximise profit. I would imagine that there’s some merit to this, as in contrast, the sellers of e-readers tend to be sellers of books and it’s the media that makes the money rather than the devices. Additionally, e-readers don’t suffer from feature bloat. They do one thing and they do it well. Why upgrade?

Hopefully I’ll be able to continue to use my Nook for many years while it remains supported by Adobe’s Digital Editions. Thanks Barnes and Noble.