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Businesses

Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements.. For Warehouse Workers 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-may-not-lift-and-carry-objects-for-anyone-else dept.
Rick Zeman writes: Amazon, perhaps historically only second to Newegg in the IT nerdling's online shopping heart, has not only subjected their warehouse employees to appalling working conditions, but they're also making them sign a non-compete agreement for the privilege. Here's an excerpt from the agreement: "During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee's own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future)."
Businesses

Amazon Announces Unlimited Cloud Storage Plans 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-clouds dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Amazon is now offering unlimited cloud storage plans to compete with Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. "Last year, Amazon gave a boost to its Prime members when it launched a free, unlimited photo storage for them on Cloud Drive. Today, the company is expanding that service as a paid offering to cover other kinds of content, and to users outside of its loyalty program. Unlimited Cloud Storage will let users get either unlimited photo storage or "unlimited everything" — covering all kinds of media from videos and music through to PDF documents — respectively for $11.99 or $59.99 per year."
Government

Amazon Blasts FAA On Drone Approvals, Regulations 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
itwbennett writes Late last week, Amazon was issued permission by the FAA to fly an experimental drone as part of its tests for a planned automatic delivery service but it came too late, Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon, told lawmakers on Tuesday. 'The UAS [unmanned aircraft system] approved last week by the FAA has already become obsolete,' he said. As a result, Amazon has filed for permission to fly a more advanced drone—one that is already being flown in several countries including the U.K., said Misener, who was speaking at a hearing of the Senate Committee on commerce, science and transportation.
Businesses

Amazon Robot Contest May Accelerate Warehouse Automation 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the goodbye-minimum-wage-worker dept.
moon_unit2 writes Amazon is organizing an event to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing robots. Participating teams will earn points by locating products sitting somewhere on a stack of shelves, retrieving them safely, and then packing them into cardboard shipping boxes. Robots that accidentally crush a cookie or drop a toy will have points deducted. The contest is already driving new research on robot vision and manipulation, and it may offer a way to judge progress made in the past few years in machine intelligence and dexterity. Robots capable of advanced manipulation could eventually take on many simple jobs that are still done by hand.
Books

Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices 177

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart. Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
Businesses

Amazon Launches One-Hour Delivery Service In Baltimore and Miami 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the but-I-want-it-now dept.
schwit1 writes Amazon.com announced the launch Thursday of its one-hour delivery service, Prime Now, in select zip codes in Baltimore and Miami. It initially launched in Manhattan in December. The one-hour service, available to Amazon Prime subscribers through the Prime Now mobile app, costs $7.99. Two-hour delivery is free. From the article: "Amazon Prime's success has blown away the company's projections and 'petrified' local and national retailers, said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm headquartered in New York City. 'If you're a retailer and you're not scared of Amazon ... you should be,' he said. 'They are the change agent. They are leading the change in retail.'"
Businesses

Amazon Wins US Regulators' Approval To Test-fly Drone 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the dropping-your-package dept.
mpicpp sends word that Amazon drones may soon deliver your packages. "Amazon.com Inc has won U.S. federal regulators' approval to test a delivery drone, as the e-commerce giant pursues a vision of speeding packages to customers through the air amid public concern over the safety and privacy implications. The Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday it had issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to an Amazon unit and its prototype drone design, allowing it to conduct outdoor test flights on private, rural land in Washington state. The experimental certificate applies to a particular drone design and Amazon must obtain a new certification for test flights if it modifies the drone. In return, the company must supply monthly data to the regulators, and conduct flights at 400 feet (120 meters) or below and in 'visual meteorological conditions,' according to the FAA's certificate. The drone operators must also have a private pilots' license and current medical certification."
Books

New Site Mocks Bad Artwork On Ebook Covers 59

Posted by timothy
from the modern-dorm-room-posters dept.
An anonymous reader writes A British newspaper is celebrating "the world's worst ebook artwork", as discovered by the creator of a new Tumblr feed. 'It's the hubris of it that people get a kick out of — the devil-may-care attitude of an author who, with zero arts training, says to themselves: "How hard can it be?" Two different authors simply cut-and-pasted smaller images over a background showing the planets, according to one Kindle blog, which notes that one author actually pasted eyes and lips onto the planets, creating an inadvertently creepy montage. But the site's creator tells the newspaper that it's ultimately meant to be an affectionate tribute to their rejection of the mundane and appreciating each creative and beautiful mess.
Censorship

Reporters Without Borders Unblocks Access To Censored Websites 37

Posted by timothy
from the look-over-here-instead dept.
Mark Wilson writes Online censorship is rife. In many countries, notably China, citizens are prevented from accessing certain websites at the behest of their government. To help provide access to information and unbiased news, freedom of information organization Reporters Without Borders has set up mirrors to nine censored websites so they can be accessed from 11 countries that blocked them. As part of Operation Collateral Freedom, Reporters Without Borders is mirroring the likes of The Tibet Post International which is blocked in China, and Gooya News which is blocked in Iran. Mirrored sites are hosted on Amazon, Microsoft and Google servers which are unlikely to be blocked by a censoring country.
Cloud

Google Nearline Delivers Some Serious Competition To Amazon Glacier 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-clouds dept.
SpzToid writes Google is offering a new kind of data storage service – and revealing its cloud computing strategy against Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The company said on Wednesday that it would offer a service called Nearline, for non-essential data. Like an AWS product called Glacier, this storage costs just a penny a month per gigabyte. Microsoft's cheapest listed online storage is about 2.4 cents a gigabyte. While Glacier storage has a retrieval time of several hours, Google said Nearline data will be available in about three seconds. From the announcement: "Today, we're excited to introduce Google Cloud Storage Nearline, a simple, low-cost, fast-response storage service with quick data backup, retrieval and access. Many of you operate a tiered data storage and archival process, in which data moves from expensive online storage to offline cold storage. We know the value of having access to all of your data on demand, so Nearline enables you to easily backup and store limitless amounts of data at a very low cost and access it at any time in a matter of seconds."
Books

Book Review: Data and Goliath 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World, author Bruce Schneier could have justifiably written an angry diatribe full of vitriol against President Obama and the NSA for their wholesale spying on innocent Americans and violations of myriad laws. Instead, he was written a thoroughly convincing and brilliant book about big data, mass surveillance and the ensuing privacy dangers facing everyone. A comment like what's the big deal? often indicates a naiveté about a serious significant underlying issue. The idea that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear is a dangerously narrow concept on the value of privacy. For many people the notion that the NSA was performing spying on Americans was perceived as not being a big deal, since if a person is innocent, then what do they have to worry about. In the book, Schneier debunks that myth and many others, and defends the importance of privacy. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Businesses

Amazon Opening Imported Goods Store On Alibaba 31

Posted by timothy
from the goes-both-ways dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Amazon is usually on the other end of the 'if you can't beat em, join em' dynamic. But next month Amazon is launching a store on Alibaba's Tmall.com site to get access to some of the Chinese online retail giant's 265 million monthly active users. Amazon already has its own e-commerce site geared for the country, but its share of China's online retail market is only 0.8 percent, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. Alibaba, in contrast, controls three quarters of the market through its Tmall and Taobao Marketplace sites."
Education

Go R, Young Man 144

Posted by timothy
from the or-certain-other-letters dept.
theodp (442580) writes " Learning to code has become a mainstream fascination," writes Brian Liou in Why are YOU learning to code?, "but all the evangelization has been misleading. The problem in our Chris-Bosh-codes-so-should-you society is that people learn to code without first asking "for what purpose do you want to use code?" What in your day-to-day work could you actually automate using code? Let's face it, your odds of creating the next hot iPhone app aren't great, but the spreadsheets you look at everyday or the strategic business decisions you or your company makes? Coding can help you with those. Coding to better understand data would help everyone." Leada co-founder Liou's advice? "So to all non-technical professionals looking to get technical: If you want to become a software engineer, by all means learn Ruby or go through the JavaScript tutorials on Codecademy. But if you're simply a business professional looking to gain an edge on your peers, trust me, you are much better off learning R." So, did Mark Zuckerberg steer 100 million K-12 coder wannabes down the wrong path with the JavaScript and Ruby preaching?"
Books

Lauren Ipsum: A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things 44

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
MassDosage writes As the full title to Lauren Ipsum: A story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things indicates, this is a book about Computer Science but what's surprising about it is that it manages to be about Computer Science without actually ever directly referring to the subject or even to computers at all. It is in fact a fictional story about a young girl called Lauren who gets lost after wandering into a forest near her house after an argument with her mother. She stumbles into a world populated with all kinds of strange creatures and colorful characters some of whom she befriends in order to figure out how to get back to her home. The "figuring out" part of the plot is where things get interesting as she has many attempts at solving this problem with different characters giving her often contradictory advice and Lauren then has to decide what exactly she's trying to do and which of the various possible solutions is the best. This involves a fair amount of trial and error, learning from certain mistakes and trying different approaches. If this is starting to sound familiar to those who have written software then that's the whole point. Lauren Ipsum is cunningly littered with references to Computer Science and in particular to things like algorithms, logic puzzles and many other of the theoretical underpinnings of the subject. Read below to see what MassDosage has to say about the book.
Education

Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook Press WA For $40M For New UW CS Building 102

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-build-10,000-garages? dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Nice computer industry you got there. Hate to see something bad happen to it." That's the gist of a letter sent by Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Code.org, and other tech giants earlier this week asking the WA State Legislature to approve $40M in capital spending to help fund a new $110M University of Washington computer science building ($70M will be raised privately). "As representatives of companies and businesses that rely on a ready supply of high quality computer science graduates," wrote the letter's 23 signatories, "we believe it is critical for the State to invest in this sector in a way that ensures its vibrancy and growth. Our vision is for Washington to continue to lead the way in technology and computer science, but we must keep pace with the vast demand." The UW Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering profusely thanked tech leaders for pressing for a new building, which UW explained "will accommodate a doubling of our enrollment." Coincidentally, the corporate full-press came not long after the ACM Education Council Diversity Taskforce laid out plans "to get companies to press universities to use more resources to create more seats in CS classes" to address what it called "the desperate gap between the rising demand for CS education and the too-few seats available.
Businesses

Amazon Files Patent For Mobile 3D Printing Delivery Trucks 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-almost-functional-lego-replica-in-30-minutes-or-it's-free dept.
ErnieKey writes: Amazon has been inching its way into the 3D printing space over the past 10 months or so. This week, however, the U.S. Patent office published a filing by Amazon for mobile 3D printing delivery trucks. The trucks would have 3D printers and CNC machines on board and be able to communicate with a central hub. When a product is ordered, the mobile 3D printing truck that's closest to the consumer's home or office would then get the order, print it, and deliver it as soon as possible.
Crime

Wired On 3-D Printers As Fraud Enablers 207

Posted by timothy
from the phoney-numbers-can-be-as-big-as-you-want dept.
An anonymous reader writes Citing a report from the Gartner Group estimating $100 billion in intellectual property losses within five years, Joshua Greenbaum warns of "the threat of a major surge in counterfeiting" as cheap 3-D printers get more sophisticated materials. Writing for Wired, Greenbaum argues that preventing counterfeiting "promises to be a growth market," and suggests that besides updating IP laws, possible solutions include nanomaterials for "watermarking" authentic copies or even the regulation of 3-D printing materials. Major retailers like Amazon are already offering 3-D print-on-demand products — though right now their selection is mostly limited to novelties like customized bobbleheads and Christmas ornaments shaped like cannabis leaves. Apropos: Smithonian Magazine has an article that makes a good companion piece to this one on the long political history of the copy machine, which raised many of the same issues being rediscovered in the context of 3-D printing.
The Courts

Federal Court: Theft of Medical Records Not an 'Imminent Danger' To Victim 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the physician-secure-thy-networks dept.
chicksdaddy writes: A federal court in Texas ruled last week that a massive data breach at a hospital in that state didn't put patients at imminent risk of identity theft, even when presented with evidence that suggested stolen patient information was being used in attempted fraud and identity theft schemes. According to a post over at Digital Guardian's blog Beverly Peters was one more than 400,000 patients of St. Joseph Hospital whose information was stolen by hackers in an attack that took place between December 16 and 18, 2013.

Peters alleged that her personal information had been exposed in the breach and then disseminated in the public domain, where it was being "misused by unauthorized and unknown third parties." Specifically: Peters reported that, subsequent to the breach at St. Josephs, her Discover credit card was used to make a fraudulent purchase and that hackers had tried to infiltrate her Amazon.com account — posing as her son. Also: telemarketers were using the stolen information. Peters claimed that, after the breach, she was besieged with calls and solicitations for medical products and services companies, with telemarketers asking to speak to her and with specific family members, whose contact information was part of the record stolen from St. Joseph's.

As a result, Peters argued that she faced an "imminent injury" due to "increased risk" of future identity theft and fraud because of the breach at St. Joseph, and wished to sue the hospital for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). But the court found otherwise, ruling that Peters lacked standing to bring the case in federal court under Article III of the Constitution.
Privacy

Gadgets That Spy On Us: Way More Than TVs 130

Posted by timothy
from the it-looks-like-you're-writing-a-letter dept.
Presto Vivace writes with a reminder that it's not just Samsung TVslots of other gadgets are spying on you "But Samsung's televisions are far from the only seeing-and-listening devices coming into our lives. If we're going to freak out about a Samsung TV that listens in on our living rooms, we should also be panicking about a number of other emergent gadgets that capture voice and visual data in many of the same ways. .... Samsung's competitor, the LG Smart TV, has basically the same phrase about voice capture in its privacy policy: "Please be aware that if your spoken word includes personal or other sensitive information, such information will be among the Voice Information captured through your use of voice recognition features." It isn't just TVs, Microsoft's xBox Kinect, Amazon Echo, GM's Onstar, Chevrolet's MyLink and PDRs, Google's Waze, and Hello's Sense all have snooping capabilities. Welcome to the world of Stasi Tech.
Transportation

Delivery Drones: More Feasible If They Come By Truck 129

Posted by timothy
from the last-mile-problem dept.
malachiorion writes Amazon's drone delivery service was never going to work. It was too autonomous, and simply too risky to be approved by the FAA in the timeframe that Jeff Bezos specified (as early as this year). And yet, the media is still hung up on Amazon, and much of the coverage of the FAA's newly released drone rules center around Prime Air, a program that was essentially a PR stunt. Meanwhile, a Cincinnati-based company that makes electric delivery trucks has an idea that's been largely ignored, but that's much more feasible. The Horsefly launches from and returns to a delivery truck once it reaches a given neighborhood, with a mix of autonomous flight to destination, driver-specified drop-off locations, and remote-piloted landings. The company will still need to secure exemptions from the FAA, but unlike Amazon, they at least have a chance. There's more detail about Amp's technically impressive (and seemingly damn tough) drone in my story for Popular Science.