Industry Recognizes the Threat of COVID-19

TechCrunch has the info on what conferences are canceled, and who is bailing from stuff not yet canceled. (And can I say it is about freaking time that someone recognizes that there is real danger in this thing, because I’ve been underwhelmed by the response of governments the world over.)

The GDC Gaming convention (San Francisco) is apparently still going on, even though COVID-19 is apparently loose on the ground in California. Amazon is the latest to ditch GDC this year.

Facebook, Sony, Microsoft, Unity and Epic Games have all pulled out of the conference over concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, Amazon joins them.

What I don’t understand is why anyone would attend.

F*c*book has canceled its developer conference. Daily Crunch: Facebook cancels F8 over coronavirus concerns.

Facebook has confirmed that it has canceled its annual F8 developers conference over growing concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. More specifically, the company says it’s canceling the “in-person component” — there may still be video presentations, along with live-streamed and local events, under the F8 umbrella.

And the Auto Industry is also awake to the dangers. Geneva Motor Show canceled over coronavirus fears.

The Geneva Motor Show is the latest trade show to cancel over fears of the coronavirus. The Swiss auto show is one of the largest car shows in the world and is usually the venue where high-end and exotic auto makers roll out new models and wild concepts.

I do take exception to that “fears of coronavirus.” It isn’t cowardly to recognize the reality of a situation. It is rational.

Auto shows predate the Internet, and fall into the general category of, “We’ve always done it that way.” And if tech giants can’t figure out how to interact with their customers/partners/whatever without a face-to-face chat, then something is wrong with our 21st Century model of how stuff works.

Europe is really experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, or what certainly looks like the start of a problem. California has been shown to have the virus loose on the ground, so it would only take one individual to send the virus to a lot of places. OK, so you won’t get to drink in the “hospitality suites.” Use the money you saved to buy a nice bottle of expensive Scotch, or whatever your poison of choice is. This will be probably be cleared up next year anyway. If we don’t continue to go out of our way to make things worse.

I’m sure there is more that is being or that has been canceled. But these three are all currently on the first page of TechCrunch homepage.

Big Amazon Is Watching You

Massive surveillance of everything is in the hands of Amazon. What could go wrong? Amazon’s Ring Home Surveillance Network Raises Big Privacy Concerns.

According to Motherboard, police officers can request homeowners’ surveillance footage through Ring. In a statement, Ring said that law enforcement requests must be tied to an active investigation, and though the owner’s consent is required, a warrant isn’t necessary.

Edward Snowden’s privacy concerns are starting to sound less and less like paranoia.

And the terms of service will change over time. You know, that legally binding statement you agreed to when you opened the package. The fine print that no one ever reads, and changes regularly anyway.

Amazon Scrubs Site to Remove Auschwitz Christmas Ornaments

Because nothing says “Happy Holidays” like an image of the most famous Nazi death camp from WWII. Or something. Amazon pulls Auschwitz-themed Christmas ornaments, although other Holocaust merchandise remains on site.

The bath towel is over the top.

Books. Music. A couple of jigsaw puzzles. One video. These are the only things that remain.

Are these in bad taste? Sure. Should they be removed from Amazon? I don’t think so. People should be free to be idiots.

But it’s good to see Amazon pulled up short over stuff they are doing to others.

You Think Amazon Follows the Law?

The LAW is for little people. They are your tech masters. Amazon Above the Law in California.

In February, Amazon, doing business as Prime Now, was issued a liquor license to open a liquor store in Los Angeles. California requires businesses that offer alcohol for home delivery to have a brick-and-mortar store. So Amazon got a license for a store that would be in the same building as its enormous Prime Now warehouse in an industrial part of north Los Angeles.

But of course there is no store, nor any plans to have one. But as I noted, the LAW isn’t for the likes of Amazon.

You can order whiskey or wine from the Amazon warehouse at 3334 N San Fernando Rd in Los Angeles. But there’s no liquor store open to the public there, in clear violation of California law.

Amazon Admits They Are Spying on You Via Alexa

That’s not creepy at all. And of course it is covered in the product agreement that everyone reads before opening the package. When you speak to Alexa, Amazon workers may be listening.

Did you honestly think they weren’t going to spy on you? Silly Rabbit, Privacy is a 20th Century concept.

Millions more are reluctant to invite the devices and their powerful microphones into their homes out of concern that someone might be listening.

Sometimes, someone is.

Amazon.com employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech and help it better respond to commands.

Privacy? We don’t need no stinkin’ privacy.

How Does Amazon Feel About Its Workforce?

It treats them like they are disposable. Amazon delayed medical help for Joliet warehouse worker who had heart attack, says lawsuit filed by widow. This story has been in my feeds for going on a week. I’m sure it is not news to people, or it shouldn’t be.

A guy working in an Amazon “Fulfillment Center” (is “Warehouse” politically incorrect these days?) had a heart attack.

The lawsuit claims company workers waited about 25 minutes before calling the Joliet Fire Department after Becker fell ill, even though there’s a fire station about a half-mile away from the Amazon Fulfillment Center on Emerald Drive.

During that wait, no working automated external defibrillator, or AED — a device that provides an electric shock that can restart a heart in cardiac arrest — was provided to help him, the suit filed on behalf of Linda Becker claims.

So even if you have AEDs hanging around, you still need to call 911, because the guy who had the heart attack will need to go the hospital.

Anyway, after screwing around for 25 minutes, and asking a bunch of insane questions, like “What is his Social Security Number?” when paramedics finally arrived they were NOT directed to the loading dock nearest his location.

After Joliet EMTs were called, they were further delayed by security guards “who chatted at the front desk” before giving paramedics access to the facility, the suit claims; EMTs also had to walk through the mammoth facility rather than being given access to a rear loading dock adjacent to where Becker was in distress. This further delayed their response time another five to seven minutes, according to the lawsuit and reports from the Joliet Fire Department.

I have tried to stop buying things from Amazon, for other reasons. If you buy enough from Amazon they will give you free shipping, but not free 2-day shipping. Most of the stuff is available from Walmart and they will give you free 2-day shipping (if you buy enough). Amazon wants their $100 for “Prime Membership.” There are other reasons.

Amazon Is Getting on My Nerves More With Every Order

As I mentioned a while ago, I dropped Prime because the music (that was not included in their “unlimited” service) was not quite what I wanted. That and living without 2 day delivery is not the end of the world.

But it isn’t just that I’m not getting 2 day delivery. They are holding the orders. They aren’t holding the credit card charges. They are charging my card, and then NOT shipping the items for quite a while.

My latest order was placed on July 2nd. It still hasn’t shipped. (And yes everything was listed as “in stock,” and it is ALL from Amazon.) They didn’t charge my card on 2nd, they waited until the 7th, but they still haven’t shipped my goods.

This isn’t because they are SO busy doing other stuff. They just can’t help penalizing people who don’t see the value of Prime.

I used to TRY to order stuff from other vendors. But in the in words of Yoda, “There is no try.” So this will be the very last order I place with Amazon. “May they all crash and burn.”

Amazon is becoming as annoying as a cable provider

So I recently decided to end Amazon Prime, when I determined it is NOT worth 100 bucks. Not to me anyway.

I expected the “are you sure” screen, but then there were 3 of them, followed by a “Did you know your Prime was Ending?” email, followed, the next time I logged in, with “Your Amazon Prime is Ending!” on just about every product page, as if the sky were falling. (I’m sure they meant for it to be on every page. Either I tuned it out, or they slipped up.)

Sheesh.

Go. Away.

Amazon Gets Internet of Things Wrong – Part 2

And you thought it was bad that Amazon Echo would let people hack into your home network. Amazon Key flaw could let a courier disable your Cloud Cam. So Amazon came up with a system to allow couriers to unlock your door and deliver packages inside house. What could go wrong?

Now, researchers from Rhino Security Labs have shown that it’s possible, under rare circumstances, to hack the camera so that everything looks fine while someone takes all your stuff.

The attack would work like this. A courier unlocks your door with their Key app, drops off the package and closes the door behind them. Rather than re-locking it, they then run a program on a custom-built device or laptop that spoofs the home’s router and disconnects the Cloud Cam from the network.

And keeping the camera disconnected from the network means that they are not being monitored. While they steal all your stuff.

Amazon is promising to “address the issue.” But really, this is the kind of thing that should have been done in INITIAL design. (Gee, you think we should consider all the ways that bad-actors might attack the system?) Idiots. (Part 1 is at this link.)