Tag Archives: Amazon

The Singularity is a white person’s problem

terminator

Rich white folks worry about the Singularity, but AI is already making problems for the rest of us.

Kate Crawford, The New York Times:

According to some prominent voices in the tech world, artificial intelligence presents a looming existential threat to humanity: Warnings by luminaries like Elon Musk and Nick Bostrom about “the singularity” — when machines become smarter than humans — have attracted millions of dollars and spawned a multitude of conferences.

But this hand-wringing is a distraction from the very real problems with artificial intelligence today, which may already be exacerbating inequality in the workplace, at home and in our legal and judicial systems. Sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are being built into the machine-learning algorithms that underlie the technology behind many “intelligent” systems that shape how we are categorized and advertised to.

Software used to assess the risk of recidivism in criminals is biased against blacks, as is software used by police departments across the US to identify hotspots for crime. Amazon’s same-day delivery service was initially unavailable for ZIP codes in predominantly black neighborhoods, “remarkably similar to those affected by mortgage redlining in the mid-20th century.” And women are less likely than men to be shown ads on Google for highly paid jobs.

Thanks, Cory!

RIP

AWS CEO: Enterprise Data Center Is Doomed

Enterprise data centers are on their way to becoming rare beasts, as nearly every enterprise is going to move nearly all their computing to the cloud, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy said Tuesday.

“In the fullness of time, whether it’s ten years or 20 years, very few companies will own their own data centers, and those that do will have a smaller footprint than they have now,” Jassy said during a presentation at the AWS Summit in Washington, D.C. and streamed live.

The transition will lead to qualitative changes in the enterprise, Jassy said.

[Me/Light Reading]

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Google, Amazon, and Facebook are betting big on AI and virtual assistants. If those are the wave of the future – and it seems likely they are – then Apple is screwed, says Marco Arment. Apple is lagging badly in those areas, and it’s not the kind of thing you can develop in secret and spring in a keynote.

Arment is not only a smart industry observer, but he’s also an Apple enthusiast and iPhone app developer. He’s the opposite of an Apple hater.

In 2007, BlackBerry was the pinnacle of mobile email and voice devices, which was what mobile phones were for. But the market moved on and BlackBerry didn’t. Apple is at risk of the same here in 2016, Arment says.

Avoiding BlackBerry’s fate – Marco Arment

Related: I recently had my first experience with Apple CarPlay and was delighted. Pairing your iPhone to the car is accomplished with a single tap, and after that you can get your Maps, messaging, phone calls, and listen to podcasts on the screen on the car’s dashboard and using the car’s speakers. Like the Apple slogan used to go: “It just works.” And, quoting another old Apple slogan, “you already know how to use it” – even if, like me, you’ve never used it before, have never read about it, and have had no training.

And that reminds me of how so many Apple tools don’t “just work” anymore. My MacBook Air freezes up sometimes. It seems to not do that if I don’t use Safari and I reboot every day. Not sure though. Haven’t found a cause. And recently I was getting quite exasperated figuring out how to share an album in Apple Photos. I’m still not sure I did it right.

Hence the title of this post.

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“A shirtless Vladamir Putin riding a Russian Bear.”

I hear Donald Trump buys them by the gross.

Top review:

Anytime I need to emphasis that I mean business, I just pull out my Putin Riding a Bear. This will usually result in submission by the aggressor. My landlord was being a jerk while trying collect the lot rent. When I pulled this out, his drunk butt fell off my block step.This talisman will also make the ladies throw themselves on you. It’s really not fair to them that this exudes so much testosterone. I mean really….what chance do they stand with this in your pocket?

Buyer beware! Do not carry this while wearing a lone wolf t-shirt. I made the mistake of doing that (because I forgot I had the Putin in my pocket) and there was almost a riot in the Walmart cigarette line. Thank goodness my wolf shirt got ripped off (maybe it leaped off to defend me…i will never know) and I was able to get away.

Via reddit.com/r/shutupandtakemymoney

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Billing by Millionths of Pennies, Cloud Computing’s Giants Take In Billions

Quentin Hardy at The New York Times:

SAN FRANCISCO — Imagine building an enormous beach resort, maybe the best in the world. Instead of renting the rooms, you charge guests based on the grains of sand they touch. You charge very little per grain, but if they lie on enough of them, it adds up.

That is one way to think about what is going on at the world’s biggest cloud-computing companies.

Good article. Good metaphor.

Amazon’s Lofty Profits Open Cloud to Rivals – Shira Ovide / Bloomberg

Amazon, which has  used razor-thin margins to undercut rivals, is susceptible to the same competitive pressure because of its fat AWS profits.

“Your margin is my opportunity.”

It’s a quip often attributed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to explain his zeal for high-volume sales at teeny-to-nonexistent profits. It’s ironic, then, that in Amazon’s cloud business it is Bezos’ margin that is providing an opening to rivals like Google.

Amazon’s Lofty Profits Open Cloud to Rivals [Shira Ovide / Bloomberg]

If you want to keep using your pre-2012 Kindle, you need to update it right away

The new update is required for pre-2012 devices that haven’t connected to the Internet since Oct. 5 2015. Do it by Tuesday.

Failure to do so, the company warns, and you won’t be able to connect to Amazon’s Cloud, access the Kindle Store, or use any other services through the device. After March 22nd, you will also have to update the device manually, by downloading the patch and updating it through your computer.

[If You Want To Keep Using Your Kindle, You Need To Update It Immediately / Andrew Liptak / Gizmodo]

This Amazon review cracked me up, proving once again that I am 14 years old

fannypack

I found this review on the Amazon listing for this fannypack, while shopping for a replacement for a fannypack I bought 20 years ago on our honeymoon in the UK. For the past six years, I’ve been wearing that fannypack daily while walking. The zipper on that fannypack broke. I felt like I should have some kind of decommissioning ceremony for a tool that had done honorable service for a full generation. Instead I just threw it out.

I bought the fannypack reviewed at the link, and I’m very happy with it after several days’ use. It’s a good size — all the other fannypacks I’ve seen that hold water bottles are either too small or too big. This one is just right.

I have not put it to the purpose the reviewer describes. AND I NEVER WILL.

This review seems to be gone now. Some people just don’t appreciate literature.

How to reset the furthest page read on your Kindle

Go to the Manage Your Kindle page on the web, and navigate to the list of your books. Find the book you want to reset. Click the icon with three dots next to the book title. Select “Clear furthest page read…. ” And you’re done.

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The next time you open the book, the furthest page read will be set to the current page on that device.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a novel with footnotes. You can read the footnotes by just tapping on the screen, but I made the mistake of going to the footnotes section in the back of the book. Since then then remember-furthest-page-read feature has been broken, making it inconvenient to switch off reading the book on my Kindle and iPad. But now that’s fixed. Nice!

Via Evan Kline at 40Tech who says you have to be on a computer. Not so — I did it on my iPad.

Amazon patents photographing things against a white background

I am not really sure how to tag this other than a big #fail for the USPTO, or a huge Kudos for Amazon’s IP attorneys. In a patent simply called Studio arrangement Amazon took IP ownership on what we all call shooting against a seamless white backdrop.

From the company that previously patented one-click buying.

You Can Close The Studio, Amazon Patents Photographing On Seamless White – DIY Photography

My 3 favorite gadgets of 2011

iPad 1: We got ours the day they came out, and we’ve used them for hours every day since. Primarily I use mine for reading Web articles through a variety of interfaces, mainly the Web browser, Instapaper, and Reeder. I also use the iPad a lot for Twitter and Facebook.

I skipped the iPad 2 because it didn’t seem to offer enough bang to be worth the upgrade. There’s a rumor of an iPad 3 coming in the spring, with a faster processor and Retina display. My mind isn’t made up whether to upgrade; we’ll see what else it offers.

I’d love a 7-inch iPad, about half the size of the iPad’s current 10.1-inch display. There are rumors that’s coming in a year. I don’t know whether to believe the rumors. A year is a long way away; I’m not going to worry about it.

iPhone 4: It’s never far away from me, not when I’m sleeping, not when I’m working at my desk, not when I’m out and about. I use it to track meals and exercise for fitness, to participate in social media, to listen to podcasts and audiobooks, to get directions where I’m going, as a camera, to write notes and to-dos for myself, as an alarm clock and, incidentally, as a phone. I didn’t go for the 4S for the same reason I didn’t buy the iPad 2: Not enough of an upgrade to be worth spending money on.

Kindle 4: I bought one of these in October when they came out, and it’s fantastic. I switched to ebooks when the Kindle app came out for the iPad, and didn’t look back; I’ve bought a couple of dozen ebooks in the past year, but only two print books, in both cases because they weren’t available electronically. The Kindle is lighter and more comfortable than reading on an iPad, plus it holds a charge for about a month. Julie has a Kindle Touch, which is the same as mine but with a touchscreen.

Not on the list: We watch a fair amount of TV at our house, and we have a DVR issued from our cable company, Cox Communications. We loathe that DVR. We miss our old TiVo, which, alas doesn’t support HD programming. And a new TiVo that supports HD would be too expensive. I’m thinking we might want to do something homemade with a Mac Mini configured as a server, either running iTunes or Myth TV. But there’s a question of (a) Time to set it up and (b) Expense.

I suppose I might want to put our new Samsung TV on this list. We certainly use it every day. But it’s just a TV; it’s not that interesting. If we put the TV on the list, we’d have to also add the microwave, toaster-oven, and electric water kettle, and where does it end?

Immediate gratification, FTW!

I just ordered the $79 Kindle Wi-Fi after reading this convincing argument against touchscreens on dedicated ebook readers.

Shorter version of the argument: When you’re reading books, you don’t need to tap and swipe all over the screen, getting the display all shmutzy. The main thing you need to do is keep turning pages, and for that a hardware button does the job nicely.

Not mentioned in the article: I’d have to wait nearly two months for the Kindle Touch, but the Kindle Wi-Fi will get here Saturday.

My two cents on the new Kindles

I expect the tablet will finally be the one to grab some serious market share from the iPad.

People talk about the “tablet market,” but there really is no “tablet market.” There are iPads, and then there are a million other tablets, none of which have sold any significant market share.

I expect the Kindle Fire will change that, because of the Amazon brand and the low price. I haven’t played with it myself, or read any credible reviews, so I can’t speak to the quality of the product — whether it’s a well-designed machine or shoddy merchandise like all the other iPad competitors. But Amazon did a great job on the Kindle, so we can be optimistic that the new tablet will be a good machine too.

We’d already decided Julie is getting a Kindle reader (she seems to be leaning that direction at the moment, rather than a tablet). She has trouble holding the iPad for long periods, because of its weight. Because mostly what she does on the iPad is read, a Kindle is a natural choice for her.

And I think I’ll get a Kindle reader too (not the tablet), for similar reasons. Unlike Julie, I am comfortable holding the iPad for long periods, but a lighter-weight and smaller device would be even more comfortable. Like Julie, I mostly use my iPad for reading. So a Kindle seems like a natural choice. I’d been holding out because of the price, and because the keyboard strikes me as a waste of real estate. Both of those problems seem to be fixed on the new Kindles. I’m not sure which model I’ll get, but I’m leaning toward holding out for the high end, which I think comes out in November (?).

All in all, an exciting announcement. And Apple’s new iPhone comes out next week! A great month for personal tech.

So far, of all the endless speculations about the iPhone announcement, this SplatF post seems to be the only one worth reading. It’s a short post, with three questions of things to watch out for. Two questions are interesting to me:

(1) Will Apple even mention iAd?

(2) Will there be an Apple TV announcement?

If there’s a new software update, I’ll be doing the happy dance. New software is always fun! If it’s new hardware, I’ll be a bit frustrated, since we just bought an Apple TV. But on the other hand, the Apple TV is cheap.

If Apple announces the rumored flatscreen Apple TV, well, I’ll just be weeping like a character in The Oatmeal, because we just shelled out large coin for a 52″ flatscreen TV and it’ll be at least seven years before we’re due to buy another one.