Amazonia for April 1, 2019

April 1, 2019

These are not April Fool items. Each appeared before publication in the sources identified below. If some of the items seem wonky, not my doing.

Was Bezos a Victim of Policeware?

Is this true or false? We don’t know. The Daily Beast reported on March 30, 2019, that an Amazon investigation suggested that Jeff Bezos was a victim of policeware spying. The story “Bezos Investigation Finds the Saudis Obtained His Private Data” contains the allegedly accurate details. Thinking about the political and legal implications of the information in the allegedly accurate article is outside the scope of this humble run down of news items about everyone’s favorite online bookstore. Perhaps others can answer such questions as when, who, why and how?

Amazon and Its Economists

Economists and I assume behavioral psychologists are surprised at the attention each professional group receives from the tech savvy crowd. According to “Amazon Gets an Edge with its Secret Squad of PhD Economists”:

Amazon is now a large draw from the relatively small talent pool of PhD economists, which in the United States grows by about only 1,000 new graduates every year. Although the definition of “economist” is fuzzy, the discipline is generally understood as the study of how people use resources and respond to incentives.

Amazon allegedly has on its team more than 150 economists. If the economists are students of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” staff meetings may be more thrilling than a mid term lecture in Economics 101.

Will one of these professionals become a Hal Varian-scale thinker?

Apple Leaves Amazon an Opening, Free and Clear

The Verge reported that Amazon is “working on a free Fire TV news app.” Free may be more appealing that  $120 a year for 300 magazines. Some in the weird scrollable PDF like format and others in Apple’s own proprietary format. The Verge sees the inspiration as Roku. Amazon may know that print centric services are not selling like hot cakes on the Amazon online store; thus, the focus is on where the eyeballs are—video. But there’s more free stuff from Amazon. If you are a Prime member, you get Switch online. Free is a compelling value proposition, or it is if you are into Nintendo games.

Africa and Amazon’s Banking Play

In my lectures about Amazon’s policeware, I described the financial information flowing through the firm’s infrastructure. It is interesting that Amazon is becoming more overt in its efforts to become a global financial systems. The company has cut a deal to become what Forbes called “Africa’s first bank in the cloud.” Amazon’s partner is Standard Bank. Note that Microsoft has been chugging away in Africa as well. Google, the Chinese, and assorted colonial nations are making moves as well. The financial services angle is an important one because Amazon has kept its financial moves under wraps for some time. Are regulators on top of this?

Amazon and Cost Management

Amazon received some coverage in the Seattle Times in the story “Amazon Finds an Alternative Workforce through Northwest Center, a Seattle Nonprofit Helping People with Disabilities.” The story explains Amazon’s employment of people with disabilities. I noted this statement:

In 2015, 22 people with disabilities were hired for part-time jobs in Amazon’s Kent sortation center as part of the pilot program. Their performance was tracked against the general employee population on retention, safety, productivity, quality and attendance.

The information in the article seemed dated and did not provide much data about pay and current number of individuals with disability engaged at Amazon.

Does Amazon Have a Lock on the CIA Cloud Business?

The answer may be, “Nope.” According to Bloomberg, a real news service which sometimes does not have sources for its information:

The CIA is preparing to significantly increase its reliance on cloud-computing services, with plans to solicit tens of billions of dollars of work divided among multiple tech companies.

Source: Bloomberg

Amazon and Columbia

South America is on the economic and political radar for 2020. Amazon has announced that it will open an infrastructure operation in Columbia. The region is unsettled in some ways, but Amazon obviously believes the risk is minimal. More information is available from Reuters. Reuters links do go dead, so you may be on your own if this source does not resolve. Complain to Thomson Reuters, not to me, please.

Caipirinha, Anyone?

It’s official. ZDNet reports that Alexa is alive in Brazil. DarkCyber thinks that Brazil’s new president may be interested in Amazon’s policeware too.

The Great Vendor Purge: Walking the Cat Back

Digiday reported that Amazon’s vendor purge is underway in reverse. According to Digiday’s online information service:

Amazon has walked back the decision to terminate a majority of the vendor purchase orders it stopped fulfilling last Monday, but the action has served as a bit of a wake-up call to sellers who are now planning how to protect their businesses by relying less on the e-commerce retailer.

Confusion at the controls of the Bezos bulldozer?

Proprietary Alexa Skills

There’s no mention of Amazon data capture or voice analysis in “Create an Alexa Skill for Your Organization with Alexa for Business Blueprints.” Be aware that this link may not resolve. You may be able to find the post at and scrolling through items. The blog post states:

 Private skills are voice-powered capabilities that enhance the Alexa experience while remaining private to members of an Alexa for Business organization. Skill Blueprints are so easy to use, people have used them extensively to create Alexa skills for their households. Now anyone at the office can do the same for their workplace, simply by filling in custom requests and responses in one of dozens of easy-to-use Blueprints. IT administrators can then review and enable that content for the company’s users and managed Alexa-enabled devices.

Interesting? DarkCyber wonders if the data from these private skills will flow into Amazon’s policeware system?

Why Is AWS So Appealing to Some Developer Palates?

The #AWS EC2 Windows Secret Sauce” is a reminder that Amazon is the new Microsoft, which may come as a bit of news to Google. The online ad giant wants to be Microsoft. If you want a run down of some of the issues one may encounter with Windows in the cloud, Tehnodrone spells how Amazon handles Windows provisioning. Hint: Lots of engineering and more automated functions.

More AWS Computing Horsepower

Nvidia’s T4 GPUs Are Coming to the AWS Cloud” reports:

The T4, which is based on Nvidia’s Turing architecture, was specifically optimized for running AI models. The T4 will be supported by the EC2 compute service and the Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes.

Your play Google.

Redshift Scales

Who knows what Redshift does? If you are on the Redshift clue train, you will be delighted to learn that Amazon’s data warehouse offer concurrency and is allegedly better and faster than alternatives. More rah rah is available in “AWS Announces General Availability of Concurrency Scaling for Amazon Redshift.”

S3 Glacier: Cheap Archiving

Amazon rolled out discounted storage. This is called Glacier, presumably because near line retrieval move slowly. More information is available in “AWS Announces General Availability of Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive—the Lowest Cost Storage in the Cloud.”

Amazon Aurora: Another Complexity Block to Master

If AWS is the next Windows, these components are the equivalent of the chunks of capability stuffed in a DLL. The write up in Acolyer’s blog states:

Managing quorum failures is complex. Traditional mechanisms cause I/O stalls while membership is being changed….Aurora is designed for a world with a constant background level of failure.

The idea is to improve reliability. The key point is that the AWS system generates automatic adaptive actions. Some of these may cost money. Automated services which posts increments to fees, is it?

New Partnerships

Here are some of the new partnerships and integration vendors which appear to have Amazon AWS expertise.

  • Lightstream, a global leader in cloud technology solutions, network integration and managed-network services now supports Amazon Chime. Chime is a communications service that lets licensees meet, chat, and place business calls inside and outside an organization. Source: New Kerala
  • Sisense delivers its analytics via the Amazon Cloud. The service is called the “Elastic Data Hub.” Please, don’t confuse this with the Elastic company or the Elasticsearch open source system. Source: New Kerala
Know What NSA NIPA Means?

Somebody thinks those on LinkedIn do. (no, it is not a town in Maryland and it has nothing to do with monks) said via Harold Smith III on LinkedIn “NSA NIAP compliant mobile apps in weeks, not years.” Source: LinkedIn and search for “Harold Smith III”.

Stephen E Arnold, April 1, 2019


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