Amazonia for December 10, 2018

December 10, 2018

The Amazon show and tell has ended. The implications of most Amazon announcements have been reported in the “real” media. The Beyond Search team identified a handful of Bezos bullets, however. Read on:

  • Someone should tell one of the world’s richest me to be positive. Here in Harrod’s Creek the shocking news that Amazon will go bankrupt stuns. The Beyond Search goose thinks that Mr. Bezos is working on his legacy; that is, an early “I warned you” makes him into a digital Nostradamus.
  • Ever try to pay for something in an airport store? I have. Sometimes I leave my overpriced bag of trail mix amongst the M&Ms because no one waits on me. Amazon may solve this problem. “Amazon Looks to Airports to Expand Its Checkout-Free Store Footprint” explains that Amazon’s no human check out may solve this problem. Will the price of trail mix go up? Yeah, you know the answer to that.
  • What’s with Amazon in the space data game? We learned  about “Amazon’s Plan to Profit from Space Data” from the Daily Herald. Here’s the plan: “Rather than build its own satellite dishes and ground stations, the company has brokered an exclusive “multiyear strategic business agreement” with Bethesda-based defense contractor Lockheed Martin, which manufactures and operates satellites for the U.S. military.” Useful for policeware and intelware use cases, don’t you think? Nah.
  • What’s the economic impact of Amazon saying it will put a big office in the DC area? A mere $15 billion impact. Get the semi analysis in the Zon-meister’s very own newspaper here.
  • Axios said, “Amazon faces a politically perilous moment.” The JEDI deal is headed for another appeal. Oracle wants to keep its Pentagon power it seems.
  • How much money does Amazon’s Prime video generate? Variety states that it is $1.7 billion. I thought Prime was for shipping. What about the data those viewing habits spin out? What happens if those data are cross matched to book browsing, purchase history, and method of payment? Grab some popcorn and kick back. Relax. It’s Amazon.

Stephen E Arnold, December 10, 2018

Microsoft and Facial Recognition: An Attempt to Parry Amazon?

December 7, 2018

Image recognition is widely used in many products, applications, and software systems. Most people don’t think too much about how a camera can read a license plate, figure out who has entered a building, or what “sign” indicates a potential problem like a gang attack.

Why would the average bear?

Microsoft is becoming more vocal about facial recognition. On the surface, the concern seems reasonable, almost a public service.

I read “Microsoft Sounds an Alarm over Facial Recognition Technology.” The write up seems okay, almost a good Samaritan effort. I noted this statement:

The AI Now researchers are particularly concerned about what’s called “affect recognition” — and attempt to identify people’s emotions, and possibly manipulate them, using machine learning.

Emotion analysis is interesting. But is the concern over facial recognition more of a business initiative, not a push to create awareness for a technology which has been around for decades. Sure facial recognition is getting better, faster, and cheaper. Like other technologies, facial recognition diffuses into other products, including those used by Ecuador, ZTE, and US analysts trying to make sense of imagery from a warzone.

Microsoft used the AI Now information to express concern for a race to the bottom. That’s interesting. A company which has facial recognition technology and a penchant for creating problems via a routine update to individual users’ computers is looking out for me. Yeah, right.

Imagine. The USSS wants to use facial recognition near the White House. Why not just hire another 200 agents to walk around or sit in surveillance suites looking for potential problems? Advanced technology is often useful to law enforcement and intelligence professionals. Expanding the use of that technology to safeguard those who work in certain US government facilities makes sense to me.

What’s really pushing Microsoft to become the champion for facial recognition controls?

In my view, Amazon is. Check out Amazon’s patents for facial recognition. These are examples of what I call “policeware” and the innovations have other applications as well. A good place to begin is with US9465994B1.

My view is that Microsoft’s concern about facial recognition has more to do with adding friction to Amazon’s progress than it does with a concern for me and my beloved Beyond Search goose here in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky. For more about Amazon’s policeware technologies, navigate to YouTube.com and search for DarkCyber Amazon.

Stephen E Arnold, December 7, 2018

Wal-Mart Versus Amazon: Is the Game Over?

December 6, 2018

Wal-Mart likes to be on top. Wal-Mart’s sales, however, have fallen due to Amazon and other online retailers, but they will not go down without a fight. Wal-Mart has decided to fight digital sales with a bigger, better digital supply chain super structure. The Motley Fool reports on Wal-Mart’s biggest investment in, “IBM And Microsoft Are Upgrading Wal-Mart’s Digital Supply Chain.”

Wal-Mart has teamed up with Microsoft and IBM to revamp its supply chain. Azure is the official cloud infrastructure of Wal-Mart with an exclusive five year contract. All of the retailer’s Web sites will now run natively on Azure and taking advantage of Microsoft’s machine learning and data management tools. Azure’s insightful tools will also streamline Wal-Mart’s supply chain, watch energy levels, and control devices.

Wal-Mart uses IBM’s blockchain technology to monitor product origins and IBM also built an onboard system for suppliers. How does the new supply chain help Wal-Mart:

“The modernization of Wal-Mart’s supply chain with cloud, IoT, and blockchain services could improve the retailer’s operating margin, which has been weighed down by e-commerce and overseas investments, store renovations, and wage hikes in recent years. That digital foundation can also pave the way for Wal-Mart to install more robots in its warehouses and stores, thereby reducing its overall labor costs. A streamlined supply chain would also help Wal-Mart avoid food safety problems, which are becoming increasingly common across supply chains and multiple countries and states.”

The new system will also help Wal-Mart regain some of the losses from its China suppliers due to Trumps tariffs.

The team up between Wal-Mart, IBM, and Microsoft is a joint effort to counter Amazon-their common enemy. But is the game over for Wal-Mart? Police in many municipalities find that Wal-Mart is a frequent stop and not for a hot dog and a soft drink. Perhaps Wal-Mart ecommerce would be less exciting than a visit to some establishments?

Whitney Grace, December 6, 2018

Microsoft and Credibility: Updates and Amazon

December 4, 2018

Perhaps you are like the millions of others who are unhappy with Windows and its updates lately. And if you are like many of those folks, you have recently discovered Microsoft is trying to fix its problems in a strange new way, as we discovered in a recent OnMSFT story, “Microsoft is Now Inviting Select Windows Insiders to Share Their Feedback Via Skype Interviews.”

According to the story:

“Following the botched release of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, Microsoft promised that it would pay more attention to user feedback going forward. Last month, the company added new impact and severity indicators for new Feedback Hub items, hoping to better surface critical bugs like the deleted files issue that initially shipped with the October 2018 Update.”

Their solution: listen to customers more…via Skype. Sorry, Microsoft, but that’s a case of too little too late. Perhaps, you could have avoided this catastrophe by, we don’t know, talking to users before the launch of these disastrous updates?

Plus as Amazon was rolling out enhancement after enhancement to its cloud services, Microsoft announced new icons. That’s the way to demonstrate technical excellence and strategic thinking to give Amazon pause.

Patrick Roland, December 4, 2018

Amazon: Making the Fuzzy Laptop Maker Look Silly

November 29, 2018

In an upcoming DarkCyber and in my new series of lectures for LE and intel professionals, I will be exploring the implications of Amazon’s public admissions that the company is the beastie in the policeware kennel. The “few words are better” Jeff Barr  has summarized some of the more public announcements in “AWS launches, Previews, and Pre-Announcements” which is a useful, if incomplete, checklist of what’s happening at the Zon. (Where is that policeware info by the way?)

But for Beyond Search and its handful of very gentle readers I want to point out that Microsoft’s furry laptop, Azure outages, and the ineptitude of updating Windows 10 looks bad.

Consider what Amazon has been doing for the past five years or so: Developing not one but two different custom chips, building a range of machine learning tools including free for now training programs, and rolling out features and function to keep the often creaky Amazon Web Services engine chugging along.

Microsoft has the furry laptop thing. Oh, I almost forgot. Microsoft brought back the Microsoft “IntelliMouse Explorer.” Plus Microsoft continues to play more nicely with Amazon Alexa as it tries to make sure it can be Number Two in the big cloud game. Google, HP, IBM, and a number of companies whose names I struggle to remember want to knock of the big dog. The breed is a Bezos I believe.

Net net: Amazon seems to be taking bits and pieces from the Google, Palantir, and IBM playbook. Chef Bezos mixes the ingredients and rolls out a mind boggling array of new stuff.

But which company looks a little behind the times? Here in Harrod’s Creek we see Microsoft and its fuzzy laptop tablet thing. By the way, how does one keep fuzzy stuff free from dirt, bacteria, and burrito juice?

Amazon probably sells some type of cleaner. Why not do a product search on Amazon. Product searches account for a hefty chuck of online search action. Perhaps there is an Amazon Basics to clean the furry gizmo? Better yet, there are ads on Amazon. Ads which once were the exclusive domain of the Google.

Google. That’s another story one can research on a furry Microsoft device using an “old is new mouse” too.

Stephen E Arnold, November 29, 2018

Amazonia for November 26, 2018

November 27, 2018

The little ecommerce company has been beavering away.

Amazon Basics Now Includes ARM Server CPUs

One of Amazon’s stealth technologists announced AWS Graviton Processor. Amazon offers up a few details at this link. Lower cost, specialized capabilities, and proof that Amazon is thinking hardware thoughts. IBM markets its cloud capabilities and Microsoft tries to keep Azure alive and well, Amazon powers into a new space. Who wrote about these chips? None other than Jeff Barr. Trust the Beyond Search goose. This is a pivotal member in the Bezos Brain Bucket.

Amazon Sells a Lot over the Holiday

Although the source is not the most reliable, Bloomberg reports that Amazon sold more products in five days in the Thanksgiving interval than it did in 2017. Hard numbers? How about 18 million toys. Ah, Bloomberg. Get the scoop at this link. The Street says that Amazon sold $8 billion in stuff on one day. What about the mom and pop hobby store in Paducah, Kentucky? Oh, it closed. Too bad.

New Gizmo Coming?

IEEE Spectrum drops a lot of buzzwords suggesting that Amazon’s secretive Lab126 is working on new products. IEEE suggests that a paper outfit is connected to Amazon. The outfit is Chrome Enterprises, and it may be working on a faster, better, and probably cheaper way to do wireless magic. The report includes this soothing paragraph:

Cupertino’s branch of MassageEnvy is fewer than 500 meters from a satellite Lab126 building, called SJC3.

Amazon Offers Free Online Class to Train You to Use AWS

ZDNet reported that Amazon offer free training. The idea is that Amazon will teach you to use Sagemaker, DeepLens, and other AWS smart software. Hey, if the universities cannot do the job, Amazon can. The write up stated:

The company has over 30 online machine-learning courses, including video, labs, and documentation that have been used within Amazon for the past 20 years.

Here’s another Amazon wizard’s name to note: Dr Matt Wood, AWS’s general manager of artificial intelligence.

How do you know you have passed the course. Well, you pay $300 for an AWS SAT type test, of course.

Has Microsoft got the Windows 10 update working yet? What about Azure log ins? Two Seattle companies. Which has momentum?

Stephen E Arnold, November 26, 2018

Amazon: A Succulent Target for Criticism

November 23, 2018

Heads up, Amazon, not everyone loves your shopping service. One example is the profane bassoonist. Yeah, that type of person exists in Amazonland. The story of the bassoon strap, a subscription service, and other money grubbing methods employed by the digital superstore infuse “What If Amazon.com Actually…Is A Horrible Website?”

The key point for me was this statement:

And then there are the outright scams. Like the unimaginable shipping prices on a cheap shower drain cover, which could only possibly mean they hope someone accidentally hits two-day shipping so they can charge them $1,000.

If accurate, Amazon is big, so large that making the store a tidy, positive experience has been slipping away.

I am not surprised. In fact, I expect this type of carelessness or clever mindfulness to continue. I received an email from no-reply at amazon dot com informing me that my email address had slipped from the nickle and dime clutching fingers of the online ecommerce and policeware vendor.

I wasn’t surprised. I learned from this source that Amazon was suffering what was called “connection failures.” Not good for a cloud outfit. No connection, no cloud. Yeah, bad. Nothing like downtime when engaged in warfighting at a government agency.

Putting Amazon’s challenge in perspective, the bundle of services and functions assembled for Amazon’s policeware push will raise some eyebrows.

Certain behaviors are ingrained into the company.

Yeah, $1,000 shipping. An accident.

Stephen E Arnold, November 23, 2018

DarkCyber for November 20, 2018, Now Available: Part Four, Amazon Poised for Policeware Growth

November 20, 2018

DarkCyber for November 20, 2018, is now available at http://www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/301440474.

In this week’s program (the fourth in the DarkCyber four part series about Amazon’s new services), Stephen E Arnold reveals how the sense making and analytics system will allow Amazon to expand its services into regulatory agencies in the US and in other countries.

Amazon’s push into policeware enables a broad market push. In addition to serving the US government, Amazon’s technology for advanced intelligence analysis allows the company to provide regulatory agencies with high value ways to fulfill their mission. The Securities & Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service could become customers of the Amazon GovCloud based system.

Real time information processing and powerful analytics like cross correlation across disparate data sources can reduce costs and improve the efficiency of the agencies’ enforcement efforts.

Stephen E Arnold said, “Amazon’s push to provide services to a major US intelligence agency and to win the Department of Defense cloud computing contract worth about $5 billion are significant. Amazon’s apparent goal is to disrupt and then displace existing vendors of similar services. Amazon is well positioned to rework in a radical way the way city, county, state, and federal government agencies perform analytic and intelligence related work. Furthermore, Amazon’s platform reaches the UK law enforcement community, and it could migrate to Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as well. The impact of Amazon’s policeware is likely to be far more significant than a single JEDI contract.”

The final video in this DarkCyber series makes clear that Amazon has a strategic objective for its machine learning and advanced analytics platform.

In addition, commercial enterprises may seek to make sense of their business related data and information. Financial services firms and pharmaceutical companies are among the most information intensive businesses. Amazon could easily become a disruptive force in the traditional business intelligence market.

For more information about our for fee webinars about Amazon policeware, please, write benkent2020 at yahoo dot com.

Kenny Toth, November 20, 2018

Wal-Mart: Responding to the Bezos Brigade

November 15, 2018

It’s retail conflict.

Wal-Mart likes to be on top. Wal-Mart’s sales, however, have fallen due to Amazon and other online retailers, but they will not go down without a fight. Wal-Mart has decided to fight digital sales with a bigger, better digital supply chain super structure. The Motley Fool reports on Wal-Mart’s biggest investment in, “IBM And Microsoft Are Upgrading Wal-Mart’s Digital Supply Chain.”

Wal-Mart has teamed up with Microsoft and IBM to revamp its supply chain. (What no Amazon in the mix?) Azure is the official cloud infrastructure of Wal-Mart with an exclusive five year contract. All of the retailer’s Web sites will now run natively on Azure and taking advantage of Microsoft’s machine learning and data management tools. Azure’s insightful tools will also streamline Wal-Mart’s supply chain, watch energy levels, and control devices.

Wal-Mart allegedly uses IBM’s blockchain technology to monitor product origins and IBM also built an onboard system for suppliers. How does the new supply chain help Wal-Mart:

“The modernization of Wal-Mart’s supply chain with cloud, IoT, and blockchain services could improve the retailer’s operating margin, which has been weighed down by e-commerce and overseas investments, store renovations, and wage hikes in recent years. That digital foundation can also pave the way for Wal-Mart to install more robots in its warehouses and stores, thereby reducing its overall labor costs. A streamlined supply chain would also help Wal-Mart avoid food safety problems, which are becoming increasingly common across supply chains and multiple countries and states.”

The new system will also help the just-folks store regain some of the losses from its China suppliers due to President Trump’s MAGA activities.

The team up between Wal-Mart, IBM, and Microsoft is a joint effort to counter Amazon-their common enemy—The Bezos brigade. Long shot for sure.

Whitney Grace, November 15, 2018

Oracle Takes One on Nose

November 15, 2018

I read “Oracle Loses Protest of Pentagon Cloud Bid Seen Favoring Amazon.” Oracle, like IBM, wanted a big, hefty chunk of the JEDI contract. Who wouldn’t? According to the real news outfit ThomsonReuters:

The GAO decision issued Wednesday [November 14, 2018] deals a blow to Oracle’s push to expand its federal defense contracts, leaving the tech company with fewer options to improve its chances of winning the award. It also frees the Pentagon to pursue the single-source solution it has opted for all along.

Amazon’s decision to plunk a big office in the middle of bucolic Crystal City and environs suggests that Amazon wants to be close to the corridors of unaudited spending.

Here in Harrod’s Creek, we think Amazon gets a deal from Virginia and this modest decision about the sole source award for JEDI.

Perhaps Oracle should buy MarkLogic and embrace the XML thing. In parallel, Oracle could also pump more dough into Endeca or TripleHop?

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2018

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