Amazon drops New York HQ2 plans after organized resistance

Amazon will instead focus on Northern Virginia and Nashville, after an organized effort by New Yorkers to hold the company and lawmakers accountable for sneaky dealmaking.

Amazon just bought mesh wifi company Eero. Oh, great.

We have an Eero system in our house; it does really good and reliable wifi distribution, including to my office in the garage. And it was nice to have a piece of home electronics that was neither from one of the great data-sucking companies like Google, nor from the control-freak companies like Apple -- and also not from a no-name white-label re-badger or a giant shitty telco switch company whose consumer products arm is an afterthought. Read the rest

Maybe Amazon HQ2 won't happen in New York after all?

Amazon's plan to bring 25,000 jobs to a NYC campus is under fire from locals, as more details are revealed of what was promised to Jeff Bezos' empire.

Jeff Bezos’ investigator suspects 'a government agency' intercepted Amazon CEO's text messages

A Washington Post reporter said Thursday night that an investigator working for Jeff Bezos believes 'a government agency' accessed the Amazon CEO's texts and intimate photos.

Amazon at times used Flex drivers' tips to cover promised base pay, investigation finds

Amazon sometimes dipped into tips earned by contracted delivery drivers for its 'Flex' service to cover the base pay they'd been promised, a Los Angeles Times review of emails and receipts shows. Read the rest

Denver's legendary Tattered Cover bookstore "breaks up" with Audible

The Tattered Cover is one of the nation's great independent bookstores, ranking with New York's Strand, Portland's Powell's, and Salt Lake City's Weller Books; now in an open letter, the store has "broken up" with Amazon division Audible, the largest player in the audiobook market, citing the company's mandatory DRM, proprietary formats, algorithmic opacity, and diversion of local book sales into the pockets of distant investors in a massive, uncaring corporation. Read the rest

A deep dive into the technical feasibility of Bloomberg's controversial "Chinese backdoored servers" story

Last October, Bloomberg published what seemed to be the tech story of the year: a claim that Supermicro, the leading supplier of servers to clients from the Pentagon and Congress to Amazon, Apple and NASA, had been targeted by Chinese spies who'd inserted devastating, virtually undetectable hardware backdoors into their motherboards by subverting a small subcontractor in China. Read the rest

How will Jeff Bezos' divorce impact Amazon's stock price?

Yes, it's a soulless, grotesque question. But it's all about money, and investors are wondering if Jeff Bezos getting divorced means they're gonna lose money. Read the rest

Whistleblower: Amazon Ring stores your doorbell and home video feeds unencrypted and grants broad "unfettered" access to them

Sources "familiar with Ring's practices" have told The Intercept that the company -- a division of Amazon that makes streaming cameras designed to be mounted inside and outside your home -- stores the video feeds from its customers' homes in unencrypted format and allows staff around the world to have essentially unfettered access to these videos. Read the rest

This new clip from American Gods Season 2 is worrisome

The first season of American Gods was great. Ian McShane! Ricky Whittle! Gillian Anderson! Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy? Perfection.

And then, after the season wrapped up, shit went down. Show runners left. So did Gillian Anderson. Chaos ensued. The production finally managed to get their act together and BOOM, the trailer for Season 2 was released, promising us more dark whimsy than we deserve.

This new scene released by Amazon, however... isn't great. Maybe it's the fact that we're seeing it out of context. It's a wee bit of story in the middle of a much greater epic. But it feels a little bit off: there's no tension here. The level of creepy that Crispin Glover usually delivers isn't there. It's a quick clip, but damn, does it drag. If Amazon and Starz were looking to whip up excitement in the show's fan base, this seems like a really strange clip to release into the wild.

I'm hoping I'm wrong. I hope that, knowing all the behind-the-scenes drama, I'm reading into trouble that isn't there. But man, I'm kinda worried about the quality of Season 2 now. Read the rest

The latest Facebook scandal might explain why Amazon wrongfully banned book-reviewers

Yesterday, we learned that Facebook granted extraordinary user-data access to a handful of blue-chip companies, including Amazon. Read the rest

How Amazon's crackdown on dirty sellers has made it easier for dirty sellers to kill good sellers' accounts

Josh Dzieza's deeply reported story on the dirty tricks used by Amazon's third-party sellers to beat their rivals is an outstanding read, and an important contribution to the debate about how automated systems that police user conduct fail at scale. Read the rest

Cops are using GPS and doorbell cameras to catch package thieves

People who steal other people's packages off porches are the frigging worst. They've no idea of what's in the box they're swiping: they don't care what they get, so long as they get something. It's burgling a house blindfolded. It's the laziest form of break and enter. It's one of the lowest forms of causal criminality going. Also, it's wicked hard to stop. With the holidays coming on like a freight train, more packages than usual are showing up on front porches, ripe for the picking. This year, in at least one city, the cops are ready to put a stop to the package poaching nonsense.

From The Associated Press:

Police in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from New York, are teaming up with Amazon to install doorbell cameras and plant dummy boxes with GPS tracking devices at homes around the city.

They didn’t have to wait long Tuesday for someone to take the bait.

“We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken,” said police Capt. James Crecco, who is overseeing the mission. “We thought it was a mistake at first.”

The suspect was caught, Crecco added.

Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly told The Associated Press that locations for cameras and boxes were selected using the city’s own crime statistics and mapping of theft locations provided by Amazon.

“Most of the package thefts we’ve made arrests on revolve around (closed-circuit TV) or private surveillance cameras that give us a still image,” Kelly said.

Read the rest

Bear repellent sends 24 Amazon employees to hospital, at least one in critical condition

An Amazon warehouse in New Jersey sent 24 employees to the hospital after they were exposed to bear repellent fumes. Read the rest

Alexa-enabled Big Mouth Billy Bass. Pre-order it for $40.

You can preorder an Alexa-enabled Big Mouth Billy Bass for $40. Read the rest

Amazon won't say how many accounts were affected in security lapse

Amazon admits that it leaked some users' email addresses and names. But it's not saying how the information was exposed, how many were affected, or otherwise talking to those affected or to the press. From the sound of things, it'll be a Christmas miracle if anyone finds out.

From TechCrunch:

TechCrunch that the issue exposed names as well as email addresses. “We have fixed the issue and informed customers who may have been impacted.” The company emailed all impacted users to be cautious.

In response to a request for specifics, a spokesperson said the company had “nothing to add beyond our statement.” The company denies there was a data breach of its website of any of its systems, and says it’s fixed the issue, but dismissed our request for more info including the cause, scale and circumstances of the error.

I guess the good news is that those who Amazon is certain of having been affected by their leaky ship have been contacted via email and told the following:

“We’re contacting you to let you know that our website inadvertently disclosed your email address due to a technical error... The issue has been fixed. This is not a result of anything you have done, and there is no need for you to change your password or take any other action.”

What a relief. After all, Who wants to know how or why a snafu that could have a deep impact on their personal finances occurred. Give me a vague explanation of a serious issue, any day. Read the rest

Amazon employees snapped up NYC real estate before headquarters announcement

Like the billions in public money destined for Amazon's benefit and that of the world's richest man, it's all perfectly legal.

The two employees decided to the buy units just before the first press reports surfaced that Amazon was likely to choose Long Island City for its new headquarters, Mr. Aguayo said. The buyers now live in New Jersey and Queens, he added.

While employees aren’t permitted to buy and sell stocks based on nonpublic information, several real estate lawyers said they were aware of no such prohibition for real-estate transactions.

The WSJ reports no "reliable figures" on sales in the area since Amazon's announcement (and immediately before it, evidently) but it's explosive. One brokerage says it sold 150 condos in the last four days, 15 times its normal volume. Read the rest

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